Blogger’s Claim That CNN’s Morgan Knew of Hacking Falls Short

Recording supposedly captured host discussing payment for hacker

The English blogger who has, for weeks, been accusing Piers Morgan of involvement in the ballooning U.K. hacking scandal, now says he is sitting on a recording in which Morgan admits as much.

According to Forbes media writer Jeff Bercovici, Paul Staines, the editor of a popular right-leaning British blog called Guido Fawkes, claimed to have a recording that “contradicts [Morgan’s] recent claims” that he had no knowledge of any hacking by reporters working under him during his tenure as a tabloid editor. But it now turns out that the recording is far less provocative than Staines claimed it was.

Morgan, who worked for Rupert Murdoch as editor of The News of the World in 1994, before taking the top job at competitor tabloid The Daily Mirror in 1995, where he served until he was fired in 2004 (after photos the Mirror published depicting British soldiers allegedly abusing Iraqi prisoners were proven to be fake), has denied that any hacking took place by reporters working under him.

As Bercovici points out, most recently, Morgan told The New York Times, “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. I am not aware, and have never seen evidence to suggest otherwise, that any Mirror story published during my tenure was obtained from phone hacking."  On his primetime CNN program last week, Morgan made a similar statement (following a week of relative silence on the matter) after a number of members of Parliament in the U.K. accused him of overseeing hacking during his time at the tabloid.

At first, Trinity Mirror, the company that owns the Daily Mirror tabloid, responded to the allegations with a vociferous denial that any hacking took place. Since then, the company has announced that it will be initiating an internal investigation into the allegations.

As steadfast as Morgan has been in his denials of the hacking allegations, Staines has been equally outspoken in his insistence, on his Guido Fawkes blog, that Morgan did indeed oversee hacking during his career as an editor. Two weeks ago, Staines posted a story that purported to excerpt a passage from Morgan’s 2005 memoir, The Insider, in which Morgan appeared to imply that he was fully versed in hacking methods.

“Apparently if you don’t change the standard security code that every phone comes with, then anyone can call your number and, if you don’t answer, tap in the standard four digit code to hear all your messages. I’ll change mine just in case, but it makes me wonder how many public figures and celebrities are aware of this little trick,” the excerpt read.

In the accompanying blog post, Staines argued that the excerpt was clear evidence that Morgan was aware of hacking by reporters at the Mirror. It later came to light, however, that the quote was taken out of context, and that Morgan was really discussing a suggestion that he, himself, had been the victim of hacking by reporters outside his paper.