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LONDON – On Tuesday, CNN host Piers Morgan told the Leveson inquiry that he had “no reason” to believe that phone hacking took place when he edited the Daily Mirror. On Wednesday, a former colleague told the inquiry that it was “a daily part” of newsgathering at some parts of the paper.
Giving evidence under oath at the inquiry into phone hacking, former business columnist James Hipwell said that phone hacking was very much the norm among his colleagues.
“The illegality of it was never questioned,” he said. “It was seen as fair game, fair play. Any means to get a story.”
Hipwell, who left the paper after being jailed for buying and selling shares that he tipped in his Mirror column, said he sat next to the team covering celebrity news, so understood how they worked.
“It became, I think, a daily part of their news-gathering operation,” he said of his colleagues dealing with celebrities.
Hipwell said Morgan must have known about the technique and its use because he was such a “hands-on” editor, overseeing the newsroom floor daily.
“Looking at his style of leadership I would say it was very unlikely that he did not know what was going on, because, as I have said, there wasn’t very much he didn’t know about,” he said.
In his Tuesday appearance, Morgan had denied any personal involvement in phone hacking, telling the inquiry that it had not taken place at the Mirror “to the best of my knowledge.”
He dismissed various comments in interviews and memoirs that made it appear as if he had extensive knowledge of phone hacking techniques, saying he had been talking on the basis of “rumors.”
Trinity Mirror, which publishes the Daily Mirror, has always denied that phone hacking has taken place at any of its newspapers.
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