Newspaper headlines: Savile probe, lab sperm and Flying Scotsman

Jimmy Savile

The conclusions reached by former senior judge Dame Janet Smith about the culture at the BBC which was prevalent at the time DJ Jimmy Savile and presenter Stuart Hall were sexually abusing children and women dominate the inside pages of Friday's papers.

As well as reporting Dame Janet's findings, all the papers bar one devote space in their editorials and leader columns to what her inquiry means for the BBC - then and now.

"All in all, it is one of the most appalling sex abuse scandals of modern times which has brought international shame on the BBC," says the Daily Mail.

"This report is the beginning of the end of the scandal, not the beginning of the end for the most shameful breach of trust in the BBC's distinguished history," says the Daily Mirror in its editorial.

The Independent's editorial says Dame Janet "has hardly given the BBC a clean bill of health", adding: "she makes it clear that it was institutional failings that allowed Savile and his abuse to flourish."

The Times' editorial calls on the BBC to learn the lessons of Dame Janet's review: "It needs to return to its core competencies of news, current affairs and entertainment, end its unfair dominance of online news publishing and atone for the devastating damages of a decade-long scandal that unfolded while it looked the other way."

The Guardian argues that society needs to change so that people can feel confident to speak out when they come across wrongdoing. It believes more needs to be done: "One thorny question is whether new statutory duties will soon be required, to make plain that reporting abuse is not a difficult option but a professional obligation."


All in the numbers

After the initial excitement of who was for "in" and which big beast was backing "out", the papers have some real grist for their respective mills on Friday, following the release of immigration statistics, which showed net migration stood at 323,000 for the year to September.

The Sun, headlining its story "Give it a Bucharest", reports one-in-five EU migrants to the UK is Romanian or Bulgarian, and that people from those countries make up a fifth of London's 7,581 rough sleepers.

Image copyright PA

But the Times says Prime Minister David Cameron believes leaving the EU would "void his deal" on paying welfare to migrants and "any agreement to let Britain back into the single market would not include his limits on benefit claims".

According to the Guardian, "the flow of EU migrants to work in Britain has peaked and appears to be stabilising". It quotes Madeleine Sumption of the Oxford University-based Migration Observatory saying "the UK remains an attractive destination with low unemployment and robust job growth, so there's no reason to expect a dramatic change to migration levels".

The Daily Express reports Ms Sumption saying the latest figures for migrants coming to the UK could be a "new normal" and "not a temporary peak".

The Independent notes "the new reality of the government stripped of collective responsibility" as employment minister Priti Patel also attacked David Cameron on the issue.


Eye-catching headlines

  • Do not adjust your set... Sturgeon saves the UK from alien invaders - the Independent gets my attention with the suggestion Scotland's first minister isn't just content to dominate her nation's politics, but is also going to save the rest of the UK from our future alien overlords. Actually, Nicola Sturgeon has taken a part in a forthcoming Radio 4 adaptation of the 1953 sci-fi novel The Kraken Wakes, in which she is left in charge after a series of attacks by extra-terrestrials.
  • Bulletproof furniture: ideal for targets - not the latest recliner for James Bond, but almost. The Times reveals a Scottish firm has begun making what it says is the "world's first made-to-measure ballistic protection furniture". There is even a chap in Glasgow whose job it is to test the things, using a sub-machine gun. Sofa, so interesting...
  • Mascot Shaggy put out to grass - reports the Daily Express, as bosses at Merthyr Town FC in south Wales have decided to retire their club mascot Shaggy - a man-sized sheep - because his name is "no longer appropriate". No reaction thus far from Shaun the Sheep, Little Bo-Peep, or Scooby-Doo.
  • Pupils who don't know baguettes are from France - oui, c'est vrai. According to the Daily Mail, "many British schoolchildren" are unaware the crusty bread originates from the other side of the English Channel, and believe them to be as British as a certain well-known High Street bakery chain. Je suis tres desole. Vraiment.

'Blokes put out of a job'

The above headline is the Sun's conclusion about the impact of sperm being created in a laboratory for the first time "raising the prospect of women never needing men again".

The Daily Mirror sees the medical advance slightly differently (and arguably more positively) by suggestion the development will give infertile men "fresh hope of fathering children" and could pave the way for new fertility treatments after stem cells were transformed into "sperm-like cells" which produced offspring in mice.

Image copyright AP

The Times explains how the Chinese researchers were able to take stem cells from mice which were then "dunked" in a "bath of chemicals to turn them into a precursor to sperm known as a primordial germ cell". These were subject to further treatment to create the "rudimentary" sperm cells, known as spermatids, which were injected into the ovaries of female mice.

According to the Independent, men would be able to have their own biological children because their skin could be used to create the embryonic stem cells.

"This would be a remarkable thing to do", Professor Allan Pacey of Sheffield University tells the Daily Telegraph, saying it would give men "the chance to have their own biological children rather than using sperm from a donor".

The Daily Mail's science editor Fiona MacRae ponders the ethical concerns "including the possibility of a dystopian future in which men are no longer needed to create life".

Her counterpart at the Guardian, Ian Sample, also writes of the need for some caution, with the treatment "a distant prospect, and fraught with concerns over safety, ethics and legality".


What the commentators say

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Media captionPaper review: Friday's front pages

It takes a village...

Several papers take a keen interest in a potential change in circumstances for Wiltshire couple Cheryle Walton and Paul Jones.

The Times says the pair are "distraught" after having learned from a "passing dog-walker that their isolated country cottage could be surrounded by a 700-home estate".

The Telegraph notes that a public exhibition has been held showing the planned development near Chippenham, although "consultant, Framptons, admitted the owners of the detached cottage which sits in the middle of the proposed 125-acre development, should have been notified".

"We have lived here five years. It's our dream home and this has happened behind our backs," Ms Walton tells the Sun.

The Daily Mail notes people who wish to object have until next Friday to register their concerns and Wiltshire Council will not rule on the plans until April. Planning consultant Peter Frampton, while sorry that the couple were not correctly informed, tells the Daily Mail Ms Walton "has sufficient time to send in her comments".


And now for something a bit steamy

For boys of a certain age raised on the romance of steam, the sight of the Flying Scotsman taking to the mainline brings a moistness to the eye possibly not caused by a stray speck of funnel soot.

Such reveries have seemingly also engulfed Fleet Street's editors, who devote a great deal of space to the majestic loco's return to the rails it once ruled before the diesels came along and ruined everything.

Image copyright Getty Images

"Trainspotter" Chris Roycroft-Davis had been waiting "52 years and one month" - he writes in the Daily Express - to see his "boyhood love" as the loco made its way from London's King's Cross station to the National Railway Museum in York. He tells of being "wreathed in a sweet-smelling steam and coal smoke that filled my senses with pungent memories".

The Sun reminds us the Scotsman was built in 1923, "can hit speeds of 100mph" and last ran passenger services in 1963.

The Daily Mail's Robert Hardman was at King's Cross and tells readers: "the original Scotsman found itself alongside a modern imposter. Parked alongside it was a Virgin Trains locomotive also bearing the name 'The Flying Scotsman'. Were this an episode of Thomas the Tank Engine, stern words would surely have been exchanged".

It has taken 10 years and £4.2m to restore the classic engine, notes the Daily Mirror, and its mainline run drew "thousands of fans to platforms, embankments and bridges" to catch a glimpse.

Some got a little too close for comfort, reports the Times, with Network Rail issuing a "plea to sightseers to keep off the tracks".

Nigel Harris, editor of Rail magazine, described one incident at St Neots, Cambridgeshire, as "rampant trespass by mindless hordes", reports the Guardian.


Making us click

The Guardian - UK schools suffering as new teachers 'flock abroad', warns chief inspector

Daily Mail - Adam Johnson's weeping girlfriend reveals they have SPLIT as she tells his child sex trial he cheated on her with 'quite a few' other women

Daily Mirror - Scientists claim they can create babies without men by injecting eggs with artificial sperm

The Independent - Asian sex abusers to be stripped of UK citizenship and deported

The Times - Will the real Boris Johnson please stand up?

Daily Telegraph - Black people shouldn't be fooled by Hillary Clinton