Morgan: "It has been a rather joyous few days"
Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan has said he is sure that Lord Cudlipp would have enjoyed "Royal Butler" week – and what the newspaper is doing today.
Giving the Hugh Cudlipp Memorial Lecture at the London Press Club last week, Morgan revealed he had spent hours researching the kind of newspapers his illustrious predecessor, editor-in-chief of the Mirror newspapers, had produced.
The exercise had convinced him that while the Mirror’s new agenda of covering more serious news was in line with Cudlipp’s crusading, campaigning style, Cudlipp would also have appreciated the classic scoop of the Paul Burrell story and "if he had got hold of the Sven and Ulrika story he wouldn’t have had enough newsprint".
Cudlipp’s Mirror was "a racy, saucy, sexy read", he insisted, enjoining his audience to forget "any myths about some constantly worthy campaigning offshoot of Amnesty International’s annual report".
He reminded them that it was Cudlipp, not Rupert Murdoch, who had put the first topless page three girl in his paper and that he published stories about American tennis player "Gorgeous Gussie" Moran’s frilly knickers as readily as slating politicians.
Morgan’s premise that his paper now deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Cudlipp’s was backed by his tale of Mr JJ Worgan of the Wirral. Aged 86 and a Mirror reader all his life, he had written to Morgan in the early days of the latter’s editorship saying:
"Dear Morgan, You aren’t fit to light one of Hugh Cudlipp’s cigars. Now bugger off back to editing the Beano where you belong."
Later, Worgan wrote: "You’re a pop writing kid way out of his depth. Go back to Murdoch. He likes all that crap. You aren’t fit to lace Hugh Cudlipp’s boots."
But after Morgan’s Dasmascene conversion to serious news on 11 September last year, Worgan wrote again: "Morgan, I never thought I’d say this. But congratulations – you’re almost fit to sit in Hugh Cudlipp’s chair now."
"The key word there is ‘almost’," said Morgan.
But he is clearly relishing trying to live up to a legend. Speaking as the Burrell series was bringing in shoals of new readers, Morgan said: "It’s been a rather joyous few days to be Daily Mirror editor. There is nothing better than landing a massive scoop, preferably royal, preferably utterly sensational and scandalous, preferably that runs for days on end, and preferably that prompts your furious rivals to denounce your scoop as the greatest betrayal in history over nine pages of their defeated organs."
By Jean Morgan