Friday, July 08, 2011

Just Like Pagliacci Did, I'll Try To Keep My Sadness Hid

The vile and odious Murdoch's plan to take full control of BSkyB may have been well and truly scuppered by the political fallout from the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, the City believes. Investors piled out of BSkyB shares on Friday after the prime minister promised an independent inquiry (or two) into just what the frig has been going on at the sleazepaper. Sam Hart, media analyst at broker Charles Stanley told the Gruniad: 'Murdoch's plan to bid for the satellite operator has been kicked into touch. Shareholders are discounting the possibility that this bid won't happen for the foreseeable future. Some people wonder if it will happen at all. It could take years before the various inquiries have wound up, so the deal has been pushed much further back than anyone would have guessed a week ago.' Several institutional investors apparently agreed with Hart that the prospect of a deal happening 'anytime soon' was rapidly fading. One - nameless - investor said: 'As things stand, it would be inconceivable for such a deal to receive political clearance. There would be a huge uproar.' BSkyB's shares were down around five per cent at seven hundred and seventy six pence on Friday morning after the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious rascal Hunt admitted the volume of responses to a public consultation meant the decision about whether to allow a Murdoch takeover would 'take some time.' His view was echoed by Cameron at a morning press conference when he was given a damned good grilling by the assembled fourth estate. It was sight to see, dear blog reader, a sight to see. The vile and odious rascal Hunt said that 'all factors' would be taken into account, 'including whether the announcement regarding the News of the World's closure has any impact on the question of media plurality.' News Corporation, where Murdoch is chairman, said that over a year ago it wanted to buy the sixty one per cent of BSkyB which it did not own, but its putative offer of seven hundred pence per share was turned down flat by the satellite company's independent directors. Hart said: 'Without a bid, BSkyB's shares could fall to around seven hundred and twenty five pence, which I believe is what they are roughly worth in the absence of a bid by Murdoch. Don't forget the fundamentals are strong, with BSkyB profits for the year to 30 June 2011 expected to rise from seven hundred and seventy nine million smackers to nine hundred and seventy million.' Brokers told the paper that it would be 'a blow' if Murdoch cannot take control of BSkyB, which is viewed as 'a cash machine' that is worth far more than the soon-to-be defunct News of the World.
On a related note, the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious rascal Hunt, has made a statement confirming what pretty much everyone had anticipated - that the decision on the BSkyB deal will be delayed because of the volume of submissions received relating to it. At least, that's the 'official' reason. As has been noted previously, this saves him having to give the decision a green light, assuming that is the decision he will take, in the midst of a media storm surrounding News Corporation. The vile and odious rascal Hunt said: 'The consultation on undertakings in lieu offered by News Corporation in relation to their proposed merger with BSkyB closes at midday today. The secretary of state has always been clear that he will take as long as is needed to reach a decision. The secretary of state will consider carefully all the responses submitted and take advice from Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading before reaching his decision.' has anybody else noticed that the vile and odious rascal Hunt has started to refer to himself in the third person by his job title an awful lot these days? What a vile and odious rascal. 'Given the volume of responses, we anticipate that this will take some time. He will consider all relevant factors including whether the announcement regarding the News of the World's closure has any impact on the question of media plurality.' The vile and odious rascal Hunt will also ask Ofcom for 'a written statement' on the question of whether News Corp is 'a fit-and-proper owner' of BSkyB. The Gruniad states that if News Corp is found not to be 'fit and proper' not only would News Corp not be able to take over all of BSkyB but it would - by law - have to disinvest the shares which it already has. It is not clear when this Ofcom overview will happen and is a process which could take some time. The BBC's Robert Peston added, on his blog: 'I have learned that Ofcom is deeply concerned by recent revelations about the years of mismanagement at the News of the World and is monitoring developments at News Corporation extremely closely. I understand that Ofcom regards evidence that the News of the World's newsroom was out of control for many years as relevant to a judgement on whether News Corporation would be a fit-and-proper owner of British Sky Broadcasting. Ofcom has a statutory and continuous duty to ensure that any holder of a broadcasting licence is fit and proper. It can launch an investigation into this question at any time of its choosing. When it comes to the question of whether News Corporation is an appropriate owner of its thirty nine per cent of BSkyB and of the one hundred per cent it wants to own, Ofcom will want to know how it was that the News of the World was able to engage in unacceptable journalistic practices for many years, who in theory had management responsibility for what went on there, and who knew what and when about all of this. I would expect Ofcom to liaise with the police on securing information that would allow it to make this judgement.' Peston concludes: 'What will disturb News Corporation is that Ofcom and the OFT will reconsider whether the undertakings given by News Corporation to protect the editorial independence of Sky News are adequate, in the light of disclosures about the extent to which the News of the World was a law unto itself within the organisation. Undertakings from the board of News Corp are only valuable if the regulators can be confident that the board of News Corp has sufficient control over the organisation for the undertakings to be followed.'

In other developments, Clive Goodman, the News of the World's former royal editor, has been arrested over allegations of corruption. Goodman, who was jailed in 2007 for his part in the phone hacking of members of the royal household, was being questioned by officers in connection with alleged payments to police. He was being held at the same time as his former boss, Andy Coulson, who was arrested by prior appointment on morning. Both men were being questioned by detectives investigating Operation Elveden, the inquiry into payments to police by the News of the World and by Operation Weeting, the concurrent long-running hacking investigation. Police subsequently raided the Daily Lies offices. Goodman currently works at the Daily Lies Sunday. Goodman wasn't given the luxury of a mid-morning arrest by appointment as Coulson has been. Instead, a police spokesperson said that a fifty three-year-old man was held after a dawn swoop by officers at his home in Surrey. 'At 6.11am officers from the MPS' Operation Weeting together with officers from Operation Elveden arrested a man on suspicion of corruption allegations in contravention of Section One of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. The man was arrested at a residential address in Surrey. A search is ongoing at this address.' The Daily Lies Sunday subsequently issued a statement on the police search of its office, insisting that it related purely to Goodman and that there was no suggestion he had behaved improperly during his freelance work for the Daily Lies Sunday. Detectives, they said, were 'invited' to attend its offices in central London and spent two hours there, taking away a disc containing a record of all of Goodman's computer activity.

Rumours continue to circulate that News International intends to launch the Sun on Sunday to replace the outgoing News of the World. James Murdoch announced that News of the World will close on Sunday following the ongoing phone hacking scandal. On 5 July, the domain name www.sunonsunday.com was registered by an unknown company. Several politicians and media commentators have speculated that News International are the owners of the domain name and are intending to re-brand their profitable, if disgraced, title. Lord Prescott described the closure as 'a management stunt' and said that the paper will 'no doubt it will become the Sunday Sun.' Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke agreed, saying: 'All they're going to do is rebrand it.' Former Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Ben Bradshaw said: 'The News of the World closure announcement is a smokescreen. News International were planning a seven-day operation anyway. It doesn't address alleged crimes under the editorship of Brooks.' Meanwhile, former Independent on Sunday editor Peter Wilby said: 'I'd wager, [not] a single Sunday will pass without a Murdoch tabloid appearing on the streets. After the News of the World's final issue this weekend, which will contain no commercial advertising and which will, we are told, devote its circulation revenues solely to good causes, expect a Sun on Sunday to appear the following week.' News International had previously announced plans to extend its main papers to a seven-day output. However, the Sunday Sun is already a long-established newspaper in Newcastle - founded in 1919, the sister paper of the Journal and the Evening Chronicle. It is owned by Trinity Mirror and Murdoch reportedly tried to buy the title in the 1970s. Speculation of a Sun on Sunday has also reached Twitter, with TV presenter Richard Madeley saying: 'I don't think a Sunday Sun would succeed as things stand - people aren't stupid. But I'm sure this is all about protecting the BSkyB buyout.' Channel Four News presenter Jon Snow said: 'Watch for the Sunday Sun the Sunday after the News of the World dies this weekend? At the rising of the Sun a going down of the scandal?'

Police are reported to be investigating evidence that a News International executive may have deleted millions of e-mails from an internal archive, in an apparent attempt to obstruct Scotland Yard's inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal. The archive is believed to have reached back to January 2005 revealing daily contact between News of the World editors, reporters and outsiders, including private investigators. The messages are potentially highly valuable both for the police and for the numerous public figures who are currently suing News International. According to 'legal sources close to the police inquiry,' someone described as 'a senior executive' is believed to have deleted 'massive quantities' of the archive on two separate occasions, leaving only a small fraction to be disclosed. One of the alleged deletions is said to have been made at the end of January this year, just as Scotland Yard was launching Operation Weeting, its new inquiry into the affair. The allegation directly contradicts repeated claims from News International that it is co-operating fully with the police in order to expose its history of illegal news-gathering. If proved, it is likely to be seen as evidence that the company could not pass a 'fit and proper person' test for its proposed purchase of BSkyB. A Gruniad investigation has found that, in addition to deleting e-mails, the company has also 'infuriated' police by 'leaking sensitive information', in spite of an undertaking to police that it would keep such information confidential, and 'risked prosecution for perverting the course of justice' by trying to hide the contents of a senior reporter's desk after he was arrested by Weeting detectives in April. News International originally claimed that the archive of e-mails did not exist. Last December, its Scottish editor, Bob Bird, told the perjury trial of Tommy Sheridan in Glasgow that the e-mails had been 'lost en route to Mumbai.' Also in December, the company's solicitor, Julian Pike from Farrer and Co, provided the high court with a statement claiming that it was unable to retrieve e-mails which were more than six months old. The first hint that this was not even remotely true came in late January when News International handed Scotland Yard evidence which led to the immediate sacking of its news editor Ian Edmondson and to the launch of Operation Weeting. It was reported at the time that this evidence consisted of three old e-mails. Three months later, on 23 March this year, Pike formally apologised to the high court and acknowledged that News International could locate e-mails as far back as 2005 and that no e-mails had ever been lost en route to Mumbai or anywhere else in India. In a signed statement seen by the Gruniad, Pike said that he had been misinformed by the News of the World's in-house lawyer, Tom Crone, who had told him that he, too, had been misled. By persons unknown. Pike offered no explanation for the misleading evidence given by Bob Bird. The original archive was said to contain half a terabyte of data - equivalent to five hundred editions of Encyclopaedia Britannica. But police now believe that there was an effort to substantially destroy the archive before News International handed over their new evidence in January. They believe they have identified the executive responsible by following an electronic audit trail. They have also attempted to retrieve the data which they fear was lost. The Crown Prosecution Service is believed to have been asked whether the executive can be charged with perverting the course of justice. At the heart of the affair is a specialist data company, Essential Computing, based in Clevedon, near Bristol. Staff there have been interviewed by Operation Weeting. One 'source' speculated to the Gruniad that it was this company which had compelled News International to admit that the archive existed. The Gruniad says that it understands Essential Computing has co-operated fully with police and has provided evidence about an alleged attempt by the News International executive to destroy part of the archive while they were working with it. This is said to have happened after the executive discovered that the company retained material of which News International was unaware. The alleged deletion has caused tension between News International and Scotland Yard, who are also angry over recent public leaks. When the Murdoch company handed over evidence of their journalists' involvement in bribing police officers in late June, they wanted to make a public announcement, claiming credit for their assistance to police. They were warned that this would interfere with ongoing inquiries and, after some debate, finally agreed that they would keep the entire matter confidential until early August, to allow the police to make arrests. In the event, this week, a series of leaks has led Scotland Yard to conclude that News International have blatantly breached this agreement. The Gruniad claim that there was friction, too, in April when Weeting detectives arrested a senior News of the World journalist, James Weatherup. When they went to the News of the World's office to search his desk, they found that all of its contents had been removed and lodged with a firm of solicitors, who initially refused to hand it over. The solicitors, when threatened with arrest for obstruction, eventually complied, the Gruniad alleges. A file is believed to have been sent to the Crown Prosecution service seeking advice on whether anybody connected with the incident should be charged.

On Friday afternoon Rebekah Brooks - who still hasn't resigned - told News International staff (many about to lose their jobs) that oversight of attempts to clean up the company has been passed on to Joel Klein, the former US Assistant Attorney General who has been appointed as an independent director of News Corporation. Brooks promises staff a 'quick decision' on the possible introduction of a seven-day Sun newspaper according to News of the World sources. She also told staff that she had 'visibility' about 'worse revelations' relating to criminal activity and is reported to have told them, cryptically: 'In a year, you will understand why we made this decision.' News of the World 'sources', who were busy snitching up the contents of the meeting to anyone with access to an e-mail account, said that Brooks emphasised there will not be a new Sunday tabloid title - it will either be a seven-day Sun or nothing. The Torygraph reported that the News of the World office is 'going to be sealed after tomorrow night. No one will be allowed in without supervision. Journalists have to leave all hard copy behind. People [are] saying they're being treated like criminals.' Brooks also, reportedly, warned staff of worse revelations relating to criminal activity to come. Some moments later, Sky News were playing an apparent secret audio recording from the staff meeting. One member of staff can clearly be heard asking 'can you see that by your actions yesterday, your calling our newspaper toxic, we have all been contaminated by that toxicity by the way we've been treated? Can't you see the bigger picture? You're making the whole of News International toxic, and there's an arrogance there that you think we'd want to work for you again.' A ripple of applause is followed by Brooks denying that she had any intention of being arrogant. She also added: 'This is not exactly the best time in my life but I'm determined to get vindication for this paper and for all of you.' What do you want, applause?

Andy Coulson left Lewisham police station in the early evening on police bail, having spent more than eight hours answering questions about allegation that he was involved in the bribing of corrupt police officers. He was immediately surrounded by a proverbial 'media scrum' of just the type which so often crowded around individuals who were subject of the News of the World's unwanted attention under his editorship. Tragically, for those who just love a bit of dramatic irony, he didn't make a plea for privacy (as Gelnn Mulcaire did recently). But, before stepping into a car which quickly left the scene, he said: 'I am afraid I can't say any more at this stage. There is a lot I would like to say.' The Gruniad wonders 'will those last nine words make for a sleepless night tonight for certain individuals?'

A number of charities have reportedly rejected an offer to advertise for free in the final edition of the News of the World. News International is shutting the tabloid amid the row over phone-hacking and advertising space for Sunday's paper has been offered to good causes. The Salvation Army and the RSPCA said they had declined the offer. The Disasters Emergency Committee, which launched a drought appeal for East Africa on Friday, said it had yet to take a decision. The Institute of Fundraising urged caution among its members when deciding whether to accept the offer of free advertising space from News International. 'The decision as to whether a charity ought to accept a donation or not should be grounded in its mission and policy objectives,' it said, in a statement on its website. 'A clear policy on the acceptance or refusal of donations is important for all charitable organisations. Such a policy needs to be acceptable to all those associated with the charity and agreed formally by a charities' trustees.' A spokeswoman for regulatory body, the Charity Commission, said: 'Ultimately it is the responsibility of a charity's trustees to ensure that any fundraising, including the acceptance of donations, is in the best interests of the charity. We encourage trustees to assess the advantages and disadvantages of new opportunities to fundraise, including any potential risks to the charity and its beneficiaries.' In the lead up to the announcement of its closure, a string of businesses suspended or cancelled advertising with the News of the World. Among them were Co-operative Group, Lloyds TSB, Halifax, Vauxhall, Virgin Holidays, Sainsbury's, O2, car-maker Ford and the government. The Royal British Legion also cut its ties with the paper as its campaigning partner and put its advertising with News International under review. Among the other charities to reject the offer were Care International, homelessness charity Thames Reach and Water Aid. 'Given the nature of the controversy surrounding the News of the World, Water Aid considers it inappropriate to advertise in this newspaper,' said Mike Foster, head of communications for the company. A spokesman for the RSPCA said: 'We understand a round-robin e-mail was sent to all charities from the News of the World. A decision was made that the national RSPCA would not be advertising.' Several charities - including Oxfam and Action Aid - said they were bound to decline the offer because they were part of umbrella organisation the DEC's East Africa appeal, which has been launched to help more than ten million people affected by severe drought in the Horn of Africa. A spokesman for Action Aid added: 'I think the toxic brand would be a problem for our patrons.' Several charities said that they had not been approached about advertising space. They included Barnado's, the Voluntary Services Organisation, the RNLI and animal welfare charity The Brooke. The RNLI released a statement which said: 'The RNLI has not been approached by the News of the World with an offer of free advertising. However, if we were to be, we believe accepting any such offer would be potentially damaging to our reputation as a charity and to our ability to raise funds – this is borne out unanimously by the comments we have received from our supporters so far today.'

Renault, meanwhile, has become the first advertiser to publicly extend its advertising boycott to cover all News International newspapers despite the publisher's decision to close the News of the World, Brand Republic reports.

And, so to things going on in parts of the world other than Wapping. It might have been recorded just too early to have been given the story of the decade to dismantle, but the Comedy line of the week was still from Mock The Week: Andy Parson during the 'if this is the answer what is the question?' round when told that the answer is 'one.' 'Is it ... what would I give Keira Knightley?'

Claudia Winkleman has given birth to a baby boy. Which is nice.

EastEnders veteran Pam St Clement is to bow out of Albert Square, more than a quarter of a century after making her debut as no-nonsense Big Fat Cuddly Pat. The actress, sixty nine, one of the longest-serving on the show, will leave Walford later this year. St Clement said that she had other things she wanted to do but said leaving the soap would be like a 'bereavement.' During her colourful years in the show, Pat remarried several times, has gone to prison and enjoyed affairs with Walford characters such as infamous lothario Den Watts (Leslie Grantham). St Clement joined the BBC1 show in 1986 – a year after it launched – and became noted for her dangly earrings and brassy bleached hairdo. She was first seen after arriving in the Square to break the news to Pete Beale (Peter Dean) that he was not the father of her son Simon Wicks (Nick Berry). 'I have enjoyed twenty five-and-a-half wonderful years in EastEnders creating the character of Pat but feel it's time to hang up her earrings,' St Clement said. 'Leaving the EastEnders "family" will be akin to a bereavement. But I'm looking forward to the other work and life opportunities that I will have the time to pursue.' Viewers have seen her marry Frank Butcher (Mike Read) in 1989 and then her fourth husband, Roy Evans, in 1996. Her most famous scenes over her long career have often been moments of high drama, often involving slaps. In one memorable scene she and Peggy Butcher (Barbara Windsor) exchanged blows amid cries of 'you bitch' and 'you cow.' God, it was good! In another climactic scene, Pat's affair with ex-husband Frank was exposed by Peggy in front of regulars at the Queen Vic, ending with another good old fashioned Cockney punch-up. Pat has also had a stint as the Vic's landlady, survived a heart attack, and been imprisoned for a hit and run incident. The BBC would not say how she will leave the show at this stage. St Clement is third only to Adam Woodyatt – who plays Ian Beale – and June Brown (Dot Branning) as the longest-serving member of the cast.

The BBC has unveiled the showreel for its new slate of natural history programming. Among the series the broadcaster unveiled today is BBC2's Wild Arabia, which features the first HD images of wild Arabian leopards. BBC2 will also air The Dark, which focuses on nocturnal creatures, while How Life Works will see Springwatch presenter Chris Packham explore how different species rely on each other. Elsewhere, BBC1 announced a new six-part series called Survival, which follows the difficulties faced by some of the most unusual animals in the world. Also featured in the showreel is David Attenborough's new series Frozen Planet, which examines life in the Arctic and Antarctic. The slate also includes Attenborough's Life Stories, which explores the broadcaster's sixty-year-old career. The BBC's natural history output also includes programmes about Africa, the Great Barrier Reef, wild wolves in North America, the woolly mammoth and Animal Einstein, which examines the intelligence of creatures such as dolphins and elephants. The BBC's commissioning editor of science and natural history Kim Shillinglaw said: 'The range of subjects we are exploring in this new raft of natural history programmes will hopefully provide something for everyone. I hope viewers across the board will find something to satisfy their curiosity about the natural world.' The Natural History Unit's head Andrew Jackson added: 'After almost sixty years of natural history filming, you would think there were few places and subjects left for us to cover. The diversity of these new programmes proves that thanks to the unit's vast experience and expertise, coupled with some staggering new advances in technology, we can continue to surprise and delight our audiences.'

ITV News has partnered with the Media Trust to launch Breaking Into News 2011, a competition to unearth the broadcast journalism talent of the future. Breaking Into News, fronted by ITV News at Ten presenters Mark Austin and Julie Etchingham, offers eighteen to twenty five-year-olds the chance to be mentored by ITV's broadcast journalists in writing, presenting and production skills. The six finalists will develop their own ideas and transform them into a news report for presentation to a judging panel, including Austin, Etchingham and executives from the Media Trust. The winner will get the chance to work alongside the ITV News at Ten team for a day, and potentially publish their news story on 'an ITV News platform.' They will also get an iPad for future projects. Entrants must submit a short description about themselves, including what they'd like to focus their report on and why they deserve their big break into news. An assurance that they've never worked for the News of the World would also, probably, be an advantage. The entry form can be found at the Media Trust website and the closing date for entries is 8 August at midday. Etchingham described the competition as a 'fantastic chance for young people out there who have a story to tell and an interest in broadcast journalism.' She said: 'Often the difficulty with starting out in journalism is getting an initial foot in the door and solid experience for your CV. Breaking Into News is the perfect opportunity and I'm really looking forward to seeing some of the finished entries.' Katie Simpson, the deputy chief executive of the Media Trust, added: 'Media Trust believes young people should have a voice, be enabled to talk about the things that matter to them most and be heard. It's difficult for young people in today's economic climate and we believe that mentoring and media are powerful tools that can be used to encourage and inspire. Through Breaking into News, Media Trust is proud to be helping ITV News reach out to a huge range of young people that might not normally have an opportunity like this.' Last month, ITV News poached the BBC's chief political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg to take up its newly created role of business editor.

The BBC has agreed to show England's women's World Cup quarter-final with France live on BBC2 on Saturday, in a U-turn welcomed by charities and MPs. On Thursday the Women's Sports and Fitness Foundation urged the BBC to reconsider its decision to confine coverage to its interactive red button service and the website, claiming it could hamper development of the women's game. On Friday the shadow education secretary, Andy Burnham, and the Tory MP Tracey Crouch wrote to the BBC director general, Mark Thompson, in a last-ditch attempt to get him to reconsider. They argued that showing the match only on the red button service would not build momentum and wider public support for the women's game. They pointed out that England's matches had been watched by more than four million people in Germany, where the tournament is taking place. The host's matches have been watched by more than sixteen million. The BBC on Friday night said it had decided to show the match in response to viewer demand. In a letter to the MPs, Thompson said that although it was usually reluctant to make scheduling changes the acting director of BBC Vision, Roly Keating, had accepted it should be shown live. The programme will be broadcast at 4.45pm on Saturday. The BBC had originally argued that it was contractually obliged to show the Scottish Open golf on BBC1 and was reluctant to screen sport on both main channels at the same time. Instead, it planned to broadcast a repeat of Porridge and an episode of Flog It! Burnham had said it was 'almost unbelievable' that the broadcaster was prioritising repeats of Porridge and Flog It! over England's quarter-final with France. Well, Andy, I'm sure the BBC will be delighted to forward to you the bunch of complaints when they do arrive - which they will - from the same serial whingers who always complain when the BBC had sport of two channel simultaneously that they're being deprived of 'a choice of viewing.' Perhaps you'll take the time and trouble to answer them, like the BBC have to. Again, and again, and again. England's opening game against Mexico on the red button was watched by nine hundred and thirty nine thousand viewers, while eight hundred and twenty nine thousand saw Hope Powell's side beat New Zealand and five hundred and twenty five thousand saw them produce their best performance of the tournament so far to beat Japan 2-0 in Augsburg. In Germany, where the tournament has had far more extensive media coverage, regularly featuring on the front pages of the country's newspapers, 3.7 million people watched the game against Mexico and 4.1 million the match against Japan. After the BBC's decision, Burnham said: 'It's great that the BBC have listened and are giving this important game the prominence it deserves. I hope it will give the players a boost to know that the country is behind them as they enter their final preparations for the match. This will help build the profile of women's sport and inspire more young people to get involved.' Crouch said: 'I am delighted that the BBC has responded to the demands of its licence-fee payers and agreed to show England's World Cup quarter-final match on one of its main channels. This is an important step forward in advancing the appreciation of women and girls' football, the number one female participation sport in the UK and I look forward to cheering on Hope Powell's England team to victory against the French tomorrow.' The WSFF chief executive, Sue Tibballs, had welcomed an earlier statement from the BBC that it would show the semi-final live if England beat France. 'The further England gets in the tournament, and the more coverage and profile they receive, the better the outlook for the women's game in the UK,' said Tibball. 'This is a great opportunity to inspire a new generation of girls to get involved at grassroots level and we applaud the BBC for this move.' The England squad are not yet looking as far ahead as the semi-final. Standing in their way are a France side that hammered Canada in the group stages and forced the best performance of the tournament so far out of Germany.

For the latest actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, a tragi-comic summation of the last few days at Fortress Wapping. Ah, Smokey - if only they'd had your writing abilities at the News of the World they might never have gotten themselves into this mess in the first place.

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