McCartney: I'll contact police over hack claim

McCartney: I'll contact police over hack claim
File photo of Paul McCartney
LONDON (AP) - Former Beatle Paul McCartney said Thursday he would contact police over his ex-wife's claim that their private communication had been spied upon by British tabloid journalists.

In comments to television journalists delivered via videolink from Cincinatti, Ohio, McCartney said that he would be in touch with police as soon as he was finished with his summer tour.

"I will be talking to them about that," McCartney told the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles.

"I don't think it's great. I do think it is a horrendous violation of privacy, and I do think it's been going on a long time, and I do think more people than we know knew about it. But I think I should just listen and hear what the facts are before I comment," he said.

McCartney is the latest celebrity to be dragged into Britain's phone hacking scandal, which centers on allegations that journalists routinely eavesdropped on private phone messages, bribed police officers for tips and illegally obtained confidential information for stories.

So far the scandal has largely been limited to the Rupert Murdoch's media empire, but an allegation made Wednesday by McCartney's former wife Heather Mills implicates the Trinity Mirror PLC group of newspapers - whose flagship Daily Mirror tabloid used to be edited by CNN celebrity interviewer Piers Morgan.

Morgan has come under increasing pressure to explain himself, with several British lawmakers calling on him to return to the U.K. to face questioning about the scandal. Mills' allegation, made Wednesday in an interview with the BBC, that a senior journalist admitted to her his paper was spying on her messages.

Mills identified the journalist, although the BBC bleeped out the name, citing legal reasons.

And while the broadcaster said that the journalist was not Piers Morgan, her allegation echoes a claim he himself made back in 2006, a few months after the couple began divorce proceedings.

In an article published by the Daily Mail, Morgan said that he had been played a tape of a message McCartney had left on Mills' cell phone in the wake of one of their fights.

"It was heartbreaking," Morgan wrote. "He sounded lonely, miserable and desperate, and even sang 'We Can Work It Out' into the answerphone."

In a statement released Wednesday, Morgan described Mills' allegation as unsubstantiated and noted that the judge in the couple's divorce case had cast aspersions on her credibility. He has repeatedly denied having ever ordered anyone to spy on others' voicemails.

Mills' office on Thursday declined to elaborate on what she told the BBC, but said that the 43-year-old "looks forward to receiving Piers Morgan's answer as to how he knew the content of her private voicemail messages."

British Labour Party deputy leader Harriet Harman also said Morgan had questions to answer over the extent of phone hacking within Britain's media industry.

Harman said that "the public rightly expects that we will get to the bottom of phone hacking. That's why it is so important that the police investigation looks at all the evidence and leaves no stone unturned."

John Whittingdale, chairman of Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport committee, which has examined Britain's phone-hacking scandal, said Morgan should return to the U.K. to answer questions - although not from his panel of lawmakers, which famously grilled Rupert Murdoch and his son James last month.

He said the panel's remit is focused only on allegations against the News of the World, but that a police inquiry into hacking may be interested to hear from Morgan. "Certainly if there is evidence implicating other newspapers then that needs to be part of that investigation," Whittingdale told Sky News.

Conservative legislator Therese Coffey, a member of Whittingdale's committee, also urged Morgan to return. "I think it would help everybody, including himself and this investigation, if he was able to say more about why he wrote what he did in 2006," she told the BBC's Newsnight program on Wednesday.

Morgan's publicist, Meghan McPartland, said that as far as she knows the CNN star - who is spending his summer working as a judge on "America's Got Talent" - was not returning to England to answer questions.

Morgan himself made light of the calls on his Twitter feed, saying he found it "so heartwarming that everyone in U.K.'s missing me so much they want me to come home."

In a separate development, the publisher of Britain's Daily Mail newspaper announced late Thursday that it was reviewing its editorial procedures. No reason for the review was given, but Morgan is one of many media veterans who've claimed that a host of different publications engaged in phone hacking. A similar review is already under way at the Mirror.

Associated Newspapers Ltd., which publishes the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, said in a terse statement that Liz Hartley, the company's head of editorial legal services, would be among those working on the review.

Few other details were revealed, and Hartley did not immediately return emails seeking further comment.