Newspaper headlines: Sian Blake death arrest and Cheryl Fernandez-Versini 'divorce'

By Andy McFarlane
BBC News

  • Published

Some of Sunday's papers lead on the drama of the arrest of Arthur Simpson-Kent on a Ghanaian beach.

Mr Simpson-Kent was the partner of former EastEnders actress Sian Blake, whose body was found alongside those of her two young sons in the garden of their London home on Tuesday. Ben Rossington, reporting from the resort of Busua for the Sunday Mirror, writes: "The bearded suspect had been concealed in undergrowth eating a coconut with a spoon when officers pounced."

The Mail on Sunday's Barbara Jones is in Butre, where Mr Simpson-Kent was taken after being "found hiding among rocks" by "a posse of villagers and a handful of police" who had been alerted by an expat. "The fugitive was handcuffed and driven in a pick-up truck to a nearby village. The Mail on Sunday witnessed locals cheering his capture and heard police chiefs mocking Scotland Yard detectives for failing to find him first," writes Jones.

Meanwhile, the Sunday People hears from Howard Anthony, who appeared as Alan Jackson in the BBC soap alongside Blake's Frankie Pierre between 1996 and 1997. The actor tells the paper he broke down in tears when his agent told him of her death. "It's surreal, like a tragic EastEnders storyline. I want her family to know I'm sending them my deepest condolences," he's quoted as saying.

Eye-catching headlines

  • "Calvin set for a fairy-Tayl end" - the Daily Star Sunday says DJ Calvin Harris is "close to popping the question to superstar girlfriend", the singer Taylor Swift
  • "Absolutely topping - science finds formula for perfect pizza share-out" - mathematicians have devised a perfect way to ensure diners get equal-sized pizza slices and prevent them feeling short-changed over toppings, reports the Sunday Times
  • "Incredible" - the Mail on Sunday examines a hand-held scanner that "zaps food and drink and instantly reveals its exact calorie, fat and carbohydrate content"
  • "A cold snap is on the way... that's good news for birds and insects" - a coming intense cold front will be bad news for some farmers but good for wildlife such as otters, says the Observer

Defending the NHS, or pay?

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt speaks to the Sunday Telegraph ahead of the first of three strikes by junior doctors over changes to their pay structure as part of government plans to offer more services at weekends.

He says Tuesday's strike - and a further walkout on 26 January - will "be something that causes enormous frustration to patients who have their operations cancelled". However, he adds that the third planned strike, which will be the first to see emergency care withdrawn, is the one that worries him most. "It is unprecedented for doctors to say that they will be withdrawing emergency care. That is basically saying that you won't be there for your patients even in life-threatening situations."

As the Independent on Sunday points out, the British Medical Association - the doctors' union - argues that the changes could leave come junior doctors working "unsafe" hours and leave those working the most anti-social hours worse off. The paper says their case is being supported by unions representing firefighters, bakers and civil servants, who will join doctors on the picket lines.

Image source, PA

They won't be the only ones, according to the Sunday Times. It reports that members of Momentum, the organisation formed after Jeremy Corbyn's victorious Labour leadership campaign, has instructed activists to turn out alongside medics on Tuesday. The move, it says, will "fuel claims that the hard left is working hand in glove with the most militant leaders of the doctors' union".

The Sunday Mirror calls on readers to back the doctors' decision to strike, arguing: "They don't want to do it and patients certainly don't want them to. But they are being forced by the government into not only defending the best way to do their jobs, but also the future of the NHS itself."

However, Dominic Lawson insists in the Sunday Times that the strike is "all about money". And the Mail on Sunday's editorial column declares: "Doctors should never go on strike. Mercy is not a commodity to be withheld in the hope of getting a higher price for it."

Marriage matters

Three separate papers have "exclusive" reports suggesting that X Factor judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini is to divorce her French restaurateur husband Jean-Bernard, who she married 19 months ago.

The singer has "had enough of his jealousy" and is filing papers complaining of his "unreasonable behaviour", according to a source quoted by the Sun on Sunday. The paper adds that "JB" was "angered by the amount of time his wife spent with her beloved Chihuahuas Coco and Buster".

Image source, PA

However, according to the Sunday People's "insider", she is citing "irreconcilable differences" having realised that "she had married too soon and... been swept away by a whirlwind romance". The paper says Jean-Bernard has moved out of the couple's London home and is spending most of his time in the US.

The Sunday Mirror charts the ups and downs of Cheryl's "torrid love life", while showbiz editor Simon Boyle writes: "Not many people have faced public scrutiny as heavily as Cheryl - and even fewer have managed to handle that pressure with the dignity and strength that she has... Throughout, the resilient little Geordie has been professional to the last - always avoiding the temptation to rant, rage or even break down in tears under the pressure."

What the commentators say

Media caption,
French TV journalist Benedicte Paviot joins Matthew Doyle, a former adviser to Tony Blair, to review the papers for the BBC News Channel.

Parental guidance

There is much focus on child-rearing skills in the Sunday papers, with the Observer reporting that the prime minister will call for all parents to attend classes on how to discipline their children. The paper says David Cameron will refer to the lack of guidance on play, communications, behaviour and discipline and then say: "We all need more help with this - the most important job we'll ever have."

However, the paper says the £5m pilot, to be organised in three under-privileged areas, "is likely to enrage those fearful of an encroaching 'nanny state'". The Sunday Telegraph adds: "Mr Cameron is also expected to announce that 100,000 mentors will be hired to help give guidance to teenagers who are at risk, with more money for rehabilitating drug addicts and treating alcohol addiction."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Express reports suggestions from the government's anti-obesity adviser that parents should "stop using sweets to bribe their children into good behaviour" to prevent them getting fat. It quotes Prof Susan Jebb saying: "We need to remember there are other parenting strategies, including saying 'no' even if it seems a more difficult option."

The paper's editorial column agrees, saying: "Advice on not giving youngsters too many sweet treats may seem as nannying as last week's stricter alcohol guidelines but the unpalatable truth is that our children are getting fatter. It might be hard to stomach but the only people to blame for childhood obesity are over-indulgent parents who say 'yes' for an easier life instead of exercising the authority children really crave."

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