Front pages reviewed at midnight: Monday 14 February 2011

The Telegraph and The Times battle it out for the best defence cuts story, The Indy has the aftermath of Egypt, the Guardian has the man who trained the 7/7 bombers being released and the Mail leads with illegal immigrants claiming benefits.

The Telegraph – “RAF to sack quarter of new pilots as cuts bite

Up to 100 RAF trainees are to be let go as the force can no longer fund their education due to stringent cuts. Up to 20 trainee fast jet pilots, 30 helicoper pilots and 50 air transport pilots will be axed, the paper alleges. When there are cuts of hundreds of thousands across the country it is slightly odd that the paper chooses to highlight this tiny figure, even if it is symbolic because of their role in the RAF.

The Independent – “Is the army tightening its grip on Egypt?”

I have never read the phrase “plus sa change?” in a newspaper before, let alone a front page splash. But this is Robert Fisk and the man’s reputation means he can slot it in to the first paragraph. In the past two months Fisk has been brilliant, over-indulgent and even repetitive (see Saturday’s Indy column), but he raises some interesting issues tonight about the next step. If the army, which had strong links with Mubarak, is to take temporary control then it is essential there are a series of checks and balances in place against abuse of this power.

The Guardian – “Free after just five years: jihadi who helped train 7/7 bomber

An investigation by the Guardian has revealed that one of the men who trained the 7/7 bombers has been released after serving only 4 and a half years of a possible 70. It does state, however, that this was because he offered to become a government ‘supergrass’, so this reduced sentence seems to be fairly standard practice.

The Times – “£12bn cost of axing Britain’s defences”

The Times has a better defence cuts story than The Telegraph, with the exclusive that the cost of scrapping huge swathes of military equipment being more than £12bn.

The Daily Mail – “Thousands of illegal workers claiming benefits”

The Department for Work and Pensions has not asked to work permits for those people claiming Employment and Support Allowance (ESA, but disability benefit to you and me). Looks like the story was leaked to the Mail by a “Whitehall source” as the second paragraph says “Ministers have discovered that Labour allowed 155,000 illegal immigrants to qualify for sickness benefits and maternity pay” i.e. Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith needs a good headline.

If you only read one: The Times

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