BRITAIN'S general election the Labour Party led by Mr Tony Blair was returned for an historic third term of office with an overall majority of 65, almost one hundred less than in the previous Parliament. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats each made gains but fewer than they had hoped for. Mr Michael Howard immediately resigned as Conservative leader, saying that a younger person should be appointed to lead the party into the next election. The Liberal Democrats' tally of 62 was the greatest since 1923. One of the most remarkable results was the victory of Mr George Galloway in London's Bethnal Green; he stood as an independent under the Respect banner after having been expelled from the Labour Party for his links with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. In Northern Ireland, Mr David Trimble, the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for his contribution to the Good Friday agreement, lost his seat at Upper Bann to the candidate of the Reverend Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party. PP The latest leaked official document on Iraq recorded a meeting at Downing Street in July 2002 when Sir Richard Dearlove (head of MI6) reported on a visit to Washington at which he found that the Americans saw military action as ”inevitable” and that ”the intelligence and facts were being fixed around policy”.

In Iraq, after three months of negotiation, the composition of a new government was announced even though several important posts kept vacant for Sunni participation had still not been filled. Meanwhile violence in Baghdad and elsewhere in teh country continued unabated; during April 570 Iraqis had been killed, of whom 98 were policemen and 41 soldiers. PP The names of 16 Labour peers to be created were leaked; among them were former MPs and ministers Chris Smith, Estelle Morris and Jack Cunningham. Another name was that of Dr Lewis Moonie, an MP who had stepped aside to allow Mr Gordon Brown to stand for the newly–formed constituency of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.