Morgan believes no hacking at UK's Mirror tabloid

20th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

CNN chat show host Piers Morgan told the British press ethics inquiry Tuesday that he had no reason to believe phone hacking went on at the Daily Mirror during his editorship of the tabloid.

Morgan did not want to elaborate on the circumstances in which he heard a voice message left by Beatles star Paul McCartney on his then-wife Heather Mills.

He said he was never "directly involved" in hiring private investigators at the Mirror, which he edited between 1995 and 2004.

Morgan, who also edited the now-defunct News of the World from 1994 to 1995, gave evidence to the inquiry in London via video-link from the United States.

The television show host said he was unaware of any phone hacking going on at the Mirror under his leadership, saying: "To the best of my recollection, I do not believe so.

"Not a single person has made a formal or legal complaint against the Daily Mirror for phone hacking."

Asked if he had ever seen phone hacking going on, he said "no", adding that he was "100 percent" sure.

The inquiry into the ethics, culture and practices of the British press, being heard by judge Brian Leveson was set up by Prime Minister David Cameron following the closure of the News of the World in July.

"Have you listened to recordings of what you knew to be illegally obtained voicemail messages?" Leveson asked Morgan.

The former editor replied: "I don't believe so, no."

Morgan was asked about a voice message he heard which was left by McCartney for Mills when the couple were suffering problems with their marriage.

Morgan refused to tell the inquiry about the details of when he heard the message because he wanted to protect his source.

"I'm not going to discuss where I heard it or who played it to me," he said.

Asked if it was a voicemail message, Morgan replied: "I believe it was, yes."

Leveson asserted that only Mills or someone authorised by her would lawfully be able to listen to it and added that he was happy to call Mills to give evidence.

"What do you expect me to say?", Morgan said.

"All we know for a fact about Lady Heather Mills-McCartney is that in their divorce case, Paul McCartney stated as a fact that she had recorded their conversations and given them to the media."

He also flatly denied hacking the phone of television personality Ulrika Jonsson when she was in a relationship with fellow Swede and the then-England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

© 2011 AFP

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