Belfast Telegraph

This is Pablo Escobar stuff: Piers Morgan tells ex-drugs mule Michaella McCollum to stop whining and give book money to charity

Michaella McCollum appeared on Good Morning Britain to plug her new book. Pic GMB
Michaella McCollum appeared on Good Morning Britain to plug her new book. Pic GMB
Michaella McCollum. Photo by Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock (10473625aw)
Charlotte Hawkins, Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid with Michaella McCollum. Photo by Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock (10473625bf)
Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid with Michaella McCollum. Photo by Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock (10473625bi)
Michaella McCollum
Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid with Michaella McCollum. Photo by Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock (10473625bm)
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Television presenter Piers Morgan told Peru Two drugs mule Michaella McCollum to "stop whining" and give the proceeds of her book sales to anti-drug charities, in a stinging early morning interview.

The Dungannon woman defended her decision to publish a book on her experience, saying she would get little money in return and hoped others would learn from her experience and hopefully turn their backs on drugs and getting involved in smuggling.

Ms McCollum also turned on the media, accusing it of not telling the truth about her story and portraying her in an "un-nice" manner.

However, when pushed to name one lie reported about her, she could not, saying she had not enough time to detail it all. She said her private life should not have formed part of the coverage of her trial and conviction.

Mr Morgan told her it was "an easy card to play" in blaming the media.

"I don't know how to break this to you but when you are a £1.5m cocaine smuggler that is not very nice. Do you know the damage that does?" Piers Morgan asked.

"How did you think the media would portray you?"

He put it to her that her book should be a "force for a good message" without the "whining and profiteering". He advised her to give the money from the book sales to charity and to stop "moaning" about the media coverage.

"You got the coverage you deserved," he added.

Ms McCollum said she didn't expect to make anymore than possibly £1,000 or £2,000 or 10% from the book and would likely spend it on paying off debts and putting it toward her education.

"I probably did deserve [the coverage] and I paid the price."

The mum of two twin boys appeared on Good Morning Britain to plug her new book on her life in the spotlight after her conviction for smuggling 11kg of cocaine worth £1.5m out of Peru in August 2013.

Along with her Scottish accomplice Melissa Reid, she was arrested trying to fly to Spain from the South American country's capital, Lima, and later sentenced to six years and eight months in prison. She was released in 2016.

The Co Tyrone woman has now penned a book in the hope her experience stops others from getting mired in the world of illicit drugs.

In 2013 McCollum was caught with Scottish woman Melissa Reid attempting to smuggle £1.5m worth of cocaine out of Peru.

During her GMB interview she said she did not think about the consequences of her actions, both on her own life and on those that may take the drugs.

She said she was "not desperate" for the £5,000 offered to her to transport the drugs.

"I didn't think much about.. I was 20 so I did know a bit," she said.

"I just wasn't thinking ... I look back now and think 'how could I not have realised what I was doing?'.

"I didn't know I was going to Peru, I didn't know how much drugs it was ... I wasn't really told much about anything."

You'll Never See Daylight Again paperback by Michaella McCollum

Piers Morgan put it to her that she knew what she was doing by "lining your pocket" with £5,000 and even the "most imbecilic" person on Earth would know it was a bad thing to do.

He put it to her she was thinking about what she was doing and had "very carefully planned what to do".

"I wasn't thinking clearly," she responded.

"I mean £5,000 was not a lot of money for what I was asked to do."

"I accepted it and then after a couple of days I realised.. I was intoxicated at the time. I was approached at a party."

Michaella McCollum. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Mr Morgan put it to her he felt hard to be sorry for her and he had found it "problematic" with her making money through the book sales on her experience.

"I am writing the book to mainly bring awareness. I don't feel I have gained from this," she went on.

"I don't think I am doing this for the money."

She was asked if she was aware of the size of a £1.5m stash of drugs would amount to.

"This is Pablo Escobar stuff," said Mr Morgan.

She told the broadcaster he would be "surprised" at the amount of young people getting caught up in the illicit drug trade and believed many were making the same mistakes she had.

Michaella McCollum cradling her newborn twins

"I am not profiting... I feel like if I had of done all those paid interviews and all those TV shows and made all that money and then wrote the book then you've got a right [to accuse me of profiteering]," she said.

She said her family were still finding it difficulty to come to terms with her conviction but they felt the book was a good way for her to tell her story.

"Hopefully this will prevent other people from consuming drugs from an early age and getting into all sorts," he said.

"It is not all about me and I don't expect people's opinions of me to change."

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