Newspaper headlines: Pensions, Nicole Scherzinger and Rotherham abuse 'truth'

There's a celebratory tone to front pages as they report the announcement of plans that would limit the charges levied to administer pension savings to 0.75% a year.

"Millions of workers will get a huge boost," says the Daily Express, which quotes figures suggesting that the changes will save people £100,000 over their working life. A total of up to £200m will be retained in pension pots instead of being eaten away by fund management charges, it adds.

The Daily Telegraph points out it has been calling for an end to "rip-off fees" since 2010. "Official figures shown to MPs yesterday indicated that savers historically lost more than a third of their pot to charges over their working careers." That will be limited to 19% in future, the paper adds.

However, it warns that middle-aged savers would save much less as they "had fewer years in which to benefit". And it points out the limitations of the cap, saying: "Millions of savers with pensions set up before 2001, and which do not accept new recruits automatically, will be excluded."


Eye-catching headlines

  • "Is this Satan's Stronghold" - the Daily Mirror visits Bolsover, in Derbyshire, where 17 people declared themselves to be "Satanists" on the last census
  • "Recycle of life" - the Sun's description of how a businessman given a donor heart from a cyclist killed in a road accident has become an avid bike rider
  • "Stars who've married their sisters" - the Mail publishes a photo montage demonstrating the similarities of stars' wives to their sisters, or at least similarities in their hairstyles
  • "Wikipedia editor strikes 47,000 blows in his war on 'comprised of'" - the Independent reports one pedant's crusade against a phrase he sees as "grammatical sloppiness"

'Finally, truth'

Three years after exposing how children were being abused by gangs of men in Rotherham, the Times greets the publication of a report into the scandal with the headline: "Finally the truth behind the lies."

The inspection report's author, Louise Casey, said a "deep-rooted" culture of cover-ups and silencing whistleblowers within Rotherham Council had kept hidden the abuse of 1,400 children over 16 years by gangs of men, mainly of Pakistani origin.

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And the Times notes her comment that reporter Andrew Norfolk's investigative journalism was attacked as "politically motivated lies" designed to discredit a Labour authority. The report found "some officials denigrated the personal character" of the reporter, suggesting he "had a thing about Pakistani men", the paper says. In the Daily Mail, Sue Reid says she was subject to the same treatment: "I first warned in the Mail five years ago of young girls being traded in provincial towns as sex slaves. I was accused by social workers, police, councillors and even faith organisers of making it up... I was branded racist."

The Daily Telegraph points the finger at the modern "cabinet" structure of councils, saying: "This system is inherently anti-democratic. Decisions are often taken behind closed doors by a small group of favoured burghers, whose conclusions are then rubber-stamped by the full council. The local press, or what is left of it, struggles to find out what is going on, as its reporters once could under the old open committee system."

However, the Sun adds: "Let's not overlook the repugnant negligence of the police. Again and again they told raped kids they'd asked for it. Sometimes they arrested them and not their abusers." The Daily Mirror highlights the plight of such victims, quoting the mother of one girl who had been held at knifepoint, filmed being assaulted and locked in rooms with gangs of men. They continue to "fear for their lives" because their attackers remain free, she says.

Times writer Andrew Norfolk says that for victims like them "justice will not be... believed to be done until the groomers and abusers are arrested, charged with serious criminal offences and brought to court to stand trial".


'Devastated'

Reporting that Nicole Scherzinger and Lewis Hamilton have split for a fourth time, the Daily Mirror commiserates with the "heartbroken" celebrity couple with a headline describing "a car crash relationship".

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Neither can the Daily Mail resist a driving pun, contrasting Formula 1 world champion Hamilton's "effortless performances on the racing track" to a love life that is "more of a stop-start affair". It quotes a source saying he is "devastated" to have lost "his best friend".

Scherzinger uses the same term to describe her mood to the Sun, which labels the pair "glum and glummer". Showbiz writer Dan Wootton quotes the former Pussycat Dolls singer saying: "I love Lewis and I know he loves me. We wish nothing but happiness and the very best for one another." However, he also quotes a "friend" saying "there were fights all the time, but a lot of that simply came from the huge issues caused by being in a long-distance relationship".

For the Daily Telegraph's Sarah Rainey, the news makes sense of an "oddly emotional encounter" last week, when she interviewed the singer about her "electrifying performance" in the musical Cats.

The star was "speaking languidly, dreamily, in an unfathomably high octave... slumped on a sofa in her softly lit dressing room, stage make-up caked around bloodshot eyes". The writer adds: "She looks like a broken - or, indeed, heartbroken - doll."


'Inaction' in action

With editors asking why Sir John Chilcot hadn't reported on Britain's role in the Iraq War, five and a quarter years since beginning his public inquiry, sketchwriters were dispatched to hear him respond to MPs. "I spent what felt like five and a quarter years listening to him talk about it," complains the Telegraph's Michael Deacon.

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It had been four years since the Times's Ann Treneman had seen career civil servant Sir John in action - "or inaction as the case may be" - and she found him "looking a bit doddery, more grandpa than mandarin". The Independent's Donald MacIntyre suggests that given his "so damned measured" responses, the inquiry chairman "needs an anger management course - not to control his rage but to let it out".

Describing Sir John as "opacity and caution made flesh, a right tiptoeing Terry", the Mail's Quentin Letts says the MPs' questioning didn't help. "He was treated by the committee with such care, they could have been carrying brimful bowls of soup across a tightrope." They extracted neither a date for the report's publication nor the number of people who had been given the chance to respond to criticism.

To the Mirror, Sir John "seemed to border on complacency in refusing to set a public timetable". The Express says this was "inexcusable", adding that it had been "a mistake" to allow people to respond. "We should have been given the findings as they stood years ago," it says.

Still, Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson doesn't hold out much hope for a report any time soon, picturing Sir John being asked about his timetable by a committee of skeletons.


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