I am watching the Leveson Inquiry and as I type the McCann's are giving evidence.
The press it seems had no ethics or morals when it came to this case - they have broken defamation and contempt laws repeatedly, misinformed the public constantly, clearly invaded the McCann's privacy and even fabricated stories. For what end? Profit and circulation? Tabloid competition?
If the stories would have aided the search for Madeline then maybe they could have been understood, even condoned. But in no way, shape or form did these stories help. They clearly hindered the search, saying Madeline was dead or that she was sold into slavery and blaming her parents. The lies printed by the press distressed Kate and Gerry when they were going through an incredibly hard time. They said the lies were repeated so often that they became truths that people accepted.
When Madeline first went missing they said the press was supportive, but as information dried up, they looked for more information when there was none - so the press made it up.
Gerry and Kate McCann said they felt mentally abused by the British Press. The behaviour of the press and the treatment of this sensitive story beggars belief. They felt powerless to stop stories that were untrue as their voice vs the media 'bore no weight'.
Gerry McCann said: "Clearly we have got to the stage where substandard reporting is a daily occurance."
This is not the only example of the press searching for a story when there simply wasn't one - Chris Jefferies - Joanna Yeates' landlord, was branded a murderer when he was only being questioned. He was never charged or brought to trial but the media thought they had found their killer and went to town on a story that simply wasn't true.
The McCann's and Jefferies both fought back - winning substantial damages. However the money cannot reverse the damage done by the media.
Can journalists no longer be trusted to do their job without regulation?