Newspaper headlines: Chilcot Inquiry delay and page three debate rumbles on
Sir John Chilcot's decision to delay publication of the report into the UK's involvement in the 2003 Iraq War until after May's general election provokes strong front-page reaction.
The Independent points out Sir John chaired the inquiry's last session in February 2011, closing with a promise to report back in "some months". Given the hearings began in 2009, former shadow home secretary David Davis tells the paper: "Frankly this isn't good enough. It is incomprehensible as to why this is being delayed. We need to know why."
"Much of the most recent delay was understood to be down to protracted disagreements between Whitehall and the US State Department over declassifying communications between George W Bush and Tony Blair before, during and after the Iraq war," the paper says.
According to the Guardian, some argue that their publication "would represent an unprecedented breach of confidence concerning one of the most sensitive episodes in British foreign relations". It adds: "Chilcot is understood to have sent 'Salmon letters' to those who were to be criticised to give them an opportunity to respond before the report's publication, which will have led to further delays following objections from those criticised."
Former Prime Minister Mr Blair has insisted he is not behind the delay and is "determined to rebut the argument that he lied to parliament" over intelligence he used to present the case for war to parliament, the paper says. The Daily Mail pictures Mr Blair smiling among British troops in the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr during the conflict in May 2003.
Senior Whitehall figures had warned the report would be too politically contentious to publish close to polling day, says the Mail. "Labour strategists are said to have been concerned at the prospect of the spectre of Iraq being raised in the months before the election, since the conflict was blamed for driving many of its voters in of the arms of the Liberal Democrats in 2005 and 2010," it adds.
- "Facebook in '30% of divorces'" - a study suggests "shady behaviour" and contact with "old flames" on the social network is increasingly cited in divorce cases, says the Sun
- "A mystery flash far beyond the Milky Way... could it be ET?" - astronomers think "radio waves" 5.5bn light years away could be from an imploding star or "alien civilisation", says the Daily Mail
- "I've eaten nothing but chips for 5 yrs" - all other foods make 17-year-old Jennifer Radigan feel sick, the Daily Star reports
- "How Queen's shop fell foul of pate rules" - the Daily Express says Norfolk trading standards officers ticked off the Sandringham estate gift shop over food labelling
After a day of debate about the Sun's apparent removal of topless models from page three, its management were still coy about whether their confinement to the web was permanent.
Is it really true? Readers darting past page one are greeted with... a pot of butternut squash and red pepper soup, thanks to a supermarket advertisement. But, sure enough, overleaf, is the headline: "Thanks for the mammaries." Even this wasn't confirmation of page three's demise, however. It refers to a risque pictorial history of the surgically altered figures of models - and Celebrity Big Brother contestants - Katie Price and Alicia Douvall.
Most commentators are convinced the feature has been retired. The Independent's editorial cheers a "symbolic victory" and gives credit to the No More Page 3 campaign, adding: "The broad distaste for Page 3 demonstrates an evolving [public] mood."
"What made the difference was the internet," writes Joan Smith in the Guardian. "[It] allowed a new generation of women to articulate their opposition to Page 3 and support each other in the face of a backlash." The Financial Times's Matthew Engel agrees the web was crucial, but for different reasons: "It was no longer necessary for teenage boys (and overgrown teenagers) to buy a newspaper... to study women's bodies." Pointing to the removal of the paywall from the Sun's "glamour" shots, he adds: "One interpretation is that a crucial element of the strategy is to drive up internet traffic."
Three decades after protesting against page three as a student, Alice Thompson writes in the Times that its removal only feels a victory "of sorts". She references "brutal, violent, perverted" internet porn, female genital mutilation and domestic violence among bigger concerns in the "war on sexism".
In any case, suggests the Daily Mail's Sarah Vine: "You can see more naked flesh on a Friday night out. Young women don't need Page 3 to be humiliated in public: they're managing it perfectly well by themselves." She adds: "Doesn't it seem a little rum that just a week after the whole liberal world was demanding the right for Charlie Hebdo to publish whatever it liked, no matter how offensive, it should be so loudly celebrating the death of another form of free expression."
One person lamenting the decline of "topless tottie" is cultural critic Stephen Bayley, who writes in the Telegraph that they were "in the best tradition of bawdy British humour", like Carry On films or "gloriously tacky" seaside postcards. The Daily Star, meanwhile, unapologetically declares itself "more fun than the Sun" and produces a page three montage of some of the genre's most famous names: Sam Fox, Jo Guest, Linda Lusardi, Melinda Messenger and Jordan.
"Go to North Wales for the best-value sleep on the planet," declares the Independent, as it reports the declaration of Llandudno's Lawton Court Hotel as best bargain hotel at the 2015 Travellers' Choice Awards. Its sister hotel, the Lauriston Court, came sixth in the same category of the honours, decided by reviews left on the TripAdvisor website.
Listing the top 10, the paper notes competition trumped by the Lawton Court included establishments in Palm Springs, California; Canada's Prince Edward Island and Hue, Vietnam. Blackpool's Queens Promenade Hotel came third. Along with the "amazing" breakfast, relaxed and friendly owners and "lovely" sea-view rooms, the Telegraph highlights an "honesty bar", where guests are "invited to pour their own drinks if they write down their order and room number" as key to Lawton Court's victory.
The paper also points out that British B&Bs took 10 of the top 25 spots in the bed and breakfast category. And the Daily Mirror is taking credit for Millgate B&B, in Masham, North Yorkshire, reaching the top spot. "Bookings at Millgate rocketed after we featured a photo of it in our best of British campaign three years ago," it says. Readers may suspect the offer of scones on arrival helped matters.
Meanwhile Gavin Jackson, of the Financial Times, visits Lowestoft, in Suffolk, for an illustration of how seaside towns are reinventing themselves. "One side of the port... is a pier featuring a rundown arcade filled with slot machines and traditional amusements, on the other a wind turbine slowly beats the air as a helicopter takes off to visit offshore oil rigs," he writes. The "offshore energy hub... provides jobs and investment: the old fish market hosts a wind turbine business while the remains of the fishing fleet has a sideline in taking engineers out to the oilfields", he adds.
And the Guardian reports that the country's "most northerly fish and chip shop" has been crowned its best at the National Fish & Chip awards. With daily specials of langoustines, mussels, scallops, crab and squid, Frankie's - in Brae, Shetland Islands - "is a long way from a bog-standard chippy", salivates Rebecca Smithers.
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