Paul Dacre’s claim before the Leveson Inquiry - “I can be as confident as any editor, having made extensive enquiries into the newspapers’ practices - and held an inquiry - that phone hacking was not practiced by the Mail on Sunday or the Daily Mail. You know that because I gave this inquiry my unequivocal assurances” - is looking increasingly hollow, after the papers’ current management inadvertently signalled its agreement.
Tina Weaver - dropped by the MoS
How so? Well, after Byline Media began its recent series of revelations about the Mail on Sunday’s use of hacked material - to the extent that Sadie Frost is now consulting lawyers with a view to taking the paper to the cleaners - the MoS engaged the services of former Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver. As I pointed out at the time, this must have been uncomfortable for Mail Online’s editor-at -large Piers Morgan.
Morgan was effectively editor in chief of the Mirror titles as well as editing the Daily Mirror. Ms Weaver was his protégé. And her first subjects for discussion in her new column included those to whom the Mirror titles have paid out damages for … phone hacking.
Sadie Frost - still consulting lawyers
Worse, Byline has secured access to notes made by Glenn Mulcaire, who it seems did not only hack for the Murdoch Screws. His handler Greg Miskiw made the fruits of his labour available to the MoS, too. Hence Ms Frost instructing lawyers. Dacre claimed “I have carried out a major internal inquiry into our payments and our computers. We have never paid any payments to Mr Mulcaire”. Mulcaire remembers differently.
Then, while the MoS’ management was maintaining that it really had nothing to do with this phone hacking malarkey, someone in the Northcliffe House bunker had a serious loss of nerve. The last thing they needed was to show the world that there had been a giveaway moment, a sign of panic. So that management did indeed panic.
Look who was Ms Weaver's mentor ...
As Byline has now told, “THE Mail on Sunday has axed star columnist Tina Weaver after a Byline Investigation exposed her criminal past as a phone hacking mastermind, it has emerged … Management at Britain's biggest mid-market weekend publication did not know the full extent of former Sunday Mirror editor Weaver's shadowy background - until they read our stories, according to insiders”. Oh what a giveaway!
Campaigning group Hacked Off has observed “The news that Tina Weaver, herself heavily implicated in illegal activity at the Mirror Group, had been reshuffled from one publisher mired in corporate illegality, to another which is facing its own allegations of criminality, showed just how much of an insular and mutually protective mentality persists at these newspaper groups”. And what about Piers Morgan?
... and whose inquiry needs to be completed
Tina Weaver actually did some of her own hacking, as actor and campaigner Hugh Grant observed recently. And remember that Press Gazette article which told “Weaver to work closely with 'editor in chief' Morgan”. The MoS dropping Tina Weaver does two things: one, it is very adjacent to being an admission of guilt. And two, it puts Piers Morgan in another Very Difficult Position. If they worked so closely together, how did he miss the hacking?
He may not be about to get guilty over it. But a little exposure and ritual humiliation before his peers could still be on the cards. I’ll just leave that one there.
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