Gerry McCann told British MPs on Tuesday that stories printed in the British media surrounding the disappearance of his daughter Madeleine McCann were “incredibly, unbelievably upsetting”.
Speaking to the Commons culture, media and sport committee, Gerry McCann described how the British media turned their attention away from the search for his daughter and focused on himself and his wife, Kate.
“We saw pressure particularly on journalists to produce stories when there really was nothing much to report. Madeleine was made a commodity and profits were to be made. Much of the content in the first few days was highly speculative. It was not at all helpful to us.
“Our family have been the focus of some of the most sensationalist, untruthful, irresponsible and damaging reporting in the history of the press.”
In relation to current regulation of the British press, Gerry McCann told MPs: “There has to be some degree of control, I believe, or a deterrent to publicising untrue and particularly damaging stories where they have the potential to ruin people’s lives.”
Robert Murat, who was falsely linked to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, has also damned press coverage of the Madeleine McCann case.
The British expatriate, speaking at the Cambridge Union Society on March 5, said the intense press interest in him for eight months turned his home town of Praia da Luz into a “ghoulish carnival” and “nearly destroyed” his family’s lives.
“There was never a shred of evidence that I was in any way involved, despite eight months of lurid headlines. At times I felt like a fox being pursued by a pack of hounds,” he said.
British MP Lembit Opik and Guardian assistant editor Michael White also spoke at the university in support of the motion This House Believes Tabloids Do More Harm Than Good.
Meanwhile, public relations expert Justine McGuinness, who acted for Kate and Gerry McCann’s Find Madeleine Fund, is suing British Mirror Group Newspapers for libel damages.
Reports in the British media claim that Justine McGuinness is suing over a story printed in The People newspaper in October 2007 that “seriously injured her reputation and caused her considerable hurt, distress and embarrassment.”
The Algarve Resident tried to obtain a comment from Justine McGuinness but she had not responded at the time the paper went to press.
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