It was 20 years ago, almost to the day: then Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan was at his desk on the 22nd floor of One Canada Square when a call from the Telegraph’s Suzy Jagger left him in a state few will have ever seen - speechless. Was he OK, his secretary asked him. “Well, I’m not sure, to be honest … I bought some bloody shares a few weeks ago, and I think it’s about to crash around my ears”.
It's a question of trust ...
... with his claim in the frame
As Paddy French at the excellent Press Gang has told, this was the infamous episode of the Viglen shares: as the Mirror’s City Slickers column was about to tip them, Morgan had raided his then wife’s PEP, his own PEP, and then his bank account to buy £67,000 worth of those shares. The price doubled the very next day. At first, when supposedly admitting the purchases to the Tel, he said it was £20,000 worth. He only came clean later.
But Morgan kept his job, and later secured a new contract. The City Slickers - Anil Bhoyrul and James Hipwell - lost their jobs. The impression was given that the profiting from share tips was a little like phone hacking - deniable at the top of the organisation, with the bosses walking away scot free and the fall guys carrying the can - if they got caught.
That matters, as Hipwell has now laid out in a Twitter thread (HERE). “Proof that Piers Morgan’s relationship with the truth is sometimes tenuous … [he had admitted] to buying ‘about £20,000 worth’ of Viglen shares the day before the company was tipped in the paper he edited … But his investment was rather larger”. There was more.
“He was intent on keeping his PEP purchases secret, telling DTI inspectors … that he was ‘sensitive’ and ‘paranoid’ about it because if this info leaked out it would be ‘on the front page of the Sunday Times in about three microseconds’ [the London Stock Exchange began to investigate, and Morgan] told DTI inspectors [it] caused his bowels to ‘twitch’”.
Do go on. “Under considerable pressure from Trinity Mirror … Morgan sold all his shares in Viglen and gave the profit (some £18k) to a few charities”. The cheques were drawn on Coutts’ Bank. Morgan banks at Coutts. This shows the world that he has lots of money.
Hipwell concludes by asking “Why is this relevant 20 years on? Because Prince Harry has brought a legal action against The Mirror for phone-hacking … So it would be understandable if [Morgan’s] bowels were beginning to twitch again … he might well be required to tell ALL … about phone-hacking at The Mirror while he was editor. But given his track record on things like share dealing/Viglen, can he be relied upon to tell the truth?”
Professor Brian Cathcart observed “[Hipwell] knows what he is talking about: he was one of the tipsters. And this is separate from the phone hacking problem. Do [Good Morning Britain] and [ITV] know all this stuff?” They should; ITV has just awarded Morgan another two-year contract to co-host their breakfast show three mornings a week.
Roy Greenslade added “We knew this at the time, but he still managed to get away with it!” But now the High Court revelations are unfolding, one has to wonder if he will get away with it, as he has done for so many years, for much longer.
The Teflon hide of Piers Morgan was for a time, but maybe, just maybe, not for all time.
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