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What made the news in 2013

It was a year that will be remembered for historic events - both good and bad.

The birth of Prince George captured the imagination of a nation eager for a first glimpse of the future king.

But the killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby was greeted with shock and anger.

Tributes poured in following the death of former prime minister Baroness Thatcher, although many on the left criticised her policies.

And several high-profile names were tarnished by allegations of sexual abuse, while confidence in the meat industry was rocked by the horsemeat scandal.

There was huge anticipation surrounding the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's first child. The decision to keep Kate's due date secret meant photographers spent weeks camped outside the Lindo wing of St Mary's Hospital in London. The big day finally arrived on July 22, and the moment when the proud parents emerged from the hospital the following day with Prince George was broadcast around the world.

The joy of a Royal baby came in stark contrast to events exactly two months earlier in Woolwich, south-east London.

Fusilier Rigby's death, which was universally condemned, also sparked protests from right-wing groups including the British National Party and the English Defence League.

The food industry got off to a bad start to the year as the horse meat scandal dominated the news agenda from mid-January. Investigations were launched into the authenticity of beef products as 10 million suspect burgers were initially taken off the shelves. Raids were carried out across the UK and three arrests were made.

Britons shivered as they endured the joint-second coldest March since records began in 1910. The average temperature was 2.2C and heavy snow and strong winds caused power cuts and travel chaos, while farmers battled to save livestock. Torrential rain caused flooding in Devon and Cornwall and one woman died in Looe when her house collapsed during a landslip.

Friends and foes alike marked the end of an era as Lady Thatcher died at the age of 87 on April 8. Britain's first and only woman prime minister was given a funeral at St Paul's Cathedral with full military honours in recognition of her huge influence on the country. The Queen was said to be ''sad'' at news of the death, while Prime Minister David Cameron praised her as a ''great leader'' and a ''great Briton''.

However, others on the left condemned the social impacts of her policies encouraging the free market and stripping power from unions.

The 2012 murders of schoolgirls April Jones and Tia Sharp returned to the spotlight in May as their killers went on trial.

Stuart Hazell finally admitted killing Tia when he changed his plea on the fifth day of his trial, having forced the 12-year-old's family to sit through days of shocking and graphic evidence, including a sickening picture of her taken after she died in New Addington, south-east London.

Mark Bridger was found guilty of abducting and murdering five-year-old April Jones, who vanished while playing on her bike near her home in Machynlleth, mid-Wales. Her body has never been found.

In June the Queen retraced her footsteps in the church where she was crowned 60 years earlier. The royal family gathered to mark the anniversary of her coronation with a religious service at Westminster Abbey. Alongside the Queen was the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and more than 20 royals.

Anti-fracking protests began at a camp in the West Sussex countryside in July. Hundreds of activists gathered at the Reclaim the Power camp in the village of Balcombe, which became the focal point of fracking protests since energy firm Cuadrilla prepared to drill for oil at the site.

In August David Cameron ruled out UK involvement in military action against Syria after his authority and international standing were dealt a blow by defeat on the issue in the Commons. In a highly unusual reverse over such an important matter of foreign policy, 30 Tory rebels as well as nine Liberal Democrats joined with Labour to inflict a humiliating defeat on the Prime Minister.

The year will also be remembered for more allegations of sexual abuse by veteran entertainers and broadcasters. Australian Rolf Harris and former Radio One DJ Dave Lee Travis appeared in separate court hearings to deny various sexual offences. Broadcaster Stuart Hall was jailed for 14 counts of indecent assault.

An independent investigation into the near collapse of the Co-operative Bank was announced in November as its former chairman, Paul Flowers, was arrested and bailed by police over drugs allegations.

The 63-year-old Methodist minister was questioned at a Leeds police station by officers ''investigating allegations of drug supply offences''.

Mr Flowers stepped down as Co-op Bank chairman in June and doubts were raised about his competence in the role amid claims of illegal drug use, inappropriate expenses, drink-driving and pornographic material found on a council computer.

Meanwhile jurors in the phone hacking trial of former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-spin doctor Andy Coulson were told that bosses at the now-defunct tabloid ''must have known'' about hacking.

As the case got under way in October, prosecutor Andrew Edis QC said a ''great deal'' of phone hacking went on at the newspaper, including of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's mobile.

The victims are alleged to include celebrities Jude Law and Sienna Miller, former home secretary David Blunkett, actress Joanna Lumley, and pop star Will Young. The case will continue making headlines well into next year as verdicts are not expected until Easter.


From Belfast Telegraph