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Anorak | Madeleine Mcann: Express Newspapers Win, Robert Murat’s Tabloid Trial And Money

Madeleine Mcann: Express Newspapers Win, Robert Murat’s Tabloid Trial And Money

by | 20th, March 2008

maccann-inflatable.jpgMADDYWATCH Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

What irony in the McCanns winning £550,000 damages from the tabloid press, to whom they turned to keep their missing daughter Madeleine in the public eye. Thanks to the tabloids, Madeleine is big news once more. And with the money – notably the Star’s – get this – donation going to the Find Madeleine Fund, Express Newspapers have helped the search for the missing girl.

Meanwhile, the News of the World’s reward remains unclaimed. So is this a victory for Express Newspapers? Is the Express the tabloid that cares most?

FINANCIAL TIMES: “McCann libel payout cues media debate”

Lawyers and newspaper executives agreed on Wednesday that a £550,000 ($1.1m) payout by Express Newspapers to the parents of missing Madeleine McCann would temper tabloid behaviour. But not for long.

Not for long:

“WHY was Shannon laughing,” Sunday Express

Broadcaster Andrew Neil, former editor of The Sunday Times, said: “The Express got its come-uppance and I believe the editor should resign. But it is only the worst example…Whether that lesson will be heeded for long, I’m not so sure.”

Hunting Madeleine McCann And Robert Murat

A former tabloid editor, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, added: “It’s a disaster for them from a PR point of view, but I don’t think it will affect their circulation, certainly not the Star. It might make everyone more cautious, but I doubt that will last.”

DAILY MIRROR: “SHANNON STEPDAD HITS BACK – I NEVER LAID A FINGER ON HER.”

THAT “Express apology – By Robert Shrimsley”

We now acknowledge there is no evidence whatsoever to support our theory that repeating this rubbish every day on our front page did in fact bring us any extra readers. We furthermore recognise that we should have stuck to the Diana inquest, given that she is dead and can’t sue.

Sun: “TWO British sisters have revealed they saw oddball Robert Murat lurking by the Portuguese holiday apartment from which Madeleine McCann vanished”

As an expression of our regret we are going to spend the next few weeks hounding Heather Mills in the hope this does the trick.

She’s blonde. So she’ll do.

Express front pages to look out for:

DIANA – IS SHE DEAD?
KATE McCANN – WE CANNOT APOLOGISE ENOUGH (every day)
ANTHEA TURNER – MY BLONDE HELL

THE GUARDIAN: “No more Maddy, no more Diana – what now for the Express?

In one week, the two main sources for Daily Express stories have dried up. If it can’t implicate the McCanns or trumpet wild theories about Diana’s death (DID PHILIP ORDER DIANA’S MURDER?, et al), what will the Express front page of the future look like? Here are some possible new directions:

HEATHER HATH NO FURY. If the Express is in the market for a confirmed fantasist with conspiracy theories to flog, it need look no further than Heather Mills, whose newfound independent wealth doesn’t appear to come with any preconditions about not speaking to the press.

MARK LAWSON: This apology underlines the true value of false reporting

But the paradox is that this apparent capitulation by the paper may be strangely lucrative. Yesterday morning was the first time in my memory that it has been impossible to buy the Express at newsagents and railway stations at 8am. So either the usual print-run was reduced through shame or, more likely, a craven apology for false claims, trailed in morning news bulletins, actually increases sales – a depressing lesson in the state of journalism…
So, although the climbdown looks like a bad business for journalism, it may actually prove to have been a good business move. Whatever the McCanns hope, the effect of these unprecedented mea culpas may not be that newspapers look into their consciences and cringe, but that they look into their accounts and shrug. From the original false stories to the apology for them, unwise reporting has sold more papers than caution ever would.

Madeleine McCann, Robert Murat And PC Porn

VICTIMS TWICE OVER – leader:

They became players in a horrible form of celebrity. This does not excuse the Express or any other paper. The story brought forth the worst aspects of the British press, shallow, sensationalist and intrusive. The McCanns were the victims. No apology, and no payment, can compensate for that.

The Mail’s Amanda Platell on Mrs McCann: “I haven’t seen such creepy control in a woman since Lindy Chamberlain cried ‘My God, the dingo’s got my baby’.”

THE TIMES: “Richard Desmond: top banana

It’s easy to take the moral high ground when another newspaper messes up.

How easy?

The invisible man at the centre of this story yesterday was Richard Desmond, the rumbustious owner of the Express Group. He declined the opportunity to talk to the Today programme, leaving his titles with no defence, probably because there is none. It has been suggested that the use of the word Madeleine on the front page of the Daily Express put many thousands on its circulation, and that this may have been why his staff felt under pressure to regurgitate fanciful lines cooked up in Portugal. Nor would it have been wise to repeat something that he said to The Times in 2001: “I like to turn a great story into a great-selling front cover. But it’s only my opinion. I could be f***ing the whole thing up.”

Robert Murat On Trial

MATTHEW PARRIS: After the McCanns, pity Murat

If you are able to hire good lawyers, you may clear your name. But if you can’t…

“Kidnapping has weird echoes of Soham case,” says the Express’s front page. “MADDY SUSPECT BEHAVED JUST LIKE HUNTLEY.”

I do not know that Robert Murat is innocent. I do not know that Kate and Gerry McCann are innocent. I do not know that the Angel Gabriel, or my Aunty Dolly, are innocent. I know only that we have no evidence for the guilt of any of these people. Due process and common decency forbid us from suggesting otherwise.

Doesn’t know? Odd, because Parriss very soon says:

Unlike the McCanns, who will be remembered as innocent, Mr Murat’s possible fate could be that if and when those close to the case officially declare he was uninvolved, the media, bored by the story, will simply saunter away and stop writing about him, leaving on the battlefield, bayoneted by their reports, a man with his name forever associated in the public mind with something unspeakable – the world having forgotten that no evidence for this was ever produced.

The Mail’s Neil Sears also spots Murat. In “My encounters with a man ‘who just wanted to help’”, Sears tells Mail readers, “There was something more to the friendly expat who called himself ‘Rob’ than met the eye.”

You need deep pockets to risk hiring the top-flight libel lawyers. I dislike our laws of defamation: only theoretically open (like the Ritz, as someone once remarked) to all. But if any libel victim ever deserved a remedy in law it is Robert Murat. Should the system serve Gerry and Kate McCann but prove unable to help Mr Murat, then a serious injustice will have been done.

IRISH INDEPENDENT: “McCanns get apology but may still sue again”

Their solicitor, Adam Tudor, from media law specialists Carter-Ruck, said: “These are matters that are being kept under review, and it obviously wouldn’t be appropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

Selling papers. Making news. Filling space. A missing child.



Posted: 20th, March 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Madeleine McCann, Tabloids Comments (770) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink