Select Committee says it will not call Piers Morgan to appear after Heather Mills’ allegations
UPDATE: 14:40 – Culture Select Committee chairman John Whittingdale has told Sky News that that while he is not calling upon Piers Morgan to appear he says the former Daily Mirror editor should return to the UK to set the record straight.
“Clearly there are questions which @PiersMorgan ought to answer”. Piers Morgan should come back to UK to answer those questions,” Whittingdale said.
However, he added this was a matter for the police not his committee.
Earlier it was reported by the BBC (UPDATE: 11:40) that that Whittingdale has said MPs have no plans to call Morgan or Mirror Group executives after Heather Mills’ phone-hacking claims over the last day.
The news is likely to leave some asking the question why the committee has made such a decision and it may well answer that as yet no solid evidence has been presented.
Roy Greenslade says the allegations “against the Daily Mirror were somewhat less than convincing”. However, he still thinks that there are questions for the paper’s publisher, Trinity Mirror, to answer and says that the “paucity of the evidence invalidate calls” for Morgan “to explain references in the past to voicemail interception”.
Political Scrapbook says Morgan’s 2003 evidence conflicts with reality – it republished his video appearance, you can see here:
The announcement comes as tweets relating to Piers Morgan rocket on the social network with thousands tweeting about the CNN presenter.
UPDATE: 0900 – A Conservative MP, Therese Coffey, has called for Piers Morgan to return to the UK to answer questions following claims last night by Heather Mills that a senior Mirror journalist admitted hacking into her voicemail messages left by Sir Paul McCartney.
Coffey, who sits on the Culture Select Committee which is investigating phone hacking said: “I just hope that the police take the evidence and go with it and if Mr Morgan wants to come back to the UK and help them with their inquiries, and I don’t mean being arrested in any way, I’m sure he can add more light.
“I don’t see any point in him necessarily just staying in the US and issuing statements. I think it would help everybody, including himself and this investigation, if he was able to say more about why he wrote what he did in 2006.”
The call was joined by Harriet Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, who told Sky News that Morgan “had questions to answer”.
The MPs want to hear want Morgan has to say regarding his comments to the Daily Mail in 2006 where he said he had been played a tape of a voicemail message left for Mills.
In response Morgan issued another statement: I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from hacking.”
It does appear that there are some out there gunning for Morgan with real evidence: Is Piers Morgan simply too successful?
The story about Mills broke last night.
17:02 – Heather Mills, the ex-wife of Sir Paul McCartney, has told the BBC that a former unnamed Mirror Newspaper Group journalist admitted hacking her voicemail.
She doesn’t say what newspaper they worked for, but if the suggestion is that it could be one of Trinity Mirror’s Sunday titles, the Sunday Mirror and The People, where allegations have regarding hacking have already been made.
Mills has told BBC Newsnight that a senior Mirror Group journalist admitted hacking voicemails left for her by McCartney dating back to before they were married.
Mills devoid of reality
The pair married in 2002 and divorced in 2008 in a legal battle that left her reputation in tatters. The judge, Justice Bennett said Mills she was a “less than impressive witness” and that the former model was not only “devoid of reality”, but had proved to be her “own worst enemy” by making claims for a settlement which were “ridiculous”.
Mills has told BBC Newsnight that the journalist rang her and quoted parts of the recording.
Mills said that when she asked how they could know such details she says she was told it was because the message had been hacked.
Mills said the journalist rang her and “started quoting verbatim the messages from my machine”.
Ms Mills said she challenged the journalist saying: “You’ve obviously hacked my phone and if you do anything with this story… I’ll go to the police.”
She said they responded: “OK, OK, yeah we did hear it on your voice messages, I won’t run it”, the BBC reports.
Trinity Mirror responded to the allegation, and said: “Our position is clear. All our journalists work within the criminal law and the PCC code of conduct.”
However, Trinity Mirror has launched an investigation into its editorial practices, but says this is not related to phone hacking — and it is not retrospectively looking at old stories.
Louise Mensch, the Tory MP who was was forced to apologise to Piers Morgan for making untrue allegations, said this morning that it was “a disgrace that Trinity Mirror is only reviewing its present newsroom practices and refusing to look at its past”.
The 2001 voicemail relates to a row she had with McCartney. He had apparently left an apologetic message on her phone.
Mills said the journalist was not Piers Morgan, who was the editor of the Daily Mirror at the time, giving further credence to the idea that it could be a Sunday newspaper journalist.
However, the Mills message does appear to be similar in nature to one Morgan referred to in a 2006 Daily Mail article, but that proves nothing and does not in anyway implicate him.
He has only said he was played a tape of a message McCartney had left for Mills.
Mills told the BBC: “There was absolutely no honest way that Piers Morgan could have obtained that tape that he has so proudly bragged about unless they had gone into my voice messages.”
It had earlier been reported that other stars including Rio Ferdinand had possibly been hacked by Mirror group journalists.