And what's more, Ron ...
Latest to be courted by Rupe’s new venture are Alan Sugar, and his pal Piers Morgan, the former Screws and Daily Mirror editor potentially being made an offer he cannot refuse to score one more big payday. City AM has told readers “Lord Sugar, who is best known for fronting The Apprentice, has been approached about hosting a business show that would involve a famous entrepreneur turning around a struggling business”.
Recycling the old John Harvey Jones vehicle Troubleshooter, then. But all that the report told about Morgan was “Outspoken TV personality Morgan, who presents Good Morning Britain on ITV, is also said to be in discussions with Murdoch’s media group”. Any move would mean ITV Good Morning Britain having to find another Monday to Wednesday co-host. Are they worried? My conclusion is that they should not be.
Why that may be can be deduced from a court ruling last week, which Morgan’s pals in the press kept out of their pages, but Byline Investigates covered, telling “PIERS MORGAN’S allegedly extensive knowledge and encouragement of criminal news-gathering at the Daily Mirror while he was editor and his connections to a claimed boardroom cover-up conspiracy will face a full courtroom examination, a High Court judge has ruled”.
There was more. “Lawyers acting for Mirror Group Newspapers last week fought but failed to keep the outspoken 55-year-old journalist and broadcaster out of a case alleging the publisher’s board and top lawyers turned a blind eye to years of criminal activity at its three British national tabloids”. His evidence to the Leveson Inquiry “in which he denied knowing of newsroom criminality … will for the first time be tested against detailed allegations to the contrary in a civil court of law where a High Court judge will make findings”. And more.
“And a legal source told Byline Investigates: ‘If the Claimants prove their case at the trial, there would no doubt be calls to investigate Piers’ evidence to the inquiry, which would then be called into question. If the evidence was anything less than the truth, it could have very serious ramifications for him.’” The article notes “Leveson described Morgan's denials of knowledge of phone hacking at the public inquiry as ‘utterly unpersuasive’”.
Put simply, the legal net is closing around MGN and their past misdeeds. The report also reminds us “the company was forced to admit in 2015 - in the teeth of compelling whistle-blower evidence and an ongoing police probe - that [hacking] was a common practice at the Sunday Mirror (at a time when Morgan was its de facto ‘Editor in Chief’)”.
That series of actions is one reason why ITV may take a relaxed view in response to the prospect of Morgan leaving GMB to join Murdoch TV. Any proven connection to the years of illegal news gathering at MGN would make him damaged goods.
The channel may even allow itself a brief period of rejoicing at his departure.
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