The Mail has apparently decided to speak up for Kate and Gerry McCann, despite the paper’s hostility towards anyone who dares to participate in the Hacked Off campaign: “Well-spoken middle-class woman is unmasked as online troll who now faces arrest after sending hate messages to parents of Madeleine McCann” thundered the headline. And there’s more.
“Scotland Yard is currently investigating the posting online of hundreds of hate messages aimed at the McCanns, whose daughter disappeared during a family holiday to Portugal in 2007. Detectives have decided to act after being given a dossier from McCann family supporters which catalogues the abusive remarks – including death threats”. So what has caused all the abuse?
This is not told by the Mail, and for good reason: the article is yet another attempt to pretend that the Dacre doggies actually care about the people they have so viciously trashed in the past, while distracting attention from the real reason that the online abuse keeps on coming. And that real reason is that the press keeps on publishing highly personal and flagrantly defamatory copy about the McCanns.
It is surely no coincidence that the Mail published its “look over there” article at the same time as it was revealed that the Sunday Times had paid £55,000 in damages to the McCanns after the Murdoch title “alleged that the couple had deliberately hindered the search for their daughter, who went missing in Portugal seven years ago”. The paper had resisted all attempts to correct their story.
It was exactly as before Leveson – demonstrating once again that the “chilling effect” is a myth – as the Sunday Times effectively told the McCanns to “shove off, and take us to the courts if you think you’re hard enough”. The couple got Carter Ruck to take the case on a “no win, no fee” basis – that means it cost the Murdoch press a lot of money when they lost – without which they would have been stuck.
Gerry McCann’s own conclusion on the supposed change in press behaviour over the past two years is stark: “So what has changed in the newspaper industry since the Leveson report two years ago? Absolutely nothing. Newspapers continue to put ‘stories’ before the truth, and without much care for the victims”.
It is no surprise that the paper reporting the libel case and giving Gerry McCann a platform is the Guardian; no less surprising than seeing the Mail pretend to care about the collateral damage done by what is laughably called “press freedom”, when in fact it is the freedom to treat ordinary people as mere cannon fodder in the increasingly desperate fight to sell more copies.
The press didn’t care about the Dowlers, Jacqui Hames, Christopher Jefferies, or those in the media like Ann Diamond. Nor do they care about the McCanns.