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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 28.07.22 17:16

Madeleine – Sky special – 2 May 2017

On 2 May 2017, Sky showed ‘Searching for Madeleine’, a special to mark the10th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The presenter was Martin Brunt, who has followed the case for the 10 years since it began. The studio guest was Colin Sutton, an ex-DCI from Scotland Yard with experience of conducting major investigations.

The fist 10 minutes covered the basics. The holiday, the Tapas zone, the initial response to the incident by Portuguese police.

Sky News on 4 May 2007 ran with the story that a 3 year old British girl was missing on the Algarve. Pedro do Carmo, Deputy Director, Judicial Police, described the initial work as a rescue operation, looking for a child that was missing.

Here Sky hit its first wobbly. It says the apartment was let out twice before it was sealed off for a full forensic examination. The reality is different. The PJ from Portimão tried to collect forensic evidence in the very early hours of 4 May 2007. Irene Trovão, also a local forensic officer, was videoed checking the shutter of the children’s bedroom for fingerprints. And while Gerry and Kate McCann were giving their first witness statements, a forensics duo from Lisbon conducted the major forensic examination on the afternoon of 4 May 2007. The forensics had been done. There was no way to foresee the apartment should be sealed off until Eddie and Keela were deployed.

The centrepiece of the Sky programme was a Home Office report written by Jim Gamble, then head of CEOP, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

This documented the many organisations that were involved close to the beginning, and the difficulties this caused. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary at the time, questioned if Leicestershire Police had the wherewithal to handle this type of investigation. Mr Gamble was asked to consider if it was worth getting Scotland Yard involved. Mr Gamble suggested a scoping review to identify if opportunities had been missed, but officials appeared to be set against this.

Mr Gamble was shocked to find the parents had not been investigated first by the Portuguese police, in order to clear the ground for further enquiries. He went on to say the Portuguese response was inadequate, but he used a comparison in the UK that does not approximate to the situation in Luz in 2007. I will return to that in a future post.

Colin Sutton made the point that a snapshot of the incident area was not constructed, and more could have been done by UK police re interviewing British holidaymakers who had returned to the UK, and British workers in the ‘complex’.

My main criticism of the early effort is that apparently little was done to get door-to-door information in the immediate vicinity of apartment 5A.

Sky went on to cover leaks to the Portuguese press, concerning dog alerts and supposed DNA results. Mr Sutton pointed out that dog alerts are not evidence.

The events around the McCanns being made arguidos, flying home to the UK, and removal of arguido status upon archiving of the case was covered.

There appeared to be a 3-way split between the McCanns, the Portuguese police and the UK police. The CEOP report then makes an odd assertion. It alleges the McCanns had a significant amount of information from their private investigators, and this information had not been fully shared with either the Portuguese police or the UK police. I cannot see how Mr Gamble could reach such a conclusion. Perhaps it is explained in the CEOP report, but I haven’t read that document.

Mark Rowley, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police, explained there had been a discussion of the case in 2011 between the Prime Ministers of Portugal and the UK, and it was agreed that Scotland Yard would get involved.

The documentary then covered the remit. Colin Sutton explained that a fresh investigation should start right at the beginning. This echoes what was said by Jim Gamble. However, Operation Grange was to be restricted to abduction. AC Mark Rowley says parental involvement had been covered by the original Portuguese investigation. The recent Supreme Court decision made it clear this is not the case.

The Sky documentary moved on to the Jane Tanner sighting. Martin Brunt pointed out the obvious – namely if the man was coming from the Ocean Club night crèche, then he was going the wrong way. Jane Tanner’s rogatory statement pointed out this problem. If the night crèche closed at 11.30pm, It is actually more likely that at 9.15pm, the time of the Tanner sighting, he was heading towards the night crèche.

Scotland Yard presented two e-fits of a man carrying a child ‘towards the beach’. This of course was the Smith sighting at 10pm. Crimewatch 2013 did indeed state this man was heading towards the beach.

This suggests that Martin Brunt does not fully understand the Smith sighting. 12-year-old Aoife Smith’s statement does not fit with ‘towards the beach’. Should Mr Brunt ever return to Luz, I will be happy to show him why Aoife Smith’s statement strongly suggests ‘towards the beach’ is wrong. And why that man is likely to be Portuguese and innocent. Plus why that man is unlikely to come forward. And what needs to be done to get him to identify himself.

The documentary covered Operation Grange’s look at charity collectors. There is an easy test for this. The bogus ones do door-to-door, and disappear rapidly if they make some cash. The genuine ones go to the main thoroughfares and work there for hours on end.

Then Sky covered a burglary gone wrong. Whilst Operation Grange evaluated this as viable, Portuguese police did not think it likely.

The documentary moved to mobile phone data. The CEOP report says there was lots of it, but it was badly handled by Portuguese investigators. It had not been fully analysed, and the Portuguese should accept UK help. This sounds to me to be very over-simplistic, but I cannot be certain as I have not read the CEOP report.

Then the documentary moved to its weakest point, what can be extracted from that phone data. Nothing Colin Sutton said on this has much relevance to Luz on 3 May 2007.

As is normal, there were 3 cellphone operators in Luz – Optimus, TMN and Vodafone. Roughly speaking, each operator cuts Luz into a western half and an eastern half, and that is as much as you get. Was the cellphone active in Luz that night, and if so, was it in the west of Luz or the east.

Take for example Kate McCann. Her phone was active that night on Optimus antenna Luz 2. That antenna covers the east of Luz, and apartment 5A is indeed in the east of Luz. But the whole of the Ocean Club is in the eastern half of Luz, as is the majority of the commercial establishments e.g. the Mirage. I cannot tell from phone data if Kate was in or around 5A when her phone was active. The phone data is very rough.

Further, DCI Andy Redwood has said that a major obstacle to phone data analysis was PAYG phones.

4 people were made arguidos in July 2014, but have now been informed they are no longer persons of interest.

The new Portuguese investigation focussed on a series of sex attacks in the Algarve. It would appear most were on older children, but one was on a child aged 3. Euclides Monteiro, an ex-waiter at the Ocean Club, was identified by the Portuguese investigation as a suspect for the sex attacks. DNA tests ruled out Mr Monteiro. He had been killed in a tractor accident in 2009.

The Sky documentary examined the woke and wandered theory. Local ex-pat Mr John Ballinger provided some photos of the road works in Luz around that time. There was no examination as to why Kate McCann’s description of apartment 5A that night is a poor fit with woke and wandered.

Mr Brunt pointed out that there is no evidence to prove Madeleine came to any harm, so she may still be alive.

Have lessons been learned from the disappearance of Madeleine McCann? Jim Gamble and Alan Johnson think not.

The documentary covered some of the Internet abuse directed at Kate and Gerry. Two police investigations found no evidence of their involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance. The Sky investigation also found no such evidence.

It concluded that the mystery of what happened to Madeleine McCann remains just that. A mystery.

AC Mark Rowley said there is a significant line of enquiry that remains to be pursued, but would not divulge what it was.

On the armchair experts forum that I prefer, the general view was that little was learned from this Sky special. However, that is not the correct view to take, in my opinion. This programme was not aimed at a handful of amateur detectives. It was targeting the greater British public. And for those, I suspect the key point that was delivered was that roughly £12 million down the line, the investigation is fatally flawed because, despite what DCI Andy Redwood said, it did not start by going back to the very beginning.

https://shininginluz.wordpress.com/tag/jim-gamble/

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Post by Verdi 06.08.22 13:26

Leveson has changed nothing– the media still put ‘stories’ before the truth

By Gerry McCann

Thu 2 Oct 2014 19.14 BST

As I know from experience, if papers tell lies about you, they’ll be able to get away with it pretty much scot free. The public backs change – and editors must act.

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary - Page 2 Scre2611

early three years ago my wife, Kate, and I appeared before the Leveson inquiry to talk about the campaign of lies that was waged against us after our daughter Madeleine went missing. We described how our lives had been turned into a soap opera so that newspapers could make money, with no regard for truth, for the distress they were inflicting, or for the damage caused to the search for Madeleine. We asked Lord Justice Leveson to ensure that in future things would be different and that nobody would ever again have to endure the dishonest reporting we experienced, or at least that there would be some quick, effective way of correcting false reports in newspapers.

Nothing has changed since then. Big newspaper companies continue to put sales and profit before truth. The protection for ordinary people is as feeble as it always was.

A year ago, when Kate and I were experiencing a time of renewed hope as the Metropolitan police stepped up its new investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, we received an email late on a Thursday night from the Sunday Times. Its reporter asked us to comment on information he planned to publish. This turned out to be a claim that for five years Kate, I and the directors of Madeleine’s Fund withheld crucial evidence about Madeleine’s disappearance. We rushed to meet his deadline for a response. In the vain hope that the Sunday Times would not publish such a clearly damaging and untrue story, we sent a statement to the newspaper. We denied the main tenet of the story and emphasised that since Madeleine’s disappearance we had fully cooperated with the police and that the directors of Madeleine’s Fund had always acted in her best interest.

However, the Sunday Times went ahead and published the report on its front page, largely ignoring our statement. We tried to settle this matter quickly and without legal action. I wrote to the editor asking for a correction, but all we got in response was an offer to publish a “clarification” and tweak a few lines of the article – but still to continue to publish it on the newspaper’s website. Indeed, further correspondence from the paper only aggravated the distress the original article had caused, created a huge volume of work and forced us to issue a formal complaint to get redress through our lawyers.

Eventually, two months after the article was published, a correction was printed, retracting all the allegations and apologising. But even then – and despite the grotesque nature of what it had falsely alleged on its front page – the apology was on an inside page and the word “apology” was absent from the headline. Since then, it has taken 11 months and the filing of a legal claim to get the Sunday Times to agree to damages, all of which we are donating to charity, and to get our right to tell the public that we had won the case. But the cost to the paper is peanuts – the fee for a single advertisement will probably cover it. And there will be no consequences for anyone working there.

Nothing will be done to ensure that in future reporters and editors try harder to get things right. And so the same people will do something similar, soon, to some other unfortunate family – who will probably not have our hard-earned experience of dealing with these things and who will probably never succeed in getting a correction or an apology.

So what has changed in the newspaper industry since the Leveson report two years ago? Absolutely nothing. Newspapers continue to put “stories” before the truth, and without much care for the victims.

They treat the people they write about as if they don’t exist. Wild animals are given more respect. They hide behind talk about the rights of the press while they routinely trash the rights of ordinary people. They constantly claim to stand up to the powerful, but they are the ones with the power, and they use it ruthlessly.

Legal action should be a last resort. A final route when all else has failed. I don’t blame Leveson. He recommended changes that would make a big difference. He wanted a press self-regulator that was not controlled by the big newspaper companies and that had real clout. If a paper told lies about you, you could go to this body and count on fast and fair treatment: it would not just let papers off the hook. More than that, Leveson wanted a cheap, quick arbitration service so that ordinary people did not need to resort to the law. Our experience shows this is a vital reform.

Parliament backed Leveson’s plan. The public backs it. So do we, and almost all the other victims who gave evidence to Leveson. Only one group of people is opposing this change – the perpetrators themselves, the same editors and newspaper owners who were responsible for all that cruelty. Instead of accepting the Leveson plan, these people, including the owner of the Sunday Times, have set up another sham regulator called Ipso, which is designed to do their bidding just like the old, disgraced Press Complaints Commission.

If in another year’s time the press still rejects the royal charter – itself already a compromise – then it will be time for parliament to deliver on the promises the party leaders made, and ensure that what Leveson recommended is actually delivered. Otherwise elements of the press will go on treating people with total contempt. This time, once again, it was Kate and I who were the targets. Next time it could be you.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/02/leveson-gerry-mccann-media-stories-before-truth

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Post by Verdi 06.08.22 20:13


Madeleine McCann is back on front pages. Why does our media give this sad story so much space?

Even during a pandemic and nationwide protests against racial injustice, this 13-year-old story still dominates the media.

By Megan Nolan

10 June 2020 updated 29 Jul 2021

For a while now I’ve felt that the words “conspiracy theory” have become a useful tool to suppress critical thought from ordinary people. As a proviso, I do roll my eyes as much as the next person at ­bonkers 9/11 reimaginings, and I see that many conspiracy theories are not just ­farcical but do devastating, real-world harm. For example, the conspiracy theory, led by Alex Jones, that the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting was staged, and that the 20 ­children who lost their lives never existed.

However, there came a time in my life when I started to pay attention to politics beyond the bare minimum of skimming weekend broadsheet headlines, and soon began to realise that the extent of ­government corruption and cover-ups in many countries is so jaw-dropping and shameless that it far exceeds the implausibility of many conspiracy theories.

It is not surprising that people end up cranks and start believing in all sorts of ­absurd things, when it has been proven over and over again that the people who rule us do, indeed, do terrible, barely imaginable things. Governments have killed innocent people and aggressively lied about it.

So I’ll admit when, on 4 June, the case of Madeleine McCann led on BBC News and was on the front page of the majority of the ­national press (the Guardian and the ­Financial Times being notable exceptions), I did get the tinfoil hat out. The headlines centred around a 43-year-old German man – currently in prison for sex offences against women and children – who had been identified as the “prime suspect” in McCann’s disappearance, after a three-year investigation by British, German and Portuguese police.

How could it be, I thought, that during a ­pandemic and the largest civil rights uprising in modern US history, this 13-year-old story is dominating the media with such ease? Why, exactly, was this happening now of all times? And how could it be that so many professional journalists considered it the most pertinent news that day?

But what’s more grim than a conspiracy theory is the simple truth that this sad story is still imbued with so much power by our media. The desire to cover the case in excruciating detail, year after year, has long seemed gratuitous and morbid to me. That there has been great public interest in the case is undeniable – here we had the perfect confluence of violence, class, paedophilia and mystery that prime tabloid fodder is made of. It’s not surprising that this was a big story. But the durability, the endlessness of it, is a separate matter.

Year on year, the latest non-developments are covered at every opportunity with barely restrained glee. That the public will still read about Madeleine McCann and engage with the case as an active story is by now surely because of self-perpetuation. It has been ­decided that this is news, and will never cease being news.

In recent days, the headlines felt even more like relics than they usually do, obscene and hopelessly out of step with the current moment, so much so that it was almost darkly comic. There is a once-in-a-generation upheaval taking place, a mass uprising against racially motivated, state-sanctioned violence towards black people, and it is being brutally quashed by police.

Meanwhile, the New York Times printed an opinion piece that called for the army to move in and suppress peaceful protest, and Donald Trump has now declared his intention to decree Antifa a terrorist organisation ­(Antifa meaning only “anti-fascist”).

There are signs that this – unlike similar protests that eventually fizzled out after being suppressed – could be a significant uprising, the moment when the paradigm of total police power over vulnerable communities shifts, in the US and around the world.

It is useful to remember that policing as we know it is a concept less than 200 years old. It might seem implausible to those of us who are comfortable and safe now, but things do change with great speed and totality at pivotal moments. This could be the end of something, and the beginning of something new, and it is happening during a pandemic. This time could hardly be more obviously torn from a history book.

It is ultimately no surprise that much of the media would rather focus on the story of one missing child than contend with this reality. It’s much more convenient to ­empathise with the heartbreak of a single family than to engage meaningfully with the context of these protests and riots – the heartbreak of whole generations of black people. It would suit them if we too got waylaid with thoughts of this lost child, ­instead of thinking of the black children lost to police brutality.

The news is not neutral. Acknowledging this is not to subscribe to the Trumpian fake news agenda, nor to be a conspiracy ­theorist, but simply to accept that most big media organisations are ­profit-making businesses within a capitalist system and have the allegiances that are implied by that ­situation.

Newspapers are also, generally, owned and produced by a class of people with very little to lose if the status quo is maintained, and much to lose if it is lost.

It may not be a shadowy conspiracy, but there are things many people who produce media would rather we didn’t see. Their default position is that de-escalation is the desirable outcome to each conflict; they are anti-chaos and anti-disruption. Equilibrium is a neutral moral good to them, because they are the ones benefiting in ways large and small from society as it is, rotten with ­classism and racism.

Now more than ever is the time to object to their attempts at distraction, to decry the relentless manipulation of one child’s ­tragedy, to say: we’re going to keep on ­looking at what’s important whether you tell us to or not.

https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/media/2020/06/madeleine-mccann-back-front-pages-why-does-our-media-give-sad-story-so-much-space


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