The string of allegations made by the Guardian about the ways in which News International reporters and investigators targeted Gordon Brown are extraordinary. They include:
- Brown and his wife’s Sarah’s names appearing in Glenn Mulcaire’s notebook;
- the hacking of Brown’s accountant’s computers to obtain personal financial information;
- the conning of lawyers at top City firm Allen & Overy to hand over personal legal details;
- the blagging of Abbey National employee’s to get Brown’s bank account details.
The Guardian also brings up the stories that appeared in The Sun and elsewhere about the illnesses suffered by Brown’s first child Jennifer, who died soon after birth, and Fraser, who has cystic fibrosis. It wonders how reporters were able to get information which was only known to a small group of medical professionals.
This is the response from a Brown spokesman:
Gordon Brown has now been informed of the scale of intrusion into his family’s life. The family has been shocked by the level of criminality and the unethical means by which personal details have been obtained. The matter is in police hands. The police have confirmed Mr Brown is on Glenn Mulcaire’s list. And sometime ago Mr Brown passed all relevant evidence he had to the police.
Meanwhile News International says:
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.
The new allegations are significant for two reasons. Firstly, they involve papers other than the News of the World – especially the Sunday Times, which as one of the Murdoch broadsheets is supposed to have been above this kind of clandestine dealing. Secondly, they involve unethical and even illegal behaviour that goes much further than phone hacking, incorporating blagging, computer hacking and conning lawyers.
If News Int thought closing the News of the World would help stem the bad news flow, it was wrong.