Piers Morgan releases ‘campaign’ to become Prime Minister
Piers Morgan, host of Good Morning Britain and former editor of the Mirror, is renowned for his outspoken nature and his barbs towards those in power. He has indicated that he would “not be opposed” to become Prime Minister after becoming involved with politics during the pandemic. Similarly, Robert Maxwell, former owner of the Mirror newspaper and media mogul, who is remembered for his robust personality, had secret ambitions to get into Downing Street.
Mr Maxwell died under mysterious circumstances in 1991, but his name has re-emerged recently because his daughter, Ghislaine, is awaiting trial.
She was arrested last year on charges relating to the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein during the FBI’s ongoing investigation into a supposed international sex trafficking ring.
Her arrest stunned the public as she was a British socialite remembered for rubbing shoulders with high society after her father made her family a household name.
She also met Mr Morgan back in 2013, nine years after he left the Mirror.
Little else connects the two men, aside from two very public spats they both had with the same man, the editor of the Private Eye satirical magazine, Ian Hislop.
Piers Morgan and Robert Maxwell
Editor of Private Eye, Ian Hislop
Mr Hislop’s feud with Mr Morgan can be traced back to the BBC’s Have I Got News For You.
Mr Morgan was supposedly outwitted by Mr Hislop in one particular episode from 1996, and the GMB host later described watching clips of the show as “like watching a car crash involving myself”.
The clip has become one of the long-running show’s most famous incidents.
Private Eye went on to criticise Mr Morgan’s personal life by claiming he could not take the moral high ground on ‘marital fidelity’, at a time when he was separated from his first wife.
An insider told The Guardian: “That was when Piers flipped.”
In 2002, Mr Morgan claimed he was going to “start exposing the moon-faced midget”.
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Robert Maxwell owned the Mirror newspaper up until his death in 1991
He explained: “My intention is to severely embarrass and humiliate him and lower his standing in the public eye.
“That’s the language he understands best.”
He even asked Mirror readers if there were “any photographs Ian might prefer not to reach a wider audience” and claimed that he was “prepared to come to individual arrangements to pay for last-minute dynamite”.
Back in the Eighties, Mr Hislop had a famous run-in with Mr Maxwell, too, with the Mirror owner even issuing a last writ issued against Private Eye.
It cites the “malicious” and “mendacious” allegation that the media magnate was taking money from the Mirror Group pension fund published in Mr Hislop’s magazine — a claim which was proven upon Mr Maxwell’s death in 1991.
Speaking in the podcast ‘Power: The Maxwells’, the Private Eye editor recalled: “The Daily Mirror became known as the Daily Maxwell, because quite often there was nothing in it, apart from himself.”
Such mockery did not go down well with the media mogul, and he ended up being “incredibly cross”, and developed a reputation for starting legal pursuits against any publication that criticised him.
But it was his battle with Private Eye which became the most famous.
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Morgan was the editor of the Mirror from 1995 until 2004
Ghislaine Maxwell is the daughter of Robert Maxwell and her trial will take place later this year
Investigative journalist Tara Palmeri explained: “Maxwell despised Private Eye. He repeatedly called for its closure. He was too vain to see himself as the subject for satire — he saw himself as an underdog.”
In 1986, Mr Hislop went to the High Court after being sued by Mr Maxwell for publishing a particular cartoon story the previous year.
The magazine claimed Mr Maxwell was trying to bribe his way into the House of Lords through Neil Kinnock, and Mr Hislop said he was questioning if “media moguls should have this much say in British life”.
The media mogul ended up “crying in the dock” and portrayed the magazine as antisemitic — Private Eye lost the case and had to play £64,000 and costs of £293,000.
Mr Maxwell then tried to prevent the magazine from being sold in WH Smith in the future, dubbing its editors “peddlers of lies and filth”.
He even tried to print his own version of the magazine called ‘Not Private Eye’, although this plan was later foiled by Mr Hislop and his colleague Peter Cook.
Although it’s not known if Mr Morgan ever met Mr Maxwell, he did find himself at the centre of an Internet storm around the time of Ms Maxwell’s arrest.
Ghislaine Maxwell meeting Morgan in 2013
A photograph of him with the British socialite began circulating online, forcing the TV host to address his connection to the Maxwell family.
Writing for the Mail on Sunday, Mr Morgan said: “As Twitter hasn’t ceased to remind me since the scandal erupted — because ‘damning’ pictures were taken — I briefly met her at a book launch in New York in 2013.
“We chatted with a group including Stephen Fry, mainly about her late father Robert who used to own the Daily Mirror before I became the paper’s editor.
“She was supremely confident, laid on the charm with a trowel, and seemed to know everybody.
“I watched her work the room like the world’s most consummate networker.”
He added that he had “no idea” if she was guilty of the charges against her.