11 Jul 2011

Gordon Brown in News International hacking claims

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been told by police that his bank accounts and his son’s medical records may have been illegally accessed by News International newspapers.

The latest claims follow a week of controversy at the News of the World which led to the tabloid being axed.

The Guardian reports that details from Gordon Brown’s son’s medical records were obtained by the Sun, who published a story about the child’s serious illness.

There are also allegations that Gordon Brown’s bank account was targeted by the Sunday Times when he was Chancellor.

Mr Brown was said to be “shocked” by the alleged “criminality and the unethical means by which personal details have been obtained” about his family.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been told by police that his bank accounts may have been illegally accessed by the Sunday Times when he was Chancellor (Reuters)

A spokeswoman said the matter was now in police hands. “The police have confirmed Mr Brown is on Glenn Mulcaire’s list. And some time ago Mr Brown passed all relevant evidence he had to the police,” she added.

Mr Brown’s wife Sarah tweeted: “So sad to learn all I am about my family’s privacy – it is very personal and really hurtful if all true.”

Channel 4 News Political Editor Gary Gibbon said: “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.

On Thursday Labour MP Tom Watson told Channel 4 News he expected the controversy to “cross over to other News International titles”.

He said that other techniques, including computer hacking, would come to light over time.

Phone-hacking Q&A: What is it, who is involved and why should you care?

In a statement News International said: “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.”

Royal allegations

The Guardian is also reporting that at least two Scotland Yard protection officers are alleged to have jeopardised the security of the royal family by selling the contact details of the Queen, Prince Charles and their friends and associates to the News of the World.

The Metropolitan Police accused News International of “undermining” its investigation into claims that journalists paid corrupt police officers by leaking details of the inquiry to the media.

It emerged that emails handed to detectives suggest the News of the World paid protection officers around £1,000 for the contact details of senior members of the royal household.

Scotland Yard was informed last month when detectives were handed a fresh set of documents from News International as part of the long-running phone-hacking investigation, a source said.

BSkyB bid referred to Competition Commission

In a separate development News Corporation released a statement on Monday afternoon regarding the guarantees it had given about its BSkyB bid.

It withdrew its offer to hive off Sky News as a separate company as part of its proposed bid to take full control of BSkyB.

The statement said: “News Corporation has announced it is withdrawing its proposed undertakings in lieu of reference to the Competition Commission with respect to its proposed acquisition of BSkyB.

“Should the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport decide on the basis to refer the proposed transaction to the Competition Commission for a detailed review, News Corporation is ready to engage with the Competition Commission on substance.”

Shortly after News Corporation released its statement Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed he would refer the bid to the Competition Commission.

PM says ‘clear up the mess’

David Cameron said he believed that News Corp needed to resolve the difficulties over the phone-hacking scandal before pressing ahead with the BSkyB bid.

“If I was running this company, BSkyB and News Corporation, I would be focused on clearing up the mess that there is in News International, with all the problems that are still coming out,” he said during a question and answer session following a speech in London.

“I suspect there are more problems to come out. Deal with that before you move on to working out which merger and which takeover and how many shares and all the rest of it.

“I think that is what people expect. They want to see this company get to grips with the very, very deep problems that there are.”