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Leaders back Miliband over article

Ed Miliband has been given support from David Cameron and Nick Clegg over his decision to take on the Daily Mail in response to an article he claimed "besmirched" his father.

In a bitter row with the national newspaper, the Labour leader said it was a lie to assert that Marxist academic Ralph Miliband "hated Britain" and had left an "evil legacy".

The Daily Mail said it stood by "every word" of its essay on Mr Miliband's father, who came to Britain as a Jewish refugee and served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War before becoming a proponent of what the newspaper called "one of the world's most poisonous political doctrines".

Mr Miliband was given the right to reply after the offending article was published on Saturday, but his defence of his father was accompanied by the reprinted essay and a leader column explaining why the paper was standing its ground.

In an interview with the BBC Mr Miliband said: "It's perfectly legitimate for the Daily Mail to talk about my father's politics but when they say that he hated Britain I was not willing to put up with that because my father loved Britain, my father served in the Royal Navy, he was a refugee who came here and found security in this country.

"He took great comfort from what this country offered him and I'm speaking out as a son.

"I was appalled when I read the Daily Mail on Saturday and saw them saying that he hated Britain. It's a lie.

"I'm even more appalled that they repeated that lie today and have gone further and described my father's legacy as 'evil'. Evil is a word reserved for particular cases and I was not willing to let that stand."

He said he was "not willing to let my father's good name be besmirched and undermined".

The Prime Minister told 5 News he would have reacted in the same way as the Labour leader, although he stressed he had not seen the article.

He said: "I haven't read the article I am a bit behind on this but frankly if someone attacked my father I'd react in exactly the same way. There isn't a day when I don't miss him, there isn't a day when I when I don't think about him so if someone attacked him I'd want to run in and defend him and that's exactly what Ed Miliband's doing."

Asked if politicians' families should be off limits to the press he said: "It is a difficult area. Politicians have to think about how much we reveal ourselves. I think journalists and broadcasters have to think about how deeply they dig into our lives. I think it's all about judgment ... Sometimes it goes wrong."

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg wrote on Twitter: "Politics should be about playing the ball, not the man, certainly not the man's family."

Mr Miliband said he had discussed his response to the piece with his older brother and former leadership rival David, as well as his mother Marion Kozak and "they feel the same way I do".

Former foreign secretary David Miliband wrote on Twitter "my dad loved Britain" and that his younger brother's response was "the truth".

The Press Complaints Commission said it had received more than 30 complaints about the Daily Mail article, although none were from Labour or the Miliband family.

The Daily Mail said Mr Miliband's father's "disdain for freedom of expression" could be seen in the Labour leader's support for statutory press regulation.

Proposals for a new sys tem of press regulation are being considered by the Privy Council, which next meets on October 9, following what the newspaper called "a stitch-up with Hacked Off over late-night pizzas in Mr Miliband's office".

But a clearly angry Mr Miliband told the BBC: " This is not about regulation, it's about right and wrong and it's about the way we conduct political debate in this country and I think there are boundaries.

"I think newspapers and people across politics mustn't overstep those boundaries. It's not about government or politics stepping in and stopping that happening, it's about the way we conduct our debate.

"I think this raises an issue about the way we conduct debates in this country.

"But what I'm interested in is defending my father's good name. And I don't want the British people to think that my father hated this country because he loved Britain.

"When the Daily Mail not only says that but publishes a photo on their website of his gravestone with a pun about it, saying he was a grave socialist, I'm furious."

Mr Miliband added: "I think there are boundaries. There are boundaries for politicians attacking other politicians' families, there are boundaries for newspapers as well.

"It's not about regulation, this is not about me trying to regulate what the Daily Mail writes about my father but it is about me saying I think morality and our approach to these things matters and that's why I have spoken out."

The controversial essay questioned what Mr Miliband's father, who died in 1994, "really" believed in, adding "the answer should disturb everyone who loves this country".

The Daily Mail quoted the 17-year-old Ralph writing that the Englishman is a "rabid nationalist" and "you sometimes want them almost to lose (the war) to show them how things are".

A spokesman for the Daily Mail said: " 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."

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