LONDON (AP) — Model Heather Mills on Wednesday accused a senior journalist with Britain's Trinity Mirror group of newspapers of boasting that her phone messages had been intercepted.
In an interview with the BBC's "Newsnight" program, the ex-wife of former Beatle Paul McCartney claimed that she was called several years ago by a senior editorial figure with the Mirror who quoted — word-for-word — the phone messages left by McCartney on her answering machine.
Mills said that the journalist in 2001 told her: "Oh, I hear you've had a big argument with your boyfriend." Mills and McCartney got married only in 2002.
"And I said: 'Why would you know this?' And he started quoted verbatim the messages from my machine," she said.
Mills added that when she accused the journalist of hacking into her phone, he laughed and admitted that the conversations had indeed been lifted from her voice messages. When she threatened the journalist with legal action he promised not to write a story based on the intercepts, she said.
Messages left for Mills on a number associated with her website were not immediately returned.
Trinity Mirror PLC has consistently refused to answer questions about the past conduct of its journalists, saying only that its employees follow the law.
The publisher — which puts out Britain's left-leaning Daily Mirror and its sister-paper, the Sunday Mirror — has come under increased scrutiny following revelations that the now-defunct News of the World tabloid of its rival News International eavesdropped on a host of prominent figures. Particular attention has been focused on the Daily Mirror's former editor, Piers Morgan, who has long maintained that phone hacking was widespread across the British newspaper industry and that he was well-aware of the practice.
Morgan has denied that he himself hacked into phones or that he knowingly put out stories based on hacked conversations.
Mills named the journalist in her interview, but the BBC bleeped out his name, citing legal reasons.
The BBC did say, however, that the journalist was not Morgan.