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When the circus must leave town

HOMEPAGE NEWS REPORTS INDEX NEWS JUNE 2010
Original Source: DAILY RECORD: SUNDAY 13 JUNE 2010
By Jackie Bird on Jun 13, 10 06:41 AM
 

My admiration for Sara Payne knows no 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 change it.

Meanwhile, Kate and Gerry McCann continue their search for missing Madeleine with astonishing self-control. Recently, they launched a nationwide network to help find missing children.

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 every emotion.

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 village streets.

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.

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