Telegraph ‘smoking gun’ on Piers Morgan falls flat


8:15 am - July 27th 2011

by Sunny Hundal    


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The Telegraph ran this excited headline last night: CNN’s Piers Morgan ‘told interviewer stories were published based on phone tapping’.

Oooh, that’s interesting! So he admits to phone-tapping? Erm, not exactly.

The Telegraph ripped the audio from this BBC Desert Island Discs interview (h-t @fieldproducer)

Here is how the segment goes:

Interviewer Kirsty Young: “What about this nice middle-class boy, who would have to be dealing with, I mean essentially people who rake through bins for a living, people who tap people’s phones, people who take secret photographs, who do all that nasty down-in-the-gutter stuff. How did you feel about that?”

Piers Morgan: “To be honest, let’s put that in perspective as well. Not a lot of that went on. A lot of it was done by third parties rather than the staff themselves. That’s not to defend it, because obviously you were running the results of their work.

Not exactly a smoking gun.

Listen the audio segment
Piers Morgan on BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs – 7 June 2009 – visit www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/desert-island-discs (mp3)

As the Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman points out:

In short, @piersmorgan appears to agree he ran stories based on the work of the *kind* of people who hacked phones

Last night CNN issued a statement on his behalf stating:

There is no contradiction between my comments on Kirsty Young’s Desert Island Discs show and my unequivocal statements with regard to phone-hacking. Millions of people heard these comments when I first made them in 2009 on one of the BBC’s longest -running radio shows, and none deduced that I was admitting to, or condoning illegal reporting activity. Kirsty asked me a fairly lengthy question about how I felt dealing with people operating at the sharp end of investigative journalism. My answer was not specific to any of the numerous examples she gave, but a general observation about tabloid newspaper reporters and private investigators. As I have said before, 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.

Again, I hate to defend Morgan but this isn’t a smoking gun.

If other tabloids were involved in this practice – there should be a proper investigation by the police or another body. There is nothing definitive here at all. Once again Guido Fawkes has been talking up a story that has fallen flat.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


At least it wasn’t the Angus Deayton one.

After all, that would have meant the Fawkes blog cribbing three items from last week’s Private Eye (the story of Rio Ferdinand’s messages, and the “Just Fancy That”, were both taken from Page 9 of the mag).

And of course both the Rio Ferdinand and Angus Deayton stories involved the Sunday Mirror, not edited by Piers Morgan.

Moreover, the Telegraph is in no position to get judgemental. It obtained (illegally) phone records for the Kelly household less than five hours after Dr David Kelly’s death was announced:

http://zelo.tv/qIKMhD

but strangely the Fawkes blog is quiet about that, as it is quiet about anything done by the Mail.

It is interesting to note that the CNN response focuses on phone-hacking which is a subset of the illegal use of personal data. The ICO’s report What Price Privacy Now? makes it clear (see page 10 http://www.ico.gov.uk/news/current_topics/~/media/documents/library/Corporate/Research_and_reports/WHAT_PRICE_PRIVACY_NOW.pdf) that 45 Daily Mirror and 25 Sunday Mirror journalists made 681 and 143 transactions involving illegally obtained confidential information. I wonder whether Piers Morgan would change his statement, replacing phone-hacking with illegally obtained confidential information?

The ICO report may also explain why Trinity Mirror is focusing its investigation into ethical behaviour, standards etc on current rather than past practices

There’s another ‘smoking gun’ of similar kind in a piece by the Guardian years ago:

How appropriate that the most glamourous event in the showbusiness calender should be sponsored by a phone company. Mohan went on to thank “Vodafone’s lack of security” for the Mirror’s showbusiness exclusives. Whatever does he mean?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2002/may/01/1

Anyone who honestly believes that the Mirror wasn’t listening to people’s voicemails is being really rather naive. Everyone was doing it, and everyone knew that everyone was doing it. Morgan’s denials are a rather desperate attempt to keep hold of his new job in the US.

Most of us on LC have come to expect the right countering evidence of wrong-doing by the right with heresay, speculation, whataboutery and ‘it’s not has bad as ,,,,. This thread doesn’t disappoint.

I think someone should start digging into how Staines got some of his exclusive stories. I think that if there was evidence that they had been got by hacking (phone or otherwise) that would shut him up.

Just to keep you all informed – Staines and Co have now produced what they say is the smoking gun, but it doesn’t stand up when put alongside what we already know:

http://zelo.tv/otk0iS

As I say in the title, no research, no result.

Hmmm..Mirror Group are ordering and investigation, and the share price has been killed.

Read what you want into that, but I’m reading that the Mirror was as guilty as anyone in this little farce.

Just because it isn’t owned by Murdoch doesn’t make it less guilty Sunny.

I see Tyler is once again duty troll.

What was being discussed was the attempt by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines to “get” the appalling Piers Morgan.

Do try and keep up at the back.

Looking at the rather seedy individuals lined up against him I find myself warming to Morgan. Is that wrong?

Tim Fenton @1,

Moreover, the Telegraph is in no position to get judgemental. It obtained (illegally) phone records for the Kelly household less than five hours after Dr David Kelly’s death was announced:

http://zelo.tv/qIKMhD

but strangely the Fawkes blog is quiet about that, as it is quiet about anything done by the Mail.

Hmmm. I suspect having gone for Murdoch and now the Mirror, either Dacre or the Barclays would be next, so long as there was some evidence to push and inflate (I note thought that Mr Staines seems to have found more quotes from Mr Morgan of late – I do wonder whether he sometimes tries to draw people out with weak evidence). Although he clearly enjoys baiting left-wingers, I hadn’t noticed Mr Staines had much concern about attacking the establishment of any political persuasion – it’s how he keeps a broad readership (and therefore a broad range of sources). Liberal Conspiracy could never run a series of campaigns in the same way, as it allows political favouritism to trump anti-establishment feeling far too often – not a criticism (Sunny has the right to decide how his blog should operate, and clearly does not want it to be like Guido, or perhaps more germanely the similiarly-motivated Political Scrapbook) but merely an observation.

John,

I think someone should start digging into how Staines got some of his exclusive stories. I think that if there was evidence that they had been got by hacking (phone or otherwise) that would shut him up.

It would – but all the evidence he has presented in this case so far has either been in the form of testimony of others of their own experiences (true or not is a different matter…) or quotes from published work.

Otherwise, he has had the odd leaked email or memo – which might be hacked, but it would be difficult to prove that – but generally he seems to crowd source. Surprisingly effective what the crowd can do to the establishment you know…

7. Tim Fenton

Guido’s out with another story. This time quoting an article Morgan wrote for the Daily Mail where he mentions listening to a phone message Paul McCartney left for Heather Mills:

http://order-order.com/2011/07/27/morgan-mocked-maccas-misery-voicemails/

Still stand by your previous comments?

14. Chaise Guevara

@ 13 Pegnu

Have you actually read that article? It boils down to “Morgan once heard a tape of something, which he probably stole cos I said so and he was laughing about it according to a source only I know about.”

Hardly damning evidence. Hearsay, in fact. It could be true, but there’s no reason to believe it from Guido’s blog alone.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Telegraph 'smoking gun' on Piers Morgan falls flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  2. Derek Bryant

    Telegraph 'smoking gun' on Piers Morgan falls flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  3. sunny hundal

    The Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  4. Natacha Kennedy

    Telegraph 'smoking gun' on Piers Morgan falls flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  5. MeowMeow

    The Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  6. salardeen

    Telegraph 'smoking gun' on Piers Morgan falls flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  7. Paul Trembath

    The Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  8. Rich

    The Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  9. Sean Albiez

    The Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  10. Vesta_Moon

    Telegraph 'smoking gun' on Piers Morgan falls flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  11. Ray Sirotkin

    The Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  12. Allan Beavis

    The Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  13. Guy Adams

    Agreed RT @sunny_hundal: Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  14. Josh Spero

    Agreed RT @sunny_hundal: Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  15. avl06

    Agreed RT @sunny_hundal: Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  16. Belinda Webb

    The Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  17. Greg Eden

    Telegraph 'smoking gun' on Piers Morgan falls flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  18. michael fourman

    .@sunny_hundal I disagree. It's a clear admission. Your selective quoting makes it appear ambiguous. http://t.co/CxJrWlX @guidofawkes

  19. Victoria Hubble

    RT @libcon: Telegraph 'smoking gun' on Piers Morgan falls flat http://t.co/KMXumoP

  20. Shazza Kataya

    The Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  21. dolly daydream

    Telegraph ‘smoking gun’ on Piers Morgan falls flat | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/WmyTz1m via @libcon

  22. dolly daydream

    "In short, @piersmorgan appears to agree he ran stories based on the work of the *kind* of people who hacked phones" http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  23. Len Arthur

    Telegraph 'smoking gun' on Piers Morgan falls flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  24. Bristol NUJ

    The Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  25. Ian Statham

    Telegraph 'smoking gun' on Piers Morgan falls flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  26. Andy S

    Telegraph 'smoking gun' on Piers Morgan falls flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  27. John Nor

    @EmmaK67 Hi Emma. "Morgan on tape" was Desert Island Discs. Bit of a non-story. Link – http://t.co/heFfga1

  28. Colin Jackson

    @LouiseMensch There may not be a story from the Piers Morgan quote: http://t.co/aRB8Yds

  29. John Nor

    The Telegraph story on @PiersMorgan 'hacking phones' (talked up by @GuidoFawkes) has fallen flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  30. Stephe Meloy

    Telegraph 'smoking gun' on Piers Morgan falls flat http://bit.ly/rb78ho

  31. Keith

    @ThePaddyGooner more P Morgan – http://bit.ly/pnPyJM





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