The Sun has today run a transcript of a 13-minute telephone conversation that Prime Minister Gordon Brown made to Jacqui Janes, the mother of a dead serviceman who accused him of dishonouring her son over a handwritten note of condolence that misspelled their surname.
The News International title also put a recording of the conversation, which was made on Sunday night, on its website as Labour hit back at the paper claiming it was trying to orchestrate a campaign against Brown and the government.
The transcript reveals Janes confronted Brown over a lack of equipment for British troops telling him that her son Jamie could have survived his injuries but bled to death as a result of an under-equipped force.
She said: “Mr Brown, listen to me.
“I know every injury my child sustained that day. I know that my son could have survived but my son bled to death.
“How would you like it if one of your children, God forbid, went to a war doing something that he thought… was helping protect his Queen and country and because of lack, lack of helicopters, lack of equipment, your child bled to death and then you had the coroner have to tell you his every injury?”
Brown was reported to have been “mortified” when told of Janes’ distress over the hand-written message and arranged the telephone call to offer his condolences in person.
The Prime Minister told Janes he understood her feelings about the conditions under which troops operate, but had his own strong feelings on the issue and wanted to offer his condolences, rather than be involved in a debate.
According to the transcript, Janes said: “I can not believe I have been brought down to the level of having an argument with the Prime Minister of my own country.”
Brown denied spelling Janes’ son’s name wrong in the letter, and blamed his poor handwriting rather than his spelling.
Janes said: “I beg to differ.”
Prior to publication of the transcript and the online recording, business secretary Lord Mandelson told reporters the story had to be seen in context and that the Sun had decided to “campaign against Gordon Brown and Labour” in the run up to the general election.
The Sun infamously used the day after Brown’s address to the Labour Party Conference in September to switch its support from Labour and begin actively campaigning to elect David Cameron as the next Prime Minister.
Brown then told GQ magazine last week he thought the Sun was trying to “become a political party” and saying it “made a terrible mistake” when it decided to switch allegiance and back the Conservative party.
Yesterday Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation which owns the Sun, said he regretted his papers have turned against Brown.
In an interview with Sky News Australia, Murdoch said editors of his British papers had turned against Brown despite his personal friendship with him.
Asked if he did not support the papers’ views, Murdoch said: “No, I think they’re probably right that he has been a disappointment as a prime minister.”