Rusbridger: defended interview
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger is unapologetic about publishing further details of Euan Blair’s choice of university – despite referring his own paper to the Press Complaints Commission over the article.
Rusbridger told Press Gazette: "I would anticipate this will be resolved amicably. But it seemed better to refer it to the PCC rather than wait for our rivals to cause mischief." The article was an interview with Michael Beloff QC, the president of Trinity College, Oxford, where he talked openly about Euan Blair’s application to study at the college.
It follows Blair’s complaint to the PCC over articles in two other newspapers about Euan’s choice of university where Beloff’s friendship with the Blairs was mentioned.
This led to a PCC adjudication censuring The Daily Telegraph for being in breach of Clause 6 (Children) of the Code of Practice because their article "unnecessarily intruded into Euan’s time at school".
After the interview was published, Rusbridger said Downing Street was contacted by the Daily Mail, The Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph demanding to know why The Guardian was not being referred to the PCC. Downing Street then wrote to The Guardian pointing out the PCC ruling.
In the Guardian interview, Beloff revealed, for the first time, that Euan had been offered a conditional place at the college.
The PCC is likely to speak to Beloff before it makes its decision.
Rusbridger said: "Mr Beloff might have had his own reasons for wanting to say what he did. He is a lawyer and he chooses his words carefully." He said it was even possible that the Blairs had some knowledge that Beloff was going to make the disclosure in his interview.
The PCC said: "If we are asked for clarification we seek to provide it. We take into account the previous adjudication history."
But having already rapped one newspaper over the knuckles after it wrote about Euan’s university plans, rivals are likely to react angrily if The Guardian escapes without censure.
Several of them knew that Euan had been offered a conditional place but held off publishing it because of the PCC ruling.
By Martin McNamara