Anorak | The Leveson Inquiry Should Ignore Gerry McCann’s Words On Super-Injunctions For Photographers

The Leveson Inquiry Should Ignore Gerry McCann’s Words On Super-Injunctions For Photographers

by | 26th, November 2011

WHEN the parents of Madeleine McCann appeard at the Leveson Inquiry, Gerry McCann  told i t:

You should not be able to publish photographs of private individuals going about their private business without their explicit consent, signed.

What say the snappers?

Christopher Pledger has worked for, among others, the  Daily Telegraph . He  says :

A ban of this type would be the death of the free press in the UK. Current guidelines require that individuals should not be photographed while they have a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’. In practical terms this means that anyone in a public place can be photographed without permission, as they cannot expect privacy in a public space. If laws were introduced requiring the written consent of an individual before they were photographed, it would mean press photographers would have to ignore events unfolding before them.

Indeed. When JFK was shot, who would the cameraman ask for permission to use the photos? All spontaneous events are unusable. The picture of a policeman pushing Ian Tomlinson to the ground would require the permission of all parties in the shot before they can be legally published. 

Some of the biggest news stories of the year could not have been reported. Pictures of Charlie Gilmour swinging from the Cenotaph would have been taken illegally, likewise pictures of Oliver Letwin disposing of government documents in a park bin. Press photographers would be as hamstrung as reporters are when they are prevented from covering stories of public interest that are subject to super-injunctions.

For sure. Sienna Miller opined:

“Take away their cameras, and you’ve got a pack of men chasing a woman.”

A pregnant Sheryl Gascoigne was confronted with photographers. She told the Inquiry:
“Perhaps they were waiting for me to give birth on the pavement.”
JK Rowling was with her daughter:

How I thought I was going to outrun a 20-something paparazzo … my daughter was saying: ‘Calm down, mum, calm down, it doesn’t matter’ – but it mattered enormously to me.”

Greenslade wants more :

If there are later complaints about how the pictures were obtained, editors shrug… nothing to do with us, old boy. Try the agency that sent them to us… Over several

You have already read 1 premium article for free today
Access immediately the premium content with Multipass

Or come back tomorrow

Posted: 26th, November 2011 | In: Key Posts, News Comments (11) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink

Contact Us Writers


  • June

    Has Mr McCann ever pondered if it wasn’t for the media we would never have heard of his missing daughter…..

  • coolandcalm

    But there is a middle line June.
    There’s public interest and there’s intrusion. I understand exactly what Kate McCann means when she says about the paps jumping out in front of the car to get a photo of her looking angry & Sienna Miller speaking about running down the road to her car at 2am with ten men chasing her. And JKR with the note in her five year old’s schoolbag.
    Just plain old intrusion that isn’t warranted.
    Anyone in the public eye needs the media and has to use the media; usually its a two way street but nowadays they just go too far. Being in the public eye doesn’t mean you have to share everything.
    I’ve seen someone papped by dozens of photographers and newsmen fighting for a quote and a photo. I was petrified and it wasn’t me they were after (obviously!!) but I was caught in the scrum.
    Opened my eyes to what it must be like.

  • The Real Stig

    I am with Gerry in a way. I think photographers should be able to take photos without consent, but they should not be able to publish them unless there is clearly something about the content of the photo that is newsworthy in the sense of it being in the public’s interest to know.
    Photos of the sun shining through Pippa Middleton’s dress while she just out shopping could be taken, but never published. If a UFO happened to land in the street behind her, that would make it acceptable to ‘publish’ the photo as it’s content then makes it other than just voyeuristic.
    Paparazzism should be illegal – full stop. Lurking outside peoples homes, or following them about their daily business should be completely illegal.

  • June

    I think Pippa Middleton is entitled to a lot more privacy than the McC are, – after all she is famous only for being the sister of a Duchess, and she didn’t bring on the media to ‘celebrate ‘ herself.

    Major and minor celebs however do use the media, without it they would disappear, if they want to be portrayed as whiter than white then the responsibility for that is theirs, its naive to expect only a good press (this includes the McC’s as many parents of missing children don’t court the media)

    It seems its a double edged sword for both the Media and the Celebs, and to be quite honest I would be a lot happier if we saw a lot less of the latter and much more real news items, but no doubt there would be an uproar from said latter

  • percy stilton

    the McCanns have managed to profit much more from the media “intrusion” than others in their position might….yet they seem to complain plenty…which of course …just helps them in the spotlight….Call me cynical but the stage managed McCanns leave me cold….I wonder exactly who is left for them to complain about…but themselves…

  • percy stilton

    …. has all the money that the media have helped them raise to find Madeleine done them or their daughter any good?…I doubt all the money & media in the world will not bring her back…it has’nt yet….but it has given the McCanns and the media lots of stories to tell & sell…

  • Emma

    Thing is we have laws against harassment and stalking, which in my opinion, should apply to paps. The problem is, it takes time to go through the system – and it relies on the victim making a complaint (or even knowing they DO have legal protection).

    And just because the McCanns may not come over as the most likeable of people (I myself can’t warm to them), it doesn’t mean their comments on media are irrelevant. And I don’t go with the idea that just because you have made use of the media in certain circumstances, then you (and your family) are fair game.

    I think there is a debate to be had about the role a populist press has. However, it might be an idea if we actually enforced the laws we have rather than make up new ones.

  • The Real Stig

    Percy: Do please explain how you would have reacted in their situation.
    The stage managing was something cleverly foisted on them by a certain resort, which I shall not name. They ran with it for sure after being given the idea and resources, and I can empathise with their position and motives for doing so.
    After all these years, I still can’t get my head around the attitudes of people like yourself – the begrudgers, critics and cynics.
    The SAS motto is ‘who dares, wins’ realistically it really should be ‘who dares, puts themselves in a position to win, circumstances allowing.’
    As far as I am concerned, they gave it their best possible shot. They dared. The odds were well and truly against them, but they did whatever they could think to do. I am not aware of any parents in a situation like theirs, who have ever done so much, for so long.
    Walk a mile or two in their shoes.

  • June


    In defence of Percy, and I’m sure he doesn’t need it, perhaps many people(self included) would have found those first 100yds or so in th McC’s shoes rather uncomfortable (between 5A and tha Tapas bar)

  • The Real Stig

    Must be nice to be perfect, wish I was.

  • percy stilton

    Stig..the press certainly are’nt perfect….if Gerry McCann is to be believed…
    And as for me “walking a mile or two in their shoes”….I would’nt wish it on anyone….