They trailed their 'exclusive' on the front page, with the main article on page five. The paper wrote:
Gordon Brown sparked a mutiny on a British Airways flight after he was blamed for an attempt to downgrade a heavily pregnant woman and Red Cross doctor into more cramped seats. The extraordinary scenes – dubbed Mutiny On The Brown-ty - unfolded on a flight from Abu Dhabi to London
The paper fails to mention who (in the Mail's newsroom) dubbed it 'Mutiny on the Brown-ty'.
The article included much sound and fury, as did the editorial:
We have pretty much put an end to privilege. The good things in life are obtained through hard work and effort, not through rank and status...
In a contest for a comfortable seat, between a woman a few weeks from giving birth and a man whose undistinguished period in office is already being happily forgotten, most people would know instantly which side to take.
But BA, and Gordon Brown’s aggressive and charmless aide, seem not to have realised this. In fact, a little diplomacy and good manners by the airline and Mr Brown’s assistant might well have resolved the problem.
Equality is a slogan Mr Brown uses plentifully. But it seems he prefers the theory to the practice.
Yet the paper also had a statement from British Airways which seemed to cast some doubt on their version of events:
A spokeswoman for the airline said Mr Brown’s arrival on the flight was a coincidence, and he had been unfairly blamed by the mutinous passengers.
‘The situation had absolutely nothing to do with Gordon Brown,’ she said. ‘We have apologised to [the complainant] and we have offered to pay compensation.
‘It is very rare for a customer not to be able to travel in the cabin that they have booked and we are extremely sorry that this happened on this flight. Gordon Brown and his party were booked in advance and were not involved in any way.’
Mr Brown's office was contacted on Friday. Yesterday afternoon, his spokeswoman sent a text message saying 'I assume you have read the BA statement and are now not running the story', making it clear that BA and the former PM's office had been in discussions.
She released a statement that said: 'As BA has made clear, the arrangements were nothing to do with Mr Brown, who had booked his flight and seats well in advance and made no requests for - nor received - any special treatment.
'As BA will confirm, all questions about bookings, overbookings and allocations of seats are not - and could not be - a matter for Mr Brown but for British Airways.'
Despite all that, the paper decided to run the story, with a front page teaser, anyway.
One week later, the Mail on Sunday had an 'update':
Last week we published a story headlined ‘The seven months pregnant woman told to give up her British Airways seat…just so Gordon Brown could fly Club Class’ and an editorial.
The flight was overbooked but we accept that neither Gordon Brown nor his staff received any special treatment from British Airways, nor behaved in any way improperly.
We apologise to Gordon Brown and Kirsty McNeill.
The apology appeared on page five. This time, there was no trail on the front page.
(More from Angry Mob here and here, Shouting at Cows and Press Reform)