Heather Mills hits back at Piers Morgan in voicemail row


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The Independent Online

Heather Mills, the former wife of pop star Sir Paul McCartney, said that she never disclosed private voicemail messages from her ex-husband to former tabloid editor Piers Morgan.

Ms Mills said that Mr Morgan, who yesterday told the Leveson inquiry into press standards that he had heard a voicemail message left to her by Sir Paul, was using her as a "scapegoat".

She added that she would be "more than happy" to answer any questions the inquiry had for her about the subject.

In a statement, Ms Mills said: "For the avoidance of doubt, I can categorically state that I have never ever played Piers Morgan a tape of any kind, never mind a voice message from my ex-husband.

"Piers Morgan is doing all he can to deter the Leveson inquiry from finishing their important job.

"Morgan is using me as his scapegoat and I would be more than happy to answer any questions that the inquiry would like to put to me.

"As stated in a press release by my ex-husband, he has never insinuated that I have leaked tapes of him to the media."

Yesterday, counsel to the inquiry Robert Jay QC asked Mr Morgan about a recording of a voicemail message left by Sir Paul for Ms Mills when the couple were suffering problems with their marriage.

Mr Morgan refused to say when or where he heard the message - because he wanted to protect a "source".

Lord Justice Leveson asked: "The only person who would lawfully be able to listen to the message is the lady in question or somebody authorised on her behalf to listen to it. Isn't that right?"

Mr Morgan said he did not know what he was "expected" to say and added: "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."

Lord Justice Leveson told Mr Morgan: "I am perfectly happy to call Lady McCartney to give evidence as to whether she authorised you to listen to her voicemails.

"She may say she did, in which case you're not compromising anybody. But if she didn't, then we can proceed on the premise that it's somebody else, can't we?"

The former editor of the Daily Mirror and the News of the World, who now presents Piers Morgan Tonight in America, wrote an article for the Mail Online in 2006 which referred to hearing a recorded message which Sir Paul had left for Ms Mills.

He wrote: "At one stage I was played a tape of a message Paul had left for Heather on her mobile phone.

"The couple had clearly had a tiff, Heather had fled to India, and Paul was pleading with her to come back."

Earlier this year, Ms Mills told BBC2's Newsnight that a senior Mirror Group journalist admitted hacking voicemails.

The reporter made the admission in 2001 after they rang her quoting parts of the recording, Ms Mills told the programme.

When challenged about how they knew what was said, Ms Mills said they admitted the message had been hacked.

The BBC, who declined to name the journalist allegedly involved, said it was not Mr Morgan, editor of the Daily Mirror at the time.

Mr Morgan issued a statement describing Ms Mills's claims as "unsubstantiated".