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Journalist says Piers Morgan showed him how to access voice-mail messages

One of Britain's most respected journalists said on Wednesday that former tabloid newspaper editor Piers Morgan showed him how to hack into phones 10 years ago, the latest twist in a scandal that has so far centred on Rupert Murdoch.

Mr. Morgan, now a CNN talk-show host in the United States, has consistently denied authorizing phone hacking during his time as editor of the Daily Mirror.

The criminal practice has damaged Mr. Murdoch's reputation, led to the closure of his News of the World newspaper and prompted a judicial inquiry into media standards.

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On Wednesday, the BBC's Jeremy Paxman told the inquiry that Mr. Morgan had boasted to him at a lunch in 2002 about how easy it was to access the voice-mail messages of mobile phones.

"He turned to me and said: 'Have you got a mobile phone?' I said yes and he said: 'Have you got a security setting on the message bit of it?'" Mr. Paxman said.

"I didn't know what he was talking about. He then explained that the way to get access to people's messages was to go to the factory default setting and press either 0000 and 1234, and if you didn't put your own code in, his words, 'You are a fool.'"

Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Daily Mirror, has denied that any of its journalists hacked phones, but its shares fell sharply on Wednesday after Mr. Paxman's appearance at the high-profile Leveson Inquiry. They closed down 5.5 per cent.

An assistant for Mr. Morgan declined to comment on Wednesday but the former editor said on Twitter: "Right – that's the last time I'm inviting Jeremy Paxman to lunch. Ungrateful little wretch."

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