11 Jul 2011

Brown says News International hacked private records

Gordon Brown (Getty)Gordon Brown ‘s claims are now up on The Guardian website here. He believes that his bank accounts were illegally accessed by investigators working for newspapers while he was Chancellor, and that his son’s medical records may also have been illegally accessed by The Sun.

The police have told Mr Brown that his mobile number and Sarah’s too were in the possession of Glen Mulcaire, the convicted hacker, so may well have been hacked into.

It potentially spreads the allegations to other parts of the Murdoch UK stable and will add to speculation, rampant around News International, that the Murdochs may be considering selling off all of News International in order to look after the rest of their empire and not see the whole thing go up in flames.

For Gordon Brown this may all feel like revenge. He was infuriated by The Sun’s carefully timed endorsement of David Cameron, the day after his own Labour Conference speech in 2009. Gordon Brown felt that as an extraordinarily brutal betrayal.

He had invested in the relationship with Rupert Murdoch, not least through his contacts with Mr Murdoch’s trusted aide Irwin Steltzer. Sarah Brown even went to the extent of organising “play dates” with the Brown children and Wendi and Rupert’s two younger children, much to the disgust of some Labour figures who got to hear about it.

Meanwhile, News Corp seems to have pulled out of the accomodations and understandings it was offering the Government in return for being allowed to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB it does not already own. Instead, it is saying it wants its takeover effort referred to the Competitions Commission – a move just confirmed by the Culture Secretary.

It clearly thinks that body will approach things in a politics-free, pro-market style…and it may yet get its way. The problem for them, even if this plan works, is that it drags things out.

Meanwhile too, the Met Police have said they’re extremely unhappy (with News International – by inference) about leaks they think could potentially harm their investigations. The suspicion is that figures at News International would rather the media was frenzied feeding on original hacking crimes (like “Queen’s police leak details of her movements in exchange for cash”) and not pre-occupied with cover-up allegations. Many of the latter involve figures still senior in the News Corp stable and that could have all sorts of implications for their wellbeing not just in UK but in the US as well.

Another quiet day…and it is only 4.30.

News International said in a statement later: “We note the allegations made today concerning the reporting of matters relating to Gordon Brown. So that we can investigate these matters further, we ask that all information concerning these allegations is provided to us.”

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