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McCanns to tell Levenson Inquiry of family's ordeal at hands of media

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gerry McCann will tell a major inquiry into journalistic standards that the newspaper industry's system of self-regulation has been "hopelessly inadequate" in protecting his family from the excesses of the press.


The Mercury reported in September how Mr McCann would give evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics, launched in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal.  

This week, David Sherborne, the lawyer representing victims of alleged press intrusion, told the inquiry how Mr McCann and his wife, Kate, from Rothley, found themselves at the centre of a media storm after their daughter Madeleine went missing in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007.


Mr Sherborne said that the couple's privacy was pounced upon by editors "greedily waiting" for exclusive stories in order to sell more papers.


Speaking at the inquiry, he said: "When he gives evidence, Mr McCann will explain how it felt for him and his wife to be thrust from what one might call anonymity into the public limelight in the worst possible circumstances."


The lawyer added: "Mr McCann's evidence will be a perfect example of how hopelessly inadequate this (current) self-regulatory code is as a means of curbing the excesses of the press.


"He will refer to the blatant intrusion which he and his family suffered throughout, particularly when they were back in the United Kingdom, from the press camping outside their door to how his children were terrified as they were driven around by their parents."


The Leveson Inquiry was launched after it emerged that journalists at the News of the World had been involved in the illegal hacking of mobile phone messages.


The inquiry, however was given a far greater remit to explore the culture, ethics and regulation of journalists.


The media is currently regulated by the Press Complaints Commission, a body largely made up of media industry figures.


Mr Sherborne continued: "Moreover, Mr McCann will explain how in the months following the abduction of Madeleine, the behaviour of the press changed from an attitude of support to one of hostility.


"It was a change which he suspects was based on the commercial imperative to bring home exclusive stories for editors greedily waiting back in the United Kingdom watching the expenses bills of their journalists mounting up.


"Apparently, journalists were being told he will say that they had to get a front page story, or their job was on the line."


Mr McCann is expected to give evidence to the inquiry in the next fortnight.


The McCanns received 550,000 in a libel payout from the Express Newspapers, in March 2008.


In 2010, the McCann's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said in response to MPs' criticising the coverage of Madeleine's disappearance: "The problem Kate and Gerry had was with a number of national newspaper titles not the regional press.


"The Mercury's coverage has always been broadly fair and balanced and for that they remain grateful.


"Kate and Gerry are very pleased the Mercury continues to support


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