Gerry McCann: Watering down Leveson now would make whole inquiry a waste of time

The father of missing Madeleine McCann has said "watering down" Lord Leveson’s proposals through a Royal Charter would mean the entire inquiry had been a waste of time.

Speaking at press conference organised by the Hacked Off campaign Gerry McCann said the idea of implementing Lord Leveson’s proposals through a Royal Charter was “offensive”.

He said: “Any watering down of the Leveson plan now, whether in a Royal Charter or whatever, would be like surrendering to the press and saying the whole Leveson process was a waste of time.”

Today Oliver Letwin will unveil the Conservatives’ proposals for a Royal Charter to guarantee the independence and effectiveness of a new press regulator, which is being promoted as an alternative to legislation. But Dr McCann said the full implementation of Lord Leveson’s proposals were the “minimum acceptable compromise”, insisting that they were “not tough on the press”, and did not represent a threat to free speech.

He argued politicians had spent too long negotiating with the press, and that they now had the chance to “redeem themselves”, having made little progress since the publication of the report in November. He said in-fighting amongst politicians was playing straight into the hands of members of the press who “want politicians to squabble and manoeuvre, so that they get to carry on business as usual.”

Dr McCann said the newspaper industry was still in denial about the scale of the “sick culture” that had undermined it, and claimed the press had shown no contrition since the inquiry.

He also called on Prime Minister David Cameron to remember his own recommendation that the public be kept “front and centre at all times” during the inquiry, and to take heed of opinion polls which showed public support for a regulator underpinned by statute.

Brian Catchcart, co-founder of Hacked Off, said the campaign had not seen the Conservatives’ proposals yet, but would be commenting once they had examined them. He said the campaign was backing a Leveson Bill as the only reasonable option for regulation, and urged the Prime Minister to remember the need for transparency in future negotiations with the press.

The McCanns were widely implicated in the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine the months after she disappeared in 2007 in numerous media reports. In 2008 they were paid £500,000 in damages by Express Newspapers group, who said they said were the worst, but by no means the only offenders. In 2008, the News of the World published complete extracts of Kate McCann's diary without her permission.


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