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Piers Morgan Defends Himself in Phone-Hacking Inquiry, Refuses to Disclose Details

December 21, 2011, 5:07 am GMT

Though he admitted listening to a voicemail Paul McCartney left for Heather Mills, the CNN talk-show host says he has 'no reason to believe' that hacking took place at the Daily Mirror.



Piers Morgan has given his testimonial before a media ethics inquiry about his alleged involvement in Britain's phone hacking scandal. Speaking via video link from Los Angeles on Tuesday, December 20, the "Piers Morgan Tonight" host denied that phone hacking had taken place during his stint as an editor at the Daily Mirror.

When asked about the issue, Morgan told Robert Jay, the top lawyer for the Leveson Inquiry, "I have no reason... to believe it was going on." When Jay pressed him by asking, "You don't believe so or you are sure?", the 46-year-old journalist said in response, "To the best of my recollection, I do not believe so."

While acknowledging that phone hacking by the tabloids was a "widespread practice", Piers denied it was "endemic" at the Mirror. "Not a single person has made a formal complaint against a Daily Mirror journalist," he insisted. "Certainly all journalists knew they had to act within the confines of the law. This was enshrined within their contracts."

When grilled about whether or not he had listened to a voicemail Paul McCartney left for Heather Mills, Piers confessed, "Yes, I believe it was yes." The former "America's Got Talent" judge, however, refused to disclose any further details. "I can't discuss where that tape was played or who made - it would compromise a source," he reasoned.

Though inquiry chairman Lord Justice Leveson told him he would be happy to call Mills "to give evidence as to whether she authorized you to listen to her voicemails," Piers was adamant in refusing to reveal his source. "All we know for a fact about Lady Heather Mills McCartney is that in their divorce case Paul McCartney stated as a fact that she had recorded their conversations and given them to the media," he added.

During the inquiry, Piers returned the question by asking, "How much privacy are you entitled to if you yourself use your privacy for commercial gain?" He explained, "I have very little sympathy with celebrities who sell their weddings for a million pounds ... and then expect to have privacy if they get caught having affairs, for example, it seems to me a nonsensical position to adopt."

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