Today's papers

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The Independent Online
RAILTRACK is recruiting 200 signalmen to bolster its strike-breaking force of managers and supervisors, the Sunday Times reports.

The Observer says Britain's three most senior military chiefs have had a series of meetings with Labour's shadow defence secretary, overturning an 80-year ban on briefing opposition politicians.

French scientists will reveal 'hard evidence' tomorrow that billions of pounds have been wasted on research into Aids, according to the Sunday Telegraph. A team from the University of Paris will suggest that, contrary to previous treatments, doctors should give drugs to suppress the immune system.

The Sunday Mirror reports that the BBC has given Director General John Birt a pay rise to nearly pounds 250,000 a year. Union leaders claim the award is a 32 per cent increase.

Special court hearings are to be set up in a campaign against criminal time wasters, the Mail on Sunday reports. Millions of pounds a year are lost when defendants plead guilty at the last moment, the paper claims. Lord Mackay, the Lord Chancellor, is planning to introduce 'plea and direction' hearings to give them a chance to plead guilt at an early stage.

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