What did Piers Morgan really know about phone hacking?

Piers Morgan CNN

Piers Morgan
CNN

(CBS) The scrutiny on Piers Morgan over the phone hacking scandal in the United Kingdom continues. 

British MP Louise Mensch made the incorrect claim on July 19 that Morgan boasted of phone hacking in his memoir. Morgan tweeted that the claim was "[c]omplete nonsense."

Pictures: Piers Morgan
Special section: Crisis for the Murdochs

Two days later in a post called "The Case Against Piers Morgan," Gawker cataloged "two independent direct accusations of hacking" against Morgan and other less-than-concrete accusations.

Late Tuesday, July 26, The Daily Beast published a story called "Morgan Admits Dodgy Practices." Referencing a 2009 BBC interview with Morgan, Lloyd Grove writes,

"But two years before the exposure of Fleet Street's methods rocked the British body politic, Morgan didn't disagree that that phone-'tapping' and other 'down-in-the-gutter' tactics might have been employed in the attainment of sensational scoops."

Read more: On Twitter, Piers Morgan denies hacking phones

According to The Daily Beast, in the 2009 BBC interview, Kristy Young and Morgan had the following exchange:

"And what about this nice middle-class boy who would have to be dealing with, I mean, essentially people who rake through people's bins for a living?" Young asked Morgan. "People who tap people's phones, people who take secret photographs...who do all that very nasty down-in-the-gutter stuff--how did you feel about that?"

Morgan responds, according to The Daily Beast, saying, "Not a lot of that went on...A lot of it was done by third parties, rather than the staff themselves." He adds later, "That's not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work."

In a statement Tuesday, Morgan said, "There is no contradiction between my comments on Kirsty Young's Desert Island Discs show and my unequivocal statements with regard to phone-hacking."

On Twitter Sunday, Morgan blocked Mensch, tweeting, "In fact, I'm going further - you are now officially BLOCKED @LouiseMensch #NoTimeForLyingHalfwits"

The hacking scandal revolves around allegations that News of the World, a paper owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., hacked cell phones for scoops, including the phone of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl who was murdered in 2002. Morgan edited News of the World in 1994 and 1995 and edited The Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004.

James Hipwell, formerly a reporter for The Daily Mirror, has alleged hacking was widespread there during Morgan's tenure. News Corp. shuttered News of the World on July 10.

  • David Riedel

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