This page covers Kate and Gerry McCanns appearance at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, on 17
June 2008, in support of their continuing attempt to set up a European-wide missing child alert system.
|The McCanns show their displeasure at the line of questioning from Portuguese reporters
McCann: parents appeal to European Parliament, 17 June 2008
Madeleine McCann: parents appeal to European Parliament Telegraph
By Caroline Gammell
Last Updated: 5:04PM BST 17/06/2008
Kate and Gerry McCann are hopeful that their attempt to set up a European-wide missing child alert
system could succeed after a number of meetings with MEPs in Strasbourg.
|Gerry and Kate McCann have been speaking to MEPs
The couple spent the day trying to convince parliamentarians that they should sign a written declaration which, if it gets
enough support, will be sent to the European President and published.
They have now gathered 225 signatures and need a further 168 by the close of the plenary session at the end of July to
ensure the declaration is formally recognised.
Although it carries no legal weight, the McCanns believe it will help them win the moral argument over whether such a cross-border
system is needed.
Mr McCann said: "This is an important issue and Europe needs to work together. We want to get as many signatures as possible
but there's limited time left."
The couple, 40, from Rothley in Leicestershire, launched the drive for an American-style Amber Alert in April, 11 months
after Madeleine went missing from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve.
They believe a European version of Amber Alert - which notifies the public via media across America when police confirm
a child has been abducted - would have helped the search for their daughter in the crucial hours after her disappearance.
The couple's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "We are very encouraged by the support that many MEPs have shown by saying
they will sign the declaration. Kate and Gerry believe it is achievable."
In Portugal, the Attorney General Fernando Jose Pinto Monteiro told a local newspaper that the couple should find out in
July what evidence the police have against them after months of secrecy.
The couple, who are "arguidos" or formal suspects in the disappearance of their daughter, should get full access to the
police files, he said.
"From July the (Madeleine) case will cease to be covered by judicial secrecy, and will be available to consultation by
all parties involved," he told 24 Horas.
"I do not know which date, but in July the case ceases to be covered by judicial secrecy."
Mr Mitchell gave a cautious welcome to the news: "Despite the attorney general's comment in the Portuguese press, neither
Kate and Gerry, nor their lawyers, have heard nothing to this effect.
"They simply will not be commenting until it is known for a fact that the judicial secrecy is lifted.
"If that happens, clearly this is something to be welcomed. Their lawyers would once again urge the authorities to lift
their arguido status as soon as possible."
Judicial secrecy is normally lifted in Portugal after eight months, but investigating judge Pedro Frias has previously
granted extensions to the period after state prosecutor Jose Magalhaese Menezes argued the case was "exceptionally complicated".
The McCanns still face the possibility of charges of neglecting their daughter and court documents disclosed last month
confirmed they could face "abandonment" charges, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.
It is understood for such a charge to succeed prosecutors would have to show the McCanns intended to neglect their daughter.
McCann: Parents confident about Euro alert system, 17 June 2008
June 17, 2008
Madeleine McCanns' parents remained "confident" today of winning vital support for a Europe-wide child abduction alert
after a day of lobbying MEPs in Strasbourg.
Gerry and Liverpool-born Kate McCann need the signatures of 393 members - that is more than half the total number - by
July 24 to see a written declaration of the cross-border system published and sent to the European President.
A signed declaration carries no legal weight, but suggests a political will to see such a scheme implemented.
The McCanns launched their drive for the US-style Amber Alert in Brussels in April, but travelled to Strasbourg this
morning needing another 182 members' signatures.
That number was cut by a modest 15 to 167 by the end of a day-long visit, which left the couple "surprised" at a lack
of awareness among MEPs of their high-profile campaign.
But in a series of meetings held throughout the day unsigned members vowed to add their names, and persuade colleagues
to join them, before next month’s deadline.
Addressing a press conference with a statement on behalf of the couple, Mrs McCann said: "Our visit today to the plenary
session here in Strasbourg has been extremely useful and very encouraging, both in terms of being updated on the good progress
of the written declaration, and through having the chance to lobby directly many of those MEPs who have yet to sign it.
"Whilst we remain confident that the declaration will have been signed by a majority of MEPs by the deadline at the end
of July, we have also learnt that we still have much to do to increase awareness of the declaration amongst MEPs before then."
Mrs McCann said "many" MEPs had told the couple directly that they would be signing the declaration by the end of the
next session and would urge colleagues to do the same.
"As we say, this gives us great confidence that the target of 393 signatures is achievable," she said.
"We were, however, also surprised to learn that some MEPs remain unaware of the declaration and its aim of improving
child welfare - despite the international publicity that has surrounded it."
Declaration sponsor and European Parliament Vice-President Edward McMillan-Scott said the McCanns were up against a European
Parliament suffering "declaration fatigue".
Last year, only 12 out of 116 written declarations received the required number, he said.
He added: "If we can afford to maintain a severe weather warning system, we can afford to add the simple addition of
a missing child alert. It’s a no-brainer.
"But there's a certain 'declaration fatigue'. You have them on everything from anti-logging to animal welfare. It's a
question of highlighting your own written declaration."
European Parliament rules restricted the McCanns to a three-month time period to secure the 393 signatures, the vast
majority of which must be collected by officials outside the debating chambers during sessions.
Today, the abduction alert proposal was competing for attention with another 40 declarations, including four on Tibet,
one on the trafficking of women for prostitution and one on forced marriages.
Madeleine went missing from her family;s holiday apartment, in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3 last year.
The McCanns believe a European version of Amber Alert - which notifies the public via media across the US when police
confirm a child has been abducted - would have helped the search for their daughter in the crucial hours after her disappearance.
At the press conference, the couple faced more questions from the Portuguese media about their actions on the night Madeleine
Responding to a television reporter's suggestion that they could face child neglect charges, Mr McCann said: "We didn't
abandon or neglect Madeleine. Someone went into an apartment and stole a child.
"You have gone over old ground. It’s really quite boring. We want to focus on issues that can make a difference."
Mum On Alert Campaign, 17 June 2008
Jun 17, 2008
Madeleine's Mum On Alert Campaign
Madeleine McCann's parents have made a new attempt to win support for their Europe-wide alert system for abducted children.
The missing girl's mother Kate McCann spoke about whether or not the scheme would have helped find Madeleine.
Kate McCann: "I believe it would have given us a greater chance. Errm... I think the awareness early on in the critical
hours would have been greater and hence I think there would have been more help from the public... errm, at that crucial time and
potentially Madeleine may have been retrieved. We'll never know but there is a possibility, yes."
A reminder of the help the public gave, whilst Kate remained in the McCanns apartment ringing
relatives and friends, and praying:
Friday, 4 May 2007
Holidaymakers and police were desperately searching today for a young British girl who went missing while on holiday
Three-year-old Madeleine McCann vanished from her parents' rented apartment in the Algarve last night as they dined nearby.
Tourists joined resort staff in a "frantic" all-night search for the little girl, who was described by a neighbour as
"happy-go-lucky" and idolised by her "protective" parents, Gerry and Kate.
Today the manager at the Ocean Club - a holiday resort run by British travel firm Mark Warner in the south west seaside
village of Praia Da Luz - said the couple, both doctors from Leicester, were "distraught".
John Hill said: "It was a very emotional and very frantic night and everyone did a fantastic job of getting involved
and trying to search the area.
"As you can imagine, Madeleine's parents are distraught and not doing very well at all."
Around 60 staff and guests at the purpose-built complex searched until 4.30am while police notified border police, Spanish
police and airports.
Sniffer dogs were brought in by Portuguese detectives to comb the area but as the hours went by, hopes that Madeleine
merely wandered off were fading.
The first interview with Jane Hill from the BBC - 25 May 2007, Kate
admits never actually 'physically searching' for Madeleine
Jane Hill: "I met people who didn't go to work
for more than a week because everyday they were down on the beach, searching the streets. Did you, as a mother Kate, just
sometimes think 'I've got to go and be out there with them. I want to go and just physically look as well."
(Pause) I mean, I did. Errm... (Long Pause) Errm, we'd been working really hard really. Apart... I mean, the first 48 hours,
as Gerry said, are incredibly difficult and we were almost non-functioning, I'd say, errm, but after that you get strength
from somewhere. We've certainly had loads of support and that's given us strength and its been able to make us focus really
so we have actually, in our own way, it might not be physically searching but we've been working really hard and doing absolutely
everything we can really to get Madeleine back."
of Strasbourg event, 17 June 2008
Transcript/Video of Strasbourg event
June 17, 2008
(Thanks to 'mitts' for this transcript)
Clarence M: Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen. I am Clarence Mitchell, Kate
and Gerry McCann’s spokesman. With me, of course, is Edward McMillan Scott, Vice President of the European Parliament,
one of the key sponsors of the written declaration that Kate and Gerry launched in Brussels back in April
And are encouraging
MEP’s to sign at this session and the next one.
Kate will be making a short statement, following which Kate and
Gerry will be happy to take a few questions
If as before you indicate to me, if you want to ask a question. We would
be grateful if you say who you are and which organisation you represent. With that I will hand over to Kate McCann
Kate : Good evening
When we last came to European Parliament Brussels in April, we
launched a written declaration seeking to gain support of majority of MEP’s introduction of a Europe wide missing child
A structure we feel is absolutely vital if no other families are to go through the pain we have suffered
and continue to suffer since Madeleine’s abduction nearly 14 months ago.
Our visit today at the plenary session
here in Strasbourg has been extremely useful and very encouraging. Both in terms of being updated on the good progress of
the declaration, and having the chance to lobby directly many of those MEP’s who have yet to sign it
remain confident that the declaration will have been signed by the deadline at the end of next month we have also learned
that we still have much to do to increase awareness among MEP’s before then
We wish to thank the 226 MEPS who
have already put their names to the proposal. Each and everyone of them is directly helping to protect children throughout
We also wish to thank the leaders of those key political groups within the Parliament of whom we were fortunate
enough to be able to meet today.
Many MEP’s have told us directly that will be signing the declaration by the
end of the next session And that crucially they will also be urging many of their political and national colleagues to do
This gives us great confidence that the target of 393 signatures is achievable.
We were however also
surprised to learn that some MEP’s remain unaware of the declaration and its aim of improving child welfare, despite
the international publicity that surrounded it.
Here in France there is a missing child alert system but in the handful
of cases it has been used over the last 2 years it has been completely successful
We also understand that the French
government may encourage the adoption of this system across Europe during their forthcoming Presidency.
we would like to place on record our continued thanks to those MEP’s who are driving the declaration forward by sponsoring
Edward McMillan Scott, Glenys Kinnock, Diana Wallace, Roberta Angelilli and Evelyne Gebhardt
We urge every
MEP to examine the need for such improved coordination and cooperation when a child goes missing in an increasingly borderless
The AMBER alert system has recovered hundreds of children in the USA. A system based on the same principles
must surely do the same here in Europe.
Portuguese television reporter: During this stay in the European
Parliament, who has received you, who have you visited, have you been to political groups for example?
Clarence Mitchell: I think Edward McMillan Scott will answer that.
McMillan Scott: The purpose of today’s visit was primarily to thank those Members of the European Parliament
who have already signed the declaration and to ask them to encourage others to sign so that we reach the figure of beyond
393 by the end of the period on 24 July.
Today Kate and Gerry met a number of individual MEPs about 40 or 50 altogether,
including the leaders of some of the larger groups of the European Parliament and some of the larger delegations. So we hope
that personal contact will encourage them and their groups to support the declaration. I think part of the problem, as Kate
said, is the a lack of awareness of first of all, the importance of the missing child alert system in America, and here in
France, and its value in saving lives, and the fact that it costs nothing.
But there is also a declaration fatigue
there are now 41 declarations in the European Parliament open for signature Last year out of 116 only 41 succeeded in being
adopted as a resolution of the European Parliament So it is a challenge and I’m incredibly grateful to Kate and Gerry
for taking the time to come here today so that out of the their personal tragedy some good may come. And to pass on that message
to the number of colleagues we have seen.
German Press Agency: Mrs McCann if
such a missing child alert system had been in place when your daughter disappeared, in what way do you feel it could have
Kate: I mean, it’s very difficult to answer that question to say
whether it would have helped to recover Madeleine definitely or not. I believe it would have given us a greater chance. I
think the awareness early on in the critical hours would have been greater and hence I think there would have been more help
from the public at that crucial time and potentially Madeleine may have been retrieved. We will never know. But it is a possibility.
Another Portuguese reporter: Mrs McCann, you said that if the system had
existed it would have been easier to have found Madeleine within the first few hours.
It was difficult in the first
few hours because Madeleine was alone in the house. Don’t you think that this was perhaps abandonment?
Kate: I think perhaps you are avoiding the issue to be honest. Madeleine was not alone for
a few hours. And I didn’t say it would have been easier I just think our chances would have been greater of Madeleine
I think the issue here is that a child has been abducted and there is a criminal out there, who is
still out there.
I think we need to concentrate on the real issue here. It doesn’t help by going over issues
that you have just raised.
Portuguese Reporter again: You didn’t answer
the first question, which was, it could be that the Portuguese police will take you up for abandonment or negligence which
is something that comes that under the Portuguese criminal code.
know, we didn’t abandon, neglect Madeleine. As Kate has already said, somebody went into an apartment and stole a child.
That’s where the focus is.
You are going over old ground. It’s really quite boring and we want people to
focus on issues which we think will make a difference. The amber alert would make a difference. It can be a deterrent. It
can help to find a missing child.
We need cross-border cooperation.
Also, nothing has changed in the last 14 months. I am not really, you know, sure why we are talking about this now because
nothing has changed on that issue in the last 14 months.
Clarence: Kate and
Gerry are not accused of any crime whatsoever.
Neither is there any suggestion that any charges are being considered.
Video of the event available here
but you may have difficulty actually playing it
Short video clip of Gerry stating that continued talk of possible neglect charges was
'really quite boring':
Download mp3 file of event
McCanns lose their calm, 18 June 2008
Kate and Gerry at the European Parliament, to speak about missing children
Text: Rute Coelho, 18 June 2008
Thanks to 'astro' for translation
The McCanns were in Strasbourg yesterday to take care of a petition and ended up reacting, in an irritated manner,
to questions from the journalists about the evening of the 3rd of May 2007
Kate and Gerry were in Strasbourg yesterday, where they convinced 225 MEPs to sign the petition for the creation of a
European alert system for missing children. The problem, for the McCanns, was the press conference that they gave in the late
afternoon. The journalists' favourite dish was not the petition, but rather the couple's behaviour on the evening of the 3rd
of May 2007, when Madeleine disappeared in Praia da Luz, Algarve.
One of the questions was why they left their daughter
alone on the fateful night. The McCanns reacted with a bad temper. The "real issue", they underlined, is the abduction. "We
did not abandon or neglect Madeleine. Someone entered the apartment and took a child. That is the issue. To go over that matter
is very boring", Gerry McCann said. Kate supported her husband, with the same irritation: "The real issue is that a child
was abducted and there is a criminal who is still out there".
Gerry insisted. "We need to focus on the real issue.
Continuously raising that question is unhelpful. Nothing has changed over the last 14 months and I don't understand why we
are talking about that, again".
The couple only calmed down when they were allowed to speak again about the issue that
was on their agenda: the petition to create a European alert system for missing children. Kate and Gerry thanked the 225 MEPs
that have already signed the petition, and exhorted others to do it.
They remembered that 393 signatures are necessary,
half of the hemicycle, until the end of July, in order for the text to be sent to the European Commission and for the communitarian
executive to present a proposal in that sense to the Council. In Brussels' hallways, there are some who accuse the McCanns
of a "media manoeuvre" with this initiative.
"What is the use of this petition? There is already a European law proposal
for the creation of such an alert system. It is on its way to being approved in Strasbourg, and then to be taken before the
European Commission. That proposal, which has been worked upon for quite some time, will then have to be approved by each
member state", a source in Brussels criticized.
same source remembered that the McCanns have "associated themselves to an initiative that belongs to the European Commission,
in a media manoeuvre".
One of the main promoters of that initiative was Margarida Sousa Uva, the wife of the president
of the European Union, Durão Barroso.
In March, Sousa Uva alerted in Brussels to the "lack of political will" within
the 27 to create an effective alert system. One month later, in April, the McCanns met with a group of MEPs that wrote the
text about the European alert. It was then that they started speaking about the petition.
14 of July is the date from
which the Maddie process ceases to be covered by the judicial secrecy. The McCanns heard about that date through 24horas,
4 is the number of European Union member states that have an alert
system: Germany, France, Greece and the United Kingdom. The proposal intends to widen it on 27.
gain MEP alert support, 18 June 2008
18 June 2008
The parents of Madeleine McCann are on course to win the vital backing of MEPs for a Europe-wide child abduction alert
In the 36 hours since the start of their visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, another 72 Euro MPs signed up
to their campaign, said the McCanns' spokesman.
However, in what could be a critically important development, the couple have also been told that the parliament's president
is set to give them more time to secure the support required.
Gerry and Kate McCann need the signatures of 393 members - that is more than half the total number - by July 24 to see
a written declaration of the cross-border alert published and sent to the European Commission President.
A signed declaration carries no legal weight but suggests a political will to see such a scheme implemented.
The McCanns launched their drive for the US-style Amber Alert in Brussels in April, but travelled to Strasbourg needing
another 182 members' signatures.
Officials said they had received a modest 15 additional names by the end of their day-long visit.
But the Leicestershire couple's gruelling series of meetings with leading MEPs throughout the day appears to have paid
off with a surge of support.
They needed another 110 MEPs to sign the declaration with the prospect of extra weeks to secure the necessary signatures.
The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "We are keen to get the number by the end of July but we are extremely
encouraged by the number of MEPs who have signed it. The hard work will continue until we get the required 110 signatures,
but there's the possibility of the period being extended under European Parliament rules and that's a major boost."
MEPs sign up for McCann scheme, 20 June 2008
20 June 2008
More MEPs have signed up to a campaign by the parents of Madeleine McCann for a Europe-wide child abduction alert scheme.
Gerry and Kate McCann visited the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday needing another 182 signatures for their
proposal to be considered by commissioners.
They are now just 85 short of the number needed following a day-long visit that included a series of meetings with leading
And the extra names collected in the past 24 hours, giving them 308 in total, are set to buy them more time.
The McCanns, from Rothley in Leicestershire, travelled to Strasbourg needing a total of 393 signatures by July 24 - the
end of the current plenary session - for their written declaration to be published and sent to the European Commission president.
But the couple have since been told that if they pass the 300 mark they will be given until the end of the September
plenary to get the support they need.
Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, said: "Kate and Gerry McCann are very pleased with the support of MEPs since
their visit. Clearly 85 more MEPs need to be convinced and that work will be continuing very much behind the scenes.
"Kate and Gerry are very hopeful that they can achieve those signatures before the deadline of July 24."
A declaration signed by a majority of MEPs would carry no legal weight but it would indicate a political will to see
such a scheme implemented.
The McCanns launched their drive for the US-style Amber Alert in Brussels in April. Madeleine went missing from her family's
holiday apartment, in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3 last year.
to Nigel at