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Fake abuse photos: Editor quits

The Daily Mirror apologized to readers on Saturday's cover.
start quoteThere 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.end quote
-- Daily Mirror
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Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan quit after publishing fake photos of British soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees.
Gallery: Abuse at Abu Ghraib prison (Contains graphic content. Viewer discretion advised.)

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• Interactive: Geneva Conventions
Great Britain

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The Daily Mirror says its editor Piers Morgan has resigned over the publication of "fake" pictures of British soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees.

The news came one day after UK armed forces minister Adam Ingram said an inquiry by military police found a truck seen in the Mirror's photos "was never in Iraq."

The tabloid newspaper issued a statement on Friday afternoon apologizing for printing the pictures, saying it believed it had been "the subject of a calculated and malicious hoax."

The paper, which has consistently opposed the war in Iraq, also said it "deeply regrets the reputational damage" done to British forces.

Des Kelly, deputy editor, will take over as acting editor. The paper's publishers said they had "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."

Earlier Friday, the Queen's Lancashire Regiment, in which the soldiers allegedly pictured were serving, demanded an apology from the Mirror over the photographs which it said had "unjustly sullied" its reputation.

Regimental commander Brigadier Geoff Sheldon said the regiment had proved that the photos alleging abuse of Iraqi prisoners were fake.

Commenting on a front page picture in the Daily Mirror depicting a British soldier allegedly urinating on an Iraqi prisoner, Brig. Sheldon said: "It wasn't a British soldier degrading an Iraqi.

"It was a mocked-up fake, not even taken in Iraq."

The British officer described the Mirror's allegations as "utter and complete nonsense."

CNN's European Political Editor Robin Oakley said UK Prime Minister would probably be relieved by the removal of a "flamboyant and effective editor who had kept up a campaign over the Iraq war and its aftermath."

"Ministers will still worry though that the damage done by the Mirror's original publication of the pictures in enflaming Arab opinion and endangering British troops who would bear the brunt of any retaliation will endure."

Oakley added that the scandal of the faked photos did not mean the question of abuse by British troops was over; there is simply no photographic evidence of it. "Ministers are not saying there has been no abuse as a Red Cross report is still being investigated.

"This may have been a bad week for the Mirror but it has also been a bad time for the government over who saw what report and when," Oakley said.

Earlier on Friday, Morgan defiantly said he would not resign, insisting the photos "accurately illustrated the reality about the appalling conduct of some British troops."

And in a statement on Thursday, Morgan said: "We have listened to what Mr. Ingram has said today, but he has still not produced incontrovertible evidence that the pictures are faked." (Full statement)

The Mirror's fierce tabloid rival, The Sun, is offering a £50,000 ($88,000) reward for the arrest and conviction of those accused of faking the Mirror photographs.

Photos of alleged abuse by U.S. forces have also prompted outrage -- particularly in the Arab world -- and led to days of hearings on Capitol Hill. Seven soldiers face criminal charges in the abuse case, and four of them have been formally referred for court-martial. (Full story)

U.S. authorities released 293 prisoners from Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison Friday, the first mass prisoner release since images of abuse at the hands of the U.S. military surfaced several weeks ago. (Full story)

Copyright 2004 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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