Morgan grilled over U.K. phone hacking

CNN host denies knowledge of practice

CNN anchor and former British tabloid editor Piers Morgan has denied all knowledge of phone hacking at the Daily Mirror, one of two national papers he edited.

Questioned Tuesday by the government inquiry into press ethics, conducted by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, Morgan said he had no reason to “believe it was going on” at the Mirror during his almost 10-year tenure, which ended in 2004.

Speaking to the U.K. via video link from the U.S. where he now lives, Morgan told the inquiry: “Not a single person has made a formal or legal complaint against the Daily Mirror for phone hacking.”

The Leveson inquiry is separate to the parliamentary probe into phone hacking at Rupert Murdoch’s now defunct News of the World Sunday tabloid, which Morgan edited in 1994-95, years before the scandal emerged.

Morgan was also asked about a report by the British Information Commissioner’s Office that found that 45 Mirror journalists were mentioned in the files of private investigator Steve Whittamore.

Morgan insisted that “all journalists knew they had to operate within the law. That was enshrined in their contracts of employment.”

He was grilled about a recording of a voicemail message left by Paul McCartney for his then-wife Heather Mills when the couple were experiencing difficulties in their short-lived marriage.

The CNN presenter, who quit as a judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” to concentrate on his “Piers Morgan Tonight” talkshow in November, claimed that listening to the message was not unethical, but declined to provide details of how it happened to protect his source.

Questioned about his views on privacy and how the press treats big names, he said: “I have very little sympathy with celebrities who sell their weddings for £1 million — one of the most private days of their lives — and then expect to have privacy if they get caught having affairs.

“They are the very last people who should be protected by a privacy law.”

After the session, Morgan said he had felt like a “badly treated rock star” whose low points were constantly repeated while his successes were ignored.