Ask the dogs Sandra ... said Gerry McCann during a live interview. as he inwardly squirmed but outwardly put on an act of bravado, when robustly questioned about the dog alerts by respected Spanish journalist Sandra Felgueiras.
This was a memorable interview that Gerry McCann will never be able to deny or live down. Not in the same class as other interviews, edited with bits added and bits removed to create the desired effect. This interview was the real deal, it flowed naturally and produced the desired effect without sight nor sound of a voice over or an 'emphatic no'.
Gerry McCann moved heaven and earth to prove that trained specialist dog are unreliable and should therefore be dismissed, if not totally ignored but what he failed to acknowledge was the fact that trained dogs, in this case Eddie and Keela, have been used successfully for many years to help solve crime, locate missing persons and even detect potentially fatal illness in humans - that's a pretty good track record not to be dismissed lightly. Specialist dogs are trained to perform specific functions and that is precisely what they do - they don't have an agenda, a predetermined opinion, a reason to mislead, they are just doing the job they're trained to do.
Depending on whether one is with the half glass empty or glass half full school of thought, one could almost be inclined to forgive the McCanns for so desperately trying to dismiss the dogs ability - that last vestige of hope - if the dogs are unreliable them maybe, just maybe, Madeleine is still alive and findable and these dogs are wrong. Excellent sentiment if it wasn't for Gerry McCann's nervous response to Sandra Felgueiras' outright unexpected question ...."ask the dogs Sandra...." .. "no Gerry no I think - I feel free to ask you, don't you feel free to answer me....?
Do dogs lie? The answer to that simple question is ... NO - and that's an emphatic NO! They have been known to give false alerts but they can't be blamed for environmental conditions that might prevent their olfactory senses from being 100% accurate 100% of the time. A false alert doesn't signify - it doesn't confirm nor negate the crime under investigation, it just means that for some valid reason the dog/s was not able to function effectively. So no Mr McCann, no matter how much research you do to find a reason to dismiss the dog alerts, that's not how it works. It's rather like saying a police force are bungling idiots because they failed to solve a crime that was seriously compromised by the perpetrators, in the words of Gerald McCann - no evidence no evidence no evidence.
Mark Harrison, MBE, National Search Adviser - Homicide, Missing Persons, Mass Fatality Disasters from the UK's prestigious National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).
Mark Harrison Profile [from the report in the PJ files]
I am the National Adviser in relation to Search for all Police agencies within the United Kingdom for Missing persons, Abduction and Homicide. My role involves advising on searching for persons that are missing, abducted or murdered, using enhanced search techniques and technologies. I attend and review cases providing advice and support on search plans, strategies and resources. I have extensive national and international experience in such casework. I am a visiting Professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Southampton.
In compiling this report I have driven and walked around the relevant areas of Praia Da Luz during the hours of darkness and then during daylight hours. I have conducted reconnaissance flights using the Civil defence helicopter. Consultation has been made with various colleagues and subject matter experts in the development of this report.
This report considers solely the possibility that Madeleine McCann has been murdered and her body is concealed within the areas previously searched by Police in Zone 1 around Praia Da Luz. Other scenarios or possibilities may on request be considered and be subject of a further report. I also make comment on the recent claims made by a Mr Krugel as to the whereabouts of the missing child.
On Friday 20th July 2007 a request was made by the Portuguese Judicial Police to the NPIA for search advisory assistance. As a result of this the following terms of reference were produced.
Terms of reference to provide assistance to the Portuguese Judicial Police.
1. Assist the Judicial Police and GNR in assessing new or previous areas searched and give opinion on the best methods and assets to provide assurance as to the absence or presence of M McCann's concealed remains.
2. Act as a "critical friend" to the officer in charge of search planning and management and offer immediate and enduring peer review until case resolution or search suspension.
3. Assist in the development of framework models such as scenario based searching to aid homicide disposal searching.
4. Consider further opportunities or areas for search in order to locate M McCann as applicable to the latest intelligence and information provided.
5. Where appropriate, provide independent and impartial advice on the enabling and disabling factors of specialist resources available either within Portugal or elsewhere in body detection.
6. To assist in decision support where requested by testing and challenging claims made by persons offering unorthodox search methods or devices to aid locating M McCann.
7. Where appropriate and requested, assist in advising on procedures to procure any non Portuguese specialist assets that are deemed to be relevant and useful.
[Note: I omit any further reference to Mr Krugel as his dubious claims have no direct reference here]
So Mark Harrison MBE, traveled to Praia da Luz, Portugal to collaborate with the PJ and further understand the circumstances of Madeleine McCann's fate. Like the specialist dogs, Mark Harrison had no ulterior motive, no hidden agenda - unlike the UK's Metropolitan Police and Leicestershire Constabulary who have since proved themselves to be anything but trustworthy. Mark Harrison and the PJ worked in collaboration, there was no secretive maneuvering, no devious strategy, the former was thoroughly briefed about the Portuguese investigation before embarking on the task assigned to him. This is confirmed in his very detailed report which can be seen in full here..
In collaboration with the PJ's briefing and following his extensive diligence, it was on the recommendation of Mark Harrison, that trained dogs from the UK be deployed to Praia da Luz to further enhance the development of the PJ's investigation, the detail of which I have extracted from Mark Harrison's report as contained in the PJ files..
Re Visiting Previously Searched Areas.
In considering the two scenarios that Madeleine McCann has been murdered and her body disposed of by a person on foot or in a vehicle, I have reflected on the areas within zone 1 that have been previously searched or subject to forensic examination.
Mark Warner Creche at Praia Da Luz.
This is the location of the last confirmed sighting by a person independent of family members of Madeleine McCann. Although this location was within the original search area it may well benefit from a further search using enhanced detecting methods for human remains. This will depend on the size of any outside grounds and concealed areas inside the building.
The apartment in which the McCann's had stayed may present further
opportunities to search. The use of a specialist EVRD (Enhanced Victim
Recovery Dog) and CSI dog (human blood detecting dog) could potentially indicate on whether Madeline's blood is in the property or the scent of a dead body is present. In relation to the dead body scent if such a scent is indicated by the EVRD and no body is located it may suggest that a body has been in the property but removed. This search process could be repeated in all the apartments that were occupied by the friends holidaying with the McCann's.
Murat's House and Garden.
The property has been forensically examined to recover any surface trace evidence however the house and gardens may benefit from a fully invasive specialist search to preclude the presence of Madeleine McCann.
A method previously employed on similar cases has been to use the below assets.
Deploy the EVRD to search the house and garden to ensure Madeleine McCann's remains are not present. The dog may also indicate if a body has been stored in the recent past and then moved off the property, though this is not evidential merely intelligence.
Deploy the CSI dog to search the house to locate any human blood.
This will act in support of the forensic examination already completed.
An inhibiting factor will be on areas where Luminol has been used.
So the arrangement was made and on 28th July 2007, Eddie the EVRD and Keela the CSI dogs arrived in Praia da Luz along with their trainer/handler, Martin Grimes.
Mark Harrison was clearly fully briefed by the PJ as to the direction of the investigation at that stage, as would Martin Grimes have been fully briefed. The deployment of trained specialist dogs is very expensive, it wouldn't happen on a whim; the PJ in consultation with Mark Harrison and subsequently Martin Grimes knew exactly how the investigation was to proceed. Of course Martin Grimes was briefed as to what was required of him - where to search and what to search for, to suggest otherwise is pure folly. The results of the diligences proved to be productive as they confirmed the PJ's own forensic examination of the crime scene and associated locations.
However ... the McCanns themselves were also aware of the reason why the dogs were deployed and where they would be searching and what they would be searching for. This was irrefutably confirmed by friend Jon Corner during an interview for BBC Panorama with reporter Richard Bilton, transmitted on 19th November 2007 [excerpt]..
CORNER: I said to them that I think there's a possibility that Madeleine may not be the story eventually, that you may be the story.
BILTON: What did they say?
CORNER: They were quite distressed by that.
BILTON: It had not occurred to them before?
CORNER: Well it's difficult for me as a friend to be negative and to impart a sense of negativity.
BILTON: He was right to sense a change. On the day filming was due to start the police arrive at the McCann villa. As they pictures show, they would return.
CORNER: They took most of their clothing, they were taking even the wet clothes out of the washing machine. I was aware that the cuddlecat was boxed up and we were asked to leave the villa.
BILTON: The crew?
BILTON: So they searched the whole villa?
BILTON: So what, as all this is going on, what do Kate and Gerry make of this?
CORNER: Well this is the bizarre thing Richard because the police said to Kate and Gerry: "Yeah, we're going to be coming along, we want to do some forensics." And Kate and Gerry were massively optimistic about this. You've got to remember if your daughter is missing and the police phone you and say: "We want to do some forensics, that's a straw that you hang onto. That's a moment for optimism.
BILTON: That's because the McCanns say this was a time when they were pushing for more urgency in the investigation. The Portuguese had rejected their request for the FBI to come in, but they did bring in a British forensic team with sniffer dogs. Kate McCann talks to Jon Corner as all this is going on.
KATE: We're just doing absolutely everything we can do, you know, to help find Madeleine, and the last thing we're wanting to look back and think we could have done more.
BILTON: But they've taken clothing away, they've taken a diary away, they've taken cuddlecat away. Were they not thinking things have changed here?
CORNER: No, I was. I was thinking this seems really all a bit late in the day to me.
The PJ's visit to the villa rented by the McCanns coincided with the eve of their planned trip to Huelva, Spain on a public holiday. The trip was postponed because Gerry McCann had a virus, later confirmed by his wife Kate McCann as a little white lie - necessity being the mother of invention!
It's common knowledge that without corroborative evidence by way of forensic analysis, the dogs alerts can only be taken as intelligence - not conclusive evidence. It has been know for a conviction through a court of law on the intelligence of dogs and other circumstantial evidence but this is not an accepted practice by the UK law in general. Following the dogs inspection as ordered by the PJ, the forensic evidence harvested, through the auspices of Leicester Constabulary, was sent, for some reason, to the UK's renowned Forensic Science Service which has since been disbanded. Extraordinarily, of all the samples sent to the FSS by the PJ for analysis, not one single result was positive.
Some might question the likelihood of such an occurrence. If you carefully examine John Lowe's report, there is a global explanation for this non-productive negative analysis - some might question the authenticity of the test result. Since the FSS is now defunct, I doubt the truth will ever be known.
So Mr & Mrs McCann, the PJ in conjunction with the UK's prestigious NPIA, did indeed ask the dogs - and you both know what the dogs said. Is this the reason why you needed to discredit the reliability of trained specialist dogs Mr and Mrs McCann?