MPs have been warned by the Trinity Mirror publisher Sly Bailey against repeating “erroneous and inaccurate” comments implying that two of the company’s tabloids are also implicated in the phone-hacking scandal.
A report by Mark Kleinman, on the Sky News website claims that Bailey had written in anger to chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select committee John Whittingdale following the hearing of Rupert and James Murdoch that took place earlier this week.
Kleinman recounts that during Tuesday’s hearing, Louise Mensch, MP, a Tory member of the committee, suggested that remarks made in the diaries of Piers Morgan, the former Daily Mirror (and News of the World) editor, confirmed that Trinity Mirror tabloid, the Mirror had been guilty of illegally intercepting voicemails.
According to Kleinman, in support of Piers Morgan’s own defence following the allegations, Mensch had got her facts wrong.
Kleinman’s report continued: “In today’s letter, Bailey, who has run Trinity Mirror since 2003, said that if left uncorrected, Mensch’s comments could cause the company and its newspapers ‘serious reputational damage’.
“She also suggested that the status of the select committee enhanced the risk of those comments becoming accepted as fact.
“Worryingly for Trinity Mirror, David Cameron, the prime minister, already appears to have done so. During yesterday’s statement on the hacking furore, he named the Mirror as a potentially guilty party.”
Kleinman draws attention to what Mensch said to James Murdoch, chairman of News International and deputy chief operating officer of News Corporation, on Tuesday.
He quotes the Tory MP, who is a former PR practitioner and author of chick-lit novels, as saying: “You do not appear to have asked Piers Morgan, who is now a celebrity anchor at CNN, any questions at all about phone hacking.
“As a former editor of the Daily Mirror, he said in his book The Insider recently that that ‘little trick’ of entering a ‘Standard four digit code’ will allow ‘anyone’ to call a number and ‘hear all your messages’.
“In that book, he boasted that using that ‘little trick’ enabled him to win scoop of the year on a story about Sven-Goran Eriksson. That is a former editor of the Daily Mirror being very open about his personal use of phone hacking.”
Kleinman says this has triggered a furious response from Morgan – currently filming in Los Angeles.
Meanwyhile, Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail, told MPs at a separate hearing in the House of Commons this week that he had never published a story based on illegally-obtained information.