Recently, a story broke in the music world that, I’m sure, had Rupert Murdoch wiping his brow with relief that he wasn’t the only one.
Heather Mills, ex-spouse of Sir Paul, recently claimed that a journalist from the Daily Mirror in the U.K. called her in 2001 about a voicemail message left to her by Paul. The voicemail had come right after the couple had a fight and allegedly contained Paul in full-on sad panda mode, begging Heather to come back home. He allegedly even sang a bar or three of “We Can Work it Out” into the phone to hammer his point home.
The story goes that this journalist asked Mills about the incident and then began quoting the voicemail in exact detail. When Mills accused him of hacking into their private matters and threatened police action, the journalist allegedly admitted to the hacking, and then promised not to use any of the voicemail or even a mention of it in the story he was preparing.
If that’s not enough to raise a “Yellow Submarine,” it gets a lot more interesting.
The editor of the Daily Mirror at the time of the alleged incident was Piers Morgan, now host of his own CNN talk show. Morgan has issued a statement, which is as follows:
“Heather Mills has made unsubstantiated claims about a conversation she may or may not have had with a senior executive from a Trinity Mirror newspaper in 2001. The BBC has confirmed to me that this executive was not employed by the Daily Mirror. I have no knowledge of any conversation any executive from other newspapers at Trinity Mirror may or may not have had with Heather Mills. What I can say and have knowledge of is that Sir Paul McCartney asserted that Heather Mills illegally intercepted his telephones, and leaked confidential material to the media. This is well documented, and was stated in their divorce case. Further, in his judgment, The Honourable Mr. Justice Bennett wrote of Heather Mills: ‘I am driven to the conclusion that much of her evidence, both written and oral, was not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid. Overall she was a less than impressive witness.’”
Morgan contradicted himself twice. First, Mills said the conversation was with a journalist, not an executive. How would Morgan have known otherwise?
Secondly, Morgan saying he had “no knowledge of any conversation” is incorrect as well, and that bit of info comes from Morgan himself. In a 2006 interview with Britain’s Daily Mail, Morgan commented on the voicemail that he heard, saying:
“[A]t one stage I was played a tape of a message Paul had left for Heather on her mobile phone. It was heartbreaking. 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 answerphone.”
Okay, so what was that about “having no knowledge of any conversation” again?
Needless to say, U.K. legislators want Morgan to return to the UK to answer some questions regarding this alleged incident. Jim Sheridan, a Conservative legislator on parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport committee which is investigating phone-hacking, thinks that, “If the evidence suggests the Mirror group, Piers Morgan or indeed anyone else has been involved in phone-hacking then the police have to contact them and make sure that their nest is clean. I am deeply suspicious that this doesn’t stop at News International.”
Gee, Jim, what would make you suspicious of that? The fact that Murdoch had to close down the News Of The World because they were caught doing the same thing?
Even Sir Paul knows something is up. McCartney told journalists during a tour stop in Ohio that, “When I go back [to Britain] after this tour, I am going to talk to the police because apparently I have been hacked. I don’t know much about it because they won’t tell anyone except the person themselves. So I will be talking to them about that. I do think it’s horrendous violation of privacy. I do think it has been going on for a long time and I do think more people than we know knew about it. But I think I should just listen and hear what the facts are before I comment,”
All the way around, a very curious story. And that’s to say nothing of Sir Paul allegedly groveling for his baby to come home. On the heels of Murdoch under suspicion of the exact same thing, Piers Morgan now is in the doghouse, showing the world that Murdoch and his companies may not be the only evil empire in town.
As for the subject of voicemail hacking, this is becoming a disturbing trend. It’s understood that our current culture worldwide is apparently so celebrity-obsessed that journalists feel the need to stoop to any level to get the almighty scoop. Personally, I don’t feel I need to know about anyone’s private life to that extent. However, there are people out there that do. Otherwise, why else would this have happened?
This is going to be interesting to watch. First Murdoch, now Morgan. It’ll certainly be fascinating to see where both stories go. It’ll also be a little scary to see just how much privacy has been violated in the name of “getting the story” – and how much more of this has happened.