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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.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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Post by Verdi 23.08.22 1:45

With Madeleine McCann?

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It has been 15 years since Madeleine McCann went missing from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, a Portuguese resort, on 3rd May 2007, while her parents were dining with friends at a tapas restaurant mere feet away. She was only a few days away from her fourth birthday when it happened. She has never been found; there is no one in prison; there’s not even a notable suspect or clear theory. And yet, over a decade later, her story rarely drops out of the news headlines. So why are we all so completely fascinated with this case?

It wouldn’t be going too far to call it an obsession: we are a nation obsessed with the disappearance of this one small child. Netflix’s documentary, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann shows exactly that: the platform didn’t wait for the actual anniversary of the disappearance or even Madeleine’s birthday to release it. Why bother? There was already an audience waiting for it. It doesn’t claim to offer new information or a possible answer, but it doesn’t need to. There are enough theories, rumours and opinions about this case that a documentary that promises to just offer a full account of the facts can be enough to get people’s attention.

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The sheer amount of (often conflicting) information out there might be part of the reason why we’re all so quick to absorb any information about Madeleine McCann. First of all, there are no obvious answers to be found anywhere. Not even from Madeleine’s parents. They said they were checking on their children regularly, but did they go into the apartment or just look in through the window? Why didn’t they use the crèche that was available? What kind of parents leave their children alone in an unlocked apartment, anyway? Were the McCanns irresponsible, or were they responsible— for their daughter’s death?

The McCanns weren’t the first to leave their sleeping children in their holiday apartment while they went out to dinner (they were only one couple in a group that were all doing the same that very night). But the vitriol that this has sparked from the public has been pushed to the extreme, with the suggestion that they could have killed their daughter and covered it up—as the Portuguese detective first working the case, Goncalo Amaral, accused them of. And that’s just one idea.

There might not be one clear theory, but there are plenty.

Kate McCann drugged her children to help them sleep and accidently gave Madeleine an overdose. The disappearance was a staged cover-up. It wasn’t the parents at all; one of the Tapas Seven, Jane Tanner, saw a man carrying a child in pyjamas around the time Madeleine went missing: what if it was her? Subsequent sightings of similar-looking children support that theory. Madeleine might be alive and well, being raised as the daughter of whoever took her. Have you heard about the paedophile sex ring that smuggles children out of the country for the multi-millionaires that purchase them?

And then there are the facts that just don’t add up. There was blood evidence found in the McCanns’ rental car—a car they hired after Madeleine’s disappearance. Cadaver dogs alerted twice in the holiday apartment: in her parents’ bedroom and near the back patio entrance. They alerted again on Kate McCann’s clothes and on one of Madeleine’s toys—a toy that Kate was carrying around after her daughter had already disappeared. Kate refused to answer 48 questions the police asked her. But the McCanns have been cleared, so it can’t be them, right? And if they were guilty, why would they fight as hard as they have done to keep their daughter’s name consistently in the press for the last 11 years?

It doesn’t help that the most crucial time in the investigation—the first hours after Madeleine went missing—were most likely mishandled by the Portuguese police. The apartment the McCann family were staying in (and the crime scene) was trampled through, evidence was lost, contaminated or simply not taken in the first place.

For amateur sleuths poring over the details, it’s a case that invites speculation, theories and debate. But it’s the lack of any clear answers—even the ability to rule out the child’s own parents, for some—that continues to fuel fascination. The case is open for onlookers to take a side. Who did it: discuss.

Away from the case itself, is the media’s continued coverage, which powers our interest. We can’t get away from it, because it’s always there. Why this case? Why is it that Madeleine McCann garners so much press when there are numerous missing children out there that go unnoticed? Part of that is down to Missing White Girl Syndrome: a bias that sees young white girls awarded more press coverage than their children of colour counterparts. Madeleine was always prime fodder: a pretty, photogenic child, whose face has launched a thousand front pages and continues to do so.

And then of course, there’s the fact that the McCanns are well-off and well-connected, which has given them advantages others haven’t. As Gerry McCann told Vanity Fair, they have marketed Madeleine to keep her name relevant in the hope that something will come of it.

Even if you don’t want to debate the finer details of the disappearance, the politics that surround it are equally open for discussion and as enduring.

So yes, we are a nation obsessed with the disappearance of a three-year-old girl who was on holiday with her family, taken while her two siblings slept nearby. For many people, this taps into their greatest fear: a child taken in the dead of night, snatched out of their bed and never found again and maybe that is yet another part of why the fascination continues. Will it ever garner more than speculation? Who knows. But the latest documentary certainly doesn’t do more than tread the same old ground, without giving any answers. There aren’t any.

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Post by Verdi 23.08.22 1:51

Madeleine McCann
Crime Files

On 3 May 2007, three-year-old Madeleine went missing from her family's rented holiday apartment in the Algarve village of Praia da Luz, where she had been sleeping with her younger twin siblings. Her parents, Gerry and Kate, were eating their dinner less than a minute's walk away with seven friends.

They had been making regular trips back to the apartment from the tapas restaurant to check on their children. One of the friends with whom they were dining later said she had seen a man walking quickly across the road in front of her, going away from the apartment block and heading to the outer road of the resort complex.

She said he was carrying a sleeping girl in pink pyjamas, who was hanging in his arms.


12th May 2003 - Madeleine McCann born

3rd May 2007 - Madeleine disappeared

15th May 2007 - British expatriate Robert Murat classed as suspect (not been arrested or charged but treated by police as more than a witness)

7th September 2007 - Kate McCann is formally declared an arguida

8th September 2007 - Gerry McCann is given arguido status after further police questioning

3rd February 2008 - The McCanns are no longer suspects

The Investigation

Initially the Portuguese police launched a missing person hunt but within days it became a kidnapping investigation. The police said they were pursuing two lines of investigation. The first possibility being abduction by an international paedophile network and the second being abduction by an adoption network.

When the search revealed no trace of Madeleine, police used information from 30 witnesses to put together a sketch of the person they believed had snatched her.The McCanns made appeals to the person they believed had taken Madeleine and asked for an end to the bitterness from families of other missing children, who claimed detectives were working harder to find Madeleine than their own loved ones.

About two weeks after the youngster went missing, police identified Robert Murat as an ‘arguido’, a suspect, who has thus far not been arrested or charged but is being treated by police as more than a witness. Murat, a 33-year-old estate agent, was described by friends as someone whose over-enthusiasm could lead to him being misunderstood. He was first reported to police by British journalists, who became suspicious of the way he was hanging around the investigation.

The following week a Russian man, Sergei Malinka, who was linked to Murat, was also helping police with enquires.By the end of May 2007, after she had been missing for about three weeks, the detective leading the investigation, Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa, told journalists they had a suspect.

"He is a Caucasian man, 35 to 40 years old, medium build, 5ft 10in tall, hair mainly short, wearing a dark jacket, light or gold trousers and dark shoes."

The McCanns, both doctors from Leicestershire, originally steered clear of media. However, their tactic soon changed and they launched an incredibly high profile, worldwide campaign to find their daughter. A website set up specifically for the toddler received more than 50 million hits in just over 24 hours.

At the same time, the McCanns spoke of their guilt for leaving their children alone at the resort and said, at the very least, they hoped she had been taken by someone who desperately wanted a child of their own rather than an by an abuser.

By June they had an audience with the Pope, who prayed for their daughter and blessed a photograph of her. They also appeared on Spain’s version of ‘Crimewatch’ to make another emotional appeal.

Madeleine’s face was broadcast at the FA Cup Final, which was seen by an estimated 500 million people. Following on from this, a short video about the toddler was shown at the UEFA and Heineken cup finals, while Liverpool players posed with a banner that read, “Bring Maddie Home”.

All this media attention invited criticism of the couple, who were forced to compose themselves at a press conference and were grilled about whether they had anything to do with their daughter’s disappearance.

In the middle of June it looked like there had been a breakthrough in the case, when an anonymous letter was sent to a Dutch newspaper allegedly identifying where Madeleine’s body had been buried.

Dutch police said the letter was being taken seriously because it was similar to one sent to the same newspaper the previous year, which identified the hiding place of the bodies of two missing children. However, the letter turned out to be useless.

Similarly, sightings of blonde girls bearing a resemblance to Maddy McCann were reported, all of which came to nothing.

It was not long before the McCanns become suspects in the investigation. In August, blood samples from the Portuguese apartment where Madeleine had been sleeping were sent to a British laboratory for DNA testing. The blood did not match but did little to stop rumours that the McCanns had themselves been implicit in their daughter’s disappearance.

By September 2007, both parents had been declared formal suspects. Kate McCann was reportedly told she could make a deal with police if she admitted to accidentally killing her daughter, while husband Gerry faced similar interrogation.

The family's spokesman, Justine McGuinness, said Kate McCann was also asked about traces of blood found in a car, hired by the couple four weeks after Madeleine's disappearance, as well as about DNA evidence allegedly found on clothing.

Gerry McCann's sister, Philomena McCann, told reporters, "They are suggesting that Kate has in some way accidentally killed Madeleine, then kept her body, then got rid of it. I have never heard anything so utterly ludicrous in my entire life".

The McCanns flew back to England and Portuguese police admitted that confusion and disagreements in the early stages of the case meant that they found it extremely difficult to prove their suspicion that her parents were somehow involved in Madeleine's disappearance and presumed death. The McCanns strongly and repeatedly denied any involvement.

Meanwhile, sightings of blonde girls continued to flood in from various countries. Journalists flocked in late September 2007 to Morocco after a picture, showing a small blonde girl being carried, was passed to Interpol.

The investigation appeared to face further setbacks after two senior Portuguese police on the case were either removed or requested a leave of absence.

By this stage, both the media and the general public were hooked on the story and were reporting any new evidence that surfaced. One newspaper claimed that traces of Madeleine McCann's body were found on a Portuguese beach, a story later revealed to be untrue. Other front page headlines included, “We can prove parents did it - Portuguese police”; “Kate faces ten years in jail - now parents could be charged with abandoning their children”; “Syringe found in Madeleine's apartment”; “Madeline was 'killed by sleeping pills' - sensational new claim”; “McCanns or a friend must be to blame” and “Parents' car hid a corpse - Portuguese police”.

By November 2007, Gerry McCann had returned to work, although life was far from back to normal. Another newspaper report suggested that the couple had sold their daughter, while yet others said they had sold film rights to the story and that the couple had split up in the face of the enquiry.

Some relief came for the couple in February 2008 when Portugal's most senior police officer suggested that detectives may have been too hasty in making the McCanns official suspects in the investigation into the disappearance of their daughter.

Alípio Ribeiro, the national director of the Polícia Judiciária, conceded that police potentially acted too soon. He said the naming of the parents last September as official suspects might have dissuaded people from coming forward with information that could have helped. By now the case was eight months old and police were no closer to finding the missing girl. The case was beginning to wind down.Free from suspicion, the McCanns were able to take on the terrible reports and libel that had sprung from their plight. In March 2008, Madeleine's parents won a libel settlement and apology from Express Newspapers for suggesting they had been responsible. On that occasion the newspaper group paid £550,000 to the Find Madeleine campaign.The McCanns decided to hire a Spanish detective agency to run a 24-hour confidential telephone line in the hope that new information would be forthcoming, targeted at Spain, Portugal and Morocco, countries they believe may hold leads about Madeleine.

In July 2008, Robert Murat, the first official suspect in the case, accepted a £600,000 damages settlement over allegations in UK newspapers that he had been involved in Madeleine's disappearance. His suspect status was subsequently removed. Several months later, Sky News apologised to Murat and agreed to pay substantial damages over a libellous web story that likened him to a high profile child murderer.

In October 2008, it was ruled that Express Newspapers would pay £375,000 in libel damages to the friends of Kate and Gerry McCann, who were on holiday with them when Madeleine McCann vanished. The money will be donated by the group, known as the Tapas Seven, to the Find Madeleine Fund. Articles published in some of the British newspapers suggested that some of the seven had been identified as potential suspects by the Portuguese authorities.

Amidst the thousands of media reports and millions of pounds worth of publicity and campaigning, to this day Madeleine has still not been found.

The Trial

No trial has been held as no suspect has been arrested. However, other related trials have sprung up since Madeleine McCann’s disappearance due to incorrect media reports and libellous claims.

In July 2008, Robert Murat, the Briton made an official suspect by Portuguese police, accepted a £600,000 damages settlement over allegations in British newspapers that he had been involved in Madeleine's disappearance. His suspect status was subsequently removed.

In March 2007, Madeleine's parents also won a libel settlement and an apology from Express Newspapers for suggesting that they had been responsible. On that occasion, the newspaper group paid £550,000 to the Find Madeleine campaign.

In October 2008, it was ruled that Express Newspapers would pay £375,000 in libel damages to the friends of Kate and Gerry McCann, who were on holiday with them when Madeleine McCann vanished. The money will be donated by the group, known as ‘The Tapas Seven’, to the Find Madeleine Fund. Articles published in British newspapers suggested that some of ‘The Tapas Seven’ had been identified as potential suspects by the Portuguese authorities.

In November 2008, Sky News apologised and agreed to pay substantial damages to Robert Murat over a libellous web story that likened him to a high profile child murderer.

The Key Figures

The victim: Madeleine McCann

Parents of the victim: Kate and Gerry McCann

Official spokesman for the McCanns: Clarence Mitchell

Lawyers for the McCanns: Michael Caplan QC Angus McBride Carlos Pinto de Abreu - one of Portugal's best-known lawyers (He lodged the McCanns’ libel action against Portuguese newspaper Tal & Qual, which said they were police suspects after it was believed they administered their daughter a fatal drug overdose)

The 'Tapas Seven': Dr Matthew Oldfield Mrs Rachael Oldfield Dr Russell O'Brien Jane Tanner Dr David Payne Dr Fiona Payne Dianne Webster

The Arrest

To date, no arrest has been made and Madeleine McCann has not been found.

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 27.08.22 1:24

The press must keep a healthy distance from the police – for its own good

Peter Preston

Sun 16 Sep 2012 00.06 BST

If Hillsborough proves anything, it's that the media is far too quick to swallow whatever the police are spoon-feeding them.

Lord Justice Taylor's Hillsborough inquiry (mostly) relied on what the police told him. When Kelvin MacKenzie's Sun lashed the Liverpool fans, he (completely) relied on police say-so too – and now offers "profuse apologies".

When the Press Complaints Commission pushed aside Guardian evidence on phone-hacking, it did so because the police said there was nothing new here. When the press raised brutal questions about the McCanns, they echoed Portugal's police. And Christopher Jefferies, the teacher falsely pursued for the murder of Joanna Yeates? Another duff police tip, averred the (then) editor of the Daily Mirror.

There's a simple moral here, for journalists and judges alike.: base no sweeping assertions, no headlines, no resounding conclusions, on what the police hint, suggest, appear to conclude or sometimes testify. Wait for a court verdict based on proper rules of evidence.

Dame Elizabeth Filkin's conclusion post-hacking – that police should henceforth keep a prudent, formal distance from media contacts – may still be sensible enough. But not to keep the police safe – more the other way round.

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Post by Verdi 25.09.22 15:28

Locals say Madeleine McCann case is 'tragic but part of the past' in Praia da Luz

Wim Bosman, who owns a restaurant in the town, says the case has "become a thing that nobody talks about".

ByMartin FrickerNews Reporter

04:30, 3 MAY 2022Updated08:43, 3 MAY 2022

Genial South African Wim Bosman has just one rule in his Praia da Luz restaurant: “No talking about politics, religion… or Madeleine McCann”.

It is 15 years since the youngster vanished from her parents’ holiday apartment in the resort while they dined in a nearby tapas bar.

Yet, to this day, that night brings back painful memories for those who call “Luz” home.

“It’s become the thing that nobody talks about,” says Wim, who opened Bosman’s restaurant a decade before Madeleine vanished just before turning four.

“What happened to her is tragic and I cannot imagine what her parents have gone through but it’s part of the past here now.

“If someone does mention it, it inevitably turns into an argument because people’s opinions differ so wildly.

“Some blame the parents and say they should never have left her alone, others are full of sympathy for them.

“Then people have their theories about what happened to her but the truth is I don’t think we will ever know.”

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary - Page 2 0_jhp_11
Wim Bosman, the owner of Bosmans Dolphin Restaurant in the holiday resort of Praia da Luz (Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

The sun-kissed resort has changed little in the past 15 years.

Although visitors were initially replaced by journalists covering the story, the tourists have returned and locals believe it no longer carries the stigma of being “the place where Maddie vanished”.

Wim adds: “Aside from a few months, I firmly believe visitors and families were not put off from coming here. The resort was hit by the financial crisis and Covid just as much as it was by bad publicity to do with the Maddie case.”

Luz does feel like a place that has moved on.

The apartment on Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva where Madeleine vanished is once again being rented out to holidaymakers and the home of a previous suspect, searched at the time, has been bulldozed in favour of new flats.

But locals recently found their home town back in the news when Christian Brueckner was named an “arguido” –formal suspect – in the case.

The German paedophile spent years renting a farmhouse before Madeleine’s disappearance. Despite moving out a year before she vanished, the house has become a macabre tourist attraction.

It is now owned by a British man who told the Mirror he is “sick and tired” of people stopping to “gawp” at it. He adds: “It’s really frustrating because the whole place has been renovated since he lived here.

“Nobody in the resort wants to talk about Madeleine or the guy they think took her, it’s just not spoken about.

“He was living in a camper van when she went missing, not here. This property has nothing to do with it.” Outside Paroquia de Senhora da Luz church two women stand chatting.

One of them, Benedita Fernandes, 72, is a rarity – a local willing to talk about Madeleine’s disappearance.

“People do not like reminding of it but I disagree,” she says.

“She was a little girl and we must never forget her. I don’t blame her parents. It is cruel to do so. Someone evil came to this place that night. It is they who are to blame.

“I pray for Madeleine all the time and also for her family. I truly hope we will find out what happened to her.”

Kate, 54, and Gerry, 53, will mark the day in a low-key manner.

As German investigators remain convinced Brueckner is responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance – which his lawyer strongly denies – Scotland Yard’s hunt for her abductor, named Operation Grange, is expected to be shelved later this year.

Well it was commentary until Fricker stuck his beak in roll .

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Post by Verdi 01.10.22 16:39

Madeleine McCann: the key questions Timesonline

David Brown and Steve Bird examine the puzzles and mysteries at the heart of the four month investigation

September 21, 2007

Why are the "Tapas 9" key to solving the Madeleine mystery?

Kate and Gerry McCann were dining with seven British friends at a tapas restaurant in the Ocean Club resort when Madeleine was reported missing. The friends are crucial witnesses but have said very little publicly. Police sources have claimed there are inconsistencies in their statements to officers. The friends are Matthew and Rachael Oldfield, Russell O’Brien and his partner Jane Tanner and David and Fiona Payne and her mother Dianne Webster.

Did any of them see anyone taking Madeleine?

Jane Tanner told police that she saw a man walking away from the McCanns' apartment at 9.15pm. Sources close to the couple have previously said that the man had a child wrapped in the blanket and was walking in a southerly direction. However, the London Evening Standard reported yesterday that Ms Tanner had seen man carrying a girl dressed in Madeleine's distinctive pink-and-white pyjamas walking eastwards, towards the house of the official suspect Robert Murat, 33.

Do police believe this was a man abducting Madeleine?
Detectives refused to publicise the sighting for three weeks. Another witness, Jeremy Wilkins, is reported to have told police that he was in the area talking to Mr McCann and did not see the mystery man.

Did anyone else in the Tapas 9 notice anything strange?

Matthew Oldfield said he had checked on the McCanns’ apartment at 9.30pm. A source close to the McCanns had said he did not look into the bedroom where Madeleine was sleeping with the two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie. But the Evening Standard report claimed he saw the twins but did not have a view of Madeleine’s bed.

Was there anything strange about the room after Madeleine disappeared?

Mrs McCann was sure Madeleine had been abducted because the bedroom window was open and the security shutter was forced open, a source close to the family has insisted. Tests on the shutter showed no sign of forced entry. However, another friend claimed yesterday that the shutter had been left open.

When will the Portuguese courts decide what to do in the Madeleine case?

Pedro Daniel dos Anjos Frias, a criminal instructional judge in Portimão, has decided that there is no need for the McCanns to be reinterviewed at this point, hence the prosecutor’s statement last night. The threat of them having to return to the Algarve in the near future has been lifted. The judge must complete his rulings by today on a variety of issues. It is believed that he has already authorised the use of Mrs McCann’s diaries as evidence.

Could the couple still be charged soon?

Unlikely. LuÍs Armando Bilro Verão, the lead public prosecutor, must now decide if there is sufficient evidence to bring charges against them, if he needs to request the PolÍcia Judiciária to carry out further investigations or if the case against them should be dropped.

Why is it all taking so long?

Portuguese detectives are still waiting for the results of tests on samples being carried out by the Forensic Science Service laboratory in Birmingham. They are also believed to want to carry out further searches in the Algarve and possibly at the McCanns’ home.

So how long will the McCanns have to wait?

The couple can remain as arguidos, or official suspects, for eight months before the Portuguese police have to apply for a four-month extension. After this time they automatically cease to be suspects, but there is no requirement for the prosecutor to clear them formally.

Robert Murat, a British self-employed property consultant on the Algarve and the only other official suspect in Madeleine’s disappearance, has been an arguido for four months.

Why has there been so much confusion?

Portugal’s strict laws of judicial secrecy mean that nobody involved in a criminal investigation is allowed to reveal any of the evidence in the case. However, Portuguese police sources are regularly quoted giving incriminating details about the McCanns’ role in their daughter’s disappearance. Friends of the couple have increasingly been attempting to challenge these reports with their own interpretation of events. Both sides are actually breaking the law and could face up to two years in jail.

Who is who in Team McCann

Clarence Mitchell

Former BBC journalist appointed on Monday as Kate and Gerry McCann’s official spokesman. Represented them in May and June after being sent to Praia da Luz by the Foreign and Commonwealth Offic

Michael Caplan, QC

One of few solicitors to be appointed QC, expert in extradition and international criminal law. Prevented extradition to Spain of former Chilean president General Augusto Pinochet

Angus McBride

Leading criminal solicitor with expertise in dealing with media and protecting reputation of individuals subject to media or criminal investigation

Carlos Pinto de Abreu

One of Portugal’s best-known lawyers with reputation for taking on controversial cases. Lodged McCanns’ libel action against Portuguese newspaper which said they were police suspects

Esther McVey

Former GMTV presenter and Conservative parliamentary candidate, trustee and spokeswoman for Madeleine Fund. Has known Mrs McCann since they did their A levels together

Father Haynes Hubbard

Anglican priest at church of Nossa Senhora da Luz (Our Lady of the Light) in Praia da Luz and his wife, Susan, have become close friends and confidants of McCanns

Calum MacRae

18-year-old internet expert runs Find Madeleine website which has attracted more than 400,000 unique users and helped to raise more than £1 million in donations for campaign

Philomena McCann

Mr McCann’s sister, a headteacher, has been key family member to publicise hunt for Madeleine and to defend her parents

Trish and Sandy Cameron

Mr McCann’s sister and brother-in-law have been frequent visitors to the couple in Praia da Luz and Rothley. About 30 other relatives and friends also visited them in Praia da Luz

Why are the McCann’s early television interviews being scrutinised?

Commentators have seized on the lack of emotion shown by Kate and Gerry McCann during a series of televised statements and interviews in the weeks after Madeleine’s disappearance. It is claimed that this was an unnatural response and indicated that the couple were hiding something. In fact, criminal profilers had advised them to display no overt emotion in case Madeleine’s abductor “got off" on the sight of her parents in obvious distress. Off camera, they were deeply distressed and received help from counsellors.

How can the police establish Mrs McCann’s state of mind?

Prosecutors are reported to want access to Mrs McCann’s medical records to see if there is any history of illness such as depression which could explain why she would kill Madeleine. They are also said to want British police to carry out investigations into the couple’s relationship and personal history.

Could Mrs McCann’s handwriting be used as evidence?

A judge has authorised police to seize Mrs McCann’s diary and detectives want a graphologist to study the handwriting, it was reported yesterday. Alberto Vaz da Silva, a criminal psychologist and a handwriting expert, told the newspaper 24 Horas: “It would be possible to discover the temper and the character of the person in question. You can see if someone is lying or hiding something.” However, handwriting evidence is usually used only for forensic science purposes, not to determine a person’s emotional state.

Why could Mrs McCann’s newspaper interview lead to jail?

Mrs McCann could be prosecuted under Portugal’s laws of judicial secrecy for telling the Sunday Mirror that police had seized her bible. She said: “One of the pieces of evidence is that a page from a passage in Samuel about having to tell a man his child is dead is crumpled - so I must have been reading it.” The 24 Horas newspaper said that the public prosecutor could accuse Mrs McCann of breaking the secrecy law, which carries a maximum two years' jail sentence. Varradas Leitao, a member of the Superior Council of the Ministerial Publico, said: “A witness or an arguida, the law is the same for everybody. You cannot divulge procedural acts.”

What are the police doing to find Madeleine or her body?

Portuguese police are reported to be preparing for a new series of searches using sniffer dogs and infra-red equipment in an area between Praia da Luz and the village of Burgau, about two miles to the west. It has also been suggested that they will search the church in Praia da Luz and the town of Arao, where a big operation was carried out after an anonymous tip-off to a Dutch newspaper.

Who is advising Kate and Gerry McCann?

British lawyers Michael Caplan, QC, an expert in international law, and Angus McBride, a solicitor who specialises in protecting the reputation of individuals subject to media or criminal investigation. They have also hired a Portuguese lawyer, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, who filed the libel action against a newspaper which said the police suspected them of involvement in their daughter’s death.

How can the couple win the battle of public opinion?

Clarence Mitchell, 46, has been appointed as their official spokesman. He resigned yesterday as head of the Government’s Media Monitoring Unit and had previously been seconded to the Foreign Office to help the McCanns in the weeks after Madeleine’s disappearance.

What can Mr Mitchell do to help the McCanns?

His job at the Cabinet Office has given him contacts among senior members of the Government and Civil Service. He also has extensive contacts with journalists in both Britain and Portugal and more than 20 years’ experience as a reporter.

Are the McCanns paying for his services?

No. He has been employed by one of their wealthy backers and will continue to work for that person after the Madeleine case is over.

What action will the police take this week?

Portuguese detectives are due to arrive in Leicester to work with a British police team investigating Madeleine’s disappearance. It has been reported that Kate McCann could be interviewed again this week. A Portuguese judge must decide by Thursday whether to approve requests by Portuguese police to secure more evidence.

Who’s advising British police on the case?

Tony Connell, a member of the Crown Prosecution Service’s special casework unit, has been advising the “Gold Group” of senior detectives at Leicestershire Police, which is investigating the Madeleine case. Mr Connell led the review which led to the conviction of Damilola Taylor’s killers.

Could the McCanns be prosecuted in Britain?

It is possible to prosecute a British citizen for a murder or manslaughter abroad under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. This was last done in 2005 when Christopher Newman was convicted at the Inner London Crown Court of murdering Georgina Eager in Dublin.

Can the public support Kate and Gerry McCann’s legal battle?

A fighting fund to help to pay their legal costs is expected to be announced within the next few days. A source close to the family told The Times: “It will be getting set up and formalised as a proper fund. It has to be meticulously thought through.”

Why is the McCanns’ hire car pivotal to the investigation?

Portuguese police claim they have found traces of Madeleine’s hair and bodily fluid in the boot of the Renault Scenic, indicating that it was used to transport Madeleine’s body after her death. Scientists have said that it should be possible to establish whether the hair came from a dead or living person.

Does this mean the scientific results hold the key to the case?

Not necessarily. Kate and Gerry McCann used the Budget rental car to move apartments, taking with them all their children’s toys and clothing, which would have contained large amounts of genetic material. It was also used by friends, relatives and people who worked on the campaign to find their daughter.

Where is the car now?

When the McCanns left Britain they drove the car to the airport. They have since said they will hold on to the vehicle to get their own independent scientific examinations done.

Under what circumstances was the car searched?

Police seized the car last month and took it to an underground car park opposite their offices in Portimão. Police sources say this is an unusual place to carry out such a delicate search.

Is there any other explanation about how the material could have got there?

If the DNA samples did come from Madeleine’s corpse it would seem an amazing coincidence that the McCanns hired a car used by their daughter’s abductor and killer. However, friends of the McCanns claim that the couple are being framed. It has also been suggested that the samples may have been labelled incorrectly.

Why do Portuguese police want to read Kate McCann’s personal diaries?

Detectives want to check for inconsistencies with the information previously given to police and for clues about the personal relationship between Mrs McCann, her husband and other members of the party who went with them to Portugal. Mrs McCann was seen regularly writing several pages a day in the diaries.

What evidence could be held on Gerry McCann’s laptop computer?

Mr McCann sent and received dozens of e-mails almost every day from friends and people involved in the campaign to find his daughter. It may be possible to retrieve those e-mails, which detectives hope could provide information about the events surrounding Madeleine’s disappearance and the couple’s connections with other people.

Why does a Portuguese judge need to authorise the seizure?

Portuguese police must get an authorisation from a judge to request items which are abroad or to retain items taken without the owner’s permission. Mr and Mrs McCann are believed to have taken most of the objects home to Britain. There are also reports in Portugal that police seized a copy of Mrs McCann’s diaries before the couple left the country to ensure they could not be destroyed. A judge must be asked to authorise a seizure without the owner’s consent within 24 hours.

Why didn’t the Portuguese police seize these items in Praia da Luz?

It may be that the items left Portugal some time ago when Mr or Mrs McCann made previous trips to Britain, or a friend may have taken them. The couple left the Algarve on Sunday morning at very short notice. They notified the Portuguese authorities but perhaps police did not have the opportunity to ask a judge to authorise the seizure of items without the couple’s consent.

Has the judge been asked to authorise any other seizures?

Portuguese papers reported yesterday that officers wanted to obtain Madeleine’s favourite soft toy, which Mrs McCann took home. It is also claimed that police seized the Renault hired by the McCanns 25 days after Madeleine’s disappearance. The car contained samples of the girl’s hair and “bodily fluids”.

What else has the judge been asked to do?

It has been reported that detectives want to search the church in Praia da Luz where the couple regularly prayed after Madeleine disappeared. They would only require an order from the judge if the priest or bishop in charge refused to authorise the search. It has also been suggested that police want to search a cemetery beside the church and to excavate roads where sewers were being replaced at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.

Who is revealing details about scientific evidence?

By law Portuguese police are prevented from revealing details of investigations. However, some officers have been secretly briefing Portuguese journalists.

What scientific evidence have police collected?

In a briefings on Monday night detectives said that they found traces of “bodily fluids” in the car which had probably come from Madeleine with a large amount of Madeleine’s hair in the boot of the car.

Why are the “bodily fluids” significant?

When pathologists refer to bodily fluids they usually mean the putrefying substance created during the decomposition of a body tissue and blood. This “fluid” is evidence that a corpse has been present, but DNA samples are required to identify the body. It is unclear what “fluids” have been found. It might be traces of urine, dried blood or vomit, which would not conclusively prove Madeleine had died.

Does a large quantity of hair prove that Madeleine’s body was in the car?

No. The hair must show evidence that it came from a decomposing body. Other hair could be “transmitted” from items of Madeleine’s clothing and belongings.

Is anyone else confirming these reports?

Sources in Britain who are assisting the Portuguese investigation have agreed that there is “significant” scientific evidence linking Mr and Mrs McCann to their daughter’s death. However, Portuguese officers took the highly unusual step of publicly denying a report which was allegedly based on sources in Britain.

Does the scientific evidence prove that Madeleine was killed?

Because the samples have degraded over time the scientists can never be 100 per cent certain that they came from Madeleine.

What happened in the four hours before Madeleine was reported missing?

Kate and Gerry McCann claim that while they dined at a restaurant with friends regular checks were made on Madeleine and their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, at their nearby holiday apartment. Mr McCann told police he saw his daughter asleep at about 9pm. A friend, Matthew Oldfield, entered the apartment at about 9.30pm but did not look in the bedroom Madeleine and the twins were sharing.

It is not known if anyone apart from Mr and Mrs McCann saw Madeleine alive between 6pm and 10pm, when she was reported missing by her mother. The timing is crucial but would be only circumstantial evidence in any prosecution. Although a small child could be killed quickly it would take time to hide a body so that it was not discovered in the biggest search in Portuguese history.

Why did Kate McCann cry out “They’ve taken her?” when she discovered Madeleine missing?

Portuguese police are reported to find it suspicious that Mrs McCann immediately believed that more than one person had taken her daughter. This could suggest that she knew who had taken Madeleine, perhaps people who thought they were helping Mrs McCann by removing her daughter’s body.

Alternatively, it could be an off-the-cuff remark by an hysterical mother or perhaps was misheard or misunderstood in the confusion of the night.

What were the movements of the McCann’s friends on the night Madeleine disappeared?

The McCann family had stayed at the Ocean Club resort with three other British couples and their five children, and a single woman. Russell O’Brien, a doctor from Exeter, left the restaurant for half an hour to look after his own daughter, returning shortly before Madeleine was reported missing.

His wife, Jane Tanner, was the only witness to report a man carrying away child from the McCann’s apartments. There is confusion about when members of the party arrived at the tapas restaurant and left to check on their own sleeping children.

How much alcohol did the McCanns and their friends drink on the evening Madeleine disappeared?

Kate and Gerry McCann and their friends are reported to have told detectives they shared four bottles of wine, with another two barely touched before Madeleine was discovered missing.

However, it is claimed detectives have recovered a bill showing they downed eight bottles of red wine and six white during the afternoon and evening.

Why was Madeleine’s bedroom window and shutter open?

Kate and Gerry McCann told police that the window shutter in Madeleine’s bedroom, which could not been seen from the restaurant, had been forced open.

Police tests showed the heavy metal shutter had not been forced up from the outside, so must have been pulled open from inside the room. Assuming that the abductor entered through the apartment’s unlocked patio windows, why would he or she not leave by the same way or the use the front door?

Or was the window opened to make it appear as if an intruder had used it to enter the bedroom?

Why did Madeleine’s sister and brother sleep through her “abduction”?

Sean and Amelie were heavy sleepers who were not disturbed by their sister’s abduction, claim their parents. However, they also slept through their mother’s hysterical response to Madeleine’s disappearance and the presence of dozens of people who joined the search before being carried out by a female police officer. Kate and Gerry McCann have strenuously denied sedating their daughter.

Why were the McCanns allowed to leave Portugal if they are suspects?

The Portuguese authorities allowed the McCanns to return to the UK after they agreed to reside only at their home in Rothley and to return for further questioning if necessary.

Portuguese law states that after someone is declared a suspect, police have eight months to conclude the investigation into that individual. If they require further time officers can apply to the courts for a four-month extension.

If the McCanns refused to comply with a request to return to the Algarve for interview, Portuguese police could issue a European Arrest Warrant under which extradition can be carried out within six weeks.

Why has it taken so long to find the evidence that could implicate Kate and Gerry McCann?

The material was only collected at the end of July and early August in a review of the investigation carried out by Portuguese detectives with the help of British police and two sniffer dogs. Many of the samples are very small, containing just a few cells, while others are of poor quality because of damage by cleaning or simply the passing of time.

A full report of the findings will not be ready for weeks, but many results have already been passed to the Portuguese authorities.

What evidence were police looking for?

Detectives are searching for any evidence that proves Madeleine is dead or contradicts the accounts of Mr and Mrs McCann and other witnesses.

What is the most important forensic evidence?

It appears the Forensic Science Service believes it has discovered compelling new evidence, possibly from more than one source. Portuguese detectives told Mrs McCann repeatedly that they found traces of Madeleine’s blood in a Renault Scenic hired three weeks after she disappeared, suggesting that the missing girl’s parents used the vehicle to carry her body. It is possible to tell if the blood came from a living person or from a corpse, and even the time of death. However, some reports suggest that the quality of the blood sample was too poor to confirm the origin while others have denied any blood was found in the vehicle and claim it was other “bodily fluids”. Unless a body had been placed in a freezer, it would have badly decomposed during the warm weather; leaving a mass of traces invisible to the human eye.

Does any trace of Madeleine in the hire car prove she was killed?

No. Mr and Mrs McCann hired the car to buy new clothes in the town of Portimão a day before they flew to Rome to see Pope Benedict XVI. They then used it regularly for family outings and to collect friends and relatives from Faro airport. They continued using the car until shortly before flying home yesterday. Kate and Gerry and their two-year-old twins would have often carried in the car items used by Madeleine. These items could easily certainly carry Madeleine’s hair and minute traces of skin, dried blood, saliva and vomit. The same could be said of the holiday apartments used by the McCanns and their friends in the Ocean Club resort. However, if the blood came from Madeleine’s corpse the only other highly unlikely explanation would be that a previous hirer had moved the body.

One report suggested yesterday that Madeleine’s DNA had been found on the floor of the McCanns holiday apartment, but because of degredation it was based on an incomplete picture, with only 15 of the 20 genetic markers usually used for such analysis.

What is the DNA evidence that has supposedly been found by the Portuguese investigators?

Newspapers in Portugal have been reporting that “biological fluids” with an 80 per cent match to Madeleine’s DNA have been found underneath upholstery in the boot of the McCanns’ rented Renault Scenic. Some media reports claimed that another DNA sample with a 100 per cent match to that of Madeleine’s profile had been found in the car.

What would this tell us?

Perhaps nothing. If it was sourced from something such as a hair follicle or skin cells then that could have been one of Madeleine’s hairs that had stuck to the clothes of a family member or her “cuddle cat” toy that her mother carries. If it was from Madeleine’s blood or corpse, that could be more significant. The most important issue is the size of the sample found. If there was a substantial amount of material it is unlikely to be from accidental contamination and would indicate that Madeleine had been in the car.

Can investigators establish if the DNA sample comes from someone who was alive or dead?

Unlikely, according to British experts. A DNA profile does not change just because someone dies. You can tell if DNA has degraded but that can happen if, for example, it had been exposed to sunshine.

Does an 80 per cent match with biological fluids indicate that Madeleine was definitely in the car?

No. The sample will have been tested against a definite sample of Madeleine’s. A 80 per cent match indicates that profilers could find only 16 of the 20 markers usually used for such analysis and suggests that the biological traces are tiny and degraded. Additionally, the twins Sean and Amelie could share a high percentage of DNA characteristics as most siblings do.

What complicates the matter further is that all three of the McCanns’ children were born through IVF and it is unknown whether the couple’s sperm and eggs were used for conception.

What about the discoveries of the “cadaver” sniffer dog?

Mr and Mrs McCann were shown a police video of a sniffer dog used to find corpses “going crazy” when it approached the hire car. Reports also claim that is discovered the scent on the vehicle’s key fob. Mrs McCann is reported to have explained that in her work as locum GP she came into contact with six corpses in the weeks leading up to Algarve holiday.

This seems a high number for a locum GP working just a couple of days a week but would be easy to check against surgery records.

The crucial difficulty with the sniffer dog “evidence” is that it cannot distinguish between corpses. This type of dog is trained to find bodies, not identify where dead bodies have been. Crucially, they can become excited by other scents.

Any evidence of Madeleine’s death on Cuddle Cat?

The cadaver dog is alleged to have become excited when shown Madeleine’s favourite soft pink toy, called Cuddle Cat. The cat had become poignant symbol of a mother’s loss as Kate McCann carried it with her at all time from the night of Madeleine’s disappearance.

She washed it four days after the police tests, claiming it had become dirty. The toy was potentially crucial evidence and should have been seized by police very early in the investigation.

What evidence can be found in Mrs McCann’s Bible?

Mrs McCann, a devout Roman Catholic, claims that police told her that a crumpled page in her Bible was evidence that she was involved in the death of her daughter. The page contained a passage from Samuel II, chapter 12, verses 15-19, which recalls how man’s child is stricken with illness after he “scorns” the Lord.

The man fasts for seven days, refusing to get up off the ground, to try to gain redemption — but eventually his child dies. Mrs McCann claims that detectives told her that damage to the page proved she had been reading it.

Why are the McCanns suspects in their daughter’s killing?

Portuguese police refuse to say why the couple have been made official suspects. Under Portuguese law police can not question someone as if they had committed a crime unless they are a “suspect”. It could simply be that police wanted to ask the couple about the evidence they had collected, and that the seriousness of the process has been misunderstood and exaggerated by cultural and language differences. The McCanns believed that they were about to be charged with Madeleine’s death, but it does not appear police disclosed any crucial evidence to them.

All parties have strenuously denied any wrongdoing.

[Acknowledgement pamalam of gerrymccannsblog]

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 01.10.22 17:06

Madeleine: one fact, many lies, endless grief


It's now 124 days since Madeleine McCann disappeared. Our correspondent charts a story that became global, lurid and often invented – and hears how the McCanns learnt to think positively after imagining the darkest scenarios and suffering uncontrollable grief

Penny Wark
September 4, 2007

This is the story that has preoccupied at least two nations and elicited sympathy around the world. It is now 124 days old and has been told thousands of times in millions of words. Yet the story has only one fact: on the evening of May 3, a three-year-old child, Madeleine McCann, disappeared from the bedroom where she slept. We may think we know more than that, but we don't, and no matter how often the story is repeated and the sole fact is spun, all we are reading is speculation. Or slurs and lies. There have been plenty of those, too, because when the media run out of facts and speculation, their more unscrupulous exponents resort to invention.

It's not pretty. A story that was always tragic and has yet to have any kind of resolution, let alone a happy ending, is being treated with the abandon more normally meted out to soap opera characters or to those who elect to engage with the manufactured world of reality TV. The difference is that Madeleine is neither fictional nor a wannabe star, and neither are her parents, Gerry and Kate, who, you will note, don’t need a surname any more. We know them that well, or we think we do. Note, too, that referring to them as Gerry and Kate breaks the convention of referring to them as Kate and Gerry: when feeding the masses a tale of heartbreak the distraught mother is a more emotive presence than an anguished father.

There is no doubt that Madeleine's disappearance – and what has happened since – raises important questions about how we can best protect our children from those who wish them harm, about the obligations of the media, and about our responses to the pain of people we don't know. During the past three weeks I've examined these questions in Praia da Luz, the sunny whitewashed family idyll on the Algarve where I met the McCanns, and elsewhere.

As everyone is acutely aware, the reason we know so little about Madeleine's disappearance is because she was abducted in Portugal, where the segredo de justiça law prevents the police from putting information about a criminal investigation in the public domain. Had Madeleine disappeared in Britain or the US, this would not have happened. Given that the Portuguese police admit that after four months they still have no idea where she is, or whether she is alive or dead, the first question has to be whether the lack of information is merely frustrating, and especially so for her parents, or whether it has impeded her safe recovery.

Neil Thompson has 30 years of police experience, latterly as a detective superintendent in charge of operations for the UK's National Crime Squad. Now the director of security at red24, a private security company, he does not support the Portuguese tactic. "If a child is abducted for sexual exploitation or murder, no information is unhelpful," he says bleakly. "In the UK you would release information to the media and the public that could help the situation, and keep back anything that might compromise the investigation, or frighten the perpetrator into harming the child. It's a balancing act. Your priority is to get the victim back alive, arresting the perpetrator is lower down the scale. A no-information rule means that you're working in the dark.

"The first two to three hours are vital. The first officer at the scene secures it and calls in detectives. A good officer has a nose for these things, and you have a process that tells you when a child has not wandered off. You set up road blocks, you check ports, you check intelligence – has anyone tried to snatch a child in the area? Can anyone describe a car? All that is fed into an incident room and analysed and the senior information officer decides what to release to the public. In the UK police can get a newsflash out straight away to TV and radio so you've got thousands of eyes and ears right at the beginning and you tell the public what you want them to look for. If you do that 24 or 48 hours later it loses impact."

We don't know exactly when Madeline was reported missing, and I am told that none of the published timelines relating to May 3 are accurate. I have also learned that the Portuguese response system is slow and unwieldy. The McCanns' call to the police was received in Portimão, a 30-minute drive away, and the practice is for a local officer to attend the scene to assess whether a crime has been committed and whether to call for help. Police officers drove to apartment 5A at the Ocean Club where the McCanns were staying, then referred the case to the Policia Judiciaria in Portimão. Thus vital time was lost immediately after Madeleine's disappearance – when it was imperative that the investigation should become active.

"You're only as good as your expertise," Thompson says. "If you're in a country that hasn't got a lot of serious crime and the training hasn't gone into major investigations, you make mistakes and lose evidence." Abductions are rare but not random, he adds. "Most child abductions are planned; it's not a burglar who finds a child and takes it. Paedophiles go to places where there are children, such as Disney World. Whatever this abductor's motive, he has been in the vicinity, he knows that there are children in this complex and that when people are on holiday they’re relaxed, and don't think about risk. He will know the area and will have planned what he is going to do with the child. If he's going to keep the child in a secure room, he will have been careful not to alert shopkeepers by buying food he wouldn't normally buy. If a child is going to be sold for exploitation, in this case the unprecedented scale of the publicity has given the abductor a problem because he has an item that is readily identifiable all over the world and can’t be passed on."

Those who specialise in tracing missing children acknowledge that publicity can unnerve a perpetrator, but insist that it is key and does save lives. "We know the public helps us to find missing children and it’s up to law enforcement officers on each case to make the call as to what they tell the public," says Nancy McBride, the national safety director at the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which has recovered 110,276 (just over 86 per cent) of the 127,737 children reported missing to it since 1984. "There's always a risk, but it's worth it. We never give up, we never close a case until we know what's happened to a child."

In seeking publicity, the McCanns had the clear objective of finding their daughter. What they did not envisage was that interest would spread, as Gerry puts it, like a forest fire, and that 150 journalists would suddenly descend on Praia da Luz, excited by the prospect of a story of a pretty child with attractive parents who are also middle class and intelligent – and far away from the stereotypical image of an inadequate single mother who might carelessly mislay a child and who certainly couldn't afford to visit this aspirational resort. Add to that the parents' status as doctors, people who save lives, yet who leave their children, Madeleine and her two-year-old twin siblings, without adult supervision in an apartment while they eat at a tapas bar a 52-second walk away, and the chattering classes are simultaneously full of sympathy and hooked.

When you first see apartment 5A you are struck by its exposed location. On the ground floor of a five-storey block, it is on a street corner and, like most of the Ocean Club apartments, not part of the gated section that houses the tapas bar and crèche. It would be easy to observe from different viewpoints, and perhaps to notice that this family had a regular pattern of behaviour in the evening, putting their children to bed, slipping across to the tapas bar and checking on them regularly.

But these are observations made with the benefit of bitter hindsight. Before Madeleine became a household name, no one thought like that on holiday, especially in an English-speaking resort so sedate that it doesn't even have facilities for teenagers. In late April the weather is pleasant, the beach is a five-minute walk away and you're there to relax and have fun. "It's a quiet, safe resort," says Gerry when we meet in a borrowed flat. "The distance from the apartment to the restaurant was 50 yards. We dined in the open-air bit and you can actually see the veranda of the apartment. It's difficult because if you are [at home] cutting grass in the back with the mower, and that takes me about half an hour, and the children are upstairs in a bedroom, you'd never bat an eyelid. That's similar to how we felt. We've been unfortunately proved wrong, out of the blue. It's shattered everything."

"Everyone I know who had been to Portugal with their children said it was very family friendly, and it did feel like that," says Kate. "If I'd had to think for one second about it, it wouldn't have happened. I never even had to think like that, to make the decision. It felt so safe that I didn't even have to – I mean, I don't think we took a risk. If I put the children in the car the chances of having an accident would be greater than somebody coming in, breaking into your apartment and lifting a child out of her bed. But you never think, I shouldn't put the children in the car."

This is the first time that the McCanns have confirmed that the apartment was broken into. This information does not compromise Madeleine's safety, and rules out one of the numerous red herring theories that the police have explored, that Madeleine wandered away on her own. There is no logic in withholding it from the public.

"I have no doubt in my mind that she was taken by somebody from the room," says Kate. "We don't know if it was one person, two, or if it was a group of people, but I know she was taken."

"There's still hope because we don't know who's taken her, we don't know where they've taken her and we certainly don't know where she is," says Gerry. "The first time I spoke to Ernie Allen, the chief executive of the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the States, he said what I wanted to hear, and they've got enough experience of getting children back after long periods of time still to remain hopeful, and their own experience is that the younger the child, the less likelihood of serious harm. Don't get me wrong, we're not blinkered. The scenario that everyone thinks about is that a paedophile took her to abuse her and if that is the situation then statistically the chances are they would kill her. But we don't know that and that's the difficulty we're dealing with. There are a range of scenarios and we want every single avenue explored because they're all pretty rare. That doesn't mean they should be represented in front page headlines as if all of them are likely, because they're not."

Does the Portuguese insistence that no information can be given about the investigation have any advantages? "For us, not having any information is very difficult," Kate replies. "For us as parents it's beneficial having information. We know that from our own jobs – the main complaint from patients' families is lack of communication and not being informed. It's detrimental."

Of course the McCanns' bid for information from the public, unsupported by details of the abduction, had already been hamstrung by the investigation's slow start. There was also a language barrier. They now have phone access to a police officer who speaks English, but contact is variable, they say. You sense that they are often in situations where they would like to be forthright, but are obliged to keep their thoughts to themselves. "It is frustrating," says Kate. "The whole situation makes you angry, that's part of the whole grief that something like this has happened to Madeleine and to us. They're all normal emotions and sometimes you do just want to explode."

The McCanns sit on a sofa, Kate bone-thin – although I am told that she is very fit – extremely shy and modest, Gerry composed and easier to read. At the beginning of our interview Kate holds Madeleine's pink toy cat in one hand and clutches her husband's with the other. Kate's face looks so tense and agonised that you might think that she was about to be tortured, and she seems to shrink into herself.

But as the hour passes she relaxes, takes her hand out of her husband's and even laughs at some of the absurdities of their situation, recalling a day on the beach when she was on the phone to a friend and suddenly found herself being covered in kisses by a group of Portuguese matrons. Were this couple not wrapped up in this extraordinary event they would be unremarkable, the husband an assured man who likes to be in control, the wife a family-orientated mother who enjoys her job and still has friends from when she was 4.

Both are from working-class backgrounds: Gerry is the youngest of five children of an Irish matriarch and her joiner husband who brought up their family in Dumbarton, near Glasgow; Kate the only child of a Liverpool joiner and a civil servant. They met as junior doctors in Glasgow 12 years ago, got together as they travelled in New Zealand and she trained as an anaesthetist before retraining as a GP because, as two hospital doctors, they rarely saw each other.

In the immediate aftermath of Madeleine's disappearance the McCanns found solace in their Catholic faith and were grateful for the warmth and care that greeted them at the Nossa Senhora da Luz church, a tiny, beautiful and peaceful sanctuary that forms a focal point for the community. "I felt cosseted," Gerry says. "We felt so fragile and vulnerable. People kept saying 'you'll get her back'. It was what we needed to hear because we just had the blackest and darkest thoughts in the first 24, 36 hours, as if Madeleine had died. It was almost uncontrollable grief.

"The psychologist who came out to help us [Alan Pike from the Centre for Crisis Psychology in Skipton] was very good at turning our thought processes away from speculation. OK, there's probabilities, but you don't know that and he was very good at challenging the negatives. He was very much, 'You will feel better after each thing that you take control of, even simple things'. We were surrounded by the Ambassador, the consul, PR crisis management, police, and he was saying 'The decisions are yours'."

"All these people we were meeting had to be there, and I felt so out of control and I found it quite scary," says Kate. "I felt as if I'd been pushed into another world. Alan was saying, 'There are little things you can take control of'."

"For example," says Gerry, "if you are asked 'Do you want a cup of tea?,' instead of saying 'Mmm', make a positive decision. Decide what you want. That combination of the Church, the community and the psychology helped very quickly. We agreed to interact because we thought it would probably help the search and it would be easier than hiding. Stay in the dark and you're an enigma. There wasn't anything to hide and in the first few weeks we were shown a lot of respect."

The launch of the Find Madeleine campaign brought them more respect for their organisational skills. Friends and family rallied, a strategy was worked out, the media were fed pictures and quotes, and big businesses, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Beckham and numerous unknown individuals responded with support and donations. This money – the fund now stands at more than £1 million – enabled them to appoint a campaign manager and to publicise Madeleine's disappearance by visiting other countries. With the possible exception of their blessing by the Pope at the Vatican, which was the brainwave of a tabloid newspaper and seemed to contradict the McCanns' status as ordinary people, they were beyond reproach as campaigners, particularly as they began to engage with agencies that have expertise in recovering missing children. The story rolled along nicely, filling more front pages than any other event since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, though not because the McCanns were managing the media, but because there was increasing evidence that Madeleine sells papers.

Then things started to go wrong. By the end of the second week of August, when the McCanns marked the 100th day since Madeleine's disappearance by launching a YouTube initiative to help to find missing children, the Portuguese media had suggested that the McCanns could have killed their daughter, and the British press was not shy about repeating and even revelling in the "monstrous slurs". Coincidentally that was the week I first visited Praia da Luz: there were nine television satellite trucks, each with a noisy generator, on the road outside apartment 5A, and the Portuguese crews were threatening to move outside the McCanns' rented villa and had to be pacified with an interview. The Ocean Club asked the McCanns to stop bringing the twins to the kids' club because other guests had complained about the media presence, and a couple of chain-smoking security men appeared outside reception. Praia da Luz, once a sardine-fishing community, now a manufactured resort with a reputation for guaranteeing uneventful and sunny family holidays, was becoming ugly.

The solicitor of Robert Murat, the only person to have been named by police as a suspect in the Madeleine investigation, didn't help matters when he announced that business in Praia da Luz was suffering and that people there wanted "those bloody McCanns to go home". However strong a news line this was, it wasn't entirely true. Some shopkeepers continued to display posters appealing for information about Madeleine, others spoke tactfully about their sympathy for the McCanns. "It's not that we want the McCanns to go home, it's just that we want the bad feeling to go away," said one café owner, who declined to be named. "Last year you had to book three weeks ahead to get in here in the evening, now you don't need to book. Praia da Luz has become the place where you lose your children. It's terribly sad, and it's terrible for the McCanns."

Something else was happening, too, that wasn't entirely edifying. At the church a steady stream of Portuguese worshippers and tourists approached the shrine to Madeleine to the left of the altar, and many were devout and respectful. Others nipped in to take a quick picture of the shrine and left without a bow of the head; after all, it's not every year that you go on holiday and find yourself in the presence of a moment so big that it is being recorded by television cameras.

Outside Robert Murat's home, which could not be seen from the road because of a deep and dense hedge, a Portuguese tourist checked with me that she had the right house, then stuffed herself into the hedge to get a proper look. (She was obviously not the first to do so, as sections of the hedge are now dying.) A hundred yards away sight-seers posed for photographs alongside the television crews positioned with 5A in the background.

On a seat overlooking the beach, Martin Payne, a well-meaning hairdresser from Stratford-upon-Avon, displayed an intriguing mixture of sympathy and fascination. He had just spotted Gerry in his Renault Scenic (which was more than I had at this stage; the McCanns are impossible to get near unless their campaign manager vets and approves you) and was happy to volunteer every known fact about the McCanns, and to speculate, in detail, on what might have happened to Madeleine.

"You've been reading too many books, Martin," said his wife. "I feel the same way that I felt when Princes Diana was killed," Martin said. "Such a loss to a lovely family. We want to have a conclusion to this."

When I suggest to the McCanns that some of the interest in them borders on the prurient, they seem to be unaware of it. At church they register the crowd outside as kindly support, and don't notice those on the fringes who are there just to spot them. In other contexts their unsought fame appals them. "We feel totally exposed, as though we have been stripped bare," says Kate.

They tend not to pick up the more sickly nuances within the press, because they don't read it; instead the campaign team (which consists of the full-time lobbyist the McCanns hired after the fund was set up, plus two other part-timers who ensure seven-day-a-week cover to field the innumerable media inquiries) shows them what they need to see, including translations of Portuguese coverage. And as they demonstrated last week with the announcement that they are to take legal action against the Portuguese newspaper Tal e Qual, for its allegation that they killed Madeleine with an overdose of sedatives, they will no longer tolerate lurid claims that defame them.

"We had no illusions that we could control the media," says Gerry. "The way that information has got out has been handled incredibly badly, without a doubt. It's almost as though some people are thinking out loud. It's all very well to have a potential scenario but that shouldn't necessarily be written up as if there is evidence to support it. I think this has been handled very irresponsibly by a number of people. We don't believe there is any evidence to support any of the deluded headlines, and the police have made that clear."

"There are times when you just want to shout out 'That's wrong', because I think we've been done injustice in a lot of ways," says Kate.

"There's a blacker picture painted than what is true," says Gerry, "whether it is how much we were drinking, which was a gross exaggeration, or how often we were checking. We know what we did and we are very responsible. It's bad enough for us to have to deal with the fact that someone saw an opportunity – to then have elements sneering at your behaviour and making it look much worse than it was. It's difficult because a lot of untruths, half truths and blatant lies have been published. It was published that we had 14 bottles of wine."

"In an hour between us," interjects Kate. "I'd have been impressed with that in my student days. Not only that, they qualify it by saying eight bottles of red and six of white, as though it gives it more credibility. You just want to scream."

Where do the Portuguese media get their information? Brendan de Beer, the editor of the English language Portugal News, is the only journalist to have spoken at length to Chief Inspector Olegário Sousa, the spokesman for the PolÍcia Judiciária on the Madeleine investigation. Sousa, who has 20 years' service and has previously focused on crimes relating to works of art, armed robberies and car-jacking, suggested that some information is being inadvertently leaked by officers at informal lunches with friends. De Beer is more specific and suggests that some of the more incongruous claims are no more than gossip.

Some of the police detectives involved in the case have spoken off the record, he says, and journalists have contacts within the police just as they do in Britain. "I've spoken to a couple of them [police officers], but never to an extent where they told me a syringe had been found in the room or there was blood on the keys of the hire car. That kind of information seems to come from police constables. You get someone who tells something to their wife, they tell their hairdresser, who tells a journalist.

"I think that there's a lot of invention. A journalist might say to a detective, 'Do you think Madeleine fell and died and Kate and Gerry got rid of the body?' Off the record the detective might say 'It's possible', and they write a story based on 'sources close to the investigation.' I'd be very surprised if there was any bribery, though a constable does earn only about €600 or €700 a month, so it could happen. The suggestion that the police were closing in on the McCanns . . . I've been disappointed by some of the reporting."

Not that British reporting has been irreproachable. The slurs have been widely dissected, a suspect has been invented by one needy tabloid, and when I rang Paolo Marcilemo, the editor of the Correio da Manhã, which has a reputation for scurrilous reporting, he said that he was no longer giving interviews because the British press has misquoted him.

For the McCanns there is no respite, though they are slowly becoming accustomed to their grief. "They're not gone, the feelings," Gerry says. "When we enjoyed ourselves with the kids we had guilt – how could we enjoy ourselves when Madeleine was missing? But it's so important for the kids that it's unbridled love and attention for them. I'm definitely much better at doing that now, almost carefree for a lot of the time. Not 100 per cent."

They will return to their home in Rothley, in the East Midlands, they confirm, and the timing will depend on the police investigation, which is currently in a state of hiatus as the PolÍcia Judiciária waits for the results of British tests on samples taken from the apartment.

Gerry has been home twice, he says, and has been inside the house. "I was pretty anxious about it, but it's now a comfort. We'll go back when we've done as much as we possibly can for Madeleine. We're at a point where staying here is not necessarily adding anything to the campaign to find her."

He has also discussed returning to work with his line manager; he elected to take unpaid leave rather than compassionate leave shortly after Madeleine's disappearance. As a cardiologist who deals with very sick patients he doesn't want to return immediately to a full-time schedule of patient care, but plans to focus initially on MRI scans, administration and academic work. "When you're seeing 12 or 15 patients a day you have to be focused on them and can't be thinking about what you want to do for missing children in Europe. When I'm occupied and applied it helps, and work eventually will take some of that focus. The fund enables us to make decisions for us and for Madeleine, and not for financial necessity. It's not paying for any of our accommodation here, but it has covered a lot of expenses for us, and trips, and it helps to provide support for people to come out to help us, flights and things."

As a part-time GP, Kate's job is patient-centred, and she has yet to decide whether she will return to it. What they are certain of is that they will continue to campaign for systems to be established to help to recover missing children. Portugal, like Spain and many other European countries, does not have a sex offenders' register, and as for the UK, although a Child Rescue alert system was launched here last year, relying primarily on speedy contact with the media, it has yet to be tested. Neither does Britain have any reliable statistics on missing children, and this means that the scale of the problem is unknown.

Fortunately, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a system that works, and can be copied. It is based in Virginia, employs 300 people and its success relies on instant media alerts and distribution of fliers, and a high level of training for the professionals involved. Its agenda has always been to make its methods operate globally, and now it has Gerry and Kate McCann on its side. Their determination to be involved in this task is the first sign that something positive, tangible and enduring could come from what has so far been the bewildering and tragic story of Madeleine McCann.

[Acknowledgement: Nigel Moore salute ]

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 01.10.22 17:26

How couple helped to build 'brand McCann' into global phenomenon


Skilful media handlers recruited celebrities and world leaders to a campaign driven by parents' acceptance of the press as partners

Dominic Kennedy and David Brown
September 8, 2007

The naming of Kate McCann as a suspect in the disappearance of her daughter is all the more shocking since she has become a symbol of mothers of missing children everywhere.

World leaders and celebrities, from the Vatican, the White House and Downing Street downwards have all been recruited to the "find Madeleine" campaign.

The global missing-persons movement has adopted as its most powerful emblem the mystery of the pretty blonde child who disappeared into the night.

As the McCanns have toured Europe and beyond, relentlessly urging the public to find their little girl, families' fears that their own children may be abducted have worsened.

Nobody could guess, when the news broke on May 3 that a British child had gone missing, that the riddle would eclipse any crime story of the internet age. What became "brand Madeleine" arose from a combination of brilliant media-handling skills and, for the first time, interactive websites telling editors how much the public craved such a story.

If the Portuguese police were sluggish about starting to search for the missing girl, nobody could accuse British spin-doctors and reporters of being slow off the mark in their hunt for headlines.

The McCanns dominated the news quickly. As doctors and young parents living a quiet provincial life, they had no experience of dealing with the media.

Fortunately, the Mark Warner organisation that runs the holiday camp where Madeleine disappeared was represented by one of the best PRs in the business.

Alex Woolfall is crisis management head at Bell Pottinger, the public relations outfit headed by the original sultan of spin, Lord Bell. Mr Woolfall's main clients have included that other global brand Coca-Cola.

For the first fortnight after Madeleine disappeared, he was on the spot in Praia da Luz, acting as gobetween for the family and the growing pack of journalists.

"We were aware from the outset that there was a huge amount of media interest and they were very keen to see the media as a partner," he said in an interview.

"They find themselves having to ask themselves 'What can we possibly do that means we will be able to sleep tonight, knowing that we have done everything today that we could have done?'."

In an unprecedented move, the Government took over news-handling on behalf of the McCanns. Sheree Dodd, a former Daily Mirror journalist and long-serving senior spokeswoman for the Government, was dispatched to Portugal. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced that she was being deployed as "press officer responsible to act as media liaison officer for the McCann family".

After a couple of weeks, she was replaced by an even more prominent political figure. Clarence Mitchell, a former BBC News presenter now working as a senior government spin-doctor, became the voice of the McCanns. He was described formally as providing "consular support in exceptional circumstances". His costs came to just over £6,000, and Ms Dodd's are likely to be similar.

A Foreign Office source said: "This has been a completely new situation. We had to do something."

Mr Mitchell was regarded by journalists as an impressive and helpful figure who was sensitive to the needs of the locals as well as the British.

At first, reports suggested that the McCanns would be reluctant to leave Portugal without getting Madeleine back. But they were persuaded to undertake a foreign tour featuring an audience with the Pope, Mr Mitchell sitting close by.

A clever brand image was created. Madeleine has an unusual iris in her right eye that would make her unmistakable even if she were disguised.

Wristbands were issued with the words "Look for Madeleine". The letters "oo" were designed to resemble the distinctive shape of the girl's eyes.

Madeleine's case was seized upon by organisations promoting the search for missing people.But adverse reaction began when a cinema advertisement was screened before the latest Shrek film. Parents complained that their children were being frightened.

To date, the Find Madeleine campaign, which has a much-visited website that seemed to be struggling under the weight of demand yesterday, has raised more than £1 million. Mr McCann posts a regular blog. Its last entry, from Wednesday, is quite ominous and suggests that the media may have been tipped off about looming developments.

"We were surprised to find increased media presence in Praia da Luz again today," he wrote. "All the excitement seems to be over the results of the recent forensic tests."

Justine McGuinness, a public relations expert, has been recruited, with the help of a headhunter, to become the McCanns' private spokeswoman in Praia da Luz.

The media feeding frenzy is driven in part by the popularity of Madeleine McCann stories on news websites. For many of the past 128 days, her name has been the most-searched item.

It's not surprising, then, that the Daily Express has put Madeleine's picture on its front page almost every day. Its previous favourite cover girl was that other British blonde who came to grief mysteriously in foreign parts: Diana, Princess of Wales.

[Acknowledgement:  pamalam at gerrymccannsblog]

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Post by Verdi 05.10.22 13:38

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann: How a 3-Year-Old Vanished and May Never Be Found

By Steven John

Three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared during a family holiday in Portugal. More than 15 years later, police may have their first significant break in the case.

Any parent’s worst nightmare is something horrible happening to their child. For Gerry and Kate McCann, the nightmare began in 2007, with the disappearance of their 3-year-old daughter, Madeleine McCann. It has continued for more than 15 years, with no sign of ending.

There remains hope that her abductor will one day be identified and apprehended. However, it’s unlikely that Madeleine, who would now be 19 years old, will be found alive.

We’ll return to May 3, 2007, and uncover what’s known about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. But first, let’s try address another, less-tangible question: Why do cases of missing children grip the attention of the public?

From the Lindbergh baby to Etan Patz to JonBenét Ramsey, missing children hold our attention because they bring out both the best and the worst in us. Our hearts go out to the family, whom we wish we could help. But the lurid details of the case can be fascinating; we’re able to treat a missing child as a topic of interest because the child isn’t our own.

In some cases, there’s a safe return, such as the 18-year kidnapping and imprisonment of Jaycee Lee Dugard. But in too many other instances, the child is never seen alive again.

In late April 2007, Kate and Gerry McCann, of Rothley, England, and their three children (3-year-old Madeleine, and 2-year-old twins) traveled on holiday to Praia da Luz, Portugal. They stayed in a rental property at the Ocean Club.

Visiting the region with friends, the adults established a rotating system of checking on the sleeping children while they enjoyed dinner, a mere hundred yards away from the apartment. The meal on May 3, 2007, was to be the last the group sheared on vacation. And, as we now know, it was the last the McCann family would enjoy before the unthinkable tragedy.

That hard, sad fact aside, the details of the case soon grow murky. We know that, around 9:05 p.m., Gerry McCann found Madeleine and her siblings sleeping safely in their room. However, by the time of the next check-in, about 10 p.m., Madeleine (or Maddie, as she was often called) was gone. Only her blanket and stuffed animal remained.

Maddie’s absence was discovered by her mother, Kate McCann, who reportedly wailed so loudly that she was heard by diners at the restaurant. The police were summoned, beginning a search that, to varying degrees, continues to this day.

The property and surrounding areas were searched that night, and into the next day, by police, Madeleine McCann’s parents, their friends, and hotel staff and guests. No actionable evidence was found.

Over the next few days, the search was expanded to include border police, airport staff, and hundreds of volunteers. It had become painfully clear that Madeleine had been kidnapped, and not simply wandered off. Portuguese authorities announced May 12, 2007, that they assumed Maddie was still alive. However, they had no evidence to help locate the girl, or a suspect.

Maddie’s parents described themselves as utterly beset by grief and despair. It was in these days that the disappearance of, and search, for Madeleine McCann captured the world’s attention. The case spread through traditional media, like newspapers and TV broadcasts, but was fueled by then-fledgling social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.

Evidence, and a Possible Suspect, Emerge

In late May 2007, police in Portugal released a description of a suspicious man spotted near the resort on the evening of Maddie’s disappearance. He was described as possibly carrying a child.

Unfortunately, police also had to admit that potential forensic evidence from the scene of the kidnapping might have been damaged or destroyed due to improper procedures.

Then, in mid-September 2007, police found a perfect DNA match for Madeleine McCann in the trunk of a rented car, although they couldn’t tie the vehicle to a positively identified person.

The McCanns were questioned as possible suspects that same month, but they were freely allowed to return to England. In November, Gerry McCann released a statement suggesting their family had been stalked by a predator for days before the kidnapping. In January 2008, the family released a composite sketch of the man they thought responsible for Maddie’s abduction.

It wasn’t until July 2008 that Portuguese authorities officially lifted the “arguido,” or “suspect” status of Maddie McCann’s parents.

Years Go By, and Madeleine McCann Remains Missing

There were no breaks in the Madeleine McCann case for years. In 2009, police released a digitally enhanced photo that showed how Maddie may look at age 6. That same year, the McCann publicly expressed outrage that the search for their daughter had concluded in Portugal.

In 2011, the McCanns signed a deal for a tell-all book about the disappearance of their daughter, titled simply Madeleine. More digitally enhanced images were released the following year, showing Maddie aged up to 9 years old.

Then, in summer 2013, Scotland Yard announced new evidence in the Maddie McCann case. By the fall, detectives revealed they had identified as many as 41 possible suspects. There was a renewed sense that justice might come for Maddie’s kidnapper and, most likely, killer. Portuguese authorities reopened their own case, and began working with Scotland Yard.

However, a number of years then passed without any actionable updates. Police searched for new evidence, and interviewed and cleared a number of suspects, but didn’t come up with anything substantial.

Finally, a Break in the Maddie McCann’s Disappearance?

Well after it seemed there was no hope for justice in the case Madeleine McCann, a break came. It was in June 2020 that German police revealed a prime suspect: a 43-year-old man identified as Christian B., who was in prison there. Few other details were released.

As of 2022, Portuguese authorities also identified the German inmate, now known by his full name, Christian Brückner, as a likely suspect. However, he remains in German custody, and has not yet faced official charges in the kidnapping of Maddie McCann. Brückner is imprisoned on a rape conviction following a crime that took place in the same region of Portugal where Maddie McCann was last seen.

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Post by CaKeLoveR 05.10.22 15:25

He's an idiot.

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Post by sandancer 05.10.22 22:11

" his novels can be found on his website " 

He's just added another to the list !

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Post by Verdi 06.10.22 0:38

A novel virus, just like COVID-19 is/was yes

Only one answer to this conundrum .... a vaccination - but where to stick it!

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Post by Verdi 16.10.22 20:05

What Kate and Gerry McCann's life looks like, almost 15 years after Madeleine's disappearance.

Polly Taylor
Editor, News and Features
April 23, 2022

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary - Page 2 2040x110

At around 8.30pm on May 3, 2007, Kate and Gerry McCann left their three sleeping children in their holiday apartment in the quiet Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz and headed out for dinner.

They thought that Madeleine, three, and 18-month-old twins, Sean and Amelie, would be safe just 83 metres from where they were dining at a tapas restaurant with the group of friends they were holidaying with.

Throughout the evening, the adults took it in turns to check on the kids.

At 10pm, it was Kate McCann’s turn.

When she arrived at apartment 5A, she knew immediately something was wrong.

Madeleine was gone.

What happened next is well documented. The story of the blonde toddler’s unexplained disappearance became a global news story.

This May, will mark 15 years since the wide-eyed toddler's disappearance, and on May 12, it would've been her 19th birthday.

This week, Kate and Gerry McCann welcomed news that a German man has been formally made a suspect over their three-year-old's disappearance.

It is the first time Portuguese prosecutors have identified an official suspect in the case since Madeleine's parents were named suspects in 2007. They were later cleared.

Posting on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page, Kate and Gerry wrote: "We welcome the news that the Portuguese authorities have declared a German man an 'arguido' in relation to the disappearance of our beloved daughter Madeleine.

"This reflects progress in the investigation, being conducted by the Portuguese, German and British authorities.

"It is important to note the 'arguido' has not yet been charged with any specific crime related to Madeleine's disappearance.

"Even though the possibility may be slim, we have not given up hope that Madeleine is still alive and we will be reunited with her."

Read more: Madeleine McCann went missing in 2007. Now police have a formal suspect.

On May 12, 2021, Madeleine would have been 18 years old. Her parents marked the occasion with an emotional message.

"Every May is tough – a reminder of years passed, of years together lost, or stolen," Kate and Gerry McCann wrote on their Facebook page. "This year it is particularly poignant as we should be celebrating Madeleine’s 18th birthday. Enough said."

The parents went on, saying the pandemic had been difficult but added that they were thankful "the investigation to find Madeleine and her abductor has continued".

"We hang on to the hope, however small, that we will see Madeleine again. As we have said repeatedly, we need to know what has happened to our lovely daughter, no matter what. We are very grateful to the police for their continued efforts."

They concluded: "We still receive so many positive words and good wishes despite the years that have gone by. It all helps and for that we are truly grateful – thank you."

In another post for Madeleine's 18th birthday, the parents wrote, "We love you and we're waiting for you".

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary - Page 2 Scre2820

In 2020, the McCanns farewelled the year saying it was one they "don’t want to remember but will find it hard to forget".

"There’s no doubt that 2020 has been tough for most people, and often distressing, with so much loss, worry and isolation," the couple wrote on the Facebook page. "Despite losing a parent each, we are aware we have been more fortunate than many, with our family unit at home and jobs to go to."

They added that the pandemic had forced the investigation into their daughter's vanishing to "slow down".

"It hasn’t stopped however and the hope, energy and determination to find her and uncover the truth remain steadfast. Let’s hope 2021 is a brighter, more positive one," they concluded their post.

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary - Page 2 Scre2819

The story of Madeleine McCann has indeed been subject to high media interest ever since her mysterious vanishing.

In 2019, a Netflix documentary, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, recounted the chain of events in detail, and offered several theories as to what may have happened to Madeleine.

Kate and Gerry McCann refused to take part in the program, stating that it could impede the ongoing police investigation.

In a statement on their website, they said: "We did not see and still do not see how this programme will help the search for Madeleine and particularly given there is an active police investigation, could potentially hinder it."

Watch The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann trailer below. Post continues after video.
Video by Netflix

Who are Madeleine McCann's parents?

Kate McCann (neé Healey) was born in 1968 in Huyton, near Liverpool. She graduated in 1992 with a degree in medicine from the University of Dundee. Gerry McCann, born the same year as Kate, was also a medical scholar, in Glasgow. After working in obstetrics and gynaecology, Kate became a GP. Gerry worked in sports medicine before moving into cardiology.

They married in 1998 and had Madeleine in 2003 after IVF treatment. Twins Sean and Amelie followed two years later. The family moved to Rothey in Leicestershire, when Gerry got a job as a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital in 2005.

Did the McCanns split up after Madeleine McCann went missing?

While the McCann's never actually split up, Kate has spoken about how close their relationship came to breaking point.

In her book, Madeleine, Kate talks about how she withdrew into herself after Madeleine's disappearance, ceasing to read, play music, or even have sex with husband Gerry.

She said that the fears a paedophile had taken Maddie very much played into that.

"Tortured as I was by these images, it's not surprising that even the thought of sex repulsed me," Kate wrote.

"I worried about Gerry and me. I worried that if I didn't get our sex life on track, our whole relationship would break down."

She also recalled how supportive Gerry was during the darkest days of their lives. "He would put his arm round me, reassuring me and telling me that he loved me," she wrote.

Kate McCann, 54, and Gerry McCann, 55, remain together and continue to fight for information about Madeleine's disappearance.

In 2014, Kate told the BBC that she has returned to Praia da Luz on several occasions.

"I do go back for personal reasons," she said. "It’s obviously the last place we were with Madeleine and I still walk those streets and I guess try to look for answers. It helps me, most of the time."

After Madeleine vanished, Kate quit her job as a GP to work for children's charities. Gerry McCann is now a professor of cardiology and prides himself on having "established a national and growing international reputation as an expert in Cardiac MRI (magnetic reasoning imaging)" – or scanning, as reported by The Sun.

The McCann's have used AUD $308,000 made from sales of Kate's book about their daughter to continue the search for the little girl.

Their twins, Amelie and Sean, are now 17.

This article was updated with new information on April 23, 2022

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary - Page 2 1f3b6

Mamma mia, here we go again
My, my, how can we resist it?
Mamma mia, let us show again
My, my, just how much we've missed it

Yes, we've been brokenhearted
Blue since the day we started
Why, why did we ever let it go
Mamma mia, now we really know
My, my, we could never let it go

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Post by Verdi 17.10.22 13:31

Madeleine McCann: Investigation was flawed from the start, says senior detective who was there

Published: June 5, 2020 2.58pm BST

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary - Page 2 Scre2831

News that a 43-year-old German man is now the prime suspect in the Madeleine McCann case appears – at last – to be a significant development.

The information from the German authorities and the Metropolitan Police Service indicates that in May 2007 this man was living and frequenting Praia da Luz, Portugal, and possibly committing burglaries at holiday complexes to fund his itinerant lifestyle. It also appears that as a teenager he was convicted of sexual offences against children in Germany and was therefore a known convicted sex offender in 2007.

This raises several questions: was he known to the Portuguese investigation team at the time? If so, when did his name enter their system and what did they do to implicate or eliminate him from their enquiry? When was his name passed on to the UK investigation team? These are questions at the forefront of my mind as I think back to my time in Portugal.

Madeleine McCann had been missing for several days when I arrived in Praia da Luz in May 2007. I had been sent to Portugal as part of the UK’s Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP) response to Madeleine’s disappearance. I was a detective superintendent and senior investigating officer (SIO) with knowledge about predatory child sexual abusers and non-familial child abduction.

After being briefed at the British Consulate regarding Madeleine’s disappearance, I met with Gerry and Kate McCann at their holiday apartment and we discussed the Portuguese police investigation strategy and possible scenarios that could have led to their daughter’s disappearance. Understandably, the McCanns were

trying to come to terms with the situation they found themselves in.

During our discussion, Gerry asked me directly if I thought his daughter was still alive, and I pointed out that if she had been abducted – statistically – she would by now be dead. The majority of children who are murdered after being abducted by someone unknown to them are dead within three to six hours. It was a difficult conversation, but I was struck by how focused the McCanns remained throughout.

The following day I went to the police station in Praia da Luz and spoke with several of the lead Portuguese investigators. They were all very polite but it was clear from their attitude and response that they didn’t welcome what they considered to be UK interference in a Portuguese crime. At that time, they were also receiving advice from Leicestershire Police (the McCanns’ home police force) supported by the then UK National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA).

From the outset I was struck by the lack of urgency surrounding the investigation and it was difficult to establish any detailed information around what direction the investigation was taking. Over the next few days, whenever I suggested certain courses of action that they might wish to consider, the Portuguese police either dismissed it out of hand or I was informed that it had already been done without result.

Flawed investigation

As the days went by, I became more and more frustrated and I relayed this back to CEOP in my telephone conversations and daily written reports. After ten exasperating days avoiding the growing media presence, trying to get and impart information and having meetings cancelled at the last minute because investigators were too busy, it was still unclear to me whether many of the key investigative tasks had been adequately completed.

For example, I had serious misgivings about the quality of the search strategy, the recording of full-time and casual staff at the holiday complex, identification of all known suspected and convicted sex offenders living or frequenting the area, and other significant or relevant crimes in the local area.

My professional opinion was that the Portuguese investigative approach to Madeleine’s disappearance was flawed and not fit for purpose when set against what we would have been done in a similar investigation in the UK. This was reflected time and time again in my verbal and written reports and the “fiasco” was regularly reported on in the press.

Disappointingly, as the investigation progressed there was also a certain amount of inter-agency rivalry between the UK agencies involved, which resulted in a fraught working relationship.
‘Golden hours’ wasted

In the years since Madeleine’s disappearance, I have also raised my concerns as to whether agencies across Europe are still any better prepared for these types of investigations. When an investigation team doesn’t gather information or act in a timely and systematic fashion, the investigation gets away from them and this dramatically reduces the chances of the crime being solved.

My experience then, and even more so now having studied the behaviour of non-familial child abductors and murderers in-depth as a criminologist, is that the first 24 to 48 hours of a child abduction investigation – often referred to as the “golden hours” – are critical to its successful outcome. It requires strong, dynamic leadership supported by clear defensible decision making.

This must be backed up by systems and structures designed to collect and evaluate information quickly. At the same time, information must be retained in a manner so that it can be revisited at appropriate times as the investigation moves forward and alternative lines of enquiry are considered.

Non-familial child abduction attracts vast amounts of media attention. High-profile cases often attract national media coverage and cases where the child is murdered become, what is called in criminology, “mega-homicides”. These cases can attract worldwide attention and generate vast amounts of information.

The potential for this information to overwhelm even the best-prepared investigation agency during the early hours or days of an inquiry is considerable. For this reason, there is a need for a systematic approach to core policing functions to deal with the complexity. And it is vital to have a thorough, well documented investigation strategy.

These investigations also require highly skilled and experienced investigators who have the ability to make defensible decisions based upon reliable information and create investigative strategy and policy that can stand the test of hindsight. A failure to do so can have serious consequences.

Three years after Madeleine’s disappearance, in 2010, I conducted and wrote CEOP’s internal review of the Portuguese investigation, which was subsequently passed to the Home Office. The review contained observations and recommendations that, after repeated requests from the McCanns, led to the Met being tasked to establish their own investigation, Operation Grange.

The information timeline, when fully known, may offer clarity and explanations to many of the questions that have been swirling around this case since 2007. But these explanations may also raise more uncomfortable questions about the effectiveness of the initial police inquiry and the competence of the people who led it. I only hope this new information leads to some form of closure for the McCanns.

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Post by Verdi 15.11.22 15:07

Verdict on the McCanns' treatment: little short of a national disgrace

Dan Sabbagh
Wed 23 Nov 2011 20.49 GMT

Evidence from Gerry and Kate McCann to the Leveson inquiry has given experts much to consider about regulation of the press

Madeleine McCann:  Media Commentary - Page 2 Gerry-13
Gerry and Kate McCann leave the Leveson inquiry. Their evidence gave the Lord Justice plenty to contemplate. Photograph: Reuters

It took Kate and Gerry McCann to transform the Leveson inquiry, which in its first three days had struggled to reach a serious tone. Hugh Grant did offer a compelling account of a life lived at the centre of media attention, but he is still a highly paid film star with the kind of colourful love life newspapers and the public find hard to resist. Other witnesses fell flat, notably Steve Coogan, who spent too much of his evidence complaining about how interviewers had artfully prised personal information out of him, which is hardly something that needs to be regulated. Not every interviewee, after all, is supposed to like the resulting piece.

But what happened to the McCanns at the hands of the tabloid press in the 18 months or so after their daughter's disappearence was – as their lawyer, David Sherborne, said – little short of a national disgrace. The inquiry heard an account of repeated violations of truth and privacy by every major tabloid, built up over two measured hours of testimony from Gerry McCann, punctuated by Kate's more emotional contributions. While the couple acknowledged help and support from the press when they received it, their criticisms amounted to a plea for reform that will be very difficult for Lord Justice Leveson to dismiss.

It was Richard Desmond's newspapers, the Express and Star titles, that paid out £550,000 in libel damages after a string of defamatory articles. Their apology was on the front page – "unprecedented", as both papers could not help trumpeting – but as Gerry McCann observed, despite all the mistakes, nobody had resigned. "I've seen no journalist or editor brought to account, be it the Express or any other group ... repeat offenders should lose their privilege of practising," he said.

He might have said the same about the News of the World, which printed a copy of Kate McCann's personal diary. Her husband pleaded for the judge to find out how the diary – taken as evidence in Portugal where Madeleine went missing – ended up in the hands of the paper in a version translated from Portuguese and back into English again. Leveson noted that he had the legal powers to find out what happened – and in an instant, statutory regulation of the press had arrived.

Kate McCann described the actions of the paparazzi. They would wait every day for her to get in the car with her two other children, and on some occasions "they'd bang on the window" to get the expressions they wanted. The picture was enough, she observed, to attach "fragile, furious or whatever they wanted to put in the headline" – carrying on despite the fact that the Press Complaints Commission code of practice says quite clearly that "journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or persistent pursuit". So, when, later, Gerry McCann demanded a change in the rules when it comes to the taking of the photographs in public places, his call for reform packed a real punch.

"You should not be able to publish photographs of private individuals going about their private business without their explicit consent," he argued. To bring in such a rule really would require the introduction of a privacy law, and while few in the press would welcome that, after hearing both the McCanns speak it would take a brave onlooker to conclude that they did not have something of a point. And as a result of their contribution, Lord Justice Leveson has plenty to contemplate.


You reap what you sow. You Mr & Mrs McCann and you alone paraded yourselves before the media with show pieces, interviews and photo-shoots - don't complain when you get the attention you crave.

There is no such thing as bad publicity, you are in the public eye thus able to make it work whichever way you desire and you did - didn't you!

'We knew the abductor could do something to her eye, but it was a good marketing ploy'
Gerry McCann

Dave asked whether we should get the media involved to increase awareness and recruit more help.
Kate McCann

Paparazzi hiding in the bushes or a staged photo-shoot?

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Post by CaKeLoveR 15.11.22 15:24

They didn't need bad press from newspapers - they damned themselves from their own mouths, and then from the bewk.

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Post by crusader 15.11.22 15:38

When it suits eh Gerry, remember this.

"You should not be able to publish photographs of private individuals going about their private business without their explicit consent," he argued. 

What about Brenda Leyland, what about her rights.

And this

but as Gerry McCann observed, despite all the mistakes, nobody had resigned. "I've seen no journalist or editor brought to account, be it the Express or any other group ...

Spitefull spoiled creep.

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Post by sandancer 15.11.22 16:44

" Journalists must not engage in intimidation , harassment or persistent pursuit " 

Have you read that Martin Brunt ?

Be humble for you​ are made​ of earth . Be noble for you​ are made of stars .

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Post by CaKeLoveR 15.11.22 18:11

He's horrendous, isn't he. He has no conscience at all - perfect for a 'journalist'.

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