Sun defends Leo kidnap scoop against 'Kelly' slur

By Dominic Ponsford

Sun journalists
have dismissed as “preposterous” claims that their frontpage exclusive
about a plot to kidnap Leo Blair came from a Downing Street leak
intended to divert attention from the Ruth Kelly sex offenders in
schools row.

The Sun broke news on Wednesday last week that Special Branch
officers were investigating plans by extremists involved with the group
Fathers4Justice to kidnap five-year-old Leo.

The story was widely followed up throughout the media and confirmed by police sources to the BBC.

It has led founder member of the fathers’ rights group Matt O’Connor to announce plans to disband the group.

The
story has also led to claims that the timing of the story was
convenient for the Government and may have been leaked by Number 10 to
The Sun.

Stephen Glover, writing in The Independent, said: “Last
Wednesday, The Sun pulled a stunt, the purpose of which was surely to
give Mr Blair a little boost, and possibly to deflect attention from
the Government’s tribulations.

“Very little, if any, evidence was produced by The Sun to justify the word ‘plot’.

“A few possibly slightly inebriated men had got together in a London pub and begun to fantasise about kidnapping young Leo.”

And
Tom Utley wrote in The Daily Telegraph of the “extraordinary
coincidence” that “on the very day when The Sun’s story appeared, the
Government let it be known that it is planning to use strong-arm
tactics against absentee fathers who fail to pay for their children’s
upkeep”.

Sun managing editor Graham Dudman said: “This was just a
brilliant piece of journalism by Mike Sullivan, who is one of the most
experienced crime editors on Fleet Street.

“The idea that the
Prime Minister and/or Mrs Blair would telephone the editor of The Sun
to throw Leo into the media maelstrom, with the intention of protecting
Ruth Kelly, is preposterous and shows the extent of the anti-Blair
agenda in some newspapers.

“I’ve never read such inaccurate drivel written about what was a great scoop.”

Dudman
also stated that the same “quality” papers that had criticised the
story had, in some cases, also lifted it “lock, stock and barrel” to
follow it up in their news pages.

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