Press watchdog slams Mirror editor

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The Independent Online

Mirror editor Piers Morgan is under pressure again after being criticised by press watchdogs for his role in the share tipping scandal that rocked the newspaper earlier this year.

After their inquiry the Press Complaints Commission ruled today that Mr Morgan had broken their code, which all papers have agreed to abide by.

The influential PCC said in a statement that Mr Morgan had, "fallen short of the high professional standards demanded by the code".

More worrying for the Mirror's editor is that the watchdog has made an official complaint to Mr Morgan's boss.

The PCC concluded that "in view of the unsatisfactory state of affairs revealed by this episode, the commission has decided to refer the terms of this adjudication to the chief executive of Trinity Mirror".

The PCC also found against former Mirror journalists Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell, who had written and edited the paper's City Slickers column, concluding they had "engaged in flagrant, multiple breaches of the code over a sustained period time".

There was no finding against The paper's deputy editor Tina Weaver, who had also been implicated in the scandal.

The inquiry was launched after it emerged that a number of staff had bought shares tipped in the City Slickers column.

This goes against the PCC's code which prohibits journalists making personal gain out of financial information before it is published, writing about shares which they own without informing their editor, or buying or selling shares about which they have written recently or intend to write about in the near future.

Mr Bhoyrul and Mr Hipwell had profited by buying shares then tipping them in their pages, sending the price rocketing, and then selling the shares at a profit, the PCC said.

The commission concluded that Mr Morgan had been aware of Mr Hipwell's trading since last summer and while he had warned the journalist verbally, he had failed to do enough to prevent the code being breached.

Mr Morgan later bought £20,000 worth of shares in Viglen, the computer company, the day before the shares were tipped on the City Slickers page.

Shares in Viglen jumped the following day when the report was published, boosting Mr Morgan's paper fortune.