Newspaper review: Trader arrest and Shapps wiki row

The world of commodity broking rarely makes it out of the business pages of most newspapers, but when a Briton is accused by American authorities of being a "major contributor" to a financial crash that wiped hundreds of billions of pounds off shares, it does.

The Daily Telegraph leads with the story of Navinder Singh Sarao, who has been arrested charged with fraudulently making £27m from trades on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange market.

Image copyright Getty Images

The trader, who the paper says ran his one-man business from a suburban house in Hounslow, London, helped trigger the May 2010 "flash crash", US authorities say.

The Telegraph says Mr Sarao is facing extradition over charges that he manipulated futures markets, causing an "imbalance" which led the Dow Jones Industrial Average to fall by 998.5 points in a day, and other financial markets worldwide to echo US volatility.

The paper explains that Mr Sarao is suspected of using a sophisticated computer programme to create false trades on the market, allowing him to manipulate it.

It adds that when the UK's financial regulator questioned Mr Sarao about his trading activities, he told them he was: "An old school point and click prop trader" who had "always been good with reflexes and doing things quick".

The Financial Times explains that the "flash crash" on the Chicago markets "rattled" other exchanges that traded electronically, including bonds and currencies.

The subsequent rapid downward plunge in prices illustrates "the potential risks of a global financial system linked by high-powered computerised trading firms".

Mr Sarao will appear in court in London on Wednesday to face the beginning of extradition hearings at the request of US prosecutors.


The papers are still full of stories about people smuggling across the Mediterranean - and suggestions on how it might be tackled.

The Independent has a comprehensive report into the "trafficking tycoons", including one Eritrean who is thought to have made £72m in the last two years by packing African and Asian migrants in flimsy crafts and getting henchmen to sail them across the sea.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Libyan authorities say they have detained 600 migrants this week who were preparing to make boat trips to Europe

Surveillance evidence revealed in the Italian press reveals the man apparently laughing: "They say I put too many aboard, but they're the ones who want to leave in a hurry."

An Ethiopian trafficker was also recorded saying: "They organised another trip a few days ago. I don't know what happened - they probably died."

The paper says the traffickers "enjoy protection" of the Islamist groups who control the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa who have made the perilous journey tell the Independent that those with the darkest skin were given the lowest decks on the boats, while Middle Eastern refugees were allowed to go on the deck and upper levels.

"The traffickers had guns and if you talked they said they would throw you overboard or shoot you. They always threatened us with their guns," one Nigerian recalls.

The Times reports that Britain is to dispatch one of its biggest warships, HMS Bulwark, to the crisis zone.

The 176-metre floating platform will be the base for helicopters and smaller vessels which will provide a "more formidable" search-and-rescue operation in the Mediterranean, the paper continues.

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Image caption HMS Bulwark

Inside the paper, its German correspondent Roger Boyes argues that the EU's response is "flat-footed" and will only push up the price the desperate migrants have to pay to the criminal gangs.

He suggests that no naval force alone can stop the migration - with its high human cost in lives - but "incentives have to be created in Libya for feuding tribes to accept some sort of central government, one that is strong enough to defend its borders".

A "military solution" however does seem to be the EU's preferred response, the Financial Times says.

"One obstacle would be that any police or military action in Libya would require a mandate from Libyan authorities and the UN, something that would hardly be assured," it adds.

An Italian academic tells the paper that destroying ships in Libya would only encourage the international criminals to use other departure points in North Africa.

A boat costs £100,000, but one people smuggling voyage can make £800,000, he adds.


Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has condemned stories about the editing of his Wikipedia page and others as "a smear" and "categorically false".

The Guardian and Daily Mirror lead on a suggestion that Mr Shapps or someone "acting for him" set up a fake identity and edited Wikipedia.

Potentially embarrassing entries on Mr Shapps' page were removed, and unflattering comments added to the pages of other Tories such as Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, and Lynton Crosby, Conservative election campaign strategist.

The Guardian says one of Wikipedia's volunteer online editors has accused the user who made the edits under the name Contrbsx, of being a "sock-puppet" - a hidden identity of either Mr Shapps, or an assistant or PR agency working for him.

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Image caption Grant Shapps says he will complain to online encyclopedia Wikipedia's head office in California

The edits were made over a period of two years, the paper adds.

Mr Shapps has told the BBC he can show he was not at a computer when the edits were made and he is sure none of his staff are responsible.

"This Guardian smear is categorically false and defamatory. It is untrue from start to finish, and was quite likely dreamt up by the Labour press office," the Welwyn Hatfield MP said in a statement.

He has said he will contact Wikipedia about the claims one of its editors has made.

The Daily Mirror's editorial says Mr Shapps "has forfeited the right to be taken seriously".

"If medals were handed out for scorn, ridicule and derision, this repeatedly humiliated Conservative would win gold, silver and bronze," it adds.

The Daily Mail says the 46-year-old has earned the nickname of the Duracell bunny of the Conservative Party for his energetic readiness to defend its policies on television.

The paper adds that after running a printing business Mr Shapps, "started writing self-help guides for a website called HowToCorp, advising people on how to get rich quick - a job which has earned him a 'loadsamoney' nickname".

"He wrote the books under an alias, Michael Green - and a photograph of him wearing a badge with the name at a US conference came to light in 2012," it says.

"Last month he had to admit that despite saying he had stopped using the name on election in 2005, he was still using it in summer 2006. Three years ago, claims first came to light that he had allegedly altered his Wikipedia entries; changing sentences which he said were inaccurate - such as that he was a Jehovah's Witness.

"It emerged that changes were made from computers in his constituency office."


Have you ever wondered how you can get a free coffee in the Pret A Manger?

The Times explains the way to some complimentary caffeine is to "buff up on your flirting", as the staff of the food chain have been allowed to give away a certain number of free drinks and snacks to "people they liked the look of".

Clive Schlee of Pret says the unofficial scheme is cheaper than introducing a loyalty card, and ensures 28% of customers get something free.

The chain does not operate in Serbia so one of its freebies was not the cause of the other coffee-related story.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Serbian authorities were said to be unhappy about the performance of the presidential jet - even before the coffee spillage

The paper reports that a jet carrying the president of the Balkan republic went into an emergency descent after a co-pilot spilled some coffee in the cockpit, and hit a control when wiping it up.

To make matters worse one of the jet's engines stopped working during the plunge before control was regained of the plane, which was taking president Tomislav Nikolic to meet the Pope.

"I'll never step foot on that plane again," a shaken presidential aide is reported to have said.

But back to flirting, and its natural successor, with a story in the Sun and elsewhere.

The paper reports a study undertaken by an academic from Anglia Ruskin University (it's in Cambridge) which found that people who had a lot of sex were paid 4.5% more than those with more modest bedroom proclivities.

The Sun says the "three times a week equals higher pay" rule appears to follow even when other factors are allowed for.

The researcher found that even those with long-term illnesses who were sexually active earned 1.5% more than "those who have lost their mojo", as the paper puts it.

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Image caption Paula Radcliffe: the study acknowledged that some women were more competitive than others

From sex to the battle of the sexes, and the Daily Mail carries a report that will perhaps surprise few - men are more competitive than women.

The "age-old assumption", the Mail says, is backed up by new research from a Midwestern university in the US.

Scientists studied the responses of male and female elite athletes and found that men showed higher degrees of competitiveness when talking of mileage averages and other measures.

Runners were chosen because it was a sport as popular with women as men and there is no difference in prize money.

"Our findings do echo those of other studies, which show that even when men and women hold the same selective job, men are more likely to prioritise competing for recognition and status," psychologist Prof Robert Deaner, who led the study, says.

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