and Gerry McCann (AFP, Facundo Arrizabalaga)
and Kate McCann (AFP/ANP/File, Freek van Den Bergh)
McCann (AFP/File, Carl de Souza)
LONDON — The parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann told an inquiry
into press standards Wednesday that they felt "violated" by British
tabloid newspapers which covered her disappearance in Portugal.
Newspapers questioned Kate and Gerry McCann's innocence based on flimsy
facts and suggested they may have sold their daughter, they said, while
Rupert Murdoch's News of the World published Kate's diary without her
"There was no respect shown for me as a grieving mother or a human
being," Kate McCann, 43, told the judge-led inquiry in London, which is
on its third day of hearing evidence from people alleging press
Madeleine went missing from an apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia
da Luz on May 3, 2007, a few days before her fourth birthday, as her
parents and their friends dined at a restaurant nearby.
She has never been found.
Her parents told the inquiry that initial press interest was helpful,
but that a more "sinister" tone began to take over after they were named
as formal suspects in the case by Portuguese police five months later.
Gerry McCann, also 43, said leaks from the Portuguese press were treated
as facts and then blown out of proportion by the British media.
After their return to Britain surrounded by a "terrifying" media scrum
that scared their two youngest children, they said they were subjected
to a "disgusting" series of untrue stories.
eadlines which ran in late 2007 and early 2008 about the grieving
couple, who are both doctors, included "Maddie sold by hard-up McCanns"
and "Maddie mum orgy fury."
On the first anniversary of her disappearance they agreed to an
interview in Hello magazine to promote an alert system for missing
children, and received an "irate" phone call from then-News of the World
editor Colin Myler for not giving an interview to the tabloid.
The News of the World then published transcripts from Kate McCann's
diary, which the couple believed were obtained from Portuguese police --
an experience that she said in a statement to the inquiry made her feel
"I felt totally violated. I had written these words at the most
desperate time of my life, and it was my only way of communicating with
Madeleine," she said.
They later won a £550,000 libel payout from the publisher of the Daily
Express and Daily Star tabloids which had doubted their innocence, and
also received a payment but not an apology from the publisher of the
Earlier Wednesday lawyer Mark Lewis, who represents several hacking
victims including the parents of murdered British schoolgirl Milly
Dowler, said the practice was "much more widespread" than just at the
News of the World.
He told the inquiry that the News of the World wrongly concluded that
Professional Footballers Association (PFA) chairman Gordon Taylor was
having an affair after hearing a message on his voicemail.
The message, saying "Thank you for yesterday, you were wonderful", was
in fact from a woman thanking Taylor for speaking at her father's
Murdoch closed the News of the World in July this year.
The hacking inquiry, led by top judge Brian Leveson, was set up by Prime
Minister David Cameron in July. Leveson is due to report next year and
could recommend changes to the way Britain's press is regulated.
In a twist, the Guardian newspaper, which led efforts to expose hacking
at the News of the World, was forced to apologise to another Murdoch
paper, The Sun, on Wednesday.
The Guardian had falsely alleged that the tabloid's reporters
doorstepped a lawyer at the inquiry.
Meanwhile Rupert Murdoch's son James has resigned as a director of
several newspapers including The Sun and The Times, according to
documents which emerged Wednesday.
He will remain overall chairman of News International, the British
newspaper arm of Murdoch's US-based News Corporation media empire.
A source close to News Corp. rejected suggestions that the move leant
weight to speculation that the company is planning to sell off its
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