UK lawmakers pressure Piers Morgan on hacking claims

Thu Aug 4, 2011 12:09pm EDT
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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - - British lawmakers called on Thursday for CNN talk show host and former tabloid editor Piers Morgan to return to his native Britain to answer questions about phone-hacking after allegations made by the ex-wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney.

The claim by Heather Mills that a journalist had listened to voicemail messages on her mobile phone has added fuel to the flames of a scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch's News Corp empire and much of the British establishment.

In an interview with the BBC Wednesday, Mills said a journalist working for British publisher Trinity Mirror, owner of the Daily Mirror tabloid newspaper, had confronted her with details of a message left by McCartney on her phone in early 2001 following an argument.

She said the senior journalist -- who was not Morgan -- had admitted hacking her phone. Morgan was the editor of the Mirror at the time.

So far, allegations about the hacking scam have been mainly limited to the News of the World newspaper, owned by News Corp's British newspaper arm News International.

The Sunday tabloid was closed last month amid public fury after it emerged that hacking victims included a missing schoolgirl later found murdered and other victims of crime.

The claim by Mills widened the hacking scandal to other titles and turned the spotlight on Morgan, who edited the News of the World from 1994-95 and the Mirror from 1995-2004.

Morgan said in a 2006 article for Britain's Daily Mail newspaper that he had listened to one of Mills' phone messages.   Continued...

<p>CNN host Piers Morgan arrives at the BAFTA Brits to Watch event in Los Angeles, California July 9, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>