Fresh Malaysia jet theories, Cameron's EU plans and Lewis Hamilton and Nicole Scherzinger 'to wed'

Several fresh theories about the fate of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane are raised on the front pages of Sunday's newspapers following the confirmation that the jet's communications systems were deliberately disabled.

The Sunday Mirror and Mail on Sunday both focus on claims that the pilot could have hijacked the flight as part of an anti-government protest.

According to the Mail, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah was an "obsessive" supporter of Malaysia's opposition leader who was jailed just hours before the flight left Kuala Lumpur on 8 March.

"Was pilot angry at election," asks the Sunday Mirror in its headline, but it quotes a friend of Mr Shah who says he "loves people" and would be the "last person" to be involved in a hijacking.

A former Home Office scientific adviser tells the Sunday Express the incident "might well be the world's first cyber hijack", suggesting hackers - either on board the plane or remotely - could have taken over the aircraft's controls.

Image copyright AP

Dr Sally Leivesley said the possibility that malicious codes triggered via a mobile phone could be made to override an aircraft's security software and change its speed, altitude and direction was raised last year at a science conference in China.

In its lead story, the Sunday Telegraph revisits the theory sparked by comments made in court last week by a supergrass that Malaysian Islamists had been plotting to hijack a passenger jet in a 9/11-style attack. It says the claims are now being investigated.

The Sunday Times describes the disappearance as the "most baffling riddle in modern aviation history" and says US government officials are examining data exchanged between the flight and a satellite in a "previously untried experiment" to try to locate the plane.

Reporting on the news conference in Kuala Lumpur where the Malaysian prime minister updated the media on the investigation, the Independent on Sunday says "after a week of contemplating an agonising loss, relatives of the 239 people aboard flight MH370 were yesterday offered a remote but tantalising prospect. Could the plane, astonishingly, be safe and intact after all, maybe in some secluded hideaway?"

The Observer considers the latest developments from the relatives' point of view, reporting how psychologists have warned that lives can be "left at a standstill when there is no space to grieve" amid false hopes and rumours.

Budget 'shock'

As George Osborne puts the finishing touches to the Budget next Wednesday, there's no shortage of advice and pleas from the leader writers.

The Daily Mail suggests the chancellor's reported decision not to raise the 40p threshold at which the highest rate tax band kicks in "just risks alienating" the Conservative's natural supporters. "This is no longer a levy on the rich," it says.

There are similar appeals over the "unfair tax burden" on the "squeezed middle" in the Sunday Express and the Sunday Telegraph, which urges the chancellor to "not forget the very voters" who put the Tories in power.

But if the Sunday People is to be believed, the chancellor is considering a "shock plan" to cut 1p off the basic rate of income tax to "soften up voters" for next year's general election.

It urges him to "forget about tinkering with the 40p tax rate... that benefits only the relatively well off" and "be bold" and show he really is on the side of hard-working low and middle income earners.

The message from the Budget must be that "there is a lot more work to do", says the Sunday Times.

"There are plenty of things the chancellor should be doing this week, most of which do not involve much money but will embed the recovery and ensure that more of it is driven by exports and investment. What he cannot afford are populist gimmicks."

The Independent on Sunday worries about potential changes to the coalition's eco policies, saying amid the understandable "political imperative to keep household bills down" it is important that Mr Osborne "is not allowed to slow down green progress further".

Meanwhile, in the Sun on Sunday Mr Osborne sets out his plans to build a "resilient economy" for the future and warns of more "difficult decisions" in the Budget.

And writing in the Sunday Mirror, shadow chancellor Ed Balls accuses Mr Osborne of being "out of touch" with the concerns of ordinary voters who "are not feeling any recovery at all".

'Earning loyalty'

David Cameron uses an article in the Sunday Telegraph to outline his agenda for renegotiating Britain's European Union membership.

The prime minister lists seven "specific changes" to stop the UK being "sucked into a United States of Europe", including demands for reform to immigration, human rights and trade laws.

In an editorial, the Sunday Telegraph says if the prime minister "sticks to his guns" and Brussels agrees to his terms ahead of his promised in/out referendum by the end of 2017, "then he will earn the loyalty of his party - and probably benefit at the ballot box".

Another issue that appears to be occupying the prime minister is the hunting ban, the Sunday Times says.

The paper claims Mr Cameron is hoping to ease restrictions on fox-hunting with more than two dogs - although the ban on hounds killing foxes would remain, and the foxes would have to be shot. It reports Mr Cameron and Environment Secretary Owen Paterson are canvassing support from all parties to amend the Hunting Act as a response to a plea from Welsh farmers so that up to 40 dogs can be used.

In the Observer, Business Secretary Vince Cable says there is a "compelling case" to speed up the extension of the HS2 high speed rail link to the cities of the north of England.

Ahead of the release of a report on the £50bn project by its new chairman, Sir David Higgins, Mr Cable says ensuring the "economic benefits [of HS2] can be shared sooner by everyone around the country... deserves serious consideration by government".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Photographs of a jubilant Brian O'Driscoll with the Six Nations trophy feature widely. Ireland's championship win at the Stade de France was his final international match.

According to the Sun on Sunday, the report to be unveiled on Monday will, in fact, include proposals for a part of the second phase of HS2 - construction of lines from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds - to begin at the same time as phase one between London and Birmingham.

A source quoted by the paper likens the project to the construction of the Channel Tunnel, saying the new plan is for crews involved in construction of HS2 to "meet in the middle".

The Sunday People welcomes the benefits to the North from the reported changes to the HS2 project, saying it would put the current "public relations disaster" on the "right track" and save money.

Goodnight from him

Image copyright PA

The Sunday Mirror has news of the apparent retirement of a "colossus" of comedy.

Ronnie Corbett has called time on his TV career after a health scare, it reports, quoting the 83-year-old TV veteran's wife, Anne.

It says the star was taken to hospital last week with "crippling" chest pains, but that doctors were unable to identify what was wrong. He was discharged just in time to make it to his close friend Sir David Frost's memorial at Westminster Abbey, where he delivered a eulogy.

Finally, as Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton gears up in pole position for the Australian Grand Prix, the Daily Star Sunday claims his pop singer girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger has accepted his marriage proposal.

The paper claims a wedding during the Formula 1 break in August is on the cards and the former Pussycat Girls star and judge on TV's X Factor will move in to his home in Switzerland, while travelling together when the season is on.

Making people click

Observer: Tony Benn's son inherits title his father gave up

Sunday Mirror: Mapped: The 634 runways where missing Malaysia Airlines plane could have landed

Sunday Telegraph: Aga Khan's 10-year divorce battle ends in '£50m deal'