Matthew Steeples suggests that the death of Brenda Leyland should be a lesson to the media
Brenda Leyland, if she was indeed the source of the “online campaign of vitriol” against Gerry and Kate McCann, should not have acted as she did but equally, Sky News should not have outed her so publicly last week. With revelations that Mrs Leyland has been found dead at the Leicester Marriott Hotel, the resulting consequences are very clear.
Given that Mrs Leyland had neither been arrested nor charged with any offence by the police, Sky News’ handling of the allegations that they made was undoubtedly inappropriate. Repeated all day on their channel as a “main news item”, this minor one minute conversation morphed into a more significant piece of news than it truly was and led to such vitriolic media mouthpieces as the Mirror’s Carole Malone writing:
“[Brenda Leyland’s] a cowardly bully who hides behind her smart front door and spews her bile in secret because she doesn’t have the guts to do it in public”.
“This piece of work… wasn’t quite so brave… when news cameras approached her. She looked like a frightened rabbit (typical). But as she was running away (also typical) she said she thought she was entitled to do what she’d done”.
Undoubtedly it was having to see and read such that led to Mrs Leyland fleeing her home and committing suicide. She may or may not have sent Mr and Mrs McCann inappropriate messages, but the allegations reported as “fact” had not been proven. These allegations had come from Twitter users who support the McCanns rather than the police and just as they have the right to support the couple, those who have differing views about what happened to poor Madeleine McCann – within the realms of the law – have the right to share their opinions too.
Sky News, Martin Brunt and the likes of Carole Malone have blood on their hands: That is what should be playing on the “Breaking News” ticker.
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