Political Promise investigates: the sharks are circling Piers Morgan regarding his involvement in the hacking scandal when he was editing the Mirror. Allie Wickham asks what was Piers doing at the Mirror? When will he get questioned?
To say that Piers Morgan has had a colourful career would be an understatement. In 2000, while editor of the Mirror newspaper, he was found guilty of breaching the Fleet Street code of conduct by the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) for his role in a major share tipping scam. Four years later, Mr. Morgan lost his job as the Mirror‘s editor after admitting that he published faked photographs apparently showing British soldiers abusing an Iraqi prisoner. On Tuesday Louise Mensch, a Conservative MP sitting on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee, raised allegations that Mr. Morgan is implicated in the phone hacking scandal currently engulfing the British press. Given that Mr. Morgan has since managed to forge a career as a leading television personality – his personal wealth is estimated at a staggering £67 million – the time is surely right to investigate the truth about his uniquely controversial past.
In the late 1990s the Mirror, under the stewardship of Mr. Morgan, ran a column titled ‘City Slickers’ in which its journalists would make share dealing predictions and offer tips on the stocks they considered most profitable. Two of these journalists, Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell, were found guilty in 2000 of buying shares of certain companies and then tipping those same stocks in their column so that they could personally profit. On January 18th 1999, Bhoyrul and Hipwell tipped a company called Viglen Technology. On January 17th, the day before, Mr. Morgan bought tens of thousands of pounds worth of shares in that very same company, making himself a fortune. Hipwell was sent to jail for his part in the fraudulent activities; Mr. Morgan was severely censured by the PCC but largely got off scot-free.
He wasn’t so lucky next time round, however. In May 2004 the Mirror ran an exclusive story in which it published photographs allegedly showing British soldiers abusing an Iraqi prisoner. The images sent shockwaves across Britain, the United States, and the Middle East. Yet two weeks later Mr. Morgan admitted that the photographs had been faked, and that the individuals shown were actors. The Mirror claimed it had fallen victim to a ‘hoax’. Mr. Morgan was informed that his actions had resulted in British soldiers’ lives being put at risk and that he had effectively published a ‘recruiting poster for al-Qaeda’. He was sacked in disgrace.
And now on to the most recent allegations made against Mr. Morgan: Ms. Mensch’s claim that he was engaged in phone-hacking while editor of the Mirror. Political Promise has been investigating this story over the past few weeks and has obtained the following information:
- The allegations made by Ms. Mensch that the Mirror hacked the phones of Sven-Goran Eriksson and Ulrika Johnson are only the tip of the iceberg. Dozens more claims of the utmost gravity – concerning both phone hacking and police corruption – are in existence.
- Political Promise understands that the other allegations cannot be reported in full due to the legal protection acquired by those accused.
- The relevant evidence concerning these allegations has been handed to the police.
- Mr. Morgan is expected to be called to face the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.
- Any editor or journalist, past or present, found to have broken the law by the Inquiry will face criminal proceedings.
It must be noted for legal reasons that Mr. Morgan denies the allegations made against him.
The Viglen share tipping scam was an outrageous example of criminality by journalists at the Mirror; it is arguable that its editor should have paid more dearly for his role. The faked photographs disgrace rightly cost him his job. Piers Morgan has some pertinent questions to answer over phone hacking, and it will be very interesting to hear his response under oath. Watch this space.