Lying in the Sun

Brunt's Special Report

Brunt's Special Report

Until a couple of days ago I had not seen the Martin Brunt video where he attacked Brenda Leyland I had only seen a little clip.  Brunt has always been regarded as a respected crime reporter, but it has to be said viewing this special report by Brunt one would never have known, it was truly disturbing.  

The following is the transcript and the link to the footage.


Sky News Report

The day the dossier of the twitter troll who targeted the parents of Madeleine McCann.


Sky Studio News Desk


1st presenter:

And more on that now, and the Metropolitan Police has told us they are now investigating.

2nd Presenter:

Our Crime correspondent Martin Brunt has this special report.

(Some footage of village where B. Leyland lived is flashed on the screen, also some tweets.)

Voice over:

If it isn’t allowed on the streets, it shouldn’t be allowed on the net.


Jim Gamble:

We have a group, a hard core group, small group of individuals amongst that, will lie, who will menace who will bully.

(Loads of footage taken of the McCanns at various times and locations throughout the past seven years flashes across the screen)


Voice Over :

We know they are becoming bolder and a lot of what they are posting is becoming much more sinister.

Nobody who has suffered such a tragedy in their lives should have to cope with that on their own.

Jim Gamble:

The audience that some of them need is actually from the dock in Court so that they can be held to account for the things which they have done'

'Sky News Special Report – McCann Trolls' now flashed on screen, an image of little Madeleine also, and of course the ever dramatic sound track.

Footage now of Brenda Leyland on screen, filmed outside this lady’s home, as she approaches her car.

Martin Brunt:

This woman uses Twitter to attack the parents of Madeleine McCann.   On the internet she’s anonymous – Not any more!


(Ms Leyland walks from her car and approaches Martin Brunt)


B. Leyland:

Well I’m just about to go out

Martin Brunt:

No, WE CAUGHT YOU!    Can we talk to you about your Twitter… handle, and your attacks on the McCanns?

B. Leyland:



Why are you attacking them so regularly?

B. Leyland:

Look I’m just going out with a friend okay?

(This quiet spoken, very articulate, extremely polite, well mannered lady excuses herself and makes her way to a waiting car)

Martin Brunt however has other ideas, he follows Ms Leyland to the waiting vehicle!



But why are you using your Twitter Account to attack the McCanns?

(Ms Leyland turns around to answer Brunt)

Her reply ‘I’m entitled to do that’… is obvious to one and all (that is, those who are not columnists or journalists who shamelessly used this against this lady for the sake of a story, used it out of context)  - was in reference to her entitlement to USE HER TWITTER ACCOUNT to post her views on any subject she may choose, including that of the mysterious disappearance of Madeleine McCann, provided that she is not breaking any law.


You know you have been reported to the police to Scotland Yard?  They are considering a whole file of Twitter Accounts …

B. Leyland:

That is fair enough”

Brunt continues:

…, of what supporters say is a campaign of abuse against the McCanns.

B. Leyland:

Okay then well I am going out now.

(again Brunt pays no heed to what this lady said)


The Crown Prosecution Service is considering it.  Are you worried about that?



(Ms Leyland leaves in a car driven by her friend)

Brunt’s Report Continues:

On Twitter she uses the name ‘Sweepyface’ and the profile picture of a pet.  She tweets many times a day, and mostly about the McCanns.  In one message she spread rumours about the couples marriage, in another she hoped Madeleine’s parents would suffer forever.

But sweepyface is not the worst.

Almost from the day Madeleine vanished seven years ago her family have been targeted with vile messages on the internet.

(Again more footage of the McCann parents when in Portugal)

Brunt continues:

Many cannot forgive her parents Kate and Gerry McCann for leaving Madeleine and her twin siblings alone in bed while they had dinner nearby.

Some have urged violence against the parents.  Others have gone even further offering support for anyone who is prepared to seriously harm the McCanns.

Jim Gamble:

Everyone is entitled to an opinion.  Everyone is entitled to state that.  But when it becomes grossly offensive, when it becomes menacing when its causing anxiety and distress, when it is done for that purpose then there must be a criminal justice intervention, and this has gone on for too long.  And let me say this.  If this was a high profile you know celebrity or other individual that was...something would have been done about it by now.


A dossier containing evidence of hundreds of malicious and threatening internet postings has been sent to the Commissioner of Scotland Yard.  It calls for a police clamp down of the online abuse.  It has been compiled by a group of web users appalled at the attacks on the McCanns.

The Metropolitan Police told the group:

‘This material has now been forwarded to us here at the operational investigation team dealing with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, Operation Grange.   In consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service and the McCann family the material will now be assessed and decisions made as to what further action, if any should  be undertaken?'


The woman who organised the dossier said she contacted police because the abuse was getting worse and internet service providers refused to help stop it.  Because she’s so worried about her own safety we have hidden her identity, and dubbed her voice.  She also fears for the McCanns.



We are talking about materials which are libelous completely untrue lots of photo shopped images of the McCanns very cruel in nature offensive, and we were getting nowhere by reporting it to the sites and as it steadily got worse we were finding people going online who were claiming to live near the McCanns.  We’re very worried that it’s only going to take somebody to act out some of these discussions,  some of these threats that had been made and we couldn’t live with ourselves if that had happened, and we’d done nothing.


A photograph of Madeleine’s twin siblings was posted online after the McCann family were caught on a TV Camera at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer.  WE have obscured the children’s faces.   It prompted a discussion about the twins.  One commentator described the colour of their hair, another questioned their safety.

The twins are now 9 years old, and as their parents have said they are beginning to use the internet.

Another social media outlet for the McCann attackers is Facebook with sites which appear to have been set up as platforms for criticism and accusations.

This site boasts 24,000 members, another site has 34.000 members.

A recent book about the Madeleine McCann case explored the online abuse.  It provoked a campaign to flood the Amazon website with negative reviews in a bid to limit the book sales.

One of the authors:

Our book documents the fact that over the last seven years a core group of people has perpetuated the idea that the McCanns had something to do with their daughter’s disappearance!   These  people, give a  legitimacy to the online nuts, and trolls the haters, people who want to just sit behind their computers and spread venom, and they do.  And the new dossier that’s been sent to the Met is actually frightening in that is suggests action against family members it suggests stalking of family members it’s pretty extreme.


In the past Kate and G McCann have refused to comment on the online abuse they suffer because they didn’t want to fuel it.  They have long been aware of their critics in the UK, Portugal and beyond.

But there is evidence that some of their attackers are much nearer to their home in Rothley in Leicestershire.

The dossier includes Twitter postings that suggest some people have been physically close to the couple.  Tweets allege sightings of them at their local gym, the post office and a clothes shop.

One tweeter wrote that he was trying to find Kate McCann.


If the Metropolitan haven’t already begun an investigation into this on the back of letters or complaints that they have received, I think they now need to pause they need to take a long look at it.  They need to reflect on the legislation that exists to deal with this under the Communications Act, the Malicious Communications Act, and the Prevention of Harassment Act.  And they need to look at the hard core FEW who are being menacing who are being malign, who are creating anxiety deliberately.  I don’t want to give this SMALL malign and malicious group a larger audience than they have. I think the audience that some of them need is actually from the dock in Court so they can be held to account for the things which they have done and that will send a strong message to many others.  The internet is not anonymous the police have the ability to identify the individuals that are doing this.


Some antagonists specialise, in manipulating  photographs to attack the McCanns.  A common theme is the accusation that Madeleine’s parents have cashed in on their daughter’s disappearance using for themselves the £thousands of pounds raised by the Madeleine Fund.  This example shows how an innocent original image was doctored to ridicule the Mccanns.  Others make their own spoof videos and post them online.  A DVD of the worst has been handed  to  police.

(image on screen)

This is the dossier that has been sent to the Commissioner at Scotland Yard, all 67 pages of it.  The letter that went with it urged detectives to take urgent action.  They say it demonstrates an organised campaign of abuse intimidation and threats against the McCann family.  The group argues that if these so called internet trolls formed a mob and shouted their abuse at their targets in the street then the police would intervene.

(Brunt then gives examples of people who have been abused on the internet and makes mention of some who have got justice)



I think a lot of them don’t realise what they are getting into.  A lot of them are just random transient people who just post a comment and join in with discussions but there is a hard core group who have been there from the beginning.  So if the technology is there to deal with them why cant they not apply that to one of the worst cases of cyber bullying WE (?) have come across.

(Footage now of Brenda Leyland outside her home. She invites Brunt inside)


After our initial exchange with Sweepy face she invited us in. 

Off Camera she explained more about the anonymous tweets she sends from the heart of this pretty village.  She had questions for the McCanns.  She believed Twitter was a vehicle for expressing those thoughts.

She will probably never tweet again.  She hoped she hadn’t broken the law.

Sweepy Face and the many others whose comments have been recorded may find that Scotland Yard may take a different view.
1st November 2014

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