Defiant Morgan: 'I will be vindicated over Iraq torture'

Morgan: He still believes he was right to highlight Army abuse in Iraq

Sacked Mirror editor Piers Morgan has broken his press silence and claimed his decision to highlight abuse by rogue British troops will still be vindicated.

Morgan was marched out of Canary Wharf two weeks after the Mirror published photos purporting to show members of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment torturing prisoners.

His May sacking came hours after members of the regiment denounced the pictures as fakes.

This week, after agreeing a reported £1.7 million pay-off with Trinity Mirror, Morgan told Press Gazette: “Nobody really knows what those now infamous photos really were, who took them, or why. But I remain convinced that the Mirror’s decision to highlight abuse by rogue British troops towards Iraqi civilians will be vindicated in the end, even if I won’t be sitting in the editor’s chair to enjoy the moment.

“Very senior policemen have told me recently that there will be court cases coming up early next year which will confirm the abuse went on was reasonably widespread, and was even worse than we said it was.”

Morgan declined to comment on the size of his pay-off but denied suggestions that he has been boasting about it.

He said: “Contrary to several ludicrous headlines, most notably in the Sunday Times at the weekend, suggesting that I’ve been boasting in a distinctly unedifying way about making large sums of money, the truth is that I have not, and will never, discuss the terms of my departure from the Mirror, other than to say I believe that Trinity Mirror looked after me properly in the end and I have no outstanding issues with Sly Bailey or anyone else.”

He added: “I am delighted that Richard Wallace and Conor Hanna, two good friends of mine, are now running the paper under the flamboyant but very skilled managerial eye of Ellis Watson, and I think they are all doing a brilliant job already.

There is a tremendous team of journalists at the paper, and I miss working with them enormously. But all good things come to an end, and I had a fantastic time at the Mirror.”

Morgan said his only regret was that the decision to pursue a more serious agenda in 2001 had to be abandoned because of declining sales.

He said: “It would have been interesting to see how far we could have taken it had we been able to evolve the readership without losing too many existing readers. Unfortunately we did, so that was that.”

Morgan has already completed a book on Arsenal’s 2003/2004 season entitled Va Va Voom, published last week by Methuen, and said he plans to spend the next two months finishing editing his diaries chronicling his years as Mirror editor.

Morgan said he has been offered more than a dozen TV shows so far but said he won’t be rushing into making any decisions.On the subject of editing a newspaper again, he said: “You never say never in this game but I had a great innings as an editor and it would take a lot to entice me back.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “Investigations into allegations of torture in Iraq are ongoing. The story that the Mirror did was completely fictitious and proved to be so.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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