01 February 1998

'FARRINGDON MAN speak with forked tongue' is the phrase that comes to mind at the latest battle in the broadsheet war. Having piously condemned Times Newspapers for its predatory pricing activities, Guardian Newspapers proceeded to mail readers of The Independent and Independent on Sunday, offering The Guardian and The Observer free for one week followed by a fortnight at well below half-price. The letter tells Indy-readers that the Mirror Group [which has a 46% stake in the Indy] sacked editor Andrew Marr last month for refusing to accept cost cuts of £4m. It continues: 'Most media analysts believe that the sacking of Andrew effectively signals the end of the Independent as originally conceived.' Rosie Boycott, editor both of the daily and Sunday Independent, responded furiously: 'Recently your papers and mine have been fighting the might of Rupert Murdoch. Yet here you are, supposed standard-bearers for liberalism, blatantly and unashamedly using underhand tactics with only one intention in mind - to try and put us out of business.' The Independent is consulting its lawyers, alleging that its rival's claims about Marr and the Indy's future are untrue and damaging.