January – Ford unveils its all-new Fiesta supermini, which is due on sale in March.
7 January – It is announced that a record of 2,450,000 new cars were sold during 2001, breaking the previous record set in 1989. The Ford Focus was Britain's best selling car for the third year running.
19 February – Ford ends 90 years of British car production with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs after the last Fiesta was made at its factory in Dagenham. However, the plant will be retained for the production of engines and gearboxes, and Ford will continue to make commercial vehicles at its plant in Southampton.
29 March – Coal mining in Scotland, which has a history stretching back more than 800 years, comes to an end with the closure of Longannet coal mine in Fife after it floods and the owners go into liquidation, putting more than 500 people out of work.
23 April – A badly decomposed female body is found in the River Thames; it is feared to be that of Amanda Dowler.
24 April – The body found in the River Thames is identified as that of 73-year-old Mrs Maisie Thomas, who was last seen alive near her home in Shepperton just over a year ago and whose death is not believed to be suspicious.
12 June – England qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup despite only managing a goalless draw against Nigeria.
15 June – England beat Denmark 3-0 in the World Cup second round and reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1990. Ironically, the far-right British National Party had declared its support for all-white Denmark before the World Cup due to the England team featuring black players.
21 June – England's hopes of winning the World Cup are ended by a 2–1 defeat to Brazil in the quarter-finals.
25 June – Jason Gifford (27) is shot dead by armed police in Aylesbury after brandishing a shotgun and a machete in a residential street.
8 July – John Taylor, a 46-year-old parcel delivery worker from Bramley in Leeds, is sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 16-year-old Leanne Tiernan. Leanne was last seen alive in the city centre on 26 November 2000 and her body was found in the Yorkshire countryside nine months later. Police believed that Taylor may have been responsible for other unsolved sex attacks and murders in the Yorkshire area, and the trial judge has warned Taylor to expect to spend the rest of his life in prison.
– 10-year-old girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman go missing in Soham, Cambridgeshire.
5 August – Police and volunteers in the Soham area begin the search for Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
7 August – Police investigating the case of the two missing Soham girls seize a white van in nearby Wentworth and admit they are now looking at the case as a possible abduction.
12 August – A possible sighting of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman is reported by a local taxi driver who claims to have seen the driver of a green car struggling with two children and driving recklessly along the A142 into Newmarket on the evening the girls went missing.
13 August – Two mounds of disturbed earth are found at Warren Hill, near Newmarket, in the same area where screams were reported on the night that Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman went missing. It is initially feared that the mounds of earth were the graves of the two girls, but a police examination fails to uncover any link to the girls.
16 August – Ian Huntley, caretaker of Soham Village College, and his girlfriend Maxine Carr, are questioned in connection with the disappearance of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, but are released after seven hours in custody.
17 August – Following the recovery of items of major interest to the police investigation, Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr are re-arrested on suspicion of murder as police admit for the first time that they fear the missing girls are now dead. Several hours later, two "severely decomposed and partially skeletonised" bodies are found in the Lakenheath area; they have not been identified but police say that they are likely to be those of the two missing girls.
21 August – Ian Huntley, detained under the Mental Health Act, is charged with the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. His girlfriend Maxine Carr is charged with perverting the course of justice. Both are remanded in custody. Meanwhile, police confirm that the two bodies found at Lakenheath are those of the two girls.
20 September – Police confirm that human remains found in woodland in north Hampshire are those of Amanda Dowler, who went missing in Surrey six months ago. A murder investigation is launched.
1 November – Diana, Princess of Wales' former butler, Paul Burrell, is cleared of stealing from the princess' estate after it was revealed that he had told The Queen that he was keeping some of her possessions.
15 November – Moors Murderer Myra Hindley dies in West Suffolk Hospital at the age of 60 after being hospitalised with a heart attack. She was in the 37th year of her life sentence and had spent the last decade attempting to gain parole despite being told by no less than four Home Secretaries that she would have to spend the rest of her life in prison. Her death ironically comes at a time when the politicians who gradually increased Hindley's tariff from 25 years to 30 years and then to "whole life" are expected to be stripped of their power to set minimum terms for life sentence prisoners.
German anatomist Gunther von Hagens conducts a public autopsy in a London theatre; the first in Britain in more than 170 years.
26 November – Politicians in England and Wales lose their power to set minimum terms on life sentence prisoners after the European Court of Human Rights and the High Court both ruled in favour of a legal challenge by convicted double murderer Anthony Anderson. Anderson had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 1988 and the trial judge recommended that he should serve a minimum of 15 years before being considered for parole, but the Home Secretary later decided on a 20-year minimum term.
Stuart Campbell, a 44-year-old builder from Grays in Essex, is found guilty of murdering his 15-year-old niece Danielle Jones 18 months ago. Danielle's body has never been found. It is then revealed that Campbell, who is sentenced to life imprisonment, has a string of previous convictions including keeping an underage girl at his home without lawful authority in 1989.