MPs call for Piers Morgan to answer hacking questions in UK

 

Piers Morgan faces growing demands to return to Britain to answer questions on alleged phone hacking at the Mirror Group while he was editor of the Daily Mirror.

Despite Mr Morgan's denials of any sanctioning of phone hacking, and his insistence that Heather Mills, the former wife of Sir Paul McCartney, is an unreliable witness to the alleged hacking of her phone messages, MPs piled the pressure on for him to return to Britain to reveal what he knew about an alleged interception in 2001.

The Labour deputy leader, Harriet Harman, said the police should now look into claims made by Ms Mills that the newspaper group listened to messages left for her by the former Beatle. "It's not good enough for Piers Morgan just to say he's always stayed within the law," Ms Harman said. "There are questions about what happened with Heather Mills's phone messages that he needs to answer."

John Whittingdale, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which is investigating phone hacking, said that while it was powerless to summon him to give evidence before MPs, the CNN host had "serious questions" still outstanding.

"I hope he will return to the UK and I imagine that there will be some questions which will be put to him, possibly by the police, on the basis of the evidence that has emerged," he said.

Sir Paul broke his silence over the scandal yesterday to say that he planned to contact police about allegations that his voicemail messages may have been intercepted. "I will be talking to them about that," he said, speaking via video-link from Cincinnati, Ohio to US journalists. "I don't think it's great," he said. "I do think it is a horrendous violation of privacy, and I do think it's been going on a long time, and I do think more people than we know knew about it. But I think I should just listen and hear what the facts are before I comment."

At the heart of the allegations is Mr Morgan's bitter relationship with Ms Mills. It is easy to portray the recent claims against him as the settling of old scores from a woman he has repeatedly criticised as a "ludicrous, hypocritical, shameless, grasping creature".

It was Mr Morgan (who was editor of the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004) who introduced Ms Mills to Sir Paul at the inaugural Mirror Pride of Britain Awards. Ms Mills was a regular judge on the newspaper's high-profile awards panel.

But two years later, the first signs of strain were creeping into the McCartney-Mills relationship. She was in India and the two had quarrelled. McCartney, in an attempt to woo back his new-found love, left a series of voicemails on the former model's phone.

According to a senior Mirror Group journalist, these messages included Sir Paul serenading his girlfriend by singing "We Can Work It Out". Ms Mills claims the contents of the messages were quoted back to her "verbatim" by the reporter, who – it is alleged – acknowledged they had been illicitly listened to.

Mr Morgan has fiercely denied any involvement in phone hacking despite a 2006 Daily Mail article in which he described listening to a recording of a "heartbreaking" voicemail message left by the former Beatle. Trinity Mirror also denies any wrongdoing.

In his statement, however, Mr Morgan dismissed Ms Mills's claims that she was hacked as "extraordinary" and "unsubstantiated", and alludes to allegations that surfaced during her divorce case from Sir Paul in which her evidence was described by the judge as "less than candid".

In a statement yesterday, Ms Mills said she "looks forward to receiving Piers Morgan's answer as to how he knew the content of her private voicemail messages".

Career landmarks: Piers Morgan vs Heather Mills

Piers Morgan and Heather Mills have been dogged by controversy throughout their careers. Rarely has there been a dull moment:

Piers Morgan

1996 Criticised for publishing "Achtung! Surrender" headline the day before England's Euro 96 clash with Germany in Daily Mirror



2000 Investigation into claims of illegal share ramping begin. Morgan is cleared of wrongdoing in 2004



2004 Forced to resign after publishing fake photographs of British troops abusing Iraqis



2006 Admits to hearing a voicemail message left by Paul McCartney on Heather Mills' phone

Heather Mills

1993 Ms Mills is hit by a motorbike, losing part of her leg in the accident.



1999 Meets Sir Paul McCartney at Mirror Pride of Britain Awards.



2002 The couple marry in ceremony in Ireland; they have a child a year later.



2008 Mills is awarded £24.3m divorce settlement – but the judge criticises the reliability of her evidence.

2006 Accused by journalist, also called Heather Mills, of impersonating her throughout the 1990s to land television jobs.



2007 Complains in an interview that she has received "worse press than a paedophile or a murderer".



2008 Awarded a £24.3m divorce settlement – but the judge criticises her evidence, calling it "inconsistent and inaccurate".



2011 Claims that a journalist working for the Mirror Group admitted to hacking her phone.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Ashdown Group: .NET Developer : ASP.NET , C# , MVC , web development

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...

Guru Careers: 3D Package Designer / 3D Designer

£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...

Guru Careers: Interior Designer

£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss