CNN host Piers Morgan has been hit with more evidence that suggests he knew about phone hacking while he was editing tabloid papers in his native Britain.
Larry King’s successor repeatedly has denied that any stories he published while editor of the Daily Mirror and News of the World were obtained by hacking.
|Piers Morgan alleges "deliberate attempts" to smear him and CNN. (Getty Images Photo)
But now a passage from his 2009 book and an interview he gave to BBC radio both seem to contradict his current position.
Morgan, who was a tabloid editor from 1994-2004, remains adamant that he did not know. He took to Twitter on Wednesday to say his accusers should do research before they “self-implode with excitement.”
In Morgan’s book, “God Bless America,” he wrote of a story his Daily Mirror unearthed about an affair between England’s national soccer coach, Sven Goran Erickson, and minor television personality Ulrika Jonsson.
He said Erickson’s long-term girlfriend, Nancy Dell’Olio, had left a suggestive voice mail on his cellphone. “Piers, darling, I am in Rome and thinking of you. I hope you have recovered after our night together. Let’s get together again soon, you naughty man,” Dell’Olio said.
In the book, Morgan wrote, “Given that it was the Daily Mirror, under my editorship, which exposed Sven’s fling with Ulrika Jonsson after learning of a similar message left by the then England manager on her phone, I can only hope and pray that the gutter press (ha ha) aren't hacking into my mobile now.”
The same year, he appeared on the BBC show “Desert Island Discs,” in which personalities are asked to name eight pieces of music they would like with them if they were stranded.
Host Kirsty Young asked him, “What about this nice middle-class boy, who would have to be dealing with, I mean essentially people who rake through bins for a living, people who tap people’s phones, people who take secret photographs, who do all that nasty down-in-the-gutter stuff. How did you feel about that?"
Morgan replied, “Not a lot of that went on. A lot of it was done by third parties rather than the staff themselves. That’s not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work.
"I’m quite happy to be parked in the corner of tabloid beast and to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to, and I make no pretense about the stuff we used to do.”
Morgan, who took over for King on CNN in January and also is a co-hosting judge on NBC's "America's Got Talent," consistently has denied accusations that he was in any way involved in the type of phone hacking that has threatened Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. empire.
Last weekend, James Hipwell, who worked as a financial reporter on the Mirror, said hacking was “endemic” during Morgan’s editorship. Morgan was a “hands-on” editor who was spent a lot of time in the newsroom looking over journalists’ shoulders, Hipwell said.
“I can't say 100 per cent that he knew about it. But it was inconceivable he didn't," said Hipwell who was fired in 2000 for buying shares and then tipping them in the paper. The Mirror’s parent company, Trinity Mirror, has opened an investigation.
After last week’s parliamentary hearings in Britain Morgan, 46, attacked Conservative British MP Louise Mensch for claiming he had boasted about hacking. He said Mensch had come out with “an absolute blatant lie.”
“At no stage in my book, or outside of my book, have I ever boasted of using phone hacking for any stories. For the record, during my time at the Mirror and the News of the World, I have never hacked a phone, told anybody to hack a phone or published any story that was based on the hacking of a phone.”
Mensch has been involved in a “deliberate attempt to smear” him and CNN, Morgan said.
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