So Robert Murat has received a massive payout from the press (in full: Express Newspapers titles the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star; Associated’s Daily Mail, London Evening Standard and Metro; MGN’s Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Daily Record; and News International’s Sun and News of the World) over the way he was depicted during the Madeleine McCann saga.
The whole McCann story has been an embarrassing period for our creaking newspaper industry. They let the story dominate for too long, they became part of the unedifying circus that the McCann’s team created and they demonised Murat for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
So now the press has egg on their faces and, guess what, Madeleine is still missing. The press tearing at the story like rabid dogs has done absolutely nothing to help find her. Journalism once again replaced by voyeurism and tittle tattle that has done nothing whatsoever to actually find the only person that really matters in this whole case.
And the treatment of Murat was symptomatic of the way in which the papers feel they can ride roughshod over the normal constraint of our legal system. Politicians are villified by the press for being soft on law and order. Alas, as long as the press is distorting cases, reporting untruths and whipping themselves into an orgy of hate for every alleged criminal we will never be able to have a sensible debate on law and order.