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A Tale of a Tapas Restaurant Booking Mm11

A Tale of a Tapas Restaurant Booking Regist10

A Tale of a Tapas Restaurant Booking

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A Tale of a Tapas Restaurant Booking Empty A Tale of a Tapas Restaurant Booking

Post by Verdi on 22.07.20 16:24

The Tapas restaurant booking for the week of the McCanns and their friends holiday is a subject of controversy and interest to many a case observer.  The group and witnesses have given contradictory information about the restaurant booking, culminating in Kate McCann's book 'madeleine', four years later published in April/May 2011

Today we’d been able to make a dinner reservation for the adult contingent at the poolside Tapas restaurant. Apparently, this restaurant, a canopied outdoor addition to the bar, catered for only up to fifteen diners in the evenings, and reservations could not be made until the morning of the day in question. Being so close, it was far more convenient than the Millennium. The children could have their tea together earlier, play for a while and then go to bed at their usual time, which meant they wouldn’t get overtired and out of sorts, and we could eat later on.

madeleine by KATE MCCANN

Another area of the curious case of the disappearance of Madeleine worked on extensively by esteemed forum member, Tony Bennett


An account has been given by a receptionist at the Ocean Club of how a tall, thin man, on the evening of Sunday 29 April 2007, accompanied by a young girl said to be Madeleine McCann, was able to insist, for urgent reasons, that the Tapas 9 - contrary to all normal procedures - be allocated a reserved table at the Tapas Restaurant for the rest of the week,

It appears to be a settled fact that the Tapas 9 (or rather, most of them) did indeed eat their evening meal at the Tapas restaurant from Monday to Thursday that week, the table being booked for 8.30pm each night.

Before analysing this unusual event, it is necessary first of all to present the main statements I can find which relate to it.

Here they are:

Statement of Luisa Coutinho (Ocean Club Receptionist), 8 May 2007

Date: 2007/05/08

Luisa Ana de Noronha de Azevedo Coutinho

Occupation: Receptionist

Place of work: Ocean Club

She has been a receptionist at the Garden for 1 year, but has worked there previously.

The OC Garden reception has less functions than the main reception and deals with subjects relating to activities (Pool, Tennis) etc and excursions.

She points out that the family in question came via Mark Warner and this company takes care of all relations with clients and there is practically no contact between the clients and reception.

She adds that this family (McCann), like all MW clients had half-board,  that is breakfast and dinner. For dinner the guests could choose between two restaurants, the Tapas and the Millenium, the first being à  la carte and the second a buffet service, clients make their choice not only because of the food but because of the proximity of the restaurant to their accommodation. She says that the guests told her that the Tapas was of better quality but that it was difficult to reserve there as a MW guest as the MW daily quota was of only 20.

In this concrete case the reasonable option was the Tapas as the distance was only 40 metres from the accommodation as opposed to 200 metres from the Millenium.

She remembers that on Sunday 29th April one of the elements of the group arrived with the child Madeleine McCann, she does not know his name and can only say that he was male and tall and thin and that he approached her to request a booking for the whole group, for the whole week and always at 20.30.

When questioned, she confirms that the man was not the father of the girl but one of the members of the group whom was often seen in his company.

The man justified his request by saying that the group had many small children whom they would leave alone when they went to dine. She said that at intervals some two parents would go to the apartments to see if everything was OK.

The deponent made some comments about the request, saying that the Tapas received many requests and that MW only had a quota of 20 per day, but upon the insistence of the guest she managed to make the bookings requested.

She confirms that it was possible to see the apartment from the restaurant, including the window of the sitting room.

She does not know in which bedroom the children were sleeping but upon being informed that it was on the opposite side of the apartment she confirmed that it would be completely out of sight from anyone at the restaurant.

That the most viable solution would be to leave the children with a baby sitter, which is the procedure normally adopted by clients.

Regarding the question as to the availability of the baby sitting service between 19.30 and 23.30, she confirms that the service exists and that it is free of charge. [the night crèche]

When questioned, she says that she does not understand, as the service is free, why the parents of Madeleine McCann did not use it.

When asked she says that the contact with this family was normal, like with other clients and describes them as "nice".

With regard to the date of the disappearance she says that she worked from 09.00 to 19.00 and only returned at 08.00 on 4th May.

It was on this day at 08.30 when she arrived that she was informed about the disappearance by colleagues.

She only knows what third parties have told her and from what she has seen in the press.

She never saw anything strange. During this interview she provided a book with the reservations for the Tapas restaurant.

No more was said, reads, ratifies and signs.

Luis Barros

on a date he cannot remember, the group, just the adults because the children were dining with the nannies, had been too late in making their dinner reservation at the Tapas, and an exception was made, authorised by his boss Steve [Steven Cova, see below], as the Tapas only provides for 20 dinners for half board clients as was the case.

Steven Cova

He said that he was absent from Portugal between Sunday 29th April and the 2nd May 2007.

Kate - In Kate McCann’s book, ‘madeleine’ - 1

(Taken from a media report by Martin Fricker, ‘Kate McCann fears restaurant reservation booking tipped off Madeleine McCann's abductor, 9 May 2011)

“Madeleine McCann may have been snatched after perverts spotted in a tapas reservation book she had been left alone at her holiday flat, mum Kate fears.

The distraught 43-year-old told how she had ordered a table close to the ­apartment so she and husband Gerry could pop over to check on their daughter and twins Sean and Amelie as they slept.

“But the book was left open and in full view of other diners at the Ocean Club resort restaurant.

“Kate said: ‘It was by ­definition accessible to staff and, albeit unintentionally, probably to guests and visitors, too. To my horror, I saw that, no doubt in all innocence, the receptionist had added we wanted to eat close to our flats as we were leaving our young children alone there, checking on them intermittently’.

“Kate revealed the blunder in her new book Madeleine. Her three-year-old daughter was kidnapped while she and Gerry, 43, ate with friends. The GP discovered the security lapse when she reviewed Portuguese police files after the investigation was axed”.

Kate - In Kate McCann’s book, ‘madeleine’ – 2

(from ‘madeleine’, Kate McCann)

Today [Sunday] we’d been able to make a dinner reservation for the adult contingent at the poolside Tapas restaurant. Apparently, this restaurant, a canopied outdoor addition to the bar, catered for only up to fifteen diners in the evenings, and reservations could not be made until the morning of the day in question.

In spite of what we’d been told about booking the Tapas restaurant, Rachael managed to get a table for nine at 8.30pm pencilled in for the rest of the week after having a word with the receptionist at the pool and Tapas area.

…to explain why she was bending the rules a bit, the receptionist had added the reason for our request: we wanted to eat close to our apartments as we were leaving our young children alone there and checking on them intermittently.

Rachael Oldfield’s first statement, 11 May 2007

On Monday they were told that there was no room for all of them in the restaurant, but they obtained a special favour from a waiter and all dined together. In order to obtain this favour they said that the children were asleep and that they could not move anywhere else. For this reason, from this day onwards they would reserve a space in the restaurant (for the adults) for the following day.

Rachael Oldfield’s Rogatory interview, 15 May 2008

We'd booked to eat in the Tapas Bar that night because The Millennium had just been one kind of a bit of trek and a bit too stressful with all the kids and it was thought it would be quite nice to have dinner by ourselves, so, erm, I booked a table for eight thirty in the Tapas for us

Matthew Oldfield’sStatement, 2007

As far as he [MO] is concerned, he wishes at this time to add that, in conversation with…on a date he does not recall with certainty but likely to have been on 7 or 8 May, he […] confided in him that that, at that time, KH [Kate McCann] had been particularly reluctant about coming to Portugal because she had had a bad feeling [presentiment] about the children of the group and the non-existence of the 'baby sitting' service.

Nevertheless, he relates that, they had discussed this problem resolving to make the trip since the operator had assured them accommodation sufficiently close together that, collectively, they had managed to assure the checking and supervision of their respective progeny....he adds that on leaving England they did not know the exact apartments which they had been allotted.... they were only informed of their respective apartments on arrival in Portugal.

[This (below) is taken form a different translation of the same words]

Nevertheless, he relates that…had asked the operator that they be provided with lodgings in close proximity to each other because, as a group, they intended to perform that kind of checking collectively over the children of each family.

Consequently, David had taken charge of negotiations with the operator to have all lodgings as close to each other as possible. Nonetheless, and because he was asked, he adds that on leaving England they did not know the exact apartments which they had been allotted.

Prompted about the dinner reservations/bookings at Tapas, he relates that the first time they made a reservation was on Sunday, not knowing who had made it. Asked if it could have been ROB the deponent admitted that that was possible, reiterating to not know for sure who had made it.
Relating to the other days, he clarifies that on Monday morning his wife undertook such reservation, adding still that it would have been for all the remaining days except for Friday, 4 May, as there was to have been a Tennis Club dinner that night.

Russell O’Brien’s Statement, 2007

thus they opted to have dinner, after that day, in the Tapas Restaurant. That restaurant is situated next to the pool, in the patio areas of the block of apartments where they found themselves lodged. The deponent furthers that the daughters of David and Fiona Payne are very agitated, and that they preferred to be the closest possible to the apartment. All the couples agreed, without objections.

Russell O’Brien’s Rogatory, 2008

We were booked into the Tapas bar, we ate there that night initially it was booked as a one off I think by Rachael as far as I am aware the table was booked for 20:30hours.  I am aware that Rachael asked to eat there each night for the remainder of our stay. This I believe was booked on the Monday morning as a block booking - the time was agreed by the group… if anything else was ordered there may have been a need to have made an additional payment.  I recall that orders may have been put onto a bar bill and paid at the end of the week...Generally of an evening we would drink beer or have a few glasses of wine

Statement of Dianne Webster, 2007

The question asked, regarding the fact that, possibly, on the first day it was RUSSELL who had made the reservation at the restaurant, she admits that as possible, although she cannot be sure which of the two (RACHEL or RUSSELL) would have done it.

Tapas Restaurant supervisor, Tiago Rochas Barreiros

From the very beginning, a request was made to the restaurant workers to reserve a table for 20H30 until the end of the week.

They were clients of the Tapas restaurant which they began frequenting the 2nd day of their arrival to the OC.

[He goes daily to the family's apartment in order to bring them lunch…].

That every day around 13H00, he heads to No. 4-G (where the family of the missing child is staying) and to No. 4-1 (where 10 people are lodged) to deliver lunch. He repeats this routine at 20H00 to take them dinner.

That the payment for alcohol, not included in the vacation package, was paid by credit card. This payment was made by random members of the group of nine.

Holidaymaker unable to use the Tapas Restaurant - 1

"On the night of Madeleine McCann's disappearance we could not get a table at the Tapas bar and decided to get a takeaway from there and have it at the apartment"

Proc15 p3907 - 3908

Holidaymaker unable to use the Tapas Restaurant - 2

"I tried to reserve a table at the Tapas Bar for that night but it was fully booked ... we decided to order a meal from the restaurant and we dined together in our apartment"

CR5 30-32

Holidaymaker unable to use the Tapas Restaurant - 3

"I believe that there was some sort of agreement with the Tapas bar, as they appeared to have a reservation every night, and it was impossible for other guests to book a spot there."

CR5 25-29


An analysis of who said what about each issue:

When was the booking made?

Coutinho – Sunday
Luis Barros - No details given
Steven Cova - Was alleged to have 'authorised' this unusual meeting
Kate McCann – Sunday
Rachael Oldfield – Monday
Matthew Oldfield – Sunday, then Rachel booked it on Monday for the rest of the week
Russell O’Brien - Sunday, then Rachel booked it on Monday for the rest of the week
Dianne Webster – ‘On the first day’
Tiago Barreiros – ‘From the very beginning’ – but began ‘frequenting’ the restaurant on the ‘2nd day’
Holidaymaker 3 – Not stated

Who made the booking?

Coutinho -Tall thin man who was with Madeleine McCann when he made the booking and was often seen with him – but not Madeleine’s father
Luis Barros - Not stated, but he says he made the decision after contacting his boss Steven Cova

Steven Cova - Said to have authorised the Tapas restaurant booking, but says he was not in Portugal from Sunday 29th April to Wednesday 2nd May    

Kate McCann – Me and Gerry
Rachael Oldfield –  Me (Rachael)
Matthew Oldfield – I don’t know who made it on Sunday. Might have been Russell O’Brien, I really have no idea
Russell O’Brien - Rachael
Dianne Webster – Russell O’Brien, or possibly Rachael
Tiago Barreiros – Not stated
Holidaymaker 3 – Not stated

How long was the booking for?

Coutinho – The rest of the week
Luis Barros - No details given
Steven Cova - No details given
Kate McCann – The rest of the week
Rachael Oldfield – We had to re-book it every morning
Matthew Oldfield – Someone booked it for Sunday. Rachael booked it for the rest of the week
Russell O’Brien – Rachael booked it as a one-off for Sunday. Rachael booked it for the rest of the week
Dianne Webster – Not stated, but she seems to mean ‘all week’
Tiago Barreiros – Not stated, but implies that it means ‘all week’
Holidaymaker 3 – Not stated

What was the purpose of the booking?

Coutinho – McCanns said ‘So that we can check on the children’. She said why don’t you use the free night crèche?
Luis Barros - 'Because the children were having dinner with the nannies'
Steven Cova - No details given
Kate McCann – So we could check on our children
Rachael Oldfield – The Millennium restaurant was too far away and it was stressful to eat with the children
Matthew Oldfield – No reason given
Russell O’Brien – We didn’t want to go to the Millennium any more and wanted to be near the children
Dianne Webster – No reason given
Tiago Barreiros – No reason given
Holidaymaker 3 – Not stated

I think from this we can draw these probable facts

1 The statement of Luisa Coutinho is by far the most detailed and for a number of reasons has the ring of truth about it

2 Therefore a booking was made by ‘a tall thin man’ on the Sunday – no time is given

3 The identity of the ‘tall thin man’ is not known

4 Both Russell O’Brien and Matthew Oldfield say that the ‘tall, thin man’ was not them

5 The ostensible reason given by whoever made the booking was basically ‘We don’t want to go to the Millennium any more, and we must be near our children so that we can watch/check on them’

6 It is reasonable from the accounts to assume that the Tapas 9 all ate at the Tapas Restaurant, at least from Monday to Thursday, if not Sunday as well

7 Luisa Coutinho clearly made a strong challenge to the tall thin man’s suggestion that they leave their young children in their apartments all evening and was not convinced that they were justified in not taking up the free ‘night creche’ facility.

The problems and the mysteries

1 Who was the ‘tall thin man’?

2 Who was the child with the tall thin man?. Was it actually Madeleine McCann?

3 Based on Russell O’Brien’s daughter Ella being in the Lobsters group that week, could Luisa Coutinho have mistaken Ella for Madeleine?

4 What was the precise time that the booking was made?

5 Was there just one booking (on Sunday or Monday), or were there two (Sunday and Monday?)

6 Who actually made the booking? It seems we have six possible candidates: (a) Kate on her own (b) Kate and Gerry (c) as yet unidentified tall thin man (d) Russell O’Brien (e ) Matthew Oldfield (f) Rachael Oldfield

7 Why is Kate, so precise about so much else in her book, so very vague about this booking, just “Today we’d been able to make a dinner reservation for the adult contingent at the poolside Tapas restaurant”

8 Why was the tall thin man so insistent?

9 Was ‘finding the walk and taking the children to the Millennium restaurant the real reason for this Tapas restaurant booking, or was there a very different reason?

A few other observations:

A. The Millennium Restaurant is said to be 500-700 yards from Apartment G5A and the Tapas restaurant. Buggies were available at the Ocean Club. That should have been an easy walk of no more than 10 minutes, probably less.

B. What plans had they made about child care in the evenings (a) when they made their booking and (b) before they travelled to Praia da Luz? Did they really plan in advance to leave them on their own in the evenings? Personally, I very much doubt it.  

C. (grabbed from another place) QUOTE: “What does Kate McCann have to say about the Tapas booking? No mention of a tall man, Rachael is the one who told the receptionist they were leaving the children alone. It  never crossed Kate's mind that leaving the children alone was a bad idea? She claims she was committed to leaving the children alone right from the start. Was she?  She says ‘we’ (who is ‘we’? made a booking, but not when it was decided nor when it was booked”.

D. (also grabbed from another place) QUOTE: “I am interested in this because the receptionist who took the booking seems to have mistaken a small dark haired woman for a tall thin man accompanied by a child. I would be very interested in knowing what other diners had to say, but there’s no interviews with them in the files”.

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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