Fathers who want their sons circumcised. In a landmark legal decision, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss ruled that the Christian mother of a five-year-boy was entitled to stop her son undergoing a ritual circumcision. The boy's Muslim father claimed it was his son's birthright to be circumcised in accordance with his religion.
Habitual burglars. Home Secretary Jack Straw is setting up a unit to monitor judges' sentences for persistent housebreakers. Under the "three strikes and you're out" rule, to be introduced next month, judges will be obliged to jail burglars convicted of three offences for a minimum three years. However, the Crime (Sentences) Act provides a get out clause for "specific circumstances" and Straw is worried liberal judges will use it freely to avoid jailing offenders. The Prison Service expects the number of inmates to rise by 4,000 over the next decade if the act is carried out with full force.
Harold Bell & Co, solicitors in Ewell, Surrey. The firm was paid £3,000 to administer the estate of Nancy Waller who died intestate, aged 90. The solicitors distributed £39,662 to the deceased's first and second cousins but within weeks of receiving their money, the 18 beneficiaries had their cheques stopped or were asked to return money already spent. A letter sent by Harold Bell & Co stated: "We very much regret that the calculation of the beneficiaries of this estate was carried out incorrectly… this arose due to an error on our part."