Piers challenges MoD to prove pics are fake

The Daily Mirror does not accept the pictures are fake

As the Government this week openly suggested the Daily Mirror’s Iraq torture pictures were fakes, editor Piers Morgan denied his position on the issue was weakening.

On Tuesday, Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon told the Commons there were “strong indications” that the lorry type pictured in the Mirror’s photos was not in Iraq at the time the alleged abuse of Iraqis by British troops took place.

After Hoon’s comments, Morgan released a statement saying: “We remain absolutely confident that those pictures accurately illustrate a serious abuse of a detainee by members of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment.”

This was interpreted on television news programmes as a tacit admission that, although the abuse took place, the pictures may have been set up.

Morgan responded by issuing a new statement saying: “To clear up any misunderstanding created by tonight’s ITN and Channel 4 news reports, the Daily Mirror does not accept that the MoD has proved these photographs are faked. Nor will we accept that they are not genuine images until incontrovertible evidence is produced to the contrary.”

During Prime Minister’s question time on Wednesday, Tony Blair added his voice to the criticism of the Mirror pictures, saying: “They are almost certainly fake.”

And there has been speculation that the Royal Military Police is close to proving they were set up. Analysis of the pictures has suggested that the van seen in them is a Bedford Mk4, which was reportedly not used in Iraq.

The Daily Mirror claims it has statements from four serving soldiers that the Bedford Mk4 was used in Iraq at the time. On Wednesday it published more accounts from British troops of torture against Iraqis.

 The Daily Mirror was at the centre of two other major news stories – the Naomi Campbell privacy ruling and a royal security shake-up.

Morgan hit back after the Law Lords ruled by three votes to two that the paper committed a breach of confidence by picturing Campbell leaving a drug treatment centre. He said: “This is a good day for lying, drug-abusing prima donnas who want to have their cake with the media and the right to then shamelessly guzzle it with the Cristal champagne.”

MGN head of legal department, Marcus Partington, said the paper was considering appealing the case in Europe.

(See pages 12 and 13 for more on Campbell.) On Friday, Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss released a report on royal security commissioned as a result of Mirror reporter Ryan Parry going undercover as a royal footman last November. She suggested there should be a law stopping trespassers on royal property and admitted there were errors in the vetting of Parry’s application.

By Dominic Ponsford

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