Heather Mills Accuses Parent Company of Piers Morgan Paper of Hacking Her Phone

3:46 PM PST 08/03/2011 by Mimi Turner
Francois G. Durand/Getty Images

Paul McCartney's former girlfriend's accusation adds another newspaper group into News Corp.'s phone-hacking scandal.

LONDON – Heather Mills, the ex-wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, dramatically widened the phone-hacking row Wednesday night to include another newspaper group, telling the BBC that a journalist from The Mirror Group had hacked her phone messages in 2001.

Mills did not identify the reporter in question, but said it was not Piers Morgan, the CNN anchor and America’s Got Talent judge, who was then editor of The Daily Mirror. She said the reporter had quoted “verbatim” details of a phone message left by McCartney following a fight between the couple.

But Newsnight pointed to a column Morgan wrote in The Mail on Sunday in 2006 about the couple’s breakdown, which appeared to show that that Morgan had listened to the illegally hacked message.

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“At one stage I was played a tape of a message Paul had left Heather on her mobile phone,” he wrote in his column. “It was heartbreaking. He sounded lonely, miserable and desperate and even sang ‘We Can Work It Out’ into the answer phone.”

Speaking on Newsnight, the BBC2 late night news show, Mills said a reporter – who she did not name – had admitted accessing her voicemail messages.

“He said, ‘Oh I heard you had a big argument with your boyfriend,’ and he quoted verbatim the messages from my machine.  I said, ‘you’ve obviously hacked my phone. If you do anything with story - because they were obviously very private conversations about issues we were having as a couple, then I’ll go to the police. And he said ‘OK, OK, yeah we did year it on your voice messages. I won’t run it.’”

Trinity Mirror, the newspaper group which owns a string of British tabloids including The Daily Mirror, last month launched what it described as a “review” of its journalistic practices following the eruption of corruption and hacking allegations that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers in a criminal scandal and PR nightmare.

In a statement following the Newsnight allegations, Trinity Mirror said: "Our position is clear. All our journalists work within the criminal law and the PCC [Press Complaints Commission] code of conduct."

Morgan has always denied that phone-hacking took place under his editorship, but a colleague who worked under him has claimed that under his editorship the practise was widespread. James Hipwell, a former business reporter on The Daily Mirror who was later jailed for insider trading, told the BBC that hacking voicemails of celebrities and their PRs was commonly used as a way for the paper to get news stories.”

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