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Leveson inquiry: Sun picture editor regrets McCann media scrum

Original Source: GUARDIAN: MONDAY 09 JANUARY 2011
Lisa O'Carroll, Monday 9 January 2012 15.02 GMT

John Edwards says he feels sympathy for toddler's parents over press mob they faced when they returned home from Portugal 

Leveson inquiry: Sun picture editor John Edwards has expressed sympathy over the the treatment of Kate and Gerry McCann, above, by the media when they returned to the UK. Photograph: Reuters

 The picture editor of the Sun has expressed regret about the media scrum that awaited Madeleine McCann's parents when they returned home shortly after the disappearance of their daughter in Portugal.


John Edwards told the Leveson inquiry the paper had got it right when it covered the story when the child when missing from a holiday apartment in Portugal.


But he said the treatment of Kate and Gerry McCann by the media when they returned to the UK with their other two children was not right.


"Looking back on it now, I don't think it was right that Kate McCann had to drive with the kids through those photographers and TV crews," he said, admitting that his daughter was seven at the time and he felt "tremendous sympathy" for the McCanns.


Last year the inquiry heard first hand from Kate McCann how the family had been besieged by photographers camped outside her home and following her as she drove the children about.


"Often they [the photographer] would spring out from a hedge so they could get a startled look so they could attach 'frail' or 'fragile' [to the caption or headline]," she said. She added that her daughter Amelie, who was two at the time, told her she was "scared" by the photographers.


Edwards said if a story like this were to happen again there should be new rules banning mobs of press and photographers.


"Please God this does not happen again, but if it does I think we have to limit the number of photographers to one photographer and one TV crew. If my wife faced that crowd, I would not have been happy with the children in the car," he told Leveson.


"We got it spot on in Portugal, but we may have not have been so good when it came back to Leicestershire, no."


Edwards defended his paper's decision to send a photographer to the home of the mother of Hugh Grant's baby, Tinglan Hong.


Last year Grant won a court injunction against photographers harassing the mother of his child after she gave birth in early November.


However, he also revealed that the paper had decided not to publish photographs of a heavily pregnant Lily Allen.


The Allen photographs were taken in a public place, but the paper decided not to go ahead with them after a phone call to her agent established that she did not want them published. Edwards said: "It is a difficult line we walk sometimes."


He also revealed that the paper now has a strict policy of not publishing any pictures of Sienna Miller unless they are taken at a photocall or film premiere.


He said the new guidelines apply to those who have "previous experience of extreme paparazzi harassment or involvement in privacy litigation".


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