Piers Morgan, a former journalist and editor of the Daily Mirror, wrote in the Daily Mail in 2006 “At one stage I was played a tape of a message Paul (McCartney) had left for Heather (Mills) on her mobile phone”. I shall pause there to look at that statement within the context of the law. These points are undisputable, if Mr Morgan was not writing lies in that article:-
- Listening to telephone voicemail messages in 2006 without the consent of the owner to the telephone account was (and still is) a crime.
- Mr Morgan felt quite comfortable in making a public admission of listening to a voicemail obtained in a way that constituted a criminal offence
- The Daily Mail felt quite comfortable in publishing that admission.
- The purpose of the admission was not to expose a crime but to report gossip about Mr McCartney’s relationship with Ms Mills.
- The Daily Mail’s circulation was such that the article must have been read by police and law enforcement officers but not investigation followed and no one has been charged with an offence.
The admission was there, published. In order to prosecute the matter a prosecution would have simply proved the admission, proved by evidence that Ms Mills never gave permission for her voicemails to be listened to by journalists (which strikes me as obvious). The matter is not about the credibility of Ms Mills as Mr Morgan attempts to make it, but about the admission published in a leading newspaper by a person who was a journalist and an editor of another major newspaper.
Clearly in the present climate the matter will be investigated. Perhaps Mr Morgan’s celebrity will prevent him from being prosecuted. He may have a defence. However his long rebuttal statement is worth repeating in full. To summarise might not do justice to Mr Morgan, so I hope that he will forgive any breach of his copyright in the statement.
Heather Mills has made unsubstantiated claims about a conversation she may or may not have had with a senior executive from a Trinity Mirror newspaper in 2001. The BBC has confirmed to me that this executive was not employed by the Daily Mirror.
I have no knowledge of any conversation any executive from other newspapers at Trinity Mirror may or may not have had with Heather Mills.
What I can say and have knowledge of is that Sir Paul McCartney asserted that Heather Mills illegally intercepted his telephones, and leaked confidential material to the media. This is well documented, and was stated in their divorce case. Further, in his judgment, The Honourable Mr. Justice Bennett wrote of Heather Mills: ‘I am driven to the conclusion that much of her evidence, both written and oral, was not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid. Overall she was a less than impressive witness.’
No doubt everyone will take this and other instances of somewhat extravagant claims by Ms Mills into account in assessing what credibility and platform her assertions are given.
And to reiterate, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone.
Is he alleging that Ms Mills provided the voicemail to which he has admitted listening? He avoids any reference to his admission, which is the nub of the matter, and concentrates on subsequent allegations made by Ms Mills, which are really peripheral. Overall Mr Morgan seems to think attack the best form of defence and I am left with the impression that Mr Morgan doth protest too much. Perhaps Mr Morgan feels that people he designates as bad or judges designate as providing inaccurate evidence are fair game when it comes to hacking.
It is clear that every citizen has a duty to report crime, and Mr Morgan did not report the matter to the police after he listened to the voicemail. Did he think that the voice mail was obtained legally and that was why he failed to report it? Mr Morgan’s statement raises more questions than it answers.