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British Foreign Office: Timeline - Madeleine McCann Case

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British Foreign Office: Timeline - Madeleine McCann Case

Post by jd on 23.12.11 15:04

December 3rd 2007 is interesting....

BRITISH FOREIGN OFFICE
TIMELINE

John Buck
British Ambassador to Portugal from 2004 to September 2007
Left office the day after the McCanns were made arguidos.

Alexander Wykeham Ellis
British Ambassador to Portugal from September 2007 to January 2011
(See Wikileaks cable between Ellis and US ambassador Al Hoffman)

Note:
Ellis appointed as Director of Strategy for the Foreign Office-expected to start in January 2011. Joanna Kuenssberg O'Sullivan, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy to take an interim role of representing the British diplomatic presence in Portugal until a replacement for Alex Ellis is announced by the Foreign Office.



Thursday May 3, 2007 :
John Buck, the British ambassador in Portugal, called Alípio Ribeiro, the Polícia Judiciária’s national director, on the night that Madeleine disappeared from the Ocean Club.
At around 11 p.m., approximately two hours after the child’s disappearance was communicated, Alípio Ribeiro had to interrupt a private dinner in order to listen to the diplomat.
Friday May 4/ Saturday May 5, 2007 (conflicting reports):
Ambassador Buck drove from Lisbon to Praia da Luz. (Distance is approximately 3 hours by car.)

Saturday May 5, 2007
Drove in from Lisbon "to be with the family after they begged him for help."
Embassy spokesman said Buck was driving down to do everything for the McCanns that he could.
Ambassador Buck and 3 "family liaison officers from Leicestershire police held a private meeting with the McCanns "at the resort" on the afternoon of May 5th.
Announced to reporters that 3 British police agents had arrived from Leicestershire to help with the investigation. He stated that the officers would act as a "liaison" between the McCanns and Portuguese police and between the Portuguese and British police. "..Mr. Buck was there to introduce the family liaison officers to the McCanns..."
The 3 "family liaison officers were flown out "at the request of the Foreign Commonwealth Office.
Leicestershire spokeswoman said the 3 officers were there "simply to assist the family" and were not going to have anything to do with the investigation at this point.
Told reporters that the investigation had been "intensive and extensive".
Reportedly Ambassador Buck "accompanied the couple...during the search on May 5"
Reported to have been "...with the family throughout their ordeal..."
Ambassador Buck's intervention was credited by the McCann's family and friends as being the only reason that the search for Madeleine was upgraded to a major investigation.
"Despite being convinced - for reasons they have refused to make public - that Madeleine is still in the Algarve, Interpol have been alerted about her disappearance and checks were being made at every Portuguese port and airport."

Sunday May 6, 2007
Ambassador Buck attended church service officiated by Father Jose Manuel Pacheco.

Monday May 7, 2007
Ambassador Buck apparently returned to Lisbon (or elsewhere, as later articles stated that he RETURNED to the Algarve on Tuesday May 8th.)
Tuesday May 8, 2007
Ambassador Buck traveled to the Algarve and met the McCanns. Reports were that the meeting lasted an hour.
He gave a television interview in which he said he had been in touch with Portuguese ministers and the prime minister Jose Socrates, and senior police chiefs who assured him everything possible was being done to ensure the safe return of Madeleine. Buck said that he was making sure the links between the British and Portuguese officers were working, after concerns had begun to be expressed regarding the experience and expertise of the Portuguese investigators.
He made a statement to the media announcing the arrival of additional British experts
Said that investigators were in close touch with Interpol and Europol
Said the McCanns were "very grateful for their efforts"
Ambassador Buck was interviewed by the Leicester Mercury. Quote: "As you know, I spent quite a lot of time with the McCann family on Friday and over the weekend. "I wanted to come down today to see Kate and Gerry again and to continue to support our consular staff, who have been working on this for a number of days."

Wednesday May 9, 2007
An email between Portimao and Lisbon of 9 May 2007 was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "Personal Information" exemption: Section 40 (2) and (3) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Further information emerged regarding the 2 additional experts Buck had announced on Tuesday May 8th.
Ambassador Buck said they were "kidnapping experts" and had joined the 3 other British investigators who had been in Portugal since Saturday
"... two 'Cracker-style' criminal behaviour experts from Britain flew into the Algarve yesterday to join investigators..."
They were from CEOP and their dispatch had been organised by the British Foreign Office.
"A spokeswoman for the CEOP said the move was unprecedented and had been organised by the Foreign Office."

Thursday May 10, 2007
A Foreign Commonwealth Office internal email of 10 May 2007 (12a) was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "International relations" exemption: Section 27.1.a (1)Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—( a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State
A Foreign Commonwealth Office internal email of 10 May 2007 (13aa) was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "International relations" exemption: Section 27.1.a.(1)Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—( a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State

Friday May 11, 2007
An email between the Foreign Commonwealth Office and John Buck of 11 May 2007 was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "International relations" exemption: Section 27.1.a. (1)Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—( a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State
An email between John Buck and the Foreign Commonwealth Office of 11 May 2007 was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "International relations" exemption: Section 27.1.a. (1)Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—( a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State
An internal Foreign Commonwealth Office email of 11 May 2007 was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "International relations" exemption: Section 27.1.a.(1)Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—( a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State

Monday May 14, 2007
Ambassador Buck present in Praia da Luz
Spoke to national chief of police in Lisbon and chief investigating officer in the Algarve.
Thanked journalists for respecting the McCann's privacy and said there were impressive resources allocated to the investigation. Said the resources are primarily Portuguese but that there were a number of British police officers working closely with their Portuguese colleagues in the Algarve.
Arrived late for a scheduled news conference and found journalists fleeing toward Casa Lilliana where a search was underway.

Tuesday May 15, 2007
An email between Lisbon and Foreign Commonwealth Office of 15 May 2007 was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "International relations" exemption: Section 27.1.a.(1)Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—( a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State

Wednesday May 16, 2007
A letter from John Buck to Foreign Commonwealth Office of 16 May 2007 was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "International relations" exemption: Section 27.1.a.(1)Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—( a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State

Thursday May 17, 2007
An internal document was sent by the Foreign Office ordering British diplomats 'to avoid offering support' to Robert Murat unless charges were presented against him." (Note: Murat was made an arguido on May 15 and the Foreign Office internal memo was allegedly dated May 17.)

Tuesday May 22, 2007
An email between Portimao and Foreign Commonwealth Office of 22 May 2007 was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "International relations" exemption: Section 27.1.a. (1)Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—( a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State

Thursday May 24, 2007
An email between Portimao and Foreign Commonwealth Office of 24 May 2007 was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "International relations" exemption: Section 27.1.a.(1)Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—( a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State
Ambassador Buck, consular officials and British police had an "informal" meeting with the McCanns "over tea." Reports stated that the McCann's travel plans were up for discussion. The following day Portuguese police issued a detailed description of the "possible suspect".
Reports were that ""...The British embassy duly applied pressure on the Portuguese authorities to find more flexibility in their secrecy laws..."

Friday May 25, 2007
Ambassador Buck met again with the McCanns and British police.
Portuguese police issued detailed description of possible abductor.

Sunday May 27, 2007
News emerged that the McCanns had held discussions with Gordon Brown
Personal intervention of Gordon Brown was reported. Gordon Brown was reported to have urged police to give more public details after the McCanns voiced their concern about the lack of disclosure by Portuguese detectives.

June 18, 2007
A Foreign Commonwealth Office internal email of 18 June 2007 was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "International relations" exemption: Section 27.1.a.(1)Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—( a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State

June 19, 2007
An email between John Buck and Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO)/ Portimao of 19 June 2007 was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "International relations" exemption: Section 27.1.a.(1)Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—( a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other State

June 21, 2007
An email between Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO)/ Lisbon of of 21 June 2007 (19b) was the subject of a Freedom of Information (FOI) request asking for Ambassador Buck's communications related to the McCanns. This email (or a portion of it) was withheld based on "Personal Information" exemption: Section 40 (2) and (3) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

September 10, 2007
Ambassador John Buck was replaced as the British Ambassador to Portugal by Alexander Ellis. It was announced that Buck had "left the diplomatic service".

The press release stated that Mr. Ellis would take up this appointment with "immediate effect."

Background Info re: Alexander Ellis (Source: Guardian/Wikileaks)

"Ellis, a former school teacher, joined Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1990 and moved progressively up the chain to Ambassador. Lisbon was his first foreign tour as a diplomat, followed by postings in Brussels, Madrid and London." He has also served as Director of the EU Enlargement Team in London (2001-2003) and as adviser on energy policies and trade issues (2005-2007) under EC President Jose Barroso.

September 21 2007 (Source: Guardian/Wikileaks)
On September 21, newly-arrived British Ambassador Alexander Wykeham Ellis informed US Ambassador Hoffman that "it was the British police that developed the current evidence against Madeleine McCann's parents."

Ellis informed the Ambassador that former British Ambassador John Buck had accepted a private-sector position at a UK gas company and that his departure had nothing to do with bilateral issues.

"Without delving into the details of the case, Ellis admitted that the British police had developed the current evidence against the McCann parents, and he stressed that authorities from both countries were working cooperatively".

He commented that the media frenzy was to be expected and was acceptable as long as government officials keep their comments behind closed doors.

October 2007
In October 2007 an individual made an FOI request (under the Freedom of Information Act 2000) to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) for information concerning communications between the then Ambassador to Portugal John Buck and the Portuguese police on the subject of the disappearance of the child Madeleine McCann. Reference: FS50188322.
Some information was released straight away and some information was withheld.
Since that time the Foreign Office released "most" but not all of the requested information. (Withheld information noted above.)
The Information Commissioner's Office reviewed the matter and in March 2009 decided that the Foreign Office had complied with section 1(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act but had breeched section 1(1)(b) of the Act by failing to provide the information within the specified time limit.
The commissioner upheld the Foreign Office decision to withold some information, stating that the public interested in withholding the information outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information. The ICO also decided that personal information withheld was done so correctly.

December 3, 2007
A memo was leaked to the Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure regarding a diplomat's concerns about the case.
Questions have been raised as to whether the memo may have been written by Ambassador Buck or someone in his office, although diplomat's name was not published in the newspaper articles.
The leaked memo was routed through the British diplomatic mission in Brussels
The leaked memo was sent "just days" after Madeleine disappeared.
The leaked memo warned the Foreign Office of concerns regarding the McCanns and warned of the risks of siding with the McCanns in public.
The diplomat immediately had doubts after being sent to Praia da Luz due to what he considered to be inconsistencies in their testimonies and "confused declarations" as to the whereabouts of the McCanns and their friends on May 3.
The memo mentions instructions "from London" that consular staff "overstretch their authority and put pressure on Portuguese authorities."
The memo refers to orders sent the previous day from the Foreign Office in London commanding embassy staff to provide all possible assistance to the McCanns and that the McCanns "had to be "accompanied at all times during any contact with the Portuguese police" by a member of consular staff or by British police officers sent out from the UK.
He also mentioned their lack of cooperation with the Portuguese police
The memo was sent *from the Algarve* to the Foreign office days after Madeleine "went missing"
Quote: "With the greatest respect, I would like to make you aware of the risks and implications to our relationship with the Portuguese authorities, if you consider the possible involvement of the couple. "Please confirm to me, in the light of these concerns, that we want to continue to be closely involved in the case as was requested in your previous message."
The Belgian report also stated that Portuguese detectives believe it is possible Madeleine died as the result of an accident on May 3 in the family's holiday apartment and that her parents hid and later disposed of her body with the help of their friends.
They said it is highly significant that almost all of the diplomats involved at the outset have now been taken off the case.

December 12, 2007
Reports emerged that British diplomats had been ordered by the Foreign Office to "avoid offering support" to Robert Murat.
The claim was made that an internal Foreign Office memo had sent the instructions three days after Murat was made an arguido (Note: May 15 is the date Murat was made an arguido.)
According to Spain's El Mundo newspaper, the order was justified due to the "specific nature of the case".
The internal memo allegedly stated that British diplomats were to "avoid offering support" to Murat unless charges were pressed against him.

http://www.newsoutlines.blogspot.com/p/ambassador-john-buck-timeline-madeleine.html

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Re: British Foreign Office: Timeline - Madeleine McCann Case

Post by Ross on 23.12.11 19:12

This is an excellent resource, and kudos to the compiler. Three things strike me about it. Firstly, if anyone reading this is British, as I am, and has ever found themselves in a spot of bother overseas, as I have, what an extraordinarily helpful response from the Foreign Office! I had to keep poking some lowly functionary at the consulate with a sharp stick to remind them I was still there, their indifference to my plight was absolute.
Secondly, that within a hour (not two as reported above) of the report of a disappearance the British Ambassador was already on the case. There is no way that he could have been fully appraised of the details in that short time-frame, and he would know (or be advised) that in child disappearance cases the parents often turn out to be responsible. As an ambassador he is the direct representative of the crown, and there is no way the crown would allow itself to be publicly associated with a convicted criminal. If this was an ordinary case he would dispatch a lower ranked official to the scene to try to ascertain the facts while maintaining a diplomatic silence. To act in the way that did must mean that there was a prepared narrative and he just ran with it.
Thirdly, there's never going to be a conviction. The crown, ex-PMs, the FO, the entire British media, various wealthy individuals and celebrities are never going to be presented with the large helping of humble pie that a conviction would require. Unless the Met review manages to find a patsy to pin it on, there might be a conviction then.
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Re: British Foreign Office: Timeline - Madeleine McCann Case

Post by jd on 23.12.11 19:29

These are my conclusions too Ross. When you think about it, in only an hour since the alarmed was raised while nobody really knew what had happened and Maddie could easily have just wondered off and be found, it does seem quite remarkable that a direct representative of the crown would act in the way he did....

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Re: British Foreign Office: Timeline - Madeleine McCann Case

Post by tigger on 10.10.12 11:33

As I'm working on the overall timelines, I came across this gem, which somehow I missed.
I know a fair amount about the way Embassies and Consulates work and the above account is so far off the scale as to be in the stratosphere.

I'm now trying to create a grand unified timeline of the 3rd of May 2007 and the following days. Every time I stumble over more incredible information!

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Re: British Foreign Office: Timeline - Madeleine McCann Case

Post by tigger on 09.06.13 20:05

I'm bumping this up as I'd like to know how correct this information is:

From JD's post at the top:

Thursday May 3, 2007 :
John Buck, the British ambassador in Portugal, called Alípio Ribeiro, the Polícia Judiciária’s national director, on the night that Madeleine disappeared from the Ocean Club.
At around 11 p.m., approximately two hours after the child’s disappearance was communicated, Alípio Ribeiro had to interrupt a private dinner in order to listen to the diplomat.
unquote.

It's clear that interrupting a private dinner doesn't place the call at 11.00 am the following morning. I'd have to check if Ribeiro is the national director - I thought he was one of the inspectors on the PJ or is this another Ribeiro?

If this call came through at 11.00 - bearing in mind there is no time difference between UK and Portugal, the following cannot have been true:

On the 3rd: (23.40 phone call to Trish Cameron)

Sandy Cameron statement: “On the night of Thursday, May 3, 2007, Patricia received a telephone call from Gerry informing us of the disappearance of Madeleine. [..] He seemed frustrated with the slowness of the searches in Portugal, with the fact that the borders had not been closed, and with the fact that sniffer dogs were not being used. Patricia and I contacted the British Embassy to try and help in this regard.”
unquote

I must say I've always felt this was a little strange. Gerry was phoning the Consul quite happily, so why should the Camerons have phoned the Embassy?
Is it the case that there had to be an explanation for the amazingly fast response from the Embassy? If John Buck phoned Ribeiro at 11.00 he either had the information from another source of he is psychic.
The telephone records don't lie, the call was at 23.40 to Cameron. Imo the whole story of the Camerons calling the Embassy was dreamt up at a later stage. Just as I don't believe Philomena or John McCann got Gordon Brown on the line asap.

I do believe John McCann when he said that they had favours to call in and they called them in. So that implies the 'help' wasn't given freely?
Makes a lot more sense to me.





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Re: British Foreign Office: Timeline - Madeleine McCann Case

Post by tigger on 10.06.13 10:06

A very strange thought has occurred to me: if the FO was aware of a 'problem'before the zero hour of 10.00 pm 3/5/2007, could they not have taken a decision to help in quite another way? Such as transporting the body of a "sick" child (who might unfortunately die) to the UK in a private plane? When everything could have been discretely swept under the carpet?
Imo the massive government take-over of the whole affair was a lot more complicated than going for the above.
So might it be the case that someone at the time thought it was a good idea to have this abduction scenario play out? Because if would further their own agenda? - and when they realised that the main players didn't have the intelligence to come up with a consistent account and had left big fat clues all over the place, was it too late to change?

That is if John Buck's call did come that evening before twelve, direct to the director of the P.J. It could not have been a dinner the following evening, as John Buck was in PdL fairly early that day and would have spoken with the top PJ officials. No interrupted dinner that evening I'd think for Ribeiro, who'd already be looking at the first reports.

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