Pope Benedict XVI has sent shock waves through the Catholic faith by announcing he will resign at the end of this month for health reasons. The 85-year-old head of the Catholic Church will step down on 28 February and the Vatican hopes to announce his successor by Easter, which this year falls on 31 March. The last Pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415.
POLL GIVES LABOUR 12 POINT LEAD
An ICM opinion poll has given Labour a 12 point lead over the Conservatives, its largest lead since 2003. Ed Miliband's party now stands at 41% of the vote, up three points on ICM's January figure, and the Tories are on just 29%, having slipped back four from 33% last month. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have sunk two points, to 13%.
INHERITANCE TAX REFORM ABANDONED
David Cameron and George Osborne are abandoning a Conservative pledge to reform the inheritance tax system. It was announced today that the £325,000 level at which tax becomes payable will be frozen until at least 2019 to help pay for social care reforms. A promise to raise the threshold to £1m was in the Tories' 2010 election manifesto.
HORSEMEAT TRAIL LEADS TO ROMANIA
Romanian officials are investigating whether horsemeat found in ‘beef' products has come from the 25 abattoirs in the country licensed to slaughter horses and says they will "take action if laws have been broken". Six French supermarket chains withdrew products made by the French manufacturer Comigel, using meat believed to have come from Romania.
BEN AFFLECK'S ARGO WINS BEST FILM BAFTA
Argo continued its award-winning streak, gaining three Baftas in London last night, including best film and best director for Ben Affleck. Daniel Day-Lewis won best actor for his portrayal of Lincoln, while French actress Emmanuelle Riva won best actress winner for Amour. Skyfall was named outstanding British film – the first Bafta for a Bond movie in 50 years.
FOX ATTACK: BABY'S FINGER RE-ATTACHED
London Mayor Boris Johnson has called on local councils to tackle the "menace" of urban foxes after a one-month-old baby was attacked by a fox that entered his bedroom and dragged him from his cot. His horrified mother had to kick the fox several times to get it to let go. The baby has had a severed finger re-attached by surgeons.
MUMFORD & SONS WIN TOP GRAMMY
English folk rock quartet Mumford & Sons won album of the year at the Grammy awards in Los Angeles yesterday for their second album, Babel. Lead singer Marcus Mumford was presented with the award by Adele, who won pop vocal performance for her song Set Fire to the Rain (Live). Fun took both best new artist and song of the year for We are Young.
TWINS' IDENTICAL DNA CONFOUNDS RAPE COPS
French police investigating a series of sexual assaults in Marseille have arrested two identical twin brothers, saying they are sure from DNA tests that one is responsible, but they cannot tell which one until further tests costing €1 million are carried out. The men are 24-year-old van drivers, named as Elwin and Yohan.
MURDOCH HINTS AT PAGE 3 GIRL'S DEMISE
A Twitter posting by Rupert Murdoch last night fuelled speculation that he might be ready to end The Sun's tradition of picturing a topless model on its Page 3, the tabloid's best known feature for more than 40 years. Responding to a tweet saying Page 3 was "so last century", the News Corp chief answered: "You may be right".
HOT TICKET: ICE AGE MASTERPIECES
A new British Museum exhibition, 'Ice Age Art: Arrival of the Modern Mind', presents art objects created during Europe's Ice Age (40,000 to 10,000 years ago) alongside works of modern art by Henry Moore, Mondrian and Matisse. "Full of wonders," says The Guardian. Until 26 May.