Newspaper review: Press charter sparks anger

Papers

The death warrant for press freedom has been signed, declares the Daily Mirror.

The paper launches a strong attack on the royal charter drawn up by politicians, which was approved by the Privy Council on Wednesday.

The Daily Mail calls it a dark day for freedom - saying the charter opens the way for punitive legal costs to be awarded against papers cleared of all wrongdoing in libel actions.

The Daily Telegraph says it "cannot accept the current proposals for regulation by statute", and it is not surprising that publishers are refusing to endorse the charter.

The press, it says, produced a sensible counter proposal, but its good will and patient effort were in vain.

The Sun says Britain has become a nation which "operates in secret", telling readers "three centuries of press freedom were signed away behind closed doors".

Writing in the Guardian, John Henley says points out that - even though it was ruling the future of the press - Privy Council meetings are not open to journalists.

He writes an account of "what may have happened" which is printed alongside a drawing of Nick Clegg, Lord President of the Privy Council, face to face with the Queen.

The Financial Times tells how news that the press had lost its legal bid to halt the charter went round the Old Bailey courtroom where the prosecution opened its case in the phone hacking trial involving two former editors of the News of the World.

Reports of the case, and photographs of the defendants, appear on many of the front pages.

The Independent says jurors were told that the people in charge at the paper knew that phone hacking was being carried out on their watch.

The Times says the names dropped into the prosecution's opening statement would have made a stellar edition of the News of the World.

Maddie suspect

In its lead story, the Sun says that police in the Madeleine McCann case have identified as their chief suspect a man who died in an accident two years after the girl disappeared.

The man is said to have been sacked from the complex in Portugal where the McCann family stayed - and may have slipped through the police net because he was not on a list of current employees.

The Daily Express says it is understood that tests on his mobile phone showed he had been near the McCanns' apartment when Madeleine disappeared.

A shake-up of the university degree system is signalled by the Telegraph.

It says 20 universities and colleges are to mark their students' work - in a pilot scheme - using new "grade points" to replace the 200-year-old system of first, second and third-class degrees.

According to the paper, critics say the present system is too blunt and does not properly mark out bright and weak students.

Google concerns

The Independent claims that America's National Security Agency, in collaboration with GCHQ in Britain, has secretly broken into the main communications links that connect Yahoo and Google data centres around the world.

By tapping the links, the paper says, the agency is able to collect at will from among hundreds of millions of user accounts.

It quotes Google as saying it has long been concerned about snooping - and continues to extend encryption.

The Times warns that a growing global taste for wine - combined with several years of poor production - means prices are likely to rise.

The paper says suppliers are struggling to cope with a huge demand led by the US and China.

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