UK & World News
Cameron Supports Ed Miliband In Father Row
David Cameron has backed Ed Miliband's response to the Daily Mail over a story attacking his father as 'The Man Who Hated Britain'.
Speaking to Sky News' Political Editor Adam Boulton, Mr Cameron said that "if someone attacked my Dad I would do the same thing".
Mr Miliband said on Tuesday he was furious and appalled by the Mail's depiction of his father, Ralph, a top Marxist academic, who fled Belgium aged 16 to escape the Nazis and died in 1994.
As an extraordinary war of words raged, Mr Miliband declared the newspaper had crossed the line and forced him to speak out to defend his family.
Mr Cameron, whose own father, Ian, a City of London stockbroker, died in 2010, at the age of 77, said he sympathised with Mr Miliband.
He told Sky News: "I haven't read the article but look, I completely understand. If I was in Ed's position if someone attacked my father I would want to also make pretty clear what I feel.
"When you have lost your Dad, there isn't a day that goes by when you don't think of what they meant to you and how much you miss them and if someone attacked my Dad I would do the same thing."
An article published by the Mail on Saturday claimed the Labour leader's father's views "should disturb everyone who loves this country".
According to the paper, he wrote in his diary, aged 17: "The Englishman is a rabid nationalist. They are perhaps the most nationalist people in the world?
"You sometimes want them almost to lose [the war] to show them how things are. They have the greatest contempt for the continent. To lose their empire would be the worst possible humiliation."
The Labour leader was furious at the piece and hit back in a rebuttal which was published by the paper on Tuesday.
Pointing towards his father's service in the Royal Navy, he said: "I know they say you can't libel the dead but you can smear them.
"Fierce debate about politics does not justify character assassination of my father, questioning the patriotism of a man who risked his life for our country in World War Two."
But the politician was further enraged because the Mail ran his response alongside an abridged version of the original article and an editorial headlined 'An evil legacy and why we won't apologise'.
This prompted Mr Miliband to speak out publicly to defend his father's name, insisting that he always loved Britain because it gave him the security he craved.
"I am speaking out as a son. I was appalled when I read the Daily Mail on Saturday and saw they said he hated Britain. It is a lie," he said.
"I am even more appalled that they have repeated that lie today and gone further to describe my father's legacy as evil. Evil is a word reserved for particular cases and I wasn't willing to let that stand."
He added: "It is an unusual step to speak out - I don't do it lightly but I am not willing to see my father's good name undermined in this way...
"Britain saved his life and this paper is saying that he hated Britain. That is a lie, that is a lie and I am not willing to let it stand."
The politician stressed that the row had nothing to do with press regulation as he revealed he had spoken to his mother and brother David about the articles.
He insisted that although he expected to be criticised because of his position, there were "boundaries" to political debate that the media and other public figures should respect.
Mr Miliband also attacked the Mail Online website for publishing a picture of his father's grave stone with a pun saying he was a "grave socialist".
"I am furious. What has political debate come to in this country when this happens?," he asked.
"I don't object to people writing about my father's political views - they are a matter of record. They are well known. What I object to is them turning that into him being unpatriotic," he said.
The Press Complaints Commission has now received 12 complaints about the article.
Nick Clegg has also rallied in support of Mr Miliband.
Mr Clegg added on Twitter: "Politics should be about playing the ball, not the man, certainly not the man's family."
A Daily Mail spokesman said: "We ask fair-minded people to read our editorial today. For what this episode confirms is that you cannot allow politicians anywhere near regulating the press.
"While we respect Mr Miliband's right to defend his father - and he has done so in the Daily Mail today - it is worth stressing that Ralph Miliband wasn't an ordinary private individual but a prominent academic and author who devoted his life to promoting a Marxist dogma which caused so much misery in the world.
"He hated such British institutions as the Queen, the Church and the Army, and wanted a workers' revolution. Our readers have a right to know that.
"Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, is the leading advocate of statutory controls of the press in Britain under which politicians could ultimately decide what appears in newspapers.
"His father - to whom he constantly refers in his speeches - was a proponent of one of the world's most poisonous political doctrines under which freedom of expression was crushed and newspapers controlled by governments."
Hugh Grant - who campaigns for increased press regulation - tweeted: "Warning from Daily Mail. If you stand up to press barons expect to have your hero Dad smeared in national paper."