Piers Morgan has been floating around the periphery of the phone-hacking scandal since the British blogger Guido Fawkes alleged that one of Morgan’s biggest scoops whilst editor of the Daily Mirror was the result of a hacking.
Morgan has denied the charge and further denied accusation lobbed at him by MP Louise Mensch, that he knows how to hack a phone (she misread a portion of his book during Tuesday’s hearings).
Morgan’s assertions — after more than a week of silence he took to Twitter and CNN on Tuesday to defend himself — have been met with disbelief in some quarters.
Andrew Sullivan — a native Brit, himself — doesn’t appear to buy it.
I don’t know Mr Morgan but have found him almost unwatchable on CNN. There’s a very modern British Simon Cowell type smugness and self-satisfaction about his TV persona, alternately fellating celebrity while condescending to it. But I apologise for my intemperance. It is worth noting, however, that I have found very few people in Britain who take his holier-than-now reminiscences of his own time at the News of the Screws terribly seriously.
And now Guido Fawkes has dug up an old interview from the Guardian with former Daily Mirror journalist James Hipwell who worked at the paper under Morgan’s tenure and says voicemail hacking was widespread at tabloid papers.
“Many of the Daily Mirror’s stories would come from hacking into a celebrity’s voicemail,” Hipwell said of his time at the Mirror between 1998 and his sacking in early 2000…He said the Mirror found out about Ulrika Jonsson’s affair with Sven-Goran Eriksson from a voicemail left by the then England coach on the TV presenter’s phone.
Hipwell added that while he and fellow City Slicker journalist Anil Bhoyrul were under fire for writing about shares in which they had invested, a sympathetic colleague had hacked into the voicemail of the paper’s editor at the time, Piers Morgan, in an attempt to track down any messages from Mirror executives…Hipwell was jailed for three months in February after being found guilty of using his Mirror column to manipulate the stock market.
Geez, the British press. Fawkes also picked out this years-old exchange between Piers and Naomi Campbell from a February piece in GQ magazine.
Naomi: What do you think of the News Of The World reporter who was recently found guilty of tapping the Royals’ phones? Did you ever allow that when you were there?
Piers: Well, I was there in 1994-5, before mobiles were used very much, and that particular trick wasn’t known about. I can’t get too excited about it, I must say. It was pretty well-known that if you didn’t change your pin code when you were a celebrity who bought a new phone, then reporters could ring your mobile, tap in a standard factory setting number and hear your messages. That is not, to me, as serious as planting a bug in someone’s house, which is what some people seem to think was going on.
What can we take from all this? One: So far there is no evidence that, even if he did operate in an environment where even his own editors where hacking his phone, Piers Morgan did anything wrong. And furthermore, it remains to be seen whether Americans would even care if he did.
Two: People in Britain appear to really not like Piers Morgan.
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