Brown: sorry for wrong Afghan condolence note

AP News
Posted: Nov 09, 2009 8:23 AM

A handwritten condolence note written by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to the grieving mother of a soldier slain in Afghanistan caused the government fresh embarrassment on Monday.

Jacqui Janes, who lost her 20-year-old son Jamie Janes in Afghanistan last month, complained that Brown hastily wrote the condolence letter, misspelling both her and her son's name.

In the letter, published in The Sun newspaper, Brown began by writing "Dear Mrs. James."

"I write to offer you and you family my personal condolencs," the scribbled note read, which also misspelled the word condolences.

Brown misspelled "Jamie," then corrected it by scrawling over the mistake.

Mrs. Janes, 47, said the letter was insulting.

"He couldn't even be bothered to get our family name right. That made me so angry," she was quoted as saying.

Jamie Janes was killed by an explosion in Afghanistan on Oct. 5.

Brown apologized to Jacqui Janes late Sunday after she complained about the letter.

"To all other families whom I have written to, I can only apologize if my handwriting is difficult to read," Brown said. "I have at all times acted in good faith seeking to do the right thing."

His spokesman Simon Lewis declined to say whether the notes are checked by Downing Street staff before they are posted.

Brown has vision problems associated with a childhood rugby accident.

"I think everyone is in agreement that the prime minister's handwriting is of a particular style," Lewis said.


Associated Press Writer David Stringer contributed to this story.