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Brown accuses Murdoch papers of hiring criminals

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Former prime minister Gordon Brown accused Rupert Murdoch’s media empire on Tuesday of using criminals to obtain his private documents, as MPs prepared to quiz police over phone hacking.

In a major new twist in the row that led to the closure of the Murdoch-owned News of the World, Brown accused its stablemate the Sunday Times of using con tricks to obtain bank details and legal documents relating to a flat he bought.

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He also said he did not understand how The Sun, another Murdoch paper, obtained information that his son had cystic fibrosis, adding that when the tabloid splashed the news on its front page in 2006 he was left “in tears”.

“I think what happened pretty early on in government was that the Sunday Times appear to have got access to my building society account, they got access to my legal files,” Brown told the BBC in an interview.

“But I’m shocked, I’m genuinely shocked to find that this happened because of their links with criminals, known criminals who were undertaking this activity, hired by investigators who were working with the Sunday Times.”

His claims are the first to explicitly drag in other Murdoch newspapers into the long-running scandal over phone hacking at the News of the World, and threaten to further damage Murdoch’s media interests.

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They come as MPs prepare to question senior police officers about why their original investigation into phone hacking at the News of the World in 2006 failed to unearth the hoard of allegations that have emerged in recent months.

In the latest twist, it was reported that Prince Charles and his wife Camilla had their voicemails hacked.

Media reports also suggested that police officers charged with protecting members of the royal family had sold their details to the News of the World, and the tabloid’s owners knew about this as early as 2007 but kept quiet.

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The scandal prompted Murdoch to abruptly close down the 168-year-old tabloid last week, and sparked intense political pressure on his News Corp.’s controversial bid for control of satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

News Corp. on Monday announced it was withdrawing concessions which it had offered to assuage competition concerns over the bid, prompting the government to refer the bid to the Competition Commission.

Murdoch flew to London on Sunday to try to contain the crisis, and also to offer his full support to Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of his British media interests, News International.

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Brooks was editor of the News of the World from 2000 to 2003, and then moved to The Sun, but has always denied any knowledge of phone hacking.

Brown said it was Brooks who called him to tell him in 2006 that the tabloid was breaking the story about the illness of his son, who was then four months old.

“I’ve never talked publicly about Fraser’s condition. And obviously we wanted that to be kept private for all the obvious reasons,” said Brown, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1997 to 2007 and then Labour prime minister until 2010.

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Asked how it felt to see the news splashed over the media, he replied: “In tears. Your son is being broadcast across the media. Sarah (his wife) and I are incredibly upset about it.”

Although he did not directly accuse The Sun of wrongdoing, he said he “can’t think” how they would have got the medical records legitimately.

News International has asked to see the information on which Brown is basing his allegations, but a source at the group told AFP: “We are satisfied that the story about his son came from legitimate sources.”

Scotland Yard launched a new investigation into phone hacking in January, and on Monday it warned that leaks to the media — including about alleged payments to royal protection officers — threatened to undermine its efforts.

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But it is under pressure itself, and several officers were to appear before parliament’s home affairs committee on Tuesday.

These included Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates, the police officer who decided in 2009 that the original probe into phone hacking did not need to be reopened despite new revelations.

The original 2006 police investigation led to the News of the World’s then royal editor and a private investigator being jailed. Many of the recent revelations stem from the files seized from the investigator during that time.


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Here are the two Trump claims that the Pentagon chief refused to vouch for

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The White House meeting Wednesday afternoon didn't go well for either party, according to their counterparts. Both sides are dishing on details, including a Democratic aide who said that there were two of President Donald Trump's claims that his own Pentagon chief wouldn't vouch for.

At the onset of the meeting, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) began by reading a quote from Gen. James Mattis, who briefly served in Trump's administration.

"But POTUS cut Schumer off," reported PBS News correspondent Lisa Desjardins. Trump then "said that Gen Mattis was: 'the world’s most overrated general. You know why? He wasn’t tough enough. I captured ISIS. Mattis said it would take 2 yrs. I captured them in 1 month."

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Former Clinton lawyer scolds Trump’s White House counsel on impeachment: ‘we never considered’ behaving this way

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On Tuesday, Lanny Breuer, a special counsel who worked for President Bill Clinton's White House, wrote an open letter in the Washington Post to President Donald Trump's White House Counsel Pat Cipollone — telling him that, while he understands an impeachment is a horrible thing for an administration to go through, Clinton and his lawyers would never have behaved the way Trump is now.

"In 1998, we felt under siege," wrote Breuer. "We argued at the time, as you do in your letter, that Congress should provide additional procedural protections to the president ... For example, instead of conducting its own investigation, the committee relied almost exclusively on [independent counsel Ken] Starr’s report, which had serious flaws. The House took only three months to adopt articles of impeachment, and we had only two days to present our witnesses. The president’s personal lawyer, David Kendall, had only 30 minutes to question Starr. We felt this was deeply unfair and a derogation of the House’s constitutional duty to investigate thoroughly whether impeachment was warranted."

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White House leaked ‘insane letter’ to Fox host — that makes Trump look ridiculously ‘dumb’

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President Donald Trump was ridiculed on Wednesday after a letter was leaked that President Donald Trump sent to Turkish President Recep Erdo?an.

The letter was sent a week ago, on October 9th.

A copy of the letter, where Trump warned Erdo?an not to be a fool, was obtained by Fox Business personality Trish Regan.

https://twitter.com/trish_regan/status/1184559361638748161

Commentary on the letter was swift -- and brutal.

Here's some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/chrislhayes/status/1184570895043571713

Can’t tell if parody of dumb guy trying to cover his tracks or real dumb guy who is covering tracks

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