The purpose of this site is for information and a record of Gerry McCann's Blog Archives. As most people will appreciate GM deleted all past blogs from the official website. Hopefully this Archive will be helpful to anyone who is interested in Justice for Madeleine Beth McCann. Many Thanks, Pamalam

Note: This site does not belong to the McCanns. It belongs to Pamalam. If you wish to contact the McCanns directly, please use the contact/email details campaign@findmadeleine.com    

Richard Desmond plays down his papers' Madeleine McCann mistakes

HOMEPAGE NEWS REPORTS INDEX MEDIA NEWS JANUARY 2012
Original Source: GUARDIAN: THURSDAY 12 JANUARY 2012
Dan Sabbagh and Lisa O'Carroll  
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 12 January 2012 18.34 GMT
 

Express and Star owner apologises to toddler's parents at Leveson inquiry, but says his papers were 'scapegoated' by PCC 

Leveson inquiry: Richard Desmond has played down his paper's mistakes over the Madeleine McCann case

 

Richard Desmond has tried to play down mistakes made by his newspapers over their defamatory coverage of missing Madeleine McCann at the Leveson inquiry.

 

At one stage during his appearance at the inquiry on Thursday afternoon Desmond got out his pen and tried to calculate that the majority of news stories written by the four Express Newspapers titles about McCann's parents were not in fact defamatory and then claimed that they were slow in any event to complain.

 

The proprietor the first owner to give evidence apologised to Kate and Gerry McCann several times, but qualified his remarks as he did so. "I apologise again to the McCanns but there are views about the McCanns and what happened," Desmond said, indicating that the public held a wide range of opinions about what happened to Madeline in Portugal.

 

He added: "Every paper was doing the same thing, which is why every paper or most papers paid money to the McCanns. Only we were scapegoated by the ex-chairman of the PCC."

 

He was challenged by Robert Jay QC, counsel to the inquiry, who reminded him that his newspapers had settled libel claims in respect of "38 articles" over a four-month period that he described as "most egregious". Desmond responded by trying to calculate how many articles the Daily Express would have published over that period doing sums on his notepad to conclude that there would have been 102, or one a day over 17 weeks.

 

Desmond continued: "I don't wish to justify it and I'm not trying to win points here, but if there were 102 articles on the McCanns, and 38 bad ones you could argue there were 65 or 70 good ones."

 

Later he repeated the point, adding: "On your figure, we ran 102 articles for four months, nothing happened until a new firm of lawyers who were on contingency [no win, no fee] then came in to sue us."

 

In March 2008, Richard Desmond's Northern & Shell paid out 550,000 to settle defamation claims in respect of more than 100 different articles that appeared in his Express and Star titles, publishing an unprecedented front-page apology in all his newspapers. At the time the published statement acknowledged that there was "no evidence whatsoever" to support the theory "the couple caused the death of their missing daughter Madeleine and then covered it up".

 

The media mogul also tried to compare the Madeleine McCann story to the death of Princess Diana, arguing that the articles were merely reflecting a strand of public opinion at the time, and that to some degree every newspaper was reporting on similar lines.

 

As Desmond began, he was angrily interrupted by Jay, who said "there is no comparison between these two cases. In the case of Princess Diana we have a dead body" to which the newspaper owner responded by saying "there has been speculation that Diana was killed by the royal family," adding his titles did "everything reasonable" to get the facts.

 

Jay accused Desmond of "a grotesque mischaracterisation" of his newspapers' conduct. "Your paper was accusing the McCanns on occasion of killing their daughter are you seriously saying they were quite happy than entirely anguished by your papers' bad behaviour?" he added.

 

Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for the McCanns, said they would not be commenting personally, but added: "Mr Desmond's memory is apparently doing him a great disservice. For him to suggest that Kate and Gerry were happy with the Express Newspapers coverage, he must be living in a parallel universe."

 

Mitchell added that Desmond's portrayal of the McCanns' reaction to his papers' coverage of their daughter's disappearance was "grotesque in the extreme". He said that the coverage, some of which was just "lies", had added to the suffering they endured.

 

He also said Desmond was wrong to claim that the McCanns only took legal action after changing their legal team.

 

Mitchell said they did not take legal action against Desmond's newspapers earlier "because they had more important things to do, like looking for their daughter". Mitchell said they also did not want to fall out with the media and only took legal action as a last resort.

 

"The scale of the coverage in Express Newspapers' titles was so great that they felt something had to be done," he added.

 

The media mogul who owns the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, the Daily Star, the Daily Star Sunday and Channel 5 also offered the unlikely argument that the Press Complaints Commission should be replaced by an "RCD committee", a reference to his own initials.

 

Desmond took swipes at his rivals, describing the Daily Mail as the "Daily Malicious" and its editor, Paul Dacre, as "the fat butcher".

 

Asked about his relationship with politicians, he described his first meeting with Tony Blair after buying newspapers in 2000, in which the two talked about "music and drums" before the then prime minister finally asked him which political party he supported.

 

Desmond's often jokey and at times artless testimony lasted for an hour, following a day in which the editors of the Daily Express and Daily Star gave evidence, both of whom sought to explain what went wrong with their newspaper's coverage of the McCann affair and why the publisher walked out of the PCC as a result.

TO HELP KEEP THIS SITE ON LINE CONSIDER

Site Policy Contact details Sitemap Website created by Pamalam