Libel trial McCann v Goncalo Amaral -
Day 13 – Final defence speeches
The hearing as it happened
(10.12.2014, 12:15 pm)
a) The lawyer for Goncalo Amaral, Dr
Miguel Cruz Rodrigues
MCR first says that he will limit
his speech to the essential matter.
He speaks hammering the
table once in a while with a
marker. In the other hand he
holds notes but he hardly
looks at them.
He gets effectively straight to the
point by saying that this action is in
fact the way the McCanns have found to
allow themselves to feel free from their
guilt concerning the disappearance of
their daughter due to neglect.
MCR underlines an indirect lack
of coordination with the police entities
since the companions of the McCanns
didn't go to Portugal to take part in
the reconstitution* requested by
the prosecutor, an attitude that they
knew would result in the shelving of the
Referring to the AG report, he observes
that the claimants complied with its
terms, instead of protesting as the
report suggests they could or should
The McCanns spoke of their state of mind
being destroyed ; they mentioned
anxiety, lack of appetite, sleep
deprivation and feeling bad. However it
seems impossible to prove whether this
was due to the book or to the inevitable
feeling of guilt concerning their own
behaviour, lack of vigilance and limited
collaboration with the police
And nothing more was said.
* I purposely do not
translate the Portuguese "reconstituicão"
with the British
those two processes have
neither the same principle
(real protagonists vs
actors) nor the same
objective (seizing reality
vs jogging memories).
b) The lawyer for Guerra&Paz, Dra Fatima
de Oliveira Esteves
She first admires the judge's patience
and pays her respects to her colleagues.
She then greets the journalists
(there's only a British one, with a
translator, in the court room) while
noting that whenever the claimants are
present the room is full whereas when
they're not, like to-day, the room is
deserted, inferring from this that the
defendant Goncalo Amaral is of no
FOE speaks also with her
arms, one hand holding notes
that she hardly consults.
In the perspective of what the claimants
intend with this action, she thinks that
a story has to be told in a few
sentences : four couples go on holiday
with their little children. At night
they have dinner close by and leave the
children on their own in their bedrooms,
sleeping. One disappears... The children
FOE recalls that every time any
child disappears, that child's parents
She stresses that the McCann facts were
widely spread and published. It was the
news (about the case), and not Goncalo
Amaral, who shaped the image of the
parents in the MSM.
Here Dra Fatima Esteves
holds up GA's book while
thumbing the pages and asks
the audience to look at its
size and thickness.
There's irony in her
voice when she turns towards
GA, who is sitting at the
bottom of the bench, next to
his lawyer and asks..
this product of your imagination written
within 24 hours, Goncalo Amaral ?
FOE observes that the statements
of the claimant's witnesses have been
very vague. Two of these witnesses have
been invited by Dra Isabel Duarte to
hand in a written statement after their
respective hearings (the judge
initially rejected those statements, but
an appeal was made and won).
About the first of these statements,
Alan Pike's, FOE remarks that he
provided a psychological support because
of the disappearance of the child and
not because of GA's book. But later Alan
Pike was contacted when the McCanns were
made arguidos and less than two days
after they had left Portugal.
According to AP, the effects of a
secondary trauma can be the worst, but,
FOE wonders, how can it be measured and
compared to a primary trauma ?
When, in the other written statement,
David Trickey says that the situation is
potentially traumatic for the McCann
twins, he clearly means the
disappearance of their sister, not the
existence of the book. Therefore their
well being depends on their parents, not
on Goncalo Amaral. However DT concludes
"because of the publication of the
book", after having listed all the known
traumas related to the disappearance of
a sibling. But the trauma was not
because of the book.
GA cannot be blamed for the aberrations
of the newspapers.
FOE thinks that the financial
aspect is central in this action and
starts answering some of the claimant
She understands that the feeling of
guilt, the status of arguido and
the media pressure didn't make the life
of the McCanns comfortable.
But it was not the fault of Goncalo
FOE then observes that the
interference of the UK police went over
acceptable limits. Every time something
was requested, the UK police intervened.
About the McCann twins, If the claimants
didn't want them to hear about GA's
book, they should not have launched the
present action. GA is being persecuted
because he dared to think that the
parents could have something to do with
the crime. This lies at the heart of
FOE refers to the fact that the
case was shelved because the
reconstitution (see note above)
was made impossible. Now the case was
only reopened due to alleged new
evidence. But the public interest has
dwindled and actually the claimants
never asked for the reopening of the
What about the Met investigation ? One
witness (JT) points to the guilt of
Robert M, the little girl is buried
somewhere but where ? Excavations and
new interviews are scheduled...
It's normal to want to write about a
case, the secrecy of justice isn't in
Finally Dra Fatima Esteves reports that,
as the claimants requested the extracts
of GA's accounts, Guerra&Paz, who
provided the documents, reacted
requesting the extracts of
Madeleine's Fund. Though the answer
wasn't negative, they desisted because
what really matters for Guerra&Paz is
And so it ended.
c) The lawyer for TVI, Dr Miguel
As Dra Fatima Esteves also did, Dr
Miguel Coroadinha thanks the judge for
the exemplary way she lead this action.
Like her, he opens his arms when
speaking and his voice's intonation is
benignant. He has no visible notes.
He first observes that, on the day
before (Tuesday 9th), the Red Tops'
first pages were again about the
McCanns, not about this trial, but about
the Algarve, the Met and the new
suspects. Therefore one has to infer
that the case is still high on the
Unlike most cases, the media interest
has not decreased, perhaps because of
the mystery, the lack of evidence on
But one has to admit that if the
investigation was criticised and
campaigns of information or
disinformation were launched, it came
from the claimants. There is no memory
of a case of the disappearance of a
child that has remained in the news for
so long. If this case deserves to be
studied, it is at least for that reason.
When Goncalo Amaral's book was
published, after the investigation was
closed, it boosted the public attention
because for the first time a thesis
different from the abduction was
proposed to the public.
MC remarks that numbers have to
be taken with a pinch of salt. Telling
the court that "millions of spectators"
watched the documentary isn't accurate.
"2 million" is just the top of the
curve. Millions of people were in
contact with the program, having put it
on with the intention of watching it,
but the curve shows that they didn't see
People have a legitimate curiosity for
certain things and TVI followed that,
intending to offer different
perspectives about the McCann case. This
is why TVI wished to
broadcast both McCanns' documentary
(directed by Emma Loach) and by A
verdade da mentira inspired
documentary. He recalls that
McCanns decried the formal contract
signed with TVI when they discovered
that TVI had programmed GA's
documentary. Hence they opted for SIC.
Attention to the case went on,
investigations did too. Regarding the
damages, it is difficult to distinguish
the pain due to the disappearance of a
child and the pain due to the thesis of
The Expresso interview of the McCanns,
published on the 6th of September 2008,
shows how much they were conditioned by
Expresso – Did you read The Truth of the
Lie, the book that GA wrote ?
Both McCanns – No.
KMC – Why would I ?
GMC – I won't learn anything from
Expresso – It was a success in Portugal.
GMC – Was it ? How many copies did it
Expresso – Approximately 200 thousand...
GMC – That is what can be called illicit
At that time the McCanns didn't
highlight the book.
Only later did they understand what the
book suggested :
a fact that was the main mistake of this
particular criminal investigation (but
no atonement here). That fact was
omitting to inquire about the parents
after 24 hours, as Moita Flores
underlined in his statement.
MC observes (a laugh in his
voice) that it can't be denied that
there was a certain subservience in the
relations with the UK police.
the inclusion in the process of Alan
Pike's and David Trickey's written
'complementary' statements, observing
that those witnesses are close to the
claimants, without the necessary
distance for a contradictory debate.
According to MC, these written reports
should be discredited. (they were
deposited last January but rejected by
the judge as was the request of both
McCanns to take the stand, an appeal was
filed and won at the High Court for the
three requests, a detail that partly
explains why this trial was postponed
for so many months).
Dr Miguel Coroadinho finally suggests
that the wish of the McCanns is that no
story other than theirs remains in
people's minds. But democracy is
vigilant and does not allow that. No
unique and exclusive version of the
McCann case will make history. 7 years
distance is sufficient time for GA's
book to be part of it.
And he said nothing else
d) The lawyer for VCFilmes, Dr. Henrique
Dr Henrique Costa Pinto also starts by
thanking the judge and his colleagues.
Unlike the claimant lawyer, once he
begins speaking he doesn't refer to
notes. His voice has an all round casual
He observes that the project was only to
produce a documentary's version with
subtitles. Regarding the number of
unsold copies among the sold ones, those
that had not been invoiced are the
copies that remained. Destroying them
had a cost. Regarding the providencia
cautelar (summons for urgent
proceedings), he mentions the existence
of a pirate version that had damaged
Goncalo Amaral was entitled to receive
10% of copy rights, but it was
calculated after (and not before)
discounting the production costs).
HCP says that in his exhaustive
analysis of the GA's book about the
McCann investigation, Dr Ricardo Correia
Afonso insists that its conclusion is
linked to the events of September 2007,
leading to the arguido status
being put on the McCanns. There's also
the issue of why the case was shelved,
an issue that is linked to the lack of
collaboration of the claimants'
companions which caused damage to their
Here HCP refers to a passage of the AG
Temos para nos que os
foram os arguidos McCann,
que perderam a possibilidade
de comprovarem aquilo que
desde a sua constituicão
como arguidos têm protestado
: a sua inocência face ao
fatídico acontecimento ;
também estorvada restou a
investigacão, porque tais
factos ficaram por
'We believe that the main
damage was caused to the
(arguidos) McCann, who
lost the possibility to
confirm with proof what they
have protested since they
were constituted formal
suspects : their innocence
towards the fateful event;
the investigation was also
disturbed, because such
facts needed elucidation and
remained deprived of it.'
HPC reminds also that, according
to the AG Report, the death of the child
was the more likely hypothesis.
(…) não foi conseguido
qualquer elemento de prova
que permita a um homem
médio, à luz dos critérios
da lógica, da normalidade e
das regras gerais da
sequer um prognostico
consistente sobre o seu
destino e inclusivamente – o
mais dramático – apurar se
ainda está viva ou se está
morta, como parece mais
'(…) it was not possible to
obtain any piece of evidence
that would allow for an
average man, in the light of
the criteria of logics,
normality and general rules
of experience... even to
produce a consistent
prognosis about her (the
child's) destiny and
inclusively - the most
dramatic - to establish
whether she is still alive
or if she is dead, as seems
The book and the documentary, HPC
remarks, reflect what is said at the end
of the documentary :
O mistério persiste, o
ex-inspector acredita que um
dia se saberá a verdade. Por
enquanto só sabemos que no
dia 3 de Maio de 2007
Madeleine McCann desapareceu
na Praia da Luz. Tinha 3
anos de idade e era um
'The mystery persists. The
former inspector believes
that some day the truth will
be known. For the time being
all we know is that, on the
3rd of May 2007, Madeleine
McCann disappeared in Praia
da Luz. She was 3 years old
and she was a happy child.'
As they didn't provide the evidence
requested by the Public Ministry, Dr
Henrique Costa Pinto notes, the
claimants grew irritated with the
And that's how this hearing ended.
Considering the time needed for the
volume of informations to be
digitalised, the judge asks the lawyers
whether the 21st of Janeiro 2015 would
suit them for the next session, one in
which she will let them know what she'll
retain as "matéria
(matter that can be used as evidence)
within the limits fixed for this trial.
Thanks to Astro (who
translated the AG report) and Ima, we
were three "people" at that hearing.
My gratefulness to Lyall,
CPN and SP who help me to think against