Newspaper headlines: Candidate's 'race plot', and eulogy to an 'evil king'

It's a day for political scandals in the press, with a number of allegations scattered throughout the Sundays.

In one of the most eye-catching stories, the Mail on Sunday says it has recorded footage of a high-profile Conservative parliamentary candidate trying to persuade English Defence League (EDL) members to set up a fake protest march against a mosque.

The paper says former Army officer Afzal Amin told the EDL he wanted to appear to electors as the man who had defused the situation and prevented the march.

Image caption Afzal Amin

In return, it says, he promised to be an "unshakeable ally" of the EDL if he was elected as member for Dudley North, a Labour-held marginal seat.

Mr Amin, who served as Prince William and Harry 's education officer when he was in the Army, denies any wrongdoing.

The Sunday Times follows up Saturday's story about a potential illegal £10,000 donation which was accepted by the Liberal Democrats.

The donation, made by a man working with Channel 4's Dispatches programme, was under the name of a "proxy donor" - not the real source of the cash - in a breach of parliamentary rules, the paper says.

The Liberal Democrats say they accepted the donation in good faith and it passed their "usual compliance checks".

The Observer covers two pages with a look at the conclusions of an extensive study into the creation of new life peers in Britain.

The paper says the "exhaustive study" undertaken by Oxford University academics proves a link between donating to a political party and later being created a peer.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Observer says there is a "significant link" between donations and being created a peer

The report found that - in the years between 2005 and 2014 - 92 people who were nominated for a peerage had donated a collective £33.83m to political parties. All the major parties were represented in the study.

The paper says the Oxford report says the relationship is "significant" and "a debate... about whether we are comfortable with that needs to be had."

The paper notes that there is no "cast-iron" proof that peerages have been sold, all donors had "impressive credentials" that may have merited the honour without any donation, and nothing illegal was being alleged.

'Why would she go?'

Amid the usual multiple stories about the Islamic State jihadist group, and international terrorism, the Observer carries a front page exclusive on nine British-born medical students it says have joined the extremists' cause.

The nine - four women and five men - had been studying medicine in Sudan and are believed to have crossed into Syria from Turkey with two Sudanese colleagues, the paper adds.

Image caption The medics had been living and working in Sudan before they flew to Turkey on March 12

It says Turkish sources and the medics' families believe they have gone to Syria to work in IS hospitals rather than fight. The families are appealing for them to come home.

The Observer says if they could prove they had not been fighting with IS, the group would not automatically face prosecution if they returned to the UK.

A Turkish politician who is aiding the families tells the paper that the nine are all UK-born, but are of Sudanese descent.

He adds they were sent to Sudan to study so they could experience a "more Islamic culture" and keep in touch with their roots.

The case came to light recently, when one of the group contacted her sister by text to reveal their whereabouts.

The Observer quotes the father of one of the group. He told a Turkish newspaper: "She was living in a land which needs a lot of doctors everywhere [Africa]. Why would she go all the way to Syria for volunteering?"

'Top Tractor'

The future of Jeremy Clarkson has been talked about nearly as much in Sunday's newspapers as the future composition of parliament, in often contradictory stories.

The Top Gear star remains suspended by the BBC since an incident in a Yorkshire hotel when he is alleged to have thrown a punch at one of the show's producers.

Image copyright AP

The Sunday Mirror claims that Clarkson "has vowed to sue the BBC if he is sacked".

The paper says a source close to the presenter has told it: "There is no doubt that if Jeremy is fired it won't be the end of it. Lawyers will be involved."

And the source added that Clarkson "won't let go" of his search to discover which anonymous BBC executive apparently compared his case to the Jimmy Savile scandal in a press briefing.

"Jeremy believes BBC executives launched a smear campaign against him ahead of the independent inquiry," the source tells the Mirror.

The paper adds that Top Gear co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May could also sue the BBC if the show is axed.

The matter is currently being investigated by a corporation executive.

The Sunday Times says Clarkson is developing the idea of a show based on farming which friends have jokily dubbed "Top Tractor".

The 54-year-old is part owner of an Oxfordshire farm and he has used his recent enforced holiday to "firm up" the idea, the paper says.

A source tells the paper: "It's about trying to run a farm when you don't know anything about farming... and getting things wrong in a Top Gear-esque way."

The Times adds he could take the show to a rival broadcaster if he is sacked by the BBC. Managers are "locked in a series of meetings" about the row, the paper continues.

Image caption Top Gear is said to be worth £50m a year to the BBC

In his regular column in the Sunday Times, Clarkson himself writes "I used to work on a television show named Top Gear" which it says many have interpreted as a hint that the presenter is thinking of moving on.

The Sunday People says the BBC is preparing for "life after Clarkson" by developing a new motoring show called "the Getaway Car".

A pilot for the show, which the paper says will be filmed during spring, will feature "exciting entertainment - filmed in glamorous locations".

The People notes this "sounds strangely like Clarkson's hit series".

The Mail on Sunday says a "BBC insider" has told it that Clarkson will be allowed to return to his old show if he "sorts himself out" and "faces up to his shortcomings".

The source says there is a "growing realisation" within the BBC that it was "wrong to take the programme off air".


The Sundays are full of details of the five-day long funeral arrangements for medieval king, Richard III.

The monarch, who lost his life at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, was discovered below a car park in Leicester in 2012 and is due to be reburied in the city's cathedral on Thursday.

The Sunday Express says the Queen is due to attend the service in Leicester for the "evil" king - blamed by some for the murders of the Princes in the Tower.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A fanciful later imagining of Richard III's final minutes

The paper says the Queen has written a "heartfelt eulogy" which is "surprising" as well as "sweet".

It adds: "It is a remarkable U-turn for the 88-year-old monarch, who has deliberately distanced herself from the celebrations."

The eulogy will be the centrepiece of the service, the Express claims.

The monarch will be represented by the Countesss of Wessex at the service, with Richard, Duke of Gloucester, the medieval king's namesake also in attendance.

Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society tells the paper: "I don't think more senior Royals were ever going to come. They claim their right to the throne from the Tudors and they are still referring to Richard as the usurper king on their website."

The Mail on Sunday's two page spread - complete with "medieval style script" offers a detailed itinerary of Richard's remains, which will move today from the University of Leicester laboratory where they are currently being held, past the battlefield where his reign was so suddenly ended, to Leicester Cathedral to lie in state before Thursday's funeral.

It notes that the last Plantagenet king will be attended by his nephew (17 times removed) Michael Ibsen, who made the coffin which will be used.

"Richard of York, who lost his crown to Lancastrian Henry Tudor, has been vilified as a tyrant. But many historians now regard him as a typical king in turbulent times," the paper says.

"This week's tribute will truly be fit for a king," it concludes.

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