Monday, 11 June 2012

Private Eye, Gordon Brown, And The Anonymous "Member Of The Public"

Way back in July 2011 Private Eye covered the Guardian's scoop on Gordon Brown's child's medical records being accessed, which seems relevant to today's appearance at the Leveson Inquiry:
The Guardian mucked up its scoop about Gordon Brown being a victim of repeated data thefts by News International hacks with some traditionally sloppy writing.

Its story that the Sun had obtained confidential medical information about Brown's infant son Fraser was true. But it said the Sun had obtained "details from his medical records" - giving the impression that somebody had actually accessed his file, of which there was no evidence.

The Grauniad duly agreed to run a correction. But that wasn't enough for the Sun's managing editor Richard Caseby, who appears to be the last Murdoch executive in the UK who hasn't realised that News International has lost its license to bully. In a number of foul-mouthed phone calls to senior Grauniad execs he demanded a grovelling apology.

Behind the swearing and shouting, the question remains: how did the Sun get that information about Fraser? The Sun says it came from "a member of the public" and that it has an affidavit. It won't, however, identify the member of the public or let anybody read the affidavit, nor will it say how the person was able to discover this confidential medical information.

Fact: the Sun has a close and long-standing relationship with a female health professional at the hospital in question. It appears very likely that the anonymous "member of the public" is her husband. A brief internal inquiry by Fife Health Board concluded lamely that there was no evidence that any of its health workers had accessed Fraser's records.
When the Grauniad questioned the Sun about this, it provoked another round of shouting and swearing from Caseby. At one point he yelled: "Look! You're fucked. Fife Health Board have just cleared our source." Oops! Or, as Mr Caseby would say: "Fucking oops!"

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