Newspaper headlines: Birmingham pub bombing inquests, referendum debate and Versailles verdict

The decision to reopen the inquests into the deaths of 21 people in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings is welcomed in Thursday's press.

The i reports the decision on its front page - focusing on the suggestion police missed opportunities to stop the attacks at two sites in the city, which are widely acknowledged to have been the work of the IRA.

The Daily Mirror joins most papers in recording the reaction of both the families of the dead and Paddy Hill, one of six people wrongly jailed for the attacks.

"All that we want is truth and justice," says its headline.

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For the Times, the case for restarting the inquest is more than about finding closure for the relatives.

"There is strong public interest in establishing the truth and the accountability of all those involved," it says. "Too many crimes have been buried for the sake of keeping peace in Northern Ireland."

The Daily Mail says the "hearings must not be side-tracked by attacks on police failings. Nor should they dwell on the wrongful imprisonment of the Birmingham Six, for which the bombings risk being chiefly remembered.

"Instead, they should refocus on the cold-blooded evil of the murderers never brought to justice."

In a leading article, the Guardian says: "It is preferable that a better and truer version of events, however incomplete, should be constructed, even now, from the rubble of the past."

But writing in the same paper, former Labour MP Chris Mullin, whose book Error of Judgement helped lead to the quashing of the convictions against the Birmingham Six in 1991, says he has mixed feelings.

"If there is any genuinely new evidence then by all means examine it, but so long after the event there is a danger that a renewed inquiry will arouse expectations that cannot be fulfilled."


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UK drawbridge

With three weeks to go before the referendum on Britain's membership of the EU, the leader writers turn their attention to Vote Leave's proposal for an Australian-style points-based immigration system.

The Daily Telegraph says the plans saw the Leave campaign "finally talking in specifics, giving the public a clearer idea of what life post-Brexit might be like" and they "could reshape politics for years to come".

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For the Financial Times, the ideas may sound attractive but do not constitute a coherent policy.

"The crucial question," it says, "is whether it is possible or desirable to significantly cut work-based immigration - from the EU or elsewhere - and what trade-offs this would entail for the economy."

In the view of the Times, the proposal is superficially attractive but it is doubtful whether the Australian methods would work in the UK.

"The free flow of labour is vital to the success of the British economy," it adds. "The drawbridge cannot be raised. Nor should it be."

But for the Sun, criticism by Remain supporters is ill-judged. "Leave want an Aussie-style system that gives us control over all migrants. If we still got too many, from inside or outside the EU, we would adjust the points threshold. Freed from Brussels' grip, we would have the power to do it."

The Guardian says any restrictions on EU migrants would likely lead to restrictions on UK access to European markets and the "risk of dire economic consequences would therefore be high". It also calls on Labour to show it is "pulling its weight" in the Remain campaign.


Warning sign

The Times leads with British research suggesting men in their 50s can significantly cut their chances of developing aggressive prostate cancer by losing a few inches around their waist.

Scientists at the University of Oxford, who studied the cases of more than 140,000 men from eight European countries, say they were more at risk when their waist measured at least 37 inches.

For every four inches their waist expanded, so did the likelihood of developing the disease, says the paper.

Doctors, say the Daily Telegraph, could have another "warning sign" to carry out checks for the disease.

"Every 4ins on beer belly raises prostate cancer risk by 13%" is how the Daily Mail sums up the findings.


'Toxic divorce'

Actress Amber Heard appears on the front page of both the Sun and Daily Mirror after court papers were released in Los Angeles containing more details about alleged assaults she is said to have suffered at the hands of her ex-husband Johnny Depp.

Pirates of the Caribbean star Depp has not commented on Heard's claims but had previously stated he would not be responding to "misinformation" about the end of their 15-month marriage.

The break-up also catches the interest of the Times which, in a feature article, wonders whether it is turning out to be the "most toxic divorce in Hollywood".


What the commentators say...

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Media captionLaura Hughes, political correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, and Joe Watts, political correspondent for the Evening Standard, join the BBC News Channel to review Thursday's front pages

'Dad's army'

The Daily Express continues to raise concerns about the risk of people-smuggling gangs carrying illegal immigrants in small boats across the English Channel.

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Its front page is dominated by a photo said to show tents on a cliff near Dieppe in France, where economic migrants are waiting for smugglers to take them into Britain. And in a leading article, the Express urges the government to "get a grip before this problem becomes even worse".

Claims that a boat used to transport a group of Albanian migrants into Kent over the weekend was bought on eBay, is the focus of the Daily Mail's front page story.

The Sun describes as a farce the decision by Kent Police to sell a patrol boat because the cost of maintaining it was too high. It also reports on the "dad's army" of volunteer pensioners who staff 50 look-out posts along the UK coastline.


'Rancid television'

It was trailed on news pages as the raunchiest show ever to be shown on British television. But now the first episode of 17th Century drama Versailles has aired on BBC Two, many reviewers seem to have been more taken aback by the quality of acting and plot.

"An all-you-can-eat buffet of everything a historical drama will ever need, but it's lacking one ingredient - alas somewhat important - which is characters worth keeping your eyelids open for," writes Jasper Rees in the Daily Telegraph.

For Gabriel Tate in the Times, the France-Canada co-production was "gratuitous when it wasn't downright tiresome". He says "once Versailles got over trying to shock, it improved a little, but it was a mystery how such an extraordinary tale could be so dull".

It receives one star from Christopher Stevens in the Daily Mail, who describes the Louis XIV drama as the "most lavishly rancid television ever screened".

Sam Wollaston in the Guardian shows a little more interest, saying the show is a "trashy, extravagant romp that takes liberties with the actuality but is quite a lot of fun."