CNN’s Piers Morgan discusses phone-hacking:
“with new technology comes new temptation…”
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…
If evidence or testimony comes out that contradicts him, he is toast. Piers likes to take risks…
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…
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…
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.”
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.
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.”
The 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:
CNN’s Piers Morgan defends phone hacking to Richard Bacon…
“…my problem with all the phone hacking victims, they’ve all used the media over the years to feather their nests, buy their houses, flock their movies, sell out their concerts, and now they’re squealing like little pigs over the media..”
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