Newspaper review: 'Slaves' ordeal' and Brucie's fears

  • 23 November 2013

A number of Saturday's front pages carry more on the story of three women allegedly held captive as slaves for 30 years in a London home.

Inside - and in part because details from the current case remain fairly scant - some consider the issue of modern-day slavery more widely.

"Slavery - to our shame - is back," states the Independent's leader, and argues that "It is not enough to be shocked. We must act." It urges businesses to "take proper care over suppliers" and citizens to pay "more attention to those around us".

The Sun cites cases of sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and people being forced into committing crimes, such as working in the cannabis trade. "It's clear that we still have a long way to go before we can even start to claim to have abolished slavery," it adds.

The Daily Telegraph, however urges a degree of caution. It says there are too many "unanswered questions" about the latest case to decide "whether it is emblematic of a wider problem in this country". While, of course, feeling "abhorrence", the paper points out that in the Global Slavery Index, the UK ranked 162nd out of 164 - "doing better than anywhere save Iceland and Ireland".

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Service to commemorate 50 years since JFK's assassination
Dallas marked 50 years since the assassination of President John F Kennedy on Friday
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Brucie's fears

Great minds think alike and both the Sun and Daily Mirror lead with the same Sir Bruce Forsyth exclusive, about the veteran performer apparently feeling the years advancing.

"I know I'm on borrowed time," he tells the Sun, reflecting on the number of friends he has already lost - the likes of Eric Sykes and Frankie Howard. Writer Colin Robertson says the star is "noticeably less animated than when I last sat down with him in November 2012", and his "increased fragility is obvious".

"Brucie has begun to think about his own mortality," agrees Mark Jefferies, in the Mirror. But don't worry, he has no plans to go anywhere. The paper says the 85-year-old is excited about the closest Strictly Come Dancing series ever and looking forward to his annual holiday in Puerto Rico.

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Grieve's grievance

Discussing the papers for the BBC's News Channel, Martin Bentham, home editor of the London Evening Standard, said the Daily Telegraph's front page would raise an eyebrow or two.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve has reportedly told the paper that corruption is "endemic" in the Pakistani community and is something UK politicians must "wake up to".

He said Mr Grieve was "a very cautious, measured person" so for him to say something like this was particularly "striking".

Caroline Daniel, editor of the Weekend Financial Times, said Mr Grieve actually made the distinction between the Pakistani and Indian communities which, given the tensions between those two countries, was "bound to cause some reaction".

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Jungle Janes

Rebecca Adlington in I'm A Celebrity and with her two gold medals
Rebecca Adlington won two gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008

Rebecca Adlington's tearful admission that fellow I'm A Celebrity contestant Amy Willerton makes her feel bad about her appearance is discussed in a number of the papers.

The Daily Mail compares the two women point by point - achievements, charity work, personal life and body image. It says winning four Olympic medals took "nerves of steel and utter self-belief", but nevertheless, Adlington "has found herself rather out of her depth in the world of reality TV".

"Mix various women of different size and shape, and varying degrees of what society calls 'beauty', strip them down to bikinis or shorts and it's bound to end in tears," writes Dr Pam Spurr, body image expert, in the Daily Express.

"Her televised torment is a reminder of the nasty abuse too often suffered by women in the public eye," says the Daily Mirror's editorial. "The body bullies should put a sock in it."

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The worm turns

Cricketer Mitchell Johnson
The moustachioed figure of Mitchell Johnson - one of England's chief tormentors - appears in the papers

After a day of mild gloating - well mostly - about England's day one Ashes performance, Australia came back with a bang at The Gabba, bowling the tourists out for 136.

"Pathetic", says Geoffrey Boycott, writing in the Daily Telegraph, arguing that what concerns him most is "we do not learn from our mistakes". Take Ian Bell and Matt Prior, both out to Nathan Lyons. "England have had three months to work out a way of playing him... yet we again poked around against him," Boycott says.

"On a cloying, compelling afternoon Australia revealed their grand design for the Ashes," writes Stephen Brenkley, in the Independent. "It is based on one of the oldest, most effective and terrorising weapons in the game: the bouncer."

England's top order was "blown away... harried into submission," says former England captain Mike Atherton, in the Times.

The headline on the front of the Guardian's Sport section says it all: "Slaughter at the Gabbatoir".

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Migrant benefits

The Times has advice for David Cameron after its own poll found immigration from the European Union was voters' biggest concern, especially the likely influx from Bulgaria and Romania when border controls are lifted in the New Year.

He can tighten the rules on when immigrants can claim benefits - something said to be coming soon - and "he can bolster the provision of specific public services where new arrivals are expected to be concentrated," it writes.

And the Times adds: "He can talk about identity. It is a matter of practicality and pride, not prejudice, to expect newcomers to learn English and a little bit about Britain."

The Daily Mail is much less willing to compromise. It tells the prime minister to "defy Brussels" and the "howls of outrage from Lib Dems" and keep the border controls in place. The move "would have the overwhelming support of the country that should matter to him most", the paper adds.

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Natty knitwear

Colin Firth
In the film version of Bridget Jones's Diary, Mark Darcy wore a festive jumper...

According to the Guardian, the "trend for novelty Christmas jumpers has grown so big it's likely to trump the onesie". It goes on: "Quite how the fashion for festive jumpers once only seen on the likes of bygone crooners such as Val Doonican and Bing Crosby took hold is not clear."

It seems that Sarah Lund, the detective in Scandinavian crime series The Killing, could be to blame - her penchant for a patterned knit is legendary. But however it happened, the Guardian notes, Selfridges now has a specialist Christmas jumper department, with prices as high as £675.

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Pay TV probe

The Financial Times, finally, has news to please football fans - a European Commission investigation is to be launched into the selling of rights for sport and movies. It follows the case of pub landlady Karen Murphy, who won a partial victory at the European Court of Justice in 2011 after she was fined for showing football to customers using a Greek satellite card.

"Big football competitions and Hollywood studies have long maintained a lucrative relationship with the pay TV industry," the FT writes, but bringing down EU barriers would touch "on highly sensitive political debates over the rights to audiovisual content and could have serious implications for the industry".

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