A new conflict is raging in the U.K. phone-hacking scandal over allegations by the ex-wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney, according to the Los Angeles Times’ Show Tracker blog. Heather Mills says a journalist working for Mirror Group Newspapers hacked her voicemail in 2001 and taped a message from McCartney, who was her boyfriend at the time.
Mills’ claim ratchets up the pressure on CNN host Piers Morgan, who was the editor of Mirror Group’s Daily Mirror at the time.
Mills says a journalist — not Morgan — who worked for Mirror Group called her in 2001 and "started quoting verbatim the messages from my machine," according to the BBC.
Mills told the BBC that in early 2001 she had had a fight with McCartney, who then left her a conciliatory voicemail. Later the journalist called her and read her the comments from McCartney’s voicemail, she said. Mills said she responded, "You’ve obviously hacked my phone, and if you do anything with this story … I’ll go to the police," the piece says.
She said the journalist admitted to hearing it on her voicemail and told her he wouldn’t run it.
In a 2006 article in the Daily Mail, Morgan wrote about hearing a recorded message that McCartney had left for Mills. Mills alleges that hacking is the only way Morgan could have heard the tape, according to the L.A. Times.
Morgan responded to Mills’ claims by calling her story "unsubstantiated" and noting that the BBC told him the unnamed reporter hadn’t worked for his paper, the Times story notes.
"No doubt everyone will take this and other instances of somewhat extravagant claims by Ms. Mills into account in assessing what credibility and platform her assertions are given," Morgan said in a prepared statement.
Morgan claims to have introduced McCartney to Mills at an awards ceremony in 1999, although he later changed his mind about Mills and called her a "vengeful, shameless, ghastly woman," the Times story notes.