Parliament members want Piers Morgan to answer phone-hacking questions

Dylan Stableford

Clamps within the U.K.'s widening phone-hacking investigation appear to be tightening on Piers Morgan.

Just yesterday, the CNN host and former Daily Mirror editor disputed claims by Paul McCartney's ex-wife, Heather Mills, that Morgan knew that one of his reporters had hacked Mills' cellphone in 2001 to retrieve a voicemail from McCartney. And now a pair of British lawmakers want Morgan to return to the U.K. to answer questions in the case.

"It's not good enough for him to say, 'I always complied with the law and the Press Complaints Commission code of conduct,'" Harriet Harman, MP and the deputy leader of the main opposition Labour Party, told Sky News on Thursday. "He's got to answer."

Therese Coffey, a member of the select parliamentary committee that questioned Rupert and James Murdoch last month, suggested Morgan return to the U.K. to appear before the committee, though she was a bit less forceful than Harman in her request. "I just hope that the police take the evidence and go with it, and if Mr. Morgan wants to come back to the U.K. and help them with their inquiries, and I don't mean being arrested in any way, I'm sure he can add more light," Coffey told the BBC yesterday.

On Wednesday, Mills told the BBC that when Morgan was the editor of the Daily Mirror, a senior employee from the Mirror Group had admitted to hacking a voicemail message left for her by McCartney after Mills had threatened to tell police about it. She pointed to an essay Morgan wrote in 2006--in which he referenced the recording--as proof Morgan knew about the hacking.

Coffey added: "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."

A spokeswoman for Morgan's CNN show told the Cutline, "We are not commenting."

But after Mills' interview with the BBC, Morgan, who said last week he would "be making no further comment on this Hackgate nonsense," issued a lengthy statement in response to Mills' claims.

"Heather Mills has made unsubstantiated claims about a conversation she may or may not have had with a senior executive from a Trinity Mirror newspaper in 2001," Morgan stated. "I have no knowledge of any conversation any executive from other newspapers at Trinity Mirror may or may not have had with Heather Mills. What I can say and have knowledge of is that Sir Paul McCartney asserted that Heather Mills illegally intercepted his telephones, and leaked confidential material to the media. This is well documented, and was stated in their divorce case."