Newspaper review: £1.7bn EU 'surcharge', and Stardust tributes

The figure of £1.7bn features prominently in Friday's newspapers, for that is the amount of money the European Union wants the UK to pay as a kind of national income tax.

"EU makes Britain pay for recovery", is the Daily Telegraph's headline. The paper says Prime Minister David Cameron was "ambushed with a demand from the European Commission for the extra cash because the economy has performed better than the rest of Europe since 1995".

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"To add insult to injury," says the Daily Mail, "France will receive a £790m rebate because its economy is struggling." The paper reports the amount demanded represents one-fifth of Britain's net contribution to the EU last year - the UK paid £8.6bn in subs to be part of the European club.

The Independent notes the surcharge has come as a surprise in Downing Street and has to be paid on 1 December. The prime minister is said to be "determined" to challenge the fee and met his Dutch counterpart in Brussels on Thursday night, the paper reports, to discuss tactics.

The timing of Brussels' final demand, as is so often the case in politics, could not be worse for Mr Cameron and the Conservative Party.

It is fighting next month's by-election in the Kent constituency of Rochester and Strood amid a strong challenge from the UK Independence Party. The Times says the anti-EU party is 13 points ahead of the Tories there..

The Financial Times notes the "one-off bill will infuriate Euro-sceptic MPs", while the Daily Mail quotes UKIP leader Nigel Farage likening the EU to "thirsty vampires feasting on UK taxpayers' blood".

'Utter disgrace'

Several papers take issues with the decision to grant parole to Harry Roberts who was jailed for life after killing three police officers in west London in 1966.

The Daily Mirror puts the story on its front page and two inside pages, having spoken to the widow of one of the men Roberts killed.

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Det Con David Wombwell's wife Gillian told the paper 78-year-old Roberts "should die behind bars". "Our family has faced life, he should too," she adds.

Roberts was jailed for a minimum of 30 years for the murders of the three unarmed officers: Mr Wombwell, Det Sgt Christopher Head and PC Geoffrey Fox.

The Daily Express reports that Roberts could be freed from Littlehey Prison in Cambridgeshire, "within days". It quotes Mandy Fox, daughter of PC Fox, who tells the paper: "What signal does this show our courageous serving police officers? It is an utter disgrace."

The Independent reports the Home Secretary Theresa May's "distaste" at the decision to release Roberts, and that she had "made sure the government will change the law so life will mean life for anyone who murders a police officer".

Simon Heffer, writing in the Daily Mail, rails against the ending of the home secretary's power to over-rule Parole Board decisions.

"The British public has lost its protection from criminals, first by having their wishes to retain capital punishment over-ridden by liberal politicians who think they know best and now by preventing elected representatives from keeping the violent criminals inside," he writes.

The Guardian though quotes Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg - speaking on his LBC Radio phone-in show - saying he supported the Parole Board's decision: "it's about how the justice system works. If you want to run the system according to the latest emotion you feel, fine, but that would be a disaster."

The Daily Telegraph's leader column makes a measured examination of the issues raised by the Roberts case, and concludes: "Just as a prisoner can judicially review a decision not to release him early, a way must be found to test in court whether [he] should spend the rest of his days behind bars."

Supermarket giant Tesco continues to have more problems than just an unexpected item in the bagging area.

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"Tes K.O.", quips the Sun, after the one-time king of the retail jungle posted an almost 50% fall in underlying profits amid falling sales.

"Tesco Shelf Destructs" puns the Daily Mirror, as the chain's chairman Sir Richard Broadbent "bowed to pressure... after revelations the supermarket giant had fiddled its accounts" - a reference to it having overstated its profits on three previous occasions.

The Times' leading article gives the company a rocket in light of last year's horsemeat scandal: "Tesco has found that its reputation for quality and high standards takes concentrated effort to build up and is easy to lose."

The Daily Mail cartoonist Pugh takes aim. A couple are seen walking past a store emblazoned with the logo "Tesco: Best Before 2014".

A sprinkle of Stardust

All the papers pay tribute to Alvin Stardust - the 70s-era glam rocker who died after a short illness aged 72.

Stardust, according to the Times' obituary, was "as kitsch as his glam-rock name" who thrilled teen audiences as "the man who never smiles".

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The Daily Express's obituary tells us the star's persona "wasn't quite what it seemed". His name "concocted by a junior record producer" because Stardust had already had a singing career as Shane Fenton with the Fentones in the 1960s.

Best known for songs including My Coo Ca Choo, the Guardian says the man born Bernard Jewry had to "hurriedly" dye his hair before performing the song on the BBC's Top of the Pops and in the process stained his hands - "necessitating the leather gloves which became a key part of his look".

The Daily Mirror quotes BBC Radio 5 live's Nicky Campbell, a former Radio 1 DJ, saying "pointing at the camera with his single leather glove... he did the attitude consummately".

The Daily Telegraph pays Stardust the honour of making him a subject of its leader column: "My Coo Ca Choo, a hit in 1973, is still whistled by workmen today."

Stardust learned in July that his cancer was terminal, the Sun reports, and his agent tells the paper "five days before he died he was still gigging".

John Walsh in the Independent writes that the "surly and self-consciously retro" Stardust of the 70s was still making records in his eighth decade and died only weeks before releasing his first album for 30 years.

The Local Government Association (LGA) may have suddenly become the best friend of every parent in England, for it has suggested the end of a blanket ban on children being taken out of school in term time to go on holiday.

The Daily Mail says the LGA thinks head teachers should adopt a "common-sense" approach to granting time away from school and "decide on a case-by-case basis".

Public-sector workers could benefit from the move, says the Times, because they could take advantage of cheaper holidays.

The Daily Telegraph says up until last year schools could grant up to 10 days of leave a year, but now parents who take their young out of school without permission face fines rising to £120 a day.

The issue is thrown into some confusion by the Independent, which reports head teachers' leaders saying they have "enough flexibility" under the present system, while a spokeswoman for the Department for Education tells the paper heads "are free to grant leave in exceptional circumstances".

A spy to bank on

Eric Roberts turned the old cliche about the mundanity of working in a bank on its head.

Several papers pick up on the story of what the Guardian calls the "unassuming bank clerk" who "single-handedly penetrated Adolf Hitler's 'fifth column' in Britain".

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Files released by the National Archives in Kew reveal how family man Roberts was, as the Daily Express reports, "plucked from obscurity for special wartime work of 'national importance'".

The Westminster Bank clerk duped "possibly hundreds of British Nazi sympathisers into believing they were spying for Hitler", says the Times.

The Daily Mail tells its readers Roberts had "acquired a knowledge" about pro-Nazis in Britain (although the papers do not reveal how he did so), and that he was "also a ju-jitsu enthusiast - having been a member of the Anglo Japanese Judo Club - which may have proved handy for a special agent".

The Daily Telegraph reports Roberts - who used the alias Jack King - was able to persuade sympathisers to part with valuable secrets, including "the formula of machinery that MI5 noted could, if passed to the Germans, 'render our radio location system completely useless'".

The release of other MI5 documents from the National Archives also reveal how the intelligence service put eminent British historians of the Cold War era under surveillance.

The Times reports that "openly Marxist" academics Christopher Hill and Eric Hobsbawm were feared to be "helping Moscow to gain a grip on British academia" and their phones were intercepted and offices bugged.

"But rather than uncovering evidence of sedition," says the paper, "MI5 had to console itself with tales of marital infidelity, music recitals and the turgid doctrinal disputes of the British Communist Party."

Making them click

Daily Express - Daughter of policeman killed by Harry Roberts says she is 'sickened' by his release

The Guardian - Doctor tests positive for Ebola at New York hospital

The Independent - Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds

Daily Mirror - Watch pregnant Kate Middleton arrive at charity gala in stunning dress

Daily Mail - Lying on a bed littered with drugs, the young British newlyweds - both with first class degrees - found dead in a hotel near the Taj Mahal on a backpacking tour of India

Financial Times - Isis sells smuggled oil to Turkey and Iraqi Kurds says US Treasury

Daily Telegraph - 'What painting portraits of naked women has taught me'