Second Murdoch paper hacked British ex-PM Brown: reports

11th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's former prime minister Gordon Brown had his phone hacked and bank account breached by The Sunday Times, another British newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch's media empire, reports said Monday.

The reports widen the scandal over widespread phone hacking by the News of the World, which was shut down at the weekend by News International, Murdoch's British newspaper publishing operation.

Brown is to announce that private investigators working for News International hacked his phone and accessed his personal bank account when he was finance minister, The Independent newspaper reported, without naming the paper involved.

The BBC and The Guardian newspaper later reported that The Sunday Times had targeted Brown when he was finance minister, obtaining private medical, financial and property details.

The BBC said someone acting for The Sunday Times posed as Brown and obtained details of his account at the Abbey National bank in January 2000, in relation to a story about a flat he had bought from late media mogul Robert Maxwell.

It cited letters written by the bank to the editor of The Sunday Times voicing 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 Guardian reported that The Sun -- News of the World's daily sister paper -- obtained details from his infant son's medical records about a serious illness.

It said Brown was targeted over a period of 10 years, both as finance minister and prime minister. Brown was at the Treasury from 1997 to 2007, before his three-year spell as Britain's premier.

Neither Brown's office nor News International were immediately available for comment despite repeated attempts to contact it by AFP.

Murdoch abandoned his support for Brown's Labour Party ahead of elections in May 2010, switching his backing to the Conservative Party of current Prime Minister David Cameron.

Reports on Monday said the News of the World also allegedly paid British royal protection officers for details about Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family.

© 2011 AFP

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