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sunnysan
26th May 2005, 14:23
Piers does the newstatesman.

Nice bit of writing. Tongue in cheek look at what a bunch of b£rst3rds current govt is.

Diary - Piers Morgan
Diary
Piers Morgan
Monday 30th May 2005



The hoax charges have been dropped, the regiment is under investigation and we've seen far worse abuse pictures from Iraq. Maybe I should ask for my old job back, writes Piers Morgan

When I was sacked from the Daily Mirror for printing "hoax" photos of British soldiers abusing Iraqi civilians, the regiment we had accused - the Queen's Lancashire Regiment - danced on my journalistic grave with impressive enthusiasm. "The ego of one tabloid editor is not worth the life of a British soldier," barked one particularly smug officer.

Several weeks ago the only soldier charged with supposedly faking those photos saw all the allegations dropped. Apparently, there was no hard evidence of a hoax after all. And this week we learned that the commanding officer of the QLR, Colonel Jorge Mendonca, is being investigated, along with several of his soldiers, about the death of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi hotel receptionist, and the alleged torture of eight detainees in Basra, and that charges as serious as murder could result. This would follow the courts martial in Germany this year, when dreadful photos of British troops abusing Iraqis were revealed - far worse images than the Mirror pictures.

Given the trend of events, I wonder sometimes if it would be impertinent to ask for my old job back.



One of the main reasons I don't actually want it back is that it would mean having to deal once again with all those ex-Mirror hacks who are convinced the paper was far better in their day. Barely a week went by without one of them denouncing me and the current staff.

Eventually I went to the archives and read some old issues. I found that, far from it being the endlessly campaigning, investigative journalistic bible that the old-timers would have us believe, most days the paper consisted of 24 pages of fairly trivial nonsense. The current Mirror is usually three times bigger and produced by half the staff it had back then. It also has to contend with far more ferocious competitors - such as Rupert Murdoch's Sun.

One of our most vociferous critics was a former editor called Richard Stott, who has predictably popped up with a scathing review of my memoirs in The Oldie. I will make just two points in reply: 1) Stott was the editor who cleared his front page for the headline "The man who saved the Mirror" when Robert Maxwell died; and 2) whereas my book has been number one in the charts on and off for ten weeks, Stott's memoirs came and went two years ago without anyone noticing, and are now at number 193,544 on Amazon's list. Ouch.

Interviewing Ken Livingstone for my Morgan and Platell show (all right, Amanda, our show), I was struck by how different he is these days. Smartly dressed and resolutely on-message, he seemed like a well-behaved new Labour minister.

"I have to get on with Tony Blair; it's my job," he explained, unconvincingly. And surprisingly, given that this was precisely his complaint about that Evening Standard journalist during their epic Nazi doorstepping row - that he'd said he was "only doing his job".

I am a fan of the new Ken and think he's been a good London mayor, but when I watched his fellow lefty George Galloway venting his rage before the US Senate, I was struck more than ever by the taming of Red Ken.



Channel 4 recruited me this week to take part in a programme about great newspaper headlines. "Gotcha!", "Achtung surrender!", "Freddie Starr ate my hamster", "Up yours, Delors" - all the good, the bad and the outrageous were there. For me, one of the best headlines ever appeared on page three of the Sun and concerned a study of one unfortunate effect of alcohol on men. The other papers went for safe headlines, but the Sun announced: "Warning: drink'll wrinkle your winkle".



Watching Alastair Campbell with the Lions brought back memories. My favourite encounter with the old bruiser came when Peter Mandelson "forgot" his Hinduja phone call to the Home Office, and thus caused No 10 to mislead the media. ''It has made us look like f***ing liars," raged Campbell.
:rollin
"You are f***ing liars," I replied.

"No, we're f***ing not," he lied.