Lawyers clean up in McCann cases

Only the libel lawyers have got any cheer out of the continuing tragedy of the McCann case.
They have been able to pick up £550,000 in damages for Robert Murat from 12 UK newspapers. And their fees. This follows a similar payout by Express Newspapers to the McCann parents for allegations that they were involved in their daughter’s disappearance.
There was a feeding frenzy in Fleet Street over the McCann case. The fierce competition between papers led reporters and editors to go well over the top.
Editors seemed to think that just because the McCanns and Murat were in Portugal they were free to speculate. They seemed to have forgotten that both Murat and the McCanns had reputations in the UK.
The feeding frenzy led them to think that acting as a herd they would be invulnerable. Now they realise they are not.
Unfortunately this incident will lead to more caution of the wrong type in the news room. Publishers may well instruct editors that caution is the watchword. The role of the press as investigators is likely to be further eroded.
The public is not best served by cautious papers which foolishly forgot their libel law.
Sue, Rabbit and Run are the winners again.
I hope they have taken the offending articles out of their online services or the libel lawyers will be after them for seconds. But to do so is an attempt to rewrite history, as if to say we never printed that story. But they did, and now they are paying.

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