Morgan banks £2.9m from deals…

Morgan: promises to tell “great stories” and reveal secrets in memoirs

Trinity Mirror’s summary sacking of former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan appeared to have cost it dearly this week as the company agreed an estimated £1.7m payout.

The news has coincided with the confirmation of a £1.2m book deal for Morgan’s memoirs.

According to an employment law expert, the abrupt nature of Morgan’s departure may be one reason for the size of the deal – which appears to be roughly equal to honouring his full rolling two-year contract.

Neither side would comment on the payout and confirm or deny the sum involved. Morgan would only say “it has been amicably settled”.

He was sacked by Trinity Mirror in May, two weeks after the paper first published pictures of British soldiers apparently torturing Iraqi prisoners.

He was escorted out of the Mirror’s Canary Wharf offices hours after members of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment held a press conference to denounce the torture pictures as fakes.

Tony Bertin, senior partner at Employment Relations, said: “If you’re dismissing someone as they did, you’re expected to go through a formal disciplinary procedure.

“The only way you can dismiss someone without notice is for gross misconduct – which would normally be things like illegal behaviour and sexual harassment. What we are talking about with Morgan is a competence issue rather than a misconduct issue.”

According to Bertin, the only way Trinity Mirror could legally justify its summary dismissal of Morgan is if it could prove he knew the pictures were fakes and published them anyway.

Morgan engaged law firm Schillings to negotiate his severance payout which was agreed on Friday.

Although Trinity Mirror is stockmarket listed, the company said this week Morgan’s payout was “non-disclosable”, because he was not one of the executive directors.

Ebury Press will be publishing Morgan’s memoirs under the title The Insider in spring 2005.

In a statement Morgan said: “I was incredibly fortunate to be editing newspapers during one of the most tumultuous decades in modern times, a period in which we witnessed the self-implosion of the Tories, the rise of New Labour, the Royal Family brought to its knees by scandal and tragedy, horrific news events like Dunblane and September 11, and a seemingly endless supply of fantastically entertaining sport and celebrity gossip.

“Throughout that time I kept diaries of what happened as it happened – detailing my encounters and escapades with the key figures involved, from Murdoch to Blair, Diana to the Beckhams. This is not going to be the usual bitter rantings of a sacked editor. Instead, I hope my book will give people an unprecedented insight into the workings of newspapers, and the inside track on the corridors of power in Britain and those who work in them.

“I have great stories to tell, secrets to reveal, friends to salute, and bodies to bury. It should be, rather like my editing career, a lot of fun. Unless your name’s Jeremy Clarkson or Ian Hislop, I guess.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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