Brown intervention deepens phone-hacking scandal

Rumours about Gordon Brown swirled around Westminster today
Rumous about Gordon Brown swirled around Westminster todayr

By Ian Dunt

Allegations concerning attacks by News International on Gordon Brown brought the phone-hacking row to fever pitch today.

On another remarkable day in Westminster, new developments came in at breakneck speed from all directions.

The most serious allegations concerned attempts by News International to secure information about the former prime minister.

The reports suggest the Sunday Times and other News International journalists may have accessed medical records of members of the former prime minister's family.

The intervention threatens to expand the row across the Murdoch stable, with the taint now affecting the Sunday Times and the Sun.

The BBC reported that medical records concerning Mr Brown's son's cystic fibrosis were illegally obtained. The information was then allegedly reported in the Sun newspaper under Rebekah Brooks' tenure.

In other developments, Rupert Murdoch himself called for the BSkyB deal to be sent to the Competition Commission – a desperate last-minute move designed to save a deal which most commentators now consider dead in the water.

The Dowler family also spoke out following a meeting with Nick Clegg, calling for "senior figures" to face the consequences of what had happened.

While some of the reports about Mr Brown concern phone-hacking, many others are instances of 'blagging' where someone tries to access information by acting or impersonation.

Other reports, from the Guardian newspaper, suggest Mr Brown's tax paperwork was taken from his accountant's office after the company's computer was hacked into.

The newspaper also reported that Mr Brown's lawyers were tricked into handing over details by a conman working for the Sunday Times, that someone acting for the same newspaper posed as Mr Brown to gain details of his bank account and that Mr Brown and his wife, Sarah, were mentioned in paperwork seized from Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the heart of the phone-hacking row.

The report about Mr Brown's son is the most damaging, however, with the public likely to be incensed by reports that the Sun newspaper reported details of the young boy's illness.

The Guardian report suggests that Ms Brooks called the Brown family in October 2006 to tell them she had details from the medical records of their four-month-old son revealing that he had cystic fibrosis. The call is reported to have caused the family, who had just discovered the diagnosis themselves, great distress.

It is also likely to heap further pressure on Scotland Yard, which had previously told Mr Brown that there was no evidence his phone had been hacked, despite allegations that there are handwritten notes mentioning Mr Brown in the records of Mr Mulcaire.


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