Mirror editor teamed up with wife to buy shares

By Melvyn Howe, PA

Former
Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan teamed up with his wife to buy nearly
£67,000 of shares the day before they were tipped in the tabloid
newspaper, a court heard today.

As soon as the article appeared in the paper’s City Slickers column, the stock soared in value.

The
one-time editor, who used tax-free savings plans to buy most of the
shares, was later cleared of any wrongdoing by both the Department of
Trade and Industry and an internal Mirror inquiry. But London’s
Southwark Crown Court has heard financial journalists James Hipwell and
Anil Bhoyrul, who used to write the column, were later accused of
deliberately manipulating the market during a lucrative six months long
”buy, tip and sell” scheme.

In the dock are Hipwell, 39, of
Caledonian Road, Holloway, north London, and day trader Terry Shepherd,
36, of Kinglea, Leatherhead, Surrey.

They each deny conspiring
with Bhoyrul to ”create a misleading impression as to the value of
investments” between August 1, 1999 and February 29, 2000. Bhoyrul,
38, of Wood Road, Sutton, Surrey, is not on trial.

Jurors trying
the case have been told the writers repeatedly used their column to
boost holdings they were personally interested in.

They would
first spend thousands of pounds on stock they planned to ”ramp”,
highlight it as ”tip of the day” 24 hours later and then sell at a
profit as the price rose, it was claimed.

The court has been told one of the companies was Viglen, a new technology concern run by Sir Alan Sugar.

Both the journalists and Shepherd bought shares the day before the article appeared.

Philip
Katz QC, prosecuting, said it was headed ”Sugar to head next gold
rush” and within hours of the market opening saw the company’s shares
more than double.

All three men sold them the same morning and made ”a very handsome” profit.

Today,
Hipwell’s QC, Philip Hackett, read out an ”admissions statement”
detailing the purchases by Morgan and his wife, Marion.

He said
the first, involving 6,884 shares, was made by Mrs Morgan at 12.37 on
January 17 2000 using her Personal Equity Plan. They cost £12,805.
Seven minutes later, her husband splashed out £36,074 with his PEP to
buy a further 19,632.

He then bought a tranche at 3.28pm – 10,000 shares for £18,275 – through his stockbroker Kyte Securities.

The trial was adjourned until tomorrow when the prosecution barrister is expected to deliver his final address to the jury.

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