Morgan defiant as enemies try to implicate him in hacking scandal
Ian Burrell is Assistant Editor and Media Editor at The Independent, i paper and Independent on Sunday. He covers news from the whole media sector from television, press, radio and advertising to technology. His weekly column on the media appears every Monday in The Independent and i paper. He also writes on media, music and culture, including long-form pieces for The Independent’s Saturday magazine and the Independent on Sunday’s magazine, New Review. He is a regular presenter of BBC Radio 4’s What The Papers Say and a specialist commentator to Monocle 24 radio. He has contributed to most major broadcast outlets including BBC television and radio, CNN, Sky News, Al Jazeera and LBC. He has also written on media for GQ magazine. Ian has been reporting on the media industry for The Independent for more than a decade. Previously he was the newspaper’s Home Affairs Editor. He worked at The Sunday Times for five years, including as a member of the investigative Insight team, covering stories on political funding, industrial espionage and the arms industry. Previously he worked in ITV for London Weekend Television, on a weekly current affairs programme presented by Danny Baker. Ian trained at the Birmingham Post & Mail and was Regional Reporter of the Year in Press Gazette’s national awards.
Thursday 28 July 2011
The former British newspaper editor Piers Morgan yesterday took steps to protect his high-profile job at CNN, and his six-figure salary, as he issued a statement to deny a series of accusations that he was implicated in the phone-hacking scandal.
Morgan, a former editor of the News of the World and a friend and former colleague of Andy Coulson, refuted claims that his previous comments on the matter were evidence of culpability. James Hipwell, who worked on the Daily Mirror when Morgan was editing that paper, has told The Independent that hacking was "endemic" and that it was "inconceivable" that the editor did not know about it.
The accusations and insinuations have gathered pace. The blog Huffpost UK published a transcript of Morgan's appearance on the BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs in 2009, when he discussed tabloid practices. He told Kirsty Young: "A lot of it was done by third parties. That's not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work. I'm quite happy to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to. I simply say the net of people doing it was very wide and certainly encompassed the high and low end of the newspaper market."
The political blogger Guido Fawkes quoted a 2006 article Morgan wrote in the Daily Mail, in which he referred to a phone message left by Sir Paul McCartney for Heather Mills. "I was played a tape of a message Paul had left for Heather on her mobile phone. It was heart-breaking.
"The couple had clearly had a tiff, Heather had fled to India and Paul was pleading with her to come back." Fawkes, real name Paul Staines, asked: "How can Piers say he never authorised phone hacking when he admits to listening to recordings of the voicemail of a distressed old man and his soon-to-be ex-wife?"
The Guardian republished a piece from GQ magazine in 2007, when Morgan told Naomi Campbell that hacking was "a very widespread practice". He said: "It was pretty well known that it if you didn't change your pin code when you were a celebrity who bought a new phone, then reporters could ring your mobile, tap in a standard factory setting number and hear your messages."
Morgan yesterday rubbished the claims. "I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone," his statement said. Of Desert Island Discs, he said: "Millions of people heard these comments when I first made them in 2009, and none deduced that I was admitting to or condoning illegal activity." Morgan used his Twitter account to label his detractors as liars, druggie ex-bankrupts and con men.
Morgan's tweets yesterday
* "I don't mind being wrongly smeared with all this #Hackgate stuff, I'd just rather it wasn't done by liars, druggie ex-bankrupts and conmen."
* "For those who don't know who @GuidoFawkes is, here's his biog: http://t.co/3TJEX4k Not exactly Woodward/Bernstein is it?"
* "And as for 'Professor' @GreensladeR in today's Guardian, he admitted faking Spot The Ball for Robert Maxwell so no Mirror reader could win."
* "I'll be making no further comment on #Hackgate. But important for everyone to know who these lying smearers are."
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