Hugh Grant U.K. TV Documentary Includes Piers Morgan Phone Hacking Comments (Video)

Hugh Grant
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The actor, an alleged hacking victim, has become the frontman for an organization called Hacked Off, which demands more oversight of the U.K. media. At the group's kickoff event in July, he said, "Grotesque abuses have been allowed to continue because of the cowardice of our politicians."

Previously unseen footage of the CNN host and then-tabloid editor saying "a spate of stories" came out "because of mobile phones" could reignite an old debate.

LONDON - A Hugh Grant TV documentary set to air in the U.K. Wednesday night includes previously unseen 2003 footage of CNN host Piers Morgan telling British singer Charlotte Church about news stories that emerged thanks to phone hacking.

Channel 4, which will air Hugh Grant: Taking on the Tabloids at 8 p.m. London time, posted a video clip of the footage on YouTube Wednesday. It could reignite the debate about former Daily Mirror editor Morgan and his knowledge about hacking.

Channel 4 said Church's chat with Morgan was filmed when singer was 17 and preparing to address a crowd about a potential privacy law to protect under-18-year-olds.

During the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics and standards in the U.K., Morgan denied any involvement in hacking or having any reason to believe that it may have been used during his time at the Daily Mirror. As Channel 4 put it: "Piers Morgan has always said that he knew phone hacking existed, and he still maintains that he never knowingly used it."

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Earlier this year, BBC host Jeremy Paxman told the Leveson Inquiry that Morgan once described how hacking works during a lunch event.

In a book and during the Leveson Inquiry, Morgan also said he was warned about the practice of hacking in 2001 and passed on that knowledge to others.

"As I wrote in my book, The Insider, and as I reiterated to the Leveson Inquiry, I was warned in 2001 about the practice of phone-hacking, after a series of stories about me appeared in the press relating to a DTI share-tipping investigation and I couldn't work out where they had come from," Morgan said in a statement on Wednesday. "I passed on that warning to others."

The clip from the documentary shows Morgan saying: "There was a spate of stories that came out because of mobile phones. When they first came out, mobile phones … journalists found out that if the celebrity hadn't changed their pin code … you can access their voicemail just by tapping in a number. Are you really telling me that journalists aren't going to do that? If they know they can ring up Charlotte Church's mobile phone, listen to all her messages?"

Morgan adds: "Right, now all you have to do - and I know it's hard because celebrities don't like doing anything for themselves - is actually change your security number."

Channel 4 said that Grant explains in his documentary how he got a hold of the video. "The other day at breakfast ... we were chatting to Charlotte Church and she suddenly remembered that she had interviewed Piers Morgan for a speech she was making and it was video-ed, and in it he talked about phone hacking," he says. "So she has lent us the DVD and this it."

Grant is one of the public faces of the Hacked Off campaign for stricter regulation of the U.K. press. The Channel 4 documentary, which the network is also touting with a short promo, follows him and the campaign in the run-up to the publication of the final Leveson report.

Watch Grant watching the Morgan-Church footage below.



Twitter: @georgszalai