Piers Morgan’s challenge in Press Gazette last week to Express Newspapers proprietor Richard Desmond that he could write "as much filth as he likes about me" appears to have been taken at face value by the Sunday Express.
Its media pages this week gave the Daily Mirror editor another pasting, written by "Frank Bailey", aka Anil Bhoyrul, sacked from the Mirror over its shares scandal.
Morgan retaliated by castigating the paper for "cretinous journalism" not only about the Mirror but about all Desmond’s rivals and said he had told editor Martin Townsend so.
"Having been the lead item in that particular section almost every week for the past six months, it comes as no surprise to me that Richard Desmond personally orchestrates this weekly filth since that is clearly a trade he is expert at," he jibed.
He will not sue and said: "If I thought people were taking it seriously then I would respond in a serious way. What is perhaps most telling about all this is everybody knows it’s invented and that it just does more and more damage to what was a great national newspaper.
"God only knows what somebody like John Junor [the paper’s famous former editor] would make of what is happening to the Sunday Express."
Townsend declined to make any comment at all on his conversation with Morgan or the media coverage in his paper, except to say that it was complete nonsense that Desmond wrote any of it.
By Jean Morgan