Livingstone row sparks revival of tabloid feud

By Dominic Ponsford

Open
warfare resumed on the editorial pages of the two mid-market tabloids
this week as the Daily Express joined Mayor of London Ken Livingstone’s
attacks on the Daily Mail and Evening Standard .

The row, which
erupted two weeks ago after Livingstone accused Jewish Standard
reporter Oliver Finegold of being like a “concentration camp guard”
because he worked for Associated Newspapers, showed no signs of being
resolved this week.

Livingstone refused to apologise and
Associated Newspapers responded by saying “his attack on the Evening
Standard is an attack on democracy”.

The row prompted a
resumption of the tit-for-tat editorial attacks, which have
periodically erupted between the Express and the Mail.

Last
Thursday, the Mail covered reports from a US court that detailed
Express owner Richard Desmond’s alleged dealings with a New York
“mobster”.

The next day the Express ran a piece under the ‘house’

byline of Brendan Abbot, which detailed the Daily Mailowning Rothermere dynasty’s previous support of Adolf Hitler.

Then,
on Monday this week, Abbot emerged again in the pages of the Express to
recount that Associated Newspapers “executives” dressed up in Nazi
uniforms in 1992 at a leaving party for then Daily Mail editor Sir
David English. The revelation was contained in a book published in
October 2002 by Sally Taylor.

A spokesman
for the Mail responded: “It is absurd to drag in a highly inaccurate
rewriting of ancient history to cloud what is a very simple issue.”

He
admitted that a party did take place 13 years ago at which five members
of staff – none senior executives – wore German military uniforms. It
was said to be in the context of the then battle between the Mail and
The Sunday Times to secure publication of Goebbels’ diaries. On
Tuesday, the Mayor versus Standard row rumbled on as an expected
apology from Livingstone turned out to be a renewed attack on the
Evening Standard and Associated Newspapers.

The Evening Standard responded with an equally robust attack on Livingstone.

A
spokesman said: “We have said since the outcry began over the Mayor’s
remarks, the important issue is what Mr Livingstone said to an Evening
Standard reporter who was Jewish.

“He compared the reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

“The
wave of shock in London’s Jewish community and beyond continues to
grow, aggravated by Mr Livingstone’s stubborn refusal to apologise.”

The
spokesman continued: “Mr Livingstone once again attempted to divert
attention from the real issue with a long tirade against the Daily Mail
and Associated Newspapers. His accusations against the Mail are absurd.

But they are in any case irrelevant: the Evening Standard is a different newspaper.

“His
attack on the Evening Standard is an attack on democracy: as London’s
paper we strive to be independent and to represent the range of
political opinion in the capital.”

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