Piers Morgan, the host of CNN’s “Tonight” program and former editor of three British tabloids, told people at a dinner in 2002 how to hack into mobile-phone voice mail, a BBC reporter told an ethics inquiry.
Jeremy Paxman, host of the British Broadcasting Corp.’s “Newsnight,” told the inquiry triggered by News Corp.’s phone-hacking scandal that using a default pin code to access someone else’s messages was something Morgan “was very familiar with.”
“He then explained that the way to get access to people’s messages was to go to the factory default setting and press 0000 or 1234 and if you didn’t” change it to use your own code, “you’re a fool,” Paxman said today in London.
Morgan worked more than a year at News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid, where the phone-hacking scandal started, and five years at the company’s Sun newspaper, which is now the center of a related bribery probe. Paxman’s comment is at least the third time a witness at the inquiry has said Morgan was aware of phone hacking.
Morgan, who appeared via video link at the inquiry in December, said he wasn’t involved in phone hacking. His testimony was challenged by one of his former reporters and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney’s former wife Heather Mills, who believes her phone messages were accessed.
A message left at CNN’s press office wasn’t immediately returned.
After five years editing the Sun, Morgan took the same role at the News of the World, from 1994 to 1995, several years before phone hacking was thought to have occurred at the now-shuttered tabloid. Morgan now hosts a talk show on Time Warner Inc.’s CNN.
New York-based News Corp. closed the News of the World and abandoned its bid for full control of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc in July after the extent of the scandal was revealed. Police have arrested about 50 people since January in three probes related to phone and computer hacking and bribery.