Press victims could stand in next election against Leveson deniers

Charlotte Church and Gerry McCann mooted as candidates to stand against Cameron, Gove & Co

Column LAST UPDATED AT 09:58 ON Tue 4 Dec 2012

SPECULATION is growing among Labour MPs that some of the victims of press abuse who gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry - and who are now demanding statutory backing for the judge's proposals - could stand against Cabinet ministers at the next election.

Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, will sit down with press barons and editors today to hear how they plan to introduce a new voluntary independent press watchdog to replace the discredited Press Complaints Commission.

Yesterday she threatened: "If action is not taken as requested in terms of putting together a self-regulatory approach", the government response "would include legislation".

But after yesterday's Commons debate on Leveson, rumours were running around Labour MPs that the Hacked Off campaigners could keep up the pressure into the next general election by fielding candidates against the Cabinet ministers who are holding out against public opinion - including David Cameron (Witney, majority 22,740).

Barry Sheerman, the Labour MP and former select committee chairman, picked up the rumours when he tweeted this morning: “Wouldn't be surprised if some of the victims of press harassment stood against opponents of #Leveson at Election."

Miller would be one of the key Cabinet targets for the campaigners, if she fails to act on her threat to editors. She had a majority of 13,176 in Basingstoke in 2010.

Another possible target is Education Secretary Michael Gove, the former Times journalist, who will be defending a majority of 17,289 in Surrey Heath in 2015 and has been one of the most vociferous opponents of statutory codes - he even had a row in public with Lord Leveson while giving evidence.

The likes of rom-com actor Hugh Grant and TV comedian Steve Coogan may not be up for standing for Parliament, but Charlotte Church came over as a budding politico when she appeared on Question Time recently, and Gerry McCann, father of the still missing Madeleine, is seen as another possible candidate. McCann believes strongly that MPs owe it to the general public to back statutory measures.

But having got the best newspaper headlines since coming to power by rejecting Leveson's key proposal, there is no sign that Cameron is going to “redeem himself" by embracing the entire Leveson report, statutory underpinning included, and setting Fleet Street against him at the next election. Unless, perhaps, he risks seeing the vote split in key Tory seats. · 

Disqus - noscript

Am I reading this correctly? Is Gerry McCann running for office? Oh Dear oh dear oh dear.
Mind you it doesn't surprise me, seeing as Kate is now 'Ambassador ' for missing people. That was mindblowing enough. I think this has been on the cards since 'Day one' as Gerry refers to that fateful evening when his child mysteriously disappeared. All part of the 'Wider Agenda'?

The ambitions of the McCanns have been pretty obvious for some time - this does not surprise me.

Oh dear oh dear indeed. Gerry McCann as poster boy for Hacked Off was ludicrous enough but this...THIS just beggars belief. Even if we put aside all the doubts and assume that he and his wife have been entirely truthful from the outset *cough, cough*, here we have a man who admitted to leaving three children under 4 for 5 nights on the trot, then played the media and indeed the world for 5+ yrs. Christopher Meyer offered him help via the PCC in the very early stages but suggested that if it was compensation he was after that he should sue. And sue he did. But not until the stories had been allowed to run and run for several months. Why didn't he allow the PCC to intervene when offered?
Since their enormous libel payout in early 2008 (and btw, would the Express have settled if they had been aware that the police files were to be released a few months later? I think not. David Pilditch stated at the Leveson inquiry that upon release of the files, it appeared that the majority of what had been written had turned out to be accurate), he and his wife haven't had any bad press or unwelcome intrusion and certainly have never been criticised for their dreadful neglect like most of us plebs would be. Gerry McCann was happy to pose on the front page of The Sun with his wife under the headline, "I couldn't make love to Gerry" in 2011. But of course they were paid at least £1/2m for that as Rebekah Brooks told us at the Inquiry. If privacy were so important, this horrid pair would have slipped under the radar years ago. A lot of people would have had a great deal more respect and sympathy for them if they'd been prepared to take a stand in support of child welfare, urging others not to make the same mistake they did, rather than jump on any old bandwagon to fulfil their political ambition. Yes, as the first poster suggests, it has been said that GM has long harboured such ambitions, having been earmarked for a high profile role with the Labour Party before *whatever* tragedy it was that befell their daughter took place.
IMO it was remiss of Hacked Off to sign him up as a poster boy for their campaign without an objective look at his extraordinary relationship with the press.

I shall try again....IMO it was remiss of Hacked Off to sign up Gerry McCann as poster boy without taking a closer look at his and his wife's extraordinary relationship with the press. I encourage others to do so

If Gerry McCann becomes an MP, then God help his constituents. He couldn't even look after his own precious daughter, so how could he look after constituents? His wife wouldn't even answer the police's 48 questions when they concluded the parents knew what had happened to their daughter.

This has to be a joke, surely?

oh my apologies, i thought you had refused to publish my first comment. Thank you. It is refreshing for a publication to allow even mild criticism of the McCanns

Brilliant! In a nutshell. This man even tried to have a book banned. He failed, ultimately but put the poor policeman that wrote it through hell. And all Amaral did was publish what the P.J. had concluded. Banning books is so 16th century. Don't you think?

I've read the police files. A lot of people have. But has Lord Leveson? I doubt it somehow after watching him fawn over the fragrant Mrs. McCann. He should have done his homework before giving them such a huge benefit of the doubt.

Well, yes, it's aaabsolutely incrrredible as our favourite doctor might say. Aside from long-term political ambitons, it is a worry that their recent sorties into public life are intended to whip up public sympathy before they try to sue the poor man for an astonishing £1million in Lisbon in January. Their recent comments may well backfire on them though as I believe anything stated in court can be freely reported. I do hope that there will be some newspapers only too happy to supply us with some facts for once. That might scupper Gezza's grand designs.