The Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann™
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The Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann™
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Madeleine McCann: Media Commentary

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Post by Verdi 12.07.22 15:58

Crimewatch: dupers or duped?

The October edition of Crimewatch, focussing on the case of Madeleine McCann, featured new photofits of a potential suspect - only, they weren't new. According to the Sunday Times, they had been repressed by the McCanns themselves. The failure of the BBC to report this is extraordinary.

David Elstein
4 November 2013

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The newly released photofit in the Maddy McCann case

For nearly thirty years, Crimewatch has been a regular part of the schedule of the BBC’s main channel, BBC1. By using video reconstructions of unsolved crimes, and accepting help and advice from the UK’s police forces, it has contributed to the conviction of over one hundred major criminals, including murderers and rapists.

These days, Crimewatch no longer has a monthly slot, but it can still pull in a large audience. The October 14th edition, including a 25-minute report on the mysterious disappearance of 3-year-old Madeleine McCann during a family holiday in Portugal six years ago, attracted over 6.5 million viewers, along with a mass of publicity before and after transmission.

The occasion of the programme was the decision by Scotland Yard to present the main findings of its renewed efforts – involving a 37-strong investigative team – to find the child, prompted by an assurance given by Prime Minister David Cameron to Madeleine’s parents, Gerry and Kate, that the closing of the Portuguese investigation into the case would not be allowed to be the final word.

The programme item was curiously inept. Real footage of the McCann family was constantly intercut with shots of (not very) lookalikes: confusing and distracting at the same time. Towards the end, there was reference to a search for a number of long-haired men who had been seen hanging around the apartment block in the holiday resort: yet the only video the “reconstruction” managed to offer was of several men with close-cropped heads.

Much of the publicity the programme attracted centred on new electronic photofits that featured prominently in the programme. They had been generated in the course of interviews with an Irish family, the Smiths, who had also been on holiday in the Praia da Luz resort where the McCanns and some friends of theirs had gathered in April 2007.

Attentive viewers might have been puzzled as to how the Irish witnesses were able to provide such detailed images, six years after the event. We were not told. The interview with the detective leading the Scotland Yard inquiry did not touch on the subject.

The next day, October 15th, the Daily Express – part of the newspaper group owned by Richard Desmond which has paid out over half a million pounds to the McCanns in compensation for libellous stories about Madeleine’s disappearance – noted that these photofits were actually five years old, but had never been released publicly.

On October 27th, we learned more. The Sunday Times claimed that the photofits had actually been compiled in 2008 by a team of private investigators hired by the Find Madeleine Fund, which had been set up by the McCanns. The investigation had cost £500,000, and had been led by Henri Exton, a former head of MI5 undercover operations. But the company Exton had worked for, Oakley International, had fallen out with the McCanns.

Ostensibly, the dispute was over money, but the McCanns also imposed a ban on any publicising of the contents of the Exton report. According to the Sunday Times, it had contained criticisms of the evidence provided by the friends of the McCanns, and by the McCanns themselves, even raising the possibility that Madeleine might have died after wandering out of the family’s rented apartment through unsecured doors.

Over the years, the McCanns have issued seven different photofits, including one provided by their friend Jane Tanner, who thought she saw a man carrying a child at about 9.15 on the evening Madeleine disappeared. Exton discounted this sighting, and thought the Smith sighting, at about 10 pm, was the most significant. Yet the McCanns, despite passionately pursuing the quest to find their lost child, chose never to issue the Smith photofit.

The Scotland Yard team has now satisfied itself that the Tanner sighting can be excluded, agrees that the 10 pm timeline is the correct one and regards the Smith photofit as the most promising lead: five years after the McCanns themselves suppressed all this information, according to the Sunday Times.

Whatever their reasons for doing so, the McCanns are not accountable to the public, despite Gerry’s regular lectures on how the press in general should behave, and why a Royal Charter version of the Leveson recommendations is needed to keep newspapers honest and straightforward in their reporting.

The story in the Sunday Times also indicated that the Exton report included a section in which the father of the Smith family, Martin Smith, noted that his observation of how Gerry McCann used to carry Madeleine on his shoulder reminded him of the man he saw carrying a child at 10 pm on the night Madeleine disappeared. He does not think the man actually was Gerry, but it is not hard to work out why the leader of the Portuguese inquiry concluded that the McCanns were implicated in the disappearance. The McCanns are suing him for libel, and both the Portuguese police and Scotland Yard are satisfied they had no part in the disappearance, but fear of inciting more press speculation in the UK may explain the decision to suppress the entire Oakley report.

It is hard to believe that the Crimewatch team was ignorant of this history. It would have been incredibly unprofessional of them not even to ask how and when Scotland Yard had obtained the “new” photofits. The programme referred to the Irish family, and a “fresh” investigation, but the absence of any reference to “new” photofits strongly suggests that Crimewatch knew the background perfectly well.

Does this matter? Crimewatch occupies an uneasy space between entertainment and information. Its brief is undoubtedly one of public service, but it is not in the business of journalism. No journalist would go out of his way to mislead the public in the way this edition of Crimewatch managed to do.

The essence of Crimewatch is complicity: close co-operation with the police and the purported victims of crime, to the point of eliminating anything awkward that might get in the way of that joint endeavour. The Sunday Times quoted a source close to the McCanns as saying that release of the original Oakley investigation might have distracted the public from their objective of finding their child. Yet the bottom line of this story is that the parents deliberately withheld, for five years, the photofits that Scotland Yard now says are the most important evidence in the search for the supposed culprits. For any journalist, that would have been at least as important a fact to reveal to the public as the photofits themselves.

Yet the most important area of journalism in the UK – the BBC, which accounts for over 60% of all news consumption – has remained silent on the revelations in the Sunday Times. Even the BBC website, with over 900 stories related to the disappearance over the years, has not found room for that startling information (though you can find links to the Daily Star’s website, which repeated much of the Sunday Times material on October 28th). It would be dismaying if some kind of misguided loyalty to the non-journalists at Crimewatch was inhibiting the 8,000 BBC staff who work in its news division.

It is, of course, just possible that Crimewatch was itself duped by the McCanns: but I doubt it. Instead, the editor chose to join the McCanns in trying to dupe the public. Neither option shows the BBC in a good light. Whatever the failings over the two Newsnight items – the untransmitted one on Jimmy Savile, the transmitted one that libelled Lord McAlpine – no-one can argue that there was any definite intention to mislead the public. Sadly, the same cannot be said of October’s Crimewatch.

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Post by PeterMac 12.07.22 16:10

Why is Kier Starmer a suspect ?

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Post by Verdi 12.07.22 16:12

Madeleine McCann: The Earliest Account of the Abduction

By Jason Michael - 2nd December 2016

In the earliest reports of the abduction of “Maddie” McCann her parents said that the shutters and window to her room had been forced open. After forensic investigation this was found not to have been the case. How can this discrepancy be explained?

At the Ocean Summer Club resort on the Portuguese Algarve on the chilly windless evening of Thursday 3 May 2007 a three year old girl was reported missing from apartment 5A by her parents Gerry and Kate McCann. Madeleine had been left sleeping in her bedroom, along with her siblings – twins – Amelie and Sean, from about half past eight in the evening until ten while Gerry and Kate enjoyed an evening meal with friends a short distance away at the resort’s Tapas Restaurant. Close to ten o’clock that night Kate returned to the apartment alone to check on her children. On discovering that “Maddie” was not in her bed, Kate claims to have searched the two-bedroom apartment before alerting her husband and friends at the restaurant that her daughter was missing.

We know, from the account of the resort manager John Hill, that the police were called from the reception and that many residents came together to conduct a search around the resort for the missing child. At this point in the story everything seems quite normal. We have a distraught mother looking for her young daughter, a call to the police, and other concerned holiday makers offering their help to look for the missing girl. But rather quickly the story begins to get confused. Kate and Gerry’s versions of events change in significant detail over the first twenty-four hours, ultimately raising the suspicions of the Portuguese authorities. The entire case now amounts to a huge corpus of evidence; books, and newspaper articles, but for the moment we will focus on the initial report.

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On the night before giving her first formal statement to the police – the Polícia Judiciária – the following morning (Friday 5 May 2007) Kate, quite naturally, made a telephone call to her father, Brian Healy, back in England. According to a report in the Guardian newspaper (5 May 2007) Gerry McCann explained to his father-in-law during this conversation what had happened. “The shutters to the room had been broken,” Mr. Healy recalls Gerry telling him, “they were jemmied up and [Madeleine] was gone.”

A person or persons unknown had used some implement to crowbar open the external aluminium blackout blinds and forced open the window to the children’s room at apartment 5A before climbing in to snatch the sleeping toddler from her bed. This is a significant piece of information, and one which was repeated to at least three other people that same night; Gerry McCann’s sister Trisha Cameron, Madeleine’s godfather Jon Corner, and Kate McCann’s friend Gill Renwick. Each of these people stated this version of events to the British media the following morning.

During an interview with the BBC Trish Cameron said that “the front door was lying open, the windows had been tampered with, the shutters had been jemmied open… and Madeleine was missing.” Gill Renwick, on a phone in to GMTV, gave the same details, as did Jon Corner in his interviews with the Independent and the Mirror newspapers. It is safe to say that this was the version of events first reported by the McCanns on the night that their daughter was taken. With one seemingly minor difference this was the same account Gerry gave to the Polícia Judiciária in his 11.15 statement the next morning.

In this interview Gerry, who was interviewed alone, told the Portuguese police that his wife – Kate McCann – had opened the front door with a key; contradicting the report that the front door was lying open. He went on to state that she found that “the door to the children’s bedroom was completely open, the window was also open, the blinds were raised and the curtains were drawn open.” There was no mention in this interview that the front door was wide open, and what might appear here to be a simple confusion becomes, over the next few days, to be the first alteration in the significant details of the discovery that Madeleine was missing. All that remains consistent in Gerry and Kate’s testimony from that night to this is the singular fact that their daughter was missing.

Gerry, in a strange concession, was allowed to remain in the interview room while his wife was being interviewed. She remarks in her book that he placed his hand on her shoulder from time to time and gave her hand the odd reassuring squeeze. Considering that both would later be made “Arguidos” or suspects in the case, this is a truly extraordinary allowance on the part of the investigators. In this interview Kate was adamant that the windows and curtains in the room were closed and that the shutters were fully down and locked.

It was John Hill, the manager of the Ocean Summer Club, who first commented that “there was no sign” of a forced entry. From what he could see there was no damage to the exterior shutters and that the windows had not been forced open. According to him there was no damage whatsoever. The police and the forensic experts came to the same conclusion. Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa determined that the window locking mechanism made it almost impossible for them to be opened from the outside without causing considerable damage, and that there was no damage to the window or the lock. After inspecting the shutters he agreed with the manager’s assessment that no one had tampered with them. Even the British forensic investigator, Professor David Barclay, concluded that this was impossible and that no forensic evidence was found on them or the windows.

In their second interviews with the Polícia Judiciária the details presented by Gerry and Kate would be completely different from those given during their first interviews and the accounts they had first relayed back to family and friends in the UK. Without more evidence it is not easy to explain these discrepancies, but that they exist is reason enough to look more closely at the events of the night of the disappearance. We must be critical of the accounts of the McCanns and pay more attention to the statements given by their friends at the time.

One Year Later, McCanns Renew Appeal

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Post by PeterMac 12.07.22 16:20

Exactly the sort of thing a half decent Investigative Journalist would have discovered for him/her-self in the first 48 hours.

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Post by crusader 12.07.22 17:48

The photofit on the left looks like Russell O'Brian to me.

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Post by Verdi 13.07.22 13:25

Madeleine McCann's abductors should beware, the police will not give up

By Jim Gamble

Mon 14 Oct 2013 17.30 BST

This is not the time to criticise parenting or policing, it is time to pause and consider the developments in the case

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A social worker once told me that when faced with a highly emotive child protection situation, the most important thing is having the presence of mind to pause. As Kipling put it, to "keep your head when all about you/ Are losing theirs." Pausing to plan a response in a crisis is critical.

When Madeleine McCann went missing in 2007, police in Portugal were faced with a difficult and highly charged scenario, no doubt made more complex by parental anxiety, along with language and cultural differences. As those first few hours disappeared in confusion and miscommunication, valuable minutes will have been lost. As hours turned to days there was little sense of pause, planning or direction, but no shortage of offers to help. There wasn't a policing agency in the UK that did not want to do all that it could to assist in the search for the little girl, whose picture was embedded in the public's conscience.

As the months rolled by with no sign of Madeleine, for a period of time her parents became aguidos, suspects, in the investigation. The only unusual thing about that was that it did not happen earlier; investigators always clear the ground beneath their feet and in doing this you look at the parents.

Many people have opinions about Kate and Gerry McCann. The rights and wrongs of their meal at the tapas bar and their approach to checking on the children. I am of the view that there but for the grace of God go I. For those perfect parents who have never left their children for a moment, think on this: if that was a lapse, they have paid a terrible price for it and they are still living the nightmare. No one but the person who took Madeleine is to blame for what has happened to her.

Others ask why all the attention for one child when so many go missing? They confuse children pushed or pulled from their homes in the UK by unhappy circumstances, sexual predators and so-called friends, with cases like Madeleine and Ben Needham. In the first instance the majority of those who go missing in the UK return home within 72 hours. They need greater attention, more resources and focus but their circumstances are different. Cases like Ben Needham and Madeleine, missing and suspected abducted abroad, are thankfully rare.

As the Metropolitan police investigation begins to gather pace, we have heard of new persons of interest, thousands of lines of inquiry, including highly valuable telecoms data and, critically, a much-improved working relationship with their Portuguese colleagues. All of that must be welcomed and while there will come a point to reflect on why some of this has taken so long, this is not that time.

Whether you were in Praia De Luz in May 2007 or not, you might hold the key, that piece of information which identifies a person or event, possibly even a phone number. Pause for a moment and consider the significant developments the police are sharing. Listen to the new timeline and look at the efit images. Someone out there knows, or has harboured suspicions, in either case now is the time to come forward.

The person or people responsible have an uncomfortable week ahead. They probably thought they had weathered the storm but it's time for them to start looking over their shoulder again. Thanks to her parents' persistent campaigning, the search for Madeleine goes on.

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Post by Verdi 13.07.22 13:43

My months with Madeleine

By Bridget O'Donnell
Fri 14 Dec 2007 11.54 GMT

It was a welcome spring break, a chance to relax at a child-friendly resort in Portugal. Soon Bridget O'Donnell and her partner were making friends with another holidaying family while their three-year-old daughters played together. But then Madeleine McCann went missing and everyone was sucked into a nightmare

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We lay by the members-only pool staring at the sky. Round and round, the helicopters clacked and roared. Their cameras pointed down at us, mocking the walled and gated enclave. Circles rippled out across the pool. It was the morning after Madeleine went.

Six days earlier we had landed at Faro airport. The coach was full of people like us, parents lugging multiple toddler/baby combinations. All of us had risen at dawn, rushed along motorways and hurtled across the sky in search of the modern solution to our exhaustion - the Mark Warner kiddie club. I travelled with my partner Jes, our three-year-old daughter, and our nine-month-old baby son. Praia da Luz was the nearest Mark Warner beach resort and this was the cheapest week of the year - a bargain bucket trip, for a brief lie-down.

Excitedly, we were shown to our apartments. Ours was on the fourth floor, overlooking a family and toddler pool, opposite a restaurant and bar called the Tapas. I worried about the height of the balcony. Should we ask for one on the ground floor? Was I a paranoid parent? Should I make a fuss, or just enjoy the view?

We could see the beach and a big blue sky. We went outside to explore.

We settled in over the following days. There was a warm camaraderie among the parents, a shared happy weariness and deadpan banter. Our children made friends in the kiddie club and at the drop-off, we would joke about the fact that there were 10 blonde three-year-old girls in the group. They were bound to boss around the two boys.

The children went sailing and swimming, played tennis and learned a dance routine for the end-of-week show. Each morning, our daughter ran ahead of us to get to the kiddie club. She was having a wonderful time. Jes signed up for tennis lessons. I read a book. He made friends. I read another book.

The Mark Warner nannies brought the children to the Tapas restaurant to have tea at the end of each day. It was a friendly gathering. The parents would stand and chat by the pool. We talked about the children, about what we did at home. We were hopeful about a change in the weather. We eyed our children as they played. We didn't see anyone watching.

Some of the parents were in a larger group. Most of them worked for the NHS and had met many years before in Leicestershire. Now they lived in different parts of the UK, and this holiday was their opportunity to catch up, to introduce their children, to reunite. They booked a large table every night in the Tapas. We called them "the Doctors". Sometimes we would sit out on our balcony and their laughter would float up around us. One man was the joker. He had a loud Glaswegian accent. He was Gerry McCann. He played tennis with Jes.

One morning, I saw Gerry and his wife Kate on their balcony, chatting to their friends on the path below. Privately I was glad we didn't get their apartment. It was on a corner by the road and people could see in. They were exposed.

In the evenings, babysitting at the resort was a dilemma. "Sit-in" babysitters were available but were expensive and in demand, and Mark Warner blurb advised us to book well in advance. The other option was the babysitting service at the kiddie club, which was a 10-minute walk from the apartment. The children would watch a cartoon together and then be put to bed. You would then wake them, carry them back and put them to bed again in the apartment. After taking our children to dinner a couple of times, we decided on the Wednesday night to try the service at the club.

We had booked a table for two at Tapas and were placed next to the Doctors' regular table. One by one, they started to arrive. The men came first. Gerry McCann started chatting across to Jes about tennis. Gerry was outgoing, a wisecracker, but considerate and kind, and he invited us to join them. We discussed the children. He told us they were leaving theirs sleeping in the apartments. While they chatted on, I ruminated on the pros and cons of this. I admired them, in a way, for not being paranoid parents, but I decided that our apartment was too far off even to contemplate it. Our baby was too young and I would worry about them waking up.

My phone rang as our food arrived; our baby had woken up. I walked the round trip to collect him from the kiddie club, then back to the restaurant. He kept crying and eventually we left our meal unfinished and walked back again to the club to fetch our sleeping daughter. Jes carried her home in a blanket. The next night we stayed in. It was Thursday, May 3.

Earlier that day there had been tennis lessons for the children, with some of the parents watching proudly as their girls ran across the court chasing tennis balls. They took photos. Madeleine must have been there, but I couldn't distinguish her from the others. They all looked the same - all blonde, all pink and pretty.

Jes and Gerry were playing on the next court. Afterwards, we sat by the pool and Gerry and Kate talked enthusiastically to the tennis coach about the following day's tournament. We watched them idly - they had a lot of time for people, they listened. Then Gerry stood up and began showing Kate his new tennis stroke. She looked at him and smiled. "You wouldn't be interested if I talked about my tennis like that," Jes said to me. We watched them some more. Kate was calm, still, quietly beautiful; Gerry was confident, proud, silly, strong. She watched his boyish demonstration with great seriousness and patience. That was the last time I saw them that day. Jes saw Gerry that night.

Our baby would not sleep and at about 8.30pm, Jes took him out for a walk in the buggy to settle him. Gerry was on his way back from checking on his children and the two men stopped to have a chat. They talked about daughters, fathers, families. Gerry was relaxed and friendly. They discussed the babysitting dilemmas at the resort and Gerry said that he and Kate would have stayed in too, if they had not been on holiday in a group. Jes returned to our apartment just before 9.30pm. We ate, drank wine, watched a DVD and then went to bed. On the ground floor, a completely catastrophic event was taking place. On the fourth floor of the next block, we were completely oblivious.

At 1am there was a frantic banging on our door. Jes got up to answer. I stayed listening in the dark. I knew it was bad; it could only be bad. I heard male mumbling, then Jes's voice. "You're joking?" he said. It wasn't the words, it was the tone that made me flinch. He came back in to the room. "Gerry's daughter's been abducted," he said. "She ..." I jumped up and went to check our children. They were there. We sat down. We got up again. Weirdly, I did the washing-up. We wondered what to do. Jes had asked if they needed help searching and was told there was nothing he could do; she had been missing for three hours. Jes felt he should go anyway, but I wanted him to stay with us. I was a coward, afraid to be alone with the children - and afraid to be alone with my thoughts.

I once worked as a producer in the BBC crime unit. I directed many reconstructions and spent my second pregnancy producing new investigations for Crimewatch. Detectives would call me daily, detailing their cases, and some stories stay with me still, such as the ones about a girl being snatched from her bath, or her bike, or her garden and then held in the passenger seat, or stuffed in the boot. There was always a vehicle, and the first few hours were crucial to the outcome. Afterwards, they would be dumped naked in an alley, or at a petrol station with a £10 note to "get a cab back to Mummy". They would be found within an hour or two. Sometimes.

From the balcony we could see some figures scratching at the immense darkness with tiny torch lights. Police cars arrived and we thought that they would take control. We lay on the bed but we could not sleep.

The next morning, we made our way to breakfast and met one of the Doctors, the one who had come round in the night. His young daughter looked up at us from her pushchair. There was no news. They had called Sky television - they didn't know what else to do. He turned away and I could see he was going to weep.

People were crying in the restaurant. Mark Warner had handed out letters informing them what had happened in the night, and we all wondered what to do. Mid-sentence, we would drift in to the middle distance. Tears would brim up and recede.

Our daughter asked us about the kiddie club that day. She had been looking forward to their dance show that afternoon. Jes and I looked at each other. My first instinct was that we should not be parted from our children. Of course we shouldn't; we should strap them to us and not let them out of our sight, ever again. But then we thought: how are we going to explain this to our daughter? Or how, if we spent the day in the village, would we avoid repeatedly discussing what had happened in front of her as we met people on the streets? What does a good parent do? Keep the children close or take a deep breath and let them go a little, pretend this was the same as any other day?

We walked towards the kiddie club. No one else was there. We felt awful, such terrible parents for even considering the idea. Then we saw, waiting inside, some of the Mark Warner nannies. They had been up most of the night but had still turned up to work that day. They were intelligent, thoughtful young women and we liked and trusted them. The dance show was cancelled, but they wanted to put on a normal day for the children. Our daughter ran inside and started painting. Then, behind us, another set of parents arrived looking equally washed out. Then another, and another. We decided, in the end, to leave them for two hours. We put their bags on the pegs and saw the one labelled "Madeleine". Heads bent, we walked away, into the guilty glare of the morning sun.

Locals and holidaymakers had started circulating photocopied pictures of Madeleine, while others continued searching the beaches and village apartments. People were talking about what had happened or sat silently, staring blankly. We didn't see any police.

Later, there was a knock on our apartment door and we let the two men in. One was a uniformed Portuguese policeman, the other his translator. The translator had a squint and sweated slightly. He was breathless, perhaps a little excited. We later found out he was Robert Murat. He reminded me of a boy in my class at school who was bullied.

Through Murat we answered a few questions and gave our details, which the policeman wrote down on the back of a bit of paper. No notebook. Then he pointed to the photocopied picture of Madeleine on the table. "Is this your daughter?" he asked. "Er, no," we said. "That's the girl you are meant to be searching for." My heart sank for the McCanns.

As the day drew on, the media and more police arrived and we watched from our balcony as reporters practised their pieces to camera outside the McCanns' apartment. We then went back inside and watched them on the news.

We had to duck under the police tape with the pushchair to buy a pint of milk. We would roll past sniffer dogs, local police, then national police, local journalists, and then international journalists, TV reporters and satellite vans. A hundred pairs of eyes and a dozen cameras silently swivelled as we turned down the bend. We pretended, for the children's sake, that this was nothing unusual. Later on, our daughter saw herself with Daddy on TV. That afternoon we sat by the members-only pool, watching the helicopters watching us. We didn't know what else to do.

Saturday came, our last day. While we waited for the airport coach to pick us up, we gathered round the toddler pool by Tapas, making small talk in front of the children. I watched my baby son and daughter closely, shamefully grateful that I could.

We had not seen the McCanns since Thursday, when suddenly they appeared by the pool. The surreal limbo of the past two days suddenly snapped back into painful, awful realtime. It was a shock: the physical transformation of these two human beings was sickening - I felt it as a physical blow. Kate's back and shoulders, her hands, her mouth had reshaped themselves in to the angular manifestation of a silent scream. I thought I might cry and turned so that she wouldn't see. Gerry was upright, his lips now drawn into a thin, impenetrable line. Some people, including Jes, tried to offer comfort. Some gave them hugs. Some stared at their feet, words eluding them. We all wondered what to do. That was the last time we saw Gerry and Kate.

The rest of us left Praia da Luz together, an isolated Mark Warner group. The coach, the airport, the plane passed quietly. There were no other passengers except us. We arrived at Gatwick in the small hours of an early May morning. No jokes, no banter, just goodbye. Though we did not know it then, those few days in May were going to dominate the rest of our year.

"Did you have a good trip?" asked the cabbie at Gatwick, instantly underlining the conversational dilemma that would occupy the first few weeks: Do we say "Yes, thanks" and move swiftly on? Or divulge the "yes-but-no-but" truth of our "Maddy" experience? Everybody talks about holidays, they make good conversational currency at work, at the hairdresser's, in the playground. Everybody asked about ours. I would pause and take a breath, deciding whether there was enough time for what was to follow. People were genuinely horrified by what had happened to Madeleine and even by what we had been through (though we thought ourselves fortunate). Their humanity was a balm and a comfort to us; we needed to talk about it, chew it over and share it out, to make it a little easier to swallow.

The British police came round shortly after our return. Jes was pleased to give them a statement. The Portuguese police had never asked.

As the summer months rolled by, we thought the story would slowly and sadly ebb away, but instead it flourished and multiplied, and it became almost impossible to talk about any-thing else. Friends came for dinner and we would actively try to steer the conversation on to a different subject, always to return to Madeleine. Others solicited our thoughts by text message after any major twist or turn in the case. Acquaintances discussed us in the context of Madeleine, calling in the middle of their debates to clarify details.

I found some immunity in a strange, guilty happiness. We had returned unscathed to our humdrum family routine, my life was wonderful, my world was safe, I was lucky, I was blessed. The colours in the park were acute and hyper-real and the sun warmed my face.

At the end of June, the first cloud appeared. A Portuguese journalist called Jes's mobile (he had left his number with the Portuguese police). The journalist, who was writing for a magazine called Sol, called Jes incessantly. We both work in television and cannot claim to be green about the media, but this was a new experience. Jes learned this the hard way. Torn between politeness and wanting to get the journalist off the line without actually saying anything, he had to put the phone down, but he had already said too much. Her article pitched the recollections of "Jeremy Wilkins, television producer" against those of the "Tapas Nine", the group of friends, including the McCanns, whom we had nicknamed the Doctors. The piece was published at the end of June. Throughout July, Sol's testimony meant Jes became incorporated into all the Madeleine chronologies. More clouds began to gather - this time above our house.

In August, the doorbell rang. The man was from the Daily Mail. He asked if Jes was in (he wasn't). After he left I spent an anxious evening analysing what I had said, weighing up the possible consequences. The Sol article had brought the Daily Mail; what would happen next? Two days later, the Mail came for Jes again. This time they had computer printout pictures of a bald, heavy-set man seen lurking in some Praia da Luz holiday snaps. The chatroom implication was that the man was Madeleine's abductor. There was talk on the web, the reporter insinuated, that this man might be Jes. I laughed at the ridiculousness of it all and then realised he was serious. I looked at the pictures, and it wasn't Jes.

Once, Jes's father looked him up on the internet and found that "Jeremy Wilkins, television producer" was referenced on Google more than 70,000 times. There was talk that he was a "lookout" for Gerry and Kate; there was talk that Jes was orchestrating a reality-TV hoax and Madeleine's disappearance was part of the con; there was talk that the Tapas Nine were all swingers. There was a lot of talk.

In early September, Kate and Gerry became official suspects. Their warm tide of support turned decidedly cool. Had they cruelly conned us all? The public needed to know, and who had seen Gerry at around 9pm on the fateful night? Jes.

Tonight with Trevor McDonald, GMTV, the Sun, the News of the World, the Sunday Mirror, the Daily Express, the Evening Standard and the Independent on Sunday began calling. Jes's office stopped putting through calls from people asking to speak to "Jeremy" (only his grandmother calls him that). Some emails told him that he would be "better off" if he spoke to them or he would "regret it" if he didn't, implying that it was in his interest to defend himself - they didn't say what from.

Quietly, we began to worry that Jes might be next in line for some imagined blame or accusation. On a Saturday night in September, he received a call: we were on the front page of the News of the World. They had surreptitiously taken photographs of us, outside the house. There were no more details. We went to bed, but we could not sleep. "Maddie: the secret witness," said the headline, "TV boss holds vital clue to the mystery." Unfortunately, Jes does not hold any such vital clues. In November, he inched through the events of that May night with Leicestershire detectives, but he saw nothing suspicious, nothing that would further the investigation.

Throughout all this, I have always believed that Gerry and Kate McCann are innocent. When they were made suspects, when they were booed at, when one woman told me she was "glad" they had "done it" because it meant that her child was safe, I began to write this article - because I was there, and I believe that woman is wrong. There were no drug-fuelled "swingers" on our holiday; instead, there was a bunch of ordinary parents wearing Berghaus and worrying about sleep patterns. Secure in our banality, none of us imagined we were being watched. One group made a disastrous decision; Madeleine was vulnerable and was chosen. But in the face of such desperate audacity, it could have been any one of us.

And when I stroke my daughter's hair, or feel her butterfly lips on my cheek, I do so in the knowledge of what might have been. But our experience is nothing, an irrelevance, next to the McCanns' unimaginable grief. Their lives will always be touched by this darkness, while the true culprit may never be brought to light.

So my heart goes out to them, Gerry and Kate, the couple we remember from our Portuguese holiday. They had a beautiful daughter, Madeleine, who played and danced with ours at the kiddie club. That's who we remember.

© Bridget O'Donnell 2007.

· Bridget O'Donnell is a writer and director. The fee from this article will be donated to the Find Madeleine fund (

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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Post by CaKeLoveR 13.07.22 13:45

He's disgusting. He has insulted those who never have, and never will, do what the McCann's did, dining while the children were left to fend for themselves. What a bastard.

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Post by Verdi 13.07.22 13:50

Unanswered Prayers

After three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared on a family vacation in Portugal, her parents pursued a high-stakes strategy: media saturation. It succeeded beyond their wildest imaginings—winning the aid of everyone from J. K. Rowling to the Pope—and failed miserably. Getting the first in-depth interview with Gerry McCann since he and his wife, Kate, were declared suspects, the author re-traces their footsteps to their daughter’s empty bed.

By Judy Bachrach
January 10, 2008

On a hot day last September, four months after their daughter, Madeleine, almost four, vanished from a sleepy resort town in Portugal during a family vacation, Kate and Gerry McCann, both British doctors, opened their villa door to a local policeman.

The policeman’s name was Ricardo, and he had been, relatively speaking, on friendly terms with the couple. He knew their circumstances. Their lives, heavy with grief since their daughter’s disappearance, had undergone a few small improvements. Kate had grown shockingly thin, but at least she was eating regular meals.

This time, however, the bearing of the detective from the Policia Judiciária was different. And the McCanns were not entirely surprised. “Because for months they used to have regular weekly meetings with the Portuguese police, and then they stopped,” recalls Gerry’s older sister Trish Cameron, who was in the villa at the time. Also, without the McCanns’ knowledge or consent, the police had photocopied Kate’s diary, examined her borrowed Bible, and removed Gerry’s laptop.

“Do you have something to tell us?” Ricardo asked, dramatically.

“No,” Kate replied. “Do you have something to tell us?”

He nodded. “Yes. You are being made arguidos.” He was using the Portuguese word for “formal suspects.”

It was at that point, Trish says, that her sister-in-law became incandescent with rage, screaming, “Do you honestly believe that I would murder my own child?”

“No,” said the policeman.

The Portuguese police, as they informed the world through calculated leaks to their own media, simply believed that Gerry, a Scottish cardiologist, and Kate, a general practitioner, both 39, were lying when they said their daughter had been abducted from their resort villa the night of May 3. Authorities now suspected the McCanns were somehow responsible for their daughter’s death and the disposal of her body, though in what manner no one seems to know. Local incinerators have been scoured, to no avail. The $4 million reward for information leading to Madeleine’s recovery; the televised pleas by the McCanns; the hiring of Control Risks Groups, a security firm whose directors included former S.A.S. commander Sir Michael Rose; the Find Madeleine Web site visited by more than 80 million people in three months after the disappearance—these, the police believed, were all red herrings.

And for a long time the global media were of the same opinion. “Could Kate and Gerry McCann have had a hand in their own child’s disappearance?” People magazine asked in September. By October, Britain’s Daily Mail had an answer: new dna tests “put the mccanns back under suspicion.” Body fluids found in a car rented by the McCanns 25 days after Madeleine disappeared, it was subsequently reported, matched 88 percent of the child’s genetic profile. (A problem with this information, British DNA specialist Nigel Hodge informs me, is that most genetic profiles are based on 20 DNA components. “And 88 is not divisible by 20,” he says flatly. Moreover: “If there are DNA components that do not match, the DNA could not come from that person.”)

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary Image_12
A photo of Madeleine taken on May 3, 2007, the day she disappeared. Kate McCann/PA Photos/Landov.

Undaunted, the tabloids summoned up yet another genetic fantasy: maddie: who’s her daddy? asked the Daily Star in October, implying that Gerry is not Madeleine’s biological father. (The girl was conceived through in-vitro fertilization.) As the news industry trumpeted All Madeleine All the Time, and Barbara Walters and Oprah clamored for interviews, Kate’s elegant face grew more gaunt in each tabloid photo. Meanwhile, a British poll revealed that 48 percent of all respondents believed the couple could have been responsible for their daughter’s death. Only 20 percent considered them completely innocent.

“Yes, yes, I know,” Gerry says bitterly. “Kate killed her in a frenzy, Madeleine was sedated by us, she fell down the stairs—in which case you would have thought they’d have found her body. I’ve heard all that! There have been a huge number of theories in the media. But what I want to know is—who told them all that?”

In fact, much of what is aired or printed about the vanished girl and her parents is mendacious, mistaken, or just plain conflicting: according to the press, to various detectives, and to top Portuguese authorities, the child is alternatively alive in Morocco (or maybe Portugal or Bosnia) or dead, killed one moment by kidnappers and in other instances by family. In all these hypotheses the supporting facts are invented, from the reason for Kate’s lack of public emotion to the first acts of the Portuguese police (dubbed “the Keystone Cops” and “Butt Heads” by reporters). Thus, the media has managed to rob the McCanns of their daughter a second time. And to complicate matters, it was Gerry McCann himself who, two days after Madeleine’s disappearance, ignited the media conflagration that is now consuming the couple.

It is Gerry who is behind what he tells me is “the marketing … a high public awareness” of Madeleine. At his side while we talk is Clarence Mitchell, a voluble former government media analyst and BBC reporter, handpicked by Gerry to be the latest in a line of spokesmen. On October 17, Mitchell spoke at Coventry University. His topic: “Missing Madeleine McCann: The Perfect PR Campaign.” Except that it has been anything but perfect.

It has in fact been so counterproductive that, as winter approached, Portuguese attorney general Fernando Pinto Monteiro suggested that one way or another the McCanns were responsible for their child’s death. Specifically he said that if indeed Madeleine had been kidnapped, it was the carefully contrived publicity engineered by her parents that likely sealed her fate. “With the whole world having Madeleine’s photo,” he observed, any abductor would have been pushed to such a degree that “there’s a greater probability of the little girl being dead than alive.”

And with this last devastating conclusion—namely that Madeleine will likely never reappear—Madeleine’s own father haltingly agrees.

Gerry McCann has vivid blue eyes set in an impassive face, and a jaw that has grown more angular and prominent as the tragedy has unfolded and almost seven pounds have melted from his frame. There are those, including a onetime close associate, who find him difficult and controlling, feeling he has the trademark arrogance and self-regard of many surgeons. And his judgment is certainly questionable. In the fall, for instance, it emerged that the McCanns had made two mortgage payments from the $2.4 million fund set up to find Madeleine. But months of anguish have taken their toll, and now there is mainly resignation.

When the policeman came to their door with the bad news that they were now suspects, Gerry simply asked him to leave. “Why shoot the messenger? I felt that saying anything more was not going to change what happened,” he says.

Kate, however, cannot help replaying the circumstances that led to the child’s disappearance—the work, she is certain, of a mysterious abductor. “I will tell you what I haven’t told anyone,” says Jon Corner, a family friend. “In August, I was with Kate in Portugal. She told me, ‘I wish I could roll back time and go back to the day before Madeleine was abducted. I would slow down time. I would get a really good look around and have a really good think. And I’d think: Where are you? Who are you? Who is secretly watching my family? Because someone was watching my family very, very carefully. And taking notes.’ ”

“That’s a logical conclusion for anyone who knows anything about what happened to us,” Gerry says briskly. This is his first detailed and candid interview since being declared a suspect, and so great is his loathing of most journalists that it takes place in utter secrecy near his home, in Leicestershire. In a country inn lined with portraits of ladies in powdered wigs, a polite manager points the way to the back exit, in the event other reporters drop by.

While front-page stories about the McCanns sell newspapers—up to 30,000 extra copies a day—perhaps because they happen to be a handsome, prosperous couple wrecked by tragedy (“Let’s face it: if Kate were fat and spotty and aging, they wouldn’t be selling all these papers,” says Trish), the British media believe that sales don’t really soar unless the couple is accused of villainy. “The last equivalent story was probably the Second World War,” observed a columnist for The Guardian. When, in November, Panorama, a BBC newsmagazine show, bought the same five-month-old footage of the McCanns (shot by a family friend) as ABC’s 48 Hours and repackaged it, viewership rose by 2 million, to 5.3 million.

In this search for villainy, the British tabloids are aided by the most unlikely ally: the Portuguese police, who are often the sources for some of the more outrageous allegations, unquestioningly swallowed by the Portuguese media.

“No, the leak about [Madeleine’s] DNA not being compatible with Gerry’s is not malicious, not at all,” a Portuguese journalist tells me sarcastically, referring to the who’s her daddy? headline, before turning deadly earnest. “It is revenge, pure and simple. Because the British attack our police as stupid. And backward. And incompetent. Because they say we are a primitive country and our laws are primitive!”

The Portuguese police “don’t want to be portrayed as a leather-jacketed, swearing bunch of fat, greasy villains who beat people up with rubber hoses,” one of the most active in the McCann camp tells me, and yet this is exactly how they have been portrayed.

Thus the Madeleine frenzy, which began as a story about bad judgment and irretrievable loss, has spun out of control, each day bringing fresh allegations, outrage, celebrity alliances—the Pope! J. K. Rowling! David Beckham!—and sensational links to power. At the E.U. summit in mid-October, for instance, British prime minister Gordon Brown, who had regularly been in touch with the McCanns, raised the Madeleine issue with Portuguese prime minister José Sócrates, urging “proper cooperation between the British and Portuguese police.” Gerry’s allies were jubilant.

And yet this high-powered strategy has also backfired. There appears to be massive resentment among the Portuguese. Although Madeleine’s photo is posted at Heathrow, it is nowhere to be found at Faro, the airport nearest the seaside village from which she disappeared.

Shortly after the McCanns hired a team of Spanish private investigators, in early October, word leaked out that the Portuguese police had stopped their search for Madeleine (at least temporarily). Nothing the parents have done has worked out right.

“The McCanns have completely changed the way we now look for missing children—it used to be you go to the police; now it means you go to the media, to celebrities,” says a disapproving Scotland Yard specialist in abused children.

“There are many cases in the world of children who have disappeared,” Portuguese national police chief Alípio Ribeiro recently complained. “But none have this external component, this massive public exposure, that gives it a fantastic, almost surreal dimension.”

The McCanns are both reviled and pitied, occasionally in the same breath. Madeleine’s face has appeared on movie screens, on cell phones, in e-mails, in airports, in health centers, and on British Airways planes. “So the strategy we used,” says Gerry, “well—somehow something caught the public’s imagination.” But it has not caught their daughter’s abductor.

The McCanns are also fairly sure their phones are monitored not only by the British police, who are waiting to see if a kidnapper calls, but also by Portuguese authorities. “It’s quite possible,” acknowledges Gerry’s older brother, John McCann, a pharmaceutical salesman who lives in Glasgow. “Because there’s information that’s been appearing in the press that you’d have to think, How did that get into the public domain? Because it wasn’t us releasing it. Every now and again, amidst all the speculation and rumor and outright lies, there’s been a grain of truth.”



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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Post by Verdi 13.07.22 13:56


In the months following the child’s disappearance, the supposed incompetence of the Portuguese police was the subject of many devastating articles in the press, with an attitude wryly summed up by the Scotland Yard detective as “Johnny Dago is not good enough to do it.” This was at the precise time that, as Gerry explains, “we were relying on the Portuguese to find Madeleine, and it was not helpful at all.” However, since the media were, without a doubt, fed in part by the McCann camp, it is hard to know whom to blame.

It wasn’t true, for instance, that there were no fingertip searches performed at the villa, as reported by one British tabloid, or that the shutters were contaminated in the investigation, as reported by another; two on-the-scene reporters claim that personnel in Portuguese C.S.I. uniforms were seen taking fingerprints from those shutters early on, and then dispatched them to the Instituto Nacional de Medicina Legal in Porto and Coimbra. Nor did police treat Madeleine’s disappearance lightly.

As Woolfall explains, when he arrived a day and a half after Madeleine had vanished: “There were lots of police, I have to say. There is a big emphasis placed on children and family in Portugal. There was no doubt there was a massive effort trying to find her. And you had Portuguese policemen canceling leave and working over weekends.”

On the other hand, the moment police investigate a crime in Portugal, the country’s judicial-secrecy laws basically shroud everything—facts, names, suspects, witnesses—in a blanket of silence. Police press conferences are almost nonexistent; information is usually obtained only through leaks. (In Madeleine’s case, the police appointed a spokesperson, but after being kept clueless by his colleagues, he ultimately resigned.) There are other drawbacks—for example, Portugal has no DNA data banks or national missing-child alerts.

Moreover, Praia da Luz is not the ideal venue for a topflight criminal investigation. Gonçalo Amaral, who for five months was the senior detective in the case, is himself involved in another legal battle. He is accused of covering up a beating by his subordinates of a Portuguese woman who was ultimately convicted of killing her own child. Locally there are no cadaver dogs trained in tracking human blood or remains; after Madeleine vanished, local residents actually used household pets under the guidance of police with drug-sniffing dogs. “Let me tell you, I know a lot about detective dogs, and I don’t know why the police would want anyone bringing their pets to assist,” says Robert Tucker, who runs a New York security firm.

“One of the things the McCanns very much wanted was a forensic sketch of the man the witness saw carrying the girl wearing pink-and-white pajamas,” recalls Justine McGuinness, an early spokesperson for the McCanns. In the vital first months, their pleas went unanswered. In addition, newspapers claimed the sheets on Madeleine’s bed were never sent for analysis.

Besides, by May 15 the police (with the help of a suspicious British journalist from the Sunday Mirror) believed they had found their man: Robert Murat, a mild, slightly plump Englishman of 33 with a detached retina who lives with his mother in a large villa with a lush garden three minutes from the resort. He was declared an arguido—a status he holds to this day, along with the McCanns—and brought in to the police station for 19 hours of interrogation, say his relatives, with no food or sleep.

There, I learn on good authority, three of the Tapas Nine were put into a room with Murat, and each of them identified him as a man they’d seen hanging about the resort in the hours after Madeleine vanished. One of the witnesses, Fiona Payne, told police she’d actually seen him behind the McCanns’ villa that night, and recalled his “dodgy eye.” Another, Russell O’Brien, claimed Murat had said he spoke Portuguese as well as English, which is in fact the case. The McCann friends were not alone in their suspicions. By late December it emerged that three other witnesses claimed to have seen Murat near the McCanns’ villa apartment the night of the abduction.

It is part of the odd dynamic of this story that when I phone Sally Eveleigh, Murat’s cousin, who also lives in Praia da Luz, her first remark is that she cannot utter a syllable about Murat without the O.K. of her British press agent, the famously rambunctious Max Clifford. And when his blessing is secured, her second is: “Wonderful, darling, see you shortly. Robert can’t talk to you, because he’s an arguido. But we’ll have a bit of a party, won’t we?”

When I arrive at her massive house, lined with rosy tile and Moroccan rugs, Sally greets me in floor-length blue voile trimmed with pretty stones. And the party includes Murat: five feet 10 inches, dark-haired, wearing beige trousers, serving us tea, wine, and cigarettes.

“All I can say,” says Murat, “is that I am innocent. There is no way I was at the resort that night. Full stop. I was in my mother’s kitchen until one a.m. Yes, we are a kitchen kind of family. I spent the night at the house.” As an arguido he cannot reveal more. But he does drive me around and point out the major landmarks of the case. “That’s the apartment from which Madeleine vanished,” he says. “That’s my mother’s villa.” The police ransacked the place four months ago and came up with nothing.

‘I wish I hadn’t gone to the tapas bar. I wish I’d stayed in the apartment that night. I wish I’d stayed in the room when I checked on her five minutes longer,” Gerry recalls thinking in the days that followed his child’s disappearance. The world, he says, was “all black, with maybe tiny points of light.” The company that owns the resort sent Alan Pike, a trauma counselor, over from Britain, and he spoke to the couple every day for two weeks. Initially, the counselor tells me, he found the couple “catatonic.” They were certain Madeleine was dead.

But pessimism, the counselor knew, inhibits action. Moreover, he adds, “they still needed to be a mother and father to two other children.”

“Remind yourself of the evidence: there is nothing yet to demonstrate that Madeleine has died,” Pike told the McCanns. It’s time, he added, to take control of the things you can.

Gerry felt re-invigorated by such advice. “We can’t cry our eyes out every day, because that’s not helping,” he says. “So after three days I picked myself up—quicker than Kate could.”

Indeed, Woolfall recalls Gerry’s saying shortly after he arrived, “My biggest fear is that this could be a weekend story: british girl taken from portuguese resort—a terrible story! And then that’s it.” The fickleness of the media, Woolfall adds, had Gerry worried. They might so easily “move on to something else,” Gerry told him. Gradually a strategy was devised: stories, pictures, and exotic destinations were woven together, permanently enrapturing the press and luring it into a long, sleepless vigil.

By the end of May, an audience with the Pope had been arranged through the Westminster office of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor. The couple and a pool of reporters flew direct from Praia da Luz to the Pontiff in a Learjet belonging to the British billionaire Sir Philip Green.

Other celebrities were just as carefully selected and eagerly appealed to: J. K. Rowling, in part, Gerry explains, because the Harry Potter author had lived in Portugal for a time. Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo, because he is Portuguese, and Gerry used to play soccer himself. David Beckham—another Gerry idea—who was living in Spain at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance. Experts in child abduction had informed the McCanns that Madeleine was very likely still somewhere on the Iberian Peninsula.

The media were constantly sought out. Reporters followed the McCanns on trips to Washington (where then U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales met with the couple); to Morocco—just in case Madeleine had been taken there—where they met with Charki Draiss, director-general of national security; and to Amsterdam, where the McCanns had once lived. If the networks needed fresh footage, they would be told the exact time the McCanns might be walking to church in Praia da Luz.

So, as it turned out, this was not a weekend story. As time went by, Gerry explains that although “grief washes over you—it’s like a big wave, mostly I was able to beat it back.” The industry he poured into the search jolted him out of depression.

But Kate wasn’t buoyed. From time to time, she would turn to friends and offer a wistful half-plea—“I hope whoever has Madeleine is giving her blankets … is feeding her properly … is keeping her warm.” Not really absorbing at first, her confidant explains, “what kind of person this was.”

Eventually, though, the probable nature of the abductor was brought home to her in the most explicit and horrifying way. Never talk about Madeleine’s preferences to the press, British police warned the McCanns, because whatever Madeleine most loves—a favorite cartoon, say—could be used as a tool for manipulation by her kidnapper.

Madeleine’s mother was also warned not to weep in public. “That was one of the things they were told right from the beginning,” McGuinness reveals. “Don’t show any emotion, because whoever took the child could get off on that, and take it out on the child. Or the abductor might find tears stimulating in some way. Appalling when you’re being told not to show any emotion in public and your daughter is abducted!”

Appalling and, as it turned out, dangerous for the couple. The P.R. campaign was actually backfiring, regarded by many as slick and, given the gravity of the McCanns’ loss, at times downright strange. “I always wanted to meet the pope,” a British reader e-mailed The Resident newspaper, “and now I know how.” Portuguese police made note of Kate’s seeming stoicism in front of the press—the tearless face. They also marveled at the powerful allies the McCanns had accumulated.

“Why are these people able to put together the biggest media campaign ever, from the Pope to the White House?” asks Paulo Reis, a Portuguese freelance journalist who writes a blog about Madeleine, and with considerable authority: he seems to have excellent contacts in law enforcement. “Why are they all coming out strongly defending the McCanns? Who are the McCanns?” he wonders.

Kate and Gerry McCann are both Roman Catholic, the children of carpenters, and products of Scottish medical training, but there the resemblance ends. Gerry, the youngest of five children, is by far the more ambitious and confident of the couple, secure always in the knowledge, as his sister Philomena explains, “that he was absolutely the pet of the family.” As a result, his brother, John, tells me, he grew up “very sociable, always involved in clubs—football clubs, athletic clubs. He likes mixing with people. And like most of us in the family, quite competitive.”

Kate Healy, a deeply religious only child from Liverpool, once confided to her sister-in-law, “There were too many times when I’ve been alone,” and that solitude evidently left its mark. On meeting her in 1992 the boisterous McCanns found her, John recalls, “reserved.” (Although this reserve was apparently not impenetrable. At the University of Dundee, as the Mail on Sunday recently discovered, Kate’s nickname was “Hot Lips Healy,” and she was renowned, according to her yearbook, for leading friends astray during “alcoholic binges.” When asked about this recently by a friend, Kate groaned and said, “My God! I hope they don’t get the rest of that part of my life.”)

At first, she was not deeply impressed by Gerry, refusing even to go out with him. In 1996, she moved to New Zealand to work as an anesthesiologist in a hospital, and it was only when an impassioned Gerry followed her that the family realized the relationship was serious. They married in 1998 and settled initially in Glasgow.

There Kate shifted career course, abandoning anesthesiology for the regular hours and relatively modest pay of a general practitioner. “To be honest, I don’t think Kate is ambitious,” Philomena says. “The career wasn’t as important to her as having a family.”

That family, however, took years to materialize. There were two rounds of in-vitro fertilization, culminating in Madeleine: “As close to a perfect child as you can get,” says Gerry. Less than two years later another round resulted in the twins—born after a very difficult pregnancy, during which, Philomena says, Kate was confined to her bed for months and almost lost them.

“To be perfectly honest, Kate continued to work as a doctor simply for the economics of it,” says Philomena. “Even though she ended up working only one and a half days a week, that money made a big difference to them. Gerry could have managed to support them all, but it would have been difficult, a stretch for him.”

The press has regularly portrayed the couple as far wealthier. Huge emphasis has been put on the large, $1.2 million neo-Georgian-style house in Rothley, Leicestershire, into which the couple moved in 2006.

“People may think, Ooh, these rich middle-class McCanns,” John says bitterly. “Well, these rich middle-class McCanns have studied for donkey’s years, made loads of sacrifices, and put themselves through a lot of inconvenience to get where they are just now. For Catholics, we’ve got a strong Protestant work ethic!” He shakes his head when asked about how things used to be for the couple.

“Everything going for them, perfect family. And as we all know from great bits of literature, sometimes the fates intervene to ruin perfection,” he says. But philosophy fails him when he thinks of Madeleine. “This is our wee girl. My niece! Their darling daughter, for Christ’s sake!”

“So beautiful, astonishingly bright, and I’d have to say very charismatic. She would shine out of a crowd,” family friend Jon Corner says of the child. “So—God forgive me—maybe that’s part of the problem. That special quality. Some bastard picked up on that.”

As months went by, the McCanns turned desperate. There they were, still in Praia da Luz, with nothing to show for it. “We had been trying to persuade Kate to come home,” recalls Gerry’s sister Trish. “But they lived in dread that if Madeleine turned up in Portugal and they weren’t there, it would be horrible.”

Although initially reluctant, the McCanns finally informed the media of Madeleine’s unique right eye—a risky revelation. Whoever had taken the child now held a universally recognizable little girl.

Gerry understood that. But, he says, the iris “is Madeleine’s only true distinctive feature. Certainly we thought it was possible that this could potentially hurt her or”—he grimaces—“her abductor might do something to her eye.… But in terms of marketing, it was a good ploy.”

On the 100th day of her disappearance, however, the marketing of Madeleine came to a halt. On August 11, the police spokesman, Olegário de Sousa, gave an interview to the BBC in which he said clues had been found “that could point to the possible death of the little child.”

The McCanns were livid. They had entertained this idea, but their fears had been partially allayed during their July trip to see the U.S. attorney general. “We learned in Washington that there are plenty of cases where peoples’ children were discovered after two years!” says McGuinness. “And some cases where people’s children were discovered after four years.” That, she adds, is what “kept Kate going.”

But the police felt they had good reason to suspect the child was dead. They had borrowed a pair of springer spaniels trained by South Yorkshire police to smell particles of blood so minute they are invisible to humans. The animals seemed to have picked up the scent of a corpse on Kate’s trousers and on the key fob of the couple’s rental car. (The McCann camp claimed that as a doctor Kate had been near corpses, but since she is a general practitioner the press scoffed at the explanation.)

More than any other evidence, it was the surprising reaction of the dogs from Britain that led Portuguese police to declare the couple official suspects. The investigators thought they had other clues: there was DNA possibly belonging to Madeleine in the McCann car, rented 25 days after the child vanished, but as that car had at various times contained the missing girl’s hairbrushes and sandals, and the soiled diapers of her siblings, the evidence is not wholly conclusive. Moreover, forensic DNA specialist Nigel Hodge, who has investigated more than 1,000 criminal cases, tells me that, in very rare instances, “it is possible for sisters to have the same DNA profile.”

In mid-September, Kate and Gerry were brought in separately to a dingy four-story police station for questioning—Kate first, for 11 hours, and on the next day 7 more. The questioning was interminable, says Trish, who was at the station, in part because “there was no interpreter. At one point there were six people in front of Kate—cops and a lawyer—and they were all just speaking Portuguese!”

Finally, she adds, Kate was given a long list of interpreters, many of whom lived 200 miles away in Lisbon, and told to choose. “Kate was furious at that as well,” Trish recalls.

Over and over again, I am told by a McCann family member, Kate was shown footage of the dogs. It was the animals’ reaction to the scent inside the McCanns’ rental car that particularly interested the authorities.

But the police had more on their minds, as they informed Kate. From what they’d read of her diary, she was clearly a stressed-out mother. Her children were difficult to put to sleep, weren’t they? They needed sedatives to sleep, perhaps? Maybe that’s how Madeleine died? Will you confess, they asked.

Then the police went over a passage from the borrowed Bible found in Kate’s villa: verses in the second Book of Samuel, Chapter 12. The page containing the passage was crumpled. The verses in question deal with the illness and death of King David’s child, a tragedy that occurs after David “scorned the Lord.” Obviously such a page had meaning for her, the police said.

To compound matters, one of Kate’s lawyers, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, relayed to her that if she confessed to having inadvertently killed her daughter and disposing of the corpse, things might go easier. Her jail term might even be as little as two years.

“I’m not going to fucking lie!” Kate barked. The next day she stopped answering a fair number of police questions. “She had already answered some of them,” says Trish. “And her lawyer told her she didn’t have to answer questions.”

“As I suppose you know,” Pike, the trauma counselor, tells me, “the police told her during the interviews that her other two children might be taken away.”

It was time to go home, Gerry decided by September 9. But not alone.

“When Gerry and Kate were about to go home to Britain, Gerry phoned Sky News and said, ‘We’re going home on EasyJet, be on it!’ ” recalls
On the couple’s return, there was further pain to contend with. More than 17,000 people had signed a petition suggesting that Leicestershire social services investigate them for leaving their three small children completely alone in the villa.

‘At the time we did it, it was not irresponsible!” Gerry snaps. It is the one subject on which he is quite defensive, arguing first one way, then conceding the opposite: “Of course we feel guilty about not having been there, and that is just something we have to deal with for the rest of our lives. You are not asking anything we don’t think about on a daily basis. We live this 24 hours a day.” His lips twist as he struggles for composure. “But I can’t talk to you about the details of what happened. I live under threat from the Portuguese—if I do talk—of two years’ imprisonment.” He smiles grimly. “It seems to be the same sentence as disposing of a child’s body.”

The mayor of tiny Praia da Luz, Manuel Domingues Borba, announced just a few weeks ago that he for one “would never leave my children sleeping alone and go to dinner in a foreign country.” The McCanns, in his opinion, are “guilty of negligence at the very least.” The Portuguese police, under chief Alípio Ribeiro, are reviewing the case. Some of their detectives, I am told, will likely be flying to Britain soon to re-interview the McCanns, although no official request has yet been made. Should the McCanns actually be charged and tried, their legal strategy will be to focus, in part, on what they claim is the unreliability of evidence turned up by the dogs and to try to move the trial to Britain from Portugal. The McCanns live in perpetual limbo. There is no exit.

By early January there was more bad news: Correio da Manhã, a Portuguese newspaper, claimed that the Policia Judiciária were about to deliver an interim report suggesting the McCanns were “prime suspects” after all, who could have accidentally killed Madeleine and then disposed of her body. Or, the report added, perhaps the child was in fact abducted. In other words, eight months after the little girl vanished, the police still know nothing.

Lately, word has leaked out that the McCanns feel abandoned even by Gordon Brown, once their close ally. Their spokesman doesn’t quite deny this. “That was one of our backers who said it. We would never be that impolitic,” he says. “But it is true that we have requested a meeting with the prime minister to show him the strength of our case, to explain Kate and Gerry’s innocence—and yet all we’ve been offered is a medium-level-consular meeting, which we rejected.”

Occasionally their $1,200-an-hour lawyer Angus McBride, whose salary is defrayed by Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, Scottish businessman Stephen Winyard, and Brian Kennedy, a multi-millionaire rugby-team owner, drops in on the British tabloids to protest headlines such as portuguese paper smear: “kate killed madeleine as gerry played tennis.”

For Kate, this is all too much. At nights, as her mother recently informed one newspaper, she awakes and thinks Madeleine has come home. While her husband and I talk, she ducks into the local Catholic church, unable, despite her earlier resolve, to face a single question.

Kate is fragile, I say to Gerry.

“That is undoubtedly true,” he concedes. “It’s very difficult to describe this situation. One month, three months, five months, five and a half months. And I know now that, probably, the chances of getting Madeleine back are slim. You know, it’s difficult. Very difficult.” He swallows hard. “You might never see her again. But still you have the hope. Still.”

On Sunday he will join his despairing wife in church, even though, as Gerry puts it, “I am not the most religious person in the world.” The whole McCann family is going to church more often, for that matter, even his skeptical older brother.

“What would you do when you’re desperate?” says John. “You start to ask the big questions again: Why does this happen?”


“And,” he says wearily, “I think there’s probably still no God.”

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Post by Verdi 13.07.22 16:38

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Madeleine McCann and Operation Grange

At the outset I should say that I don't know what happened to Madeleine McCann.  All the evidence available to me – and there is more and deeper information available to the public on this than any case I have looked at – does not convince me of any theory or scenario being proved.  Soon, in the coming months when my other projects are less busy, I hope to take a proper analytical look at it all and come up with some conclusions.  But as things stand my position is that I don't know.

Having said all that, there are aspects of the case which trouble me already and the main one is what the Metropolitan Police set out to do in Operation Grange.  My brush with that investigation – and I call it that because I was never actually involved with it – has been the subject of a fair bit of comment, embellishment and misunderstanding.  So it is right I think that I set out clearly what happened and what did not.

On Sunday 9th May 2010 the News of the World published a story which suggested that the Met was going to reinvestigate Madeleine’s disappearance and that I would be asked to lead it.  This was news to me on both counts. Nobody from the Met had, or indeed ever did, make such a request of me.

The only official news I heard about the reinvestigation was a week or two later when I heard that the idea of such a reinvestigation had been shelved for the time being in the wake of the change of Government. You will recall the note by former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne, apologising to his successor that there was no money left. The rumour in the Met was that, unless and until the Government were prepared to fund it, we would not undertake such an expensive operation which, as desirable as it might have been, was not really something on which Londoners should see their Council Tax spent.

However, before this, just a few days after the NotW story I did receive a call from a senior officer in the Met whom I knew quite well.  This officer told me I would do better to avoid the McCann investigation if it did happen, because "You wouldn't be happy leading an investigation where you were told what you could look at and what you could not".

That is the totality of the advice I received. It was made clear that this was an ‘unofficial’ call and that it was made in my interest – so that I might not end up taking on a task which would ultimately frustrate me.  As such I never pressed the caller for more information, nor will I ever be in a position to disclose who the officer was.

I was familiar enough with the reporting of the McCann case in the media to understand that there was a widespread reluctance to talk of any scenario which did not involve an abduction and in which no blame or complicity was to be attributed to the parents and their friends.  This struck me as odd but, in those days, quite frankly I was busy enough with he investigations I was involved in without undertaking any 'off the books' look at what had gone on in Praia de Luz.  I had assumed that there was good reason for this; that those who had been involved had satisfied themselves that was the case.

I retired after 30 years service in early 2011.  At the time I retired there had been no decision made to mount the Met operation.  As I embarked upon a new career writing and commenting I looked at the case a little, sufficiently enough to provide sensible assistance to the media when they asked me.  This was, though, always around police procedures and techniques.  Nobody ever asked me what I thought might have happened, only what the police were doing, why and what they might do next.

Last year Sky asked me to a meeting to discuss what a ten-year anniversary film might achieve.  I explained that I would be willing to take part but that my position was one where I was as sceptical of the accepted (abduction) theory as I was of any other. I said I would also like to make the point that Operation Grange was so restricted from the start as to be destined to fail.  In support of this I presented the original Grange terms of reference and told them of the advice I had received in the phone call.

To their credit (and, actually, to my surprise) they accepted that this was a valid point of view to hold and one which should be presented in their film.  Within the limitations and constraints of legal matters, the editing process and the need to present a rounded story, I think the Sky film was pretty good.  It is certainly the most balanced mainstream report I have seen and one with which I am entirely happy to be associated.  I also think it represented my views well.

I am neither an anti nor a pro – of the McCanns or the media or the police.  I felt, feel indeed, that the limitations which seem to have been imposed on Operation Grange were worthy of being publicised and would inform the debate.  I am not necessarily advocating that it be started afresh, just that it is understood what it was and what it tried to do.

I do though think that a point worthy of reinforcing is that a proper, conclusive and reasoned elimination or implication of Kate and Gerry McCann would have been in everyone's interest, most of all theirs.  That would have been my first objective had I been leading Operation Grange and so that is the biggest issue I have with how that investigation proceeded.  To eliminate or implicate those closest to the child in this type of case is not only the documented best investigative practice but is common sense.  Had Grange done this then everything would be a lot clearer. I have no idea why this was not done but I am satisfied on what has been said by the Met and what is available that it was not.

I want to continue to raise and discuss issues around Madeleine’s disappearance when it is appropriate to do so.  I am mindful that, to maintain credibility and access to meaningful platforms that I will need to do so in a considered, reasoned and evidenced way. If I don't offer support to theories and assumptions it doesn't mean I don't understand or believe them, just that I don't think it is appropriate to adopt them or comment upon them at the moment.

Finally a paragraph on me. I am nowhere near naïve enough to have thought that I could become involved in this debate without suffering some abuse and denigration. While it is water from a duck’s back I won't expose myself to it unnecessarily.  Hence I won't take part in discussions on the various forums and I am likely to block those on Twitter who can’t be reasonable and polite.  Like us all I am far from perfect but I did give many years of service to the community – as do thousands of others – and during that time I was lucky enough to achieve some results of which I will always be proud. My expertise and reputation is well-regarded by the media and I have no need to raise my profile; I turn away as much media work as I accept.  I am not writing a book on Madeleine McCann and I have no motivation other than that which has been with me for many, many years – to get to the truth.  So I will continue to tweet about the case ( @colinsutton ) and when people raise good questions I will try to respond quickly.

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Post by Verdi 13.07.22 16:51

Three easy questions that could help answer what happened to Madeleine

By Mark Saunokonoko • Senior Journalist

11:37am Jun 18, 2019

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It has been more than 12 years since Madeleine Beth McCann disappeared.'s multi-episode podcast investigation Maddie shone a light on a number of curious and vexing issues about the world's most famous cold case.

Here are three questions that could actually be answered very easily, if the will from police forces and key people is there.

Answering these questions could reveal potential crucial information about what happened to Madeleine on that 2007 family holiday to Portugal.

Why have Operation Grange and Portugal's Policia Judiciaria not taken up a remarkable offer made in the Maddie podcast to solve 18 inconclusive DNA samples?
It seems so straightforward.

There are 18 DNA samples potentially loaded with clues about what happened to Madeleine. There's a scientist with a proven international track record for solving precisely that kind of challenging and previously indecipherable evidence. Give him the samples to analyse.

As exclusively revealed in the Maddie podcast, one of the world's top DNA scientists, Dr Mark Perlin claims he can have results back on those 18 samples in less than two weeks. He's also offered to run those tests for Scotland Yard at no cost.

Scotland Yard's Operation Grange have sat on Dr Perlin's remarkable offer for over a year. Portugal's Policia Judiciaria also appear disinterested, having ignored Dr Perlin's approach for over a month.
Dr Perlin's advanced testing methods, based on computational software called TrueAllele, has overturned a number of wrongful convictions in the US. It has been used successfully in US state and federal court, and around the world.

In fact, for around 20 years Dr Perlin's lab Cybergenetics has been assisting the UK police for 20 years; he has successfully analysed previously "inconclusive" DNA evidence in major UK crimes.

So why not use Dr Perlin in the case of Madeleine McCann?

Dr Perlin has told national crime labs are sometimes wary of his groundbreaking DNA technology, as it can expose flawed tests and mistaken results; those kind of revelations can be embarrassing for national crime agencies and their reputations.

The 18 DNA samples isolated by and Dr Perlin were ruled inconclusive in 2007 because British testing methods at the time were inadequate and lacked the necessary sophistication.

The DNA evidence relates to key samples taken from inside apartment 5A and the boot compartment of a rental car hired 25 days after Madeleine went missing.

A cadaver dog team alerted in both those locations, although there is controversy about the reliability of cadaver dogs, which is why investigators consider alerts must be supplemented by additional evidence
It is hard to understand why Operation Grange refuse to even acknowledge Dr Perlin's offer.

In the final episode of Maddie, Gerry McCann and the official Find Madeleine campaign were also notified of Dr Perlin's offer. There has been no reply, so far.

Have Operation Grange interviewed Kate and Gerry McCann or the Tapas 7? If not, why not?

In 2013, Scotland Yard launched Operation Grange, a significant strike force to investigate what happened to Madeleine in Praia da Luz.

Operation Grange have remained firmly tight-lipped about the investigation, revealing little to nothing about the leads they are chasing.

In 2017, Mark Rowley, then Scotland Yard assistant commissioner, publicly addressed questions about whether his detectives had ever formally questioned Kate and Gerry McCann since the launch of Operation Grange.

No, was Rowley's reply.

Rowley added that the Portuguese police had dealt with the McCanns and the Tapas 7 during their original 14-month investigation, which started in 2007.

It is unclear if any of the Tapas 7, including David Payne, the last person to ever see Madeleine alive outside of her parents, and Matt Oldfield, who entered apartment 5A 30 minutes before she was reported missing, have ever been questioned by cops at Scotland Yard.

Former Scotland Yard detectives and police officers that spoke to in episode nine of Maddie expressed some surprise if the McCanns had not been questioned by Operation Grange police. They also criticised Operation Grange's perceived failure to not begin its investigation with no preconceived ideas about might or might not have happened.

The McCanns and their friends may be able to help police catch the offender. Any information from them may help advance the investigation, or help to finally rule out aspects of the investigation. If they haven’t been questioned already, they should be.

Last month it was confirmed Operation Grange had been funded to the tune of another $550,000 in tax payer funds, taking total funding to more than $20m.

Why did a reconstruction of May 3 not occur, and has still not taken place?

On a night of confusing events, one thing is very clear - a reconstruction of all the movements made by Kate and Gerry McCann and the Tapas 7 on the night of May 3, when Madeleine was reported missing, could yield vital clues.

As revealed in episodes one and two of Maddie, from the early evening, there are so many moving parts and people in play that it became very challenging for police to establish if and how the accounts of key players stacked up and held together.

According to the McCanns and their friends, adults were leaving the dinner table at the nearby tapas bar at 30 minute intervals, sometimes as regularly as every 15 minutes, to go check on the children.

The McCann's apartment, at the end of a five-storey block, was at best one minute walk from the restaurant. The other apartments were marginally further, including one holiday unit (where the Payne family stayed) located up a flight of stairs on the first level.

In April 2008, Portuguese police tried in vain to run a reconstitution of the night of May 3 to see if everyone's account of the night and various journeys they made all matched up.
But negotiations failed.

By 2008 the McCanns and their friends were all back in the UK. Documentation in the official police files reveals a chain of emails that were sent back and forth from the group to police. Concerns were expressed about flying back to Portugal, about privacy, a potential press frenzy and Kate and Gerry being named formal suspects.

In the end, what could have been a vital reconstruction assisting the effort to find Maddie never happened.

Portuguese police appeared to have questions around Jane Tanner’s sighting of a potential abductor with a child on the night of May 3; and how she walked straight past Gerry McCann and another Englishman, Jeremy Wilkins, without either man seeing her. These scenarios are explored in detail in episode two of Maddie.

A reconstruction could have helped answer some of this, as well as clarifying events earlier in the day when family friend David Payne visited Kate and the kids in apartment 5A.
Although there appeared to be reluctance from the Tapas 7 to return to Portugal at the request of police, Portuguese detectives must probably bear some responsibility for not forcing the issue of a reconstruction much sooner after Madeleine vanished, instead of the aborted effort in April 2008.

Portuguese police were also criticised for not separating and interviewing Kate and Gerry McCann when they were first questioned by detectives in Portimao Police Station.

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Post by Verdi 14.07.22 0:43

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Crime: The Madeleine McCann case and the media – By Len Port

1st May 2017

By Len Port, Contributor (*)

The most reported and discussed missing person case ever recorded is still not only a highly contentious mystery, but also a personal tragedy that has been turned into a public farce by elements of the media.

In the entirely predictable press frenzy surrounding the imminent 10th anniversary of the disappearance, much of the coverage, particularly in the British tabloids, has been farcical. But it should not be dismissed lightly.

Unable to come up with “news” on the case, the tabloids have been rehashing the same old speculation and guesswork.

“Could Madeleine McCann have been snatched by a lone paedo or simply wandered off?….”

“She was sold to a rich family, says ex-cop….”

“New hope after decade-long search….”

“Experts say Madeleine McCann’s body is almost impossible to find ”.

And then there was the much-touted Australian TV show that promised “a major breakthrough in the case”.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror took a slightly different tack with a story headlined, “What REALLY happened the night Madeleine McCann disappeared as nanny breaks her 10-year silence”.

The story did not explain what “really” happened, nor did it name the nanny or why she had remained silent for so long.

It quoted her as considering the McCann to be “the picture perfect family” and repeated the usual British criticism of the Portuguese police.

More surprisingly, she claimed that the resort from which Madeleine vanished was considered so unsafe that nannies were given rape alarms (whistles) and advised, “don’t go anywhere by yourself, ever”.

There was nothing to suggest the Mirror had tried to question or check this or any of the nanny’s other assertions, but, in Praia da Luz, they were viewed with derision. It was seen as yet another attempt to brand Praia da Luz as a den of iniquity, which it is not and never has been.

The official police files on the case contain nothing about rape whistles or alarms. None of the signed statements by child-care workers mentioned anything about suspicious goings-on or Luz being “unsafe”.

The manager of the Ocean Club where the McCanns were staying said in a police statement in 2007 that he had “no knowledge of any untoward situation involving Ocean Club users or in the village itself, other than some damage and minor thefts”.

The Mirror story was also a reminder that real journalism has to a large extent been replaced by ‘churnalism’, which disregards traditional standards of original news gathering based on impartiality and fact-checking for accuracy and honesty.

The nanny’s story was quickly recycled virtually verbatim on the Internet by other tabloids. Even the broadsheet Daily Telegraph fell into line as did news services in the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Trial by the media has had a huge influence on public perceptions about guilt or innocence in this case. Most of the mainstream media reports state as if it were a fact that Madeleine was “abducted”. Maybe she was. Maybe she wasn’t. There is no certainty either about the other main theory that her parents covered up an accidental death in the apartment.

Until solid evidence is found and the culprits are brought to justice, the public fascination with this case will continue to fuel and be fuelled by the media’s determination to churn out stories whose accuracy and agenda may sometimes be open to doubt.

The current avalanche of stories inevitably evokes the previous admission by Lord Bell, founder and former chairman of the Bell Pottinger public relations group, to columnist and author Owen Jones that “the McCanns paid me £50,000 in fees to keep them on the front page of every single newspaper for a year, which we did”.

Nevertheless, “Maddie” helps circulation figures and makes money. Money, along with misinformation, has always played far too big a part in this case which – let’s remember – is about the tragic loss of a child.

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Post by Verdi 14.07.22 0:48

Revealed: More bizarre twists in McCann saga – By Len Port

Posted on 29 October 2013.

It turns out that Kate and Gerry McCann suppressed for five years ‘critical evidence’ that became the centerpiece of the recent BBC Crimewatch program on the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine.

Findings by ex-MI5 agents long kept under wraps by the McCanns included the two e-fit images described in the Crimwatch program by Scotland Yard’s Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood as of “vital importance.”

The images are of a suspected kidnapper seen by an Irish family in Praia da Luz the night Madeleine went missing.

They were given to the McCanns by a handpicked team of investigators from Oakley International hired by the McCanns’ “Find Madeleine Fund” in 2008.

Henri Exton, an MI5’s former undercover operations chief who led the team, told the Sunday Times he was “utterly stunned” when he watched the Crimewatch program and saw the evidence he had passed to the McCanns presented as a new breakthrough.

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He said the fund had silenced his team with a lawyer’s letter binding them to the confidentiality of a report they had compiled that contained controversial findings. Mr. Exton said the legal threat had prevented them from handing over the report to Scotland Yard’s investigation until detectives had obtained written permission from the fund.

The Oakley International report, delivered in November 2008, gave little credibility to Jane Tanner’s 9.15pm sighting and focused instead on the 10pm sighting by the Irish Smith family. The investigators recommended that their e-fit images be released without delay.

For some reason the images were not published even in Kate McCann’s 2011 book Madeleine, though it devoted a whole section to eight “key sightings” and carried e-fits on all of them except the Smiths’.

In its Insight report, the Sunday Times quoted one of the Oakley International investigators as saying: “I was absolutely stunned when I watched the program . . . It most certainly wasn’t a new timeline and it certainly isn’t a new revelation. It is absolute nonsense to suggest either of those things . . . And those e-fits you saw on Crimewatch are ours.”

The hushed-up report is said to have questioned parts of the McCanns’ evidence, contained sensitive information about Madeleine’s sleeping patterns and raised the highly sensitive possibility that she could have died in an accident after leaving the apartment herself from one of two unsecured doors.

The Sunday Times quoted a source close to the Find Madeleine Fund as saying the report was considered “hypercritical of the people involved” and “would have been completely distracting” if it became public.

In fact, the Portuguese lead detective Gonçalo Amaral considered the Irish sighting to be very important back in May 2007 when the Smith family first reported it to the Polícia Judiciária. Details of the sighting and ‘hypercritical information’ were in the public domain early in January 2008, three months before the Oakley team arrived on the scene.

Ebullience at the huge response to their Crimewatch program turned to embarrassment in certain quarters when it was revealed that the BBC had cast a porn star in the ‘reconstruction’ of events the night Madeleine disappeared.

With such films such films as ‘Tight Rider,’ ‘Dr. Screw’ and ‘From Dusk Till Porn’ on his CV, the actor Mark Sloan was engaged by the BBC to represent one of the McCanns’ holidaying friends with whom they dined each night, Dr Matt Oldfield.

“How could the casting director not know of his background when they picked him? It’s all over Google. Did no one check? It is unbelievably stupid,” an agent, who did not wish to be named, told the Daily Star.

Meanwhile, although a new Portuguese police investigation only became official last week, a PJ team in Oporto in the north of Portugal has been reviewing the case for some time, and another PJ team in Faro in the Algarve has been assisting Scotland Yard with their inquiries. It is believed that the new Portuguese investigation will be conducted by group of PJ detectives working independently of Scotland Yard.

Things seem to be hotting up, though there is still no end to the mystery in sight.

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Post by Verdi 14.07.22 0:52

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary Scree166

Chapter Twenty-four


The peaceful seaside village of Praia da Luz was the unlikely setting for what turned out to be the most reported and discussed missing person case in human history. The disappearance has also been one of the most mystifying, controversial and bitter cases of its kind in modern times. For me as a reporter it all started so quietly.

On arrival in the village before 8.30am on Friday 4th May 2007, I expected to see some urgent activity. A young British girl, Madeleine McCann, had gone missing the previous night. At first I saw no movement at all. The village was silent and still. While driving around, I came across a single police vehicle parked on the roadside at a junction of minor roads towards the back of the village. I parked directly behind it. A few uniformed police officers were standing outside a block of holiday apartments. The only other people in sight were two women in conversation close to a corner ground floor apartment, 5A. As I approached, I noticed that one of them was clearly distressed, so much so I guessed she must be the missing girl's mother, Kate McCann. Later I learned that the other woman was a senior social worker on holiday from England. I overheard Mrs McCann tell her the police were "doing nothing" to find her daughter. She complained that they had not even questioned people staying in the same block of apartments. I understood the social worker to suggest that a description of the missing child should be circulated more widely. That prompted me to introduce myself as an Algarve-based reporter and say that I could use contacts to arrange alerts to be broadcast on an Algarve bilingual radio station. It had flashed through my mind that such alerts had been broadcast when Rachel Charles was reported missing in the Algarve 17 years earlier. The social worker then mentioned the British Consulate. I said I could help there too as I knew the staff at the Consulate and had just spoken to one of them on the phone. Perhaps my offer sounded disingenuous coming from a total stranger and a reporter to boot. Anyway, it was ignored.

As I moved around the village on foot there was at least one obvious manifestation of police activity. Police officers with search dogs on leads were vigorously combing the vicinity of the apartments, the area around the village church, on down towards the seashore and along the full length of the long curving beach. It was all being done in silence.

The tranquillity outside apartment 5A gradually changed. As the morning and afternoon wore on, the number of people arriving on the scene steadily increased. Curious passers-by mingled with reporters, photographers, TV cameramen and staff manning outside broadcast vans. A mixture of Portuguese, British and other nationalities, we all stood around asking each other questions and wondering what had happened to the little girl. All these years later, we are none the wiser. In the days, weeks, months and years following Madeleine's disappearance, the few known facts have been drowned in an ocean of public confusion created by a combination of conjecture, conspiracy theories, distortions, misinformation and lies.

Madeleine's parents have always been adamant she was abducted from the apartment. Others think she may have left the apartment of her own accord in search of her parents and was later abducted or met with harm in some other way. Some are convinced her body was secretly disposed of after she died inadvertently in the apartment. The trouble with all these theories is that while each can be shown to be a possible explanation, none is yet backed by solid evidence that elevates it to one of certainty. Upon publication of the latest edition of this book, police in both Portugal and Britain are re-investigating the case, giving fresh hope that the mystery may finally be solved and that Madeleine, if still alive, will be returned to her parents. A breakthrough could come at any moment. On the other hand it may always remain a mystery. Meanwhile, let us reflect in a little more detail on this complex saga so far.

For the McCann family from Rothley in Leicestershire the trauma began on the sixth day of a weeklong holiday. They were staying in a modest, ground-floor apartment in a tourist complex. During initial police questioning the day after the disappearance, Kate and Gerry McCann said they had settled Madeleine, aged three, and her younger twin siblings into their shared bedroom at 7.30pm. An hour later, with the children asleep and leaving the back patio door of apartment 5A closed but not locked, they joined seven holidaying friends for dinner. As on previous evenings, they dined in a poolside restaurant situated at the back of the apartment. It was a minute or two's walking distance, about 120 metres, away.

Like Kate and Gerry McCann, four of their seven friends were medical doctors and some had children of their own. In the course of a few parental checks, Gerry McCann said he went back to apartment 5A between 9.05pm and 9.10pm and saw all three of his children sound asleep. Kate McCann went to the apartment at 10pm. Madeleine was not there. Within half an hour of Kate McCann rushing back to the restaurant to raise the alarm, members of staff at the tourist complex where the McCanns and their friends were staying initiated a search of the neighbourhood. Holidaymakers and village residents joined in. The Guarda Nacional República (GNR) was alerted and soon had officers on the scene. Two police search dogs arrived. Police at first thought Madeleine may have wandered off, but Portugal's criminal investigation service, the Polícia Judiciáia, was informed after midnight. The neighbourhood search involved about 60 people on a calm and cloudless night with a full moon. It went on until about 4.30am.

Jane Tanner, a member of the group of friends, told police she saw a man with a child in his arms crossing the road in front of the McCanns' apartment at about 9.15pm, soon after Gerry McCann's check. For more than six years this sighting remained central to the McCanns' insistence that their daughter had been abducted. A family on holiday from Ireland also saw a man carrying a young child. This was much further away, closer to the centre of the village, at 10pm.

From the earliest days of the Portuguese investigation, the McCanns received a great deal of moral and financial support. The British Foreign Office showed remarkable interest. A wealthy Scottish businessman, Stephen Winyard, offered a £1 million reward for information leading to Madeleine's return. English tycoon Richard Branson was among those who donated to the Find Madeleine fund that quickly reached more than £2.5 million. Football star David Beckham, then playing for Real Madrid, held up a Madeleine poster in a televised appeal in Spain. In seeking publicity on a grand scale, the McCanns met with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome at the end of May and had a photograph of their missing daughter blessed by him. Gerry travelled to Washington courtesy of Branson's Virgin Atlantic airline and visited the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, the Justice Department, Capitol Hill and the White House.

By then, police had questioned and declared Robert Murat an arguido (suspect). Jane Tanner had claimed she was almost certain Murat was the man she saw carrying a child. Although insisting he had spent the evening with his mother in her house a short distance from apartment 5A, Murat became the subject of wild rumours and false newspaper speculation. International media coverage reached new heights four months later, in September, when Kate and Gerry McCann were also declared arguidos. Clarence Mitchell, who had earlier spent a month with the McCanns as a representative of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, relinquished his position as director of the media monitoring unit at the British government's Central Office of Information to become the McCanns' official spokesperson.

Among the obstacles confronting the Portuguese police was the ever-pressing presence of the media. Their constant demand for news was complicated by a Portuguese law that forbids the police from openly discussing or divulging any aspects of a criminal investigation. Article 86 of the penal code amounts to a gagging order on releasing anything that might prejudice a case. As the investigation wore on, this lack of information frustrated reporters faced with editors' demands for sensational stories. In the absence of official statements and verifiable advice, certain newspapers indulged in an orgy of innuendo, speculation, grossly inaccurate and even fictitious reporting. 'Leaks' from the Portuguese police to the Portuguese press were repeated and sometimes embellished in mass-circulating British tabloids. Some of the papers were eventually taken to task for defamation and obliged to pay large sums in damages.

The lead detective in the investigation, Gonçalo Amaral, looked into the likelihood of abduction but found no evidence to substantiate the McCanns' insistence that their daughter had been kidnapped. He came to suspect that Kate McCann had lied in claiming that an intruder had opened the front window and jemmied the shutter in the children's bedroom. He thought the parents might have invented the abduction story as a cover-up after Madeleine died inadvertently in the apartment, perhaps from an overdose of a sedative or a fall. This theory seemed to be supported by traces of blood and cadaver odours found by two specialist dogs brought out from the UK. The traces were found in the apartment and in the boot of a car hired by the McCanns.

Five months into the investigation, Gonçalo Amaral's involvement suddenly ended when he was dismissed from the case for imprudently alleging that police in Britain were biased towards the McCanns. Then, in July 2008 after 14 months of probing with no conclusive breakthrough, the Polícia Judiciária wrapped up their final report. Portugal's attorney general lifted the arguido status on all three suspects and formally archived the case.

In 2011 at the behest of the McCanns, Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May asked the Metropolitan Police Service to review the vast amount of documentation from the original Portuguese investigation, as well as the results of inquiries made by a succession of private investigators hired by the McCanns. After two years, the Met upgraded its review to a full-scale investigation. Five months later, in October 2013, the Portuguese authorities ordered a re-opening of their own investigation and went to work on new evidence they had uncovered. This occurred while a civil libel action was in progress in Lisbon in which the McCanns were suing Gonçalo Amaral over a book he had written, A Verdade de Mentira (The Truth of the Lie).

The McCanns had accepted £550,000 in 2008 from Express Newspapers in compensation for scores of defamatory articles in the Daily Express, Daily Star and their Sunday sister titles. Robert Murat was awarded £600,000 in libel damages from Express Newspapers, Associated Newspapers, the Mirror Group and News Group Newspapers. In compensation for Amaral’s book and a TV documentary based on it, the McCanns demanded €1.2 million.

The McCanns said the Portuguese police had been "very open" with them at the beginning of the original investigation. Three months down the line they still had "a very good working relationship." Things hit rock bottom in September 2007 on being declared official suspects. Faced not only with deep parental anguish over the loss of their daughter, Kate and Gerry McCann now had to cope with the humility of being publicly suspected of being the cause of her disappearance. Kate's mother Susan Healy was widely quoted as saying that the pressure on her daughter was so great, "I don't know how long she will hold on for... I don't know if any human can take such pressure." She added: "Kate is an only child. If it was me, I'd die. But she can't let herself get so low. She has to think of her family, of Gerry and the twins."

Amaral sank to a low ebb as well. With pent up frustrations over what he regarded as bias by the UK authorities and non-cooperation by the McCanns, he resigned from the police service and became the target of insults in the British press. His marriage broke down, he moved away from his daughter in Lisbon, grieved over the death of both his mother and father, and lost weight through illness. Soon after the 2013 start of the Scotland Yard investigation, the Jane Tanner sighting of a man carrying a child outside the McCanns' apartment became irrelevant when the man was publicly identified as an innocent father carrying his own child home from a crèche on the complex. The other sighting by an Irish family took on much greater significance with the simultaneous publication of two e-fit images produced by a team of ex-MI5 private investigators employed by the McCann's Find Madeleine fund after the Portuguese authorities had shelved their investigation five years earlier. Publication of the e-fit images along with televised appeals for information resulted in thousands of phone calls and emails. With international public interest in the case elevated to its 2007 heights, the Portuguese police re-opened their investigation to run both alongside and in conjunction with the British police.

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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Post by Verdi 14.07.22 1:41

It loathes me to post a link on the forum rather than the original full text, if for no other reasons press articles having been archived, are eventually removed, but this PDF will take about a week to format into some semblance of readability.

Time and tide wait for no man, I might reconsider in due course but at present this is the best I can do.

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary Scre2521

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary Scre2520

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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Post by Verdi 14.07.22 16:28

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary Ac_mar10
[Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley]

As an investigation team we are only too aware of the significance of dates and anniversaries. Whatever the inquiry, we want to get answers for everyone involved.

The disappearance of Madeleine McCann is no different in that respect but of course the circumstances and the huge public interest, make this a unique case for us as police officers to deal with. In a missing child inquiry every day is agony and an anniversary brings this into sharp focus. Our thoughts are with Madeleine's family at this time - as it is with any family in a missing person’s inquiry - and that drives our commitment to do everything we can for her.

On 3rd May 2017, it will be 10 years since Madeleine vanished from her apartment in Praia Da Luz, a small town on the Algarve. In the immediate hours following her disappearance, an extensive search commenced involving the local police, community and tourists. This led to an investigation that has involved police services across Europe and beyond, experts in many fields, the world’s media and the public, which continues to this day. The image of Madeleine remains instantly recognisable in many countries across the world.

The Met’s dedicated team of four detectives, continues to work closely on the outstanding enquiries along with colleagues of the Portuguese Policia Judiciária. Our relationship with the Policia Judiciária is good. We continue to work together and this is helping us to move forward the investigation.

We don't have evidence telling us if Madeleine is alive or dead. It is a missing person’s inquiry but as a team we are realistic about what we might be dealing with - especially as months turn to years.

Now is a time we can reflect on an investigation which captured an unprecedented amount of media coverage and interest. The enormity of scale and the complexity of such a case brings along its own challenges, not least learning to work with colleagues who operate under a very different legal system. The inquiry has been, and continues to be helped and supported by many organisations and individuals. We acknowledge the difference these contributions have made to the investigation and would like it known that we appreciate all the support we have and continue to receive.

Since the Met was instructed by the Home Office to review the case in 2011, we have reviewed all the material gathered from multiple sources since 2007. This amounted to over 40,000 documents out of which thousands of enquiries were generated. We continue to receive information on a daily basis, all of which is assessed and actioned for enquiries to be conducted.

We have appealed on four BBC Crimewatch programmes since April 2012. This included an age progression image which resulted in hundreds of calls about alleged sightings of Madeleine; an appeal for the identity of possibly relevant individuals through description or Efit; and information sought relating to suspicious behaviour or offences of burglary. These programmes collectively produced a fantastic response from the public. The thousands of calls and information enabled detectives to progress a number of enquiries. This was in addition to over 3,000 holiday photographs from the public in response to an earlier appeal.

The team has looked at in excess of 600 individuals who were identified as being potentially significant to the disappearance. In 2013 the team identified four individuals they declared to be suspects in the case. This led to interviews at a police station in Faro facilitated by the local Policia Judiciária and the search of a large area of wasteland which is close to Madeleine's apartment in Praia Da Luz. The enquiries did not find any evidence to further implicate the individuals in the disappearance and so they are no longer subject of further investigation.

We will not comment on other parts of our investigation - it does not help the teams investigating to give a commentary on those aspects. I am pleased to say that our relationship with the Portuguese investigators is better than ever and this is paying dividends in the progress all of us are making.

We are often asked about funding and you can see that we are now a much smaller team. We know we have the funding to look at the focused enquiry we are pursuing.

Of course we always want information and we can't rule out making new appeals if that is required. However, right now, new appeals or prompts to the public are not in the interest of what we are trying to achieve.

As detectives, we will always be extremely disappointed when we are unable to provide an explanation of what happened. However the work carried out by Portuguese and Met officers in reviewing material and reopening the investigation has been successful in taking a number of lines of interest to their conclusion. That work has provided important answers.

Right now we are committed to taking the current inquiry as far as we possibly can and we are confident that will happen. Ultimately this, and the previous work, gives all of us the very best chance of getting the answers – although we must, of course, remember that no investigation can guarantee to provide a definitive conclusion.

However the Met, jointly with colleagues from the Policia Judiciária continue the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann with focus and determination.

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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Post by Verdi 14.07.22 16:40

Pat Brown - Criminal Profiler.
Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Madeleine McCann Book the Publishers Wouldn't Touch

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary Amaral10

Although I will not be commenting further on the McCann case, I will, in response to the Summers/Swan travesty of a book"Looking for Madeleine," make two posts: I will review their book when I have it in my hands and I will share with the public the book the publishers turned down, the book to be written by Gonçalo Amaral and myself, the book my literary agent pitched (a year and a half ago) to all the major US publishers and none were willing to market due to the threat of Carter-Ruck.


Missing children – babies taken from their cribs in the middle of the night and toddlers stolen from their bedrooms and yards – these innocent little victims have become fodder for media crime shows and tabloids, plucking at the kind hearts of caring people and striking fear into parents worried about their own children’s safety. The cases tend to make a big splash but eventually the case vanishes from the news, the still-missing children evidence of the failure of law enforcement to solve the crimes. While people often continue to wonder if one or both of the parents are actually behind the disappearances of their children -Haleigh Cummings, Ayla Reynolds, Sky Metalwalla, Jhessye Shockley, Kyron Horman, and Lisa Irwin – eventually the story becomes yesterday’s news. The parents melt back into oblivion - a few making an occasional television appearance, maintaining a Facebook page, handing out a few fliers now and then. Occasionally, we see a parent, especially an innocent one, start a charitable organization in the name of their child and do some good for other missing children, but mostly, we see the parents slip back into anonymity and the child is pretty much forgotten.

But, one case rages on, the most famous missing child case in history since the abduction of the Lindbergh baby, the case of missing Madeleine McCann.

This missing child case radically diverges from the rest and the now five-year cold case continues to be an obsession with people around the world – profilers, bloggers, journalists, Facebookers, Tweeters, and citizens of many countries but especially England, Portugal, and the United States. Gerry and Kate McCann, Madeline’s mom and dad, unlike any other parents to date, encouraged a massive amount of media attention, hired a top ex-British government spin doctor and spokesman, Clarence Mitchell to manage and speak for them, raked in millions of dollars that they have never accounted for in their not-a-charity organization to “search” for Madeleine established just ten days after the child went missing, and hired private investigators who have no experience in missing persons’ cases and so little ethics they have been arrested for various crimes including money laundering.

Gerry and Kate McCann were not the average parents of a missing child. They were both doctors, as were most of the seven friends (often called the Tapas Seven) who vacationed with them in Praia da Luz, Portugal from where Madeleine disappeared just short of her fourth birthday. Six of these well-educated doctors including the McCanns, left their children unattended in their vacation apartments for five evenings straight, out of eyeshot and earshot, while they wined and dined in the nearby Tapas restaurant. On the fateful night of May 3, 2007, Madeleine McCann disappeared from her bed and by morning the McCanns were crying she had been abducted as their family and friends called in the international media. In spite of never having a shred of evidence that an abduction had occurred, and far more suggestion via cadaver dogs that Madeleine died in the apartment that night while her parents neglected her care, the British government offered their support including diplomatic assistance and the intervention of the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

When no proof of abduction surfaced and the Portuguese police found the statements of the parents and their friends to be conflicting and deceptive, both parents were made Arguidos (suspects). Kate McCann refused to answer any of the forty-eight questions put to her and the McCanns left the country; the case was shelved for reasons unknown.

Once out of the clutches of the Portuguese police, did the McCanns lie low? No, they continued to maintain a high profile presence in the media including appearances on Piers Morgan and Oprah, and raked in some four million dollars in donations to be used in any way they wished, some of it to pay for their mortgage, travel, and high profile attorneys. Kate wrote a book called Madeleine which earned her a million or more and they sued or threatened to sue a number of people who dared to speak up about the case and suggest the McCanns may have been involved. Blog sites have been forced to shut down, promises to cease and desist obtained, and free speech muzzled. They sued the detective on the case, Gonçalo Amaral, for one and a half million dollars and got an injunction in 2009 of his book, the bestselling Portuguese analysis of the police case, Truth of the Lie. Although the injunction was overturned in October of 2010, they have yet to return the confiscated books. In 2011, American criminal profiler Pat Brown self-published a 32 page booklet on Amazon, Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, which vanished after five weeks of high sales and nearly 50 five-star reviews. Amazon informed Ms. Brown that Carter-Ruck, the McCann’s libel solicitors, had warned them of impending legal action if the book was not removed from the market. They caved. Tony Bennett, retired British solicitor, is battling the McCanns and Carter-Ruck in England over his booklet, What really happened to Madeleine McCann? 60 reasons which suggest that she was not abducted, and faces jail.

The McCanns and Carter-Ruck not only sued private individuals but the British press over any negative stories concerning them. In an unprecedented change of course, the British press paid huge out-of-court settlements to the McCanns and the Tapas Seven and, afterwards, printed only positive articles featuring “the abduction,” “the kidnapper,” and “the suffering McCanns.” In spite of Gerry McCann’s under oath statements during the ongoing Leveson Inquiry (investigating abuses of the press including the recent Murdoch phone-hacking scandal) that he “is a strong believer in the freedom of speech” and he doesn’t “have a problem with somebody purporting a theory,” he and his wife, Kate, sue anyone who dares point out the facts of the cases and what the evidence actually does “purport.”

What is behind this veil of protection and the British government’s exceptional backing of the McCanns? Why have their friends, the so-named Tapas 7 taken a “pact of silence” on the case? Why does friend Jane Tanner insist she saw the abductor of Madeleine McCann carrying her off when the scenario is rife with contradiction and impossibility? Why do the McCanns refuse to accept the only credible sighting of a person carrying off a child (nine members of an Irish family) if it is not the same man Tanner saw when Gerry has an alibi? Could it be that at the later time Gerry does not have an alibi and Mr. Smith, elder of the Irish family, says he believes the man he saw was Gerry himself? Why if Madeleine was truly carried off on foot by a local sex predator, do Kate and Gerry have no interest in a search of Praia da Luz to find a criminal who likely killed Madeleine and will kill another child in the future if not identified and arrested? Why do they encourage the many donators of money to look for Madeleine all over the world but show no interest when a sighting of Madeleine hits the papers?

Where is Madeleine? Is she off in a loving family like Gerry and Kate oft promote or is she buried in the desolate acres of Monte do Jose Mestre, just west of Praia da Luz where Gerry’s cell phone pinged for three days straight and which criminal profiler Pat Brown believes is more likely? Or is Detective Amaral correct in believing she may have been spirited out of Portugal with help from others and be in an urn in the McCann’s home? Was Madeleine the victim of a sex predator or sex ring or did she die accidentally while the McCanns were out for their adult fun? Or, as some suggest, is there an even more sinister explanation for the disappearance of Madeleine and the protection of the McCanns by those in high political places; child pornography, child sexual abuse, or political bribes and backroom deals? Or is there a Masonic conspiracy at play as certain bloggers insist is behind the bizarre behavior of the McCanns and their British political allies.

As of this date, the Scotland Yard review continues. The Portuguese also have a review ongoing and the McCanns are still raking in the cash, absentmindedly forgetting to inform their donors that two major police forces are indeed looking at the case once again, paid for by the pounds and euros of the taxpayers of England and Portugal. Profiler Pat Brown is back from Praia da Luz is updating her Profile. Bennett is hoping he won’t be behind bars soon. Kate is working on her second book. The McCann’s Portuguese attorney, Isabelle Duarte, only has a few days left to return Amaral’s books after a court finally had had enough of their stalling. Amaral is preparing for battle as the damage trial approaches.

The Madeleine Mystery will be the first English language book on the Madeleine McCann case to be published by a major publisher. It is a collaboration between retired Detective Gonçalo Amaral, who has collected and extensively analyzed all the Portuguese police findings and has a far more comprehensive study of the case since his Portuguese bestseller, Truth of the Lie, and American criminal profiler, Pat Brown (as seen on Nancy Grace, Jane Velez-Mitchell, Dr. Drew, Anderson, Inside Edition, The Today Show, etc.) who has profiled the case extensively over the last five years (Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann and many blog posts at The Daily Profiler). Together, Brown and Amaral will bring the truth out in the Madeleine McCann case; the evidence, the analysis, the profile, the players, the politics, and the corruption, and penetrate the international mystery that still surrounds the most confounding missing child case in history.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

September 11, 2014

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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Post by Verdi 15.07.22 13:35

Brunt & Brueckner – Another Madeleine McCann Mess-up

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary Brunt-10

That “Alan Partridge-esque” Martin Brunt feels it necessary to continue banging on about the Madeleine McCann case is just proof of how truly ridiculous this rotten toerag really is

Christian Brueckner – an undoubtedly monstrous 44-year-old beast currently incarcerated in Germany for the rape of a 72-year-old American tourist in Portugal – is most definitely a vile piece of toerag, but that the likes of Martin Brunt are getting overexcited that he has been made an “official suspect” in regards to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann on 3rd May 2007 seem a little premature and perhaps a little too convenient.

Brunt – a mouse-not-a-man whose hounding of Brenda Leyland with a camera undoubtedly contributed to that poor woman’s decision to go to a hotel and commit suicide – has previous form for causing outrage. In August 2016, following the murder of a French priest named Jacques Hamel by an ISIS terrorist, the “Alan Partridge-esuqe” Sky News presenter was quite rightly derided for commenting: “If I was terrorist, I could have killed them all” of people worshiping at a church in completely unconnected Weybridge, Surrey.

Though many, including the joker that is the charity tin banging, “Chanel-clad” Baroness Meyer’s bestie Jim Gamble believe this could be “the beginning of the end for the family” of the missing, most likely dead child, the Daily Mail rightly pointed out this morning that Brueckner’s lawyer, Friedrich Fuelsscher, “believes the Portuguese decision… to be a ‘procedural trick.’”

Going further and quoting a “well-placed source,” the paper added:

“The legal grounds for making Brueckner an arguido include the fact that he allegedly confessed to a friend he had snatched Madeleine and mobile phone records placed him in Praia da Luz the night she vanished. “

“But it is obviously linked to the fact that the Portuguese authorities want to keep their options open with the 15-year deadline looming.”

“Privately they are said to be dubious of any charges against Brueckner, as the only evidence against him appears to be circumstantial and from unreliable witnesses.”

Missing Madeleine – Questions STILL without Answers

Many questions about what happened on the evening of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann remain. Some that have been highlighted by the press and discussed online include:

Why did Kate McCann refuse to answer 48 questions put to her by the Portuguese police?

Why were certain records of phone calls on the evening of the disappearance “whoosh-clunked” from the memories of the phones of Mr and Mrs McCann and the ‘Tapas 7’?

Why did a British sniffer dog sense the smell of a corpse in a cupboard in the apartment from which Madeleine McCann disappeared?

Why did a sniffer dog also supposedly sense the smell of a corpse in a vehicle hired by the couple a month after the disappearance of their daughter?

Why did Mr and Mrs McCann go jogging and play tennis in the days after their daughter’s disappearance?

Was it acceptable for Mr and Mrs McCann’s mortgage to be paid by the fund established to search for their missing daughter?

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary Madele12
Madeleine McCann – left unattended in the holiday apartment her parents had rented alongside her two siblings – went “missing” on the night of 3rd May 2007. Her parents had remarkably left the door to that apartment open in spite of the fact it was open straight onto the street. If they had been working class, they would have likely been charged with child neglect; because they were not, they got to party instead with Theresa May and the wench now known as Baroness Meyer in Downing Street. Shame on Gerry and Kate McCann.

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary Christ10
Christian Brueckner is undoubtedly an evil monster, but the evidence suggesting him to be the person to have taken a child on 3rd May 2007 remains yet to be proven.

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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Post by Verdi 15.07.22 13:48

Summers and Swan reply to critics of their Madeleine book (Part I)

Len Port 13 September 2014

The best-selling authors Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan have responded to criticisms that their new book Looking for Madeleine, published on September 11, 2014 amounts to a pro-McCann ‘whitewash’ rather than the first in-depth, independent and objective analysis of the disappearance and search for the little girl.

The criticisms come from people who do not accept the theory that Madeleine McCann was abducted.

In their first interview with the media in Portugal, the authors told me they had in the past tackled controversial subjects, “but never have we encountered this degree of intense reaction to a book even before it has been published. It underlines, we think, why authors who do our kind of intensive investigative work needed to tackle this story.”

How, I asked, did they decide on this subject in the first place?

“In May 2012, readers may recall, the UK’s Scotland Yard released an age progression image of Madeleine as she might have looked if still alive. Robbyn was watching the news with our own young daughter, who is a little older than Madeleine McCann, and whose middle name happens also to be Madeleine.

“Her interest was piqued by hearing her own name, and she asked: ‘What really happened to that little girl? Do her parents really believe she is still alive?’

“And – this really got us: ‘How long would you look for me, Mummy?’

Robbyn realised she didn’t have good answers, and we started tentatively digging. We starting a first scan of the massive police dossier, read Kate McCann’s published account - and took on board the voluminous criticism and analysis of the case, and of the McCanns themselves, that was available online.

“We soon realised as we talked to people from all walks of life that many, many people seemed to suspect there was something wrong with the parents’ account and – and we started to think we could bring something to this almost unique story by drilling down to the best evidence. Our publisher agreed. That’s how it started, and here we are more than two years later.”

The authors are adamant they have not been influenced at any stage or in any way by the McCann family or anyone close to the investigation.

“As you will see in the Notes section of Looking for Madeleine, we felt at the outset that it was only right to advise Madeleine’s parents and London’s Metropolitan police that we planned to investigate with a view to a book.

“We had a single meeting with the McCanns and one with the Met – both of them early in our research. The parents, and then the police, made only one request of us – a fair one given the parents’ hope and the Met’s working thesis that Madeleine may still be alive – that we do nothing that might hinder or interfere with the ongoing investigation. We have been careful to abide by that request.”

How much cooperation did they get from Kate and Gerry McCann during their research and writing?

“We have been totally independent of the McCanns – and we emphasise this, given the torrent of internet innuendo to the contrary even before Looking for Madeleine was published.

“An initial meeting aside, a meeting at which Madeleine’s parents made no attempt at all to influence our thinking, there was no cooperation. The parents believed we should work independently of them, and we would not have wanted it otherwise.”

Since the couple began working on the book, both the Portuguese Polícia Judiciária and the Metropolitan Police Service have moved from ‘reviewing’ to renewed investigation and so they have had no more information from either force than was “ethically correct.”

However, they said they have had contacts with former senior law enforcement officers in both countries and these have served as a valuable guide to the early investigation, and to some degree to what has been going on more recently.

The authors said that before they started their research they had no opinion on whether Madeleine had been abducted or not. And after two years of non-stop work, they have an opinion but not a definitive one.

“We were open - and still are - to anywhere the evidence might lead us. When Madeleine vanished we were deep into the research for our previous book, on the September 11 attacks. That also involved reading many tens of thousands of documents, travel, etc. So, like millions of others, we only had the blurred impression gained from the welter of media coverage and the torrent of rumour. It is only now after looking at every angle that we can justify expressing an opinion. We do that in Looking for Madeleine.”

Anthony Summers and his wife Robbyn Swan think the most likely scenario is that Madeleine was indeed abducted. There is a “cogent skein of evidence” pointing to the notion that she was a carefully selected target, very possibly of a paedophile.”

Does the book contain any real revelations? In other words have Summers and Swan uncovered any previously unknown facts that bring us closer to understanding what really happened to Madeleine?

“Looking for Madeleine is shot through with new information and analysis. In particular, we obtained information not seen publicly before that throws vivid new light on the activity and modus operandi of the intruder who perpetrated at least one of the child sex attacks in the period preceding Madeleine’s disappearance.

“As important, we obtained detailed information on an incident in Praia da Luz that may suggest one of the phoney “charity collectors” may have had a sexual motive.

This episode, in particular, coupled with analysis of the overall jigsaw of testimony, contributes to a new understanding of a possible abduction scenario.

“Another key element is the first ever in-depth interview with Brian Kennedy, the wealthy benefactor who throws light on the McCann’s private investigation effort. And much, much more.”

As to the serious doubts about independence and objectivity expressed before the book’s publication, especially by critics who totally reject the abduction theory, the authors responded: “The notion of criticising authors about a book even before it has been published may speak volumes about the biases of those levelling the criticisms.”

© Len Port 2014

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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Post by Verdi 15.07.22 13:52

Madeleine: Summers and Swan interview (Part II)

Len Port

In part two of Len Port's interview with Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, the authors explain more about the background to their new book Looking for Madeleine, their thoughts on the police investigations so far, and what may now lie ahead in this extraordinary case.

How did you conduct your research? What was the process you followed?

First and foremost, we spent months doing what we have done on our previous eight books, reading all possible available documentation – in many cases a logistic challenge because of the Portuguese language factor. All of this was sorted and allocated and built into a vast chronology. Chronology, carefully assembled, is the key to investigation – whether by law enforcement or non-fiction authors.

When did you come to the conclusion that Kate and Gerry McCann played no part in covering up their daughter’s disappearance and that claims of this are unfounded?

Were we to have to put a date on this current view of ours, we would say it was at the stage a few months ago when – after all the months of analysing the available evidence and testimony – we were finalizing the manuscript.

Can your book be accurately considered as ‘the definitive account’ of this unsolved case?

Note that our publisher has said that the book is “the most definitive account possible.” Possible at this time. We hope and believe that it is exactly the case at this point, as of September 2014. Events yet to occur may change that and – as and when they do – we would hope to update our work.

Your book has been described as ‘a whitewash’ and ‘propaganda,’ and criticism has been levelled at the amount of ‘spin’ it received in the British media before publication? What is your reaction to this?

It is emphatically not a whitewash, whether or not those making the allegations choose to believe it or not. Should they look at the available evidence and testimony, and in turn how we report it in Looking for Madeleine, they will find such allegations untenable. We know of no articles about us or the book that could be called "spin.” There have been news stories based on the information in the book - that is reporting.

How would you sum up the way in which the investigations have been conducted over the past seven years?

A muddle of events and developments, poorly reported and – because of the lengthy lapse of time after the case was archived – critically interrupted. Hopefully, with both nations’ police forces for some time now engaged in systematic fresh work, lost ground may be retrieved.

How relevant is the Gamble report discussed on Sky TV shortly before publication of the book?

The report written by former Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre head Jim Gamble and his team has not been released. In an interview for our book, Gamble discussed it, we believe, more openly and at greater length than ever before, and this was justifiably newsworthy. The inclusion of this self-critique of British law enforcement’s role in the investigation, from a senior source, was welcome and long overdue. The first Portuguese investigation has been widely criticised, often exaggeratedly and in a way that seemed xenophobic. The new openness from the UK’s Gamble may go some way to redressing the balance. Once it becomes ethically possible, Portuguese law enforcement may perhaps offer similar up-to-date background. Should that occur, we would be glad to report it in a new edition of Looking for Madeleine.

How long do you expect the investigation to continue?

Rather than speak in terms of months or weeks, we hope the investigations by both Portuguese and British law enforcement will be allowed to continue until they have followed up on all the lines of inquiry they regard as necessary. We hope the climate of public opinion in both countries develops positively, in a way that favours true international cooperation. Unbiased, moderate media reporting could do much to make this possible.

Do you think the mystery will ever be solved?

A major breakthrough would be a forensic lead. Any trace, dead or alive, of Madeleine. The police never forget, though, that someone, somewhere, knows – or suspects they have knowledge – of what happened to Madeleine. Someone’s wife, someone’s brother or sister or friend. Someone who noticed something but has until now kept it to themselves. What cold case investigators always hope for is that some hitherto unknown witness or witnesses will come forward with the fragment of information that can break the case. It’s happened in the past, and could yet happen in the case of Madeleine.

© Len Port 2014

* Anthony Summers, formally a deputy editor of the BBC's Panorama, is the author of eight investigative books and the only two-time winner of the Crime Writers' Association's top award for non-fiction.

Robbyn Swan, his co-author and wife, has partnered Summers on three previous biographies and investigations. Their book The Eleventh Day, on the 9/11 attacks, was a Finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary Sumers10

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Post by Verdi 15.07.22 13:56


The 2007 disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann from her bed at a holiday resort in Portugal proved to be an instant worldwide sensation. There's been nothing like it since America's Lindbergh kidnapping more than eighty years ago.

Award-winning authors Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan have produced the first independent, objective account of the case. They have examined the released Portuguese files, conducted in-depth interviews and original research to answer the questions: What can we really know about this most emotive of cases? What can we learn from it?

The Portuguese police probe ran into a dead end. Parents Gerry and Kate McCann, however, have never given up the search for Madeleine. They blitzed the Internet, media and the hired private detectives, kept the case in the public eye. Speculation that the McCanns played a role in their daughter's fate, the authors demonstrate, is unfounded.

Scotland Yard's 'investigative review', ordered by the Prime Minister and begun in 2011, identified some 200 potential leads. The Yard's suspects have included a mystery paedophile - as yet unidentified - who preyed on other British children. The head of the investigation has said the little girl may still be alive.

The McCann family's private tragedy has touched millions around the world and aroused sometimes dark controversy. Looking for Madeleine is the definitive account.

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Post by Liz Eagles 15.07.22 16:58

Jeepers creepers, the Winters and Goose extraordaganza. Who financed this?

PeterMac's FREE e-book
Gonçalo Amaral: The truth of the lie
Sir Winston Churchill: “Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.”
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Post by Verdi 16.07.22 16:57


The disappearance of Madeleine McCann in May 2007 led to an extraordinary amount of media coverage, much of which focused on Madeleine’s mother, Kate. This extensive interest was fuelled by the deployment of a PR campaign to encourage the global hunt for Madeleine.

The professionalism of the McCanns’ publicity machine caused them to come under intense media scrutiny, to the extent that Booker prize-winning author, Anne Enright, exclaimed in print that ‘disliking the McCanns [became] an international sport’ (Enright, 2007). The focus of this dislike, however, seemed to be disproportionately focused on Kate McCann as Madeleine’s mother, and her image rapidly became an object of intense media comment.

The problem, according to Enright, was that ‘we [were] obliged to lay eyes on her all the time.’ Enright was not alone in making such an observation; hers was one of a number of female voices to be heard in the clamour of news attention around this case. Much of this had at its heart the notion of ‘woman.’ Like the wives of the Portuguese policemen, women commentators repeatedly drew attention to McCann’s ‘cold’ demeanour.

Comment was contextualised in terms of her appearance, her faith and her profession, her attractiveness to the opposite sex and her rising status as a minor media celebrity. Once Kate McCann claimed that the level of attention being paid to her was due to the fact that she did not look ‘suitably maternal,’ female print journalists rounded on her. Such commentary indicates McCann’s own fixation on her media image and its affective consequences, but it also exemplifies an insidious tendency of contemporary print media with regard to images of femininity. How does Kate McCann’s status as an apparently middle class mother who was remiss enough to ‘lose’ one of her children prompt such an outpouring of denigration and critique? What is at stake in the debates that ensued?

How does McCann’s status as a self-made woman who has achieved social mobility impact on her treatment by female commentators? More broadly, what do such analyses suggest about the contemporary formation of the (maternal) feminine and its political status in the current UK climate?

This paper scrutinises media comment by female journalists on Kate McCann, highlighting the notions of ‘woman’ and ‘femininity’ that pervade the commentary. Drawing on psychoanalysis and on the work of Luce Irigaray, it discusses how McCann has become a contemporary measure of what is meant by ‘femininity.’ It sets its discussion against the backdrop of ‘post-feminism’ and uses this case to illustrate the complex relation of contemporary women to feminism and its values.

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Post by Verdi 16.07.22 17:15

‘They've taken her!’ Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Mediating Maternity, Feeling and Loss

Caroline Bainbridge  

It is just over two years since the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from a family
holiday resort in Praia da Luz in Portugal. The case has garnered an extraordinary level
of global media attention, the vast majority of which has taken as its object of focus Mr
and  Mrs  McCann  themselves,  perhaps  an  inevitable  outcome  of  their  decision  to
mobilise  such  a  highly  visible  PR  campaign.  Many  media  commentators  have
remarked  upon  the  ‘slick’  professionalism  of  both  the  campaign  and  its  key
protagonists.  Indeed,  within  six  months  of  its  launch,  the  ubiquity  of  the  campaign
produced  the  view  expressed  by  Booker  prize-winning  author,  Anne  Enright,  that
‘disliking  the  McCanns  [had become]  an international  sport’  (Enright,  2007).  In  this
paper,  I  address  some  of  the  complexities  and  contradictions  at  play  in  the  media
response to this case by foregrounding issues of gender and the maternal because, as a
case study, the story of the McCanns arguably  works  to  underscore  some of  the  most
deeply  embedded  contradictions  in  contemporary  cultural  attitudes  to  maternity,
feeling  and  loss,  and  thus  furnishes  us  with  an  opportunity  to  think  critically  about
woman-to-woman sociality.

During  the  first  year  of  Madeleine’s  disappearance,  barely  a  day  went  by
without  some  degree  of  press  coverage  of  the  case.  What  is  of note  for my  paper is
how Kate McCann became a particular focus for commentators on both the case itself
and  the  broader  context  of  the  PR  campaign.  In  particular,  there  was  extensive
discussion of  Kate McCann’s conformity to dominant assumptions around  gender and
what it means to  be  suitably ‘maternal’  and ‘feminine’  or  even ‘guilty’  or ‘innocent’.
When female  journalists commented  on the  case,  these concerns  became particularly
pronounced.  Picking  up  on  widely  reported  claims  that  the  wives  of  Portuguese
investigating  officers  had  suggested  that  McCann’s  demeanour  was  too  ‘cold’  and
‘controlled’,  thereby  signifying  uncertainty  about  her  innocence  in  the  whole  affair,
female  journalists  in  the  UK  repeatedly  drew  attention  to  McCann’s  ‘thin-lipped
fortitude’, her ‘consistently composed’ state and  to  the  fact that  she  is  ‘too thin’,  ‘too
intense’ and ‘too well-dressed’. It is worth noting that such commentary transcends the
divide between  broadsheet  and tabloid  journalism. In The  Guardian,  Germaine Greer
commented  that  ‘the  sight  of  Kate  McCann  on  television  for  the  umpteenth  time,
clutching a pale pink toy called Cuddles in lieu of her lost daughter, Madeleine, makes
me  feel  a  bit  sick’  (Greer,  2007:  28)  while  Julia  Hartley-Brewer,  an  extensive
commentator on this story, used her column in The Sunday Express to remark that
I don’t like the McCanns very much. I think they’re bad parents for leaving their children
alone while they went out to a restaurant and their refusal to accept any responsibility for
what  happened  as a  result  of their  selfishness  makes my  flesh crawl  (Hartley-Brewer,
2007b: 29).  

It is interesting to note that the complexity  of  the  case,  with  its  frequent  intrigues  and
hyperbolic  twists  and  turns,  intensified  the  focus  of  press  comment  on  Mrs  McCann
alone,  and  this  tendency  was  enhanced  all  the  more  as  the  Portuguese  police
investigation  began  to turn  its attention  toward  her  as  a possible  suspect.  In  female-
authored  columns  in  the  national  press,  there  were  widespread  references  to  her
‘emotionally  unstable’  character,  which sat  in uneasy  tension  with  references  to her
devout  Catholic  faith  and  her  professional  role  as  a  family  doctor.  Even  the  more
sympathetic  columnists  claimed  that  ‘just  looking at  her  is  torture’  (Parsons,  2007).
After the return of the McCanns to the UK, she was frequently described as a ‘neurotic
recluse,’  whose ‘face  is  lined  with  exhaustion and  despair,’  and  there was  extensive
comment  on  the  Portuguese  police investigation  of  whether  she  might  be ‘suffering
from ‘bipolar  mental  disorder’ as well as ‘hysteria’ and ‘clinical  depression.’ She was
deemed ‘unable  to  cope,’ which  raised  questions about  whether  she was ever  able to
cope with  three children under four as a result  of IVF – the connotations here suggest
that Kate McCann is not a ‘natural’ mother, with IVF providing the proof.

Discussion of ‘appropriate’ maternal behaviour also underpinned the turn in the
coverage prompted by Kate McCann’s mother, Susan Healy. She made a heartfelt plea
to  the  press  to  stop  commenting  on  Kate’s  appearance  because  of  the  effect  such
journalism was  having on the well-being of her daughter, suggesting  that Kate herself
felt that she would not be  subject to such rounded criticism ‘if she had a  fuller figure’
and  ‘looked  more  maternal’  (Chaytor,  2007).  This led  commentators  to  suggest that
McCann had brought this opprobrium upon herself because of the media campaign she
and her  husband had initiated – hence they  dismissed her concerns that she was being
denigrated  because  she  did  not  look  ‘mumsy’  enough  on  the  grounds  that  this  was
indicative  of  her  own prejudices.  This  turn  in  the coverage  of  the  story  led to  even
closer scrutiny of her  image,  and  commentary on  her appearance  did  not abate.  Mary
Carr’s invective is illustrative here:

How does a  mother  look?  Angular, meticulously well-groomed  and  attractive like Kate
McCann who has  been  judged  and  found  wanting  for  her emotional  indifference  in  the
weeks and  months  after  her  daughter’s disappearance…  Kate  McCann certainly  has an
idea about  how most mothers  look. In her  opinion, the archetypal mother is overweight,
has  ample  breasts  and  looks  ‘maternal’  which  in  Kate’s  somewhat  outdated  lexicon
regarding femininity probably also means owning plump facial features and radiating an
easy-going  humanity…  If it  weren’t  for the  lustre  of her  good  looks, their  remarkable
campaign would never have had its impetus (Carr, 2007b: 17)

Aside from the inevitable  debates  here about  McCann’s ‘yummy  mummy’ status,  the
extent of the outcry around this particular turn of events is interesting in terms of press
perceptions of McCann’s class aspirations. From the outset, the case triggered growing
media  disquiet  about  the  apparently  laissez-faire  attitude  of  the  McCanns  and  their
friends  in  deciding  to  leave  their  children  alone  in  their  holiday  apartments  whilst
drinking  and  dining  in  the  tapas  bar  on  the  Mark  Warner  holiday  complex.  Initial
reports  on  this  aspect  of  the  case  opined  that  the  McCanns’  apparent  middle  class
status  and  the  assumption  that  Mark  Warner  holiday  parks  are  aimed  at  the
‘professional  classes’  somehow  worked  to  sanction  their  decision  to  leave  their
children  ‘home  alone’  as  vaguely  responsible.  Within  one  month  of  Madeleine’s
disappearance,  however, piqued  remarks  in the  media  about the  contrast  in attitudes
should  this  event  have  befallen  a  working  class  family  at  a  Butlins  family  holiday
centre marked out the beginning of an almighty backlash against the McCanns.
The  issue  of  class  also  played  a  part  in  justifying  the  vilification  of  Kate
McCann  in  particular.  Media  coverage  initially  sought  to  underscore  the McCanns’
middle class credentials, albeit the case that this status was deemed to have been hard-
won  through  commitment  to  high  academic  achievement  that  was  at  odds  with  the
couple’s working class origins in  Glasgow  and  Liverpool. In  the  first  interview given
by the McCanns to the BBC, some three weeks after Madeleine’s disappearance, much
is made of the bourgeois facilities available at the holiday park chosen for the trip with
friends  who  were  interested  in  water  sports  and  tennis.  The  social  mobility  of  the
McCanns is  underscored here,  as  it frequently  is in  the  press coverage.  However, by
the  end  of  May  2007,  many  bloggers  and  online  commentators  were  increasingly
expressing  the  view  that  the  McCanns  were  being  allowed  to  get  away  with
irresponsible behaviour with  regard  to their  children’s well-being  on the  grounds that
they were able to perform a bourgeois sensibility that helped them to avoid scrutiny by
social services  in the  UK.  By August,  this  row had  intensified to the  point that  Julia
Hartley-Brewer commented explicitly on this matter in The Sunday Express:

The fact is, if the McCanns were unemployed scrotes from a grotty council estate, they
would  have  been  hung out  to dry  by now  amid  demands  for their  two  children  to  be
taken  into  care,  but  because  they  are middle  class  doctors,  we’re wary  of criticising
them. (2007a).  

This comment  came a matter  of days after  Kate  McCann’s first  solo  interview about
her experiences  on Woman’s Hour on BBC  Radio 4. Here, the press  commentary was
shifting  ever  more  against  the  McCanns  (and  especially  against  Kate),  not  least
because  the  Portuguese  investigation  had  by  then  turned  its  focus  on  the  parents
themselves. In  this context, it  is also worth  noting that the  radio 4 interview  was the
first sustained opportunity to hear Kate McCann’s voice, with its distinctive Liverpool
accent. Her working class roots  were  arguably  accentuated in  a  medium in  which  her
attractive physical appearance and the visual signifiers of her affluent lifestyle were not
on show. More importantly, much of the broader media coverage made a great deal of
the fact  that McCann did not cry in  any of media appearances (in stark  contrast to the
mothers  of  Rhys  Jones  and  Shannon  Matthews);  nor  was  she  given  room  for
manoeuvre in being asked to justify her oft-stated dislike of the glare of media scrutiny
and her simultaneous willingness to participate in photo shoots and so on.
By now, McCann was becoming something of an enigma, a melee of signifiers
and  contradictions,  shot  through  with  issues  of  gender,  class  and  emotion.  For  Anna
Pukas, in The Daily Express, these signifiers were overtly written on the body and the
more slender she became, the more pronounced suspicion of her became:

In Kate McCann, we have a woman who has returned from more than four months in
the Portuguese sun with her skin still milk white. Already slender from all that running,
she is now whippet-thin. Her  brown  jeans  slap  around  fleshless  thighs  and her  blonde
hair blows around fleshless cheeks. She looks far too girlish to be a mother of three who
is pushing 40. (Pukas, 2007)

Someone has recently said  that Kate McCann has been  physically transformed by grief
and  that  her  back,  shoulders,  hands  and  mouth  are  now  ‘reshaped  into  the  angular
manifestation  of  a  silent  scream’.  A  florid  description  but  no  exaggeration.  Always
slender,  Kate  is  now  emaciated,  her  clothes  flapping  around  her  fleshless  arms  and
thighs.  Since  their  return,  Kate’s  life  –  like  her  physique  –  has  diminished.  (Pukas, 2008)

Such commentary came to a head once McCann had been officially named as a suspect
during the autumn, when the media ‘outed’ her as ‘Hot Lips Healy’i, highlighting her
proclivity  for partying  and  good  times  during her  time  at  University and  suggesting
that her innocent demeanour belied a more impassioned and sexually carefree lifestyle
that once again threw the apparently demure and appropriately middle class demeanour
into  question  and  augmented  some of  the more  sensationalist claims  made about  the
attitudes  and  lifestyle  of the  McCanns  and their  friends.  McCann’s  authenticity  was
called  into  question, not  just  by  the police  investigation  of  her,  but also  through the
mediatisation  of  her  life.  She  was increasingly  represented as  a covert  individual, as
someone  who  may  have  something  to  hide  –  what  this  might  be  stretched  from  a
history of  mental  ill health through  concealed  but highly classed  social  aspirations to
highly  speculative  suggestions  about  her  sexual  preferences  and  behaviours.  (Of
course, all of these can be seen to work together to underscore her lack of authenticity
and therefore to heighten her apparent ‘guilt’.)

As  a  signifier  of  woman,  then,  McCann  seemingly  occupied  all  of  the  old
familiar stereotypes, and she became a point of coalescence for fantasies of femininity
inscribed in madness and wanton abandon as well as in discourses of the maternal and
religious  belief.  Her  loss  of  a  child  conceived  through  IVF  further  undermined  her
claims to properly middle class status, because it goes without saying that middle class
women must know how to hang on to the children they have struggled so hard to have
in the first place. Perhaps the most disarming element of all of this, however, is in the
fact that most of  these  images of  Kate McCann  were contrived  by other  women.  The
shocking  willingness  of  women  to  disparage  other  women,  regardless  of  their
individual plight, raises serious  questions  about the  status of  women in  contemporary
culture  and  also  about  the  psychological  experience  of  femininity  by  women  in
general. How does this case help us to make sense of such developments?

Aside  from  the  palpable  envy  at  play  in  the  commentary  of  the  female
journalists,  there  is  a  more  insidious  set  of  refusals  that  I  find  deeply  worrying.  At
stake  here  seems  to  be  the  contemporary  understanding  of  what  it  means  to  be  a
‘woman’  and  a  ‘mother.’ Kate  McCann seems  to have  become  the  yardstick  against
which femininity is measured. How depressing that even for female commentators, all
discussion  of  what  is  to  be  understood  as  ‘feminine’  is  framed  either  in  terms  of
appearance or by gleeful and often  snide observations on the inevitable obliteration of
a  woman  who  has  seemingly  all-too-successfully  aspired  to  ‘having  it  all.’  In  their
insistence on undermining the public  image  of  Kate McCann,  female  journalists  have
faithfully  maintained  allegiance  to  a  time-worn  definition  of  femininity  inscribed
through appearance and maternal devotion as well as shoring up ‘the psychic price that
gender inscription attaches  to  ambition and strivings and  achievement’  (Harris, 1997:

Luce  Irigaray  offers  an  important  critique  of  this  position.  Arguing  that  the
symbolic order is an inherently  masculinist  one,  she suggests  that  women  are defined
according  to  their  appearance  and  demeanour  and  how  this  fits  into  a  paradigm  of
masculine  desire.  They  undergo  ‘specul(aris)ation’  by  the  masculine,  becoming
exchangeable as commodities and acting as a mirror to the masculine in order to shore
up  its  position  of  power  and  control.  The  commodification  of  women  within  the
symbolic  order  according  to such  structures  leads  women  to perceive  themselves  as
commodities  too  and  they  unwittingly  participate  in this  regime  of commodification

and  ‘specul(aris)ation’  with  the  result  that  the  feminine  in  itself  is  unable  to  be
articulated. It becomes unspeakable.

Commodities  can  only  enter  into  relationships  under  the  watchful  eyes  of  their
‘guardians’. It is out of the question for them to go to ‘market’ on their own, enjoy their
own  worth  among  themselves,  speak  to  each  other,  desire  each  other,  free  from  the
control of the seller-buyer-consumer subjects. And the interests of businessmen require
that commodities relate to each other as rivals. (Irigaray, 1977: 196)

As a result,  relations  between women (‘commodities among  themselves’)  are defined
in  terms  which  privilege  masculinist  perspectives  on  femininity.  The  upshot  is  that
women inevitably become rivalrous with one another (196).

The parallels here with  the  general  tenor of  the commentary  on  Kate McCann
by female journalists are telling. Arguably, the extraordinary levels of envious rivalry,
biting  criticism  and  sharp-tongued, often  self-righteous judgement  are  heightened  by
the sense that McCann was somehow ‘fair game’ because she and her husband sought
to mobilise the media to assist in their search for their lost daughter. Indeed, there was
extensive commentary on this in these very same columns. For example, in The Times,
India Knight remarked ‘There is a growing rumble of unease out there at the McCanns’
omnipresence in  the papers and  on television. No  aspect of their  grief is deemed  too
private to share with the media’ (Knight, 2007).ii Comments such as these raise issues
about the ethics of  PR  as a  media process,  which  is related  to concerns  about the  fad
for celebritisation that dominates the contemporary Western popular cultural scene.
Andrew  Wernick  argues  that  promotion  has  become  a  basis  for  the
contemporary  social  and  cultural  condition,  suggesting  that  ‘the  range  of  cultural
phenomena which … serve to communicate a promotional message has become, today,
virtually co-extensive with our produced symbolic world’ (1991:  182).  What  is  more,
‘from dating  and clothes  shopping to  attending  a job  interview, virtually  everyone  is
involved in the self-promotionalism which overlays such practices in the micro-sphere
of everyday life. At one level  or  another,  then,  and  often  at  several  levels  at once, we
are all promotional  subjects’ (1991: 192). Effectively, the view expressed here  echoes
Irigaray’s  description  of  women  and  the  feminine  as  examples  of  symbolic
commodities. As  Wernick  notes, ‘the  subject  that promotes  itself  constructs itself for
others in line with the competitive imaging needs of its market. … The outcome … is a
self  which  continually  produces  itself  for  competitive  circulation:  an  enacted
projection,  which  includes  not  only  dress,  speech,  gestures  and  actions,  but  also,
through health and beauty practices, the cultivated body of the actor’ (193).
In  the  case  of  Kate  McCann,  what  appears  to  be  at  stake  is  the  symbolic
function  of  femininity.  In  mobilising  PR  strategies  as  a  means  of  deflecting  and
managing,  or  better,  overcoming,  an  irreparable  sense  of  loss,  the  McCanns
inadvertently  opened  themselves  up  to  intense  public  scrutiny  at  a  time  when
discourses of fame and celebrity were dominant  within  the  domain  of popular  culture
and everyday life.

Dominant fame-based culture comes replete with a number of effects for those
who  find  themselves  caught  up within  the ‘vortex  of  publicity’  it  entails  (Whannel,
2002).  As  Graeme Turner  notes, the  ‘commodified  status  [of  celebrity-commodities]
must generate some personal costs along  the way’ (2004: 35). Indeed, ‘the acceptance
of  celebrity-commodity  status  can  carry  quite  severe  personal  consequences.  It
involves  a framework  of  behaviour over  which  the individual  will  have virtually  no
control’ (2004: 38). In  the  case  of Kate  McCann, this  seems  very apposite.  However,
Whannel  notes  that  ‘spectacular  celebritydom’  provides  audiences  with  ‘modes  of
public exchange  in  which moral  and political positionalities can  be  rehearsed’ (2002:
214).  Through  the  strategies  of  PR  and  self-immersion  into  the  slippery  spaces  of
mediatised  fame  culture,  then,  the  McCanns  have  both  exposed  themselves  to
excessive public scrutiny of their private  (emotional)  well-being,  and  also  constructed
themselves  as  yardsticks  against  which  contemporary  ethical  concerns  might  be

With  regard  to  contemporary notions  of  femininity and  female behaviour,  as
represented in the media coverage discussed in this paper, the commodity-status of the
mediatised  individual  is  accentuated,  and  the  relation  between  Kate  McCann  as  a
woman  and  the  newsworthiness  of  her  case  is  honed  in  a  way  that  scrupulously
maintains the boundaries of  ascribed  symbolic function.  Where Irigaray  discusses the
commodification of  women in  everyday  symbolic life  in  terms of  ‘specul(aris)ation’,
mediatised femininity has become prone to construction in terms of what we might call
‘spec(tac)ul(aris)ation.’ Female commentators respond to this by mapping envious and
annihilating  responses  apparently  based  on  unquestioned  stereotypical  notions  of
femininity  onto  women who  overstep the  mark. In  so doing,  they  present  an  all-too-
depressingly familiar backdrop of misogyny and feed into the cycle of commodifying
women through  the  process of  mediatisation  in ways that  shore up retrograde  gender
values and assumptions.

For Kate McCann,  the  deployment  of a PR campaign and its associated media
coverage was only ever intended to heighten public awareness of her missing daughter.
She has not  deliberately sought to become famous in the usual sense  of  the term. It is
arguably because her appearance and personal and professional circumstances conform
so neatly to the apparent ideals of women in Western society that McCann has become
caught up in the glare of fame culture. Women reading McCann have attributed to her
he  desire  for  fame  so  celebrated  in  popular  culture  and  have,  in  turn,  used  this  to
justify  their  envious  misogynistic attacks  on  her. She  has  been  roundly  subjected to
‘spec(tac)ul(aris)ation’, turned into an unwitting celebrity-commodity, seen to embody
values that mirror the contemporary state of femininity within the symbolic order. She
is denigrated at every opportunity for being a professional career woman, but one who
is  also  not  quite  what  she  seems,  a  woman  who  had  to  struggle  to  have  children,
turning  to  IVF,  and  whose  suitability for  the maternal  role is  therefore questionable.
Her  ‘yummy  mummy’  sense  of  style  and  attention  to  personal  grooming  become
weapons for use against her. By conforming too neatly to what is required of women in
the  contemporary  domain  of  ‘post-feminism,’  Kate  McCann  apparently  unwittingly
sets herself up to fall.

The  willingness  of  female  journalists  to  use  their  columns  to  denigrate  and
attack  everyday  women  on  the  basis  of  their  appearance,  demeanour  and  behaviour
signals the extent of the worrying trend in popular culture to assume that feminism has
had its day. As Angela McRobbie has argued, the effect of this is to create a sense that
feminism is somehow ‘taken into account’ in the postfeminist context, but this ‘permits
an  all the  more  thorough  dismantling  of feminist  politics  and  the discrediting  of the
occasionally voiced  need  for its renewal’ (McRobbie, 2004a: 256). McRobbie  is  clear
that this process entails ‘repudiation rather than ambivalence’ (257), a position echoed
by  Tasker  and  Negra  who  describe  the  ‘othering’  of  feminism  as  an  ‘erasure  of
feminist politics from the popular’ (2007: 4-5).

It  is  against  this  backdrop  of  post-feminism  that  female  commentators  on
women in the public eye endorse a retrograde patriarchalism by condemning women at
every turn.  They  become, in this  sense,  the most masculinist  mouthpiece imaginable,
incarnating the  position of Ariel Levy’s ‘female  chauvinist pigs’ (2005). The effect  of
this  is  insidious.  The  interpellation  of  women  readers,  especially  of  female-oriented
‘magazine’ sections of tabloid newspapers such as ‘Femail’ in The Daily Mail, is here
couched in terms  of  a wholehearted  reinscription and  re-entrenchment of ‘traditional’
(read  masculinist)  gender  positions.  This  conforms  to  an  ethic  of  competitive
negativity  around  struggles  associated  with  the  feminine  and  perpetuates  myths  of
femininity  inscribed  only  with  reference  to  the  masculine.  The  lack  of  sociality
between  women  commenting  on other  women  in  the  press and  elsewhere  maintains
cultural boundaries and contributes to what McRobbie has called the ‘new patriarchal
same’ (2004b). It  is interesting  to think through the  fantasies  at play here and  to  link
these to the broader cultural context of femininity.

As  much  of  the  debate  about  the  meaning  of  post-feminism  makes  clear,
assumptions about the pastness of feminism are central to contemporary formations of
femininity  and  female  subjectivity.  If  we  unpack  this  a  little  more,  however,  such
assumptions  imply  a  perception  that  feminism  is  irreparably  resigned  to  the  past,
perhaps  even  dead  (or  at  least  in  the  midst  of  a  drawn  out  process  of  dying).  In
contemporary theorising around the post-feminist phenomenon, it is not unusual to find
references  to  the  spectral  and  moribund  qualities  of  feminism  (McRobbie,  2004a,
2004b; Tasker  and Negra,  2007) which  underscore  this further.  If feminism  is  in the
throes of dying (or, indeed, if it is already dead), space in which  to  mourn  its  passing
would  seem  essential.  The  British  object-relations  psychoanalyst  Melanie  Klein
discusses  the  importance  of  psychological  processes  at  play  in  mourning,  and  she
makes  an  important series  of links  between  infantile  manic  depressive states  and the
experience of loss and grief

For  Klein,  the  loss  of  a  loved  person/object  entails  the  destruction  of  the
internal version we carry around in our unconscious minds. This triggers a repetition of
early  states  of  anxiety  characterised  by  feelings  of  guilt,  remorse  and  fearful
persecution. There is a sense of dread that all good inner objects can be lost in the same
way, and there is a dominant sense that any surviving good objects become retaliatory
and destructive.  Klein argues  that  ‘in mourning,  the subject  goes  through a  modified
and  transitory  manic-depressive  state’  and  this  requires  the  subject  to  repeat  the
processes of early childhood in order to recuperate (Klein, 1940: 354), although there
is also a  sense  that  this kind  of experience  also both  enables us  and requires  us to  be
able to be able to live with disappointment. Perhaps there is a model here that enables
us  to  reconceptualise  the  paradoxes of  post-feminism. It  is as  though the  advent and
entrenchment of  the post-feminist sensibility  creates  an unnameable  sense  of loss  for
women. Whether overtly  politicised  or  not, the close-lived relationship with feminism
that has shaped the lives of a generation over the past thirty years or so can be seen as a
structuring relation, and as such  it  is  internalised within  the  inner world  of  women as
an object which  has  both  good and bad aspects. Its apparent cultural death in the new
age  of  post-feminism  entails  an  important  psychical  loss  in  this  context,  a  loss  that
must be properly mourned in order to be overcome.

Arguably, then,  what we  see at  play  in women’s  vindictive behaviour  toward
other women can be framed in  terms of the manic defences of projection, annihilation
and  disavowal  – defences  which are  co-extensive with  the early  stages  of  mourning.
The  loss  of  feminism as  an internal  object  leaves  contemporary  women in  the west
with no clear cut sense of what it means to be  a  woman.  The  enormity  of  such a loss
cannot be underestimated  and  might, I wish to argue, help to explain a  state  of affairs
in which women inflict such symbolic violence upon one another with such regularity.
The  loss of  a  political  sense  of a  feminine/feminist  identity  is especially  difficult  to
articulate  within  the  parameters  of  a  post-feminist  sensibility  in  which  the  public
visibility  of  women  can  be  read  as  symptomatic  of  a  broader  psychical  malaise,

To conclude,  I’ll  return to  Irigaray  briefly. Following on  from her analysis  of
women as commodities  among  themselves, she also suggests  that  the masculinism  of
culture  effectively  renders  women  as  mirrors  to  the  masculine,  as  subjects  with  no
clear voice through which  to  articulate  their  specificity. This suggests that women are
always  in  pursuit  of  some  means  of  articulating  their  apparent  lack  in  order  to
overcome  it.  Ceccoli  has  suggested  that  women  are  thus  in  constant  search  of
validation ‘often through  the  male gaze  as the object of  their  desire, but  also through
other women, who become mirrors that reflect their lack or become the object of envy,
jealousy  and  competitiveness,  because  such  women  seem  to  own  their  femininity’
(2000: 331). In  this  way, women become entangled in the ‘image of woman,’ and are
simultaneously fascinated and persecuted by it (332). Drawing on the work of Jessica
Benjamin  and Adrienne  Harris,  Ceccoli suggests  that  ‘Envy  exemplifies  one  way  in
which  aggression  is  a  revolt  against  the  other’s  subjectivity,  a  precondition  for
becoming  a subject,  for  separateness, for  womanhood.  Viewed in  this  way, hostility
between  women  can  be  seen  as  aimed  at  asserting  separateness  and  individuality.
Being  able  to  transform  hate  into  aggression  in  our  daily  lives  frees  us  from  the
persecution  of  the  image’  (333).  Perhaps,  then,  the  extraordinary  level  of  visual
mediation  of  contemporary  femininity  somehow  underlies  the  vindictiveness  of
women’s  responses  to  other  women.  However,  as  Adrienne  Harris  notes,  ‘Psychic
consequences,  conscious  and  unconscious,  of  thwarted  and  conflicted  ambition  and
aggression arise  in  social structures in  which  female aggression is  often pathologised
…  Female  aggression  sets  off  irrational  social and  intrapsychic  anxieties and  this  is
floridly  so  when  the  aggression  is  cast  as  maternal  destruction’  (1997:  296-7).  For
Harris, competition  between women is on the one  hand impossible for women to own
in  any  constructive  way, and  on  the other  the source  of  great shame.  She  links  this
experience to the problematic relation of women to the maternal imago, which is often
cast as demonised in the psychoanalytic account. The maternal woman who appears to
be in  control and in power becomes  profoundly menacing and dangerous. Harris  links
this to the  expression  of ambition and competitive  strivings  in women,  characterising
such attributes as forbidden or dangerous  and presenting the threat of appearing either
too masculine (through ambition) or too annihilating (because of the threat to the self
that the figure of an ambitious woman represents). Social mobility, then, especially that
which  comes  as  a  result  of  overtly  expressed  ambition  and  success,  produces  a
profound  sense  of  psychical  betrayal  and  loss.  As  Harris  asserts,  ‘women’s
compromised and conflicted relation to ambition often implicates the confusing power
of maternal identification and the long  legacy  of  repression  and  dissociation  of hatred
and anger in women’s lives, particularly maternal hatred’ (302).

The  case  of  Kate  McCann,  then,  appears  to  coalesce  around  just  such  a
constellation  of  themes.  The  unconscious  losses  of  contemporary  women  struggling
against the  tides  of a retrograde  ‘post-feminist’  culture tap directly  into  the psychical
processes delineated by Harris in relation to women’s responses to ambition and social
mobility. With  her  professionalised media campaign  asserting  her maternal successes
achieved through IVF and her media-friendly appearance along with her willingness to
make public her aspirational lifestyle, Kate McCann in many ways embodies all that is
most trenchant and  fearful  for women  today. How  is it possible for such  a  woman to
check  so  many  boxes around  image, motherhood,  career  aspiration  and  media-savvy
responses  to  tragedy  and  yet  still  lose  a  daughter  through  apparently  thoughtless  or
careless  planning  of  responsible  childcare  decisions?  She  simultaneously  embodies
both  the  idealised  image  of  contemporary  motherhood  as  well  as  all  that  is  most
inexpressibly hated about it. What is more, she also becomes a pitiful figure of loss and
despair,  and  the  weight  of  her  public  presence  becomes  perhaps  unbearable  as  a
consequence. The psychical dimensions of what is at stake here are complex and often
difficult to  articulate,  but my  sense  is that there  is much to  be  made here  of  the way
that  Kate  McCann’s  voice,  belying  her  working class  origins,  provides the  punctum
through which repressed aggression can flow. McCann is deemed to be not quite what
she  seems.  In  this  respect,  she  also  embodies  what  is  most  threatening  about  the
‘postfeminist’ world  and the  fear of  what  might lie  beyond it.  Perhaps  then, because
this  case centres  on  issues  of motherhood  and the  actual  loss of  a  child,  it becomes
symptomatic  of  fearful  fantasies  of  disintegration  that  accompany  the  loss  of  the
perceived certainties of a female identity achieved as a result of and sometimes in spite
of feminism.


Well, see you in court madam - or not as the case may be.

Apologies for the atrocious formatting, it's always a pain trying to copy over a PDF document.

Anyone interested in a psychoanalysts feminist view of Kate McCann's dynamism, it's easier to read from the link.

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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