Charter gives Press ‘chance it does not deserve’

Plans for a new Press regulator backed by a Royal Charter are “a compromise of a compromise” that do not go far enough in holding the Press to account, the parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann said yesterday.

Gerry and Kate McCann hit out at the Government’s proposals, saying they lacked transparency and gave newspapers a last chance at self-regulation they did not deserve.

The main political parties appeared last week to be nearing agreement on plans for a Royal Charter that would oversee a new Press watchdog.

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Mr McCann told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “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.”

Madeleine was nearly four when she vanished from her family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3 2007, where she had been left by her parents as they dined with friends nearby.

The coverage of her disappearance was given by Lord Justice Leveson as an example of how stories ran “totally out of control”.

Giving evidence to the inquiry last year, Kate McCann said she felt like “climbing into a hole and not coming out” after the News of the World printed her intensely personal diary, started after her daughter disappeared.

Earlier, John Witherow, the acting editor of The Times, told Marr presenter Eddie Mair that what was being proposed in the Royal Charter “had teeth” and took in much of Leveson but without the need for statute.

“What is on the table is very tough on the Press,” he said, adding that “we don’t like parts of it”, especially around damages payouts.

Speaking on Marr, Mrs McCann said: “What the Government is proposing with this Charter – the charter body is overseen by Ministers for a start which again takes away the independence – it is basically a compromise of a compromise.

“Why do the Press, the Government, not want to be accountable like everybody else? The Press are the first to hold people in authority to account,” she said.