Newspaper review: Miliband 'heads for confrontation'

Sunday newspapers

The Sunday papers analyse the fallout after Labour leader Ed Miliband refuses to apologise to Unite despite a report clearing the union of trying to rig the selection of a party candidate in Falkirk.

The Observer says Mr Miliband is heading for "his biggest confrontation yet" with the unions.

The paper says he has issued a "defiant" message by promising to press ahead with reforms of union links to the party, and it says he "raised the temperature further" by refusing to apologise to those who were suspended over the vote-rigging claims.

The Sunday Times says Labour has been "plunged into crisis", while the Mail on Sunday calls the situation "shambolic", and the Sunday People says Mr Miliband's judgement is in question.

But Independent on Sunday columnist John Rentoul thinks the Labour leader could yet capitalise on the row.

"What matters is that Mr Miliband set out a principled position that could cause him a lot of trouble," he says, adding that the Conservatives will be put on the defensive because their funding will be unreformed.

Pay-offs 'fiasco'

The Sunday Times says the government is considering scrapping the BBC Trust - the corporation's governing body - because of the "fiasco" over excessive pay-offs to senior executives.

The paper says the broadcasting regulator Ofcom would be given the job of overseeing the BBC, in the same way that it currently regulates the publicly-owned Channel 4.

The Times says axing the trust is a "sign of the government's exasperation with the scandal-prone corporation".

There is plenty of exasperation in other papers as they look ahead to Monday's appearance before MPs of trust chairman Lord Patten, and former director general Mark Thompson.

The Sunday Express calls the pay-offs "obscene", while the Daily Star Sunday says management waste makes people "furious".

The Conservative MP Rob Wilson writes in the Mail that the public deserves answers, and the BBC must stop trying to emulate "the worst excesses of the City".

Prince 'held at gunpoint'

Royal security is high on the agenda for several papers.

The Sunday Telegraph says that Scotland Yard is facing a "major inquiry" into how an intruder was able to get into Buckingham Palace.

It describes Monday's break-in - in which a man was arrested after scaling a fence to get inside - as the worst security breach at the palace in 30 years.

It points out that the arrest comes at a time of concern over terrorist activity by al-Qaeda and dissident Irish Republicans.

The Express, meanwhile, claims a new exclusive. It says the Duke of York was stopped at gunpoint by "jittery" police two days after the incident with the intruder.

Royal sources tell the paper that Prince Andrew is "livid", and the officers who failed to recognise him are "embarrassed".

Not all of the papers take the story quite so seriously. The Times uses a photo of the Queen joking with the Prince of Wales at the Braemar Games with the caption "Look, is that the palace burglar I see?"

Countess sets Downton straight

The makers of Downton Abbey are being taken to task for their poor etiquette in the Times - by the chatelaine of Highclere Castle, where the series is filmed.

The Countess of Carnarvon says she has tried to tell producers that the table is being set incorrectly for dinner, and that there are not enough servants, but has been ignored.

"Hopefully our ancestors hanging in their gold frames accept the alternatives are in the cause of entertainment," she says.

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