Editor digs in as rivals go on attack

Piers Morgan, the editor of the Daily Mirror, thought he had the perfect scoop when the images of torture from Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad were first broadcast in America 10 days ago.

Piers Morgan, the editor of the Daily Mirror, thought he had the perfect scoop when the images of torture from Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad were first broadcast in America 10 days ago.

Locked within the newspaper's safe in Canary Wharf, London, was a set of pictures that purported to show two British soldiers abusing a terrified Iraqi. Their publication a week ago yesterday caused a sensation. As first General Mike Jackson, Britain's most senior soldier, and then Tony Blair condemned the apparent abuse, the tabloid's billing of a "world exclusive" seeming, for once, entirely justified.

Within 24 hours the newspaper's scoop was buried beneath an avalanche of doubts over the pictures' authenticity. The BBC led a charge of sceptics questioning almost every aspect of the stills, from the soldiers' webbing to the make of the truck in which the alleged assault of the prisoner took place.

This weekend Mr Morgan must be reflecting on a week in which he went from triumph to near disaster in a bout of extraordinary tabloid in-fighting.

The editor was given a taste of what was in store on Monday when The Sun and the Daily Express gleefully reported the doubts of "military experts" over the photographs.

"WE TOLD THE TRUTH" was his defiant riposte as the paper made a "point-by-point rebuttal" of claims that the pictures were faked.

The effort left its rivals unimpressed: "LIARS" was the considered response of the Daily Express on its front page on Tuesday, while The Sun showed its readers how easy it would have been to mock up the abuse pictures.

As investigators from the Royal Military Police arrived on the editorial floor at Canary Wharf to question the reporter who wrote the story that morning, heat was building on the editor.

There were calls for his resignation in the Commons and accusations he had needlessly placed serving soldiers at risk from a backlash prompted by the untrue story.

He said that he had "nothing to hide" and was "relaxed". "Not one new fact has emerged that exposes our story or pictures as a fake."

The editor's confidence appeared to be borne out by authoritative briefings from inside the military investigation that the pictures may be impossible to verify. In the absence of a confession from the men involved - and the newspaper refuses to reveal its sources - it is left to the sceptics to disprove the images by other means, and no definitive technical evidence has yet been advanced.

Nevertheless, Mr Morgan has subtly prepared a second line of defence should they be proved fakes. In an interview that appeared in The Daily Telegraph, he said: "Although I absolutely understand that it's very important that the veracity of these photographs is seen to be established - ie: as an accurate record of events that happened - what I would say is that the bigger issue is the fact that we have brought to public attention the allegations of ill-treatment of detainees by British troops."

His chosen standard of veracity as "an accurate record of events" leaves open the possibility that the pictures were staged to show a prior, unrecorded, incident.

To underline the second point, that the pictures served a greater truth of abuse in Iraq, the paper printed first the testimony of a third soldier involved in beatings and then what it presented as another "trophy" picture, yesterday.

Compared with the genuinely shocking pictures from Abu Ghraib, the slightly bloodied mouth of a handcuffed Iraqi captive is tame and inconclusive as a condemnation, however.

Lieutenant Colonel Mike Glover, who served with the accused regiment, the Queen's Lancashire, told the BBC yesterday it was a "typical image" and proved "conclusively that the original set of photographs are false".

Senior officials in the Ministry of Defence said last night that the RMP investigation was likely to take weeks. Too much is at stake for the final answer to be fudged.

Suggested Topics
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
News
news
News
i100
Travel
Fair trade: the idea of honesty boxes relies on people paying their way
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

PPC Account Managers

£25k - £30k (DOE): Guru Careers: Two expert PPC Account Managers are needed to...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary