Piers Morgan Denies Wrongdoing at Leveson Inquiry

CNN host distances himself from phone-hacking scandal in U.K. probe
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CNN host Piers Morgan, also a former editor of the British tabloids the Daily Mirror and News of the World, appeared in front of the Leveson Inquiry in London Tuesday to give testimony for a probe into the practice of phone-hacking at U.K. newspapers. 

Morgan, appearing via live video feed from the U.S., stuck to what he has previously said about his alleged connection to the phone hacking scandal that shuttered the News of the World this summer, repeating that he never hacked a phone, listened to a voicemail message from a hackedphone or was aware that any stories printed in his paper had been obtained by his reporters engaging in the practice, overall seeking to keep his distance from committing to any wrongdoing.

"I would say the average editor is probably aware of about five percent of what his journalists are up to at any newspaper," Morgan testified. He added later that he only "very occasionally" asked reporters about the source of their information.

"I'm not going to get into rumor-mongering," he said when asked about the extent to which phone-hacking was prevalent at U.K. papers,saying that he had heard rumors like everyone else but wasn't aware if it was a widely prevalent practice on Fleet Street.

He did say that he believed the practice was wider than former News of the World editor Clive Goodman, saying Tuesday, "I do think he was made a scapegoat."

When Morgan was pressed by one of the questioners on apassage in his book that says he was played a voicemail message that Paul McCartney left for his then-wife Heather Mills, Morgan declined to say who had played him the message or where it happened, for fear of revealing his source.

Morgan was also asked about a reporter's testimony that he was paid 100 pounds by the Daily Mirror for a story he wrote about a mobile phone scandal that never ran in the paper and which the reporter characterized as "the biggest story of the decade." Morgan testified that he had no knowledge of what story the reporter was paid for and statedthat the practice of compensated reporters for spiked stories was common practice.

He said that the questioner's suggestion that the Mirror and other tabloids did not want to run the story because they engaged in mobilephone hacking themselves to obtain scoops was "total nonsense."

A CNN spokesperson reached for comment Tuesday said in a statement that

"Piers' testimony speaks for itself and does not impact his CNN program."

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