UK: News International papers targeted Gordon Brown (updated with apology from The Guardian)

The explosive scandal in the U.K. involving phone hacking is not something I’ve covered on this blog, but a story about it caught my eye. Nick Davies and David Leigh report:

Journalists from across News International repeatedly targeted the former prime minister Gordon Brown, attempting to access his voicemail and obtaining information from his bank account, his legal file as well as his family’s medical records.


Details from his infant son’s medical records were obtained by the Sun, who published a story about the child’s serious illness.


Confidential health records for Brown’s family have reached the media on two different occasions. In October 2006, the then editor of the Sun, Rebekah Brooks, contacted the Browns to tell them that they had obtained details from the medical file of their four-month-old son, Fraser, which revealed that the boy was suffering from cystic fibrosis. This appears to have been a clear breach of the Data Protection Act, which would allow such a disclosure only if it was in the public interest. Friends of the Browns say the call caused them immense distress, since they were only coming to terms with the diagnosis, which had not been confirmed. The Sun published the story.

Trying to scoop up dirt or scandal on a public figure’s family is beyond the pale as far as I’m concerned, but going after the medical files of an infant child? And then publishing them?

Anyone and everyone involved in that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Can and should the ICO do more on this case and impose the maximum fine on The Sun? Pending the outcome of a serious investigation, all I can say is, you betcha. The ICO backed down in its previous investigation. It’s time for it to step up to the plate.


UPDATE:  See The Sun’s response, denying the allegations in The Guardian.

UPDATE 2:  The Guardian has now apologized to The Sun.

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