Considering he is Mail Online’s editor at large, the rest of the Mail empire doesn’t exactly help former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan forget about the more controversial episodes in his career, as the people at Byline Media have discovered. Morgan continues to stick to the line that he knew nothing about the paper he was running behaving like a borderline criminal enterprise, hacking phones on an industrial scale.
Cock of the walk or feather duster? Decisions, decisions
That behaviour resulted in the Mirror titles having to pay out tens of millions in damages and legal costs, as those whose voicemail had been hacked lined up to take action. One of those so doing was actor and campaigner Hugh Grant, who made a telling observation outside the High Court last February after collecting a six-figure settlement.
“It is clear from the evidence in this litigation so far that Ms [Tina] Weaver. and Messrs [Richard] Wallace, [Mark] Thomas and [James] Scott were all phone hackers themselves, and that either Piers Morgan and Neil Wallis were so incompetent as not to know the real source of scores of exclusives that they published, or were complicit in the conduct themselves”. And where has Tina Weaver fetched up now?
Well, she’s arrived at the Mail on Sunday, which puts her uncomfortably close to her former close colleague Morgan, who might be wondering if the MoS could not possibly have engaged the services of someone marginally less controversial. The problem for both of them is twofold. The first difficulty is who she is writing about.
As Byline Media’s legal source has told, “Tina Weaver … ran one of the biggest known illegal surveillance operations in British history … What happens if a complaint comes from someone she has already targeted in the past, as part of a criminal conspiracy, the purpose of which was to breach their privacy? It would look bad, and potentially is hugely aggravating”. So who has Ms Weaver written about since joining the MoS?
Tina Weaver looking moderately shifty at the Leveson Inquiry
How about Ant McPartlin, former wife Lisa Armstrong, Gwyneth Paltrow and her former husband Chris Martin? She wrote about the first two HERE, and the second two HERE. That might just prove uncomfortable for Morgan, not just because they are both working for the Rothermere press, but because of their past closeness.
The second difficulty is that close past working relationship. As Press Gazette told back in 2001, under the headline “Weaver to work closely with 'editor in chief' Morgan”, “The Mirror editor has a new, lucrative five-year deal with Trinity Mirror and is to be ‘effectively editor-in-chief’ of his own paper and the Sunday Mirror … His new role will be akin to that filled by Paul Dacre at Associated Newspapers, in a strategy that will see Morgan and new Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver bring the papers into a close working partnership”.
Do go on. “MGN managing director Mark Haysom said: ‘I now want to extend Piers’ influence over the Mirror’s sister title. He has worked closely with Tina in the past and will continue to do so in their new roles.’ … Morgan said he was looking forward, with Weaver, to bringing the papers together as ‘formidable editorial and commercial partners’”.
What else was “brought together” I will leave for others to decide. Complicit or incompetent? That PG article doesn’t sound like they’re talking about the latter.
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