Wednesday

Gerry McCann talks to Jeremy Paxman

Gerry McCann pre-recorded interview with Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman.


Voice Over introduction. What about the case of a person who actively courts the papers, although for most understandable of motives, only to end up at the centre of defamatory stories. A person like Gerry McCann, father of Madeline.

Quote from McCann cut in. “Madeline, I believe, was made, was a commodity, and profits were to be made. As far as I could see having front page news stories or indeed any stories in newspapers on a daily basis, was not helpful to the search. Undoubtedly we could have sue all the newspaper groups, I feel fairly confident about that. That wasn’t what we were interested in; we were interested in putting a stop to it, first and foremost, and looking for some redress, primarily with an apology.”

Voice over continues. Few media outlets emerge with credit from coverage of Madeline’s disappearance, including the portrayal of the McCann’s friends and neighbours in Portugal, according to one seasoned watcher. We shouldn’t restrict this to newspapers, television and radio also. They were jumping on Mr Murat the neighbour, haranguing him, and also hare hanging the families it was a very difficult situation. It became such a huge international story that the interest that the McCann galvanised ran out of control. That is wholly wrong. The development of a privacy right is going to begin to curtail those types of stories, and it is only when that right comes into force, and is being enforced, that we will begin to see the potential impact that such a privacy law could have on what you might all stories in the public interest. The old editors’ motto, publish and be dammed, looks rather more threatened in Fleet Street tonight.

Start of face to face interview.

Jeremy Paxman : Well earlier I spoke to Gerry McCann. I asked him if he'd been shocked by how the media had behaved.

Gerry McCann : It's more than shocked ... ur ... we were heart ... ur ...we felt that there has been a complete disservice done to our daughter, who is still missing. And that is the thing which is hardest to actually forgive. .... er .... There was no regard for that. There was no regard for the feelings of both Kate or myself, ... er ... our other children, in fact, our wider extended family.

Jeremy Paxman : Do you think you were naive?

Gerry McCann : I th ... it ... Of course we were naive in that ... in the sense that we have never been exposed to the media previously and I ... I think, though, that we were better protected than menemy ... than many, Jeremy.

Jeremy Paxman : But then you had this entire media circus ....

Gerry McCann : It really was a circus.

Jeremy Paxman : .... camped out, around you, but you collaborated with them when it was convenient to you, didn't you? And you would announce photocalls and whether or not you'd be speaking that day - or maybe tomorrow or the day after. D'you .... d'you think to some degree you .... you reaped a whirlwind?

Gerry McCann : (smiling) We reaped a whirlwind? - No, (cough). I presume you're taking a very much a "devil's advocate's" position here on what you're doing. We have very clear objectives of what we wanted, and any parents would take the opportunity of trying to get information into the investigation that might help find their daughter. And that's what our clear objectives were. .... Um .... I think the one thing we'd probably do slightly differently is the .... the dividing line between 'when does media covering a story ... er ... on a daily basis' which happened and did discuss today about the aspect of when .... um .... we finished our trips ... er .... particularly to Germany, Holland, Morocco, where we felt there might be information relevant, we stayed on in Portugal because emotionally we were not ready to leave, and we felt closest to Madeleine there, and we fully expected, at that point, the media attention to die down, and .... and it didn't. And I think, with hindsight, we probably should have drawn a much clearer line in the sand, and even about being photographed.

Jeremy Paxman : We, the consumer, of course, see this scrum of photographers and cameramen and reporters surrounding a couple to whom a terrible thing has happened, and we only see it from one side, but what's it like when you're on the other side?

Gerry McCann : It's very intimidating, particularly when you've never experienced anything like that before and I have to say when I came back from the Police station, .... er .... on Friday the 4th of May and saw the mass of media ... er ... internationally gathered, I ..... it fills ..... the prospect of having them .... um .... door-stepping, invading your privacy, raking up anything from, y'know, your school days to potentially university, to things that have absolutely no relevance in the ongoing search, filled me with dread.

Jeremy Paxman : Do you draw a lesson about what ought to be done? I mean, it's a very broad question, but do you draw a lesson?

Gerry McCann : I mean ....Simplistically - and it is simplistically because the regulation and the law surrounding it and self-regulation is clearly is quite complex, and what we would call for is some move - and if it is a backward step ... We want more responsible reporting and we want accountability for what's written, particularly when it has the potential to seriously damage .... er .... peoples' lives, and I don't know how a family who were less supported than we were could have coped, because we had a point very, very close to completely breaking.

Jeremy Paxman : Can you tell us finally, what's happening with the search for Madeleine now?

Gerry McCann : I think that one thing, today, we would like to re-emphasise is the search for Madeleine is very much ongoing. ... Um ... We have .... er .... a lot of activity going on behind the scenes .... er .... We will become public with the activity when feel we need more information in a specific area . But ... er .... Madeleine's fund is ... er ... funding an ongoing search. We're very, very keen to work with the authorities both here and in Portugal, to try at the very, very least to find Madeleine and find who took her.

Jeremy Paxman: Gerry McCann, thank you.

Gerry McCann : Thank you.

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Source: Joana Morais