Gordon Brown accuses News International

Former prime minister Gordon Brown accused News International newspapers today of accessing private information about himself and his family.





He said he and his wife were "in tears" after being told by the Sun that it was going to publish a story about their son's cystic fibrosis.



And he told the BBC: "I think that what happened pretty early on in government is that the Sunday Times appear to have got access to my building society account, they got access to my legal files, there is some question mark about what happened to other files - documentation, tax and everything else."



He went on: "I just can't understand this - 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?



"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."



Mr Brown said he could not think of any legitimate means by which the Sun could have got hold of details of his four-month-old son Fraser's cystic fibrosis in 2006.



"They will have to explain themselves," he told the BBC. "I can't think of any way that the medical condition of a child can be put into the public arena legitimately unless the doctor makes a statement or the family makes a statement.



"I make no claims, but the fact of the matter is that I had my bank accounts broken into, I had my lawyers' files effectively blagged, my tax returns went missing at one point.



"I don't know how all this happened, but I do know one thing: that in two of those instances there is absolute proof that News International was involved in hiring people to get this information."



News International sources were quoted last night as saying they were "comfortable" that stories reported by the Sun about Mr Brown's children were obtained via legitimate means.



In a statement, News International said it noted the allegations about Mr Brown, adding: "So that we can investigate these matters further, we ask that all information concerning these allegations is provided to us."



But Mr Brown's broadside ensured that the hacking story remained firmly in the spotlight.



He spoke out as one of Britain's top policemen, Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner John Yates, told the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee that the News of the World "failed to co-operate" with police inquiries into phone hacking until the start of this year.



Mr Yates, the Met's head of counter-terrorism, also expressed regret at his 2009 ruling that there was no need to reopen the phone-hacking investigation and he said he was "99% certain" his phone had been hacked.









Mr Brown said he tried to secure a judicial inquiry into the conduct of News International while he was in power, but faced resistance from the police, Home Office and Cabinet Office.



He accused the company of seeking to abuse its power for political gain over issues such as the future of the BBC and the "neutering" of broadcasting regulator Ofcom, but insisted that as prime minister he had resisted it.



And he added: "Of course, the abuse of their power for political gain is something that is going to have to be looked at. Any inquiry that is going to be set up is going to have to look at how News International attempted to abuse political power for political gain."



Speaking during a visit to Wales, Prime Minister David Cameron said Mr Brown's claims were "yet another example of an appalling invasion of privacy".



"My heart goes out to Gordon and Sarah Brown because to have your children's privacy invaded in that way - and I know that myself particularly - when your child isn't well, is completely unacceptable and heart-breaking for the family concerned," Mr Cameron said.



He insisted that the police would "find the culprits and make sure they are punished", while the promised judge-led inquiry would find out "what was going on at these newspapers".



"This Government won't rest until we have got to the bottom of what is clearly an appalling mess," he said.



Mr Yates faced difficult questioning by MPs, insisting he had always told the truth to the Home Affairs Select Committee.



He said: "I can assure you all that I have never lied and all the information that I've provided to this committee has been given in good faith.



"It is a matter of great concern that, for whatever reason, the News of the World appears to have failed to co-operate in the way that we now know they should have with the relevant police inquiries up until January of this year.



"They have only recently supplied information and evidence that would clearly have had a significant impact on the decisions that I took in 2009 had it been provided to us."



Mr Yates also strongly denied allegations in the New York Times that he was put under pressure not to investigate phone hacking at the News of the World because of fears that the Sunday tabloid would publish details about his personal life.



"I categorically state that was not the case to each and every one of you. I think it's despicable, I think it's cowardly," he told the MPs.



Mr Yates said he had "never, ever, ever" received payment from journalists for information but admitted it was "highly probable" that some of his officers did.



Asked by committee chairman Keith Vaz whether he had offered to stand down from his job, the senior officer said: "No, I haven't offered to resign.



"And if you're suggesting that I should resign for what News of the World has done and my very small part in it, I think that's probably unfair."



Labour MP Mr Vaz told Mr Yates at the end of the session that the committee found his evidence "unconvincing".



He told him: "There are more questions to be asked about what happened when you conducted this review.



"So you may well be hearing from us again. Please do not regard this as an end of the matter."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen