The awarding of a University of York Honorary Degree to the Sunday Times Editor, John Witherow, is to go ahead despite accusations by Gordon Brown surrounding the way personal information was gathered by the newspaper, the University has confirmed.
John Witherow has been the Editor of the Sunday Times for 17 years but has faced pressure this week about the allegedly illicit ways that his newspaper sourced information for a front page story regarding a flat Brown had bought in 1992, claiming he had bought it at a knock-down price.
Brown has attacked the paper calling the people who gathered this information “known criminals” and being connected with the “criminal underworld”.
It is alleged that the Sunday Times hired investigators, including Barry Beardall, who tricked a London solicitor firm into divulging Brown’s flat details. However, the University has said this morning that it will not be changing the planned ceremony which took place on Wednesday afternoon.
“The University will be conferring an Honorary Degree on John Witherow, who was nominated for this award by students. The issues…are allegations and it would be inappropriate for the University to pre-judge them.”
News International has not commented on the allegations but the Sunday Times has said that “we believe no law was broken in the process of the investigation”; while, Witherow told the Telegraph that he is not planning on standing down as Sunday Times Editor.
This comes as News International has been heavily criticised following the way reporters have conducted themselves in the process of finding out information in the News of the World, Sunday Times and The Sun.
Witherow is one of nine recipients of an Honorary Degree this year which the University gives out to those who have made a significant contribution to society and who often have links back to York.