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Post by Jill Havern on 13.05.19 18:00

New chapter published today 13 May 2019 on PeterMac's FREE eBook blog




In his recent book Paulo Reis lays bare the development of the campaign by the British Press against the PJ and Dr Amaral. Jon Clarke and “The Olive Press” were at the forefront of this.

Here I try to trace the origin of one of the more persistent Conspiracy Theories.
I start by examining three apparently unconnected circumstances, and will try to show how they overlap and how these coincidences can so easily be interpreted as being something different.

Having established that “The Olive Press” is somewhat relaxed about the truth, cavalier with ‘facts’ but very free with invective and personal and public abuse of those who do not accept every word of what they say, let us turn to one of the more interesting of the conspiracy theories.

I want to go through this carefully so that errors can be identified.

We start with Clarke

Jon Clarke has said, twice, that he was phoned about 0715 on Friday 4/5/7, and that he left his home about 30 minutes later. He is very precise about this time, and repeated it in the Netflix voice-over emphasising “and it was 7 or 7:30

2017 – I RECEIVED the call at 7.15am . . . I was on the road half an hour later

That puts him on the road at 0745 Spanish time (technically CEST = CET+1 since we are in ‘summer’ time)

The distance from his home to Praia da Luz calculated from google maps is 404 km

It is 5 km from his home to the main road, along single track rural lanes and narrow roads with blind corners.

Sunrise was at 0715, civil dawn at 0645.

What follows is included so that anyone with the inclination can look at google maps, or google earth, and follow this for themselves. It is even possible using “street view” to travel the entire route and see it from a driver’s point of view. . Any errors can then be identified.

We join the main A-374 and the next 150k is on a two lane mountain road winding up gorges and through passes in the mountains of Andalucia, west onto the A-357 and then turning north onto the A-384 and the beginnings of the rolling central meseta at Puerto Serrato. The speed limit is 90 kph, but for much of the route this is simply not possible. In many places it is restricted for safety to less than this, and in many stretches overtaking is prohibited, or simply too dangerous.

From there it is less winding, more open, but still only two lane, and still within the national speed limit of 90 kph.

As we approach the Sevilla ring road there is a series of junctions where the limit is as low as 40
The approach to Sevilla and the ring road are officially motorway, but are heavily used and frequently congested. There are many junctions, and the short stretch to the bridge has 4 of the top 24 Sevilla congestion areas.
Clarke would have hit the ring road about 90 minutes after leaving home, so on his timing around 0915. Roughly the peak of the ‘rush hour’.

We skirt Sevilla to the south and west on the A-4 and the SE-30 on the high level bridge over the Ship Canal, with a rigidly enforced speed limit of 60 kph. In reality traffic usually passes much more slowly than this
After crossing another bridge over the Guadalquivir and negotiating a series of tricky junctions and filters which cause all traffic to slow even further, we head out west on the A-49 motorway up a
long slope out of the valley, past IKEA, and towards Huelva. Then after another 125 km. across the bridge forming the border with Portugal, also restricted to 70 kph, it is renumbered as the A-22.

The “Border” is nothing more than a collection point for motorway tolls for ‘foreign’ vehicles, - if they can be bothered to pull off the motorway and stop. There is no physical barrier, as both Spain and Portugal are within the Schengen area, and have been since 1995. Under the treaty the border may only be reinstated, “for a short period where there is a serious threat to that state's public policy or internal security”.
Approaching Lagos and PdL we leave the motorway, the roads again become smaller, and the speed limits drop. From the border to PdL is given as 137 km, a further hour and quarter, 


Google.maps gives an estimated total driving time of 4 hrs 20 minutes including the part I have not shown from his house to the main road. Allowing for ‘flexibility’ with speed limits, and the inevitable comfort stop we are still left with an arrival time of around 1200.
Clarke states he arrived at 1145. But we must charitably assume he means Spanish time (Central European Summer Time = GMT+2, or CET+1).
Portugal is on British Summer time, (Western European Summer Time = GMT+1) so the time he reports arriving would have been 1045 -1100 local time.

NB. It should be noted that this is the ONLY route. There is no short cut across country, for the simple reason that there are no roads crossing the Doñana wetland Natural park to the south of Sevilla. (See map supra) If you want to go to Portugal or Huelva from the south there is simply no choice but to take this route. The ring road bridge is the most southerly crossing point for road traffic. This may easily be confirmed by glancing at google maps.

So to repeat, Clarke’s own timing puts him in PdL around 1045-1100 local time

* * * * * * * * *

But let us approach this issue from the other end.

Kate McCann reports the PJ officers arriving to take them to Portimão about 1000. The use of this phrase and its context clearly indicates their leaving some time ‘shortly after’ 1000.

The extract is instructive.

“It was about 10am by the time a couple of PJ officers turned up. . . .They told us they had to take us and our friends to the police station in Portimão. We couldn’t all go at once as somebody needed to look after the children. After some discussion, it was agreed that Gerry and I, Jane, David and Matt would be interviewed first and the PJ would come back for the others later in the day.”

The implication is clear. Kate is expecting us to believe that this is the first time they had realised they would need to go to a police station or make statements, and that until that point no thought had been given by anyone within the group to the logistics, nor to Child-care arrangements. How long the “some discussion” took is not explained.

Whether any of this is even credible is another matter entirely.

The McCanns and Tapas friends were taken the 30 minutes to Portimão and GM’s statement is recorded as starting at 1115

When we factor in organisation time at the police station, parking, re-grouping, finding suitable rooms, drinks, writing and recording materials, interpreters, introductions, preparation, briefings – all of which must be translated into Portuguese – and then all the other ancillary tasks, as we must, it is apparent that they must have left PdL some time before 1030. Probably as early as 1015
Which is what Kate indicates.

It is clear from the video evidence, however, that by that point –1015 – Clarke was already deeply embedded at the scene. He had found the location, found somewhere to park, picked up his camera and note pad, had obviously introduced and identified himself to at least one senior GNR officer – with whom he shakes hands later – had determined the McCann’s location, had spoken to the other reporters at the scene – he is seen comparing notes with one young female – and is then shown striding away to the left out of the car park area a little time before the McCanns and the Tapas friends begin to emerge in the background on the right to make their way to the cars waiting some distance up the road.

Consideration of all of this leads to a suggestion that the entire sequence of events as reported by Clarke should be pushed back. Certainly by at least half an hour. possibly considerably more.

Even more realistically, given that his car at the time was a robust and functional family vehicle, not a fast sports model, and that as a responsible and fiercely protective family man he does not take unnecessary risks with his own or his family’s safety, and given that in his own words he did not know what the full story was or even if the child would be found before his arrival, indicating clearly that there was for him no overwhelming sense of urgency, we should perhaps push this back yet more. From Netflix –

“I don't think they said whether it was a girl or boy. I don't even think I had the age. I didn't have any idea who the family were. I fully expected to arrive there and for this child to have turned up and for it to have dissolved into a non-story." ( transcript)

This pushes the phone call to 0600 - 0615 (Spanish Time), Clarke leaving at 0645 (SpT), arriving at 1100 - 1130 (SpT) which is 1000 - 1030 Portuguese time.

0600 Spanish time is 0500 British time. The British press offices were therefore well aware by 0430 - 0500 of the incident and of the course of action to be taken.

I shall return to this later.

* * * * * *
But then we note a strange thing.

Among the many journalists and reporters on the scene not one seems to have done any investigating.
Not one seems to have reported that – contrary to the news bulletins coming at regular intervals from the UK – the shutters were NOT damaged, forced, smashed or jemmied.
Not one at that early stage seems to have reported the lack of visibly from the Tapas bar through the opaque plastic screening, across the pool, over the wall and through the untended vegetation to the patio door of the apartment
Not one seems to have paced it out
Not one reports how long it took to walk, or jog, or to sprint
Not one reports doing the same journey round to the front door opening into the car park
Not one reports investigating the shutters, even during the weeks after the initial frenzy had died down, nor of asking a police officer to demonstrate or supervise whilst it was done.
Not one is filmed actually doing it – testing the hypothesis with physical experiment and recording the results. As I was.
And unless we are very much mistaken, not one reports a long and detailed interview with the McCanns or any of the Tapas group. There may be, and probably are, good reasons for that, since the PJ had tried to prevent press involvement, and the publicity team was in full control.

It is that apparent total lack of any investigation which led one commentator in sheer exasperation to say words to the effect “Were you even THERE ? ? ?

Instead, as Paulo Reis observed during his undercover visits, the journalists seemed to have done little more than sit around in bars talking to each other in their respective languages, and waiting for the official briefings so obligingly provided by the McCanns’ Publicity team. In English.

So where do conspiracy theories come from. Where are they conceived and born, and who raises them.

Let us take a few simple examples.

Gerry McCann first said in his first signed police statement that – “. . . the deponent entered the club, using his key, the door being locked,
A mere 6 days later he changed this to “Despite what he said in his previous statements, he states now and with certainty, that he left with KATE through the back door which he consequently closed but did not lock,”

Ok. So he lied.

We could all easily say - So what if he did go in though the front door, or the patio door, or climbed through the kitchen window - Madeleine is missing, and that is what matters.

We should not care which way he went in, we should care that Madeleine is not longer there.

But we do care that he lied, because the lie forces us to ask – Why did he even say that ?

Not What did he say ? but Why did he say it ?

The lie diverts us. It was apparently pointless, it added nothing, but he still felt the need to do it.
And that fact – the fact of the lie – suddenly assumes a greater importance than the underlying fact that Madeleine is missing.

And so it goes on. Mitchell very quickly built up a reputation for himself for lying, to the extent that it almost became possible to predict that the exact opposite of anything he said would one day turn out to be the objective truth.

His ludicrous assertion about no watches or mobile phones, stated long after we had been told of split-second accuracy of times – checked by watches – served only to demolish any credibility he might once have supposed he had.

But what or whom did it serve ? Who cares whether they had phones or watches. If you are going to check a child it is unlikely that you would click open a mobile phone to check the time, or even glance at a wristwatch. Normal people don’t do that. If pushed for accuracy, honest witnesses will time visits between one course at dinner and another, or by reference to TV programmes or external events.

It didn’t matter. It wasn’t important – until Mitchell made it so.

A long time ago a character in a drama was given the words, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”. The McCann case has been full of too much protest from the very start.

Lying is poisonous. It acts like a slow venom, dissolving the liar from the inside, until only the husk of what had once been a decent human remains.

Or to mix metaphors it spreads like a malignancy eroding the strength of a person’s character.

Once Jon Clarke had been caught out telling one blatant and provable lie, it became clear that even that one article was riddled with them, and that they have now spread their poisonous tentacles into the Netflix programme and beyond.

And then we can go back and look at other things written by him on other subjects, and begin to discover more examples of deliberate falsehoods, or an attention to detail so lax that it must allow us to suppose ‘facts’ have simply been invented.

The malignancy is at work. Or, like the larvae of the parasitic ichneumon wasp which lays eggs in its victims, he is being consumed from the inside, until ultimately only a shell will remain.

Tanner recognised this too late, and tried to counter it, but ended by insisting, feebly and pathetically “I am telling the truth, you know”. 

 * * * * * *

We are not talking here about the Lie - simple.
          Did you eat the last chocolate biscuit ? - No

Everyone can understand that one, and why it is said. To an extent we can also begin to forgive the person using it. They have only two choices. Deny, or admit.
English law does not add extra punishment to a person who pleaded Not Guilty to punish the lie, though discount is often given for telling the truth. It is tacitly accepted that many guilty people will lie about their guilt.

Here though we can observe the construction of something larger, a structure, a scaffolding frame, designed to support or prop up the central lie.

JUST suppose, purely for the sake of argument of course, that the following was NOT true in the conventional meaning of the word.

The core proposition is that Madeleine was
-  abducted
   -       from Apartment 5A
   -       between 9:30pm and 10 pm
   -       on Thursday 3rd May 2007

Points to prove - as they say in legal circles - or things to be established in support of the above proposition are
1         She was alive on 3/5/7
2         She was in the apartment
3         She was there at 9:30
4         Someone got in
5         Someone got out
6         She was abducted

Taking these in turn we see that each has had some ‘evidence’ attached to it. An attempt has been made to strengthen and reinforce each of these with struts or supports.

1.        She was alive on 3/5/7. For this we call in aid the Pool photo, which uniquely, although it is not visible on the image itself, has a time and date embedded in it. And so that everyone shall recognise the importance of the photo in establishing the exact date, the existence of the EXIF Metadata will be emphasised, totally unnecessarily, by a spokesman, and the image – with the Metadata – will be released for publication.

2.        She was in the apartment. It is clearly not sufficient for the parents alone to give this testimony, and so for this we will call on a third party to testify to a visit and to seeing her

3.        She was there at 9:30pm. A parent’s word alone would not be sufficient, so again we need to ask a third party to testify to this.

4.        Someone got in. For this we can rely on family and friends, and thereafter a compliant press to spread the story of broken, forced, smashed and jemmied shutters. The parents can talk about the window and the curtains being wide open, and can aver that the shutters can be opened from outside.

5.        Someone got out. We can rely on people supposing that an intruder would have had the same range of entry points at his / her / their disposal. We do not need to elaborate. This can be left deliberately vague for people to form their own opinions, if it ever occurs to them.

6.        She was abducted. Ideally someone will have seen someone carrying someone away, but in a perfect scenario will only report it much later, after any chance of immediate pursuit has long passed. We will call on a third party to do this.

And there we have it.
A scenario proposed, and each of the major points covered by ‘evidence’.
An open and shut case, surely, and all the Police of Two Nations have to do is solve it.

7.         But we also recognise that with this scenario there is the possibility that we may be accused of Child Neglect. So we have to cover this aspect. Again we can call on Third parties to testify to a regular checking scheme, and feel confident this will be accepted.

A big problem then arises when each one of these crucial ‘supports’ is examined forensically.

One by one each has been demolished, or so badly damaged that it is no longer capable of supporting the core lie. Like cutting the cables of a suspension bridge, or knocking out props in a coalmine, for a time nothing much appears to happen. We see no change.

But gradually there will be some visible movement, followed by a sudden total collapse.

To take them in order

1.         The Pool photo has been examined. It does not appear to provide the necessary proof

2.         The third party visit to the apartment is riddled with contradictions, and does not appear to provide the necessary proof

3.         This third party clearly realised that he would be severely compromised by being the ‘last person to see her alive’ and reneged on his promise, changing his story at the last minute to say definitively that he had NOT seen her, and dropping that awesome responsibility back on the father. His testimony does not therefore provide the necessary proof

4.         The “broken, forced, smashed and jemmied shutters” were proved to be an untruth within a few hours. Video evidence is clear for all to see. The window is visibly too small. The story about the curtains has been changed from wide open, to tight closed. It was demonstrated that the shutters cannot be opened sufficiently from outside to achieve the intended goal. This entire thread of testimony does not appear to provide the necessary proof.

5.         Placing the father with JW outside the apartment rules out one possible exit. The untouched front door, and the size and accessibility of the window seem to rule out the other possibilities. There is nothing which appears to provide the necessary proof.

6.         The ‘sighting of an abductor’ remained in the public domain for a long time, despite scepticism, until it was comprehensively and finally dismissed by the Operation set up to examine the conduct of the case. This therefore does not provide the necessary proof.

7.         The regular checking scheme was examined with considerable attention to detail, and attempts were made on paper to re-create it. It was realised that its preparation was lacking in fine detail. The Tapas group refused to submit themselves to a reconstructive demonstration of their claims. Extensive analysis has failed to produce a coherent timetable. It does not appear to provide the necessary proof.

And that seems to be that.

Every one of the supports, the struts, the cables or the props supporting the central proposition has been removed. In some cases there was physical evidence. Not just that there was no evidence for it, but that there was clear evidence against it.
In others it was people who failed to provide the essential support, or wavered at the crucial moment.


Or to put it another way


There is no amount of invective, of legal process, of ad hominem or profane internet abuse which can put this back together again.

 * * * * * *
Let us try to pull these threads together

From the start we were treated to several stories which “just didn’t sound right”. From that point doubts began to creep in. They still fell short of proof of falsehood, but on the credibility spectrum were definitely towards the end marked just possible rather than the one marked very probable.
When research failed to support the stories this was exacerbated and they were deemed even less possible than before.

Suddenly we are able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, beyond a peradventure, that one or more of the stories were very simply LIES.
From there, the natural reaction is to go back to everything else that particular person or group has said, and to apply that standard of veracity to previous statements.
This is of course, as readers will immediately recognise, a fallacious argument. A species of the Genetic fallacy
Just because a person has lied on one or more previous occasions does not automatically mean that he is lying on this occasion.

Sometimes however we come across someone who is so used to lying that it is apparently second nature. Someone whose moral compass was washed overboard long ago. Someone for whom lying, and then the use of aggression to conceal this fact appears to be second nature.

But it is still necessary to test each of the previous statements independently. Previous convictions are not admissible as proof.
On this occasion we can do it.

Clarke lied about being the only journalist at the scene until late afternoon, he lied about there being no dogs, he lied about entering the apartment and speaking to the McCanns . . . And about much more

The McCanns lied about their point of entry, about the window and the curtains, about the shutters . . . And about much more

Mitchell lied about the absence of watches or mobile phones . . . And about much more.

The British Tabloid Press lied, and continues to lie, about sightings and suspects. It invents “information” supposedly leaked from the Metropolitan Police. It has, from very early on, acted in a concerted way to denigrate the Portuguese authorities . . . And much more.

And all of this is clearly to one end.

To take the focus of attention away from the parents and friends

Conspiracy ?

It is when we add all of the previous together,
when we add the early involvement of News Corp, owners of the Sun and SKY TV
when we observe that for many months Clarke was in the pay of The Sun,
when we consider the clear evidence of coordination of the attack by the British Press on the PJ, the Portuguese authorities in general, against Dr Amaral, and against even the Portuguese Diplomatic service . . .
When we add all of this together it is surely tempting to identify a greater “power’; a Great Architect pulling all these strings.
And our imaginations can run riot.

Then, as we think about this and look back, we find other interesting points.
Clarke has come up with two totally distinct explanations of his behaviour.
In one, he says he went straight into the Apartment, spoke to the McCanns there, and “promised he would do all he could to help.”

In another version “I don't think they said whether it was a girl or boy. I don't even think I had the age. I didn't have any idea who the family were. I fully expected to arrive there and for this child to have turned up and for it to have dissolved into a non-story." After which he says he merely introduced himself as a journalist, and they said “Hi”.

Which is correct ? He did know who they were and offered to help, or he did not know who they were and they said “Hi”.
The first version is from his 2017 article. The second is from a transcript of the Netflix programme.

A conspiracy theorist might suggest that Clarke was sent to PdL specifically to “help”, as he claimed he said, and that the subsequent attempt to change the story has been done with the realisation that his previous untruth might reveal the existence of the conspiracy.

At the moment is it impossible to be certain.

* * * * * *

What are the possible responses if you have lied, and realize you are about to be exposed ?
You can hold your hands up and admit it, attempting to mitigate by blaming
           typing errors,
           “mis-speaking” – a favourite of politicians, since it is totally meaningless
           being “tired and emotional” – another politicians’ favourite
           poor briefing
           or a whole thesaurus of other emollient words
OR, you can Attack.
And this attack must prevent the facts ever from emerging or being tested. It should never address the central issue, ideally never referring to the stated facts at all. It is frequently associated with ad hominem abuse, and with other arguments based on the fallacies of relevance, such as abusive analogy, or dicto simpliciter. The fallacy of loaded words often passes unnoticed.

We remember that some of the fiercest attack as the best form of defence is conducted by Libel Lawyers. It is axiomatic that the substantive case must never be allowed to go before a court. To do so is to allow exposure of the facts.
Cases within memory illustrate the perils of this only too clearly. In Archer -v- Daily Star Archer was awarded £ 0.5m, only then to be imprisoned for 4 years for perjury, and forced to repay not only the £ 0.5m but a further £ 1.3m in costs and interest.
Aitken –v- Guardian and Granada collapsed when the facts became known. He was jailed for 18 months, and bankrupted by the incident.
So the facts must never be exposed, never be tested. Firms like Carter-Ruck, and Schillings are the experts in work of this kind. A previous iteration of one web-site laid out the way in which the substantive issue is neatly converted into a procedural one, which is almost impossible to answer.

And looking back to the Conspiracy theory, what have we seen ?
Ad hominem abuse, gross and profane language on the internet, the publication of vituperation in local newspapers, harassment by a News Corp outlet of a pensioner resulting in her untimely death, threats of bankruptcy against another pensioner, and much more.

A fully paid-up Conspiracy Theorist might with justification conclude that it was possible to judge the wickedness of the lie or the level of guilt by the viciousness of the attack.

* * * * * *
Very recently someone with a more poetic command of English than I wrote a short piece, of which this is the gist.

A little girl is missing
Her parents lie
Their friends lie
A reporter lies

12 years later the little girl is still missing
Her parents are still lying
Their friends are still lying
The reporter is still lying, and now adding new ones.

Someone else once said

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, but lose his own soul?

I have appended a list of References and Sources.

All are in the public domain


1         A Guerra os McCann, (The McCann’s War), Paulo Reis, 2019, Guerra & Paz

2         Paulo Reis, undercover in PdL

3         The Olive Press, 2017,

4         The Olive Press, 2019,
[url=" \l][/url]

5         Netflix,
To access the Netflix documentary go to
           and enter 'The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann’

6         Google maps and ‘street view’

7         'madeleine’, by Kate McCann, 2011, Bantam Press.

8         Video evidence at

9         McCann’s and Tapas 7 friends’ police statements at

10        ‘Hamlet’, W Shakespeare, Act 3 Sc. 2

11         Pool Photo,

12         The Bible, Mark 8:36
Jill Havern
Jill Havern

Posts : 14688
Join date : 2009-11-25
Location : parallel universe

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