Tabloid offers free tape of 'Bastardgate'

READERS of today's Daily Mirror are being offered a free cassette tape of John Major's 'Bastardgate' interview with Michael Brunson of ITN.

This follows a warning yesterday to the Mirror and the Sun from the regulatory body, the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services, that the telephone lines they were advertising for two separate 'off- air' interviews in which the Prime Minister is heard swearing, were an invasion of privacy and should be shut down. The newspapers were given 24 hours to justify the services. Adjudication will be made tonight.

On the line advertised in the Mirror, Mr Major is heard calling Cabinet colleagues 'bastards'. The line advertised in the Sun carries an off-air interview before last year's general election in which the Prime Minister used the word 'bugger' and refers to the 'fuck-up factor'.

The ICSTIS said the services appeared to be an 'unreasonable invasion of privacy' and in breach of its code of practice. It called on Telephone International Media, operating the service for the Mirror, and Broadsystem, for the Sun, to cease the services immediately.

Last night David Banks, editor of the Mirror, claimed more than 6,000 callers for the telephone service by yesterday afternoon. But within two hours of the ICSTIS ruling he had replaced the message with one in which he laments the banning of the tape, says the Mirror will not be gagged and promises today's special offer.

Yesterday the Sun told its readers: 'If you are offended by bad language and racist remarks, do not telephone to hear the Prime Minister.' It reiterated the warning at the beginning of the message, which was still being aired last night.

Executives at the Sun refused to comment, but last night had not complied with the wishes of the watchdog. 'They invited us to take it off but we've taken the view that that is not appropriate because it is not an invasion of privacy,' Mike Tully of Broadsystems said.

NBC, the US network, was reported to be airing a bootleg videotape of the Prime Minister's comments, along with Channel 9 in Australia.

Christchurch key, page 6

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