Piers Morgan Accused of Listening to Hacked Paul McCartney Message

Piers Morgan
AP Photo/Ian West

"Piers Morgan Tonight" has improved CNN's performance in the hour, but Rachel Maddow still tops the British host.

The ex-wife of Paul McCartney threw Piers Morgan into the center of an inquiry examining the British media's use of illegal phone hacking Thursday.

Heather Mills, who was married to sir Paul from 2002-2006, told investigators she left the couple's shared home in 2001 after an argument. She turned off her phone, and the next morning had 25 contrite voicemail messags from McCartney. One message included McCartney singing a song, Reuters reports.

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Mills told an inquiry into British media ethics those messages seemed to have already been listened to. Later that day, a reporter called Mills and said he'd heard McCartney had sang to her in a phone message. The reporter was allegedly an employ of Trinity Mirror Group, which owns the Daily Mirror. The reporter did not work for the Mirror itself. Morgan served as editor of the Mirror from 1995-2004.

Morgan bragged in a 2006 newspaper column that he had heard the message, but in December refused to name who had played the message for him. In testimony before the ethics inquiry,  Mills said the only way those messages could have been obtained was through illegal phone hacking. She said she had not shared them with anyone and ahd deleted them after listening to them.

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The CNN host briefly edited News of the World from 1994 to 1995, which folded last summer after being the center of a phone hacking scandal. Journalists were accused of hacking into the voice mails of celebrities and murder victims to get information for stories.

Reuters reports that Morgan once wrote in his diary that he knew of a "little trick" for getting into voicemails. Even so, phone hacking is not known to have been practiced during Morgan's tenure and he has denied ever authorizing the practice. ,p>