Madeleine McCann Parents Slam Proposed UK Press Rules

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By Tom Porter | February 17, 2013 11:37 PM EST

Gerry and Kate McCann arrive at the Leveson Inquiry (Reuters)

The parents of missing schoolgirl Madeleine McCann have described new plans for press regulation backed by a royal charter as a "compromise of a compromise".

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, the parents of the three-year-old, who went missing on a family holiday in Portugal in 2007, criticised government proposals, which do not follow the recommendations for an independent press regulatory body arising from Lord Justice Leveson's inquiry into press standards.

Gerry McCann, Madeleine's father, said: "They [the press] are getting another stab at self-regulation, which is actually a step too far.

"I think Leveson has been quite generous to the press... more than the behaviour of some sections of the media deserve.

"I feel that the press has lost its entitlement to self-regulation and I would like to see statutory regulation, not self-regulation.

 "If the editors get what they want concerning how complaints are dealt with [they would only have to address] certain complaints. We want the regulators to be able to protect the interests of the public."

When the couple appeared before the Leveson Inquiry in November 2011, they described articles written about them in the wake of their daughter's disappearance as "disgusting" and "offensive".

The couple also expressed concern about a lack of transparency to the talks between press bosses and ministers on the proposed charter.

Gerry McCann  said: "A major point of Leveson was acknowledging that the press had got too close to politicians. We are seeing a lot of private meetings. The minutes are not published and the discussions are not published."

Though Leveson was widely hailed as a watershed moment for a British media laid low by the phone hacking scandal, the McCanns said that they saw scant evidence of change.

"Things are still published that we would much prefer weren't published," Said Kate McCann. "Madeleine and her safety are often treated with complete contempt."

She said that after writing to the editor of a  tabloid about a recent article, "I got a reply back that made my blood boil... saying they knew what was best for missing children. They ignore the parents' wishes and the police. It is distressing that post-Leveson this is what we are getting."

The Conservatives have proposed that the best way to back up press regulation would be through a Royal Charter, a suggestion that both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are reportedly close to endorsing, after initially backing calls for an independent regulator.

Royal Charters are formal documents that lay out the conditions under which an organisation can operate, and can be changed only with government approval. The BBC and the Bank of England both operate under Royal Charter.

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