The former Prime Minister declared that he believed News International exploited people’s grief by using “known criminals, people that in some cases had criminal records” to obtain stories. Gordon Brown spoke out after emergence of allegations that Mr Brown and his family were repeatedly targeted by private investigators who accessed his son’s medical records and his bank accounts.
In the interview with the BBC Brown accused the Sunday Times of running a story “with the purpose of bringing me down as a government minister”. He also said that when he called the Sunday Times editor to complain, his words were misrepresented and published in the following day’s newspaper. Gordon admitted that he broke down in tears when told that The Sun was to publish the news that his infant son had cystic fibrosis.
Literally Gordon Brown told the BBC: “The fact of the matter is that I had my bank accounts broken into, I had my lawyers’ files effectively blagged, as they call it, with someone getting information from my lawyers. My tax returns went missing at one point, medical records have been broken into.”
Brown broke his silence on the phone hacking crisis after it found out that Rebekah Brooks, then editor of The Sun, had contacted him in October 2006 to say they knew about his son Fraser’s medical condition and were about to run it.
Former British Prime Minister stated: “I was in tears. Your son is now going to be broadcast across the media. Sarah and I are incredibly upset about it.” He added: “We are thinking about his long-term future, we are thinking about our family, but there is nothing that you can do about it – you are in public life and this story appears, you don’t know how it’s appeared.”
Mr Brown believed that Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers were using “known criminals” who were paid to do “the most disgusting work” of accessing personal records and information about private life. In his statement that Sunday Times wanted to “bring him down as a Government minister” Brown was guided by the following facts. A front-page Sunday Times reports that Mr Brown had bought a flat owned by Robert Maxwell at a “knock-down price”.
Brown stated: “The evidence now shows the link between The Sunday Times and known criminals, and between the News International organisation and known criminals.” Then he continued: “When the public finds out that their innermost thoughts, their innermost grief, were being accessed by known criminals, with records, in some cases with records of violence … I find it incredible that a reputable company would use these methods.”
Gordon Brown warns: “If I, with all the protection and all the defences and all the security that a chancellor of the Exchequer or a prime minister, am so vulnerable to unscrupulous tactics, to unlawful tactics, methods that have been used in the way we have found, what about the ordinary citizen?”
He added: “What about the person, like the family of Milly Dowler, who are in the most desperate of circumstances, the most difficult occasions in their lives, in huge grief and then they find that they are totally defenceless in this moment of greatest grief from people who are employing these ruthless tactics with links to known criminals.”
The present News International chief executive Brooks has come under increasing pressure over the phone hacking scandal amid concerns about criminal behaviour during her time as editor of the News of the World from 2000 to 2003.