The front pages: 'Ebola in the UK' and tributes to Richard Attenborough

  • 25 August 2014

The news that the a Briton infected in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been flown for treatment in London makes headlines throughout Monday's press.

The Daily Mail names the health worker involved as 29-year-old William Pooley from Woodbridge in Suffolk, who had been working in Sierra Leone since March.

For the last five weeks, the paper says, he had worked at a specialist Ebola centre.

Strict isolation measures were used when Mr Pooley arrived at RAF Notholt near London, having been flown from Sierra Leone

His boss from another West African health clinic tells the Mail, "Will said he felt a strong responsibility to the patients there as they were being abandoned by doctors and nurses who were fearful of contracting the Ebola virus".

Mr Pooley will be treated in a specialist ward at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, London, which the paper says will be his "home for months".

Among the strict hygiene measures are a special £25,000 bed which will be destroyed rather than being re-used by another patient.

The Daily Mirror notes the health worker - the first Briton to catch Ebola since a laboratory worker accidentally infected himself in 1976 - was described as "not currently seriously unwell".

Dr Paul Cosford, England's public health protection chief, is quoted as saying, "UK hospitals have a proven record of dealing with imported infectious diseases and this patient will be isolated and receive the best care possible."

The Sun hails Mr Pooley as a "hero nurse", who worked without wages and lived in a "basic guesthouse" near the treatment centre.

An American doctor who helps run the facility tells the Sun: "He is a popular member of staff... everyone at the hospital speaks very highly of him. He was playing a pivotal role."

As news comes that an experimental antiviral drug has been used successfully to save lives from Ebola - having been approved for use before the conclusion of formal testing - Maurice Saatchi writing in the Daily Telegraph calls for the same approach to be used on new cancer therapies.

Pointing out that 150,000 Britons will die from cancer this year, he says "doctors should be encouraged to try new treatments and protected when they do so".

He quotes a medical expert, who says "there will be no cure for cancer until real doctors with real patients in real hospitals are allowed to innovate."

'Meeting death'

Once again, our press examines ways in which young Britons can be persuaded against joining jihadists fighting in Syria and Iraq for the extremist Islamic State (IS) organisation.

Boris Johnson, writing in the Daily Telegraph, says Britons travelling to Syria and Iraq without notifying the authorities should be presumed to be "potential guilty" unless they can prove themselves innocent.

"We need to make it crystal clear that you will be arrested if you go to Syria or Iraq without good reason," the London Mayor explains.

He echoes calls made by fellow Conservative David Davis and former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey that those pledging allegiance to IS show be stripped of their citizenship.

The Telegraph notes "senior lawyers said that Mr Johnson's proposals for 'rebuttable presumption' would mark a profound change to British law".

The Daily Mail's comment column backs the calls to strip British-born jihadist of citizenship.

"They have repudiated all Britain stands for and pledged themselves to the self-styled caliphate.

"They are committed to a murderous 'holy war' not just against their enemies in the Middle East but also the whole of Western civilisation."

The Mail admits the move would be a "legal minefield" and possibly breach the UK's pledges to European and UN human rights legislation, but it thinks it would be worthwhile to delay the re-entry of militants to Britain while "years of legal wrangling" went on.

The Sun sets out the same stance, arguing "wannabe jihadis plotting to join IS should know it's a one-way ticket even if they survive the rain of fire coming to them".

In the Times, one British jihadist fighting with IS tells the paper he has no wish to come back to his home country.

"We will never return. We came here to die.

"Soldiers do it for money and other worldly desires. We do it for the sake of God, not [IS] and we look forward to meeting death."

Elsewhere in the paper, a senior Iraqi diplomat says the British government must help Muslim community leaders and individual families to challenge the idea that being a member of IS is "cool".

Lukman Faily, who grew up in the UK, says families must protect vulnerable sons.

"Your iPhone has all that he needs to be indoctrinated."

'Insecurity'

Many newspapers examine Business Secretary Vince Cable's proposals to reform the way zero-hours contracts work, by preventing employers from making those with such agreements from signing "exclusivity clauses" barring them from working for other firms.

The Independent - which says an estimated 622,000 Britons work in zero-hours contract jobs - said Mr Cable called on workers to blow the whistle on employers who "tried to get around" any new legislation.

The paper notes that Mr Cable's planned measures fell short of Labour's call to give zero-hours employees the right after a period of time to ask for a fixed-hour contract and compensation for shifts cancelled at short notice.

Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna is quoted as saying "we have seen a rising tide of insecurity in the workplace since David Cameron came to office... so it is unsurprising the government has put forward the minimum it thought it could get away with to deal with exploitative zero-hour contracts".

The Indy's opinion column however says Labour's plan would discourage employers from offering zero-hours contracts, "depriving those who do want one from the option of having it".

The Guardian says zero hours contracts are used by about half of all firms in the tourism, catering and food sectors.

It notes that one retailer, Sports Direct, has its entire 20,000 workforce on such terms.

The added flexibility may explain a front page article in the Financial Times, which produces statistics to show that it is cheaper to hire workers in the UK than in Spain.

The average hourly cost of employing someone in the UK was 20.9 euros (£16.66) compared to 21.10 euros in Spain, where hourly rates were lower, but associated costs, such as employers' social contributions, were higher.

Overall, the FT notes, the UK labour costs were far below the average of the 17 eurozone countries, which was 23.70 euros per hour.

'Fall off the twig'

Reports on the death of screen great Lord (Richard) Attenborough came in too late to be covered by the first editions of most print newspapers, but online versions carried effusive tributes.

In the Guardian, Peter Bradshaw calls the news "a sad day for the British film industry".

Lord Attenborough was, he says, "always a beaming, cherubic, endlessly charming, endlessly garrulous man: actor, producer, director, world-class networker and committee man, an establishment heavyweight and incorrigible wearer of the Garrick Club salmon-and-pink tie."

Bradshaw notes the flamboyantly theatrical peer always hated the nickname "Dickie" which he thought sounded "too luvvie".

Sir David Puttnam weighs in with his own tribute in the Guardian, calling the actor/director who died on Sunday aged 90, "irreplaceable".

"Within a famously competitive business, in almost 40 years, I never heard a false or unkind word - only constant support, and through the best and worst of times."

The Independent, one of the few papers nimble enough to get the news into its early print editions, said "He won a string of awards for his acting but his greatest success was as a director.

"His 1982 film Gandhi won best picture and he was given the best director award.

"After a breaking from acting, he returned to the screen in 1993 as dinosaur park developer John Hammond in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park.

"Attenborough also worked as the chairman of Capital Radio, the president of Bafta, president of the Gandhi Foundation, and president of the British National Film and Television School."

The Daily Telegraph notes that Lord Attenborough had been frail since suffering a major stroke in 2008 and was being cared for in sheltered accommodation at the time of his death.

Before his illness, he had said he wanted to make films until the day he died.

"On my last day of shooting, I'd be happy to say: 'Cut, it's a wrap' and fall off the twig," he reportedly said.

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