Since news broke of the scandal surrounding phone hacking at News of the World, the question has been, how it extend to other newspapers in the News International stable, and beyond? The past few days have started to give us a glimpse of that, with accusations of The Sun “blagging” and phone hacking to get private details about the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his family. Today, News International issued a response to the allegations, and a part denial, while reports swirled around that News Corp (NSDQ: NWS) CEO Rupert Murdoch; his son, COO, James; and News International CEO Rebekah Brooks would be called in to answer questions at the House of Commons-led Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
The News International statement provides in one part an explanation over the accessing of medical records, even offering a written affidavit from a member of the public. Some, including Brown himself, are still not satisfied with the reasoning. NI also confirmed that it is investigating the other claims:
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.
Meanwhile, there has been a to and fro going on with reports that Rupert Murdoch, his son James, and Rebekah Brooks would get called in to give evidence at the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, led by MPs. Apparently only Brooks could be “compelled” to appear as she is the only one of them who is a British citizen. This thread in the story is ongoing, because John Whittingdale, the chairman of that committee, is seeking for News Corp executives to be held accountable for all that has happened.
On July 15, Guardian issued a retraction for reporting that the Sun obtained illegal access to Gordon Brown’s family medical records