Saturday 7 December 2019

Piers Morgan told me how to hack a phone -- Paxman

Jeremy Paxman. Photo: PA
Jeremy Paxman. Photo: PA

Gordon Rayner in London

JEREMY Paxman has described how Piers Morgan, the former editor of the 'Daily Mirror', told him how phones could be hacked during a lunch in 2002, five years before a 'News of the World' journalist was jailed for hacking.

The 'Newsnight' presenter said Mr Morgan told him he was "a fool" if he did not change the security settings on his mobile phone, explaining how a factory default setting could be used to access other people's voicemail messages.

He said that Mr Morgan, now a CNN talk show host, also teased Ulrika Jonsson, the television presenter, at the lunch about her relationship with the former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson. Mr Morgan adopted a "mock Swedish accent" as he told her he knew about a conversation they had.

Mr Morgan has told the inquiry that phone hacking did not happen at the 'Daily Mirror' while he was editor between 1995 and 2004. In his diaries, he said he became aware of phone hacking in 2001.

Mr Paxman told the inquiry he was invited to a lunch at the Daily Mirror's offices by its chairman, Sir Victor Blank, which he remembered because it was unusual to be invited into "such a bestiary".

He said Mr Morgan turned to him and said: "Have you got a mobile phone?"

"I said, 'yes' and he asked if there was a security setting on the message bit of it. I didn't know what he was talking about.


"He explained the way to get access to people's messages was to go to the factory default setting and press either 0000 or 1234 and that if you didn't put in your own code, his words, 'You're a fool'."

He said that when Mr Morgan told Ms Jonsson he knew about conversations she had had with Mr Eriksson, "I don't know if he was repeating a conversation he had heard or he was imagining this conversation. To be fair to him, I should imagine both, possibly because he probably was imagining it.

"I was quite struck by it because I'm rather wet behind the ears in many of these things. I didn't know that that sort of thing went on.

"It was clearly something he was familiar with and I wasn't."

He said Mr Morgan's treatment of Ms Jonsson was "close to bullying", adding: "I didn't like it."

Mr Morgan responded to Mr Paxman's evidence via his Twitter page, saying: "Right -- that's the last time I'm inviting Jeremy Paxman to lunch. Ungrateful little wretch."

Clive Goodman, the former royal editor of the 'News of the World', and Glenn Mulcaire, a private detective, were jailed for phone hacking in 2007.

Mr Paxman said of the lunch: "I wasn't clear why I was invited and frequently asked myself during the course of lunch why I accepted." He remembered "big glass windows, a long table" and about a dozen guests, who included Philip Green, the retail magnate. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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