CNN's Piers Morgan denies role in UK hacking scandal

LOS ANGELES Tue Jul 19, 2011 9:00pm EDT

CNN host Piers Morgan arrives at the BAFTA Brits to Watch event in Los Angeles, California July 9, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

CNN host Piers Morgan arrives at the BAFTA Brits to Watch event in Los Angeles, California July 9, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - CNN talk show host and former News of the World editor Piers Morgan on Tuesday angrily denied claims by a British lawmaker that he had taken part in phone hacking during his years as a journalist in Britain.

Morgan, who hosts the U.S. nightly talk and current affairs show "Piers Morgan Tonight," said he may have been a victim of hacking but that he had never hacked a phone himself.

"That MP (member of parliament) just claimed I boasted in my book of using phone-hacking for a scoop," Morgan said on Twitter during Tuesday's hearing by a British parliamentary panel in London on the scandal engulfing newspapers in Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation empire.

"Complete nonsense. Just read the book," Morgan tweeted. "I've never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone."

Morgan, who edited the now-defunct News of The World in 1994-1995, was responding to remarks by British MP Louise Mensch at Tuesday's televised grilling of Rupert and James Murdoch, which was seen around the world.

Mensch stated that Morgan had boasted in his 2005 book "The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade" of having won a scoop for his Daily Mirror tabloid newspaper by using a code to gain entry into another person's cell phone.

Morgan said Mensch had got her facts mixed up.

In the book, he wrote that he suspected he was a victim of phone hacking. "I wrote in my book that someone warned me phones could be hacked, so I changed my pin number."

Morgan, who said little during the first two weeks of the phone hacking scandal in Britain, said on his show on Monday that he did not believe that any story published in either the News of The World or The Daily Mirror under his editorship was obtained by unlawful means.

He also defended Rupert Murdoch, saying that he found it "impossible, personally knowing the man, to believe that he would have known about law-breaking on his newspapers, let alone would he condone it."

Morgan, 46, also worked on Murdoch's daily newspaper The Sun between 1989-94 before moving to The News of the World and then The Daily Mirror in London from 1995-2004.

He took over veteran Larry King's slot on CNN in January 2011 and is also a judge on the TV show "America's Got Talent".

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant. Editing by Peter Bohan)

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