Will Piers' tabloid past return to haunt him?

The former editor turned celebrity TV interviewer has some explaining to do today as he faces an inquisition over phone hacking

Once again it is time for Piers Morgan, CNN's great inquisitor, to come up with some answers. Today he will be talking about one of his favourite subjects, the cut-throat tactics of the British popular press, and he will do so via his chosen medium of live television.

But much as Morgan craves the limelight, his appearance today before Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into media standards should not be an exercise in the type of light entertainment for which he is now known. The seemingly irrepressible journalist turned media celebrity is being called to account for his tabloid past.

It is not the first time, by any means, that this particular newsman has found himself at the centre of the story. He was sacked as editor of the Daily Mirror and humiliatingly escorted out of the paper's offices in London's Canary Wharf nearly eight years ago.

The charge back in 2004 was that the Daily Mirror under his editorship published front page photographs falsely purporting to show the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by British troops. Morgan's response was to try to ride out the storm, refusing to apologise and defiantly challenging his adversaries to produce conclusive evidence against him.

Even when the Ministry of Defence said the pictures were not even taken in Iraq, he refused to accept that they were fakes. But it didn't work. Mr Morgan was sacked by the board of Trinity Mirror, which feared the damage he was causing to its corporate reputation.

The charge today is that Morgan is more closely linked to the phone hacking scandal than he claims. Once again his problems stem from material which he has chosen to place in the public domain. He has made a succession of admissions intended to minimise the felonies of hacking former colleagues, by suggesting that such behaviour was widespread and accepted. Just as in 2004, he has protested his innocence and invited those who denounce him to produce proof.

Morgan possibly believed he could tough out the fake pictures furore because he survived an earlier insider-dealing scandal which led to a four-year inquiry into the Mirror by the then Department of Trade and Industry. He bought £20,000 worth of shares in the technology company Viglen the day before they were tipped by the Mirror's City Slickers investment column. Two Mirror journalists were jailed, but Morgan was not charged and held on to his job.

When he failed to see out the fake pictures row, many thought his career in the high echelons of the media was over. But he reinvented himself for television and, instead of writing about the stars, the founding editor of the Bizarre showbiz column in The Sun now lives the life of one.

His ability on the small screen was spotted by Simon Cowell, who gave him a place on the judging panel of America's Got Talent, and by ITV's Peter Fincham, who awarded him a contract to interview British cultural figures from Gordon Brown to Jordan, reducing many of them to tears with his shamelessly personal lines of questioning.

Such successes led to him being chosen to replace Larry King on CNN, an appointment which stunned those parts of the British media establishment that considered him a lightweight. Next month, Piers Morgan Tonight will mark its first anniversary and the network has said it is "extremely pleased" with the show's performance so far (though it is hardly a ratings success).

Morgan, the youngest-ever editor of the News of the World, appeared to have left his jealous rivals behind, but his past has again caught up with him. Admissions in his published diaries and in a succession of interviews and written articles have shown how thoroughly familiar this particular tabloid journalist was with the practice of phone hacking. Though he has denied that he personally did such a thing, or commissioned others to do it, he has some explaining to do. Former colleagues, including one of the City Slickers, have emerged from the shadows to try to further implicate him.

No doubt the ebullient Morgan, who will appear by video link, will believe he can put in a star performance. Ultimately, he must hope that CNN, like Trinity Mirror, doesn't come to see him as a liability it can do without.

Questions he must answer

Insider knowledge

In your 2004 book The Insider, you published a diary entry for 26 January 2001 which shows you were fully aware of phone hacking. It states: "Apparently if you don't change the standard security code that every phone comes with, then anyone can call your number and, if you don't answer, tap in the standard four digit code to hear all your messages." How did you learn of this practice and did you forbid your journalists from using it?

McCartney message

In 2006 you wrote an article in the Daily Mail in which you admitted handling a recording of a voice message that Sir Paul McCartney had left for his wife. You admitted playing it to colleagues. "He sounded lonely, miserable and desperate, and even sang 'We Can Work It Out' into the answerphone," you wrote. How could this tape have been obtained legally?

Sympathy for Goodman

In 2007, following the jailing of Clive Goodman, you told Press Gazette: "I feel a lot of sympathy for a man who has been the convenient fall-guy for an investigative practice that everyone knows was going on at almost every paper in Fleet Street for years." Which papers other than the News of the World took part in hacking?

'Everyone was doing it'

Also in 2007, you told Naomi Campbell, who was interviewing you for GQ, that you didn't regard the hacking affair as serious because "loads of other newspaper journalists were doing it". How do you know this?

Private investigators

In 2009, when appearing on BBC Radio's Desert Island Discs, you refused to condemn the methods used by private eyes who were employed by newspapers "because obviously you were running the results of their work". As editor of the News of the World and then of the Daily Mirror what practices were used by private investigators hired by your papers?

Hacking 'endemic at Mirror'

How do you answer the fact that last July, James Hipwell, one of your former reporters on the Mirror, claimed that hacking was "endemic" at the paper when you were editor and that it was "inconceivable" you didn't know about it?

Getting the story at all costs

In evidence to the Leveson Inquiry last month, a former News of the World colleague Paul McMullan accused you of introducing a culture at the paper that he described as "get that story at all costs and I don't care what you have to do." Did you sanction illicit practices while you were editor?

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
voicesBryony Beynon: This is something every woman can relate to
Arts and Entertainment

Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Arts and Entertainment
Steven, Ella Jade and Sarah in the boardroom
Life and Style
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch is reported to be in final negotiations to play Doctor Strange for Marvel although the casting has not yet been confirmed
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
Life and Style

World Beard and Moustache Championships held last week

Arts and Entertainment
Copycat culture: the Chateau Zhang Laffitte in China, top, and the building which inspired it, in Paris, bottom
architectureReplicas of Western landmarks are springing up in unlikely places
Rolando Aarons watches as his effort finds the corner of the Manchester City goal to give Newcastle the lead
footballManchester City 0 Newcastle 2: Holders crash out on home turf
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Senior Developer/Development Lead - C# ASP.NET. SQL

Circa £55,000: Ashdown Group: Lead Developer requirement - C#, ASP.NET, SQL - ...

DFA Ad Operations Manager

38,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: My client is an agency that handles the me...

Display Sales Executive

Up to £35k + Bonus: Sphere Digital Recruitment: We are looking for a fantastic...

Creative Designer

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Creative Designer is needed to join an idea...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain