A former PR advisor to Kate and Gerry McCann received an apology from the UK’s Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN Limited) on October 16, following defamatory allegations published by The People, a Sunday tabloid newspaper owned by the group.
Justine McGuinness brought her defamation action solely to clear her name after a front-page article of The People alleged that she had overcharged the Find Madeleine Fund and following an argument with Gerry McCann in the summer of 2007, she was forced to part company with the Fund.
The apology was read out in the High Courts in London by Miss McGuinness’ lawyer, Amber Melville-Brown.
Miss McGuinness said she did not overcharge the Fund and indeed bore many of the necessary expenses herself. Neither was she forced to resign. As initially agreed with the Fund, she left in September 2007 to meet other pre-arranged commitments.
In a statement sent to the Algarve Resident Miss Amber Melville-Brown of Withers LLP said: “My client brought these proceedings because her previously unblemished character had been sullied by untrue allegations that went to the heart of her professionalism and integrity. I am delighted that the record has been set straight and that her good reputation has now been restored.
“The public is entitled to know, indeed demands to know, the truth and the press fulfils a vital role in servicing our need for news. But Fleet Street must guard against rubbishing reputations in the process through the inaccurate and sensational reporting of emotive stories.”
MGN Limited accepted that the allegations were incorrect, has undertaken not to repeat the defamatory allegations and has made a donation to a charity of Ms McGuinness’ choice.
Commenting on the case Ms McGuinness said: “I am glad that this is over and would like to thank my legal team for their commitment and hard work to win this case. Poor journalism does considerable harm. Particularly in this era of instant information, news must be about reporting hard facts, not fiction or tattle.
“I hope one day soon Madeleine McCann will be reunited with her parents, Kate and Gerry. They remain, as ever, in my prayers.”