‘Mortified’ PM apologises over condolence note

Author: By Andrew Grice

The Prime Minister telephoned Jacqui Janes to say sorry after she criticised
him over the hand-written letter he sent after Guardsman Jamie Janes, 20,
from Brighton, was killed in an explosion in October.

It was addressed to “Mrs James,” the surname Mr Brown also
mistakenly used last month when he read out a list of 37 servicemen killed
in Afghanistan in the Commons.

In a video distributed by The Sun newspaper, Mrs Janes called the letter a “hastily
scrawled insult”. She said the letter had been “scrawled so
quickly I could hardly even read it” and that “some of the words
were half-finished”, and described it as “disrespectful” and
an “insult” to her son.

Mr Brown is said to be “mortified” that Mrs Janes was upset by his
letter. No 10 declined to say whether it had been checked after he wrote it,
but said he would continue to hand-write letters to the families of
servicemen killed in action.

The Prime Minister, who admitted his writing could be “difficult to read”,
said he was sorry for “any unintended mistake”. In a statement
yesterday he said: “I have at all times acted in good faith seeking to
do the right thing. I do not think anyone will believe that I write letters
with any intent to cause offence.”

The criticism over the letter will add to Mr Brown’s woes over Afghanistan as
he seeks to explain the mission to a British public that is increasingly
hostile towards it. The Sun, which ended its support for Labour in September
and endorsed the Tories, has repeatedly attacked the Government’s treatment
of British troops serving in Afghanistan.

The Business Secretary Lord Mandelson yesterday said it was “unthinkable”
that the Prime Minister intended any disrespect, and urged people to
understand that that the story in “context” of the fact that The
Sun had chosen to campaign against Gordon Brown and Labour in the run-up to
next year’s general election.

* Yesterday the Ministry of Defence named a soldier killed by an improvised
service device in Helmand province on Saturday as Rifleman Philip Allen, 20,
of 2nd Battalion The Rifles. He was on a routine ground clearance patrol
providing security for local Afghans.

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