Ofcom may investigate Sky News following complaints over report accusing Brenda Leyland of 'trolling' parents of Madeleine McCann

Ofcom said it had received about 60 complaints over the report which was televised last week

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The Independent Online

Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom is assessing whether to open an investigation into a Sky News report in which a woman was accused of "trolling" the parents of Madeleine McCann.

The regulator said it had received about 60 complaints as of last night into the report, in which Brenda Leyland was confronted and accused of being one of a number of people posting abusive messages about the McCanns online.

Mrs Leyland was found dead in a Leicestershire hotel on Saturday. Police have said the death is not being treated as suspicious and officers acting on behalf of the coroner "will look into the circumstances surrounding and prior to her unexpected death."

An Ofcom spokesman told The Independent: "We are currently assessing complaints, before deciding whether or not to open an investigation."

Mrs Leyland was tracked down to her house in Burton Overy, Leicestershire, and confronted by reporter Martin Brunt in a report televised last week.

It was put to her that, using the Twitter handle sweepyface, she had posted messages attacking the family.

According to an online record of tweets, apparently sent from the now-deleted Twitter account, Mrs Leyland posted thousands of messages about the McCanns, who do not have a presence on the site.

During the Sky News report Leyland was asked why she was using her Twitter account to attack the couple, to which she replied: "I'm entitled to do that."

A Sky News spokesperson said yesterday: "We were saddened to hear of the death of Brenda Leyland. It would be inappropriate to speculate or comment further at this time." 

Last Friday, Gerry McCann called for an example to be made of "vile" internet trolls who have been targeting the family.

They have faced a slew of abuse on social media for a number of years.

Mr McCann said he had "grave concerns" about letting his twins use the internet after threats of violence and kidnapping.

The comments, in an interview with the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, came after it emerged that police were looking at a dossier of abuse posted on Twitter, Facebook and chat forums.