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The Tale of Jane Tanner:  Robert Murat the phantom abductor Mm11

The Tale of Jane Tanner:  Robert Murat the phantom abductor Regist10
The Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann™
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The Tale of Jane Tanner:  Robert Murat the phantom abductor Mm11

The Tale of Jane Tanner:  Robert Murat the phantom abductor Regist10

The Tale of Jane Tanner: Robert Murat the phantom abductor

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The Tale of Jane Tanner:  Robert Murat the phantom abductor Empty The Tale of Jane Tanner: Robert Murat the phantom abductor

Post by Verdi 22.02.20 0:59

As with David Payne, Jane Tanner is never far behind with a tale to tell.  As she flip flopped her way around the streets of Praia da Luz on the night of Thursday 3rd May 2007, aside from Gerry McCann chin-wagging with another holidaymaker (who at the same time just happened to be taking his very young child for a stroll in a buggy), she did espy a stranger walking the streets, not dressed like a tourist was he, yet carrying a small child dressed only in pyjamas on this chill night.

The stranger was later to be affectionately know as Tannerman, in honour of the sighting but for a while it could be said with a degree of conviction, the stranger was indeed the Muratman - or in the case of mistaken identity, the Payneman.

Another retrofit observed by the canny eye of CMOMM's very own Tony Bennett and associates.

The article below was originally published 20 February 2010 by Tony Bennett, for The Madeleine Foundation. This article by MMRG revises and updates that article and is republished today, 9 May 2019. 

INTRODUCTION   This article explores ONE ASPECT ONLY of a very complex subject - that of all the fake abductors, kidnappers, persons of interest, suspicious persons and assorted strangers and others who have featured in this 12-year-long parade of unlikely abductors who might have taken Madeleine McCann from her bed.

The story began when, sometime after 11pm the night Madeleine was reported missing, Gerry McCann and his friend Dr Russell O'Brien produced two scribbled notes about the purported timeline of events that evening. On these notes, it was claimed that the McCanns' friend Jane Tanner had seen a man, probably carrying a child, away from the McCanns' apartment at 9.15pm.

From Day 1 the Portuguese Police doubted her story. As we shall examine below, on 13 May 2007, just 10 days after Madeleine was reported missing, Jane Tanner was asked to identify the man she saw, by means of an unofficial identity parade. This consisted of a number of people passing an unmarked police van with a two-way mirror. As Robert Murat passed by, she told police that she was sure that he was the man she'd seen 10 days earlier. She was adamant about her identification, as Goncalo Amaral explained in his book, 'The Truth of the Lie'.

Later, she changed her mind.

She was shown a sketch of another suspect, a man with straggly hair and a moustache. She said THIS new suspect looked like the man she'd seen on 3 May 2007. But the man with the straggly hair looked nothing like Robert Murat. Moreover, Jane Tanner admitted that she never saw the face of the alleged abductor. So how on earth could she have been so sure (80% sure) that it was the man with the straggly hair and moustache?

Five years later, in a BBC Crimewatch show broadcast on 14 October 2013, DCI Andy Redwood, who was leading the Metropolitan Police's investigation into Madeleine's abduction, said that the man seen by Jane Tanner had recently come forward. Four years after that, one newspaper published the extraordinary claim by the wife of Dr Julian Totman that her husband had been the man seen by Jane Tanner. Dr Totman was a holidaymaker the same week the McCanns were there. He was a GP in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and also had a surgery at nearby Porton Down, the government's top secret research laboratory into biological, chemical and radiological warfare.   

All of you who read this article will no doubt form your own views of the credibility of the claims by the Met Police and Dr Julian Totman's wife.


Here are Clarence Mitchell's words today (20 February 2010) when asked whether Jane Tanner had ever identified Robert Murat as the abductor:

Clarence Mitchell: I'm not going to comment on any details on what Mr. Murat or his legal representative are doing, suffice to say that Jane Tanner never directly named Mr. Murat as the man she saw, and you can go back to the Portuguese police files that were released in 2008 and see that for yourself. She never actually named Mr. Murat as the prime suspect.

Here's what Clarence Mitchell could NOT have said:

Clarence Mitchell: I'm not going to comment on any details on what Mr. Murat or his legal representative are doing, suffice to say that Jane Tanner never identified Mr. Murat as the man she saw, and you can go back to the Portuguese police files that were released in 2008 and see that for yourself. She never actually identified Mr. Murat as the prime suspect.

Mitchell's choice of words is deliberate, cunning, calculated, misleading, muddying the waters.

He says Tanner never named Murat.

That is certainly true. But Jane Tanner most certainly identified him, as he passed by the unmarked police van.

And so Mitchell got away (just) with telling the truth.

But he most certainly misled the viewers.

What's more, the fact that she did so, the manner in which she did so, and the steps leading up to her doing so, including her conversations with Bob Small of Leicestershire Police and the two staff from Control Risks Group beforehand, are among some of the most critical issues in this whole case.

We have revised and updated below another (draft) article by Tony Bennett on Robert Murat.

Tanner identified Murat from the police van. That information was conveyed to Goncalo Amaral, who soon afterwards arrested him and made him the first formal suspect in the case.

Following on from that, the following day, no fewer than three of the 'Tapas 7' suddenly remembered seeing Robert Murat on the evening of 3 May near the McCanns' apartment and the Ocean Club. MMRG has covered that issue in a separate article.

Here is the material on Robert Murat:


How Jane Tanner identified Robert Murat as the chief suspect

On Sunday 13th May, Jane Tanner and her partner Dr Russell O’Brien positively identified Robert Murat as the man they both saw on the night of 3 May. Jane Tanner claims to have seen the abductor. Dr O’Brien claimed he’d seen Robert Murat hanging around the Ocean Club. This is how her positive identification of Murat occurred.

Tanner was taken by a Leicestershire Police Officer, Bob Small, into a police van with darkened windows, from where she could see passers-by. Amongst those who walked by whilst she was hidden with police officers in the van was Robert Murat. She instantly identified Murat as the probable abductor she had seen a few nights previously. Crucially, Robert Murat has poor eyesight and wears glasses all the time. However, when Tanner was asked to give a description of the abductor she claimed to have seen, she did not mention his wearing glasses.

Bob Small had already been in Praia da Luz for several days. Tanner originally claimed that when she first met Bob Small, she didn’t know who he was, and asked her partner, Russell O’Brien, to write down the registration number of the car in which the policeman rode. But during the same questioning session, Tanner says that at the time she was taking her collaboration with the authorities ‘very seriously’ and that she didn’t even tell her partner [Russell O’Brien] that she was meeting Bob Small and why. We don’t know when she was first introduced to Small.

It had been on Sunday 6 May that Lori Campbell contacted Leicestershire Constabulary about Murat. A female CID Officer in the Leicestershire Constabulary [Folio 307 of the CD in the files] faxed the ‘Portugal Incident Room’ in Praia da Luz stating that Lori Campbell, a reporter from the ‘Sunday Mirror’, had been in contact. The Officer reported as follows:

“Lori has been speaking to an interpreter who has been helping the Portuguese authorities with the investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance. He has only given his name as ‘ROB’ and has not given any background information about himself. Lori has become suspicious of Rob as he has given conflicting accounts to various people and he became very concerned when he noticed his ’photo being taken by the Mirror’s photographer. ROB stated to Lori that he was going through a messy divorce in the U.K. at the moment and that he had a 3-year-old daughter just like Madeleine, who he is separated from at the moment. He made a big show of telephoning his daughter in front of reporters and Lori felt he was being too loud and making a big thing of speaking to his daughter on the ’phone. The things that ROB has said to Lori have raised her concerns about him. Could you please call Lori who is still in Portugal to establish further details to identify ROB in order to eliminate him from your enquiries on 07917 XXXXXX”.

This information was relayed immediately to Portugal - in stark contrast, we may note, to the way Leicestershire Police handled some other matters of potential interest, for example, their five-month delay forwarding the statements of Drs Katherine and Arul Gaspar to the UK police. These were two Doctor friends of the McCanns, whose statements claimed that, while on an earlier holiday with the McCanns and the Paynes, Dr Payne, in the presence of Mr McCann, had made disturbing remarks about Madeleine in what might be construed to be a sexual and perverted way.

As Paulo Reis commented: “Miss Campbell’s report must have hit the hot buttons, because Mr Murat came under suspicion and the PJ intercepted his telephone (see folios 1017 and 1267), picking up some interesting chats with Martin Brunt of SKY TV (see folios 1675 and 1692). But little else was picked up except for a conversation with ‘Phil’, a British Police Officer, whom Murat asked about the ways mobile ’phone signals could be tracked to specific locations. Mr Murat’s interest seemed to be whether such tracking could prove that he was at home during the late evening of Thursday 3 May 2007 as he claimed.

In the early afternoon of Sunday 13 May 2007, Jane Tanner spoke to what she called ‘some of the people that Kate and Gerry brought in’. It has since been established that these were almost certainly two men, Kenneth Farrow and Michael Keenan, from a group called ‘Control Risks Group’ (CRG), a private intelligence agency which appeared to have no track record whatsoever of looking for missing children and seemed to operate covertly and very much ‘in the shadows’. They had arrived at Faro Airport on the flight from Gatwick that very morning. Some CRG staff may already have been in Praia da Luz before that flight. Mr Farrow is the ex-head of the Economic Crime Unit in the City of London Police and Mr Keenan had been a Superintendent from the Metropolitan Police with specialist fraud and investigative experience. These were just two out of a vast collection of professionals that seemed to descend on Praia da Luz in the days immediately following Madeleine going missing: public relations experts, British police officers, counsellors and advisers, Consular staff and private investigators. It is hard to know how some of them could realistically have been flown in to help search for Madeleine. Some of these people seemed much more used to crisis management than to helping to find a missing child.

Returning to Control Risks Group, the question of who actually asked them to become involved and who agreed to pay for their services has never been made clear. Reports suggest that they were a top-level ‘crisis management team’ who had been brought in by media advisers Bell Pottinger on behalf of Mark Warner. But what seems clear is that their initial mission was to advise Jane Tanner in connection with her identification of the abductor.

It seems probable that she told CRG, as she had earlier told an officer from Leicestershire Police (probably Bob Small), that she could identify the ‘abductor’ if she were to see him in profile and in context.

It seems that no sooner had Jane Tanner finished speaking to the two top CRG men than she took a telephone call from Bob Small, a senior Leicestershire Police Officer already in Praia da Luz helping the Portuguese Police. He told her that the police wanted to see her. He actually made a mistake and said ‘the Spanish police’. It is likely, by that time, that covert plans had already been made to induce Mr Murat to walk across the top of the road, north of Apartment 5A, where Miss Tanner claimed to have seen the ‘abductor’. This situation was thus the precise context in which she believed she could make an identification.

Mr Small then told Miss Tanner not to discuss anything with anyone, including her husband. She claims she followed this instruction to the letter, but questions have been asked about whether she could realistically have followed such an instruction. By this time, Murat was under suspicion but had not been made an ‘arguido’. He had been around the Ocean Club a lot from 4 May 2007 onwards and had translated the PJ’s interviews with Catriona Baker, Stacey Portz, Leanne Wagstaff and Amy Teirney (Folio 457).

It is very possible that during that week most of the ‘Tapas 9’ knew that Murat was under suspicion. They would have either watched the news bulletins or been briefed on them. Besides that, their spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, had already publicly compared Murat to Soham double-murderer Ian Huntley. It appears, though, that by this time Jane Tanner had not yet been formally introduced to Murat as many of the other members of the ‘Tapas 9’ had.

Arrangements were then made for Miss Tanner to be collected by Mr Small and his PJ colleagues in a car park near to Mr Murat’s home at around 7.30pm that day. Goncalo Amaral was in a meeting room at the Public Ministry, waiting to pounce if Tanner gave a positive identification.

Miss Tanner has given a rather dramatic account of being ‘worried sick’ that the ‘Spanish Police’ (as she called them) might be about to cart her off to destinations unknown. So she got her partner Dr Russell O’Brien to walk with her to the rendezvous with Mr Small. That is another reason for questioning whether she could possibly have kept secret from her partner the information that she was meeting Bob Small in order to identify a possible abductor. If, as she claims, she did not discuss the identification operation with her husband, what precisely did she say to him? What did he think was going on? Who looked after their children at this time and what did Tanner and O’Brien tell those who were looking after the children? Like many other questions in this affair, we don’t have answers, and this brings to mind Dr David Payne’s notorious claim to the Sol newspaper that he couldn’t talk to them because of a ‘Pact of Silence’ amongst the ‘Tapas 9’.

If Tanner had indeed discussed her meeting with Bob Small with her partner Russell, we might therefore reasonably infer from that that all of the ‘Tapas 9’ group probably had more than a shrewd idea why Tanner had met with Bob Small.

The police went on to arrange to pick Tanner up very close to Murat’s home. One might ask why so close? On their way to the car park, and just outside his home, Robert Murat, whom we know had met Russell O’Brien on the morning of 4 May, was driving his mother’s green VW van. He stopped, got out of his van and chatted, showing Tanner and O’Brien posters he had made to ‘Find Madeleine’, and generally rattling on about nothing in particular. This was the first time, so we are told, that Tanner had been introduced to Murat, but, as Paolo Reis pointed out, “given the events that were about to follow, it is amazing she did not cry out ‘That’s him…that’s the person I saw: that’s the abductor!’” But she didn’t say a single word.

In her later ‘Rogatory’ interview with Leicestershire Police in April 2008, she claimed that she had been concerned at the time that ‘there was some strange conspiracy going on to abduct me’, adding that “Mr Small scared the daylights out of me”.

She continued as follows: “But that made me even more suspicious because it was like, so I think at that point, I think I actually spoke to Stuart [Stuart Prior, the lead Leicestershire Police investigator in Praia da Luz]”. It seems from other sources that she did indeed speak to Mr Prior and thus had no reason whatsoever to believe that she was about to be abducted.

If Tanner did indeed have a discussion with her partner about the identification operation, that would have enabled him to point out Murat and enable her to identify him. Was it merely a coincidence that Russell accompanied Jane to the pick-up by Bob Small?

When you add into the mix that the pick-up was just outside Murat’s house, and that on top of that they just ‘happened’ to bump into Murat, the whole sequence of events looks less and less as if they were by mere chance.

Tanner was taken away by Bob Small and the Portuguese Police and she says Russell wrote down their car registration number, presumably so he could rescue her if the Spanish Police abducted her. She was driven to another location and hidden in the back of an undercover surveillance vehicle, a van, which was driven to a position near the side entrance to Apartment 5A, facing north.

Tanner then apparently saw three people walk across the top of the road: but Mr Murat was the first to do so. It is not clear exactly what words she used to the police at the time but, whatever she says now, it was very clearly strong enough to make them believe that Tanner had positively identified Murat as the ‘abductor’. This was despite Murat not matching her verbal description, nor looking anything like the ‘egg man’ sketch of the alleged abductor that Tanner had approved, nor wearing glasses. Immediate plans were made to arrest Murat.

Three of the ‘Tapas 9’ now go on to identify Murat as a man they saw on the night Madeleine was abducted

Mr Murat’s home was searched on 14 May and he was made an ‘arguido’ on 15 May 2007. His face was then on every TV screen in Europe.

It seems that what happened next, so we are told, is that a SKY News report caused Rachel Mampilly to immediately walk to the Tanner’s apartment saying she recognised Murat from her sighting of him at the Ocean Club on the night of 3 May 2007. Fiona Payne immediately corroborated this and Russell O’Brien added that he had met Mr Murat during the searches for Madeleine on the night of 3/4 May. He says he entered Murat’s telephone number into his mobile’s memory at that time.

Tanner has claimed that she had not told her friends anything about her outing in the police van and said that their reactions to Mr Murat’s exposure on SKY News were spontaneous. However, in her April 2008 interviews with the Leicestershire Police, Tanner made a slip. She said that her friends suggested that she should speak to Bob Small about Mr Murat. That raises the question of how they knew that she had Bob Small’s contact details, if she had not already discussed the identification charade with them?

Tanner told Leicestershire Police [this is taken from the official Transcript]:

“Cos I’d got, I’d got his number from the day before (for/from?) them and you know, they sort of, you know, to say, oh is this, is this relevant and also I wanted to tell him that I’d seen him [Murat] on the way to doing the surveillance as well as, yeh, just for that so it’s just to make the point really that I think at that point, they didn’t know that Robert Murat had said he wasn’t there on that night”.

Later in the interview, Tanner said:

“…get to the truth of the matter and the truth is, you know they, when they asked me to ring Bob Small to make these statements, we didn’t even know that he’d, erm, hadn’t, hadn’t said he was there on the night and they didn’t know that I had done the surveillance…I mean when I got back, I didn’t even tell Russell what I’d done ’cos I took everything seriously what the police said in terms of, you know, not telling anyone”.

It has been suggested, by contrast, that there may have been a deliberate plan between members of the ‘Tapas 9’ and some the police officers, criminal profilers and private investigators who were talking to them, to accuse Murat and have him arrested. We make no comment on that suggestion.

Tanner then ’phoned Bob Small and relayed her friend’s concerns, but it is not clear whether or not she told him about the compromising, supposedly accidental, encounter with Murat outside his house, just five minutes before identifying him as the ‘abductor’. In most jurisdictions, this encounter would have invalidated Miss Tanner’s identification evidence. It would also have raised suspicions that there had been a deliberate plan for her to bump into the prime suspect (accompanied by someone who knew him) so that she would see what he was wearing and, based on such knowledge, identify him as the ‘abductor’ a mere five minutes later.

Whether this suspicion is true or not, it does not alter the fact that the identification exercise was thoroughly incompetent. Murat denied being at the Ocean Club on 3 May 2007. Now there were three members of the ‘Tapas 9’ who suddenly claimed to remember seeing him there. Let it be noted that it was on 15 May that these three members of the ‘Tapas 9’ first told Portuguese Police that they had seen Murat on the night of 3/4 May. They had therefore waited twelve days to do so.

There is nothing in the Portuguese Police CD files to indicate whether the supposedly accidental encounter was ever reported to Bob Small. It may have been. The critical unanswered question, though, is whether or not Small reported this evidentially corrupting incident to the Portuguese Police and to the Portuguese judiciary.

On 15 May, Dr Russell O’Brien, Fiona Payne and Rachael Oldfield/Mampilly all made statements to the police placing Murat in the Ocean Club late on the evening of 3 May. Their evidence conflicts with that of a number of Portuguese Police, GNR Officers and Mark Warner’s staff who say Murat was not there that night. There was some activity on his computer that night but not enough to rule out the possibility that he left his mother’s home for a period that night (see Folio 1166).

On 11 July 2007, a formal confrontation between the above ‘Tapas 3’ (Dr Russell O'Brien, Fiona Payne and Rachael Oldfield/Mampilly) and Mr Murat took place in Portimao. He stuck to his guns, they stuck to theirs, and it became a stand-off. Jane Tanner meanwhile continued to maintain he was the person she had seen carrying the child on 3 May 2007, despite the fact he looked nothing like the ‘egg man’ sketch.

The Portuguese Police seemed to believe Mr Murat.


On 22 October 2007 (folio 3905), Dr Gerald McCann emailed Bob Small of Leicestershire Police with two sketches [middle and right below], both prepared by Melissa Little, one of which (‘the second sketch’) became known as ‘bundleman’. The first sketch is similar to ‘bundleman’ but it is in black and white and has a nose (‘noseman’).

Dr McCann wrote to Bob Small as follows: “Sketch 1 was the rough outline…she (Tanner) was not really happy with the face and therefore Melissa decided to leave it blank”.

The differences between the two sketches may appear marginal, but they are critical, because the black and white ‘noseman’ (see folio 3906) does not wear glasses, nor does he have facial hair. Since Mr Murat has been described as ‘unable to see a barn door without his glasses’ and is never without them, this sketch would appear to rule Murat out as the ‘abductor’. Yet despite the passage of nearly six months neither Jane Tanner nor anyone else acted on this gross inconsistency. So Murat remained an arguido.

No wonder Tanner was ‘not really happy with the face’, when it totally destroyed her identification of Murat.


But whichever way you look at the four artists’ sketches above, it is obvious they are not of Robert Murat and also nothing like Jane Tanner’s original ‘egg man’.

On 16 January 2008, three days after Brian Kennedy’s interview with Albert Schuurmans of the Roscoe Foundation, Dr Gerald McCann emailed Superintendent Stuart Prior of Leicestershire Police with a PowerPoint presentation (folio 3966) stating ‘as discussed’. Just one hour later, with lightning speed, Superintendent Prior forwarded the package to Ricardo Paiva of the Portuguese Police asking for instructions and stating, among other things:

“The PowerPoint attached (Folio 3968) was completed by the McCanns but the statements were all taken by the U.K. police. Miss Tanner’s description was taken from the press and from the summary of her statement. There is some urgency around this as we need to decide prior to the Gail Cooper artist’s impression appearing in the U.K. press. How are you going to deal with the possible press issues? What are you planning around Mr Kennedy and the private investigation firm?”

He concludes: “I will need to get back to the McCanns as he has asked to be updated. How would Paulo [Mr Rebelo] want this conducted and what information I am to provide to them? They are very excited about this potential lead”.

Pausing here, we may note the ultra-friendly relationship between Stuart Prior and Dr Gerald McCann. It was ‘Stu’ and ‘Gerry’ by this time. We should also observe the way Dr Gerald McCann almost appeared to be dictating what was happening in the investigation. Despite being one of three suspected of active involvement in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, he is able to get his ‘Powerpoint’ presentation to the Portuguese police within minutes. Prior was clearly aware that the McCanns and their Team wanted to do a major press blitz on this new sketch, and was anxious to help them. “I will need to get back to the McCanns”, wrote Prior, in much the same way as he might have written: “I will need to get back to my Chief Constable”.

Extraordinarily, the whole investigation seemed to be being directed by a suspect. By this time, Leicestershire Police had already made the unprecedented decision to link their website to the McCanns’ fund-raising website, which in turn directed the public not to Leicestershire Police nor to the Portuguese Police but to the McCanns’ very dubious private investigators, Metodo 3, whose controversial boss Francisco Marco had made the bold but false claim in December that he knew where Madeleine was, his men were closing in on her, and she would be home before Christmas.

Dr McCann’s ‘Powerpoint’ slides attempted to highlight the alleged similarity between Jane Tanner’s ‘bundleman’ and the ‘Monster Man/George Harrison man’ of Gail Cooper.

Dr Gerald McCann wrote:

“Tanner spent a full day with Melissa Little, a qualified Police Sketch Artist since 1986, to compile this likeness of the suspect. Melissa met Gail Cooper in a separate session. After spending hours with both witnesses, Melissa Little states: “There are many similarities between Miss Tanner’s man and Gail’s. Tanner believes that there is an 80% likelihood that this is the same man she saw carrying away the child, believed to be Madeleine”.

On 17 January 2008 Detective Constable 4168 of the Leicestershire Police interviewed Gail Cooper and e-mailed the Operational Task Force. Mrs Cooper tried to explain the News of the World’s additions and embellishments to her police statements with the phrase: “It never crossed my mind”…and the Officer reported that she “mentioned a man called Brian Kennedy who was working for the McCanns and...had sent an artist down to do a sketch of the man she saw at the villa”. (Folio 4005).

On 18 January 2008, Superintendent Stuart Prior emailed Ricardo Paiva about the Gail Cooper statement:

“As discussed, I have given Gerry a brief update just saying that the other descriptions are different to the artist’s impressions completed by Gail and identified by Jane [Tanner]. That the witnesses appeared genuine which indicates a number of charity collectors in the area prior to Madeleine being taken.

“We have not spoken to Jane at all and will not share our files with anybody, except yourselves, unless you request this from us. It appears there were at least three charity collectors if not more in the area in the weeks before Madeleine being taken. I am told that the artist’s impression by Gail Cooper is likely to hit the press over the weekend and I will update you on the effects of this next week, although we are not involved in this in any way at all”.

Prior notes that the artist’s impression ‘is likely to hit the press over the weekend’. He knew, we can be sure, exactly when Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns’ public relations chief, would be calling the press for his now-famous presentation, ‘Crimewatch’-style, of ‘Monster Man’ to the British press.

Later, Prior referred to an email from Michael Graham of the Leicestershire Police who reported: “I [Mick Graham] have spoken to Charlotte Pennington this morning and she has no additional information to give…She has been spoken to by a Private Investigator (Noel Hogan) working on behalf of Metodo 3. Charlotte assures me that she has only relayed to him the same information that she has already given to the Portuguese Police and to me (as per email dated 7 August 2007)”.

On 20 January 2008, the News of the World published a long article on Mrs Cooper’s alleged sighting and printed the full facial and striding out sketches of ‘Monster Man’. On 21 January 2008, Clarence Mitchell, the McCann’s spokesman, held a press conference releasing details of ‘Monster Man’. The News of the World is a title owned by Rupert Murdoch. Since late 2008, Clarence Mitchell has been employed at Freud International by Murdoch’s son-in-law, Matthew Freud.

The News of the World concluded, one might think with precious little justification: “The sketch by qualified police artist Melissa Little bears an uncanny resemblance to an earlier picture, based on Miss Tanner's story”. This is unsurprising given that both sketches had been made - using considerable artistic licence - by the same artist, Melissa Little, who was paid for by Brian Kennedy to assist the McCanns.

Given the obvious differences between Murat and either ‘Monster Man’ or ‘bundleman’, why, we must ask, did Tanner not at that stage, immediately correct what by now must have been her obvious misidentification of Murat back on 14 May the previous year?

The confrontation between Robert Murat and three of the ‘Tapas 9’

We’ll return now to the second time that Murat was questioned by police, namely 10 and 11 July. On the second of those two days, 11 July, there was a so-called ‘confrontation’ between Robert Murat and three of the McCanns’ friends organised by the Portuguese Police. This is how Martin Fricker of the Daily Mirror, 13 July 2007, reported this unusual event:


EXCLUSIVE: McCann pals tell suspect: You were there night she vanished

Three friends of Madeleine McCann's parents confronted suspect Robert Murat over his alibi during a tense five-hour grilling.

Fiona Payne, Russell O'Brien and Rachael Oldfield told Murat they saw him near the McCanns' holiday flat just after Madeleine vanished - contradicting his claims he had an early night. The extraordinary face-to-face showdown was set up by detectives to discover whose story was true.

They put Dr Payne, Dr O'Brien and Rachael in a small interview room with Murat and questioned them together. A police source said: “Because there was a disagreement, it is normal in Portugal for the two sides to be brought together to find the truth”. The McCanns' friends - who were at a restaurant with Kate and Gerry in Praia da Luz when four-year-old Madeleine vanished - flew back to Portugal for Wednesday's [11 July] interview.

It is believed they told police they saw British ex-pat Murat near the Ocean Club resort's pool minutes after finding Madeleine missing. Dr O'Brien's partner Jane Tanner is thought to be the witness who previously told police she saw a man carrying a child away from the resort just before the alarm was raised.


This is how Goncalo Amaral summarised the confrontation in his book:

“On July 11th at 10am, a confrontation is organised between the witnesses - Rachael Mampilly, Fiona Payne and Russell O'Brien - and Robert Murat. Nothing new comes out of it. The former persist in stating that the suspect was definitely in the area on the night of the disappearance. Murat denies the whole thing and even accuses them of lying. Each side stands its ground”.

The McCann Team edge away from identifying Murat as the alleged abdctor

To recapitulate, Jane Tanner told police the night that Madeleine was reported missing that she saw an abductor walking ‘purposefully’ away from the McCanns’ apartment.

Just 10 days later she saw Murat passing a police van in which she was hidden. She instantly said to the police officers with her that she recognised Murat as the abductor. On the strength of her testimony together with some other suspicions, Murat was arrested.

We also saw how Jane Tanner, still maintaining that Murat was the abductor, came up with an artists’ sketch that did not look like Murat (‘bundleman’) and then went even further saying that ‘Monster Man’/’George Harrison man’ could be the face of the abductor. He looked even less like Murat.

We’ll now look at some curious statements by the McCann Team about whether or not they still believed Murat to be the abductor.

By 16 November, Jane Tanner seemed to be deliberately preparing the ground for Robert Murat no longer to be identified by her and three of the other ‘Tapas 9’ friends as the suspected abductor.

A Daily Mail article on Sunday 16 November 2007 began: “The woman [Jane Tanner] who believes she saw Madeleine McCann being abducted revealed yesterday that she has never named Robert Murat to police as the man she saw [NOTE FROM TB: Compare Clarence Mitchell's words today]. Instead, she thinks he was ‘Mediterranean-looking’. She admitted: ‘I simply don't know if I could identify again the man I saw that night. I've never pointed the finger at Robert Murat because I simply don't know if it was him or not. I would say the man I saw was more local, or Mediterranean looking, rather than British. He had dark, almost black, long hair and had swarthy skin. He was dressed in that sort of smart casual way European people dress”.

As we have already seen, the claim that she’d ‘never pointed a finger at Robert Murat’ was untrue as she had of course positively identified him from that police van back in May. The story appeared to be a clear shift by the McCann camp in possible moves to lift the finger of suspicion away from Murat. The timing of this Mail article just two or three days after Brian Kennedy met Murat is of interest.

We’ll pause just for a moment to look at a series of particularly significant events that seem to have taken place around this time. Here’s a brief summary:

Friday 7 & Saturday 8 November: Several newspapers in Portugal and then England carry news that two (or one in one report) members of the ‘Tapas 9’ wanted to change their statements. The source appears to be the Portuguese lawyer for one of the ‘Tapas 9’. Other reports did not say the person was a member of the ‘Tapas 9’ but simply described the couple who wanted to change their statement as ‘friends of the McCanns’.

Tuesday 13 November: Brian Kennedy and his in-house lawyer Edward Smethurst meets with Robert Murat, Metodo 3 and the Portuguese Police in Praia da Luz and Portimao. Below we discuss this very significant set of meetings in more detail. We know the meeting with the Portuguese Police took place in Portimao on Tuesday 13 November, and Kennedy’s meeting with Murat may have been that day or one day either side of it. There has been much speculation about what kind of understanding might have been reached between that Kennedy, Smethurst and Murat at that meeting. None of those involved are keen to say what was discussed.

Wednesday 14 November: Portuguese Police source quoted as saying that they have over 100 questions to ask the McCanns and their ‘Tapas 9’ friends but are being subject to unreasonable delays by the British authorities.

Friday 16 November: Daily Mail carries an article featuring Jane Tanner saying she has never pointed the finger of suspicion at Robert Murat.

Saturday 17 November: The ‘Tapas 9’ group met all day at the Rothley Court Hotel, along with representatives of Metodo 3, and no doubt various lawyers and other advisers. News of this secret meeting did not leak out to British newspapers until 11 December.

Sunday 18 November: Dr Gerald McCann quoted as saying that they believed a ‘predator’ had been stalking the apartment in the days before Madeleine was reported missing.

Monday 19 November: Hour-long BBC Panorama programme on the Madeleine McCann case by reporter Richard Bilton.

Monday 19 November: The METRO free paper boldly wrote: “A witness spotted Murat's German girlfriend, Michaela Walczuch, in a car with Maddie, on 5 May, in central Portugal”, while on the same day, the Daily Mail published a similar story: “According to a source, a new witness identified Michaela Walczuch as the woman seen with the missing child, in central Portugal, 160 kilometres [100 miles] from where she disappeared on May 3rd”.

Tuesday 20 Hovember: Jane Tanner quoted by the Daily Mirror insisting that she really did see ‘Maddie’s abductor’.

Now we move on to consider another twist. As 2008 began, the Daily Mail, on 1 January 2008, carried a prominent story featuring Dr Kate McCann’s claim that she still believed that Robert Murat was involved in Madelene’s disappearance. Extracts from the report, written by Vanessa Allen, included the following:


“Kate McCann is suspicious about Robert Murat's alibi for the night her daughter Madeleine vanished, it was revealed yesterday. The mother of three has confided to friends she believes there are questions about the British expat that need to be answered. Mrs McCann's doubts emerged after the Daily Mail reported that seven witnesses claim to have seen Mr Murat near the McCanns' holiday apartment on the night of May 3. He has always insisted he was at home all night at the villa he shares with his elderly mother in Praia da Luz, near the Mark Warner holiday complex. A friend of Kate and her husband Gerry said: ‘Kate has always felt there are questions concerning Murat and a body of evidence contrary to what he is saying. Gerry doesn't know whether he is involved but Kate has always been suspicious’. Mrs McCann, 39, has avoided publicly voicing suspicions about Mr Murat. She and Gerry, also 39, even called for calm after he was made an official suspect on May 14 and appealed for him to be treated fairly.

“Mr Murat, a property consultant, insists he did not learn about Madeleine's disappearance until the next morning and was not aware of the massive search going on less than 100 yards from his villa, Casa Liliana. But a source close to Mrs McCann said: ‘We now have a number of people who have come forward quite independently of us and volunteered information directly in contradiction to what he has said’. Three friends of the McCanns, Rachael Oldfield, Fiona Payne and Russell O'Brien, told police in July that they saw Mr Murat near the Ocean Club holiday complex while they were searching for Madeleine. They are said to have given statements to Portuguese police saying he introduced himself to them [that night] and said: ‘I am Robert. Can I help in the search?’

“Charlotte Pennington, 20, a nanny at the Mark Warner complex, has said she saw Mr Murat on May 4, when he was working as a police translator, and recognised him as a man she had seen near the Ocean Club at midnight. The Mail told yesterday [31 December] how holidaymaker Jayne Jensen, 54, also recognised the 34-year-old as a man she saw smoking a cigarette on the street corner opposite the McCanns' apartment.

An unnamed British barrister who was on holiday in Praia da Luz at the time is understood to have corroborated what Mrs Jensen said, but not made a formal statement. Two other tourists also called the hotline operated by the McCanns' private detective agency, Metodo 3, to report similar sightings. Mr Murat, who has a young daughter from a failed marriage, vehemently denies any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance. His mother Jennifer, 71, has accused Metodo 3 of bribing witnesses to change their evidence. But a source close to the McCanns said: ‘He is her son and most mothers would protect their children. Either she knows something or she is mistaken’.”


So by 1 January, Murat was back in the frame, at least according to Dr Kate McCann and the Daily Mail, with Dr Kate McCann hinting vaguely at ‘questions which need to be answered’ and ‘doubts’.

Extraordinarily, just one week later, the Daily Mail ran a story which said exactly the reverse. One could be forgiven for thinking that those responsible for the McCanns’ public relations were not happy with the 1 January article and wished to change it.

So here’s what Vanessa Allen wrote in the Mail just one week later:


Madeleine witnesses ‘may have mistaken this friend of the McCanns for Murat’ on night she disappeared Daily Mail

“Doubt was cast on the evidence of several key witnesses in the Madeleine McCann disappearance last night. Those who said they saw suspect Robert Murat outside the family's holiday apartment on the night she vanished may have named the wrong man, it was revealed. Detectives believe the witnesses who said they saw the British expat could have confused him with a friend of Kate and Gerry McCann, David Payne, who was out searching for the missing three-year-old…

“A series of witnesses have given statements claiming to have seen him around the Ocean Club apartment complex in the hours after Mrs McCann, 39, raised the alarm. They include three friends of the McCanns, Russell O'Brien, Fiona Payne and Rachael Oldfield, who later confronted Mr Murat at a police station after he was made a suspect and said he offered to help them search that night. Mark Warner nanny Charlotte Pennington said she saw him hanging around outside the Ocean Club's reception at about 10pm. British holidaymaker Jayne Jensen, an unnamed British barrister and two unidentified British tourists all claim to have seen him around the complex that night.

“But none of them knew the 34-year-old property consultant before that night. Police are examining the theory that they could have confused him with Dr David Payne. The medical researcher, who is 41, was searching around the complex that night and - in a street lit by orange streetlights - could easily have been mistaken for Mr Murat. Mr Murat's lawyer Francisco Pagarete told the Daily Mail: ‘Robert has always said the witnesses were mistaken. He was not there that night’. A source close to the inquiry said: ‘The similarity between the two has rendered many witness accounts virtually worthless’. But he added: ‘What is baffling is that Mr Payne's wife and two of his friends are among those who claim to have seen Mr Murat outside the McCanns' apartment that night. You'd think a wife would recognise her own husband’.”


The story had changed dramatically, within a week, from ‘Eight people saw Robert Murat that night’ to ‘They all probably mistook him for Dr David Payne’.

The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made" - Groucho Marx
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