Human rights shake-up, Lindsay Lohan's West End bow and Margaret Thatcher files

A Conservative pledge to draw up a Bill of Rights giving British judges authority over the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) appears on several front pages.

The Daily Telegraph is among the papers using the justice secretary's terminology when it says: "The commitment would put a stop to the 'farce' of foreign criminals and terrorists being allowed to fight deportation from Britain by invoking European human rights rulings."

And Chris Grayling addresses Daily Mail readers directly through an article in which he insists the values espoused by the original European Convention on Human Rights "are still those that should underpin a modern nation".

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However, he argues the ECHR should not have been allowed to rule on matters such as "votes for prisoners in our jails, no whole-life sentences for the most brutal murderers [and] no deportation for terrorists".

The Sun is firmly in favour of replacing the UK's current Human Rights Act - which incorporates European rulings into British law - with a new Bill of Rights. It lists 10 "rights that were wrong", including the eight-year fight to deport "hate preacher" Abu Qatada, a ban on deporting al-Qaeda member Siraj Yassin Abdullah Ali and a "bombardment" of claims against the Army.

Another supporter is the Daily Express, although it warns Mr Grayling that he will "no doubt suffer fierce retaliation from Labour and Liberal Democrat figures... more scared than ever of the dismantling of their pet projects in Europe".

However, the justice secretary will have opponents in his own party, as the Financial Times points out. The paper quotes former Attorney General Dominic Grieve describing the plan to effectively downgrade the ECHR to an "advisory" body as "schoolboy stuff".

The MP adds: "This does not work and it is damaging to us to come up with half-baked solutions that don't bear close scrutiny."

And the FT quotes Shami Chakrabarti, of human rights campaign group Liberty, warning that the proposals would erode the legacy of Churchill. The Guardian, too, is scathing of the Conservatives' motivation, saying: "Driven by a mix of lazy and offensive Europhobia and a desire to appease the right-wing press they are trying to make a reactionary gesture not to improve the quality of human rights law."

However, the Times reckons reform is "long overdue". It argues: "Britain would like to find a reasonable compromise but Mr Cameron is quite right to threaten withdrawal [from the convention] if one cannot be found."


'High-risk' drinkers

"Two glasses of wine a night? You need help," declares the Daily Telegraph's headline to a story explaining that people who regularly sup half a bottle of red - or three pints of beer - "are to be told they are borderline alcoholics". New clinical guidance will suggest that doctors offer patients with this sort of intake drugs to help them reduce their consumption, the paper explains.

The Daily Mirror describes nalmefene as the "pill to stop you having more than one pint". Costing £3 per tablet, the medication could save 1,854 lives per year, the paper suggests. It gives room to Dr David Collier from London's Barts Hospital to explain the pill is aimed at "high-risk" drinkers who don't need detox. He writes: "There is a great unmet need in the UK, with over 600,000 patients in this group who run considerable excess risk of strokes and liver disease."

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The Sun quotes charity Alcohol Concern welcoming the drug, which reduces the urge to drink, but quotes a University of Stirling academic suggesting that pricing policies and marketing restrictions would be as effective. The Telegraph explains that two clinical trials found nalmefene reduced alcohol consumption by an average of 61% over six months, when used alongside counselling.

And the Mirror reckons its funding by the NHS is worth a try, saying: "It may not be a magic pill, but this problem is too big to ignore." If the drugs don't work, there's a further deterrent for male drinkers in the Times. "Drinking just two pints of beer a week could reduce the quality of a man's sperm - and the more he drinks the worse it gets," it says, citing a study published in the British Medical Journal.

The report inspires the paper's cartoonist to imagine a couple of drinkers downing a pint of "old scrotum" in the pub, while the Telegraph's Matt draws a patient explaining to his doctor: "Sometimes I drink the following day's allowance. I'm up to January 4th, 2034."


'A turn up'

Theatre reviewers flocked to London's Playhouse to see Lindsay Lohan's West End debut in the Hollywood satire Speed-The-Plow. And, as Patricia Nicol puts it in the Metro, the first question was whether "Li-Lo" would "turn up".

She did, and Nicol says: "Last night, a decent actress clambered out of the wreckage that she has made of the past decade." It's a reference to the former child star's reputation for being unreliable after a descent into alcohol abuse and a series of arrests. "What a turn up!" says the Independent. "Lohan silences the doubters with a deft performance," it adds, with reviewer Paul Taylor declaring "she has a real presence".

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"The doomsayers, the mockers and those quick to bitch on Twitter can go hang," agrees Dominic Cavendish, in the Telegraph. "She delivers enough of the goods, playing the small but pivotal role of a temporary secretary who upsets the male balance of power in a top production office, to hold her head high."

According to the Guardian's Michael Billington, she outperforms the production. "Whatever her colourful past, Lohan brings to the stage a quality of breathless naivety that is far and away the most interesting thing in Lindsay Posner's otherwise tame, underpowered revival," he writes.

However, the Mail's Quentin Letts is unimpressed by both Lohan's performance and the "greed" of the "producers and commercial sharks who thought they could turn a few quid". He writes: "Her acting is that of a not specially gifted schoolgirl... At least she tried her very best. But she should never have been thus exposed... The villains of this piece are the stage professionals who have sold their art for a potage of notoriety."


Thatcher files

Image copyright Margaret Thatcher Archive Trust

Newly-published personal papers of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher reveal she "planned to accuse not only militant miners but the entire Labour party of being 'the enemy within' and part of an 'insurrection' against democracy" at the Conservatives' 1984 conference, reports the Guardian.

However, the paper explains: "The explosion of the IRA Brighton bomb, aimed at the heart of the cabinet, ensured that the attack was never delivered." Or, as the Express puts it: "Thatcher went soft on enemies after [the] bomb," by toning down her speech.

Earlier drafts, published by the Margaret Thatcher Foundation archive, are highlighted by the Independent. "One version, found on a sheet of paper that had been ripped then taped together again after being rescued from a waste bin, began with the haunting phrase 'From the dark cloud falls an acid rain that eats into liberty,' writes the Independent's Andy McSmith.

Image copyright PA

He says her letters to those who wished her well after the bombing were also revealed, including one apologising for cancelling a follow-up hairdressers' appointment, in which she wrote: "I was very pleased with the way you did my hair, and the fact that it lasted so well through Friday was the real test."

The Mail highlights that Mrs Thatcher "had foreseen her downfall at the hands of the 'men in grey suits' "as early as 1983". It quotes from the private memoir of her private secretary John Coles, who wrote: "I recall my surprise when she said to me, just two or three days after the Conservative victory of June 1983, 'I have not long to go'. For someone who had just won a majority of 140 seats this was a remarkable statement. When I questioned it, she said: 'My party won't want me to lead them into the next election - and I don't blame them'."

According to the Telegraph, the files suggest Mrs Thatcher met Apple entrepreneur Steve Jobs at a black-tie dinner in 1984. It hears from Edward Streator, a US diplomat who was also present, that "Jobs was one of the younger people there. He was a wunderkind but he was also quiet. It's almost certain Thatcher and Jobs would have met".

Meanwhile, the Times's Daniel Sanderson notes that a "voluminous amount of internal memos" were dedicated to a diplomatic row between West German and Japanese horticulturalists over the right to name a rose after the then Conservative leader. A press officer said that Britain should "adopt a position of all innocence", the paper records.


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