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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 06:25 GMT 07:25 UK
Papers pass verdict on Gilligan
Events at the Hutton inquiry attract a great deal of attention, as all of Thursday's papers pass judgement on the evidence given by BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan, during his cross-examination.

And perhaps not surprisingly they come up with different verdicts.

"BBC leaves Gilligan out in the cold" is the main headline in the Guardian, while the Times claims the journalist has been "hung out to dry" after admitting mistakes in his reporting of the Iraq arms dossier.

The Independent likens him to a drowning man, but claims the failure to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq is a piece of driftwood that he would be well advised to cling to.

The Daily Mail's sketch-writer, Quentin Letts, continues the nautical theme - describing how the frail raft of Andrew Gilligan's career made it into a friendly port at the Hutton inquiry.

"We had assumed he would have his timbers shivered by the 'cleverest man in Britain' - Jonathan Sumption QC, lead barrister for the government," says Letts.

"Wrong. Sumption was a dead loss, Gilligan impressive."

A cartoon in the Daily Express shows Saddam Hussein reading a newspaper account of Wednesday's proceedings.

The caption: "If only they'd let me appear before the Hutton inquiry, I could have cleared the whole thing up".

The United States is stepping up its efforts to do just that, according to the Financial Times.

It says Washington is offering Iraqi scientists and other officials immunity from prosecution in return for information about Saddam Hussein's weapons programmes.

Postal vote

The vote by postal workers against taking strike action in their pay dispute is seen by the Sun as a huge slap in the face for left-wing union leaders.

The Daily Mirror calls the result a "first-class decision", while the Daily Telegraph speaks of a "striking win for good sense".

The Guardian injects a note of caution though, arguing that the narrowness of the majority reveals a deeply unhappy workforce.

Sexism claim

The Independent highlights comments by a senior woman judge protesting at sexism among her male colleagues.

Dame Brenda Hale complains that the lodgings used by judges when they are working away from home are run along the same lines as gentlemen's clubs.

The ladies are expected to retire after dinner, she says, leaving the men to talk.

The Times has a front-page picture of one of Russia's best known dancers, Anastasia Volochkova, and asks "Is this ballerina too fat to perform a pirouette?"

The question is prompted by news that Volochkova has been sacked from the Bolshoi because she was considered too heavy for most of her partners to lift.

According to the Times, the ballerina - who weighs eight stone - admits to a liking for ice cream, but claims her physique has been used as an excuse to dismiss her.

Cheesed off

Finally, several papers tell the story of 16-stone Alan Hunt who - having volunteered to take part in a police identity parade in Bournemouth - ended up on the wrong side of the law.

According to the Express, a policeman failed to see the funny side when Mr Hunt started feeling peckish and helped himself to the officer's cheese sandwich.

The constable put him in the cells for eight hours, charged him with theft and then took him to court, where he was fined 25.




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