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Entries in Piers Morgan (3)

Tuesday
Dec202011

Piers Morgan On the Defensive in Phone Hacking Inquiry

Jordan Strauss/WireImage(LONDON) -- Former News of the World editor Piers Morgan appeared to backpedal before a British ethics inquiry Tuesday, first saying that he didn't believe he had listened to any hacked phone messages, then refusing to discuss how he came to hear a taped conversation between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills.

"I can't discuss where I heard that tape or who made it," Morgan told the Leveson Inquiry looking into Britain's phone hacking scandal. Asked if he listened to a tape of a phone message, Morgan replied, "Yes, I believe it was yes. I'm not going to discuss where I heard it or who played it to me."

When the CNN host was asked by Lord Justice Brian Leveson whether he thought it was unethical to listen to someone else's message, Morgan said, "It doesn't necessarily follow that listening to someone else talking to someone else is unethical."

Leveson responded that he would be "perfectly happy" to call Mills to ask her whether she gave Morgan permission to listen to her calls, to which Morgan replied, "Well, what do you expect me to say? I'm not going into details."

Mills has previously said that Morgan could not have obtained her voice mail message honestly.

Morgan appeared on the defensive after admitting under persistent questioning that he had heard the tortured phone message between Mills and McCartney as their marriage was unraveling. Earlier he had testified that he did not believe he had listened to any illegally obtained phone messages.

Morgan has steadfastly denied knowledge of phone hacking by his staff when he was editor of two of Rupert Murdoch's British tabloids, News of the World and the Daily Mirror.

The inquiry was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron after it was made public that News of the World had illegally eavesdropped on the voice mail messages of celebrities and other public figures.

Actors Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and singer Charlotte Church have all spoken before the inquiry about widespread press abuse, while executives and lawyers for Murdoch's News Corp. have defended the tabloid.

Morgan has been under scrutiny since the scandal broke over the summer.

Back in July, British political blogger Paul Staines, who blogs under the name Guido Fawkes, claimed to have discovered a 2009 recording where some interpret Morgan as admitting knowledge of hacking and other unsavory activities by Murdoch journalists.

The former Fleet Street editor has also fought off accusations from James Hipwell, a former Daily Mirror financial columnist who called illegal phone hacking "endemic" during Morgan's tenure. Hipwell is scheduled to testify Wednesday before the inquiry. 

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Tuesday
Dec202011

Piers Morgan to Testify in Britain's Phone Hacking Scandal

Dave Hogan/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Piers Morgan will be answering -- not asking -- the questions Tuesday when he testifies in an ethics inquiry over Britain's phone hacking scandal involving Rupert Murdoch's now defunct News of the World.

The CNN host is scheduled to appear via videolink before the Leveson Inquiry, a judge-led investigation into the ethics and practices of Britain's scandal-tainted press.

Morgan has denied knowledge of phone hacking by his staff when he was editor of two of Murdoch's British tabloids, News of the World and the Daily Mirror.

His appearance has been widely anticipated, even as Morgan has made light of it.

"So heartwarming that everyone in U.K.'s missing me so much they want me to come home," he joked earlier this year amid demands that he return to give testimony.

The inquiry was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron after it was made public that News of the World had illegally eavesdropped on the voice mail messages of celebrities and other public figures.

Actors Hugh Grant and Sienna Miller, Harry Potter series author J.K. Rowling and singer Charlotte Church have all spoken before the inquiry about widespread press abuse, while executives and lawyers for Murdoch's News Corp. have defended the tabloid.

Morgan has been under scrutiny since the scandal broke over the summer.  Back in July, British political blogger Paul Staines, who blogs under the name Guido Fawkes, claimed to have discovered a 2009 recording where some interpret Morgan as admitting knowledge of hacking and other unsavory activities by Murdoch journalists.

Morgan asserted that there was "no contradiction" between his 2009 comments to BBC radio host Kirsty Young and his, "unequivocal statements with regard to phone-hacking."

"Millions of people heard these comments when I first made them in 2009 on one of the BBC's longest-running radio shows, and none deduced that I was admitting to, or condoning illegal reporting activity," Morgan said in a statement to ABC News in July.  "Kirsty asked me a fairly lengthy question about how I felt dealing with people operating at the sharp end of investigative journalism.  My answer was not specific to any of the numerous examples she gave, but a general observation about tabloid newspaper reporters and private investigators."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul272011

Piers Morgan Defends Phone Hacking Denials

Turner Broadcasting(NEW YORK) -- Former Fleet Street editor and current CNN host Piers Morgan says he in no way has admitted to knowledge of phone hacking by his staff when he was editor of two of Rupert Murdoch's British tabloids.

Morgan was responding to British political blogger Paul Staines who blogs under the name Guido Fawkes and who claimed to have discovered a 2009 recording where some interpret Morgan as admitting knowledge of the hacking and other unsavory activities by Murdoch journalists.

Morgan says "there is no contradiction" between his 2009 comments to BBC radio host Kirsty Young and his "unequivocal statements with regard to phone-hacking."

"Millions of people heard these comments when I first made them in 2009 on one of the BBC's longest-running radio shows, and none deduced that I was admitting to, or condoning illegal reporting activity," Morgan said in a statement Wednesday to ABC News. "Kirsty asked me a fairly lengthy question about how I felt dealing with people operating at the sharp end of investigative journalism. My answer was not specific to any of the numerous examples she gave, but a general observation about tabloid newspaper reporters and private investigators."

Morgan spent last week denying that he was involved in phone hacking while editor of News of the World and the Daily Mirror after a member of Parliament accused him of publishing an article obtained by phone hacking.

"For the record, in my time at the News of the World and the Mirror, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on The Situation Room.

"As I have said before, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone," Morgan concluded in his statement.

In the June 2009 interview, Morgan was asked how he felt about so-called "gutter" journalistic practices, such as digging through trash cans and tapping people's phones to get information and taking secret photographs. "To be honest, let's put that in perspective as well. Not a lot of that went on. A lot of it was done by third parties rather than the staff themselves. That's not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work," he said. "I'm quite happy to be parked in the corner of tabloid beast and to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to, and I make no pretence about the stuff we used to do."

"I simply say the net of people doing it was very wide, and certainly encompassed the high and low end of the supposed newspaper market," Morgan told the BBC interviewer.

Morgan, who's also a judge on America's Got Talent, served as editor at News of the World in 1994 and 1995, before helming the Mirror, where he stayed until 2004.

Last week, during a Parliamentary hearing with Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch, whose now closed News of the World is at the center of the scandal, committee member Louise Mensch accused Morgan of publishing an article in 2002 that had been obtained via phone hacking.

Morgan denied the accusation and demanded an apology from Mensch.

He's also fighting off accusations from James Hipwell, a former Daily Mirror financial columnist who called illegal phone hacking "endemic" during Morgan's tenure.

"Piers was extremely hands-on as an editor," Hipwell told British newspaper The Independent Saturday. "I can't say 100 percent that he knew about it. But it was inconceivable he didn't."

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