From the Telegraph today:
Mr Morgan, a former News of the World and Daily Mirror editor who is now a high-profile television presenter in the US, has spent the past week categorically denying ever printing material derived from phone hacking.
He spoke out after being accused by a Conservative MP and political bloggers of being involved in the phone hacking scandal that has engulfed Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, for which he used to work.
“For the record, in my time at the News of the World and the Mirror, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone,” he said last week on CNN, where he now hosts a talk-show.
But it has emerged that Mr Morgan gave a notably different response when asked during an interview with the BBC about his potential involvement in covert “gutter” journalistic practices during his time as a tabloid editor between 1994 and 2004.
“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,” he was asked on BBC’s Desert Island Discs in June 2009. “How did you feel about that?”
Mr Morgan replied: “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.
“I’m quite happy to be parked in the corner of tabloid beast and to have to sit here defending all these things I used to get up to, and I make no pretence about the stuff we used to do,” he told the programme’s host, Kirsty Young.
“I simply say the net of people doing it was very wide, and certainly encompassed the high and low end of the supposed newspaper market.”
In response to this, Morgan has given a statement to Mediaite, again denying that he ever engaged in phone hacking during his time as an editor:
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.