Page last updated at 23:06 GMT, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Jacqui Janes accepts PM's apology

Jacqui Janes: "Today he looked sincere, he looked humbled."

Bereaved mother Jacqui Janes has said she accepts Gordon Brown's apology for mistakes made in a letter of condolence about her son's death in Afghanistan.

In an ITN interview, she said Mr Brown had looked "humbled" and "sincere" at a press conference, but had not appeared "apologetic" in an earlier phonecall.

Her son, Guardsman Jamie Janes, 20, of Brighton, died in Helmand in October.

She had described Mr Brown's letter as a "hastily scrawled insult". Mr Brown said earlier he understood her pain.

Guardsman Janes, of 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards, was killed in an explosion in October while on foot patrol in Helmand province.

'Difficult job'

Mr Brown had sent his mother a handwritten letter, but she criticised him for apparently misspelling his name as "James" and other errors. He then telephoned her and said he had apologised - but this was challenged by Mrs Janes.

I'm a parent who understands the feelings when something goes terribly, terribly wrong
Gordon Brown

The prime minister, who suffers from poor eyesight, was questioned about it at his regular press conference on Tuesday and said the last thing on his mind was to cause any offence.

Mr Brown, whose 10-day-old baby daughter Jennifer Jane died in 2002, said: "I'm a parent also.

"I feel the pain of people who lose their loved ones. I understand when people are grieving that they are looking for the answers that I talked about earlier.

"I'm a parent who understands the feelings when something goes terribly, terribly wrong and I understand how long it takes to handle the grief that we have all experienced."

He also said: "I feel for the mother's grief. I understand the pain that she is going through.

"It's a terrible personal sadness and raises questions in your mind about what could have been done."

'Not disrespectful'

In an interview, Mrs Janes said: "He didn't sound apologetic in the phone call. He said sorry an awful lot, sorry that I didn't understand his writing, sorry that I this or I that - referring to me. Today he looked sincere, he looked humbled."

She said she felt sorry for Mr Brown: "He's got a difficult job, I'm not debating that, I wouldn't like his job personally."

Guardsman Jamie Janes
Guardsman Janes died in Helmand province in October

Mrs Janes said other mothers of dead soldiers who had received notes of condolence felt "similarly" aggrieved.

She said: "I'm pleased that he's taken the time, so is every other mother. But a bit more compassion, just to have started [writing the letter] again maybe."

Mr Brown said he had ordered a "full report" into Guardsman Janes's death.

During their conversation, Mrs Janes had claimed her son had died because troops lacked equipment, notably helicopters.

A transcript of the 13-minute phone call was printed in the Sun, which recently said it would back the Conservatives at the next general election.

Mrs Janes said she "wasn't being disrespectful" by making it public.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson said: "The Sun prides itself on standing up for what it calls Our Boys but it's own website shows that many of its readers sympathise with Gordon Brown.

"Messages sent to the BBC are overwhelmingly in his favour."

'Clumsy'

However, the Sun's managing editor, Graham Dudman, said he had "no regrets" about publishing the story.

"Mrs Janes has made it absolutely clear that she wasn't manipulated by us, as I have heard, that she was happy for us to run the story," he said.

Falklands War veteran Simon Weston came to Mr Brown's defence, saying his letter to Mrs Janes was "clumsy at worst".

He said: "A handwritten letter is something not a lot of us get in life any more.

"I think it was something done with the greatest of sincerity, but certainly not with any malice aforethought to damage or to insult.

"I think we need to go back a little bit and take stock of what is really important."



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Guardian.co.uk Gordon Brown spoke to Rupert Murdoch after misspelling row - 3 hrs ago
The Sun Mum: I accept PM's apology - 9 hrs ago
New StatesmanThe Sun sinks to a new low - 13 hrs ago
National Post Backlash develops over Gordon Brown's much-maligned condolence letter - 21 hrs ago
The Age Dead soldier's mother scolds Brown over letter - 29 hrs ago
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