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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 06:08 GMT 07:08 UK
Commons breach 'like civil war'

Security breaches in the House of Commons allowing five pro-hunt protesters into the chamber dominate Thursday's papers.

A picture of a man in a blood-stained checked shirt giving a single finger salute to riot police during protests outside Parliament is on the front page of The Independent.

According to The Times' headline, it was the "Invasion of Westminster".

While the Daily Mail says Parliament Square became a battlefield akin to "The English Civil War".

Keystone cops

The Sun also looks to history - it was the seventeenth century the last time parliament was invaded by protestors.

The paper has video-stills from the floor of the Commons, labelled "chamber of horrors".

A grainy, pixelated image of the moment five men brought the hunting debate to an abrupt halt is emblazoned across the front of the Daily Telegraph.

An unnamed MP tells the paper that the scene - men in tights grappling on the floor - was like the Keystone Cops.

Heads roll

Many papers agree the Palace of Westminster's antiquated security system needs to be modernised.

The Daily Mirror compares the men in funny red coats who run hunting to the men in tights who run MPs' security.

The Daily Express considers the future of Sir Michael Cummins, the Serjeant-at-Arms, who the paper says may retire.

An unnamed police officer tells the Financial Times he fears police heads may roll, while the Daily Star calls for David Blunkett's scalp.

'Beyond excuse'

There is little sympathy for the men who breached parliamentary security.

The Daily Star calls them "posh yobs" while The Guardian editorial prefers the term "thugs" and says their actions were "beyond excuse".

The Daily Mirror pulls no punches with the headline "Toff With Their Heads" and describes the group as "hunt nuts".

"For Fox Sake!" exclaims the front of The Sun as it talks of the security "farce" and for the Daily Express the whole affair is a security "shambles".

'Insider'

And the question now being posed is how the men managed to get so far?

The Daily Telegraph says it has a copy of a letter the group used to gain access, claiming they had been invited to discuss building work with MPs.

The Independent says a broken card swipe machine on a door into the Commons was the weak spot.

While both the Daily Mirror and The Sun believe an "insider" probably helped - by either passing on details of the corridor layout, or providing passes.


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