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CNN's Piers Morgan Linked to Phone Hacking Scandal

CNN evp Ken Jautz might want to have a quiet meeting with Piers Morgan, who hosts a nightly show on the network, to find out what he knows about the News of the World phone hacking scandal, and whether he might be required to help Scotland Yard with its inquiries.

In 2002, when he was editor of the rival Mirror tabloid, Morgan used a hacked voicemail to report that England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson was having an affair with TV personality Ulrike Jonsson, according to the political blogger "Guido Fawkes." Jonsson also sued the NOTW for the alleged hacking. The Mirror denies it used hacking.

Morgan was editor of the News of the World from 1994 to 1996, before becoming editor of the Mirror until 2004. He has been a constant presence on the fringe of the News Corp. (NWS) scandal due to his friendship with Andy Coulson, a NOTW editor who succeeded him, and then went on to become spokesperson for prime minister David Cameron before being arrested July 8 in connection with Scotland Yard's investigation.

Morgan has consistently defended Coulson and downplayed the scandal. When Coulson resigned, Morgan tweeted:

Very sad to hear news about Andy Coulson - good man, good friend...
He has argued that phone hacking may have been in the public interest:
Do I think this [phone hacking] is the greatest crime in the world? What would have happened, for example, if the News of the World had been hacking Osama bin Laden's phone and had heard him planning another atrocity like 9/11? It's just a simple question -â€" would that have been permissible even though technically it breached the latest data protection laws? It's an interesting question to throw out there.
And he has criticized the victims of the hacking for taking cash settlements from the NOTW:
I have sympathy for the people at the top who I don't think they had a clue what was going on.
The Guido Fawkes story, if true, belies Morgan's claim that London tabloid editors have no idea what their reporters are up to.

Most unfortunately for Morgan, the Mirror employed Jonathan Rees, a private investigator whose office was bugged by London police from 1999 onward in an investigation of officers suspected of taking bribes. The police recorded Rees paying police for information and then selling it The Mirror and the NOTW:

At one point the police bug caught Rees telling a Daily Mirror journalist that they must be careful what they wrote down "because what we're doing is illegal, isn't it? I don't want people coming in and nicking us for a criminal offence, you know."
Rees is a central character in the hacking scandal, having received £150,000 a year from the NOTW, primarily to hack voicemails and obtain information from the police. (In 2010, he was also acquitted of the 1988 ax murder of his business partner, Daniel Morgan.)


Image by Wikimedia, CC.
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