Piers Morgan Denies Any Personal Involvement in Phone Hacking

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.

As the CNN host gives evidence to the phone-hacking inquiry, it emerges that Rupert Murdoch may be summoned next year.

LONDON – Rupert Murdoch may be summoned to give evidence under oath to the Leveson Inquiry, it emerged Tuesday during Piers Morgan’s evidence session.

Morgan used his appearance at the Inquiry into press standards and practices to deny all personal involvement in phone-hacking, insisting that he did not know of any such practices going on at any of the newspapers he edited.

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During a tense evidence session, in which Inquiry counsel Robert Jay came close to disparaging Morgan’s apparent ignorance of hacking, Jay unexpectedly disclosed that Murdoch was expected to give his own evidence later in the Inquiry.

Dismissing a comment from Morgan about an “impression” of what Rupert Murdoch thought of a news story, Jay said: “I can ask him [Murdoch] for his impression when we get there.”

The comment is the first disclosure that the News Corp. CEO will be expected to testify under oath.

Giving evidence by videolink from LA, the CNN host told the Judicial Inquiry into the press practices and standards that he had no personal involvement whatever in phone-hacking and he did not know that journalists who worked for him had used illegally accessed information including vehicle registration numbers and medical data.

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Forty-five named journalists at the Daily Mirror have subsequently been found by a police investigation Operation Motorman to have accessed 681 such pieces of information.

“I would say average newspaper editor is aware of about 5% of what his journalists are up to at any given time.” Morgan told the Inquiry.

Asked further about the fact that he must have known about the wrongdoing, Morgan defended his record.

“I am not aware that any of those journalists were arrested, charged or convicted of anything.”

Giving evidence under oath in a somewhat testy questioning session Tuesday afternoon, Morgan dismissed multiple instances in his own diaries and in a variety of newspaper, radio and magazine interviews in which he appeared to have extensive personal knowledge of hacking, saying that he was “just passing on rumors” from London’s febrile rumor mill.

“My evidence is I have no reason or knowledge to believe it [phone-hacking] was going on,” Morgan told Inquiry Counsel Robert Jay, going on to insist that on that point he was “one hundred percent” certain.

At the end of his evidence session, given by video-link from LA, Morgan attempted to remonstrate with Lord Justice Leveson about the Inquiry process in which he was quizzed about suspect moments in his own career as detailed in his own biographies and interviews.

“This has gone just about how I thought it would have…I feel like a rock star having an album brought out of his worst ever hits,” he protested, telling Lord Justice Leveson he was “worried” about how newspapers were being portrayed by the Inquiry.

“I do think there has to be a better balance here, because a lot of the good things that papers were doing at the time haven’t even been talked about. I am very proud of things we did at the News of The World and The Mirror," he said.