Shareholders query controls at 'Mirror'

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The Independent Online

Trinity Mirror shareholders were yesterday demanding answers from the board over editorial controls at the Daily Mirror, with some claiming that the chief executive must share responsibility for printing pictures of Iraqi prisoners being abused by British soldiers that turned out to be hoaxes.

Trinity Mirror shareholders were yesterday demanding answers from the board over editorial controls at the Daily Mirror, with some claiming that the chief executive must share responsibility for printing pictures of Iraqi prisoners being abused by British soldiers that turned out to be hoaxes.

Deutsche Asset Management believes senior management must take some of the rap for the error, alongside the editor, Piers Morgan, who was sacked on Friday. The fund manager said the pictures were not just "signed off and put in the paper by the editor" but were also cleared by the chief executive, Sly Bailey. A spokesman said the decision to print the photographs was a "business decision" to boost circulation but that it was a "poor" one.

Shareholders also want a thorough investigation of what went wrong at the company in checking the veracity of the story, and who was involved in the decision to publish.

"The existence or not of suitable checks is a very important part of the preservation of shareholder value," Richard Singleton, head of corporate governance at Isis Asset Management, said yesterday.

"We want to hear more about whether the right checks were used but the system just went wrong; whether the checks were inadequate; or whether they just were ignored."

Some shareholders, however, have taken heart from Ms Bailey's decisive action in sacking Mr Morgan. Standard Life Investments, which has a 5 per cent stake in Trinity, yesterday said it had no concerns over her management of the company.

Tweedy Browne, the US investor, is also thought to be disgruntled that the Mirror brand is being damaged by the affair.

Mr Morgan is negotiating his severance package from Trinity after nearly nine years as editor of the newspaper, and is thought to be asking for between £1.5m and £2m.

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