Piers Morgan Denies Admitting He Was Aware of News Corp. Phone Hacking (Video)

John Lamparski/Getty Images

A clip was recently unearthed of him on a BBC radio show saying "not a lot" of hacking went on at News of the World.

Piers Morgan is downplaying a 2009 interview he gave to a BBC radio show in which he said "not a lot of that went on" when asked about phone hacking -- which some have taken to believe meant he was aware of the illegal ways News of the World may have been gathering information.

"Millions of people heard these comments when I first made them in 2009 on one of the BBC’s longest -running radio shows, and none deduced that I was admitting to, or condoning illegal reporting activity," Morgan says in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.

"[Host] Kirsty [Young] asked me a fairly lengthy question about how I felt dealing with people operating at the sharp end of investigative journalism. My answer was not specific to any of the numerous examples she gave, but a general observation about tabloid newspaper reporters and private investigators," added Morgan. "As I have said before, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone."

Morgan, who replaced Larry King on CNN but once edited The Sun and News of the World, was asked on the radio show about "all that nasty down-in-the-gutter stuff" in 2009. His full response:

"To be honest, let’s put that in perspective as well. Not a lot of that went on. A lot of it was done by third parties rather than the staff themselves. That’s not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work. I’m quite happy to be parked in the corner of tabloid beast and to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to, and I make no pretense about the stuff we used to do. I simply say the net of people doing it was very wide, and certainly encompassed the high and the low end of the supposed newspaper market," he said, according to a clip on Newsweek/The Daily Beast.

Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. have come under fire for allegations that News of the World hacked the phones of a 13-year-old murder victim, families of dead soldiers and celebrities. News Corp. recently closed the 168-year-old newspaper. U.S. officials are investigating whether News of the World hacked into 9/11 victims' phones in the U.S.