The Guardian was today branded 'inhumane' and 'vile' after claiming David Cameron's wealth and status meant he only suffered 'privileged pain' when hi
The Guardian was today branded ‘inhumane’ and ‘vile’ after claiming David Cameron‘s wealth and status meant he only suffered ‘privileged pain’ when his disabled son Ivan died aged six.
The former Prime Minister’s new autobiography ‘For The Record’ says that he and his wife Samantha were plunged into ‘darkness’ when their eldest child passed away in 2009.
Mr Cameron revealed that his son suffered near-constant seizures from birth – some lasting hours – before succumbing to organ failure shortly before his seventh birthday.
But in response to his memoirs, the Guardian’s leader column, written by an unnamed senior editor, said today: ‘Mr Cameron has known pain and failure in his life but it has always been limited failure and privileged pain’.
It added: ‘Had he been trying to get the system to look after a dying parent rather than a dying child, he might have understood a little of the damage that his policies have done’.
David Cameron with his eldest child Ivan in 2004, who was born severely disabled and died of organ failure in 2009
The Guardian’s leader column has sparked fury with MPs and members of the public lining up to slam the newspaper
The opinion piece was published in the newspaper this morning but was amended online after an uproar over the use of the phrase ‘privileged pain’, which was initially changed before being deleted completely.
Mr Cameron leaves home in west London today but is yet to speak out about the Guardian’s choice of words
A spokesman for the newspaper has also issued an apology and said: ‘The original version of this editorial posted online fell far short of our standards. It has now been amended, and we apologise completely’ – but did not say sorry directly to Mr Cameron.
The newspaper is under fire today and was accused of lacking ‘humanity’ and ’empathy’ for the plight of Ivan Cameron and his bereft family.
Chancellor Sajid Javid wrote: ‘Shameful thing to read, Guardian. 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.’
Comedian Jenny Eclair wrote: ‘I am furious with David Cameron but to question his grief as the Guardian is doing is vile beyond vile – his 6 year old son died’.
Richard Johnson tweeted: ‘I have no time for David Cameron, but this is an appalling thing to write about a man who lost a child with severe disabilities. To say perhaps he’d have experienced proper pain if it had been a parent rather than his child is disgusting’.
Charlie Beckett wrote: ‘The irony of this ghastly Guardian editorial failure is that it demonstrates the lack of humanity and empathy of which it accuses Cameron. The logic is tortuous anyway, but the nastiness is quite breathtaking’.
David Cameron walks through the village of Chadlington near his Oxfordshire homewith his wife Samantha and children from left Elwen, Nancy and Ivan in 2007 – two years before he died
Many people angry with Mr Cameron for calling an EU referendum were left irate by the Guardian’s choice of words
Mr Cameron wrote poignantly about their final moments with their eldest child, as they held him in hospital after medics stopped treatment while the six-year-old succumbed to organ failure.
WHAT IS OHTAHARA SYNDROME?
Ohtahara syndrome is a rare complication of epilepsy, affecting just one in 500 sufferers, and boys more than girls.
It is caused by an underlying structural brain abnormality which may have a genetic origin or is the result of brain damage.
It is rarely an inherited disorder and it is thought only four families in the world have two affected children.
Seizures start before the baby is three months old. Most die before the age of three, often due to chest infections or pneumonia.
A phenomenon known as sudden unexplained death in epilepsy is also a constant fear.
Babies with Ohtahara syndrome – first described 30 years ago – are often very floppy, excessively sleepy and over time develop stiffness in their limbs.
Medication has limited effect and the children make little developmental progress, being totally dependent on others.
They often feed poorly and their sleep is punctuated by seizures and muscle spasms – between ten and 300 every 24 hours, which make round-the-clock care a necessity.
He said: ‘Nothing, absolutely nothing, can prepare you for the reality of losing your darling boy in this way. It was as if the world stopped turning.’
The former Tory leader added: ‘It was a torture that I can hardly bear to remember. For Samantha, the mother who bore him and who loved him so deeply, it was a torture that was tearing her apart.’
Ivan was born with Ohtahara syndrome, a rare condition which left him with severe epilepsy and development problems. He died in 2009.
Mr Cameron said the diagnosis had been an ‘immense shock and challenge’. He admitted the difficulty of caring for a profoundly disabled child had taken his marriage ‘near to breaking point’.
He wrote: ‘My friends say that the experience of having Ivan and helping to care for him changed me a lot. I am sure they are right.’
He said he lacked ‘the real patience and selflessness’ needed to be a great carer, but said his wife never failed. Despite watching Ivan endure painful seizures, the parents found a ‘resilience’ and ‘strong bonds of love’.
After Ivan’s death, when Mr Cameron was leader of the Opposition, then-prime minister Gordon Brown led tributes and adjourned the Commons for the day.
Mr Cameron said he had been moved by the gesture, but said the days before Ivan’s funeral were a ‘blur’, adding: ‘There was nothing but darkness for us.’
Mrs Cameron found an inscription by poet William Wordsworth for Ivan’s headstone, which he said summed up their feelings.
It reads: ‘I loved the Boy with the utmost love of which my soul is capable, and he is taken from me – yet in the agony of my spirit in surrendering such a treasure, I feel a thousand times richer than if I had never possessed it.’ Mr Cameron said he and his family visit the grave at a church near their Cotswolds home frequently. He said: ‘Having Ivan taught us so much. About unconditional love. About our total devotion to each other.’