3 Oct 2013

Mail on Sunday apologises to Ed Miliband over memorial

The Mail on Sunday “unreservedly” apologises to Ed Miliband after his complaint over one of its reporters crashing a private memorial service for his late uncle.

Mail on Sunday editor Geordie Greig said the decision to send a reporter to the private memorial service of Ed Miliband‘s uncle had been a “terrible lapse of judgement” and two journalists on the paper had been suspended.

Channel 4 News understands that the two suspended journalists are Amy Iggulden and Jo Knowsley.

Mr Greig said there would be a full investigation after the Labour leader Ed Miliband wrote a letter to the paper describing the intrusion as “crossing a line of common decency”.

Mr Greig said: “I unreservedly apologise for a reporter intruding into a private memorial service for a relative of Ed Miliband.

The reporter was sent without my knowledge; it was a decision which was wrong. Geordie Greig, Mail on Sunday

“The reporter was sent without my knowledge; it was a decision which was wrong. Two journalists have been suspended and a full investigation is now being carried out.

“I would further like to apologise to members of the family and friends attending the service for this deplorable intrusion. I have already spoken personally to Ed Miliband and expressed my regret that such a terrible lapse of judgment should have taken place.

“It is completely contrary to the values and editorial standards of the Mail on Sunday. I understand that Lord Rothermere is personally writing to Ed Miliband.”

Ed Miliband at war with the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday (Getty)
Read the full text of Ed Miliband's letter here 

‘Crosses a line’

The Mail on Sunday sent the reporter to Professor Harry Keen’s memorial service on the 29th floor of Guy’s Hospital on Wednesday in a bid to get comments from Mr Miliband’s family on the controversy which has engulfed the politician and the paper since the Daily Mail described his late father Ralph as someone who “hated Britain”.

Labour sources said that at the end of the service, Professor Keen’s daughter was approached by a woman who shook her hand and offered her condolences, before introducing herself as a Mail on Sunday reporter and asking for her thoughts on the row. She was told “no comment” twice, and left.

A furious Mr Miliband, already angry enough about what he has described as the “lie” about his father, sent a letter on Thursday morning about the incident to the proprietor of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, Lord Rothermere.

“Sending a reporter to my late uncle’s memorial crosses a line of common decency. I believe it a symptom of the culture and practices of both the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday,” he wrote.

Sending a reporter to my late uncle’s memorial crosses a line of common decency. Ed Miliband

In his letter, he said he believed there would be “no purpose” in complaining to the “widely discredited” Press Complaints Commission and instead says it is time for the owner of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday to conduct an investigation into the culture at the newspaper. He said his family was “appalled” by the intrusion.

At the same time, Mr Miliband said he appreciated that many people working at the newspapers would also be appalled, but he added: “They will also recognise that what has happened to my family has happened to many others.”

Mr Miliband added: “There are bigger issues for the people of Britain in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis for a century than intrusion into the life of my family. But the reaction of many people to the Daily Mail’s attacks on my father this week demonstrates that the way your newspapers have behaved does not reflect the real character of our country.”

The Labour Party said the apology was an “important step” but insisted that there was a need for a wider inquiry.


The Press Complaints Commission (PCC) has not taken too kindly to being called “widely discredited” by Mr Miliband, and issued this statement in response: “While Mr Miliband has made clear that he currently has no intention of making a complaint to the PCC, the protection of vulnerable individuals – including bereaved family members – is at the very heart of what the PCC does, and we shall continue to follow this matter closely.”

Next week, the Privy Council is due to decide on the future regulation of the press after the Leveson Inquiry – the industry’s royal charter, or the politicians’ stricter version.

Read more: The mythical power of the Daily Mail 

In the meantime, companies are facing calls to withdraw their adverts from the Mail, in a social media campaign hashtagged #dropthemail which is reminiscent of the pressure on advertisers in the wake of the News of the World hacking scandal.

However, for now the advertisers are holding firm. Of those in the paper today, Honda and Aldi declined to comment when contacted by Channel 4 News, and a number of other companies are considering their response.

Asda said it would not reconsider its advertising strategy, and Waitrose responded to the campaign on Twitter.