Phone Hacking at the Mirror in 1998: Read Paddy French’s Scoop and Pre-buy his Piers Morgan Biography

Over at Byline, veteran investigative reporter Paddy French has an exclusive which concludes the Mirror Group, and by implication Piers Morgan, knew about phone hacking well before it became standard practice by Glenn Mulcaire at News of the World.  Below is just an excerpt from the full damning in depth piece.

But this is just a taster. Paddy is pitching on Byline a full unauthorised biography of Piers Morgan:

Morgan is one of the most important members of the cast of the phone hacking scandal. He was the first of a long line of Murdoch editors forged in the crucible of the Sun’s show business column “Bizarre”. One of his proteges was Andy Coulson.

Morgan was singled out by Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie as a future editor and it was his patronage that led to his appointment as News of the World editor at the age of 29. There Morgan singled out a young reporter and promoted her to Features Editor: her name was Rebekah Brooks. Morgan was destined to edit the Sun but when Daily Mirror boss David Montgomery — a former News of the World editor — offered him the editorship of the Mirror, Morgan accepted.

By 2003, the troika of Morgan (Mirror), Coulson (News of the World) and Brooks (The Sun) had an iron grip on Britain’s tabloids. Morgan was at the Mirror for nearly ten years — a decade that saw the paper embrace the “dark arts” of illegal news-gathering.

The plan is to produce a readable, balanced picture of a talented but flawed individual.

I’m a retired television producer so I don’t need to be paid for my time.

But researching, writing and publishing a book as ambitious as this one does not come cheap, especially since it needs to be read for libel.

I hope you will support the venture.

For a taster of the article, more below

Irish Mirror Hacked Ahern in 1998

Early in 1998 one of the paper’s journalists in Dublin realised it was possible to access messages left on the mobile phones of senior Irish politicians.

Reporter Karl Brophy — based at the Irish Parliament — proceeded to listen to messages left on the phone of the Irish leader, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

He also successfully listened to messages left on the phones of other Cabinet ministers.

Brophy’s article — published as an “Exclusive” on Saturday, 18 April 1998 — went into great detail about how phone messages could be hacked:

“The phone tap can be operated by anyone who knows the number of the mobile phone they wish to listen in to.”

The article explained that mobile phones were sold with a standard password for stored messages that most people never changed.

“That means that anyone can listen in to another person’s messages by simply phoning into their electronic mailbox and dialling the digits 0000.”

SMOKING GUN: THE FRONT page story proving Piers Morgan’s Daily Mirror knew how to hack phones as early as April 1998. Reporter Karl Brophy provided a blueprint on how to listen to messages left on mobile phones. The article did not appear in mainland editions of the paper …

“Once they have done this the hacker has unlimited access to all the messages.”

The article was accompanied by an editorial.

This stated:

“If Richard Nixon had lived in Dublin he would have had no need for Watergate.”

“Instead of teams of bungling burglars all he would have needed was a mobile phone to tap into the thoughts of his political rivals.”

The piece continued:

“The Irish Mirror discovered this amazing security breach and chose not to keep it under wraps.”

“It is to be hoped the gap has been plugged before some unscrupulous eavesdropper has used it for sinister [purposes].”

There was to be no phone hacking scandal in Ireland.

Nott Responsible?

NOT A word of the story appeared in the mainland editions of the Daily Mirror.

This was despite the fact that several million people of Irish descent live in Britain — thousands of them Daily Mirror readers.

And the implications of the story for the British political establishment were obvious.

If British mobile phones were anything like their Irish counterparts, there was a potential security problem.

There were also strong connections between the Irish edition and the paper’s headquarters in London’s Canary Wharf.

via Dial ‘M’ For Morgan.

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