McCanns decry Royal Charter press regulation 'compromise'

Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of missing toddler Madeleine, have called for the Leveson proposals to be implemented in full.

Proposals to back new press regulations with a Royal Charter are "a compromise of a compromise", the parents of missing Madeleine McCann have said.

Kate and Gerry McCann said what the government was proposing was not what the Leveson report had recommended.

The Conservatives said their plans for a regulatory system which would be "tough" and effective and have received a cautious welcome from other parties.

Mr McCann said the press had "lost its entitlement to self regulation."

He said: "I think Leveson has been quite generous to the press and more than the behaviour of some sections of the media deserve really.

"They are getting a last chance at self-regulation which for me was actually a step too far."

He added: "I feel that the press has lost its entitlement to self-regulation over many, many years and I would have liked to have seen statutory regulation, not self-regulation."

When the McCanns appeared before Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press standards in November 2011, Mr McCann gave evidence of what he and his wife Kate called the "disgusting" and "offensive" stories written about them.

Start Quote

We still have episodes where things are published which we'd prefer not to be”

End Quote Gerry McCann

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show on Sunday, the couple said stories that jeopardised their daughter's safety were still being published.

Mr McCann, of Rothley, Leics, said: "We still have episodes where things are published which we'd prefer not to be.

"Madeleine and her safety is often treated with complete contempt."

Mrs McCann said she wrote to a newspaper which had published such a story to complain and the response she got back made her "blood boil".

Madeleine disappeared when she was three years old in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007.

In November, the report on press standards by Lord Justice Leveson - commissioned in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal - recommended an independent, self-regulatory watchdog for the press that would be backed by legislation.

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The Leveson principles are not being undermined and the provisions of the strict new system, with fines of up to one million, demonstrate that the press has not been let off any hooks.”

End Quote Bob Satchwell Society of Editors

The Conservatives opposed regulation backed up by statute, arguing a Royal Charter was the right way to provide legal backing for any new press regulator.

Both the Liberal Democrats and Labour supported the Leveson report's conclusion that legislation was necessary, but are reportedly close to agreeing on adopting a Royal Charter instead.

Royal Charters are formal documents that have been used to establish and lay out the terms of organisations, including the BBC and the Bank of England, and cannot be changed without government approval.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said he sympathised with Kate and Gerry McCann and acknowledged they were correctly compensated under libel laws but disagreed with their views on new press regulation plans.

"They are wrong to think that the tough new self-regulatory regime requires a statute," he told BBC News.

"Lord Justice Leveson recognised that the vast majority of journalists were blameless but all will face new and powerful regulation.

"There are complex practical and legal issues in implementing the new system but the Leveson pathway will be closely followed."

He added the Royal Charter would be in place to ensure the system was independent and not to exercise control itself.

"The Leveson principles are not being undermined and the provisions of the strict new system, with fines of up to £1m, demonstrate that the press has not been let off any hooks."

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