The papers: 'Punishing Putin' and the Tulisa case

  • 22 July 2014

Tuesday's press focuses on potential new sanctions against Russia over its claimed role in the shooting down of the Malaysian airliner over eastern Ukraine, last week.

The Daily Telegraph's headline is "it's time to punish Putin, says PM".

Philip Hammond
Philip Hammond will try to hammer out an EU deal on sanctions

The paper says David Cameron is calling for tougher sanctions including "restrictions on Russian banks, and airlines and asset freezes on the 'oligarchs and cronies' who support Mr Putin."

Foreign secretary Philip Hammond will push for tough "tier 3" sanctions at Tuesday's meeting of EU ministers, it adds.

Inside the paper, it examines how sanctions could hit Europe.

The UK would be one of the least affected Western European nations, the Telegraph says, although Russia does remain a major importer of British-made cars.

Germany and the Netherlands, with £60bn and £51bn of annual trade with Russia, respectively, would be far more susceptible to economic damage. Germany gets more than a third of its energy needs from Russia, the paper explains.

The Sun lists some of the UK-domiciled oligarchs who could be hit by "the crony war".

They include Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich who the paper says is "so well connected he used to have an apartment in the Kremlin"; the owner of Britain's most expensive house, Leonard Blavatnik - his spokesman said suggestions he could be the subject of sanctions were "groundless", and Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmano, who the Sun says was "very close to Putin as former head of state-run gas firm GazProm.

The Independent says British officials have privately said there is some "resistance" to ramping up sanctions on the Russians, who are suspected of supplying the missiles used to down the passenger jet.

The paper says the promise by rebel militia in east Ukraine to hand over the plane's recovered black boxes and the beginning of the repatriation of the bodies had "strengthened the hand of those arguing that further sanctions could hamper future Russian co-operation".

The Times highlights the prime minister's specific call to France to halt work on new warships it is building for Russia.

In an analysis piece in the Times, Charles Bremner says "despite the outrage across the EU, most of the member states are loath to embark on an economic war with Moscow, which they fear will hurt more than it helps and could halt the continent's recovery.

"Eyebrows have been raised over Mr Cameron's appeals to high principle and his gung-ho calls to hit the Kremlin's commercial interests.

"That is because he has shown little enthusiasm for action that would hurt Russia's biggest interest - the haven for Russian capital that is offered by the City of London."

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'Self-serving myth'

The biggest domestic news story in Tuesday's papers is the collapse of the court case being brought against pop star Tulisa Contostavlos.

The Guardian says the trial - for supplying cocaine - "collapsed dramatically after a judge ruled it was likely the Sun's investigative reporter Mazher Mahmood had attempted to persuade a witness to change his evidence, then lied about it under oath".

The paper says the Sun "faces a significant bill for court costs" and Mr Mahmood could face a perjury trial.

The trial judge said Mr Mahmood - known as the "fake sheikh" for the Arab costume he frequently uses in his undercover investigations - had gone to "considerable lengths to get Ms Contostavlos to agree to involve herself in criminal conduct, certainly far greater lengths than would have been regarded as appropriate had he been a police investigator".

Tulisa Contostavlos

The Guardian quotes a spokeswoman for media pressure group Hacked Off who says "this case explodes the self-serving myth propagated by some in the press industry, that when the News of the World closed, newspaper malpractice ended".

A Sun spokesman is quoted as saying his paper believed "the original investigation was conducted within the bounds of the law and the industry's code. This was demonstrated by the CPS decision to prosecute."

The Independent is one of a number of newspapers to profile Mr Mahmood - who is currently suspended by the Sun, pending an investigation.

The rarely pictured 50-year-old was named Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards in 1998, the paper says. He claims to have secured 250 criminal convictions as a result of his undercover investigations.

But the paper says the Fake Sheikh has had many "reverses" as well as triumphs.

"One of the most sensational" the paper continues, was the "red mercury trial" when three defendants, arrested after a Sun sting, were charged with planning a terrorist attack.

The trial collapsed, and one of the defence barristers said there was "a huge danger... accepting Mr Mahmood's word in respect of any matter".

The Daily Star puts Ms Contostavlos on its front page.

The singer and former X Factor judge said "I have never been involved in either taking or dealing cocaine. This whole case was a horrific and disgusting entrapment."

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Price wars

The departure of Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke makes plenty of columns in the newspapers.

The Daily Mirror's headline says "Tesco's failure boss checks out with £26m compo".

The paper explains that Mr Clarke, who started with the firm as a teenager stacking shelves, stood down after the supermarket giant issued "another profit warning because of weak sales".

An expert quoted in the paper says Mr Clarke could leave his job with £9.6m salary and bonus owed, £5.3m in shares and an £11.5m pension pot.

The Financial Times says Mr Clarke had been "ousted" in favour of Unilever executive Dave Lewis as the 95-year-old chain "bowed to pressure from City investors".

The paper says Britain's biggest retailer is "widely seen as having lost touch with its customers against the backdrop of intense competition from discount rivals and a consumer shift from its megastores to convenience shopping".

Alex Brummer, the Daily Mail's city editor, says Mr Clarke "didn't see the dangers of the Aldi revolution".

Brummer says that although the discounters have hurt Tesco, there is plenty of life in the mega-chain yet.

"It may well be that in recent times, Tesco has been trying to do too much. However it remains a trusted brand," he writes.

"The notion that it is somehow finished is a fantasy. A different touch on the tiller might be precisely what it needs - especially as some of the tough decisions already have been taken."

The Independent's opinion column says to turnaround Tesco may not be easy.

The firm, it says, could "choose to take the discounters on at their own game, and follow Morrisons in declaring war on them.

"If [Mr Lewis] were to do that, then we may well witness what can only be described as the supermarket price war to end all supermarket price wars.

"Short term, that will boost the purchasing power of household budgets; longer term the consequences may not be so positive."

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Aston Villa hat

There's a certain little boy who is celebrating his first birthday on Tuesday, and a certain set of pictures of him trying to touch a butterfly at the Natural History Museum has melted the hearts of the nation's picture editors.

Prince George - for it is he - is "a baby that unites Britain", the Daily Express reckons.

The paper's opinion column says that it is thanks to the youngest royal "a quarter of all Britons now have a more positive view of the monarchy".

Prince George and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Natural History Museum
Butterflies "respond well to handling" an expert tells the Daily Mail, but the blue morpho proved a little wary of Prince George

"Only the hardest of hearts does not warm to the sight of the bouncing baby prince doted on by his mother and father," the Express adds.

The Daily Telegraph tells us that the butterfly pictures - released to mark the birthday - was taken at the museum earlier this month and the insect - which had a lucky escape from the inquisitive toddler's fingers - was a blue morpho butterfly, from South America.

The paper also lists some of the 4,000 presents that Prince George has received in his short life to date, including an Aston Villa hat, and a calf and a goat.

The latter came from the Samburu people of Kenya and now reside in the royal herd at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy.

Prince George has also had a crocodile in Australia's Northern Territory named after him, and three meerkats at Dudley Zoo share his three Christian names - George, Alexander and Louis.

The Daily Mail - as is its wont - is quick to analyse the fashions on show in the pictures.

The young prince "like his mother is becoming something of a trend setter", the paper reckons, noting he is wearing stripy dungarees from French label Petit Bateau "which sold out within minutes of another picture from the same set being released last weekend".

The paper tells us that Prince George "is already racing around and opening doors at [his parents'] Kensington Palace apartment.

"He has a fine set of lungs on him, makes bath-time 'quite painful' but adores his 'best buddy' Lupo the spaniel."

So, pretty much like a non-royal one-year-old then!

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