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McCanns 'hemmed in' home by media

Original Source: LEICESTER MERCURY: 24 NOVEMBER 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011

Kate and Gerry McCann have told an inquiry into press standards how journalists who camped outside their home scared their children and left the family feeling hemmed in.


Speaking at the Leveson Inquiry yesterday they gave some of the most vivid accounts yet of their experiences since their daughter Madeleine was abducted in Portugal four years ago.

Kate and Gerry McCann

The couple joined a list of high-profile figures giving evidence at the inquiry set up in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal to explore press ethics and practices.


Sitting together throughout the two-hour session at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, the couple said they endured some of the worst harassment as they left Portugal and returned to their home in Rothley.


Mr McCann said: "The journey to the airport in Portugal was one of the most terrifying experiences I think anybody could have.


"Cars were coming across us, cutting in front with cameras, people hanging out of windows, motorbike riders.


"It was frankly dangerous.


"When we got back to our home in Rothley there were tens of journalists we live in a cul-de-sac at the end of it, camped outside our house, cameras and helicopter crews following us.


"We were hemmed in the house for a couple of days before the police moved them to the end of our drive."


Press interest in the McCanns skyrocketed as newspapers in the UK and abroad printed false stories reporting that the parents were implicated in their daughter's disappearance.


Mr McCann explained that the biggest distress to them was that the incorrect message was going out that their daughter was dead, hindering a meaningful search.


He also said that at the time of the ordeal their younger children were two years old and found the experience of dealing with photographers "very frightening".


Mrs McCann said: "Photographers stayed there until December 2007 and that was only after we had help to get them removed.


"But they were there every day and they'd often wait for Gerry to go and they knew that I'd have to go out of the house at some point with the children.


"It would be the same photograph every day. I would be in the car, myself and the two children, and the photographers would either spring out from behind a hedge to get a startled look so they could attach 'fragile' or 'furious', whatever they wanted to put in the headline.


"There were several occasions where they would bang on the windows, sometimes with their camera lens and Amelie said to me several times 'Mummy, I'm scared'."


The Leveson Inquiry was set up after it emerged that journalists at the News of the World illegally hacked into people's mobile phone messages, although it has been asked to investigate the press broadly.


The McCanns said yesterday that they did not believe their phones had been hacked but recounted a long list of false stories that had been printed about them which resulted in them receiving more than 500,000 in damages.


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