Opinion articles on 'Madeleine'
Madeleine by Kate McCann, 14
Madeleine by Kate McCann
By John Blacksmith
14 June 2011 at 00:10
Hopes that the extreme caution with which the McCanns have previously discussed
the disappearance of their daughter might be moderated in Madeleine take something of an early blow: in the acknowledgements
section M/S McCann credits, in addition to the normal celebrity quotient of editors, agents and publicists, no fewer than
four lawyers (including Mr. E "Expunge" Smethurst and Adam Tudor of Carter Ruck) and thanks them not merely
for their assistance but for their part in completing the book.
may, of course, just have been refreshing her memory of the litigation that the couple has been involved in since 2008; or
their collaboration may have taken a different form. Whichever it is their silent presence in the gap between page and reader
suggests that both newsworthy revelations and glaring inconsistencies are going to be in short supply. Nevertheless for students
of the case the book is a worthwhile read, first and least valuably as a memoir, secondly as a historical source and lastly
as a self-portrait.
Regarding the first, as a simple celebrity-cum-misery memoir
it isn't bad at all. M/S McCann eschews the use of a ghost writer and, despite what we've read of her execrable "diaries",
knows how to put a sentence together. The early pages, indeed, are the best and least self-conscious in the book as she writes
lightly and without sentimentality of her Liverpool background and childhood.
descriptions of student life and the early years of her relationship with Gerry McCann are less spontaneous, singing more
of the celebrity literary agents' demand for background colour than any strong desire to share her memories. Life in New
Zealand and the Netherlands floats by with almost no comment on the culture or population of the two countries, in contrast
to her tale of attempts to have children which, as an erstwhile obstetrician, she recounts in considerable detail. About medicine
as a vocation she has nothing to say and none of her patients are ever portrayed, anonymously or otherwise. She writes that
she had no particular interest in a medical career — it was more a matter of deciding between the various opportunities
that her undoubted academic ability and determination (and she is modest about these) offered her. With the birth of her children
the conventional narrative of early ambitions achieved and human happiness attained is complete. Despite the unoriginality
of the tale — which is the fault of the industry, not M/S McCann — this is an adult speaking, not a celebrity
creation, comfortable with her judgements and decisions and, up to a certain point, confident in her identity.
Thus the curtain is raised on the drama the reader is most interested in: between May and October 2007 M/S McCann suffered
the loss of her daughter, became a world-wide "misery celebrity" with unrestricted access to the corridors of the
great and a developing taste for travel in private jets and then, in an altogether Hitchcockian twist, was accused of involvement
in the disappearance of her own child before finding eventual sanctuary in her homeland. This transformation in her fortunes
was matched, at giddying speed, by her portrayal in the media — from glamorous but stoical heroine to a rag doll stripped
of all privacy and dignity in a matter of weeks. How she and her husband handled these switchback changes in their fortunes
together with the public's perception of events provides the heart of the book, with the police investigation into their
possible guilt provoking the most strongly felt and dramatic writing in the whole work.
Soon after their return to the UK the drama is essentially over. The pathos of Clarence Mitchell's press conference in
front of their Rothley home, with the pair standing mute in his long shadow like a pair of dejected, sagging, criminals, remains
sharp in the memory. Behind the scenes, however, and starting with a three and a half hour legal defence meeting on the day
they landed in England, one of the most expensive and powerful legal teams in modern British history was being assembled.
Given the paucity of the Portuguese police case against the pair — a large box full of loose ends — the defence
effort seems disproportionate to any actual danger that threatened them and the tension inevitably falls away. What follows
becomes something of a public report in which her campaigning work in child protection and her various interviews and public
appearances are described in considerable, not to say tedious, detail. Meanwhile the exhausting, exhaustive and at times hysterically
absurd campaign to find her daughter uncovers absolutely nothing, nada, not a single lead.
Personalities are naturally described in limited — i.e. non-existent — depth according to the conventions of the
genre. It is not easy for it to be otherwise when writing about living people who may still have a part, however obscure,
to play; Goncalo Amaral, unsurprisingly, is the subject of scorn and bewilderment at his supposed lack of human feeling and
his determination, according to Kate McCann, to stop the world searching for Madeleine. Little is said, though no doubt much
could be written, about the various chancers and scoundrels who offered their services — at a price — to help
locate the child.
Despite the collaborating lawyers and the ever-present sensation
of a text having being under microscopic scrutiny before being allowed to reach the paying reader there are one or two minor
surprises. The extremely active role of the grandly named but only recently founded International Family Law Group in the
parents' affairs in the early days, including their part in the establishment of the controversial family fund, their
pressing suggestions that Madeleine should be made a ward of court and their introduction of some serious mercenaries-cum-
private investigators from the Control Risks group, is bound to raise questions about their judgement. The IFLG was also intimately
involved in the couple's ill-fated legal move to lay hands on Leicester police files on the case in summer 2008. M/S McCann
gives a brief extract from the (previously confidential) Leicester police response to the action which stated, essentially,
that there was "no clear evidence" to eliminate the couple from involvement in the child's disappearance and
therefore they would not entrust them with the requested files. The LP position remains unchanged: the files are still denied
to the parents.
M/S McCann's feelings of having been abandoned by British "authorities"
— she doesn't really do the separation of powers thing — once she is made arguida are revealed as the mirror
image of Amaral's sense of abandonment by his own chiefs, though no doubt some readers will see deep currents beneath
the apparently obvious truth of her comments. She explicitly denies any premonitions about Madeleine's well-being in Praia
da Luz — somewhat surprising given the equally explicit statements of some of her friends on the question. And new to
me, at least, is the Portuguese police claim that a witness saw her and her husband carrying something in a large black bag
on the evening of May 3.
The conclusion of the book exhibits a certain tension.
The celebrity/misery memoir rules demand an upbeat ending; M/S McCann is OK with that but is uneasy about how the public might
judge her if she is, well, too happy, given the circumstances of a missing child, fate unknown. Still, she manages
it well enough, just as she manages the burden of her guilt. The knowledge that she is a stronger and more able woman now
than she was a couple of years ago helps her, she says, to "shake off" a little of that guilt. Such questions as
the real meaning of guilt, together with Kate McCann's Catholic conception of it, take us away from the celebrity memoir
and on to the much more complex area of Madeleine's value as a true self-portrait, a subject that we will soon
turn to. For the moment we can leave her with her book successfully completed, staring sensitively into the distance, alone
— apart from the presence at her side of Bill Scott-Kerr, Sally Gaminara, Janine Giovanni and Alison Barrow, all of
Transworld publishers, Neil Blair and Christopher Little, her agents, the aforesaid quartet of lawyers and her friend Claudia
from the Portuguese PR company Lift Consulting — sad but beautiful, stronger for her suffering. Cue music and credits.
Madeleine: Wherein lies the Truth, 15
It is said there is often a lot of nonfiction in fiction and
a lot of fiction in in nonfiction. Kate McCann's new autobiography, Madeleine, is a prime example of this axiom.
I say 'autobiography' because Kate's book is not so much about what happened to her missing daughter, Madeleine
Beth, but about Kate McCann nee Healy - her life, her loves and her losses, her trials and her tribulations. In reality, very
little of the book is about the missing little girl who vanished in Praia da Luz, the lovely vacation destination in the Algarve
of south Portugal; it is a carefully crafted revisionist history of one of the most puzzling missing children's cases
in recent years and a strident defense of the characters and behaviors of Kate and Gerry McCann.
Children go missing every day around the world but few children get
the level of publicity that has surrounded the case of Madeleine McCann, who was almost four-years-old the evening she vanished
from the McCann's Ocean Club apartment, allegedly snatched from her bed as she slept in a bedroom with her twin two-year-old
twin siblings, Sean and Amelie. What set this case apart from so many is the fact that her parents were not at 'home'
with their children when this alleged abduction occurred; they were off in the resort complex dining and drinking with their
seven friends for the evening. For that matter, all of the infant and toddler children of the Tapas restaurant party were
left alone to fend for themselves while their parents enjoyed their last night in town.
Madeleine and her brother,
Sean, had spent a good hour of the previous evening crying for their parents and a couple of the other children were fussy
or ill, one to the point of vomiting while her parents were off having dinner. Three of the families locked up their apartments
while they were gone, but the McCanns, Kate and her husband, Gerry, say they left all the doors open so that someone, apparently
anyone, could have easy access to the children. The parents of these children were hardly uneducated boobs. They were medical
doctors and surgeons and folks of relatively high status back home in their British communities. The case made the tabloids,
but, in fact, it was the McCanns themselves that courted the media relentlessly, making Madeleine the most recognized missing
child in the world and, themselves a target of a good deal of criticism and skepticism. They claimed their campaign was to
find Madeleine but a fair number of people think it was a smokescreen to cover their own criminal acts.
When Madeleine turned up missing at the end of the evening's
revelries, the world was not only shocked that the little girl disappeared but that her parents were neglectful in their duties
to provide a safe situation for her. Not only that, but rumors began to fly that the McCann children may have been sedated
by their own parents so as to not be problematic again when left unattended and with that additional bit of disturbing information,
the McCanns became victims and villains at the same time. Over the course of the next few months, the police came to believe
that the only victim in this drama was Madeleine who they surmised died accidentally while left alone and that the McCanns
hid little Madeleine's body somewhere in Praia da Luz, staged an abduction, and with the help of their friends covered-up
the crime. Four years later, the case remains unsolved and the McCanns remain under suspicion.
Which is why Kate
McCann wrote her book, Madeleine. Not, in my opinion, to re-energize the search for her daughter as she claims, but
to convince people of her innocence and raise revenue. Considering the fact the book sold 50,000 copies of the very first
day and was serialized for half a million dollars and the Amazon reviews are mostly glowing and supportive, I would say Kate
has achieved her goals in quite a smashing way.
But, there are still hidden nuggets of gold to be mined from within
Kate's version of what happened in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007. The one dangerous thing about telling yet another rendition
of events is that there is often truth among the lies or lies among the truth; this is why police investigators always want
persons-of-interest to keep talking and defense attorneys keep telling their clients to shut the hell up.
The added information in Kate's book has enabled me to complete
a Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann (only buy the UPDATED version available in the next 24 hours). I had been reluctant to offer one for a long time because,
in spite of the many police reports and statements and television appearances of Kate and Gerry McCann, I wanted to hear the
story from one of their mouths, to know their answers to some very pertinent questions. Kate finally did me the favor when
she wrote, Madeleine, and although most of the book is a defense of her behaviors and actions, it is through this
defense that Kate has given me a much stronger insight into what likely happened the night Madeleine went missing and why
certain things happened or did not happen. Even with time to meticulously choose what one wants to say, it is amazing that
what actually ends up coming out is something that perhaps would be better left unsaid. However, personal agendas, narcissism,
and a lack of objectivity can cloud the judgment and the end results might not be exactly what the person intended. And I
thank Kate for that.
Let me tell you two of the biggest revelations in the book: Kate admits no one came through
the window of the children's bedroom. Yes, after years of insisting that someone broke into the apartment by tampering
with the shutters and forcing the window open, Kate now backs down from that claim, agreeing with the Policia Judiciara that
an abductor did not climbed into or out of the room. This is sort of a Bombshell Tonight. What this means is that Kate does
not claim the police botched the evidence and while she still claims there was an abductor that opened the window for reasons
that make no sense, her admission changes how I view what actually happened that night.
Another fascinating bit
in the book is Kate's incredibly generous forgiveness of Jane Tanner for not telling her immediately that she saw a man
carrying Madeleine off from the apartment; she is instead thankful that "someone had seen something." In other words,
Kate is happy an abduction was seen going down, not that she was notified of it in time to do anything about it. This startling
revelation tells me a lot about the mindset of the McCanns and adds greatly to the profile in determining what happened to
I hope Kate McCann does achieve her goal of re-energizing the investigation of the disappearance of
Madeleine McCann and that the truth of the matter will indeed finally come to light.
'Lie With Me Mummy', 17 June 2011
'Lie With Me Mummy'
EXCLUSIVE to mccannfiles.com
By Dr Martin Roberts
17 June 2011
With you, for you, and about you petal.
Kate McCann's revelatory autobiography adds remarkably little to what was already known about daughter
Madeleine, despite claims that it was written to help the search for her (helping 'the search' and helping
others to search are not quite the same thing). What it does do, categorically and, one might add, rather usefully,
is to confirm the falsehoods originally put in place over four years ago. It is an artfully choreographed confection, liberally
sprinkled with lies, blatant and subtle, and topped of with a dash of hypocrisy.
Within the first couple of pages
Kate McCann identifies herself logically with/as the 'abductor' of her daughter:
"I wanted to make
sure that they (the children) would always have access to a written chronicle of what really happened." (p.1)
"Others have seized the opportunity to profit from our agony by writing books about our daughter, several of
them claiming to reveal 'what really happened.' Which is extraordinary, given that the only person who knows
this is the person who abducted her on May 3, 2007." (p.2)
It is important to understand that since the
author's arguida status was lifted she has had the time and the money both to translate and to scrutinise the Portuguese
police files made publicly available in the Autumn of 2008. Indeed she is careful to point out to her readers how she has
invested many months and close to £100,000 in doing so, reading them in 'microscopic detail.' It follows that,
quite apart from being the only person who knows what really happened, she has benefited from exactly the same access to accumulated
background data as anyone else might. There are no excuses whatsoever for errors of fact appearing in this collaborative 'account
of the truth.' If any should appear then they have been sanctioned so to do. That makes their inclusion deliberate. And
a knowingly incorrect statement is, by definition, a lie.
Let the author lift the curtain on her own performance
"As a lawyer once said to me apropos another matter, 'One coincidence, two coincidences - maybe
they're still coincidences. Any more than that and it stops being coincidence." (p.328).
we might apply this same 'three strikes and you're out' rule ourselves, beginning with a small test of Kate McCann's
numeracy. After all, her entry in the Dundee University yearbook when she graduated in 1992 concluded with the line: 'Prognosis:
mathematician and mother of six.' (p.10).
1. "In January 2004, when Madeleine was seven months
old, we rented out our house and moved for a year to Amsterdam..." (p.31).
2. "On the afternoon of
1 February 2005, Sean and Amelie made their appearance in the world...A few hours later, Gerry brought Madeleine
in to meet her little brother and sister. Just twenty months old herself at the time, in she came in her cute lilac
pyjamas and puppy-dog slippers." (p.37).
3. "On Madeleine's sixth birthday, 12 May 2009, I met Isabel
Duarte for the first time." (p.338).
Taking last things first, why should readers need confirmation of Madeleine's
date of birth so late on in the book? Could it be due to the uncertainty engendered by the author's earlier calculations?
Unless one counts only to the last completed month, Madeleine would have been nearer eight months old in January.
The same question arises in connection with statement no. 2. Even as early as the first of the month, Madeleine could not
have been 'just twenty months' on 1 February 2005, if she were born on 12 May, 2003. She would have been
well into her twenty-first.
May 12 is not the only date to give Kate McCann pause for thought. May 3 is another.
And not only on account of its obvious associations with Madeleine’s being 'taken.'
Here are three
further statements with a suggestive connection:
1. "She had addressed me as Kate Healy, and although
this was the name by which I was always known before Madeleine's abduction, since then I'd only ever been referred
to as Mrs McCann." (p.189).
2. "On 4 May 2007, I became Kate McCann. According to my passport,
driving licence and bank account I was Kate Healy. I hadn't kept my maiden name for any particular reason - it was just
who I was and who I'd always been. But when Madeleine was taken, the press automatically referred to me as Kate McCann,
and Kate McCann I have been ever since." (p.349).
3. "One of the big changes in our life has been the
loss of our anonymity...As Kate Healy, I could do what I liked, when I liked, talk to whoever I wanted to talk to,
behave naturally without feeling I was being judged by those around me." (p. 356).
With a bank account in
her maiden name of Healy, it seems only fair to suppose that Kate signed her cheques in that name also. She didn't 'become'
Kate McCann until 4 May, after Madeleine went missing. And yet on several occasions, including May 3 2007,
she signed the Ocean Club creche registers as K. McCann.
When do such anomalies cease to be coincidental?
"We'd never lied about anything - not to the police, not to the media, not to anyone else." Says Kate (p.205).
Start as you mean to continue I suppose. 'Jemmied shutters' anyone?
By way of introducing some variation
into the process, instead of telling three slightly different tales to encompass the same lie, you can always repeat one lie
"...since there is no law enforcement agency at all actively inquiring into her (Madeleine's)
"...we have not been prepared to accept the platitude that work in Portimao continues
when we know this is not the case." (p.364).
"Since July 2008 there has been no police force anywhere
actively investigating what has happened to Madeleine." (p.364).
The Leicestershire Police position as at
June 2011 is as follows:
"Anything in relation to the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine
McCann will not be released whilst it remains ongoing.
"...it is also necessary to look at the
impact on the ongoing investigation of such disclosures. It is impossible to say until the operation is concluded
which information may or may not be relevant to any future prosecutions."
"We are the only people looking
for her." (p.364). That much remains true. I wonder why?
"If a review is declined, or indeed if no decision
is ever made, we will be left with no alternative but to seek disclosure of all information possessed by the authorities relating
to Madeleine's disappearance." (p.367).
They might as well save their energy, not to mention the legal
fees, since the response to their request for disclosure can only be as quoted above.
More of the same
Let's deal with a little more of the blatant before we turn to the subtle, shall we?
informed readers are by now familiar with the 'Plea Bargain' myth; the offer that Kate claims to have been made 'indirectly,'
despite its being a feature of U.S. legal proceedings not permissible under Portuguese law, nor the 'life sentence'
a penalty recognised by Portuguese statute. Kate's indignation at such a tactic is amply covered on p. 243. Are we seriously
to believe that Kate McCann was such a V.I.P. that time-served police, family men themselves, would collectively sacrifice
their careers and their pensions just to 'cut her a deal?' She's clearly spent too much time in front of the television.
And only a grossly over-inflated ego could arrive at the conclusion that there would be a riot in the streets of England owing
to their being viewed as suspects in relation to a crime abroad. The next thing you know the British navy would be sending
a gunboat to the Arade river!
An entire chapter (21, Closing The Case) is devoted to convincing readers that the
investigation is history, with repeated reference to 'closure' and 'conclusion' on p.317.
"On 24 July 2008, three days after the inquiry was closed..." (p.320).
later and no one seems to have told Leicestershire Constabulary. Strange that.
A number of Kate's little contradictions
are rather less easy to spot, as she cunningly exploits the transient nature of Short Term Memory, separating details of relevance
to each other by several paragraphs, pages - chapters even. It's a device she employs repeatedly. Nevertheless, despite
the apparent success of her overall routine, not all of her 'one-liners' are flawlessly delivered.
left to do the first check just before 9.05 by his watch...Madeleine was lying there, on her left-hand side, her legs under
the covers, in exactly the same position as we'd left her." (p.70).
(GM statement to police 10 May,
2007: 'Concerning the bed where his daughter was on the night she disappeared, he says that she slept uncovered,
as usual when it was hot, with the bedclothes folded down').
"The children were fast asleep and being
checked every thirty minutes...We were going into the apartments and looking as well as listening." (p.54).
(GM: "Yeah, I mean, I was saying this earlier, that at no point, other than that night, did I go stick my
head in. That was the only time..." [from the McCann inspired documentary, Madeleine Was Here]. MO [rogatory
interview]: "So I approached the room but I didn't actually go in because you could see the twins in the cots..."
"As soon as it was light Gerry and I resumed our search." (p.83).
something you have yet to start is a bit of a non sequitur if you ask me. How did the interview go again? Something
about 'not physically searching, but working really hard really?'
"Back in the apartment the cold
black night enveloped us all for what seemed like an eternity. Dianne and I sat there just staring at each other, still
as statues." (p.81).
That's hard work alright.
Passing the buck
John Buck receives a mention in despatches (several mentions actually), yet we're not concerned here with his passing
through, although there is something to be read into Kate's passing Goncalo Amaral on the stairs of the Lisbon courthouse,
which we'll come to later. Here we feature examples of the more colloquial meaning of the phrase.
some advice for anyone in a similarly 'sticky situation' to her own:
"A word of advice in case you
are ever unlucky enough to find yourself involved in a criminal investigation in any country: always make sure that
you read your statement, in your own language, after you've provided it." (p.126).
This counsel clearly
has its origins in an unfortunate experience the author describes in some detail later. Her homily is also designed to give
the impression that she neglected to take, or was perhaps even denied, the opportunity of verifying her own statement(s) at
the time. She knows 'only too well,' from interviews with the PJ, how "words and meanings could get lost in translation..."
"At one point early on, something was read out from my initial statement, given on 4 May. It wasn't
quite accurate and I explained to the officer that the original meaning seemed to have been lost slightly in translation.
"To my astonishment, the interpreter became quite angry and suddenly interrupted. 'What are you saying? That
we interpreters can't do our job? The interpreter will only have translated what you told her!' I was staggered. Quite
apart from the fact that in this instance she was wrong - this definitely wasn't what I said - surely an interpreter is
there to interpret, not to interfere in the process? My trust in her took a dive." (p.239).
Turning the page,
however, we read of a certain procedural 'rigmarole' with which Kate is also familiar:
"It was 12.40
a.m. by the time the interview - and the attendant rigmarole of having it translated into Portuguese and then read back to
me in English by the interpreter - was over." (p.240).
Throughout the case files one encounters records of
witness statements, including those made by Kate and Gerry McCann, which conclude with the observation: 'Reads, confirms,
ratifies and signs.' Kate McCann does not speak Portuguese. Obviously, therefore, she will have 'read her own statement
in her own language after she'd provided it,' giving her the necessary insurance against any factual errors arising
from mis-translation, the likelihood of which was, in any case, remote in the extreme. Hence the indignation of the interpreter
on behalf of her maligned colleague.
A 'change of tune' neither implies nor derives from a mistaken interpretation
of the original melody necessarily. Kate is attempting here to shoot the piano player when only the composer is to blame.
But Kate McCann, presumably on the advice of her editorial committee, can let no opportunity for misinterpretation
pass her by it seems. Here's how she deals with the Smith sighting (p.98):
"Although, like Jane, this
family (the Smiths) had taken this man and child for father and daughter, they commented that the man didn't look comfortable
carrying the child, as if he wasn't used to it."
This is simply not true. The Smith family as
a whole made no such comment, and the interpretation of it to imply that 'discomfort' demonstrated the man was not
accustomed to carrying children (as a parent, say), is Kate's entirely. In point of fact, Aoife Smith (the Smith's
daughter), states: 'The individual's gait was normal. He did not look tired and walked normally while carrying the
child.' What Kate has done here is to deliberately over-interpret an observation made by Martin Smith, and Martin Smith
alone, as part of his witness statement to police, given on 26 May 2007:
"He adds that he did not hold the
child in a comfortable position."
It is the child who was seen to be uncomfortable not the carrier.
No inference was or should be made concerning the adult's experience of carrying children, although non-parental status,
were it to be established, would clearly rule out Gerry McCann (father to three children) as a 'possible' for inclusion
among candidate suspects.
I said she was subtle. She's also read the files 'in microscopic detail.'
Kate McCann would probably wish to argue that some of these instances are really no more than teeny-weeny white lies,
much as the McCanns' recruitment of private investigators Metodo 3 to operate inside Portugal was only 'technically
illegal.' But such things are not to be considered on a sliding scale from one to ten. Child abduction is a serious crime,
not a parlour game. In such a context there is no justification for putatively innocent parties to lie - at all.
However, we have tasted enough lies for the time being. Let's now sample some hypocrisy instead.
"Dave asked if we should get the media involved to increase awareness and recruit
more help. The reply was swift and unambiguous. 'No media! No media!’" (p.78).
"Dave, ... sent an e-mail to Sky News alerting them to the abduction of our daughter. (p.79).
"...Rachael had contacted a friend of hers at the BBC seeking help and advice..." (p.80).
"Jon Corner...was circulating photographs and video footage of Madeleine to the police, Interpol
and broadcasting and newspaper news desks. This was in accordance with the standard advice of the National Center for
Missing and Exploited Children in the US, which advocates getting an image of a missing child into the public domain as soon
as possible." (p.86).
Of course by 4 May the troupe had all heard about NCMEC, an organisation whose advice
as to the desirability of circulating an image would have been immediately familiar and acceptable to the Portuguese,
who had already planned on doing so.
This degrading little episode of civil disobedience is supposed to reflect
an urgent concern for the missing child, but speaks more of the arrogance of the participants, who seem to have been remarkably
easily persuaded that little Madeleine would not turn up locally and quickly.
And there's more:
flew out to Portugal on 10 December.
"Not sure how I feel about seeing Mr Amaral - for the first
time ever, I hasten to add! I know I'm not scared but that man has caused us so much upset and anger because of how
he treated my Beautiful Madeleine and the search to find her. He deserves to be miserable and feel fear." (p.341).
"During a break in proceedings, I was going down the big stone staircase to the ladies' as Goncalo Amaral
was coming up. Thoughts of what I ought to say or do to him flashed through my mind but I stayed strong and passed
him without comment, our shoulders briefly coming within a foot of each other." (p.343/4).
thoughts on Kate's part when she and Goncalo Amaral have yet to meet. However:
"It is extraordinary that
he (GA) could have said and written so many awful things about a person he had never met." (p.342).
call that hypocrisy, wouldn't you? Just as I would these next examples:
"Other letter-writers took a warped
pleasure, it seemed, in going into lurid detail which I couldn't bring myself to repeat here (p.310) about what might
have happened to Madeleine 'because of you.'"
Lurid detail being reserved of course for page 129:
"Haltingly, I told him about the awful pictures that scrolled through my head of her body, her perfect little
genitals torn apart..."
Under a more family friendly certificate we have:
"...the press know
what her name is and yet to this day they insist on calling her Maddie or Maddy. I find it quite disrespectful." (p.349).
Perhaps then, Kate might at some time account for her own disrespect toward Madeleine's younger brother:
"For the rest of that day I would hear Seany wandering around the house." (p.270).
arrived in the early hours of the morning and positioned himself towards the middle of our bed, with me and Gerry then squeezed
together on one side." (p.277).
"Seany is a big soft 'Mummy’s boy'
which is nice." (p.304).
"'Hand him to me and walk away. He'll be fine,' she said confidently.
I'm sure she was right, though it wasn't much fun having to watch my little Seany, all red faced, blotchy and
You couldn't make it up. But Kate McCann clearly has. From resisting the urge to 'flee'
on 7 September 2007 to deciding a day later to 'get out as soon as possible,' leaving 'a day earlier than originally
"We would go the next day rather than leaving it until Monday. Then it was all hands
on deck to pack everything up and clear the villa. Michael volunteered to stay on for a couple of days to organize the cleaning,
hand back the keys and arrange for our remaining belongings to be shipped home by a removal company." (p.255).
So where does 'planning' feature in all this last minute activity?
For an accurate barometer of just
how seriously Kate McCann has taken the search for Madeleine, one need only explore the issue of 'help.'
"While the officers looked around, Gerry called his sister, Trisha. As difficult as it was to tell our family, we knew
we needed help from home, and quickly." (p.77).
"Everyone had felt helpless at home and had rushed out
to Portugal to take care of us and to do what they could to find Madeleine. When they arrived, to their dismay they felt just
as helpless - perhaps more so, having made the trip in the hope of achieving something only to discover it was not within
their power in Luz any more than it had been in the UK." (p.109).
So what form could 'help from home'
have taken? What could be expected of relatives abroad that the very parents of the missing child could not themselves deliver
in the immediate circumstances? And when this charabanc party on a fool's errand discover they have embarked on precisely
that, who is implied as being responsible? Not those who whipped up the frenzy, but the well-meaning pilgrims themselves.
Then we have the more individual cases:
"Emma Knights, Mark Warner customer-care manager... tried
her best to comfort me, but my grief was so agonizing and personal that I wasn't sure whether I wanted her there or not.
I didn't really want anyone around me but people I knew well." (p.75).
"A lady called Silvia,
who worked at the Ocean Club, arrived to help out with translation... She was very kind and I was glad of her help and
"A middle-aged British lady ... announced that she was, or had been, a social worker
or child protection officer ... showing me her professional papers, including, I think, her Criminal Records Bureau Certificate.
She ... wanted me to go through everything that had happened the previous night. She was quite pushy and her manner, her
very presence, were making me feel uncomfortable and adding to my distress." (p.87).
way I rang a colleague - another lady of strong faith. She prayed over the phone for most of the trip, while I listened and
wept at the other end. I will forever be indebted to her for her help and support at that agonizing time." (p.88).
The pattern is simple and easy to interpret. Those in a position of some authority, with accreditation as regards
their professional competence, are given short shrift. Others with a well-meaning but largely amateur slant on the affair
are warmly embraced.
There is of course more that could be said - much more. But it wouldn't do to serve it
all up in an instant. Gerry's dismissal of the sniffer dog video as 'the most subjective piece of intelligence gathering
imaginable' (p.253) is but one such subject - a topic for discussion in its own right. One day soon perhaps we can do
more objectivity, just for Gerry. Until then, and paraphrasing that familiar remark by a judicious teacher, while we may not
have 'taught the McCanns all they know,' nor have we taught them all we know.
are two elementary questions concerning the disappearance of Madeleine McCann which remain unanswered; a basic compound to
which Kate McCann has blithely added further ingredients:
1. Why should a couple directly related to the victim
of a serious crime, and in no small measure victims themselves therefore, lie about their own actions around the time the
crime was supposedly committed?
2. Why should others, not related to this victim of serious crime, lie
about what they were doing before the crime was apparently committed?
'Madeleine,' by Kate McCann,
does nothing to dilute the toxicity of this simple synthesis.
Mother's despair over child's
disappearance, 25 June 2011
Sat, 25 Jun 2011
The anguish of a mother whose young daughter, Madeleine, went missing on May 3, 2007, is reflected in most pages of
the book Kate McCann has written about her adored child.
Many readers, like me, may consider that McCann has packed
far too much detail in her heart-rending account of Madeleine's disappearance from a ground-floor holiday apartment bedroom
in Praia da Luz, Portugal, and the subsequent publicity that resulted in the girl's abduction receiving world-wide attention
for months on end.
But if McCann's book is suffused with a mother's despair and emotion, that is understandable.
Certainly, she is to be commended for an ability to communicate that many seasoned writers could well envy.
tragedy of Madeleine's abduction received wall-to-wall media coverage throughout the world.
Much of it was
the stuff of journalistic fiction, as well as accusatory comment.
Madeleine, almost 4, was on holiday with her
English GP mother, Kate, cardiologist father, Gerry, and younger twin brother and sister, Sean and Amelie.
night of her disappearance, the children had been put to bed.
McCann and her husband were at a restaurant "only
30 to 45 seconds away". Their apartment was "largely visible" from the restaurant.
Gerry made the
first check of the apartment just before 9.05pm; Kate the second check at 10pm (after a dinner companion went to the apartment
30 minutes earlier and reported "all quiet!"), to discover that Madeleine was gone. Jane Tanner, a member of the
McCanns' holiday group, reported that about 9.15pm she saw a man in the vicinity carrying a child who appeared to be asleep.
On May 9, a Norwegian woman, Mari Olli, had seen a little girl who looked like Madeleine at a petrol station on the
outskirts of Marrakesh. She heard the blonde child of about 4, who looked pale and tired, ask the man in English, "Can
we see Mummy soon?", to which he replied, "soon". It wasn't until Olli and her husband were back at their
home on the Costa del Sol the next evening that they learned of Madeleine's disappearance.
One hundred days
later, McCann and her husband were under suspicion by the Portuguese police, an inferior and investigatively slow-moving lot,
who suggested Madeleine had been murdered. Much worse was to follow as the Portuguese police pressed on relentlessly in their
endeavours to fix responsibility on the English couple. Eventually, the pair were deemed to be innocent of wrongdoing.
Lurid newspaper stories about their lifestyle were churned out and a continuing series of supposed revelatory scoops
became the norm.
Both the Daily Express and the Daily Star acknowledged three stories were untrue,
and paid 550,000 into Madeleine's Fund that enables the couple to continue the search for their daughter. The royalties
from sales of this book will be given to the fund.
McCann, a woman of strong Catholic faith, kept a diary which
enabled her to produce a book that lacks no detail.
Judicious editing of her too repetitive bursts of emotion would
have profited the reader, without detracting from the sadness of a continuing family tragedy.
The book includes
many colour photographs and, commendably, an excellent index.
• Clarke Isaacs is a former chief
of staff of the Otago Daily Times.
Madeleine by Kate McCann, 30 June 2011
|Madeleine by Kate McCann RTÉ
Thursday 30 June 2011
Madeleine may be one of the most heartbreaking books you will ever
read, telling as it does the haunting, true story of the disappearance of the pre-schooler days before her fourth birthday.
Written by her mother, Kate, it painstakingly retraces the family life of the McCann's, husband Gerry and their
three children, before and after tragedy struck when Madeleine went missing in 2007 while on holiday in Portugal.
The media coverage of the story was unprecedented but this book ends speculation over the thoughts, actions and reactions
of those who knew her best. There is no happy ending - the story gets darker with the turning of every page - but it is impossible
to walk away from this honest account unchanged. It sparks a need to know the truth.
Kate's prayers that the
book will help the Madeleine Fund have been answered as not only do all proceeds go towards the campaign but UK Prime
Minister David Cameron recently launched a new police investigation into the case.
Madeleine by Kate McCann -
II, 30 June 2011
Madeleine by Kate McCann - II
By John Blacksmith
June 2011 at 12:43
Madeleine as a primary source & historical record
As a celebrity memoir the book is by no means bad. What about as a record for future students of the case by one of the
two central figures? How reliable is it?
Here "the case" that we're discussing essentially concerns
May 3 and the week leading up to it. To a lesser extent it means the police investigation and that limited part of it for
which the McCanns are primary sources. The remainder of the book, the greater part in fact, is of little importance: people
studying the case, professional or otherwise, are unlikely to be deeply interested in the couple's extended travels around
Europe or the enlistment of celebrities such as David Beckham to their cause. In this section we shall look closely at the
first period and analyse it in detail; we can consider the couple's experiences at the hands of the Portuguese police
later on in the third part of this review, where we discuss the value of the book as a self-portrait of Kate McCann.
The constraints — the Portuguese judicial secrecy rules — which prevented her speaking in as much detail as
she apparently wished about the case no longer apply. The possibility (of which the couple were highly aware) that they might
lose their younger children to UK social services on the grounds of parental neglect perhaps justified a certain caution in
their accounts of events; with the passage of time, however, the likelihood of any such action has dropped to zero. And, finally,
M/S McCann now feels strong enough to confront those early days in Praia da Luz and has a fierce wish to write about events
and correct the "half-truths, speculation and full-blown lies appearing in the media and on the internet". As she
writes in the foreword to her book:
"...I have struggled to keep myself together and to understand how such
injustices [the half-truths etc above] have been allowed to go unchallenged over and over again. I have had to keep
saying to myself: I know the truth, we know the truth and God knows the truth. And one day, the truth will out."
So her day has come.
How has she tackled that week and what does she
have to tell us?
The first point to note is the extreme brevity of her coverage of the period. Out of the 368 pages
of the work some 27 are devoted to the week of the disappearance, culminating in her 10PM visit to apartment 5A — pages
44 to 71. Two of these are diagrams, leaving just 25 pages of text or some 7.5% of the work.
The structure of the
section is as follows:
1) A day to day account of the minutiae of the holiday, reading rather like an appointments
diary. Much of this indeed appears to be taken from a journal which she started keeping after May 2007 to assist her recollections.
Examination shows that this has been filled out by material taken from her statements to the Portuguese police and information
provided by the rest of the group in their 2008 statements to Leicester police, the so-called rogatory interviews. Finally
she has added brief titbits of an unimportant nature presumably taken once more from her journal — page 58, Gerry
buys a new pair of sunglasses, page 56, a fun game called "object tennis". Page 60, her pink running
shoes, would she be taken seriously wearing such a colour?
2) This takes up around 18 pages. The remaining
7 consist of insertions into the narrative — about a page and a half or so of complex memories of Madeleine and some
5 pages of justification by Kate for her actions written from outside the story itself.
When we look at the section
as a whole the main impression is the acute contrast between what has come before — the cheerful tale of her previous
life — and what follows — the emotion-filled drama of the investigation and the way in which it turned on them,
followed by the proud recitation of her achievements as a campaigner.
It stands alone, a flat recitation varied
only by the insertions. Incidents may indeed be described as "exciting" or "fun" but the words have no
resonance, being neither fun-filled nor in any sense exciting but all written in a monotone. Every writer, amateur or professional,
puts a part of themselves into a story whether they wish to or not, independent of the words they use: in Kate McCann's
case there is what we call an extreme disjunction between the words on the page and the real feelings of the author —
such as they are — as expressed in that mystery, the tone of a piece of writing.
Apart from the insertions
it is more of a drone than a tone. No interest in describing the period, or the wish to communicate the nature of the experience,
is anywhere discernible. Neither the appearance nor any hint of the personalities of the seven friends who accompanied her
to Praia da Luz are delineated: all of them, including the distinctively older Dianne Webster, remain mere names, their appearance
on the page just patches of black, or rather grey, type, carrying as much life or personal response from the author as a telephone
Now, from the rogatory interviews we know that the old newspaper picture of a secretive, homogenous
group was false. One or two of them were as near to close friends as the McCanns are ever likely to have; others hardly knew
the pair. In their own lengthy descriptions of that week, despite the fraught circumstances under which they spoke, their
personalities come to life – the owl-like and pompous but comically accident-prone David Payne, for example, his silkily
ambitious wife (the one with the scarves) whose perfume can almost be smelt on the page, the embittered and hostile Russell
O'Brien, deep-down conscious that his carefully planned career will never be the same again, the stage-comedy scatty old
lady Dianne Webster, who can't even remember her own address and isn't old at all, veering wildly between genuine
forgetfulness and a sharp suspicion that the less she says about anything the better for everybody.
And their descriptions
are alive as well, full of unexpected detail, doubt, colour, disappointment, incident and emotion, giving the lie to any suggestion
that there really wasn't much for Kate McCann to write about in that Praia da Luz week. Unlike her the 7 — except,
of course, when they stray into certain "dangerous" areas — tell things more or less as they saw and, more
important, felt them.
Can we be sure that the section has in fact been structured in the way we have described?
Well, the passages of self-justification are obviously ex post facto, as they say, and therefore cannot have come
from the period; nor have they in any sense sprung from the narrative of that week since they have nothing to do with communicating
what happened then but are part of a quite different story, M/S McCann's continuing defence of her own reputation, the
"bottom of the garden" stuff and the rest in which she first lightly condemns and then strongly acquits herself.
Then what about the Madeleine passages? Can we be fairly sure that they don't spring from the narrative either?
They certainly don't seem to. Significantly our first real view of Madeleine on holiday — on the aircraft steps
— is given not from direct memory but from the video made by the group. A few pages after that the bare recitation
of events and lengthy descriptions of the apartment is interrupted:
"Soon after midday," she writes,
"we collected the children." A highly emotional passage about the child follows — but it doesn't describe
Madeleine McCann in Praia da Luz but in some more complex space: "I loved going to pick up the kids when they were little,"
she adds, "the moment when your child spots you and rushes over to throw a pair of tiny arms around you makes your heart
sing. It doesn't happen every time, of course, but I have many special memories of meeting Madeleine at nursery at home.
Hurtling across the classroom and into my embrace she would shout, 'My mummy!," as if establishing ownership
of me in front of the other children. What I'd give to have that back again."
The next is on page 57:
"It chokes me remembering how my heart soared with pride in Madeleine that morning. She was so happy and obviously
enjoying herself. Standing there listening intently to Cat's instructions, she looked so gorgeous in her little T-shirt
and shorts, pink hat, ankle socks and new holiday sandals..." OK, OK — but this wasn't strictly the child in
Praia da Luz either, but a photograph:
"... that I ran back to the apartment for my camera to record
the occasion." The child herself is momentarily excluded as Kate McCann shifts time and space once more, "One of
my photographs is known around the world now..." and in a convoluted mix of past and present, child and parent, tells
us how it was that Madeleine had "done really well" to end up for the photograph with an armful of tennis balls,
finishing, "Gerry loves that picture."
On page 65 she demonstrates how hard she finds it to "see"
the child, providing not an image of Madeleine in action but a multi-layered section of her own troubled memory from somewhere
far beyond Praia da Luz:
"Some images are etched for all time on my brain. Madeleine that lunchtime is one
of them. She was wearing an outfit" — here comes mum — "I'd bought especially for her holiday:
a peach-coloured smock top from Gap and some white broderie-anglaise shorts from Monsoon — a small extravagance perhaps,
but I'd pictured how lovely she would look in them and I'd been right." She adds, "She was striding
ahead of Fiona and me, swinging her bare arms to and fro. The weather was on the cool side" — here she is again
— "and I remember thinking I should have brought a cardigan for her, although she seemed oblivious of
the temperature, just happy and carefree" — again — "I was following her with my eyes, admiring
her. I wonder now, the nausea rising in my throat, if someone else was doing the same."
of the child throughout these interpolations is flimsy and as for the dynamics of the relationship between mother and daughter
— and anyone with children of Madeleine's age knows how extensive and complex the relationship has already become
— there is almost nothing.
I stress these points not at all to criticise Kate McCann as a mother but to illustrate
the way in which the child does not emerge naturally from the narrative — and that is because she is not really part
of it. Perhaps the closest she comes to emerging is in the descriptions of her asking her parents "why they hadn't
come that night" — and that episode also, in a sense, comes from outside, due to the evidential significance it
has subsequently taken on.
From these considerations it should be clear that the whole section results neither
from concentrated recollection nor the intensity of her feelings about episodes of four years ago: it has been assembled into
a construct, not a description and certainly not a record. Of course every piece of writing of whatever kind is a
construction, a literary construction, if only by selection. But a literary construction is chosen for its suitability to
express the story, whether fact or fiction, in the best or most appropriate way. This section of Kate McCann's book is
something quite different: tellingly, she never "expresses herself" at all.
The only interpretations
of this extraordinary section that seem to make sense are, firstly, those that are probably familiar to her criminal lawyers:
that she suffered from traumatic amnesia that week as a result of losing her child or for some pre-existing reason and has
had to reconstruct the period from outside sources; or that she is still incapable, despite her own assumptions, of truly
confronting the events of the period.
There is, of course, a third: that she sees that whole week as a potentially
"dangerous area" a shark filled sea in which she must move with enormous caution, her only safe refuges the island
of ex post facto justification and the haven of her undoubted love for Madeleine, however strangely revisited.
we go further and decide which of the three might be correct? One way of doing so is to remember those opening words:
"...I have struggled to keep myself together and to understand how such injustices [the half-truths etc above]
have been allowed to go unchallenged over and over again. I have had to keep saying to myself: I know the truth, we know the
truth and God knows the truth. And one day, the truth will out."
"Dangerous" or merely "contentious"?
Either way, how Kate McCann handles areas of the case which have provoked so much comment and debate, and how much light her
quest for truth will throw on them can help us decide which interpretation fits best.
Leaving aside the whole question
of the state of the apartment at 10PM on May 3, a subject about which by now we can be fairly sure M/S McCann is not going
to have anything new to say, these contentious areas come down to three episodes: the decision not to use babysitters, the
supposed visit of David Payne to her apartment on the early evening of May 3 and the notorious problems of the evening "timeline."
The Babysitting Decision
The decision prompts a number of questions that in theory, and
for a person who has nothing to hide, should be easy enough to answer: who exactly first suggested that the group should check
the children and when? What stance did Gerry McCann, a born contributor, take? What was agreed about checking other couples'
children and what arrangements, keys, open doors etc, were agreed within the group to allow others entry to their apartments?
And did they discuss or assess the risks of such a procedure before coming to a decision?
Dr Payne being
ingenious in his rogatory interview
In the rogatory interviews the matter was
treated as "dangerous ground". The group gave vague and contradictory answers to some of the questions but stood
firm in claiming that the decision to check their children had been a "collective" one. Their responses, taken together
with their police statements, demonstrated that there had been an attempt to construct a strong legal case against any charges
of neglect arising from the checking after the child had disappeared.
That case, developed and made explicit to
the police by David Payne, was superficially ingenious: Mark Warner, it ran, used "listening checks" at most of
its resorts with staff listening at guests' windows every half an hour for signs of wakefulness or distress; finding that
Mark Warner did not use the system in Praia da Luz the group put in place a system that followed the company's half-hour
intervals; in fact, said Payne and others, apparently with straight faces, it was better than Mark Warner's system
because there was some visual checking inside the apartments as well; therefore they could only be guilty of neglect if Mark
Warner was prosecuted for the same offence in all its resorts.
Of course there were all sorts of problems with
this claim, not least that it sounded strongly like our old friend ex post facto preparation and reeked of urgent legal discussion
after the disappearance of the child, not before. And it was all too neat, especially when the four members of the group who
had absurdly claimed that the checking was every fifteen minutes — some whir of motion in the Tapas restaurant that
would have been — in their May 4 statements began shading their claims towards the half-hour mark. Still, it was hard
to disprove unless the police could find out whether such elaborate and conscientious planning had really taken place at the
beginning of the holiday rather than afterwards. All nine in the group, however, refused or transparently affected not to
remember who said what and when, repeating only that it was a "collective decision".
But why should the
police, Portuguese or UK, be so concerned about possible neglect as to try and break down their story in view of the appalling
disaster that the group had suffered? Did it really matter enough for the Leicester police still to be trying to find out
the background to the decision in April 2008?
The answer is no, it didn't. What mattered — and here the
size of the pit the Tapas 7 (not the 9) were digging for themselves begins to come clear — was something much more important:
the group was clearly not telling the whole truth but was that simply to evade the dreaded neglect issue? If they weren't
willing to come completely clean on that, even a year later, just how honest were they and could they be concealing something
much more sinister?
That question, with all its implications, remains open and unanswered to this day,
prompting much debate on the internet and, no doubt, a number of open files in Leicester police headquarters. It is extremely
thought-provoking — and here we see the size of that pit again — that apparently not one of the Tapas 7 has come
forward after four years and said, in effect, to the UK police, "Look, we were troubled; of course the 'collective
decision' thing was a stance but an understandable, not a sinister, one. Can't we start again and clear this up?"
Of course it is possible that one of them has done so; if so he hasn't told Kate McCann. Her contribution to dismissing
baseless rumours in this section of Madeleine might sound slightly familiar:
"As the restaurant was
so near we collectively decided to do our own child checking service" — followed, without further detail,
by an entire page of prolix and defensive self-justification, again familiar from her previous media interviews.
The David Payne Visit — Multiple Worlds?
The visit, the "last sighting" of Madeleine
McCann by someone outside the family, remains highly controversial and has been the subject of exhaustive debate on the internet
The questions about it arise at the very beginning since it was not mentioned by David Payne, Gerry
or Kate McCann in their initial police statements, despite Kate McCann's repeated assertions in the book that she had
told the police "everything". The first reference to it comes, oddly, not from either of the individuals involved
but from Gerry McCann, in his May 10 statement:
"David went to visit Kate and the children and returned close
to 19H00, trying to convince the deponent to continue to play tennis, which he refused."
Note the initial
locution, "David went to visit Kate and the children": there is no mention of any reason for the visit. Unfortunately
the PJ did not hear what the principals had to say: neither Payne nor Kate McCann were present for that second round of interviews.
Kate had cried off with stress; quite how Payne avoided questioning is unclear. Whatever, the result was that the Portuguese
police received no information about the claimed visit from one of the participants until Kate McCann was questioned over
four months later, on September 6 2007. And they still had no statement from Payne; in fact they were unable to compare his
account with that of Kate McCann until they listened in to his rogatory interview in April 2008.
September 6 statement runs thus:
"While the children were eating and looking at some books, Kate had a shower
which lasted around 5 minutes. After showering, at around 6:30/6:40 p.m. and while she was getting dry, she heard somebody
knocking at the balcony door. She wrapped herself in a towel and went to see who was at the balcony door. This door was closed
but not locked as Gerry had left through this door. She saw that it was David Payne, because he called out and had opened
the door slightly."
She now departs from direct knowledge deriving from her own experience, as she often does
on important matters, adding helpfully:
"David's visit was to help her to take the children to the recreation
area. When David returned from the beach he was with Gerry at the tennis courts, and it was Gerry who asked him to help Kate
with taking the children to the recreation area, which had been arranged but did not take place."
from hearsay to evidence, she concluded:
"David was at the apartment for around 30 seconds, he didn't
even actually enter the flat, he remained at the balcony door. According to her he then left for the tennis courts where Gerry
was. The time was around 6:30-6:40PM."
This was the first appearance of the "Gerry asked Payne..."
story — after four months! — and it was followed some twenty four hours later by the same story from Gerry himself
in his arguido interview.
Two weeks later, with the couple safely back in England and during that muffled and murky
period when they and the lawyers were using the media to explore their vulnerabilities, a lengthy and carefully contrived
leak was given to the London Times by Clarence Mitchell. The story purported to be about disagreements between the
McCanns as to how far to co-operate with the PJ but buried half way into the story we find this:
however, a senior police source told a Portuguese newspaper that officers were still suspicious about the McCanns' movements
during the "missing six hours" before Madeleine's disappearance.
Sources close to the family [Clarence
Mitchell] say that David Payne, one of the holiday party, saw Madeleine being put to bed when he visited the McCann apartment
at 7PM. Previously the last confirmed sighting of Madeleine was at 2.29PM when a photograph of her and Gerry was taken at
the swimming pool.
Kate and Gerry McCann believe Payne's testimony will be crucial in proving their innocence.
They arrived at the tapas bar at 8.30PM, which would leave just an hour and a half in which they are supposed to have killed
their daughter and disposed of the body.
A source close to the legal team [this was also Mitchell] said:
'If they were responsible for killing their daughter, how would they have done so and hidden the body in that time? There
is a very limited window of opportunity.'"
So the story had developed even further. Note that Payne himself,
after almost six months, has still told the Portuguese police absolutely nothing about the visit. The only reference to it
that he ever seems to have made comes in a curiously unsatisfactory email from the Leicester police to their Portuguese counterparts
accompanying some forwarded statements. Detective Constable Marshall wrote that Payne had stated informally:
he saw Madeleine, for the last time, at 17H00 [probably an error for 7PM] on 3/5/07 in the McCann apartment. Also
present there were Kate and Gerry. He did not indicate the motive for being there or what he was doing. He also cannot indicate
how long he stayed."
The situation, therefore, was that Payne's version of this
visit was still open and, as it were, up for grabs. But not yet and certainly not for grabbing via the newspapers by the McCanns
and their spokesman. As we have seen from his ingenious defence of the "checking" Payne has an instinct for keeping
his options open. The claims were left standing, without rebuttal, for several weeks and perhaps there was a hope somewhere
that it reflected Payne's acquiescence in the story and the altered timescale. Not likely.
In late October,
strangely enough on the same date that Detective Constable Marshall sent his email along with the Gaspar statements to Portugal,
he made the extremely rare move of communicating via journalists himself, speaking effusively to the Daily Mail about
Kate McCann and her lack of problems with her children [media code: no, she wasn't nutty or stressed-out enough to
have whacked the child and accidentally killed her]. But 7PM was now firmly out: in that same article Mitchell and the
McCanns had to reverse themselves, now stating "David Payne saw Madeleine at around 6.30pm." Point made.
In April 2008, just under a year after the child's disappearance, David Payne was finally compelled to talk about
the visit, making a statement to Leicester police as part of the rogatory interviews. The Portuguese police representatives
watched the televised proceedings from behind a screen. Whether Lusitanian guffaws of disbelief resounded from their vantage
point is not disclosed but Payne and Kate McCann seemed to be not just on different visits but different planets.
Q: Okay, and it was at what point that Gerry said to you go and, would you mind checking at Kate?
I had to go back to my room to you know change into stuff appropriate for playing tennis in, and err so he knew that I'd
walk up that by and past so he said oh why don't you err, you know can you just pop in on the way, the way up...[fails
to describe reason for visit]
KM again: David's visit was to help her to take the
children to the recreation area. When David returned from the beach he was with Gerry at the tennis courts, and it was Gerry
who asked him to help Kate with taking the children to the recreation area,
Q: Did you open the door?
Or was it already open?
DP: I think it was already open.
KM: This door
was closed but not locked as Gerry had left through this door. She saw that it was David Payne, because he
called out and had opened the door slightly.
Q: Did you actually go into the apartment?
DP: I did.
Q: Or did you do the conversation from the door?
DP: No, definitely was inside
the apartment, you know whether it be two or three steps into the apartment or you know however many, but I was definitely
in the apartment.
KM: He didn't even actually enter the flat; he remained at the balcony
Q: Okay, so now what I'm gonna try and ask you to recollect, what everybody
DP: I'm afraid that is, you know I'm, I cannot recall at all. I know that's, you'd
think that'd be an obvious thing to remember, I cannot remember. As I say the, from the children point of view predominantly
I can remember the, you know, white, but I couldn't say exactly what they were wearing. Err…
could you remember what Kate was wearing for example?
DP: I can't, no.
She wrapped herself in a towel and went to see who was at the balcony door.
Q: I'm gonna
pin you down and ask you how long you think you were in there for.
DP: In their apartment, it, it, I'd
say three minutes, five maximum.
KM: David was at the apartment for around 30 seconds.
Q: When you finished ...did you say anything to Gerry about, about the fact that his family were fine?
DP: Yeah, err yeah, I haven't mentioned this before, but yes, yeah I'd certainly, when we met up I said oh
yeah, you know everything's fine there, you know probably along the lines of you know you've got a bit more of a free
pass you know you can carry on for a bit longer...[fails to give reason for visit]
KM: ...asked him to
help Kate with taking the children to the recreation area.
What can one say? It doesn't corroborate
and it doesn't tally: there might have been visits to apartment 5A by David Payne or other members of the group that day
but the written evidence shows that the one described by Payne and the McCanns did not take place.
waters! What does Kate have to say now? Very little. In the book she falls back on copying out her September 6 statement:
"At around six forty, as I was drying myself off, there was a knock on the patio doors and I heard David's
voice calling me. Swiftly wrapping my towel around me I stepped into the sitting room."
But then she uses
words that aren't in the statement: "David had popped his head round the patio doors looking for me," which
quite cleverly attempts to resolve the open/closed doors discrepancy as well as shading another question — inside the
doors or outside the doors? Neither! He is in the doorway, head popping.
Having dipped her toes she moves rapidly
back to the much safer territory of what others had said:
"The others had met up with Gerry at the tennis
courts and he'd mentioned we were thinking of bringing the kids to the play area. David had nipped up to see if he could
give me a hand taking them down. As they were all ready for bed and seemed content with their books I decided they were probably
past the stage of needing any more activity. So he went back to the tennis while I quickly dressed and sat down on the couch
with the children."
One wonders which lawyers were involved in the "popping" paragraph because,
by altering her statement, Kate McCann has provided internal evidence that she is covertly attempting to smooth away inconsistencies
that are hazardous for her rather than trying to throw light on the truth as she vowed to do. Oh, and the bit about Payne
only staying for thirty seconds has somehow gone missing.
Nine O'clock News
to the evening of May 3. M/S McCann is certainly not going to linger here and events before 10PM are despatched in a two page
deadpan recitation of her statement, beginning with, "Gerry left to do the first check just before 9.05 by his watch."
By his watch? So near the end and more pause for thought!
Gerry did not mention looking at his watch and
noting 9.04 until the desperate hours of his September arguido statement, and for very good reason: it couldn't be true.
We know that he was actively involved in the preparation of the two "kid's book" timelines in apartment
5A on the night of May 3/4, a subject on which Kate is understandably silent. Not surprisingly the person who wrote these
timelines down, Russell O'Brien, was almost equally coy about their preparation when interviewed by Leicester police,
stating that he had forgotten their existence.
Nevertheless, under questioning, he began to remember and
confirmed not only his own role but that of David Payne and Gerry McCann in their preparation – while the searching
and hue and cry was taking place around them and all within a few feet of Kate. If Kate McCann, indeed, had happened to wonder
why one of Madeleine's books had been ripped apart and glanced down at the timelines written on their covers she would
have seen "9.20 Jane Tanner checks 5D, sees a stranger carrying a child." Apparently she didn't, not finding
out about the sighting, so we are told, until very much later.
O'Brien was vague and inconclusive about the exact role that each of
the three played in their preparation but nevertheless it was established that Gerry McCann had been involved in both versions
and that the second — marked "Gerald" so he could hardly deny it — included amendments from him.
Not here either
The first sheet that the trio prepared states that Gerry left to check at "9.10 -9.15".
The second, corrected by Gerry, alters this to "9.15". There is no mention of 9.05, let alone 9.04. That the alteration
was part of a process in which almost all checking times were systematically shifted by five minutes or so to accommodate
the otherwise insoluble conflicts between Gerry McCann's presence in 5A and Jane Tanner's sighting directly outside,
does not concern us here. What matters is the internal evidence of the documents as to the truth: McCann could not possibly
have allowed either document to pass unamended if he had indeed looked at his watch at 9.04 as he left to check. The documents
show that the claim about the watch, first made four months after the event, is an invention.
And so we arrive
at Kate's 10 PM check, there to read the cold leftovers of her previous statements and interviews. With that the strained
and artificially constructed narrative of this section can come to an end, to be replaced immediately – and almost with
a sense of relief — by wild, fist-beating, screaming action.
This piece which purports to describe Madeleine's
last known week is a sadly unworthy memorial to a small and unfortunate child. As a historical record Kate McCann's
Madeleine is, as we have seen, self-serving and actively resistant to the truth. It is worthless.
Too many 'if onlys', 08 July
08 Jul 2011
MADELEINE is the disquieting account of the disappearance and subsequent search for the British girl Madeleine McCann,
written by her mother Kate, and includes excerpts of the diary Kate kept over that harrowing period.
a riveting personal account of the incident, which many of us have read much about in the years since Madeleine was snatched,
but at the same time, the enormity and horror of what happened to the gorgeous three-year-old, and what might have happened
to her subsequently, make it a harrowing read. Madeleine's happy wide-eyed photo on the cover is heart-wrenching.
It's hard not to make judgment calls on the parents, medical doctors Kate and Gerry, who while holidaying at a resort
in Portugal with other couples, left Madeleine and their two-year-old twins in their unlocked holiday apartment, 120 metres
away from where they dined with the other adults in their party each night. Besides the threat of abduction, what if the children
had awoken from a bad dream and needed a cuddle, or got out of bed and hurt themselves, or a fire had started? There was also
a swimming pool in the complex. In terms of basic child care, I felt the two doctors were disappointingly misguided and naïve
to think it was acceptable to leave their children alone in a strange environment.
On the morning of May 3,
2007, the night Madeleine was abducted, Kate writes that Madeleine asked her mother why she had not come the previous night,
when she and her brother had cried for her. The McCanns, both medical doctors, brushed that off, and went out again that
night, something they will no doubt regret for the rest of their lives. When they checked on the children later, Madeleine
was gone. The question that haunts the reader is: why were the children crying that night? Had someone come into their apartment
and frightened them?
Kate McCann rails against aspects of the ensuing media frenzy, accusing various publishers
of denigrating her and her husband after they were named as suspects by the Portuguese police. She must also, however,
acknowledge her debt to the same media that has kept her daughter's image on the front pages and the television screens
of millions of people, and continues to do so five years later. Kate comes across as very defensive. Understandably, she is
often very angry. The couple have made many enemies, and have not been above suspicion. The international media have simply
reflected all this because of the way the McCanns themselves introduced the world to their plight. Madeleine became the focal
point for global hope. She was gone, and the public yearned for a happy ending and wanted her back safely. Incidentally, Madeleine,
as young as she was, hated being called Maddy, according to Kate. The media preferred the contraction of the name though,
as it fitted better into headlines and poster bills.
I found the diary notes in which Kate addresses the missing
Madeleine, to be flat at best. If there were outpourings of abject apology, poignant expressions of love, and intensely emotional
accounts of how she missed her beautiful little girl, they have been excluded from the book. Kate and her somewhat enigmatic
husband clearly love their daughter, and want her back, but I found there was an odd tone to the book, and my overriding response
to both parents was an uneasy disdain. As full-time doctors, they led busy lives career-wise, and one assumes they had scant
quality time with their three children, who were under four-years-old at the time. Yet, when they found time for a family
holiday abroad, they quickly booked their children into crèche at the resort, getting them out the way so they could
spend time doing their own thing. That in itself astounded me.
The sinister story of the subsequent police investigation
serves as a very poor indictment on the Portuguese police, whose reaction was flabby, unintelligent and plain slack. One hopes
they have put protocols in place to correct their procedures now. It is also terrifying to read that subsequent investigations
revealed that in the three years prior to the McCann's visit to Portugal, five cases of children being sexually assaulted
in their beds, while their parents slept in adjoining rooms, within an hour's drive of where they stayed, had been recorded.
There are too many "if onlys" — and each one on its own was enough to fail Madeleine.
is Madeleine now, and who is searching for her? The book reveals an age-progressed photo of what Madeleine would look like
now. Sadly, there is no active search going on, besides that which the McCanns themselves are driving.
will resonate with anyone who ever wondered where Madeleine is, or worried about their children and stranger danger. While
this review is being written, a child of a similar age is missing from his home in Slangspruit, near Edendale. Mcebisi Zondi
disappeared from his home at the end of May, without a trace.
The Witness published a story of another toddler
who went missing from his rural home near Otto's Bluff, about two years ago. He too was never found. There are others
unaccounted for, including 12-year-old Fiona Harvey, who went missing on December 22,1988, whose story will also haunt
this city for years to come.
Madeleine is a book well worth reading, although some may find aspects of the story
disturbing. As for Kate and Gerry McCann, you decide.
• Madeleine by Kate McCann is
by Bantam Press.
Madeleine as a self-portrait
of Kate McCann - III, 19 July 2011
Madeleine as a self-portrait of Kate McCann - III
By John Blacksmith
July 2011 at 22:41
Reading Madeleine is a weird experience.
For a start –
unless, of course, you are one of those "realists" who think the book is just the simple story of an unfairly traduced
and long suffering mother – it operates at as many levels as a French symbolist poem. "Choose your audience and
write to it," say the agents in their guidance to celebrity clients but for Kate McCann this is no simple task. She knows
how many people there are at her shoulder as she writes – Abreu, Amaral, her various police questioners in the PJ, Bob
Small and Detective Sergeant de Freitas from the UK, David Payne, and others, all with their own knowledge of the events she
She has the silent presence of her constituency of supporters to maintain as well, always searching
for an approach that will keep them onside – did that sound too happy? Is my love for Madeleine coming across strongly
enough? I mustn't sound too vain – as well as the note-takers on the skeleton crew still keeping the case open
at Leicester police headquarters. All of them must somehow be satisfied.
The major chord, as it were, of the surface
Readers' Digest narrative – the only one that will be perceived by some of her less sensitive fans –
dominates this series of undertones, one for each individual or constituency. It is a performance on a colossal scale,
a high-wire act that must be petrifying her husband, evidence of an overpowering ego and an immensely strong will.
The cultural poverty that she and her husband share and which makes them describe – and, I think, experience –
situations of extreme elemental drama in cheap soap-opera terms makes one hesitate before admitting that Shakespeare frequently
comes to mind. Yet the sheer power and determination with which she sent hope and strength coursing back into her husband's
limp, sobbing body on the night of September 6, for instance, is that of Lady Macbeth in its purest form. She is an extraordinary
Whether she is quite sane, in the commonly understood sense of the word, is another matter. When the PJ
officers accused her of blacking out on May 3, of not being in control of her actions and feelings, they were, as I have written
elsewhere, very close to the truth of what Kate McCann herself describes in Madeleine – months of believing that she
was possessed by an alien force, "a demon", and an accompanying sense of seriously out-of-control fury, in other
words psychotic, not neurotic, behaviour. But they clearly believed that such behaviour predated the evening of May 3.
Hers are qualities that inspire both admiration and pity. If only they were the whole story! For the record of the
last four years shows a deeply unpleasant underside to her complex personality. It is not the evidence she provides in the
book of her obvious human weaknesses — vanity amounting to self-obsession, a tendency to attack, sometimes physically,
those who provoke her, an obvious pleasure in being indulged associated with a certain financial acquisitiveness: most of
us share some of those characteristics and worse. No, it is much more serious: few people mean anything to her at all and
those that cross her...
People who have helped or served her fare almost as badly as those who have given her trouble.
The experienced GNR officers who first appeared on the scene to search for her daughter, less fortunate in their careers than
she, men of peasant stock on a poor wage in a poor country, are treated with casual contempt by this erstwhile child of the
Liverpool slums: "Tweedledum and Tweedledee", she describes them mockingly, "bewildered and out of their depth".
The ghost of harmless old Mrs Fenn, who dared to be concerned for Madeleine's well-being, is invoked to receive a paragraph
of gratuitous insult before being despatched back to her grave; Justine McGuinness, having failed Kate McCann's expectations
in some obscure way, is tossed aside like a bunch of old flowers.
Such nice people, lawyers
of course, stood squarely in her way. Having fed the UK rumour machine against him she watched, presumably with satisfaction,
his career implode. Once his book threatened to bring the facts of the investigation to a British public almost completely
unaware of them, she set out not just to silence but to destroy him, using the crone Duarte and the wealth at her disposal
— none of it earned — to tie him up in Kafkaesque legal netting, his money seized, his freedom of speech gone,
his family dependent on friends for financial support. It was a ruthless desire to hurt, not to defend, that is so clearly
revealed in her pursuit of Amaral and his family, a campaign that almost succeeded when the police officer's wife broke
down and begged her husband to seek a settlement with the pair.
It is notable, by the way, that Amaral's memoirs
not only reveal a more cultivated individual than Kate McCann — he actually shows awareness of the history and culture
of his own country and an aesthetic appreciation of its landscape — but a degree of humanity and warmth that is quite
lacking in the icy heart at the centre of his adversary's book. Unfortunately he is also less devious: he underestimated
Kate McCann when she was almost within his power and he is still struggling to overcome his error. That side of her personal
ledger is almost enough to cancel out the pity one should feel for such a disturbed woman.
This brings us to the
last, and most extraordinary, aspect of Madeleine. It is a strange and troubling example of a divided self, for while
her fingers tap out the repeated evasions and justifications of the last four years, another part of her, through bravado,
sickness, a damaged self or her fugitive Catholicism, is busy subverting her words from within.
sings of hope," wrote a famous critic of the troubled author F Scott Fitzgerald's novels, "the message is despair."
And something similar is happening throughout Madeleine. Kate McCann cannot bear to portray her daughter in the days
before the child met her fate: she can only approach her with displaced memories from an earlier time as though, whenever
she makes the attempt, she sees her own child’s face staring steadily back at her and she has to turn away.
She makes only a lacklustre effort at assembling a convincing narrative of that week, falling back instead on old cuttings
as though she no longer has the psychic energy to put forward a sustained and convincing description. The Tapas 7, her supposed
friends, walk the streets and sands of Praia da Luz like spectres, not real people. Her handling of the famous visit to her
apartment by David Payne is riddled with fatalism. Only after 10PM on May 3 does the prose spring to agitated life—
because now she is recalling real feelings of fear and turmoil. But whether those feelings resulted from the loss of her daughter
to a stranger or something altogether more complicated but just as terrifying, is open to question.
There is fury
– that word again – throughout her time in Portugal at what happens to her but it is as though she is shouting
to convince herself. And when she turns to the events of August 2007 it is simply impossible to believe that she is really
protesting her innocence; in the August 8 interview with the police and that dreadful episode in the apartment with Abreu
and his assistant almost a month later, the truth breaks through once more and the token claims that they were being invited
to plead guilty to something they hadn't done are simply overwhelmed by charged images that scream of guilt, most of all
the one in which Gerry McCann gives up and sobs at her lap like a child.
When Kate McCann writes of guilt —
the guilt she admits at not having protected the child, of the things she might have done differently, the declarations ring
empty, with no accompanying sense at all that she really feels, or perhaps even understands, the true meaning of the word.
When she writes of her own innocence, in contrast, the mood, the feel, the crucial scenes, deny her own words. The
book is one long, unconscious, confession, a cry for help.
to Nigel at