Piers Morgan fires out hacking denial

Former British newspaper editor Piers Morgan yesterday took steps to protect his high-profile job at CNN, and his six-figure salary, denying 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, denied claims that his comments on the matter were evidence of culpability.

James Hipwell, who worked on the Daily Mirror when Morgan was editor, has told the Independent that hacking was "endemic" and it was "inconceivable" the editor did not know about it.

The blog Huffpost UK published a transcript of Morgan on the BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs in 2009, when he discussed phone hacking.

"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."

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 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."

- Independent

TWEETING BACK

* "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."

- Piers Morgan

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