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LONDON – Senior MPs are calling on Piers Morgan to return to the UK to face questions on phone hacking, but have stopped short of summoning him to appear before Parliament — for now.
The growing political rumblings come as Paul McCartney said he will call in police to investigate allegations that his phone was hacked by a reporter from The Mirror Group — one of Britain’s major newspaper publishers — who is thought to have listened to intimate messages he left for his then-girlfriend Heather Mills in 2002.
“When I go back to Britain after this tour I am going to talk to the police because apparently I have been hacked,” he told the Television Critics Association in L.A., speaking via satellite link from Cincinnati.
“I do think it’s a horrendous violation of privacy, and I think it has been going on for a long time and more people than we have heard about it knew about it,” McCartney added.
The CNN presenter, who edited the Daily Mirror and The News of The World before becoming a showbiz star on America’s Got Talent, wrote a Mail On Sunday column in 2006 giving details of a tape of McCartney’s message where he sought to make up with Mills after a fight.
“At one stage I was played a tape of a message Paul had left Heather on her mobile phone,” Morgan wrote in his column. “It was heartbreaking. He sounded lonely, miserable and desperate and even sang ‘We Can Work It Out’ into the answer phone.”
Morgan is now facing a growing political clamor calling on him to reveal how he came to hear the tape and what he knew about the practice of phone hacking at tabloid newspapers.
Morgan has always strongly rebuffed any suggestion that he may have been involved in hacking and appeared to joke about the latest furor, tweeting Thursday: “So heart-warming that everyone in UK’s missing me so much they want me to come home.”
John Whittingdale, who chairs the influential Parliamentary Culture select committee that forced Rupert and James Murdoch to appear before them, said, however, that Morgan had “serious questions” to answer.
“I hope he will return to the UK and I imagine that there will be some questions put to him, possibly by the police, on the evidence that has emerged,” Whittingdale said, according to The Guardian.
“Therese Coffey [a fellow Culture Committee member] said he should come back to this country and I think that is absolutely right. He certainly should,” Whittingdale added.
However, the Whittingdale-led committee currently leading a rout through the senior executives at News International, currently has no plans to call Morgan to appear before them yet, the chairman said.
Harriet Harman, a senior Labour Party MP, went further: “It’s not good enough for him to say — or for someone to say on his behalf — ‘I always complied with the law and the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct.’ He’s got to answer how we’ve got these allegations from Heather Mills.”
Mills told the BBC Newsnight program Wednesday night that a Mirror Group journalist – who she said was not Morgan – had quoted details of McCartney’s phone message to her and admitted that her phone messages had been hacked. She did not identify the journalist or which Mirror Group newspaper he worked on.
The newspaper said in a statement that its journalists had not carried out any illegal behavior.
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