William Roache verdict, flood defence 'delays' and David Cameron's plea to Scots

Pictures of one man are spread across most of Friday's front pages or - as the Guardian puts it - "one man, two personas".

In its coverage of William Roache's acquittal on sex charges, the paper says the jury had repeatedly been reminded to differentiate between the defendant and Ken Barlow, the character he plays in Coronation Street.

"But certain similarities between the man and his fictional alter ego emerged during the three-and-a-half week trial," the Guardian says, noting that while Barlow has "rattled through more than 20 lovers", Roache acknowledged in court that he was frequently unfaithful to his first wife.

The Daily Telegraph says the actor had to "endure his colourful personal life being aired in painful detail" in court, while the Daily Mail examines Roache's life, including his membership of the Circle of Love spiritual movement which is based on the tenet that "pure love conquers all".


Image copyright Reuters

Despite the strain of the trial, Roache "didn't once flinch" as the verdicts were delivered, says the Daily Mirror's Brian Reade, describing how the actor "walked free as if he were leaving the Street set".

Meanwhile, the "close family bond" with his children - a "constant presence in the courtroom" is acknowledged by the Times.

The Daily Express and Daily Star are among those recording the relief of co-stars, past and present, while the Sun notes how Roache wore the same "lucky tie" to court each day.

Several papers, such as the Independent, suggest police and prosecutors are now "in the dock" amid claims they have presided over a "celebrity witch-hunt".

However, the Daily Mirror's opinion column argues that it's right for such cases to be put to juries.

"It's easy to criticise the authorities when a case is thrown out," it says.

The Mirror hears from one of his accusers who says she hadn't come forward immediately because she didn't think people would believe her and that the case had seen her "proved right".

Union blues

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The Times previews a speech in which David Cameron will urge everyone to persuade family and friends in Scotland to reject independence.

The paper reckons it's a "delicate task", noting that: "[Scottish First Minister] Alex Salmond would like little more than to portray the referendum in September as a choice between self-rule and dominion by plummy-voiced Old Etonian Conservatives."

As the Financial Times notes, Mr Cameron "admitted last month that interventions by a southern, English, Conservative prime minister might antagonise Scots and be counterproductive". But it says he was urged by senior colleagues to become more involved.

And Philip Stephens writes in the FT that to understand why Scots might vote for independence, "one has only to listen to the way English talk about the 307-year-old union". He continues: "The dominant strand of English opinion says that Scotland would drown in the attempt to go it alone. Instead of seeking separation, Scotland should count its blessings for England's unbounded generosity."

A poll in the Sun suggests a majority of Scots still prefer the union, although the number in favour of independence appears to be growing. As the paper puts it, the PM has "seven months to save the UK".

Off the rails

Image copyright AFP/Network Rail

As much of the UK continues to be battered by heavy rain and gales, a fresh selection of pictures of rough seas and flooded homes is reproduced in the press.

The Daily Telegraph claims that the Environment Agency last month shelved work on the section of coastal railway track at Dawlish that was severely damaged by the sea this week so that it could carry out a survey on the effect it would have on birdlife.

It quotes one Labour peer asking: "Are we looking after birds before humans?" The agency says it "does not recognise" the paper's description of the meeting it had with peers and Network Rail.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph's Sam Marsden heard from evacuees from the Devon resort, who "fear they may never be allowed back" into their homes.

Drawing on his impression of coastal erosion from filming Britain from Above for the BBC, Andrew Marr - writing in the Mail - says: "The brutal truth is that not every farmhouse, village street and golf course can be protected."

There's little chance of respite for a while, according to the Daily Express. It says the "worst storm for more than a quarter of a century is set to cause widespread mayhem" at the weekend. "Storm Charlie" threatens to be more intense than the violent gales that felled trees across southern England in 1987, it says.

A further casualty of the weather will be the tourist trade, reports the Times. It quotes a Devon official as saying the consequences could be "catastrophic" for the industry, while a Cornish counterpart argues that - despite no chance of direct trains to Penzance from London any time soon - it is "the impression that Cornwall is cut off" that can do most damage, despite most visitors arriving by road.

Games begin

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Several papers are still reporting problems with accommodation and facilities in Sochi, ahead of the Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

Not only does the bobsleigh centre have only half a roof, reports the Sun, but "the athletes' village has run out of PILLOWS".

However, the newspaper leader columns - while acknowledging the reports of corruption, rows over personal freedom and threat of terrorism - carry a note of optimism.

The Times has no doubt the Games will be a sporting success.

"Russians will surely find a way through the waste, corruption and smothering security to revive their ancient traditions of hospitality," it says in an editorial.

The Guardian reckons London 2012 offered proof that "with luck and goodwill a Games can rise above the hype and the horror stories to become an empowering shared experience".

"Let us hope, in spite of all the many reasons why this may not happen in Sochi, that the next two weeks are memorable for the right not the wrong reasons," it adds.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Liew tells Telegraph readers that - though ice is " the thing you have to scrape off your car" and snow "makes your train late" - they should "switch on, sit back and surrender" to the thrill of the spectacle.

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