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Piers Morgan Warned UK TV Star Over Phone Security

CNN celebrity interviewer Piers Morgan explained at a lunch party years ago how mobile phones can be hacked, UK newsreader Jeremy Paxman told the Leveson Inquiry on Wednesday.

Piers Morgan
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Piers Morgan

Testifying at the UK’s inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press, set up following accusations of phone and email hacking by Rupert Murdoch-owned media, BBC Newsnight Presenter Jeremy Paxman said the incident took place in 2002 at a dinner party in London held by the Trinity Mirror newspaper group.

“Morgan then turned to me and said 'have you got a mobile phone?’” said Paxman.

“I said yes, and he said ‘Have you got a security setting on the message bit of it?’ I don't think it was called voicemail in those days. I didn't know what he was talking about. He then explained that the way to get access to people's messages was go to the factory default setting and press either 0000 or 1234, and that if you didn't put on your own code, you were, in his words, a ‘fool’,” said Paxman.

At the time of the conversation, Morgan ran the Daily Mirror, a British tabloid owned by Trinity Mirror. His editorship was cut short in 2004 by controversy over faked photographs.

Morgan, who was the editor of the News of the World — a tabloid closed by Rupert Murdoch after a phone-hacking scandal — between January 1994 and November 1995, and the Daily Mirror between 1995 and 2004, told the Leveson inquiry last December he was unaware of any phone hacking at the papers while he was in charge.

In a message on Twitter after Paxman's testimony, Morgan said it was "the last time" he would invite Paxman to lunch, calling him an "ungrateful little wretch."

By CNBC.com's Katy Barnato