Gordon Brown has mounted an impassioned and emotional attack on the Murdoch family and News International at the Leveson inquiry, accusing Rupert Murdoch of lying on oath, criticising James Murdoch for "breathtaking arrogance" and the Sun for obtaining unauthorised information about his son's medical condition.
A clearly emotional Brown insisted he did not make "unbalanced" and threatening remarks in a phone call to Rupert Murdoch in late September or early October 2009 – directly contradicting evidence given by the media mogul to the Leveson inquiry in April.
Rupert Murdoch had told the inquiry under oath on two successive occasions that the phone call had taken place on or shortly after the Sun newspaper announced it was switching its support to the Tories, which happened on 30 September of that year. The News Corporation boss said that Brown had pledged to "declare war" on his company.
Relying on No 10 call records, Brown said that "News International have produced not one shred of evidence that a call took place, not one date for the call or time for the call".
But despite Brown's statements, a News Corp spokesman said: "Rupert Murdoch stands behind his testimony."
Brown did say that he had a separate conversation with Rupert Murdoch on 10 November. That conversation came shortly after the Sun attacked Brown for sending a hard-to-read handwritten note of condolence to the mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan.
Brown said there was a discussion in which he argued that the Sun's hostile coverage was undermining the military's efforts in the country.
Brown also revealed that Fife's NHS board had written to him to say it was "highly likely" that a member of its staff told the Sun that his son Fraser had been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in November 2006.
The newspaper's front-page splash that month pictured Brown under the headline "Four-and-a-half years after daughter's death, docs find cystic fibrosis in baby Fraser".
He told the inquiry that he had submitted a letter from Fife health board "which makes it clear that they have apologised to us because they now believe it highly likely that there was unauthorised information given by a medical or working member of the NHS staff that allowed the Sun in the end through this middleman to publish this story". Brown said his family only agreed to co-operate with the Sun after it was made clear that an article about Fraser's health would be published in any event by the newspaper.
Wait - it gets worse:
Brown's claims – a development of those first aired in parliament last July – set him on another collision course with the Sun, which has insisted it did not access Fraser's medical records and that the 2006 story came from another source – a member of the public "whose family has also experienced cystic fibrosis".
A News International spokesperson said: "We welcome the fact that NHS Fife have today said that they believe there was 'no inappropriate access' to the medical records of Gordon Brown's son. The Sun stands by previous statements issued on the matter."
However, former Sun editor David Yelland, who edited the title between 1998 and 2003, said on Twitter that he believed that Brown and his wife, Sarah, were "bullied" by the tabloid and that: "I'm afraid that my old paper behaved awfully in his last year or so. It was brutal stuff."The statement from NHS Fife suggests it felt under intense pressure to establish how details of Fraser Brown's medical condition were leaked to the Sun, but then carried out an exhaustive investigation.
Two points here:
First, these are evil, disgusting people at the Murdoch papers.
And second, did Murdoch lie under oath about the (supposed) conversation with Brown?
And if so, when will he be prosecuted for his crime?