David Cameron has hit out at the Guardian newspaper for a controversial article this week which claimed the anguish of his son Ivan’s death had been softened by his privileged background.
In an editorial, for which it has since apologised, the Guardian claimed Mr Cameron had suffered only ‘privileged pain’ over the death of his disabled son at the age of six.
Mr Cameron, who has resurfaced this week to promote his memoirs, rejected the claim in an interview with LBC to be broadcast today.
‘There is no privilege in holding your eldest-born child in your arms as their life drains away. Death knows no privilege,’ the former Prime Minister said.
‘So I, from the little I saw of it, I couldn’t understand what they were trying to say, but fortunately it has been deleted and apologised for, so I think we can leave it there.’
David and Samantha Cameron near their Oxfordshire home in 2007, with their children Ivan (left), Nancy (centre) and Elwen (right)
The Guardian editorial questioned whether the former PM ‘might have understood the damage his policies have done’ if he had sought care for ‘a dying parent rather than a dying child’.
It went on: ‘Mr Cameron has known pain and failure in his life but it has always been limited failure and privileged pain.
‘His experience of the NHS, which looked after his severely disabled son, has been that of the better functioning and better funded parts of the system.’
In his memoirs Mr Cameron described how his son’s death had left him and his wife Samantha in ‘darkness’.
Speaking in an ITV interview aired earlier this week he said he felt ‘incredibly blessed’ for the time he had with Ivan.
‘I think the difficult thing was that he suffered so much,’ Mr Cameron told ITV’s Tom Bradby.
‘He sometimes would have, you know, 20, 30, 40 seizures in a day that when I think about it a lot, you do go back to the incredibly painful and difficult times that he had.
‘You know no one wants to—your first child being born and being so challenged in that way and—you don’t want that to happen to anyone, least of all yourself.
The Guardian claimed Mr Cameron (pictured left in a new BBC programme) had suffered only ‘privileged pain’ over the death of his disabled son Ivan (pictured together right)
‘But when you do look back, you do feel incredibly blessed that for a time you were given this sort of charge of looking after someone so special.’
The Guardian has since amended its editorial and apologised.
A spokesman said: ‘The original version of an editorial posted online fell far short of our standards. It was changed significantly within two hours, and we apologise completely.’
Screenshots of the original were circulated on social media and prompted widespread condemnation.
Chancellor Sajid Javid tweeted: ‘Shameful thing to read. Never has an editorial so lacked in empathy, while so righteously criticising others for lacking it.’
Tory MP Zac Goldsmith said: ‘These aren’t just the ugly thoughts of a maverick columnist. These are the words of the actual Guardian editorial. It is their corporate view.’
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