Colin Myler arrives at the high court today to give the first part of his testimony to the Leveson inquiryCredit: Yui Mok/PA
Former News of the World editor Colin Myler told the Leveson inquiry today that he thought Kate McCann had given her permission for excerpts from her diary to be published when the tabloid bought them from a Portuguese journalist.
The excerpts – which were purchased for €3,000, Myler revealed today – included entries from the days shortly after Madeleine McCann's disappearance in May 2007.
According to Myler, he was told by former News of the World news editor Ian Edmondson that the family had consented to the publication of the diary, which Myler conceded today probably emanated from the local police.
The former editor said today that Edmondson had been in daily contact with the McCann family's representative Clarence Mitchell, and that Edmondson had said Mitchell was aware of the News of the World's intention to publish and had said "good".
Myler said he had told Edmondson on the Friday night: "I don't want Kate coming out of church on Sunday morning and finding out that her diaries have been published without her knowledge."
Myler told the court he regretted the publication, but had been given assurances by Edmondson that the tabloid was on safe ground. Lord Leveson challenged the clarity of Edmondson's assurances, calling a transcript of a conversation between him and Myler over the issue, which was read in court, "ambiguous".
Myler told the inquiry that he would not have published if he had known Kate McCann had not given her consent, and "felt very bad" about the episode.
The former editor was also grilled by inquiry counsel Robery Jay QC about the allegation that he "berated" Gerry McCann over the phone after the McCanns decided to give an interview to Hello magazine rather than the News of the World.
Myler denied the claim, telling the court that he had "no cause at any stage to berate or be irate at Gerry". He said he "valued" his relationship with Madeleine's father, and had simply pointed out to him that the News of the World had better circulation than Hello.
Myler echoed other former News of the World staff in claiming during his testimony that he did not recognise the picture of the tabloid painted by former deputy features editor Paul McMullan and that illegality was restricted to a small number of people.
He told the inquiry that those who had used illegal methods in the course of their work should feel "the full force of the law".
Pressed about the News of the World's decision to publish the controversial video of Max Mosley visiting prostitutes, Myler admitted that he believed Mosley would obtain an injunction if they informed him in advance. He defended the story, which he entered for the scoop of the year award, claiming that there was a public interest in Mosley's actions due to his presidency of the international motorsport body the FIA.
He acknowledged that letters sent by chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck to the prostitutes in the video were threatening and called the terms used by Thurlbeck "unnecessary". Leveson told Myler he thought that the letters were in fact "outrageous".
Myler's evidence continues tomorrow from 10am. He will be followed by former News of the World reporter Daniel Sanderson, who wrote the stories featuring excerpts from Kate McCann's diary, and private investigator Derek Webb, who alleges he was instructed by the News of the World executive to obtain a press card from the NUJ in order to help pose as a journalist.