A collection of interesting, and sometimes controversial, press articles and general comments about various
aspects of the case, covering 01 January 2008 to 30 June 2008.
Who do we blame?, 14 March 2008
Compare and contrast the stories of Shannon Matthews and Madeleine McCann - and what we see is a
narrative of nasty class prejudice
March 14, 2008 6:00PM
The story of Shannon Matthews' disappearance - and dramatic reappearance, apparently alive and well, today - has confirmed
the degree to which class is still the cultural register in our purportedly classless society.
The comparison between Madeleine McCann and Shannon Matthews is saturated by class. It isn't just a matter of resources,
and which children attract our attention. The comparison registers class as a courier of moral tales. Both stories dramatise
the distribution of virtue and blame that fixes the working class and the middle class in moral hierarchies.
Shannon Matthews' neighbourhood, community and family are poor, lacking in resources, and yet they have spontaneously
displayed remarkable resourcefulness - children organised a vigil, adults went out searching for the missing child, community
intelligence led the police to her. And once she was found, a party was promised.
Karen Matthews has acted appropriately throughout: she was waiting for Shannon at home; she contacted the police as soon
as she had exhausted all the obvious locations. And yet, our eye is drawn to her poverty, numbers of partners, cans of lager
going into her household. Everything about Ms Matthews' life has been up for scrutiny.
There has been talk of domestic violence. I can think of several high-profile "human interest" tragedies in which the
domestic violence endured by a middle-class woman has been successfully screened from public knowledge.
Karen Matthews has been subjected to a Today programme interrogation that appeared to position the mother as the perpetrator:
Sarah Montague asked her seven times about her lifestyle. Her patronising preoccupation was how many men there have been in
her life, not her judgment about them. Has any other, apparently blameless mother been so sweetly assailed?
The McCanns attracted a torrent of money and celebrity solidarity. The McCann campaign was focused on them as young,
professional, personable victims. Her silence, his flat verbosity, contributed only to a sympathetic sense that they were
traumatised. Their reputation as good parents was redeemed by their apparently sleepless quest to find their child. They needed
to be redeemed, of course, because they had left their children sleeping alone in their holiday apartment. They said their
daughter had been abducted. Every parents' nightmare - and the campaign invited every parent's sympathy. "There but for the
grace of God," people said.
It was the McCann campaign, not the police, that guided the world's thinking about the child's fate: that their daughter
had been taken from them. She was not dead, they kept saying; their religious faith bathed them in piety and in merit. The
campaign's determined hypothesis got people, from airports to football grounds, posting their child's image to keep her in
the collective consciousness as a child who was alive somewhere.
Their parenting was simultaneously aired and withdrawn from scrutiny in this crest of sympathy. Yes, they were drinkers.
But wine, not cider or lager. Yes, they were arguably neglectful; they'd left their children alone, but hey, who hasn't. Yes,
they'd taken their children away for a week and didn't seem to spend much time with them. That didn't make them bad people;
it just made them tired parents. The father apparently preferred golfing to child care. Well, men!
Their resources - money, looks, religion, organisation, focus (all a function of class) - were all mobilised to protect
them and to obscure the question of culpability. It was the McCann's photo-opportunity with the Pope that eventually exposed
the campaign to criticism as inappropriate, not to say unseemly. And yet, even when they ultimately emerged as suspects, they
still attracted personal, hyper-identification in the press and a sense of outrage that a foreign reporter had dared ask them
about their own culpability and that social workers - the stormtroopers of the Daily Mail's gallery of hate figures - dared
assess their competence as carers.
No one thought Karen Matthews had abducted or killed her daughter - and yet she has been judged. Some commentators think
they can say anything they like about this woman and even to her. She has spoken with reticent dignity, yet her class makes
her available for blame. The McCanns are official suspects. And yet - unlike Karen Matthews - they are presumed innocent.
Madeleine: in Praia da Luz, there's
not even a traffic cop, 06 April 2008
Madeleine: in Praia da Luz, there's not even a traffic cop Guardian
Ned Temko, Praia da Luz
The Observer, Sunday April 6 2008
This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday April 06 2008 on p8 of the News
section. It was last updated at 00:01 on April 06 2008
The 'missing' posters are mostly torn down. The hotels are preparing for the first
of the season's tourists. Police are still talking to witnesses, but there is growing acceptance that Madeleine McCann's disappearance
will never be explained.
The good news for the reception desk at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz is that
they have every prospect of a full house for late April and early May. It is particularly welcome this year, as tourist numbers
have been down because of the pound weakening against the euro and Easter falling early.
The downside is that many
of their guests are likely to arrive not with bathing costumes, tennis rackets and sun cream, but with laptops, microphones
and television cameras. And their focus will be on the one flat in the Mark Warner holiday complex that has lain empty for
11 months: Apartment 5-A, where Madeleine McCann disappeared on the evening of 3 May, 2007, a few days before her fourth birthday.
media's first-anniversary invasion has not yet begun in earnest. Last week only a trickle of British newspaper reporters,
the odd photographer and a team from al-Jazeera television were in evidence. There was no sign of the Polícia Judiciária,
Portugal's equivalent of the CID, nor even an ordinary traffic cop, outside the flat where Madeleine was last seen. Only a
flimsy silver chain barring entry to the back garden entrance recalls the tragedy, the agonising efforts to find Madeleine
that became a worldwide campaign and the deepening mystery surrounding the case after her parents, Kate and Gerry, were interrogated
and declared arguidos, or formal suspects, by the Portuguese authorities last August.
The posters of Madeleine that
filled every shop window in the weeks after her disappearance are gone. Just one faded image of her is still on display -
on the bulletin board outside the church, where the local Catholic and Anglican communities hold an ecumenical service every
Friday to highlight the case of Madeleine and of other missing children around the world.
Poignantly, a poster recently
pinned up at the entrance of the Baptista supermarket, a few dozen yards downhill from the flat where Madeleine last hugged
her mother goodnight, pleads in Portuguese: 'Não te esqueças de mim.' Don't forget about me.
In recent weeks, to the
alarm of Madeleine's parents back home in the Leicestershire village of Rothley, that had seemed a real possibility. In Portugal
the active search for their missing daughter by the police and hundreds of local residents on the oceanfront, in gardens,
olive groves and scrubland has long since ended.
The police, and the Spanish-based Metodo 3 detective agency hired
by the McCanns, are still responding to 'sightings' or claims of fresh evidence of what has happened to her, but these have
become less and less frequent. A recent claim by a taxi driver on the eastern end of the Algarve coast, near the Spanish border,
that he had driven Madeleine and four adults to a nearby hotel on the night of her disappearance appears to have come to nothing.
So, too, has a freelance search by a Madeira-based lawyer of a lake down a twisting potholed lane outside the Algarve's old
Moorish capital, Silves.
The police investigation, and the often lurid local newspaper headlines accompanying it, have
gone quiet. Last October a new officer was put in charge. The official spokesman for the investigation has been replaced by
two Lisbon-based officials who were politely replying last week to all press inquiries by saying: 'Sorry. It is our policy
that we cannot comment at all on the case.'
In fact, there are now signs of new movement in the investigation - and
every prospect that, starting in the next few days and building towards the first anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance,
her case will again be front-page news in Portugal, Britain and around the world.
Early this week a team of Portuguese
police is due to travel to Britain to re-interview witnesses from the so-called 'Tapas Nine' - the seven friends who, along
with the McCanns, were dining at a poolside tapas restaurant 50 yards from Apartment 5-A on the night Madeleine disappeared.
Particularly in the light of a comment by Portugal's Justice Minister, Alberto Costa, two months ago that the investigation
was nearing its conclusion, the mission is likely to prove critical in determining in what direction, and at what pace, the
next stage of the largest police probe in Portugal's history is now taken.
The only other person named as a suspect
in the case would already seem to be out of the frame, to the cautious relief of his distraught family, veteran pillars of
Praia da Luz's expatriate British community. Robert Murat, 33, was on a week's visit from Britain to his mother Jenny's home,
yards from Apartment 5-A, when Madeleine disappeared. But he cancelled his return flight, stayed on in Praia da Luz, and was
informally helping the investigators as a translator when a British Sunday newspaper journalist told the police she thought
he was acting suspiciously.
They brought him in for questioning and - largely, Portuguese polices sources have said,
on the strength of British crime profilers - formally made him an arguido in mid-May. They secured a routine three-month extension
to his suspect status last January, but in recent weeks have returned a computer, his clothing and other property removed
from the home that Murat shares with his mother.
The McCanns, too, are drawing some hope from the Portuguese police
team's visit to Britain. Their spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said yesterday that while the couple had made clear their readiness
to speak to the investigators, or even to return to Portugal if required, 'there has been no request to talk to them'. He
also revealed that, contrary to media speculation in recent months, the visiting investigators have conveyed no plans to conduct
any searches in Britain, to take possession of Kate's personal diary, or of Cuddle Cat - Madeleine's favourite toy - which
Kate constantly clasped by her side during the weeks after her disappearance.
But an unprecedentedly detailed account
of the days and weeks after Madeleine's disappearance from a well-placed Portuguese police source suggests that - after numerous
fruitless twists and turns in the investigation, and in the absence of either a 'body or a confession' - the police focus
is on the accounts of the McCanns and their friends of precisely what happened to Madeleine on the night she vanished.
source has not suggested there is evidence that Madeleine's parents were involved in the disappearance, or the possible death,
of their child - a suggestion that Kate and Gerry have passionately denied, pressing home the point last month in securing
a half-million-pound settlement from the Express newspaper group over stories suggesting they were implicated. Indeed, amid
the rash of reports last September suggesting there was DNA proof linking Madeleine's parents to her death, the same police
source emphasised that the DNA samples had proved to be degraded, incomplete, possibly contaminated and inconclusive. But
the source has said that, almost from the outset, particularly amid growing Portuguese police scepticism that Murat had any
connection with Madeleine's disappearance, the 'key' to the investigation had been in unravelling what the Polícia Judiciária
felt were 'difficulties and contradictions' in the accounts given by the McCanns and their friends in the immediate aftermath
of the tragedy.
Part of the police concern, he said, involved details of Kate and Gerry's initial statements - whether
the back window and shutters in the flat had been open or closed, for instance, and whether Gerry had entered from the front
door or the back and exactly when the parents or their friends had checked to make sure Madeleine and her then two-year-old
twin siblings, Sean and Amelie, were safe and well.
Equally crucial to somehow resolving the case, he said, were the
accounts of the 'Tapas Nine' - and particularly Jane Tanner, who earlier this year went public in a BBC Panorama documentary
with her account of having seen a man carrying a child in pink pyjamas like Madeleine's outside the McCanns' flat at 9.15pm.
'Jane at first made no mention of the pyjamas,' the source insisted. He said that this detail and a number of others
about the man apparently carrying a child emerged only later in her statements to the police. He said the initial statements
by the McCanns and each of their friends had 'never fit together' and that the police were particularly sceptical when, after
the group had had time to talk a few days later, an 'agreed time-line' seemed to emerge.
Mitchell said yesterday that,
far from opposing the latest move by the Portuguese police to press their concerns over the 'Tapas Nine' testimony, the McCanns,
Tanner and their other friends eagerly welcomed the opportunity, in the hope of finally bringing the legal process to an end
and focusing 'on what really matters - Madeleine'. Some of the friends, he said, had even considered going back to Portugal
to try to speed an end to the investigation.
Mitchell said he was not surprised by the inconsistencies in the initial
accounts. 'You had nine people in a bar without watches on, without mobile phones, and absolute panic set in when they realised
what had happened. They were running around and then several hours later they were forced to sit down and recount their movements
in exact detail and they were at sixes and sevens... We would say that, if the police had a perfect time line across nine
people, that would be a damn sight more suspicious than the fractured, illogical composite statements they might have got.'
although Mitchell was not in Praia da Luz in the days after Madeleine disappeared, he said his personal contacts since then
with Tanner and the other friends had convinced him there was 'nothing furtive or suspicious' about the time-line provided
to the police. 'Everything I've seen and heard on a private, human level tells me that this is an innocent group of people
who have got caught up in this awful situation and they're doing their best to try and help their friends on a decency level.'
Maia, a leading Portuguese television journalist who co-authored the first of what are now five books on Madeleine in Portugal,
said yesterday his gut feeling was that - barring an unexpected breakthrough, or a formal police request to re-interview Kate
or Gerry - the investigation was finally nearing an inevitable end, with the mystery of the missing girl no closer to resolution.
the parents, the next few days and weeks are likely to be difficult, with the approach of the anniversary of the disappearance
of a daughter nearing her fifth birthday - especially in Rothley, in the home Kate had said she could not bear to live in
again without having Madeleine back.
'Some days, for both Kate and Gerry, are better than others,' Mitchell said.
'But they still believe she is quite possibly alive. There has been no evidence to the contrary.
'And every day that
goes by without her being found makes them think that she must be somewhere, very well hidden, and that someone must have
How life changed for those caught in the public glare of a heart-rending case
As the first anniversary
of Madeleine's disappearance draws closer, her parents are back home in the Leicestershire village of Rothley. Gerry has returned
to full-time work as a cardiologist, on call, with regular NHS hours. Kate, a GP, has decided not to go back to work at a
local surgery until the fate of her daughter is resolved. She takes Sean and Amelie to nursery school every day and is in
frequent phone or email contact with 'Find Madeleine' campaign organisers, charities, the family's lawyers and police.
are good days and bad days,' says the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell, but they take hope from the belief that, in the
absence of any evidence to the contrary, their daughter is still alive.
Meanwhile, they have thrown themselves into
urging Britain and the rest of Europe to improve co-ordination in dealing with missing children and to adopt an American-style
'amber light' alert system to speed up attempts to find them.
That will be the core message of a British television
documentary in which they plan to take part on the first anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance. 'They feel that if, God
forbid, Madeleine is not found, that will be a fitting legacy for her,' says Mitchell.
McCanns' first spokesman
Within hours of the news of Madeleine's disappearance, Alex Woolfall of the
London-based PR agency Bell Pottinger was asked by Mark Warner to fly to Praia da Luz as part of a 'crisis' team to help her
traumatised parents deal with the media.
'People forget there was quite a lot of hope at the time and we figured that
if we got photos out someone would call up and say: "Yes, I've just spotted her."'
Woolfall says he feels the way
the media behaved was 'unique and extraordinary - and I put that down to the fact that so many of the journalists out there
were doing the story as parents first, and journalists second. It was: there, but for the grace of God, go we.'
the approach of the anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance, he says, he has inevitably found himself reflecting on her parents'
agony. 'This year a very good friend of mine has had a baby, and I've watched him grow over the last 12 months. And he's become
an individual rather than a baby now.
'And I just cannot imagine what it would be like to have a child and bring up
a child and then to have that child taken from you. I just feel deeply, deeply sad for Kate and Gerry. I don't think anyone
can really imagine what is like to go out on holiday with three children and to come back with two.'
'A year in hell' is how friends of Murat describe the experience of the
Briton, raised in Portugal, who had been helping the police with translations for the case and suddenly found himself declared
a formal suspect barely a week after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
In the intervening months, he, his mother
and other relatives in Praia da Luz and the nearby beach village of Brugão have had to come to terms with police questioning.
Murat's mother Jenny, 72, says that she, her son and others in the family have tried to stay positive and have kept a daily
diary of their ordeal in an effort to help them to cope.
Now, with the police having returned Robert's possessions
and agreed to his going to England, she says they are holding out hope that he may soon be released from arguido status. 'When
all is said and done,' she said, 'that is still what matters - the fate of this poor little girl.'
Metodo 3 is a Barcelona-based agency that built its reputation on corporate fraud
investigations before the McCanns engaged it on a six-month contract last year to follow up reported sightings of the missing
girl throughout Europe and in Morocco.
But with its managing director, Francisco Marco Fernández, making increasingly
upbeat remarks about the prospects for a breakthrough on finding Madeleine - most controversially, a statement late last year
that 'God willing, we hope she will be home by Christmas' - the agency has now agreed that all comments should go through
the McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell.
Metodo 3 remains on a monthly retainer of £8,000, Mitchell says. 'The agency
are very good on the ground. They're very passionate and committed to the search for Madeleine.' In fact, he told The Observer,
the family's hope is that the Portuguese police will ultimately close their investigation and pass on all the relevant papers
to Metodo 3 to reinvigorate the search.
The family friend
has been haunted by the thought that she could have prevented Madeleine's disappearance. Tanner, 38, was among the seven friends
with the McCann parents at the restaurant on the night in question. She had gone back to check on her own children and is
certain she saw a man carrying a pyjama-clad child nearby.
Generally, Tanner has avoided making public remarks but,
in a recent BBC Panorama, she said: It's important that people know what I saw, because I believe Madeleine was abducted.'
The resort that was rocked one night
in May, 11 April 2008
The resort that was rocked one night in May Guardian
When Madeleine McCann went missing on May 3 2007, a Portuguese village became the focus of worldwide attention
Friday April 11 2008
Praia da Luz – originally a tiny fishing village – has attracted British tourists for the past few
decades but, before Madeleine McCann went missing, the destination was one of the best-kept secrets on the Algarve.
The Ocean Club was one of several collections of tourist accommodation in the holiday town, which is located just
a couple of kilometres west of the larger town of Lagos, about an hour's drive from Faro airport. Owned by the holiday company,
Mark Warner, the club comprises villa-style apartments, set around a series of private areas that include a swimming pool,
tennis courts and restaurant.
Kate and Gerry McCann, and their three children, stayed in an apartment that overlooked a private complex. The
terms of their holiday were simple – half-board, breakfast and evening meal, all for about £1,500.
They had been given a reduction when the Leicester-based couple discovered that, unlike most Mark Warner resorts,
the Ocean Club did not offer a baby-listening service.
The McCanns and their friends – now dubbed by the press as the "tapas seven" – asked for apartments
close together so they were all assigned to block five.
The Paynes were on the floor above the McCanns in the only apartment with a functioning baby monitor.
Russell O'Brien and Jane Tanner had brought a monitor with them, but it didn't get a good signal at the tapas restaurant
50 yards away where the group gathered on May 3.
In the usual style of Mark Warner, the Ocean Club is not a gated, enclosed resort, but a sprawling complex open
to the village of Luz and scattered over such a wide distance that minibuses are used to ferry holidaymakers around.
Many holidaymakers felt that, although the resort was open to the village, it was still safe and secure.
In early May, it was still very quiet, more than a month before the holiday season gets into full swing. Gerry
McCann has said he never saw a soul, except once, on the last night, on his evening checks going back and forth between the
restaurant and the apartment – a walk of about a minute.
As the McCanns endlessly repeated afterwards, if they had thought it was wrong or even risky, they would never
have left their children.
This article is a virtual word-for-word 'steal' from the article by David James Smith, entitled 'Kate and Gerry
McCann: Beyond the smears', published by Timesonline on 16 December 2007.
Smith's article reads:
'The terms of the holiday were half-board, breakfast and evening meal, and the McCanns paid about
£1,500. There had been some reduction when they had discovered that, unlike most Mark Warner resorts, the Ocean Club did not
offer a baby-listening service. Instead, the group had asked for apartments close together, so they were all assigned to Block
5. The Paynes were on the floor above, the only couple with a functioning baby monitor. Russell O’Brien and Jane Tanner
had brought a monitor too, but theirs wasn’t getting much of a signal from the Tapas restaurant 50 yards away.
The Ocean Club was not a gated, enclosed resort in the usual style of Mark Warner, but a sprawling complex open to the
village of Luz and scattered over such a wide distance that shuttle buses were used.
Even though the resort was open to the village, it felt safe and secure, and in early May it was still very quiet. Gerry
never saw a soul, except once, on the last night, on his evening checks, going back and forth between Tapas and the apartment,
an even-paced walk of just under a minute.
As the McCanns endlessly repeated afterwards, if they had thought it was wrong or even risky, they would never have left
'Be very careful, Kate...', 11
11th April 2008
"Mummy, why didn't you come when we were crying last night?"
were Madeleine McCann's haunting words on the day she vanished, as revealed in a newly leaked Portuguese police report.
friends believe it is part of a smear campaign to discredit the couple, who have been campaigning for an "abduction alert
system" to be implemented in Europe.
Their media spokesman talks menacingly of a furious counter-attack, saying 'the
gloves are off' in the PR war.
My hearts go out to them, but I urge Kate and Gerry to be very, very careful.
leaked statement may have been insensitive. But it has served to remind us all that at the core of Maddie's disappearance
is the cruel truth that the McCanns left their three young children alone in an apartment in a foreign country while they
went out to dinner with their friends.
It is hardly the kind of parenting you might expect from a couple who now set
themselves up as children's ambassadors. I have always defended the McCanns' right to fight to the ends of the earth to find
Their campaign on behalf of all abducted children is proof only of their determination that some good should
come from their terrble suffering.
But laying claim to the moral high ground while they are still official suspects
in Portugal was always going to make them vulnerable to attack.
The only comfort for the couple is that Maddie's words
have placed their own lost child exactly where they want her to be - back in the media spotlight.
McCanns must not return to Portugal, 12
McCanns must not return to Portugal Daily Express (No online link)
12th April 2008
Sources cose to Kate and Gerry McCann have indicated they
are most unlikely to comply with a request that they return to Praia de Luz.
Police there want them to take part in
a large-scale re-enactment of the minutes and hours following Madeleine's disappearance. The couple are quite right to turn
down this invitation.
The whole thing has the authentic smell of a trap. What can such a re-enactment possibly achieve
nearly a year on from that dreadful night? Nothing. The trail went cold months ago thanks to the idiotic blundering of Praia
de Luz's finest.
No. The Poruguese police want Kate and Gerry back in their jurisdiction for their own private reasons.
couple remain official suspects but could never to extradited back to Portugal: there isn't a scintilla of evidence against
them. This new proposal is, to my suspicious and cynical eye, an attempt to lure the couple back there, along with the friends
who were with them the night Madeleine vanished, so they can be re-arrested.
The police could pounce on the tiniest
discrepancy in what anyone said and blow it up out of all proportion.
And now as I write this, come reports of
a new smear on the couple from Portuguese police.
I rest my case.
'Crying Shame' - Carole Malone, 13
13 April 2008
I DON'T want to make Kate and Gerry McCann's pain worse than it already is. But they chose to make public their
fury about leaked documents in which they told police Madeleine had said the day before she was snatched: "Mummy, why didn't
you come to us when we were crying?"
So I feel entitled to say, just as publicly, what right do they have to be upset
if it's the TRUTH? Friends reckon the leaking of the documents was a move by Portuguese police to smear the McCanns and sabotage
their visit to the European parliament, where they made an appeal for a Europe-wide alert system for abducted children.
sorry but however much sympathy I have for the McCanns, the fact remains that they repeatedly left their three kids alone
in an unlocked apartment on that holiday, while they went out to dinner with friends.
And they did that even after
Madeleine had told them she'd woken up alone and crying— AND after they'd promised to keep a closer eye on her.
alert system in the world could have prevented what happened to Madeleine.
Only Kate and Gerry could.
Brits love to torture a 'bad mother'
- Melanie Reid, 14 April 2008
In a long media career, the persecution of Kate McCann is the cruellest thing I have seen
April 14, 2008
How many centuries of accumulated spite and misogyny, I wonder,
went into the latest twist in the Madeleine McCann saga. Did the British television presenters feel the remotest twinge of
conscience as they sensationally reported - second-hand via a Spanish television station - the leaks from the Portuguese police
portraying Kate McCann in the worst possible light, as a mother who had left her children to cry?
And did Britain's tabloid editors, themselves presumably sons of mothers and husbands to the mothers of their own
children, flinch even a jot as they ordered the devastating headlines "Mummy, why didn't you come when we cried?" to be unfurled
on their front pages alongside the face of the missing little girl?
I have seen, lived with and been party to many different kinds of sadism in a long media career, but I honestly
think that this latest outbreak of malice towards Kate McCann is just about the cruellest thing I have witnessed.
Many serious writers have deliberately avoided discussing the case of Madeleine. Not because it is not serious,
but because there was no enlightenment we could bring; nothing remotely we could add to the frenzy of distress, loss and bewilderment.
I have avoided reading or watching most of the coverage. It was too harrowing; the couple's grief too visceral
to bear; and I could not stand the treatment they received from the macho, out-of-their-depth Portuguese police. For many
of us, it was enough, briefly, to contemplate the horror of losing our own child. Anything more was prurience and soap opera.
But somehow we have passed a watershed. With this latest betrayal, picking deep at Kate McCann's emotional scars,
we have regressed to the level of the medieval peasants reaching for the ducking stool. Although women suspected of being
witches, I sometimes grimly think, received a fairer fate in their slow drowning than do modern women accused of being bad
mothers, who are tortured to the point of mental disintegration.
And so it is time to speak out in defence of Kate McCann, a woman whom I have never met, but someone who is being
sacrificed to society's tyrannical views about a mother's role.
Even in the enormity of her suffering it seems Kate McCann must be punished for failing to live up to idealised,
romanticised - and wholly unrealistic - maternal standards. Her child cried the night before she disappeared. It is of no
relevance to Madeleine's apparent abduction, but what a glorious stick with which to beat her already guilt-ridden mother.
Why do we do perpetuate this immense cruelty upon women? There is no justice in it. Kate McCann is just the latest
in a long line of high-profile victims of the prevailing fatwa - that all mothers must be perfect, self-sacrificing angels.
From Kate McCann to Louise Campbell (the mother of Molly/ Misbah, the Scots girl who fled to be with her father in Pakistan),
to Britney Spears to Anne Robinson to Frances Shand Kydd, nobody loves to torture a perceived bad mother or a bolter like
the British do.
Any sign of weakness, any suggestion of being "unfit", any hint that a mother is compromising her child by seeking
small freedoms or equality, and the judgment of society is absolute.
Behind the famous names lurk an estimated 100,000 ordinary women who are separated from their children for various
reasons - everything from abduction to the mundanity of being the main earner in divorce. They must simply hide their pain,
die a kind of psychological death for their loss and exist in the shadows. Some, like Paula Clennell, one of the five women
murdered in Ipswich, simply give up all hope when they lose custody of their children. Their problems are too huge; the hole
in their hearts too big to heal.
The taboo surrounding bad motherhood has always struck me as tantamount to pulling wings off butterflies. Vulnerable
women, already heartbroken by their loss, must then face devastating social stigma. If women are honest, they admit the maternal
paragon does not exist outside Catholic mythology. We all fail, and frequently. But women, terrified of being stigmatised,
are often not honest.
You will find out why the media torture Kate McCann if you read the online blogs: it is because there is an audience
desperate, as far as I can see, to join in any kind of attack on a bad mother. Everywhere I looked I found a harshness and
a pitilessness - from both sexes - towards Kate McCann.
Women sanctimoniously pressed their own claims to maternal sainthood: "My sons are teenagers and I still don't
leave them alone." They were also horribly vindictive: "Sorry Kate, but you have only yourself to blame." They even, outrageously,
cited God: "You can never replace the time lost with your children which God has blessed you with."
On the Daily Mail site, women criticised Kate McCann for being photographed smiling. "If I lost my child I don't
think I would ever smile again," they declared pompously.
The Daily Mirror website spoke for itself: "Sadly, due to persistent and serious abuses, we will no longer be hosting
discussions regarding Madeleine McCann. We do not take this action lightly... but the level of debate on the Maddy forums
has gone way beyond what we consider acceptable, with several recent incidents of extremely abusive postings, both against
fellow users and the McCanns."
A society, then, riddled with prejudice, which knows precisely how to attack women where they are most vulnerable,
and thereby control them. I would like to reassure Kate McCann that she is not alone, but rather a member of a growing army
of mothers who share her pain and her pariah status.
In a dark, lonely corner of purgatory, behind the sign "Maternal Failures Only", there are a surprising number
of her fellows who offer her only understanding, love and support. And this is a purgatory, she will come to learn, that traps
only mild sinners, the undeserving and the desperately unlucky.
Compassion fatigue, 21
By Julia Taylor
Published Date: 21 April 2008
Almost a year ago, when Madeleine McCann went missing, I was genuinely saddened by her disappearance.
But now I'm not.
That sounds heartless doesn't it? I don't mean it to, because nothing should detract from the fact
that a child went missing, and had it been my child, or someone I knew, I would still be heartbroken 12 months later.
I studied the sociology of news at university (I know, I could have been finding a cure for cancer, but unfortunately my brain
was geared to more Mickey Mouse matters), a phrase that was bandied about was "compassion fatigue".
is what happens when the national media cover an event to such an extent as to saturate the news with it, until the point
where the average person is so bored by the coverage of it that they become apathetic.
I think it came to
a head for me when I was working in Essex, and several bored housewives decided they would mark the 100th day since Madeleine
went missing with the release of 100 balloons on a school playing field.
I think my first question was, well, why?
And the chief bored housewife organiser did not have an answer.
Okay she did. Her answer was: "To raise awareness."
This was at a point where, even three months after her disappearance, she was still in the press. Awareness? In Braintree?
It was sad then, and it still is now, but I can't bring myself to feel any grief for one particular missing child.
I guess I'm partly to blame for covering these unnecessary awareness-raising events, when it's got to a point now
where a family's grief should remain private.
I think the time has come now when the whole issue should be (excuse
the turn of phrase) put to bed.
The full article contains 306 words and appears in n/a newspaper.
Last Updated: 21 April 2008 6:47 AM
Stop the carnival - Richard Littlejohn, 24 April 2008
This column has pretty much steered clear of the Madeleine McCann story. The fact is, no one knows what happened
to her - except those who took her or covered up her disappearance.
But she's been gone a year and we must fear the
I've always been uneasy about the media carnival, but figured if that's what got her parents through the night,
what business was it of mine.
However, one year on, there's something distasteful about the continuing round of claim
and counter- claim, blame and counter-blame.
Gerry and Kate McCann should be left alone with their demons, with our
sympathy, and not live out their guilt in public any longer. The police and the private detectives should be left to get on
with their job.
The Tapas Seven, the McCanns' PR man, the professional ghouls should all keep their theories to themselves.
time Team Maddie was wound up.
Stop shifting the blame, Kate - Jon Gaunt, 25 April 2008
Stop shifting the blame, Kate The Sun
Jon Gaunt - Sun columnist
IS it just me or are the McCanns getting on your nerves too?
I have enormous sympathy for them losing a child but I am getting fed up of them blaming everyone
else for their misfortune.
I heard about the McCanns’ latest trip around Europe while on holiday and although I think
the amber alert system is a good idea, when I need tips on childcare from the McCanns I’ll ask.
Now, in a new TV documentary, Kate says that she wanted a baby monitor but the resort didn’t
have one. So instead she, Gerry and the Tapas Seven made the bizarre decision to eat out every night and leave three young
children home alone.
I’m sorry, in any language that’s child neglect. So instead of touring Europe proposing
amber alert systems, I would like them to clearly just send out one message to all parents: NEVER EVER MAKE OUR MISTAKE
AND LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN ALONE IN A STRANGE HOTEL ROOM.
And, by the way, I’m not being heartless, just honest.
I am also fed up to the back teeth of the smears and counter smears from both camps, so why don’t
the McCanns and the Tapas Seven just shut up, get on the plane, return to Portugal and do the police reconstruction?
At the same time, why don’t the Portuguese plods stop spinning and start analysing and either
charge them formally or remove their official suspect status?
It’s nearly a year since little Madeleine went missing and the focus needs to return to her,
not the other characters in this sorry saga.
Mixed message from McCanns, 04 May 2008
May 4 2008
by Phil Cullen, Sunday Sun
ON the one hand, Kate and Gerry McCann want no stone unturned in the hunt for Madeleine.
And on the other, they are reluctant to return to Portugal for
One the one hand, they court publicity.
And on the other, they get huffy when journalists don’t
follow the McCann agenda.
Watching the TV interviews last week on the anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance
I was struck by how many awkward questions they faced.
They included the leaked witness statement where Kate admitted
Madeleine had asked why she was left to cry.
The fact remains they did have "something to do" with Madeleine's disappearance.
that, I mean leaving her and her siblings alone that night.
And therefore contributing to a sequence of events which
resulted in tragedy.
All right-minded people will hope their daughter is found.
But her parents are doing themselves
no favours with the contradictory messages they send out.
A year on and still the agony goes on for Kate and Gerry McCann. Of course they have to move on with
their lives. But let's not forget that Madeleine may be out there somewhere. And she needs us to keep her in our thoughts.
Avoid an Algarve outrage, 10 May 2008
Avoid an Algarve outrage Daily
Express (No online link)
May 10, 2008
have no idea if Eamon and Antoinette McGucklin, while holidaying in Vilamoura in the Algarve, really did drink themselves
into such a stupor that their three young children had to be taken to a refuge centre over night, or if, as they claim, their
drinks had been tampered with.
I do know that the Portuguese press trumpets this
kind of story at its peril.
Obviously still smarting at the completely botched inquiry into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance it can’t
resist crowing at yet another British family whom it accuses of behaving irresponsibly and neglecting their children.
McGucklins are, according to those who know them, extremely attentive parents who would never put their children at risk.
Who knows the truth? But this new allegation of parental neglect must surely damage the Algarve’s reputation
as a tourist resort still further. If I had young children I would not holiday there for all the tea in China. There is something
I don’t like in their attitude to British families. I’d stay well clear.
'Holiday mode' is child neglect, 10 May 2008
'Holiday mode' is child neglect The Sun
May 10, 2008
do many parents leave their common sense behind as soon as they step on the plane and go off on holiday?
It starts on the flight.
We have all suffered the shrieking, wailing, red-faced toddler whose distressed crying makes your ears bleed
while the gormless parents bounce them up and down and smile at one another instead of giving the poor little sod a dummy
or a bottle to suck to relieve the pressure on their little ears.
But it's when they arrive at the holiday destination that things turn from irritating to downright irresponsible.
Parents who would not leave their children in the front garden to play on their own happily dump them in the
hotel room or villa while they go for a meal. The poor McCanns will never forgive themselves for their tragic error of judgment
which led to the disappearance of Maddie.
They thought there was nothing wrong in leaving her and their twins in that holiday apartment. But I am sure
they would never in a million years have gone out for a meal with friends back home in Rothley and left their three children
What about the Irish bank chief and his wife who had their children taken into protective custody when on holiday
in the Algarve?
Eamon McGuckin was said to be so drunk that he collapsed and fell through a sofa, while his wife Antoinette
threw up in their hotel reception area.
Staff claimed they had been drinking to excess. Their children, aged six, two and one, were distressed and hotel
staff called in the authorities.
The couple fled back home to Northern Ireland with their kids rather than appear in front of a family court
in Faro, Portugal, and are now claiming that their drinks were spiked.
Whatever the truth, hotel staff, holiday reps and holiday camp entertainers increasingly find themselves having
to look after distraught kids while their parents go on the lash.
They seem to go into some sort of odd 'holiday mode' where they stop being vigilant and responsible. Mostly
they are lucky and get away with it.
But being a parent isn’t a job you can switch on and off. You have to be there for your children 24/7.
Surely going on a family holiday is all about spending as much time as possible together. If parents do want
a bit of a break, most resorts offer babysitters. Or if they go in a group, parents can take turns looking after the little
Without becoming paranoid and wrapping your children in cotton wool, you have to be aware they can be in MORE
danger on holiday than at home. Child molesters haunt holiday camps, theme parks and family resorts. You need to be on your
Parents have to remind themselves about what they would do if they were in their own house. They WOULDN’T
leave their children home alone without a babysitter, and they WOULDN’T get so stinking drunk they vomit and
If they don’t conduct themselves like that at home, what makes this behaviour in any way acceptable for
the two weeks a year they go on holiday?
What is it with the McCanns?, 16 May 2008
What is it with the McCanns? The Sun
Published: 16 May 2008
is it with the McCanns? They say they will do anything to help find Maddie but are still dragging their feet over returning
to Portugal for a reconstruction of the fateful night when they left Maddie and her twin siblings home alone.
Sources close to them say they have "serious reservations".
Why? What serious reservations?
Their spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, asks: "What
is the value?"
So now this ex-BBC reporter, Government spin doctor
and PR man is suddenly Columbo or Morse, is he?
I'm sorry, but let's remember they are still prime
suspects and if the Portuguese plods want them in Portugal they should be there — reservations or not.
Hello! magazine, the McCanns and me, 20 May 2008
Hello! magazine, the McCanns and me Telegraph
20 May 2008
For the first time in my life, I’m in the pages
of Hello! magazine. And not in a good way. The paper is campaigning alongside the McCanns in favour of an Amber Alert
scheme for missing children. In the current issue, it lists 14 villainous British MEPs who haven’t signed the written
declaration in support of the policy. I am among the monsters.
Regular readers may find this puzzling. After all, I do support the Amber Alert initiaive. As I wrote
here last month, "it is perfectly reasonable to seek to co-ordinate such a scheme at European level. If the EU stuck to cross-border
issues of this kind, no one would have a problem with it."
Why, then, am I listed? Because, on principle, I don't sign written declarations. I have blogged often before
about the invidious nature of declamatory legislation. But written declarations aren't even legislation: they are simply declamatory.
Even if every single MEP should sign one, the only consequence would be that the Commission would be obliged to consider the
idea. In this case, though, the Commission is already considering the idea.
Anyway, my own preference is for the scheme to be inter-governmental. The involvement of the self-serving
and inefficient Commission bureaucracy has ruined more than one good initiative in the past. I would much rather have the
Amber Alert run enthusiastically by national media than regulated by some inefficient EU agency.
But that isn't really the point of this blog. My real beef is with the moral blackmail involved. At least
one of the non-signatories, who has some experience in this area, argues that an Amber Alert scheme is misguided, and that
the broadcasting of an abducted child's name can put that child at risk. On balance, I don’t agree with him: evidence
suggests that an early media blitz can prompt the abductor to release his victim and, in at least one case, an alert prompted
the child herself to ring the hotline. But good and sincere people can disagree with me.
I am reminded of the filthy tabloid campaign that followed the Dunblane massacre. Those MPs who did not vote
for a complete ban on handguns were attacked as if they somehow didn't care about the murdered children. Never mind that such
a ban would have made no difference. Never mind that the Cullen Report came out against a total prohibition. Cool arguments
were drowned out by "I care more than you do" posturing. One of the worst offenders was Tony Blair who, in a nauseating speech
to the Labour conference, said: "Some Tories accuse us of being emotional. Well, if they had been in that gym, if they had
met those parents, sitting in those tiny chairs where once their children sat, they'd have been emotional, too". It was at
that moment that I began to get a full measure of the man.
I don't blame Hello!
The desire to protect children is encoded deep in our DNA, and we can't help becoming emotional
when the subject comes up. But legislation is not a mechanism to vent our feelings. It is there — or at least, it ought
to be there — to provide proportionate remedies to identified problems. I happen to agree with the magazine. But it
should have the decency to accept the motives of those who don't.
Posted by Daniel Hannan on 20 May 2008 at 18:52
McCann re-make is vital, 29 May 2008
McCann re-make is vital The
Sun (No online link, appears
in paper version only)
Kelvin MacKenzie (Editor of the Sun 1981-1994)
I am puzzled at the refusal of the McCanns to fly to the Algarve today for a police
reconstruction of the night Madeleine disappeared.
It is said they are suspicous of police motives and do not believe it will help find
Are they really the best placed people to make that decision? after all, they remain
the leading suspects in the case and despite Portuguese police handling the investigation badly, the law remains their best
hope for justice.
Already the McCanns have tried worldwide publicity - including roping in the pope
- and that didn't work.
They have taken the public's money and spent it on £50,000-a-month private detectives,
and that certainly hasn't worked.
Those with decent memories may well recall these private eyes claiming they would
have Madeleine home by christmas.
So why wouldn't the Mccanns and the Tapas seven try one more throw of the dice ? according
to a "friend", it would have disrupted their family and business schedules.
Their "schedules" have already been disrupted and tragically will remain so for as
long as Madeleine remains missing.
Could I urge them to have a change of heart and co-operate with the police.
Until they do so my personal jury will remain out.
Open letter to McCanns, 30 May 2008
Open letter to McCanns The
Sun (No online link, appears
in paper version only)
Dear Kate and Gerry
LIKE YOU I am a parent. I have two beautiful girls who I adore and I can say hand
on heart, just like every Sun reader, that not only would I do time for them but I would lay down my life for them.
No doubt you feel the same about your three. Therefore, as a dad, I can't understand
your reluctance to return to Portugal.
You should never have left Madeleine and the twins home alone even for one night,
let alone virtually every night of your holiday.
Of course your neglect that evening did not mean you deserved to lose your beautiful
daughter, and I have enormous sympathy for your loss.
However you messed up. You should return and face the consequences of that action.
You should also take part in the reconstruction and do everything in your power, as you promised the British public when you
asked us to donate money to find Madeleine.
Yes, it will be difficult for you and, yes, the Portuguese police may have not handled the investigation
well. But the longer you stay in Britain, I am afraid the more fuel you will give to the people who believe you have something
You are not detectives, you are doctors, but when leading experts like the man who caught Jamie Bulger's
killers, retired Detective Superintendent Albert Kirby, say you should take part in a reconstruction you should heed their
For the record I cannot believe that you had anything to do with the disappearance of Maddie. However
you must be aware there are plenty of people who are of that opinion.
The only way to defeat these people is to return and help in any way possible to catch the person or persons
responsible for your daughters disappearance.
All the best,
Trying to kid?, 01 June 2008
Trying to kid? The News
of the World (No online link, appears
in paper version only)
So, it isn't just Kate and Gerry who have refused to go back to Portugal for a police
reconstuction of Maddies disappearance.
We now learn that at least four of the Tapas seven have also refused because they
too left their kids alone when they went drinking that fateful night.
Are they worried that like the McCanns, they might also become suspects?
Er, so what happened to the "We'll do whatever is necessary to find Maddie" mantra?
Did that come with the proviso that they'll do "whatever's necessary" as long as it doesn't embarrass them, inconvenience
them or put them in any personal danger?
Anyway, I don't see the problem. If these people have nothing to hide, if they really
DO want to help find Maddie, why haven't they already hauled their backsides back to Portugal?
McCann police are guilty of cruelty, 02 June 2008
McCann police are guilty of cruelty Daily Mirror
Kate and Gerry McCann could still face charges of neglect, according to the first
published court ruling on the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine.
Official documents in Portugal show that the police there have not yet ruled out bringing
such charges. This hardly feels like a positive step in either finding Madeleine, or discovering what happened to her.
In the course of their 13-month investigation, the Portuguese police have failed to
come up with any answers at all about the disappearance.
It's unforgivable that they have not removed the weight of suspicion from Kate and
Gerry, who have paid an unimaginably high price for eating dinner 50 yards from where their children slept. One more question
for the bungling plods of Portugal. Haven't these people suffered enough?
The Body of Evidence Tells the Story, 04 June 2008
by Vanessa Leggett
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
We have all seen this face. The image is of little Madeleine McCann, the British toddler who disappeared while on a family
vacation a year ago last month. What we haven't seen, and, in all likelihood, never will, is the body of Madeleine McCann.
Without a body, I doubt we will ever
know for sure why she disappeared without a trace the night of May 3, 2007. I believe an autopsy of Madeleine's body could
tell us exactly what happened. And that is why, I propose, her body had to be concealed at all costs, including a family's
usual need to hold a funeral to memorialize the life of a loved one who has passed.
me state right off that I do not think that Madeleine's parents intentionally caused the death of their child. If they're
guilty of anything, I believe it is of placing too much trust in what some charge were unorthodox methods of parenting. More
on this shortly.
I should also make clear that I have not followed this case as well
as I'm guessing most of our readers have, so I might very well have some of my facts wrong. (Readers, I'm counting on you
to set me straight in the comments section to this post.) Further, "my theory" might be nothing new. I hadn't given any serious
thought to this case until last week, when Portuguese police announced they are considering filing neglect charges against Kate and Gerry McCann (pictured right)
in relation to Madeleine's disappearance.
Childcare: Careless Death, Careful Cover-up
I never believed that the little girl's parents meant to cause Madeleine's death.
From my passing understanding of facts that have emerged over the past year, I formed the opinion that Madeleine's death was
a case of simple negligence by parents who should have hired a sitter.
The parameters of the current
investigation are considerably broader than child neglect. According to a recent ruling released by the Evora Supreme
Court of Justice in Portimao, the McCanns will be investigated for abduction, homicide, exposure or abandonment of a child,
and concealment of a corpse.
In response to the court's pronouncement, the McCanns,
through a spokesman, "vigorously denied neglecting Madeleine, but were pleased abduction was being investigated."
This remark did not surprise me. From the beginning, the McCanns have claimed their
daughter was abducted. Any energy and expense in that direction would be eagerly embraced by them. Personally, I believe the
McCanns have led the public on a global goose chase. The natural question is Why?
To Sleep, Perchance to Die
Which leads to my theory of the case, a conclusion that hinges on early
reports that, to my knowledge, have not been proved or disproved. But they are allegations that, if true, could explain what
happened to Madeleine. I believe that the McCanns—both doctors—drugged their children. The specific allegations are that Madeleine died from an overdose of sleeping
pills her parents had given her before they met adult friends for dinner, only 50 to 100 yards from where their kids were
On the whole, the McCanns were probably excellent parents. It's not outside the realm
of possibility that they were over-protective parents who, to safeguard against potential abuses, would rather give their
children sleeping pills than entrust their care to anyone but themselves. If the kids were asleep, they might have (erroneously)
reasoned, no sitter would be necessary, especially when Mom and Dad were close enough to check on them, as appears to have
been the case that fateful night.
Still, it seems to me that even if the McCanns had checked on their children, unless
the doctor-parents took vital signs each time they popped in, it might not have been apparent that their child had stopped
breathing. We see what we want to see. If they did in fact drug their children, they surely thought they were administering
safe dosages. I don't believe they would have had any reason, or, after x glasses of wine with dinner, inclination to closely
examine their children. That is, perhaps, until it was time to kiss them goodnight at whatever hour the parents returned from
If Madeleine's death was in
fact caused by accidental overdose, the most likely scenario is that the McCanns did not know Madeleine was dead until they
returned from dinner to retire for the night. As overwhelming and gut-wrenching as finding a dead child would be to most parents,
as much as time might have stood still, those parents would have had to do some quick thinking to avoid further catastropheto
their medical backgrounds, the McCanns would had to have feared that in a case of drug overdose, toxicology testing would
reveal substances in their daughter's system. If the couple wasn't able to produce a babysitter (who could have served as
the scapegoat for drugging their daughter), then consequences were certain: Kate and Gerry McCann would at the very least
be charged with child neglect for abandoning their children as well as child endangerment and whatever other charges could
arise from giving a child drugs.
That this revelation would irreparably damage their
reputations as parents would have been bad enough. What put them over the edge, I think, was the threat to their livelihood.
If exposed for giving their child drugs that led to her death, the Mcanns risked the revocation of their medical licenses.
Even if they admitted they drugged Madeleine and
convinced everyone that their daughter's death was a tragic accident, they would be held to a higher standard of care than
average parents. Pharmacological babysitting might have worked for them without complication in the past. But, as physicians,
they should have known the risks inherent in administering drugs to a child.
If they could no longer practice medicine, they
might have thought, then how could they support their other children? And what if criminal convictions led to jail time? The
McCanns currently face a sentence of up to ten years if found guilty of child neglect. They would have risked that and, quite
likely, additional time for other charges a year ago. Their 18-month-old twins could have been orphaned during their most
critical years of development.
Kate and Gerry McCann could not reverse what happened
to Madeleine. But upon finding her dead, they could still make choices they felt were in the best interest of their surviving
If She Dies Before She Wakes . .
As horrific and incomprehensible as it might seem
to anyone not in that same circumstance at that moment, the only way to avoid further tragedy, in their minds, was to make
sure the body was never found.
Without a body, no toxicology. Without toxicology
reports indicating the presence of drugs, no charges. I believe the McCanns quickly made the decision to conceal their child's
body, in a place known only to the parents. A private burial for family.
A body is not necessary to prove neglect. But to
prove that the child was drugged, police would need considerably more evidence than what has been made public. An admission
from either parent is not likely.
Even an admission won't cinch a case of criminally
negligent homicide. I'm thinking of another disappearance in which drugs might have played a role in a death that I'm inclined to think was accidental.
Jon Gaunt comment, 06 June 2008
Comment The Sun (No online link, appears in paper version only)
The only holiday destination the McCanns should be flying to is Portugal where they
should be taking part in a reconstruction to find more clues to what happened to their daughter last year.
How can they consider a holiday when they said they would do anything to find Madeleine?
Anything of course apart from return to the scene of the crime and face the very real
possibility of being arrested for child neglect for leaving Maddie and the twin siblings home alone.
When Kate and Gerry asked the British public for donations the donors expected more
Amanda Platell comment, 06 June 2008
Comment Daily Mail
Last updated at 10:54 PM on 06th June 2008
It's impossible to imagine the pain of Kate and Gerry McCann planning their first
holiday with their three-year-old twins since Madeleine disappeared more than a year ago.
Every moment of happiness which the rest of us take for granted - birthdays, holidays,
Christmas - must serve only as a painful reminder of their loss.
But I, for one, applaud them for trying to give Sean and Amelie as ordinary a life
The easy thing would be to give in to sorrow. The hardest thing is to go on living
and loving for your remaining children.
Extract: Truth about Maddie McCann, 07 June 2008
Extract: Truth about Maddie McCann Daily Telegraph Australia
By Danny Collins
June 08, 2008 12:00am (appeared online June 07, 2008)
IN this extract from Vanished, a book by Danny Collins,
the Madeleine McCann mystery is again under the spotlight.
"Residents from the resort also joined in the hunt, set in motion by Judicial Police
Chief Inspector Goncalo Amaral, fresh in from Faro.
One such resident was Anglo-Portuguese real estate agent Robert Murat, 34 and divorced,
who lived with his 71-year-old mother, Jennifer, in a villa not 150m from the Praia da Luz apartment where Madeleine disappeared.
As a bilingual expat, Murat often worked for local police as a translator in cases
involving English-speaking tourists.
In fact, it would later be revealed that he had acted in the role of interpreter for
the Portuguese police during their questioning of two of the McCanns' dinner companions, now dubbed the "Tapas Seven'' by
the ever-epigraphic UK press.
Journalists at the scene reported Murat's obvious desire to help, even admitting to
being slightly overwhelmed by his passionate interest in the case.
Some even remarked on his constant presence at the compromised crime scene, where
he was often observed to be engaging officers in conversation inside the apartment of 5A.
Meanwhile, the search of the surrounding countryside went on, the investigation fuelled
by reported sightings of cars and strangers, the latter always acting suspiciously, near the apartment on the night Madeleine
Interestingly, some of those sightings were reported in statements taken from four
of the McCanns' companions.
Mystery surrounds Robert Murat's whereabouts on the night Madeleine went missing.
He insisted to police that he remained in Casa Liliana, the villa owned by his mother, all that evening. But there were those
who would dispute his story.
Certainly, three of the "Tapas Seven'' - Fiona Payne, Rachael Oldfield and Russell
O'Brien - were confronted with Murat during a police interview on May 11 and all of them identified him as the man they
saw hanging around the McCann apartment between 10.30pm and 11pm.
Murat's girlfriend, Michaela Walczuch, 32, also came under fire from various witnesses.
A Portuguese lorry driver told investigators he saw her driving a hire car on a road
near the town of Silves, 40km from the coastal village of Praia da Luz, on May 5, when he also witnessed her hand over a child
(whom he believed to be Madeleine McCann) wrapped in a blanket to a man in a black car.
The sighting of Madeleine in Morocco on June 15 also identifies Walczuch as being
nearby, moments after a child resembling Madeleine was seen with a woman in a Muslim headscarf.
Walczuch herself is adamant these sightings are all untrue, claiming that on June
15 she was in conference with Murat and his lawyer, Francisco Pagarete.
Further reported sightings of Murat on the night of May 3 followed. Dr Payne and Mrs
Oldfield claim they again saw him at the Ocean Club complex as late as 11.45pm.
Another of the McCanns' holidaying group, Russell O'Brien, also recalls seeing the
man with dark wavy hair and a distinctive lazy eye at the complex that night, with his statement allegedly confirmed by a
Mark Warner resort employee, now identified as child-minder Charlotte Pennington.
As late as the end of December 2007, reports of sightings of Robert Murat near the
McCanns' apartment on that fateful night continued to arrive at the Judicial Police HQ in Portimao, when two British tourists
who holidayed in Praia da Luz in May, 2007 reported they had told the Leicester police of seeing Robert Murat near the Ocean
Club complex at 10.30pm, half an hour after Mrs McCann raised the alarm that her daughter was missing.
Even more ominous was their recollection of seeing two men, who appeared to be watching
the area from the window of an unoccupied apartment, overlooking the tapas bar, in the days before Madeleine vanished.
It should be noted that there was no reason whatsoever why Robert Murat shouldn't
have been among members of the public gathered near apartment 5A after Madeleine McCann was reported missing.
Indeed, given his role as part-time police interpreter, this was even more likely.
However, the die was already cast and Murat was given the status of arguido (declared person of interest) in May.
Eight reports placed him at the crime scene on May 3, 2007. His mother, Jennifer,
still supports his alibi of a quiet evening spent at home in her company. Murat himself claims he knew nothing of Madeleine's
disappearance until he received a telephone call from his sister in England the following morning.
Should Robert Murat have been in the area of the complex that night? Strangely, in
the face of his many protests, there is no reason why not - he was often employed by the local police as an interpreter
and it would seem likely that, having heard of the tragedy (Praia da Luz is, after all, a small village), he might have made
his way to the complex to see if his services were required.
Why should he, then, go to such pains to deny that he ever left Casa Liliana?
Having produced no positive results, searches were halted on May 11. Meanwhile, police
examined photographs taken by holidaymakers in the hunt for identifiable suspects, although no clear motive for taking the
child had been put forward.
At this time, under area chief Goncalo Amaral, the Judicial Police (the equivalent
of the UK's CID) were pursuing two theories and relevant lines of investigation: abduction by an international pedophile network,
or by an illegal adoptions agency and the involvement of Gerry and Kate McCann.
What seems to have been overlooked at that time, by the star-struck Portuguese police,
was the possibility that Madeleine might have been taken by a local intruder in a crime of opportunity, not linked in any
way to the international kidnapping scene.
It is difficult to imagine why international criminal operatives - if they were
planning to kidnap a child, for a wealthy sponsor in some far-off country - should choose Praia da Luz as their base
of operations, unless a local had told them of a child ripe for kidnapping because of the observed lack of security, which
would have called for a large number of events to have occurred over a short period of time.
Nevertheless, for an organised group to do so in the low holiday season makes it even
Equally, the small Algarve resort would have been an unattractive venue for international
pedophiles, who would have been far more likely to prowl the soon-to-be crowded resorts of Spain's nearby costas than to chance
the slim pickings on offer in Portugal in early May.
Self-confessed pedophiles to whom I talked while researching this book - an investigative
journalist's lot is not always a happy one - also spoke deprecatingly of the idea of kidnapping a three-year-old for
morbid sexual practices, pointing out that such a small child would only appeal to a limited few (shades here of Dr Hort's
regression theory) and would have no value in the perverted marketplace of commercial pedophilia.
Again, a more likely possibility is that Madeleine left the apartment of her own accord
by the route left open to her and from there begins the mystery of her fate.
However, the Portuguese investigators were moving in an entirely different and far
less logical direction.
shows 81% of parents are now more concerned about security on holidays following the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, 26
Family security while on holidays-a big concern for parents
By Tara Cosgrove, Editor
10:24, 26 June 2008
I have just written in my blog about the results of our survey over the last month which shows that 81% of parents
are now more concerned about security on holidays following the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. This is a huge
majority and if anyone has any thoughts or comments themselves feel free to post here.
81% of parents are more concerned with security on holidays after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann
We carried out a survey here on the website between
the 21st of May 2008 and the 21st of June 2008 to see if parents were more concerned about the safety of their children while
on holidays now a year after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. An overwhelming majority of 81% of parents said that they
were more concerned. Clearly this has led parents to rethink their approach to child safety and security on holidays. The
disappearance of Madeline McCann was a terrible tragedy and no parent can even begin to think about it without thinking what
if it happened to us. Parents are likely to be more cautious now about childcare and child minding decisions that they make
while on holidays. They are likely to ask more questions about security and qualifications which is a very positive thing
and if anything positive can come from such a tragedy this is it. Holidays are often in unfamiliar surroundings with language
barriers and different customs however they are when we are most relaxed and in the past parents may not have considered potential
dangers. It is very easy to let down your guard while on holidays as they are all about relaxing and fun. A responsible approach
and some simple commonsense safety precautions mean both you and the children can have a great holiday.
Security and safety is clearly now a real issue for parents. Tour operators
and accommodation providers should be conscious of this and do what is possible to allay those concerns and provide appropriate
back up and facilities. Spending family time together in a secure environment is likely to be more important for parents now
and shared family activities that everyone can enjoy together during both the day and the evening are a good way to achieve
this. Having good approved and checked babysitting facilities or supervised evening activities while parents have a meal is a also good idea. Some hotels
have taken this on board and have pyjama parties or movie nights for the kids and it is likely that the hotels and tour operators
who do react to parents concerns are going to see a better take up.
Simple precautions should be more than enough but if you are in any doubt
or feel uneasy do not take a risk. Talking to your children to make them aware of what they should do if they get lost or
even trying to get them to memorise your mobile number or have it written on a wristband at a big busy event are simple but
effective things you can do without being too dramatic. This should also be at the forefront of the minds of event organisers
and tour operators.There are services such as those provided by www.familysafeholidays.com to help families in the event of an emergency whether it relates to missing
documents, medical issues or a missing child. The basic package is free and they provide help, advice and accessories to help
keep children safe on holiday, both at home and abroad. This allows you store key personal and travel information that may
be needed in a hurry. You can upload a close-up photo of each family member, record any medical conditions or medication and
enter all your contact details (both mobile numbers and contacts of where you are staying). In the event of an
accident or incident, the family can have access to the service and be able to create a missing poster within minutes. This
poster can be automatically translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German and then be made available over
the Internet or sent via email to any appropriate person or organization. I know this sounds extreme as abductions are rare
but children are prone to wandering off and it may well be worth the effort for ease of mind. Have a look at some
of our top tips for safety and security on the main website and have a happy and a safe holiday.
to Nigel at