Clegg's Rennard 'crisis', the Stonyhurst Two, Beckham in Peckham, and Corrie

Lord Rennard Image copyright PA

The term "crisis" is used on more than one front page to describe the Liberal Democrats' internal strife.

It's been caused by the party's suspension of Lord Rennard for his refusal to apologise over claims of sexual harassment that he denies ever happened. A barrister-led inquiry had found the evidence behind the complaints was "broadly credible" but that they could not be proven.

In case readers are unfamiliar with the peer, the Times prints a profile of the man described as "the political anorak's political anorak" and explains that he "masterminded the Lib Dems' 1997 general election campaign". The Financial Times calls Lord Rennard "a feared and respected operator", widely credited with "turning his ragtag organisation into a party of government".

Reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, political commentator and former Lib Dem press officer Jo Phillips said: "I knew Chris Rennard and worked with him years ago and I held him then - as I do now - in the highest regard. The Lib Dems have handled this appallingly. They've managed to marry pomposity and farce together in a way that, frankly, beggars description."

The Independent's features writer James Rampton said: "I agree with the Daily Mail when they say it's the worst crisis of Nick Clegg's leadership. He really has handled this so badly."

This perceived ineptitude is the focus on several leader columns, with the Daily Telegraph declaring: "The Liberal Democrats really are a sorry lot," complaining that the party that is "always demanding transparency and openness" has allowed the inquiry report to be kept under wraps.

The Mail asks: "Could anything be more revealing of the Lib Dems' unfitness to run a whelk stall, let alone a government?" Meanwhile, the Guardian says the junior coalition partners "have landed themselves in a dangerous and humiliating mess for which they have only themselves to blame".

A long way from Lancashire

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"For seven days they evaded capture in the Caribbean," begins the Daily Mail's page three lead. It's not a report about violent criminals or escaped prisoners but the tale of the "public school runaways" who'd high-tailed it to the Dominican Republic to escape "cold and rainy" British weather.

The Sun uses the same headline as the Mail - "Wait till I get you home" - to describe how 16-year-old Eddy Bunyan's mum caught up with him and his girlfriend Indira Gainyeva, while the red-top also reminds readers of its previous headline: "The Great British Bunk-Off."

The Times, which advertises an interactive graphic allowing readers to "trace their journey" via its website, says the pair will be allowed to spend time with their parents before discovering whether they'll be expelled from Lancashire's Stonyhurst College.

But the Daily Telegraph appeals for clemency for the "Stonyhurst Two", suggesting the headmaster devise a suitable punishment: "There must be a hundred menial tasks the pair could perform - separately - in the ample, rain-soaked grounds of Stonyhurst in January."

Syrian conundrum

A day ahead of a peace conference it's hoped could bring an end to the three-year conflict in Syria, the Guardian reports that photographic evidence presented to international lawyers shows the "systematic killing" of 11,000 detainees by the government in Damascus.

Said to have been smuggled out of the country on memory sticks by a former Syrian military police photographer who has defected, the images could leave officials facing war crimes charges, the paper says.

The Independent highlights the key players who'll take part in the latest round of negotiations. President Bashar al-Assad's key backer, Iran, will not play a part after its unexpected invitation was quickly withdrawn by the United Nations in the face of complaints from the US and Syrian opposition, it notes.

In its editorial, the Daily Telegraph says: "We may not like it, but Iran will have to be part of any settlement," given the Syrian government is "kept in power by Iranian bayonets". The Telegraph also reports that Assad has been accused of helping al-Qaeda to gain an upper hand over moderate opposition forces in a "complex double game" aimed at forcing his critics to accept him as the "lesser of two evils".

Triumph or cynical ploy?

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"Saddest TV scene ever," is the Daily Express's verdict on the departure of Hayley Cropper from Coronation Street.

For the Daily Mirror it was a "Corrie triumph", as the terminally-ill character took her own life using a cocktail of drugs. It quotes the widow of right-to-die campaigner Tony Nicklinson as backing the storyline.

Ellen E Jones, in the Independent, saw the right-to-die debate brought to life "with due nuance", saying Hayley's decision "looked neither easy nor unambiguously noble".

But Christopher Stevens, in the Mail, felt the "sensitive acting [was] tarnished by a faux controversy", given Hayley had killed herself without anyone's assistance - when much of the debate focuses on the consequences for those who help. His paper brands the storyline a "cynical race for ratings".

The Sun says 20,000 volunteers from emotional support charity Samaritans were "on alert" to deal with calls from upset fans. But its executive director, Rachel Kirby-Rider, writes in the Express: "We were pleased that Coronation Street came to us for guidance... Shutting down coverage of suicide is unhelpful, as this could drive discussion underground and deter people from talking about their problems."

Alright Dave?

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One story has everything, at least as far as sub-editors are concerned. The news that former England football captain David Beckham has filmed an Only Fools and Horses sketch for BBC1's Sport Relief gives them a chance to indulge in punning, use catch phrases and add speech bubbles to captions.

Most rename the star David Peckham - after the Trotters' south London patch - while the Daily Mirror's effort has David Jason's Del Boy saying: "He's Goldenballs... you're a 42-carat plonker, Rodney."

The Sun imagines dim-witted character Trigger - played by Roger Lloyd-Pack, who died last week - suffering his usual problem of getting Rodney's name wrong by asking: "Dave, have you met Dave?"

And the editorials come out in favour of the appearance. "Lovely jubbly Mr Beckham," is the Express's verdict, while the Daily Star says: "Hopefully he'll help Del Boy finally make millions - for charity".

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