R.F.Wilson writes from London: This is getting really funny: Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry, set up to look into the way the press operates in Britain in the light of the phone hacking revelations and journalists paying off cops for information, is going to hear evidence from Gerry McCann, part of the now famous double act, Kate and Gerry McCann, about press intrusion into his and his wife’s lives.
What press intrusion? The McCanns have manipulated the press with such skill that it allowed them to raise millions to finance the search for their daughter Madeleine, who had gone missing from their holiday apartment in Portugal in May 2007. Incidentally, the press that has been supposedly ‘harassing’ the couple didn’t really raise the most important issue about this whole matter: why didn’t social services in Britain take away two other small children from the McCanns whom they left alone with Madeleine while they were having dinner with friends at the local restaurant? Social services are usually very determined to take vulnerable children into their care, if they suspect parents of not looking properly after them. So how come the McCanns were given special treatment?
Anyway, the Leveson inquiry is actually going to waste its time on listening to Kate and Gerry’s tearful story of how they were mistreated by the newspapers. I hope they manage to keep a straight face while he is doing it and the members of the inquiry wouldn’t burst into sarcastic laughter themselves. Because the McCanns should be the last people in Britain, if not the world, to complain about press intrusion. They have become celebrities ever since their daughter disappeared, all thanks to the media giving them way too much attention and not really asking any tough questions. They can complain as much as they want about press intrusion but in reality they depend on this coverage in their supposed search for their daughter. I say ‘supposed’ because it should be crystal clear to them by now that she is dead and has been dead for the past four years.
But the McCanns wouldn’t be the only strange choices to be giving evidence to the Leveson inquiry. There is also actor Hugh Grant, who has been able to revive his career prospects on the strength of having been a ‘victim’ of phone hacking by the News of the World. In the real world Mr Grant should be grateful to the press to be still interested in him and his pathetic films, but as he was once caught out by hacks picking up a hooker on the mean streets of Los Angeles, Hugh wants revenge. Without actually realising that he looks like an idiot in his desire to prove that he’s been a victim of press intrusion. Still, a nice addition to Gerry to make a strong case for regulating the press so that it would allow pricks like them to get away with whatever it is they want to get away with and still enjoy the coverage that they would want to see in the press.
There’ll be other strange people giving evidence as well this week, but the real question is this: why the hell does everyone allow a bunch of pathetic celebs and grieving victims of press intrusion to actually decide how the press should operate? These people shouldn’t be telling anyone how the press should be run. They are all getting their compensation and raising their public profiles anyway, so they can go to hell with their hurt feelings. Especially Gerry McCann.