Former model Heather Mills alleged on Wednesday that a reporter working for the British newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror admitted to her that he hacked into her cell phone to get a story about her and then-boyfriend Paul McCartney.
Mills told BBC Newsnight that in 2001, a senior journalist at Mirror Group called her with specific knowledge of an apology voice message left for her by McCartney while she was away in India, and “started quoting verbatim the messages from my machine.”
Mills told the BBC that she told the reporter: “You’ve obviously hacked my phone and if you do anything with this story… I’ll go to the police.” She said the reporter replied: “OK, OK, yeah we did hear it on your voice messages, I won’t run it.”
Trinity Mirror, which publishes Britain’s Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and People, said of the allegation: “Our position is clear. All our journalists work within the criminal law and the PCC [Press Complaints Commission] code of conduct.” Trinity Mirror had previously announced an internal investigation into whether any phone hacking occurred at its publications.
Mirror Group has been drawn into the phone hacking scandal as of late, particularly in light of allegations about CNN anchor Piers Morgan, who edited the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004. One former reporter at the Mirror said phone hacking was “endemic” during Morgan’s tenure. Morgan has emphatically denied that he knew anything about it.
The BBC reports that the reporter who called Mills was not Morgan, but in 2006 Morgan admitted in a Daily Mirror article that he listened to the Mills-McCartney voicemail. “It was heartbreaking,” Morgan wrote at the time. “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 answer phone.”
“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,” Mills.
Morgan denied the allegations on Wednesday, saying in a statement: “I have no knowledge of any conversation any executive from other newspapers at Trinity Mirror may or may not have had with Heather Mills.”
“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,” Morgan said.
Though so far the bulk of the allegations and arrests have been related to phone hackings at News Corp’s News Of The World tabloid — hackings that included the phones of murder and terrorism victims, celebrities, public officials, and members of the royal family — BBC Newsnight reports that soccer player Rio Ferdinand and TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson claim they were hacked by Mirror newspapers.
The Sunday Times (which is owned by News Corp) reported this week that three or four lawsuits are expected to be filed against Trinity Mirror holdings within the next month.