Gordon Brown attacks "criminal activity" in British hacking scandal
Former British prime minister Gordon Brown Tuesday accused newspapers which allegedly obtained personal data on him and his family of having links to the "criminal underworld."
Brown, in an interview with the BBC, said he was "in tears" when he was told that the Sun tabloid would publish details it had illegally obtained of the medical condition of his youngest son.
The events go back to 2006, when Brown was still the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the government of Tony Blair. He succeeded Blair a year later, and was prime minister until May, 2010, DPA reported.
Brown told the BBC that, in 2006, he had received a phone call from Rebekah Brooks, who was then the editor of the Sun, that the story concerning his son, Fraser, would appear.
He and his wife, Sarah, had been "in tears" about the intrusion into their private family life.
"I just can't understand this - if I, with all the protection and all the defences and all the security...am so vulnerable to unscrupulous tactics, to unlawful tactics... what about the ordinary citizen?"
Brown, 60, was referring to revelations Monday that he had been a top political target in the current phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed newspapers owned by Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch in Britain.
While the News of the World Sunday tabloid was dramatically closed down by Murdoch as a result of the scandal, the allegations raised in connection with Brown show that other papers of the Murdoch stable also employed illegal practices in their hunt for stories.
Brown said he had only recently found out about links between the Sunday Times and "what I would call elements of the criminal underworld" in connection with the allegations.
The BBC reported Monday that the Sunday Times allegedly gained access to Brown's legal files and building society accounts - using so-called "blaggers" - people who pretend to be someone else when attempting to obtain official information.
However, in a statement Tuesday, News International, Murdoch's British media group, said it was "satisfied about the methods" in which it obtained the news about the medical condition of Fraser, now just under 5, who suffers from cystic fibrosis.
The outburst by Brown marks the latest stage in a snowballing phone-hacking scandal at News International, which is alleged to have carried out "industrial-scale" hacking by accessing the voicemails of celebrities, politicians, and even victims of crime, in its search for news.
In addition to police investigations into the widening allegations, it has also been alleged that some police officers at Scotland Yard were paid by News International in return for supplying sensitive information.