Banning The Madeleine Debate: A Question of Freedom Of Speech
July 26, 2007


By Simon Bucks, Associate Editor

Gerry and Kate McCann’s local paper in Leicestershire, the Leicester Mercury, has stopped all readers’ comments about the couple and their missing daughter Madeleine.

The editor Nick Carter says they have been “bombarded” with spiteful and defamatory remarks about the McCanns.

At the heart of many of these comments are calls for the couple to be prosecuted for neglecting their child. At the weekend Mr McCann described these critical remarks as "hurtful" and "unhelpful".

The Madeleine story clearly incites strong emotions. There have been around 75,000 posts on the subject on our discussion boards alone since we launched them two months ago. Other forums have also been inundated with comments on the subject.

Many people argue that the couple have questions to answer about leaving their children alone while they had dinner. Some are aggressive, hysterical or vitriolic. Others are balanced, apparently well argued and thoughtful.

At the same time, there is a powerful lobby who will not tolerate any implied criticism of the McCanns. Broadly, their view is that the couple’s daughter is missing and that we should only focus on getting her back.

The Madeleine story touches us all, especially parents. Few of us could honestly say we have never done anything which might have put our children at risk; for example breaking the speed limit with the kids in the back of the car.

No one wants to bring more hurt or upset to the McCanns.

But at Sky News we are not in the business of banning free speech on our discussion boards, as long as it is within our rules. Those rules forbid comments which are abusive or defamatory, but that doesn’t stop people making them. If reported, they get taken down.

The Leicester Mercury’s response to the abusers and defamers – to ban all comments - seems to me to be disproportionate and wrongheaded.

On the paper’s website there are 94 comments about Madeleine, which presumably were approved by the editor. Even if it received the same number again of unacceptable messages, it is hardly an avalanche.

Editors are paid to balance a range of often conflicting factors and try to do the right thing. Banning all debate because of the extreme behaviour of the few seems like a desperate decision to throw the baby out with the bathwater and one that should be discouraged in a free media.

Written by Sky News, July 26, 2007



The important thing is to get the little girl back safe and sound. All the judgement passing can be done later after she is brought back to her family

After reading this article above,I am amazed at the attitude of the local paper in the area that the Mccanns live, whats their point anyway. If Sky can vet their comments page before printing why cant this newspaper do the same. Are they living under the illusion that if they dont print comments that are not favourable to the Mccanns, THEY DONT EXIST.

Sorry to say it people but the McCann's story still doesn't add up. Gerry going into the room seeing the door suspiciously open and left without checking it, leaving his 3 youngsters alone again. And why in hell's name are they just considering contacting a psychic?? You would do anything humanly possible to find your child. I'm not bloody minded and I don't want it to be them but they have and are dealing with this whole situation very very strangely

I really hope we are not now destined for "Could this be Madeleine" pictures everyday
I was in Scarborough yesterday and could have taken 4 photos of 4 different children all of who looked more like her than the one in Morocco.
Unfortunately there seems to be a lot of 4 year old Blonde girls with the same looks.
I cannot help but think how aweful all this must be to other parents who have had children go missing, Either taken or who just left and who have received very little in the way of publicity and media help.

So now Gerry McCann is Certain that the Abductor Hid for an hour in another room in the appartment..
I bet he was also 3 foot tall grey and had an oval head with dark black eyes and a hovering craft waiting outside.
This guys imagination is amazing.
I am sure he has now convinced even himself that he is innocent.
Without a body the case is pretty poor and the McCanns will walk free but they still should be prosecuted for neglect for leaving those poor kids.

Personally, I say the parents are innocent and didn't harm the girl in anyway. The only mistake they have done is leaving their children alone! in a foreign country far away from home. A country where they do not speak the language, a society they don't knoe the culture and the make up. The bottom line is, if you go on vacation , it is for the whole family and you need to stick together. I know kids are tiresome, but wouldn't you put them in bed early and enjoy your meal just in the dining room adjecent to their rooms? Wouldn't you employ a formal babysitter with credentials? What Maddy woke up and couldn't reach her parents and opened the room and went outside? What if all the three had been taken away? THis is a very hard lesson for the Maccan's and a lesson to all parents. IF we decide to have kids, we need to protect then till the end, and don't leave them behind in order to enjoy some meal that excludes your own kid. If the should be presecuted, that it would be "neglegence" but not "murder". I believe in their innocence and have no doubt they are innocent.!

I've been following the story since the beginning but only started ready blogs a few days ago and have to say i'm very sad and angry at what i read. I strongly believe the parents did not kill their little girl, it just doesn't add up.

If they had accidently killed Maddy, (none had speculated planned murder yet!!!),then i do think they would have been too shocked to be able to go back for dinner with the friends and behave as normal. And why not wait till the morning to raise the alarm and have more time to think about what to do?

They made a mistake and they will feel guilty for the rest of their lives, knowing that they have left their child in danger when all parental instincts are to protect. With insight it's easy to criticize , everybody does something at some stage that could endanger our kids, a beloved or ourselves.

They do not know what happened and would still fear the worst , maybe Maddy is still alive but in the hands of psychos.
People who say the Mccanns don't look sad should remember that people grieve in different ways. Some throw themselves in work to keep busy, set up charities etc... , some look blank because they've cried all they can . Remember they have 2 young kids for whom they have to pretend life is as normal.

Also we only see snapshots, what the media think will sell most, not the nights they spend crying....

Hi my name is sylvia. I am a parent and I do know looking after kids is a joy and it can be hard work. The one thing I do know as a parent I never leave my kids home alone or just with anyone, single parents have it hard because they have to manage on there own yet I would say not even all single parents would put there child at risk especially in a foreign country.
I always say also a person is innocent till proven guilty.
I am a medium I do pick up on things, I forsee things before they happen even when an event has occured.
The mcanns are having a tough time yes, and I am not saying they are guilty or innocent, however somethings just don't add up in what I have been picking up on with the mcanns and madaline.
All the kids was in the same appartment at the same time, paedophiles or anyone interested in kidnapping kids would not just take the one child they usually go for all.
The other going to a resturaunt for a meal, the kids could of gone, yet if they knew of someone they could trust to watch the kids for them they should of done that.
Madeline yes could of wondered off and somehow got out the appartment and got lost trying to find her mum and dad yet if that was the case how would she of managed to get out if the door handle etc was too high up yes she could climb up something maybe.Or maybe the door was left open slightly.

My theory is what could of happened if the mcanns was guilty. Madeline could of been playing her parents up, the parents wanted to go meet friends at the resturaunt, for whatever reason and I don't feel it was intential however something caused one of the mcanns to lose the temper and for whatever reason the temper got the better of them.
Which ever one begin, madeline could of been hit in some way and it went wrong causing a serious problem.
So say she died for example, panick began and it was a case of oh what do we do.
The evidence would have to be removed and obviously the friends would still have to be met like nothing happened.
When the coast is clear the mcanns could of made a plan to say go to the restraunt carry on as normal make an excuse to friends the kids are in the appartment alone and needs to be checked on regular, where the resturaunt could of been cancelled, so to make things look normal they ate with the friends then one the mcanns decides to check on the kids, however many times this was done i do not know however when the last attempt was made to check the kids again one of the mcanns decides to say madelines gone missing to avoid any suspicion they had involving madelines dissapearence.

now that Is only an example I am not accusing them its just an example on what could of happened if madeline was not abducted.
Like I said people are innocent till proven guilty.

I feel madeline dissapearence is tragic and being a mother myself I would feel could not give up on finding my kids if any went missing.

I found it odd how I haven't seen much emotional tears as I thought i would see with the mcanns yet I know everyone handles things differently, i do know as a mother my feelings would show towards any my children if something happened to them.
I just find things odd in what i see and I know the only one doing all the talking out of the mcanns is the husband not the wife and I have noticed she hides from things thats suddenly said. Like i said i am not accusing anyone but I know how I would be if I lost a child I would be looking everywhere myself I would be tearful, and i do know i would not be looking calm and relaxed, I would show how much my kids mean to me and be determined to fight on in looking. I have not put this up on the board to be negative to the mcanns or there supporters, i know how they feel when you dearly miss someone you love.

I like many felt sympathy for the McCanns when little Maddy went missing. However I cannot understand why they would have left their three children in an apartment on their own to go and enjoy a meal with their friends if they are truly caring parents. They could quite easily have taken the children to the restaurant as is the habit on the continent. They were too far away at the restaurant to be able to monitor and properly know what was going on. I cannot understand why Mrs McCann can be so cool about the whole situation she shows no sign of being distraught. Any normal mother would be in bits from the start of this and up to now this just has not been the case. She appears as though it is happening to someone else. If this had happened to me the last thing I would have wanted to do was to go jetting round the world meeting the Pope going to America. Why are the police not searching for Maddy if they have decided that she is dead they should be looking for her. There is no sign that they have been doing this. The catalogue of errors seems to be growing an apartment where she went missing be rented out to others when it should have been closed as a crime scene, blood in the apartment that was not picked up at the start of the investigation, a car that they were allowed to continue to use. The polioe methods seem woefully inept. As to them being able to use the funds to pay their legal fees this is disgraceful and I am sure people who gave the money did not do so with this in mind. The money should be use to help find Maddy and to help other missing children.

I have followed this case from the start and personally my view is that the Guilty parties are in the Mccann clan.
I think this because of all the descrepencies in their stories, The way they reacted (or did not), The fact they left 3 under 4 year olds alone on an almost nightly basis over the holiday.
A fund was set up to help find the little girl, I would have hired my own investigation team even maybe contacted one of the clairvoyents who have proved previously succesfull, Did they ?? no they swanned round the world.
If reports of my missing child had come in seen in Moroco or Belgium I would have been there to follow it up. They never - it was as if they new it was not her. Now all the Evidence is poining at the McCanns.
SO... how can so many people who do not know them and have read all the reports be so damn sure that they did not do it???
They are wonderful parents...
95% of child murders are down to wonderful parents...
They really loved their kids.. of course I love my son and I always took him with us to eat when on holiday or ate in the appartment...not left him alone.
They are Doctors... No one heard of Dr Crippin etc etc...
The fact they are doctors and have a high quality life style and are held in high regard means they have a lot to loose from any scandall from a dead child that was left alone.

It is understandable that close family & friends would leap to their defence, that is human nature but sorry anyone who does not know them please explain why they are so sure they are innocent when all the evidence points to exactly the opposite???

Why would a parent sedate a child in order to sleep? Is their any reason for that?
If this happened in the uk parents would be charged for child abandonment ,negligence.endangering and goes on and on.....but poor mccans they inocent for everything....get real folks

I'm sorry but to leave 3 babies under the age of 4yrs alone, not once, I might add but several times, is quite blatantly child neglect at best and at worst child endangerment. These people are Doctors, does that make them any different from a single mum who lives on a council estate? Er, No. The media would be baying for a prosecution if this were a single mum. But No. They are 2 middle class, (intelligent) parents, who wilfully chose to leave their 3 babies alone while they enjoyed a good jolly. I understand that one of their companions at the fateful dinner has since admitted lying to Police. Originally, he said that when he checked the children, before the mother, they were fine.Since then he has admitted that he did not actually enter, he simply listened at the door. Incredible. That these 2 left their children alone is one act of neglect but for their friends to go along with this madness is absolutely flabbergasting! These parents may very well be only too aware of their stupidity now, with hindsight.But it beggars the question how often they had done this previously. As for their involvement in her disappearance..2UK sniffer dogs found traces of blood & evidence of a corpse.How did the blood get to be in the car? There are too many questions that have no answers, as yet.

Who in hell's name wants the McCanns to be named as 'Murderers of Madeleine'? Given the choice what would we prefer? (i) Kate and Gerry being convicted of the murder of their daughter or (ii)Madeleine being returned to her loving and hopefully much wiser parents? Undoubtedly we all want Maddy back, however this recent turn of events naming Kate as a suspect in the possible accidental death of her daughter is the only logical explanation so far. Nothing adds up, the McCanns account of the events are higgledy piggledy and I don't relate to their reactions to the abduction of their daughter, it don't ring true! If Madeleine is dead, the poor little darling,I hope she will always remain too young to understand her parents were not repentent enough to admit to her murder and seek forgiveness immediately, if indeed that is the case. If it was an accident, well it happens but the huge campaign shows them as devious and calculating. They still have my sympathy whatever the outcome. What an ordeal? what a living nightmare?!!!!!!!!!1

As always with any high profile story, there'll always be those who will give an opinion without thinking. However these parents chose to leave their three small children in a bedroom, without locking the patio doors, whilst they spent every evening eating and drinking with the rest of their friends. What happened to Freedom of Speech so to speak? If people wish to criticise their recklessness then they should be allowed to. Heck I know the chief suspect Robert Murat's guilt has still to be proven, but the McCanns were quite happy for his name to be villified and bandied around.

It is hard to believe that professional people especially a GP and a Heart Specialist could not foresee the dangers of leaving their children alone. Checking every 30 minutes is far too long. A child could wake up in 1 second panic and wander off in 10 seconds. Just the thought of this happening to any child fills me with horror. Maddie could even have turned over and accidentally pushed one of the twins off the bed, how could they leave them alone knowing this type of thing might happen. Just this bit is hard for me to understand without the rest of the speculation - i don't want to go there!

Now that the McCanns have find time to sue a newspaper, perhaps it is time to remind Gerry McCann that it was him and his wife who chose to leave 3 children alone while they went out to eat. His and his wife's time may be better spent returning to England and returning their other two children to a normal life and leaving the Portugese authorities to do their job. If there have been some mistakes in the investigation, it is because the Portugese would not dream of leaving their children alone at that time of day and the McCanns would do well to remember when critising the press that it is their actions alone that has put them in this situation. Gerry McCann is a controlled cold manipulative person who whilst critising the media, swans around the world taking all opportunities to be in the limelight. To me, he is constantly trying to divert attention from the fact that THEY left the children unattended and there is still no proof that there was a kidnapping taking place

lex in South Wales, you HAVE been reading the news right? The McCann's didn't put their kids to bed and then go to bed themselves at all.

Re post by lex south wales 30 Aug 2007 12:18:24

Are you for real !!!

These people put there CHILDREN all under 4 to bed then Left them to go out eating with their friends , some of who did the same.
The particular night the little girl "Went Missing" they were at a tapas bar either 50 yards if you believe The McCann Clan or Really over 150 yards away... Not in direct sight with their appartment on earlier nights they were observed doing the same and also visiting a bar even further away.
They checked their children either every 10 minutes or possibly every 90 min of if you believe some of the resort staff.. Not at all.
Sure Pillars of the community
Either you have not read up on the case or you have very different Values to everyone else where you live.
Of Course they should be prosicuted .. For Child Neglect and probably fraud.
As someone else commented none of the Million Pound fund seems to have been put to use specifically to find this little girl.

i dont understand why people think the mcanns should be prosicuted for child noglect, for this reason it could happen to anyone...when you put your children to go to bed you expect them to be there in the morning and not missing, now if the parents didt care or was neglecting the children fair enough, but dont cast judgement upon them because they put the child to bed and went to bed them selves, thats what you do to your children every night,
i think the macanns have suffered enough, people who are sending sickening coments and threats, have a sick personallity as most feel for this poor family and want them to get her back,
so it just goes to show how sick and cruel people can be

"The father of missing Madeleine McCann has said the media campaign to find the four-year-old will be scaled down and take on a "low-key format"."

Perhaps the press are now getting too near the truth.??

Whats the betting these two reprebates are nominated for parents of the year next ??

A very successful awareness campaign was launched and a million pounds collected for the find madeleine fund, yet there is no evidence that any private investigators have been engaged. Why not? Would it not be logical to use every means possible to find out what has happened, especially in the light of all the criticism of the portuguese police. I don't believe in psychic abilities but I think if my little girl was missing I would try everything I could think of.

I agree with all comments here with regard to something being very odd about this case. And, why on earth would two professional people leave their children alone while they go for a meal. This is becoming to look like some publicity stunt by the McCanns. Responsibilities come with having children and any right minded parent spend meal times togther with their children and make certain sacrifices.

Although I wish Madeline is ok, her parents are now running the risk of everyone becoming tired of the story and I have heard lots of comments regarding the lack of publicity regarding other children that have been abducted and even killed not forgetting the biker on the M40 and the carer stabbed to death by a resident.

This is a very tragic case regardless of where blame is cast. At the end of the day, a 4 yearold girl is missing, and sadly, i fear she is dead and has been all along. I am not going to cast aspersions, blame or point the finger in any direction...but as a parent, my gut instinct tells me there is something that does not quite ring true about this. I have said it from the very beginning. I cannot put my finger on it but there is something that has yet to be revealed or something totally astonishing that will eventually be uncovered.The truth will out if the portugese Police ever stop bungling and get their act together. I pray that this girl is found alive..but I think if she was going to be, she would have been by now.


The only thing good about this sad case is that never again, nowhere in the world, a parent will leave his child(ren)alone in a bed, while going out to dinner....

Posted by: Eline 23 Aug 2007 09:44:44

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