Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has told the Leveson Inquiry that NHS Fife apologised to him for the leak of information about his son’s diagnosis with cystic fibrosis.
Brown said he had submitted a letter to the inquiry into media standards from the Scottish health board that “that makes it clear that they have apologised” for the leak in 2006.
In October that year, Rebekah Brooks, the then-editor of The Sun newspaper, contacted Brown and his wife to say that it had obtained medical details about four month-old Fraser.
There has been speculation that Fraser’s medical records were hacked. However, the paper has always insisted that the information came from another source, a member of the public “whose family has also experienced cystic fibrosis.”
Brown’s evidence to the inquiry this morning challenged this account. He said NHS Fife’s letter indicates that the health board believes “it [is] highly likely that there was unauthorised information given by a medical or working member of NHS staff that allowed The Sun, in the end through this middleman, to publish this story.”
NHS Fife confirmed this account last week, adding that because the incident took place six years ago, it had not been possible to identify all the circumstances.
Its chief executive, John Wilson, reiterated that the health board did not believe there had been “inappropriate access to the child’s medical records.”
However, he stressed that: “We are quite clear that conversations about patients are just as much a breach of confidentiality as looking into their medical records.”
He also said the health board had tightened its training on confidentiality. Brown said he had never given The Sun permission to publish information about his son’s condition, as Brooks insisted to the inquiry that he had.
"I don’t think any child’s medical information, particularly at [the age of] four months, has any interest for the public and should be broadcast to the public," Brown said.