Morgan, Mensch, The Daily Mirror and Me - Proof We Don’t Need More Press Laws

Prolific blogger Paul Staines aka Guido Fawkes tells all about his involvement with the Leveson Inquiry, Operation Motorman and Piers Morgan

Paul Staines aka Guido Fawkes at the Leveson Inquiry
Paul Staines
On 9 November 2012 18:56

Armed with this research I wrote to the Leveson Inquiry suggesting that Piers Morgan should be called as a witness, detailing a long list of questions that he should answer. He was called and evaded answering most of the questions as asked by the Leveson Inquiry’s Robert Jay. Piers went as far as to suggest that Heather Mills-McCartney herself could be the source of the voicemails from Paul McCartney which he boasted of having listened to in his published diaries.

Heather Mills-McCartney later told the Inquiry that she was not the source. At this point Mark Lewis, the solicitor who has represented many hacking victims, let on to me that he had a number of cases in the pipeline against Mirror newspapers from the time of Morgan’s editorship.

Nine months later Sven-Goran Eriksson, Coronation Street actress Shobna Gulati, Abbie Gibson, a former nanny for the Beckham family, and Garry Flitcroft, the former captain of Blackburn Rovers football team have brought claims against the Mirror related to the Morgan era. As a consequence last week some 30% was wiped off the value of Mirror newspapers by investors worried about the claims.

A couple of months ago a Scotland Yard detective called me to ask me to answer a few questions. It was a few seconds before the penny dropped that if he was phoning, rather than dragging me out of bed at 6 in the morning, I wasn't a suspect. I met the detective and he explained he was from Operation Weeting, the British police investigation into allegations of phone hacking.

He was very interested in my testimony to the Leveson Inquiry concerning Tina Weaver, the former Sunday Mirror editor, and any information I had concerning Piers Morgan, the former Daily Mirror editor. I pointed him towards information and people that might be able to help him with his inquiries.

Some argue that Mirror Group joining News International in the dock strengthens the case for tougher laws to regulate the press and prevent this type of behaviour ever happening again. Yet all the hacking and blagging scandals of the recent past were illegal under already existing laws.

No code of conduct or self-regulatory regime was somehow so loose that it allowed the hacking of the mobile phones of amorous celebrities. The question of a statutory underpinning for a new press code is irrelevant. Each and every single act of hacking is already a crime punishable by up to two years in prison, editors can also be prosecuted for procuring or commissioning hacking.

If these claims against Mirror newspapers are successful we may well see criminal prosecutions following which result in custodial sentences. Piers Morgan may soon find out that the existing laws are tough enough.

Paul Staines is Guido Fawkes, of the Guido Fawkes blog. He tweets at @GuidoFawkes

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