Gauke fights to keep Worboys in prison

‘David Gauke has asked lawyers to prepare the case for a judicial review of the decision by the Parole Board, and officials say Gauke will trigger the legal challenge if it has a “reasonable” chance of success. He made the move after four cabinet ministers privately warned him that the decision to set Worboys free could be unlawful because his victims have not been consulted about the terms of his release…The Sunday Times obtained a letter written by Martin Jones, the chief executive of the Parole Board, in which he admitted: “I can well understand why victims and the public find it impossible to understand our decisions if we are not able to explain our reasons; or indeed disclose the full licence conditions.” He claimed that “the panel took full account of the victim representations ”. Victims, their lawyers and MPs said this was untrue, however, and that there had been three clear breaches of proper procedure: Victims found out about Worboys’ release from the media; They have not been consulted by the Parole Board about the conditions of his release; Worboys is expected to live in London despite demands that he be relocated…Michael Gove, a former justice secretary, said of Gauke when speaking to The Sunday Times: “I’m sure he’ll do the right thing.”’ – Sunday Times

  • Jump in the number of offenders sought on suspicion of crimes committed after early release – Sunday Times
  • Crime Agency chief calls for social media giants to fund child abuse investigations – Sunday Times
  • Malthouse warns against customs officers gaining the power to search without a warrant – Sunday Telegraph

The new Party Chairman pledges an online fightback – and a review of the Conservative candidate selection process

‘In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Brandon Lewis, who was appointed by the Prime Minister in last week’s Cabinet reshuffle, pledges to galvanise so-called “shy Tories” who are not “getting out there in the digital world”, as part of plans to go “hell for leather” ahead of the next elections. He says the party will equip younger voters with a “toolkit”, including graphics, Gifs and videos, to “go out there and argue” for the Conservatives. He is also hiring new staff to bolster the party’s digital team. The announcement will be seen as an admission that the Conservatives have been falling behind in digital campaigning against Labour, and of the significance the party’s leadership has attached to the gap in the online presence of the two parties…Mr Lewis also said he intended to review the party’s candidate selection process to ensure the party was appointing “the best candidates” to fight for parliamentary seats. “No matter how good we are, I always want to be better,” he said.’ – Sunday Telegraph

>Yesterday: Binita Mehta-Parmar on Comment: What the Tories need to do to improve their standing with minority voters

Hodges: This reshuffle was all about May trying to barricade herself inside Downing Street

‘No 10 insiders insist May’s aim was to ensure stability as Brexit negotiations enter their crucial second stage, and point to changes at Conservative HQ and the junior ministerial ranks. Some Tory Kremlinologists have claimed she is manoeuvring to give her chosen heir – boyish Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson – a clear run at the premiership. But the truth is this reshuffle was designed to support the prime ministerial ambitions of one person – the Prime Minister. Since the Election, the Conservative Party has been clinging to the hope that when the time came, Mrs May would do the decent thing and lay down the seals of office without a fight. Future trials and tribulations could persuade her to do that. But the events of this week have left her Ministers and backbenchers facing an unpalatable truth. If they want to ensure Theresa May steps down before the next Election they are going to have to start putting in place contingency plans to oust her.’ – Dan Hodges, Mail on Sunday

Hinds hints at plans to relax faith-based admission rules for new Free Schools

‘Mr Hinds, who attended a Catholic grammar school, is expected to scrap the rule which forces new Catholic schools to accept 50 per cent non-Catholic pupils. Theresa May pledged to drop the rule for new state-funded Free Schools in her Election manifesto last year at the insistence of her former No 10 aide Nick Timothy. But the move was shelved by former Education Secretary Justine Greening after schools watchdog Ofsted warned it would lead to ‘increased segregation’. Some called it ‘education apartheid’…Mr Hinds last night gave a broad hint he will axe the cap. An Education Department spokesman said: ‘We want to go further to ensure all young people have a good school place and are keen for faith groups to play a key role. ‘Faith schools are more likely to be rated outstanding by Ofsted than non-faith schools.’ Mr Hinds would respond to a year-long consultation on ‘lifting the current cap on new faith Free Schools admissions in due course,’ added the spokesman.’ – Mail on Sunday

  • He could also review tuition fees ‘within months’ – Sunday Times
  • The nation’s best primary school bans the hijab for girls under eight – Sunday Times
  • Students criticise their peers for a selfie with Rees-Mogg – Sunday Times

May plans her next big Brexit speech

‘Theresa May plans to make a speech outlining the government’s Brexit policy in the February parliamentary recess after holding three meetings of her Brexit war cabinet to thrash out a compromise between warring ministers. Documents seen by The Sunday Times show May has told ministers they will have to agree how the trade talks with the EU should unfold, what a future economic and security partnership will look like and the nature of the rules to create a “level playing field” with Brussels when they meet this week. In meetings held before Christmas sources say ministers backed four different outcomes of the Brexit negotiations…After three weeks of meetings May hopes to sum up Britain’s demands in a speech during the parliamentary recess between February 8 and February 20. That will be followed by an EU summit in Brussels in March when it is hoped that a deal will be done on the nature of a two-year transition that will begin in March 2019. At the same summit, EU countries are expected to sign off on instructions to the bloc’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, paving the way for proper trade talks to begin. Gove revealed that he will use this week’s Brexit war cabinet meeting to demand that Britain ditches the common fisheries policy during the transition period and said Barnier has conceded the point.’ – Sunday Times

The potential collapse of Carillion raises concerns about HS2

‘Transport Secretary Chris Grayling faces mounting criticism for his department’s decision last year to give the ailing construction company Carillion a share of contracts for the HS2 railway line. The accusation came as officials have warned that Carillion could enter administration on Monday. Mr Grayling is accused of giving the firm a part of the work only a week after the company issued a shock profit warning that in effect was the beginning of its dire financial woes. He has insisted that at the time he was given ‘secure undertakings’ about the health of the company…Whitehall insiders are adamant that the HS2 contracts were ‘stress tested’ to ensure that if one contractor pulled out, others in the consortium would have been able to make up the shortfall. Carillion said on Friday it remained in ‘constructive discussions’ with its creditors and suggestions that they had rejected its business plan were factually wrong. Any collapse of Carillion, which provides services to government departments including justice, health and education, and has built hospitals, roads and rail lines, would be felt across Britain and also in Canada and the Middle East.’ – Mail on Sunday

Gove warns utility companies about their ‘ethical standards’

‘Michael Gove has demanded a crackdown on fat cat water company bosses using offshore tax havens while cashing in on their monopoly position — warning that legislation could follow unless they start to behave “in a responsible fashion”. In an interview with The Sunday Times, the environment secretary said privatised utility companies must meet “high ethical standards” in order to maintain public support. At his home in west London, he has made changes to his own life to reflect the green crusade he has unleashed in government. Last week he and Theresa May announced plans to do away with unnecessary plastic packaging and extended the 5p charge on plastic bags to all shops. “There are some hessian bags downstairs and some cloth ones,” he says proudly. “We’ve got to move away from a culture of things being thrown away.” Tomorrow the environment secretary is due to make an announcement about increased penalties for “waste crime” such as fly-tipping.’ – Sunday Times

Large numbers of frontline NHS staff fail to get the flu vaccine

‘Two-thirds of doctors and nurses at some hospitals have ignored official pleas to get themselves vaccinated against flu this winter, risking the lives of vulnerable patients. Last week, senior doctors warned that not enough NHS workers are having the jab. Now an official report shows shockingly low staff vaccination rates at some of the country’s biggest and busiest hospitals. Only 33.7 per cent of frontline staff at King’s College Hospital in South London – which houses one of the capital’s largest A&E departments – have received the jab this winter. The figure is 38.3 per cent at nearby Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Trust. Hospitals in Brighton, Essex, Northumbria, Cornwall, Harrogate, Wolverhampton, Salisbury and Hertfordshire also have less than half of their staff vaccinated. Overall, fewer than half of frontline workers have been inoculated against flu at 18 hospital trusts across England, which together run 55 hospitals.’ – Mail on Sunday

>Today: George Maggs on Comment: How to reform the NHS. It needs independence. Hypothecated funds. And a constitution.

Pidcock tipped to be Corbyn’s chosen successor

‘Laura Pidcock, the Labour MP who declared she had “no intention of being friends” with any Tory MP because they are the “enemy”, is being groomed to take over from Jeremy Corbyn, according to party insiders. Since her election last year, the MP for North West Durham has impressed Corbyn and on Friday won promotion as the party’s shadow minister for labour. Now Pidcock, 30, is seen by the left as the best option to succeed Corbyn, 68, should he choose to stand down before the next election, scheduled to take place in 2022. While Corbyn is likely to remain leader, sources suggest he might quit if the right candidate can “secure his legacy”.’ – Sunday Times

  • The bourgeois Left has abandoned the working classes – Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph
  • Angela Rayner talks about her upbringing, her route into politics and become “Grangela” – Sunday Times
  • Momentum is set to win control of Labour’s NEC – Adam Boulton, Sunday Times
  • Corbyn ally ‘inadvertently’ fails to declare ownership of a second house – Mail on Sunday
  • The Government is set to support legislation proposed by a Labour MP on rental property standards – Sunday Telegraph

UKIP leader’s girlfriend suspended for racist messages about Meghan Markle

‘Mr Bolton, 54, was already facing calls for his resignation after he left his wife for 25-year-old Jo Marney. Now The Mail on Sunday can reveal shocking messages in which Ms Marney says that Prince Harry’s ‘black American’ fiancee will ‘taint’ the Royal Family with ‘her seed’ and pave the way for a ‘black king’. Ms Marney also says that she would never have sex with ‘a negro’ because they are ‘ugly’. She was immediately suspended from Ukip last night after The Mail on Sunday alerted party chiefs to her grossly offensive comments. Our revelations come just days before Bolton is due to face a crunch meeting over his own future with Ukip following outrage over his new relationship…If Mr Bolton is ousted by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee on Thursday, it would leave the party having to elect its fifth leader in barely 18 months.’ – Mail on Sunday

Parsons: Rather than defend our liberties, the Lords are attacking the free press

‘What freedoms are protected by this institution once dubbed, “the best day-care centre in London”? What good and noble service is provided by these 795 ermine-clad fossils from another age? To act as a check on the 650 elected MPs in the House of ­Commons? To ensure the laws of our land truly serve our people? The House of Lords does none of these things. Indeed, it increasingly appears that the bloated House of Lords exists to thwart, frustrate and destroy our freedom, democracy and way of life. This week the Lords voted, by 238 to 209 votes, to effectively restart the Leveson inquiry into the newspaper industry, even though scrapping it was part of the Conservative ­manifesto. Another multi-million-pound inquiry into newspapers! The last one cost taxpayers £43.5million. The Lords also want the press to sign up to a crook’s charter that would oblige newspapers to pay the legal fees of any corrupt spiv that brings an action against them — even if the corrupt spiv loses.’ – Tony Parsons, The Sun on Sunday

  • Peers who have been criticised over their expenses claims are backing restrictions on the free press – The Sun on Sunday
  • Are they motivated by the good of society, or a desire to cover up their own dodgy behaviour? – The Sun on Sunday Says
  • Press freedom is precious and can never be taken for granted – Sunday Times Leader
  • Clegg claims £115,000 allowance previously reserved for former Prime Ministers – Sunday Times

>Today: ToryDiary: Remainers are ready to lord it over us