Leveson Inquiry: Summary of week six

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Media captionPiers Morgan at the Leveson Inquiry

Allegations that phone hacking was more widespread than just the News of the World (NoW) were made during the sixth week of the Leveson Inquiry.

Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into media ethics, sitting at London's Royal Courts of Justice, heard claims that the Sun and Daily Mirror newspapers also illegally accessed phones.

But in his evidence via video link from the United States, former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan said he was unaware of any phone hacking at the newspaper while he was in charge between 1995 and 2004.

Referring to claims made by Sir Paul McCartney's former wife Heather Mills that her voicemail was hacked into, Mr Morgan admitted hearing a recording of message on her phone but refused to say who had played it to him.

"All we know for a fact about Lady Heather Mills McCartney is that in their divorce case Paul McCartney stated as a fact that she had recorded their conversations and given them to the media," he said.

After Mr Morgan's appearance at the inquiry, Ms Mills issued a statement saying that she had never disclosed private voicemail messages to him.

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Media captionJames Hipwell claimed that phone hacking was a 'bog-standard journalistic tool' at the Daily Mirror

'Bog-standard tool'

Mr Morgan's evidence conflicted with that of former Daily Mirror financial reporter James Hipwell who said that phone hacking appeared to be a "bog-standard journalistic tool" for gathering information.

Mr Hipwell, who was jailed in 2006 for writing about firms whose shares he owned, said he sat next to the Mirror's showbiz team, and overheard journalists talking openly about it.

Mr Hipwell described Mr Morgan as "very hands-on" and said it was "very unlikely" that he did not know that Mirror journalists used the technique.

The allegations against the Mirror followed claims by Stuart Hoare that his late brother - Sean Hoare - had witnessed "routine" phone hacking at the Sun and daily hacking at the NoW.

In his evidence, James Hanning, deputy editor of the Independent on Sunday, said while Mr Hoare was aggrieved after having been sacked by the NoW, he did not think it was his "prime spur" for speaking out.

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Media captionNick Fagge: "The Madeleine story was on the front... because the editor decided it would sell newspapers"


The inquiry also heard from journalists covering the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from Portugal.

Daily Express journalist David Pilditch said it had been difficult to cover the story because it was illegal for Portuguese police to talk about the case, and he had to rely on sources.

He said although he was "confident of the veracity of the reports" he wrote, it made him feel "uncomfortable".

Another Express journalist, Padraic Flanagan, told the inquiry: "Working in Portugal, the first question you asked yourself wasn't 'Can I stand this up?'; it was 'What can I find today?'"

And former Express reporter Nick Fagge said the story had become an "obsession" of the editor.

'Bullying culture'

On Monday, former NoW sports reporter Matt Driscoll - who won an employment tribunal claim for disability discrimination after he was sacked by the paper - spoke of a culture of bullying there.

On Tuesday, Steve Turner, general secretary of the British Association of Journalists, also described a culture of "bullying" at some newspapers.

However, former NoW TV editor Sharron Marshall told the inquiry there could be disputes over the way a story was handled but that she "wouldn't say there's a culture of bullying".

Meanwhile, a breakdown of expenditure for the period of mid-July to 31 October posted on the Leveson Inquiry website on Wednesday showed that its first three months had cost £855,300.

Transcripts of the hearings so far are also on the website.

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