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by MONITOR
l MS Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture and Sport, announced that she and her husband, the lawyer Mr David Mills, were separating following the controversy over a joint mortgage on their house which had been repayed with money received by Mr Mills from Italy. An inquiry by the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, had concluded that Ms Jowell had not broken the code of ministerial conduct. l The Mayor of London, Mr Ken Livingstone, won an appeal to the High Court for a stay in his supension for one month by the Adjudication Panel for England following allegedly offensive remarks he had made to a Jewish reporter from the London Evening Standard. l In Britain, police made several arrests in connection with the theft of more than 50 million pounds from a Securitas depot in Tonbridge, Kent; it was reported that some of the stolen money had been found. Fourteen members of a gang that smuggled 50 million pounds worth of cocaine into Britain were given sentences totalling 178 years; the leader got 27 years. l The Palestinians' caretaker government welcomed the European Union's offer of 120 million euros in emergency aid to keep essential services running. Hamas, the party which won the parliamentary election, continued with negotiations to form a government and its leaders paid a visit to Moscow for talks. Russia said that it would urge Hamas to recognise Israel. l In Iraq bombings and killings continued in the wake of the destruction of the dome of the Shia's Askaruya shrine, despite curfews in Baghdad designed to keep cars off the streets. Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador in Iraq until late-2004, said in a television interview that the situation “could almost be called a low-level civl war already”. l The French government came under intense criticsm for its hastily arranged plan to merge Gaz de France, a state-owned utility, with Suez, a Franco-Belgian power and water company. The move was designed to forestall a hostile bid for Suez from a Enel, an Italian power company, but it was widely criticised as contrary to the European law and spirit. Mr Dominique de Villepin, the French prime minister, said that the merger was justified because of the strategic importance of energy to France. The European Commission said it was planning legal action against France.