Mirror pulls off a double whammy

It’s been a good week for Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan as far as recruiting is concerned, writes Jean Morgan.

His occasional columnist Christopher Hitchens has agreed to write exclusively for the Mirror outside his work for Vanity Fair and 3am girl Eva Simpson has returned to the fold six months after quitting for The Sun.

Morgan and Hitchens sealed their agreement over lunch at London restaurant Sheekey’s. Hitchens is one of the writers Morgan brought in to make Mirror content more serious after the September 11 terrorist atrocity in the US.

Up to now, US-based Hitchens has written for a number of newspapers in this country on a freelance basis. Morgan has offered a “substantial sum” to secure his exclusive services.

Hitchens told Press Gazette: “I want to spread myself less widely and rationalise my output. The best way to do that is to stay with one dancing partner.

“And I like the Mirror style. There is something combative about the Mirror now. I was impressed by what they did with the butler [Paul Burrell, Princess Diana’s butler, spoke exclusively to the Mirror after his recent trial] and Naomi Campbell.”

One of the things Hitchens dislikes most about his former country is its libel laws. “The Mirror showed real spunk over Campbell,” he said, adding: “I have always liked the Mirror tradition and quite a number of my friends in the profession have told me they read the Mirror now. “People in Washington have been telling me they’ve seen pieces from it.”

convinced them the Mirror was best

Simpson and Hitchens: Morgan

Hitchens will continue to write just two or three pieces a month and refuses to describe the new relationship as a “deal”. “It’s an understanding that’s too beautiful to be a deal – marriage would spoil it.”

Morgan has tried a few times to entice Simpson back from her Sun job in Los Angeles. “I thought Eva was part of what made 3am so successful,” he said. “She and Jessica [Callan] were the dream ticket. They are two of the best gossip columnists I have ever worked with. I thought when David Yelland moved on there might be an opportunity to strike while the iron was looking elsewhere.

“Eva is a Mirror girl at heart and she and Jessica created the phenomenon of 3am.”

Simpson started back on Monday. Current 3am journalist Suzanne Kerins is “moving on”, said Morgan.

The column’s trio will be Callan, Simpson and Niki Waldegrave. All three are already being primed for the arrival of Victoria Newton at The Sun.

“Just the sort of rocket we want to welcome her,” said Morgan.

Jean Morgan

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