Anorak News | Madeleine McCann: Trolling The Leveson Inquiry

Madeleine McCann: Trolling The Leveson Inquiry

by | 3rd, October 2014

Gerry McCann, with his wife Kate, gives a statement to the press in the Algarve village of Praia Da Luz, where their daughter, three-year-old Madeleine McCann, went missing on Thursday evening. Picture date: Saturday, May 5, 2007. Madeleine was last seen by her father sleeping soundly at around 9pm on Thursday at the Ocean Club resort in the seaside village in the south-western Algarve. At 10pm, when her mother Kate went to check on her, she found the shutter slid up, the bedroom window open and her daughter gone. See PA story POLICE Portugal. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire Date: 05/05/2007

Gerry McCann, with his wife Kate, gives a statement to the press in the Algarve village of Praia Da Luz, where their daughter, three-year-old Madeleine McCann, went missing on Thursday evening. Saturday, May 5, 2007.


MADLEIENE McCann: A look at reporting on the missing child in the media.

One day after news that sources had compiled a dossier of people who have allegedly abused Kate and Gerry McCann online, the missing girl’s parents are in the news.

The Daily Star leads with the so-called “trolls”.


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The Times focuses on one:

A churchgoing mother of two children has been uncovered as one of the internet “trolls” who bombarded the family of Madeleine McCann with vile abuse.

Brenda Leyland, 63, who lives in a picturesque village in Leicestershire, 15 miles from where Kate and Gerry McCann live with their two children, posted dozens of offensive messages about them.
Mrs Leyland, who attended Goldsmiths college at London University, was part of a group of hate-fuelled critics of the McCanns who believe – despite no evidence – that the McCanns had some involvement in the disappearance of their daughter in Portugal in 2007.

Posting an offensive message gets you a lot of media attention – well it does if the media and police don’t like you.

The Guardian has other news:

Gerry McCann attacks ‘disgraceful’ Sunday Times after £55k libel payout – Payout follows allegations that couple deliberately hindered search for daughter Madeleine

The story:

Gerry McCann, the father of missing Madeleine, has accused the Sunday Times of behaving “disgracefully”, after winning a libel payout from the newspaper in a case he believes proves how little the industry has changed following the phone-hacking scandal.

McCann and his wife Kate were handed £55,000 in libel damages from the Murdoch-owned paper over a front page story which alleged that the couple had deliberately hindered the search for their daughter, who went missing in Portugal seven years ago.

The McCanns said in a statement: “The Sunday Times has behaved disgracefully. There is no sign of any post-Leveson improvement in the behaviour of newspapers like this.”

But they won a libel damges. The Times hardly escaped. What more do they want?

Writing in the Guardian, Gerry McCann repeats calls he made to the public inquiry into press intrusion, conducted by Lord Justice Leveson, for a “quick, effective way of correcting false reports in newspapers” and called on the next government to implement the proposals set out by Leveson but rejected by much of the industry.

Many of Leveson’s recommendations are an affront to free speech. They should be rejected by any state that vlaues liberty.

After an 11-month battle for redress, the McCanns said the Sunday Times had failed to give them a proper opportunity to comment on what they called “grotesque and utterly false” allegations, failed to publish the full response they made and offered a “half-baked, inadequate response”. Even when the paper agreed to retract the allegations and apologise two months after publication, this was “tucked away” on an inside page. After this, the couple hired libel lawyers Carter-Ruck to sue for damages, they said.

Gerry McCann said:

“Despite the history of admitted libels in respect of my family by so many newspapers, the Sunday Times still felt able to print an indefensible front page story last year and then force us to instruct lawyers – and even to start court proceedings – before it behaved reasonably. But the damage to reputation and to feelings has been done and the Sunday Times can sit back and enjoy its sales boost based on lies and abuse.

“This is exactly why parliament and Lord Justice Leveson called for truly effective independent self-regulation of newspapers – to protect ordinary members of the public from this sort of abuse. The fact is that most families could not take the financial and legal risk of going to the high court and facing down a big press bully as we have. That is why News UK and the big newspapers have opposed Leveson’s reforms and the arbitration scheme which is a necessary part of it.”

The money “is to be donated to two charities for missing people and sick children”.

The Sunday Times said: “We have agreed a settlement with Mr and Mrs McCann.”

Much of the industry, with the exception of the Guardian, the Independent and the Financial Times, has set up its own regulatory body, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), which started life three weeks ago.

In the statement, McCann calls Ipso the “latest industry poodle”. The McCanns have been involved in the Hacked Off campaign to tighten press regulation.

Hacked Off is an affront to free speech, a hard won thing.

Gerry McCann adds:

“The cost to the paper is peanuts – the fee for a single advertisement will probably cover it. And there will be no consequences for anyone working there. Nothing will be done to ensure that in future reporters and editors try harder to get things right. And so the same people will do something similar, soon, to some other unfortunate family, who will probably not have our hard-earned experience of dealing with these things and who will probably never succeed in getting a correction or an apology.

“So what has changed in the newspaper industry since the Leveson report two years ago? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

Mr McCann has been libelled. The law has been seen to have been done. The system worked.

The Sunday Times published the following apology on 28 December:

In articles dated October 27 (“Madeleine clues hidden for 5 years” and “Investigators had E-Fits five years ago”, News) we referred to efits which were included in a report prepared by private investigators for the McCanns and the Fund in 2008. We accept that the articles may have been understood to suggest that the McCanns had withheld information from the authorities. This was not the case. We now understand and accept that the efits had been provided to the Portuguese and Leicestershire police by October 2009. We also understand that a copy of the final report including the efits was passed to the Metropolitan police in August 2011, shortly after it commenced its review. We apologise for the distress caused.”

Madeleine McCann is missing. We do not know what happened to her. There are no suspects. And the media is still just watching the parents…

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Posted: 3rd, October 2014 | In: Madeleine McCann, Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink