Newspaper headlines: Corbyn's Cold War files and chaos in KFC

By BBC News

  • Published
The Daily Telegraph
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The Telegraph says Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is under pressure to authorise the release of an East German file about him from the Cold War era, after Theresa May said he must be "transparent" about meetings with a former Communist spy.
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The Daily Mail, which leads with the same story about Mr Corbyn, says that the spy said the Labour leader had "an active supply of information on British intelligence services". Labour has previously said "the claim that Jeremy Corbyn was an agent, asset or informer for any intelligence agency is entirely false and a ridiculous smear".
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The Sun leads with fast food store KFC having to close 700 of its 870 stores after running out of chicken. The delivery error is believed to cost the chain millions of pounds.
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About 42,000 university academics announced that they would be going on strike in what might be the worst industrial action at universities, reports The Times.
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Metro leads with the sentencing of convicted paedophiles Barry Bennell, who was jailed for 31 years, and Matthew Falder, who was jailed for 32 years for blackmailing and abusing victims online.
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Allegations of bribery against Latvia's representative at the European Central Bank, Ilmars Rimsevics, are on the front of the Financial Times. Mr Rimsevics said all accusations against him were false.
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The Daily Mirror continues highlighting its campaign for opt-out organ donation, leading with footballer Andy Cole's call to MPs ahead of Friday's vote.
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The Guardian's front page asks whether Robert Davis, Westminster City Council's deputy leader, is "Britain's most schmoozed councillor" after it emerged he had received gifts more than 500 times in the past three years. The paper says there is no suggestion that Mr Davis breached any rules.
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The i leads with Damian Green's criticism of senior Tories who "won't accept evidence", in his first interview since being fired from his role as first secretary of state in December over allegations of misconduct.

Alleged information about the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and questions over his involvement with the Cold War era feature in many of the papers.

The Telegraph and the Daily Mail lead on a call by the prime minister for Mr Corbyn to be "open and transparent" about his contacts with a Czech agent during the 1980s.

The Mail says it can reveal that the agent, Jan Sarkocy, repeatedly told his bosses that Mr Corbyn could be a useful source. The Telegraph says MPs intend to call Mr Sarkocy to give evidence in parliament about his meetings with several Labour politicians.

Labour has described any claim that Mr Sarkocy recruited Mr Corbyn to be a Cold War spy as a "ridiculous smear" and entirely false. Mr Corbyn insists he thought Mr Sarkocy was a diplomat.

Writing on the Independent news website, Labour's deputy leader, Tom Watson, accuses newspaper proprietors of printing what he calls "poorly sourced" stories simply because it suits their political agenda.

It reports that lecturers, who are already due to walk out this week in the first of 14 days of strikes over changes to their pensions, are planning further stoppages stretching into the summer term. According to the paper, there will be no extra classes to make up for lost lectures in the current round of walkouts.

'Won't repay a penny'

The Sun reports that students from EU countries owe £592m in student loans, and it may be impossible to recoup that after Britain leaves the EU.

Enquiries by the paper have found that some students - particularly from Romania - are being told by "go-betweens" that they won't have to repay a penny.

It says one agent encouraging Romanians to apply for UK courses told a Sun investigator posing as a student: "This is the last year - your last chance".

The Student Loans Company tells the paper all debts are chased up both here and across Europe and that this will continue after Brexit. The Department for Education is quoted as saying that anyone refusing to repay their loans can be pursued by the courts in the UK or their home country.

Image source, AFP

Meanwhile, criticism of Theresa May's announcement of a review of funding for further and higher education is picked up by some papers. The Spectator website says her proposals don't even involve doing anything right now.

She wants one of those handy reviews that allow ministers to say they're taking something seriously while not doing anything at all, it adds.

For the New Statesman website, the prime minister has managed to find a way to make a simple political question incredibly difficult for herself. Labour's offer is "no tuition fees", so the Conservatives essentially either need to match that or move on, it says.

The Guardian agrees. It says Mrs May has essentially bought Jeremy Corbyn's argument that university tuition fees in England are too high, but not his conclusion that they should be scrapped.

In the Sun's view, Mrs May is merely tinkering in the vain hope of competing with what it calls Mr Corbyn's economically insane free-for-all offer.

'Poundland' party

According to the Telegraph, bill-payers are set to save hundreds of pounds a year under an automatic switching revolution being planned by price comparison websites.

Until now, it says, "auto-switching" services have only been offered by smaller broadband, energy and telephone companies, but larger providers are preparing to adopt the technology.

Under the system, customers will be automatically moved to cheaper tariffs by sophisticated computers, meaning they will no longer face the hassle of looking for deals.

Elsewhere, the temporary closure of hundreds of KFC restaurants across the UK and Ireland because of problems with a new supply contract for delivering their main ingredient, chicken, is widely reported - and makes the lead for the Sun. It has the headline: "Kentucky Fried Closed".

The Mirror reports the story under the headline: "Kentucky Fried Chaos". It says the fast food company ran "out of cluck".

The Financial Times has some puns in its headline too: "KFC gets in a flap after supply chain failure leaves chicken at home to roost".

Finally, several papers report that Blenheim Palace has apologised after a party to mark the Chinese New Year last weekend led to a barrage of complaints from guests who paid £26 to attend.

According to the Mail, visitors were promised a vibrant celebration filled with colourful decorations, traditional music and an oriental feast from street food stalls. But they were instead met with long queues for just one van selling noodle and chips, and "bored-looking" entertainers.

The Times says one visitor complained that they had had bigger events in their back garden. A spokesman for the Oxfordshire stately home tells the Telegraph the organisers had been let down by several vendors.