Belfast Telegraph

Come back and face music on hacking claims, Piers Morgan told

Piers Morgan faces pressure to return to Britain to answer questions on alleged phone hacking at the Mirror Group while he was editor of the Daily Mirror.

Despite Mr Morgan's denials of any sanctioning of phone hacking, and his insistence that Heather Mills, former wife of Sir Paul McCartney, is an unreliable witness to the alleged hacking of her phone messages, MPs piled on pressure for him to return to London to reveal what he knew about an alleged interception in 2001.

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman said the police should now look into claims made by Ms Mills that the newspaper group listened in to messages left for her by the former Beatle.

"It's not good enough for Piers Morgan just to say he's always stayed within the law," said Ms Harman. "There are questions about what happened with Heather Mills' phone messages that he needs to answer."

John Whittingdale, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that is investigating phone hacking, said that while it was powerless to summon him to give evidence before MPs, the CNN host had "serious questions" still outstanding. "I hope he will return to the UK and I imagine there will be questions which will be put to him, possibly by the police," he said.

Mr Morgan, who is filming in Los Angeles, reacted by tweeting: "So heart-warming that everyone in (the) UK's missing me so much they want me to come home."

At the heart of the allegations is Mr Morgan's relationship with Ms Mills. It is easy to portray the claims against him as the settling of old scores from a woman he describes as a "ludicrous, hypocritical, shameless, grasping creature".

Ironically, it was Mr Morgan (editor of the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004) who helped propel Ms Mills, then a virtually unknown campaigner for disability rights, into her long and troubled period in the media spotlight.

It was he who introduced her to Sir Paul McCartney at the inaugural Mirror Pride of Britain Awards. Ms Mills was a regular judge on the newspaper's awards panel and the Mirror enjoyed close contact, chronicling the courtship of the "feisty blonde nursing a broken heart" and the "fiftysomething widower with eyes that sparkle".

Piers Morgan

1994: Editor of News of the World, aged 28.

1996: Criticised for headline 'Achtung! Surrender' day before England Euro clash with Germany in Daily Mirror.

2000: Claims of illegal share ramping. He is later cleared.

2004: Quits after fake photos printed alleging British troops abused Iraqi prisoners.

Heather Mills

1993: Hit by a motorbike, losing part of her leg.

1999: Meets Sir Paul McCartney at Mirror Pride of Britain Awards.

2002: They marry in Ireland, have a child one year later.

2008: Mills gets £24.3m in a divorce settlement: the judge criticises her evidence.

Belfast Telegraph


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