A letter appealing to all editors for fair coverage of the McCann Crimewatch programme tomorrow

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A letter appealing to all editors for fair coverage of the McCann Crimewatch programme tomorrow

Post by sharonl on Sun 13 Oct - 23:22

Below is a letter some of us will be sending to national news media and press tomorrow.

I would gladly put up a list of up-to-date media e-mail address on here, but someone has told me that this may be illegal as it encourages spam.

It is fairly easy to get such lists off the internet anyway.

I would invite all here to contact editors of the TV media and press with a similar letter, whether it is just one or two lines, or you reproduce the whole letter.

I will be heading my letter

"Appeal for fair coverage of the BBC McCann Crimewatch prograamme tonight:


4 October 2013

Dear Editor or Journalist

Exactly one week ago, a retired Police Superintendent, who has followed the McCann case for the past six years, sent the letter reproduced below to the producers and editors of tonight’s BBC Crimewatch programme, which will feature an alleged true reconstruction of events on 3 May 2007, when Madeleine McCann was reported missing by her parents.

Since then the letter has been very widely circulated on the internet. Many others have sent the same or similar letters to both the Crimewatch programme and to DCI Andy Redwood, the head of Operation Grange, which has been reviewing evidence relating to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann for the past six years, at a cost of nearly £6 million so far. These letters expressed grave concerns about the nature and content of the proposed programme. To date, none has been answered.

The purpose of this e-mail, being sent to a number of editors and journalists, is to ask you to report fairly on the Crimewatch programme tonight.

Since 7 October, advance publicity for the ‘Crimewatch McCann Special’, and yesterday’s newspaper front pages, have greatly heightened our concerns about it. Both the BBC and Crimewatch are strongly suggesting that the original time line of events is wrong. Two versions of this timeline were created within an hour of Madeleine’s disappearance by Dr Russell O’Brien, a friend of the McCanns, writing them out on the back cover of Madeleine McCann’s Sainsburys Activity Sticker Book, a matter which so far as we are aware has never featured in any British newspaper article or TV report. Moreover, countless witness statements, including those of the McCanns and their friends, have confirmed the events of that timeline over the past six years. The only way this timeline could possibly be altered now (as is suggested by the pre-publicity) is that those original statements were false. If that were true, those making them ought to be arrested for perverting the course of justice.

Further, it is claimed in a number of newspapers, not only in the UK but also in Holland and Germany, where the programme will also be transmitted, that two German or Dutch males and possibly others are to be featured in the programme, not as suspects, but as ‘persons of interest’. A ‘computerised’ e-fit has apparently been produced of one or more of these persons of interest. I understand that the Crimewatch programme has apparently been in preparation for months. If reported correctly, these matters raise many concerns. How is it possible that these people have been overlooked, despite the McCanns’ private investigators having had full access to the police files for the past five years? If these ‘persons of interest’ really are of significance and could lead to the arrest of someone who may be holding Madeleine, why weren’t e-fits of them circulated months earlier?

Do any of these ‘persons of interest’ help explain to any degree why the cadaver dogs of top British police dog handler Martin Grime alerted to the scent of a corpse in 11 locations associated with the McCanns but nowhere else in the village of Praia da Luz? Do these ‘persons of interest’ help to explain in any way the total absence of evidence for an abductor, apart from the statements of the McCanns and their friend Jane Tanner - or explain any of the other issues addressed in the Police Superintendent’s letter?

If I can help you with any further issues in connection with the Crimewatch programme, please e-mail me.



Police Superintendent’s letter

7th October 2013

Mr Gavin Cappelle, Production Co-ordinator and Mr Joe Mather, Series Editor,
BBC Crimewatch Programme
BBC Broadcasting House
Portland Place

Also for the attention of presenters Kirsty Young, Matthew Amroliwala and Martin Bayfield

By email to:

Dear Mr Cappelle and Mr Mather

Proposed Crimewatch programme 14 October 2013 - Madeleine McCann

I have a number of concerns about the above proposed programme.

I understand that there is to be a ‘live’ interview with the McCanns and that a reconstruction of events will be shown, presumably of part of Thursday evening 3 May 2007, the day Madeleine was reported missing.

The BBC has said that it will be showing a reconstruction of Madeleine’s ‘abduction’.

The alleged ‘reconstruction’ is reported in various media as taking place ‘abroad’ or in Spain but not in Portugal, and certainly not, therefore in Praia da Luz.

The duties of the BBC and Crimewatch

I understand that the BBC Charter requires that it be truthful and accurate and, where appropriate, must provide 'balanced' coverage of any issue, and that OFCOM has the power to investigate complaints.

‘Crimewatch’ has a formidable reputation, based on setting before the public accurate information about a crime, and asking for the public’s help in identifying the perpetrators. These principles must apply just as rigourously to the case of the reported disappearance of Madeleine.

Given the controversial, sensitive and high profile nature of this case, I must assume that the research done by Crimewatch into the background for any reconstruction and interview of the McCanns has been exceptionally thorough and meticulous. You will be aware that there are thousands of pages of witness statements, experts’ reports, forensic reports, photographs, videos and other material, which was made public on DVDs by the Portuguese Police as long ago as August 2008, and all of which has been translated into English, read and analysed in great detail on numerous internet websites, blogs and fora. You will no doubt for example have read all the relevant information on the McCannfiles blog (www.mccannfiles.com), a library of factual material about the case.

Was Madeleine McCann abducted?

Given the claim by the BBC in its advance publicity for your proposed programme that Madeleine McCann was ‘abducted’, the first question that the producers and editors of any Crimewatch programme have to answer is whether or not this is established as a fact

I hope, therefore, that you have considered the following:

• The detailed investigation Interim report by Inspector Tavares de Almeida dated 10 September, and publicly available on the internet, giving numerous clear reasons for concluding that Madeleine died in the McCanns’ holiday apartment and that they and/or others hid her body

• The contents of the book ‘The Truth Of The Lie’, written by Dr Gonçalo Amaral, which as you will be well aware is currently the subject of the final trial in the-long running libel action the McCanns brought against him

• The fact that the content of Dr Amaral’s book has been repeatedly shown to be entirely consistent with the contents of the police files released to the general public in 2008 (indeed this fact has been repeatedly emphasised during the first six days of this trial)

• The fact that the concluding report signed off by the regional Attorney-General in July 2008, whilst archiving the investigation and deciding there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone, made it plain that the Portuguese judicial authorities by no means established as a fact the McCanns’ claim that Madeleine had been abducted

• Indeed the probability that Madeleine had died in her parents’ apartment and her body hidden was explicitly acknowledged in the very same report.

If you have considered the above facts, I am not sure how the BBC can proceed with this programme at all, or to continue to refer to ‘the abduction’ of Madeleine. The alerts of two sniffer dogs belonging to top police dog handler Martin Grime cannot be ignored in considering whether or not Madeleine was abducted. The McCanns for example have never been able to explain the dogs’ alerts to the past presence of a human corpse in four locations in the McCanns’ flat, on three items of their clothing, in the hired car and other locations associated with them, and in no other places. Dr Gerald McCann has claimed that sniffer dogs are ‘incredibly unreliable’ despite the fact that their reliability is well established and their use in ever more fields of detection, drugs, explosives, medicine and other disciplines is growing rapidly. There are excellent BBC programmes on this very subject, the most recent showing a dog detecting early cancer of the kidney from urine.

To reinforce this point, let it be stated clearly - the only ‘evidence’ of abduction is the say-so of the McCanns themselves.

I believe that a complaint may be made to the disciplinary body of the National Union of Journalists if any member of the NUJ had contributed to a dishonest programme which ignored or set aside relevant facts.

The history of reconstructions or attempted reconstructions

In the Portuguese criminal justice system, reconstructions of events surrounding a murder or disappearance or other crime are used to test the validity of the witnesses’ statements. The actual persons involved in such events are the witnesses themselves. They will be invited to the scene of the crime. Such reconstructions are commonly video-recorded for the benefit of the criminal investigation. This is especially true where there are obvious contradictions between the witnesses’ statement, as is manifestly the case regarding Madeleine’s disappearance. Your researchers must be fully aware of these. They have been extensively catalogued and analysed (a) in the interim report of Tavares de Almeida (b) in the Attorney-General’s final report (c) in Dr Gonçalo Amaral’s book and (d) on numerous Madeleine McCann information and discussion sites on the internet.

This type of ‘reconstruction’ is very different from a ‘Crimewatch’-style televised reconstruction.

Dr Amaral wanted to do such a reconstruction as it was clear in the first days of the investigation that there were significant inconsistencies in the witnesses’ statements, even between various statements made by the same witness. As he explains in his book, he decided not to do one because of the intense media spotlight he and his team were under.

A reconstruction of some of the events of 3 May 2007 was shown on the BBC’s Panorama programme on 19 November 2007.

A second attempt by the Portuguese police to hold a reconstruction occurred in the spring of 2008. The McCanns and their friends all declined to take part, after taking legal advice, giving a variety of reasons for not doing so. Dr Gerald McCann specifically said at the time that he saw no purpose in such a reconstruction as the police would not be showing the reconstruction on TV. He said he wanted a ‘Crimewatch-style’ reconstruction. Therefore the proposed Portuguese police reconstruction could not proceed.

The Channel 4 reconstruction, 2009

In May 2009, Channel 4 screened a reconstruction made by Mentorn Media. This was heavily criticised by many on a number of grounds, including these:

• It featured the description of a possible abductor by Jane Tanner, despite numerous indications that her alleged ‘sighting’ was fabricated (see below)

• It attempted to link an alleged sighting of a man carrying a child by Martin Smith, at around 10.00pm in a different part of Praia da Luz, with Jane Tanner’s claimed ‘sighting’ at 9.15pm. The improbability of any abductor walking around the village for 45 minutes or more carrying a child is so obvious as to hardly require mention

• It attempted to suggest that the man allegedly seen by Jane Tanner and the man allegedly seen by Martin Smith were one and the same, despite Jane Tanner describing the man as having ‘long, black hair’ whilst the man described by Martin Smith had ‘short, brown hair’

• Three witnesses, namely Jane Tanner, Jeremy Wilkins and Dr Gerald McCann gave significantly contradictory statements about the very moment when Jane Tanner claimed to have seen the abductor at 9.15pm. These were contemptuously dismissed on the TV reconstruction by the McCanns’ then chief private investigator, ex-Detective Inspector Dave Edgar, as ‘inevitable inconsistencies’. Any serious detective would have probed the contradictions, which should have been fully aired on the programme

• The man shown in the documentary as carrying a child away from near the McCanns’ apartment did not look the same as Jane Tanner’s description. In any case, of course, Jane Tanner admitted to not seeing his face.

Severe doubts about the credibility of Jane Tanner

The reasons for doubting the evidence of Jane Tanner are many but include:

• changes in her accounts, such as changing the direction in which the person she claimed to have seen was walking

• her recollection of details about the abductor and the child improving with time, such as ‘recollecting’ on a second interview precise details of the pattern of the pyjamas of the girl being carried (in line with what she then knew about Madeleine’s pyjamas, but crucially miscalculating the length of the pyjama bottoms )

• rambling and over-elaborate descriptions of the abductor and what he was wearing, both when interviewed by the Portuguese police and later when re-interviewed by Leicestershire Police

• her positive identification on 13 May 2007 of Robert Murat as the person she’d seen carrying a child away from near the McCanns’ apartment - only for her to change her mind about this months later

• her willingness to claim that the person she claimed to have seen looked like a moustachioed man seen in a sketch by a Mrs Gail Cooper, despite the fact that Jane Tanner admitted on 3 May never having seen the man’s face

• the fact that at a press conference in August 2009, the McCanns’ chief investigator, Dave Edgar, said that Jane Tanner might have been mistaken and seen a woman carrying a child, not a man

• the fact that her story was so vague and inconsistent that the Portuguese police dismissed it as a fabrication from very early on in their investigation.

Other facts that the BBC should perhaps take into account if they are to proceed with this broadcast

I invite you to consider the following additional points:

• The thread of criminality running through the McCann Team’s investigators. If the BBC has researched the background material to this case then you will be aware that the McCanns’ first preferred detectives, the Spanish firm Metodo3, has a long record of criminal conduct. Two of Metodo3’s investigators who worked very closely with the head of the McCann Team’s private investigators, Cheshire businessman Brian Kennedy, have served time in prison.

• Antonio Giminez Raso spent four years in prison on remand due to his association with a 27 strong gang of drug-dealers who were convicted of serious criminal charges in a Barcelona court last year.

• Julian Peribañez who also worked very closely with Brian Kennedy has spent much of this year after his arrest for illegally taping the conversations of Spanish politicians, an offence he has now admitted and for which he is awaiting sentence.

• The McCanns also employed Kevin Halligen, who charged the McCann Team £500,000 plus expenses yet, as exposed in a 2009 article in the Evening Standard and elsewhere, spent most of the time he was employed by them on high living in London, Oxfordshire and the U.S. with his girlfriend Shirin Trachiotis, and was arrested in 2009 on serious fraud charges in the U.S. which he eventually admitted. He spent a total of four years in Belmarsh and another top security prison in the U.S. None of these investigators had any experience in locating missing children but most had expertise in such areas as money laundering and fraud.

These private detectives have together with the McCann Team produced a bewildering variety of so-called ‘suspects’ and ‘persons tightly of interest’, 21 in total so far, two of them women, a fact which also undermines the credibility of the McCann Team’s private investigators, not to mention Tanner’s statements.

Should the BBC continue to promote the claim that Madeleine McCann was abducted, you must take full account of these and indeed many other matters of real concern about the McCanns’ private investigations, which again your researchers must know.

• Dr Kate McCann’s refusal to answer any one of 48 questions put to her on interview by the Portuguese police on 7 September 2007.

• The numerous contradictions in the witnesses’ evidence about the events of 3 May 2007.

This is a vast subject. Again, no doubt your researchers, together with D.C.I. Andy Redwood and his team, are aware of the following contradictions and changes of story etc. These contradictions would need to be resolved if possible before any realistic reconstruction could possibly take place. If you proceed with a reconstruction, you will be faced with the problem of which version of events you will be presenting to viewers. I believe the only honest way for the BBC to proceed would be to present the viewer with all the contradictions, letting the viewer see what they are, and allowing us to draw our own conclusions. Among the main contradictions are the following:

• Three different versions about a claimed ‘high tea’ that Madeleine is said to have had with her parents and crèche staff at about 5.30pm

• Two entirely different versions (Dr Kate McCann and Dr David Payne) of an alleged visit by Dr Payne to the McCanns’ apartment, when he claims to have seen all three children alive

• Three different accounts (Dr Gerald McCann, Jane Tanner and Jeremy Wilkins (whom we understand may have worked for Crimewatch before)) about events at around 9.15pm on 3 May, the time when Jane Tanner claims she saw a man carrying a child

• Whether or not the curtains of the children’s room in the apartment were wide open (Dr Kate McCann’s first version) or closed (Dr Kate McCann’s later version)

• Whether you will be showing the shutters smashed, broken, and jemmied open (the McCanns’ first versions) or completely undamaged (reality - and subsequently admitted as such by the McCanns’ spokesman, Clarence Mitchell)

• Whether you will be showing Dr Gerald McCann entering through the ‘front door using his key’ (Dr McCann’s first police statement), or ‘going in through the unlocked patio door’ (Dr Gerald McCann’s second police statement)

• Whether you will be showing Madeleine tucked up in bed because it was a cold night (Dr Kate McCann’s version - the cold also being testified to by the rest of the McCanns’ friends and indeed by weather records ) - or lying on top of the covers because it was so hot (Dr Gerald McCann’s version).

• The extremely limited ‘window of opportunity’ for any claimed abductor to have removed Madeleine from the apartment.

On the basis of statements made by Dr Gerald McCann, Jane Tanner and Jeremy Wilkins, with very precise timing included within them ( Dr McCann for example says he left the table at 9:04 by his watch, and the apartment at 9.10pm, and Jane Tanner says she saw a man carrying a child in the area at 9.15pm ) the time available for the abductor to remove Madeleine is somewhere between 1 minute 20 seconds, and three minutes. During this time, the McCann Team suggest that an intruder could have entered the apartment (either via the open patio door with the father directly outside, or by having a key to the front door), sedated three children, selected one of them, picked her up, turned her round so that her feet are now to the right, opened the curtains, window and shutters as some kind of ‘red herring’ (see ‘red herring’ statement made by Dr Kate McCann) and then exit, all of this being accomplished without being seen or heard by anyone except Jane Tanner and without leaving any forensic trace. (The suggestion that Madeleine and the twins were sedated is a repeated theme of the McCanns and their team over the past six years. They moved from strong denials and threats to sue, to an acceptance that it must have happened, even though there is no known substance which could have been used within that time frame. Dr Kate McCann is a qualified anaesthetist and must be aware of this ).

• The only fingerprints on the window found by police being those of Dr Kate McCann, strongly suggesting that she opened the window in order to promote the abduction scenario.

• In the very unlikely event that Madeleine is still alive and is being held by the abductor or others, has BBC Crimewatch assessed the risk that its programme could lead to Madeleine being harmed by the person who now has her?

A useful summary of the many contradictions, changes of story and other inconsistencies amongst the witness statements in this case can be read in an e-book by Michael McLean at:


Yours sincerely

Peter MacLeod
Retired Police Superintendent
Nottinghamshire 1972 - 2000

"WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER" - Rebekah Brooks to David Cameron


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