Brown ‘targeted by Sunday Times’

 Gordon Brown The Sunday Times said Gordon Brown had purchased a flat owned by Robert Maxwell at a “knock-down price” A BBC investigation has discovered that the Sunday Times is alleged to have targeted the personal information of the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.


Documents and a phone recording suggest “blagging” was used to obtain private financial and property details.


The Brown family are also worried that medical records relating to their son Fraser may have been obtained.


Its owner, News International, which also owned the News of the World, is yet to respond.


There are several allegations. The first two relate to personal details it is claimed were obtained for a front-page Sunday Times report that Gordon Brown had purchased a flat owned by Robert Maxwell at a ‘knock-down price’.


Blagging, or “knowingly or recklessly obtaining or disclosing personal data or information without the consent of the data controller” has been illegal since 1998.


A blagger alleged to be acting for the Sunday Times posed as Brown and obtained details of his Abbey National account in January 2000.


This blagging was discovered by the building society’s fraud department which alleged someone successfully called their Bradford call centre six times pretending to be Brown and were given information.


In letters obtained by the BBC, the Abbey National wrote to Sunday Times editor John Witherow concluding it had suspicions that “someone from the Sunday Times or acting on its behalf has masqueraded as Mr Brown for the purpose of obtaining information from Abbey National by deception.”


The Abbey National said to Mr Brown’s lawyer it was a “well-orchestrated scheme of deception”.


Abbey National has not been able to identify the blagger, and did accept in a letter to Mr Brown it did not have conclusive evidence.


However, the Guardian journalist Nick Davis has alleged a former actor John Ford carried out specialised blagging from banks during this period for the Sunday Times. This allegation is detailed in his book Flat Earth News.

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