Friday, November 04, 2011

On A Dry And Dusty Road

The lack of culture secretary 'declined' an opportunity to throw his full and total support behind James Murdoch's continuing chairmanship of BSkyB, with the minister saying that he could 'not give a settled view' until police and public inquiries had concluded. The vile and odious rascal Hunt, answering questions in the House of Commons on Thursday, said that 'the most important thing is that the truth comes out' when asked if he still considered James Murdoch to be a 'fit and proper' person to run BSkyB. The vile and odious rascal Hunt was pressed, repeatedly, on the future of Murdoch by the Labour MP Chris Bryant, who claimed that internal News International documents published earlier this week show that the company's 'sole rogue reporter' defence, to which it publicly stuck for over three years, was 'completely and utterly untrue.' The documents released include a counsel's opinion prepared in 2008 for the Scum of the World's former chief lawyer, Tom Crone, which described 'a culture of illegal information access' at the newspaper. James Murdoch, who was in charge of parent company news International at the time, denies seeing the document. Bryant asked: 'Does the secretary of state really believe, with the AGM of BSkyB coming up on 29 November, that James Murdoch is therefore a fit and proper person to be chairing that company any longer?' The vile and odious rascal Hunt dodged giving a reply to that most simple of questions but, instead, replied: 'The most important thing is that the truth comes out. James Murdoch is speaking to the select committee, we have the public inquiry by Lord Justice Leveson and we have extensive police inquiries. Before those are complete it would not be appropriate for me to make specific comments about who should do what job.' Earlier in the Commons session, the lack of culture secretary told MPs that the government will publish its white paper on future regulation of the press by the end of 2012, after the Leveson inquiry reports in September next year. 'We are overhauling the system of press regulation,' the vile and odious rascal Hunt said. 'But we don't want to go too far in the opposite direction and stop the press being free, vibrant and robust. The Leveson inquiry will be reporting by September 2012 and there will be a government white paper before the end of next year, which will include what we think should happen in the light of those recommendations.' The Leveson inquiry begins on 14 November at the high court in London, with the first witnesses due to appear a week later on 21 November.

Closing the Scum of the World cost Rupert Murdoch's News Corp ninety one million dollars, the company has announced. The disgraced and disgraceful tabloid, the most profitable newspaper in Murdoch's portfolio, was shut in shamed in July amid an escalating investigation into illegal phone-hacking at the company which has cast doubt on the eighty-year-old Murdoch's succession plans. The scandal has triggered investigations into the company on both sides of the Atlantic, the resignation of a number of senior executives and more than a dozen arrests. Last month, independent shareholders overwhelmingly voted to have James Murdoch, deputy chief operating officer and head of the division that oversaw the UK title, and his brother Lachlan booted, unceremoniously, off the board. Announcing the latest quarterly earnings, Chase Carey, News Corp's chief operating officer, said: 'We have great confidence in James. James has done a good job. We are not contemplating any changes.' He said that he took the views of shareholders seriously but was 'proud' of News Corp's board and the work it had done. Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of the company, was not on the call with press and analysts. Carey said he could not comment on the ongoing investigations of News Corp. He said the issues would be 'properly addressed' and that the company was 'fully co-operating' with the UK authorities. 'I really want to assure you that despite the time spent on the UK issues, the last three months have been a time of real progress, driving the business toward both our short- and long-term goals,' he said. News Corp also incurred one hundred and thirty million notes in 'other' charges over the quarter, which included the cost of dropping its bid to acquire one hundred per cent of satellite broadcaster British Sky Broadcasting. Net income was down by nearly five per cent thanks, in part, to the Scum of the World closing in ignominy and to fees the company incurred after it was forced to withdraw its full takeover bid for BSkyB. News Corp's cable network group, which includes the FX network and FOX News - the voice of evil - performed well, producing operating income of seven hundred and seventy five million smackers for the quarter, up eighteen per cent from a year earlier, as advertising revenue picked up and the firm increased fees for the rights to distribute shows including American Idol, the Emmy Awards and The X Factor. The company's film group reported a twenty four power cent increase in operating income for the quarter, powered by Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which grossed more than four hundred and fifty million wonga at the box office and home entertainment sales of the animated release Rio and X-Men: First Class. Carey confirmed that FOX has commissioned a second series of Simon Cowell's The X Factor for US television despite relatively disappointing ratings for the first series so far.

A total of at least five thousand seven hundred and ninety five individuals may have had their phones hacked by the Scum of the World newspaper, police now say. The figure was 'very likely' to be revised in the future following further analysis, the Metropolitan Police said. In July, police said they had gathered material containing three thousand eight hundred and seventy first and second names of people whose phones could have been illegally accessed. The disgraced and disgraceful Scum of the World was shut down in July after it emerged phone-hacking was much more widespread than News International has previously claimed. Scum of the World journalist Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire were both jailed in 2007 after admitting the practice, which was portrayed at the time - and for three years afterwards by News International - as the work of 'a rogue reporter.' In a statement issued on Thursday, the Met said: 'Operation Weeting continues to analyse relevant material. It is not possible to give a precise figure about the number of people whose phones have actually been "hacked" but we can confirm that as of today's date the current number of potentially identifiable persons who appear in the material (and who may therefore be victims), where names are noted, is five thousand seven hundred and ninety five.' Tony and Cherie Blair's former 'lifestyle consultant' Carole Caplin is the most recent high profile person to emerge as a possible victim. A spokesman said that police had notified Caplin that her mobile phone messages had, allegedly, been hacked by Mulcaire. David Cameron has set up a judicial inquiry into phone hacking, with hearings due to begin on 14 November. Lord Justice Leveson will lead a seven-strong panel, which is expected to report on the culture, practices and ethics of the press within twelve months. It was announced on Thursday that the judge had agreed to requests by singer Charlotte Church and former Crimewatch presenter Jacqui Hames to be 'core participants' in the inquiry. Fifty-three alleged victims have now been granted core participant status, meaning that they can be represented by a barrister, seek to cross-examine witnesses and make opening and closing statements during the inquiry. Other core participants include author JK Rowling, actors Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller, and the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. It emerged in June that someone working for the Scum of the World had accessed Milly's phone messages after she disappeared in 2002. This revelation produced such a wave of revulsion and fury in Britain that it, ultimately, led to the decision to close the Scum of the World. News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch confirmed last month that the Dowler family would receive a two million quid settlement relating to the hacking. The payout is believed to be the biggest so far to Scum of the World hacking victims. Murdoch said that he would also give one million smackers to charities chosen by the Dowlers, to underscore his regret at the 'abhorrent' behaviour. A number of other high-profile figures have taken legal action against News International - the News Corporation subsidiary which owned the Scum of the World - with a group of claimants due to give evidence to a High Court judge in January.

A Sun journalist has been arrested as part of Scotland Yard's investigation into alleged corrupt payments to police officers by newspapers. The reporter is, according to the Gruniad, believed to be Jamie Pyatt, district editor of the paper. The arrested journalist was taken to a South West London police station at 10.30 on Friday. Pyatt, forty eight, has been working at the Sun since 1987. He is the sixth person arrested by detectives working on Operation Elveden, which was set up in July following allegations that police officers had received up to one hundred and thirty thousand smackers over several years from the Scum of the World for information, including contact details of the royal family. News International refused to comment on the arrest and saying that it had 'a very clear duty of care to employees and would not be making any comment on individuals.' Scotland Yard also refused to confirm the identity of the person it arrested, but said in a statement earlier that it had arrested a forty eight-year-old man in connection with Operation Elveden. Its statement said: 'He was arrested outside London on suspicion of corruption allegations in contravention of section one of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, and is being brought to a south-west London police station.' Operation Elveden is one of three Met investigations relating to alleged illegal activities by newspapers. The others are Operation Weeting and Operation Tuleta, set up to examine phone-hacking and computer-hacking, respectively. So far sixteen people have been arrested and bailed on allegations of phone hacking.

Downton Abbey has - not entirely unexpectedly - been picked up for a third series by ITV. The hit period drama will return for another run of eight episodes, written by the drama's creator, Lord Snooty Julian Fellowes. The third series will be set in 1920 and 1921, and will cover a period of eighteen months in the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them. 'I am extremely grateful to ITV for this,' said Fellowes. 'I have grown very fond of my Downton family and I certainly do not want to say goodbye to them quite yet.' The second series of Downton - which concludes this Sunday on ITV - has achieved a consolidated average of eleven and a half million viewers, making it the most popular drama series on UK television for over ten years. 'We're absolutely delighted to be bringing Downton Abbey back for a third series, as we follow the inhabitants of Downton as they move into the roaring Twenties,' said ITV's director of drama commissioning Laura Mackie. 'It's rare to find a drama that the audience connects with so strongly and we're extremely proud to have commissioned a series that has become such a phenomenon.' Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Penelope Wilton, Jessica Findlay Brown, Lesley Nicol, Rob James-Collier, Joanne Froggatt and Brendan Coyle are among the show's cast.

Veteran actor Bernard Cribbins, who narrated the cult children's show The Wombles, has been appointed an OBE. Cribbins, whose credits also include The Railway Children, received the honour for his services to drama. He said he a 'lovely, wee chat' with the Princess Royal, who presented him with the honour at Windsor Castle. The eighty two-year-old said that he had no intention of retiring, adding: 'I love it, I can't stop, why should I? I'm still able to read and write.' Cribbins provided the voices for Uncle Bulgaria, Tobermory and Orinoco in the popular 1970s series The Wombles. The actor said it was lovely working on the show, which was based on a book of the same name. 'I enjoyed it enormously, it was great fun - but the reaction since is what is enjoyable,' he added. 'I can almost identify people's ages just by what they are saying. It was a very nice episode in my career.' Recent appearances have included roles in major TV shows such as Coronation Street and, most notably, Doctor Who - which, the BBC claim 'saw him returning to a series that he first appeared in in 1966.' Well, nearly! Anybody want to e-mail them and put them right?

BBC Breakfast host Bill Turnbull may reduce his hours to present the show three days a week once the programme has become established in its new home in Salford. Talks are taking place about the new presenting line-up once Breakfast leaves London and relocates to the BBC's new northern headquarters around Easter 2012. Turnbull and co-presenter Sian Williams currently anchor Breakfast four days a week, with Charlie Stayt and other presenters such as Susanna Reid and Louise Minchin covering the remaining three. However, Williams, along with sports presenter Chris Hollins, have decided to leave the show and stay in the capital. Because it's grim oop north, apparently. It is understood that although Turnbull is committed to staying with the show when it moves to Salford, he is exploring the idea of doing fewer days and not relocating permanently to the north-west. It is not known if the reduction would happen immediately after the move or after a few months once the show has 'bedded in,' but it is likely that the BBC will want to persuade the popular presenter to do as many days as possible to ensure Breakfast has a smooth transition to Salford. However, BBC 'insiders' have allegedly said that talks about 'different presenting options' are 'still ongoing' and 'nothing has been decided.' This is all according to the Gruniad Morning Star, mind you, so I'd trust it as accurate about as far as I can comfortably piss in the wind. The hippy-Communist rag also suggests that Breakfast 'sources' added Reid and Minchin are 'expected to be confirmed as Salford presenters once the line-up is revealed.' About half of Breakfast's production team, of around one hundred, have agreed to move to the MediaCity site in Salford. The new BBC North headquarter will house two thousand three hundred staff in total, with about fifteen hundred posts relocating from London or the corporation's existing north-west headquarters in Manchester. A BBC spokesman said: 'Breakfast moves to Salford in spring of next year. At the moment, it's too early to reveal any details of the presenting lineup and any talk of how it will look is just speculation.'

John Barrowman revealed that he is often asked out to the jungle: 'They ask me on I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... every year and each year I politely say, "No." But I kinda want to do it. I think it'd be fun and some of the trials are pretty out there. But my partner, Scott, reminded me that there would be no way I could cope in the jungle. If I don't eat, I get grumpy. Happy John you see on the telly would soon turn into Grumpy John and I'd probably start snapping at the other contestants.'

Mary Steenburgen has signed up to appear in the new season of 30 Rock. The actress has joined the cast as the mother of Avery (Elizabeth Banks) and will appear in several episodes of the show, Entertainment Weekly reports. Her character Charlotte, who is described as 'good-looking and highly spirited,' ends up clashing with Jack (Alec Baldwin). Steenburgen has previously starred in shows such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Joan of Arcadia and had a guest role in Wilfred. She has filmed scenes for the latest season of Bored To Death and is also involved with FX's pilot Outlaw Country.

The reunited cast of The Fast Show have attacked the number of panel shows on television, claiming they are 'stifling new British comedy.' Paul Whitehouse, Charlie Higson and John Thomson claim the success of programmes like Have I Got News For You and Mock The Week mean THAT TV companies are less likely to invest in new talent. The BBC, ITV and Channel Four all host a number of panel shows including 8 out of 10 Cats, Celebrity Juice and Would I Lie To You? Higson - who has, himself, appeared as a guest on several episodes of Qi - said: 'Part of the problem now is lack of money, particularly at the BBC. It's much cheaper to make panel shows. I think that it's a shame there hasn't been a really good sketch show around for a while.' Thomson added: 'I did an interview show about decades of comedy and they talked to me about the Nineties. The list of shows was endless, real quality stuff. Then we did the Noughties, and I said The Office, Catherine Tate, Little Britain, and that was it in ten years. That's terrible.' They were speaking at the relaunch of The Fast Show, which has been brought back for an online series for Foster's lager. The programme originally ran for three extraordinary series from 1994 to 1997, and the cast last appeared together for a farewell tour in 2002. Whitehouse said: 'The popularity of Have I Got News For You, Qi and things like that, have led on to all those panel shows. But now it's come to the exclusion of all else, because they're popular and cheap to make.' They were reunited with Arabella Weir, Simon Day and Caroline Aherne for the series which will be broadcast from 14 November. Higson said: 'We've all enjoyed it, the proof of the pudding is whether people like it. If TV companies want to do more, we'll do more.'

Nancy Dell'Olio has claimed that Strictly Come Dancing is 'not as good' without her. Insert your own punchline here.

ITN is set to win back the contract to supply Channel Five's news output after Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell sealed a deal to cancel the broadcaster's five-year agreement with Sky News. Desmond has held on-and-off discussions with BSkyB for more than a year about ending the five-year Five News contract, thought to be worth nine million snots a year, which was due to expire at the end of 2012. It is understood that ITN and Northern & Shell are in the final stages of discussions over a new deal, thought to be worth around half of the nine million smackers the broadcaster paid to Sky. An announcement is expected within the next week, and ITN is expected to take over the contract in February or March next year. The mogul and soft-core pornographer, who bought Channel Five for just over one hundred million spondoolicks in July 2010, has looked to cut costs at the broadcaster and increase its coverage of celebrity news, tittle-tattle and bollocks as part of a 'cross-promotion strategy' with his stable of scummish right-wing newspapers and celebrity-as-non-entity-obsessed magazines. Northern & Shell indicated in November last year that it wanted to 'wriggle out' of its contract with Sky News, which has produced Five News since 2005, but executives were put off by the prospect of having to pay a hefty cancellation fee. Now, however, the two sides are thought to have agreed to a 'mutual termination' of the deal that will not involve Sky receiving any compensation. The agreement clears the way for ITN, which previously supplied Channel Five's news service from its launch in 1997 until 2005 and produces both ITV News and Channel Four News, to clinch the contract. Northern & Shell confirmed last November that it had put the Five News contract out to tender. At the time, John Ryley, the head of Sky News, told staff that Channel Five wanted to 'focus increasingly on entertainment news.' In February the broadcaster replaced their wretched and tasteless early evening Live From Studio Five with the equally wretched and tasteless OK! TV, a spin-off from Desmond's crass and tasteless celebrity magazine. Sky News, which has cut back its entertainment coverage in the past year as part of a push on serious news, is understood to have had 'brand issues' with being associated with Channel Five's increasingly shallow and pathetic downmarket output. For ITN, however, the deal presents the chance to supply news for all three terrestrial commercial broadcasters once again. The ITN chief executive, John Hardie, told the Gruniad Morning Star in September that he 'would love' to win back the Channel Five contract.

The Metropolitan police are trying to raise money by charging TV producers who want the force to feature in their programmes five hundred smackers a day and a fifteen per cent share of any profits from the sale of the show abroad or merchandising. Scotland Yard's Income Development Unit will also charge for 'for any resources used' including 'bikes, cars, dogs and horses.' Documentary-makers are said to be 'shocked' at the fees, which they say are 'too high' and will affect coverage of the Met in TV programmes. Previous shows that have featured the force include ITV's In the Line of Fire, which followed the work of part of CO19's uniformed response team. According to the Met, the increase in the number of digital television channels has 'resulted in a significant increase in the number of documentary requests. In the vast majority of cases the MPS will charge documentary makers an access fee,' the Met added. 'The access fee for programme makers is five hundred quid plus VAT per day for a maximum of five days plus a single twenty five notes plus VAT administration fee.' The Met said that any programmes which require a longer period of time will 'be considered on a case by case basis, and an appropriate fee will be applied.' In addition, the force states: 'If the programme is to be sold to a worldwide audience or commercially exploited in other ways (eg DVDs or books about the series) there will be an additional fee; a rate of fifteen per cent of the profits made. Having a film crew on police property costs the MPS in office and staff time before, during and occasionally after the filming. No matter how observational the programme is, it still impacts on an officer's duty. As a publicly funded body it is important that, where programme demands result in costs. These will be recovered from the programme maker where appropriate.' The guidance was posted on the Met's website earlier this year but programme makers are only learning about it piecemeal as they approach the force for interviews and filming requests. One producer who wished to remain anonymous said: 'Asking for fifteen per cent of the back end of any sales or books or DVDs is extraordinary. It's just not feasible.' The fees will not apply to news programmes, crime appeals, interviews for current affairs programmes 'as determined by the MPS' or shows in which the Met has 'actively sought' to participate. John McVay, chief executive of producers' trade body PACT, said the Met's proposed charges showed it 'completely fails to understand how programmes are made and financed in the UK.' McVay added that Scotland Yard could find that TV producers 'vote with their feet' over the five hundred smackers a day charge and that it has 'less visibility in factual programmes. The main issue for independent producers here is the Met's proposed fifteen per cent share of the back-end profits. Many programmes are now deficit-funded by independent production companies who need the back-end revenue obtained from such things as international sales to fund future programmes. We would strongly advise any producers not to sign up to this deal,' McVay added. 'On the other matter, we understand the motivations for some organisations and individuals, where appropriate, to want to negotiate a fee for their contribution in a documentary – although whether publicly funded bodies should be doing this is open to question.' So, that'll hopefully mean a damned sight fewer of those endless fly-on-the-wall 'out with the coppers' shows that clog up the schedules.

The late Ted Hughes is to be celebrated in Westminster Abbey next month at a ceremony to place a memorial stone in Poets' Corner. The memorial will sit at the foot of the stone commemorating his publisher and fellow writer, TS Eliot. Hughes' friend and poet Seamus Heaney and the actress Juliet Stevenson will give readings at the event on 6 December. It was announced last year that Hughes would be honoured in Poets' Corner but the exact location has, until now, not been known. Heaney had spearheaded the campaign for Hughes to be remembered in Poets' Corner. Hughes' first book of poems, Hawk in the Rain, won critical acclaim upon its release in 1957. He was married to the American poet Sylvia Plath until her suicide in 1963. His last poetic work, Birthday Letters, explored their relationship. Hughes was made Poet Laureate in 1984 and remained in the post until his death from cancer in 1998. Hughes' widow Carol, whom he married in 1970, and his daughter Frieda will be among those attending the ceremony, when the Kirkstone green slate memorial stone will be laid. Famous poets buried in Westminster Abbey include Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning.

Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss and Holly Hunter are among the stars who have signed up for a role in BBC2's new drama Top of the Lake. The six-part series, which is being directed by The Piano's Jane Campion, focuses on a pregnant twelve-year-old girl who is seen standing in a frozen lake. The show, which is set in New Zealand's mountains, follows what happens when the girl goes missing. Moss has signed up to play Robin Griffin, the detective searching for the missing girl, while Hunter will star as a 'guru' at a local woman's camp. The cast also includes Trainspotting's Peter Mullan, who will play the girl's father and a local drug lord, and The Lord of the Rings actor David Wenham. Campion said: 'I am in love with the intense beauty of southernmost New Zealand and am excited to be setting a story in this end of the world paradise. To be able to tell the story over six hours gives myself and my brilliant team a chance to make something truly absorbing and memorable.' Meanwhile, the BBC's controller of drama commissioning Ben Stephenson said: 'Jane Campion is a storyteller like no other. We are delighted to bring to the screen an unforgettable landscape and characters who are unique, original and yet utterly recognisable - this is a story which will touch us all.' Production on Top of the Lake will begin in New Zealand in February and the show will air in early 2013.

Singer song-writer Mark Eitzel commented on hiring Doctor Who's Arthur Darvill last year in his Brighton stage show: 'Not many people know this, but aside from being a great actor, Arthur's a fantastic musician. He gave my little production one hundred and twenty per cent all the time, and we even ended up playing in a band together when I performed at the All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Minehead. It's weird though seeing him running round fighting Daleks or whatever – I'm like, "That's the guy who sang in my play?"'

Question Time broke new ground on Thursday night with its first ever broadcast from the Houses of Parliament. But one wonders if one of the panellists, ranking dub poet yer man Benjamin Zephaniah, was perhaps feeling rather uncomfortable during proceedings. When Zephaniah turned down an OBE in 2003 he said that he was 'shocked to see how many of my fellow writers jumped at the opportunity to go to Buckingham Palace' and railed against black poets who 'are so easily seduced into the great house of Babylon known as the palace.' Well, of course, it's worth noting at this point that parliament itself is a royal palace so, Ben was actually on official royal territory during Question Time. Remember, my brother, fight dem nat me.

Peter Davison rates A Very Peculiar Practice amongst his best performances: 'I think from my point of view it's right up there near the top I think in terms of personal enjoyment of it. I mean I loved doing it - I enjoy doing every show I do actually - but I think it just held a special place because the writing was so good. And it's one of those scripts you get where you just don't want to change a word. It really is terrific, the really well written scripts are easy to learn, they just flow and it makes the whole process so much easier. This show had it.'

Stephen Fry was on a Qantas flight from Singapore to London, which was diverted to Dubai after an engine was shut down. The flight was QF31 and had two hundred and fifty eight passengers on board, with four pilots and twenty one cabin crew, Qantas said. The plane is an Airbus A380 superjumbo and engine number four suffered 'an engine oil defect,' a spokeswoman said. In a series of colourful Twitter updates, Fry said that he was 'very angry' about having left his wallet on the plane. 'I should in all conscience add that staff are being wonderful and that morale is high and the passengers understanding and cheerful,' he added. Friday's problem comes exactly one year after a mid-air engine blast forced an emergency landing of a Qantas A380 jet in Singapore. Last year's emergency landing resulted in Qantas grounding its entire fleet of A380 aircraft for safety checks. A Qantas spokeswoman told the BBC that the two incidents were unrelated. She added that the company currently had engineers on the ground assessing what caused Friday's shut down. The incident is the latest in a long line of problems for Qantas. It has been involved in a labour dispute with workers, which saw the company ground its entire fleet of aircraft earlier this week. The company has been asked by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to compensate passengers affected by the grounding. At the same time, the company has seen its earnings come under pressure. Its international operations are losing about two hundred million Australian dollars a year due to higher fuel prices, wages and a stronger Australian dollar. It has also been hurt by a number of natural disasters in some of its biggest and most profitable markets. Floods and cyclones in Australia and a devastating earthquake in New Zealand earlier this year saw a number of its flights in the region being cancelled. That was followed by an earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which resulted resulted in further losses for the airline. Earlier this year, the carrier claimed that the grounding of A380 aircraft last year hurt its income by eighty million dollars.

Sir Ian Botham says that the International Cricket Council needs to take action to tackle match-fixing in cricket, starting in Pakistan. Former England captain Botham said: 'I think the ICC have just sat on their hands and pretended it's not there. Well now they have got to act. It has got to start with Pakistan, who have to sort out their own back yard. Then other sides will follow. You have got to cut the head off the snake if you want to kill it.' At Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday, Pakistan trio Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were found extremely guilty of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments and sent to jail. It was found that they had plotted to bowl deliberate no-balls at specific points during a Test match against England at Lord's in August 2010. Botham, who played one hundred and two Tests for England between 1977 and 1992, added: 'It is eleven years since Hansie Cronje and it has come to the surface again now. Nothing has happened since. We have only just scratched the surface.' Former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje was banned for life for his part in a match-fixing scandal in 2000. He died in a plane crash in 2002. Pakistan team manager Naushad Ali said that there was now 'a proper system' in place to deal with potential future corruption. Ali said: 'On the directives of the ICC, we have a training schedule for youngsters who are coming in, first-class cricket and international cricket. We educate them on how to deal with corruption and fixing. On this tour [in the UAE against Sri Lanka], we have a security manager who looks after these affairs - not only security, he looks into the anti-corruption as well.' The convicted Pakistan trio have already been suspended from cricket for at least five years by the ICC and Botham echoed the widespread calls for them to receive life bans. He said: 'I think [the ICC] issued five-year bans but it is more serious than that. These guys knew what they were doing. Now is the time to act and if it means lifetime bans then so be it. In other sports you get lifetime bans and I think, in match fixing, you are cheating yourself, the team your playing for, the teams you are playing against and, more importantly, the public. It is a pretty big sin.' Cricket Australia chief executive officer James Sutherland said: 'Like all other member countries, we have an obligation to implement anti-corruption measures and we are even more committed to this after hearing [the] news out of the London courts. Our consistent position has been that any credible evidence of corruption be investigated with vigour.' Earlier, Australia's captain Michael Clarke said: 'There is no place in any sport for match-fixing of any kind and the verdicts handed down in the UK should act as a strong deterrent for any player or administrator who tries to denigrate our great game. While the proceedings are a step in the right direction, it is hugely important that the authorities continue to put processes in place to rid the game of match-fixing forever.' Sri Lanka team manager Anura Tennekoon added: 'I think any form of corruption in the game should be dealt with seriously and eradicated so that the interest in the game is sustained.' The sentencing of the cricketers, meanwhile, is continuing to dominate news headlines in Pakistan. BBC correspondents say that there is a lot of public anger in Pakistan about the spot-fixing scams. Ordinary people say they feel the country has been let down by the actions of these cricketers. Pakistan Cricket Board spokesman Nadeem Sarwar said: 'Instead of having pride in playing for their country, these players chose to disappoint their supporters, damage the image of their country and bring the noble game of cricket into disrepute. There is little sympathy in Pakistan for the sorry pass they have come to.' He said that the PCB was introducing measures to stamp out corrupt behaviour, which will include training courses particularly aimed at younger players. The Pakistan government will also be urged to make corruption in sport a criminal offence. Test Match Special commentator Simon Hughes, the former Middlesex and Durham seam bowler, also criticised the ICC and believes the prison sentences could have been stronger. Ex-Pakistan captain Butt has been jailed for thirty months with Asif receiving a one-year sentence and Amir, six months. Hughes said: 'The sentences could have been harsher. What saddens me is that the ICC didn't take a stronger line when they had a chance. When they found these players guilty with their own investigation earlier in the year, they were only banned for five years. I don't understand that kind of logic. If you get caught doing anything like this you should be banned for life and the ICC should get a wake-up call themselves and be more pro-active in rooting out the problem because it won't go away without pro-active measures. Players are susceptible when they are young to being lured into this kind of thing, so [the ICC] have to get the message through when young.'

Two young men have been arrested after Newcastle United footballer Sammy Ameobi was racially abused on Twitter. The nineteen-year-old forward, the brother of fellow Newcastle striker Shola, was targeted after he tweeted a photo of a pair of black boots on Sunday. Northumbria Police said that the teenage footballer had received an offensive tweet calling him a very rude insulting name used by ignorant arseholes as a name for black people. One beginning with the letter N. Yes, that one. Two seventeen-year-old youths were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of malicious communication offences and will, hopefully, as we speak be having their knackers thoroughly kicked in at a plod station somewhere in Toon for such rank and stupid glakery. Sammy Ameobi and Newcastle United both reported the matter to police. Officers said the account the message was sent from had been deleted. A Northumbria Police spokesman said: 'Two young men, both aged seventeen, have been arrested on suspicion of malicious communication. The arrests come after reports of a racist tweet being sent to one of the region's professional sportsmen.' The footballer had posted a message alongside the photo of the boots, saying: 'There will always be a place in my heart for the all blacks.' After receiving the abusive message, he 'retweeted' it, adding: 'Sad to see some people are still racist nowadays.' It is, indeed, Sam. Even if it is only a handful of drivel-headed numskulls like these.

Tennis player Andy Murray was forced to withdraw from a tournament after 'injuring his right buttock,' apparently in his sleep. The British number one was due to play Robin Haase of Holland in the first round of the Swiss Indoors competition in Basel, but picked up the injury overnight on Tuesday, according to press reports. Murray, twenty four, recalled: 'I woke up on Tuesday morning, and I was really struggling to walk. It is something to do with the sciatic nerve, and they think I did it in my sleep. Maybe I was sleeping in a bad position.' A spokesman for Murray was asked where, exactly, the injury had occurred and replied rectum. 'Well, it certainly didn't do me any good,' was the tennis player's reply. Apparently. Murray, ranked number three in the world behind Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, also had to drop out of the doubles with his brother Jamie. However, he remains hopeful of recovering in time for the Paris Masters and the ATP World Tour Finals later this month.

A sixty-year-old woman in Germany was arrested for stealing two thousand three hundred and ninety eight jars of coffee. The suspect known as Olga H reportedly stuffed Nescafé Gold jars in her leggings in various cheap supermarkets often ten or more at a time, reports national newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The woman would then sell the stolen goods in the Czech Republic, where she has made around nineteen thousand Euros. A store detective in Gröbenzell eventually caught her red-handed. Olga has since, apparently, confessed to her crimes, claiming that she wanted to support her drug addict sons. She was previously found guilty of smuggling cigarettes.

And finally, in celebration of last night's The Record Player event at which yer actual Keith Telly Topping relived some misty teenage memories listening to Quadrophenia at full (extreme) volume on a really good vinyl deck, there's only one possible Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. It's the only place to finish, dear blog reader. In the sea, at Brighton with your romantic illusions shattered, a moral cynical and worldly soul.

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