Mark Latham’s bridge-burning book has sparked another fire. Latham’s version of history is now being vigorously challenged by Phillip Adams, one of the many bystanders hammered by Latham in his petulant Diaries.

“Adams loves the smutty rumours and innuendo of Labor politics,” Latham wrote in the Diaries about a pundit who’s been critical of him, but who he’s never met. “But what can I do? Best to follow the advice of his erstwhile friend, John Marsden, who said, ‘don’t worry about Adams, he thinks his sh*t doesn’t stink’.”

An angry Adams was in no mood to douse the flames when he spoke to Crikey yesterday: “He wants to suggest I’ve been hypnotised by his sexuality…I don’t give a f*** where he puts his d*ck.”

At issue is Latham’s near paranoid obsession with rumours about his personal life floated he claims by – of all people – Kim Beazley. He appears to see Adams as part of that strange conspiracy, and outlines what he claims is “a long, rambling letter” Adams wrote to him “telling me his life story (very strange, I’ve never met the guy).”

This came in response to attacks by Latham in his Daily Telegraph column. “Some really sad and brutal things happened to him when he was very young. No wonder the slightest hint of criticism sets him off,” Latham wrote.

Adams confirms that he and Latham are hurling grenades from a distance: “We’ve never met. We keep glaring at each other in airport lounges,” he said. “We have mutual friends – or had mutual friends; Marsden, Keating. I suspect he’s lost them over this book.”

“There have been attempts to get us together. I always reneged, because ultimately I decided he was nuts.”

“He started attacking me in the Telegraph – a publication I always open with a pair of tongs – as to what’s wrong with the ALP. As the only card-carrying member of the commentariat. Then he made aspersions about my socio-economic position in the Tele. I wrote him one short note pointing out I was brought up in dire poverty, and for the past 20 years have lived in a quiet country town. I didn’t write two long letters as he claims.”

But Latham writes: “Yet another letter, this time going in hard and dirty. He says he’s discussed with ‘some senior colleagues’ the circumstances of my resignation from the frontbench in 1998. He reckons there’s another version of these events, which doesn’t cast me in such an ‘heroic light’…(and) he regards this other version of events as very plausible.”

Adams responds: “He latched onto my comment there was a back story. He decided I was referring to his sexuality. Actually, I was referring to something Barry Jones told me; that as Labor’s education spokesman his extraordinary laziness and policy sloth contributed to the party’s electoral failure.”

Adams attacked the veracity of Latham’s Diaries. “I find it hard to believe it’s extemporaneous: it stacks up pretty conveniently for him and smacks of re-writing after the event.”

Latham describes Adams as “incredibly precious,” one of the “grumpy old men slagging and re-slagging each other…payback from ugly old men.” He quotes Keating as telling him, after his brutal attack on Tony Staley as a “deformed character”: “Mate, mate, now you’re heading in the right direction; you’ve got the right enemies, mate. Forget about arguing with Phillip Adams and Anne Summers, this is the mob you want to hate.”

Tomorrow: Latham vs The Media. We’ve emailed the dozens of journalists attacked by Mark Latham in his Diaries. Tomorrow, we publish their responses.