The papers: Meriam's plight and a farewell to Stephen

The case of Meriam Ibrahim - the mother-of-two sentenced to death in Sudan after being convicted there of abandoning Islam and marrying a Christian man - is covered extensively in Saturday's press.

The Times devotes its front page to the case, with a grainy picture taken from a Sudanese paper showing Ms Ibrahim looking very thin holding the daughter she gave birth to while shackled in her cell.

The paper leads on UK politicians' support for clemency in Ms Ibrahim's case. Inside the paper, it notes that Sudan's President Bashir - although personally a religious moderate - "relies on the support of hardline Islamists to stay in power".

Image caption Meriam Ibrahim and Daniel Wani

The paper quotes Meriam's husband, Daniel Wani, who says their eldest child - 20-month-old Martin - has become sullen and withdrawn inside the jail with his mother. He adds that his wife is under "constant pressure" to convert to Islam.

The Guardian says Mr Wani has thanked the international community for its support, and has told a US broadcaster "it's looking like it had an effect".

The paper notes that more than 150,000 Britons signed an Amnesty International petition calling for Ms Ibrahim's release, and a further 600,000 backed a similar petition.

The Daily Telegraph says officials from neighbouring South Sudan - where US citizen Mr Wani was born - are hopeful that their lobbying is helping the Sudanese government consider a pardon.

In The Sun, columnist Louise Mensch calls for all Western aid to Sudan to be suspended until the family are freed. She adds that the decision of the Sudanese Sharia court to pass the death sentence was one based of "bigotry and hatred".

The Daily Mail describes the jail in Omdurman where Meriam and her children are being held as a "barbaric prison rife with disease, overcrowding and threats of violence from guards".

In its leader, The Times ties the case with persecution of Christians in other states, quoting a Vatican official who spoke of 100,000 Christians being "martyred" every year.

"We cannot be spectators at this carnage," the paper concludes.

'Rapidly changing'

Does the EU ruling granting people the "right to be forgotten" mean a total rethink of the internet? It does, according to the professor advising Google, who is the subject of the Independent's lead story.

Philosopher Luciano Floridi tells the paper that "the era of freely available information is now over in Europe".

In extensive coverage of the issue, The Independent reveals that 12,000 requests for articles to be removed from Google were made on Friday alone, 1,500 by UK citizens.

In its leader article, the paper says the right to be forgotten is a "digital delusion" that is a "licence to rewrite history" and therefore "it must be opposed".

It also points out that hidden location surfing technology, including proxy servers and VPN networks, render the EU's ruling unworkable - and adds that another search engine, based perhaps in a "failed state" outside the EU's power to punish, could easily take up Google's mantle.

The Financial Times' leader writer is also concerned by the implications of the ruling.

The paper points out that the financial implication to Google and other search engines could be substantial, and represent a barrier to new entrants into the market.

It adds that in its view Europe's institutions "are acquiring too great a penchant for interfering in the rapidly changing nature of the internet" and this could stifle creativity and economic dynamism.

The Daily Mail's take on the story is that "Google caves in and lets criminals suppress their past".

It notes that 33% of the "take-down" requests Google is now receiving concern reports of fraud and corporate wrongdoing, 22% are about arrests and convictions for violent crime and 10% relate to child porn arrests.

The Guardian is one of the few newspapers to publish quotes from campaigners who welcome the EU's move.

It quotes Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group who says: "There are clear privacy issues from time to time about material published on the web.

"Having a mechanism to deal with this seems the right way to go."

'Maximum capacity'

"Blue line thinner than ever" is how The Times reports findings from the just-published 2012-13 crime survey, which shows fewer people than ever saw police patrols in their area.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr White became head of the Police Federation two days after the Home Secretary's criticism of the body

In a graphic, the paper shows how the number of constables and sergeants has declined in England and Wales by 10,000 between 2009 and 2013.

It also notes that the Office for National Statistics, who compile the figures, recorded a small but "statistically significant" rise in people who say the police do a "very poor" job and another fall in those who thought the police did a "very good" job.

The Daily Telegraph says the results show there is a link between the visibility of the police service and public confidence in it.

The paper quotes the Police Federation's vice-chairman, Steve Evans, who says "while hard-working officers... have done their best to cope with the cuts, the service has been working at maximum capacity.

"The knock-on effect of these cuts is now being felt by the public."

The federation also makes a front page appearance in The Guardian as well.

Steve White gives the paper his first major interview since taking the reigns at the federation, which represents rank-and-file officers. Mr White vowed to clean up the organisation's image.

The Police Federation has been under intense scrutiny since an incendiary speech by the Home Secretary Theresa May warned the body to reform itself.

Mr White told The Guardian that allegations of bullying within the federation would be pursued and any such practices stamped out and he added that "getting bladdered" at the federation HQ's bar on expenses was "not acceptable".

He also concedes that the booing of Mrs May's speech at the 2011 federation conference had "backfired" and made politicians "shut the door" to the organisation.

But he added: "It is in the government's and public's interest for the police to have a strong staff association, as it leads to better policing."


Booming house prices have long been a staple newspaper obsession, but Saturday's pages reveal just how loud that boom is echoing.

The Daily Express's lead focuses on a prediction by an economist that housing prices could rise by 12% in the next 18 months.

The paper records that in April, house prices in London rose by an average £588 per day.

The Daily Mail has a story on how many of these rapidly appreciating houses are now worth more than a million pounds.

It says that 30 houses every day are sold for a seven-figure sum - a rise of almost two-thirds in a year.

The Mail says although London's price rises are leading the way, a "ripple effect" on property value is spreading across the country, with Oldham seeing the next highest price rise - although its 12.1% increase still only pushed the price of an average house there to just over £80,000.

However, The Daily Telegraph's business section records some sense that the latest soaring figures - based on Land Registry statistics - might be starting a gradual deceleration.

The paper notes that the registry figures are based on completed sales and so tend to lag behind other indicators of housing demand.

It quotes housing specialist Hometrack whose latest survey suggests slowing price growth in May.

"Strong price increases, widespread talk of a housing bubble and recent warnings from the Bank of England on house price inflation are starting to test the resolve of buyers," says Hometrack's Richard Donnell.

While the Bank of England may be warning of a housing bubble, and mulling interest rate rises, as the Financial Times reports, the situation is very different across the Channel.

It says the European Central Bank is considering setting a key interest rate at an unheard of below-zero level, to stimulate growth in the eurozone economies.

The ECB hopes such a move will spur banks in its area to lend more and fire economic growth, the FT adds.

Thumbs up

"Farewell, Stephen, you touched all our hearts" is how the Daily Mirror headlines its report on the final day of the public vigil at Lichfield Cathedral for cancer campaigner Stephen Sutton.

Image copyright PA

Stephen, who died two weeks ago aged 19, touched thousands with his courage as he battled the disease, it adds.

The Daily Express notes that although Stephen may be gone, his legacy lives on in the £4m he raised for the Teenage Cancer Trust, helping in the "fight to ensure other young people do not have to suffer the same fate".

The Sun pictures some of the 11,000 people who filed past Stephen's coffin at the cathedral, posing with the teenager's characteristic thumbs up salute.

It was an "extraordinary" and "joyous" scene for a funeral, the paper notes.

The paper's leader column notes that the Staffordshire teen's "spirit and positivity reaffirms our faith in human nature".

The Daily Star reports that the Dean of Lichfield, Adrian Dorber, told the assembled crowd that Stephen would say "'live it up', so one more time let's give him a thumbs up".

Stephen's mother Jane released hundreds of yellow balloons into the sky above Lichfield.

The Daily Telegraph says she said "He [Stephen] wanted to put the fun back into funeral".

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