Express Newspapers titles publish unprecedented apologies to McCanns

The Daily Express and Daily Star have both published the most prominent front page apologies seen in the UK national press since the Daily Mirror’s Iraq torture picture scandal of 2004.

More apologies are expected in the Sunday editions of the two papers to the parents of missing child Madeleine McCann.

The moves follow legal action through solicitors Carter Ruck by Gerry abd Kate McCann.

Express Newspapers has agreed to pay damages which are understood to total £550,000 to the Medeleine Fund.

A statement is due to be read out in the High Court today.

The upper limit on libel payouts in UK courts currently stands at around £200,000. And libel payout could be doubled because the stories applied to both McCanns. If the matter had gone to court Express Newspapers could have paid hundreds of thousands more in damages.

The apologies relate to more than 100 stories in the Express Newspapers titles which were held to imply that the McCanns were in some way responsible for their daughter’s disappearance.

Earlier this week they were taken down from the Express Newspapers websites.

The apology in the Daily Express says the newspaper takes the “unprecedented step” of making the apology on its front page.

It reads: “We do so because we accept that a number of articles in the newspaper have suggested that the couple caused the death of their missing daughter Madeleine and then covered it up. We acknowledge that there is no evidence whatsoever to support this theory and that Kate and Gerry are completely innocent of any involvement in their daughter’s disappearance.”

The Daily Star published a similarly-worded apology.

Madeleine, who turned four shortly after she disappeared, went missing from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3 last year while her parents ate dinner at a nearby tapas bar with friends.

Kate and Gerry remain officially suspects, or arguidos, in the Portuguese police investigation but they strenuously protest their innocence.

The Sun published a front page apology to Elton John in 1987 after the paper falsely alleged he had paid male prostitutes.

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