Piers Morgan Needs to Answer Phone-Hacking Questions, U.K. Lawmakers Say

Heather Mills' Claim 'Unsubstantiated,' Morgan Says

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Piers Morgan
Piers Morgan Credit: CNN

Piers Morgan, the host of CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" and a former editor of the U.K.'s Daily Mirror newspaper, should return to Britain to answer questions about phone-hacking, lawmakers said.

Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the main opposition Labor Party, and Therese Coffey, a Conservative Party member of the Culture Committee that questioned Rupert Murdoch last month, said Mr. Morgan should respond to hacking allegations by Heather Mills, the former wife of ex-Beatle Paul McCartney. Ms. Mills told the BBC that a senior executive at Trinity Mirror, the Daily Mirror's parent company, admitted to her in 2001 that information had been gained from messages left on her mobile phone's voice mail.

"It's not good enough for him to say, or someone to say on his behalf, I always complied with the law and the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct," Ms. Harman told Sky News today. "He's got to answer."

In a statement issued through CNN, Mr. Morgan again denied any involvement in phone hacking while he was a U.K. newspaper editor. "Heather Mills has made unsubstantiated claims about a conversation she may or may not have had with a senior executive from a Trinity Mirror newspaper in 2001," the statement said. "I have no knowledge of any conversation any executive from other newspapers at Trinity Mirror may or may not have had with Heather Mills. 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."

Morgan said the BBC had told him the executive didn't work for the Daily Mirror.

The phone-hacking scandal in the U.K. has so far mostly affected Murdoch's News Corp., which has seen the resignation of two executives, the shutdown of the 168-year-old News of the World newspaper and the termination of the company's takeover bid for British Sky Broadcasting Group. At least 11 people have been arrested.

Mr. Morgan, editor of the Daily Mirror between 1995 and 2004, wrote an article in the Daily Mail newspaper in 2006 in which he said he'd been played a recording of a message left by McCartney for Mills. One of the newspaper's most prominent scoops under his editorship was the 2002 revelation that the England soccer team manager, Sven-Goran Eriksson, was having an affair with a TV presenter. In his 2009 memoir, "God Bless America," Mr. Morgan said the newspaper got the story after "learning of " a "message left by the then England manager on her phone."

"I just hope that the police take the evidence and go with it, and if Mr. Morgan wants to come back to the U.K. and help them with their inquiries, and I don't mean being arrested in any way, I'm sure he can add more light," Ms. Coffey told the BBC yesterday. "I think it would help everybody, including himself and this investigation, if he was able to say more about why he wrote what he did in 2006."

"All our journalists work within the criminal law and the PCC code of conduct," Nick Fullagar, a Trinity Mirror spokesman, said by telephone. The Press Complaints Commission administers the system of self-regulation for the press in the U.K.

-- Bloomberg News --

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