I never knew of hacking, swears Morgan in grilling
Published 21/12/2011 | 05:00
Piers Morgan, the former British tabloid editor, yesterday denied on oath that he had any knowledge of mobile-phone hacking under his tenure at two newspapers.
He told the Leveson Inquiry into media standards that ethical considerations had been "interwoven" into his work, even when printing stories gathered by private investigators or paying for secrets trawled from celebrities' litter bins.
Mr Morgan, who hosts a chat show on CNN, insisted he had never listened to illegally obtained telephone messages while editor of either the 'News of the World' or the 'Daily Mirror'.
He suggested that one private message left by Paul McCartney on his former wife Heather Mills's voicemail, which was played to him, had been leaked by Ms Mills herself.
Lord Justice Leveson told the inquiry that he was "perfectly happy" to summon Ms Mills to give evidence on the matter as it emerged that Rupert Murdoch could also be called to the inquiry.
In a bullish performance by video link in the US, Mr Morgan was dismissive of calls for celebrities to be afforded greater privacy by the media.
His appearance came on the day that News International agreed payouts to seven people over phone hacking.
Elsewhere, emails were released by the Commons culture committee adding evidence to suggestions that James Murdoch, the chairman of News International, discussed a £700,000 (€840,000) payout to one victim of phone hacking, Gordon Taylor, in May 2008.
But yesterday, the focus moved beyond News International as Mr Morgan, who left the 'News of the World' in 1995, gave evidence.
During almost two hours of questioning, he was confronted with interviews he had given and articles he had written, which appeared to suggest he had knowledge of phone hacking under his editorship.
Mr Morgan said he had known about the "little trick" since 2001 but only through the "Fleet Street rumour mill".
But he denied claims that he had advised the television presenter Ulrika Jonsson at a lunch in 2002 to change her voicemail.
He admitted he used Benji "The Binman" Pell, who went through celebrities' rubbish bins to find stories, and conceded it was "on the cusp of unethical". He added that he was not aware of police being paid for information. (© Daily Telegraph, London)