The Daily Mail has refused to apologise over a stinging attack on Labour leader Ed Miliband’s late father Ralph, who it described as "The Man Who Hated Britain".
The original story by Geoffrey Levy published last Saturday drew significant criticism from the Labour leader’s camp with Miliband himself taking to Twitter to defend his father.
My dad loved Britain, he served in the Royal Navy and I am not prepared to allow his good name to be denigrated in this way. (2/2)
— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) September 29, 2013
The furious Labour leader demanded a right of reply which the paper published this morning. However in an editorial comment, the paper has refused to apologise and furthered their attack claiming Miliband Snr has left “an evil legacy”.
In defence of his father, Miliband said he escaped Nazi persecution and joined the Royal Navy to fight against Hitler. He accused The Daily Mail of “smearing” his father’s good name.
“My father’s strongly Left-wing views are well known, as is the fact that I have pursued a different path and I have a different vision. He was a man with a great sense of humour, so the idea of me being part of some ‘sinister’ Marxist plot would have amused him and disappointed him in equal measure and for the same reason — he would have known it was ludicrously untrue. I want to make capitalism work for working people, not destroy it.”
Miliband said he accepts that a free press is vital for democracy but that politicians should be able to defend their family’s honour.
“Journalists need to hold politicians like me to account — none of us should be given an easy ride — and I look forward to a robust 19 months between now and the General Election.
"But what appeared in the Daily Mail on Saturday was of a different order all together. I know they say ‘you can’t libel the dead’, but you can smear them.
"Fierce debate about politics does not justify character assassination of my father, questioning the patriotism of a man who risked his life for our country in World War II, or publishing a picture of his gravestone with a tasteless pun about him being a ‘grave socialist’.”
In an editorial countering Miliband’s reply, the Daily Mail said Miliband senior had “had nothing but hatred for the values, traditions and institutions — including our great schools, the Church, the Army and even the Sunday papers — that made Britain the safe and free nation in which he and his family flourished".
The newspaper dismissed Miliband’s belief in a free press suggesting: “If he crushes the freedom of the press, no doubt his father will be proud of him from beyond the grave, where he lies 12 yards from the remains of Karl Marx. But he will have driven a hammer and sickle through the heart of the nation so many of us genuinely love.”