LONDON — U.K. lawmakers called on Thursday for CNN presenter Piers Morgan to return to the country to answer phone hacking allegations.
Morgan, the former editor of U.K. tabloid the Daily Mirror, is facing fresh allegations in the scandal. Heather Mills, the former wife of Paul McCartney, claims her voicemails were intercepted by a journo at Trinity Mirror, owner of the Daily Mirror, when Morgan edited the paper.
Mills told the BBC Wednesday that her phone was hacked in 2001 following a row with McCartney.
She alleged that a senior journalist at Trinity Mirror admitted intercepting voice mails left for her by the ex-Beatle.
According to Mills, the reporter contacted her and “started quoting verbatim the messages from my machine.”
She told the BBC public affairs show “Newsnight” that it was not Morgan who called her.
Morgan has denied intercepting voice mails or any knowledge of the practice when he edited the title, but a British MP wants the erstwhile editor to return to Blighty from the U.S. in order to help police with their enquiries.
Therese Coffey, a member of the House of Commons committee investigating phone hacking, said that Mills’ allegations were “very strong” and she “didn’t see any point in (Morgan) necessarily just staying in the U.S. and issuing statements.”
She said Morgan, who also edited the News of the World, needed to explain an article in 2006 in which he admitted having listened to a recorded message.
Coffey said: “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 enquiries, and I don’t mean being arrested in any way, I’m sure he can add more light.”
Guardian media commentator Roy Greenslade also called for Morgan to return to the U.K. and answer the allegations.
He said that Morgan had already admitted, in print in October 2006, listening to “a tape of a message Paul had left for Heather on her mobile phone.”
Added Greenslade, “Morgan needs to explain just how that came about because, as it stands, his admission gives a measure of credence to Mills’ allegations.”
In a statement issued via CNN, Morgan insisted: “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.
I have no knowledge of any conversation any executive from other newspapers at Trinity Mirror may or may not have had with Heather Mills.
To reiterate, 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.”
Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, supported calls for Morgan to return to Blighty to face the music.
It’s not good enough for Piers Morgan just to say he’s always stayed within the law. There are questions about what happened with Heather Mills’ phone messages that he needs to answer,” she said in a statement.