Henry Deedes: Piers returns to the Mirror, and he's not just come back for his coat

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The prodigal son returns! Nearly six years after he was unceremoniously frogmarched out of Canary Wharf without so much as a chance to retrieve his suit coat, Piers Morgan is soon to be making his way back to the Daily Mirror. He's due to relinquish Richard Wallace of editing duties for one day after forking out £12,000 for the pleasure in a charity auction. Staff, I'm told, are gearing up for his return which will be "sometime in February."

Already in the can apparently are pieces by the former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan and Sir Alan Sugar. In reference to those dodgy torture photos, Morgan is also promising a front page "splash" which reads: I'm Not Sorry. Perish the thought, he'll be trying to upstage his old chum, Dicky.

Cold War at the 'Standard'

Alexander Lebedev's dramatic takeover of London's Evening Standard isn't just a remarkable coup for the Russian billionaire, it also marks something of a personal victory for the man who he is expected to install as editor Geordie Greig.

Relations between the Tatler editor and the Standard's current editor, Veronica Wadley, have I'm told been, shall we say, frosty for quite some time.

It stems back several years ago over the Standard's refusal to credit any of the glossy society mag's stories whenever they appeared in the paper.

So glacial did things become between the pair that the well-connected Greig was even blackballed (oh the shame!) from appearing in the paper's diary pages.

The stand-off apparently continued for all of six months before the Standard's long-serving diarist Sebastian Shakespeare, himself a contributing editor to Tatler, brokered a tentative truce.

An unshakable diplomat

Shakespeare, it should be said, has a talent for tactful diplomacy when the proverbial crap hits the fan. Last year, he managed to talk down an assailant wronged in his column who attacked him with a bucket of horse manure. To this day, "Shakey" has admirably never revealed the identity of who flung the dung.

Ostler for Tatler?

Greig's arrival, of course, now opens up the question of who will replace him in the vacant throne at Tatler. One name which immediately springs to mind is the Standard's very own Catherine Ostler, who edits the paper's highly popular ES Magazine and whose husband, Albert Read (son of the novelist Piers Paul), is already based at Vogue House as Condé Nast's high-flying UK General Manager.

With me or against me

Heaven forbid though that any of Ostler's colleagues should moot anyone else for the role. When Greig's predecessor, Jane Proctor, vacated the editor's chair in 1999, Ostler, then working at the Daily Express, was dead set on it. When her colleague, the (then) Hickey columnist John McEntee tipped Nicola Formby (also known as Mrs Adrian Gill) as her likely successor, he was confronted by a finger wagging Ostler wailing furious barks of "traitor!"

Spluttering Hill start

Much guffawing last week about the Express's decision to run a wraparound ad cover for Fiat on the morning after Barack Obama's historic inauguration. The ad was for a Fiat 500, so at least the paper's editor, Peter Hill, can be said to be practising what he preaches. Hill I'm told, tootles to work each morning in the very same model, and jolly happy he is with it too, apparently.

Knives out for Ramsay

Which is more than can be said about poor old Gordon Ramsay, whose reputation last week appeared to be on the verge of collapsing like poorly-timed soufflé. Following reports in this newspaper's Pandora column that the chef had parted company with his long-term PR, Gary Farrow, kitchen knives began flying all over Fleet Street. The Telegraph reported how "the deepening recession appears to be taking its toll on the high-profile restaurant business". The Express and the Star followed, while the Mail declared: "It's not just Gordon Ramsay's marriage that's giving him kitchen nightmares." Public Relations wonks aren't most journalists' favourite people, but the amiable Farrow is clearly one they still take to their hearts.

Mum's the final word

In much the same way as media commentators have taken the Telegraph's former literary editor Sam Leith to theirs after his puzzling dismissal from the paper just before Christmas. The sacking has provoked much head scratching. So appalled was his formidable mother, Penny Junor, daughter of the late great Express editor JJ, that I'm told she took out her green ink and penned a furious note to the Telegraph's chief executive Murdoch McLennan.