Maria Miller quit calls, Buckingham Palace 'gun drama' and GP's Grand National dream in papers

Questions remain about the future of Culture Secretary Maria Miller following the controversy over her housing expense claims, Sunday's newspapers declare.

The Sunday Times acknowledges in its editorial that people might be tempted to conclude a "vindictive press" is "exacting revenge" on a minister involved in discussions over the future of regulation.

However, it maintains "there is much more to this" and the events "exposed the hypocrisy at the heart of our political system".

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The Mail on Sunday leads with a poll suggesting that 78% of all voters want Mrs Miller to be sacked from the Cabinet.

Mrs Miller was made to apologise to the Commons for failing to co-operate fully with an inquiry into her expenses and repay £5,800 claimed in error. But the Mail says her "stiff-necked arrogance was greatly magnified by the MPs who watered down her punishment almost to nothing, and the prime minister who very unwisely stood by her".

According to the Sunday Mirror, senior members of the Tory backbench 1922 Committee have said they expect Maria Miller to be sacked from the Cabinet "to stop the barrage of criticism she is getting".

The Observer reports that support for Mrs Miller "appeared to be ebbing". Its political editor Toby Helm says Mrs Miller's Commons statement on Thursday had been an opportunity to turn things in her favour. But he says it was "over so fast and delivered so curtly, more in anger than in sorrow" and only acted to "deflate the Conservative party's post-budget bounce and throw it back into crisis mode".

The lead story in the Sunday Telegraph says pressure for Mrs Miller to quit intensified after a senior minister - speaking on condition of anonymity - suggested her behaviour was 'incompatible with what she should be doing as a Cabinet minister" and "undermines the prime minister because he has talked about a new kind of politics".

And the story attracts the attention of the cartoonists, with Schrank in the Independent on Sunday portraying Mrs Miller emerging from a grave adjacent to the House of Commons carrying the epitaph "MPs' expenses scandal". It's alive and kicking, says the caption.

Scott in the Sunday Express sees Mrs Miller as a Grand National horse - with David Cameron as her hapless jockey - crashing into an alarmed Parliamentary standards commissioner sitting on the side of the track.

Riddell in the Observer has a sleeping Mr Cameron haunted by the "nightmares" of not only Mrs Miller's expense row but the Royal Mail sell-off, Tory green policies and UKIP.

Women in combat

A dramatic photograph of a Queen's Guard in a bearskin hat and ceremonial uniform pointing his bayonet-fixed rifle at a man outside Buckingham Palace features on the front page of the Sun on Sunday under the headline "gun drama at the Palace". It reports that the Coldstream Guards soldier "rushed" from his post to intervene after the man "screamed" at police for five minutes and walked towards the palace's North-Centre Gate.

Scotland Yard said police officers gave the "man words of advice" but he was not arrested. According to the Sun, guards should not normally leave their posts unless there is a threat to a member of the Royal Family. But it is understood the soldier will not face any action over the incident.

Meanwhile, the chief of the general staff has told the Sunday Times that the Army should consider lifting its ban on women serving in combat units in an attempt to boost recruitment and show the service is "open to them". The paper says General Sir Peter Wall's comments are the clearest signal that the service is preparing to take the historic step of allowing women to fight alongside men in the infantry.

A different military development attracts the attention of the Mail on Sunday. It reports that senior officers will be held legally responsible in future for deaths in a war zone caused by faulty kit. The new rules, known as the Duty Holder Concept regulations, could see senior officers being court-martialled. They come after a UK Supreme Court ruling that the government owes a duty of care to soldiers, and deaths in Iraq an Afghanistan linked to inadequate equipment.

The Sunday People highlights figures it has obtained under a Freedom of Information request that show almost 200 of the Army's horses have been ­put down over the last 10 years. The Army has around 500 horses at any one time and the Ministry of Defence tells the paper that the majority are ­re-housed at the end of their service although some have to put down "as a last resort" if they are in pain, have ­debilitating diseases or are a danger.

'Eleventh-hour ping'

The significance of the news that a Chinese patrol ship has detected an ultrasonic pulse close to where the missing Malaysia Airlines plane is believed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean is explored.

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Image caption Search teams from 22 countries are working to locate the missing flight

The Sunday Telegraph says the hunt for the plane "entered a new phase" as the possible signals from its "black box" flight recorder were examined.

The discovery came as search teams from 22 countries faced a desperate 24-hour race against time to find the black box before its batteries, which last 30 days, expired, reports the Sunday Express.

According to the Observer, the announcement "raises hopes" that the mystery of missing flight MH370 may be resolved in the near future. But it notes that most reaction was "cautious and muted" amid a number of false leads over the past month.

The Sunday Times describes the development as an "11th-hour ping", raising the "remarkable prospect that search teams had defied the odds and stumbled across one of the black boxes".

However, the paper also says pilots are resisting proposals by a United Nations body for live steaming of information from plane cockpits to remove the need to search for the flight recorders after any future crashes. It says pilots fear they will be snooped on and unfairly blamed for unexplained crashes.

'Dream win'

The story behind Pineau De Re's triumph in the Grand National attracts almost as much attention as the race itself.

The National is famous for surprises but a novice trainer winning the world's greatest horse race at the first time of trying is rare, says the Sunday Express. Its trainer, former GP Dr Richard Newland, "made winning look easy" when his first entrant romped home at 25-1 to claim the £561,000 prize money, it says.

The Sunday Telegraph describes him as the "GP who fulfilled his Grand National dream", while the headline "Just what the doctor ordered" appears more than once.

One of just 12 horses trained by Dr Newland at his Worcestershire yard, Pineau De Re was able to put 39 rivals from much bigger operations in their place, says the Sunday Mirror.

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But the Observer's racing correspondent Greg Wood points out that "it looked and felt like an old-fashioned Grand National... with a grand story attached. The small stable that gets lucky is a constant thread" in the race's history.

The news that all horses and riders had returned unharmed for the second year running was hugely welcome, he added, with bookmakers also "understandably delighted" that highly-backed contenders failed to make the frame.

Dr Newland "retained the calm and collected manner you would expect from your local GP, even after winning the Grand National with a horse he claims to train "just for the fun of it", says the Mail on Sunday,

The paper's Jonathan Powell focuses on winning jockey Leighton Aspell. He had retired in 2007, because he was no longer happy competing, only to return to racing two years later.

"A career that had promised so much appeared to have ended in disillusionment. But yesterday he was in dreamland as his renaissance reached the greatest heights his sport can offer."

It was a dream too for businessman John Provan, says the Sun on Sunday. Once an amateur rider himself, he now co-owns Pineau De Re with Dr Newland.

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