The purpose of this site is for information and a record of Gerry McCann's Blog Archives. As most people will appreciate GM deleted all past blogs from the official website. Hopefully this Archive will be helpful to anyone who is interested in Justice for Madeleine Beth McCann. Many Thanks, Pamalam

Note: This site does not belong to the McCanns. It belongs to Pamalam. If you wish to contact the McCanns directly, please use the contact/email details campaign@findmadeleine.com    

The Rothley Meeting, 17 November 2007 *
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Rothley Court Hotel
Rothley Court Hotel

A brief background timeline concerning the Rothley meeting
04 November 2007: The Daily Express reports that Russell O'Brien, Jane Tanner, Matthew Oldfield and David Payne fear Portuguese police are preparing to make then arguidos.

07 November: The Spanish newspaper El Mundo reports that lawyers for two of the Tapas Seven have contacted police indicating their clients are willing to be re-questioned to 'correct' details of their original statements. The origins of this report indicate it to be unreliable but it is picked up and reported in the UK press.

17 November: (date unconfirmed) The McCanns and the Tapas Seven hold a secret meeting at a hotel near their home. This is believed to be the Rothley Court Hotel; their preferred setting for interviews/photo opportunities.

19 November: The BBC Panorama documentary 'The Mystery of Madeleine McCann' is broadcast.

25 November: (date unconfirmed) Kate and Gerry McCann are photographed walking back from church with the twins and what appears to be Catriona Baker (Madeleine's 'nanny' at the Mark Warner Kids Cub and a crucial witness to her movements whilst in Praia da Luz).

08 December: News of the secret meeting emerges. According to The Telegraph, the Tapas Nine had wanted to keep the meeting secret but details of it were leaked by a source close to the McCanns. The source admitted that it was an opportunity to discuss events amid reports that the group are to be re-interviewed by police, going on to add "It was a show of solidarity under police claims that one or two had wanted to change their stories."

16 December: The Times publishes Kate and Gerry McCann: Beyond the smears by David James Smith. The article reveals how a UK journalist was prepared to collaborate with Gerry McCann, at a time when he was still an arguido, and subject to the rules of judicial secrecy, in order to promulgate the latest 'official' McCann timeline. A timeline which may well have been under discussion at the Rothley meeting.

McCann friends to be named as 'suspects', 04 November 2007
McCann friends to be named as 'suspects' Sunday Express
Sunday November 4,2007
By Matt Drake

FOUR friends of Kate and Gerry McCann expect to be named as prime suspects over the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine.

Dr Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, Matthew Oldfield and Dr David Payne were last night forced to bring in their own lawyers after increasing fears that Portuguese police were preparing to implicate them in the case of the vanished four-year-old girl.

It has emerged that the four, all members of the "Tapas Nine" dining party, have been warned detectives are prepared to make them official suspects in the next few days.

The latest dramatic development follows the discovery by Portuguese investigators of contradictions in key statements made in the first few hours after Madeleine vanished.

DNA samples also appear to support the chilling theory that Kate and Gerry were involved in whatever happened to their daughter.

Yesterday an emotional Gerry said: "Today marks six months since Madeleine was taken from us. It is an incredibly long time for us but must be even longer for Madeleine.

"It is so painful for us simply being separated, but all the more distressing when we have to speculate about the situation in which Madeleine finds herself. We have no idea whether she is suffering but we have to hope and pray that she is being treated like a princess, as she deserves."

If named, the McCanns' friends Dr O'Brien, 36, Ms Tanner, 37, Dr Payne, 41, and Mr Oldfield, 37, will join them and expatriate Robert Murat as the only suspects in the investigation.

Portuguese police have received permission from a judge to travel to Britain to re-interview the four.

Last night a source close to them said: "They are aware this might happen and although they have yet to receive any official word there have been strong enough signs for them to take legal advice.

"They have nothing to worry about because they are innocent and the details or contradictions in their statements, if any, can be explained.

"Gerry and Kate believe them and the group remain very good friends. All they are bothered about is clearing this up and returning to searching for Madeleine."

No suspect has yet been formally charged over the missing child, but recent reports in the Portuguese press suggest that 33-year-old Murat is likely to be cleared.

Yesterday Kate and Gerry marked the anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance with a church vigil in their home village of Rothley, Leicestershire.

Clarence Mitchell, the family's spokesman said: "For Kate and Gerry this is yet another day without Madeleine.

"They have not given up hope that she is still alive and a team of investigators is still in Morocco where we believe she could be."

Four of Tapas Nine 'to be named suspects' by Portuguese police, 04 November 2007
Four of Tapas Nine 'to be named suspects' by Portuguese police Mail on Sunday

By VANESSA ALLEN
Last updated at 21:10 04 November 2007

Four close friends of Kate and Gerry McCann fear they could be named as official suspects in the hunt for Madeleine, it has been revealed.

The four - all part of the so-called Tapas Nine who dined with the McCanns on the night Madeleine vanished - have consulted lawyers over mounting speculation they could be named as arguidos, or official suspects.

Dr Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, and their friends Dr David Payne and Matthew Oldfield have all been warned they could be made suspects within days, the Sunday Express claimed. Police have been analysing a series of alleged contradictions in the statements the group of friends gave to police just hours after Madeleine disappeared.

Interview: (clockwise from top left) Fiona Payne, Jane Tanner, Russell O' Brien, Rachael Oldfield

The entire group has always denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance. They are barred by strict Portuguese secrecy laws from speaking about the events of May 3 but last week issued a statement denying they had a "pact of silence" or that they were covering up a secret.

But a friend of the group said they realised there was a "possibility" they could be made arguidos.

He said: "There has always been the possibility that some or all of the friends from the tapas restaurant may be made arguidos if they were reinterviewed by police.

"However, it is possible but unlikely because the police have not made any moves to start that process and were last week banned from doing so unless they find more significant evidence.

"All of those who have given statements are absolutely confident about what they said because it is the truth.

Madeleine: A smile to the camera as she plays on a slide

"A full timeline has been prepared detailing what happened on May 3, who went where at what time, in case their versions of events were ever formally questioned, which seems increasingly unlikely."

Dr Payne, 41, a cardiovascular researcher from Leicestershire, was the last person outside the McCann family to see Madeleine alive. He went to the family's apartment at 6.30pm on May 3 and said he saw Mrs McCann there with all three of her children, while Mr McCann played tennis.

Mr Oldfield, 37, from South West London, was the last of the group to go to the apartment to check on the children, about 30 minutes before the alarm was raised that Madeleine was missing. He told police he saw the two-year-old twins but that her bed was out of his line of sight.

Ms Tanner, 37, of Exeter, told police she saw a man carrying a child away from the McCanns' apartment at about 9.15pm. But police have pointed to contradictions in her statements, and to the fact that another witness said he was outside the apartment at the same time but did not see Ms Tanner or the mystery man.

Meanwhile Dr O'Brien, 36, was away from the group for up to 45 minutes while he tended to his own child, who was being sick in his apartment.

He told police he had changed her bedlinen, but staff at the Ocean Club were said to have denied that any change of sheets was requested.

Contradictions in the statements and timings given by the group have led to suggestions in the Portuguese press that they could have been involved in Madeleine's disappearance.

Criminologist Barra da Costa told the Portuguese newspaper 24 Horas that he believed one way to crack the case would be to offer immunity from prosecution to anyone involved as an accomplice.

He said: "Extreme measures should be taken to recover Madeleine. One of those measures would be to grant immunity to any possible accomplice."

Friends may become arguidos, 05 November 2007
Friends may become arguidos Correio da Manhã

Maddie: Friends of the McCann couple have already contacted lawyers

05.11.2007

The hours before the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from the Ocean Club, on May 3, show, according to the PJ, that some of the friends who had dinner with Kate and Gerry on that evening exhibit contradictions in their statements. And that is precisely why doctor David O'Brien, his wife Jane Tunner [sic], Matthew Oldfield and doctor David Payne may soon be constituted arguidos.

According to the online editions of some British newspapers, the PJ already posesses a formal authorization from an English judge, to make a new interrogation about the mysterious day. But this time, it will be done on Her Majesty's soil.

The PJ's national director, Alipio Ribeiro, said he had a team of policemen available to travel to England in the company of the prosecutor from the Public Ministery in Portimao. But he refused to mention a date for this diligence.

The truth is that four of the seven friends who were on holidays with the McCann couple, and had dinner with them at the Tapas restaurant before Madeleine disappearaed, may move from simple witnesses to suspects.

According to a source close to Kate and Gerry, cited by the 'Sunday Express', these four elements of the group have nothing to fear. "They don't have to worry because they are innocent and the details and possible contradictions in the statements, if they exist, can be explained."

Yet, it is known they have been advised to look for juridical support before they are made arguidos, a diligence that may happen in the coming days. O'Brien, Jane, David and Matthew have already hired lawyers, and they have been told there are no precise clues that could imply them in the disappearance of the British child - which is strange, as the process has not been made public and information is reserved.

(...)

DNA in travel suitcase

According to British newspaper 'News of the World', a carrier bag was sent to the forensic lab in Birmingham, two weeks ago, for DNA testing. The newspaper writes that a man found the suspicious white carrier bag close to Faro airport, and delivered it to the PJ. The results of the tests confirm the presence of bodily fluids and hair that "could belong to Maddie". Inside the carrier bag, according to the newspaper, were a pair of jeans that were covered in residues (skin and hair that have been "certainly frozen", a shower curtain, a child's t-shirt, a case for pens, and a flannel bedsheet.

The McCann couple was informed that the suitcase was found, and now says this new piece of evidence reinforces the abduction theory they always defended. A firned of the couple stated that probably the abductor changed the child's clothes before he took her out of the country using the airport. The McCanns have been appearing with new data, which is almost always confirmed to be negative.



Maddie DNA clue in airport bag News of the World

Traces found on fleece and stained jeans

By Dominic Herbert

A BAG of clothes containing DNA linked to Madeleine McCann has been found dumped by a road in Portugal. The white carrier bag was discovered in a layby two weeks ago near Faro airport, the News of the World can reveal.

Maddie's parents Kate and Gerry McCann have learned the bag contained a blue fleece jacket and a pair of adult jeans with traces of DNA that contained "moderate" links to the missing four-year-old. There was also a SHOWER CURTAIN inside.

News of the find came as it emerged police hunting for the youngster have asked the Mafia to help. Crime godfathers in Morocco—where there have been several alleged sightings of Maddie—have been told cops will scale back drug busts if they do.

Meanwhile, the bag, found by a passer-by, was sent to a UK lab in Birmingham for forensic tests. A leaked report showed experts concluded the clothes contained bodily fluid and traces of hair that could have come from Maddie.

Skin

Other items recovered from the bag included a white flannel, a green elastic band, a light green child's T-shirt with a green flower on the front and a pink and blue pencil case with a pink heart motif. A source said: "The bag could be crucial.

"The DNA isn't an exact match to Maddie's, but it does link. It is the first clue found outside the apartment complex and could provide a trail."

The report—which was handed to detectives ten days ago—was obtained by the News of the World from Portuguese police sources. The jeans contained more than 60 different stains.

The report concluded: "The blue fleece and jeans were found to contain traces of congealed skin and hair. They were found to contain DNA characteristics that could be attributed to Madeleine McCann." No traces of Maddie's DNA were found on any of the other items.

The fresh clues will give Kate and Gerry, both 39, renewed hope of finding their daughter alive six months after she disappeared. Last night a friend of the McCanns said: "It potentially suggests that someone has taken her then disposed of the clothing.

"They have done it near Faro which could imply they have gone in the direction of the airport. It backs up the idea she was abducted."

Last Sunday the News of the World revealed that the crack Spanish detective agency hired by the McCanns, Metodo 3, are convinced the youngster was snatched to order then smuggled from Portugal to Morocco. Last night it looked like Mafia bosses will AGREE to use their underworld connections in the hunt for Maddie.

Mob bosses who supply millions of pounds of cannabis around the world effectively control vast areas of the North African country. The authorities believe Maddie may be hidden in the moutainous Rif region and that the Mafia there provide the best hope of finding her.

A source close to the Moroccan security services told us: "The gangs can put the word out and will be able to find out through the underworld network connecting every city, town and remote village. When they want to find out information, they can."

Maddie disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Portuguese resort Praia da Luz on May 3, just days before her fourth birthday.

Clothes and other items found in bag, 05 November 2007
Madeleine Mcann: DNA hope for Gerry and Kate McCann Liverpool Daily Post
 
Nov 5 2007
 
Kate and Gerry McCann were today given fresh hope that Madeleine is alive after learning of the discovery of a bag of clothes with a possible DNA link to their daughter.
 
The items are said to have been found just over two weeks ago in a lay-by near Faro Airport in Portugal, an hour's drive from Praia Da Luz where the four-year-old went missing on May 3.
 
It is understood the contents, including a child's T-shirt, a pencil case, a shower curtain, adult jeans and a blue fleece, were handed to the Policia Judiciaria who passed it on to the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham.
 
After 10 days of analysis, experts there are said to have found traces of hair and skin with a partial DNA match to Madeleine on the adult clothes.
 
But the link is thought to be only partial - around three on a scale of one to eight.
 
Although they recognise that the link is at best partial, the McCanns were described as "encouraged" by the development which would suggest she could still be alive and also backs up their view that Madeleine was abducted.
 
A friend said: "It is encouraging because we think it shows that there is a chance, this could indicate an abductor has potentially discarded clothes on the way from Praia Da Luz.
 
"We realise this is not conclusive proof but we are encouraged the police have examined it and sent it for analysis so quickly.
 
"Certainly we feel that whoever owned the clothing has got a lot of questions to answer."
 
The couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell declined to comment on the story but called for police to investigate,
 
"We simply cannot comment on yet another unsourced, speculative report," he said.
 
"But Gerry and Kate trust that the police will, of course, follow up any potential lead that could indicate she was abducted as that is exactly what happened."
 
The McCanns marked six months since Madeleine's disappearance with a church service near their home in Rothley, Leicestershire, at the weekend.
 
There were also prayer services in Liverpool, where Kate's family come from, and Praia Da Luz itself.
 
The couple were named official suspects by police in September after separate DNA tests on forensic traces in the apartment where they had been staying in Portugal and a hire car.
 
But they deny any involvement.
 
Gerry McCann reaffirmed his belief that his daughter is still alive on Saturday.
 
In a message on his internet blog exactly six months after Madeleine's disappearance he wrote: "It is an incredibly long time for us but must be even longer for Madeleine.
 
"It is so painful for us simply being separated, but all the more distressing when we have to speculate about the situation Madeleine finds herself.
 
"We have no idea whether she is suffering but we have to hope and pray that she is being treated like a princess, as she deserves."

Maddie's DNA 'Found On Clothes Dumped In Bag', 05 November 2007
Maddie's DNA 'Found On Clothes Dumped In Bag' Daily Record
 
By Karen Bale
Nov 5 2007
 
Skin And Hair Test After Bag Is Discovered
 
A BAG of clothes containing DNA which could be linked to Madeleine McCann has been found in a layby.
 
The white carrier bag, which was dumped near Faro airport in Portugal, contained a woman's jeans and a fleece which had hair and skin on them.
 
Forensic experts say the traces could have come from the missing girl.
 
Last night, parents Kate and Gerry were hopeful the discovery might lead to a breakthrough in the hunt for Madeleine.
 
A friend said: "Kate and Gerry are very encouraged by news of this development, which, on the face of it, seems to be extremely significant.
 
"It backs up what they have always said, which is that Madeleine was taken."
 
The bag was found by a member of the public a fortnight ago.
 
It had been dumped 75 miles from the holiday apartment in Praia da Luz where four-year-old Madeleine vanished.
 
It also contained a shower curtain, a flannel, a green child's T-shirt and a pencil case with a pink heart motif.
 
The clothes were sent to the Forensic Science Service lab in Birmingham for analysis.
 
It is believed the fleece and jeans contained a "moderate" DNA match to Madeleine.
 
A source said: "The DNA isn't an exact match to Maddie's but it does link.
 
"The blue fleece and jeans were found to contain traces of congealed skin and hair.
 
"It's the first clue found outside the apartment complex and could provide a trail."
 
News of the discovery came as the McCanns attended a church vigil to mark the six-month anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance.
 
Kate and Gerry were joined by 200 people at St Mary and St John church in their home village of Rothley, Leicestershire on Saturday night.
 
Yesterday, police were investigating a possible sighting of Madeleine at Barcelona airport.
 
A Portuguese teacher said she saw her there a few weeks after she disappeared.
 
Police insiders say the hunt for Madeleine will be wound up by Christmas.

Note: Tapas Two 'want to change their statements'

The following group of reports - that two members of the Tapas Seven wanted to change their police statements - are based on an article that first appeared in Spanish newspaper El Mundo, on 07 November 2007.

The report was principally written by Duarte Levy and therefore the reliability of the information must be called into question, given the number of false reports we know Mr Levy to have written since.

Whilst there remains the possibility that certain files may have been held back from the published PJ Files, it seems highly unlikely that such explosive testimony would not have had a major impact on the course of the investigation.

The El Mundo report was picked up by a number of mainstream media outlets and the reports are included here because they may, or may not, have had a direct bearing on the meeting that took place in Rothley on the 17th November.

People who dined with the parents of 'Maddie' on the night of her disappearance inform the police they wish to correct their statements, 07 November 2007
People who dined with the parents of 'Maddie' on the night of her disappearance inform the police they wish to correct their statements El Mundo

DUARTE LEVY / PAULO REIS. Exclusive to EL MUNDO
07 November 2007


LONDON / Praia da Luz. - Lawyers of two of the friends of the McCanns that dined with them on the night of May 3 in the tapas restaurant have contacted police recently and said their clients are willing to be re-questioned so they can 'correct' details of their original statements.

These two members of the group have asked for their identities to be kept secret because they fear that as a result of the 'clarifications' they intend making about what happened the night Madeleine disappeared, they may be pressured by people linked to the McCann family.

The contradictions between the seven friends who dined that night with Maddie's parents have been, from the outset, one of the reasons why the Portuguese Judicial Police have not ruled out other possibilities besides a kidnapping. After replacing Gonçalo Amaral with Paulo Rebelo leading the investigation, a reassessment of the case has been undertaken and the evidence collected so far.

The results of the review have not caused any reconsideration of death as the main hypothesis, which is what the Portuguese police first mentioned on August 11, at 100 days of Madeleine's disappearance. Over the past week, Rebelo convened a meeting of investigators involved in the case, at which Gonçalo Amaral was invited in order to inform him about the review done by the team of experts who have arrived from Lisbon.

Police are now preparing to take the last steps in the investigation, consisting of a new round of interviews of the McCann's friends, taking place in the UK, once it has the results of the analyzes of all samples collected at the crime scene and sent to the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham. All evidence collected so far "is consistent with the possibility that Madeleine is dead and there is practically no evidence that points towards a kidnapping," said sources close to the case.

Since late May, when the Portuguese press published the first information that cast doubt on the statements of the parents and their friends, the McCanns launched an investigation of their own. They hired Control Risks Group, a security and risk management company, staffed by former employees of the special forces and intelligence services of Britain, to help them find Madeleine. The existence of the contract was not disclosed, however, until September and, during this time the couple always hinted that they trusted the Portuguese investigation.

At the same time they hired Método 3, a major Spanish detective agency, to put in place a hotline made available to potential witnesses with information about their daughter. In the first weeks, that phone number received dozens of reports about alleged sightings of the girl that very specifically placed Madeleine in Morocco. During the past weekend, however, the Moroccan authorities have made ​​an emphatic public denial of the existence of any leads which suggest the presence of the girl in Morocco.

Madeleine: Two of Tapas Nine 'to change story... IF they can remain anonymous', 07 November 2007
Madeleine: Two of Tapas Nine 'to change story... IF they can remain anonymous' Evening Standard

07 November 2007

Two of the holiday friends that dined with Madeleine McCann's parents the night she disappeared have told police they want to change their stories, it was sensationally claimed today.

Lawyers acting for the pair are said to have contacted detectives leading the probe and said their clients are willing to be reinterviewed so they can give fresh details.

Respected Spanish daily El Mundo reported the two members of the so-called Tapas Nine have asked for their names to be kept secret to avoid pressure from the McCanns.

It comes only days after it was reported that four more of the so-called Tapas Nine are about to be declared suspects by Portuguese police.

Dr Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, Matthew Oldfield and Dr David Payne are said to have contacted lawyers amid fears detectives may implicate them in the case of the missing four-year-old.

Portuguese police chief Alipio Ribeiro insisted in an interview last month he was confident of solving the Madeleine mystery - and said every investigation has a key moment that clarifies everything.

An investigation insider said last night: "All the evidence collected so far points to Madeleine being dead.

"There's practically no evidence pointing towards a kidnap."

El Mundo described the offer of a fresh statement by the mystery Tapas Two as "recent".

It reported: "Lawyers of two of the friends of the McCanns that dined with them on the night of May 3 in the tapas restaurant have contacted police recently and said their clients are willing to be re-questioned so they can 'correct' details of their original statements.

"These two members of the group have asked for their identities to be kept secret because they fear that as a result of the 'clarifications' they intend making about what happened the night Madeleine disappeared, they may be pressured by people linked to the McCann family."

One member of the so-called "Tapas Nine" Ms Tanner today dismissed claims that she and her partner Dr O'Brien were about to change their story as "absolute rubbish".

The couple were with Gerry and Kate McCann in Portugal on the night Maddy disappeared. Ms Tanner provided police with an artist's impression of a man she says she saw carrying a child on the night the childvanished.

Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, said today that the friends had all been contacted following the El Mundo report and insisted it was "totally untrueî.

But he said that the couple's friends had said they were happy to be reinterviewed by police if it resolved any apparent inconsistencies and hastened the McCanns being cleared.

He said: "Contrary to a report in the Spanish press today, and after consultation amongst Gerry and Kate McCann's friends, I can deny that any approach has been made by their lawyers asking to amend or change the witness statement of any of them.

"This report is simply untrue. "Kate and Gerry's friends, who were with them on May 3, have consistently told the truth and remain happy, indeed they are keen, to be re-interviewed by the police to clarify any inconsistencies in the statements that the police may think they have identified.

"The friends believe that if such interviews or re-interviews take place it can only lead to Gerry and Kate being eliminated from the inquiry swiftly."

The McCanns and their friends have always denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.

Last week they issued a statement denying they had a "pact of silence" or that they were covering up a secret.

Dr Payne, a 41-year-old cardiovascular researcher from Leicester, was the last person outside the McCann family to see Madeleine at the Ocean Club resort on May 3. Gerry asked him to check on his wife and children while he having a tennis lesson at about 6.30pm.

Attention has also focussed on Jane Tanner's claim she saw a man carrying a girl from the McCanns' ground floor apartment at about 9.15pm - when another witness says he was outside the flat at the same time but did not see her or the mystery man.

Mr Oldfield, 37, from south London, has said he entered the McCanns' apartment to check on the children about 30 minutes before Madeleine was reported missing by her mum.

He told police that although he had seen the McCanns' two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie, their sister's bed was out of his sight-line.

Dr O'Brien, 36, from Exeter, was away from the group for up to 45 minutes between 9.30pm until 10.15pm while he tended to his own child who was being sick in his apartment.

He told police he had changed her bedlinen, but staff at the Ocean Club were said to have denied any change of sheets was requested.

The McCanns and their friends have always denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance - and insist she was kidnapped.

They are barred by strict Portuguese secrecy laws from speaking about the events of May 3 but last week issued a statement denying they had a "pact of silence" or that they were covering up a secret.

Portuguese police are preparing to send a three-man team led by chief investigator Paulo Rebelo to the UK to reinterview the Tapas Nine.

British detectives will ask questions put to them by their Portuguese counterparts.

Rebelo has led a massive review of the Madeleine case since taking over from disgraced former chief investigator Goncalo Amaral five weeks ago.

Alipio Ribeiro, national director of the Portugal's Policia Judiciaria which is leading the probe, said recently: "I am convinced that sooner or later we are going to have a result.

"I cannot say when. But I am optimistic.

"Many similar cases have lasted longer and were resolved in the end.

"I can't guarantee it but I think this will also happen in our case. We have an idea of what happened.

"We've done a massive job analysing and discounting hundreds of leads and pieces of evidence.

"In every investigation there is a key moment, a click that clarifies everything and helps you to reach the end. We just haven't reached that key moment yet."

Madeleine: Tapas Two 'want to change story', 07 November 2007
Madeleine: Tapas Two 'want to change story' The Telegraph

TWO members of the party that dined with Kate and The McCanns deny involvement in their daughter's diappearance

By Fiona Govan in Praia da Luz
6:12PM GMT 07 Nov 2007

Two of the friends that dined with Kate and Gerry McCann on the night Madeleine disappeared have told Portuguese police that they want to change their stories, it has been claimed.

Lawyers acting for the pair are said to have contacted Portuguese detectives leading the enquiry to say their clients are willing to be re-interviewed so they can "correct" their original statements.

The Spanish daily El Mundo reported that the two members of the so-called Tapas Nine - the name given to the McCanns and the seven friends who dined with them on May 3 at their Algarve holiday complex - have asked for their identities to be kept secret.

"Lawyers of two of the friends of the McCanns that dined with them on the night of May 3 in the tapas restaurant have contacted police recently and said their clients are willing to be requestioned so they can 'correct' details of their original statements," said the El Mundo report.

"These two members of the group have asked for their identities to be kept secret."

The seven holidaying with the McCanns at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz are Jane Tanner, 37, her partner Dr Russell O'Brien, 36, Dr Matthew Oldfield, 37, his wife Rachael, 36, David Payne, 41, his wife Fiona, 34, and her mother Dianne Webster, 61.

This weekend it was reported that four of them fear they are about to be named formal suspects by Portuguese police.

Mr O'Brien and Ms Tanner, Mr Oldfield and Dr Payne are all said to have consulted their own lawyers in anticipation of being made official arguidos because of apparent inconsistencies in key statements made immediately after Madeleine vanished.

Strict Portuguese secrecy laws have prevented the McCanns and the friends they were holidaying with from speaking publicly about the series of events the night Madeleine disappeared.

But several apparent contradictions have emerged in the six months since the four-year-old went missing, including the timings of events and how much alcohol was consumed on the night.

Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, denied that any of the friends had officially approached the Portuguese police through their lawyers but said that they were happy to be reinterviewed by police if it resolved any apparent inconsistencies and hastened the McCanns being cleared.

"Contrary to a report in the Spanish press, and after consultation amongst Gerry and Kate McCann's friends, I can deny that any approach has been made by their lawyers asking to amend or change the witness statement of any of them," he said.

"Kate and Gerry's friends, who were with them on May 3, have consistently told the truth and remain happy, indeed they are keen, to be reinterviewed by the police if necessary to clarify any inconsistencies in the statements that the police may think they have identified.

"The friends believe that if such interviews or reinterviews take place it can only lead to Gerry and Kate being eliminated from the inquiry swiftly."

The McCanns were declared arguidos by Portuguese detectives in September the day before they finally flew back to the UK after four months in Portugal.

They deny any involvement in their daughter's disappearance and insist she may still be alive.

???, 07 November 2007
??? Daily Express
By Martin Evans in Praia da Luz
November 7, 2007

TWO members of the party that dined with Kate and Gerry McCann on the night their daughter disappeared have told police they want to change their stories, it was sensationally claimed last night.

Lawyers acting for the pair allegedly contacted Portuguese detectives informing them their clients wanted to be re-interviewed in order to "correct" their original statements.

The McCanns' official spokesman last night angrily dismissed the claims but sources close to the investigation said the pair had kept their decision secret in order to avoid pressure from anyone else in the group.

The startling claim comes just days after it emerged that four members of the so called Tapas Nine – who had dinner with Kate and Gerry on the evening of May 3 – were about to be declared official suspects by the Portuguese police. Detectives were understood to be concerned about alleged inconsistencies in statements given by the McCanns' friends shortly after Madeleine went missing.

It was claimed Dr Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, Matthew Oldfield and Dr David Payne were all expecting to be made arguidos in the coming days. The respected Spanish newspaper El Mundo suggested it was this which had led to two members of the group changing their stories.

The paper claimed: "Lawyers of two of the friends of the McCanns that dined with them on the night of May 3 in the tapas restaurant have contacted police recently and said their clients are willing to be re-questioned so they can 'correct' details of their original statements.

"These two members of the group have asked for their identities to be kept secret because they fear that as a result of the 'clarifications' they intend making about what happened the night Madeleine disappeared, they may be pressured by people linked to the McCanns."

But the McCanns official spokesman Clarence Mitchell last night said the claim was "categorically untrue".

He said: "All the friends have consistently told the truth. They have no need to change their statements as they have nothing to hide.

"They have always said right from the beginning that they were happy, more than happy, to be re-interviewed by the police.

"The fact is they are keen to be re-interviewed to clarify any inconsistencies that the police have or may feel exist in their statements.

"To suggest they are changing their story is an utter misrepresentation of their willingness to help the police." He added: "I have made enquiries of all the friends. It is categorically untrue that any letter has gone through on behalf of any of them."

And a friend of the McCann's added: "Kate and Gerry are still friends with all those who were there that night. They frequently speak to each other and there has been no falling out."

The Tapas Nine have faced a barrage of criticism in the six- months since Madeleine disappeared for refusing to speak about the events of that fateful evening. They were even accused of orchestrating a pact of silence in order to frustrate the police's attempts to build a case against Kate and Gerry.

While it remains unclear what changes if any might be made to their previous statements any divergence from the original version of events would be bound to put pressure on the McCanns. The secrecy of justice laws which operate in Portugal mean anyone connected to an investigation is prevented from speaking publicly about the case.

This means very little is known of what actually happened in the hours immediately before and after Madeleine disappeared. It is believed the McCanns left their children asleep in apartment 5A of the Ocean Club, before heading down to dinner at the complex's nearby tapas restaurant around 8pm.

They were then joined by their seven friends Dr Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, Dr Matthew Oldfield and his wife Rachael, David Payne and his wife Fiona and her mother Dianne Webster. The group claimed they had been checking on their own children at half hour intervals but at 9.30pm Dr Oldfield offered to look in on Madeleine and the two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.

It is thought he did not enter the McCanns' apartment but hearing no noise at the door assumed everything was fine and returned to dinner. It was at 10pm when Kate checked on the children that she discovered Madeleine was missing and raised the alarm. Each member of the group has given the Portuguese police their version of events.

But sources within the Policia Judiciaria have said several of the statements are riddled with inconsistencies. Attention has been focused on Ms Tanner's claims that she saw a man carrying a child wrapped in a blanket near the McCanns' apartment around 9.15pm. Other independent witnesses in that area at the same time said they saw no one matching that description however.

Speaking from her home in Exeter, Devon last night Ms Tanner said: "I'm not going to make any comment. It is absolute rubbish. We've had no contact with the police. I won't say anything else because it would be twisted." Dr O'Brien's statement was also said to be of interest because he had been away from the restaurant for around 45 minutes in order to look after his own child who was unwell.

He told police he had changed the child's bed linen after she was sick, but staff at the Ocean Club were said to have denied any change of sheets was requested. The McCanns and their friends have always denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance - and insist she was abducted.

The Portuguese police believe Kate McCann accidentally killed her daughter and then disposed of her body with the help of her husband. But a forensics report from Portugal's top pathology lab has concluded there was no evidence to suggest Madeleine had died in the apartment on the night she went missing.

The Rothley Meeting, 17 November 2007

Rothley Court Hotel

17 November 2007

Spanish TV station Antena3 exclusively reveal that the Tapas 9 had a meeting today at a hotel in the UK. This was set up by the Método 3 team (presumably the source of the information) and lasted from 10.00am until 4.00pm.

The alleged purpose of this meeting was to "aclarar donde están las contradicciones" ('clear up any possible contradictions' in their statements).

Antena3 claim that none of the 9 will change their statements and that three are prepared to indicate directly that Robert Murat was in the area both before and after the alarm was raised.

Kate and Gerry McCann walking back from church with the twins and what appears to be Catriona Baker, 25 November 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann walking back from church with the twins and what appears to be Catriona Baker, 25 November 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann walking back from church with the twins and what appears to be Catriona Baker, 25 November 2007 (date unconfirmed) - with thanks to Johanna for pictures

Catriona Baker: "
I visited the family in their home at their invitation to see how they were getting along in November of 2007."

- Extract from Rogatory interview, 14 April 2008

Madeleine McCann: Tapas 9's secret meeting, 08 December 2007
Madeleine McCann: Tapas 9's secret meeting The Telegraph

Missing Madeleine McCann

By Fiona Govan in Praia da Luz
6:53PM GMT 08 Dec 2007

The McCanns and the seven friends who dined with them on the night Madeleine went missing have met for the first time since her disappearance on May 3, it has emerged.

The "emotional and deeply sad" reunion was held at a hotel near Kate and Gerry McCanns' home in Rothley, Leicestershire around a fortnight ago.

The Tapas Nine had wanted to keep the meeting secret but yesterday details of it were leaked by a source close to the McCanns.

"It was a private meeting in a hotel and was the first time that the group had collectively met since Madeleine's disappearance," said the source.

"Of course it was emotional and deeply sad for all involved," the source said and also admitted that it was an opportunity to discuss events amid reports that the group are to be re-interviewed by police.

"It was an opportunity for the group to discuss the events of the summer and to talk about what may happen next," the source continued.

"They wanted to talk about possibly being interviewed by police again and what that may entail."

The willingness of the friends to meet dispels claims that some of them had fallen out with the couple and wanted to change their witness statements given to Portuguese police.

"It was a show of solidarity under police claims that one or two had wanted to change their stories," said the source.

"That is just not the case and the meeting showed that. It was a meeting to express support by the friends and just to see each other again. They hadn't seen each other properly."

But the meeting could anger Portuguese detectives who hope to travel to Britain to carry out interviews of the group in the coming days.

They believe that inconsistencies in original statements made by members of the Tapas Nine could hold the key to solving the mystery.

Meanwhile a former Portuguese police chief said the McCanns should have been arrested as soon as their daughter disappeared for "abandoning" their children.

"When the parents told police that they went to dinner and left the children at home alone, they confessed to the crime of abandonment and should have been charged on that first day," said Paulo Pereira Cristovao in an interview with Portuguese daily newspaper 24 Horas.

"The penalty of abandonment is at least three years imprisonment," he stated reiterating previous calls for them to face prosecution for their actions.

Mr Pereira Cristovao, 38, left the Policia Judiciaria (PJ) in September and now heads the Portuguese Association for Missing Children (APCD), which leads the hunt for missing children in Portugal.

When Madeleine disappeared on May 3 from the hotel apartment in Praia da Luz she became the ninth official missing child in the country but Mr Pereira Cristovao said her case would not be considered by the organisation.

"I was asked what I thought about inviting the McCanns to the APCD. I said no, because they're suspects," said Mr Pereira Cristovao.

"She is (the ninth child on the PJ's missing people page) but the case involves a criminal investigation which is still on the boil, with the parents as suspects." "We have eight children whose disappearances are unexplained," he said vowing not to rest until he had discovered what happened to them.

Commenting on the snub, Mr Mitchell said: ""Madeleine is still a missing child and she went missing in Portugal so we would hope that she would be treated as such by this organisation but ultimately that is a matter for them."

Madeleine McCann's Parents At Meeting Of Tapas Nine, 10 December 2007
Madeleine McCann's Parents At Meeting Of Tapas Nine Sky News

5:57pm UK, Monday December 10, 2007

The parents of Madeleine McCann have met seven friends they dined with on the night their daughter vanished.

Meeting was 'not significant'
Meeting was 'not significant'

But a spokesman for Gerry and Kate McCann said they did not get together to compare notes.

It was the first face-to-face meeting of the group - dubbed the Tapas Nine - since the McCanns returned to Britain.

Advisers for the Leicestershire couple were present and their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "It was uneventful as far as we are concerned and it's not significant.

"It is the first time the nine have sat down face-to-face. It was really just a get-together to discuss where they are at.

"Clearly, some might face further questioning at some stage. It was not to change stories or compare notes. It was a get-together of friends who find themselves at the centre of a story."

The McCanns were dining with the seven at a tapas restaurant in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz when Madeleine went missing from their holiday apartment on May 3.

Mr Mitchell added: "The meeting was as much a show of support for Gerry and Kate. This was in no way to get their stories straight.

"This is the age of email and phone. They could have done that a long time ago."

The nine had become friends through professional connections.

All members of the group strenuously deny any involvement in the little girl's disappearance and say they are happy to co-operate with detectives.

McCanns hold 'Tapas Nine' reunion, 10 December 2007
McCanns hold 'Tapas Nine' reunion Metro

Kate and Gerry McCann

10 December 2007

Madeleine McCann's parents have met the seven friends they dined with when she disappreared.

The group, dubbed the 'Tapas Nine', met at a Leicestershire hotel at the end of last month, the McCann's spokesman said today.

It was the first face-to-face meeting of the group since the McCanns' return to Britain.

But their spokesman denied the meeting was held for the friends to compare their accounts of May 3, the day the four-year-old disappeared.

Rachael Oldfield, Fiona Payne and Russell O'Brien in Praia da Luz after Madeleine vanished. They and the rest of the so-called Tapas Nine had a reunion in a Leicester hotel

Clarence Mitchell said: 'It was uneventful as far as we are concerned and it's not significant.

'It is the first time the nine have sat down face to face. It was really just a get-together to discuss where they are at.

'Clearly, some might face further questioning at some stage. It was not to change stories or compare notes. It was a get-together of friends who find themselves at the centre of a story.'

The McCanns were dining with the seven friends at a tapas restaurant in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz when Madeleine went missing from their holiday apartment.

The party included the McCanns, Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, Rachael and Matthew Oldfield, Fiona and David Payne, and Mrs Payne's mother Dianne Webster.

Mr Mitchell said advisers for the Rothley couple were present: 'The meeting was as much a show of support for Gerry and Kate. This was in no way to get their stories straight.

'This is the age of email and phone. They could have done that a long time ago.'

McCanns meet holiday dining friends, 10 December 2007
McCanns meet holiday dining friends Metro

Kate and Gerry McCann met friends they dined with on day Madeleine disappeared

10 December 2007

The parents of Madeleine McCann have met the seven friends they dined with on the day their daughter disappeared, their spokesman said.

Held at a Leicestershire hotel at the end of last month, it was the first face-to-face meeting of the group, dubbed the Tapas nine, since the McCanns' return to Britain.

Advisers for the Rothley couple were present, said Clarence Mitchell, but the former Foreign Office spokesman denied the private meeting was held for the friends to compare their accounts of May 3, the day the four-year-old disappeared.

He said: "It was uneventful as far as we are concerned and it's not significant.

"It is the first time the nine have sat down face to face. It was really just a get-together to discuss where they are at.

"Clearly, some might face further questioning at some stage. It was not to change stories or compare notes. It was a get-together of friends who find themselves at the centre of a story."

The McCanns were dining with the seven friends at a tapas restaurant in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz when Madeleine went missing from their holiday apartment.

The party included the McCanns, Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, Rachael and Matthew Oldfield, Fiona and David Payne, and Mrs Payne's mother Dianne Webster.

Mr Mitchell added: "The meeting was as much a show of support for Gerry and Kate. This was in no way to get their stories straight.

"This is the age of email and phone. They could have done that a long time ago."

Tapas 9 in secret meeting, 11 December 2007
Tapas 9 in secret meeting The Sun

Published: 11 Dec 2007
By VERONICA LORRAINE and ANTONELLA LAZZERI

THE Tapas Nine have met up for the first time since the disappearance of little Madeleine McCann, it emerged last night.

The pals, who were sharing a tapas meal on the night the tot vanished in Portugal, got together in secret at a hotel two weeks ago.

Meeting ... pal Jane Tanner
Meeting ... pal Jane Tanner

It came as Portuguese police finalised plans to travel to the UK to reinterview the group – who include Maddie's parents Kate and Gerry.

Last night Portuguese cops were said to be "suspicious" over the summit near the McCanns' home in Rothley, Leics.

A formal request to interview the nine, who have remained in constant phone and email contact but not met since May, is due to land on British soil within days.

Refused

Cops believe grilling them over "inconsistencies" in their stories may hold the key to the case.

A source close to the investigation said: "This meeting is suspicious.

"Gerry and Kate McCann left Portugal and flew home the moment they were made suspects and refused to answer key questions over what had happened.

Summit ... Dr Fiona Payne
Summit ... Dr Fiona Payne

"They and their friends should not be meeting if it was to discuss the case."

Doctors Gerry and Kate, both 39, were named as suspects in September. They have always protested their innocence over Maddie, who went missing in Praia da Luz just days before her fourth birthday.

A family pal called the meeting a show of solidarity – adding: "It was an expression of support by the friends."

Those with the McCanns were Jane Tanner, 37, her partner Dr Russell O'Brien, 36, Dr Matthew Oldfield, 37, wife Rachael, 36, David Payne, 41, wife Fiona, 34, and her mum Dianne Webster, 61.

Yesterday the president of the Portuguese Association for Missing Children said he would NOT let the McCanns join.

Paulo Cristovao said they had abandoned Maddie.

'Tapas 9' in secret McCann meeting, 11 December 2007
'Tapas 9' in secret McCann meeting Daily Mirror

By Rod Chaytor and Victoria Ward
11/12/2007


Kate and Gerry McCann held a secret meeting with the rest of the "Tapas Nine" amid reports that Portuguese police are coming to Britain to re-interview them, it was revealed yesterday.

The friends met last month for the first time since the McCanns' four-year-old daughter Madeleine vanished in Portugal seven months ago.

They were all dining with the couple in a tapas bar near the holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, where Madeleine was sleeping with two-year-old twin brother and sister Sean and Amelie.

Portuguese police were furious about the meeting. A source close to the investigation claimed it was "highly suspicious" that they had met up to "talk tactics".

Detectives are said to be awaiting formal clearance to come to Britain and question the nine again about alleged discrepancies in their statements.

But the couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell denied that the nine had gathered to square their accounts before a police visit.

He said the emotional reunion "a few weeks ago" at a hotel near the couple's home in Rothley, Leics "was just to discuss the overall situation.

"They weren't comparing notes or doing anything untoward. It was an operational meeting to discuss what might be coming up in the next few weeks.

"They are in touch all the time by phone and emails anyway but decided to meet face to face. They were together for a few hours and discussed the overall position. They wanted to see each other because they hadn't done so for some time."

He added: "It was a private meeting and I therefore don't want to say more about it."

The other seven members of the party are heart specialist Dr David Payne, 41, his doctor wife Fiona, 34, hospital consultant Dr Russell O'Brien, 36, his partner Jane Tanner, 37, endocrinologist Dr Matthew Oldfield, 37, and wife Rachael, 36, and Dr Payne's mother Dianne Webster.

They are key witnesses who gave police crucial evidence supporting the couple's belief that Madeleine was kidnapped.

Jane Tanner claims to have seen a man carrying a small child in pink pyjamas like Madeleine's away from the flat. Three have given statements claiming they saw Robert Murat, the first official suspect, outside the apartment - though he claimed he was at home with his mother.

A friend of the couple claimed the meeting gave the lie to a rumour that some of the party had fallen out with the McCanns and were preparing to change their statements.

The source said: "It was a show of solidarity under police claims that one or two had wanted to change their stories. That is not the case and the meeting showed that.

"It was a meeting to express support by the friends and just to see each other again. They hadn't all seen each other for months."

The friend said the reunion last month was kept secret because of the huge interest it would have generated.

The McCanns were officially made suspects on September 7 by Portuguese police, who believed they accidentally killed Madeleine and hid her body. Some detectives are said to have suspected that some or all of the seven helped cover up the crime.

A furious Portuguese police source said: "This meeting is highly suspicious.

"The McCanns left Portugal and flew home the moment they were made suspects and refused to answer many key questions about what had happened.

"Now, they and their friends are about to be re-interviewed and it is revealed they have met up in secret in a hotel.

"The McCanns are suspects and their friends are witnesses who could soon also have arguido (official suspect) status. They should not be meeting to discuss the case and certainly not the evidence."

'Suspicions' over the Tapas Nine summit, 11 December 2007
'Suspicions' over the Tapas Nine summit Daily Express

From David Pilditch in Praia da Luz
11 December 2007


THE parents of Madeleine McCann held a secret summit with the seven holiday friends who dined with them in Portugal the night their daughter disappeared.

Portuguese police were last night said to be "highly suspicious" of the cloak-and-dagger meeting between members of the so-called Tapas Nine.

Senior detectives reacted with fury after discovering Kate and Gerry met with the group to "talk tactics" over the case.

It was the first time they had all met since Madeleine vanished on May 3 in the resort of Praia da Luz.

Friends of the couple described the meeting as a "highly emotional'' and "deeply sad'' reunion.

Legal sources in Portugal insisted there was nothing to stop them meeting under the terms of the McCanns' status as official suspects. But last night Portuguese detectives raised concerns that the group used it to get their stories straight about their movements on the night Madeleine went missing.

It comes as investigators prepare to re-interview the McCanns and their friends in the UK. Under English law such a meeting is discouraged in case it affects the case.

The Tapas Nine are key witnesses who could also be named as arguidos - official suspects. The meeting, in which the friends travelled from across the UK, took place at the end of last month at a hotel near the home of Kate and Gerry, both 39, in Rothley, Leicestershire.

One source close to the couple conceded they had used part of the reunion to "talk tactics", adding:

"They wanted to talk about possibly being interviewed by police again and what that may entail." Details only emerged yesterday as the Portuguese prosecutor prepared to ask the Home Office for permission to formally question the McCanns.

Policia Judiciaria detectives believe the key to unlocking the mystery of Madeleine's disappearance lies within the group and that alleged inconsistencies in their witness statements are at the heart of the investigation. Last night a source close to the investigation said: "This meeting is highly suspicious. The McCanns left Portugal and flew home the moment they were made suspects and refused to answer many key police questions about what had happened.

"Now they and their friends are finally about to be re-interviewed and it is revealed they have met up in secret in a hotel. It is hard to believe they were merely swapping holiday photos.

"The McCanns are suspects and their friends are witnesses who could soon also have arguido status.

They should not be meeting to discuss the case."

The McCanns insist Madeleine was snatched from their Ocean Club apartment while dining with their friends just yards away.

One member of the group, IT marketing executive Jane Tanner, 36, told police she saw the abductor escaping with Madeleine in his arms. Three others insist they saw British ex-pat Robert Murat - the only other suspect in the case - hanging around the McCanns' apartment that night. Estate agent Mr Murat, 34, insists he never left his mother's villa 150 yards away and did not find out Madeleine was missing until the next morning.

Police allege Madeleine died in an accident in the apartment and the McCanns disposed of her body - an allegation the couple have denied.

Detectives are working on the theory some of their friends helped cover up the crime and up to four friends could be named as suspects when they are re-interviewed.

Cops probe Tapas Seven secret chat, 11 December 2007
Cops probe Tapas Seven secret chat Daily Star

By Jerry Lawton
11 December 2007


POLICE are probing a secret summit between the parents of Madeleine McCann and the pals dining with them when she vanished.

Kate and Gerry McCann met the so-called Tapas Seven at a hotel near their home.

It was the first time the group had got together since the ill-fated Portuguese holiday in May.

The McCanns described the meeting as "highly emotional".

But last night police were probing whether the pals had used it as a chance to get their stories straight.

If they suspect a conspiracy to obstruct justice, the pals could each face up to two years in jail.

Under English law such a meeting between the McCanns, who are both suspects, and their key witness pals would be banned during a criminal investigation.

The details of last month's meeting emerged as the prosecutor sent a letter to the Home Office asking for permission to re-interview the McCanns and their friends.

Kate and Gerry, 39, of Rothley, Leics, say Madeleine vanished - two days before her fourth birthday - as they dined with pals in a nearby tapas bar in Praia da Luz.

A source close to the probe said:

"The McCanns and their friends are about to be re-interviewed and it is revealed they have met up in secret.

"It is hard to believe they were merely swapping holiday photos."

But the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said they had nothing to hide.

He said the meeting was kept secret because of the "huge interest" it would have sparked.

The following exchange of correspondence (see below) between Johanna, who runs the website Unterdenteppichgekehrt, and David James Smith, a UK journalist, is an enlightening insight into the workings, and attitude, of at least one UK journalist and the collaboration that existed with Gerry McCann at a time when he was still an arguido and subject to the rules of judicial secrecy.

The article Kate and Gerry McCann: Beyond the smears was significant in placing the preferred 'official' timeline into the public domain - immediately following the secret meeting that took place in Rothley, on 14 November 2007, between the McCanns and the Tapas Seven.

A conversation with the press, 08 July 2011
A conversation with the press Unterdenteppichgekehrt

Friday 8 July 2011 at 15:38

Article in Question: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article3040094.ece

Message: Dear Mr. Smith,

In your article "Kate and Gerry McCann: Beyond the smears", from 16th December 2007, you mention this fact: "Russell O'Brien and Jane Tanner had brought a monitor too, but theirs wasn't getting much of a signal from the Tapas restaurant 50 yards away."

The couple never mentioned to the PJ that they brought a monitor as well, in all their statements they claim that the Paynes were the only ones with a baby monitor. Only in April 2008, in the rogatory interviews conducted by Leicestershire Police, this piece of information appeared. It might seem a small omission, but in the light of possible neglect charges, would have been important. Jane Tanner claims in the rogatory interview that she brought it with her in the evenings and positioned it on a ledge/wall behind her. This was NEVER mentioned to portuguese Police as the released statements show. The question I have is, how did you get this info before the rogatory interviews even took place? I know you have to protect sources, but this seems a very strange inside knowledge.

Thank you in advance.

Kind regards

Who are you and what is your interest in this case?

David

I am sorry if I have upset you... Well I gave my name, I am from Germany and I am interested in the case. Since the files have been released I have been trying to build myself an opinion based solely on facts and no spin. I am in the possession of the DVD with the released case files and have spent a lot of time with their analysis. That is why I came upon this rather curious discrepancy regarding the baby monitor. There was a meeting of the McCanns and their friends in Rothley in November, and in December your article was published with this "new" fact. I am just curious where it suddenly came from.

Regards

No i am not upset. I just don't to fuel the web ghouls (i have no idea whether you are one of them or not...) who seem obsessed with what i consider to be the grotesque idea that the mccanns or their friends did away with madeleine. In addition to the further distress it must cause the mccanns and their friends on top of the devastating event that started it, I just feel it is a complete waste of time and energy. That said, however, I had a long briefing with Gerry McCann before I wrote my article and I guess the baby monitor info came from him. I am aware that many discrepancies arose in the portuguese statements through misunderstandings of language. And you ought to be aware that there will always be minor discrepancies of fact in statements - failings of memory, interpretation and so on - which are not in themselves sinister or suspicious.

One skill of good policing is sifting the wheat from the chaff and knowing what matters and what doesn't. I strongly suspect the baby monitor issue lies in the latter category. As you will gather, I have every sympathy with the McCanns and no sympathy with those who want to play amateur detective in public on the net with no apparent consideration for the McCanns' feelings.

I respect facts.

Rant over...

David

Dear David,

thank you for the information about your source regarding the baby monitor. Allow me to add my 2c to the rest of your mail.

Last time I checked, the case was not solved, Madeleine had not turned up, and no evidence of an abduction had emerged. If you are content with the current status quo that is your prerogative, but I am of the opinion that the death or disappearance of a 3-year old girl should not simply be shelved after only a couple of months. To label all those that want explanations as ghouls is a preferred method of the media, the McCanns and Clarence Mitchell to discredit and ridicule a thinking minority that is in the possession of the casefiles. To ask questions is and should stay allowed in the light of so many discrepancies that were revealed with the release of the police files. The emotional blackmail, that those questions "add to the distress of the parents" is just an additional way to stop these questions.

I agree with you that the added fact of a second baby monitor, that never got mentioned in Portugal, is not important enough to change the course of an investigation that is no longer open. Still it was deliberately added and even "translation issues" cannot conceal the fact, that it was never mentioned to the Portuguese Police. The fact that the information was given to you by the then "Arguido" Gerald McCann, published without confirmation, does not instil confidence in the rest of the article.

But since you are of the opinion that sifting the wheat from the chaff is up to the police you are excused for not questioning the details. I know I won't be granted another reply after my rant, but there is one question that I wanted to raise with a proper journalist for ages.

The evidence of the Smith family from Ireland would have been the perfect "proof" for an abduction. A man carrying a "sleeping" girl towards the rocky beach via dark roads. Between June (when the article was published for the first time in the Drogheda Independent) and September (when Mr. Smith suddenly realised the man might have been Gerry McCann) it would have enforced the abduction theory immensely. But this evidence was never used, neither by the McCanns nor by the british press. No mention of it anywhere. While hundreds of sightings poured in from all over the world, this one sighting was never mentioned. Why?

Have a nice Sunday

No, I won't let you get away with that. You are asking me to endorse or tolerate a world in which interfering outsiders blunder around misinterpeting snippets of information and re-presenting them as suspicious facts, in reality half-facts. I do broadly think it is the job of the police to investigate crimes. Those are the people we appoint to do it on our behalf.

The media's role is to examine, challenge and sometimes investigate too. I think those web ghouls are driven by prejudices formed on the basis of...of what? Television appearances? How the McCanns appear to be? Most of those opinions about them were formed long before the case file was released. There is also a sad desire to give weight to conspiracy theories.

On the basis of the hard established facts of the case - the way in which the characters' lives intersect that evening, after Madeleine was last seen by anyone else - how many people would have to have known and been involved in the mccanns' self-abducting or killing their own child? The police always start with motive. Every crime has a motive. What would be the motive and what could be so great a motive it involved all that group of people and was capable of being seemingly indefinitely concealed. What do you think, they were all paedophiles? Sex game enthusiasts? Child traffickers? Or merely agreed that pretending an abduction had been committed was the best way of disguising an accidental calpol overdose?

Come on, get real. Find something useful to do - go and campaign against war crimes in rwanda or something - and leave those poor people in peace. That is not emotional blackmail it is a recognition of their loss and an acceptance of the reality that not a single plausible suspicious shred about them has emerged in all the months since.

All those delusional sites devoted to conspiracy theories about the mccanns are kind of repugnant. I can't remember the detail of the smith sighting but surely it was quickly established it was not reliable or significant.

David

By David James Smith: "I respect facts"

By David James Smith: "I can't remember the detail of the smith sighting but surely it was quickly established it was not reliable or significant"

Britain's foremost crime writer you are called by the papers. Please do yourself a favour and check on the facts. Nine people saw a man carrying a child in PdL at 21:50 on the 3rd of May and it was mentioned NOWHERE. The Smiths were brought over to Portugal for a reconstruction with the PJ and were regarded as very credible witnesses by the GARDA. The PJ regarded the sighting as very significant, so much so, that they were supposed to be brought over again to Portugal just before Paulo Rebelo took over the investigation. The fact that you dismiss the Smith sighting, imo the most crucial bit in the case, tells me you have not had a look in the actual police files. A pity But thanks for the enlightening conversation

Have a nice remaining Sunday.

Kate and Gerry McCann: Beyond the smears, 16 December 2007
Kate and Gerry McCann: Beyond the smears Timesonline
 
David James Smith
December 16, 2007
 
For six months David James Smith has examined the evidence surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann for The Sunday Times Magazine. In this, the most comprehensive — and authoritative — investigation yet, he addresses the key issues facing Gerry and Kate as they prepare for Christmas without their daughter
 
That week in Praia da Luz, the week the McCanns were made suspects in their own daughter's "death", I was out there talking to them and to family and friends. I was at the home of the Anglican vicar Haynes Hubbard, sitting with him and his wife, Susan, while their own three children pottered around us. The Hubbards had flown in from Canada three days after Madeleine’s disappearance to begin Haynes’s tour of duty as the vicar of Praia da Luz. They had heard about Madeleine for the first time while changing planes at Lisbon airport, in a slightly unnerving encounter with an elderly Portuguese woman who had seized Susan’s arm and told her to "hold on" to the baby she was carrying, as a child had been taken.
 
The Hubbards had spent their first days at the resort fearing for their own children's safety. Gradually they became friends with the McCanns, particularly Susan and Kate, drawn together at first perhaps by the McCanns' need to find some comfort in religion. But mostly in Portugal the McCanns were enveloped by family and friends from the UK.
 
The McCanns were flying home that Sunday and had been to a farewell dinner that week at the Hubbards'. Susan told me that she and Kate had discussed how much one person could cope with. Kate seemed close to the limits of human endurance. Haynes chimed in: "And I don’t think she’s looking forward to tomorrow very much either." The thought was left hanging there: how much can one person take?
 
Kate was to go to the nearby town of Portimao the next day, Thursday, September 6, to be questioned by detectives from the Policia Judiciaria (PJ). It would be Gerry's turn the day after. For the media this would be a shocking new twist to the story – but not for the McCanns: the PJ had told them four weeks earlier they were going to be subjected to formal interviews and the McCanns had stayed on, instead of going home at the end of August as originally planned, waiting for the interviews to take place. Waiting. Waiting.
 
Finally, the PJ called. They told the McCanns they would be made official suspects – arguidos. The McCanns had noted the change of mood in Portugal, especially among the PJ, and the increasing viciousness of the Portuguese press. Some of the stories seemed so incredible and far-fetched – Kate, for instance, disposing of Madeleine’s body, or Madeleine’s DNA being found in the car the McCanns had hired three weeks after Madeleine disappeared – that I at first assumed they were the fanciful inventions of an unfettered press. I soon realised how well they reflected the thinking of the PJ. More recently I have discovered the stories were being fed to the press by the PJ, from the highest ranks. So much for judicial secrecy. One Portuguese journalist told me that segredo de justica – secrecy of justice – was like the speed limit. Everyone knows the law; nobody keeps to it.
 
It seems important to make it clear right away that I do not suspect the McCanns harmed Madeleine, nor do I think they disposed of their daughter’s body if, as the PJ believe, she died in an accident that night in their apartment.
 
This is not a mere prejudice on my part. I have spent a long time considering and examining every unpleasant scenario. The McCanns are not my friends and I have no axe to grind with Portugal, its police or its media.
 
To me, the McCanns are genuine people in the grip of despair – the accusations against them are ludicrous and a cruel distraction from the search for their daughter. That’s why I put the quotation marks around the word "death" at the top of the article. Madeleine may be dead, it may even be more likely she is dead, but nobody knows for sure. Nobody, not even the PJ, as we will see, can produce any persuasive evidence that she has come to harm.
 
That evening, Thursday, May 3, at just after 8pm, by their account, Kate and Gerry McCann were having a glass of wine together in apartment 5a on the ground floor of Block 5 of the Waterside Village Gardens at the Ocean Club. Their three children were asleep in the front bedroom overlooking the car park and, beyond it, the street. Madeleine was in the single bed nearest the door. There was an empty bed against the opposite wall, beneath the window. Between the two beds were two travel cots containing the twins: Sean and Amelie. Gerry had bought the wine at the Baptista supermarket, 200 yards down the hill. They had lived and worked in New Zealand for a year and that particular bottle, Montana sauvignon blanc, was their favourite. It was the sixth day of their week’s holiday in the Algarve and they were reflecting on the enjoyable time they’d had, how surprisingly easy it had been with the children.
 
When their old friend Dave Payne had invited them on a group holiday, it had seemed too good to resist. Dave and Fiona Payne had been on another Mark Warner holiday the year before, to Greece with Matt and Rachael Oldfield. The Algarve group would be completed by Russell O’Brien, Jane Tanner and Fiona’s mother, Dianne Webster. Six of the group were doctors. Gerry was a consultant cardiologist and had worked before with Matt and Russell. Kate had been an anaesthetist and was now a part-time GP.
 
The group first spent time together at Dave and Fiona’s wedding in Italy in 2003. Now they had eight children between them. Madeleine was the oldest, her fourth birthday a week after they would return from the Algarve. One of the attractions was that there were children for their own to play with. And the adults were a sporty group, a speciality of Mark Warner holidays; tennis had dominated the activities that week.
 
That might all sound very cosy and middle class, but that did not mean their lives had been easy or free of suffering – especially with the struggle to have children, eventually managed through IVF – or that they had been born into an advantaged world. Kate came from a modest Liverpool background and Gerry, the youngest of five, had been brought up in a tenement building on the south side of Glasgow.
 
The terms of the holiday were half-board, breakfast and evening meal, and the McCanns paid about 1,500. There had been some reduction when they had discovered that, unlike most Mark Warner resorts, the Ocean Club did not offer a baby-listening service. Instead, the group had asked for apartments close together, so they were all assigned to Block 5. The Paynes were on the floor above, the only couple with a functioning baby monitor. Russell O’Brien and Jane Tanner had brought a monitor too, but theirs wasn’t getting much of a signal from the Tapas restaurant 50 yards away.
 
The Ocean Club was not a gated, enclosed resort in the usual style of Mark Warner, but a sprawling complex open to the village of Luz and scattered over such a wide distance that shuttle buses were used.
 
Even though the resort was open to the village, it felt safe and secure, and in early May it was still very quiet. Gerry never saw a soul, except once, on the last night, on his evening checks, going back and forth between Tapas and the apartment, an even-paced walk of just under a minute.
 
As the McCanns endlessly repeated afterwards, if they had thought it was wrong or even risky, they would never have left their children. With hindsight, of course, they would never have done it and now they are riven with guilt, but we can all be wise after the event, and so many of us have taken similar chances at times, in search of a bit of respite from our children.
 
Gerry had knocked up at the start of the 4.30pm tennis-drills session, but had decided not to exacerbate an injury to his Achilles tendon, so had dropped out and waited around by the courts until the children came back from the kids’ clubs at 5pm for tea. That had been one of the most enjoyable times of the holiday, all the children together for tea, then the adults playing with them afterwards.
 
Gerry was in his apartment at 7pm, had a glass of water, then a beer, while the children sat with Kate on the couch having stories with a snack. The children were clearly shattered – the last thing any of them needed was a sedative and, anyway, it was not something the McCanns ever did. They put them to bed after a last story. The twins were asleep virtually the moment they lay down, Madeleine not far behind them.
 
These days it was rare for Madeleine to wake up at all once she was in bed. If she did, she’d normally wander into her parents’ bed, whether they were there or not. At home in Rothley, sometime earlier, they had begun a star chart for Madeleine staying in her own bed. The chart, still on display in the kitchen, was full of stars. At about 7.30pm, Kate and Gerry showered and changed and sat down to have a quiet glass of the sauvignon blanc. They were first to the table at the restaurant at 8.35 and spent some minutes talking to a couple from Hertfordshire – two more tennis players – at the next table, who were eating with their young children. As they chatted, Gerry thought how lucky he was, his children asleep nearby, he and Kate free to come and enjoy some adult time at the restaurant and not have to sit with their children, as this couple were.
 
The McCanns sat down after a few minutes and then ordered some wine. The Oldfields were next to arrive, then Russell O’Brien and Jane Tanner and, finally, always last, Dave and Fiona Payne with Dianne Webster.
 
That night their group ordered six bottles in total and two were still untouched on the table at 10pm. No more than half a bottle of wine each. The Portuguese magazine Sol reported that the group had drunk 14 bottles. Another Portuguese journalist told me a local GNR (national republican guard) police officer had described one of the group as being so drunk later that evening, they could barely stand.
 
They had just ordered starters when the routine of checking began. Matt Oldfield went first at 8.55 to check his own apartment and to hurry up the Paynes, who had still not arrived.
 
He was followed by Gerry, who entered his apartment at about 9.05 through the patio doors to the lounge. Earlier that week the McCanns had used a key to go in through the front door next to the children’s bedroom but, worrying the noise might wake the children, they began using the patio doors, leaving them unlocked.
 
When he entered the apartment, Gerry immediately saw that the children’s bedroom door, which they always left just ajar, was now open to 45 degrees. He thought that was odd, and glanced in his own bedroom to see if Madeleine had gone into her parents’ bed. But no, she and the twins were all still fast asleep.
 
Gerry paused over Madeleine, who – a typical doctor’s observation, this – was lying almost in “the recovery position” with Cuddle Cat, the toy her godfather, John Corner, had bought her, and her comfort blanket up near her head, and Gerry thought how gorgeous, how lovely-looking she was and how lucky he was. Putting the door back to five degrees, he went to the loo and left to return to the restaurant. That, of course, was the last time he would see his daughter.
 
As he walked down the hill, Gerry saw Jes Wilkins on the opposite side of the road pushing a child in a buggy. Gerry called hello and crossed over to talk. Wilkins and his partner were eating in their own apartment that night, but their youngest still wouldn’t settle. It reminded Gerry of the fraught time he and Kate used to have with Madeleine when she was a baby. In his memory, they could never eat a meal together when they went out, as she was always disturbing them and needing to be wheeled off to sleep.
 
As Jane Tanner walked up the hill, she saw Gerry talking to Jes and, as she passed them, she saw ahead of her a man walking quickly across the top of the road in front of her, going away from the apartment block, heading to the outer road of the resort complex. The man was carrying a little girl who was hanging limply from his open arms. The sighting was odd, but hardly exceptional in a holiday resort.
 
Her daughter fine, Jane returned to the table. At 9.30, Kate got up to make the next check on her children, but Matt Oldfield was checking too, as was Russell O’Brien, and Matt offered to do Kate’s check for her, which she accepted. Gerry teased that she would not be excused her turn at the next check.
 
In the McCanns’ apartment, Oldfield noticed the children’s bedroom door was again open, but that meant nothing to him, so he merely observed all was quiet and made a cursory glance inside the room, seeing the twins in their cots but, agonisingly, not directly seeing Madeleine’s bed from the angle at which he stood. Afterwards, he could not say for sure if she had been there or not. Nor could he say if the window and shutter had been open.
 
He would get a hard time from the police because of this, during his interviews not long afterwards, being aggressively accused of taking Madeleine – you passed her out of the window, didn’t you! – being suspected because he had offered to take Kate’s turn.
 
Jane Tanner, too, would be accused of fabricating or misremembering her sighting of this stranger with a child. There could be no answer to such an accusation – except that she was an ordinary, honest person who knew what she had seen. Sometime after 10pm, Rachael Oldfield would go to Jane’s apartment to tell her Madeleine had been taken and Jane would say: “Oh my God. I saw a man carrying a girl.”
 
It perhaps needs to be stated openly that all these timings and details, the way in which they weave and dovetail together, are based on witness accounts – corroborated not just by the McCann group but by others, such as Jes Wilkins – and that, despite suggestions to the contrary, there are no obvious contradictions or differences between them. Nor has any of the McCann group, at any time since, said they wanted to retract or change their statement.
 
That suggestion too is a lie.
 
Russell O’Brien checked his own daughter at 9.30 and found she had been sick. Jane returned to the apartment to be with her daughter, and Russell went back to the table. Russell would later fall under suspicion too, because of those few minutes he spent away from the table.
 
Finally, at 10pm, it was Kate’s turn to check the apartment. She only became alarmed when she reached out to the children’s bedroom door and it blew shut. Inside the room the window was open, the shutter was up and Madeleine’s bed was empty. Kate quickly searched everywhere and ran back down the hill and into the restaurant: “Madeleine’s gone, somebody’s taken her” or “Madeleine’s gone, someone’s taken her.”
 
Gerry stood up. “She can’t be gone.” “I’m telling you she’s gone, someone’s taken her.”
 
It was reported that Kate had said “They’ve taken her,” as if it was someone that she knew. She did use those words, but only later, back in the apartment, in her despair, as she said: “We’ve let her down. They’ve taken her.”
 
Matt went down to the 24-hour reception at the bottom of the hill to raise the alarm. The call to the police went in at 10.15. They arrived 55 minutes later. It is widely believed among the Portuguese media, and perhaps the police too, even now, that the McCanns called Sky News before they called the police. For the record, Sky News picked up the story from GMTV breakfast television, at around 7.30am the following day.
 
There was a latch lock on the sliding glass window, and the McCanns thought, but could not be sure, that they had locked it at the start of the holiday. They would later discover it was common for cleaners to open the shutters and windows to give the rooms an airing, so there was no way of knowing whether the window was locked that night or not and no forensic trace to indicate where and how an abductor had gone in and out. They could easily have used the front door, perhaps even had access to a key.
 
In the McCanns’ minds now, there is no doubt Jane Tanner saw their daughter being taken, but there was so little time to talk in the first few days that it was not until Jane saw the description of Madeleine’s pyjamas in the media, around Monday or Tuesday of the following week, that she told them the little girl she had seen was wearing the same design: pink top and white bottoms with a floral design.
 
While searches began, Gerry was worried about Kate, as she was so distraught and kept talking about paedophiles, saying Madeleine would be dead. He tried to be reassuring, but of course he was thinking the same things.
 
It all came pouring out of him at 23.40 – from his phone records – when he called his sister Trish in Scotland ranting and raving semi-coherently on the phone about Madeleine being taken, and Trish kept trying to get him to calm down. A sharp contrast with the way he would be later, particularly in public, once he had regained his self-control.
 
The detectives from PJ arrived at about 1am. By 3.30am they had gone and there was no police action at all, or none visible to the McCanns.
 
Four times that night they put in calls via the British consul; four times the message came back from the PJ, a message that the McCanns would never forget: “Everything that can be done is being done.”
 
One of the PJ officers had put on surgical gloves and begun trying to dust down the bedroom, but his powder was not working properly. He tried to take the McCanns’ fingerprints for elimination, but that didn’t work either. It all had to be done again the next day.
 
The twins slept on like logs, just as they always did at home, though even their parents were fleetingly worried – had they been sedated by an abductor? – that they should be quite so comatose. The Ocean Club gave them another apartment, but the McCanns did not want to be alone, so the twins were taken to the Paynes’ apartment, and Kate and Gerry went there later too, to try to rest.
 
They got up at first light and went to search alone on the open scrubland beyond the resort, wandering around, calling Madeleine’s name. It was cold and lonely – there was no answer.
 
Gerry had asked the departing PJ detectives at half three about contacting the media to make an appeal. One of the officers had reacted with surprising agitation, waving his hand emphatically: “No journalists! No journalists!” That, of course, was not quite how it worked out.
 
For many weeks, the McCanns enjoyed a good relationship with the Portuguese police and were treated to regular updates and a flow of information via the family-liaison officers sent out by Leicestershire police. The problem with the three Leicester officers was that they didn’t have a word of Portuguese between them.
 
The first public indication of police thinking came at the end of June when the magazine Sol published a story about the McCann group, casting doubts on their evidence and claiming they had undertaken a pact of silence. It was the first time the McCanns’ friends had been named in public, but Sol’s journalist Felicia Cabrita had their names and phone numbers and details from their witness statements. She had called them all, and at least one other witness, Jes Wilkins.
 
The information had been handed to Cabrita by the police – she says she acquired the material through good journalism, which in a sense it was – and her source is widely believed by her colleagues to have been the former head of the inquiry, Goncalo Amaral.
 
The PJ appointed an official spokesman, Olegario Sousa. He was apparently plucked from his day job – he was a chief inspector on the art-robbery squad – because he was the only one who spoke decent English. He was never directly involved in the investigation and was rarely told much of what was really going on.
 
Initial suspicion focused on Robert Murat, who made himself busy with police and journalists from the first day, offering his services as an interpreter, as he spoke both languages and lived across the road from the Ocean Club with his mother at the villa Casa Liliana. In fact, the man Jane Tanner had seen carrying a child was walking straight towards the Murat villa.
 
Murat later said to me that he told the PJ the press were suspicious of him, and they told him not to worry and to keep away from the press and work for them instead. He had signed papers to become an official interpreter and even sat in during the witness interview of Rachael Oldfield.
 
Leaving the police station in Portimao one evening, a week after becoming an official police interpreter, Murat became aware he was being followed. Shortly after that he was arrested and interviewed himself and made an arguido.
 
Murat always denied he was out the night Madeleine disappeared, but three of the McCann group claimed at the time they had seen him and still insist they were right. I was told there was at least one new independent sighting of Murat out on the night of May 3.
 
Bizarrely, the McCanns believe they were inadvertently responsible for encouraging the PJ to take them seriously as potential suspects, as it was them bringing in a South African “body finder”, Danie Krugel, that led to search dogs being used. The PJ agreed to work with Krugel, and an officer from the UK National Policing Improvement Agency was called in to advise on a search based on Krugel’s findings. It was agreed the British would supply some specialist equipment for spotting disturbed soil and also some search dogs, including one trained in human-remains detection (HRD) and one trained to detect the scent of blood.
 
Ultimately, only those who were there and involved know exactly what happened, but the McCanns wonder just how the search dogs were presented to the PJ and what claims were made for their success rate and infallibility.
 
All British policing techniques are meant to be practised uniformly by every force across the country and defined in written policy created by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). But the ACPO was unable to produce for me any policy relating to search dogs.
 
Gerry was initially optimistic at the prospect of the searches by these supposedly elite British dogs and techniques. The dogs then went on to search the apartments of the McCanns and their friends. A line-up of cars were also called in by the police, including the cars owned or used by Murat and the Renault the McCanns had been using, which they had hired on May 27.
 
Those who told me about the dogs’ searches say they involved little objective science. It has been suggested that the HRD dog was treated differently in the McCanns’ apartment than in the others. The dog kept sniffing and running off and it was called back on several occasions. Eventually it “alerted”, meaning it went stiff and stayed still.
 
Then the blood dog was called in and directed to the area where the other dog had alerted. Eventually this dog alerted in the same place – behind the sofa in the lounge, which is where the trace of blood was supposedly found.
 
The cars were lined up, not in a controlled environment, but in the underground public car park opposite Portimao police station. Again the dog was led quickly from one car to the next until he reached a Renault with “Find Madeleine” stickers all over it. The dog sniffed and moved on to the next car, but was called back. The dog was taken around the McCanns’ car for about a minute, as opposed to the few seconds devoted to the other cars. Then the dog went rigid, an “alert”, and the doors and the boot were opened. It was this that led to the recovery of some body fluids that the PJ suspected would contain traces of Madeleine’s DNA, and which led to the supposed revelation that her body must have been carried in the car.
 
The role of such dogs is normally intended to find a body or remains. Without any subsequent discovery the alerts amount to little more than an indication – or worse: in one recent case in Wisconsin a judge concluded that similarly trained dogs were “no more reliable than the flip of a coin”, after hearing evidence that they were wrong far more often than they were right. The McCanns’ lawyers are in touch with the defence lawyers in that case. The PJ had never attempted to obtain a “control sample” of Madeleine’s DNA. That had been left to the McCanns, who had found traces of her saliva on the pillow of her bed at home in Rothley and provided that DNA sample to the Portuguese police.
 
Whatever the public’s perception – based on a slew of news stories – at this stage there is no published evidence that Madeleine’s DNA, or any trace of her blood, has been recovered from the apartment or the car. Any suggestion to the contrary appears to be misinformation from the PJ. Some Portuguese journalists and, apparently, some members of the PJ believed the UK’s Forensic Science Service (FSS), based in Birmingham, had been deliberately delaying the tests. There are some who suspect the involvement of the British secret services.
 
In fact, both the PJ’s national director, Alipio Ribeiro, and another PJ official, Carlos Anjos, have both said openly that the police have failed to establish a perfect match. The PJ found several specks of what they believe to be blood in apartment 5a, including one sample that someone had apparently tried to wash off.
 
They found a trace of body fluid – that is, not blood – in the boot of the Renault and a tiny trace of blood in the Renault’s key fob. Some forensic tests were carried out at the PJ’s own laboratories in Lisbon, where tests on samples related to Robert Murat were also made. The tests on the traces that were potentially the most significant came to the FSS. One sample was said to have produced DNA that was similar to Madeleine’s. An exact match would be 20 out of 20 bands, this sample was said to be similar in 15 out of 20 bands. But in reality, that result was meaningless, as any family member could produce the same match.
 
Some journalists were told that more advanced tests were being carried out on the smallest blood traces – tests called low copy number profiling, which could produce DNA findings in the slightest of samples. They were a slow process, but did not normally take more than two weeks.
 
In late November, PJ officers and forensic experts came to meet police and FSS experts in the UK, amid claims the PJ were still waiting for further results. Leicestershire police have apparently paid for all the forensic tests being carried out in the case by the FSS – they are the client in the case, not the Portuguese. The PJ have used this as evidence that the British are suspicious of the McCanns too – even the McCanns think the British police doubted them for a while, until the forensic results emerged – but you might think the PJ would have wanted to be in control of their own forensic findings.
 
I heard that a PJ officer had been surprised to find a member of MI5 at a UK meeting about the case, and this made him suspicious that shadowy forces could be at work. The Sol journalist Felicia Cabrita mentioned the “mysterious Clarence” – Clarence Mitchell, the former government PR officer turned McCann spokesman – and I was told there was suspicion too about another government official, Sheree Dodd, who had acted as a PR officer for the McCanns briefly in the early days – had she come out from MI6 to help dispose of the body?
 
These theories might seem preposterous, but for those involved in the case in Portugal, they fitted a pattern in which the Portuguese government and in turn the PJ had felt the heavy weight of diplomatic pressure from the UK – a pressure that the police and the journalists very much resented, with its implication that the police were not doing their job properly. This could be one reason why the PJ were so ready to suspect the McCanns.
 
There seemed to be no doubt that the PJ really did think the McCanns had done it. I was outlined a scenario in which Kate had come back to the apartment and found that Madeleine had fallen from the sofa and hit her head – hence the blood – and cleaned up and hid the body somewhere in the apartment, and perhaps had not even told Gerry until the next day.
 
The police could not answer all the questions, of course. They were almost as unanswerable as they were unimaginable. Where would they have hidden the body? How would they have got it into the car 24 days later, and where would they have taken it? What kind of people would they have to be – what borderline personality disorders must they both share – to keep that to themselves for six months, maintain a facade in front of everyone they knew, and at the same time not hiding away but going out to ask the world to help find Madeleine?
 
I know the McCanns believe the PJ were oversold the value of the dogs. It was after the dogs came out that the PJ’s attitude towards the McCanns changed and it became harder for the McCanns to obtain a briefing meeting. They were disturbed when the press began reporting that the PJ knew Madeleine was dead. Finally, after pressing for a meeting, one was arranged for Wednesday, August 8, three days before the 100-day point after Madeleine’s disappearance.
 
When they arrived at the station in Portimao the couple were separated and both interrogated. Kate especially was given “the third degree”. Gerry broke down and cried, pleading with the PJ to share any evidence that Madeleine was dead. “It’s coming, it’s coming,” he was told.
 
The interviews caused the couple “incredible emotional distress”. But they agreed, if they had been guilty, they probably would have cracked and confessed at that point. The police said there would be no more briefings. The next time they saw the McCanns it would be across the table, for formal interviews.
 
What was doubly dispiriting, of course, was that while the PJ treated them as suspects, they were no longer looking for Madeleine. I was told the PJ had “abandoned the abduction theory”. It was open season now on the McCanns. The publicity was wretched.
 
The British press were not blameless either, often lazily repeating allegations and sometimes repeating them despite emphatic denials from the McCann camp. If you read the blog sites on the internet you would discover an even darker, nastier tone. The McCanns and their holiday friends were swingers, apparently. That allegation was even made on the Portuguese equivalent of the BBC by a former PJ detective, Jose Barra da Costa. When I checked with him, he said he had been told by a friend in the UK who happened to be a police officer. No doubt that officer had plucked it from the internet. It is not true.
 
During Kate’s interviews with the PJ in September, just before she was declared an arguido, she was separated from her lawyer, and he was presented with a long list of factors pointing to her guilt, including entries from her entirely innocuous diary and a passage they believed she had marked in a Bible (which in fact had been given to her and marked by the original owner).
 
The PJ also told the lawyer there was a 100% DNA match with Madeleine in the car and showed him a document that appeared to prove it. Possibly, this was the document showing Madeleine’s control sample of DNA. The McCanns feared even their own lawyer thought they were guilty. Kate was asked by the PJ to explain the dog alerts by her car. “You’re the police,” she said. “You tell me.” Kate asked the PJ: “Are you trying to destroy our family altogether?”
 
Gerry was asked the same questions the next day but could not answer. (Sometime earlier a Leicestershire officer had said to him, just stick to what you know.) Why did the dogs only alert next to material belonging to the McCanns? The officer was brandishing the dog-handler’s report. And then: “Your daughter’s DNA, your daughter Madeleine McCann, how do you explain that?” “Show me that report,” Gerry asked. “No. This is the report that matters – with the dog.” Of course, they could not produce a DNA match because there wasn’t one.
 
The McCanns took heart when Goncalo Amaral was forced to step down after making public criticisms of them and the Leicestershire police – he had made the criticisms in a phone call to a journalist contact, not suggesting the comments were private or off the record.
 
The McCanns hope that Amaral’s replacement, Paulo Rebelo, a more sober, conservative character, will take a wide view of the inquiry. He is said to have stopped leaks to the press, and has been locked away on the upper floors of the station in Portimao reviewing the evidence with a team of officers.
 
Meanwhile, the McCanns are back home trying to recover some kind of normality. How long can you put your life on hold? They have the twins to think of. Gerry has gone back to work half-days, and has finally told the British Heart Foundation he plans to go ahead with the research fellowship they awarded him, a week before he was accused of being involved in his daughter’s death. He had told me, weeks ago, about the six-figure grant and how it meant almost nothing in terms of professional advancement, but might one day help in the prevention and treatment of heart disease.
 
He had prepared the application in his own time, working evenings and weekends.
 
In other circumstances it would have meant the world to him but, right now, he had other things on his mind.

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files

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