The Mirror used hacking every day, says ex-reporter

Piers Morgan's evidence contradicted as employers at CNN seek answers over voicemail tape

Phone hacking at the Daily Mirror was a "bog-standard journalistic tool" used "every day" which was joked and laughed about by showbiz reporters and "entirely accepted by senior editors", the Leveson Inquiry heard yesterday.

A former Daily Mirror financial reporter, James Hipwell, told the inquiry how he saw reporters "a few feet away" from his desk access voicemail messages and discuss how deleting them would stop rival journalists on The Sun from getting the same stories they had just heard. The inquiry also heard that during a disciplinary process involving Mr Hipwell, some colleagues had offered to hack into the phone of the then editor, Piers Morgan, to see if he was saying anything that might help his cause.

Mr Hipwell, who was jailed in 2006 for his part in a share-tipping scandal, worked for the "City Slickers" column at the paper under Mr Morgan's editorship. Mr Hipwell provided a strikingly different account of the regime to the inquiry than the one described by Mr Morgan in his testimony from Los Angeles on Tuesday. In contrast to Mr Morgan's portrait of himself as a "hands-off" executive who left the running of the papers to his senior editors and who knew nothing of hacking, Mr Hipwell described him as "a strong-minded" leader who was the "beating heart of the newspaper".

He said: "Nothing really happened on that desk [the showbiz desk] without Piers knowing about it."

This statement was a world away from Mr Morgan's own description about newspaper editors not knowing 95 per cent of what went on underneath them. Mr Morgan was put under further pressure last night when Heather Mills, the former wife of Sir Paul McCartney, rejected the suggestion that she may have allowed him to hear a private voicemail from her ex-husband.

Accusing Mr Morgan of using her as a "scapegoat", Ms Mills said in a statement: "For the avoidance of doubt, I can categorically state that I have never ever played Piers Morgan a tape of any kind, never mind a voicemail from my ex-husband." She added that she would be more than happy to answer questions in front of Lord Leveson if necessary. The intervention atrracted the attention of Mr Morgan's employer, the US network CNN, which said last night it was "seeking a response to the Mills statement from Morgan".

Earlier in the inquiry, Lord Leveson was told by Sly Bailey, the chief executive of Trinity Mirror, that illegal practices like phone hacking had never taken place at the group's newspapers.

Mr Hipwell said there was never a reference to the PCC's code of conduct in his time at the paper and he received no ethical guidance. He said a "great number of stories" in the Mirror came from information gleaned through phone hacking. He added that he did not know if news reporters were involved in hacking in the same way as showbiz counterparts. It was "very unlikely" that Mr Morgan did not know Mirror journalists were involved in the practice, he said, telling the inquiry the editor "stamped his authority on every single page." He added: "The paper was built around the cult of Piers. He was extremely hands on."

Mr Hipwell was accused of being "an acknowledged liar" by Desmond Browne QC, lawyer for the Mirror newspapers. He told Lord Leveson his clients had not been able to properly challenge the allegations made by Mr Hipwell.

Morgan vs Hipwell: Their testimonies compared

James Hipwell on the extent of phone hacking at the Mirror:

"I would go as far as to say it happened every day. It became apparent that a great number of stories... would come from [hacking]"

Piers Morgan on not phone hacking at the Mirror:

"I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story from the hacking of a phone."

James Hipwell on Piers Morgan's editing style:

"He was a very hands-on editor; he would be out on the news floor, he was the beating heart of the newspaper."

Piers Morgan on not knowing what his reporters are up to:

"I would say the average editor is aware of about 5 per cent of what his journalists are up to at any given time."

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam