A week of hectic activity connected with the UK phone-hacking scandal began with the final appearance of the Murdoch group's News of the World, continued with the withdrawal of Rupert Murdoch's bid for full control of BSkyB and the resignation of Rebekah Brooks and Len Hilton, two of his most senior aides, and ended with an advertisement appearing in several newspapers in which Mr Murdoch personally apologised for malpractice in his organisation.

America's recently appointed Secretary of Defence, Leon Panetta, lived up to his reputation for plain speaking when he told the Iraq government to “Decide, damn it” whether it wanted US forces to remain in Iraq beyond the previously agreed withdrawal deadline of the end of 2011.

Thousands of Egyptians returned to central Cairo to protest at the slowness of political reform since the fall of Hosni Mubarak. Dates have still not been finalised by the interim military government for parliamentary elections and the economy remains stagnant.