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
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
The media is currently regulated by the
Press Complaints Commission, a body largely made up of media industry
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.
and Gerry are very pleased the Mercury continues to support