Anorak News | Madeleine McCann: Gerry McCann On Suicide, Phone Hacking Trolls And Sean Duffy

Madeleine McCann: Gerry McCann On Suicide, Phone Hacking Trolls And Sean Duffy

by | 18th, September 2011

MADELEINE McCann: Anorak’s at-a-glance look at the missing child in the news:  Gerry and Kate McCann are core participants in the first stage of the inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal.


GERRY McCann has revealed how during his darkest days he began to understand why people took their own lives. The doting dad has been to hell and back since his daughter Madeleine vanished on holiday in Portugal… The couple travelled to Germany last week in a bid to spark new information from German tourists in Portugal at the time…

In one interview Gerry said he and Kate had been put under “incredible psychological pressure” and had been asked to admit hiding Madeleine’s body.

He said: ‘We were in front of the world, portrayed as being guilty. That was certainly the worst moment after we discovered that Madeleine had disappeared.

“This tactic is used, not only in Portugal, there are such cases in the UK. But everybody who uses this tactic and participates has to be clear they can destroy lives.
I can now understand why people admit to things they haven’t done. I can understand why people kill themselves after such an experience.”

The Star makes no mention of trial by media.

Catherine Bennett (Guardian):

An 18-week sentence for Sean Duffy, a young man who posted astonishingly malevolent messages on a Facebook memorial page, one set up to mourn Natasha MacBryde, a teenager who had committed suicide, has been attacked by some people as too lenient. Another bereaved parent, who feels he may also be Duffy’s victim, thought 18 months would be more like it. Duffy, aged 25, was the second such offender to be prosecuted under the Malicious Communications Act; last year, Colm Cross was jailed for posting obscenities on Facebook tribute sites, including that of Jade Goody.

That Duffy suffers from Asperger’s, according to his defence lawyers, was not allowed to mitigate his serial targeting of bereaved families, a hobby which seems to have emerged in the trollosphere in response to MySpace and Facebook tribute pages to dead teenagers, producing not only deliberately offensive satire of the often banal contributions on such pages, but episodes of actual harassment. The parents of Mitchell Henderson, a teenager from Rochester, Minnesota, who shot himself in 2006, were subjected to a year and a half of nuisance calls as well as defacements of his MySpace memorial page.

Henderson’s father described this experience for the New York Times. “They’d say, ‘Hi, I’m Mitchell’s ghost, the front door is locked. Can you come down and let me in?'”

Priding themselves at least as much on their expertise as on their cruelty, committed trolls seem no more likely to be deterred by Duffy’s sentence than they are by media condemnation quoting persecuted families, such as the parents of Madeleine McCann.

The Sun: “The Sun finds the troll behind sick Madeleine McCann Facebook page”

THE sick internet troll who taunted the parents of missing Madeleine McCann is today unmasked as cowardly teen Jack Tims. Tims, 17, set up a vile Facebook page from his bedroom — then laughed at the outrage it sparked online. But Facebook chiefs have now DELETED the page after The Sun highlighted the case as part of our Target a Troll campaign…

The part-time shop worker boasted that his taunts “made the front page of The Sun” after we told this week how his actions had caused misery. But when The Sun confronted him yesterday and asked him to talk about it, Tims lost his bottle. He said: “I don’t think that would be a good idea.”…

Tims, who lives with his parents near Canterbury, Kent, set up a Facebook page called “If I get 1 million likes I’ll let Maddie go”. The page heaped abuse on her parents Gerry and Kate, who are still searching for their daughter more than four years after she disappeared from their rented holiday flat in Portugal.

We learn:

The McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: “There is constant activity by these ghouls. They have accused Kate and Gerry of child neglect and worse, and covering up Madeleine’s death. All the photos of Madeleine they released have been doctored in the most horrible way. One post tried to orchestrate a campaign where dog excrement was sent through their letterbox.” Mr Mitchell added: “The trouble is that it is very hard to stop these people. They hide away behind their computer screens, blogging away.”

Leicester Mercury:

A story about Madeleine McCann was published on our website last Friday. It was only eight paragraphs long and merely reported that British detectives who are investigating the case had travelled to Portugal for meetings with the Portuguese authorities. In the print version in the Mercury, the story made a short piece on page eight. However, what was a relatively routine article received a disproportionately large number of comments from online readers.

In fact, the 26 messages placed on the story made it one of the most commented-on stories in the Mercury that day.

The reason for this disproportionate interest is because there are a number of people who are hostile to the McCanns and vent their opinions online, if given the opportunity to do so. For this reason, we usually bar the comment facility on any story connected with this family. On this occasion, this article slipped through the net and people were able to leave messages.

Not all of them were hostile. Some people had gone on to the site to remonstrate with those making critical remarks. One said: “The McCanns don’t need comments like this and the LM should remove the comment facility as they usually do on this story.”

As soon as we became aware of the situation, we did exactly that…

The first issue here is a legal one. Some of the discussion around the Madeleine McCann case tends to stray into the area of defamation. Indeed, the McCanns have successfully sued several national newspapers for libel… In any event, most of the remarks which were left were not libellous. Some of them were, in my opinion, very harsh and lacking in compassion, but that is, of course, not a legal issue at all. What this is more about then is an editorial judgement, rather than one driven by the obligations of the law…

It is obviously hurtful to see oneself attacked in print or online. There is, therefore, a greater weight upon us to consider things like fairness and courtesy. Some individuals are more likely to attract criticism than others. Politicians are the obvious example. They are people with a high public profile who are making decisions which affect our lives.

I do not agree they are “fair game” as some commentators tend to assert. They are, in my view, entitled to a private life free from unwarranted intrusion and they are entitled also to respect. However, politicians have to expect to be scrutinised and discussed and criticised, and that goes with the territory. When the individuals concerned, however, are ordinary members of the public, who have suffered a terrible personal tragedy in their lives, the need to show them fairness, courtesy and respect is obviously much greater still.

If some people feel they have a right to say whatever they like about the McCanns, they are perfectly entitled to find a forum for their views elsewhere.
However, we are not obliged to publish what they say and we will not be doing so.

The McCanns are high profile. It could be argued that McCanns lobbying for a pan-European Amber Alert system will affect our lives. They have chosen to talk about the state of the media time and again. And is not a great resource being used to find their missing child that might be spent elsewhere? The McCanns became a media story. The media feasted on them voraciously. The single-thread story of a missing child took on a life of its own. This story is of an innocent child who went missing.

Anorak has done its best to expose media lies and stymie trolls. We have a long list of blocked ip addresses from people who claim to know the truth of what happened to Madeleine McCann but can provide no evidence to support their claims. Stick to the facts. The Metropolitan Police and Lee Rainbow are investigating…

Posted: 18th, September 2011 | In: Madeleine McCann Comments (6) | TrackBack | Permalink