My admiration for
bounds. As ever, she showed utter dignity this week as she was helped
from the Court of Appeal.
You'd never have known that the composed
41-year-old, walking with a stick after a stroke, had just been told
that the man who'd murdered her five-year-old daughter Sarah had won his
case to have his sentence reduced.
Sara, now a campaigner for victims'
rights, left the court and began a series of interviews not just about
her daughter, but about the law concerning paedophiles and her fight to
Kate and Gerry McCann
continue their search for missing
Madeleine with astonishing
self-control. Recently, they launched a nationwide network to help find
I can only suspect that behind closed
doors there are times when the McCanns and the Paynes are hysterical
with grief. But when they face the reporters and cameras, they convey
their messages with restrained solemnity.
That's just how the people of west
Cumbria have behaved.
After the madness of Derrick Bird, their
personal torment was made public.
This week we saw the openair services,
heard the messages from the clerics and watched as locals shed a tear,
prayed or held each other as they tried to come to terms with events.
They did it under the gaze of the
cameras and surrounded by people with notebooks scribbling down their
They endured being under that media
microscope with a dignity which is inherently British. The stiff upper
lip may quiver at times but in the main we are a stoical society.
But as the week ended and the opening
titles of the various news programmes rolled, I found myself hoping the
headlines would not contain even a mention of the terrible events of
the week before. That the entire bulletin those picturesque Cumbrian
I am part of the media posse that
descends on scenes of tragedy. I make my living reporting news and
passing on the events of the day.
But there comes a time when dwelling on
carnage and heartache for the sake of it becomes intrusion.
Yes, there are many questions to be
answered. As important inquiries are held and vital information is
uncovered, the villages will be re-visited by reporters. Some locals may
find it cathartic to tell their stories.
But as far as just being there to get a
snapshot of a place still deeply in mourning, my personal view is I hope
the mass media, with cameras and journalists on every street corner,
leaves and the area finds whatever peace it can.
When people like Sara Payne and the
McCanns have neither the strength nor the inclination to put on their
public faces, they don't.
When they want to talk, to campaign, to
get our help, they do. They and others like them must have that choice.