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Brief Reports

A Leicester secondary school headmaster was under fire last week for mounting an 88mm howitzer on the roof of the school hall during the annual school egg and spoon race. Local parents complained that their children were being enlisted as gun crews when they had only volunteered for the 100 metres hurdles, and councillors expressed alarm at the unprecedented cost of ramping up school security. The headmaster, Mr Geoffrey Barking, said in a statement: ‘It’s a rough area. If it’s good enough for the Olympics, it’s good enough for us.’

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Education Secretary Michael Gove is to examine claims the Gay and Lesbian Teachers Association broke impartiality rules on the topic of Catholicism. It emerged this week that the GLTA wrote to nearly 400 state-funded schools inviting them to back a petition against Catholics.  Schools and teachers are forbidden to promote one-sided political arguments. The GLTA has denied breaking any laws, saying gay views on Catholics are personal, not political: ‘It is central to gay culture to treat everyone with respect, even people who commit unnatural acts in churches.’

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Labour is demanding that David Cameron makes a Commons statement on the row surrounding the Transport secretary, Jedi Walker. There have been calls for Mr Walker to resign after it was revealed that he appeared not to be doing his job properly. Mr Cameron told Newsnight last week that: ‘It may be true that Jed has not been taking bungs from BSkyB, that he has no special advisor working with the Murdochs, that he has never been to one of their parties, that he has no directorships in Murdoch-controlled companies and that he has never in any way been dishonest in the Register of Members’ Interests. However, I wish to put on record that in spite of this I have every confidence in him as a politician of my own calibre.’

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It was announced this week that the Home Office was to simplify the induction process for new members of MI5 and MI6 following an internal survey that revealed that recruitment was dropping because the BBC series ‘Spooks’ is not on anymore. A spokesman said: ‘We now ask applicants if they want to join the secret service, and if so, whether they can lock themselves successfully into a hold-all while lying in a bath. If they can do that, they’re in.’

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James Naughtie the Radio 4 presenter who famously introduced the culture secretary during a coughing fit in 2010 as ‘Jeremy Cunt the Hulture Minister’ has publicly apologised to listeners for publicly apologising to listeners. Mr Naughtie, 60, is seeking to assure Radio 4 fans who may be annoyed at his gaffe: ‘I wish to reassure readers that I was right in the first place. I hope nobody was offended by my unforgivable retraction’.

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Business Secretary Vince Cable has condemned proposals to make it easier for firms to sack under-performing staff as “the wrong approach”. Mr Cable told reporters: ‘There’s no sense scaring the pants off workers when they can’t afford pants. Besides, we don’t want to go round saying that incompetence is a sackable offence. People might get ideas.’