Newspaper headlines: Matthew Hedges case on front pages

By BBC News

  • Published

There's condemnation in many of the papers of the treatment of British academic Matthew Hedges, who was jailed after being convicted of spying in the United Arab Emirates.

The Times, which leads on an interview with Mr Hedges' wife, sees a "diplomatic crisis of the first order". It suggests that if the UAE wants to remain friends with the UK, it must release the 31-year-old.

The UAE didn't offer a shred of evidence against him, according to the Economist. Its view is that the country "presents itself as a cheerful, cosmopolitan place, but it offers little space for intellectuals".

Dubai-based English language newspaper Gulf News says prosecutors took action after receiving a report from an Emirati citizen who claimed the academic had been asking for sensitive information.

Image source, Daniela Tejada
Image caption,
Daniela Tejada has repeatedly rejected suggestions her husband, Matthew Hedges, is a spy

Ministers privately admit they have been blindsided by the spying case brought by one of Britain's allies, according to the Times.

Meanwhile, the Guardian hears a warning from the lecturers' union that it's no longer safe for academics to study in the UAE.

And the Daily Mail reports that Birmingham University staff will vote today on whether to boycott its £100m Dubai campus, which opened in September.

Turkey trap?

In its lead, the Daily Telegraph reports details of the warning given by the foreign secretary to Theresa May about her draft Brexit deal.

Jeremy Hunt is said to have expressed fears Britain could end up being reduced to a satellite of the EU, suffering a fate similar to Turkey, which has been stuck in negotiations over its status with Brussels for more than 30 years.

But the Daily Mail again urges MPs to back the prime minister's agreement. As for "the Dad's Army plot" to oust Mrs May, masterminded by Jacob Rees Mogg, the Mail claims this has actually led voters to rally to her support.

College assessments

Further Education colleges putting on media and arts courses are being accused of giving their students "false hope", reports the Times.

It quotes the chief inspector of schools in England, Amanda Spielman, saying such courses attract many students who have little prospect of finding jobs in the industry, and suggesting colleges might be putting financial concerns and headcount ahead of the best interests of young people.

But Steve Frampton, who is President of the Association of Colleges, takes issue with her remarks. He tells the Guardian that as the creative industries grow so too will the demand for a skilled workforce.

Image caption,
Were kids more likely to spend time climbing trees in the past?

Those who think children spend too long in front of computers may be cheered by the front page of the i.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has told the paper that primary school pupils should be encouraged by teachers to climb trees, build rockets and watch the sun rise.

Mr Hinds thinks such milestones help build character and resilience. The i draws a contrast between this idea and the policies of one of his predecessors, Michael Gove, who ushered in a more demanding curriculum.

Underground, overground

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror has the story of a Welsh coalminer who made the astonishing discovery that he was the illegitimate firstborn son of a Malaysian royal.

It says Keith Williams, 66 from Carmarthenshire, only found out about his link to the 33rd Sultan of Perak when he decided to trace his biological roots.

The coal merchant says he's determined to claim any inheritance his father may have left him but the Sultan's family have given him the cold shoulder.

Meanwhile, many of the papers carry details of the maiden flight of a prototype aircraft which could one day revolutionise air travel.

The 16ft plane is powered using something called "ionic wind", which enables it to glide silently through the sky without jets, rotors or propellers.

It flew just short of 200 feet yesterday, travelling at a top speed of 11 miles per hour. But, according to the Daily Mail, it has the potential to end the noise nightmare of living under a flight path - and it produces no emissions.