And so another anniversary has come and gone, the thirteenth anniversary since the disappearance of Madeleine McCann first hit the headlines, if still alive she would now be seventeen years of age and pushing towards adulthood with the customary excitement - expectations and reservations.
Each year that passes is another opportunity to raise public awareness - to remind people that the little girl is still missing and still missed, so say the parents. At the beginning, within days of Madeleine Mccann being reported missing, a 'Fund' was established by the family, first referred to as a fight fund which under the circumstances would appear to be an inappropriate term of phrase. Thankfully, when launched, the title was wisely changed to 'The Find Madeleine Fund' and established as a limited company as it did not meet the necessary criteria for a charitable organisation.
Within a short period of time The Fund attracted hundreds and thousands of pounds, largely through public donations - good hearted people, children's pocket money and pensioners meager income. Who could possibly resist a plea for a missing child and to donate their hard earned cash to swell the funds, downgraded from fight fund to a search fund. At that time, no one could be criticized for being foolhardy, they believed their money donated was to help 'the search' to find Madeleine McCann, in retrospect however it gradually dawns that the Portuguese police force were investigating the case so a concurrent private investigation was not only illegal but needless. I guess you would have to be personally involved with such a tragedy to know how it distorts the vision and leads to unwise decisions.
This product marketing continued year after year, gradually decreasing in terms of media and public attention - still the little girls parents and family were relentless in their pursuit. An online shop; charity sports events; public pleas for donations; the mother, Kate McCann even wrote and published a book entitled 'madeleine', it was assured that any income resulting from the sale of the book would be paid directly into the Fund. And so The Fund carried-on regardless, banking more and more money - all to help the 'search'.
That is the key word .... 'search'.
A word brandished about so frequently it began to lose it's meaning as time progressed, primarily because there was/is little or no evidence of a 'search' What was once a multi-million dollar business is now nothing but a five 'n dime Walmart.
So .... let us join the 'search'.
There can be no doubt on the night of Thursday 3rd May 2007, the Portuguese police - the GNR and PJ, carried out a thorough search of the area, assisted by local residents and tourists on their holiday. Despite the insistence of the parents McCann that their daughter had been snatched from her bed, the police in accordance with standard policing policy considered all eventualities, including the possibility that the child had wandered off into the night on her own. Not beyond the realms of plausible as the parents did claim they had left their children alone in an unlocked apartment, whilst across the complex dining. So the search by the police continued over a number of days.
Whether or not the parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, helped the search at that stage is debatable. Kate McCann appeared unsure if she did any searching herself, or if her husband did any searching - their account of events fluctuates wildly. Four years later, in her book 'madeleine', she claims to have been out there with her husband in the dead of night, no one to be seen or heard, as she jumped over walls, raked through the undergrowth, loojed in ditches and holes and rummaged through municipal rubbish bins as she thought .... oh please God, don't let her be in there! Messy business with no witnesses to verify.
Before the book was published, during a recorded interview, Kate McCann openly admitted she never searched for her daughter on that night.
Leaving aside the many different accounts proffered by the parents and their faithful group of friends, it would appear that the McCanns didn't search for Madeleine at any period of that night. They were kept very busy checking their other two children for signs of life; praying like mad; talking with the police; verbally abusing neighbours and above all else, telephoning friends and relations back in the UK. So, no search - at least not by Gerry and Kate McCann.
Nor did the McCanns appear to do any physical searching for their lost daughter after the night of 3rd May. They talked a lot; gave many interviews; many photo-shoots; they even took themselves on a visit to the Vatican, a tour of European capitals and North Africa. This act can in no way be confused with 'searching', it was more a publicity stunt under the guise of a public awareness exercise. Whatever, the venture produced nothing positive to assist 'the search'. Over the weeks that summer, a number of images of Madeleine McCann appeared in the press but as the pictures were of differing stages of the child's life, no way would that project be considered helpful with 'the search'. An official Find Madeleine website was also set-up which included an online store selling Madeleine memorabilia; pictures to download and a donation button if you just wanted to give money without buying. The website is still there for all to see but again can only be considered useless as regards 'the search'.
The story so far.
Some months later, around the time the McCann family returned to the UK early September 2007, a mystery benefactor surfaced - a multimillionaire who said on record that it only took him a few seconds talking to the McCanns and he knew they were innocent, so much so he was prepared to risk his fortune by supporting the McCanns both financially and morally without restraint. Very admirable sentiments you might think. nonetheless private detectives were hired to 'search' for Madeleine McCann using money, not his money but the donations from the Find Madeleine Co. Ltd. It's not known exactly when the wealthy benefactor first joined Team McCann but he was named after their return to the UK.
The first firm of private detectives to be hired by the Find Madeleine Fund, through the auspices of the wealthy benefactor, was a Spanish outfit operating under the name of Metodo3. A curious choice as they had no experience of searching for missing persons, least of all three year old children but that was the choice made. At the time it was illegal in Portugal to operate an investigation concurrent with the official police force, it appears strange that anyone would purposely flaunt the law of another country but the anomaly was nicely explained by a source, Metodo3 had contacts in the Portuguese police who turned a blind eye to the private investigation. How the Portuguese did suffer at the hands of Team McCann.
Metodo3, a dubious company with no known credentials that might assist 'the search'. Such grandiose statements did they make .... 'she'll be home for Christmas' - but Madeleine wasn't home for Christmas, she hadn't even been found. Metodo3 did manage to conjure up a number of false sightings, particularly in North Africa, that had all the appearances of paid accomplices but that's another story. Here, we only need concern ourselves with the fact that Metodo3's contract was terminated within only a few months. There was no evidence of any physical search - only empty words.
Next to be hired by the wealthy benefactor, through the Find Madeleine Co. Ltd, was an international high flying secret operational outfit trading under name Oakley International. Half a million quid was on offer to this international firm of super sleuths, headed by the enigmatic James Bond doppelganger working under the pseudonym Kevin Halligan, more recently found dead in a Surrey mansion house - a long serving alcoholic it is rumoured but that's not up for attention here. What is important is the fact that Halligan was a notorious crook and still would be if alive today. It is said he was paid £300,000 (three hundred thousand quid) for his stint playing private detective for the Find Madeleine Co.Ltd.
What is it with the wealthy benefactor and dodgy private detectives?
Notwithstanding, another private detective agency hired to 'search' for Madeleine McCann bites the dust. Their contract was terminated after a comparatively short stint, curiously, Team McCann have never made any attempt to recover the money paid to Oakley International under false pretenses - not even before the man died. The brief encounters remains shrouded in mystery as does the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Two private detective firms thus eliminated at high cost to The Find Madeleine Co. Ltd and still no Madeleine, nor any evidence of a ‘search’ for the missing child.
Private detective firm number three .... Alphaig Ltd also known as Alpha Investigations Group, fronted by an ex-Royal Ulster Constabulary cop Dave Edgar and his partner in crime, Arthur Cowley ex of Merseyside police. Head office registered at a farmhouse in the Flintshire hills. Engaged to assist ‘the search’ for missing Madeleine McCann and to account for another huge chunk of funds donated to help ‘the search’, the private search conducted by the parents McCann and their associates. Another private detective agency unearthing suspicious sightings and lurking strangers never to be identified with the exception of one dying man, a suspected paedophile said to be wanted by the police but opportunely died from cancer and that’s where it ended.
Arthur Cowley severed himself from ‘the search’ which left Dave Edgar to fend for himself – to justify accepting money from the Find Madeleine Fund Co. Ltd to ‘search’ for missing Madeleine McCann. He did that with great aplomb .... new sightings and suspicious characters did appear from nowhere, so thorough was his contribution to ‘the search’. There was an instance of a woman overheard in the Spanish city of Barcelona, asking where was the child she ordered. A significant lead one might think, it made headlines, gave the private detective credence for good work but – he didn’t think it important enough to follow by a visit to Barcelona. So, an armchair private detective, paid by the Find Madeleine Co Ltd to assist ‘the search’ but no physical searching deemed necessary?
Dave Edgar was overflowing with theories, one such classic was his belief that Madeleine McCann was hidden away in the lawless hills of Portugal. He never made any attempt to go and ‘search’ the hills so I guess we or he will never know.
What evidence is there so far that any ‘search’ was ever conducted by Team McCann?
Time dragged on and desperation was taking a foothold. Through British government intervention, who knows why, London’s prestigious Metropolitan Police was assigned to collate and review all documented information relating to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in April 2011, four years after the main event. A unit was established in the name of Operation Grange, with the remit of reviewing the case as if the ‘abduction’ happened in the UK. The conclusion here can only be deference to the unparalleled skill of the Metropolitan Police, there can be no other explanation for such a move.
When the review was said to be concluded, Operation Grange was up-graded to an investigative team, to re-investigate a case already investigated by the Portuguese police. With the word ‘search’ still at the forefront of operations did Operation Grange operate. More bogus sightings; more suspicious characters; more leads to probe – in fact, anything to keep the show live and running. Operation Grange is claimed to still be running to this very day – no moves forward, only more of the same we’ve witnessed since that fateful day early May 2007 when the disappearance of Madeleine McCann first hit the headlines.
The McCanns continue to operate; The Find Madeleine Fund Co Ltd continues to operate; Operation Grange continues to operate – private detectives have come and gone, all with one thing in common .... nothing!
Millions donated to The Fund, millions expended by the Metropolitan Police – all public money but still no closer to finding little Madeleine McCann. Still no evidence of any physical search .... only empty words, the same words repeated over and over again for thirteen years.
Where is the evidence that anyone .... anyone .... is searching for little lost Madeleine?
Talk is cheap .... actions speak louder than words!