PCC decides to dodge issue of the cracks in the Mirror's evidence

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The Independent Online

No one is more surprised than the City Slickers, Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell, at the way the investigations into the share dealing scandal have been conducted.

"The PCC did not even contact me until mid-April," says Bhoyrul. This was a full three months after the story broke that Mirror employees had been buying up shares in advance of tipping them in the newspaper.

But if the PCC has been slow, the major investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has been snail-paced. Neither Mr Bhoyrul nor Mr Hipwell have yet been questioned by the DTI. In fact, as far as they are concerned, the DTI has done nothing, other than send their lawyers a letter saying, "We have appointed inspectors to look into what has happened". One meeting was scheduled with one slicker, but then it was cancelled and no further date was set.

The Slicker's version of events is, however, seen by many as vital to any investigation into the share-buying activities of Piers Morgan, the editor of The Mirror.

From the start, Mr Morgan has insisted that when he bought shares in the computer company Viglen on 17 January he did not know that the Slickers would tip the share in their column the next day.

Mr Bhoyrul initially supported Mr Morgan's statement, but then it became clear that, while he and Mr Hipwell had been dismissed for "gross misconduct", Mr Morgan had the support of Trinity Mirror chairman Sir Victor Blank.

Mr Bhoyrul began to hint that he had not yet told everything he had to tell. He left it until this week to give his full version - first to a national newspaper, then in a seven-page affidavit delivered at the eleventh hour to the PCC. The Slicker's affidavit claims that he told Piers Morgan he was about to tip Viglen on the morning of 17 January - before The Mirror editor bought his shares.

Yesterday lunchtime, 14 members of the Commission met to discuss the evidence. They first sat down to a "social" buffet lunch of cold meats, chicken and salad. Then they got down to the sticky issue of the complete incompatibility of Mr Bhoyrul's evidence, and Mr Morgan's. In the end, they dodged the issue.

"Mr Bhoyrul's differing version made it impossible to rely on his evidence," they said, concluding that they did not need to choose between the two versions as Mr Morgan was already in breach of the PCC code. It remains to be seen whether the DTI will get to the bottom of the issue.

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