Carter Ruck: The McCanns libel lawyers "rapacious, greedy, unscrupulous, ambulance-chasers"
"They [Carter-Ruck and Schillings] are rapacious and greedy and unscrupulous in the methods they use, and I would be astonished if they were not ambulance-chasing and going to celebrities and saying 'You see that picture, we think we could do something for you',"
Paul Dacre, the Daily Mail editor, today attacked "greedy libel law firms" Schillings and Carter Ruck, while conceding newspapers had made mistakes in reporting Madeleine McCann's disappearance.
Dacre told MPs on the House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee that law firms specialising in libel acted like ambulance chasers in pursuit of cases.
"They [Carter-Ruck and Schillings] are rapacious and greedy and unscrupulous in the methods they use, and I would be astonished if they were not ambulance-chasing and going to celebrities and saying 'You see that picture, we think we could do something for you'," he said.
Regarding coverage of Madeleine McCann's disappearance, Dacre said it had been a unique case, which prompted massive interest from readers and boosted newspaper sales when it was put on the front page.
He added that some newspapers had overstepped the line in some reports about Madeleine's disappearance, but denied a collective failure on the part of the industry.
"Lessons have been learned how very considerable interest in stories still meant the boundaries of correct newspaper journalism should be observed and those boundaries were transgressed by some newspapers in the industry," Dacre said.
He added that a combination of the Human Rights Act and conditional fee arrangements – the so-called "no win, no fee" payment system – was having a chilling effect on the UK newspaper industry.
Dacre, who is also editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, highlighted a recent case that the Sunday paper lost in which it had to pay £5,000 in damages, and yet the total legal cost for the paper came to £520,000. He called for reform of both the Human Rights Act and CFAs.
"Together they present a lethal weapon crushing press freedom," said Dacre, giving evidence to the select committee's review of press standards, privacy and libel.
Dacre told MPs that economic conditions in the newspaper industry were the toughest he had experienced.
"I have been a journalist for 40 years and I have never known such a chilling time for newspapers. The industry is in a parlous state," he said.
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Source: The Guardian
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