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Kate and Gerry McCann criticise press after libel payout



Original Source:  BBC 03 October 2014
3 October 2014 Last updated at 05:57
Kate and Gerry McCann said the allegations were "grotesque and utterly false"

Kate and Gerry McCann have said press regulation is still not working, after receiving £55,000 in libel damages from the Sunday Times.


The payout came over claims they had withheld details about their daughter's disappearance from the authorities.


Mr and Mrs McCann said the newspaper did not provide them with a proper opportunity to comment and chose not to publish key parts of their response.


The Sunday Times said it has agreed a settlement with Mr and Mrs McCann.


Continued failure


The McCanns said the allegations were "grotesque and utterly false", and in effect suggested they had deliberately hindered the search for their daughter Madeleine, who went missing in Portugal in 2007.


Last December the paper printed an apology which the McCanns said took two months, and was on an inside page and inadequate.


After instructing lawyers to sue for damages they received the payout which will be donated to two charities for missing people and sick children.


But they said it showed the continued failure of the industry to put its house in order.


The allegations were made at a time when the Sunday Times was arguing there was no need for the independent regulation proposed by the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.


'Industry poodle'


The McCanns said in a statement: "The Sunday Times has behaved disgracefully. There is no sign of any post-Leveson improvement in the behaviour of newspapers like this."


They described the new Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), which started its work last month as the successor to the Press Complaints Commission, as the "latest industry poodle".


It is not the first time Mr and Mrs McCann have taken legal action against the press.


In 2008, they accepted £550,000 libel damages and front-page apologies from Express Newspapers over allegations they were responsible for Madeleine's death.


The McCanns have been prominent in the Hacked Off group which campaigns for press accountability following the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.


Private diary


At the Leveson Inquiry, the McCanns were critical of their treatment by the press, saying they were left distraught by suggestions they were responsible for Madeleine's death.


Mr McCann told the inquiry many of the stories were untruthful, sinister or, he believed, made up.


Mrs McCann said seeing her private diary published in the News of the World made her feel "totally violated".


Sir Brian Leveson's report recommended an independent, self-regulatory press watchdog backed by legislation.


However, the three main Westminster parties agreed a Royal Charter that established a panel to independently verify a new regulator, although Ipso has not sought recognition from this.


A rival independent self-regulator, Impress, has been set up by a group of high-profile free speech campaigners with the aim of becoming compliant with Leveson's requirements.



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