Gordon Brown (Photo credit: lukemontague)
Former PM Gordon Brown sank into political delusion today at the Leveson Inquiry UK, but also enjoyed a hypocritical rant over the press, and his relationship with it – even taking a swipe at citizen journalism and political bloggers.
And astonishingly, he proposed to Lord Justice Leveson, in charge of finding a solution to the problem of press regulation, that there maybe should be a license fee for the world wide web, similar to the BBC fee.
The at times nervy but grinning Gordon Brown said that he thought that News International had been economical with the truth when it came to certain evidence given by heads of the major news corporation.
He denied that he had ever had any meetings with Rupert Murdoch, where Murdoch had claimed in evidence to the same Inquiry that he was “mentally unbalanced” in a telephone call.
The former PM, who held the post from 2008 – 2010, said that as well as sorting out the bad, there needed to be an incentive for the good quality journalism that goes on in the world of journalism.
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He also proposed that maybe the Westminster Lobby should be given more openness, and that those very same bloggers he attacked in the beginning should be able to come into the Westminster press gallery.
Early in evidence, he took a swipe at Citizen Journalism and the blogosphere, claiming that it was conflating comment as fact, and the newspaper industry was desperate to keep up to a 24/7 internet news agenda that focused on trivialities rather than hardcore policy.
He believed that the press were only interested in the personality or character assassinations of politicians, and not the policy.
He gave the Afghanistan example when he was attacked by the Murdoch press The Sun for a multitude of spelling errors in a letter he had written to the parents of a dead soldier – where he had even spelt the name wrong.
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Brown also denied that he had been aware of what one of his political aides Damian McBride had done inside the spin machine of Downing Street when he was forced to go.
He said when he had heard about it, “he had to go.”
Emotional Brown also denied that former CEO and Editor of News International Rebekah Brooks had sought his nod on publishing his child’s medical records about his kid’s medical condition, but said when he was faced with a fait de complis there was nothing he could do but try and minimise the damage.
He also said he tried to cushion his children from the eyes of the hounding press so that they could live a normal life.
This is opposite to what the former PM Tony Blair did, who, at times, was happy to parade his children in front of the cameras for political purposes.