Newspaper headlines: Fury at fox-killing lawyer and MI6 HQ plans 'lost'

The Papers 27 December 2019

Many of the papers report the admission by a prominent lawyer that he killed an urban fox with a baseball bat after it became caught up in netting around his chicken coup.

Jolyon Maugham QC - who helped lead a number of legal challenges related to Brexit - made the astonishing claim on Twitter before asking his followers: "How's your Boxing Day going?"

The Financial Times says the "chickens come home to roost" for Mr Maugham, whom it describes as an "anti-Brexit QC".

The further admission by the lawyer that he killed the fox while wearing his wife's "too-small green" kimono features in the Guardian's report. The Daily Telegraph, meanwhile, says Mr Maugham's encounter with the fox is "a little more red in tooth and claw" than typical Boxing Day encounters with nature.

The Daily Mail says there is "fury" over the killing - and Mr Maugham tells the paper: "I wish I had said nothing". He adds that the RSPCA has recovered the fox's body from his garden and that the welfare charity is now conducting an investigation.

Spending rule change

Treasury officials are to "rip up" public spending rules to help increase economic growth in the Midlands and the north of England, the Times reports on its front page.

The paper's editorial says until now resources have been allocated to ensure the best return for government investment, which has widened economic disparities. The Times advises that it may take years to bring back jobs and prosperity to the regions but insists it is important to promote happiness and social cohesion.

There is a warning in the Guardian that UK employment could fall in 2020. The Resolution Foundation think tank suggests the record employment levels of this year are at risk, saying Brexit uncertainty and global headwinds have sapped business confidence.

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Image caption The Guardian reports on falling vacancies and an increase in unemployment among young people

But it may not be all gloom. The Daily Telegraph focuses on the Foundation's suggestion that salaries will rise, ending an 11-year pay squeeze.

Most papers examine the requirement of hospitals to scrap some parking charges from April. The Daily Mail highlights that some private parking firms have been threatening patients with bailiffs for minor offences.

The Guardian notes that the Conservatives pledged during the election campaign to make £78m pounds available to help hospitals take on the new policy. Macmillan Cancer Support tells the Sun the plan is a "game changer". The Daily Mirror suggests it's "a partial climbdown", and backs union demands to go further.

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There is a call on the front of the Daily Express for the government to help to end the social care crisis. The paper says charities and health providers are demanding immediate action.

The Express supports the proposal by the Independent Care Group to ensure that a fixed percentage of national wealth should be spent on social care.

Meanwhile the Independent warns that community nurses who care for people in their homes are being forced to work an extra day of unpaid overtime every week.

The news website says the number of district nurses has dropped from 7,000 to 4,000 in the past decade. It adds NHS bosses are being urged to double the number of district nurses being trained.

Church claims

The Daily Telegraph reports claims that a leading figure within the Church of England could face criminal charges following allegations of abuse by a number of men.

The paper says Rev Jonathan Fletcher is accused of bullying, intimidation and inappropriate conduct - including partaking in massages and ordering the men to take cold baths as punishment - over a number of years.

Mr Fletcher tells the Telegraph that alleged beatings and massages were mutual, consensual and non-sexual, adding that he is "very sorry for people I've hurt and harmed".

The paper notes that a church in Wimbledon is now investigating the men's claims while the Diocese of Southwark is working with the National Safeguarding Team to offer support.

'Skyfail'

The Sun reveals that documents showing the layout of MI6's headquarters went missing during recent renovation work. Its headline? "Skyfail".

Sources tell the paper the files would be "gold dust" to criminals. Most of the documents have been recovered but the Sun claims the construction firm Balfour Beatty lost its contract over the affair. The company declined to comment.

The Financial Times says London stock markets had their slowest year for fundraising activities since the financial crash. The paper blames uncertainty over Brexit and the recent election.

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And finally research in the Daily Mail suggests it may be time to dump any chipped or poorly finished mugs. Brazilian scientists found that coffee drunk from a smooth porcelain cup tastes sweeter, than from mugs with rough edges - these can apparently leave a bitter aftertaste.