Published: 26/05/2005, Volume II5, No. 5957 Page 10

Tabloid newspaper editors are prohibited by law from ever printing a good word about NHS managers: every pound spent on bureaucrats' salaries must be stolen from deserving nurses.

Piers Morgan, however, is an ex-tabloid editor. Since being sacked from the Daily Mirror, the selfproclaimed 'mouthy git' and freelance truthseeker has been telling it how it really is.

This (in the London Evening Standard earlier this month) is what he has to offer to the debate on NHS management accountability: 'It must be marvellous being [an NHS] chief executive... You get paid a whacking great salary, order your staff to hit ever-more draconian government waiting-list targets [then] go home without a single shred of accountability.

'If a patient dies It is the surgeon's fault... if a ward is dirty It is the nurse or cleaner's fault.

No NHS chief executive ever seems to take responsibility for anything.' And this is Mr Morgan in a good mood - tickled pink by Patricia Hewitt's 'brilliant idea' of jailing managers when patients die of MRSA.

Let's not even bother with his broad-brush interpretation of the health secretary's comments. What really raises the eyebrows right up to the hairline is the image of Mr Morgan as the champion of accountability. In a career littered with controversy and questionable decisions, those 'Iraq' pictures stand out: a very big story he got badly wrong. But far from rushing to fall on his sword, he wriggled like a worm on a hook, first refusing to admit they were fakes, then arguing that (even if they were fakes) he has taken all possible steps to ensure their authenticity.

When asked recently if he really should have been rewarded so handsomely for making such a balls-up (an unconfirmed£1.7m payoff, plus a£1.2m book deal) Mr Morgan replied: 'Well I do not think I did anything wrong.' Ah, well That is alright then.