Whittingdale reporting, thought control, Parkrun row

John Whittingdale Image copyright Reuters

The papers are almost completely in accord in believing there was no justification for reporting Culture Secretary John Whittingdale's relationship with a woman, who he says he later found out was a sex worker.

Most papers report the view of campaign group Hacked Off that those titles which did look into the rumoured relationship chose not to run the story so that they could blackmail Mr Whittingdale into abandoning any further press regulation.

But the Times, in its leader column, describes that as "tortuous thinking" and says it has "an obligation to argue for common sense over conspiracy theories".

In an editorial which similarly argues there is no "solid proof" for the "conspiracy theories", the Guardian states that while Mr Whittingdale "can perhaps be faulted for not telling the prime minister what was going on", the paper notes "he should not be dragged into the spotlight simply for having a private life or even for making a mess of it, let alone for being a Tory".

The Daily Mirror's coverage takes up two inside pages, although it notes in the last two paragraphs that its sister paper the Sunday People was offered the story in late 2013 for a "substantial five-figure sum" but after "considering issues of privacy, public interest and cost, the paper decided to turn down the story".

The Sun, which looked into the rumours two years ago, says it did not think there was a "justifiable public interest" in the story. The culture secretary has told friends he believes Labour MPs are plotting and "want him out because he has refused to enact a fresh clampdown on newspapers".

In its "Sun Says" editorial, the paper adds that the BBC - which was the first media outlet to broadcast the story - "needs to explain why it allowed Newsnight to run a story with so little public interest".

The BBC also comes under fire in the Daily Telegraph, with an un-named cabinet minister telling the paper it was "pursuing an agenda" against the culture secretary, although the corporation "strongly denies" the suggestion Newsnight's broadcast was motivated by licence fee discussions. However, in its leader column, the paper says "the organisation that has most to gain from seeing Mr Whittingdale undermined is the BBC itself".


'Warts and all'

Several papers note that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is to make a major speech on Thursday in favour of the UK remaining in the EU, with the Times additionally reporting that Mr Corbyn has "previously been highly critical of the European Union and the power it holds over member states".

The Daily Mirror says Mr Corbyn will make the "socialist case" for staying in the EU, by saying problems "like the one gripping the steel industry are global and must be addressed at an international level".

According to the Guardian, Mr Corbyn will "urge supporters to back the European Union 'warts and all'", although it reports anxieties within the Labour Party that "identifying himself too closely with the Remain camp, which is being led by David Cameron, could do long-lasting reputational damage".

The Daily Mail calls the speech a "lukewarm endorsement" of the European project, noting Mr Corbyn voted against the UK's membership of the EEC in 1975, but says Labour voters are seen as "critical to the outcome" of the 23 June referendum.

The speech will "do little to assuage pro-Europeans within his party", says the I, as some Labour MPs believe he has "failed to throw the full weight of his leadership behind the Remain cause".


Eye-catching headlines

  • Fatties crumble at sight of food - a rather blunt headline in the Sun for a story about why some people struggle with their weight. It reports research which suggests overweight people "seem to be unable to resist unhealthy food" when faced with an all-you-can-eat buffet, even though they know what would be the healthy option.
  • So long, suckers: Octopus climbs out of tank and legs it down drainpipe - this Guardian story about Inky who escaped from an aquarium in New Zealand, including references to the film Finding Nemo, and the quote "he is such a curious boy, he would want to know what is happening on the outside, that's just his personality", is worth two minutes of anyone's time.
  • Bench for selfies only... not sea views - the Times reports on a PR triumph after two benches were installed at Porthcawl on the south Wales coast facing inland, rather than out to sea. The local tourist board has christened them "selfie benches". Trebles all round, as Private Eye would say.
  • 'Sweeter dreams' with dark chocolate - the Daily Express reports that the bitter comestible could be the key to a better night's sleep, citing research which suggests it is rich in magnesium, which helps regulate our body clocks. The element is also available in green beans and whole grains, but chocolate has the advantage of making for a better story.

Think piece

Several papers pick up on a medical advance which has seen a US man who was paralysed after breaking his spine while swimming in the sea in 2010 play a video game by thought control.

Underneath the headline "Chip and pinky", the Daily Mirror reports how 24-year-old Ian Burkhart of Ohio "can grab objects, pour drinks and even play Guitar Hero" after an electronic chip smaller than a pea was implanted in his brain, which sends signals via a computer to electrodes on his arm.

Image copyright AFP

The setup creates a bypass around the neural system that translates thoughts into electronic signals, reports the Daily Telegraph. Thought signals have been used in the past to control prosthetics, it adds, but this is the first time they have been used to reanimate paralysed muscles.

It took Mr Burkhart 15 months to learn the system "which allows him to make isolated finger movements and six different wrist and hand motions", reports the Sun.

The Daily Mail says the treatment "brings hope to victims of paralysis and stroke" although the equipment is "clunky and can only be used in the lab". The paper adds that the team at Ohio State University Hospital is working on miniaturising the device so that in 10 years it could be used at home".

In future, brain signals could be picked up by the implant and sent wirelessly to the computer for processing, notes the Guardian.


What the commentators say

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMiranda Green from the FT and Christopher Hope of the Daily Telegraph review the front pages

Fee high, no run

The South Gloucestershire village of Little Stoke has been put firmly on the map after parish councillors there voted to levy a charge on the organisers of a local Parkrun, which attracts up to 300 joggers every Saturday morning.

The I paper says Olympic champions Paula Radcliffe and Dame Kelly Holmes are among those who have added their voices to a campaign against Stoke Gifford Parish Council's decision to charge each runner £1 for use of its recreation ground north of Bristol.

Image copyright PA

The Daily Express finds support for the parkrunners from British ex-tennis player Sue Barker. The BBC TV presenter tells the paper "I'd hate to feel they have to pay because I think that will put a lot of people off".

"It is a fundamental principle of Parkrun that there should be no barriers to participation and events should always be free," the group said in a statement reported by the Times.

"Wear and tear" is the reason given, reports the Daily Mail, which adds the park's path needs to be replaced "at a cost of £60,000".

The Daily Telegraph quotes sport minister Tracey Crouch as saying the parish council's decision is "contrary to the government's sports strategy and creates a barrier to participation".

"Some Parkrun enthusiasts from other parts of the UK suggested descending on the bit of green space close to where the M4 and M5 motorways meet to take part in a mass demonstration at the weekend," reports the Guardian.

The Sun sets its sights on the parish councillors in its editorial column: "It's a packed field, but Stoke Gifford must take the award for the dumbest council," it says.


Nessie hunters get the humps

It's the front-page picture story on "serious" newspaper the Guardian. "Loch Ness monster found" says the headline. Yet on turning to page 13 for the full report, the headline rather gives the game away with its "strange case of the lost and sunken film prop".

A marine robot "found the original on the Scottish loch bed during the latest survey of the 755ft-deep, 22-mile stretch of water", reports the Sun.

So it's not Nessie, more the "Mock Ness Monster", as the I would have it. "The 30ft (9m) model is thought have sunk after the shooting of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes," says the paper.

The Daily Mail runs us through this 1970 adaptation of a Conan Doyle tale: "the plot sees Holmes and Watson investigating the disappearance of an engineer. The case takes them to Loch Ness and an encounter with a monster."

The robot probe carrying out the underwater survey has "made other interesting findings", reports the Guardian, "including disproving claims about the existence of a 'Nessie trench' which would allow the monster to hide".

The Daily Telegraph explains there have been a number of fascinating discoveries as a result of a seemingly insatiable appetite to find out what lies beneath the waves of the loch. According to the paper, surveys have found "a crashed Second World War bomber, a 100-year-old fishing vessel and parts of Crusader, John Cobb's craft for a speed record attempt which crashed at more than 200mph in 1952".


Making us click

The Guardian - Should we scrap benefits and pay everyone £100 a week?

Daily Mirror - 'Imam' performs roadside 'exorcism' on snarling veiled schoolgirl 'possessed by spirits'

Daily Telegraph - Amazing photos capture how faces change after 1, 2 and 3 glasses of wine

Daily Mail - Holly Willoughby and This Morning co-stars pay tribute to beloved agony aunt Denise Robertson (after broadcasting live from outside the church before the funeral)

I - Boris Johnson trumps Nigel Farage as frontman for Brexit campaign