Almost everyone loves to hate Piers Morgan. And, to put it bluntly, the former tabloid newspaper editor turned TV presenter makes himself an easy target. From an epic tantrum over vegan sausage rolls to public sulking sessions at awards ceremonies, Piers does invite ridicule by coming across as a vain, thin-skinned manchild.
But the one barb that is most frequently aimed at him, particularly on Twitter, is something that he didn’t do: the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone when she was already dead.
That dubious distinction goes to a shady private eye called Glenn Mulcaire, who was acting exclusively for Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World on this specific task. Mulcaire hacked Milly’s mobile phone in March 2002 when she was still being treated as missing and alive. Piers Morgan had worked for the NotW in the past but had left to join the Mirror Group in 1995.
Mulcaire had deleted voicemails from Milly’s mobile phone, making it seem that she was still accessing messages. This gave her family false hope that she was alive when she was already dead. There had already been concerns about phone hacking by tabloid newspapers before then, but the revelation about Milly Dowler’s phone was the final straw. It caused public outrage that led to the Leveson Inquiry into media phone hacking, closure of the News of the World after a 168-year run and several NotW staff facing criminal prosecutions.
Daily Mirror sacking
Morgan was certainly involved in other shady activities like the Iraq war fake photos scandal, which led to him being sacked as Daily Mirror editor in 2004. Tabloid newspapers in general were also involved in hacking famous people’s phones. However, the crime of hacking Milly Dowler’s phone was specifically carried out by the News of the World.
So by all means criticise Morgan for the fake photos scandal from 15 years ago or mock him for his notoriously prickly ego. But smearing him for something he didn’t actually do hardly gives anyone the moral high ground.