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Woodward Wednesday, 17 June, 1998, 07:36 GMT 08:36 UK
Press restrained over Woodward's release
British newspapers report the freeing of Louise Woodward
Press: A lot of reporting - but short on comment
British newspapers have reacted cautiously to the release of au pair Louise Woodward.

Despite some of the newspapers taking a very high-profile lead in the campaign to clear the 20-year-old of the murder of baby Matthew Eappen, her release has left many titles, for once, short of words.

The caution comes after a period of intense scrutiny of the press over the 'buy-ups' of several controversial stories, including the British nurses jailed for murder in Saudi Arabia.

'She isn't a heroine'

British newspapers backing the Louise Woodward campaign
How it was: Many backed campaign
The Daily Telegraph, traditionally seen as a bastion of law and order, makes it clear in its editorial comment that Woodward's release should not be celebrated.

It applauds the British tradition of looking after its own abroad, but adds that not all passport holders deserve "unquestioning national support".

The Sun splashes the story on its front page with the headline: "Don't let Louise near a baby again", referring to the "judges' shock demand" in the appeal ruling.

In November last year, The Sun declared: "We'll back her all the way until she clears her name."

The Sun asks readers to decide on Louise Woodward
The Sun reserves judgement
Seven months on it chooses not to write an editorial comment on the case - but invites readers to telephone a special line to say whether or not they would let Woodward babysit for them.

The Mirror, which has also robustly supported the campaign, takes a similar tone.

In a nine-line editorial, it comments: "This has been a terrible experience for her but she can now start to put it behind her.

"The parents of baby Matthew Eappen will never be able to do that."

'Nothing to celebrate'

The Daily Mail wheels out its big gun columnist, Lynda Lee-Potter, to give her verdict on the tragic affair.

She hopes that the villagers of Elton have learned not to repeat the scenes of jubilation witnessed when the nanny was freed pending the appeal.

Describing Woodward as "scarcely more than a child", Ms Lee-Potter writes: "I suspect when the euphoria has gone she will suffer depression. Louise has not escaped punishment".

'Buy-ups' warning

Max Clifford appearing on BBC News 24
Clifford: "Buy-up will be a mistake"
Some of the newspapers make strong references to the comments in the appeal judgement that Woodward should not profit from her experiences.

The Independent reports that one tabloid has "an understanding " with the Woodward family, while The Times reports that film companies are queuing up to buy the rights to the nanny's story.

During the trial and appeal, the Woodward family expressed in public their distaste at the idea of profiting from their ordeal.

Max Clifford, a publicist involved in negotiating many newspaper buy-ups, warned editors and the Woodward family against taking a similar course.

He said: "It would be a gamble for any newspaper editor.

"I believe that if a newspaper editor was seen to be paying Louise Woodward a vast sum of money to Louise Woodward, the readers of that newspaper could turn against that editor.

"It is far more important (for Woodward) to have the support of the British nation.

"If you sell your story to one newspaper, automatically the other papers rubbish you."

BBC News
Publicist Max Clifford: "Woodward could lose the support of the nation"
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17 Jun 98 | Woodward
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