An ‘angry’ News of the World editor Colin Myler asked for an interview with Kate and Gerry McCann after discovering they had agreed to speak to Hello! magazine, the couple have claimed.
Myler phoned Gerry McCann and left him feeling so guilty that they agreed to do an interview for the defunct Sunday tabloid, the Leveson Inquiry heard this afternoon.
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In a witness statement submitted to the inquiry he said that after Myler found out about the Hello! Interview he ‘was angry and asked me (rhetorically) how he could be expected to help if we gave away stories to rival publications and that ‘the staff here felt let down’.
‘The NoW had very generously raised a £1.5m reward for anyone who provided information leading to the return of Madeleine.
‘It appeared from our telephone conversation that Mr Myler felt this meant that they had first refusal on any story or any interview we wished to give subsequently.”
The alleged exchange took place in early 2008.
The couple claimed that ‘in the end we were made to feel so guilty that we agreed to give an interview to the NoW despite not really wanting to do so”.
Gerry McCann told the inquiry: “He was berating us for not doing an interview with the News of the World and told us how supportive the newspaper had been,” he said.
“He basically beat us into submission, verbally, and we agreed to do an interview the day after.”
At the time the McCanns were campaigning through the European Parliament for the introduction of a better alert system for child abductions.
Their campaign had not received as much coverage as hoped, but one publication that was interested in the story was Hello!
The pair were keen for coverage in the weekly magazine because of its big readership in other European countries.
Kate McCann also told the inquiry how she felt ‘mentally raped’after the NoW published complete transcripts from her personal diary on 14 September 2008 –without any prior notice – under the headline ‘Kate’s Diary: In her own words”.
The Portuguese Police had seized the diary in August 2007 and the couple believed they were the ‘only possible source’for the NoW.
In his submission Gerry McCann said: ‘Of more concern was that when we investigated this leak it became apparent that there was an order from a Portuguese judge which stated that the PJ [PolÃcia JudiciÃ¡ria] should return the diary to Kate and destroy all copies in its possession, given that it had no relevance to the investigation and use of it would be a violation of its author.
‘As a result we are unsure as to how the NoW obtained a copy.”
He also alleged that the text published by the NoW did not match Kate’s actual diaries, which suggested that they were based on an English translation of a Portugese translation of the original diaries made for the PolÃcia JudiciÃ¡ria.
This meant that ‘some things were lost in translation”, he said.
Before the article was published the then deputy editor Ian Edmonson, who was arrested on suspicion of phone-hacking in April, spoke with the McCanns’ media adviser Clarence Mitchell and told him they were writing a ‘positive piece’– but did not mention the diary, the couple claimed.
The McCanns said that if they had known they would have considered taking legal action to prevent its publication.
Instead, they instructed the law firm Carter Ruck to bring a complaint after publication, when the NoW agreed to publish an apology and pay a donation to further the search to find Madeleine.
Gerry McCann said that while this was ‘better than nothing’it provided ‘scant consolation given the distress caused to Kate and our family”.