It was “very unlikely” former editor Piers Morgan did not know about alleged phone hacking at the Daily Mirror, the Leveson Inquiry heard yesterday.
James Hipwell, a former reporter for the newspaper who co-wrote the City Slickers financial column, told the investigation into press standards Mr Morgan, who has claimed he had “no reason” to believe hacking was going on at the paper under his leadership, had been very hands-on and demanded to know where each story had come from.
Mr Hipwell, who was given a six-month prison sentence for purchasing low-priced stocks and then recommending them to readers, pocketing nearly £41,000 in the process, told the inquiry: “Looking at his style of editorship, I would say it was very unlikely that he didn’t know what was going on because, as I have said, there wasn’t very much he didn’t know about.”
And he added: “I would go as far as to say that it happened every day and that it became apparent that a great number of the Mirror’s showbusiness stories would come from that source. That is my clear memory.”
He told the hearing he heard one reporter claim they had deleted someone else’s voicemail message so that a Sun journalist could not listen to it as well and he had been shown how to do it by a fellow reporter.
Mr Hipwell, who worked at the newspaper between 1998 and 2000, said: “The openness and frequency of their hacking activities gave me the impression that hacking was considered a bog-standard journalistic tool for getting information.”
He said he had even seen another reporter hack into Mr Morgan’s own phone.
Desmond Browne QC, counsel for newspaper owner Trinity Mirror, rejected Mr Hipwell’s evidence, adding: “He is, on his own account, an acknowledged liar.”
The evidence came as a serving female police officer was arrested by Scotland Yard detectives and bailed on suspicion of receiving illegal payments from journalists.