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CNN's Piers Morgan Denies Phone Hacking Allegations

Monday, 25 Jul 2011 07:50 AM

By James Hirsen

It may turn out that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp newspapers aren't the only publications with an alleged penchant for phone hacking.

According to The Associated Press, the left-leaning U.K. Mirror has been accused by a named source of the same charge that has been leveled against Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World.

James Hipwell, a former journalist for the Mirror, said that hacking was a common tactic at the paper.

"It was seen as a bit of a wheeze, slightly underhand but something many of them did," the former Mirror employee told the Independent. "After they'd hacked into someone's mobile they'd delete the message so another paper couldn't get the story."

Trinity Mirror group is the publisher of the Mirror. The New York Times recently featured five former journalists who said phone hacking was commonplace in the late 1990s at The People, another paper published by Trinity Mirror.

Hipwell has his problems as a potential witness. He was dismissed from the Mirror in 2000, first aired the claim soon thereafter, and was reportedly convicted for financial market manipulation several years following his departure from the Mirror.

Hipwell's assertions have been given quite a bit of attention in light of the growing phone-hacking scandal News Corp has been grappling with. And his claims have affected a U.S. anchor at CNN, who also happens to be his former boss at the Mirror, Piers Morgan.

Morgan, who recently began hosting his own show on CNN, "Piers Morgan Tonight," has been dragged into the News Corp hacking scandal.

It all started when British Internet blogger Paul Staines, who uses the pen name Guido Fawkes, claimed that a major 2002 scoop, which was obtained at the time when Morgan was editor of the Mirror, came from a phone hack.

Morgan denies the claim and has had to additionally rebuff an allegation made by a British legislator during the recent News Corp hearing, which had the whole world fixated.

Louise Mensch, a Conservative member of parliament, asked why lawmakers had not questioned Morgan. Mensch claimed that Morgan had admitted in a book he had penned that phone hacking provided news stories for the Mirror. However, she seemed to confuse posts by Fawkes with a passage from Morgan's book.

Morgan subsequently denied involvement with phone hacking. The New York Times quoted the CNN host as stating, "Ms. Mensch accused me of personal criminal activity, and I never broke the law as an editor."

Among other materials that Fawkes had posted was an old GQ exchange between Morgan and Naomi Campbell.

In response to a question from Campbell on the News of the World hacking of the Royals' phones, Morgan said, "Well, I was there in 1994-5, before mobiles were used very much, and that particular trick wasn't known about. I can't get too excited about it, I must say. It was pretty well-known that 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. That is not, to me, as serious as planting a bug in someone's house, which is what some people seem to think was going on."

In 2004 Morgan was fired as editor of the Mirror after the newspaper had published photos purporting to show British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. The pictures turned out to be fakes.

James Hirsen, J.D., M.A. in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court. Hirsen is the co-founder and chief legal counsel for InternationalEsq.com. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood: www.youtube.com/user/NMHollywood

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