Piers Morgan Testifies Before Phone Hacking Inquiry

By Alex Weprin 

CNN host Piers Morgan testified before the Leveson Inquiry, which is looking into the still-expanding phone hacking scandal in the U.K.

Morgan, a former tabloid editor of Britain’s News of the World and Daily Mirror, appeared via a video link and was asked directly whether he ever published a story in his papers that was obtained via hacking: “I do not believe so, no,” he replied.

Morgan also defended some of the more “unsavoury” practices and scoops that his tabloids have engaged in, arguing that while they may have been a bit dodgy, they were not unethical or illegal.

“It is not the kind of work that sounds that edifying but every news organization does it in the process of gathering news,” Morgan responded when asked about practices such as publishing stories based on information gleaned from rubbish bins, or by having a reporter or private investigator stake out a celebrity.

Morgan was asked about an incident where a reporter in his employ secured a job at Buckingham Palace as a footman. Morgan acknowledged that it happened, and said that it was in the public interest for the story to be published.

“Rather us than a terrorist,” he said, arguing that it revealed a massive loophole in the security apparatus.

He was also asked directly about an incident where he cited a voicemail left on Heather Mills’ phone. That incident was cited as a “smoking gun” that Morgan was involved in phone hacking.

“I cant go into details about this without compromising a source,” he said.

Morgan also told the inquiry that he would not typically ask his reporters where they got their stories from, and that he was only aware of what around five percent of his reporters were up to at any given time. The inquiry also asked about he insider trading case Morgan faced, though he was ultimately found to not have broken the law in that inquiry.

Update: Morgan’s testimony was covered by MSNBC, as well as CNN, which televises Morgan’s primetime nightly show: