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Paper Monitor

10:17 UK time, Monday, 21 June 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor loves a good old-fashioned Fleet Street feud. Rupert Murdoch v Robert Maxwell, Piers Morgan v David Yelland, Andrew Neil v the letter-writing readership of Private Eye.

So Paper Monitor was grateful to Twitter on Sunday for the opportunity to follow hacks from the News and the World and the People as they scrapped it out over who deserved the credit for the exposure of Energy Secretary Chris Huhne's extra-marital affair.

Following up such tales for Monday morning is, of course, something of a tightrope for those who wish to avoid charges of prurience. The usual justification for intruding on a public figure's private life is to charge him or her with hypocrisy.

Unfortunately for Mr Huhne, the Daily Mail has ample ammunition in the form of a leaflet circulated in his constituency during the run-up to the election.

Illustrated with snaps from the Huhne household photo album, it includes captions such as "I took becoming a father so seriously I gave up smoking" and "Family matters so much to me. Where would I be without them?"

Writer Jane Fryer wonders aloud, in faux-naif mode, why Mr Huhne felt compelled to impart such homely anecdotes and observations with the townsfolk of Eastleigh:

Had he decided that, after years of keeping them firmly out of the limelight, now was the time to share his beloved family with the world?

Or, more cynically, he perhaps thought these happy snaps of him in scenes of happy domesticity would counteract his rather pompous public image and boost his chances of re-election in what was a very marginal constituency where he had a majority of only 568 votes.

The Daily Mirror's political staff examine how the affair will affect Conservative-Lib Dem relations within the coalition.

Meanwhile, their colleagues on the backbench subs desk seize the opportunity of running as a headline: "New Tory Anger at Clegg Over Leg Over."

The Guardian is keen to demonstrate that it isn't really interested in such scuttlebutt, relegating the story to the fifth column on an even numbered page (but nonetheless is outdone by the Independent, which - alone on Fleet Street - ignores it altogether).

At the foot of the Berliner's terse copy is the observation:

Some commentators questioned whether Huhne was targeted because he had previously spoken out against the News of the World, one of the papers to print snatched pictures of him and his mistress. Last year, Huhne wrote in the Guardian demanding an inquiry into the News of the World phone-hacking scandal saying: "It strikes at the heart of the privacy any individual can expect in a civilised society."

And which paper played the biggest role in publicising allegations of phone-hacking? The Guardian. Don't let it be said that Fleet Street feuds are confined to the tabloids.

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