A collection of opinion articles about various aspects of the case
Middle Class Hypocrisy, 09
Award-winning Blog, running since 2004 by stand-up comic
and best-selling author Janey Godley.
The latest news in the Team McCann
story is gripping the UK.
You will probably know the story about Madeleine McCann.
Madeleine went missing from her holiday
flat in Portugal on May 3rd when her parents left her and her two younger siblings alone as they had a dinner date across
at the tapas restaurant 50 yards from their bedroom.
Madeleine has never been found since
that fateful night.
The parents Gerry and Kate have had
an audience with the Pope, they had millions of pounds in a fund to help find her, they have had major TV and media stars
pledge support to their cause, they had MP's in the UK come out wearing yellow ribbons to remind people of the missing child.
Madeleine's father even spoke about
child safety at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, they have flown around the world in private planes, and been
courted by the press from all over the world.
Yet no one asked them why they saw
fit to leave three kids under four alone in an apartment in a foreign country with no baby sitter or carer to keep a watchful
eye on them.
Who leaves small babies alone in
a flat? No one I know.
They could just as easily choke on
their vomit if they were sick, fall out of bed, scream from a nightmare and wake up hysterical and possibly be sick (again),
wet the bed and want Mummy...a host of things that can happen when small children are left alone...never mind intruders trying
to snatch them.
I don't know anyone in my family
who left their kids alone in a flat and walked off to have dinner in another part of the street and I have alcoholics and
drug addicts in my family. The people I am talking about may not be the best parents in the world but they don't leave their
kids alone and none of the kids have ever gone missing.
The UK charity the RSPCC advise parents
that it's illegal to leave kids under ten years old alone in a house and parents can be prosecuted for negligence if this
The McCann's left twins aged two
and toddler aged three alone in an unfamiliar room in a foreign country.
The McCann's are white middle class
doctors, from a professional background in the UK, so no one has challenged them on their decision to leave three toddlers
under four years old alone to fend for themselves as they ate tapas with friends.
It's a class issue through and through.
Imagine the horror of reading about
some overweight, flip flop wearing single mum from Essex who left her three babies alone in Butlin's as she went off to eat
a burger 50 yards from the chalet and one child went missing. Pictures of the tubby woman in her white shell suit and cheap
jewellery would be splattered over every tabloid that would scream
"I left my babies to get a burger
and my child is missing".
We would hang the worthless woman
for sheer negligence.
Her crying fat face on TV begging
people to help find her child would be met with derision and pain for the poor kid.
The other babies would immediately
be shipped off to a foster home whilst the burger scoffing bitch had to account for her bad parenting skills to outraged authorities.
There would be no outpouring of pain,
or candles lit or locals supporting the woman as she held a teddy bear in grief for her missing baby.
Pop stars would not be flocking to
lend supportive and heart wrenching songs to the website of the child, politicians would shun her suggestion of a meeting,
football teams would give no minutes silence for the missing child's remembrance.
There would be no free flights or
television chats and millionaire celebs would not offer a penny to a fund.
The Pope would have condemned her
as an unfit parent and David Beckham would never have given her two minutes of his precious money charged time.
The fat burger muncher from the spam
sucking society would have to live the rest of her life in penance for deciding to eat alone and not caring for her kids properly.
She will get what she deserves.
Do you honestly think the world famous
author J.K Rowling would pledge money to a clumsy stupid fat woman who left her kids alone to go eat from a burger van 50
yards from a holiday flat whilst one of her kids got abducted?
Maybe I am wrong and society would
get behind this poor uneducated woman, but it's an odd state of affairs when questions were raised in Parliament when the
infamously and achingly common Jade Goody and Danielle Lloyd made racist comments on a reality TV show in the UK, yet no questions
were raised when a nice middle class couple through blatant neglect and misjudgement managed to lose a child as she was left
alone in a holiday flat.
The images of the slummy Jade Goody
dominated the headlines for weeks, many media giants predicted her fall from grace and sure enough her career was over. Yet
the McCann's will go home to be doctors. What does this say about us a society?
Still the image of the slim blonde
pretty mummy McCann and well dressed daddy McCann seem poignant and acceptable.
They only went off to eat tapas,
they are doctors and come from a clean middle class house and wear nice coordinated clothes, their hair is shiny and they
are devout Catholics.
How can they be judged badly?
They must be good people underneath.
They just wanted dinner
and some local wine with friends, leaving their kids alone isn't really a bad thing is it?
We have all done it ourselves
haven't we? When on holiday after working hard all year, mummy and daddy deserve a little ‘me' time don't they?
NO! They can pay for the onsite baby
sitting service more than the burger eater.
They could easily have taken shifts on eating dinner the way millions of parents
do every where when on holiday and babies need their bed time.
Now the gears have shifted.
The parents of Madeleine McCann have
been named as suspects in her disappearance.
So much has been said about the alleged
evidence gathered by the Portuguese police, apparently Madeleine's DNA has been found in the boot of the car that the McCann's
hired six weeks after Madeleine's disappearance.
Team McCann is screaming that evidence
has been planted; this is confusing for me, as I can't imagine how the police can plant evidence when there is no body to
gather evidence from. And why would they do such a thing?
The McCann's swore blind they would
not go home to the UK till Maddy was found. They are at present back in the UK after being named as suspects.
Their respective families are screaming
to every newspaper that will listen that ‘It is an outrage to believe Gerry or Kate could kill their own child'
How can they know this for sure?
I don't know if they are capable of killing their own child, I don't know anyone capable of killing their own child but
statistically it has been proven that kids are more likely to die at the hands of a family member than a stranger.
We have to ask ourselves why we believe
the McCann are incapable of killing their child.
Is it because they are doctors?
it because they wear nice clothes?
Is it because they both have university degrees?
Is it because they don't look
Or do the middle classes of the UK
want to believe that the parents are innocent as they have all joined in this parading of grief from the start?
All those politicians who hugged
them on TV, all those media stars who lent unbridled support... surely they didn't get it wrong?
Surely all those letters
of sympathy and hope they sent the McCann's will not be held up to them as reminder that good people like them can do bad
But now so many people who leapt
on the Madeleine bandwagon are now systematically jumping off.
Being middle class educated people
is not a good enough reason to omit them from suspicion; the only thing that will omit them from suspicion is evidence. The
crime scene from where Madeleine was taken was contaminated right from the start. The McCann family invited loads of friends
and family round to the flat where the child was taken and allegedly refused to leave.
The casualty of this debacle is the
child Madeleine. She seems to be forgotten in the whirlwind of publicity. Hopefully she will be found alive and well at some
Now there is uproar from the trustee's
of the Madeleine McCann fund. The parents want some of the gifted money to hire the lawyer who had defended General Pinochet
to defend them.
That money that was raised to help find the child, some of it came from ordinary people across the world,
some of it was gifted by the richest people in the UK...no wonder the trustee's are angry.
It was never assumed to be used
as legal fees to defend the very people who were supposed to protect the child in the first place.
Only a middle class mentality can
have two Doctors who leave their kids unattended on holiday, have one child go missing, get the world's press at their feet,
be horrified at any suggestion of foul play and get millions of pounds and a meeting with the Pope as a result.
The McCann's may prove their innocence
of the accusations of killing their child, but in my eyes they will always be guilty of neglectful behaviour of leaving their
kids alone in that flat.
This would have to be the mother of all injustices, 10 September 2007
This would have to be the mother of all injustices Daily Record
Sep 10 2007
NOT since Dr Crippen - long before the blizzard of
24/7 satellite media - will there have been a case like Madeleine McCann's if the now official suspicions of the Portuguese
police turn out to have been well founded.
They have turned it into a circus, with daily appearances at mass and the flight to the Vatican to kiss the
hand of the Pope, invoking celebrities, inducing millions of people around the world to raise a fortune in a campaign fund
and turning their child into one of the iconic faces of our age.
So even Dante himself would find it difficult to describe any circle of the inferno fit for Kate and Gerry
McCann if it all turns out to have been a lie.
I have been in and around the Ocean Club in the sleepy Algarve village of Praia da Luz for more than 20 years
and it has been surreal enough watching its tiny cobbled streets bristling with television crews broadcasting around the world
from a once little-known holiday idyll.
And now this.
On my Talk Sport radio shows I have been critical of the McCanns from the start. Not least because I knew
aspects of their story could not be true.
Their supposed constant vigilance of their three toddlers while they ate in a tapas bar and the children slept
in an unlocked apartment was not possible. The distance between the two points was both greater and more convoluted than they
In any case, the children's bedroom was on the OTHER side of the apartment block and, though both doctors,
neither parent possessed X-ray vision.
I said that if a single mother had left her three kids in the chalet at Butlins while she supped scampi and
chips in the boozer, she would have immediately been attacked as a feral, feckless, unfit mother by the same media which was
painting the grieving McCanns as the very embodiment of modern middle-class Britain.
For months I have watched that media poke ridicule at the supposed bumbling Inspector Clouseaus of the Portuguese
police for their apparent leaden-footedness in the investigation.
Of course no Johnny Foreigner could be as good as our own police, who brought us the Guildford Four and Birmingham
Now with this new development, the same media seems coiled like a spring to turn on the McCanns as they previously
did on the other "suspect" Robert Murat.
Sensing they may have been made the biggest fools in history, the Press tables can be seen turning, the plates
beginning to move.
Of course, the most xenophobic commentators say the science which has led to the Mccanns being named as suspects
is inherently suspect due to the foreign hands through which it has passed, oblivious to the fact that it came from British
If Madeleine's blood and other DNA evidence really has been found in the boot of her parents' hire car, there
are only a few possible explanations. A previous renter of the car - it was 25 days after the child went missing that the
family took possession of the vehicle - transported Madeleine in its boot and she was bleeding at the time.
Or Madeleine's body was transported in the boot at least 25 days after she disappeared once the McCanns took
possession of the car.
In these circumstances the Portuguese police really would be clots if they did not consider the girl's parents
to be suspects.
Of course there could be other, some would say unlikely, possibilities.
The DNA and blood evidence in the boot may not, after all, be Madeleine's and the forensic scientists may
The blood in the boot of the McCanns' hire car may be somebody else's, in which case Goodfellas comes to the
Algarve and the family are the victims of the most grotesque coincidence.
The DNA could have been planted in the boot of the McCanns' car, presumably by the police.
The sort of thing which happened to Mr OJ Simpson.
The McCanns have either been the victims of a cataclysmic historic injustice, almost unprecedented, or they
have been complicit in a scheme so duplicitous, so evil, so foul that Shakespeare himself could not have written it.
Either way, the name McCann is now well and truly in the history books.
The McCanns - plenty of theories, little evidence, 10 September 2007
Published by John Redwood at 11:00am under Blog
Sep 10 2007
With thanks to Paulo Reis at Gazeta Digital for screenshot/text
It is not usually wise to venture into
questions of individual guilt or innocence. These are properly matters for the courts, not for politicians.
so briefly today because I have never seen so much speculation and so many press stories, created by the spin doctors of the
parents and by mysterious sources for the Portuguese authorities, when there is so little fact behind it all. It is part of
the modern disease, of fighting battles through the media instead of people getting on and doing their jobs diligently.
The Portuguese side, after four months, seem to have decided that the little girl is dead and the parents were involved
in the death. To prove this it would be helpful to have a body, and an autopsy which shows how she died. At the very least,
if they cannot find the body, it would help if they had an independent witness who had seen the death occur, or had seen the
parents moving the body after the time of the disappearance. It demonstrates little police competence that this most closely
watched couple was able according to sources to keep the body from police attention immediately after the disappearance, and
then to move the body many days later. How come the police did not search extensively enough to find the body at the beginning?
How did they miss any evidence of harm to the child they now might claim to have? How did no-one see anything strange when
the body was moved?
The McCanns theory that the girl was abducted also needs evidence to support it. Can they clear
away any doubt over whether entry was forced into the holiday home? Were there no screams or disturbances as the little girl
was taken? Did no-one see her at any point as she was carried away? Why has no-one seen her since, despite the massive awareness
campaign? How did the abductor time the removal, given the fact that parents and friends were returning to keep an eye or
ear open for the children?
Have the police questioned all who left that resort around the time of the loss of Madeleine?
This is a heart rending story. The two sides seemed determined to damage each other. The truth remains a casualty.
Maybe the McCanns should employ a private detective rather than a spin doctor, to find evidence of the abduction they are
sure happened and the trail to her present whereabouts. In the meantime with so few facts it is difficult to say what happened,
apart from understanding the grief that the loss of Madeleine is causing.
Fury as Vulcan attacks Daily Mirror
By Bob Roberts, Deputy Political Editor
MP John Redwood launched a vicious attack on the parents of Madeleine McCann yesterday.
He said Kate and Gerry
were more interested in spinning to the media than finding their daughter.
And he asked where was the evidence
to back the abduction claim.
Mr Redwood, a senior adviser to David Cameron, is dubbed the Vulcan for his Spock-like
On his internet blog he said: "Maybe they should employ a private detective rather than a spin
"Their theory the girl was abducted needs evidence to support it.
"Were there no screams
or disturbances as the little girl was taken?
"Did no one see her at any point as she was carried away? Why
has no one seen her since, despite the massive awareness campaign?"
Mr Redwood said it was a "heartrending
story" but added: "The truth remains a casualty."
Kate's furious dad Brian Healy, from Liverpool,
said last night: "This is clearly out of order and I'm very angry. What right has he got?"
sister Trish Cameron, who is helping the couple settle back home in Rothley, Leics, said: "I wouldn't be dignified
if I made a response."
Labour MP David Taylor, who lives nearby, said: "It is unwise for MPs to get involved
in criminal cases."
Mr Redwood's attack was in marked contrast to the Government's response.
Gordon Brown ensured the McCanns got support from the British consul.
Mr Redwood was unavailable for comment
Gerry McCann: 'Kate and I are 100% confident in each other's innocence'
Last updated at 00:57 12 September 2007
Gerry McCann has insisted
that he and his wife Kate were "100 per cent confident" of each other's innocence.
It was the first
time he had acknowledged some Portuguese reports claiming that Madeleine's mother accidentally killed their child and
her husband helped cover up the dreadful accident.
In an emotionally-charged entry on his internet blog, he insisted:
"Kate and I are totally 100 per cent confident in each other's innocence and our family and friends have rallied
round unflinchingly to support us."
He also spoke of the "unending nightmare" confronting his family,
writing: "The pain and turmoil we have experienced in this last week is totally beyond description.
could never possibly have imagined being put in this unbearable situation."
Mr McCann has often used the official
Find Madeleine website to hit back at criticism and the couple are under renewed pressure following fresh claims of DNA evidence.
He again insisted both he and his wife had nothing to do with their daughter's disappearance and will clear their
• Senior Tory John Redwood made an extraordinary intervention in the Madeleine case yesterday.
The former cabinet minister said on his blog that Gerry and Kate McCann had fallen victim to the "modern disease of
fighting battles through the media instead of people getting on and doing their jobs diligently".
"Maybe the McCanns should employ a private detective rather than a spin doctor, to find evidence of the abduction they
are sure happened and the trail to her present whereabouts."
Last night Mr Redwood said he bore no ill will
towards the couple. "I didn't mean to be hurtful.
"I was trying to be helpful.
that the police inquiry in Portugal seems to be based on something other than abduction, it would be helpful to the McCanns
to prove it was abduction."
Redwood ditches Maddy net slur Daily Mirror
By Bob Roberts, Deputy Political Editor
Redwood was forced to back down last night after he launched a vicious attack on the McCann family.
In an internet
blog the Tory MP, dubbed the Vulcan for his Spock-like appearance, accused the couple of being more interested in spinning
to the media than finding their daughter.
The remarks angered relatives of the McCanns and other MPs.
Yesterday Mr Redwood removed the offensive passage from his online blog.
A spokesman said: "He felt what
he was saying was being misrepresented." In his blog, Mr Redwood, a senior adviser to David Cameron, said: "Maybe
the McCanns should employ a private detective rather than a spin doctor."
He said that would help "find
evidence of the abduction they are sure happened and the trail to her present whereabouts." But he questioned whether
the couple would be able to back up claims that their daughter had been snatched.
He said: "The McCanns'
theory that the girl was abducted needs evidence to support it.
"Were there no screams or disturbances as
the little girl was taken?
"Did no one see her at any point as she was carried away? Why has no one seen her
since, despite the massive awareness campaign? The truth remains a casualty."
Later Mr Redwood said: "I
was trying to give helpful advice."
The shameful treatment of the McCanns, 12 September 2007
The Shameful Treatment Of The McCanns Spectator
We have treated the McCanns as if they were Big Brother
Wednesday, 12th September 2007
Madeleine's disappearance sparked
a grotesque media circus
Did Kate McCann inadvertently kill her daughter Madeleine
and then confect a four-month long parade of grief and concern for the benefit of the media, in order to avoid being done
for the crime? This seems to be what the Portuguese police have come to either believe or hazard. The McCanns are back in
England but they are now — exotically — 'arguidos', which means that the Portuguese cops suspect they may have
a case to answer. One or both of them may yet be charged, so far as we understand the machinations of the Portuguese legal
system. It is said that traces of DNA found in a hire car used by the McCanns some 25 days after Madeleine's disappearance
provide up to an 80 per cent match with little Madeleine's DNA.
I'm no expert, but I would have thought that my own DNA would also provide at least an 80 per cent match with
Madeleine's, along with Vladimir Putin's, Ruth Kelly's, Graham Norton's and indeed that of a polecat, honey badger or a fruit-fly.
In fact, so far as I'm aware, there is almost nothing on this planet which doesn't share 80 per cent of its DNA with Madeleine
McCann; maybe some rocks, certain lichen, KFC chicken nuggets and David Miliband.
Or perhaps I have got hold of the wrong end of the stick and the new Portuguese evidence is rather more conclusive
than this. Perhaps the DNA match is nearer 98 per cent, meaning that one might confuse it only with a member of Madeleine's
own family — her siblings or her parents, for example. We may never know: the Portuguese police have their own way of
dealing with intense media speculation. Police forces the world over have come to understand that in certain cases the usual
rules fly out of the window, that there is a higher authority than the simple requirement to investigate and impartially judge
the available evidence. You must keep your local media happy — and your bosses too. When there is intense media and
public speculation you need, as a copper, to do things you wouldn't usually do.
In high profile cases such as that of Madeleine McCann's, that almost always means arresting the nearest available
nutter, regardless of the evidence, as soon as you can get your hands on him. Anyone nearby whom the public might think to
be a bit bloody odd, frankly. This is called the Colin Stagg solution to crime-solving; it might also be called the Barry
George approach to crime-solving (we shall have to wait and see). Within days of Madeleine's disappearance back in May, the
Portuguese police did exactly this and fingered the local oddball, Robert Murat. And when that scheme fails it means arresting
anybody, just to show that you haven’t been beaten, that you're still hot on the trail.
It is hard to escape the notion that internal public pressure in Portugal led to the naming of Kate McCann
as an 'arguido', rather more than anything in the way of hard evidence. The Portuguese tabloid newspapers and electronic media
had been pointing the finger for the best part of 12 weeks; there was never quite the same level of sympathy (or empathy)
in Portugal that was manifestly evident — in the media at least — over here.
There is a certain ambivalence, down in the Algarve, towards the affluent Brits who swing by every summer,
buying up apartments and contributing to the local economy while coating the entire region in concrete and breezeblock and
thus changing every neighbourhood beyond recognition. Local feeling is not quite so overtly antagonistic as it is down Malaga
way and on the Costa de Sol; but it is getting there.
Nor do the Portuguese habitually think of themselves as genetically more stupid or useless than English people.
Hence the Portuguese media were less impressed by the McCanns as a couple and even less inclined to cast the country's police
force as the principal villain of the piece: the notion that the police were typically incompetent, ineffectual, flailing
quasi-Third World dagos never really played too well in the living-rooms of Oporto and Lisbon.
In England, meanwhile, the way in which the case was reported reflected our profoundly strange obsessions
with class. I have not the slightest doubt that had the McCanns been lager-swilling dole-queue chavs dressed in Kappa and
Burberry and with a pitbull in kennels back home, the papers would have had it in for them on day one and would not have relented.
Remember, they left their three children alone in an apartment while they drank the local wine more than 100 yards away. A
babysitter was available, but not used. Had the McCanns been working class, this would have been the clearest case of gross
negligence; they would have been vilified and the English social services would immediately have been called in to investigate.
But they were not lager-swilling dole-queue chavs; they were respectable professionals — hell, they were doctors. And
therefore, initially at least, their motives and their behaviour were not remotely questioned over here.
Or, at least, not by the press. Elsewhere, though, things were very different. Among the public at large there
was enormous sympathy for Madeleine, obviously — but also a dark current of thought which held the parents directly
responsible and which became progressively more sickened and estranged by the media circus which, perhaps for the best of
motives, they built around themselves. There has been a website petition running for the best part of four months calling
for Leicestershire Social Services to investigate the apparent gross negligence with which the McCanns conducted themselves
while in Portugal. Away from the media and away from the middle class, I knew of nobody who in those early days felt anything
but repugnance for the McCanns; most of my friends expressed a fierce and unrelenting hostility to their every appearance
on television — and behind this was the usually unspoken allegation that they were quite likely more directly culpable
than through mere negligence.
Eventually — very late in the day — this view began to percolate through to our national newspapers
and especially the right-wing tabloids, who yield to no one in their defence of responsible parenting. This opprobrium was
later reinforced by the more highbrow commentators who objected to the usual yellow ribbons, commemorative armbands, the thick-as-mince
footballers calling for Madeleine to be returned, the blanket coverage and the hyperbole and the cant. This grotesque charade
was, they averred, all Diana's fault. This ghastly heart-on-the-sleeve emoting. Or, as Dominic Lawson put it, 'the monstrous
tyranny of synchronised sentimentality'.
And as ever happens, the views have now polarised. It is impossible to convince those who have bought their
yellow ribbons and put posters up in their cars that the McCanns might have been criminally remiss in their treatment of their
children on the night of 3 May. Equally, those who clung to the view that the McCann's should have been banged up on day one
for negligence find it very easy to now believe that they committed a graver crime. The McCanns — well, if they'd leave
the kiddies alone for that long, what wouldn't they do? They might do anything. We knew they were wrong 'uns. And what's happening
to all that money they raised to search for Madeleine? Bet it goes on lawyers' fees to fight a charge of manslaughter, etc.,
In a sense, the script was written well before 3 May, well before Kate raced back to her convivial restaurant
table and raised the alarm: 'They've taken her!' A remark now regarded as a bit suspicious by both the police and the media.
The McCanns, having discovered that Madeleine was missing, did what they were meant to do these days and flung themselves
bodily upon the massed media; they performed, they posed with that cuddly toy of Madeleine's, they embraced the brouhaha:
they did what was expected of them. If Madeleine had been found within 72 hours all would have been fine; but the media, especially
the English media, always end up loathing what they have created — an essential part of the self-disgust intrinsic to
any tabloid journalist.
They grow bored, they look for the new angle. They treated the McCanns — and especially foxy, photogenic,
middle-class GP Kate — much as they might a slightly exotic contestant on Big Brother. Her class and apparent composure
demanded immediate respect — and then later suspicion and derision. It's the usual thing: one moment she's up, the next
moment she's down. And so on.
Right now, she is on the cusp of being thrown out of the house altogether — and into the clutches of
the Portuguese police, who seem to be no less afflicted by the ephemera of this case and thus prone to following a pre-ordained
script than anyone else.
Face it: we need the McCanns to be guilty, 15 September 2007
September 15, 2007
Yesterday I passed a woman wearing a "Bored of the Beckhams" T-shirt. Rather passé, I thought, considering they've fled
Britain to weary a whole new continent. The slogan that many people would choose to wear, although at least for the moment
some residue of decency prevents it, is "Exhausted by the McCanns".
I am not being glib here. This week, in common, I'd guess, with many of you, I have been agog at how easily sympathy
can metastasise into accusation, how the qualities first admired in the McCanns – fortitude, respectability, religious
faith – can be reappraised as emotional frigidity, bourgeois arrogance, weirdness.
How quickly a crowd's cheers turn to boos. Found guilty then, without a trial, even though in order to conceal, then
move, then move again a by-then suppurating corpse, leaving barely a trace, while tracked by the world’s media, the
McCanns would surely need to be both poker-faced psychos and possessed of magical powers.
So why do newspaper mailbags and a legion of internet forums brim with bile? Why have 17,000 people signed an online
petition calling for social services to remove the McCann twins? Why this sudden outburst of dark jokes in Private Eye
and internet quips about how many children can be carried in a new vehicle called the "Renault McCann"? Is it really fury
at what Kate and Gerry McCann might have done? Or is it that the possibility of their guilt has given many permission to vent,
at last, emotions they have bottled up all summer long?
Until this week, the only anti-McCann public expression was in early July when parents complained to the Advertising
Standards Authority about a Find Madeleine campaign film screened before the start of Shrek the Third. How dare the
McCanns scare our children, they protested, when we have strived to protect them from this terrifying story? But what they
also felt, but could not voice, was: stop scaring us, stop ratcheting up our already thrombotic levels of parental paranoia,
so we cannot even snuggle up with our toddlers during a Urated cartoon without the intrusion of your horror and grief.
Madeleine sucked the carefree out of summer. If a child could be snatched from a blandly safe Mark Warner resort bedroom,
clearly parents must now maintain the highest state of alert. Paedophile rings were stealing babies; but with only the vaguest
information about their methods or likely power, it felt as if some older, primitive, unfathomable evil was at large.
Parents re-evaluated risk, canned dinners à deux or that late-night sneak down to the hotel bar for fear not just
of loss, but of the purse-lipped fingerpointing of the self-appointed child police. Our already overconstrained kids were
kept ever tighter at heel. Hysteria was almost tangible. When a friend mislaid her seven-year-old at the Hay-on-Wye literary
festival, security guards at once barged aside bookish middle-aged folk and the building was put into "lock down". (The child
was browsing in the book shop.) But living in a perpetual Code Red makes you anxious, weary, resentful.
And there was no escape from that icon of parental inattention, Madeleine's trusting face. No media campaign has ever
been so overwhelming. What parents of a lost child, particularly a professional, well-connected couple such as the McCanns,
would not project her face on to every website, windscreen, digital TV channel? And in order to master the media hydra, why
not hire consultants and PRs? Why not hire new ones, as the McCanns did this week, use lobbying and spin and strategy, the
war chest of the modern age? Why should Mr McCann not update his daily blog even as his heart breaks or address the Edinburgh
TV Festival if doing so makes him feel he's doing something, when there is really nothing left to do?
It is just this slick professionalism feels incongruous with the rawness of loss. And sometimes, as with the cinema announcement,
it appeared the PRs had fallen into default mode: as if the object was to market Brand Madeleine rather than to find a little
girl. After all, why harangue Shrek-going parents? No group on earth is more likely to be aware of and sympathetic
to your cause. It was hard not feel manipulated, to wonder – then hate yourself for wondering – if Mrs McCann
was twisting Cuddle Cat in her fingers for comfort or because she'd been told it would play well on TV.
All summer we have listened politely, tried not to think too deeply about the McCanns' pain, not squirm at their ill-advised,
too-private photo-ops – kissing their twin babies goodbye to meet the Pope – but no, in the end, we haven't seen
Madeleine, we're sorry, we don’t know where she is. And our impotence, our strained sympathy, a sense of being pestered
as if waylaid by a charity "chugger", has darkened our mood, until we want to say – but cannot – please, please
And in allowing themselves to be creatures of the media, the McCanns have become the Beckhams of grief, prey to the celebrity
culture that trivialises all in its wake. Among their positive facets now being used against them are the McCanns' good looks.
A plainer couple would have received sufficient coverage, not this cult-like overexposure. In June I heard senior news executives
joke about how much they fancied Kate McCann, even more hotly now that worry had unveiled her amazing bone-structure. A magazine
editor said she was restraining herself from running a spread on Mrs McCann's seemingly infinite supply of summer tops: her
heartbreak wardrobe. And news on Thursday that her diary had been seized by police immediately provoked publishers to prepare
for a bidding war.
But then their celebrity may be all they have left, now that even their profession is being used to damn them. At first
being doctors was evidence of the McCanns' irreproachable characters. Now it is twisted to suggest they would be insouciant
about death, blasé about medicating their own children.
And perhaps in the end, we need the McCanns to be guilty. It is callous to say it, but how can a case that, by necessity,
has engaged us so intimately not allow us a stake in its outcome. Given that Madeleine has almost certainly died one way or
another, maybe it is easier to accept a parental accident. Yes, let it be a banal domestic: we can guard against that, or
so we think. Anything but the cunning, predatory stranger we watch for constantly but can never see.
Madeleine McCann: You are all guilty, 16 September 2007
The public is to blame for the heartless abuse being heaped on Kate McCann. The internet
has blurred the lines of news and hearsay and the result is trial by global gossip
September 16, 2007
Do you find yourself strangely drawn to articles about the McCanns? I do. It's not edifying: most of us are uncomfortably
aware that the slender line where personal tragedy becomes popular entertainment was crossed some time ago. But, like every
other person in the country, the story is permanently at the back of my mind.
I want to stop reading, listening, watching, Googling, amateur sleuthing; I nauseate myself with my own prurience. My
appetite for commentary – which is all that's left, in the absence of hard facts – has been sated many times over.
But I can't stop.
Did they do it? They couldn't have. And yet . . . And if they did do it, do they have superhuman powers, such as invisibility
and Oscar-worthy acting skills? And if they didn't, and are innocent and probably bereaved, what in God's name have we done
By that "we", I don't for once mean the (British) press, which seems to me, despite its inevitable mawkish descents into
sentimentality, to have acted pretty responsibly. The press has urged caution, expressed compassion and been reluctant to
judge the McCanns, if not the apparently sham-bolic Portuguese police.
No, by "we", I mean the public. Forget that old chestnut "I blame the media": now that everyone has an opinion and an
embarrassment of outlets in which to express it, "I blame the public" is going to become the refrain of the coming decades.
There is no shortage of online places where people may freely and anonymously air their opinions, even if their opinions are
vile or demented or both; and there are millions of these newly voluble people. They have made it all right to say unspeakable
things, to air the most shameful thoughts, always to think the worst, and never to give anyone a chance.
With the McCann story, this has, for the first time, resulted in a complete blurring of the boundaries between news and
gossip. Sky News lists Madeleine McCann as a "category" on its interactive content screen: news, business, sport, Madeleine.
We have been here before with appalling crimes that grip the nation – we may have discussed, say, the James Bulger
case among ourselves, watched the news and read the headlines, but then the news was on twice a day, the headlines came only
in the morning, and the internet barely existed.
Now we have streaming information, an unstoppable torrent of truth, fiction, theory and gossip that is accessible 24
hours a day. The result is that, incredible as it may sound, there is, online (and the real world is catching up quickly),
little difference in the tone of the remarks about Britney Spears's failed comeback, and the comments made about Kate McCann,
despite the fact that one is a pop star and the other the mother of a missing girl who may be dead. But there is no thought
for Kate McCann's suffering in the deluge of abuse heaped upon her; the McCanns' local newspaper's support website in Leicester-shire
had to be closed.
We seem to have lost track of why Kate McCann's picture-editor-pleasing face – blonde, thin, wounded, Diana-like
– is in the papers in the first place. By orchestrating the kind of media campaign more usually associated with a multi-million-pound
film or music launch, the McCanns have catapulted themselves into the gossip fodder league. That means suffocating 24/7 media
interest; it means your choice of earrings is going to be scrutinised and discussed by millions of strangers – it means
you have declared open season on yourself when it comes to public consumption.
But the public doesn't just consume: it devours. And once you've invited it in, it doesn't sit down politely and make
small talk: it makes itself at home and rifles through your underwear drawer. You can't ask it to leave, to "respect your
privacy". It's there for the duration. If the McCanns are innocent, and even if they aren't, it may well cause them to lose
Despite popular thinking about journalists "making things up", the traditional media are regulated. Things have to stand
up from every angle. Facts matter. We have lawyers; we try not to libel or slander; to keep objective. The public, through
the internet, can – and does – say anything, no matter how degrading or toxic, and keeps on saying it until, by
a sort of insane osmosis, it stops being an outright lie and becomes a half-truth.
The theory that Kate McCann, a doctor, accidentally oversedated her daughter, causing death, has existed on the internet
for months. People write about it LIKE THIS, in indignant capitals, as if it were so obvious as to be a given, and as though
they were explaining something simple and obvious to somebody mulishly stupid who refused to see the truth staring them in
the face. Behind the capitals, you can almost feel their quickening breath and their peculiar excitement as they comprehensively
trash the reputation of a grieving woman who is a stranger to them. Power to the people!
Things are ugly out there – there aren't many things uglier than gossip about infanticide, which is what this story
has become, and why it feels so extraordinary. But they have been ugly from the start.
The news of Madeleine's disappearance broke on a Friday evening. I wrote about it the following morning, assuming –
naively, in retrospect – that people's default mode would be compassion or pity. By Sunday evening my e-mail inbox was
full. A handful of the e-mails agonised on the McCanns' behalf. The greater part more or less said, "If you leave small children
alone to go and eat tapas, you deserve everything that's coming to you."
I know from colleagues on other newspapers that they had the same angry reaction, which they also found themselves disconcerted
I'll get back to the tapas point, because it's central to the whole thing, with opinion dividing into people who see
leaving a child as stupid, but not the world's greatest crime – such people are broadly sympathetic to the McCanns –
and people who find it inexcusable, criminal and indicative of all sorts of dark possibilities. This latter group is among
the 17,000 who signed an online petition recommending that Leices-tershire social services take into care the McCanns' remaining
two children, Sean and Amelie.
The petition was not set up in the past week or so when things became murkier and question marks started mushrooming,
but in May, when all we knew of Kate and Gerry McCann was that they seemed hollow-eyed with grief. The McCann story may end
up being about the death of empathy.
So here we are, obsessed, in the throes of one of those weird national seizures; sitting in judgment, wallowing in what
the novelist Philip Roth (apropos Bill Clinton's infidelity) memorably called "the ecstasy of sanctimony". The woman at the
checkout at Tesco has a view, as does the dinner party guest. The hitherto unsayable – "Do you think they killed their
own child?" – has become commonplace. You hear it everywhere. We're gossiping about a four-year-old child who may be
dead, or abducted and raped, or both, and there are no holds barred any more. What brutal thing does this say about us?
It's always risky attempting to analyse the nation's psyche based on one apparently seismic event: often, when everything
settles down, you realise that underneath all the emoting, there wasn't anything terribly unexpected happening. One thinks
of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales: all that was going on was that everyone felt sad and shocked, and then got over
But the national fixation with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and the incendiary emotions it has provoked, is
another thing altogether. It isn't to do with empathy, because it seems to be thin on the ground. Prurience, yes; ghoulish
curiosity, certainly – but there are, alas, dozens of hideous crime stories to pick from: why focus so obsessively on
this one? Sentimentality, because of the involvement of a small, photogenic child? Perhaps at first – though much of
the public commentary on this story is so condemnatory that sentiment doesn't seem to come into it.
That says something peculiar about our monstrous appetite for this tragedy – because, no matter what happened or
who did what, a much-loved child has vanished.
Much of our fixation has to do with fear, and with the public's desire to "own" a story. Within 24 hours of her disappearance,
Madeleine McCann had become "Maddie", as though we all knew her. Aside from what she looked like, we knew nothing about her
whatsoever – not what toys she liked, "Cuddle Cat" aside, or what her favourite book was, or what she liked eating,
or wearing (I am sorry to use the past tense, and mean nothing by it; the present tense looks even odder).
But in those early days of the investigation, she became a version of all of our children, a blank to superimpose our
own child's face onto as we peered into the abyss. This was, of course, terrifying: the idea that an ordinary-seeming family
could go on holiday and have a child vanish into thin air was more than most of us could cope with.
The natural human instinct, when faced with a terrible fear, is to list the things that make us different from the victims
of the frightening situation, and in this particular case there were few. Much was made at the time of the McCanns' social
class (working class gone middle), and of the fact that if a single mother from a housing estate had gone out on the razz
and left her child alone, sympathy would be in short supply. This is another way of saying that if a person is recognisably
different from us, the bad thing that happened to them couldn't possibly happen to us. The problem with the McCanns is that
they were so terrifyingly normal-seeming, so middle-classly resonant, with their neat Boden-esque clothes and their responsible
jobs and their three little children.
How to differentiate ourselves from them, and thereby reassure ourselves that their misfortune would never be ours? By
focusing obsessively on the one questionable thing they did: leaving their children alone in a strange place. Phew –
instant relief. "I'd never do that," the thought process went. "I'm safe. My children will never be harmed."
This is clutching at straws, frankly – as everyone surely knows by now, children who come to harm usually come
to harm from a person known to them, more often than not in their own home. But we chose to clutch at this one particular
straw, hence, I think, the disproportionate outpouring of vitriol against Kate McCann, who, regardless of her guilt or innocence,
was, is and will continue to be punished because she had the temerity to seem so much like us.
She has also (more straws) been accused of seeming "unfeeling", of looking "too groomed" ("I'd look a mess, therefore
we’re not the same, therefore it could never happen to me"), of seeming strangely "calm" (or tranquillised, surely?),
of, basi-cally, not falling to her knees screaming like an animal in pain – it's "Show us you care, Ma'am" all over
In some internet chatrooms and message boards, women bitch about Kate McCann for not reacting exactly like them –
not that they'd know how they'd react in her situation, since they have never been in it. No matter: weird, isn't it, how
she seems so composed – and let's not call it composure, let's call it "arrogance" (this from the country that invented
the stiff upper lip). Must make her a child killer, and not have anything to do with being told that visible distress might
give pleasure to a hypothetical abductor.
And why are her clothes nice? Who thinks about clothes at a time like this? Why does she wash her hair? Couldn't she
wear rags, or sackcloth and ashes? Or – any day now – tar and feathers? And what was that nonsense with the Pope?
(Who'd have thought the devout Catholic/Pope combination would be so perplexing and aggravating to so many people?)
Our fascination also exists because this story is centrally concerned with what many people perceive as a failure of
parenting, a topic we are obsessed by as a nation. We are, collectively, eaten up with anxiety about raising our children.
It's a relatively new thing – people just used to have children and get on with it – and is reflected by the deluge
of television programmes, books and publications devoted to how to be a parent.
Women, especially, have become almost pathologically insecure on the subject: am I a bad person if I bottle-feed; have
I failed if I have a caesarean; do I harm my children by going out to work; have they got enough friends; do they sleep too
much or too little; do they eat enough super-foods and fish oils; do they need to learn Mandarin; do they play outside enough;
and so on and on.
With that insecurity comes the strongest desire to judge, as a means of self-reassurance: you see it every day in the
ongoing working mothers versus stay-at-home ones debate. "Well, she barely sees her children because she's in the office all
day, so I'm better than her and my children will be happier" versus "She's going out of her mind with boredom because she's
stopped working, so I'm better than her" – nobody can win, and the crazy thing is that nobody needs to: it's hardly
Into this comes Kate McCann, who admits to a failure of parenting, to doing a stupid thing, and we fall on her like a
pack of hyenas, weirdly pleased to leave behind our own failings and insecurities for a minute and concentrate on hers.
The fact is that while I would never leave small children alone, I know dozens of people who routinely do, and I do not
find them irresponsible, just tired.
There are so many of them that a whole service industry has built up around them: "family" hotels with a baby-listening
service where someone cocks an ear at the bedroom door every now and then while harassed parents try to grab the semblance
of a date together in the dining room; holidays, like the McCanns', with kids' clubs attached, where children are parked with
what amounts to a stranger while parents try to sunbathe in peace for a couple of hours; skiing trips where the chalet comes
complete with a random nanny; gyms with crèches; restaurants with some weird bloke in a clown suit "entertaining" the children
in another room; and so on.
A certain section of society routinely leaves their children in the care of somebody else whom they don't know terribly
well, no matter what the nanny agency has murmured soothingly about police checks. You can think what you like about this,
but it is a fact of middle-class life, trying to reconcile loving your children with still having a life of your own, and
an omnipresent source of anxiety for many people – if it weren't, you couldn't buy teddies with cameras hidden in them
to check up on your child carer, and many women wouldn't have the unpleasant niggling feeling that they don't entirely trust
their nanny to bring up their child.
The McCanns were foolish and wrong to leave three small children – babies, really – alone in a strange apartment.
But doesn't the subsequent calamity override the initial human error? Apparently not: only a fifth of Britons think they are
completely innocent, according to a poll for this paper today. And 76% think they were wrong to leave them alone. And yet
we all take risks: you take a risk every time you let a child out of your sight, every time they board a bus or a train, every
time they're a bit evasive about their whereabouts. If your house is burgled and you stupidly didn't switch on the burglar
alarm, does that mean you deserved it? Does it make your distress, your sense of violation and the loss of your goods any
Meanwhile, with hideous inevitability, the focus has shifted to Kate McCann's being "volatile". She "visi-bly lost control"
while being questioned for 11 hours, we are told. It's such a depressingly familiar scenario: a woman in an untenable situation
is pushed to breaking point, and then when she does lose it – as lose it she will, because she’s not a robot or
a monster – her sane response to an insane, unbearable set of circumstances becomes evidence with which to condemn her.
Impound her diary, call in all lap-tops: she must have done it if she shows any feelings. And she must have done it if
she doesn't. QED: she's had it either way.
We are now told, by Portuguese newspapers who claim to have published extracts, that her diary, which the police want
to see, shows she "struggled to control Madeleine", that her children were "hyperac-tive", and that looking after them exhausted
She also allegedly wrote that her husband left her to look after them too much on her own. Show me a woman with three
children under four who doesn't express the same frustrations, and I'll show you an improbability. But even this utterly normal
maternal response to child-care – it's knackering, I wish he'd help out more – is being used as an indication
of Mrs McCann's "instability".
And the people who've been there and ought to be able to sympa-thise – other women – are the ones sharpening
their knives. As Madeleine Albright, the former US secretary of state, once said: "There is a special place in hell for women
who don't help other women." If that is so, hell must have got pretty crowded over the past four months.
The McCanns did themselves no favours when they embarked, deliberately, on a gigantic, modern publicity campaign. And
that has contributed in no small part to making this case seem so compelling now. It is hard to criticise their original motive
for hyping up the publicity, but in the process the McCanns unwittingly turned themselves into a soap opera: available to
view on a screen near you 24 hours a day.
As I write, there are reports that they're looking for a new, bigger "campaign manager" to try to stem the tide of negative
comment. (In what world did Gerry McCann think it was a good idea to put in an "appearance" at the Edinburgh television festival?)
But it's too late. The tide won't be stemmed and the appointment of a Max Clifford figure will make things worse, not better.
Every soap needs a baddie and since we seem to have forgotten that we're not, in fact, watching a brilliantly scripted and
plotted episode of Portuguese Holiday, it was only a matter of time before the goodie turned bad.
What a twist! How compelling! More, more. Give me the inside story. One of these mornings, we're going to wake up and
see just how ghastly a part our own voyeurism has played in all of this. At least, I hope we are.
Vitriolic rants of the online rabble
IF you haven't read what is on the internet about the McCanns you wouldn't believe it. Here are a few examples of the
kind of vitriol out there. Trawling through the sites to find these quotes is like a trip through the darkest recesses of
people's most ungenerous minds.
- 'I never believed in your pain – the Find Madeleine McCann website
- Kate McCann is an ineffectual, weak and total washout of a mother and probably mentally unbalanced. Pathetic woman
should never have had kids if she couldn't cope – Mulderx, Mirror forum
- Gerry McCann does come across as a thug to me. I have no idea if wifey is involved but either way she is still as guilty
as sin for leaving her children alone – Halibutswift, Mirror forum
- The McGrubs are terrible examples of parenting and should be prosecuted. At the very least, they should have to attend
parenting classes. The day you put tapas and alcohol before the health and wellbeing of your offspring is a very bad day!!!!
– Dr Kildare, HaloScan
- The people who must shoulder the burden of responsibility for the Maddie disappearance are Gerry and Kate McCann. If
they did it, they are sick and evil and deserve to rot for ever. If they didn't, they let her down by being selfish and indulging
in their own pleasures leaving her alone and vulnerable – Val, Skynews
- The parents are a disgrace. They were on the razz every night after leaving their children in the crèche all day every
day. Much wanted children? More like little fashion statements that they couldn't be bothered to look after properly. The
children unfortunately got in the way of their "me time" – Proud Parent UK, Alpha Mummy
- These people are doctors and in their professional lives would not hesitate to point the "abuse" finger at any other
parent who left their children alone like they did. They should hang by their own noose – Arthur, Alpha Mummy
- I do think the McCanns have acted somewhat oddly throughout this investigation – particularly the mother. I can't
quite see it as natural for a mother in her position to make one of her immediate priorities in the days immediately following
the disappearance of her daughter a visit to the Pope – without her remaining children – Krazykoolkazza, Mumsnet
- Even female doctors are subject to domestic abuse whether it be mental, physical or psychological bullying. Kate looks
to me to be very submissive to Gerry. Her eyes dart towards him when the couple are questioned by the media. It's as though
she can't speak up for herself. The running is another strange one. I'm a keep fit nut but the last thing on my mind would
be to run if one of my kids were abducted. I would be spewing venom and ranting. – Ragna, Mirror forum'
End this witch hunt and find Madeleine, 17 September 2007
The real crime and the real tragedy is that nobody
is looking for Madeleine McCann anymore.
That little girl is out there somewhere, either dead or alive, but all of the energy of those Keystone cretins,
the Portuguese police, are being poured into attributing guilt to Kate and Gerry McCann.
We are little better. Back home, the search for Madeleine has been reduced to a grotesque who dunnit, adult
entertainment of the blackest kind.
The big question is no longer "What happened to Madeleine McCann?" The question now is "Which side are you
Are you still completely convinced of the McCanns' innocence? Or are you one of those sad, spiteful souls
- and there are plenty of them - who is asking for a refund of the money you donated to the Find Madeleine fund?
I cannot recall a news story that so totally divides public opinion.
We were told all along that the McCanns were brilliant media manipulators, but I wonder if they truly understand
the nature of the beast. The media - like the mob - can turn in a moment.
I would not have thought it possible, but with frightening speed Kate and Gerry McCann have gone from tragic
victims to the worst thing in the world - suspected murderers of their own child.
I don't believe for one second that they did it. If they did, then they are the greatest actors who ever lived.
The bewilderment, the grief, the overwhelming sense that their world has collapsed - it was there at the start
and it is there now.
Kate and Gerry McCann would need to be better than Streep and DeNiro to play the roles they played in front
of the world's media.
They would also need to be criminal masterminds. To kill - accidentally or otherwise - little Madeleine, and
then court the attention of all those cameras and reporters, and then dispose of the body under that glaring spotlight. They
did not do it.
I do not much care what the Portuguese spoon-feed their tame hacks in the local rags - that man and woman
are innocent, and it is an obscenity that the world is playing Cluedo with their lives and the fate of their little girl.
No smoke without fire, right? But there is no smoke.
A lot of the innuendo and propaganda that the Portuguese cops have slipped to their flunkies in the Portuguese
press turns out to have absolutely no basis in the real world. We were informed that the woman who lives above the apartment
where the McCanns were staying often heard Madeleine crying and "sounds of violence."
Now the real woman - Pamela Fenn, 81 - says that these claims are "absolute rubbish."
Reports of hair in the hire car, blood on the curtains, the 'smell of death' in the apartment - none of these
lurid titbits prove that Madeleine McCann is dead, and still less that her parents murdered her.
Forensic experts in this country say that all the evidence stacked up against the McCanns would never lead
to a conviction in a British court. We are told Kate McCann "struggled to control" three children under the age of five.
Well, who the hell wouldn't? Most of us struggle with just one.
That doesn't make her any less of the calm, loving mother that she has always appeared to be.
But chuck enough dirt and it will stick. The Portuguese cops seem stupendously stupid - but they are smart
enough to understand that.
It is right that the McCanns should be potential suspects. But it should all have been done months ago - not
when the Portuguese cops have become a sick joke because of their blundering incompetence.
Those swaggering plods in their dark glasses clearly wanted the media circus to go away from their sleepy,
sunny doorstep, and they have been granted their wish.
As the months have dragged on, they must have felt like lumbering yokels, despised by their north European
neighbours. They are not the type who would enjoy that feeling.
Chief Inspector Goncalo Amaral, the fat, sweaty cop who is co-leader of the investigation into Madeleine's
disappearance, faces investigation himself for the torture of Leonor Cipriano, the mother of an eight-year-old girl who disappeared
in the Algarve in 2004.
Official mug shots show the mother with her eyes battered so badly that she is unable to open them. She allegedly
confessed to the crime and is now serving a 16-year-jail sentence.
The missing child has never been found.
That is Portuguese policing in action, and I would suggest that the smear campaign that has been unleashed
on the McCanns is just as bad as being given a kicking in a police cell.
The Portuguese plods are not desperate to solve this crime - such a task was way beyond them.
They just want a convenient confession, true or false.
They just want the case of Madeleine McCann to go away so they can salvage what is left of their fragile macho
pride and return to their siesta.
And somewhere a tiny child is still out there, whether she is dead or alive, separated from all she ever knew
With prejudice, 17 September 2007
Unofficial sources and the demands of 24-hour news have led to a media storm around Gerry and Kate
McCann that gets darker by the day
Inside the drab, tile-clad police station in Portimao, there is a television tuned to Sky News. Officers are monitoring
the UK news network, which has mounted rolling coverage of the case they are investigating, for one reason: they want to know
what the world is saying about them.
That explains the outrage 10 days ago, on the evening that Gerry and Kate McCann were declared formal
suspects, or arguidos, in the disappearance of their daughter. Police were still questioning Gerry McCann when, already, his
sister Philomena was telling Sky they had offered Kate McCann a reduced two-year sentence if she admitted to killing her daughter
accidentally, hiding the body and then secretly disposing of it weeks later.
On this occasion the police officers were right to be angry. Like many things said about the McCann
affair over the past days and months, the story was wrong. There was no offer of a plea bargain. It had all been "a misunderstanding",
the McCann lawyer, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, explained the following day.
That did not mean, of course, that Philomena McCann - one of many people speaking for what might
broadly be called "the McCann camp" - was wrong about the rest of it. Portuguese police do seem to be considering accidental
death followed by disposal of the corpse as a possibility in this most bizarre of cases. In this story without on-the-record
sources, however, they have not even publicly confirmed that much.
It now seems incredible, however, to recall that the McCanns started suing Portugal's Tal &
Qual magazine for saying just that a little over two weeks ago: Philomena McCann's statement gave British journalists the
green light to start reporting the allegations against the McCanns - even though, if they are found not guilty in any future
trial, editors could be sued.
The scene inside the police station helps explain something of the nature of what has become one
of the world's biggest media storms. The journalists watch the police, the police watch the journalists and the world watches
them all - showing an insatiable appetite for even the flimsiest reports about the McCann case.
Stir into the mix the relentless demands of 24-hour rolling journalism and some bitter, nationalistic
warfare between sections of the British and Portuguese press and you get a messy, and occasionally nasty, story.
"The British press ... treats Portugal as a place full of incapable, careless incompetents," complained
Francisco Moita Flores in Correio da Manha after a recent round of criticism of the Portuguese police.
Frustration reigns among journalists covering the case. Everybody who knows anything worthwhile
is bound by Portugal's judicial secrecy laws not to talk. That includes the police, lawyers, court officials, the McCanns
and almost anyone who has given evidence. That has not, of course, prevented the media providing a daily feast of "details".
So where do these come from?
Kate and Gerry McCann might not be able to talk, but their extended family and a network of friends
can, and do. Philomena, with her colourful Glaswegian vocabulary and willingness to attack the police, is among the most quoted
- but there are many more.
The Portuguese police also talk, though the few gruff words issued by official spokesman Chief Inspector
Olegario de Sousa rarely add anything to the story. Like any police force, however, they leak - especially to Portuguese journalists.
Unfortunately the things they leak are often contradictory. For every "police source" claiming the evidence against the McCanns
is strong, for example, another is ready to say it is not.
The McCanns have their own favourite journalists. Gerry McCann, for example, likes Sky's Ian Woods
- who conducted the first television interview with them back in May. It was Sky who told the world the McCanns were leaving
Portugal on September 9.
Although many commentators have professed amazement at the McCanns' supposedly skilful media management,
this has, at times, proved chaotic. It was naive, for example, to believe that the respect showed to them in the days immediately
after three-year-old Madeleine vanished would hold.
In the early days the McCanns were allowed to set the rules for the press. They decided what happened,
and when. The British media succumbed, largely, to a bout of communal sympathy. Police had said it was a kidnap. Robert Murat,
an expatriate Briton, had been declared a formal suspect. He, as the McCanns do now, denied any involvement. That did not
stop, however, pages and pages of muck-raking stories about him from appearing in newspapers in both Portugal and the UK.
The McCanns' early success with the press can be put down, in part, to the media experts they found
working alongside them. The Mark Warner company, whose holiday apartments they had been staying in, already had a deal with
PR company Bell Pottinger. That meant that Alex Woolfall, the company's crisis management head, was in Praia da Luz the day
after Madeleine disappeared. When Woolfall left 10 days later, the Foreign Office stepped in. Media handlers arrived from
London. They included former Daily Mirror journalist Sheree Dodd and, later, former BBC man Clarence Mitchell. Both Woolfall
and Mitchell are remembered by reporters as key and immensely helpful sources as the McCann phenomenon took off.
After they left, however, things started going wrong. Portuguese newspapers started to publish unsympathetic
stories at the end of June. As Portuguese journalists caught the mood music from police the relationship disintegrated further.
Sandra Felgueiras, a feisty state television journalist obsessed by the family's supposed use of Calpol, became a particular
Some Portuguese commentators are aware that their press, like some of their British counterparts,
have gone too far. "The crowd now wants the parents to be the murderers because they are British (and, therefore, not Portuguese)
and so that the worst of the British press has to surrender to the worst of the Portuguese press and admit that the latter
were right," commented Mario Negreiros in Portugal's Jornal de Negocios.
Justine McGuinness, the campaign manager who took over after Mitchell left, stood down from the
job last week; she is understood to have been exhausted by the intensity of the campaign. The McCanns have talked to, among
others, former News of the World and Hello! editor Phil Hall about their future media needs, but seem to be finding it hard
to hire a permanent replacement. Hanover PR, run by John Major's former press secretary Charles Lewington, was taking calls
over the weekend, but stressed it was not working for the McCanns permanently.
It is hard to overestimate the global reach of the McCann story. The Associated Press, which rivals
Reuters as the world's biggest global news agency, took reporters away from a meeting of European Union foreign ministers
in northern Portugal to cover the McCanns' sudden change of fortune at Portimao police station. The decision paid off. The
AP story was the most-read story on many US newspaper websites that day.
The strain on journalists in the Algarve has been immense. Working days have stretched for up to
18 hours or more. The McCann story has provided the British print media with the same test of modern, 24-hour, seven-day web-driven
journalism as Virginia Tech gave their US counterparts.
Editors at newspaper websites realised back in May that McCann stories quickly shot to the top of
their "most read" rankings. The best summary of the McCanns' current situation came from a Portuguese commentator, Joao Marques
dos Santos of Correio da Manha. "The theory of the presumption of innocence for an arguido is a joke. When someone is declared
an arguido, the exact opposite occurs. That person, whether innocent or not, is considered by investigators to be potentially
guilty. The effects are devastating and irreparable."
The media, said McCann lawyer Pinto de Abreu, may be doing even more damage than that. "The media
coverage could prejudice not just people's reputations but also the investigation itself," he told journalists last week.
Portuguese Oafs, 03 October 2007
By Dr David Roberts
Far from pursuing the repulsive, abductors of Maddie McCann the Portuguese
police service seems to be concentrating on covering their own backsides and their astounding incompetence. They are attempting
to do this by constructing a fabricated case against Maddie's parents.
Interestingly, the police chief in charge of what are passing for
investigations is himself allegedly facing torture charges and other charges of falsifying the evidence in an earlier missing
child case. The mother concerned in that case managed to acquire multiple bruises, including two black eyes from "attempting
suicide by throwing herself downstairs at the police station", says the accused police chief. Unsurprisingly the mother confessed
only retract the confession when finally allowed legal help. She is now serving a 16 year prison sentence.
Needless to say, neither child nor body has been found.
One of this officer's colleagues, involved in the same case and
charges, since retired, is now a correspondent for the Portuguese newspaper which seems to "leak" confidential police information
at frequent intervals and always to spread unfounded smears against the McCanns.
Neither of these officers would be allowed to be involved in any
case, let alone a very similar one, in the UK. They should have been suspended but standards appear to differ between
the two countries.
Let us have a look, now, at some of the theories leaked by this
amazingly oafish police force.
Well, having blundered in the early stages of the investigation,
allowing Maddie's presumed abductors to spirit her through the Spanish-Portuguese border - to name but one supreme folly -
the police have decided that Maddie's parents, with or without the help of all their friends, either murdered or accidentally
killed her during or before the time of her abduction whilst they were all having dinner a short distance away. At first
it was implied that she was drugged with injected sedatives and, more recently with tablets.
As they have no evidence for either they cannot make their minds
Let me help them.
Dr McCann is a cardiologist presumably with an expert knowledge
of the pharmacopoeia. He is also unlikely to carry syringes and needles through airport security - nor would they be needed.
No English doctor would administer any "sedative" to a child, especially his own. As for tablets, there are no tablets
in a paediatric dosage and he would be aware of the dangers of overdosing a four year old child with adult tablets. Paracetamol
may have been carried but that kills slowly over a days or so in overdose.
Or is this buffoon of an officer thinking that Dr McCann brought
Maddie on the family holiday with a group of friends with no other intention than to murder her?
Much play has been made of supposed blood stains found in the apartment.
If, as the Portuguese seem to be implying Maddie was killed by a deliberate or accidental overdose of "sedative" from what
cause would there be blood around the flat? In any case, the British forensic scientists have determined that the stains were
not Maddie's blood.
However, let us continue with the Portuguese fantasy.
Having killed her, the McCanns apparently continued their meal whilst
transporting her body elsewhere without being seen by any witnesses or without their absence being noted. Obviously,
say the police, one or more or even all the friends conspired to help. All this, remember, without a shred of evidence.
Then, according to the Portuguese police, the leaks say, Mrs McCann
made some incriminating entry in her diary and Dr McCann apparently blogged about it on the web. Again, none of that nasty,
inconvenient stuff called proof. for the theory.
The McCanns, we are asked to believe, left Maddie's body in its
secret place for a month before removing it to some other place. We know that is what the best of Portuguese police think
because they claim to have found forensic evidence in a car which the family hired over a month after Maddie's disappearance.
Only, the "evidence" has proved not to be Maddie's DNA.
However, let us think about the concealment of a 4-year old child's
body for a month in summer in Portugal.
One theory is that they took their child's body to an area of scrubland,
dug a shallow grave and left her - all without being seen by a single telephoto lens, TV camera or reporter. The trouble with
this cock-brained postulation is that the area in question is plagued by feral dogs - and, of course, it was summer. I hope
the McCanns will forgive me being blunt but pathologically things happen to animal and human bodies after death. Even more
so in a hot climate. That is why some religions allow for immediate, same day burial - and not in shallow graves, either.
In addition to that, it is highly likely that the hungry, feral
dogs would have, to say the least, "disturbed" the body during the month.
By the way, where did they obtain the shovels for this exercise?
And where are they now?
We are then asked to believe that Maddie's parents and friends returned
to the body of their child, in whatever disgusting condition it was in, and calmly put it in the boot of the car they had
hired a month after her disappearance. They then, the leaks say, took it down to a British boat in the harbour and persuaded
the owner to take them and Maddie out to sea to finally dispose of her. "We will never find her body" says Plod, preparing
the ground for himself. But, my God, they should have found more than a couple of hairs and a microscopic trace of body fluids
in the boots of the car and the cadaver-hunting dogs should have gone beserk.
When will the white coats come to pick up this somewhat deluded
We have yet to hear the following theory. That the family changed
apartments to one with a conveniently large deep freeze where they kept the body for a month whilst living their lives around
it. As there has been no "revelation" about this in the week or so since the McCanns returned to the UK it must be assumed
that any such freezer had it existed contained no forensic evidence. On the other hand, the McCanns could have buried that
in a shallow grave and then dumped it in the sea, too. Much more likely is that Clewsoe never gave it a thought.
A little while after that paragraph was written the oafs of this
part-time police force decide that Madeleine had been kept in a fridge or various fridges, from time to time, before her body
was removed, under the eyes of their operatives and the world police. Where, this author wonders, is there a holiday apartment
with a fridge large enough to hold a 4-year old child's body. It is for sure that the police have yet to find one.
In any case, where was the body before the family moved to the new
flat - in the steaming heat of a Portuguese summer?
And all this with the eyes and lenses of the world following their
every move - and those of their friends.
I have not said anything about the effect on the devoted parents
of Maddie of carrying out any of these hare-brained theories, yet they would be obvious to any staring camera.
The Portuguese investigating team are rapidly becoming an embarrassment
to themselves, their force and their country yet there seems little doubt that they will malignly pursue their present course
if only to hide their own serial incompetence.
A final word. Well done, Richard Branson, for your strong support
to the family. Given whilst other, far lesser mortals, weaken.
Meantime, the search must continue.
The latest accusation, (1 October 2007), leaked to the press by
the floundering Portuguese goons, is that Maddy was not poisoned by her mother but fell down the apartment steps. The family
and all their friends then conspired to hide the body for fear of a manslaughter charge. About this they are certain.
The chief goon was sacked today (3/10/07) for an outburst against
the British police and the McCanns. He will be no loss to the investigation being under investigation himself for matters
relating to a similar case to the Maddy case. However, the world can expect even more vindictive leaks to the Portuguese press.
Dr F David Roberts
Job title and specialty:
dispensing practice for 33 years)
Area or specialty of membership represented in capacity as Council
Current positions held on BMA committees:
Current positions held on other bodies:
President, Leicester Division BMA
Member Rural Practice sub-committee, GMSC
Chairman Original DDA
Dr F. D. Roberts also appears on the directory of Glenfield Doctors - Glenfield Hospital is where Gerry McCann works.
4 October 2007
It is very difficult to kill a child by giving it
sedatives, even if killing it is what you might want to do. I asked a doctor about this, one who is also a mother. It was
a casual, not a professional conversation, but like every other parent in the Western world, she had thought the whole business
through. She said that most of the sedatives used on children are over-the-counter antihistamines, like the travel sickness
pills that knocked me and my daughter out on an overnight ferry to France recently. It would also be difficult, she told me,
to give a lethal dose of prescription sleeping tablets, which these days are usually valium or valium derivatives, 'unless
the child ate the whole packet'. If the child did so, the short-term result would not be death but a coma. Nor could she think
of any way such an overdose would lead to blood loss, unless the child vomited blood, which she thought highly unlikely. She
said it was possible that doctors sedated their children more than people in other professions but that, even when she thought
it might be a good idea (during a transatlantic flight, for example), she herself had never done so, being afraid that they
would have a 'paradoxical rage reaction' – which is the medical term for waking up half out-of-it and tearing the plane
I thought I had had one of those myself, in a deeply regretted incident at breakfast on the same ferry when
my little son would not let me have a bite of his croissant and I ripped the damn pastry up and threw it on the floor. She
said that no, the medical term for that was a 'drug hangover', or perhaps it was just the fact that an overnight ferry was
not the best place to begin a diet. We then considered the holidays with children that we have known.
How much do doctors drink? 'Lots,' she said. Why are the McCanns saying they didn’t sedate the child?
'Why do you think?' Besides, it was completely possible that the child had been sedated and also abducted – which was
a sudden solution to a problem I did not even know I had: namely, if the girl in the pink pyjamas was being carried off by
a stranger, why did she not scream? Sedation had also been a solution to the earlier problem of: how could they leave their
children to sleep unprotected, even from their own dreams?
But sedation was not the final answer, after all.
If someone else is found to have taken Madeleine McCann – as may well be the case – it will show
that the ordinary life of an ordinary family cannot survive the suspicious scrutiny of millions.
In one – completely unverified – account of her interrogation, Kate McCann is said to have responded
to the accusation that the cadaver dog had picked up the ‘scent of death’ on her clothes by saying that she had
been in contact with six dead patients in the weeks before she came on holiday. My doctor friend doubted this could be true
of a part-time GP, unless, we joked, she had 'done a Shipman' on them. Then, of course, we had to row back, strenuously, and
say that even if something had happened between mother and child, or between father and child, in that apartment, even if
the child just fell, then Kate McCann was still the most unfortunate woman you could ever lay eyes on.
And we are obliged to lay eyes on her all the time. This makes harridans of us all.
The move from unease, through rumour, to mass murder took no time flat. During the white heat of media allegations
against Madeleine's parents, my husband came up the stairs to say that they’d all been wife-swapping – that was
why the other diners corroborated the McCanns' account of the evening. This, while I was busy measuring the distance from
the McCanns' holiday apartment down the road to the church on Google Earth (0.2 miles). I said they couldn't have been wife-swapping,
because one of the wives had brought her mother along.
'Hmmmm,' he said.
I checked the route to the open roadworks by the church, past a car park and a walled apartment complex, and
I thought how easy it would be to carry my four-year-old son that distance. I had done that and more in Tenerife, when he
decided against walking. Of course he was a live and not a dead weight, but still, he is a big boy. Too big to fit into the
spare-tyre well of a car, as my father pointed out to me later, when it seemed like the whole world was figuring out the best
way to kill a child.
'She was only a slip of a thing,' I said.
I did not say that the body might have been made more pliable by decomposition. And I had physically to resist
the urge to go out to my own car and open the boot to check (get in there now, sweetheart, and curl up into a ball). Then,
as if to pass the blame back where it belonged, I repeated my argument that if there is 88 per cent accurate DNA from partly
decomposed bodily fluids found under the carpet of the boot of the hired car, then these people had better fly home quick
and get themselves another PR company.
Who needs a cadaver dog when you have me? In August, the sudden conviction that the McCanns 'did it' swept
over our own family holiday in a peculiar hallelujah. Of course they had. It made a lot more sense to me than their leaving
the children to sleep alone.
I realise that I am more afraid of murdering my children than I am of losing them to a random act of abduction.
I have an unhealthy trust of strangers. Maybe I should believe in myself more, and in the world less, because, despite the
fact that I am one of the most dangerous people my children know, I keep them close by me. I don’t let them out of my
sight. I shout in the supermarket, from aisle to aisle. I do this not just because some dark and nameless event will overtake
them before the checkout, but also because they are not yet competent in the world. You see? I am the very opposite of the
Distancing yourself from the McCanns is a recent but potent form of magic. It keeps our children safe. Disliking
the McCanns is an international sport. You might think the comments on the internet are filled with hatred, but hate pulls
the object close; what I see instead is dislike – an uneasy, unsettled, relentlessly petty emotion. It is not that we
blame them – if they can be judged, then they can also be forgiven. No, we just dislike them for whatever it is that
nags at us. We do not forgive them the stupid stuff, like wearing ribbons, or going jogging the next day, or holding hands
on the way into Mass.
I disliked the McCanns earlier than most people (I’m not proud of it). I thought I was angry with them
for leaving their children alone. In fact, I was angry at their failure to accept that their daughter was probably dead. I
wanted them to grieve, which is to say to go away. In this, I am as bad as people who complain that 'she does not cry.'
On 25 May, in their first television interview, given to Sky News, Gerry McCann spoke a little about grief,
as he talked about the twins. 'We've got to be strong for them, you know, they're here, they do bring you back to earth, and
we cannot, you know, grieve one. We did grieve, of course we grieved, but ultimately we need to be in control so that we can
influence and help in any way possible, not just Sean and Amelie, but the investigation.'
Most of the animosity against the McCanns centres on the figure of Madeleine's beautiful mother. I am otherwise
inclined. I find Gerry McCann's need to 'influence the investigation' more provoking than her flat sadness, or the very occasional
glimpse of a wounded narcissism that flecks her public appearances. I have never objected to good-looking women. My personal
jury is out on the issue of narcissism in general; her daughter's strong relationship with the camera lens causes us a number
of emotions, but the last of them is always sorrow and pain.
The McCanns feel guilty. They are in denial. They left their children alone. They cannot accept that their
daughter might be dead. Guilt and denial are the emotions we smell off Gerry and Kate McCann, and they madden us.
I, for example, search for interviews with them, late at night, on YouTube. There is so much rumour; I listen
to their words because they are real, because these words actually did happen, one after the other. The focus of my 'dislike'
is the language that Gerry McCann uses; his talk of 'information technology' and 'control', his need to 'look forward'.
'Is there a lesson here, do you feel, to other parents?'
'I think that's a very difficult thing to say, because, if you look at it, and we try to rationalise things
in our head and, ultimately, what is done is done, and we continually look forward. We have tried to put it into some kind
of perspective for ourselves.'
He lays a halting and agonised emphasis on the phrase 'what is done is done,' and, at three in the morning,
all I can hear is Lady Macbeth saying this line after the murder of Duncan, to which her husband replies: 'We have scorched
the snake, not killed it.' Besides, what does he mean? Who did the thing that has been done? It seems a very active and particular
word for the more general act of leaving them, to go across the complex for dinner.
There are problems of active and passive throughout the McCanns' speech. Perhaps there are cultural factors
at play. I have no problem, for example, with Kate McCann's reported cry on the night of 3 May: 'They've taken Madeleine.'
To my Irish ears 'they' seems a common usage, recalling Jackie Kennedy’s 'I want the world to see what they've done
to my Jack' at Dallas. I am less happy with the line she gives in the interview when she says: 'It was during one of my checks
that I discovered she'd gone.' My first reaction is to say that she didn't just go, my second is to think that, in Ireland,
'she'd gone' might easily describe someone who had slipped into an easy death. Then I rewind and hear the question, 'Tell
us how you discovered that Madeleine had gone?' and realise that no one can name this event, no one can describe the empty
space on Madeleine McCann’s bed.
Perhaps there is a Scottish feel to Gerry McCann’s use of 'done'. The word is repeated and re-emphasised
when he is asked about how Portuguese police conducted the case, particularly in the first 24 hours. He says: 'I think, em,
you know, we are not looking at what has been done, and I don't think it helps at this stage to look back at what could and
couldn't have been done . . . The time for these lessons to be learned is after the investigation is finished and
I am cross with this phrase, 'after the investigation is finished'. Did he mean after they'd packed up their
charts and evidence bags and gone home? Surely what they are involved in is a frantic search for a missing child: how can
it be finished except by finding her, alive or dead? Why does he not say what he means? Again, presumably because no one can
say it: there can be no corpse, killed by them or by anyone else. Still, the use of the word 'investigation' begins to grate
(elsewhere, Kate McCann said that one of the reasons they didn’t want to leave Portugal is that they wanted 'to stay
close to the investigation'). Later in the interview the word changes to the more banal but more outward-looking 'campaign'.
'Of course the world has changed in terms of information technology and the speed of response, you know, in terms of the media
coming here and us being prepared, em, to some extent to use that to try and influence the campaign, but above all else, it’s
touched everyone. Everyone.'
The sad fact is that this man cannot speak properly about what is happening to himself and his wife, and about
what he wants. The language he uses is more appropriate to a corporate executive than to a desperate father. This may be just
the way he is made. This may be all he has of himself to give the world, just now. But we are all used to the idea of corporations
lying to us, one way or another – it's part of our mass paranoia, as indeed are the couple we see on the screen. No
wonder, I think, they will not speak about that night.
Then I go to bed and wake up the next day, human again, liking the McCanns.
McCann family hits back at Enright attack Telegraph
By Caroline Gammell, Aislinn Simpson and Sophie Borland
Published: 8:28AM BST 18 Oct 2007
The McCann family have expressed their shock at the attack made by Booker prize winner Anne Enright on Madeleine's
parents Kate and Gerry.
The author has prompted outrage with a 2,000 word essay which appeared in the London Review of Books under
the headline Diary: Disliking the McCanns.
Trish Cameron, Mr McCann's sister, said she "could not believe" why someone would make such astonishing comments.
"I don’t know what would bring her to say such a thing. She must be trying to get publicity for those
"It’s such a surprising thing to say bearing in mind she does not even know Kate and Gerry.
In the essay Enright describes in detail why she does not like the couple.
Mr and Mrs McCann, both 39, remain official suspects in the disappearance of their four-year-old daughter
Madeleine, who went missing on May 3 from the Algarve and whose case has attracted worldwide attention.
The 45-year-old Irish novelist, who has two young children aged four and seven, was the surprise winner at
Tuesday night's literary awards ceremony for her book The Gathering.
Writing before she won this week's prize, she said: "Disliking the McCanns is an international sport.
"I disliked the McCanns earlier than most people (I'm not proud of it). I thought I was angry with them for
leaving their children alone.
"In fact, I was angry at their failure to accept that their daughter was probably dead. I wanted them to grieve,
which is to say to go away. In this, I am as bad as people who complain that 'she does not cry'."
She wrote: "Most of the animosity against the McCanns centres on the figure of Madeleine's beautiful mother.
I am otherwise inclined.
"I find Gerry McCann's need to 'influence the investigation' more provoking than her flat sadness.
"The sad fact is that this man cannot speak properly about what is happening to himself and his wife, and
about what he wants.
"The language he uses is more appropriate to a corporate executive than to a desperate father. This may be
just the way he is made. This may be all he has of himself to give the world, just now.
"Then I go to bed and wake up the next day, human again, liking the McCanns."
The McCann's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "Clearly everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this
particular essay is entirely unhelpful and potentially quite hurtful.
"Beyond that I’m not going to dignify it with any further comment and I’m not even sure Kate and
Gerry are aware of what has been written."
Her views came to light as reports in Portugal claimed police want to carry out a "minute by minute" reconstruction
of Mrs McCann's movements on the night Madeleine went missing.
Despite the re-invigorated police investigation with Portugal's second most senior detective Paulo Rebelo
taking the lead, the detectives' suspicion still surrounds Mrs McCann.
Police are said to believe she was responsible for her daughter's death and relied on her husband to help
cover it up, an accusation angrily dismissed by the McCanns.
Detectives have also been given formal permission by investigating judge Pedro Daniel Don Anjos Frias to seize
extracts of Mrs McCann's diary and the desktop computer used by Mr McCann while in the Algarve.
Portuguese newspaper 24 Horas reported on Wednesday: "According to the theory among PJ, the little girl's
body was hidden before the alarm was raised.
"Kate McCann is at the centre of this theory. The Policia Judiciaria want to reconstruct her movements minute
by minute and step by step."
Mark Williams-Thomas, a former Surrey Police child protection officer, said such a reconstruction was long
He said: "A reconstruction is an important part of any investigation and would normally be done in the very
early days. I would be amazed if they had not constructed a timeline months ago.
"I think we are seeing a different approach being brought by the new head of the inquiry, who wants to go
over everything until he is satisfied, which is quite right."
A family friend revealed Portuguese police had not approached the McCanns for assistance in any reconstruction.
"Kate and Gerry have always been more than happy to assist the Portuguese police with their enquiries. There
has been no new approach, or indeed any approach from the police since they have returned home to Rothley."
But on his blog, Mr McCann welcomed the police inquiry: "It is very encouraging that Mr Rebelo's officers
will be seemingly reviewing all the material in the inquiry, which will hopefully identify areas for further investigation."
In the UK, the results of an independent investigation carried out by five criminal investigators who travelled
to Portugal will be shown on Channel 4's Dispatches: Searching for Madeleine on Thursday night.
The team, led by retired Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Stevenson, was given full access to the Portuguese
police files and assessed how officers in the Algarve dealt with the case.
It is now 168 days since Madeleine disappeared and despite the revamped investigation, no trace of the little
girl has been found.
Piers Morgan: The Insider, 05 October 2007
By PIERS MORGAN
Last updated at 17:11 05 October 2007
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
Everywhere I go at the moment, I get asked what I think of the Madeleine McCann story, given my background
as a newspaper editor. And the honest answer, given all the claims and counterclaims, is that I have absolutely no idea where
the truth lies.
All I would say is that nobody I know says they would ever have left three kids aged under four on their own
to go out with their mates at night on holiday. NOBODY.
Missing Madeleine McCann, 17 October 2007
by Hazel W.M. McKinlay
Oct 17, 2007
Posted: Thursday, October 18, 2007
Three year-old Madeleine McCann and her two year-old twin
siblings, were left alone in a ground floor holiday apartment at the Ocean Club in the Algarve, every night, while their parents,
Kate and Gerry dined at a Tapas Bar with seven friends, all medical practitioners. The McCann's believe this was responsible
parenting and the Social Services and media agree that at worst they were naive. On Thursday May 3rd Madeleine vanished
from her bed without trace and her parents raised the alarm, claiming she had been kidnapped, or "taken" as they prefer to
say. The twins sleeping nearby did not wake during the ensuing commotion.
However, I have suspected the parents
involvement from the outset, for the simple reason that on the day following Madeleine's disappearance, when they should have
been back at the hotel, in pieces, being comforted by friends and waiting for the phone to ring, (like normal folk) Gerry
chose to act as media spokesman, dispensing with intermediaries, such as a liaison officer or lawyer. Instead of speaking
from the heart, he read from a script and didn't choke-up or break down; actually, I have yet to see this "devoted father"
shed a real tear.
His wife said nothing, no appeal, no
begging or pleading for the kidnapper to return her daughter, not a word. From then on, I began scrutinising their behaviour
and demeanour and I bet the Polícia Judiciária did too. Chief inspector Oligeario Sousa
went along with the abduction theory to exhaust this possibility, but also to avoid alerting the McCann's to the fact they
were under surveillance. The PJ are not as incompetent as 'Team McCann' would have us believe, they were quietly gathering
evidence and building their case.
With enough rope to hang themselves,
the McCann's embarked on a tour in Sir Philip Green's private jet, meeting everyone from Alberto Gonzales to the Pope. What
a rare privilege! But not once in their many interviews did they speak loving or comforting words directly to their daughter
through the media, regardless of whether she may hear it... Why, because they knew she never would? Apparently the FBI regards
this as an indication of guilt. They both discussed the situation in a nonchalant and matter-of-fact manner.
At one point Gerry stated, "We have
grieved" which struck me as odd, since you usually grieve for the dead, whereas for a missing child, you continue to worry
yourself sick... Nonetheless, they retained their composure and appeared relaxed, blogging about jogging and enjoying "mince
and tatties" with the family, nothing about Madeleine though! The British media fawned over the couple, portraying them as
saints who couldn't possibly be guilty, but nobody really knows their true character or what goes on behind closed doors.
One week after the disappearance, they
launched a 'fighting fund' to find Madeleine, which has accrued a total of £1,091,108.67 donated by genuine well-wishers and
rich celebrities. They began a series of tacky publicity stunts, selling ribbons, wrist bands and T-shirts from the online
'Madeleine Store' and planned
a balloon launch, two weeks in advance, to mark the 50th day of her abduction. How did they know she would still be
were discrepancies in their version of events. They claimed the shutter was forced, but when that was disputed, they said
the door was not locked. Dr. O'Brien left the Tapas Bar for half an hour, supposedly to attend
to his own daughter who was vomiting. He then left the sick infant to return to the restaurant. Another negligent parent,
or was he attending to something else? The McCann's friends implicated Robert Murat, by placing him at the scene and Jane
Tanner was the only one to see a man carrying a child in a blanket towards the beach. However, the Tapas 9 drank about eight
bottles of red and four bottles of white wine. I'm surprised they could see anything! Tanner changed her story four months
later, claiming the child was wearing pink pyjamas and the man was heading towards Murat's house.
When asked about the first
thing that crossed their minds when they came back to the room from dinner and realized that Madeleine wasn't there, Kate
replied, "I knew straight away she'd been taken" she continued, "well, put it this way: I mean, she hadn't walked out of the
apartment." Gerry said, "When I got there and Kate told me, and when I looked at the scene as well, I had absolutely no doubt."
But Alex Woolfall from the Bell Pottinger group said, "They gace no indication that they thought she had been snatched,
let alone by a paedophile. Their early assumption was that she had wandered off and had an accident or been taken in by a
well-meaning stranger." So, which was it?
It is alleged that Gerry and a friend were spotted near
the Nossa Senhora da Luz chapel on the evening Maddy disappeared. This is the last place police would look for a body and
Father Jose Manuel Pacheco, who gave the parents kets to his church was reprimanded and replaced, two days after the "abduction."
I don't suppose there is much use taking the cadaver dogs to the cemetery, they would go beserk! When it was revealed these
dogs had detected the scent of a corpse on Kate's Bible, clothes and hire car, Philomena McCann exclaimed sarcastically, "What
dogs can talk now?" Er... yes! Not in so many words but by reacting, like Keela the world renowned Springer Spaniel
was trained to do.
when they became Arguidos, did they begin to describe their predicament with expressions like, "unbearable anguish, extreme
distress, pain and turmoil and an unending nightmare..." It's a pity they didn't demonstrate these emotions after their daughter
vanished. The McCann's said they were "happy" to assist police if it brought progress to the investigation, yet they refused
to answer forty questions. So much for their catch phrase: 'Leaving No Stone Unturned.' Then, despite vowing to stay
in Portugal, they scurried back home in the VIP lounge of Easyjet!
The McCann's behaved like the Ramsey's after Jon Benet's murder, hogging the limelight, hiding in plain sight...
and like the Ramsey's, they may well get off Scot free! They have friends in very high places, not least Gordon Brown and
his wife Sarah Macaulay whose colleague Julia Hobsbawm is the founder and chief executive of Editorial Intelligence, which
is spinning the 'Imacculate McCann' fairy stories, she is also an associate of Sir Philip Green. Clarence Mitchell, director
of the Government's Media Monitoring Unit, became their spokesman, paid for by an anonymous billionaire benefactor. Hans Christian
Anderson was not available!
Gerry hoped to use the fighting fund for their defence against killing her, saying "It's a huge disaster, we
have this enormous fund and can't use it for legal fees because we are suspects." Wouldn't they rather it was used for its
purpose, to find Madeleine? But Sir Richard Branson and Everest Magnate, Brian Kennedy stepped in to cover the exorbitant
cost of extradition lawyer Michael Caplan QC who charges £700 per day and successfully defended mass-murderer General
Pinochet. With so many knights of the Empire pulling strings for them, I can't see a trial materialising, far less a conviction,
but "Bring it on!" says Gerry, with four top lawyers waiting in the wings.
will claim they cannot receive a fair trial due to the intense publicity, (which they generated) and when that won't wash,
unlike Maddy's toy 'Cuddle-Cat' which Kate uses as a prop, they will insist they are being framed. When forensics refutes
that, their defence will depend on the forensic evidence being made inadmissible, due to a bungled preliminary investigation.
Sir Alec Jeffreys, the father of DNA fingerprinting from the University of Leicester is
prepared to testify in court that his discovery is not worth a jot. In which case everyone who has been acquitted or convicted
on DNA evidence should have their cases reopened.
If evidence was planted by the perpetrator, as Kate implies, then we must assume he/she was still lurking around
Praia da Luz when their car was hired, but Philomena said on May 12th, "We don't believe that she is in Portugal anymore and
need to get her picture and the story across Europe as quickly as possible." They believed Madeleine could be as far away
as Argentina! Once again, which is it? If police planted cadaver secretions, they they must have had access to the body,
but toxicology tests on hair or fluids would determine if the child was drugged, which could be the most damning evidence
asked during an interview if they
medicated their daughter, they both smiled. Gerry laughed nervously, averted his gaze, looking downwards and rubbed his ear.
This is text book body language of a liar. Kate blinks excessively; often closing her eyes completely and keeps an object
between herself and the questioner, the ever present pink 'Cuddle-Cat.' When asked awkward questions in a Spanish interview,
Gerry stormed out! It doesn't get more evasive than that.
Caring for three
toddlers, all less than three years of age is incredibly stressful. Before she became a suspect Kate admitted that after the
twins were born Madeleine "would run up and down screaming in the background, shouting for my attention." I could almost sympathise with Kate (an anaesthetist) if she sedated them, but what is unforgivable
is if they disposed of the body (to avoid an autopsy) without a Christian burial while professing to be devout Catholics.
Maybe that's why they got Ratzinger to personally bless Maddy's picture.
Gerry has suggested the child was snatched to order by a paedophile ring, yet Kate said, "Madeleine is such a
sociable child, so funny and engaging. She has a lot of personality. I bet she's giving whoever she's with her tuppence worth."
Of the many crass statements this couple have made this is the most shocking and needs no further comment from me. Their recent
outburst, "Find the body and prove we killed her" sounds like a taunt! I believe they concoted the abduction scenario because
there was too much at stake, namely their careers, which would have brought an end to their affluent lifestyle. This has not
been proven, but if the McCann's are guilty the implications are monumental.
If they killed
their child by accident or otherwise, they covered up a serious crime and unlawfully disposed of the body. They deliberately
tried to frame an innocent man, Robert Murat who said, "This has ruined my life and made life very difficult for my family
here and in Britain." Murat insisted, "I've been made a scapegoat for something I did not do." He is now broke! A Russian
who was also wronged, Sergey Malinka said, "I've invested seven years of my life in this country
trying to succeed, and suddenly in one hour it's all fallen apart."
The McCann's extorted vast sums of money which they knew
would never be used to find Madeleine, but was intended for their own expenses. They roped young children into raising
cash and collecting donations. Football, rugby and cricket teams assisted in their fraudulent publicity campaign. They knowingly
duped millions of concerned people. This deceitful couple betrayed their extended family and their daughter's twin siblings.
Their actions are cowardly and contemptible.
They insulted the integrity of Portuguese authorities and wasted valuable
police time and resources. They allowed a bewildered Berber family to be harassed by the press because their daughter resembled
Madeleine, and smeared Moroccan Muslims. They tried to engender sympathy for themselves, when it was their own daughter who
was the victim. They used and abused her name to evade the law and escape justice. They and their friends have shamed their
profession. Who will trust doctors again? Still, Madeleine may yet turn up in the home of some crazy kidnapper,
I doubt it, but here's hoping...
Jeff Edwards: 'For every story, there are nine I don't write', 23
Jeff Edwards: 'For every story, there are nine I don't write' Press Gazette
It can be lonely as a crime reporter – newsdesks and editors just don't understand the beat.
Jeff Edwards, chief crime correspondent on the Daily Mirror
23 October 2007
Madeleine McCann coverage
Edwards describes the coverage of Madeleine McCann as a "festival of misreporting" on account of the conclusions many
journalists have drawn about the case.
"It is a prime example. Nothing is known; it is a one-fact story – a little girl is missing. Right across the media
there has been a festival of misreporting based largely on naïve guesswork, vacuum filling and dangerous assumption. We don't
generally emerge with much credit.
"I get pissed off with columnists who say the parents can't have had anything to do with it. All the murder squad people
I know say 'don't talk to me about certain things being impossible'. There's been a certain amount of unconscious racism here
about the Portuguese police. Actually, it's not a third world country.
"They may not have our level of competence but they are not stupid and they are limited by their own constitution. Whatever
is said about that inquiry, everything they've done has been driven by something such as significant inconsistencies between
the McCanns and their friends."
Despite saturation coverage of the McCann case, Edwards believes that crime stories have become less prominent in recent
times in the national press. As well as the cult of celebrity, Edwards says this is because newspapers are losing the attention
war with television.
Open Letter to Kate McCann, 24 October 2007
Criminal Profiler, Pat Brown
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
As a criminal profiler, I have also sometimes been
criticized for theorizing about a case I have not personally been privy to the actual facts from inside the investigation.
As I do a lot of television commentary, this is quite often the case for me; I only can theorize based on the "facts" outlined
by the media. Therein lays the difference between public speculating and true criminal profiling as part of an investigative
team. The latter is going to be one hell of a lot more accurate!
Still, all is just theory until the crime is solved. Everyone doing the analyzing and paying attention to
this theory and that knows that any "determination" is only based upon the validity of input. The only harm theorizing can
do is if the police detectives theorize incorrectly about the evidence or bring in an expert who theorizes incorrectly and
bases the entirety of their investigation decisions on this particular theory. If, on the other hand, the theory is accurate,
then the investigative avenues will be pursued correctly, or, if the theory is interesting but not necessarily correct, the
police will pursue a number of investigative strategies to cover all bases.
Are the PJ doing this? I haven't a clue. I cannot assume they are any way inferior to other police departments
in the UK or in the US or elsewhere in the world. Each department consists of individuals and it is a roll of the dice as
to how good these particular individuals are at investigative work. I remember when Natalee Holloway went missing in Aruba,
folks from the fine state of Alabama accused the Aruban authorities or incompetence and shouted how if Natalee had gone missing
in the United States the case would have been solved quickly. Bunk! We have an ungodly high rate of unsolved murders and missing
people here in the US, a good number of them right in Alabama. Fact is, some cases are hard to solve and some cases have detectives
who are all that bright. Other cases have better evidence or top notch detectives. It isn't a perfect world.
So, what do we know so far in Maddie's case? Not much. We have zero clue about the evidence or the veracity
of the witnesses. All we really have so far are the unvarnished public statements by the McCanns and I don't mean the ones
reported by the media in print as those can be misstated by the journalists (and I know this because I often quite displeased
when I read in print some completely twisted version of what I told the reporter).
So, all we can truly be sure of is what the McCann's have stated on television or radio or in Gerry's blog.
Even their PR team's information is a bit questionable if we can't hear it being said.
Before I comment further, I want to reiterate that the McCanns, while suspects in the disappearance of Maddie,
are not legally charged with any crime. Therefore, they may be totally innocent of hurting Maddie in any way. But, I will
also say, we as adults and members of the human race are also responsible for the way we behave and the things we say, so
we must also take responsibility for the way other view us.
Therefore, based only on what the McCann's said or written. I have some advice for the McCanns. SHUT UP! I
have some advice for their PR team. Tell the McCanns to SHUT UP!
OPEN LETTER TO KATE MCCANN
It isn't your breast size or weight that is causing your problems. It is you and your narcissist evaluation
of the situation and your PR team's equally stupid assessment of the situation that is making you look so bad in the public
I am a criminal profiler with years of experience dealing with parents of murder victims and missing relatives.
Your behavior and the behavior of your husband fall far outside or the norm for grieving parents. Now, this may be because
you are just terribly narcisstic folks who had nothing to do with your child going missing (outside of neglecting your children
and putting your needs to party before their needs for comfort and safety, a narcissistic behavior if I have ever seen one).
You and Gerry may simply be so narcissistic you have no understanding of how other people view your behaviors and your PR
team may share your narcissism so that no one on your team has a clue to normal human behavior.
But, SHUT UP! Every time you open your mouths you do more damage to yourselves. You seem guiltier by the day.
Your attempt at "damage control" is so obvious and so very much a day late and a dollar short, everything you do or say seems
a cover up and a transparent attempt at proving your innocence.
Let me make clear what I think is weird about what you say and do:
You choose words about Madeleine's disappearance which make it appear you know there is no abductor and that
Madeleine is dead.
Both you and Gerry state your only guilt in the matter is not being their when Madeleine "was taken." This
statement makes no sense for abduction as Madeleine could not be taken if either of you were with Maddie when an abductor
would have shown up. It makes more sense in the context that Maddie died while you were not in the apartment.
Your statements and attitude about Madeleine being alive do not square with parents who really believe their
daughter is in the hands of a pedophile or pedophiles who are brutally raping and torturing her daily.
Your attempts at "finding" Madeleine do not represent the manner most parents would choose if they were actively
searching for a live child but appear more to be the actions of parents trying to prove after the fact of a child’s
death that they "cared" (not care) about her.
Your behaviors of "keeping a normal routine" and "keeping up one's appearance" is admirable, but extremely
bizarre. I don't know any other parents of missing children who can appear so together and cheery. When my daughter cooked
our kittens by accident in the dryer, I cancelled Christmas.
Gerry's blog creeps people out. It is too upbeat. Terrified and distraught parents of missing children are
rarely able to jog and play tennis and go to park with their other kids and have a fun time. Over a long period of time, maybe,
but this is usually years after the nightmare begins. Some parents never recover from the trauma and it is common for marriages
to fail and the brothers and sisters to feel their parents went absent after their sibling went missing.
Your ability to sleep at night after the first five days, Kate, is beyond belief. It is the behavior of one
who already knows the answer and even then, is quite a narcissistic trait. If you believed your daughter was being raped as
you lay in bed at night, sleep would be very hard to come by. I guess you finally realize this and your mother is saying that
NOW you can't sleep and Madeleine comes to visit you in the night. What changed, Kate?
Your PR team coming up with an answer to every accusation, answers that are ludicrous in themselves, makes
you seem awfully defensive, and, if there is no way you or Gerry had anything to do with Maddie's disappearance, you have
nothing to defend. Furthermore, if all you care about is finding Maddie, you shouldn't be wasting your time on such silliness.
After all, as Gerry said, Maddie is the only important thing, right?
So, SHUT UP, Kate. SHUT UP, GERRY. Fire your PR
team as they are totally worthless. If both of you really are innocent and you think Maddie is alive, return to Portugal.
Start searching for real (and it took six months to set up a hotline?). Cooperate with the police. Take the polygraphs as
you have zero to hide and, with competent polygraph examiners, the questions are so simple you can't screw them up. I will
even give you the four questions that should be asked:
"Did Madeleine die while you were present?"
"Did you return to the apartment and find Madeleine dying or
"Did you move Madeleine's body at any time?"
"Did your spouse move Madeleine's body at any time?"
These are simple questions. The answer to all of them should be "No." There is no ambiguity in these questions
(unlike a question such as "Do you feel responsible for the disappearance of Madeleine?" which you could if you acknowledge
leaving her without an adult caretaker is irresponsible; an affirmative answer to such a question would be useless to the
detectives as it could falsely indicate that you had something to do with Maddie going missing when you are only feeling guilty
over leaving her unattended. Also, an affirmative answer could mean you simply do not feel responsible for what happened to
Maddie no matter what happened to her as a total narcissist might).
The above four questions are simple and unambiguous
and even a narcissist can't misconstrue the meaning of the questions. The answers will be a simple "Yes" or "No." Have the
polygraph session videotaped so the police will be unable to do any underhanded scare tactics or interrogation that might
distort the results of the tests.
Quite frankly, Kate, you and Gerry had everything going for you as parents of a missing
child if you hadn't left your children unattended night after night to go out partying. THIS is what made people dislike you.
It was to your advantage that you are both relatively attractive people because IF you had big breasts and a porky physique
and were not well-heeled professionals, you would have become suspects right off the bat and you would have not had the incredible
monetary support you have been blessed with nor all those kindly letters. You would have been viewed as just a pair of slobs
who probably abused their children as well as neglected them and you wouldn't have gotten the phenomenal amount of publicity
worldwide concerning Maddie's disappearance. Other parents have gone public, run campaigns, and had web sites, but your fortune
with publicity and support has been unprecedented. And, you complain, Kate, that people are treating you badly because you
are fit! It was being fit and professional and well-off that got you so much attention. It was you and Gerry's fitness as
parents and your peculiar behaviors that got you the negative attention.
I have a final suggestion. Ask the PJ if I can come analyze the case. My organization will send me pro bono.
As a criminal profiler I can analyze the actual evidence to advise the investigators as to the best investigate strategy.
I have no problem determining this crime as an abduction and finding the creep that took Madeleine if the evidence points
that way. I don't have to like you and Gerry as people to view the evidence in an impassionate and professional manner. No
one should be convicted of a crime simply because of personality and because people don't like the individual's personality.
Solid physical and circumstantial evidence must exist to the point where there is no question as to who committed the crime.
I would work very diligently to assist the PJ with the evidence and the facts and do a thorough crime scene analysis that
would move the case forward.
Furthermore, if you and Gerry get charged in Madeleine's disappearance and must truly
defend yourselves, my services are available to you and your lawyers. I will be more than happy to analyze the evidence and,
if you are innocent, do all I can to serve in your defense.
Good luck, Kate. May the truth be brought to light soon
and you and Gerry get the justice you deserve in the case of your missing daughter.
All the best,
McCanns 'are hiding a big secret', 28 October 2007
McCanns 'are hiding a big secret' Sunday Express
(article no longer available online)
By John Stalker
I HAVE watched the investigation into the Madeleine McCann case drag out for six months.
One thing above all worries me: Why have the McCanns and the seven other members of their group – the Tapas Nine –
remained so silent? My gut instinct is that some big secret is probably being covered up.
Unlike other high-profile
cases I have worked on, not one of them has been prepared to break ranks or really come out and support each other. After
all this time and pressure, I cannot believe that nobody wants to speak.
Their answer has always been no comment
but there is surely some division between them. So what are they hiding? I have a real suspicion that we are not being told
the whole truth.
There is something else there, some issue that members of the party are embarrassed about.
While they continue to refuse to talk it is unlikely we will find out what it is for a very long time but one thing
is certain – it will eventually come out.
The sad fact is that we still have a missing girl and I believe
the investigation will be focusing on the theory that she is dead.
The likeliest scenario is that her abductor
panicked when he realised the attention the case was creating and killed her days after snatching her.
now is that unless we find her body or her killer strikes again we will never know what really happened to that tiny child.
My instinct, based on years of policing similar cases, is that we are looking at an abduction where the child was
targeted in the days before her disappearance.
On the night she vanished it is likely that her abductor simply
spotted his opportunity and struck while he could.
I have been horrified by the abject failure of the Portuguese
detectives to adhere to basic principles of policing.
The investigation does not seem to have taken a step forward
from where it was in the first week after she went missing. I cannot believe that the Portuguese only sent selected DNA samples
to the forensic science lab in Birmingham.
There is absolutely no sense in that whatsoever. To fully evaluate poor-quality
DNA traces, as we believe these were, forensic experts need to see the whole picture.
In the past, when I have
dealt with traces of bodily fluids, it is very difficult to establish how they got to be where they were.
is highly transferable and that is the most likely explanation for the alleged traces found in the McCanns' hire car and
on her mother's clothing. Robert Murat, the other suspect, was seen close to the apartment the day after Madeleine disappeared
and freely admits having helped police as a translator.
If he was in that apartment, or anywhere near it, there
is no doubt he would have transferred some of Madeleine's or the twins' DNA on to his clothing.
believe for one minute that Kate and Gerry McCann or their friends are capable or guilty of having murdered the four-year-old.
All the criticism of Kate and Gerry and their friends has been completely out of order. They are extremely intelligent
and articulate people and, just because they have never visibly cracked in public to the extent that they are beaten, does
not mean they are guilty of anything sinister.
Yes, they have had more doors opened for them than other people
would have in similar circumstances, but their main aim is to discover what happened to Madeleine. That should be the aim
of all concerned.
But my gut instinct still forces me to wonder: What is the secret that the Tapas Nine are so
You have many more abductions than Portugal, but nobody talks about that,
27 October 2007
You have many more abductions than Portugal, but nobody talks about that Timesonline
Lisbon's ambassador to London tells our correspondents how the Madeleine McCann case left him heavy-hearted
Alice Miles and Helen Rumbelow
October 27, 2007
postbag usually consists of a few gold-edged invitations to state occasions – instead, Antonio Santana Carlos is swamped
by emotional letters from the British public about the disappearance of a little girl.
After Madeleine McCann went
missing, the onslaught was overwhelmingly negative. Now, he says, it is mixed – the impassioned camp of Portuguese-blamers,
joined by those who condemn the parents, with a lunatic fringe unhealthily excited by the case and who think that they know
where the body is. Six months on the mail keeps coming.
Perhaps initially it was some relief for Mr Santana Carlos
to come to London after years of conducting highly sensitive negotiations over the hand-over of Macau to China. But only six
months after he arrived in Britain the McCann case broke and he was back in a diplomatic minefield.
in the British press branded the Portuguese police as lazy, inept, secretive and drunk and, in the hysteria, an impression
was created that the place was a haven for paedophiles. Relaying these reports back to his home country gave Mr Santana Carlos
a heavy heart – they caused uproar among his fellow citizens.
The drowning of a group of British holidaymakers
in the Algarve this week has added to the tensions. Britain and Portugal have, as he said, "the oldest alliance in the
world" between two states, dating back to 1386, still flourishing in the form of two million British tourists visiting
Portugal every year. Now things are looking jittery.
Although he appreciates that both countries have a free press,
Mr Santana Carlos is concerned at the hostile tone of some of the coverage of the Madeleine investigation, with insults bandied
back and forth.
"If you like to see Madeleine back then we have to work together and to stop blaming one or
the other . . . to blame the other side does not give Madeleine back to the parents."
At a political level,
the two countries were as close as ever, he insisted, but as for public opinion: "I have been approached by people that,
of course, don't understand why we couldn't find Madeleine McCann. Some other people blame the other side. And so
there are some mixed feelings but again I think that we continue to do our utmost to find her."
Even in the
earliest days the intense publicity was causing problems. "The issue became so hot and so high on the news that, in a
way, could be conducive to get those that have abducted Madeleine McCann perhaps to fear that they will be prosecuted and
they could not escape."
This isn't the most diplomatic of remarks, to suggest that the publicity for the
case sought by the parents might have harmed their hopes of a rescue. Mr Santana Carlos's conversation is peppered with
comments that could, in the present overwrought mood, make you draw breath. It seems impossible that he is unaware of the
sensitivities. Maybe he is unusually frank, or perhaps just frustrated?
Take his main message: that Portugal is
safe and, in particular, safer than Britain. It has an exceptionally low crime rate, he says, and Lisbon was judged the safest
capital in the EU in a survey by the UN and Gallup this year. London was the most dangerous. "You have many more cases
of abductions than Portugal, and nobody talks about that, but this case has come up very, very high in the news."
It might be "interesting", he suggested, "to investigate and show the statistics". According to
his press attaché, there have been three missing children in ten years in Portugal. According to a Home Office analyst,
there have been dozens of abductions by strangers in Britain, although most of those children were found within 24 hours.
The ambassador added: "We are a peaceful country. We don't have terrorism in Portugal."
British are the second most important tourism market for Portugal, after visitors from Spain. Although holiday bookings are
holding up, it probably won't be clear until next year whether the McCann case has hit the industry. But this week the
news was again dominated by tragic reports of British holidaymakers in the Algarve.
Pictures of rescued children
shivering on a beach as they waited to hear that their parents had died trying to rescue them were beamed on to the front
pages, amid criticism that the dangerous beach had inadequate warning signs, and only in Portuguese.
that beach was very close to a cape," said the ambassador, with a rueful shake of the head. "I know it because I'm
a sailing man. Sometimes the seas there can be somewhat rough. Perhaps they were not aware. That's very unfortunate. And
they tried to rescue their children, and they died. So very unfortunate."
He conceded that warning signs might
need to be clearer outside of the summer season, during which all beaches in Portugal are manned by lifeguards.
dismissed suggestions, hyped up by British newspapers, that the surviving adults could face criminal prosecution in Portugal.
"Some people always like to explore the negatives. I'm not informed about that, but I don't think the Portuguese
police will do something like that." And suddenly he added: "Regarding Madeleine McCann, even in this country I
think that there could have been some judicial procedure against the parents because they left the children alone. According
to British law, as far as I know, such an initiative could have been taken."
His point is that the authorities
are sensible enough to gauge when "for human reasons" prosecution would be inappropriate – and he did immediately
add that the McCann parents were dining "so near by".
There were, Mr Santana Carlos said, cultural differences
that made the behaviour of the parents hard to justify to the Portuguese. It is far less common there for children to be left
behind while parents go out.
"As Latins, we have the concept of the nuclear family – that the family
lives all together. I think the children in this country are more independent than they are in Latin countries. That was a
cultural problem. Normally, the kids are always surrounded by the parents, by the family. This is a different pattern."
Did the Portuguese find it difficult to understand why the McCanns left the children alone? "For some people,
yes. For those people, in particular, that live in the countryside who have that concept of the nuclear family."
It is hard not to sense an implicit note of disapproval of British ways in the comparison. But he quickly added: "For
Portuguese people that live in urban centres perhaps that is different you know, because their day-to-day lives are not that
easy, and their children have to live somewhat on their own. But again, what I think is essential is that we have to work
together and stop blaming the other side."
What could he do to repair the British trust in Portugal, if indeed
it had been damaged? Reassure the British that "we continue to do our utmost to find her. That is our main objective."
He respects the McCanns for their resolve. "We shall not lose hope and that's something I admire in the McCanns.
They are very determined."
Mr Santana Carlos is going to have to live with them for many months to come. Would
it ever end? "I think the only way out is to find her."
Oh, up yours, señor, 29 October 2007
Oh, up yours, señor Daily Mirror (no longer available online)
Portugal's ambassador to
Britain, Senor Antonio Santana Carlos, says that the Madeleine McCann case has seriously damaged relations between the two
countries. Well, whose fault is that?
It is the fault of the spectacularly stupid, cruel Portuguese police. I have
never much cared for the convention of calling cops "pigs" or "filth", but I am happy to make an exception.
They have tried to cover their humiliation at coming nowhere close to finding that stolen child by fitting up her
The decline in relations is also the fault of the appalling Portuguese media, happy to print any piece
of poisonous trash spoon-fed to them by "police sources" treating the abduction of a small child as light entertainment.
And the Portuguese public must also take their share of the blame. The sight of locals jeering at Kate McCann as she
went in for questioning made me feel as though these leering bumpkins were not from another country, but another planet.
And the good ambassador can also be blamed for the decline in relations.
When he should be exercising a
little diplomacy, he huffs and he puffs about the McCanns' tragic decision to leave their children sleeping alone on the
night Madeleine was stolen.
"In Portugal we have the concept of a nuclear family," sniffs Senor Carlos.
"That the families all live together."
They made a mistake, ambassador. Their lives have been wrecked.
That is punishment enough, without your asinine, unwanted comments.
And I would respectfully suggest that in future,
if you can't say something constructive about the disappearance of little Madeleine, then you just keep your stupid, sardine-munching
Note: The Press Complaints Commission received 485 complaints
over this piece by Tony Parsons, more than any other piece in 2007.
Maddie McCann: Miracles Don't Happen, 06 November 2007
November 6, 2007
It's about six months now since little Maddie McCann disappeared without trace from her parents' holiday apartment in
Praia da Luz. Six months is a long time and unless you have an extra faith and confidence gene in your biological make-up
the logical conclusion would be that she is now dead. It's extremely unlikely that -as some have reported- Maddie has actually
been seen in Morocco, Belgium, Spain or anywhere else. I rule out Morocco because no childless Moroccan woman would, in desperation,
snatch a northern European, blonde toddler who chats only in English and would, in a Berber village, stand out a mile.
For the same reason I don't believe that a paedophile would have taken her to North Africa. It's not the sort of place
where deviant sexual tastes are allowed to flourish, is it? As for sightings in Spain, Belgium or Malta, I remember when Elvis
for years after his death kept turning up in shopping malls, supermarket checkouts and petrol station forecourts. People tend
to see what they want to see. So, unless she's been stolen to order on behalf of a white, English speaking childless couple
in, say, Washington DC (and, with hair dyed dark, made unrecognisable) we might as well start operating on the premise that
Madeleine is no longer in the land of the living. The fact that, so far, no body has been found should not sustain false hope;
a dead girl is much easier to hide than a live one.
Which brings me to the McCanns. While, on one level, I find it utterly impossible to believe that either parent had anything
directly to do with Maddy's disappearance, on another I'm dumbfounded by the fact that two apparently intelligent
people have, through their subsequent behaviour, managed to arouse the suspicions not only of the Portuguese police but also
of a hitherto understanding, commiserating public. British opinion polls show that domestic support for the McCanns, once
almost universal, is now down to as little as 50 percent. In other words: for every person who is sympathetic towards them
there's another who feels they know more than they let on. The McCanns' choice of an active media campaign and an almost manic
courting of publicity is beginning to look to many peope as a 'flight forward': something like "so long as we blind everyone
with TV appearances, appeals, fundraisers, adverts, photographs of the poor child and images of Kate clutching a cloth rabbit
we may stave off public scrutiny of our own role in the affair." Whether the parents actually played a role in the disappearance
of Maddie I've no idea, but the fact that their behaviour doesn't follow the expected pattern of panic, grief and eventual
resignation to the inevitable (i.e. Maddie's not coming back) is a cause for worry.
Another reason for worry is, of course, the fact that the Maddie disappearance has been blown up into a global cause
celèbre, whereas each day hundreds of children around the world vanish without attracting much attention at all. The
amount of money raised to fund the McCann's search for their child and their defence against any future charges is unprecedented.
I'm not concerned about the large amounts donated by captains of industry and other celebrities; £100,000 -as in the case
of Richard Branson- buys you a favourable mention on the front pages and seems well worth it. Lots of other publicity-hungry
celebs jumped on the same bandwagon with great alacrity. But I feel for the ordinary people who, out of the kindness
of their hearts, made smaller gifts of money they could ill afford. To see that frittered away on £300-an-hour lawyers, flights
up and down Europe for all the family, newspaper and TV adverts and billboards, following up on spurious sightings and
the occasional mortgage payment on a £300,000 house is sad indeed. Of course, if Maddie McCann turns up alive tomorrow
I'll have to eat my words. But I don't expect to have to, merely because the girl's immediate family profess to know she's not dead. A few days ago, after six (6) months of fruitless campaigning
and fundraising, the McCanns on their website still spoke to us from cloud-cuckooland: "We know in our hearts that
Madeleine is still out there, alive, confused and aching to be returned to her family where she belongs."
In other words: keep the money rolling in, folks, we'll decide when enough is enough.
Give the Algarve a miss, 11 November 2007
Give the Algarve a miss Sunday Mirror (no online
SHAME on these small-minded, blundering Portuguese cops who turned on heartbroken Gerry and Kate McCann because their
investigation was a farce from the start.
We now know from their own whistleblowers that cops dropped fag ash and trampled all over evidence in the apartment where
Madeleine was stolen from her bed.
And still the cowards won't lift the shadow of guilt from the couple. The case is closed, they say. British tourists
should make sure Portugal is closed too.
Maddie Sunday Mirror (no online link available)
NOW that Portuguese cops investigating missing Maddie have brought their inept circus to the UK, let's hope one of our
detectives sits them down and tells them a few home truths. Like their systematic failure from day one, their hick town mentality
and the all-round sleazy way their plods do business. And if they need any help, then just give me a shout.
to Nigel at