Black days in newspaper history: The McCanns speak out about coverage

By Ian Dunt

The mother and father of Madeleine McCann have offered a devastating account of the lies and half-truths which came to define the reporting of their case.

Speaking at length to the Leveson inquiry on media standards, the couple provided example after example of appalling coverage, where innuendo and rumour was turned into news copy on a daily basis.

The couple said the "mood" in the media changed in June 2007, just a month after the daughter was reported missing, when their actions, including a trip to Rome, began to be regularly criticised.

Around that time "more sinister elements" entered the coverage, based in some cases on accusations that the parents were complicit in the disappearance.

Kate and Gerry McCann said the worst moment came when they saw a Mirror headline reading: "She's dead."

That headline was based on a Portuguese story which quoted a policeman saying he didn’t know if she was alive or dead.

In a dignified and restrained appearance, Mr McCann said he could not believe no-one had resigned as a result of the coverage against hm.

The couple said their young children were frightened by photographers chasing their car and banging on the window to get a better shot.

They even suggested one newspaper had elongated a picture of Kate McCann and then written a headline about how "frail" she looked.

"Information is being written and lives are being harmed. Something's got to change," Mr McCann said. 

The inquiry continues.