Gerry McCann lashed out at new watchdog after winning £50,000 from the Sunday Times
Gerry McCann lashed out at the new press watchdog after winning £55,000 from The Sunday Times Getty Images

Gerry McCann launched a scathing attack on the press by claiming the new newspaper watchdog is "a sham" that has failed to live up to the Leveson Report of two years ago.

McCann spoke after winning a £55,000 libel pay-out he branded "peanuts" from The Sunday Times, for wrongly reporting that he and wife Kate hampered the investigation in to Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

McCann is a committed supporter of campaign group Hacked Off, which demands politicians draw up a press law to control what newspapers can and cannot report to readers.

Attacking the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), for failing to fulfil the spirit of more stern regulation laid out by Lord Justice Leveson.

"Nothing will be done to ensure that in future reporters and editors try harder to get things right. And so the same people will do something similar, soon, to some other unfortunate family – who will probably not have our hard-earned experience of dealing with these things and who will probably never succeed in getting a correction or an apology."

Writing in The Guardian, McCann warned readers "next time it could be you."

He said: "They hide behind talk about the rights of the press while they routinely trash the rights of ordinary people. They constantly claim to stand up to the powerful, but they are the ones with the power, and they use it ruthlessly.

"Parliament backed Leveson's plan. The public backs it. So do we, and almost all the other victims who gave evidence to Leveson. Only one group of people is opposing this change – the perpetrators themselves, the same editors and newspaper owners who were responsible for all that cruelty.

"Instead of accepting the Leveson plan, these people, including the owner of The Sunday Times, have set up another sham regulator called IPSO, which is designed to do their bidding just like the old, disgraced Press Complaints Commission.

"If in another year's time the press still rejects the royal charter – itself already a compromise – then it will be time for parliament to deliver on the promises the party leaders made, and ensure that what Leveson recommended is actually delivered. Otherwise elements of the press will go on treating people with total contempt."

Elsewhere, Scotland Yard said it may arrest web users who have bombarded the McCanns with abuse online. A dossier containing a litany of vile abuse, including threats to kill, has been compiled to show the extent of the hate campaign against them.