Former Daily Mirror writer Tony Parsons has launched a second verbal attack on his former employer amid claims that he was paid £200,000 a year for his weekly column.
Speaking at a media briefing at News UK on Friday ahead of a relaunch of The Sun on Sunday, Parsons made some references to the Lord of the Rings and the Elves leaving Middle Earth and said: "I left my old newspaper after 18 years and it’s not something that I did lightly. I joined The Sun because I wanted my journalism to have a future.
“As much as I love my old newspaper, I felt it was over. I felt it was dying.”
He continued: “I feel that I am a better political fit here than I was at the Mirror. My attitude towards the Royal Family, Europe, immigration were very much in tune with Mirror readers but out of step with the paper.”
He added: "I don’t see how I can support my family if the people I work for keep giving away their product for free.
“I kept getting this large sum of money and my colleagues kept getting sacked. People were losing their jobs so they could keep me there; it just doesn’t add up.”
This prompted Mirror editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley to take a couple of potshots against Parson and The Sun's paywall strategy on Twitter.
He said: "Parsons says Mirror is "dying" – wonder how many people will read his column on Sun+."
And: " "I don't see how I can support my family if the people that employ me keep giving my stuff away" (it's ok, nobody read him online)."
The Guardian reported that Parsons got a pay rise four years ago under then Mirror editor Richard Wallace bringing him up from £3,000 to £4,000 for a 1,000-word column – around £200,000 a year. This was at a time when many journalists were being redundant from the Mirror titles.
Parsons responded to questions from The Guardian by renewing his attack on the Mirror's free online policy and saying of his former Mirror colleagues: "They are great journalists – but lions led by donkeys who have no clue about how to make a national newspaper work in the 21st century."
He said he had one lunch with Embley in May (which he said that he paid for): "As Lloyd stuffed his fat face, he made it clear that my position on the paper was on the way out,
"He clearly wants to do things differently to previous editors, railing against austerity measures and cuts in the country while presiding over his own austerity measures and cuts at the Mirror. His motto should be 'the best things in life are cheap'. They should stick it on the cover."