Madeleine McCann: Matthew Baggott, Leveson and doing the police’s dirty work
AT the Leveson inquiry former chief constable of Leicestershire police, Matthew Baggott, now head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, says he’s happy that he did not “put the record straight” over the media’s false and libellous reports about Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.
As This Is Leicester notes:
The inquiry has previously heard from Jerry Lawton, a Daily Star reporter, that Portuguese police were leaking DNA results wrongly implicating her parents with a hire car.
Lord Justice Leveson yesterday said Mr Lawton criticised the force, which he said knew the leaks were wrong, for not telling reporters off the record “don’t go there” with the hire car details.
The judge said he was concerned the force did not have the chance to respond and asked Mr Baggott if he would like to.
Matthew Baggott says he hands were tied and was unable to tell the media about “inconclusive” DNA tests conducted in Birmingham. You will recalls that Portuguese police had made false noises than the McCanns had hidden Madeleine in the boot of their hire car. Baggott says he was bound by law and a need to remain on good terms with the Portuguese.
As she told Leveson:.
“Even with the benefit of hindsight, sir, I’m still convinced we did the right thing and I think integrity and confidence, particularly with the Portuguese, featured very highly in our decision-making at that time….So the relationship of trust and confidence would have been undermined if we had gone off the record in some way or tried to put the record straight, contrary to the way in which the Portuguese law was configured and their own leadership of that.”
Baggott said he wrote two letters to “all the prominent editors” calling for “restraint in reporting on the case”.
In the letters he wrote he had “been surprised at the reporting of some alleged facts” and was “deeply concerned at the implications”.
He added that the reaction was “not hugely positive” given that “speculation continued”.
Are the police really so innocent?