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Daily Mirror

Piers Morgan at the ready for Lord Leveson's long-distance hacking quiz

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

December 18, 2011 | 3 min read

At least, it's a suitably great distance! Piers Morgan will be in Los Angeles when he is quizzed on a video link by the Leveson inquiry in London this week. So there will be no PC plods waiting for him just off the set with further questions.

Piers Morgan

Morgan, ex-editor of the Mirror and News of the World, has been happy to talk about other people - not him - doing phone hacking in the past, notably in his autobiography The Insider.

But as the ferment grew in the UK , the CNN talk show remained uncharacteristically silent in the US. Now comes his moment.

In a GQ magazine interview in 2007 Morgan said that phone hacking was "widespread" and that "loads of newspaper journalists were doing it" when Clive Goodman and Glenn Mulcaire were jailed .

Asked by GQ whether he knew about voicemail interception while he was editor of NoW, Morgan said: "Well, I was there in 1994-95, before mobiles were used very much, and that particular trick wasn't known about. I can't get too excited about it, I must say.

"It was pretty well known that if you didn't change your pin code when you were a celebrity who bought a new phone, then reporters could ring your mobile, tap in a standard factory setting number and hear your messages.

"That is not, to me, as serious as planting a bug in someone's house, which is what some people seem to think was going on."

In 2006 Morgan wrote in the Daily Mail claiming that he was played a tape of a message Paul McCartney left on the mobile phone of Heather Mills. "Heather had fled to India, and Paul was pleading with her to come back," he wrote. "He sounded lonely, miserable and desperate, and even sang We Can Work It Out into the answer-phone."

As questions rained down on his new bosses at CNN, Morgan repeatedly insisted , "For the record, in my time at the News of the World and the Mirror, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone." I suspect he will tell Lord Justice Leveson the same.

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