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Readers’ online commentary targeted in McCann libel suit



Original Source: Portugal Resident 20- September 2014
Posted by jomad on September 20, 2014

As they await a decision on their €1.2 million euro defamation claim against former PJ police inspector Gonçalo Amaral, disturbing details have emerged of another libel action taken by the parents of Madeleine McCann - this time against a British newspaper. Integral in the couple’s claim were references made to “comments posted by readers below the online version of the article”, writes Dominic Gover for International Business Times. It is not clear exactly how the High Court dealt with this aspect of the McCann’s claim, but a successful ‘result’ effectively opens the floodgates to all kinds of litigation by people who consider reader commentary attached to online news articles offensive. In this case, Press Gazette reports this morning that the libel claim has already been settled. In his own report for IBT, Gover talks of unspecified damages. The story the couple objected to appeared on the front page of the Sunday Times in October last year, and was widely reproduced by other news services, blogs and social media - all of which would have allowed for reader commentary and feedback. It centred on allegations by a former British spy that the McCanns had suppressed “a crucial piece of evidence” from police which led to the hampering of the long-running search for their daughter. Kate and Gerry McCann were quick to refute the claims, and demanded a detailed apology from the Sunday Times, which was printed in December. Nevertheless, the couple’s libel action maintained that the Sunday Times article had caused them to suffer “serious damage to their reputations and severe embarrassment and distress”.


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