CNN talk show host (and former News of the World and Daily Mirror editor) Piers Morgan has angrily rebutted Tory MP Louise Mensch’s allegations made in yesterday’s Murdoch hearing that he was involved in phone hacking.
Mensch said that he admitted hacking in his 2005 autobiography The Insider. In fact Morgan referred to his own phone being hacked.
Morgan, a compulsive Tweeter, used the network to say: “Ms Mensch is completely and utterly wrong. She clearly hasn’t read my book. Can someone please give her a copy?”
And then last night he confronted Mensch in a live video interview on another CNN programme. This is part of the Telegraph’s account:
Mr Morgan, 46, repeatedly demanded on Tuesday night that the 40-year-old Tory backbencher withdraw her allegation, which he described as an “absolute, blatant lie”.
However Mrs Mensch declined and would not even discuss her claim, let alone repeat it. She referred all questions to her original statement, which she noted was protected by absolute parliamentary privilege.
“I said what I said in the committee,” she said. “To repeat something outside of parliament does not give me that cloak of privilege. Mr Morgan is a very rich man”.
She added: “I’m sure that the ferocious investigative journalists at CNN and across the news media in the United States will take careful note at what was said in the committee, and look into it”.
Mr Morgan, who now has his own show on CNN, responded: “I’m quite sure they’ll be looking into you abusing parliamentary privilege and telling lies.”
He accused Mrs Mensch, who grinned and swung her head as he spoke, of “cowardice” and “breathtaking gall”, adding: “Show some balls, repeat what you said about me.”
“What she did today was a deliberate and outrageous attempt to smear my name, CNN’s name and the Mirror’s name,” he said.
“For the record, in my time at the News of the World and the Mirror, I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone”.
Moving her face towards the camera, Mrs Mensch said firmly: “I feel no need whatsoever to apologise”, before telling the host, Wolf Blitzer: “If he’s going to go on like this I’m going to cut the interview short”.
She also told Mr Morgan, who had not threatened her: “As for the threats you’ve just made, they don’t faze me in the slightest”.
Mr Morgan later spent several minutes of his own programme reiterating his denial of Mrs Mensch’s allegation.