Beamed direct from a dingy broom cupboard in LA a shiny faced Piers Morgan probably thought that he was in a safe place. But it turns out he was wrong. He met his long awaited appearance before the Levenson Enquiry with characteristic charisma-free arrogance and smugness. But sadly for Piers his reputation preceded him and it was clear he had few friends in the room.
It probably didn’t help that some of them had read his autobiography The Insider: The Private Diaries of a Scandalous Decade. Amazon’s reader reviews for the book are peppered with words like ‘irritating’, ‘smug’ and ‘monstrous ego’ – and they’re the positive ones! To know Piers Morgan is to hate him.
Piers wasn’t going to be humbled by the Enquiry, putting on a defiant face from the beginning. But, like a customs officer snapping on a rubber glove, QC Robert Jay was spurred on by Morgan’s resistance. First off Morgan defended the right to rummage through a celebrity’s bins. Apparently this isn’t unethical, according to Piers who seemed to be under the impression that once something was in someone’s bin it was effectively in the public domain.
But as the questioning wore on things only got worse for him. A massive ego, Piers’ biggest mistake is that he’s made a career out of talking about himself. Passages from his diaries and an appearance on Desert Island Discs came back to haunt him as they made it plain he was aware of the practice of phone hacking from as early as 2001, and his days as a newspaper editor. But while he could offer up an explanation of how to hack a phone he struggled to remember who had told him how to do it.
Sitting alone in his dim LA closet, blankly staring into the camera he was probably thinking: ‘This must be how Jesus felt.’
It was at this point Piers became a lot less talkative. Struggling to keep his cool he grew evasive, trying to dodge each question, rarely giving a straight answer and looking for loopholes to dive through wherever he could. But when presented with his own incriminating words he began to visibly squirm.
There were times when his testimony didn’t add up. He denied Mirror journalists ever hacked phones, but then claimed as an editor he only knew about 5% of what his journalists were doing. 95% of the time seems to be quite a lot of time for them to just be doing their own thing. I’m surprised they got a paper out at all. But it does give Piers plenty of wriggle room if or when the shit hits the fan. If I was him I’d be practicing my ‘surprised’ face just in case.
Questioning roamed around many of Pier’s greatest ‘bloopers’, from the Mirror shares scandal and photo doctoring to getting a reporter to infiltrate Buckingham Palace. At times the hearing deviated into comedy as the former entertainment columnist, without a hint of irony, refused ‘to get into rumour mongering’. But his own attempts to raise a laugh fell flat as he called another Leveson witness ‘barking’ and ‘one sandwich short of a picnic’. Unfortunately for Piers The Mirror had paid Steven Nott £100 back in 1998 for a tip about how mobile phones could be easily hacked. Morgan’s attempts to brush this off as nonsense began to show cracks and stretch credibility.
Twitter loves a twat like Piers and plenty of people hit the tweets to rip into him. Director Edgar Wright said ‘PiersMorgan. Trending worldwide, but not dead. Twitter can be so cruel sometimes’. He’s someone that people love to hate, the jokes and the vitriol flowed throughout the afternoon to the point that it’s surprising that ‘smug’ or ‘cunt’ weren’t trending worldwide.
When asked how he’d heard a tape of a voicemail message left by Paul McCartney for Heather Mills he became cagey, refusing to name his source. By now the slimeball was really starting to get on Lord Leveson’s nerves. The judge pointed out that only Heather Mills or someone instructed by her could legally hear the message. Morgan continued to refuse to name his source so Leveson threatened to call Mills to testify. The implications were obvious, if Mills hadn’t played the message to him then there was no legal way that he could have obtained or heard the recording. Did he just drop himself in it?
Years of self promotion and boasts have made a noose for Piers and as the Leveson QCs began to pull it tight, he tried but rarely succeeded to break free. It was clear he was in a more uncomfortable place by the end of his testimony than when he had started, and that there is more to come.
But despite this he was still determined to get the last word in with an impassioned plea to remember all the good that tabloids do. Humble to the end he cast himself as ‘a rock star having an album brought out of his back catalogue of all his worst ever hits’. Then, blind to his own hypocrisy, he accused the Leveson Enquiry of showing a lack of balance.
Most people will be staggered by the balls of the man, but in Piers’ mind he probably thought he was being quite restrained. Sitting alone in his dim LA closet, blankly staring into the camera he was probably thinking: ‘This must be how Jesus felt.’
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