The purpose of this site is for information and a record of Gerry McCann's Blog Archives. As most people will appreciate GM deleted all past blogs from the official website. Hopefully this Archive will be helpful to anyone who is interested in Justice for Madeleine Beth McCann. Many Thanks, Pamalam

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Leveson: The Leveson Report - Further Debate*

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Lord McNally, Harriet Harman and Gerry McCann about to talk at Hacked Off conference, 11 Feb 2013
Lord McNally, Harriet Harman and Gerry McCann about to talk at Hacked Off conference, 11 Feb 2013

 

The debate about Leveson's key proposals and how they may, or may not be, enforced continues...

11 February 2013: Gerry McCann delivers the keynote speech at the Hacked Off conference on the Leveson Bill and warns the Prime Minister that a "permanent stain" would be left on the Government's record if it fails to reform the press.

17 February 2013: The McCanns are interviewed on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, by Radio Four presenter Eddie Mair, and decry the Royal Charter press regulation 'compromise'.

Gerry McCann calls for press control laws – and 75% of the public agree, 09 February 2013
 
Gerry McCann calls for press control laws – and 75% of the public agree The Guardian

Poll shows overwhelming support for missing Madeleine's father on how Leveson inquiry findings must be enforced

Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent
The Observer, Saturday 9 February 2013 22.00 GMT

'We relived our darkest days': Gerry and Kate McCann arriving at the Royal Courts of Justice to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry.

Gerry McCann is to reveal on Monday that he and his wife, Kate, fear they have "relived our darkest days" needlessly in the vain hope that new legislation would be introduced to control the press.

"Leveson without the law is meaningless," the father of missing Madeleine McCann will tell a Westminster audience at a conference for politicians and the victims of media intrusion.

His speech, which will call for speedy legislation to implement the recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson at the end of his nine-month inquiry, comes in the wake of a poll seen by the Observer showing that almost three-quarters of the public agree with him.

Conducted by YouGov for the Media Standards Trust, the poll also indicates an even bigger proportion – 83% – want more distance between politicians and the media, or at least greater transparency about the relationship, while another substantial majority would like immediate government action to control the press.

McCann will address hacking victims and members of parliament, expected to include culture secretary Maria Miller, at the Hacked Off Victims Conference.

"Kate and I had the misfortune to suffer from everything the press could throw at us," the doctor will tell his audience.

"The reason we subsequently agreed to the ordeal of giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry was that we don't want anyone else to have to go through what we went through.

"The Leveson package, including legal underpinning, is the minimum acceptable compromise for us and, judging by the polls, for the public at large. Leveson without the law is meaningless."

Supporters of the campaign group Hacked Off, including Charlotte Church, Hugh Grant and the falsely accused Bristol teacher Christopher Jefferies, believe the government has blocked parliamentary attempts to enact the recommendations of the inquiry report.

"When the prime minister promised to protect those who have been 'picked up and thrown to the wolves' by this process, we hoped for real change," McCann will say.

"The idea that Kate and myself, and the other victims, might have relived our darkest days in the full glare of the media for no good reason is just galling."

The YouGov poll found that, like McCann, 73% of the 2,030 adults surveyed last month would have "not much" or "no" confidence in a new system of voluntary press regulation with no legal backing. And 73% of respondents also said they believe that meetings between politicians and senior media figures should be made public, while only 10% said they should not.

The Media Standards Trust, a charity lobbying for reform and press accountability, believes the poll gives more weight to the argument that the government has now consulted widely enough. The poll the trust commissioned shows that 64% of those asked favour the introduction of a new regulatory system within 12 months or sooner.

"This poll shows that the public overwhelmingly support implementation of Leveson, and do not have confidence in a system set up by the press without proper independent oversight. There's a real fear that, if things do not change substantially, the same illegal and unethical practices will recur," said the director of the Media Standards Trust, Dr Martin Moore.

"The public also want politicians to become a lot more transparent, and not revert to the cosy relationships they enjoyed before the Leveson inquiry."

Supporters of press legislation took heart last Tuesday when peers unexpectedly passed an amendment to the Defamation bill to introduce one of Leveson's key recommendations – a simple arbitration service between newspapers and those who feel wronged.

Use of an arbitration service would be voluntary and form part of the newspaper industry's own self-regulatory system, but the amendment would allow courts to vary costs and damages depending on whether the service has been used.

MPs and ministers who do not wish to accept the Lords amendment will now have to overturn the planned legislation in the Commons.

Meanwhile, the chair of the Press Complaints Commission, Lord Hunt of Wirral, is meeting newspaper editors to decide how to respond to the recent changes to the bill.

Gerry McCann: 'we hope for real change' in media regulation, 10 February 2013
 
Gerry McCann: 'we hope for real change' in media regulation ITV News

10 February 2013

Campaigners for statutory underpinning will hold a conference in Westminster tomorrow when Gerry McCann will tell ministers that "Leveson without the law is meaningless".

Mr McCann, father of missing Madeleine McCann, will say:
"Kate and I had the misfortune to suffer from everything the press could throw at us.

The Leveson package, including the legal underpinning, is the minimum acceptable compromise for us, and judging by the polls, for the public at large too. Leveson without the law is meaningless.

When the Prime Minister promised to protect those who have been 'picked up and thrown to the wolves' by this process, we hoped for real change.

The idea that Kate and myself, and the other victims, might have relived our darkest days in the full glare of the media, for no good reason, is just galling."

- GERRY MCCANN
-----------------

Over half of voters think press regulation should be backed by law ITV News

The Leveson Inquiry

More than half of voters think a new system of press regulation should be backed by law, according to a poll Credit: Dan Kitwood/PA Wire/Press Association Images

10 February 2013

More than half of voters think a new system of press regulation should be backed by law, according to a poll published today.

53% of poll respondents felt that statute was necessary if the new regime was to be effective and independent, while 23% thought legal backing would put at risk the freedom of the press, the YouGov survey for the Media Standards Trust found.

Almost three quarters (74%) said that Lord Justice Leveson's proposals for reform should be implemented.

However, over half of respondents said they had followed the issue either "not very closely" or "not at all".

Gerry McCann: 'Leveson without the law is meaningless', 11 February 2013
Gerry McCann: 'Leveson without the law is meaningless' Press Gazette

Kate and Gerry McCann

PA Mediapoint
11 February 2013

Madeleine McCann's father will challenge ministers today to ensure a new system of press regulation is backed by law.

Gerry McCann, who was paid damages by several newspapers over reporting of the case of his missing daughter, will say he and his wife Kate "had the misfortune to suffer from everything the press could throw at us".

McCann, whose three-year-old daughter vanished from a Portuguese holiday apartment in May 2007, will add: "The reason we subsequently agreed to the ordeal of giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry was that we don't want anyone else to have to go through what we went through.

"The Leveson package, including the legal underpinning, is the minimum acceptable compromise for us, and judging by the polls, for the public at large too. Leveson without the law is meaningless.

"When the Prime Minister promised to protect those who have been 'picked up and thrown to the wolves' by this process, we hoped for real change.

"The idea that Kate and myself, and the other victims, might have relived our darkest days in the full glare of the media, for no good reason, is just galling."

McCann will speak out after a new poll indicated that most voters are in favour of statutory backing for a new press regulator, as recommended by Lord Justice Leveson in his report on the press.

Some 53 per cent  felt statute was necessary if the new regime was to be effective and independent, while 23 per cent thought legal backing would put at risk the freedom of the press, the YouGov survey for the Media Standards Trust found.

Asked whether Lord Justice Leveson's proposals for reform should be implemented, almost three-quarters (74 per cent) said they should while 9 per cent said they should not.

However, more than half of respondents said they had followed the issue either "not very closely" or "not at all".

The poll was released as the Government prepares to publish a draft Royal Charter this week that ministers want to use instead of legislation.

David Cameron has set his face against using statute to underpin regulation, arguing that it would "cross the Rubicon" after centuries of press freedom.

The YouGov poll showed that only 35 per cent of voters would have confidence in a new regulator that was backed by Royal Charter. A regulator set up by the Government - rather than the newspapers - and backed by law would have the confidence of 54 per cent.

McCann will be keynote speaker at a conference in Westminster today where victims of media intrusion will be joined by shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman and Liberal Democrat Justice Minister Lord McNally.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller has also been invited to the event, organised by the campaign group Hacked Off.

'Leveson without the law is meaningless' - Gerry McCann, 11 February 2013
'Leveson without the law is meaningless' - Gerry McCann The Guardian

Greenslade blog

Roy Greenslade
Monday 11 February 2013 09.43 GMT

Gerry McCann will step up the pressure on MPs today to create a new press regulator with statutory underpinning.

The father of the missing girl, Madeleine McCann, is set to tell a Westminster conference organised by the campaigning group Hacked Off that "Leveson without the law is meaningless."

According to an advance release of his speech, McCann will say: "The Leveson package, including the legal underpinning, is the minimum acceptable compromise for us, and judging by the polls, for the public at large too."

The poll he refers to was conducted by YouGov for the Media Standards Trust (which is linked to Hacked Off). It found that 53% of respondents believe statute is necessary to make the regulator effective and independent, and just 23% think statutory underpinning will put at risk the freedom of the press.

Asked whether Leveson's recommendations should be implemented in full, 74% said they should compared to 9% who said they should not.

The poll also indicates an even bigger proportion – 83% – want more distance between politicians and the media, or at least greater transparency about the relationship. (I have no details as yet of the sample and how it was conducted).

But it should be noted that more than half of all respondents said they had followed the issue either "not very closely" or "not at all".

In his keynote speech, McCann is expected to say:
"Kate and I had the misfortune to suffer from everything the press could throw at us. The reason we subsequently agreed to the ordeal of giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry was that we don't want anyone else to have to go through what we went through.

The idea that Kate and myself, and the other victims, might have relived our darkest days in the full glare of the media, for no good reason, is just galling.

When the prime minister promised to protect those who have been 'picked up and thrown to the wolves' by this process, we hoped for real change."
Gerry and Kate McCann were paid damages by several newspapers guilty of gross misreporting following the disappearance in Portugal of their three year-old daughter in May 2007.

Other victims of media intrusion will be joined at Westminster the by shadow culture secretary, Harriet Harman, and the Lib-Dem justice minister Lord McNally.

David Cameron has made clear his opposition to statutory underpinning of a new regulator, arguing that it would "cross the Rubicon" after centuries of press freedom.

Sources:
The Observer/msn news/Press Gazette

Leveson without the law is no change – Dr Gerry McCann, 11 February 2013
Leveson without the law is no change – Dr Gerry McCann Hacked Off

Posted February 11th, 2013 by Hacked Off

Today, at the Hacked Off conference on the Leveson Bill, Dr Gerry McCann gave the keynote speech on where we are now, two and a half months after Lord Justice Leveson published his recommendations on press regulation. This is his speech in full.

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I don't often find myself making speeches at events like this. But I'm happy to do so for Hacked Off, because I passionately believe in the cause. And now is a critical time for the campaign.

We are at a crossroads. In one direction, the prospect of lasting change to the failed system of press regulation, based on the painstaking work of Lord Justice Leveson. In the other, attempts to brush the problem under the carpet – to create a fix – so that nothing really changes.

Our elected politicians face a critical choice. They can either do what Leveson recommends – wholeheartedly and properly – or they can turn their backs on the issue, and turn their backs on us, the victims of press abuse.

Kate and I had the misfortune to suffer the worst that the press could throw at us.

• We were labelled as murderers without a shred of evidence.

• Stories were published saying our daughter was dead – over and over again, with no evidence.

• We were subjected to round-the-clock intrusion at a time of terrible stress, with photographers camped outside our door.

• We were intimidated. Our young children, especially, were scared out of their wits.

• My wife's private diary, revealing her innermost thoughts in her darkest days, was published without her consent.

• Rumours were dressed up as the truth

• and downright lies became front-page news. One newspaper claimed that we sold Madeleine into slavery in order to pay off our mortgage.

The slurs went on for months - despite our best efforts: Meetings with editors, assurances from our lawyers, a letter from the chief constable of Leicestershire police calling for restraint- all ignored. And they continued for the simple reason that there was no-one and nothing with the power to stop them.

People say: 'Your experience was so unusual, we can't draw any lessons from it.' Well I disagree. Our experience was extreme, but it was a consequence of the same sick culture that led to the abuse of many other people, some of whom are here in this room today.

An insatiable hunt for headlines combined with a total lack of respect for other people. The mentality that can turn a family's distress into cold, hard cash. Profit from misery.

In our case it led to the sacrifice, not only of the truth, but of our dignity, privacy, well-being and most importantly the search for our missing daughter, Madeleine.

I believe we have a responsibility, as decent citizens in a democratic and caring society, to learn lessons from it.

The parliamentary select committee on the media said in 2010:

"The newspaper industry's assertion that the McCann case is a one-off event shows that it is in denial about the scale and gravity of what went wrong and about the need to learn from those mistakes. The industry's words and actions suggest a desire to bury the affair without confronting its serious implications, the kind of avoidance which newspapers would criticise mercilessly and rightly if it occurred in any other part of society."

Three years later, I see little remorse, no contrition. Sections of the press are still in denial. The sick culture has not changed, and they can't be trusted to change it of their own accord.

If you look at the reporting of the Leveson Inquiry and the behaviour of some newspapers since then, it's clear that they aren't sorry and they still think they should not have to answer to anyone when they publish harmful lies and distortions.

The reason Kate and I put ourselves through the ordeal of giving evidence to Leveson was simple: Nobody should have to endure what we went through. A system has to be put in place to protect ordinary people from the devastating damage that the media can cause.

When David Cameron set up the Leveson Inquiry he said in parliament: "We must keep the public – and the victims of what has now emerged – front and centre at all times." And he also said: "We will have to be guided by what the inquiry finds."

When he gave his own evidence to the Leveson inquiry he promised to protect the people who have been thrown to the wolves as we were. We saw this as grounds for hope that we'd see real change.

What Lord Leveson proposed last November is not tough on the press and it's not a threat to free speech. For me personally, he did not go far enough. It seems to me that the judge did everything he could to make his proposals workable for the newspapers while giving the public some protection.

In the end they get to regulate themselves, which is something very few industries are allowed to do, and which many people felt they had lost the right to do so.

For us and for other victims of press abuses, Leveson's proposal is the minimum acceptable compromise – and, judging by the opinion polls, the public feels the same way.

But what has happened? Two and a half months on we can see precious little progress towards implementation of Leveson, and we are hearing backsliding words from politicians. This is an opportunity for our elected MP's, whose reputation with the British public is at an all time low, to redeem themselves. The Leveson report is not something to be negotiated with their friends in the press. Any watering down of the Leveson plan now, whether in a Bill or a Royal Charter or whatever, would be like surrendering to the press and saying the whole Leveson process was a waste of time.

And the idea that Kate and I, and all those other victims, might have relived our darkest days in the full glare of the media, for no good reason, is offensive. If our testimony was in vain, it will be a permanent stain on the reputation of this Government, and I believe that many other families will pay a heavy price in press mistreatment.

Sometimes it seems as if our politicians just don't know what the right thing to do is. Just like in the past, they seem to be so compromised by their own relationships with the press that they are unable to see what needs to be done for the sake of the public. And that is exactly what the newspapers want. They want politicians to squabble and manoeuvre, so that they get to carry on business as usual. They need a compliant Government to tiptoe around them and avoid hurting their feelings.

It's obvious that no one wants the Government to shackle the press. What we all want is a free press –indeed Leveson would enshrine it- but we need a free press which is both responsible and accountable- two values which are in short supply. So that if the press trample on people, they have some remedy.

We need a proper watchdog whose independence and effectiveness is guaranteed. That is what Leveson recommends. He says the press can regulate themselves, on condition that their regulator meets some basic standards. He says what those standards are, and he says there must be an independent body that checks those standards are met. He says that it is essential - not desirable, ESSENTIAL - that the body carrying out the checks is set up in statute, though it must be completely free of political influence after that.

Considering what the press has been doing to people, they should see that as a good deal. All the polls show that is what the public thinks. And it looks as though most parliamentarians think that too.

Leveson without the law is no change. It's the PCC all over again. It's the world we know, of newspapers abusing innocent families with impunity. What happened to us would happen to other British families in the future.

It is up to our Prime Minister and our other politicians to prevent that. He promised he would. To keep his promise, all he has to do is follow what Leveson said, and put the Leveson recommendations into law through parliament, without meddling and back-door deals. And without checking whether the press is happy about it.

There can't be any half measures or compromises. Leveson made many concessions to the press so his recommendations are already a compromise. In fact they are the minimum acceptable compromise for the people who, in the Prime Minister's words, were "picked up and thrown to the wolves." That is us. That is Kate and I, and some of the people in this room, and many other people around the country.

I said at the beginning that we are at a crossroads. Please, this time, let's choose the right road.

Gerry McCann warns David Cameron over 'permanent stain' to Government record if Leveson inquiry recommendations do not become law, 11 February 2013
Gerry McCann warns David Cameron over 'permanent stain' to Government record if Leveson inquiry recommendations do not become law The Independent

Campaign group Hacked Off 'given little encouragement' that proposals would be implemented in full

Ian Burrell, Assistant Editor and Media Editor of The Independent
Monday 11 February 2013

Gerry McCann

The father of Madeleine McCann this afternoon warned the Prime Minister that a "permanent stain" would be left on the Government's record if it failed to reform the press after making the parents of the missing child relive their nightmare in public at the Leveson inquiry.

Gerry McCann spoke of his fears that David Cameron, who will tomorrow unveil plans for a Royal Charter on the regulation of the press, was preparing to water down the proposals of an inquiry which he set up himself. "If our testimony was in vain it would be a permanent stain on the reputation of this government," he said.

Addressing a briefing called by the press reform group Hacked Off, Mr McCann described how he and his wife Kate had been harassed by newspapers which he said made "profit from misery".

He said: "To keep his promises all he has to do is follow what Leveson said and put the Leveson recommendations into law through parliament without meddling in back door dealing and without checking that the press is happy with it."

Brian Cathcart, director of Hacked Off, told the meeting that he had just come from a meeting with the Prime Minister at Downing Street at which had been given little encouragement that Lord Justice Leveson's proposals would be implemented in full. "We had no reassurance from the Prime Minister," he said. "There seemed to be, in his language, compromises with the press."

Mr Cathcart said he had been "non-plussed" to arrive at Downing Street and see Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail, emerging from his own meeting with Mr Cameron.

After publication of the Leveson report in November, Mr Cameron said that introducing regulation with underpinning in law would amount to the crossing of a "Rubicon" in Britain's long history of a free press. A Royal Charter is seen by the Conservatives as a viable way of introducing the judge's proposals without use of statute.

The Hacked Off meeting was attended by shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman, who said that the Conservatives would be made to introduce the Leveson recommendations because there was overwhelming support for the full report in Parliament.

The government minister Lord McNally, a Liberal Democrat, warned the press over its negative coverage of the process for introducing Leveson’s ideas, saying "they may end up with something far, far worse than what is now contemplated".

Gerry McCann: prime minister must address sick culture in UK press, 11 February 2013
 
Gerry McCann: prime minister must address sick culture in UK press The Guardian

Hacked Off and father of missing girl Madeleine voice concerns after meeting with David Cameron over press regulation

Lisa O'Carroll
Monday 11 February 2013 16.52 GMT

Gerry McCann, has said the "sick culture" that led to his family being accused of murdering their own daughter still exists in the UK press.

Gerry McCann, father of missing girl Madeleine, has said the "sick culture" that led to his family being accused of murdering their own daughter to pay off their mortgage still exists in the UK press.

McCann on Monday afternoon laid down the gauntlet to prime minister David Cameron, calling on him to deliver the promise he made during and after the Leveson inquiry to "protect the people who have been thrown to the wolves as we were".

McCann was taking part in a press conference organised by Hacked Off, the group campaigning for stricter press regulation, on the eve of the first publication of No 10's plans for a new regulator backed by royal charter.

Representatives of Hacked Off called the briefing following a meeting with Cameron on Monday morning and said they were "not encouraged" by what they heard, fearing the prime minister is about to water down proposals to tighten up regulation of the press.

They fear that Cameron is surrendering to press interests, noting that the editor of the Daily Mail and the editor of the Financial Times were leaving Downing Street as they arrived.

McCann said he was not reassured by what he believed to be "backsliding words from politicians" and warned that any dilution of promises to protect innocent people from abuses by the media would be like "surrendering to the press and saying the whole Leveson process was a waste of time".

He added that Cameron owed it to "victims" of press intrusion like him to put a system in place "to protect ordinary people from the devastating damage that the media can cause".

No family should have to endure what his did, McCann said, recalling how he and his wife had been "labelled as murderers without a shred of evidence", that newspapers had reported their daughter was dead "over and over again, with no evidence", and one newspaper even claimed "that we sold Madeleine into slavery in order to pay off our mortgage".

He said he believed "the sick culture" on some newspapers that led to this "has not changed", adding: "Three years later, I see little remorse, no contrition. Sections of the press are still in denial."

McCann said the minimum Cameron must do to ensure this never happens again is implement the Leveson proposals for press regulation reform.

In their meeting with Cameron, Hacked Off representatives said they received no assurances that their proposals for a new watchdog would offer the robust and independent regulation that Leveson recommended.

The prime minister is set to publish the Conservative party's full proposals, including plans for a royal charter to establish a new press regulator, on Tuesday afternoon.

Brian Cathcart, director of Hacked Off, said he was "surprised" to hear from Cameron that the press may have a role in the appointments process in relation to the new watchdog.

"The prime minister gave us no reassurances about the idea that this body would be appointed in an independent and transparent way," Cathcart added.

He said Hacked Off was given "no encouragement" about the statutory framework that would ensure a press regulatory, established by royal charter, would be free of interference from government ministers on the privy council.

"He didn't dispute press reports this morning that there was no statutory protection for the royal charter preventing it being amended," said Evan Harris, associate director of Hacked Off.

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, who attended the Hacked Off press conference, said she believed that if Cameron did not deliver on the Leveson proposals, parliament would. She noted that he had "no mandate" to implement a watered-down press watchdog.

Lord McNally, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, said a tripartite solution was the only one. "If we are doing to get the this fish in the bowl, you have to have three-party agreement," he said.

Leveson inquiry: it's deadline day, as Gerry McCann warns of 'permanent stain' to Government record if recommendations do not become law, 11 February 2013
 
Leveson inquiry: it's deadline day, as Gerry McCann warns of 'permanent stain' to Government record if recommendations do not become law The Independent

Campaign group Hacked Off 'given little encouragement' that proposals would be implemented in full

Ian Burrell, Assistant Editor and Media Editor of The Independent
Monday 11 February 2013

Option 2 - The royal Charter: David Cameron and Oliver Letwin support it
Option 2 - The royal Charter: David Cameron and Oliver Letwin support it

The father of Madeleine McCann this afternoon warned the Prime Minister that a "permanent stain" would be left on the Government's record if it failed to reform the press after making the parents of the missing child relive their nightmare in public at the Leveson inquiry.

Gerry McCann spoke of his fears that David Cameron, who will tomorrow unveil plans for a Royal Charter on the regulation of the press, was preparing to water down the proposals of an inquiry which he set up himself. "If our testimony was in vain it would be a permanent stain on the reputation of this government," he said.

Addressing a briefing called by the press reform group Hacked Off, Mr McCann described how he and his wife Kate had been harassed by newspapers which he said made "profit from misery".

He said: "To keep his promises all he has to do is follow what Leveson said and put the Leveson recommendations into law through parliament without meddling in back door dealing and without checking that the press is happy with it."

Brian Cathcart, director of Hacked Off, told the meeting that he had just come from a meeting with the Prime Minister at Downing Street at which had been given little encouragement that Lord Justice Leveson's proposals would be implemented in full. "We had no reassurance from the Prime Minister," he said. "There seemed to be, in his language, compromises with the press."

Mr Cathcart said he had been "non-plussed" to arrive at Downing Street and see Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail, emerging from his own meeting with Mr Cameron.

After publication of the Leveson report in November, Mr Cameron said that introducing regulation with underpinning in law would amount to the crossing of a "Rubicon" in Britain's long history of a free press. A Royal Charter is seen by the Conservatives as a viable way of introducing the judge's proposals without use of statute.

The Hacked Off meeting was attended by shadow Culture Secretary Harriet Harman, who said that the Conservatives would be made to introduce the Leveson recommendations because there was overwhelming support for the full report in Parliament.

The government minister Lord McNally, a Liberal Democrat, warned the press over its negative coverage of the process for introducing Leveson's ideas, saying "they may end up with something far, far worse than what is now contemplated".

Option 1: Leveson in full

What does it involve?

To the victims of press intrusion, such as Gerry McCann, the judge's report and its call for an independent regulatory body set up in statute was the bare minimum required to reform a press that was out of control. Lord Justice Leveson said it should have the power to investigate serious breaches and sanction newspapers, with an arbitration system to allow people to avoid the courts.

Labour agreed and Ed Miliband has demanded that Leveson be implemented in full, even drawing up a draft bill and giving the Prime Minister a Christmas deadline to implement the proposals. But he has so far failed to act on the threats despite the support of a clear majority in the House of Commons.

Despite the passing of the deadline, Labour's draft bill, designed to show how easily statutory underpinning could be introduced, has not been put before the House.

Last week the Labour peer Lord Puttnam reflected a growing sense of impatience on the backbenches when he – along with allies from other parties – made amendments to the Defamation Bill, incorporating some of Leveson's more radical proposals, and won an emphatic majority.

Who supports it?

Hugh Grant, Harriet Harman and Lord Puttnam – as well as plenty of phone-hacking victims.

Chances of success?

Odds are lengthening – but if the three parties fail to reach a compromise deal, there is support in Westminster for this option to solve the impasse.

Option 2: the royal charter

What does it involve?

Within minutes of Lord Justice Leveson's report being published in November, David Cameron made clear that he, like the newspaper industry, believed that any statutory involvement in the press was a step too far. It would "mean for the first time we have crossed the Rubicon of writing elements of press regulation into law of the land".

Downing Street immediately set civil servants and Government lawyers the task of finding a way to implement Leveson without using legislation. The Royal Charter was a device seized upon by Policy Minister Oliver Letwin. right, and triumphantly leaked a week after publication of the Leveson Report. It was a "sensible halfway solution," a Tory source assured the Daily Telegraph at the time.

Yet some press organisations immediately saw a Royal Charter as even less preferable to statutory underpinning because it would mean that power over the recognition body rested with the Privy Council – effectively the Cabinet.

For the past two months, the Tories have been trying, during cross party talks, to win a consensus for the Royal Charter but have struggled to publish a draft of what they have in mind. The public will finally get to see a document today.

Who supports it?

Oliver Letwin and David Cameron, crucially.

Chances of success?

Currently it is in pole position, but it's success would be dependent on private horse-trading with the Liberal Democrats and especially Labour.

Option 3: do nothing

What does it involve?

Since the publication of Leveson  at the end of November, representatives of the newspaper industry have been meeting in private to incorporate the judge's proposals into a new self-regulatory system that might be acceptable to Parliament and an angry public.

They have been at pains to say publicly that they largely favour the judge's recommended reforms. But as they have lobbied behind the scenes, some papers have argued that all the essential elements of Leveson can be introduced into a new self-regulatory system with no need for political involvement at all.

They regard any element of statute as anathema and see the Royal Charter plan as potentially giving politicians even more power.

Who supports it?

Some of the biggest publishers in Fleet Street.

Chances of Success?

Less than slim – even David Cameron recognises that the new watchdog will need some form of oversight.

David Cameron rejects call for press regulator to have statutory backing, 12 February 2013
 
David Cameron rejects call for press regulator to have statutory backing The Guardian

Political wrangling looms as Tories suggest post-Leveson watchdog should be established by royal charter, not legislation

Lisa O'Carroll
Tuesday 12 February 2013 16.48 GMT

Maria Miller: 'We do not want to have a press law.' Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

David Cameron has rejected calls to reconsider introducing statutory underpinning for a new press regulator after two months of behind-the-scene deliberations with legal and policy advisers.

A new press watchdog proposed on Tuesday by the Conservative party in the wake of the Leveson report would be established by a royal charter but it will not be backed by new legislation.

The long-awaited detailed proposals for press regulation come two months after the prime minister said that a Leveson law would "cross a Rubicon" and end centuries of press freedom.

Maria Miller, the culture secretary, told Sky News: "We do not want to have a press law." She said she hoped the "certainty" the Labour party was looking from for the press regulator can be achieved through the royal charter body.

The Labour party, which called for Leveson to be implemented in full when the report was published in November appears to have softened its position. Deputy leader Harriet Harman said she was concerned that ministers, through the Privy Council, could amend the royal charter at any time, but if the Tories changed this, "there might be a prospect of agreement". She told BBC News that if the Leveson report could be "achieved other than by statute, then we are certainly open to that" and this will be discussed at cross-party talks on Thursday.

Under the proposals the new watchdog would be audited by a recognition panel every three years to ensure newspapers do not slide back into a culture that could spawn another scandal such as phone hacking.

This "verifying" body would be established by a royal charter, which could be amended at any point by the privy council which is made up of cabinet ministers.

The much mooted clause which would protect the charter from politically-motivated amendments through the Privy Council did not make it through to the final draft.

Instead, the proposals including a complicated set of clauses which guarantee that the recognition body could not amend the royal charter without written approval from the three main parties in the Commons and the support of two thirds of the members of both the lower house and the Lords.

The Tory proposals offer the first details on how the press regulator's recognition panel would operate and the regulatory authority it verifies.

The board of the recognition panel will have up to eight members, none of whom can be news publishers or civil servants. A separate appointments committee, chaired by Lord Brown, justice of the supreme court, will determine the makeup of the panel and of consist four members – including one representing publishers, one representing the public and one public appointments assessor. Serving editors or politicians will not be allowed to sit on this committee.

The Tory proposals also include some fresh thinking on the regulatory body to replace the Press Complaints Commission. It will be able to investigate third-party complaints and it will also have the power to regulate "a website containing news-related material", such as the Huffington Post or the Guido Fawkes blog.

It also gives outsiders the first opportunity to be involved in drawing up the code of practice for journalists covering everything from accuracy to privacy. This has up to now been the exclusive preserve of editors.

The new watchdog will also be required to provide an arbitration process in relation to civil claims for alleged libel and privacy breaches.

Miller said the proposals would allow the Leveson principles to be implemented swiftly and in a practical fashion. She said the royal charter "would see the toughest press regulation this country has ever seen, without compromising press freedom".

However, Hacked Off, which has been campaigning for press reforms, accused Cameron of selling out on his promise to protect victims of press harassment by watering down Leveson's recommendations.

The Lib Dems gave a cautious welcome to the plans. "We have always said our preferred option is to implement what Leveson suggested – a system of independent self-regulation backed by statute. But we are also clear that, as both Leveson and the victims have called for, the best outcome would be to move forward with cross-party agreement," said a spokesman.

Hacked Off said the Tories undermined several key Leveson recommendations including the one calling for appointments to be made "without any influence from industry or government". The royal charter gives the industry a veto over appointments, changing this to without "direction from industry".

The campaign group said that the royal charter also "obliterates" the independence of the regulatory board by watering down the rules over its membership.

Hacked Off also said the charter omits any mention of corrections and apologies, something that concerned Leveson, who found that newspapers had in the past tried to "resist or dismiss complainants almost as a matter of course".

Publishers who want to avoid large fines will be able to do so by creating a corporate vehicle "for their convenience", Hacked Off said.

It is understood that Oliver Letwin, Cameron's chief policy adviser, told Hacked Off at a briefing today that the Tory party weakened a number of clauses in its draft proposal at the request of the newspaper industry.

Gerry McCann, father of missing girl Madeleine said this was "shocking". He added: "The Conservative party can't rewrite Leveson now. They must think again."

'Leveson Without The Law Is No Change', 13 February 2013
 
'Leveson Without The Law Is No Change' Sky News

Madeleine McCann's father says nothing less than making Lord Leveson's full recommendations law will satisfy press abuse victims.

Gerry McCann: Prime Minister needs to put Lord Leveson's findings into law

 

12:29pm UK, Wednesday 13 February 2013

By Dr Gerry McCann

It's two and a half months on from Lord Justice Leveson publishing his report and we can see precious little progress in implementing it.


Our elected politicians face a critical choice.

They can either do what Leveson recommends - wholeheartedly and properly - or they can turn their backs on the issue, and turn their backs on us, the victims of press abuse.

What Lord Leveson proposed is not tough on the press and it's not a threat to free speech.

For me personally, he did not go far enough. The press will still regulate themselves, something very few industries are allowed to do, and which many people felt they had lost the right to do.

But Leveson said that it was essential that the body carrying out the checks is set up in statute to ensure that from then on it, and the press, will be completely free of political influence.

Anything less than Leveson's full recommendations will never satisfy the victims of press abuse.

Kate and Gerry McCann suffered "the worst the press could throw at us"
Kate and Gerry McCann suffered "the worst the press could throw at us"

This Royal Charter plan falls far short of Leveson and it is shocking that ministers are admitting that they made a host of concessions to newspaper editors and proprietors. The Conservative Party can't rewrite Leveson now. They must think again.

And, judging by the opinion polls, the public feels the same way.

Kate and I had the misfortune to suffer the worst that the press could throw at us. What happened to us could happen to any other family. That is why Kate and I put ourselves through the ordeal of giving evidence to Leveson and why I am speaking out again today.

Nobody should have to endure what we went through.

It is up to our Prime Minister and our other politicians to prevent that. The Prime Minister said "we will have to be guided by what the inquiry finds".

Now he needs to put those findings, Leveson's recommendations, into law through parliament, without meddling and back-door deals. And without checking whether the press is happy about it.

Leveson without the law is no change. It's the Press Complaints Commission all over again. It's the world we know, of newspapers abusing innocent families with impunity.

Gerry McCann: Make Leveson's Proposals Law, 13 February 2013
 
Gerry McCann: Make Leveson's Proposals Law Sky News

Lord Leveson's proposals should be made law "without checking whether the press is happy", Mr McCann tells Sky.

Gerry and Kate McCann arrive to give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry

2:41pm UK, Wednesday 13 February 2013

The father of missing Madeleine McCann has told Sky News that the Government should put Lord Leveson's recommendations into law "without meddling and back-door deals".

Writing for Sky News Online, Dr Gerry McCann said: "Anything less than Leveson's full recommendations will never satisfy the victims of press abuse."

Dr McCann and his wife Kate gave evidence to Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press standards and ethics about their treatment by the media following the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine in May 2007.

She disappeared from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, shortly before her fourth birthday and the family has been the subject of high-profile press coverage ever since.

The McCanns were among dozens of witnesses who gave evidence to Lord Leveson in the wake of the 2011 phone-hacking scandal which ultimately led to the closure of the News Of The World Sunday tabloid.

The Leveson Report proposed that a new press regulator needed statutory underpinning if it were to be truly independent.

But Prime Minister David Cameron has argued against the need for new legislation to bring the press to heel.

The Conservatives have unveiled plans for a Royal Charter which Culture Secretary Maria Miller said would allow the principles in Lord Leveson's report to be "implemented swiftly and in a practical fashion".

She said: "I have grave concerns about a press bill and am not convinced that it is necessary on the grounds of principle, practicality or necessity."

But Dr McCann, who is active in the Hacked Off campaign, was critical of the charter proposal saying: "The Conservative party can't rewrite Leveson now."

Hacked Off earlier dismissed the Charter plan as "a surrender to press pressure" and reiterated its call for Lord Leveson's recommendations to be implemented in full.

David Cameron should implement Leveson in full, says Labour, 13 February 2013
 
David Cameron should implement Leveson in full, says Labour The Guardian

Tory plans for new regulator backed by royal charter would threaten press freedom, opposition claims

Lisa O'Carroll
Wednesday 13 February 2013 14.39 GMT

Harriet Harman: criticised Tory plans for a new press regulator backed by a royal charter. Photograph: PA

The Labour party has called on the government to implement the full Leveson report amid "a growing impatience" for a new press regulator in the wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

Harriet Harman, the Labour deputy leader and shadow culture secretary, said in a Commons debate on Wednesday that Lord Justice Leveson's November report on the future of press regulation, including a proposal for statutory underpinning for a new industry watchdog, was vital to ensure "what the press did to the Dowlers, the McCanns and Abigail Witchell's families can never happen again".

"It must be the full Leveson report, not Leveson lite," she added.

She criticised the Conservative party's plans to establish a new regulator backed by a royal charter, saying there was nothing in the proposals published on Wednesday which prevented a future government interfering in regulation of the press, something that would threaten its independence after hundreds of years of freedom.

"Through the privy council, ministers would be able to tamper with the royal charter at any time," said Harman.

The Labour party also said it is unhappy with the press having a saying in the appointments process for the new watchdog.

In response, the culture secretary, Maria Miller, declared that Harman "can take it from the Conservative party that we would never want to tamper with a royal charter".

The culture secretary said the new system, involving fines of up to £1m and exemplary damages for breaches of privacy by the press would make the proposed new regulatory regime among the "toughest in the world".

Miller said she was pleased to see that the Tory plans for a royal charter were not "wholeheartedly rejected" by Labour and hoped to see progress towards an agreement through cross-party talks due to take place on Thursday.

Jack Straw, the former Labour home secretary, called on Miller to implement Leveson's recommendations on changes to the Data Protection Act and to bring in a new legislation which would make two-year jail sentences mandatory for breaches of these privacy laws.

Straw said fears that the new data law was aimed at journalists were misplaced as the statute proposed would be accompanied by a public interest defence and the real targets were companies unscrupulously trading in private data.

Miller said the government would be looked at the DPA in the context of upcoming European legislation.

McCanns to appear on BBC One's Andrew Marr show, 17 February 2013
McCanns to appear on BBC One's Andrew Marr show Sunday Express

KATE and Gerry McCann will make a high-profile broadcast on BBC One's Andrew Marr show today as they pray for Scotland Yard detectives to make a breakthrough in the case of their missing daughter Madeleine.

By: James Murray
Published: Sun, February 17, 2013

Gerry and Kate McCann are due to appear on Andrew Marr's show

Heart specialist Mr McCann, 44, and his wife, also 44, will have a five-minute interview with Radio Four presenter Eddie Mair about their views on how the press should be regulated.

They have been calling for the full implementation of the Leveson report on press standards, including state underpinning, rather than the suggested royal charter.

Their decision to step again into the media spotlight comes at a crucial time in Scotland Yard's investigative review of their daughter's disappearance in May 2007 on the Algarve when she was three.

Detectives have spent 20 months poring over every detail of the case but have not made the vital breakthrough in determining what happened to the McCanns' eldest child. At Christmas the couple said they had been "impressed and encouraged" by the Yard's work so far and hoped the Portuguese authorities would re-open the case.

Last March the McCanns' independent private investigation was put on hold for the duration of the Yard's review, which has so far cost more than £1million.

Scotland Yard says there is no "time frame" for its review but officers are widely expected to make a statement on how far they have got around May 3, the anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance.

Kate is hoping for a "special 2013" and the couple want the Yard to continue investigating because they believe this offers the best chance of finding their daughter.

If the Yard announces in May that it has taken its review as far as it can go then the McCanns will have to consider how they will relaunch their costly private ­investigation.

Madeleine McCann went missing in May 2007

The Andrew Marr Show, 17 February 2013
The Andrew Marr Show BBC One

 
The Andrew Marr Show, 17 February 2013

Sun 17 Feb 2013 09:00

DURATION: 1 HOUR
Guest presenter Eddie Mair is joined by Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith MP, Gerry and Kate McCann, parents of Madeline McCann, and singer Sinead O'Connor.

QC and Labour peer Baroness Helena Kennedy and acting editor of The Times John Witherow review the Sunday newspapers.

Credits

Broadcast Assistant
Interviewed Guest
Interviewed Guest
Interviewed Guest
Interviewed Guest
Presenter
Participant
Participant
Producer
Producer
Hannah Copeland
Iain Duncan Smith
Gerry McCann
Kate McCann
Sinead O'Connor
Eddie Mair
Helena Kennedy
John Witherow
Libby Jukes
Brian Hollywood

 

-----------------

Video YouTube

Transcript

With thanks to A. Miller for original transcript

INTRODUCTION

Eddie Mair:
[to camera] In May 2007, a trip to the sun turned an anonymous British family into people who were nationally and internationally known. Kate and Gerry McCann's eldest daughter Madeleine went missing in Portugal.

[voice over archive footage] Initial media support turned into suspicion. The McCanns privacy was treated with contempt by sections of the press who stopped at nothing to write something, anything, about the couple.

When they attended the Leveson Inquiry, the McCanns were clear on why they had decided to take part.
[Clips from Leveson Inquiry]

Gerry McCann: A system has to be put in place to protect ordinary people from the damage that the media can cause.

Kate McCann: When it's your voice against a powerful media, you know, it... it just doesn't hold weight and you know we are desperately shouting out internally – 'please stop what you are doing' You know we are trying to find our daughter, and you are stopping our chances of finding her.
Among the worst offenders were the Express Group, the McCanns were shown some of their stories.
Gerry McCann: That is nothing short of disgusting.

Kate McCann: I think this same journalist, if memory serves right, also said we stored her body in a freezer.
The News of the World also got hold of a copy of Kate McCanns private diary, and published it without telling her.
Kate McCann: It was my only way of communicating with Madeleine and for me, you know, there was absolutely no respect shown for me as a grieving mother or as a human being.
By taking part in Leveson the McCanns hoped that their testimony would bring about a change a change in the Law, a new press regulator with legal backing.

BACK TO STUDIO

Eddie Mair: Kate and Gerry McCann, you heard John Witherow, errr... just now, editor of the Times, former editor of the Sunday Times, saying that from all his private discussions it seems like, errr... the political parties are coalescing around this Royal Charter idea. If that's what we end up with, was going to Leveson a waste of your time?

Gerry McCann: I think it certainly won't be what we were hoping to achieve and very much disagree with John that, errr... that this is... what Leveson is tough. I think Leveson has actually been quite generous to the press, and, errm... more than their behaviour, or certain sections of the media deserve really. Errm... They're getting a last chance at self-regulation, errr... which for me was actually a step too far.

Eddie Mair: Could you explain from your point of view what's the practical difference between what Leveson wanted and what is now, what seems to be the compromise, what difference does that make?

Gerry McCann: I've got three concerns at the minute, the first is the transparency. The inquiry was open you could see what was going on. Leveson's reviewed all the evidence, errr... and what's happened in the last two and a half month's is exactly what you've talked about, where we're having a number of private meetings; the minutes are not published; the discussions are not published, and then that leads to serious concerns about independence of what is being proposed, because a major part of Leveson was acknowledging that the press had got too close to politicians.

And the third concern for us, in what is being proposed, is that we're going to end up with, errr... sub-Leveson recommendations really, errm... particularly around independence, errr... both of the... the Board who are going to oversee it, and the fact that there should be complete independence of the appointments of that Board.

Eddie Mair: I am struck by something, errr... you are quoted as saying, errr... Gerry –

"The Leveson package, including legal underpinning is the mimimum acceptable compromise for us."

I just wonder, if it was up to you, if they gave you the power to draft something; the future of the press, what would you do?

Gerry McCann: To be honest, I've already said this to you that, errr... I feel that the... the press has lost its entitlement to self-regulation over many, many years and I would have liked to have seen actually statutory regulation and not self-regulation.

Eddie Mair: But I get the impression if it was up to you, you would go much further…

Gerry McCann: Oh, asolutely...

Eddie Mair: People might not blame you, what would you do?

Gerry McCann: Well no, I would make it very much that they weren't... that it wasn't self-regulated, it would be independent regulation.

Kate McCann: I think when we saw, errr... the Leveson recommendations we probably thought for us it was probably a 7 out of 10. And obviously it's been a pain staking process and I think Lord Leveson has come up with something that’s very balanced and he's trying to be as fair as possible to every party involved. But actually I think what the Government are proposing with this Charter, which I have to say, a Charter body is overseen by Ministers for a start, which again takes away the independence. Errm... It's basically a compromise of a compromise...

Gerry McCann: Yeah.

Kate McCann: And why... why do the press, why do the Government what... not want to be accountable like everybody else? I mean the press are the first to hold people in authority to account.

Eddie Mair: Have you noticed any improvement in the press since Leveson?

Gerry McCann: It's very difficult to say that because you only know, errr... about your own individual circumstances..

Eddie Mair: But even there. I mean, have things been better?

Gerry McCann: Obviously the situation for us, we still have, errr... episodes where things are published which we would much prefer weren't published, errm... there's been a recent headline; front page of a Sunday newspaper, about a potential lead in Madeleine's case and it hadn't been fully explored, and it's something that we raised at Leveson, that Madeleine and her safety is often treated with complete contempt. And we have no re-dress currently, and I would have concerns that if the editors get what they want, which is how complaints are dealt with, it would only be certain complaints and they could decide which ones would come. And one of the things we are very, very concerned with... and is about accuracy and standards and consideration for the public. We want the regulator to be able to protect the interests of the public.

Eddie Mair: And the recent story about Madeleine that you were unhappy with did you... did you try and speak to the... to the paper concerned.

Kate McCann: Yeah, I... I wrote to the editor of the newspaper and explained my concerns and I have to say I got a reply back which made my blood boil. It was basically telling me that he... they knew what was best for Madeleine; that they knew best what was for missing children. So despite what we as parents thought, despite what the Metropolitan police thought, they knew what was best, and that is really concerning, post-Leveson Inquiry, that this is the kind of response we're getting. I believe if the Royal Charter goes through we'll be no better off and this is one opportunity now which might not come again, and I think the general public deserve to know what's happening, because as Gerry said, there's been a total lack of transparency, and what the Government is proposing is not what Leveson has proposed.

Eddie Mair: Do you have much hope that the change you want will come in?

Gerry McCann: I... I've not given up hope. I think the first thing is to... I think the vast majority of MP's actually are fully supportive of Leveson, and I've mentioned this before, but if, errr... our Parliamentarians want to redeem themselves in the public light, they know that the right thing is to implement Leveson in full. Not a compromise, not a sop to the editors.

Eddie Mair: Kate and Gerry McCann, thank you both.

Madeleine McCann's parents attack 'compromise' response to Leveson, 17 February 2013
Madeleine McCann's parents attack 'compromise' response to Leveson The Guardian

Kate and Gerry McCann call on government to abandon proposal for royal charter and introduce statutory regulation

Shiv Malik and agencies
Sunday 17 February 2013 12.29 GMT

Kate McCann said on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that the government's response to the Leveson report was 'a compromise of a compromise'

The press has lost its entitlement to self-regulate and the government's post-Leveson proposals are a "compromise of a compromise", the parents of missing child Madeleine McCann have said.

Last week, the government said it would not introduce new legislation to regulate the press but would instead push ahead with a watchdog underpinned by royal charter to avoid conflicts around media freedom.

Gerry McCann said the government should reverse its decision and introduce statutory regulation so as not to leave the public bereft of protection.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, he also criticised the government's process for responding to Lord Justice Leveson's findings, which he said ran contrary to the inquiry.

"A major part of Leveson was acknowledging that the press has got too close to politicians," he said. Yet ahead of the government's response, editors and ministers were "having a number of private meetings, the minutes are not published, the discussions are not published … That leads to serious concerns about the independence of what's been proposed".

"They [the press] are getting a last chance at self-regulation … [it is] a step too far," he said.

Madeleine was nearly four when she vanished from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve, where she had been left by her parents as they dined at a tapas restaurant with friends nearby on 3 May 2007.

Leveson cited the coverage of her disappearance as an example of how stories ran "totally out of control".

Kate McCann described the Leveson inquiry as "a painstaking process" but said the judge's final proposals were balanced and fair to all parties. She said, however, that in a chartered watchdog, the government had offered a "compromise of a compromise".

"Why do the press not want to be accountable like everyone else? The press are the first to hold people in authority to account."

The McCanns also spoke about a recent dispute with a newspaper editor, following the publication of a story involving a police lead that they said had "not been fully explored" and that they did not want published.

"It is something we raised at Leveson that Madeleine and her safety is often treated with complete contempt," Gerry McCann said.

"I wrote to the editor of the newspaper and explained my concerns," Kate McCann said. "And I have to say I got a reply back which made my blood boil. It was basically telling me that they knew what was best for Madeleine, that they knew what was best for missing children so despite what we as parents thought, despite what the Metropolitan police thought, they knew what was best.

"And that is really concerning, post-Leveson inquiry, that this is the kind of response we are getting. I believe if the royal charter goes through, we'll not be better off and this is one opportunity that might not come again."

Earlier, John Witherow, the acting editor of the Times and a former long-serving editor of the Sunday Times, told presenter Eddie Mair that the proposal for a royal charter "had teeth" and took in many of Leveson's recommendations without the need for legislation.

"What is on the table is very tough on the press," he said.

McCanns decry Royal Charter press regulation 'compromise', 17 February 2013
McCanns decry Royal Charter press regulation 'compromise' BBC News

Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of missing toddler Madeleine, have called for the Leveson proposals to be implemented in full.

17 February 2013 Last updated at 12:17

Proposals to back new press regulations with a Royal Charter are "a compromise of a compromise", the parents of missing Madeleine McCann have said.

Kate and Gerry McCann said what the government was proposing was not what the Leveson report had recommended.

The Conservatives said their plans for a regulatory system which would be "tough" and effective and have received a cautious welcome from other parties.

Mr McCann said the press had "lost its entitlement to self regulation."

He said: "I think Leveson has been quite generous to the press and more than the behaviour of some sections of the media deserve really.

"They are getting a last chance at self-regulation which for me was actually a step too far."

He added: "I feel that the press has lost its entitlement to self-regulation over many, many years and I would have liked to have seen statutory regulation, not self-regulation."

When the McCanns appeared before Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press standards in November 2011, Mr McCann gave evidence of what he and his wife Kate called the "disgusting" and "offensive" stories written about them.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show on Sunday, the couple said stories that jeopardised their daughter's safety were still being published.

Mr McCann, of Rothley, Leics, said: "We still have episodes where things are published which we'd prefer not to be.

"Madeleine and her safety is often treated with complete contempt."

Mrs McCann said she wrote to a newspaper which had published such a story to complain and the response she got back made her "blood boil".

Madeleine disappeared when she was three years old in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007.

In November, the report on press standards by Lord Justice Leveson - commissioned in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal - recommended an independent, self-regulatory watchdog for the press that would be backed by legislation.

The Conservatives opposed regulation backed up by statute, arguing a Royal Charter was the right way to provide legal backing for any new press regulator.

Both the Liberal Democrats and Labour supported the Leveson report's conclusion that legislation was necessary, but are reportedly close to agreeing on adopting a Royal Charter instead.

Royal Charters are formal documents that have been used to establish and lay out the terms of organisations, including the BBC and the Bank of England, and cannot be changed without government approval.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said he sympathised with Kate and Gerry McCann and acknowledged they were correctly compensated under libel laws but disagreed with their views on new press regulation plans.

"They are wrong to think that the tough new self-regulatory regime requires a statute," he told BBC News.

"Lord Justice Leveson recognised that the vast majority of journalists were blameless but all will face new and powerful regulation.

"There are complex practical and legal issues in implementing the new system but the Leveson pathway will be closely followed."

He added the Royal Charter would be in place to ensure the system was independent and not to exercise control itself.

"The Leveson principles are not being undermined and the provisions of the strict new system, with fines of up to £1m, demonstrate that the press has not been let off any hooks."

Press regulation needs consensus, not a flimsy solution pegged to a libel bill, 24 February 2013
 
Press regulation needs consensus, not a flimsy solution pegged to a libel bill The Guardian

Lord Puttnam and friends have done us no favours by attaching Leveson's reforms to measures going through parliament

Peter Preston

 
Peter Preston
The Observer, Sunday 24 February 2013

The difficulty is treating Leveson as though it were Old Testament doctrine in some holy war. There isn't, in truth, a huge difference between a royal charter approach and statutory underpinning, the divide that so consumes our cud-chewing politicians. Think shades of grey in a pretty bleak landscape. No one (least of all the PCC's toiling Lord Hunt) doubts something pretty draconian will emerge in the end. There is no escape hatch in sight. But fundamentalism of the Hacked Off variety can hinder as well as help.

Lord Puttnam and friends haven't assisted one jot by tacking their flimsy, swiftly amended version of Leveson's light-touch arbitration tribunals onto a passing defamation bill. Real experts – such as Lord Lester QC – think it an abomination likely to be overturned in Strasbourg anyway, and certain to befoul libel reform itself. Experienced crime correspondents– such as the Guardian's Duncan Campbell – think a deep freeze on contacts between press and police is sure to be used to hide police misconduct and thus do the public interest no favours whatsoever. If everything is couched in terms of Murdoch-hating in particular, or tabloid-hating in general, then where do hundreds of blameless regional papers fit in? No wonder they're anxious about shoals of fee-hungry lawyers heading their way.

We'll know a bit more tomorrow, as the defamation bill survives – or tragically sinks. But meanwhile there's every reason to grow reflective. Would heightened regulation have stopped phone hacking? Probably, to a degree: though remember the law didn't do the job. Would it have eased the plight of victims in the Christopher Jefferies or McCann category? Certainly not in the beginning, after Jefferies was arrested in the Joanna Yates case or the McCanns declared suspects in Madeleine's disappearance.

Both of those calls, as we soon found out, were wrong. Jefferies was entirely innocent: a dud arrest. And the McCanns' status was dropped after nine months. But how is a standards board sitting in London supposed to rule quickly about such cases? The police don't always make wrong arrests: grieving parents aren't always what they seem. Remember Shannon Matthews and her mother's tearful TV pleas? How quickly would a regulator have wanted to step in there – and look ridiculous when what really happened to Shannon stood revealed? Press regulation needs agreeing and embracing by all sides – it took four years in Ireland! – not enforcing so crudely that it's as resented and therefore as frail as its first inevitable debacle.

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files

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