Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ex-Mirror Journalist Puts Morgan’s Denial in Doubt
Morgan:“With New Technology Comes New Temptation”

Piers Morgan told CNN on Wednesday: “For the record, in my time at The Mirror and the News of the World, I have never hacked a phone, told anybody to hack a phone or published any story based on the hacking of a phone.” That’s not what one former Daily Mirror journalist who worked for him says though.

“Many of the Daily Mirror’s stories would come from hacking into a celebrity’s voicemail,” James Hipwell said of his time at the Mirror between 1998 and his sacking in early 2000. Morgan was editor from 1995 to 2004. Hipwell was jailed in 2006 for his part in the City Slicker Viglen share tipping scandal. Despite Morgan buying £67,000 worth of shares in Viglen the day before Hipwell tipped them in the Mirror’s finance column, the editor got away with it. 

Talking to the Guardian in 2006, Hipwell added that targets for voicemail hacking during his period at the Mirror had included the Spice Girls. On one occasion a fellow Mirror journalist even deleted a voicemail message from one of the Spice Girls’ phones to stop his rival on the Sun getting hold of it. Hipwell also confirmed that 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, something Guido covered in some depth last week.

While Hipwell and fellow City Slicker journalist Anil Bhoyrul were under fire for writing about the shares in which they had invested, a sympathetic colleague had hacked into Morgan’s voicemail in an attempt to track down any messages from Mirror executives. Morgan confirmed this incident in GQ just five months ago:

“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.

…loads of newspaper journalists were doing it. Clive Goodman, the NOTW reporter, has been made the scapegoat for a very widespread practice… Not defending him, just expressing sympathy for someone who has been made a scapegoat.

…they used to do it to me. And no, I didn’t like it. But with new technology comes new temptation and new issues.”

Hipwell also mentioned to the Guardian that he was planning a still unpublished book, and had already written four chapters of it, describing the lengths to which the Mirror, when edited by Piers Morgan, went to get stories:

“It details many examples – dozens in fact – of celebrity phone taps… This has been going on for years.”

Guido thinks we have found another prime candidate to testify, under oath, at Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry…

Guido is going to be very blunt about this, Piers Morgan is a bare-faced liar. It will come out in the course of the inquiries that hacking was rife at the Mirror during his time as editor. It will not be in doubt that stories were published based on information obtained by hacking – Piers will definitely be caught out on that one. Morgan is betting that no one will testify that he knew and no invoices or otherwise will be produced in evidence. Exactly the calculation Andy Coulson made. Ask yourself this: Do you believe Piers Morgan, knowing all about how to hack celebrity’s phones, told his staff not to hack phones, refused to run stories based on phone hacks and never asked from where the stories came?

Hat-tip to the eagle eyed Neal Mann of Sky News for spotting the GQ article.

Quote of the Day

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why Piers Morgan Should Testify

When his inquiry gets going in the next month, Lord Justice Leveson will have the power to call witnesses and question them under oath. Guido expects him to interview current and former tabloid figures. Those who have been at the heart of the Sun,  News of the World and the Mirror, or all of them. People like Piers Morgan.

Though Louise Mensch gave Morgan a slight get out clause last night by misquoting his book, the allegations she levelled at him are still valid. He did write about the theory and he has been accused by former colleagues of putting it into practice to break the Sven and Ulrika story. While Morgan can bluster from the comfort of CNN, will he be so gobby in front of a judge? There is only one way to find out.

His expertise in the field is rivalled by very few, so his evidence to Leveson is key. Lets just take a few things he has said in the past. In 2003 Morgan told the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee:

“I think, the working practices of a daily tabloid newspaper, of actually what goes on, you need to understand… in my view, there is very little difference now between the way the tabloids operate and the broadsheet newspapers.”

And what tactics were used in those operations?

In the same year that phone-hacking was rife on Fleet Street Morgan said:

“I have never known standards to be higher than they are today, particularly in relation to how we deal with ordinary people. I have never known it better.”

Perhaps he could expand on that a little, given what we now know?

He conceded “the problem is that if we slip up it becomes huge news.” He found that one out the hard way a couple of years later… 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Morgan Denies Hacking Happened When He Was Editing

Morgan Deflects From the Issue

Guido is looking forward to crystal clear tones when Morgan is hauled before Lord Justice Leveson.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday Seven Up

This week 157,926 visitors made 458,517 visits to view 702,085 pages. A big traffic week. The top  stories  in order of popularity were:

Subscribe to the Guidogram

Guido’s review of the week, and what another intense week it was, will be going out to Guidogram subscribers tomorrow. You can subscribe for free by clicking the link.

You’re either in front of Guido, or you are behind…

Friday, July 15, 2011

Russia Today Anchorman Accuses
Sunday Mirror Editor of Phone Hacking Knowledge

Mirror Group CEO Sly Bailey has written to advertisers telling them that “our brands are trusted and respected” providing a “viable and valuable route to this important Sunday market…” Might those words come back to haunt her soon?

Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver has been accused directly by Max Keiser of Russia Today of knowing about phone hacking. He makes a series of claims about Weaver’s knowledge of phone hacking including that in 2002 she was aware of Piers Morgan knowledge of the neat little trick. Let the circular firing squad begin…

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Piers Morgan Declines To Comment

Piers Morgan Knew of Hacked Scoop

With five MPs now raising concerns about CNN’s Piers Morgan, the story is gathering pace. The Times  are ready to turn the magnifying glass away from Wapping:

 “…it has been more than a little ironic to see the inhabitants of the glasshouses of Fleet Street embarking on a collective exercise of stone throwing…”

Morgan’s hacking continues to gain traction on the other side of the pond.  The Telegraph picks up on the fact Morgan could be hauled in front of his TV executives to explain what he knows about the scandal.

Crucially when he was contacted directly by The Express last night, Morgan “declined to comment.”

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

MPs Call For Piers Morgan To Give Evidence About Hacking

Three Conservative MPs have joined calls to see Piers Morgan answer questions about phone-hacking. Last week the Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders implicated the Mirror in the hacking scandal:

“…the Daily Mirror, when under the auspices of Piers Morgan, is suspected of using voicemail interception to reveal Sven-Goran Eriksson’s affair with Ulrika Jonsson. Given that there are questions over Scotland Yard’s handling of the current case, it is essential that its actions are reviewed independently and that future action against suspected phone hackers does not remain solely the domain of the Met.”

As Lord Justice Leveson prepares his inquiry, a long list of witnesses will be drawn up. This must include executives, editors and hacks of the News of the World’s rivals. This is about more than Murdoch now. 

Aidan Burley MP | Nigel Adams MP | Douglas Carswell MP

Member of Parliament, Aidan Burley, told Guido:

“In the light of these new allegations about telephone hacking during his editorship of the Daily Mirror, Piers Morgan should be called to the phone-hacking inquiry to face questions on oath.”

Nigel Adams MP added:

“If evidence surfaces that Piers Morgan had some knowledge of phone hacking while he was in the newspaper industry, it would of course seem sensible to ask him to appear before the inquiry.” 

Douglas Carswell MP also called for Morgan to appear before Lord Leveson’s inquiry:

“Piers Morgan needs to come and explain what he knows about the vile practice of phone hacking and if he knew it was taking place at the Mirror.  No celebrity is too grand to come and answer questions.”

And it’s not just lawmakers who are on Morgan’s case. Kevin Bakhurst, the BBC News Channel’s boss told Guido this morning that the BBC was actively pursuing the Morgan story and he had already invited Piers to explain on air via Twitter. Sky News have also given him an opportunity to clear his name live on Sky. Never like Piers to ignore some airtime…

 

UPDATE: Another Tory MP weighs in, with Louise Mensch stating:

“At the very least Mr Morgan should answer the allegations put forward by a prominent UK blog. It is also clear to me that the inquiry must cover not only News International, but Trinity Mirror Group, Associated Newspapers and other tabloid organisations.”

UPDATE II: In New York Business Insider says:

“It’s sounding less and less likely that CNN’s Piers Morgan is going to manage to stay free of the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal engulfing Britain…
…CNN had no comment when we reached out to them yesterday regarding the report.”

Piers Morgan: Britain’s Got Hacking

Piers Morgan's Diaries - The InsiderThe above is Piers Morgan’s own diary entry from a decade ago, dated January 26, 2001. It is taken from his 2005 account of his days in newspaper journalism, The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade:

“Apparently if you don’t change the standard security code that every phone comes with, then anyone can call your number and, if you don’t answer, tap in the standard four digit code to hear all your messages. I’ll change mine just in case, but it makes me wonder how many public figures and celebrities are aware of this little trick.”

So Piers admits it made him wonder if celebrities were aware of “this little trick”. In March 2002, just one year later, this “little trick” was used by the Daily Mirror against Sven and Ulrika to produce a story that won the “Scoop of the Year” at the British Press Awards the following year.  Piers Morgan was at that time the Daily Mirror’s editor…

Across the Atlantic the Morgan hacking story is spreading with  Drudge pushing it, as are:

More follows…


Seen Elsewhere

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Immigration Nation | Hopi Sen
Tories Choose Anti-Israel Candidate in Rochester | JC
Osborne’s Daycare Obsession is a Time Bomb | Kathy Gyngell
BBC Marr Pinko Trying to Ban the Queen | Speccie
Eric Hobsbawm: Companion of Dishonour | Standpoint
Guido Party Gossip | Iain Dale
Russell Brand Comes Out as 9/11 Truther | Guardian
Health Revolution is Underway | Fraser Nelson
UKIP Gets Professional | Red Box
Kelly Tolhurst Wins Rochester Open Primary | BBC


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Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on Cameron’s refusal to pay the £1.7 billion EU bill by December 1st:

“Well, then he’s gonna pay on December 2nd”



Mycroft says:

Have you read the last bit of Animal Farm?

You know where the animals are looking through the Farmhouse window?

My TV screen was that window at lunch-time today.

Be careful, the sudden self-congratulatory tone, the slightly pudgy outline of indulgence and you become exactly what you should despise.

The jolly face of the Quisling Cameron poses for your camera has mesmerised and deceived you, you who were once not so deceived.

You were no firebrand, you were a damp squib in my opinion, sorry.

You need a damned good kick up the ahse!


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