Piers Morgan, the former editor of the Daily Mirror, has been interviewed under caution by specialist detectives from Scotland Yard investigating phone hacking.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed it had spoken to a 48-year-old journalist as part of Operation Golding, an off-shoot of Operation Weeting, which probed illegal phone interception at the News of the World and was later widened to include Trinity Mirror newspapers.
Mr Morgan confirmed that following a voluntary statement which he had supplied to police last year, Scotland Yard subsequently interviewed him under caution at a south London police station on 6 December. The interview followed a formal request that he attend. The Met confirmed that Mr Morgan had not been arrested.
In a statement, Mr Morgan, who is now based in the United States as an interviewer on the CNN news channel, said he was asked by Operation Weeting to attend the interview “when I was next in the UK”.
His Atlanta-based employer said it had been informed immediately after Mr Morgan had been called by Scotland Yard. Trinity Mirror declined to comment. Mr Morgan edited the Daily Mirror from 1995 until 2004, when he was dismissed after the newspaper published staged pictures of Iraqi prisoners being abused by British soldiers.
Some of Mr Morgan’s former colleagues at Trinity Mirror were arrested in dawn raids last year as part of the phone hacking investigation at the Met. He has always denied any involvement in the illegal practice.
The interview under caution of the television star means that, including Mr Morgan, six senior journalists from Mirror titles have now been arrested or formally interviewed in connection with the police’s phone hacking investigation.
Tina Weaver, the former Sunday Mirror editor, the paper’s former deputy editor Mark Thomas, the People editor James Scott and his deputy, Nick Buckley, were arrested in March last year. The day after the arrests, the former Daily Mirror editor Richard Wallace was also questioned under caution.
At the end of 2011 Mr Morgan told the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics that he had not been aware of any phone hacking taking place at the Mirror while he was in charge.
Saying he had “no reason” to believe it was going on during his editorship, he told the inquiry that “not a single person” had made a formal or legal complaint against the Mirror in connection with the illegal practice.
Although he told the inquiry he had been played a recording of a voicemail left on the phone of Sir Paul McCartney by his former wife, Heather Mills, he refused to discuss the details, claiming it would “compromise” the source of the information.
In a 2007 interview given to the Press Gazette, Mr Morgan described hacking as “an investigative practice that everyone knows was going on at almost every paper in Fleet Street for years.”
In the Leveson Report, published in November 2012, Mr Morgan’s assertion that he had no knowledge of phone hacking was described by Lord Justice Leveson as “utterly unpersuasive”.
The former Mirror journalist James Hipwell, who also gave evidence to Leveson, described hacking as “a bog-standard journalistic tool” at the paper.
At the phone hacking trial running at the Old Bailey, it emerged that former Sunday Mirror journalist Dan Evans had pleaded guilty to hacking phones over 18 months between 2003 and 2005, at which time he left to work at the News of the World.