The Sun defends itself against accusations concerning Brown's child (updated with apology from The Guardian)

Yesterday, I posted a link to a story in The Guardian that essentially accused The Sun of egregious conducting in publishing information about a political figure’s child’s health issues.  At the time, I stated that whoever engaged in such conduct should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but noted that an investigation was necessary to determine who did what.  Today, The Sun responded to The Guardian‘s report. Dominic Ponsford reports in PressGazette:

The Sun has gone public with evidence which proves it did not obtain details of the medical condition of Gordon Brown’s son Fraser from a medical file as claimed.

The Guardian reported yesterday that The Sun had obtained details from the medical file of four-month-old Fraser to find out he had cystic fibrosis for a story which appeared in 2006.

The allegations were widely followed up and reported as fact in many places today.

News International said in a statement: “Following allegations made yesterday by Gordon Brown against The Sun, we have been conducting an inquiry. This is in line with normal practice and procedure.

“We are able to assure the Brown family that we did not access the medical records of their son, nor did we commission anyone to do so.

“The story The Sun ran about their son originated from a member of the public whose family has also experienced cystic fibrosis. He came to The Sun with this information voluntarily because he wanted to highlight the cause of those afflicted by the disease. The individual has provided a written affidavit this afternoon to a lawyer confirming this.

“On receipt of the information, The Sun approached Mr Brown and discussed with his colleagues how best to present it. Those colleagues provided quotes which were used in the published piece which indicated his consent to it.

“We believe that the article was written sensitively and appropriately. We are not aware of Mr Brown, nor any of his colleagues to whom we spoke, making any complaint about it at the time.

“The publication of the story and the further responsible, sympathetic and informative coverage The Sun continued to give to the disease resulted in renewed interest for those affected by it. Donations to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust nearly doubled over the next year.

“We continue to inquire in to other allegations made by Mr Brown, and implore him to provide details to us so we can establish the facts.”

The Press Complaints Commission has said that it has no record of receiving any contact from Brown over this matter.

That may sound good to The Sun, but it is still not acceptable to me that they published an infant’s health matters because the father is a political figure. It may be of public curiosity, but it is not of public interest and the child and family were entitled to some privacy over a medical matter.

In light of the above, if it should be confirmed, I doubt that the ICO can do anything and it will fall solely to the Press Commission, I suspect, to issue any finding or decision.

UPDATE:  The Guardian has now apologized to The Sun.

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