Piers Morgan: You Ask The Questions

Why does no one believe the press any more - is it totally untrustworthy? And are there any famous women who don't fancy you?
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The Independent Online

Piers Morgan, 39, started his career in local newspapers in south London before being spotted by Kelvin MacKenzie of The Sun and given his own showbiz column, Bizarre. In 1994, Rupert Murdoch made him editor of the News of the World, and he was headhunted two years later to edit The Mirror. He was there until May 2004, when he was sacked following his decision to publish photographs of British soldiers apparently abusing Iraqi prisoners, which turned out to be a hoax. He has since co-hosted the current-affairs show Morgan and Platell on Channel 4, and published his diaries, entitled The Insider. He lives in London and East Sussex, and has three sons.

Piers Morgan, 39, started his career in local newspapers in south London before being spotted by Kelvin MacKenzie of The Sun and given his own showbiz column, Bizarre. In 1994, Rupert Murdoch made him editor of the News of the World, and he was headhunted two years later to edit The Mirror. He was there until May 2004, when he was sacked following his decision to publish photographs of British soldiers apparently abusing Iraqi prisoners, which turned out to be a hoax. He has since co-hosted the current-affairs show Morgan and Platell on Channel 4, and published his diaries, entitled The Insider. He lives in London and East Sussex, and has three sons.

Whose diary would you most like to read?
Ian Maloney, Dublin

Mine. It's an absolutely riveting read. I've never enjoyed a book so much as when I read my own manuscript on holiday. What I've discovered is that my gut instinct that I was the most interesting person out there was right. That's a joke. As for other people's diaries, I'd quite like to read Boris Johnson's real diary.

You lied about the Iraq pictures. You lied about insider trading. Why should I believe anything in your book?
Ricky Pritchard, by e-mail

I didn't lie about Iraq. I don't accept that those photos were necessarily fake. I've never seen hard evidence that they are. We still don't know who took them, where they took them and why they took them. However, even if you do think that those pictures weren't what they seemed, we opened a can of worms about abuse from British soldiers towards Iraqi civilians. I also didn't lie about insider trading - I was cleared by the DTI. Much as people would love me to have been guilty on both counts, the reality is that I was right on both.

Are there any famous women who don't find you irresistible?
Penny Smith, Margate

I haven't found one yet. Well, Naomi Campbell wasn't too keen on me, but I suspect she was playing hard to get.

Were you an obedient child?
Becky Carling, London

I was a very good child, a very happy boy. I went to a local prep school and then to a local comprehensive in East Sussex. If you can survive being called Piers Pughe-Morgan at a comprehensive, you can survive anything. I was a perfect child in many ways, so my mother says. She's aghast at the cruel misrepresentation of her son by sections of the media. Something must have gone terribly wrong between the ages of 10 and 20. It's hard to put my finger on it, but meeting Kelvin MacKenzie had a rather malevolent impact on my life.

What makes a secret diary become a public diary?
David Rackett, Honiton

A lot of money.

Have you ever been afraid for your life in the course of your work?
Alice Terry, London

Yes. Combat 18, who are a charming bunch of right-wing nutcases, threatened to slash my throat on my way to work in the mid-Nineties. We had offered a reward for anyone coming forward with information that led to the Stephen Lawrence suspects being convicted of any offence. Combat 18 responded by threatening to do me in. I had to have SAS bodyguards living in my house for a couple of weeks. It was quite amusing; they wanted to watch EastEnders, whereas I prefer Coronation Street.

Is Alastair Campbell good at his job?
Ben Clarke, Chichester

If his job description is "nasty, rabid, foul-mouthed little bully" I'd say he's rather good. But he doesn't seem to be doing a very good job at making everyone love Tony Blair. Alastair used to threaten me physically, shout, swear and make all sorts of veiled threats about my personal safety. I think we both feel that our lives are immeasurably enhanced now that we no longer have to speak to each other.

If you were to interview Camilla Parker Bowles, what would be your first question?
Harry Knowles, Birmingham

Do you fancy me?

Do you think you were lucky to survive as editor of the Daily Mirror after enriching yourself by buying shares that you knew your own paper's recommendations would cause to increase in value?
Peter Kennedy, Newcastle upon Tyne

There is a massive misunderstanding here. Most of the broadsheet-reading public thought I was the Nick Leeson of Fleet Street. But I would remind them that (although the story didn't appear in The Independent) the DTI did clear me completely after a four-year investigation. I didn't know my paper was going to tip those shares and there was plenty of evidence of that. It was a complete coincidence. However, I know that it looked bad and I accept that I was lucky to survive because of the way it looked.

I've just started out as a reporter. What was your work-life balance like while editing a national daily?
Ben Moshinsky, by e-mail

Work-life balance, as far as I'm concerned, is about enjoying your work. I'd get up at 7am, read the papers, get to the office at 9am, work until 8.30pm-ish, grab something to eat, talk to the newsdesk throughout the night, see the paper reviews at midnight and try to get to bed by 1am or 2am. I loved it.

Do you think you set a good example to your children?
Barbara Jones, by e-mail

Yes. The example I want to set is this: life is for living, enjoy yourself, don't take anything too seriously and if anyone tells you how to do things, think of a more amusing way of doing them. I don't think I set them a bad example by printing stories about other people's private lives. I think celebrities get what they deserve. And, yes, I think I may be fair game now. If the media want to invade my privacy, they can feel free.

Why does no one trust the press any more? Is it because it is totally untrustworthy?
Jules Stevenson, by e-mail

The press is generally untrustworthy. We are up there with politicians and traffic wardens. I wouldn't trust a journalist as far as I could throw him. Look at what they've done to me over the years, particularly the broadsheets. I've always thought the broadsheet press was the worst.

You once had a heart-to-heart with Michael Jackson. What was he like?
Yvonne Little, Carlisle

What struck me was his ability to switch personas. One moment, he was weeping about not abusing children, the next he was talking about business in a much deeper, more serious voice. I realised I was dealing with a chameleon. Underneath the Jacko we know, I suspect there is a rather hard-nosed businessman who is capable of anything.

How do you rate yourself as a boss?
Bill Sanderson, Leeds

I think I was nice to work for. I wasn't a brutal editor in the way Kelvin was. I think you have to be a particular form of dangerous genius to get away with that sort of behaviour. But I never saw myself as a genius. My primary objective every day was to have a good laugh. If we hadn't had one by 10am, we knew something was wrong.

Have you slept with Kimberly Fortier?
Jon Porter, London

I haven't. I'm feeling very left out. It's a personal tragedy for me that I have never even been linked with her.

'The Insider' by Piers Morgan is published by Ebury Press (£17.99)

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