The Cutline

Daily Mirror publisher attempts to clear name in phone-hacking scandal

Joe Pompeo
The Cutline

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Morgan (AP/CNN)

Most of England's long-running phone-hacking scandal has centered on News Corp.'s British newspaper stable. But competing U.K. tabloids have not escaped speculation that they, too, may have dabbled in some of the criminal journalistic activities that have wreaked havoc on Rupert Murdoch's media empire. And one of them--the Daily Mirror newspaper group--has taken a step to help clear its name.

Senior editorial executives at Trinity Mirror, which publishes the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, have issued a written statement contending that they haven't broken the law in the pursuit of news any time in the past 11 years.

"The company has sought and received formal written confirmation from senior editorial executives across both the nationals and regionals [newspapers], that since the commencement of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act in October 2000 and whilst an employee of the group they have not nor, to their knowledge, have any of their staff or anyone on their behalf, intercepted any telephone messages, made payments to serving police officers or accessed the police national computer," Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey said in a statement Friday.

That of course does not absolve CNN host Piers Morgan, who edited the Daily Mirror until he was fired in 2004 after publishing photos that allegedly showed British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. (The images later turned out to be fake.) Morgan has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, with a flurry of allegations that he sanctioned phone-hacking while editor of the Mirror.

The most recent such charge was put forth by the former model Heather Mills, who claimed a Mirror journalist intercepted a voicemail from her ex-husband, Sir Paul McCartney, in 2001. McCartney has likewise indicated his phone may have been tapped, and Morgan, during an appearance on "Conan" Monday night, fired back by saying, "I suspect it was Heather Mills" who had been hacking into the ex-Beatles voicemail.

Morgan, who has been called to testify before a British parliamentary committee investigating the scandal, had previously issued a statement in his own defense.

"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," he said.

Meanwhile, Trinity Mirror also announced Friday that is has begun an internal investigation.

"The group has implemented a review of its editorial controls and procedures," the company's statement said. "It is too early to determine what, if any, impact there will be on our businesses from either review."

[Hat tip: Roy Greenslade]

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