Mills hits back in voicemail row
Heather Mills, the former wife of pop star Sir Paul McCartney, has said that she never disclosed private voicemail messages from her ex-husband to former tabloid editor Piers Morgan.
Ms Mills said that Mr Morgan, who told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards that he had heard a voicemail message left to her by Sir Paul, was using her as a "scapegoat" and added that she would be "more than happy" to answer any questions the inquiry had for her about the subject.
In a statement, Ms Mills said: "For the avoidance of doubt, I can categorically state that I have never ever played Piers Morgan a tape of any kind, never mind a voice message from my ex-husband.
"Piers Morgan is doing all he can to deter the Leveson Inquiry from finishing their important job. Morgan is using me as his scapegoat and I would be more than happy to answer any questions that the inquiry would like to put to me. As stated in a press release by my ex-husband, he has never insinuated that I have leaked tapes of him to the media."
On Tuesday, counsel to the inquiry Robert Jay QC asked Mr Morgan about a recording of a voicemail message left by Sir Paul for Ms Mills when the couple were suffering problems with their marriage. Mr Morgan refused to say when or where he heard the message - because he wanted to protect a "source".
Lord Justice Leveson asked: "The only person who would lawfully be able to listen to the message is the lady in question or somebody authorised on her behalf to listen to it. Isn't that right?"
Mr Morgan said he did not know what he was "expected" to say, and added: "All we know for a fact about Lady Heather Mills McCartney is that in their divorce case Paul McCartney stated as a fact that she had recorded their conversations and given them to the media."
Lord Justice Leveson told Mr Morgan: "I am perfectly happy to call Lady McCartney to give evidence as to whether she authorised you to listen to her voicemails. She may say she did, in which case you're not compromising anybody. But if she didn't, then we can proceed on the premise that it's somebody else, can't we?"
Mr Morgan has been asked to respond Ms Mills's statement by his current employer CNN, for whom he hosts the talk show Piers Morgan Tonight.The broadcaster said: "CNN is seeking a response to the Mills statement from Morgan."
Earlier, the Leveson Inquiry was told by a former financial reporter at the Daily Mirror that it was "very unlikely" that former editor Mr Morgan did not know about alleged phone hacking at the paper. James Hipwell, who was jailed for purchasing low-priced stocks and then recommending them to readers, told the inquiry: "Looking at his style of editorship, I would say it was very unlikely that he didn't know what was going on because, as I have said, there wasn't very much he didn't know about."