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Paul McCartney to go to police over phone hacking

Former Beatle notes claims by ex-wife Heather Mills that the couple’s phone messages had been spied on. If true, it’s “a horrendous violation of privacy”, he says.

Image: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

FORMER BEATLE PAUL McCartney has said he will contact police over his ex-wife’s claim that the couple had been spied upon by a British newspaper.

In comments to US television journalists delivered via videolink from Cincinnati, Ohio, McCartney said that he would be in touch with law enforcement as soon as he was finished with his summer tour.

“I will be talking to them about that,” he told the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles. He continued:

I don’t think it’s great. I do think it is a horrendous violation of privacy, and I do think it’s been going on a long time, and I do think more people than we know knew about it. But I think I should just listen and hear what the facts are before I comment.

McCartney is the latest celebrity to be dragged into the phone hacking scandal, which centers on allegations that journalists routinely eavesdropped on private phone messages, bribed police officers for tips and illegally obtained confidential information for stories.

Until recently the scandal was largely been limited to the British arm of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, but an allegation made Wednesday by McCartney’s former wife Heather Mills implicates the Trinity Mirror PLC group of newspapers, and CNN celebrity interviewer Piers Morgan, who once edited the group’s flagship Daily Mirror tabloid.

Mills’s allegation, made Wednesday in an interview with the BBC, was that a senior Mirror journalist admitted to her that his paper had been spying on her messages. While the broadcaster said that the unidentified man was not Piers Morgan, the former model’s allegation echoes a claim Morgan himself made back in 2006 — a few months after the couple began divorce proceedings.

In an article published by the Daily Mail, Morgan said that he had been played a tape of a message McCartney had left on Mills’ cell phone in the wake of one of their fights. Morgan wrote:

It was heartbreaking. He sounded lonely, miserable and desperate, and even sang ‘We Can Work It Out’ into the answerphone.

Questions over how Piers Morgan came to hear such a message have led several British lawmakers to call on him to return to the UK and explain himself.

Morgan has so far not offered comment on his article, although he did describe Mills’s allegation as unsubstantiated and noted that the judge in the couple’s divorce case had cast aspersions on her credibility.

Morgan himself made light of the calls on his Twitter feed, saying he found it “so heartwarming that everyone in UK’s missing me so much they want me to come home.”

In a separate development, the publisher of Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper announced late Thursday that it was reviewing its editorial procedures. No reason for the review was given, but Morgan is one of many media veterans who’ve claimed that phone hacking and other shady practices were common across Britain’s newspaper industry.

A similar review is already under way at the Mirror.

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