LONDON-(AFP) – Former British newspaper editor Piers Morgan, now a presenter for US television network CNN, denied fresh allegations that he printed stories obtained through phone hacking, reports said Thursday.
Morgan – a former editor of Rupert Murdoch’s now shuttered News of the World paper and of the rival Daily Mirror tabloid – made his latest denial after British media printed comments that he made in a BBC radio programme in 2009.
“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,” said Morgan’s statement, released late Wednesday and cited by the BBC and other British media.
In the programme, “Desert Island Discs”, presenter Kirsty Young asked Morgan how he felt about having to deal with “people who rake through bins for a living, people who tap people’s phones” to get information for tabloids.
Morgan replied: “Not a lot of that went on. A lot of it was done by third parties, rather than the staff themselves,” adding: “That’s not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work.”
In the programme, Morgan added that he was “quite happy to be parked in the corner as (a) tabloid beast and to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to”, adding that the “net of people doing it was very wide.”
But in his statement Morgan said: “There is no contradiction between my comments on Kirsty Young’s Desert Island Discs show and my unequivocal statements with regard to phone hacking.”
“Millions of people heard these comments when I first made them in 2009 on one of the BBC’s longest-running radio shows, and none deduced that I was admitting to, or condoning illegal reporting activity.”
Morgan was sacked as editor of the Daily Mirror in 2004 for publishing fake photos of British soldiers purportedly abusing Iraqis. He joined CNN in January, taking over from veteran interviewer Larry King.
On Tuesday Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily Mirror, said it was conducting an internal review of its editorial controls.
Morgan last week demanded an apology from a British lawmaker who claimed, at a London hearing which quizzed Rupert Murdoch, that Morgan had admitted to phone hacking.