Judge questions why Piers Morgan has not given evidence in hacking trial

The judge presiding over Prince Harry’s privacy trial against the Mirror publisher over alleged phone hacking has questioned why Piers Morgan has not given evidence.

Ahead of closing submissions in the case, Mr Justice Fancourt said he had “a question in my mind” about whether several people “could and should have given some evidence.”

Listing more than two dozen names “in no particular order”, he included former Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan in this statement.

Mr Justice Fancourt remarked that Mr Morgan had “relatively recently had a lot to say about this matter outside of court”, a judgment he extended to former editor of The People newspaper Neil Wallis.

Journalist and broadcaster Mr Morgan, who was editor of the Daily Mirror between 1995 and 2004, has previously denied involvement in phone hacking.

“I think phone hacking is completely wrong and shouldn’t have been happening and it was lazy journalists being lazy”, he told BBC Two’s Amol Rajan Interviews last month. “There’s no evidence I knew anything about any of this… I never told anybody to hack a phone.”

Meanwhile, the High Court heard on Tuesday that Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell, who is suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) for damages over alleged unlawful information-gathering between 1991 and 2011, “burned quite a few bridges” and has been in some “really dark places.”

The 58-year-old, who plays Kevin Webster in the long-running soap, claims journalists at the publisher’s titles were linked to phone hacking, so-called “blagging” or gaining information by deception and the use of private investigators for unlawful activities.

Tuesday saw the final day of evidence in the case as Mr Le Vell, who is bringing the legal action under his real name Michael Turner, finished his time in the witness box.

Asked by his barrister David Sherborne how the process had felt, Mr Le Vell replied: “It’s been one of the most distressing… this took about five years off my life.

“It’s been emotional, and it has made me go to somewhere I never thought I would go again – those really dark places – but sometimes you have got to stick up for yourself and this is the time to do that.”

In his witness statement, Mr Le Vell said that following his arrest in 2011 on suspicion of sexual offences – of which he was later cleared – he remembered seeing an article about the arrest and “wondering how the press got hold of this information”.

Discussing one of the 28 articles from MGN titles in the actor’s case, Mr Sherborne asked: “These quotes about how you were feeling… how do you feel about those being published?”

Mr Le Vell said he was “disgusted”. He continued: “It just makes me sound like I was a broken man, and I was, but I didn’t want the world knowing.”

In his written evidence before the court, Mr Le Vell said he had become “extremely paranoid” about stories about him in the press and that he blamed people around him.

He said on Tuesday: “I feel like I wasted quite a lot of years alienating quite a lot of decent people in my life.”

“I’ve burned quite a few bridges.”

The trial is due to conclude at the end of the month, with a ruling expected at a later date.

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