Newspaper headlines: Labour tax scrutiny, Copenhagen shooting and football's riches

The tax arrangements of those who fund political parties are again on the front pages, with Labour backers this time the subject of newspaper claims.

The Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times both name Labour funders who, they say, used methods that can be employed to avoid tax. The Telegraph quotes Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps accusing Labour leader Ed Miliband of "barefaced hypocrisy", given he spent the week accusing the prime minister of "turning a blind eye" to tax avoidance by Tory donors.

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The paper's editorial complains: "Labour feels it has to approach the issue in a sanctimonious manner that leaves them open to the charge of hypocrisy. By doing so, they cloud the difference between tax avoidance (legal) and tax evasion (illegal), unnecessarily reduce trust in our democratic process by alluding constantly to scandal, and distract the public from the issues that really matter."

Former Conservative Chancellor Ken Clarke agrees, telling the Observer that parties should get together to agree "a more sensible and ultimately more defensible system" of public funding to avoid "artificial and bogus" rows over Labour being in thrall to the unions and the Conservatives relying on wealthy businessmen.

That view isn't shared by the Sunday Mirror, which claims 12 Conservative backers have been "caught up" in alleged tax avoidance schemes being investigated by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The paper's editorial says that many people may "shrug their shoulders" at revelations but adds: "There is the world of difference between a workman who gets cash in hand - wrong though that is - and the multi-millionaire who avoids tax on his fortune. One costs the Exchequer a few pounds. The other is robbing taxpayers of hundreds of thousands."

Ex-director of public prosecutions - and Labour parliamentary hopeful - Sir Keir Starmer writes of the illegal side of things in the Sunday People: "Tax evasion is not a clever 'fiddle' in some legal grey area, it is fraud involving dishonesty and greed. No scheme is too clever or complex to be prosecuted." As the Daily Express reports, former HSBC chairman Lord Green has resigned as chairman of lobby group The City UK in the wake of the claims that kicked off the whole tax debate - that the bank's Swiss arm helped British clients evade tax.

While Mr Miliband has pledged to hold an urgent review of HMRC's approach to tax avoidance should Labour win the election, the Independent on Sunday says the Treasury has refused requests from MPs on a watchdog committee to keep them informed of work on closing loopholes.

The Sun on Sunday argues that Mr Miliband is right to demand loopholes be closed quickly but says: "He should stop pretending that it's only Tories who do what they can to minimise their tax bill. From where the ordinary, hard-working taxpayers are sitting, they all look as bad as each other."


Eye-catching headlines

  • "Crisis of the OAP junkies" - The number of pensioners being treated for heroin and crack cocaine addiction has doubled in five years to more than 600, says the Daily Star Sunday
  • "Ripper's pudding bake-off" - "Yorkshire Ripper" Peter Sutcliffe has been making Yorkshire puddings for fellow patients during cookery lessons at Broadmoor high-security hospital, says the Sun on Sunday
  • "Who dares pins... sewing soldier's a hit" - the Sunday Express reports on Lt Col Neil Stace's growing legion of fans following his appearances on BBC Two's Great British Sewing Bee
  • "This is what a police station looks like in 2015" - the Mail on Sunday pictures two policemen in a Planet Organic store - an example of the "contact points" replacing shut-down police stations

'Loss of innocence'

While first editions were printed before a second shooting in Copenhagen left one man dead, they report the earlier attack on a cafe that was hosting a free speech debate.

Noting that "controversial cartoonist" Lars Vilks was in attendance, the Sun on Sunday suggests he was the intended target of the gunman who killed one person and injured three more. The People is among the papers describing it as a "Hebdo-style terror attack", in a reference to the shootings at the Parisian satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo last month.

Image copyright AFP

The Independent on Sunday says Swedish artist Mr Vilks was on al-Qaeda's "most wanted" list. The paper's defence correspondent Kim Sengupta says critics of Denmark's programme to rehabilitate citizens returning from jihadist campaigns in Syria and Iraq will view it as a "loss of innocence" for the liberal country's "non-punitive approach".

For the Sunday Telegraph, the incident is a "reminder to Britain" that "small-scale terrorist attacks can be launched almost spontaneously and are not logistically too difficult to put together". It adds: "The Islamists' goal is to destroy Western freedom, and the West will have to fight to defend it."


Football focus

At the end of a week which saw English football's Premier League sign TV rights deals worth £5.1bn - about £10m a match - papers ponder whether enough is being done to improve the circumstances of anyone in the game, other than its multi-millionaire players and managers.

Cole Moreton, of the Independent on Sunday, visits fans campaigning for the lowest paid staff of football clubs to be given the "living wage". He cites the example of a catering worker at Arsenal who earns £6.50 an hour. "Sometimes he is delighted to serve Alexis Sanchez and his multimillionaire friends a drink to celebrate in the players' lounge... Sometimes he looks at the astonishing wealth around him and wonders where his family's next meal is coming from."

Image copyright PA

The People visits Stanley Park, which divides Merseyside's football giants Everton and Liverpool, to exemplify the "shameful condition of grassroots football in England". Describing "an old shipping container for a storehouse [and] broken goalposts held together with gaffer tape", it says the nation's amateur teams face a massive hike in fees charged by councils for pitches. Some have quadrupled to £600 it says, before reminding readers: "The Premier League originally promised to give 5% of broadcasting income to grassroots projects. This has now fallen to below 1%."

For the Observer's Will Hutton, English football is "the most unedifyingly plutocratic and unequal sports spectacle on the planet". He warns: "Ultimately, too much money and too much indifference to inequality will kill the Premier League. Football, after all, is but a microcosm of wider society. Fairness matters."

However, there is positive PR for some clubs - West Ham, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur - in the Sunday Express. The paper speaks to graduates of the Leadership Through Sport programme, which gives youngsters from tough estates a chance to gain coaching badges in tandem with apprenticeships in businesses. They talk about the project boosting their confidence, building their character and resulting in a job. The founder, ex-financial services worker David Pinchin, tells the papers: "[Firms] quickly realised that these kids were hungry and rapidly became more productive than the graduates they were employing."


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