Madeleine McCann's mother welcomes Leveson report

Kate McCann, the mother of missing girl Madeleine, testified in the Leveson Inquiry. Photo / AP
Kate McCann, the mother of missing girl Madeleine, testified in the Leveson Inquiry. Photo / AP

Madeleine McCann's mother Kate says she hopes the Leveson report will mark the start of a new era for the press and urged British Prime Minister David Cameron to "embrace the report and act swiftly".

McCann, whose daughter went missing when the family was on holiday in Portugal in 2007, gave moving evidence during the Leveson Inquiry about her experience at the hands of the media, and attended the launch of the report on Thursday.

"I welcome Lord Leveson's report and hope it will mark the start of a new era for our press in which it treats those in the news responsibly, with care and consideration," she said.

Giving evidence to the inquiry last November, McCann said she felt like "climbing into a hole and not coming out" when the News of the World printed her intensely personal diary.

"I felt totally violated. I had written these words at the most desperate time of my life, and it was my only way of communicating with Madeleine."

The diary, which was so private McCann did not even show it to her husband Gerry, was published in the News of the World on Sunday September 14, 2008. The newspaper later apologised.

The inquiry heard the News of the World's former head of news was told to deliberately mislead the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell about plans to publish the diary.

Ian Edmondson said former editor Colin Myler told him to have a "woolly" conversation with Mitchell about plans to publish the journal so he did not know what the newspaper was planning to do.

Myler said he would never have published the diary - obtained from a female Portuguese journalist - if he had realised she was not aware of what the paper was planning to do.

The Leveson report described how the McCanns, although originally given favourable coverage in the media, were treated like a commodity, in a similar way to Milly Dowler's parents.

"The McCanns were also treated as if they were a commodity in which the public, and by extension the press, had an interest or stake that effectively trumped their individual rights to privacy, dignity or basic respect," it said.

"Also like the Dowlers, the McCanns were the victims of grossly intrusive reporting, prying photographers and an ongoing 'media scrum' which paid little or no regard to their personal space, their own personal distress and, in particular, the interests of Madeleine's younger siblings."

It added: "If ever there were an example of a story which ran totally out of control, this is one.

"The appetite for 'news' became insatiable, and once the original story had run its course the desire to find new leads and 'angles' began to take over, with their corollary tendencies of sensationalism and scandal.

"Not merely was the rigorous search for the truth the first principle to be sacrificed but also was any respect for the dignity, privacy and wellbeing of the McCanns."

- AAP

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