Did Piers Morgan mislead DCMS select committee on tabloid hacking?


As new allegations of phone hacking swirl around CNN primetime host Piers Morgan, he may yet come to regret the swashbuckling hubris of his performance at the DCMS select committee in 2003. Ranging much further than the behaviour of his own red top, the then Mirror editor gave a forceful defence of the entire newspaper industry over invasions of privacy. Political Scrapbook has the footage.

Then seven years into his tenure as editor, Morgan told MPs that the press should be “congratulated” on its ethical approach to privacy issues, characterising the questioning as a “ritual bollocking”. Committee chair Gerald Kaufman stepped in several times to reprimand Morgan for his “discourteousy”.

In a bravodo-fuelled performance, Morgan claimed unwisely that the press behaved “with sensitivity” towards war widows and “absolutely responsibly” towards Princes William and Harry. His former paper the News of the World was already targeting the phones of dead soldiers’ families and would be caught bugging royals just two years later.

What may really land Morgan in hot water, however, are claims relating to his personal knowledge of privacy:

“In terms of ordinary people, I just don’t believe that they’re intruded in an unjustified way. I don’t see evidence that that happens at the Mirror. I didn’t see evidence that that happened on the other papers that I’ve worked on.”

“If there are particular grievances about how the Daily Mirror has behaved, and I say that our record in this area is exemplary, exemplary. I don’t say this because we somehow got away with this, I say this because we operate the [PCC] Code of Practice effectively and seriously.”

The DCMS select committee will meet tomorrow to discuss recalling five people who gave evidence recently, including James Murdoch. Scrapbook is sure that Piers will be happy to clarify his previous outbursts in light of recent developments. From the sounds of things he may soon have a lot more free time on his hands.

Better get those bags packed.

3 Comments

  1. Richard
    Posted July 28, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Shame you didn’t post the full footage.

  2. Timmay
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    “What may really land Morgan in hot water, however, are claims relating to his personal knowledge of privacy:”

    Is followed with Piers Morgan saying “In terms of ordinary people, I just don’t believe that they’re intruded in an unjustified way. I don’t see evidence that that happens at the Mirror. I didn’t see evidence that that happened on the other papers that I’ve worked on.”

    This is Morgan playing a shell game. He has first deflected from some of the issues by defining people as ordinary and not-ordinary He has then deflected further from it by admitting there are intrusions but believes they are justified. Piers pushes his malign weasel words further by saying that he hasn’t seen evidence of what he would define as unjustified intrusions. Here he is admitting to intruding into the private lives of ordinary people.

    In one paragraph Morgan has moved the argument away from asking Do the press intrude into private lives? to a more nuanced Do the press intrude into private lives without justification? The trick being that all the papers can hide behind it being justified from their point of view at the time they did the hacking/blagging/tapping because they had a suspicion or a story or a lead, even if it turns out to be nothing.

  3. Andy
    Posted July 29, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Is Morgan lying? Are his lips moving?

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