Newspaper review: UKIP defection and 'killers with keys'

Sunday's papers inevitably contain lots of politics, and with the General Election just 100 days away (see the Independent's guide to who will be spinning what for whom, if you like to know that sort of thing) there is more than ever now.

The biggest political story for the Sundays is the defection of UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir to the Conservatives among much rancour from his former party colleagues.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Amjad Bashir

The Sunday Telegraph says Mr Bashir is a "deliciously chilled serving of revenge against Nigel Farage, who poached the second of his two MPs from Mr Cameron on the eve of the Conservative conference last autumn".

Mr Farage is due to make a series of media appearances on Sunday to mark his party's start of formal election campaigning.

The businessman tells the paper that he believes only the Conservatives can bring about a referendum on membership of the Europe Union - which he now thinks could be worth staying in, on "the right terms" - and stricter immigration controls.

Mr Bashir, a former Labour, then Conservative Party member before he joined UKIP, is keen to stress the value of immigrant families, like his own, "mixing" with native British culture.

His past is not without controversy, the Telegraph notes.

"His family's Indian restaurant, Zouk... was raided by immigration officers in 2013 over allegedly employing illegal migrant workers. This politically awkward controversy surfaced shortly before the European elections last year," it reports.

Mr Bashir himself writes a short article for the Mail on Sunday outlining his reasons for defecting.

"I have decided to leave UKIP because it has become a vanity project for Nigel Farage and because many of the criticisms made of the party are true.

"David Cameron famously said that UKIP was a party of 'fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists'.

"Certainly, I have experienced racism in UKIP. I have been racially abused on social media by other UKIP members who ask offensive questions like: 'Are you a Muslim?'" he says.

The Mail adds: "UKIP immediately went on the offensive against the Euro-MP, making allegations of unanswered financial and employment questions, and interference with the candidate selection process."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Nigel Farage may need a stiff drink after reading Sunday's newspapers

The party has made a complaint to the police, it is understood.

The Sunday Times piles more woe on Mr Farage, with its front page report that UKIP secretary Matthew Richardson has said that his party represents Britain's "hundreds of thousands of bigots".

Mr Richardson, the party's PR chief, has dismissed the comments as "light-hearted harmless banter in the pub".

The paper also highlights UKIP economics spokesman Patrick O'Flynn's comments that some of those on the libertarian right in the party were "completely away with the fairies".

UKIP's leader will hope the negative headlines will not distract from the policy he will unveil on Sunday - banning foreigners from using "right to buy" legislation to buy council houses.

The pledge is "designed to win over Labour voters", the paper says.


No confidence

The Daily Express's banner lead is about a policy that allows prisoners to hold keys to their own cells.

The paper says it has discovered that nearly 30,000 of Britain's 84,000 prisoners are able to come and go from their cells at certain times, and are able to lock their cells doors "for privacy".

The Ministry of Justice tells the paper that "privacy locks" are now fitted as standard in prison doors, but risks were "minimal" as warders' keys could access doors which prisoners had locked.

The Express claims murderers Rose West and Ian Huntley, and rock star paedophile Ian Watkins are among the inmates able to lock their own cells.

The paper says the "astonishing revelation" has provoked a "furious response".

It quotes Conservative MP Philip Davies - whose Freedom of Information requests unearthed the story - as saying: ""I think that many people will find these figures staggering, and not know whether to laugh or cry.

"However it perfectly illustrates and sums up what a joke the prison system is in the UK and why so many people have no confidence in it at all."

From prisons to secure hospitals, and the Independent's lead is about Britain's oldest, Broadmoor.

The paper says the NHS trust which runs Broadmoor is urgently investigating a £4m overspend on unauthorised capital projects at the hospital and elsewhere.

The Independent alleges problems for the West London Mental Health Trust include a £560,000 overspend on an office block refurbishment in Hounslow, an £80,000 coffee bar - which has never been used, and an unfunded £200,000 "seclusion suite" at Broadmoor.

The paper says specialist anti-fraud accountants are examining the trust's financial documents, and the police may be involved if wrongdoing is uncovered.


Speechless

The fate of Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa, apparently murdered in Syria or Iraq by Islamic State extremists, occupies much space in Sunday's papers.

The Sunday Times says the fate of Mr Yukawa - seemingly shown beheaded in a picture held by fellow Japanese captive Kenji Goto in an IS video - "piles on the agony" for Japan.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Shinzo Abe considered abandoning Japan's post-war policy of pacifism and military non-intervention over the kidnappings, the papers say

In the propaganda film, Mr Goto berates Japanese PM Shinzo Abe for his inaction to free Mr Yukawa, the paper adds.

The freelance journalist says he will be killed unless he is swapped for a female militant who is being held in Jordan.

Mr Goto - a well-known figure in his homeland - travelled to Syria in an apparent bid to save Mr Yukuwa, who has been described in the Japanese media as a "disturbed individual" who was trying to find work as a security contractor, despite never having been employed in that field, the Times explains.

The Sunday Telegraph says Mr Abe was "speechless" after viewing the video and has vowed to make saving the remaining captive his top priority.

The paper says Jordan has been "pragmatic" over the release of jihadists in the past, and may be willing to help Japan - a heavy investor in Amman's economy.

But, the Telegraph adds, Japanese public pressure to agree to a swap will be resisted by Jordan's military allies, the US and Britain.

"They insist not just on refusing to fund terrorist groups by paying ransoms, but on the principle that giving in to any terrorist demands encourages more hostage-taking," it explains.

The Observer carries a two-page feature from Hassan Hassan, an Abu Dhabi based writer who gained what the paper says is "unique access" to IS militants at their training camps.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption IS wants the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber, who is the sister of one of its former top leaders

Theological indoctrination is at least as important as military training, Hassan argues.

"New recruits join training that ranges from two weeks, one month, 45 days, six months up to one year. Inside the camps, students receive a mix of military, political and sharia orientation.

"After they graduate, they will remain under supervision and can be expelled or punished in case of non-compliance - including being lashed if they express reservations. In some cases, new members who struggle with the brutality of the group's acts will be sent back to receive more training to 'strengthen' their faith," he adds.

"New recruits... graduates armed with theological arguments, military training and a conviction that fellow Muslims are at least partly complicit in the suppression of true Islam."


Surreal

Sport stories rarely make this blog, but rarely has there been a bigger day of upsets in football than on Saturday.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Bradford's Tykes left their London hosts feeling more than a little blue

With Premier League leaders Chelsea and the UK's richest club Manchester City knocked out of the FA Cup by lower league opponents, and high-flying Southampton and Tottenham also being humbled, the Observer headlines its coverage "the FA Coup".

The Sun on Sunday says it was the "cupsets of the century", while the Sunday Mirror - playing on Chelsea and Manchester City's main kit colour - describes the day as "blue murder".

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho described his side's 2-4 humbling by Bradford City - a side two divisions below them - as a "sporting disgrace", while Manchester City chief Manuel Pellegrini got "desert ratty" over suggestions that his side were jetlagged from a visit to the UAE when they lost 0-2 to Middlesbrough, the Mirror reports.

It is the first time in a century that the highest division's top two clubs have gone out at the same time.

The Mail on Sunday focuses on the underdog winners: Bradford City manager Phil Parkinson is quoted as saying, "It has put Bradford on the map again.

"When we were on the pitch celebrating at the end it did feel a bit surreal."

Image caption Jon Bon Jovi: likely to be heard on the Boro team coach

The scorer of Middlesbrough's first goal Patrick Bamford attracts attention because of comments he made about his previous trip to Manchester City's Etihad Stadium.

The striker - on loan from Chelsea to the Championship club - says, "everyone's making a big thing of the fact it's the first time I've been back since a Bon Jovi concert two summers ago, but I've enjoyed it."

With none of the top 12 in the Premier League currently through to the next round of the Cup, the papers are agreed that this is one of the strangest years in the tournament's history.

And with three more ties played on Sunday, they will be hoping for a bit more cup magic to come.