Leveson: McCann Urges PM To Remember Victims

November 30th, 20128:02 pm @


Gerry McCann has firmly pressed the Prime Minister to pass a new press law and urged him not to ignore the stories of the Leveson inquiry victims.

The father of missing Madeleine McCann said it was time for politicians to “do the right thing” and that if they did not do so his evidence would have been “almost useless”.

Speaking the day after Lord Justice Leveson presented his proposals for a new watchdog, backed by law, Mr McCann said that the victims of press intrusion had given evidence to the inquiry so others would not suffer the same fate.

He said: “I think the only reason we went to Leveson was to affect change and if Leveson’s report isn’t implemented in full then I would say that giving evidence for all of the victims has been almost useless.

Hugh Grant, Gerry McCann and Chris Jefferies in Westminster this afternoon

“For almost all the victims, the reason they were there was to stop other, ordinary people who were caught up in the most unfortunate circumstances suffering unnecessarily beyond what’s happened to them.

“And I feel if Leveson is implemented we will be some way on that route.”

In evidence to the inquiry last year, Mr McCann’s wife, Kate, said she felt like “climbing into a hole and not coming out” after the personal diary she started in the wake of her daughter’s disappearance was printed in the News Of The World.

The victims of phone hacking and press intrusion have launched an e-petition calling for all of Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals for regulating the press to be implemented.

The actor Hugh Grant, Mr McCann and Chris Jefferies, a retired school teacher who won damages from eight newspapers who had linked him with the murder of Joanna Yeates in Bristol in December 2010, kicked off the Hacked Off campaign.

Mr Cameron has accepted a new independent watchdog is needed but rejected the call for new legislation to back it.

Lord Justice Leveson unveiled his proposals for press reform on Thursday

This has put him on a collision course with his coalition partners, the opposition and victims of press intrusion.

Earlier, Culture Secretary Maria Miller insisted the “principles” of Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations to reform the press could be met without statutory backing.

Ms Miller said the coalition was drafting new legislation to prove why the Prime Minister has “grave misgivings” about the idea and how it could curb “freedom of speech”.

She told Sky News: “I feel very strongly you should have grave concerns about putting in place a piece of legislation which could have the effect in the long term of really bringing into question the ability to maintain freedom of speech in this country.

“But also on a practical level, we don’t think it is necessary to have that statutory underpinning to achieve the objectives which we all agree on, which is to have strong, tough, independent self-regulation which is something that we need in this country to address the problems we have experienced in recent years.”

Trevor Kavanagh, associate editor of The Sun, also warned such a move would be “the first step down the road to state intervention in the operation of newspapers”.

“I think what the Prime Minister is doing is trying to safeguard freedom of the press. It is a hard won, hard fought for right and a freedom which dates back 300 years,” he told Sky News.

On Thursday, Lord Justice Leveson condemned the “culture of reckless and outrageous journalism” that dominated sections of the press for decades as he unveiled the findings of his 16-month inquiry.

Labour’s Ed Miliband speaking in the Commons after the report is unveiled

The Appeal Court judge called for a new watchdog with statutory underpinning to be given the power to require prominent apologies and impose fines of as much as £1m.

The three party leaders held talks on Thursday night and the negotiations will reconvene “soon”. But the prospect of the consensus Mr Cameron says he wants to achieve appeared distant as all three parties continued to look at the fine detail of the 2,400-page report.

Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry was prompted by the disclosure that News Of The World journalists hacked the phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

Article source: http://news.sky.com/story/1018659