A young man, Marc McDonald, who was driving at an average speed of 113
mph on country roads in Caithness on the day he lost control of his car, killing a passenger, and who had previous convictions for his reckless behaviour behind a wheel, received the customary leniency of the Scottish courts in motoring cases: a prison sentence of only six years, four months for causing the death of Gavin Farquhar, 30, by dangerous driving.
Labour’s spokesman, Keir Starmer, was wrong footed during his contribution to the Brexit debate in the House of Commons when the government intervened to announce that it was prepared to offer MPs a
vote on the final deal reached with the EU. He described it as a 'huge and very important concession' – but then it emerged that the vote would be on a take it or leave it basis, depriving the Commons of any meaningful role in influencing the outcome. MPs nevertheless voted by 326 to 293 to accept the government’s offer; only seven Conservatives voted against it. Meanwhile, the Scottish parliament voted by 90 to 34 to oppose the triggering of Article 50. The cost of borrowing in debt-ridden Greece rose sharply. The former president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, was facing criminal charges for the alleged fraudulent financing of his unsuccessful campaign for re-election in 2012. The government of Hungary proposed to detain asylum seekers in 'shelters' for the entire period of their asylum application. Putin signed an order decriminalising domestic violence in Russia, where one woman dies every 40 minutes from domestic abuse and where a popular newspaper recently published an article in praise of wife beating.
In America, a court began hearing an appeal against the temporary restraining order placed on Trump’s travel ban by district judge James Robarts. One of the judges asked if the ban could be discriminatory if it affected only 15% of the world’s Muslims. The mother of a young backpacker who was murdered in Australia objected to her daughter’s death being inaccurately included in Trump’s list of 78 alleged 'terror attacks'. The speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, apologised for not consulting his counterpart in the Lords, Norman Fowler, before declaring that Trump should not be allowed to address parliament during his state visit; Fowler hinted that a room might be made available in the Lords. For his stand against Trump, Bercow was the target of the Daily Mail’s rabid malevolence. Trump denied a suggestion in the New York Times that he wears a bath-robe while watching television. A photograph of his predecessor, Obama, learning to kitesurf appeared on many front pages.
After police ordered topless women to leave a beach in Buenos Aires, there was some confusion about whether Argentinian law permits women to bathe in the nude. In anticipation of the 900th anniversary of his death, the face of St Magnus has been reconstructed by a forensic artist who studied photographs of a skull said to have been that of the Orkney martyr. At least one expert disputes that the skull is that of Magnus, raising the possibility that the cast – which might pass as the face of a moderately successful rock singer or Premiership footballer – could be of the wrong celebrity.