Newspaper review: Fracking, pranks and cures


Most of Saturday's newspapers have taken a breather from reporting on the heatwave, with no two papers leading on the same story.

The Times welcomes the government's decision to give tax breaks to companies involved in fracking - the controversial extraction of shale gas from deep below the earth's surface.

The paper believes the benefits are "huge", not least because the UK would be less reliant on energy imports.

The Times also says in its leader that burning gas produces far less carbon dioxide emissions than burning oil or coal, and that concerns about earthquakes and pollution are "baseless".

But the Daily Mirror reports that Water UK - which represents suppliers - is warning people who live near shale gas sites that they could "see their taps run dry", because the fracking process requires so much water.

In its leader, the Mirror says this is a threat that cannot be dismissed lightly. The paper adds that the downside of fracking here may prove far greater than in the US where it happens under largely uninhabited areas, unlike the UK which is a crowded island.

Royal prank

According to The Daily Mail, Prince Charles has "secretly lobbied" the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, to give his support to what the paper calls "discredited" homeopathic medicines.

The Mail understands that Mr Hunt strongly supports alternative therapies and that the Prince of Wales is concerned that plans to set up a register of herbal practitioners to give them respectability have stalled.

"It's a ploy!" screams the front page of The Sun, in a story about the paper's use of Royal lookalikes to fool the world's press outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital into thinking that parents-to-be, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, had arrived.

The Financial Times reports on its front page that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is hoping to join forces with officials in New York and San Francisco to pressurise Apple and other smartphone manufacturers to tackle the rise in phone thefts.

The FT quotes figures from Scotland Yard which puts thefts of handsets in London at 10,000 a month. The paper says Mr Johnson has written to Apple, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony and others, demanding action.

One option is what is known as a "kill switch" which immediately disables handsets after they are stolen.

'Awful Aussies'

The Daly Telegraph and The Guardian have advice for Labour and the government as the summer recess gets under way.

Jonathan Freedland, writing in the Guardian, says that the Conservatives are in a "sunny mood" while Labour is in a state of "humid angst", perennially on the defensive.

Meanwhile, the Independent reveals the "vast scale" on which it says private investigation agencies have been used by the financial services sector to illegally raid institutions for personal data on members of the public.

The Daily Express warns its readers to "get ready for the 100F heatwave" that forecasters say are "likely to trigger violent thunderstorms".

The sports pages take delight in the England cricket team's performance in the second test at Lord's.

"Awful Aussies destroyed by sublime Swann" says the Mail after the Australian team were bowled out for 128, with Graeme Swann taking five wickets.

The Times' Simon Barnes asks where the stereotypical Australian batsman have gone. "Instead of hardness there was softness. Instead of clarity there was muddle. Instead of certainty there was doubt, Instead of smartness there was stupidity," he writes.

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