One day after Piers Morgan's evasive testimony denying phone hacking during his editorship at The Daily Mirror, James Hipwell, an ex-columnist has offered up contrary details to the Leveson Inquiry, claiming the practice was widespread at The Mirror. At first glance it's not all that damaging to Morgan, as Reuters notes that Hipwell said he had not seen the hacking taking place in the presence of or discussed in front of Morgan, who edited the newspaper from 1995 until 2004. And it all holds up with Morgan's testimony from Tuesday when he told officials, "I would say the average editor is aware of about 5 percent of what his journalists are up to at any given time." But combined with Hipwell's claim, that statement makes Morgan at best a blithe editor who was unaware of how his staff got stories. But Hipwell insinuated that Morgan was that sneakier and perhaps had something like an "out of sight, our of mind" policy. "I cannot prove who knew what at what time but, looking at his [Morgan's] style of editorship, I can say it was very unlikely he didn't know what was going on," Hipwell said. He adds, "It seemed to be a genuinely accepted method to get a story," he said. "I would go as far as to say it happened every day (in 1999). It became apparent that a great number of the Mirror's showbusiness stories would come from that source." Hipwell himself wasn't a stranger to illegal practices, as he was fired from The Mirror in 2000 and jailed for selling stocks which he promoted in his financial column. And even as he was leaving, Hipwell claims that hacking was still in full effect:
"One of the showbusiness journalists who felt I was being treated unfairly by management offered to hack into Mr Morgan's voicemail on my behalf to try to find out any information that would help my case," he said. "I clearly remember him doing it."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.