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Newspaper review: Lobbying claims considered

Papers

Three years ago, says the Daily Telegraph, Prime Minister David Cameron warned that lobbying was "the next big scandal waiting to happen".

The Telegraph is among a number of Saturday's papers to remember Mr Cameron's words.

The Independent says he was wrong.

Since he spoke, it points out, "we have had phone hacking, Leveson, and a convulsion in the newspaper industry".

But now, says the Daily Mail, "a new cash-for-questions scandal" is threatening "to engulf Parliament".

All the papers report that Patrick Mercer MP has resigned the Tory whip to "save my party embarrassment".

'Dramatic sting'

It follows claims by the BBC's Panorama that he broke Parliament's lobbying rules by allegedly accepting £4,000 to lobby for business interests in Fiji.

Mr Mercer said he took the money for consultancy work outside Parliament, that he was taking legal advice and that he had referred himself to Parliament's standards commissioner.

The Daily Mirror says "the dramatic sting exposes David Cameron's pledge to clean up ­Westminster in the wake of the expenses scandal as a myth".

And it says Mr Cameron employs a lobbyist as his election strategist and "Tory staffers frequently rotate through the revolving door between lobbying and politics".

He has "failed to act" on the regulation of lobbying, says the Guardian.

But the paper thinks the decision by Mr Mercer to resign the Tory whip will have brought "a glow of pleasure to Mr Cameron".

The Times says Mr Mercer is "no friend of Mr Cameron" while the Mail calls the MP "one of the prime minister's fiercest internal critics".

'Paedophile horror'

The Sun devotes its first five pages to the memories and thoughts of Paul and Coral Jones, the parents of April who was kidnapped and murdered by Mark Bridger last year.

Bridger has been jailed for life for the abduction and murder of the five-year-old.

Reflecting on Bridger's long record of violence, the paper believes the justice system failed to protect her.

The paper says no-one "could have forecast the paedophile horror to come".

But it argues that, if the courts "had ever got tough on Bridger, April might still be playing happily in the street".

Others look at the role that access to online pornography may have played in prompting the attack.

'Press muzzled'

The Independent considers "the dark side of the internet" and assesses the options for stopping people from viewing violent and perverse images.

The Mail sums up the demands being voiced by some in the headline: "Now show you're not amoral, Google."

The paper comments that, while Tory politicians have been "quick to seek to muzzle the free press", they "stand idly by while the unregulated internet provides perverts such as Mark Bridger and Stuart Hazell with all too ready access to images of paedophilia".

It says it would be unforgivable if the government failed to protect the public because of personal connections between senior Conservatives and "Google cronies".

Wheels off?

"Everything seemed to go right for Sir Bradley Wiggins in 2012," says the Times. But not this year.

The Independent calls his knee injury, which has forced him to pull out of the Tour de France, "a crushing blow".

Victorious at the head of Team Sky last year, this year the sky has fallen in on his ambitions, says the Telegraph.

The Times says injury, illness and a loss of form have meant the "wheels coming off for Wiggins".

It is unlikely that such a fit athlete as Sir Bradley would turn to chocolate for comfort - but others do.

And the Daily Express has some scientific advice for those who fear they may succumb.

According to health psychologists, people should remember that "you are not your thoughts", says the paper.

But it says no amount of trendy "cognitive defusion" is going to change the truth that "you are what you eat".

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