Piers Morgan lives to fight another day?

Piers Morgan

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FORMER Daily Mirror/News of the World editor Piers Morgan refuted the evidence of Steve Nott at the Leveson Inquiry claiming it was “barking.”


The appearance of the now CNN anchor via a TV link disputed evidence that mobile phone hacking was the next big scandal waiting to happen, was scoffed at by Morgan, who denied that the Daily Mirror had been hacking voicemail messages under his editorship.


Nott, who had been a sales manager for a food company, told Leveson  that he had apparently discovered a way of people accessing voicemails, and was apparently made aware of it by Vodafone in the late nineties.


But when he put this potential breach to them, they weren’t interested. Nor were government, or nor were press.


When he went to the press, namely the Mirror, his idea for the story was rejected, but was apparently, according to Counsel, paid £100 for a story which never appeared in the paper.


Morgan, at Leveson said the idea that Nott’s evidence was the catalyst for the subsequent actions of newspapers using alleged phone hacking activities was “absolute nonsense.”


According to Counsel to the Inquiry, the story was then published in a local paper.


Morgan said that maybe that’s where the story belonged, and argued at Leveson that there were much bigger things going on at the time, namely, the death of Princess Diana in 1997.


He said that some 2000 requests for stories came in all the time, and only 150 or so would be looked at and eventually published in newspapers.


Morgan said he wasn’t aware of phone hacking going on at the Daily Mirror – despite him being quizzed over certain cases from his memoirs from the famous book The Insider..


Morgan said that the first he had heard of phone hacking voicemail messages was in late Jan 2001, (26) when it was evident that you could simply dial a standard pincode of a phone, if it wasn’t protected.


The former editor of the News of the World, who became the youngest editor of a Brit tabloid newspaper at the age of 28, said that an editor would only knew 5% of what was going on in the newsroom.


He ended the showboating by saying he had been very proud of the journalism that had been produced at both papers under his editorship, and said that the Inquiry had been useful , but that he felt rather like a rockstar whose bad bits of his album were being trawled over.


He was clearly nervous though on occasions as he constantly sipped Evian water.


IF he thought he was going to have an easy ride at the Leveson Inquiry then he was well mistaken.


So what did we learn from his evidence at the High Court today? Not a lot really.


What we did learn was that both Counsels to the Inquiry must have been revelling in having all eyes on them for up to two hours, when they were grilling the former editor of both the News of the World, and Daily Mirror on Sky News.


This year has produced some of the most riveting “real” TV news coverage of 2011.


Morgan’s appearance was rather like the appearance of the Murdochs in July, to the Culture Select Committee where Rupert Murdoch was ever so humble about what had been going on at his precious newspapers.


Morgan, howevcr, took it in his stride, and in some events lives to fight another day. Whether you believe the bluster, or not, it was gripping. The saga continues. Lord Leveson said that if he wanted, he could call Heather Mills to the Inquiry to check what Morgan had told the Inquiry about voicemails, because Morgan was apparently adamant that he wasn't going to reveal a source regarding authorisation on who had been playing a message about a rift between her ex husband, Sir Paul McCartney, and herself. TBC....

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