Newspaper headlines: Crufts 'poisonings', Apple Watch and England cricket

Mystery deepens over the goings-on at Crufts dog show, following the death of the Irish setter, Jagger.

Some papers, such as the Daily Mirror, report fears that six other dogs were poisoned by contaminated meat. The Sun goes further and says another dog - a shih tzu it does not identify - "is thought to have died over the weekend, but its owners have not reported the death".

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Although the show's organiser, the Kennel Club, has stressed the rumours are unsubstantiated, it doesn't stop the press from digging into the alleged skulduggery linked to pedigree dog shows. Adrian Lee, in the Daily Express, points out there were "whispers about sharp practice" at the very first Crufts in 1891, when Queen Victoria's Pomeranian, Gina, was awarded equal first place. "It was claimed that only a very foolish judge would dare to mark down the monarch's dogs," he writes.

"There is no big money at Crufts - prize money in each category amounting to £100 or so - but there is status, the recognition of one's peers," writes Neil Tweedie in the Daily Mail. He lists "dirty tricks", such as applying black paint to noses, using hairspray on coats and sabotaging rivals' coats with chewing gum, employed by owners keen to secure victory in shows at all costs.

Joe Shute, in the Daily Telegraph, says a tripling in the number of overseas entrants has stiffened competition, causing ill feeling, and that Jagger might have been targeted because he was part-owned by a Belgian couple. "In itself, co-ownership of a dog seems bizarre. Isn't that reserved for racehorses and Brazilian footballers likely to earn millions through their sporting prowess?" he writes. "Yet such is the reputation of Crufts worldwide that a winner can command thousands of pounds breeding sought-after puppies from their winning dog long after competition."

"Whatever the toxicology findings say, it will be hard for 'natural causes' to supplant the notion of dastardly crime in the minds of those who believe that Crufts has - well, gone to the dogs," says Mary Dejevsky in the Guardian. Meanwhile, the episode inspires Times cartoonist Peter Brookes to draw parallels with suspicions over the death of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. He pictures Russian President Vladimir Putin sitting with Jagger's body lying across his lap.


Eye-catching headlines

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  • "I broke hubby's nose in a dream fight" - the Daily Star quotes a sleepwalker who acts out her dreams describing how she injured her partner during a violent nightmare
  • "My heroic dog saved me after I 'died' in my sleep" - a beauty therapist who was clinically dead for 30 minutes was saved by her dog barking for help, says the Express

'Train wreck'

The suggestion of Margaret Hodge, chairing the Commons public accounts committee, that BBC Trust head Rona Fairhead should resign or be sacked, is covered by most papers.

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The MP's questioning of Ms Fairhead over her role heading the audit committee at HSBC, which has been accused of helping clients evade tax, is billed as "Mad Madge taking on Rona the Groaner" by the Mail's Quentin Letts. And, taking into account the BBC's extensive coverage of claims surrounding the bank's Swiss arm, the sketchwriter reckons it was a tricky one for the corporation. "Quick, lads, cancel the News and run a repeat of The Wombles!" he suggests.

His Times counterpart Ann Treneman is in no doubt who won the battle. "I wouldn't want to meet Margaret Hodge in a dark alley," she says, describing her as "small, ferocious and, frankly, a bit wild". John Crace, in the Guardian, agrees: "[Ms Fairhead] had begun to relax a little... Her sense of security was entirely misjudged; it turned out Hodge had merely been saving her best till last... 'Either you were naive or incompetent,' she declared."

For the Independent's Donald MacIntyre, it was a "train wreck beyond [Ms Fairhead's] worst expectations". The Mirror agrees, saying: "If the public accounts committee was a boxing match, the ref would have stepped in to stop it."


'Tells the time'

It's "Appy hour", says the Mirror, as it reports the impending availability of the Apple Watch which "will keep you healthy, pay bills and even take phone calls". It lists the watch's functions including allowing owners to pay for groceries by holding it near contactless terminals, make and receive phone calls, access emails and use it as a hotel room key.

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"And it even tells the time," says the Sun. Noting that the top-of-the-range model costs £11,000, the Guardian describes it as the technology firm's "most expensive and aspirational product".

The Independent's reviewer David Phelan says it "feels great: light and smooth enough to be comfy, heavy enough to feel solid and important" but notes that it depends on a nearby iPhone for much of its capability, saying: "To measure your outdoor runs perfectly it needs the iPhone's GPS chip".

The Mail says the watch "does nearly everything" but wonders: "Will it sell?". The paper says: "Apple may have trouble convincing those who do not already have an iPhone... There is some scepticism about the appetite for wearable technology as sales of similar devices by rivals such as Samsung, LG and Sony have been relatively modest."

Times technology correspondent James Dean says Apple has the knack of making people "want something they didn't know they wanted". However, he too reckons the reliance on an iPhone and a battery life of just 18 hours mean "its popularity may be restricted to Apple's most loyal fans". He adds: "It's too early to say if it will flop but, like Google Glass, launch-day hysteria does not always translate into widespread adoption."


'Complete humiliation'

After defeat to Bangladesh's cricketing minnows saw England bow out of the World Cup, the Guardian declares "complete humiliation". Its writer Mike Selvey says it was "one of the most dismal days in reporting 30 years of England cricket".

Unsurprisingly, Geoffrey Boycott has strong views. In a Telegraph column, he urges chairman elect of the England and Wales Cricket Board Colin Graves to repeat his 2011 shake-up of the Yorkshire set-up - advertising all the coaching jobs - which turned the relegated county side into national champions. "Peter Moores, the coach, Paul Downton, the managing director, and James Whitaker, the chairman of selectors, have a lot to answer for," he says.

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Likewise, Sir Ian Botham writes in the Mirror: "There must be changes from top to bottom." However, former England opener Nick Knight reckons the coach shouldn't be fired. "The team showed lots of fight, remember, to come back and win the Test series against India last summer. Moores' first tenure as coach went badly but he should be given the three-Test series in the Caribbean and this summer's Ashes before a complete judgement is made on his second effort," he writes in the Independent.

And ex-spinner Graeme Swann says in the Sun that "England cannot just keep hiring and firing coaches. There needs to be some stability". For Mike Atherton, of the Times: "It was just sad, terribly sad, to see good players fall so short of their own expectations". Nasser Hussain says in the Mail that he "wasn't too fussed" at the Bangladesh result because "even if England had won and gone on to the quarter-finals they would have been hammered by India, South Africa or whoever they faced".

Still, Financial Times sketchwriter Matthew Engel can see the funny side. He writes that England's failure to qualify for the knockout stage was "a remarkable achievement given that the event was specifically designed to prevent them major nations doing any such thing. However no system is England-proof".

And Telegraph cartoonist Matt sums it up by picturing two men in Muslim garb commenting: "Somebody has to stop young English men travelling abroad to play cricket."


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