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Madeleine McCann: is it time for the press regulator to step in?

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Madeleine McCann: is it time for the press regulator to step in?

Post by sallypelt on 09.05.14 20:17

Admins, if this has already been posted, please remove.


Is the Press Complaints Commission going to find itself dealing with one last controversial complaint or will it become the first headache for the new Independent Press Standards Organisation?

I refer to the concerns aired about current media coverage of the renewed search for Madeleine McCann by both her parents and the police.

Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, have issued a statement, which is posted on Facebook, registering their disquiet at "interference" by journalists in the new investigation into their daughter's disappearance. It states:


"We are dismayed with the way the media has behaved over the last couple of days in relation to our daughter's case.

There is an on-going, already challenging, police investigation taking place and media interference in this way not only makes the work of the police more difficult, it can potentially damage and destroy the investigation altogether – and hence the chances of us finding Madeleine and discovering what has happened to her.

As Madeleine's parents, this just compounds our distress. We urge the media to let the police get on with their work and please show some respect and consideration to Madeleine and all our family."

This came the day after the Metropolitan police assistant commissioner, Mark Rowley, sent a letter to editors appealing for restraint because of the potential for the Portuguese to halt the investigation.

Rowley explained that the British police were operating under Portuguese law and his opposite number in Portugal, in the policia judiciaria, did not intend – as had been the Met's practice – to brief the media on the search.

He said that the Portuguese police chief had been clear "that if we provide any briefings or information on the work they are undertaking on our behalf, or if reporters cause any disruption to their work in Portugal, activity will cease".

It would mean that Scotland Yard detectives would be unable to excavate sites around the resort of Praia da Luz where the then three-year-old Madeleine went missing on 3 May 2007.

But where exactly should the press draw the line? What happens if reporters discover facts without having had police briefings? Is it wrong for British papers to reproduce every story appearing in the Portuguese press? Where does factual reporting stop and intrusion into grief begin?

With the questions in mind, let's look at how have the press has reacted to the call for restraint.

The Daily Mirror has been in the forefront, running a "world exclusive" splash on Monday, "Maddie cops to start digging up resort". The story appeared to be well sourced.

On Wednesday, the Mirror splashed on an "exclusive new lead" headlined "Maddie cops to dig yards from apartment". A similar story was the splash in the Daily Star, "Maddie: police dig up 3 sites" and in the Daily Express, "Police dig in new hunt for Maddy."

If factually accurate, as appears to be the case, the problem for the Met with these stories was that it was bound to raise suspicions by the Portuguese police about off-the-record briefings (even if that was not the case).

The Sun also ran a page lead that morning, "Kate had dream of where to dig", in which Mrs McCann was alleged to have told a family liaison officer about her dream of where officers should look.

By Wednesday evening, Sky News was reporting that "disagreements over leaks to the media may delay British police in their efforts to scour areas they will be given access to."

Its crime correspondent, Martin Brunt, reported from Praia da Luz, on "what appears to be a developing row between the British authorities and the Portuguese authorities about essentially Scotland Yard giving out information to journalists about what is going to happen.

"The Portuguese are making it very clear that they were not happy with journalists being briefed."

Brunt also spoke about another "blow for Scotland Yard" because - according to a report in a local Portuguese newspaper, the News Journal - the authorities had rejected a Scotland Yard plea to search the homes of three men accused of burglaries at the Praia da Luz complex at the time Madeleine vanished.

The Daily Mail also referred to "ongoing tensions between British and Portuguese authorities" It quoted Met commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe as saying: "There are always going to be complications when you have got one police force in one country working with the police force of another. We have both got to be sensitive to these things."

British newspaper editors cannot be other than aware of the sensitivity surrounding the Madeleine McCann story. Her parents spoke movingly at the Leveson inquiry of their unfortunate treatment by certain papers some seven years ago.

They remain acutely concerned about intrusions into their privacy despite acknowledging the need for continuing publicity about the case.

They and their friends, along with a local man wrongly identified as a suspect, were paid large sums in libel damages for inaccurate, defamatory reports in the aftermath of Madeleine's disappearance.

Although it is obvious that editors would not wish to repeat the sins of the past, they are fascinated by the story and remain wedded, as always, to the kind of scoop journalism that can lead them to overstep the mark.

I can accept that it is difficult to suppress information - and, of course, to accept the diktats of the Portuguese authority - but editors will surely wish to avoid scuppering the police operation.

One aspect of the reporting, however, does require more attention. The Mirror's article on Wednesday quoted "a source close to the McCanns" as saying: "This is an emotional time for them."

And the inside story, drawing again on the unnamed source, referred to the couple as "tormented parents" facing "their worst nightmare". Some people may not be regard it as intrusive. But it is surely bordering on poor taste to attribute feelings to this couple in such circumstances.

Will the current regulator, the PCC, step in before this gets out of hand again? Or will it leave it to the incoming Ipso?


http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2014/may/09/madeleinemccann-national-newspapers





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Re: Madeleine McCann: is it time for the press regulator to step in?

Post by ShuBob on 09.05.14 20:35

One aspect of the reporting, however, does require more attention. The Mirror's article on Wednesday quoted "a source close to the McCanns" as saying: "This is an emotional time for them."

And the inside story, drawing again on the unnamed source, referred to the couple as "tormented parents" facing "their worst nightmare". Some people may not be regard it as intrusive. But it is surely bordering on poor taste to attribute feelings to this couple in such circumstances.

Looks like Clarence Mitchell's role in briefing the press is being questioned.

About time too!

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Re: Madeleine McCann: is it time for the press regulator to step in?

Post by sharonl on 09.05.14 21:19

For almost 7 years, and more so since this so called review started, the media have protected the McCanns, put Madeleine at risk by alerting every suspect that they have come up with (and we all know that there have been many), and ridiculed the Metropolitan police and their investigation by printing the most ridiculous of stories for which there is no evidence.  Neither the McCanns or NSY have done anything whatsoever about this until now.

Suddenly the McCanns feel the need for privacy.

Max Clifford represented Robert Murat but as far as I know he had little to do with the McCanns.  Strange that this should happen within a few days of his conviction and his threat to expose his clients, whoever they are.

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NUJ Code of Conduct

Post by Enid O'Dowd on 09.05.14 22:13

The NUJ code of conduct (which I must follow as an NUJ member):

At all times upholds and defends the principle of media freedom, the right of freedom of expression and the right of the public to be informed.
Strives to ensure that information disseminated is honestly conveyed, accurate and fair.
Does her/his utmost to correct harmful inaccuracies.
Differentiates between fact and opinion.
Obtains material by honest, straightforward and open means, with the exception of investigations that are both overwhelmingly in the public interest and which involve evidence that cannot be obtained by straightforward means.
Does nothing to intrude into anybody’s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest.
Protects the identity of sources who supply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of her/his work.
Resists threats or any other inducements to influence, distort or suppress information and takes no unfair personal advantage of information gained in the course of her/his duties before the information is public knowledge.
Produces no material likely to lead to hatred or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age, gender, race, colour, creed, legal status, disability, marital status, or sexual orientation.
Does not by way of statement, voice or appearance endorse by advertisement any commercial product or service save for the promotion of her/his own work or of the medium by which she/he is employed.
A journalist shall normally seek the consent of an appropriate adult when interviewing or photographing a child for a story about her/his welfare.
Avoids plagiarism.


It would be interesting to review all articles published in the past 7 years to see how the NUJ code has been breached in the reporting of Madeleine's disappearance.
Of course some of the journalists involved might not be members of the NUJ.

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Re: Madeleine McCann: is it time for the press regulator to step in?

Post by Woofer on 09.05.14 23:31

Well it certainly scores points for the Hacked Off campaigners.

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Re: Madeleine McCann: is it time for the press regulator to step in?

Post by ultimaThule on 10.05.14 1:14

@sharonl wrote:For almost 7 years, and more so since this so called review started, the media have protected the McCanns, put Madeleine at risk by alerting every suspect that they have come up with (and we all know that there have been many), and ridiculed the Metropolitan police and their investigation by printing the most ridiculous of stories for which there is no evidence.  Neither the McCanns or NSY have done anything whatsoever  about this until now.

Suddenly the McCanns feel the need for privacy.

Max Clifford represented Robert Murat but as far as I know he had little to do with the McCanns.  Strange that this should happen within a few days of his conviction and his threat to expose his clients, whoever they are.

I was expecting considerably more mileage but the MSM adopted the 'move right along, folks - nothing to see here" position within hours of Clifford's conviction.  However, as the saying has it, nothing is ever wasted and, should need arise, old news can be regurgitated as new news at the nod of a proprietor.

In the meantime, Hall is appearing at Preston,  Harris is headlining at Southwark, and a particularly capacious dock will shortly be available at the Bailey where a long-running trial is drawing to a close.  

It seems to me the coming weeks will offer a wealth of opportunity to bury bad news, but I very much doubt that even a highly paid 'family source' has access to specialist digging equipment of the type which will shortly be deployed by the PJ at the behest of NSY.  

What interesting times we live in...

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Re: Madeleine McCann: is it time for the press regulator to step in?

Post by Okeydokey on 10.05.14 2:31

There must have been at least 20 maybe 50 instances of potential "suspects" - ID'd by the McCanns directly, by Tapas 9, by the McCann/Kennedy detectives, and by the Met
Police -  being alerted through stories in the media. How often have the McCanns complained about the alert aspect? I would say never - until now.

Tells you a lot.

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Re: Madeleine McCann: is it time for the press regulator to step in?

Post by Garrincha on 10.05.14 12:36

Re the Guardian piece above - for once they are allowing comments on this subject, and most of them are not supportive of TM (and include references to the Gaspars & the PJ files)

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Re: Madeleine McCann: is it time for the press regulator to step in?

Post by Guest on 11.05.14 16:17

Interview this morning on Irish radio with Roy Greenslade of The Guardian; 4th item down.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/marian-finucane/

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Re: Madeleine McCann: is it time for the press regulator to step in?

Post by Enid O'Dowd on 11.05.14 17:53

No Fate Worse Than De'Ath wrote:Interview this morning on Irish radio with Roy Greenslade of The Guardian; 4th item down.

http://www.rte.ie/radio1/marian-finucane/

I heard that too NFWTD.


I had to chuckle when Greenslade said the the Scotland Yard appears to have had a difficult relationship with the Portuguese police as the McCanns themselves did. He did not comment as to why the relationship between the Portuguese police and the McCanns might have been less than perfect like not answering the 48 questions and not assisting with a reconstruction.

I was surprised when he said the Daily Mirror story (about the digs) was well sourced and accurate. How does he know this?

He did however make a point I agree with. He said the Mccanns can't complain about a factual story particularly as they gave a long interview to Lorraine Kelly. They can't seek publicity and at the same time want to control the headlines.

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