The world’s glitziest prisons

Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey © Getty images
Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey: disgraced A-listers

Allegations of sexual misconduct and outright assault are now rife in the film industry. Many of those accused are attempting to deal with it in the traditional Hollywood way – by going into therapy. The “pre-eminent” clinic for disgraced A-listers is The Meadows in Arizona. Even before the current sexual-harrassment crisis, the “wealthy and beleaguered” would “make their way to The Meadows (often by private jet) to mend their ways and their reputation”, says Jane Mulkerrins in The Daily Telegraph. Its “alumni register reads like a red carpet roll-call at the Met Gala or the Oscars”.

The Meadows is no “five-star holiday resort”, it insists. Yes, there’s an outdoor pool, a gym and hiking trails, but the shared rooms are “basic to the point of spartan”. There is also “a strict no-tech policy”: “phones, laptops and iPads as well as newspapers are all banned”. Every day there are two sessions of group therapy, for up to two hours at a time, in small, mixed-gender, mixed-issue groups, of around six people. This spartan regime doesn’t come cheap, however. Inpatient programmes at The Meadows last a compulsory 45 days and cost $54,000 (£41,000) in total.

The place is a kind of “alt-justice simulator, which lovingly recreates the atmosphere of the classic nonce wing, right down to the Michelin-starred salad bar and fluffy bathrobes”, scoffs Marina Hyde in The Guardian. Perhaps they’re trying to wean Harvey Weinstein off bathrobes, she suggests. (The disgraced film producer is accused of inviting actors to his bedroom to discuss films only to appear in just a bathrobe.) “In many ways it’s like the indie criminal justice system. As well as the boutique feel, there’s a freshness you don’t get with the big studio prisons.”

Still, if the accused end up being found guilty of crimes, they hopefully won’t be treated as leniently as the Saudi princes recently detained on charges of corruption. These royals are currently put up within the walls of Saudi Arabia’s “lavish” five-star Riyadh Ritz-Carlton, where a royal suite costs $5,332 a night, says Lauren Tousignant in the New York Post. The hotel features “an all-male spa, cigar lounge and bowling alley” and “two five-star restaurants, a late-night dessert shop and a spot for afternoon tea”. It’s fair to say that “their prison cells are nicer than anything the majority of the world will ever experience”.

The reason for this apparently soft treatment is that the kingdom “depends on tribal loyalty, and the royals would take it personally if one of their own was placed in a common jail cell – regardless of charges or accusations”. Those who aren’t former members of the elite have it a little harder: “non-royal prisoners reportedly are being kept together in one room and sleeping on mattresses”. Still, in comparison with the standard lot of Saudi political prisoners, those currently enjoying the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh have it “suite”. It’s a different story for the hotel itself, which had to relocate all its guests at short notice. It has not commented on the presence of its imprisoned guests, but a message on its website announces that its internet and telephone lines are currently disconnected due to “unforeseen circumstances”.

Tabloid money… the dinner ladies who won £25m

• “OK, no one likes paying tax,” says Saira Khan in the Sunday Mirror. “I have money in a tax-free Isa, I save tax-free into a pension plan and I use my tax-free capital-gains allowance… I even once tried to cram myself into a T-shirt labelled age 14 because, as kids’ clothes are VAT-free,
it was a bit of a bargain.” It’s called tax avoidance. It is honest and it is legal. The waters get muddied when the rich use “clever accountants to salt money away offshore so they can reduce their tax bills”. That too may be legal. But it’s not right. “I’m so tired of this charade.” The government needs to close the loopholes. “It’s that simple.”

• And while they’re at it, they can simplify the tax system too, says Rachel Johnson in The Mail on Sunday. The Paradise Papers leak showed how the rich get richer by gaming the system. “Lewis Hamilton, the racing driver, leased a jet from himself and did not pay the VAT he was not obliged to pay on this asset. Gary Lineker used an offshore firm to buy and sell a holiday pad in Barbados, and, drum roll… Lord Ashcroft is a non-dom!” But it’s no surprise it’s all legal. “The tax bible Tolley’s weighs in at 21,602 pages and no single person can understand more than a tiny portion of it.”

• “Thank the Lord” for the dinner ladies of Port Talbot who won £25m on the EuroMillions, says Lorraine Kelly in The Sun. “I’m delighted that they immediately took off their aprons and promptly handed in their notice and they have vowed to spend their cash on having a hell of a lot of fun.” Money doesn’t always bring you happiness, but these women have the right idea. Syndicate leader Julie Saunders is planning a trip to Las Vegas. Julie Amphlett is going to buy, in her words, “absolutely everything”. “I like their style.” What’s the point of winning all that cash if not to live your wildest dreams?