|Mirror columnist Carole Malone, appearing on Celebrity Big Brother in 2007|
On the evening of Saturday 4 October 2014, the Mirror posted to its website an article by star columnist Carole Malone.
It was titled:
'Madeleine McCann internet trolls are devoid of humanity – much like the people who abducted her.'
In it, she wrote about Brenda Leyland who, unbeknown to Malone, had earlier that day been found dead, alone, in a hotel room after being stalked on global tv by SkyNews and then named by the Daily Mail and others.
Here’s what Malone wrote of Mrs Leyland, a woman she’d never met:
She looks like a perfectly respectable woman. But of course she isn’t.
She’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.
She thinks she’s entitled to threaten, hound and bully the innocent. Is that because her own life is so lonely, so miserable, so poisoned that she wants others to suffer the same? Or is she just a twisted, fecked-up bitch who gets her kicks from hurting people?
Brenda’s ‘crime’ – it’s unlikely the CPS will pass an opinion on that now she’s dead - had been to post her views on the McCanns in a little-visited outpost of twitter called #mccann.
Malone’s own opinions were written, of course, for a national newspaper and its website.
Let’s play a little game. We’ll call it “Spot the troll”.
See if you can identify who wrote the following. Was it:
A: ‘Cowardly bully’ Brenda Leyland, or
B: ‘Perfectly respectable’ Carole Malone
1. Eating a Mars bar when you're dieting is a mistake. Leaving three little kids alone in an unlocked apartment while you go eating and drinking with your mates is irresponsible.
2. (The McCanns) never seem to miss an opportunity to court publicity when they need to raise money.
3. Is Gerry McCann right to take money from newspapers he claims have caused his family distress?
4. (The McCanns' press spokesman) Clarence Mitchell.. looks shiftier than your average car salesman.
5. Three kids under the age of four alone in an apartment is a disaster waiting to happen-however you cut it. They could have set themselves alight.
6. Had she actually acted a bit more maternal she would never have left her three kids alone in an unlocked room while she went out to have dinner.
7. God forgive me for thinking this, but there have been times this week when I've been angered by Kate and Gerry McCann.
8. I've been watching the two of them jogging on the beach and thinking: "What the hell are they doing."
9. Yes, the police have made stupid mistakes. But then so did Kate and Gerry by leaving their children alone in an unlocked apartment for five nights in a row while they went out eating and drinking with friends.
10. If these people have nothing to hide, if they really DO want to help find Maddie, why haven't they already hauled their backsides back to Portugal?
How did you get on?
Every single quote, of course, was taken from columns by Carole Malone in the News of the World and Sunday Mirror in 2007 and 2008.
But in the middle of this mass of outraged ranting, Malone has something important to say.
In the News of the World on 4 May 2008, in an article titled ‘I wept for Kate but still blame her', she wrote:
We can't NOT say what we think when the McCanns continue to ask for publicity and money to help find their little girl. They got us involved and they have to accept that we might have an opinion about what they did.