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Can we believe Dave Edgar?

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Can we believe Dave Edgar?

Post by Tony Bennett on 09.04.11 3:11

A fuller version of this section of John Whitehouse's article is in preparation, titled:

Leading the Hunt for Maddie: Dave Edgar, the Cheshire Detective
Prison lairs, Victoria Beckham-lookalikes, and letters from dead paedophiles

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Meanwhile, here is Chapter K from John's earlier article on the McCanns' private investigators, piublished on our website (www.madeleinefoundation.org.uk) back in November 2009:


K. Dave Edgar and Arthur Cowley

Then, in the spring of 2009 we heard about a sixth detective team. This time it was a brand new duo. The boss was former Cheshire and Northern Ireland Detective Inspector Dave Edgar; his assistant was former Cheshire Detective Sergeant Arthur Cowley.

They came to prominence in a series of public relations exercises promoted by the McCanns’ public relations chief, Clarence Mitchell.

The first was a blitz of publcity about a convicted paedophile, Raymond Hewlett, currently ill in a hospital in north Germany. This resurrected the ‘paedophile abduction’ angle, and a spate of stories appeared in the British press about paedophiles said to have been resident in Portugal at the time Madeleine was reported missing. Hewlett himself was ruled out as a suspect, and there were near-farcical scenes as Edgar flew out to Germany to interview Hewlett, only to be refused access to him by the German authorities. The names of other paedophiles said to have been in Portugal at the time of Madeleine’s disapperance were touted in the British press, once again giving the erroneous impression that the beautiful Portugues Algarve coast was a haven for paedophiles.

In another public relations exercise, a press conference was summoned in August in order to explain that Madeleine might have been snatched to order, carried on a private yacht to Barcelona, and then spirited away to Australia. To add ‘spice’ to the reports, we were told that the woman who might have been involved in taking Madeleine to Australia was a ‘Victoria Beckham look-alike’.

We were then informed that this woman was ‘thought to have’ an Australian accent and had spoken to a professional British man at around 2.00am in downtown Barcelona close to the port. We learnt that the man, before meeting the woman, had visited several bars that evening. According to Dave Edgar, ‘he had been drinking, but was not drunk’. We were then informed that the man in question had ‘agonised’ for two years before disclosing the conversation he had had with the ‘Victoria Beckham look-alike’.

All that we were told about what the woman was alleged to have sdaid to him was: ‘Have you seen my daughter?’, or ‘Have you got my daughter?’. Clarence Mitchell, who presided over the press conference, and Dave Edgar, pronounced this conversation as ‘significant’. They explained that the press conference had been called so that this woman, presumably Australian, could be identified and come forward. A publicity blitz followed in Australia. Meanwhile Mitchell and Edgar said that the British man, said to be a bank manager, who spoke to the woman was declining to be identified ‘for personal reasons’.

Mark Hollingsworth in his article referred to this public relations exercise in the following terms:

“It was billed as a ‘significant development’ in the exhaustive search for Madeleine McCann. At a recent dramatic press conference in London, the lead private investigator, David Edgar, a retired Cheshire detective inspector, brandished an E-fit image of an Australian woman, described her as ‘a bit of a Victoria Beckham look-alike’, and appealed for help in tracing her. The woman was seen ‘looking agitated’ outside a restaurant in Barcelona three days after Madeleine’s disappearance. ‘It is a strong lead’, said Edgar, wearing a pin-stripe suit in front of a bank of cameras and microphones. ‘Madeleine could have been in Barcelona by that point. The fact the conversation took place near the marina could be significant.’

“But”, continues Hollingsworth, “within days reporters discovered that the private detectives had failed to make the most basic enquiries before announcing their potential breakthrough. Members of Edgar’s team who visited Barcelona had failed to speak to anyone working at the restaurant near where the agitated woman was seen that night, neglected to ask if the mystery woman had been filmed on CCTV cameras, and knew nothing about the arrival of an Australian luxury yacht just after Madeleine vanished”.

He added: “The apparent flaws in this latest development were another salutary lesson for Kate and Gerry McCann, who have relied on private investigators after the Portuguese police spent more time falsely suspecting the parents than searching for their daughter. For their relations with private detectives have been frustrating, unhappy and controversial ever since their daughter’s disappearance in May 2007”.

Hollingsworth, it seems, was raising the uncomfortable suggestion that this whole press conference was not a genuine attempt to follow up an alleged sighting of Madeleine, but merely a public relations exercise.

Dr Martin Roberts, in an article written on 7 August 2009, the day after the press conference, made the following observations on this press conference:

“Unexpectedly, as if from the depths of the Black Lagoon, the McCann case has acquired both a new witness and a new (female) suspect. Opening yesterday's press conference, Clarence Mitchell intoned: ‘The investigators or I will not be revealing any detail of what was said to the witness by the woman’. Less than 24 hours later and the press are chorusing exactly what was said to the witness by the woman; well, almost, anyway.

“During a conversation which 'lead investigator' Dave Edgar described as lasting ‘two or three minutes’ (as long as it takes to boil an egg) the woman is said to have asked the same question three times. That explains, perhaps, why ‘The Sun’ and The ‘Daily Mirror’ quote her as asking: ‘Have you got her? Have you got the child?’, whereas The Daily Express rendition is: ‘Are you here to deliver my new daughter?’ Or were there two independent 'leaks' to the press perhaps?

“This sharply-dressed lady is clearly not the sharpest tool in the shed if it took her a full three minutes to recognise a case of mistaken identity. But maybe it was good old British bravado that sustained her interest in a married, middle-aged, wannabe playboy. A source close to the investigation in Portugal told the ‘Daily Express’, apparently: ‘The new witness is a senior bank manager. He was in Barcelona for his brother's stag do. He was not drinking because he was keeping an eye on his brother’. The source might have done well to share this detail with Dave Edgar who, when asked about the same individual at the press conference, said: ‘The witness had been drinking. He wasn't drunk’.

“Clearly, an interval of two years and the intrusion of 'personal reasons' stimulated selective amnesia in this instance.

“Turning to the seemingly mischievous female (an antipodean speaker of Castillian and/or Catalan - or 'Strine' even), it is worth paging back 24 hours to yesterday's press conference, and the following exchange which took place shortly before its conclusion [DE = Dave Edgar].

Q: “How does this match what...what happened in Portugal? You suspect that she arrived in Barcelona by yacht. How does this match what could have happened in Praia da Luz?”

DE: “All I say is, it...it's something we looked at. It's possible to get there by yacht. It's, errm...a busy port, Barcelona, it, errr...you know, there's yachts there from all over the world. There's cruise ships land there, there's ferry ships land there so it...it's entirely possible” (i.e. that she arrived by yacht).

Q: “And how does this match...the previous E-fits that you had of the man that was seen by Jane Tanner in Praia da Luz? Do these two stories match at all?”

DE: “Well, obviously, the Jane Tanner sighting, she's...her perception was it was a man and this...this is a woman. We obviously haven't...Jane Tanner could have been wrong - it could have been a woman, errm...so we've got an open mind on that”.

This admission by former Detective Inspector Dave Edgar that Jane Tanner ‘might have seen a woman’ at 9.15pm on Thursday 3 May, the night Madeleine went missing, was truly extraordinary. Time and time again she insisted that she had seen a man and had given a detailed and accurate description of him. She had maintained in her rogatory interview with Leicestershire Police in April 2008 that she ‘wanted to be believed’. Yet now Edgar totally undermined her various statements by saying she might have mistaken a woman for a man.

Just as extraordinary, there had to date been no fewer than 14 photofits, E-fits and artists’ impressions of the alleged abductor issued at different times, who were given a wide variety if names on the internet such as ‘egghead-man’, ‘bundleman’, ‘George Harrison man’, ‘Cooperman’, monster man’ and ‘spotty man’. Yet now the McCanns latest ‘crack’ team of the detectives were suggesting that we should be searching for a woman, not a man.

But there was at least one more bizarre public relations twist to come from the McCann Team and Dave Edgar. On 13 September, the ‘Belfast Telegraph’ carried the following story:

Ulster detective leading the hunt on why he thinks she's being held captive just like Jaycee Dugard”.

Jaycee Lee Dugard was abducted in the U.S.A. from near a bus stop on her way to school when she was 11 years old. She had dramatically turned up alive at the age of 25, having been held prisoner and used for sexual purposes by her abductor for 14 years. It was a remarkable story by any yardstick.

It followed recent stories of Natascha Kampusch, the Austrian girl found alive after years, having been kidnapped; the awful details of the Fritzl ‘house of horror’ in Paderborn, Germany, and a similar story from England about a man who had sexually abused his daughters for years and fathered children by them.
In the ‘Belfast Telegraph’ report, Aaron Tinney wrote:

“The Ulster detective leading the search for Madeleine McCann today reveals his most chilling theories yet, exclusively to ‘Sunday Life’. Hardened ex-RUC cop Dave Edgar told us he is convinced that little Maddie is imprisoned in a hellish lair - just like kidnapped sex slave Jaycee Lee Dugard.

”He insisted the ‘back from the dead’ reappearance of Jaycee - and the cases of Austrian cellar girls Elisabeth Fritzl and Natascha Kampusch - confirmed his suspicion. And despite fresh leads taking his probe to Australia and Barcelona, the east Belfast man insists the golden-haired youngster is being held just 10 miles from where she was snatched in Praia da Luz two years ago.

“But he warned that the sprawling wilderness where he believes Maddie is languishing is almost impossible to search completely. Belfast-born Dave revealed the grim theories when he opened his case files to us. We spent the day at the Cheshire office he uses to conduct the world's biggest missing person case.

“‘Sunday Life’ can now lift the lid on how his Alpha Investigations Group private eye agency really operates and what it is like to search for the world's most famous missing youngster, who disappeared two years, four months and 10 days ago. When we visited Dave's headquarters, U.S. kidnap victim Jaycee Lee Dugard had still not been rescued and the world had long forgotten her name. But even then, Dave said he was convinced Maddie was entombed by an abductor in a cellar or dungeon, like Austrian cellar victims Natascha Kampusch and Elisabeth Fritzl.

“‘Maddie is most likely being held captive, possibly in an underground cellar, just like Natascha or Elisabeth, and could emerge at any time’, he told us.

“Days later, news broke that tormented Jaycee had been freed from the foul compound where she was abused for 18 years by monster Phillip Garrido. Dave simply said: ‘This just supports my theory that Maddie is alive and imprisoned’.

“There was further backing for his theory when American boy Ricky Chekevdia was found hiding with his mother in a tiny ‘secret room’ two years after he was kidnapped while caught in a custody battle. Former Detective Inspector Dave, who grew up on Belfast's Woodstock Road, was drafted in by Kate and Gerry McCann last November after Spanish investigators failed to find new leads.

“Renowned for leaving no stone unturned in his UK murder investigations, Dave now spends his days with a four-strong team probing every lead that comes in to his office. His partner Arthur Cowley has more than 30 years' policing experience in north-west England - and the pair are backed up by a translator and an ex-police administrator. They have sifted through thousands of emails, answerphone messages and letters to get that one breakthrough lead.

“Last month, the information took Dave's probe to Australia and Barcelona to track a 'Victoria Beckham lookalike' suspect, who spoke with an Australian or New Zealand accent. She was seen asking two British tourists at a marina in Barcelona if they were there to deliver her ‘new daughter’ - three days after Maddie disappeared. But he told us he is now back to focusing on his original theory.

“He still feels Maddie was snatched by a man spotted by the McCanns' friend Jane Tanner, one of the so-called 'Tapas Seven' who dined with them the night Maddie went missing. Dave said: ‘Jane is a very reliable witness and there were other sightings of this man, who Jane saw carrying a little girl in a blanket, in the days leading up to the disappearance’. He feels this is the lone prowler who has Maddie stashed in a cellar or dungeon in the lawless villages around Praia da Luz.

”But Dave warned: ‘This rural, sprawling terrain makes it extremely difficult to search. You could quite easily keep a child there for years and no-one else would know. The person who has Maddie is most likely a paedophile or a person so desperate for a family they were willing to kidnap for it. ‘I wouldn't like to speculate on what is happening to her’.

“Dave says the region where he feels Maddie is being held has attracted many strange characters, including convicted sex offenders. ‘I don't want to generalise or make gross exaggerations, but there are people there living on the edges of society’, Dave said. He added there were as many as nine child sex attacks in the area round Praia da Luz from 2005 to 2007 and the victims included British kids. Some happened as close as 20 miles from Praia da Luz, and six of them were on girls between the ages of three and 10. He is now investigating leads on six child sex offenders, 78 other rapists and sex attackers and 22 vagrants.

“In a glimmer of hope, Dave said: ‘The key thing is no body has been found. When paedophiles kill, they often dump the body nearby, and this isn't the case here. Even if Maddie had been dumped in the sea nearby the resort, the ocean often gives up his victims. Until I find evidence that she is dead, I will keep going’.
“And his plans for the future? ‘I don't know. We could still be sitting here in 10 years. If Maddie is being held, she may be being brought up to speak a different language and not even remember her own name or where she was from. All we can do is try and keep public awareness high - and try and reach as much of that mountainous region outside the resort as we can’.”

Nothing has been heard since then of anyone combing this ‘lawless’ lands for hidden underground lairs, however.
And with a few comments on this latest twist to the Madeleine McCann mystery, we must leave our investigation of the McCanns’ investigators there.

We have the solemn word of Dave Edgar, the man who claimed just one month earlier that the woman with an Australian accent in downtown Barcelona was ‘a strong lead’, that he is now ‘convinced’ that Madeleine is being kept alive in a ‘prison lair’ in the ‘lawless’ area 10 miles around Praia da Luz.

Our question is simply: can we believe him?
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Tony Bennett
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