A BBC quiz show host and news presenter told UK media ethics inquiry on Wednesday that Piers Morgan, a CNN host and former "America's Got Talent" judge, once taught him how to hack into phones.
The man, Jeremy Paxman, said the issue was discussed during lunch about 10 years ago, when Morgan worked as an editor of the tabloid The Daily Mirror, which is one of several newspapers that have been targeted by the probe. Morgan has denied any wrongdoing but Tweeted: "Right - that's the last time I'm inviting Jeremy Paxman to lunch. Ungrateful little wretch."
According to BBC News, Paxman testified that Morgan had during the lunch teased Swedish TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson, who also attended, that he knew about her phone conversations with Sven-Goran Eriksson, her then-boyfriend and a manager for England's national soccer team. Paxman also said Morgan turned to him and said, "Have you got a mobile phone?"
"I said, 'Yes, and he asked if there was a security setting on the message bit of it," Paxman said "I didn't know what he was talking about. He then explained the way to get access to people's messages was to go to the factory default setting and press either 0000 or 1234 and that if you didn't put on your own code, his words, 'You're a fool.'"
Journalist Richard Wallace told the inquiry in January that phone hacking "might well have been" taking place when he worked as a showbiz editor at The Daily Mirror under Morgan and that the scoop about Eriksson's affair with Jonsson could have been obtained through a hacked voicemail, BBC News said.
Jonsson worked as a columnist for a different tabloid, News of the World, in 2003. In 2011, she accused the newspaper of phone hacking. It shut down that year amid similar allegations. Morgan was an editor at the tabloid between 1994 and 1995, before joining The Daily Mirror. The later paper's publisher has denied that any of its journalists hacked phones.
British Prime Minister David Cameron had ordered the investigation into media practices and ethics in the summer of 2011 amid a highly-publicized phone hacking scandal that involved celebrities and several tabloids. Morgan has said he first became aware of phone hacking in January 2001 but has denied direct knowledge or involvement.
In December, he testified that he listed to what a lawyer said was a voice mail Paul McCartney had left on Heather Mills' cell phone. The former Beatles singer had left the message for Mills, his girlfriend at the time, after she left for India after an argument. McCartney pleaded for her to return and sang to her. The two divorced in 2008 after six years of marriage.
"So you listened to all of that?" the lawyers asked Morgan, as seen in a video posted on the website of the UK newspaper The Telegraph. "Did you know that that was unethical?"
"Not unethical, no," Morgan said. "It doesn't necessarily follow listening to somebody speaking to somebody else is unethical."
Morgan said he did not believe he listened to any material obtained illegally and that he refused to reveal who had played the recording for him or where he heard it.