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Tuesday, May 25, 1999 Published at 06:22 GMT 07:22 UK


Broadsheets go to town over Dallaglio

The broadsheets latch onto the story of Lawrence Dallaglio's resignation, putting it on their front pages and giving the story a good run on inside pages.

The Times gives the former England rugby captain's story a personal touch with one of its correspondents recounting meetings with Dallaglio.

The Independent picks up on the classic tabloid tale and includes a survey of its own, detailing the drink and drug habits of participants in a number of sports, including rugby union.

Gary Crowden, Chief Rugby writer for an Australian paper: "It's been major news here"
The broadsheets pick over the reporting techniques of the News of the World and its tabloid competitors, particularly focusing on the practice of employing attractive, young, female reporters to work so-called "honeytrap" operations.

However, the Independent questions whether this case highlights need for a shift in perceptions of drug users, saying: "Public attitudes need to start taking account of the fact that people leading blameless and productive lives may also be regular consumers of recreational drugs."

But the Daily Telegraph says that while it is "stupid, selfish and dangerous" to take drugs it is "extremely sad that the News of The World has thought fit to drag Dallaglio down".

'Why is he quitting?'

Of the tabloids, the Daily Mail and the Daily Star devote their splash stories to the affair. The Sun, sister paper of the News of the World, has only a small piece about Dallaglio on the front, but inside it gives the story a two-page spread and asks: "What has happened to our fine upstanding England captains?"

The Sun Says opinion column salutes Dallaglio for standing down, but it asks: "If he's innocent, why is he quitting?" It is a point the Telegraph also picks up on in its leader, adding that people would be asking the same question.

The Mail's opinion piece, in its sports pages, says Dallaglio's move was the only possible course of action open to him.

It adds: "It is a simple issue. If he said what he is alleged to have said, he is history as an England rugby player. If he did not he is set to become a very rich young man on the libel damages."

Freedom of information

In pages not taken up with Dallaglio comment, there is much on the government's draft Freedom of Information Bill, published on Monday. However, precious little will make pleasant reading for Home Secretary Jack Straw.

"To call it a Freedom of Information Bill seems an infringement of the Trades Descriptions Act" says The Mail, which condemns the proposals as "a depressing damp squib".

"Too little, too late" is the verdict of The Mirror, while for The Telegraph "the bill is a step backwards". Not so, says The Times, which ventures that "setting even limited rights to access to information in legislative stone is a step forward".

Finally, The Times reports that the Manchester United team arrived in Barcelona on Monday - for Wednesday's European Cup Final against Bayern Munich - to find that the pitch had shrunk.

The playing surface has been narrowed by four metres, from 72m wide to 68. The change is apparently at the insistence of Uefa, which has standard requirements at finals.

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