Piers Morgan to appear at UK media ethics inquiry

AP News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2011 2:31 PM
Piers Morgan to appear at UK media ethics inquiry

A publicist for Piers Morgan says the former tabloid editor-turned-celebrity interviewer will appear before a British inquiry into media ethics.

The inquiry was organized in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal that brought down Britain's News of the World tabloid.

Morgan's publicist Megan McPartland said Thursday her client will appear next week. She gave no other details.

Morgan, who replaced Larry King at CNN, can expect to be quizzed on allegations that he condoned phone hacking while working at the Daily Mirror and that he personally listened in on illegally intercepted messages.

Morgan has denied ever knowingly running a story off of illegally intercepted phone messages.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

LONDON (AP) _ Scotland Yard has arrested former News of the World crime editor Lucy Panton as part of the investigation into police corruption, a former employee and British media reported Thursday.

Police declined to confirm the report, saying only that a 37-year-old female journalist was arrested in Surrey, a county south of London, shortly before dawn. Authorities in Britain rarely name suspects until they have been charged.

Several U.K. media outlets named the journalist as Panton. A former News of the World employee also told The Associated Press that Panton was the person arrested, speaking anonymously because he still works in the media industry.

The phone hacking scandal in Britain has forced media mogul Rupert Murdoch to close the tabloid and prompted the arrests of more than a dozen former reporters. Several senior Murdoch lieutenants have been forced to resign because of the scandal.

Panton served as the News of the World's crime editor. A report in the Guardian newspaper earlier this year identified her as being married to a Scotland Yard detective.

Panton had high-level contact with the Metropolitan Police; a list of meetings made public earlier this year notes that then-Assistant Commissioner John Yates met Panton and her then-boss, News of the World editor Colin Myler, for dinner in November 2009.

That was only a few months after Yates had decided not to reopen the police investigation into allegations of systematic phone hacking at the paper. Yates was one of two top Scotland Yard officers to quit over his failure to tackle the scandal.

Myler, whose career as editor also was cut short by the scandal, on Thursday told a wide-ranging inquiry into media ethics that he had no reason to believe that phone hacking went beyond a single rogue when he took over at the paper in 2007.

But he told the inquiry that by 2008 he had changed his mind, citing an incriminating email uncovered during a lawsuit which suggested that others were involved in the practice.

That drew questions from inquiry lawyer Robert Jay, who asked why Myler was still suggesting to Press Complaints Committee in 2009 that only one rogue reporter was to blame for phone hacking.

When inquiry lawyer Robert Jay gently asked whether "it might be said that you didn't give them quite a full and frank answer. Can I suggest that?" Myler dodged the question, saying instead that he had "no reason not to give them a full and frank answer."

Myler wasn't pressed on the inconsistency, or on other apparent contradictions.

For example, Myler assured the inquiry that he and his team would "make sure that pictures were taken properly, not in breach of the (Britain's media) code."

But he wasn't quizzed about one of the most notorious incidents of his career, in which, as editor of the Sunday Mirror in 1993, he published hidden camera pictures of Princess Diana working out at a private gym.

The inquiry is charged with clearing the rot from Britain's scandal-tarred media industry, but the relaxed approach of the inquiry's cross-examination is facing criticism.

"It's a bit like being slapped around with a wet fish," said Mark Stephens, a media lawyer and consultant, who has worked for the AP in the past.

The inquiry, led by Lord Justice Brian Leveson, could recommend wide-ranging changes to Britain's media industry.

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Associated Press writer Paisley Dodds contributed to this report.

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