Leveson Inquiry told hacking was 'bog-standard' journalism tool at Daily Mirror

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Piers Morgan, former editor of the Daily Mirror
Image: Pete Riches.

James Hipwell, a former financial reporter for the Daily Mirror tabloid, told the Leveson Inquiry today he believed hacking into voicemails of celebrities and others was a "bog-standard tool" for entertainment journalists at the Mirror.

Hipwell was fired from the paper in 2000 and then convicted and sent to prison in February 2006 for using his "City Slicker" column in the newspaper to write about companies he had a financial stake in, which netted him approximately £40,000. Trinity Mirror newspapers, which publishes the Mirror, also publishes another tabloid The People which is also alleged to have used phone hacking to get stories.

Hipwell told the inquiry he believed that voicemail hacking was "genuinely accepted", "happened every day" and "was entirely accepted by the senior editors on the newspaper" and that "it was seen as a slightly underhand thing to do but not illegal." He also stated "that a great number of the Mirror's showbusiness stories would come from that source" and that "[s]howbiz hacks discussed techniques and products of hacking openly".

Hipwell's testimony contradicts claims by the former editor of the Mirror, Piers Morgan, who now hosts a talk show on CNN. Morgan claims that under his editorship, he was unaware of any hacking, but Hipwell claims it is unlikely Morgan did not know about hacking going on at the paper.

The Leveson Inquiry was set up by the British Prime Minister David Cameron following the scandal which engulfed the News of the World after widespread allegations they hacked into voicemails of crime victims and their families including the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, and has so far interviewed numerous representatives of the media industry, and alleged victims of press intrusion and phone hacking.