Phone-hacking accusations slam UK’s Mirror

Written By kom nampuldu on Rabu, 04 Maret 2015 | 20.49

Phone hacking at the Daily Mirror, the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People was perpetrated on an "industrial scale" from around 1999 to 2009, according to a report on Tuesday.

One reporter hacked phones of 100 celebrities over an 18-month period, according to the report, which is based on statements from a lawyer for eight alleged hacking victims.

In fact, the phone hacking was "utterly unprecedented" and went to the very top of the publications, which were part of the Mirror News Group, the lawyer, David Sherborne, told Britain's Guardian newspaper, which first reported on the Mirror's alleged hacking.

If the blockbuster allegations hold up, the fallout could ripple across the Atlantic and wash up on the shore of the Big Apple.

Current Daily News Editor-in-Chief Colin Myler was editor of the Sunday Mirror from 1998 until 2001.

Myler was not in a talkative mood on Tuesday and did not return a call seeking comment.

Sherborne told a London court that the extensive hacking made the well-publicized phone hacking scandal at the since-shuttered News of the World look like a "small cottage industry," according to the report.

News of the World was owned by News Corp., which owns The Post.

Disclosure of the NOTW phone hacking led to the closing of the weekly and the arrest of at least a dozen journalists.

Former CNN talk show host Piers Morgan, who was editor of the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004, has also come under suspicion for alleged involvement in the phone hacking that allegedly went on during his watch.

He has denied that he had any role in the scandal. He could not be reached by presstime Tuesday.

Mirror Group, in a statement Tuesday, said it had already published an apology to the eight victims and set up a multimillion dollar compensation fund, the Guardian reported.

The Mirror Group claimed the victims were not hurt as badly as those who suffer traumatic, lengthy bullying in harassment or discrimination cases.

Sherborne said the tabloids began hacking "by mid-1999 at the latest" and that it went on for "at least eight years and possibly 10 years."

'Cats' feud

Supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis, who is among a handful of suitors for the troubled Daily News, once organized an ad boycott of the teetering tabloid by supermarket chains across the city because he was upset by the paper's May 2001 investigative series on the area supermarkets.

The series had fingered one of his Upper East Side Gristedes stores as among the 10 worst supermarkets in the city, based on flunking state health inspections.

"He called for our heads," recalls William Sherman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who worked on the story.

Catsimatidis also wanted then-City Editor Richard Pienciak fired.

"We got very upset about a reporter that printed lies about one of our supermarkets," Catsimatidis told Media Ink on Tuesday, one day after confirming he is among those angling to buy the News from Mort Zuckerman.

The paper stood by the stories at the time but cut back the scope of the series.

John CatsimatidisPhoto: Demotix

"The pressure he and other supermarket executives put on the paper caused the paper to cancel several articles in the series," recalled Sherman. "No question, he has the executive abilities to be publisher, but to function well, newspapers and reporters and editors have to be independent of external financial or political pressures, and that's something he has to sign up for and adhere to to succeed."

As the ad boycott dragged on, the paper's business side was in a tizzy. It decided to run a four-page pro-supermarket advertorial.

"This advertorial series is part of a package of advertorial, advertising and value-added marketing that we hope will bring supermarkets back into the newspaper," the News spokesman at the time was quoted as saying.

Pienciak recalled that, when the story first appeared, Zuckerman was happy and complimented those involved, calling it the type of story the paper should be running.

Once Catsimatidis objected and organized a boycott that cost the paper millions in lost ad revenue over the next month and a half, however, Zuckerman became upset and changed his tune, Pienciak said.

Pienciak added that he and Sherman kept their jobs but Zuckerman's caving in to Catsimatidis was a "low point in my time at the News."

"Given the way Mr. Catsimatidis behaved back in 2001, when we had documented evidence — namely state inspection reports — I am concerned for my former colleagues who remain at the Daily News and all the other journalists there," said Pienciak, now head of investigations at the Associated Press.

Catsimatidis, who stopped selling the paper in his markets during the standoff, is unrepentant to this day.

"I stand for honesty and integrity — more so than anybody I know," he told Media Ink before making an appearance NY1 Thursday.


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