Paul McCartney’s ex-wife is claiming that a journalist from the Trinity Mirror Group, which owns British papers like the Daily Mirror and Daily Record, admitted to the same shady phone-hacking practice currently haunting rival U.K. tabloids owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Heather Mills told the BBC that in 2001, after she and Paul had a fight, a journalist called quoting her husband’s apology message. “You’ve obviously hacked my phone and if you do anything with this story … I’ll go to the police,” she told the Mirror employee. Mills claims they responded, “OK, OK, yeah we did hear it on your voice messages, I won’t run it.” Although the Mirror Group issued a blanket denial, CNN’s Piers Morgan, the Daily Mirror editor at the time, once admitted to hearing the very message to which Mills is referring. He’s now claiming that Mills outed the message herself.
With most of the glare still on Murdoch and his News of the World, Morgan has so far managed to avoid the phone-hacking spotlight, despite some sniffing around. But in a 2006 essay about the couple’s divorce, Morgan wrote, “at one stage I was played a tape of a message Paul had left for Heather on her mobile phone.” He goes on to describe what he heard in detail, matching Mills’s memory of the message: “The couple had clearly had a tiff, Heather had fled to India, and Paul was pleading with her to come back. He sounded lonely, miserable and desperate, and even sang ‘We Can Work It Out’ into the answerphone,” Morgan wrote.
Although Mills says the journalist who ‘fessed up to her wasn’t Morgan himself, she went on to state, “There was absolutely no honest way that Piers Morgan could have obtained that tape that he has so proudly bragged about unless they had gone into my voice messages.”
In a statement, Morgan said the employee Mills was speaking of did not work at his newspaper. “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,” Morgan writes. In conclusion, he adds: “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.”
The Mirror Group also denied the allegations to the BBC unequivocally: “Our position is clear. All our journalists work within the criminal law and the PCC [Press Complaints Commission] code of conduct.”
Despite the circumstantial evidence, like Morgan’s own reference to a “little trick” for getting scoops, repeated attempts to links Morgan to phone-hacking have as of yet resulted in little more than he-said, she-said chatter.