Newspaper headlines: IS files leak, tributes to 'fifth Beatle' and a penguin in the family

Thursday's papers carry reports of a leak of top-secret documents belonging to the so-called Islamic State group that are said to expose details of the network's global recruitment programme.

According to the Times, security agencies including MI5 and MI6 are examining forms alleged to contain names, addresses and family contacts of 22,000 jihadists, including at least a dozen British recruits.

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Prospective fighters were asked to chose between being used as suicide bombers, soldiers or in another role, and to detail any previous "jihadist experience", it reports.

The information, first revealed by Sky News, was said to have been contained on a memory stick stolen from the head of IS security police by a dissatisfied jihadist.

A former MI6 officer quoted in the Independent describes the details as a "gold mine" of information.

"At first glance the documents... look like standard HR forms, recording names, dates of birth, nationalities and phone numbers," says the paper. "Grimly there is even a place to record their 'date and place of death'."

It is a treasure trove of data for Western security services battling the terrorist group, says the Daily Mail.

"Former UK intelligence chiefs described the documents as the 'biggest breakthrough in years' in counter-terrorism. Experts believe the files could be invaluable in tackling jihadists who have sneaked back into Europe intent on bringing bloodshed to the streets."


The Fab Five

Photographs of Beatles producer Sir George Martin grace the front pages following his death in London at the age of 90. The papers record the emotional tributes to the "fifth Beatle" from Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as other stars of the music world.

Alexis Petridis in the Guardian writes of the "weird creative synergy" that existed between the Beatles and classically-trained Martin from the time their careers crossed in 1962.

"He remained unfailingly modest about his role in the band's success... perhaps safe in the knowledge that he wasn't the only one blessed by immense good fortune the day the Beatles walked into his studio."

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In the view of the Independent, Martin helped changed the course of pop history.

"The relationship between the patrician George Martin... and the scampish Scousers didn't just expand the vocabulary of pop into hitherto unimagined symphonic fields," the paper says in a leading article.

"It established the necessity for any artist, however high on creative adrenalin (or, indeed, other substances), to take heed of the cajoling from a studio maestro with one eye on the clock and a knack for transferring the musician's vision into a coherent recording."

"The world would have sounded very different today if John Lennon had never met Paul McCartney back in 1957," writes Ray Connolly in the Daily Mail.

"But it would have sounded very different, too, if the two of them had never met George Martin."

Martin's obituary in the Times says: "The band members were gifted and smart enough to have made it without Martin. His guidance, however, added a finesse they lacked in their early days and his experience fertilised a creative environment in which their raw talent could blossom."

Mick Brown in the Daily Telegraph says: "Under Martin's guidance and mentorship, the Beatles made the quantum leap to produce the greatest masterpiece in pop music.

"He allowed them to give expression to their genius, and provided a model for all pop music thereafter."

"There has only ever been one true fifth Beatle," says the Sun. "John, Paul, George and Ringo... and George."


No overhaul

The papers take stock following the Commons defeat of government plans to overhaul Sunday trading laws in England and Wales.

According to the Guardian, the defeat was particularly painful because ministers had offered to significantly water down the plans by rolling them out in only 12 pilot areas, in a last-ditch attempt to stave off the rebellion.

The government's attempt to let larger shops trade for longer than six hours each Sunday was voted down after 27 Tory backbenchers teamed up with Labour and the SNP, with the Sun saying the prime minister was left humiliated by the "unholy alliance".

The Daily Telegraph records the disappointment of local government minister Brandon Lewis at the defeat of a plan he maintained had the backing of a clear majority in England and Wales and would have boosted local high streets.

But the Daily Mirror says shop assistants will be relieved at the crushing defeat of a "divisive plan to force them to work all hours".

In a leading article, the Daily Mail says: "Opinions differ on the rights and wrongs of allowing local authorities to extend Sunday opening hours for big stores, as the government had planned. But clearly the SNP had no business to vote on a measure irrelevant to Scotland, where Sunday restrictions don't apply."


'Unknowable'

Buckingham Palace has complained to the press watchdog over Wednesday's Sun story claiming the Queen backed a UK exit from the European Union. But the fallout ensures it remains in the headlines.

The Daily Telegraph and Times highlight a suggestion Justice Secretary Michael Gove, a leading member of the Leave campaign, may have been the source of the story. However, both papers record people close to the MP as saying he has "no idea" who had leaked details of an event in 2011 at which the Queen is said to have expressed Eurosceptic views.

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The Sun is standing by its reporting, and argues voters "should be allowed to know our Queen's position on the most important decision Britain has faced in more than 40 years".

The Daily Express says Buckingham Palace "flatly denied" the Sun story and in its splash reports the Queen was "not amused" at becoming engulfed in the debate over the referendum. Even so, the Brexit-supporting paper adds the Leave campaign has been "electrified" by the suggestion the monarch "may be a secret supporter of the push to quit the EU".

Daily Mirror royal reporter Victoria Murphy says the Queen's political neutrality has been "key to her success and survival". And she wonders whether the claims in the Sun stand up, pointing to speculation last June that the Queen made a pro-EU speech.

In the Daily Mail, Stephen Glover says he believes it highly likely the Queen "is a convinced Eurosceptic, though whether she really wants us to pull out of the European Union, as the Sun newspaper has suggested, is unknowable".


What the commentators say...

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Media captionTony Grew, political reporter and commentator, and Caroline Frost, entertainment editor of the Huffington Post UK, join the BBC News Channel to review Thursday's front pages

Penguin in the family

Finally, the Daily Express carries the tale of a penguin which is said to swim 5,000 miles every year to visit a Brazilian man who nursed him back to health.

Bricklayer and part-time fisherman Joao Pereira de Souza discovered the tiny bird he has named Dindim languishing on rocks on an island near Rio in 2011, covered in oil and dying.

The Daily Mail says the South American Magellanic penguin was released back into the sea but astonished Mr de Souza by returning a few months later.

Dindim now spends eight months of the year on the island and the rest of his time breeding off the coast of Argentina and Chile, it adds.

Biologist Joao Paulo Krajewski, who interviewed Mr de Souza for Brazil's Globo TV, is quoted as saying: "I have never seen anything like this before. I think the penguin believes Joao is part of his family and probably a penguin as well."


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