Thursday

Debbie Butler - Formal Complaint to Sun, Express and P.C.C.

Dear Editor of the Sunday Express

Sorry to send this to so many addresses at once, but we were not sure from your website how to reach the Sunday Express editor or his Secretary.

I act for Miss Debbie Butler in the matter of her formal complaint to you about the contents of Sunday's front-page article: "The McCanns' Stalker".

This is a formal complaint under the Press Complaints Commission code and a copy is being sent to Scott Langham at the Press Complaints Commission for immediate action.

A summary of Miss Butler's complaints are as follows:

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The 'Sunday Express', like all other newspapers, has a duty under the Press Complaints Code to be fair and accurate.

Against those benchmarks, here are the complaints about the Sunday article that Miss Butler now makes. For the record, her address is *** *****, *****, *****:

1. Describing Debbie Butler as a 'stalker' in respect of one leaflet drop in Rothley and nothing else was neither fair nor accurate.

Making it a front-page leaflet with a picture clearly exposes her to risk of unfair attack. What she has done is distribute a factual leaflet. There is absolutely no course of conduct by her in relation to the McCanns that could remotely be described as 'stalking'.

2. Describing '10 Reasons' as a 'hate leaflet' (one villager was quoted as saying the leaflet was 'drumming up hate' and the 'Sunday Express' described it as 'highly inflammatory') was grossly unfair and grossly inaccurate, especially as the 'Sunday Express' did not explain the contents of the leaflet

3. The 'Sunday Express' deliberately chose the worst photograph they could take of her to portray her as 'a hard cow', which she was not. That was manifestly unfair

4. Neither Debbie Butler nor anyone else in the Madeleine Foundation sent a leaflet to Brian and Janet Kennedy. We do not know where she lives. Inaccurate

5. It was not a 'late-night' leaflet drop. It took place between 3pm and 6pm. Inaccurate

6. The leaflet drop did not involve 10 people, it involved 3. Inaccurate

7. Dr Gerald McCann was allowed to get away with describing the leaflet as 'despicable lies'. The 'Sunday Express' made no attempt to inform its readers that the content of the leaflet was the truth and that the McCanns had never rebutted any of the claims made in either '60 Reasons' or '10 Reasons'. This was grossly unfair and inaccurate. The leaflet was not 'lies' nor 'despicable lies'. It was the truth.

8. Debbie Butler was described in the 'Sunday Express' article as 'a single parent family with two children'. A more accurate description would have been 'a successful Kent bsuinesswoman' - a fact which the reporter was made well aware of. The mere description of her as 'single parent' was unfair,

As remedies, Debbie Butler seeks:

1. A full retraction on the 'Sunday Express' front page of the description of her as 'The McCanns' Stalker'

2. A fulsome apology.

3, A payment of compensation which she tells me, if awarded, she would like to be paid in full to ChildLine.

Tony Bennett