The editor of the Mail on Sunday has "unreservedly" apologised for one his reporters intruding into a memorial service held for Ed Miliband's uncle.
Geordie Greig promised a full investigation after the Labour leader complained that the reporter attempted to get reaction from his relatives about an article in its sister paper, the Daily Mail, denouncing his late father, Marxist intellectual Ralph Miliband, as the man "who hated Britain".
He said it had been a "terrible lapse of judgment" and two journalists on the paper have been suspended.
"I unreservedly apologise for a reporter intruding into a private memorial service for a relative of Ed Miliband," he said. "The reporter was sent without my knowledge; it was a decision which was wrong. Two journalists have been suspended and a full investigation is now being carried out.
"I would further like to apologise to members of the family and friends attending the service for this deplorable intrusion. I have already spoken personally to Ed Miliband and expressed my regret that such a terrible lapse of judgment should have taken place.
"It is completely contrary to the values and editorial standards of The Mail on Sunday. I understand that Lord Rothermere is personally writing to Ed Miliband."
In a letter to Lord Rothermere, the proprietor of the Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail, published on Thursday morning, Ed Miliband said: "My wider family, who are not in public life, feel understandably appalled and shocked that this can have happened."
"Sending a reporter to my late uncle’s memorial crosses a line of common decency. I believe it a symptom of the culture and practices of both the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday."
He added: "the reaction of many people to the Daily Mail’s attacks on my father this week demonstrates that the way your newspapers have behaved does not reflect the real character of our country. It is now your responsibility to respond."
David Miliband, who now lives in New York also tweeted: "Woken up in San Francisco to texts about my uncle Harry. Unbelievable. Glad there has been an apology. He was a lovely man. Thanks for messages here this week."
Senior politicians from all parties have condemned the Daily Mail for targeting Ed Miliband's father. On Thursday morning Nick Clegg said the newspaper was "overflowing with bile" and Tory Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said people would be "pretty revolted".
The Daily Mail refused to apologise for the initial article which said Ralph Miliband "hated Britain" and published a leader column column claiming the academic had left an "evil legacy" due to his "Marxist" views.
Ed Miliband hit back at the paper for attempting a "character assassination" of his father "who risked his life for our country in the Second World War".
The controversy has led to a furious and ongoing row between the Labour Party and the Daily Mail which will be fuelled further by Ed Miliband's letter - printed below in full.
According to the Press Association Prof Keen's daughter was approached by a woman who shook her hand and offered her condolences, before introducing herself as a reporter from the Mail on Sunday.
The reporter asked whether the daughter wished to comment on the Daily Mail article about Mr Miliband senior and was told "no comment". When the reporter asked again, she was given the same answer, at which point she left.
Ed Miliband's letter to Lord Rothermere
Dear Lord Rothermere,
Yesterday I spoke at a memorial event held at Guy’s Hospital in London for my uncle, Professor Harry Keen, a distinguished doctor who died earlier this year. It was an event in a room on the 29th floor of Guy’s Hospital which was attended only by family members, close friends and colleagues.
I was told by one of my relatives late yesterday evening that a reporter from the Mail on Sunday had found her way into the event uninvited. I also discovered that, once there, she approached members of my family seeking comments on the controversy over the Daily Mail’s description of my late father as someone who “hated Britain”.
My wider family, who are not in public life, feel understandably appalled and shocked that this can have happened.
The Editor of the Mail on Sunday has since confirmed to my office that a journalist from his newspaper did indeed attend the memorial uninvited with the intention of seeking information for publication this weekend.
Sending a reporter to my late uncle’s memorial crosses a line of common decency. I believe it a symptom of the culture and practices of both the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday.
There are many decent people working at those newspapers and I know that many of them will be disgusted by this latest episode. But they will also recognise that what has happened to my family has happened to many others.
I believe no purpose would be served by me complaining to the Press Complaints Commission because it is widely discredited.
Instead, I am writing to you as the owners of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday because I believe it is long overdue that you reflect on the culture of your newspapers. You should conduct your own swift investigation into who was responsible at a senior level for this latest episode and also who is responsible for the culture and practices of these newspapers which jar so badly with the values of your readers.
There are bigger issues for the people of Britain in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis for a century than intrusion into the life of my family. But the reaction of many people to the Daily Mail’s attacks on my father this week demonstrates that the way your newspapers have behaved does not reflect the real character of our country.
It is now your responsibility to respond.