UPDATE: Politicians over here are saying that it is not enough for CNN chat show Piers Morgan to issue communiqués from America saying that he knows nothing about phone-hacking. Morgan has denied he knows anything about Heather Mills, Paul McCartney’s ex-wife, having her phone hacked – although in 2006 he admitted to once listening to one of her mobile phone messages. Therese Coffey, a Conservative MP who sits on a UK Parliament committee investigating phone-hacking, told the BBC that Morgan must help police with their inquiries. Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, also weighed in, saying Morgan has questions to answer. “It’s not good enough for him to say, or somebody to say on his behalf, I always comply with the law,” Harman told Sky News. Of course, there’s an element of people rubbing their hands here. A lot of politicians who have scores to settle with the CNN chat-show host would like to see him take a fall; and Morgan’s bosses in Atlanta will doubtless be taking a dim view of this unwelcome publicity. But the political committee that recently grilled Rupert Murdoch tells me it won’t be calling for Morgan to give evidence. Morgan himself was unavailable for comment.
PREVIOUS: The burgeoning News Corp phone-hacking scandal continues to make waves for Rupert Murdoch in the UK, and increasingly they’re crossing the Atlantic. Today, CNN anchor Piers Morgan’s efforts to battle allegations that he was involved in phone hacking while editing News Corp.’s UK tabloids News of the World and the Daily Mirror suffered a setback. Paul McCartney’s ex-wife, Heather Mills, leveled her own accusation against Morgan in an interview with BBC Newsnight. Mills claims that a journalist with the Mirror Group, which owns the Daily Mirror, admitted to her that he hacked into her voicemail in 2001 and listened to a message McCartney left her after she’d left for India in the wake of a fight. The BBC notes that while the journalist in question wasn’t Morgan, the CNN anchor did tell the Daily Mail in 2006 that he had listened to a “heartbreaking” message McCartney left Mills while she was in India following a “tiff.” While not accusing Morgan of engaging in phone hacking himself, Mills points a finger at the former Daily Mirror editor. “There was absolutely no honest way that Piers Morgan could have obtained that tape that he has so proudly bragged about unless they had gone into my voice messages,” she said. Morgan, who also serves as a judge on NBC’s reality competition show America’s Got Talent, denied the allegations in a statement.
None of the American outlets have been implicated in the illegal reporting that brought down News of the World, and some observers said they doubted that management would tinker with the lucrative cable network that continues to dominate the ratings. The same cannot be said for News Corp.’s newspapers, which could be spun off into a new company to insulate more valuable assets from further damage. Even The Wall Street Journal, a powerful conservative voice in its editorials, could again be on the block.
The Journal on Wednesday reported that “about 35 privacy-invasion lawsuits” have now been filed against the News of the World, up from two dozen in April. The Journal also said that News International, News Corp’s British publishing arm, has allotted $24.4 million-$32.6 million to cover potential litigation.