Sat, Aug 06, 2011 - Page 6 News List

British MP calls on CNN host to answer queries on hacking

VOICEMAIL:The MP said that talk show host Piers Morgan, who used to be a ‘Daily Mirror’ editor, had some ‘very serious questions to answer’


A senior British lawmaker on Thursday called on CNN talk show host Piers Morgan to return home to answer questions about phone hacking, after new allegations involving a newspaper he used to edit.

John Whittingdale, the Conservative chairman of the parliamentary media committee which quizzed media baron Rupert Murdoch last month over hacking, said Morgan had some “very serious questions to answer.”

He was speaking after Heather Mills, the former wife of Paul McCartney, claimed on a BBC TV program that a senior journalist at the Mirror Group of newspapers admitted in 2001 to hacking her voicemail.

The BBC declined to name the journalist, but said it was not Morgan, who was editor of the group’s flagship Daily Mirror newspaper at the time.

However, Morgan had reportedly admitted in a 2006 newspaper column to have been played a voicemail message left by McCartney for Mills.

“I would like to see Mr Morgan come back to this country and answer what are some very serious questions,” Whittingdale told BBC News, although he said his committee did not have the power to compel Morgan to return to Britain.

“I hope he will return to the UK and I imagine that there will be some questions which will be put to him, possibly by the police on the basis of the evidence that has emerged,” Whittingdale added.

Morgan, who is now based in New York and Los Angeles as a celebrity talk show host for US network CNN, shrugged off the call, saying in a Twitter message on Thursday: “So heart-warming that everyone in UK’s missing me so much they want me to come home.#swoon.”

In a statement on Wednesday, he dismissed Mills’ claims as “unsubstantiated” and said the BBC had informed him that the journalist she had identified was not employed by the Daily Mirror.

“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,” he added.

Before Morgan edited the Daily Mirror, he was editor of the News of the World, the scandal-hit tabloid closed by Murdoch last month amid public outrage over hacking by its journalists.

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