UK

Newspaper review: Focus is on 'plebgate' arrest

Papers

Several of Tuesday's newspapers are angry over the arrest of a Met police officer on suspicion of leaking information about the clash between former chief Whip Andrew Mitchell and armed officers at the gates of Downing Street.

"Why? Isn't that over the top?" asks the Sun. The paper, which broke the story three months ago, says it was clearly in the public interest to report what happened.

Whoever passed on details of Mr Mitchell's outburst was brave and principled, it says.

"Is that sort of public-spirited action now to be a crime in the post-Leveson era?" asks the paper.

'Shadow of fear'

The Daily Mail also thinks that, emboldened by Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry, which called for a new press regulator backed by law, the authorities are casting a "shadow of fear" over whistleblowers.

But without them, it adds, how will the public learn about the misdeeds of politicians and officials?

In the Daily Mirror's view, whistleblowers who risk their jobs to expose the hypocrisy of cabinet ministers should not be threatened with the sack or prosecution. They should receive a medal and our thanks.

'Great phone rip-off'

Meanwhile, a report that criticises HM Revenue and Customs staff for failing to answer phones - resulting in unnecessary call charges at premium rates - makes the lead for the Independent and the Mail.

The Mail has the headline "Hanging on phone for taxman costs us millions".

The Independent says that given that calls to 0845 numbers can cost up to 41p a minute from mobiles, some customers are spending more than four pounds before they even get through to an adviser. It describes the revelations as "the great HMRC telephone rip-off".

The Mirror says HMRC should be grateful that people ring, not treat them like nuisance callers.

'Super-centenarians

According to the Daily Telegraph's main story, people in England and Wales are living far longer than official life expectancy projections, with no sign of reaching an "upper limit".

Figures published by the Office of National Statistics show that most people survive six years longer, it reports.

The study also finds that there's a year-on-year increase not only in centenarians, but also "super-centenarians" - people over the age of 110.

The paper says the traditional idea of a person's "allotted span" being "three score years and 10" is dramatically out of step with the experience of people today.

'Discriminatory plans'

The Mail reports that Muslim leaders are demanding the same legal exemption from gay marriage as that given to the Church of England and Church in Wales.

The secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, which represents mosques and community organisations, tells the paper that the legislative proposals announced by the government last week were "discriminatory".

He says his organisation also "explicitly" stated its strong opposition, and he is seeking an urgent meeting with Culture Secretary Maria Miller.

Foreign aid

The Guardian has an interview with President Joyce Banda of Malawi, who is southern Africa's first female head of state.

She explains why she is more likely to seek foreign aid from China than the West.

While acknowledging the need for good governance and human rights, President Banda says the West is "obsessed" about these issues.

"China doesn't keep us waiting for two years," she says.

"The choice for Africa is - do I want to have a road next year, or do I want to stay for two years discussing about human rights and governance before we can even talk about the road?"

'Bang heads together'

Finally, there is lots of excitement at the prospect of the Queen attending her first cabinet meeting.

The Telegraph thinks it is a shame she will not be able to take part in the discussions.

She has more experience of government than anyone and would doubtless have sage advice for ministers, the paper says.

The Daily Express suggests she could "bang a few heads together" among the "squabbling" Conservative and Liberal Democrat factions.

A Downing Street spokeswoman tells the Times that ministers will be on their best behaviour.

"I'm sure that everyone will make sure their ties are nice and straight, and they are on top of their briefs - although that is of course always the case," the spokesman says.

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