Associated Newspapers has accused News International of being "totally irresponsible" by increasing the print run of its freesheet thelondonpaper.
In the latest round of newspaper ABCs thelondonpaper was found to have stretched its lead over Associated's London free afternoon daily. NI's thelondonpaper distributed 436,3345 copies a day in January compared with Associated's London Lite on 400,977.
In a statement today, Associated Newspapers said: "TheLondonPaper has been totally irresponsible in increasing its print run by 100,000 when it is clear that many of the existing free papers are being dumped on the streets, and London boroughs are calling for both newspaper groups to resolve the litter problem caused. "Increasing distribution is meaningless, unless there is an increase in demand. The most likely outcome of this latest increase in free papers is an increase in litter!
"Recent research conducted by Other Lines Of Enquiry showed that Associated's London Lite is the favoured free afternoon paper. Some 58 percent of thelondonpaper's readers prefer London Lite. "London Lite continues to satisfy genuine demand, and executives at the paper are working closely with local councils to maximise recycling and resolve the litter problems.
"Furthermore it is absurd for thelondonpaper to compare itself with the Evening Standard, just as it would be if it tried to compare itself to any of the other quality paid for newspapers.
"It is like comparing a junk snack with a gourmet meal.
"The Evening Standard sets the agenda for London. It is read by opinion formers, people of influence and ideas. It reaches more AB adults then any other daily paper in London – just the people advertisers want to reach."
The latest broadside in the London free newspaper war comes as Associated launched a new ad campaign this week which included an image of a commuter throwing away a copy of thelondonpaper.