The latest victim of the phone hacking scandal that has shaken Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and caused the closing of the 168-year-old tabloid News of the World is no one less than Sir Paul McCartney. The revelation comes the day after his ex-wife, Heather Mills, told BBC News Night that, in 2001, a senior Mirror Group journalist told her that he had hacked into her voice mail and overheard messages left for her by McCartney. Mills had “had a row” with McCartney, who then left a “conciliatory message” on her voicemail.
The BBC reports that McCartney, who is currently touring in the US, has told US media that, on returning to the UK, he will be talking to police because, as he says,
“When I go back [to Britain] after this tour, I am going to talk to the police because apparently I have been hacked.
“I don’t know much about it because they won’t tell anyone except the person themselves. So I will be talking to them about that.
“I do think it’s horrendous violation of privacy. I do think it has been going on for a long time and I do think more people than we know knew about it.
“But I think I should just listen and hear what the facts are before I comment.”
Mills’s claim that her phone was hacked into further suggests that another tabloid, the Daily Mirror, engaged in the practice, which would then be more widespread than so far thought. Her statement also seems further to implicate Piers Morgan, the editor of the Daily Mirror until 2004 and now the host of a CNN talkshow. The Guardian relates this exchange between Mills and the senior Daily Mirror journalist:
According to Mills, the journalist rang her and “started quoting verbatim the messages from my machine”.
She said she challenged him, saying: “You’ve obviously hacked my phone and if you do anything with this story … I’ll go to the police.”
Mills said he responded: “OK, OK, yeah, we did hear it on your voice messages, I won’t run it.”
Morgan himself has “consistently denied he has ever hacked a phone, ordered any of his journalists to do so, or published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone.” He also questioned Mills’s credibility, pointing out that “a high-court judge had described her as a[n] unreliable witness.”
Photo by By The_Admiralty (http://www.flickr.com/photos/admiralty/23487193/) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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