Dear Lord Rothermere,
Yesterday I spoke at a memorial event held at Guy’s Hospital in London for my uncle, Professor Harry Keen, a distinguished doctor who died earlier this year. It was an event in a room on the 29th floor of Guy’s Hospital which was attended only by family members, close friends and colleagues.
I was told by one of my relatives late yesterday evening that a reporter from the Mail on Sunday had found her way into the event uninvited. I also discovered that, once there, she approached members of my family seeking comments on the controversy over the Daily Mail’s description of my late father as someone who “hated Britain”.
My wider family, who are not in public life, feel understandably appalled and shocked that this can have happened.
The Editor of the Mail on Sunday has since confirmed to my office that a journalist from his newspaper did indeed attend the memorial uninvited with the intention of seeking information for publication this weekend.
Sending a reporter to my late uncle’s memorial crosses a line of common decency. I believe it a symptom of the culture and practices of both the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday.
There are many decent people working at those newspapers and I know that many of them will be disgusted by this latest episode. But they will also recognise that what has happened to my family has happened to many others.
I believe no purpose would be served by me complaining to the Press Complaints Commission because it is widely discredited.
Instead, I am writing to you as the owners of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday because I believe it is long overdue that you reflect on the culture of your newspapers. You should conduct your own swift investigation into who was responsible at a senior level for this latest episode and also who is responsible for the culture and practices of these newspapers which jar so badly with the values of your readers.
There are bigger issues for the people of Britain in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis for a century than intrusion into the life of my family. But the reaction of many people to the Daily Mail’s attacks on my father this week demonstrates that the way your newspapers have behaved does not reflect the real character of our country.
It is now your responsibility to respond.
Geordie Grieg, editor of the Mail on Sunday, has apologised for the reporter’s actions and has suspended two journalists. Here is his statement:
I unreservedly apologise for a reporter intruding into a private memorial service for a relative of Ed Miliband. The reporter was sent without my knowledge; it was a decision which was wrong. Two journalists have been suspended and a full investigation is now being carried out. I would further like to apologise to members of the family and friends attending the service for this deplorable intrusion.I have already spoken personally to Ed Miliband and expressed my regret that such a terrible lapse of judgement should have taken place. It is completely contrary to the values and editorial standards of The Mail on Sunday. I understand that Lord Rothermere is personally writing to Ed Miliband.
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