The editor of the Daily Mirror was ousted Friday over publication of pictures of alleged abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British troops that proved to be fake.
“The Board of Trinity Mirror has decided that it would be inappropriate for Piers Morgan to continue in his role as editor of the Daily Mirror and he will therefore be stepping down with immediate effect,” the newspaper said in a statement.
Despite mounting expert criticism of the pictures and a statement by the government Thursday that they were fake, Morgan insisted until the end that the stories of abuse by British troops were accurate.
“The pictures accurately illustrated the reality about the appalling conduct of some British troops,” he said.
But Friday, the newspaper’s owners threw in the towel and threw out their editor.
“The Daily Mirror published in good faith photographs which it absolutely believed were genuine images of British soldiers abusing an Iraqi prisoner,” the statement said.
“However there is now sufficient evidence to suggest that these pictures are fakes and that the Daily Mirror has been the subject of a calculated and malicious hoax."
“The Daily Mirror therefore apologizes unreservedly for publishing the pictures and deeply regrets the reputational damage done to the QLR [Queens Lancashire Regiment] and the Army in Iraq,” the statement added.
Morgan’s ousting came hard on the heels of a full frontal attack by the regiment, which accused the newspaper of being a recruiting poster for al-Qaida and urging the flamboyant editor to step down.
The Mirror had campaigned vigorously against the invasion of Iraq. “It’s time that the ego of one editor is measured against the life of the soldier,” Brig. Geoff Sheldon told reporters.