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Friday, 11 May 2012

Rebekah Brooks refused to name source of Brown son story

Rebekah Brooks has denied that The Sun hacked the medical records of Gordon Brown's four-year-old son - and refused to disclose the source of the information to the Leveson Inquiry She also insisted that the paper had permission from the former Prime Minister and his wife before publishing an article about the child's medical condition. Brooks said that she and Gordon's Brown wife Sarah "were good In a written response to the Inquiry's questions submitted in October last year Brooks set out a detailed description of safeguards put in place to check stories. The former tabloid editor and News International chief executive also denied commissioning any computer hacking or feeling any "negative pressure" from proprietor Rupert Murdoch. Much of the 12-page statement consists of explanations of the processes used to check accuracy and sources, train staff and decide whether to run a particular story. Despite those efforts, there were "failures from time to time" - significantly so at the News of the World, Mrs Brooks conceded. "I was horrified when I learned of them and I was and am deeply sorry about the further anguish that was caused to Milly Dowler's parents in particular," she wrote. Corporate governance was taken "seriously" within the newspaper group though, she added. Mrs Brooks also told the inquiry: :: She was not aware of any use of computer hacking: "I have been specifically asked by the Inquiry whether I or the newspapers where I worked ever used or commissioned anyone who used 'computer hacking' in order to source stories or for any other reason. I did not and I was not aware of anyone at either the News of the World or The Sun who did." :: There was a crackdown on the use of private investigators following highly critical reports by the Information Commissioner's Office and the Commons media and sport select committee. "I believe their use is now virtually non-existent," she wrote - noting there were exceptions such as using them to track down convicted paedophiles who had broken their bail conditions. :: The use of cash payments had been "considerably tightened up". :: It would be "highly unusual and not practical" for an editor to check the accuracy and sources of stories going into their paper other than the biggest or most controversial. :: There were "numerous examples" of times when she resisted publishing a story because the invasion of privacy outweighed any public interest or because it was more important to alert the police to criminal activities than to secure an exclusive. "It is quite wrong to believe that the press simply publishes what it can get away with, irrespective of the ethical requirements," she insisted. :: The industry felt privacy laws had "slowly crept in through the back door", stymieing legitimate journalism but failing to regulate inaccurate internet gossip. :: In her decade as a national newspaper editor she "never experienced or felt any negative pressure either financial or commercial from the proprietor. In fact the opposite is true. There was always constant advice, experienced guidance and support available." There was no financial motive to print exclusive stories. "Professional pride was the biggest incentive."

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