LONDON — Contradicting testimony by Piers Morgan, a former reporter said in a British inquiry that phone hacking was considered a "standard journalistic tool" at the tabloid once run by the CNN host.
Former Daily Mirror business columnist James Hipwell's testimony Wednesday clashed with Morgan's insistence a day earlier that he did not know the practice was used at the tabloid during his time as editor from 1995 to 2004.
Hipwell, who was fired from the paper in 2000 and later convicted of buying low-priced shares before recommending them in his popular City Slickers column, is now a freelance writer.
He gave his statement to a panel headed by senior judge Brian Leveson that is looking into ethical standards and practices of journalism in Britain.
Hipwell told the panel he believed hacking was used on a daily basis by the tabloid's reporters who covered show business. They would often laugh and joke about it, he said.
"I would go as far as to say it happened every day," Hipwell told the panel. "It became apparent that a great number of stories . . . would come from that source." He said he even witnessed a colleague hacking into Morgan's cell phone "in front me" in 2000.
The Leveson inquiry was ordered by the British government to investigate media methods and practices after revelations in July that kidnapping victim Milly Dowler's cell phone was hacked on behalf of journalists in 2002. The 13-year-old was later found slain.
The scandal forced the closure in July of the News of the World, a popular tabloid owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
The inquiry, expected to last at least a year, is running parallel to police investigations and parliamentary hearings on the subject.