Piers Morgan said that he was unaware of any phone hacking by the Daily Mirror while he was editor, but a former Daily Mirror Journalist, James Hipwell, claims hacking was a “regular tool” for obtaining information.
in an interview with The Leveson Inquiry, Hipwell said that not only was phone hacking used regularly, it was accepted as a necessary way to get a story. The Leveson Inquiry is an ongoing public questioning forum into the practices and ethics of the British press after reports of phone hacking began.
“The practice seemed to be common on other newspapers as well," Hipwell said. "I think it was seen as a slightly underhand thing to do but not illegal. It just seemed to be fair game, fair play, any means to get a story," reports AFP.
He also told The Inquiry that one reporter actually demonstrated for him how to hack into voicemails in order to retrieve information.
Morgan adamantly denied that he had any knowledge of hacking taking place at The Daily Mirror. "My own evidence is I had no reason or knowledge to believe it was going on," he told The inquiry.
But Hipwell has a different story. He says there was no way the former editor was not aware of the hacking as it was openly practiced and discussed.
"Looking at his style of editorship, I would say it was very unlikely that he didn't know what was going on because, as I have said, there wasn't very much he didn't know about,” claimed Hipwell.
According to The Telegraph, during Morgan's questioning regarding the hacking of Heather Mill's voicemails, he claimed a source- which he would not reveal- had provided him the voicemails, saying Mills allowed them to be distributed to the media.
Lord Justice Leveson intervened to say he was prepared to call Heather Mills, ex-wife of Sir Paul McCartney, to ask her whether she had given Morgan permission to listen to her voice-mails.
"As I think he said in his testimony, he took a very keen interest in the work of his journalists,” Hipwell told the Inquiry, “Showbusiness is very close to his heart."
Hipwell was given a six month prison sentence in 2006 for pilfering nearly £41,000 ($64,305). He made mention of stocks in which he was invested in a financial news column in the Mirror, and swiftly sold them as their value rose.