Mirror phone hacking claims put Piers Morgan in spotlight
American media ask questions of CNN's British host - a former editor who has always denied hacking
THE NEWS that four celebrities including former England boss Sven Goran Eriksson are to sue the Daily Mirror over phone hacking has raised eyebrows in the United States, where former Mirror editor Piers Morgan is attempting to carve out a television career.
Morgan and Trinity Mirror have consistently denied any involvement in the phone-hacking scandal that brought down Rupert Murdoch's News of the World in 2011. However, the paper now faces claims from Eriksson, David Beckham's former nanny, Abbie Gibson, ex-footballer Garry Flitcroft and Coronation Street actress Shobna Gulati that their phones were hacked.
Details of the claims have yet to be made public but at least one of the allegations relates to a time when Morgan was editor of the Mirror.
Morgan's current employers CNN, for whom he hosts the talk show Piers Morgan Tonight, noted that "the ripples of the UK phone hacking scandal have spread further afield," but added that their man had "vigorously denied ever ordering phone hacking".
But Time magazine reports: "Insiders have been warning since last year that the furore over phone hacking which first erupted at Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid would end up spreading to the paper's competitors.
"The lawsuits are a potential embarrassment for CNN and for Morgan, who has repeatedly denied claims that he knew that phone hacking had taken place at the tabloid he edited between 1995 and 2004."
As Trinity Mirror's share price fell ten per cent on the news of the lawsuits, the International Business Times reported: "Morgan has a deal worth a rumoured £4m to ask tough questions of guests on CNN. What his paymasters make of the latest allegations was not clear."
Morgan's tabloid past has been used as a stick to beat him with before in the States. Last year Salon.com placed him at number eight on their 'hack list' and described his journalistic style as alternating between "fawning sycophancy and obvious contempt".
To make matters worse for Morgan, his reliability as a witness has also been brought into question thanks to the Jimmy Savile scandal.
Tabloid Watch reports that Morgan wrote in his most recent Mail on Sunday column: "The Jimmy Savile scandal grows more horrific by the minute... I never met him."
This contrasts starkly with an account of an evening at Claridges from 2009. "As I left, Jimmy Savile came up to me. 'Your TV shows are BRILLIANT!' he exclaimed... I've always loved Jimmy Savile," declared Morgan.