Mirror owner launches inquiry into phone hacking

 

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The Independent Online

Trinity Mirror has ordered an inquiry into whether its journalists were involved in phone hacking after a sharp fall in the company's share price was prompted by claims from former journalists that the practice had been rife at the Mirror titles.

James Hipwell, a former Daily Mirror financial journalist, told The Independent that hacking was "endemic" at the paper. The BBC's Newsnight has alleged hacking at the Sunday Mirror.

Trinity Mirror has insisted that its journalists work within the criminal law and the Press Complaints Commission's code of conduct but the claims led to a sharp drop in the company share price, which fell by 5p two days ago but flatlined at 43.5p yesterday.

To alleviate concerns, the company announced a six-week review of its practices led by Paul Vickers, its legal director. "In light of recent events, we thought it was timely to look at our controls and procedures. Clearly, after any significant event, it's just good corporate governance," said a spokesman for the company, which owns more than 160 newspaper titles across the UK.

Yesterday the group behind the Daily Mail newspaper said that it had no plans to launch an internal review into possible phone hacking. Martin Morgan, chief executive of the Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT), said the board "has received assurances that our titles have not published stories based on hacked messages or any source of material that was obtained unlawfully". He added: "As far as making an internal inquiry is concerned, we don't believe there is a necessity to do that at this time." His comments followed those made last week to a parliamentary committee by Paul Dacre, the editor of the group's two flagship titles, that he was unaware of any phone hacking.

Reports have emerged that some of DMGT's shareholders want a fresh examination of its editorial practices. But Mr Morgan said: "As far as I am aware, investors are comfortable with the position and line that DMGT has taken."

DMGT said the Mail on Sunday, based on figures for last weekend, had grown its typical circulation from 1.9m to 2.4m after the closure of the News of the World. The title cut its cover price to £1 to attract new readers. For the wider market for Sunday papers, sales have only decreased by about 100,000 to 8.9m since the demise of the NOTW. Mr Morgan said DMGT was looking at launching a new Sunday tabloid title.