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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 10:01 pm 
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Opinion: Brunt’s reporting of Brenda Leyland’s ‘trolling’ was disgusting

October 6, 2014 · by Liam Andrews · in Opinion. ·

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A screengrab from the report as Brunt followed Mrs Leyland down the road

Sky News and crime reporter Martin Brunt should take the full blame and hang their heads in shame following the suicide of Brenda Leyland yesterday (05/10).

Brunt ‘outed’ Mrs Leyland as a Twitter troll and accused her of sending abusive messages to Madeleine McCann’s parents. But the attack on her didn’t stop at an online story or TV report, Brunt then doorstepped her and publicly vilified her in front of millions of viewers. And then on Sunday, the 63-year-old was found dead in a hotel room after fleeing her home.

One of the worst tweets on Mrs Leyland’s supposed Twitter account ‘@sweepyface’ was – #mccann Q “How long must the Mccanns suffer” answer “for the rest of their miserable lives” – and if that is why she was humiliated I am baffled. Now of course it isn’t very nice hoping that parents suffer after losing a child, but firstly people have opinions and should be allowed to express them and secondly this tweet is nowhere near some of the worst sent on Twitter even in the past day. She didn’t threaten the McCanns, she merely stated her opinion on them. And to be the target of a vile campaign by Brunt just for a few tweets is absolutely disgusting.

The tweet was not even sent directly to the McCann’s Twitter account, it was done via a hashtag so there was no reason the parents would even see it, especially considering they have been quoted as saying they don’t read abuse because it upsets them too much. And let’s not forget these parents left a 3-year-old girl with her YOUNGER twin siblings alone in a hotel room in a foreign country while they went out for dinner. It’s not exactly good parenting, is it? Mrs Leyland wasn’t the only person in the world feeling more sorry for the poor girl who is missing, rather than the parents who many believe are partially to blame for her disappearance. And would Brunt’s report on these ‘Twitter trolls’ really have made the McCann’s feel any better? I can’t help but think not.

Just to clarify, what Mrs Leyland said may or may not have been wrong and unfair on the McCann’s, but for Sky News to publicly humiliate her and turn up on her doorstep which is a level of harassment is totally wrong. At the very worst it is fine to report the story, but even then it doesn’t seem right, if Brunt was that concerned about the McCann’s feelings he should have let the police deal with it rather than try and make himself a hero on national television. If the police decided she had committed a crime, then Brunt and Sky News can report on the issue, but it’s unfair to attack a woman who is innocent until proven guilty.

Being a journalist is all about telling the news that needs to be reported, the news that people need to hear, it’s not about getting your moment in the spotlight or vilifying people. If you think somebody is a troll don’t give them more attention. All Sky News and Martin Brunt have done is caused a woman’s life too end because of a few silly tweets. And ironically that is a massive story in itself, but you can’t see that article anywhere on the Sky News website (at the time of writing).

Tony Evans, the sports editor of national newspaper The Times has spoken 100 per cent sense on the issue here:

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