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Madeleine McCann's mother says she felt violated by Murdoch paper

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
updated 1:30 PM EST, Wed November 23, 2011
Gerry McCann and his wife, Kate, hold signs showing their missing daughter, Madeleine, in Lisbon in February 2010.
Gerry McCann and his wife, Kate, hold signs showing their missing daughter, Madeleine, in Lisbon in February 2010.
  • NEW: Kate McCann says a tabloid showed no respect for her "as a mother or human"
  • NEW: James Murdoch resigns from the boards of some News Corp. subsidiaries
  • British government-backed inquiry was set up in response to revelations of phone hacking
  • Attention focuses on Murdoch papers, but Hugh Grant accuses another paper of hacking

London (CNN) -- The mother of missing British girl Madeleine McCann felt "totally violated" when she saw her diary had been published in the News of the World newspaper, she told an inquiry into British press practices and ethics Wednesday.

"I'd written these words at a most desperate time of my life," Kate McCann said, saying the newspaper had shown "no respect .... for me as a mother or human."

The publication of Kate McCann's diary came after the editor of the now-defunct newspaper, Colin Myler, verbally beat her and her husband, Gerry, "into submission" to make them do an interview with the newspaper, Gerry McCann said.

He and his wife, Kate, were testifying Wednesday before the British government-backed inquiry into phone hacking and police bribery by the press.

Tabloid newspapers published articles suggesting the parents were responsible for their daughter's death, Gerry McCann said, forcing them to sue to demand retractions.

"We could only assume they were acting for profit," he said of the newspapers, adding the articles had no basis in fact.

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Their daughter has never been found.

Most of the inquiry's attention has focused on newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., but the McCanns described their troubles with other newspapers, including the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard, which are not News Corp. titles.

News Corp. announced Wednesday that Rupert Murdoch's son James had stepped down in September from the boards of subsidiaries that publish The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times.

He remains chairman of News International, the News Corp. subsidiary that owns all three newspapers.

The McCanns are the latest high-profile figures to give evidence to what's known as the Leveson Inquiry, following actor Hugh Grant and comedian Steve Coogan.

Madeleine McCann and her parents have been regular fodder for Britain's tabloid press since the 4-year-old disappeared more than four years ago from a resort in Portugal while her parents dined at a nearby restaurant.

The parents of another British girl who disappeared testified Monday how phone hacking on behalf of News of the World newspaper had given their family false hope their daughter was still alive.

Milly Dowler's mother, Sally, described her joy at finding that voice mails had been deleted from her missing daughter's phone: "She's checked her voice mail, Bob! She's alive!"

In fact, the messages had been deleted by a private investigator working for the News of the World newspaper, Dowler's father, Bob, told the inquiry panel. Milly Dowler had already been murdered.

Sally Dowler's face fell as she recalled finding out it was the hacker, not her daughter, who had been checking the voice mail.

The best-selling Sunday tabloid News of the World was shut down in July after the revelation that it had hacked into Milly Dowler's voice mail.

Grant called the hacking of a murdered schoolgirl's messages "cowardly and shocking."

The British actor also accused newspapers of using criminals as paparazzi and the Mail on Sunday of hacking into his voice mail.

Grant said he could not think of any other source for a Mail on Sunday story about his relationship with his then-girlfriend Jemima Khan being on the rocks because of his phone flirtation with a "plummy-voiced Englishwoman." That story was later found false and libelous in court.

Grant's accusation widened the scope of the British newspaper phone-hacking scandal, which has focused mostly on Murdoch-owned titles so far. The Mail on Sunday is not a Murdoch newspaper.

Grant also implied the police were leaking stories about celebrities to the press, saying that when he called the police about his girlfriend being mugged, paparazzi showed up before the police.

Police investigating phone hacking by journalists say that about 5,800 people, including celebrities, crime victims, politicians and members of the royal family, were targets of phone hacking by journalists in search of stories.

The practice involves illegally eavesdropping on voice mail by entering a PIN to access messages remotely.

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