The Spectator

Portrait of the Week: Infected blood apologies, falling inflation and XL bully attacks 


Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said: ‘I want to make a wholehearted and unequivocal apology’ for a ‘decades-long moral failure at the heart of our national life’, as described in the report by Sir Brian Langstaff from the Infected Blood Inquiry, which found that successive governments and the NHS had let patients catch HIV and hepatitis. Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, apologised too. So far more than 3,000 have died, of the 30,000 infected with HIV or hepatitis C from blood products or transfusions between 1970 and the early 1990s. Interim compensation of £210,000 will be paid to some within 90 days. BT postponed until January 2027 a deadline for forcing customers to switch from copper-based landlines to internet-based services.

Wylfa on Anglesey was earmarked for a new nuclear power station. The High Court ruled as unlawful legislation amended by statutory instrument that had attempted to increase police powers against demonstrators by lowering the threshold for what counted as ‘serious disruption’. After people fell ill with diarrhoea caused by Cryptosporidium parasites, 16,000 households in Brixham, Devon, were told by South West Water to boil drinking water. Water companies in England and Wales want bills to increase by between 24 per cent and 91 per cent in the next five years, according to the Consumer Council for Water. Manchester City became the Premier League champions for the fourth time running, pipping Arsenal to the title. A woman in Hornchurch, Essex, died after being attacked by her two registered XL bully dogs.

Annual inflation fell to 2.3 per cent in April from 3.2 per cent in March. Labour issued a card with six pledges: economic stability, the establishment of Great British Energy, a publicly owned clean energy company, cutting NHS waiting lists, stopping the gangs arranging small boat crossings, providing more neighbourhood police officers and recruiting 6,500 teachers. In the week ending 20 May, 324 migrants arrived in England in small boats. The online used-car site Cazoo went into administration. Sir Anthony O’Reilly, the rugby international, creator of Kerrygold butter, newspaper owner and bankrupt, died aged 88. Frank Ifield, who topped the charts in 1962 with ‘I Remember You’, died aged 86.


Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, sought arrest warrants for Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defence minister, Ismail Haniyeh,the political leader of Hamas, Mohammed Deif, the group’s military chief, and the leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, over alleged war crimes in the Gaza conflict. President Joe Biden of the United States said: ‘The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous.’ He said there was ‘no equivalence – none – between Israel and Hamas’. Ireland, Norway and Spain said they would recognise a Palestinian state from May. Ebrahim Raisi, the President of Iran, died in a helicopter crash, along with Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Foreign Minister, in a mountainous region near the border of Azerbaijan, where they had been meeting President Ilham Aliyev.

Russia used hundreds of glide bombs against Ukrainian settlements. Thousands were displaced by a Russian advance near Kharkiv. Ukraine said that a missile attack had destroyed a Russian minesweeper, the Kovrovets, in occupied Crimea. President Vladimir Putin of Russia visited Beijing for talks with Xi Jinping, the ruler of China. Robert Fico, the Slovak Prime Minister elected last year after opposing military support for Ukraine, was reported to be no longer in danger of losing his life four days after being shot four times by a man who was arrested.

Australia and New Zealand sent planes to New Caledonia to evacuate citizens caught by unrest over elections; President Emmanuel Macron of France flew in to sort things out. A court in Greece abandoned the trial of nine Egyptian men accused of causing a migrant shipwreck in the Mediterranean in which 600 were feared drowned, because the judges ruled they did not have jurisdiction, since the vessel sank in international waters. The ship that smashed into a bridge in Baltimore on 26 March was towed to a marine terminal; the crew of 21 remained aboard. Spain withdrew its ambassador to Buenos Aires after President Javier Milei of Argentina visited Madrid and said of the Spanish Prime Minister: ‘When you have a corrupt wife, let’s say, it gets dirty.’ Naples was hit by 160 earthquakes in one night. A British man aged 73 died on a Singapore Airlines flight from London, diverted to Bangkok, which was hit by turbulence.          CSH