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Piers Morgan OK’ed phone-hacking, Harry and Meghan’s biographer testifies | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacking | #aihp

In this May 7, 2013, file photo, honoree Piers Morgan poses at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence Los Angeles Gala at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. CNN said Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, that the prime-time talk show “Piers Morgan Live” is coming to an end and that the show’s final airdate has yet to be determined.

In Prince Harry’s showdown with nemesis Piers Morgan in a London court, the Duke of Sussex’s legal team elicited testimony Monday from a controversial royal reporter who said he heard Piers Morgan discussing the use of phone-hacking for a celebrity story while Morgan was the editor of the Daily Mirror in 2002.

During testimony in Harry’s phone-hacking lawsuit against the Daily Mirror, Omid Scobie said he was a journalism student, working as an intern at the tabloid newspaper in the spring of 2002, and observed Morgan being an “extremely hands-on” editor, The Telegraph reported.

Scobie, the author of “Finding Freedom,” a sympathetic biography of Harry and his wife Meghan Markle, said he heard Morgan being told that information for a story about Kylie Minogue’s troubled relationship with her then-boyfriend had come from intercepted voicemails, The Telegraph said.

“Mr. Morgan was asking how confident they were in the reporting and was told that the information had come from voicemails,” Scobie said. Morgan “seemed reassured” after being informed that the story about Minogue’s private life came from voicemails, The Guardian also reported. “I recall being surprised to hear this at the time, which is why it stuck in my mind,” Scobie said.

Scobie’s testimony comes in the second week of a seven-week trial involving Harry’s lawsuit against the Mirror Group Newspapers. The case centers on Harry’s allegations that he, his family and friends were the victims of phone hacking and other forms of illegal information gathering by the Daily Mirror.

The Guardian said Harry is using the trial as a way to go after the bombastic Morgan, who edited the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004. Morgan, now the lead host on Rupert Murdoch’s TalkTV, is one of Harry and Meghan’s most vehement critics in the U.K. Morgan has long insisted there is no evidence he knowingly commissioned stories based on illegal voicemail interception while he was the Daily Mirror’s editor.

Scobie could be seen as a tricky witness on behalf of Harry, in that other U.K. papers have labeled him the Sussexes’ unofficial spokesperson. After Harry and Meghan long denied cooperating with Scobie and his co-author on “Finding Freedom,” Meghan was forced to admit in another court case that she in fact authorized the release of certain private information to the writers.

Scobie, an editor at large for Harper’s Bazaar and a “Good Morning America” contributor, has become known as the royal reporter who often breaks news of announcements from the Sussexes or from their nonprofit, the Archewell Foundation. Scobie also has used his Twitter account and columns to present the couple’s viewpoint in certain controversies, such as Meghan’s decision to stay behind in California while Harry flew to London solo to attend Charles III’s coronation.

During his testimony Monday, Scobie rejected the suggestion he had a close personal relationship with Harry or that he is a “cheerleader” for the couple. “I don’t have (the Duke’s) phone number, I have never socialized with him,” Scobie said.

But Scobie has been brought in by Harry’s lawyers to bolster their contention that Mirror Group Newspaper (MGN) engaged in unlawful information gathering — including the interception of voicemail messages — over a 20-year period, the Telegraph and other outlets reported. Scobie’s testimony could also support the argument that Morgan “lies at the heart” of the illegal reporting practices at MGN, which also includes the Sunday Mirror and People. Supporters of the Sussexes were pleased by his testimony Monday.

Scobie said that, as an intern, he worked at both MGN’s Sunday People and the Daily Mirror. At People, he said he was given “a list of mobile numbers followed by a detailed verbal description of how to listen to voicemails, as if it were a routine news-gathering technique.” Scobie also said: “I was taken aback by what seemed completely immoral and I never carried out the task.”

During cross-examination, Andrew Green, an attorney for MGN, accused Scobie of “either innocently creating a false memory in his desire to be helpful” or “knowingly creating it.” Green said it was “implausible” that a student intern would be asked to hack into people’s phones.

Scobie said he was offended by the suggestion he had fabricated memories. He insisted he was given detailed instructions on how to hack phones by a female reporter, whom he refused to name. He said he also was told how to use a landline phone to listen in to voicemails, and was given a “very short” typed list of numbers belonging to celebrities.

Green also challenged Scobie on his claim that he heard Morgan discuss phone hacking during a short, week-long stint at the Daily Mirror. Green asked why an editor would discuss such a sensitive topic in front of an intern and pressed Scobie on why he waited 20 years to come forward with such allegations against Morgan.

Scobie replied that he was in “a different place in his career.” He also said it was often the “invisible interns” who were privy to sensitive conversations.

In a BBC interview recorded before the trial, Morgan said,  “I’ve never hacked a phone. I’ve never told anybody to hack a phone.” He also said that reporters who hacked into phones are “lazy journalists being lazy.”

But the trial has clearly put Morgan on the defensive and there are questions about whether his oft-embattled reputation could face its most serious challenge yet from Harry’s phone-hacking case.

In his usual combative way, Morgan said last week that he would not apologize to Harry over the phone-hacking allegations. In an interview with ITV, Morgan referred to Harry sharing behind-the-scenes stories about royal life in his memoir “Spare” and in interviews over the past several years. Morgan suggested that the duke should apologize to the royal family “for his disgraceful invasion of privacy.”

“All I am going to say is I am not going to take lectures on privacy invasion from Prince Harry, somebody who has spent the last three years ruthlessly and cynically invading the royal family’s privacy for vast commercial gain,” Morgan said. He cheekily posted an image from the “South Park” episode that lambasted Harry and Meghan over the concerns about privacy.

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