Leading criminal defence lawyer says media has not 'earned the right to
unfettered freedom of expression'
Angus McBride questioned whether the media had any right to
vilify John Terry over an alleged relationship. Photograph:
the country's leading criminal defence lawyers has accused sections of
the media of waging a "misleading and self-interested" campaign over the
UK's privacy laws, and questioned whether there is any public interest
in exposing the private lives of footballers and celebrities.
McBride, whose clients have included Kate and Gerry McCann and the
England football captain, John Terry, says that he does not believe that
the media in this country has "earned the right to unfettered freedom of
on his own experiences working for the McCann family in the months after
Madeleine was abducted, he recalls visiting a number of Fleet Street
editors to ask them to show restraint in their reporting, particularly
over some of the wilder uncorroborated claims that were being circulated
by the Portuguese press.
fair to say that a number of the editors listened carefully and their
subsequent reporting reflected ' the fact that they understood that to
report the allegations would be immoral, scurrilous and damaging to the
efforts of many to find Madeleine McCann," says McBride, a
partner in the firm Kingsley Napley.
however, listened coldly and made it quite clear that commercial
pressures trumped completely the rights of these two tragic parents and
told this 'whodunnit' mystery was one of the biggest stories in many
years ' and that the truth of what had taken place was not going to get
in the way of that line of reporting because that is what the public
wanted as evidenced by the increase in sales.
"Bile-infested internet comment on the McCanns was fuelled by this early
reporting and continues to this day."
questions whether the media had any right to vilify Chelsea defender
Terry over an alleged relationship with a friend's wife. It was, he
says, "no one's business".
who still acts for a number of Premiership players, has spoken out as
the debate over the state of the UK's privacy laws has intensified in
has been widespread criticism of the use of
superinjunctions, which prevent the press from reporting details of
the private lives of a number of public figures.
have been criticised for granting the injunctions, and the laws they
have interpreted have been condemned too.
courts have been additionally ridiculed because social media tools such
as Twitter have attempted to get round the orders by publishing details
of the parties involved. Some of those details have been incorrect.
prime minister, David Cameron, admitted that the use of superinjunctions
made him feel uneasy, and has hinted that parliament needed to give the
courts better guidance on the issue.
is a complete mess in this area," Lord Inglewood, the chairman of the
Lords Communications Committee, said last week.
says, however, that the press campaign against privacy laws "is a
campaign for power without responsibility, and to publish on the basis
that the public interest is what the public are interested in. If the
campaign succeeds then all our lives are fair game."
that last week some papers complained vociferously at the use of
superinjunctions by celebrities, while at the same time publishing
papparazi photos of Kate and Pippa Middleton, taken without their
consent several years ago while they were on holiday.
he argues, have used the European Convention on Human Rights to reach
"the sensible conclusion that a breach of an individual's right to
privacy by publication of private information is acceptable where there
is a public interest. It is difficult to argue that this is not a good
"Is there really a public interest in the private lives of footballers
pressing issue is that ordinary members of the public cannot afford to
go to court to seek protection, and that legal aid "should be available
to those without the means to hire expensive lawyers".