A selection of opinion articles that appeared originally at
The Blacksmith Bureau
More fun ahead, 08 January 2013
More fun ahead The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Tuesday, 8 January 2013 at 18:40
Happy New Year.
Well now. By the last week in April 2013 Scotland Yard will need to have in place a complete
news package in response to the annual media explosion surrounding the anniversary of Madeleine McCann's
– sorry, couldn't resist the prospect of making certain people foam – disappearance in 2007.
The Yard is going to be very busy, isn't it? The first confidential briefing notes, which will be landing on desks around
now, will be highlighting certain areas which must be secured in PR terms for the period April 20 – May 5.
These will include:
Quite a list for starters,
don't you think? Those of us who have returned to the case at intervals for almost six years – you know, we fantasists/obsessive
haters etc. – are familiar with its truly hair-raising propensity to besmirch or destroy the careers or even lives of
those who've come into contact with it, from the parents downwards. Some – the nimble ones like Rebelo, Monteiro,
Blair and Cameron – have ridden the wave untouched but the list of the others wouldn't even fit on this page and
the damage has by no means ended. Grime the dog handler, to pluck a name from a cast of dozens, might have opted for a steady
and un-dramatic increase in wealth and reputation rather than what the case has brought him. Even a monster like Hewitt might
have wept as any possibility of repentance or coming to terms with fate disappeared in the black comedy invasion of his death-bed
by private detectives and hacks.
- Heading off a tabloid-led and potentially horrific "After two years and 3.5 million
quid NOTHING" campaign.
- Keeping the government both happy and in the picture.
the follow up questions to Hogan-Howe's comments about resources, the future of the investigation and "results by
- Dealing with Kate and Gerry McCann.
- Refraining from any comments that could jeopardise Portuguese
- Preventing any attempts to wind-up Operation Grange via the media.
We've become accustomed to watching the latest unsuspecting victim step onto
the stage, brashly confident like a new England football manager, and watched again, enraptured, as the truth of the McCann
Affair's power to destroy begins to dawn on them, usually just that bit too late. Watching Andy Redwood disintegrate last
spring was a particular, if unfair, pleasure: gritty determination in the scripted and protective realms of Panorama
was followed by a savaging at the hands of the media pack and his dread recognition – you could actually see it in the
get-me-out-of here-cartoonish widening of those doleful eyes – that, Jesus Christ, he was in the middle of
a minefield without a map. And there'll be plenty more yet. So make no mistake, the careers of every senior Yard officer
involved, including Hogan-Howe himself, are potentially at risk unless the minefield is safely negotiated.
to most of the bullet point problems is the need to throw the media enough information-meat to distract them while they make
their escape. But how do they do that without opening their flank to the McCanns and without breaching their remit? Every
attempt to do so will give the normal enmities and rivalries of any organization a chance to surface with the smooth operators,
no doubt, coming out on top. Hogan-Howe, with the well-tuned political instincts of all UK chief constables, began positioning
himself for April 2013 last autumn by putting blue water between himself and Grange in such a way that he is covered whether
the operation produces anything or not. If the answer is "not" then Cider Jack Redwood is dead in the scrumpy vat
and he knows it so he's got to play the anniversary in a way that protects himself against his boss without giving
the latter the chance to get him for disloyalty. Aren't organizations fun! While people talk oh-so-knowingly about whitewashes
etc. in their Mission Impossible view of the case the real life dramas are taking place right now in these obscure
Dealing with Kate and Gerry
Last year, of course, there were the
cries of despair that the review was apparently in the pocket of the McCanns, whatever that may mean. The fulsome and no doubt
well deserved tributes to the parents from the police, the stress from the latter that they were investigating a criminal
abduction and a general sense that too much was going on behind the scenes lowered the spirits of those hoping for an independent
(of everyone, including the parents and their influential contacts) review.
But we're coming round to the view
that the Yard weren't quite as stupid as they appeared and the McCanns are by no means as in the loop as they've implied.
"High profile reviews, such as this one, are highly emotive and the manner in which they are
conducted are usually kept in strict secrecy so that the tactics and lines of enquiry that are followed do not become public
knowledge thereby rendering them useless."There is not a whit of evidence that the Yard has breached this, its own, rule. If you go back to
the Panorama 2012 programme – not the confused follow up press conference – you will find that Redwood
gave no clue as to the direction the review was going. 98% of it was an artful re-presentation of the publicly known remit
document, including the "abduction" comment which caused so much controversy in some quarters: "as if the
abduction occurred in the UK" are the remit's words. The "two hundred leads" gave nothing away.
All that was new and definite was the Oporto liaison which, as Cider Jack very well knew, had already been made public by
Goncalo Amaral and confirmed by the Portuguese authorities.
(Scotland Yard commenting on the review in an FOI response,
Since the McCanns have themselves made it clear that
they accepted the right of the Portuguese investigation to include them in their inquiries, they can hardly object to the
Yard doing the same, if it will help solve the mystery of their daughter's disappearance. But that is territory the couple
avoid like a leper colony. Rightly or wrongly, they have given the impression that their own conduct has not been under examination
in the inquiry and a small number of ill-judged PR statements have implied that they have been kept fully up-to-date on the
progress of the review.
Here one pauses. Is that really possible? After all the remit, in early 2011, was quite
"The focus of the review will be of the material held by three main stakeholders (and in the following
order of primacy); We know all about the focus of the Portuguese
agencies and we know from the British Ambassador to Portugal that the second on the list, UK agencies, helped develop evidence
against the parents. So two out of the three "stakeholders" feature documentary evidence under review in
which the McCanns appear as suspects or potential suspects, while the third is of vanishingly small significance. In other
words you can't move without bumping into material examining and questioning the role of the parents and it strikes us
as unbelievable that all such material has been discounted rather than re-examined. As we said, though, that's not the
impression one gains from the comments of the parents since spring 2011.
- The Portuguese Law Enforcement agencies.
- UK Law Enforcement agencies.
- Other private
investigative agencies/staff and organisations."
In the annual Xmas message to the troops
Kate McCann writes.
"The Metropolitan Police Review of all the material in the inquiry has been underway
for over eighteen months. We have been really impressed and greatly encouraged by the work which has been done and its findings
to date which are revealing there are definitely many stones yet to turn. We continue to wait and hope that the Portuguese
authorities will agree to reopen the case so that the many lines of enquiry can be investigated. As Madeleine’s parents,
we won’t be able to rest until we know that all that can be feasibly done to find her, and the person who took her,
has been done."We bet that paragraph took some time to write. Of course it doesn't say
that they have been apprised of any of the Yard's lines of inquiry, even in their role as parents of the missing child.
But we can all see what is being implied, just like the other statements they've been releasing for eighteen months –
that the review is working for and with them, that they know its progress and that they are briefed.
the point of such stuff? Whose interests does it serve? The Yard have said they don't want to say anything to anybody
– why not go along with that in the most natural and obvious manner and say nothing yourself? Yes, there'll be lunatics
who believe that "sorry, no comment" actually means "I'm hiding something", as in the persecution
of Robert Murat. But so what? Isn't that better than putting out statements that simply stink of spin and make the non-loonies
among us ask yet again, why are they saying these things? What possible gain is there for them in claiming a closer relationship
with the review than actually exists? But after nearly six years they just can't seem to help it.
"Since March 2012 independent 'physical' investigation of lines of enquiry by our team
has been put on hold whilst the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Review progresses. This has been to avoid duplication (and
thereby unnecessary expenditure) and to prevent the risk of compromising any work, albeit unintentionally, carried out by
the MPS. The private investigation team employed by the Fund continue to cooperate and work with the Metropolitan Police as
and when necessary."Well a bit of silence might be sensible there too, mightn't it? Rather than
putting out something so obviously obfuscatory? Not only does it remind us of the existence of as big a bunch of nincompoop
hustlers as ever walked the earth, Metodo ("she'll be home by Xmas"), Halligen ("results soon but it'll
cost") and that huge and shadowy international security organization "I'm Edgar, I am" but it also prompts
us to ask, why March 2012, for God's sake, a year or so after the review was set up? Why were their activities not halted
when the review was established so that the files could be neither hidden, amended nor disposed of but passed on to the Yard?
We don't know because Kate McCann doesn't want to tell us. But she can hardly think we're all so stupid as not
to remember that March 2012 was the month the parents were in trouble due to their panicky and thoroughly dishonest attempts
to spin the review's activities in the UK Mirror via their untruthful Portuguese lawyer. The Yard hadn't
acted in 2011 when they'd tried the same thing, this time with Metodo, about the Barcelona visits, but in March 2012 they
acted. Hence, no more investigators.
So, a lot of people round the Big Table, come April, and a lot of hands to
be played. Should be fun.
Please question us!, 11 January 2013
|Please question us! The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Friday, 11 January 2013 at 20:00
Curiously enough an innocent Kate & Gerry McCann have more to gain from an extremely sharp and exhaustive Yard review
scrutiny of their role and movements than almost anyone. As we posted here last year these two of the three arguidos were released from their status before the investigation into their activities
was anything like complete, while, indeed, there were serious reservations about the veracity of the evidence provided by
them and their friends. That was why Goncalo Amaral was correct in calling it the "interrupted investigation" and
why we referred to a missing paragraph in the archiving summary, the one, that is, that would give the reasons behind such
an unusual move.
We promised to look at it some more in the future. As we're always saying, though, life, if
not the McCann case, is short.
It's history now and the likelihood of
a reconstruction providing any resolution after six years is remote. But that isn't to say that an attempted reconstruction
is the only way of ascertaining the truth, nor even the best: not when you've got teams from both countries reviewing
the evidence and able to question witnesses without going through the rigmarole of letters rogatory or finding them all beyond
reach in another country.
Because that was the problem, wasn't it? The Seven were needed to clarify what had
happened to help find the child but getting them back to Portugal was like catching greasy piglets on market day. Who'd
have believed that family friends of a child would hire lawyers to avoid returning to help? Even though the head of the investigation,
Rebelo, a man untainted by any suspicion of anti-Nine bias, personally appealed to them for their assistance. It really sounds
sick to this day. But the piggies stayed home – and brought the investigation to an end.
For Rebelo was stuck.
The prosecutors had made it clear that the investigation couldn't go on for much longer, if only on natural justice grounds
to the three arguidos; but out of the thousands of sightings and possibilities in the files the only ones still open, unresolved
and offering a clear and defined line of inquiry were those surrounding the nine British holidaymakers.
we've had the endless claims since that "somewhere in the files" were leads that could have cracked the case
if only people like Amaral hadn't focused on the innocent McCanns, claims originating chiefly from the people with a direct
financial interest in the McCann family's freedom and well-being such as their "detectives" and numerous lawyers,
civil and criminal.
Now even Duarte and the rest of the gang have to acknowledge that after many years of well-funded
examination by private detectives not a single one of the "missed opportunities" has led anywhere, even a short
distance, before comprehensively failing. Instead, despite the boxes of leads donated to the case by Metodo, despite Duarte's
gift of "overlooked" inquiry lines and despite the efforts of an anxious-to-help world public, all has descended,
literally, into fantasy – Bundlemen, Spottymen, M/S Millionaire Baby-Buyer, Gypsy gangs, lurking paedophiles, Moroccan
tribes and the rest.
These six years seem to confirm the PJ's belief that there really wasn't anywhere
else to look. So what, exactly, do Abreu and Duarte – we'll leave aside their ignorant camp-followers – think
the PJ should have done in late 2007? Suddenly announce that they were going to forget the reconstruction stuff and look instead
at a Hewitt before the prosecutor's bar came down?
No, the Nine were all they had and until Cider Jack earns
his knighthood in May by proving us and six years experience wrong by naming the 196-strong gang who abducted Madeleine, the
Nine is still all that any investigation possesses.
It is likely that Rebelo knew the game was more or less up
once his UK visit to discuss the forensic results was over. All the problem areas about the Nine and their evidence had been
shovelled into a leads file loosely called "Reconstruction", waiting for the next step. But there wasn't a next
step. Most of the Seven, as Rebelo could see, were loudly asserting their desire to return to Portugal to help the inquiry
through their joint spokesman while simultaneously – and secretly – taking all necessary steps to ensure that
they wouldn't do so. And there was nothing that he could do about it: the Seven weren't suspects to be be forced back
via prima facie evidence and a European Arrest Warrant. They could only be asked to assist voluntarily.
In theory, as the supporters of the parents have constantly pointed out, the McCanns had to return
for a clarification of evidence if the Portuguese demanded they do so: not only did they not refuse to return with the others,
the argument goes, but they couldn't refuse, so there. Pull the other one, chums. There was no machinery to enforce
such a demand except their own consciences, which at that time were not in high-visibility mode. You don't engage the
best extradition lawyers in the world if you're anxious for a PJ reunion. The only way they could be forced back was via
an EAW and that again legally required prima facie evidence which, with the death of the forensic results hopes, didn't
That left only the interviews under the letters rogatory process to probe the gaps in their evidence and
that process itself had two fatal weaknesses. First, the questioning was tightly confined by the treaty process to clarification
of events surrounding the disappearance; a "no fishing expedition" requirement, as the lawyers call it, meant that
the police could not build on material as it emerged by developing new lines of questioning to test veracity. Hence, and most
obviously, the failure to explore the evidence of Jane Tanner and the surveillance van episode. As the Bureau has repeatedly
pointed out, to a certain amount of scepticism, Tanner neither confirmed nor denied identifying Robert Murat as the supposed
abductor and under the terms of their remit the Leicester police, though perfectly aware of the evasion, were not allowed
to press her with "Now look, I want a yes or no answer to this question: did you tell the officers with you that the
person seen by you from the van resembled the person you saw at 9.13 on May 3?"
That was probably the most important question in the case so
far and it could have decided whether Jane Tanner was a credible and truthful witness or not, since Bundleman/Eggman and the
rest bear no possible resemblance to Robert Murat and since Leicester police knew very well what her answer had been in the
van through the UK liaison officer Bob Small. So the Seven only had to say what they wished to say without any fear of being
trapped into logical contradictions.
...and tears, of course
The second weakness, of
course, was how any revelations from the Seven could be used regarding Kate and Gerry McCann. Nothing that was said in Leicester,
even if Jane Tanner was exposed, helped in getting the McCanns back. Tanner could claim in the future (tearfully as usual)
that she'd been intimidated and now denied her answers but even if she didn't the McCanns, safely within their fortress
of lawyers, couldn't be forced back for years, if ever. How did that square with the prosecutors' deadlines? Having
watched from behind a screen as the questions were asked Rebelo knew the score and left early, missing the 3,500 or so "ums"
and "ers" of David Payne's performance – the first record in history of a red-blooded male (we presume)
forgetting what a blonde woman standing by a doorway and wrapped only in a towel had been wearing when he saw her.
Tapas 7 seen volunteering
to return to Portugal
As usual the Bureau
takes the conservative non-dramatic view of events, believing that, given these circumstances, Rebelo didn't have
to be a clean-up man tasked with killing the investigation. It didn't need one. Whatever the speculation about cover-ups
etc. the evidence above clearly suggests that the actual killers were the Tapas Nine, acting alone except for their lawyers.
It only needed Rebelo's PJ to make the understandable, if slightly dodgy, claim in their report that the rogatory
interviews "revealed nothing new" (they hadn't even been translated, let alone analysed in depth) rather than
"they don't get us any nearer a charge and it's time to give up", and for Rebelo and Menezes to agree that
further timescale extensions were not on, for the investigation to end.
Unfortunately Menezes made a poor fist
of his role. Naturally the "missing paragraph" required to explain a shelving despite a key area remaining unexplored
couldn't have been written as frankly as we've given it above: that's not the way the world goes round and would
likely have cost him and his colleague their jobs. His task, and challenge, though, was to justify the shelving while maintaining
the integrity of the PJ and its investigation on the one hand, and avoiding leaving a black cloud of suspicion over two of
the arguidos and their friends on the other. The latter would have caused uproar – claims of a smear job by the terrifying
UK press and loud demands to lay hands on the McCanns by a dissatisfied Portuguese public, demands that, as we've seen,
couldn't be met.
A Clever Plan
Menezes attempted to square this circle by minimizing
the significance of the Nine's behaviour and evidence while stressing how exhaustive the inquiry had been. The PJ report
section on the needs of the reconstruction couldn't be omitted from the archiving summary since the PJ wouldn't permit
it so Menezes attempted to counter its explosive implications by smothering them with love. Hence the embarrassing purple-prosed
final paragraphs in which his rhetoric took wing with references to European literature, the art of the who-dunnit and the
analytical power of the average man. All it lacked was a swooning reference to the "fragrance" of Kate McCann, such
as a dribbling English judge had once made about a Mrs Archer during her well-known, and crooked, husband's libel case.
So intent was Menezes on being "fair" to the two arguidos that he skimmed, misread or minimised the evidence
against them. Thus his summary used the collusive and in places untruthful first batch (May 4) of statements by the group,
not the later ones in which they had been forced to change their stories under questioning; and he got them wrong too, the
dolt, referring to Russell O'Brien leaving the Tapas restaurant with Mathew at 9 PM, for example. Russell? A mistake like
that in an official prosecutors' report!* And with all the smothering the smoke was still escaping, as in his famous reference
to the McCanns being "victims". What were they terrible victims of, Menny, a miscarriage of justice? Why, they were
victims, he said, of their wilful refusal to co-operate with the investigation, thus losing the chance to "demonstrate
their innocence", poor lambs. Such victimhood.
So that was the archiving summary, their "exoneration".
There's no need to waste any more words on this lamentable work. We repeat we can't see that Menezes, Rebelo or Monteiro
had any choice but to wind up the affair as best they could, given the forensics, time-scale and their impotence in the face
of the Nine.
Winners or Dreadful Losers?
But what about the Nine who had thus got away
with refusing to co-operate, what did they achieve for themselves? The only defence any of them have regarding the fact
of their killing off the police search for the child is that they believed that the Portuguese police were out to get them,
but once you force your way through the self-pity it isn't much of one, is it? As so many people have said, your own safety
is normally put to one side, or not even considered, when there is a chance, however small, of helping to save your child.
As for most of the other seven, just what risks terrified them so much that they wouldn't return? Portugal isn't Iran
or Putin's Russia and they were never at risk of lengthy custody. Yet they opted for cowardice, by their own account of
events, or something worse if their accounts are untrue, abandoning a four year old child to her fate. Brrr! Chilly.
The McCanns: failed to demonstrate their innocence, according to the official summary report. The Seven:
failed to assist for "unknown reasons" according to the official summary report. It seems incredible that nine adults
should be content to have their reputations sullied for the rest of their lives by these official conclusions. That is the
legacy of condemnation and suspicion they are going to leave their children.
It follows, naturally, that a new
investigational review offers all of them their only chance of removing this blemish. It can't happen passively, as it
were – simply waiting while a review/investigation which doesn't include the close examination of their stories
is concluded. Even if the child's body is discovered that won't lift the cloud over them since, after many years,
the circumstances in which she died may be no more conclusive than the circumstances of her disappearance. Only their willing
assistance can give them all the chance to demonstrate their innocence.
That is why Kate and Gerry McCann
should have been pleading with the Yard for the last eighteen months for the opportunity to answer any questions at all, no
holds barred. And so should their cowardly friends.
* "Pelas 21H00 Mathew E Russel [sic] O'brien
foram verificar os filtos, tendo o primeiro excutado a jancla, pelo exterior,que acede ao quarto de Madeleine, localizada
na fachada do bloco residencial, au nivel do piso terreo."
Rumours, what rumours?, 16 January 2013
All ready to run for it
Libel diary – Thursday morning,
17 January 2013
Libel diary – Thursday morning January 17 The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Thursday, 17 January 2013 at 11:21
John Blacksmith writes: I've experienced plenty of shocking events in my time and survived encounters with
a number of monsters but I'm willing to confess that I read Kate McCann's Madeleine with something approaching
The stormy and unpredictable violence of her personality, her inability to conceive of anyone's needs
beyond her own, her failure ever to write about, or confront the memory of, her oldest child as a real human being, confining
herself instead to recalling and describing photographs and images of her daughter in a pattern of clinical aberration, were
troubling enough. Then there was the extraordinary risk she was taking in setting out a version of events that people close
to her, particularly her Portuguese lawyer and his assistant, knew to be untrue. What, I wondered, was she thinking as she
sat alone at her desktop, somehow constructing a narrative on several different levels at once, addressing simultaneously
the police who she knew would be reading her book, her seven friends and her family who had seen a very different Kate McCann,
the journalists who she had used to subvert the investigation so successfully and, finally, the "public" itself?
Perhaps she'd convinced herself that the latter, whose support in the UK had carried her through so many dangerous passages,
was the only one that mattered and would continue to keep her impregnable and wrote accordingly. Even creepier was the sense
that one gets from certain Nabokov books, including Lolita – the feeling that at times you can hear a ghostly
voice hidden somewhere behind the narrative, laughing at the challenge of deceiving the audience.
For the book
reveals that Kate McCann is quite mad. That was why I softened the end of the review I wrote for the McCann Files: the exposure
of her madness was so raw and discomfiting that it made me pause at the impact my own writings might have on what passes publicly
for her personality if she read them.
Sympathy for a sick person might be in order then. Except.
for her ruthlessness in her own interests illustrated by the psychotic pursuit of Goncalo Amaral in which she used everything
she had, the wealth her public fans had provided, the support and sympathy of people who believed in her, the dirty newspapers
like the Mirror willing to collude in the plot and the unrelenting viciousness at her core, to destroy him. "Destroy",
for once, means what it says. As does "Kafkaesque". The assault that she and her tight-mouthed accomplice sprang
on Amaral, the nightmare in which they trapped him and the relentless way they upped the pursuit month by month could easily
have driven a lesser man to suicide.
While Kate McCann was whining to the UK media at the unfair fate she had suffered,
I was hearing how her campaign had claimed its first victim – Amaral's wife having a complete breakdown and telling
her beleaguered husband that even if he was right she simply couldn't stand the terror of it any more: both the pain and
the odds against them were too great, he had to seek out the McCanns and settle. She was an innocent victim in the way the
whiner never was but that cut no ice with Kate McCann: she was just an object to be trodden on and squashed in her pursuit
of her enemy.
That pursuit has failed. The McCanns are going to settle on Amaral's terms and that means it's
the beginning of the end of six years of lies and deception. No, I can't evoke even a touch of sympathy for them: they
have acted wickedly and now they are going to pay.
Libel Diary – Afternoon, 17 January
Libel Diary – Afternoon January 17 The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Thursday, 17 January 2013 at 14:29
The reason for the rumours we alluded to yesterday is, of course, the desperate straits that good old Team McCann is in.
They have no choice but to settle but they believe they can minimise the damage if only they can spin it and muffle it enough
to leave them a shred of credibility, though events in Algeria came a little too soon to bury the settlement in the sand.
The trouble is that, just as in Lisbon in January 2010, so many people have been enlisted in the salvage effort that it's
been impossible to plug the leaks.
The spin you will receive, unless the McCanns decide to change it in the light
of what they're reading here, is that funds being low and the needs of the search so great – once it resumes –
they are no longer willing to waste money and will let bygones be bygones in order to preserve the fund's assets.
Duarte has told them that they cannot possibly win. Not only are they not dropping the case to
save money but they are even now in negotiations to try and reduce the financial demands being made by Goncalo Amaral's
defence team. Every national editor in England is aware of these negotiations but true to their performance since 2008 they
aren't saying a word – yet. Not even Kier Simmons, bless him. Anyone want to tweet him for his views about the dreadful
rumours from the dreadful ignoramuses of the internet?
And while they have their phones in their hands perhaps
they'll tweet Clarence Mitchell to ask if he still believes he has a future in the Tory party and how he feels about Amaral's
intended pursuit – of him. Go on, ask him.
Libel Diary - Early Evening, 17 January
Libel Diary - Early Evening January 17 The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Thursday, 17 January 2013 at 17:05
John Blacksmith writes: I don't have any special secret sources and, as I have posted here previously, I have
had no information from within Amaral's group since 2010. As far as I know GA has been in Lisbon working on the libel
case and declining to comment since last spring.
The only information I ever get hold of is connected with the
use of the term "we" in the Blacksmith Bureau. Everyone who is interested knows who I am since I posted
my full name and location on the old 3As forum in 2008. Bureau contributions, however, don't derive from me or
belong to me alone: the Bureau exists as a centre for messages and opinions about the case from a number of what
we might call the "sane critics" of the parents, people who have done a great deal more investigation than I have
and have dedicated much of their lives to the case in a way which puts me to shame.
We know about the
negotiations which, we repeat, are known to all UK national editors. Anyone who knows the McCanns' modus operandi, either
through watching the Leveson hearings or studying Duarte's briefing note for the Portuguese media after the Wikileaks
episode, should know how they prepare the way for their media spin initiatives by confidential contact with editors so that
there will be a spurious unanimity of view. That is what is taking place now.
The purpose of pre-empting their
spin plan is not to build ourselves up but to remind all our readers of the secret, and disgraceful, way in which the media
have supped with a very short spoon with the McCanns for six years, a subject which we have taken up with them on occasion,
most recently with the editor of the Daily Mail, although we got little change from him. One of the reasons that
the story is dragging on and leaking is that it is not just the McCanns who stand to lose but all the newspapers and a number
of individuals that defamed Amaral so grossly while helping the McCanns keep Amaral's claims away from the British public.
In helping the McCanns now they are attempting to help themselves as well.
And we want them all to fail, the lying,
dishonest, greedy bastards. That's the axe we have to grind. Listening Kier? Listening Clarence?
Libel Diary - Evening 17 January, 18
Libel Diary - Evening 17 January The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Friday, 18 January 2013 at 01:02
Goncalo Amaral statement on May 18 2009
"I can say that we are going to sue the McCanns
and others that, for the moment, I am not saying who they are, because we have a team of lawyers who are studying the case
because we feel defamed and slandered, and we will move forward."
Goncalo Amaral interview with Algarve
123 December 8 2011
"I have my anger well-guarded. No feelings for revenge. Like I say, they will
pay for what they have done to me and my family – but through the courts. Even after everything that has happened, I
still have faith in the Portuguese justice system".
The Mirror, February 12 2012
Revealed: How shamed cop made a fortune spouting lies about Madeleine McCann's parents.
Portuguese detective who was thrown off the Madeleine McCann case in disgrace has made a fortune spouting lies about the missing
During his stint heading the inquiry, the Sunday Mirror caught him enjoying regular
boozy lunches, one of which lasted more than three hours.
ECU Ruling: East Midlands Today,
BBC1 (East Midlands), 12 January 2011
The programme included a brief exchange between
a reporter and Gonçalo Amaral (a former policeman who had worked on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and had since
written a book on the case). One word in the exchange was bleeped, and the report gave the impression that this was because
Sr Amaral had used offensive language about the MrCanns. A viewer complained that this was inaccurate and unfair to Sr Amaral.
The reporter's belief, reinforced by others on the programme team who viewed
the recording, was that Sr Amaral had indeed used an English phrase which included an offensive term applied to the McCanns.
On further examination, however, it became clear that Sr Amaral had been speaking Portuguese, and that an inoffensive phrase
had been misconstrued. Upheld
The Mail, January 15 2010. By-lined David
"During the first few weeks after Madeleine McCann's disappearance, Goncalo Amaral came
to symbolise all that was wrong with the abysmally mishandled Portuguese police investigation into the case. A portly provincial
CID chief who was plainly out of his depth and had a penchant for long, wine-fuelled lunches and leaking favourable stories
about himself to the Press, he was removed as head of the investigation after six months." [Article continues].
Article ends "Even if this is only a remote possibility, surely it should be explored - but not by a flashy detective
who is so cocksure he knows all the answers he can't see beyond his own giant ego."
The Mirror 16/1/2010 Tony Parsons
IF, as has been suggested in Portugal, there was a "media circus"
around the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, then it is the Portuguese police who are the clowns.
Cruel, stupid, spiteful clowns.
You would never guess it but Kate and Gerry McCann are not actually
on trial in Lisbon.
Madeleine's parents have brought legal action against detective Goncalo Amaral, who they
accuse of libelling them in his book, Maddie: The Truth Of The Lie.
But the Portuguese plods have
used the libel case to declare open season on the McCanns. One former policeman, Francisco Moita Flores,
told the court that only the "distraction" of the "media circus" prevented the McCanns from being charged
"No one believed it was an abduction," he told the court. "It was a fairytale,
But if Madeleine was not abducted, then what happened?
The Portuguese police were shown
up as a bunch of clueless amateurs by the Madeleine case, and - shamed, embarrassed, infuriated -
they turned their rage on the McCanns.
Even now, the Portuguese cops treat Kate and Gerry McCann with
a grotesque lack of respect.
Asked if he cared that he had hurt the McCanns, Goncalo Amaral told
a BBC reporter: "No, f the McCanns ."
A class act, that fat copper,
who has sought to make money out of a stolen child - and the endless grief of her parents.
And what a shock to see the faces of Kate and Gerry McCann back in our newspapers.
pain is stamped on their faces for ever.
The greatest tragedy is, of course, that a little girl was stolen
from her family.
But it is also genuinely tragic that the Portuguese police did not seriously look for the bastard
who stole her.
And that's because they have always been far too busy slandering that little girl's
Sleep well everybody, especially you Tony P.
Libel Diary, 19 January 2013
Libel Diary – January 18 The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 00:47
So there we are: readers will no doubt have seen the Portuguese announcement that the trial is suspended (for a maximum
of six months) for the negotiations to take place.
The Bureau sits here placidly waiting for the first
comments from Kate & Gerry McCann or people speaking on their behalf. Listen to them carefully and you'll be able
to judge for yourselves who is asking whom for a settlement. Of course if they don't say anything over the next week or
so – we'll just have to nag them again.
Come on Clarence – you're up to the task, aren't
Oh Dear The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Monday, 21 January 2013 at 17:22
There's no need for the Bureau to try and convince anyone further about the correctness of its story: as we
said the reaction of both parties will make it clear which is the correct version of events.
Before that, however,
we have the truly extraordinary claim made by some of the pair's less knowledgeable supporters that Goncalo Amaral had
asked for a suspension of proceedings. We say "less knowledgeable" because, of course, nobody with any connection
with the McCann camp has even hinted at such a possibility. Not one. That is despite one of the UK national editors pressing
them for a confirmation or denial of the original rumour so that he could either run the story or kill it. Nope. No reply;
no contact. Not even a "pal" of the McCanns, or even a "family friend", would give any sort of a steer,
confidential or otherwise, as to how the paper should act.
Now it's quite possible that in these affairs,
as in nearly all others, the labyrinthine Portuguese civil code enjoins all parties to silence. That is a matter of some significance
to GA since he is within grabbing distance of the court if he breaches the rules. Not for the first time, however, the McCann
camp in the UK (the country the leak derives from) are beyond the reach of the Portuguese justice system; given the proof
of repeated and unpunished breaches of secrecy rules by Kate McCann and her proxies, such as Lori Campbell and David James
Smith, the couple have absolutely nothing to lose by a leak or steer now. But not a sound.
Well, my lud
Turning now to the libel case itself. The simply crazed suggestion that GA has asked for terms, and the even
crazier idea that Kate McCann would take her fingernails out of GA's eyeballs unless she was dragged off by male nurses,
implies that he sees no possible hope of winning the case. Dear oh dear, oh dear. No hope?
The libel writ
has only been released to the two papers
with most to lose from Amaral's vengeance who've been in
the pockets of the parents since 2007, never to the millions of suckers who believe in the pair and contributed to the fund
– the Mirror and the People. From what they have published there were three main grounds in the writ.
the propaganda war and forget the spin. Just going on judicial processes and Kate McCann's own words they no longer have
a claim under any of these three heads.
- That Amaral's claims were false.
- That, in addition, the claims had caused enormous psychological and behavioural
damage to the couple which deserved financial compensation.
- And that the "search for Madeleine" had been,
and was continuing to be, damaged by the inference from GA's "thesis" that the child was dead.
- Amaral's claims were false
defence to Claim One is that "the defendant had good reason to believe his allegations were true and were made in good
faith." The Lisbon injunction hearing in 2010 heard evidence from officers in the case that, based on their investigation,
they were all of the same opinion as Amaral that the McCanns had presented "a fairy tale" of abduction. The archiving
summary "on the reconstruction" detailed the evidence against the nine which still existed at the time of archiving.
Clearly he had, and has, good reason. 2.
Psychological and behavioural damage to the couple.
The final appeal hearing put on judicial record that the Amaral interpretation
of the case up to its archiving was of the same level of validity and good faith as the interpretation which the prosecutor
had made in authorising shelving on the grounds of innocence of the arguidos. Therefore there was no evidence of "bad
faith". As the Bureau pointed out last year the judgement in the Amaral v Marcos Aragão Correia libel
case found for the latter on exactly those grounds.
Amaral has a 100% defence.
Whatever Duarte claimed in 2009 Kate McCann's
words in Madeleine, as well as the couple's actions since, demonstrate the falsity of this claim. In the final
chapter of the book Kate McCann describes the various severe difficulties she and Gerry McCann have suffered since 2007. None
of these are attributed to the statements or actions of Amaral or match the list of symptoms given by their lawyer in
the writ. The only conclusive effect that Kate McCann claims Amaral had on her was to make her psychopathically furious with
him: if everyone who makes Kate McCann insanely angry was sued for libel the justice system would grind to a halt.Either she
is lying now or she was lying in the statement of claim.
3. "Damaging or preventing the search."
In that same chapter she refers to events which demonstrate
that she was undamaged by Amaral in the way she claimed. She refers to going onto the Oprah Winfrey show, in which her state
can be seen in recordings, to dancing and going to social functions. Photographic evidence confirms this.
claims have not a shred of evidence so far to support them and appear to be contradicted in detail by her book.
This was always going to be near-impossible
to prove given that the onus in Portugal lies on the claimant, not the defendant. In 2013 the situation for the claimants
is much worse. The only "evidence" that Kate McCann has revealed publicly is either hearsay or her "belief".
The matter is so subjective that there would have to be very convincing quantitative, not qualitative, evidence to make a
judge even consider the claim. There is none that we know of.Does
anyone seriously believe that Amaral or his lawyer would be pleading with the McCanns to drop their case given these facts?
We'd love to know the evidence that anyone can produce on the net to refute the three statements we've made above.
Sooner or later the parents are going to have to face the reality of the situation. The longer they pretend the more crushing
Secondly the "search" to which the claimants
were referring no longer exists, having been stopped in March 2012. The McCann website states that it was stopped because
the Scotland Yard review is now doing the "searching". No claim that Amaral's thesis could affect the Yard search
has been made by the McCanns nor, obviously, could it be made bearing in mind the statements of Redwood on behalf of the inquiry.
So the claim is not just wrong but a non-sequiter.
No evidence for the claim. Written evidence to the contrary.
They just don't get it, 25 January
Posted by John Blacksmith
Friday, 25 January 2013 at 17:28
They Really Don't
The poor boobies in the McCann camp think this is some temporary blip
that they'll weather if they keep their heads down. They can't get to grips with what's going on. So let's
spell out why the libel trial suspension is no ordinary news item.
Since 2008 and the publication of Goncalo
Amaral's book the strategy of the parents and their team has been simple, as all the best deceptions are:
Deliberately highlighting the tabloid rubbish of autumn 2007 against them so that everyone, from the house of Commons to
Oprah Winfrey to the on-line audience for the Leveson inquiry, knows the mad accusations by heart, while muffling and blanketing
the truly dangerous, accurate, stuff from beginning to end.
That's it folks, it's that simple: no
need for hidden allies, protection or political help. That is the plan that they have consistently followed and it's worked
a treat. But only by keeping the lid on Amaral and the hard core of truth about the PJ investigation. Bit by bit
the contents have dribbled out and the pair have struggled to screw the lid down even tighter. The steam started to rise in
Lisbon in 2010 and spouted out with Kate McCann's ill-conceived Madeleine. Now, after five years, the pot
has finally burst in their faces.
Their proven lies about the course of the PJ investigation go back not to May
2007, where so much is still uncertain or a matter of opinion, but to the beginning of August of that year. That is when the
proof of Kate and Gerry McCann's attempt to prevent the UK public finding out about the details of the investigation
at any cost becomes visible.
And that's why the end of the case against Goncalo Amaral – for it will
not be resumed in six months – is so crucial. That's why the Bureau splashed it.
Beginning to End
Leaving aside the couple's role earlier in the investigation, at all the subsequent
crucial junctures of the affair the parents have either lied or deliberately misrepresented or muffled events to deceive the
British public about the interrupted investigation.
• On August 2 2007 they began the calculated lying about
the police activities against them which form the core of Amaral's claims.
• In summer 2008 they deliberately
misrepresented the Portuguese archiving summary which had confirmed the Seven's refusal to co-operate with the inquiry
and the McCanns' failure to "demonstrate their innocence".
• In January 2009 they secretly commenced
the silencing and libel actions against Amaral while lying on the greatest possible scale that they were in Portugal for different
• In 2010 the Portuguese courts demolished their human rights claim against Amaral and one of the
three legs of their libel claim. There was no media statement from the McCanns.
• In January 2013 the McCanns
accepted defeat in their libel claim but refused to make any statement or answer any questions about the matter.
On August 2 2007 a police squad turned the McCanns
over. The house was searched, possessions were seized and they were left, according to Kate McCann, with "just the clothes
they were wearing." Later their car was seized for forensic examination.
The lies which both the McCanns told
on that date and afterwards – outright porkies – to prevent the UK public discovering anything of the truth about
the investigation are listed in these Bureau archives below. Kate McCann's attempted excuse in Madeleine
(page 206) that they "had no choice" but to lie demonstrates how lying is their preferred or instinctive mode of
operation when in a tight spot. The lying about the investigation and Amaral has never stopped since then.
Slowly strangling in the web of their own words – Part One
Slowly strangling in their own words – Part Two
The Archiving Summary
This is the Team's précis of the summary which they
fed to the UK press on publication and which, in the usual way of the great days of Team McCann spin, was written up in the
same words in numerous papers.This one comes from the Standard. The dishonesty and the motive are quite manifest.
"The Portuguese police inquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was condemned in the strongest terms
by the country's public prosecutors, new documents revealed today." [a deliberate lie; it was not.]
"Detectives were criticised for establishing "no element of proof" about what happened to Madeleine or even
whether she was alive or dead." [a deliberate lie; they were not]
"A source close to the McCanns'
legal team said action against the Portuguese police was now increasingly likely. He said: "Given this blatant misrepresentation
of evidence, legal action against the Portuguese police is very much on the agenda." [another deliberate lie; there
was no "misrepresentation of evidence". We still await the legal action against the PJ].
lawyers are considering very seriously whether action needs to be taken against individual officers when evidence was clearly
misrepresented in such obvious ways at such crucial times." [see above].
Portugal and Duarte
As we know from Madeleine Gerry McCann went to Portugal specifically to plot the libel claim and gagging
order with Duarte. In perhaps the most prolonged and widespread example of his gratuitous lying he gave interview after interview
stating that he was there for other reasons. Gerry returns to Portugal, 13 Jan 2009
Portuguese Appeal Courts
Not only was Amaral vindicated but the judges, as Kate McCann's
Madeleine let slip, knocked away the third leg of the libel claim, damage to the so-called search. She writes: "The
latest verdict was that Amaral’s poisonous allegations did not damage our investigation in any way." That's
one of the three libel claims dead.
She and Gerry McCann had known since 2009 that proving Amaral's interpretation
of events in the apartment, the subject of the main claim of the three would be very difficult. When announcing the dropping
of the libel case against Tal y Qual then Mitchell had said:
"The libel action against Tal &
Qual has been dropped for a number of reasons. Firstly, the newspaper went bust some time ago. Secondly Tal & Qual
could probably have mounted a defence, as they were reporting what a certain police officer believed at the time." Which
is the same 100% defence –"genuine belief that something is true" – which worked for Mad Marcos and
would work for Amaral in court.
So much for Clarence's version. The Telegraph, to whom he had given
the story, was rather more blunt: "This week the couple withdrew their defamation action after being advised that the
newspaper had a strong defence under Portuguese law. It could argue the story was published in good faith because senior police
officers did at the time believe the McCanns may have been implicated in the case." That's two of the three claims
dead – but they had to keep the lid on, didn't they?
The Straw Men
the parallel track the McCanns, despite the statement of one of their lawyers on BBC television in 2007 that the aim was to
"expunge" from the public memory the wild claims against them made in the press:
• In March 2009
recirculated all the invented tabloid claims against them to the public House of Commons media committee.
In 2012 recirculated all the same claims in even greater detail to the public and on-line audience for the Leveson inquiry.
Highlight the one. Keep the lid on the other.
The lid's off. They are toast.
Sitting pretty, 26 February 2013
|Sitting pretty The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 16:55
The current disagreement on twitter and elsewhere regarding who blinked first in the McCanns v Amaral case is, on the face
of it, simply silly. Soon enough the court and the two sides will release information about events and at some point there
will be a judgement.
So we have to wait, like it or not.
Yet something of significance
is nevertheless happening. On the Net supporters of both parties, some of them authorised, fight it out and in doing so enable
us to peer through the smoke and haze of deliberate disinformation and self-deception to gain some sort of picture –
for everything in this world leaves a trace – of what the principals are actually up to. What is new is that, accidentally
or otherwise, the proxies and commentators on both sides are finally opening themselves up in a way that will allow their
credibility and their judgement to be tested.
The parents' supporters, with the tacit co-operation of the McCanns
themselves, have been in the happy position of maintaining that the pair were officially cleared in 2008 and that any questions
about their conduct are simply flat-earth expressions of loony Net hatred. The virtual silence of the UK overground media,
broken only by occasional bursts of sympathy for the couple, or pit-bull attacks on Amaral, is taken as confirmation that
no questions remain for intelligent adults to pose. That is why we’ve always said that the supporters of Kate and Gerry
McCann are stuck in 2008.
But now they've decided, finally, to come up-to-date and start making their own factual
claims, rather than parroting those of Menezes. It is an obvious and established fact, they say, that Amaral, originator of
the whole case against the parents and the chief hope of the haters, is not just a crook but a loser who for years has been
trying to wriggle his way out of the libel case that the McCanns so justifiably brought against him.
He knows for
certain, they say, that he cannot win the case. They then give legal reasons why he can't win, how "everybody"
in the loop is aware he has no chance. And, they say, he has finally accepted reality by getting his lawyers to ask for the
case to be suspended so that he can offer the parents vindication without being utterly ruined. Vindication will mean, obviously,
the withdrawal of all the charges he has made against the pair.
nothing weasel-worded or ambiguous about that, is there? No hiding behind others' views or saying that this is merely
their opinion. These are matters of established fact that the poor Net loonies will soon have to accept.
actually means that the debate about who blinked first isn't trivial at all. The fact of Amaral's withdrawal and the
parents' victory, if true, as they say, really is a huge development. It will finish the job that the archiving summary
began and it will demonstrate that the parents' critics have not only lost the focus of their hopes but have been shown
up as both wrong and, worse, as either naive or as fibbers who are still trying to pretend that this hasn't happened.
Joana Morais and her crowd and the drug-taking fantasist Blacksmith and his crew of losers will have been caught out in their
deceptions and are going to have to fall silent. It's big, big stuff.
You know what? We agree with them. It
isn't just a matter of a futile guessing game. It's a key moment for credibility. If Goncalo Amaral is found to have
pleaded for terms and withdraws all his claims against the McCanns then yes, whatever Joana might do, we'll accept the
reality, accept that our information and judgement hasn't been good enough, accept that maybe we've been used, apologise
and close the Bureau down.
Now what about the other side of the
coin? Let us suppose that any settlement, in or out of court, clearly shows that Amaral wasn't wriggling, hadn't
pleaded for terms, doesn't withdraw his interpretation, doesn't settle on the parents terms
and demonstrates that if anyone has won it isn't Kate and Gerry McCann.
First, what will it say about the truthfulness
of these supporters? The claims they've explicitly made that we've listed above. That one's easy: they will either
be shown to be truthful or outright f****** liars, no ifs and buts. And their information about the case? Well that one will
be easily answered too, won't it? Either invented or they've been deliberately misled.
Of course that in
turn might bring up the question who has been doing the misleading? And why.
Lastly, what will it say about the
balance of reliability and judgement of the two sides over the last five years, about whether the active
supporters of the parents, including those who have had direct access to the couple, have had the right end of the stick all
along? And about the reliability and truthfulness of the McCanns' own site, which came out with its own authorised statement
on the rumours?
Facing the facts
But that's just speculation. The uncomfortable
fact is that the active McCann supporters have got us right where they wanted us: they know the truth and they can sit back
and laugh that the truth, when finally acknowledged, is also going to close the little Bureau down. It's a very
big moment. Another one gone. What more could they want?
Still sitting comfortably?, 27 February
as seen by Goya
Posted by John Blacksmith
Wednesday, 27 February 2013 at 17:48
Who to believe?
Then let's get back
to yesterday's subject, the question of credibility.
Since 10PM on May 3 2007 credibility has been at the heart
of the case; in fact, in the absence of tangible evidence, forensic or otherwise, it is the case. At 10PM the babble
of voices began, appropriately, with a loud, public scream, followed by apparent panic and hysteria not just from Kate and
Gerry McCann but from their middle-aged doctor friends, all experienced in handling emergencies, who say they "ran around
in circles shouting and bumping into each other" rather than trying to assess what might have happened to a missing child.
Since then the raised voices have never stopped.
That problem, for those who are simply interested in the truth
of what happened that night, remains exactly as it did on May 3 and the succeeding weeks. Who is telling the truth and
who's trying to con us?
Fact, fact, fact
We can say at once that the parents
are practised, self-admitted and incorrigible liars as the evidence quoted section by section in the Blacksmith Bureau
proves beyond any doubt. That, and not a belief that the McCanns are guilty of anything involving their daughter, is the reason
for the Bureau's involvement in the case. That's why we have as many enemies among the anti-McCann groups,
especially those on the losers' forums, as we do among the activist supporters. The former, firm in their beliefs that
the McCanns dunnit but rather weaker when it comes to evidence justifying their view (they haven't got any) squeal loudly
about the little Bureau's inability to demonstrate "what side it's on".
The vocal supporters
hate us for a different reason, apart, that is, from their general propensity for hatred. They can't stand our habit of
pointing things out with supporting evidence – proof – from primary sources, not newspaper junk, that they are
unable to challenge let alone refute, and it pisses them off no end. We'll add a bolt-on to the Bureau soon so
that the posts become searchable and readers can ignore our opinion pieces, which aren't worth much anyway, and retrieve
those sections where the proofs are laid out.
Among many examples we've listed the lies in the 2007 "blogs",
Gerry's attempt to fool the British public about the progress of the investigation. There has been no rebuttal. We highlighted
Kate McCann's own description of how she had lied to and deceived the media in August 2007 together with her equally dishonest
"justification" for doing so, and Gerry McCann's public lie that he was "ill" on August 2 rather than
being turned over by the police and left with only the clothes he was wearing. Any rebuttal? Not a word Any acknowledgement,
then, from the same quarters that any of this had even happened? Nope.
We've published the evidence showing
that six of the seven friends gave public commitment after commitment of their willingness, their keen desire, to return to
Portugal to assist the investigators if requested – and then, when they were requested, they refused to do
so, the nasty little liars, this time hoping that nobody would find out. Any rebuttal? You know the answer. We've published
the transcript where prosecutor Menezes states under oath that the nine "did not tell the truth" in their statements
about their movements on May 3, something he somehow forgot to mention in his archiving summary. Refutation? Discussion of
the implications? Acknowledgement? Nothing.
The list goes on and on, demonstrating that whatever happens, whatever
one's views, it is impossible to accept the unsupported word of the McCanns about anything. And "anything"
obviously includes not only Kate McCanns' claim that the PJ "offered her a deal" (they didn't) but more
importantly her description of the empty apartment on May 3, shutters, window, storm-force wind and all. That's why we've
taken the view that only a re-examination of eight of the nine by the Portuguese police can demonstrate whether, on this occasion,
the parents did, most unusually, tell the truth and that's what we go on campaigning for.
No hate. No theories. No disciples. Just recognition of the proof of verbal dishonesty which makes the couple, backed up by
their friends, completely unreliable, literally incredible, witnesses. So we can't accept their unsupported claims of
an abductor. That's our position.
If either the parents or a single one of their supporters had the guts to
confront these facts and stand up and say, honestly, "look, we accept there is a problem, it looks bad but..." we
might feel differently.
Instead we see an unarguable pattern of lies from the parents since 2007, and an absolute
silence about the porkies they have been been caught out in – and we find exactly the same pattern in their
active supporters. Whether it's the cudgel bearers on Twitter, the laughably lightweight countering-the-myths forum
and website "think" pieces, the "analyses" of that Pooter of the Willesden streets debunker or the demented
violence of the McCanns' various butch enforcers whose posts bulge like their biceps – you know them, I'm sure
– the one thing you never get is an acknowledgement of the questions the parents' extraordinary behaviour poses.
None of them will touch the subject.
The Portuguese libel case is one of the
very few opportunities that the judiciary has had to examine, weigh and assess the credibility of Kate and Gerry McCann and
their claims. At the first such opportunity, the Portuguese human rights hearings in 2010, their defeat was total. What about
this time? The verdict or settlement will have a decisive impact on the reputation of both parties. The McCanns' credibility,
given the above facts, can never be repaired by any court but their position with the public will certainly be improved if
they win their case. If Amaral is vindicated, on the other hand, his credibility and "interpretations" naturally
gain added weight and, since those interpretations include his observation that things have gone "badly for the McCanns"
in Oporto, the implications could be very far reaching indeed. It is a key event in this five year long drama.
already said that if Goncalo Amaral withdraws his claims we'll accept all the implications because it's the truth
we're interested in, not buttressing any position of our own: we'll be off double quick, which naturally means we
won't be around to attempt to spin the settlement or verdict. Do you think a single one of the supporters is capable of
making any similar commitment respecting the truth? Just watch.
Next, the evolution of lying: what is a Kate McCann
Not beginning to fidget yet?, 28 February
Posted by John Blacksmith
Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 16:48
Anyone who has waded through last night's twitter or held their noses, as we did, and skimmed the usual suspect sites
will have seen the position, or rather the bear trap, in which our opponents have left themselves. They have behaved, neutral
readers please note, exactly as we said they would.
If you haven't checked yet, have a look. You will
find that though there was the usual smearing and silliness there was, once again, in several hundred tweets and posts not
a single challenge – not one – to the facts we yet again summarised in yesterday's post.
the current question is simply "who's credible, who can we believe is a good guide through these intensely murky
waters, particularly in the weeks ahead?" (Goya's twittering club wielders, by the way, are said to be fighting on
Let's pause here for a moment. Despite the liberal buckets
of horse manure they tip over the poor little Bureau's doorstep none of us think that active supporters of the
McCanns are incorrigible liars, or enemies, monsters or tricksters. The pitbull lunacy of many of the posts is par for
the course on the internet and doesn't, we hope, reflect their true personalities. And yes, we believe that almost all
of them are really concerned about the fate of the child Madeleine and, in a rather complex way, genuinely shocked at the
abuse that has been thrown at the parents.
Unfortunately that doesn't help with the issue of their credibility.
So while we believe that the McCanns are practised and incorrigible liars we think that their supporters are almost all the
complete opposite: that in this one case, at least, they are stuck as practised and incorrigible believers.
Whose strings have been pulled. The idea will turn the internet bile tap on again but that's natural: nobody likes being
told that they are decent but suggestible with their strings having been pulled, even though we know that at least one of
the usual suspect sites (the Purple Care Home site) was set up and is still run by people who claimed, publicly and in detail,
that they had originally been brainwashed (their word) by anti-McCann groupthink before breaking free to their true position.
Let's hope they don't watch TV hypnotism programmes.
Have others on
that side of the fence ever really tackled the issue of suggestibility in this case? To paid spin? For instance, do
activists think that the affable lawyer Smethurst was just being windy in 2007 when he said that it was
upon us to portray the truth to the media and in particular to try and expunge any ill-founded theories about Gerry and Kate's
involvement so that the media attention can focus back onto the abduction and therefore onto the fact that we have a missing
little girl out there."In 2007 Smethurst, along with everyone else at that time, couldn't have known
what "the truth" was, could he? Yet he was confident that, given the money, given the people and the time, he could
get the British public to believe a certain version of "the truth". And he was speaking on a BBC flagship programme.
Do the activists think that they aren't part of that public? That he was only swaying others? What about that Hanover
Communications claim, that people like to tweet
"…by giving journalists positive stories to report,
coverage turned from hostility to the McCanns to sympathy about their ordeal. This campaign won the crisis communication
category at the 2008 CIPR awards.”Was that more hot, wasted air? And creepy Clarence Mitchell's adoption
of three different personae in most of his media feeds and his invention of a dialogue between them was normal, harmless truthful
practice with no implications?
The fact is that our opponents, the activists who believe that, unlike the loonies
on the loser sites, they are realists swayed by nobody have ended up stuck in 2008 espousing precisely the same cause
in all its details that the opinion formers were then being paid to promote – and won prizes for success in that promotion.
But they just can't see who they're in bed with and who might have tucked them up.
So back to upcoming events and we hope we'll see plenty of tweets and posts tonight telling us
exactly how Goncalo Amaral is running for his life, closely pursued by the forces of good. How "credible, reliable
and concerned with the truth" do you think the supporters of the parents will be when the verdict/settlement arrives?
Clue: not one of their sites has yet attracted attention to the Lisbon Appeal Court human rights judgement back in 2010 by
devoting a thread to an accurate appraisal of it. They've got the Bennett slaughter judgement up in full after only two
weeks but not Lisbon's after two years. In denial yet again – is that because there's no Hanover Communications
to guide them on handling it?
But don't listen to us: get your own answer by watching the tweets and reading
Kate McCann and when is a rumour a rumour? Sorry, that will have to wait for tomorrow.
Then I'll begin., 01 March 2013
Then I'll begin. The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Friday, 1 March 2013 at 16:46
Blacksmith (Antony Sharples) writes: Now that the McCann Affair has reached such a crucial stage it's increasingly likely
that the public won't need people trying, however poorly, to be guides to it anymore. If Goncalo Amaral resiles and asks
for mercy then my assessment of him, the one I've passed on to readers for several years, will be seen to be wrong and
I'll take the consequences. If, however, he is on the verge of victory then, frankly, I'm going to feel sorry for
Kate and Gerry McCann and I don't want to stick around to comment on what threatens to be a very painful process for them.
So – and only for those who are interested in reading some minor personal details about the affair – I can speak
a little more freely now that I have no future position, or sources, to protect.
When I got the email from
a journalist on one of the UK nationals a few weeks ago asking me if I knew anything about a McCann rumour that had hit the
desks, I had to reply that I couldn't help because I didn't know anything. A few hours later I received another email,
this time from Portugal, telling me briefly that the pair had given up and asked for terms.
I sat there for a while
staring at the screen and turning it over in my mind. I found it almost impossible to believe, so critical were the implications
for the couple. If the story was true it was the beginning of the end of the affair, of that I had no doubt, for I felt that
nothing except desperation in the face of impossible odds, not necessarily confined to the libel trial, could have prompted
such a move. So before even trying to think it through I needed to get some confirmation – but how?
last year Goncalo Amaral recorded his measured and surprisingly unruffled piece for Panorama before firing a warning
shot across the bows of a certain Andy Redwood, reminding that gentleman of the limits beyond which the officer's contribution
to the programme would not be allowed to go. In a short but explosive interview he revealed the existence both of the Oporto
squad and the hitherto unknown Anglo-Portuguese liaison team, as well as adding his now famous assessment of its progress:
things there "were not going well for the McCanns".
The creaking and secretive wheels of the Portuguese
justice system now whizzed round with unprecedented speed and transparency: within days the authorities were forced to concede
the truth of his revelations about the structure of the review: those warning shots had not been aimed at Redwood alone.
With that Amaral went into seclusion. He refused to enlarge on his comments or discuss the details of his own case,
as far as I could tell, with anyone outside his legal team for the rest of the year. People I'd known who were close to
his thinking found that their relations with him remained affable but uninformative and were able to tell me nothing. What
was clear was that he and his new legal team were now giving the McCanns zero to use or spin; on the contrary the
parents and their lawyers, who had known nothing about the Oporto and liaison teams, were reduced to a panicky attempt at
damage limitation themselves by using, yet again, the one UK newspaper still fully committed to their support – the
Mirror. The price of this restraint by Amaral and his team, of course, was that he had to accept without response
the continuing mud and filth that was calculatedly thrown at him, part of a renewed (and increasingly desperate) campaign
of defamation which those who organized it may well come to regret.
So when I tried to find confirmation of the
parents' request for terms I found, just as the press had found for the previous few days, that nobody could give
it. There was no trace of a source and Amaral's team said nothing, not "no comment" but literally nothing. Amaral
himself remained in seclusion.
Readers of this blog may never know just how murky the waters surrounding this affair
really are. Trying to sort the real from the fictional in an environment where people are constantly providing misinformation,
sometimes amateurishly, sometimes with disturbing professionalism, is a nightmare and even when you've satisfied yourself
about a source you can't quote it without damaging the information supply or the people providing it.
all leaks the questions were the old ones – what's the reason for leaking, who stands to gain? And who has suddenly
gone silent and why? In this case everybody was bloody silent and trying to get your head round the possible gainers led you
into a long chain of dizzying "what ifs". But I had one little advantage. I had been so shocked by the incredible
winner-take-all malice of the McCanns towards the officer who had worked on the case that for a brief period in late 2009
I decided that commenting alone wasn't enough: I would take that pair on at their own game of spin to try and do something,
anything, to counter what I saw as a piece of wickedness on the part of the parents. For me it wasn't the Madeleine McCann
Affair anymore but the McCann Affair in which the pair attempted to inflict pain on another person as great as any pain that
they had suffered in 2007.
Having offered my services unconditionally and for free to Amaral's team –
I have never met Goncalo himself – I set about adding to the documents and information I'd already accumulated on
the case. When the Lisbon hearing was about to begin I made an appeal to Sky news to provide at least one correspondent
to provide a daily round up of the case. We all knew that the case was set to be heard in closed court, in other words in
secret, and so Team McCann, in the absence of a balancing force, would be the only source of information to the UK public.
Provide a correspondent, I said to Sky, and I'll provide bilingual people with access to the hearings to give
a brief view independently of the McCann spin machine. At least that would supply fairness.
I got no guarantees
but then something happened that changed events entirely. Most of you will know the gist of what Amaral's colleagues and
other defence witnesses said in court and the impact their words had. How much do you know about what the original McCann
witnesses in this case had said when the injunctions were first sought? Almost nothing? Right, because those witnesses were
heard in secret so that not even Amaral knew what they'd said. And the McCanns, like the rest of us, were certain
that Amaral's witnesses would also be heard in secret in January – until, at the last minute, somebody in the dark
recesses of the Portuguese legal system, and I still don't know who, put the case into open court.
were totally unprepared for this and never caught up, indeed they hadn't even briefed Mitchell to provide the summaries
I expected, so convinced were they that there'd be a repeat blackout. It was the shock that the UK public was hearing
all these horrible details through the Sky twitter commentary that eventually produced Gerry McCann's memorable
meltdown outside court. Once the court had been opened Sky moved very quickly, much more quickly than the couple,
and put Jon de Paolo in, so for the very first time since 10PM on May 3 2007 the UK public had access to unspun information
about the affair. People have their concerns, or hatreds, about Murdoch and his editors, particularly the adventuress Rebekah
Brooks, as well as reservations about the somewhat equivocal Martin Brunt; as I've said before, however, we owe an immense
debt of gratitude to Murdoch-controlled Sky for what they did in Lisbon in the interests of truth. If only others
had done as much!
At the same time I began the same game that the couple had been playing incessantly for years,
feeding information first via the blog and then direct to the UK nationals. And that was the little advantage I had in February
this year. Being briefly at the centre of a news triangle involving Goncalo and the couple I knew exactly what the press were
reporting before and during the case because I'd given it to them. I was the only one who knew about the additional material
I gave the press over and above what I put on the blog so I was able to compare the facts I'd given with the attempted
responses from the Team and with the versions that the "activist supporters" of the couple were posting up.
There wasn't a lot of it but what there was made some headlines as well as some sizeable waves at Scotland Yard and
Leicester police headquarters. As far as the underprepared Team McCann was concerned I discovered that they were attempting
to respond daily to the stuff on the blog and making a hash of it. Mitchell, in particular, was in many ways an amateur when
confronted with new stories, very slow to think on his feet, despite the relentless self-publicity that had enabled him to
convince people of his hidden power. I found, to my great surprise, that I was able to predict the way the team would respond
day by day and put in a counter story before they'd even got their feed published. It was a very strange, indeed weird,
feeling to be involved in this way and for the first time I understood the secretive sense of power that behind-the-scenes
briefing gives to people like Mitchell.
Of rather less importance, but still significant for February 2013, was
what I found out about the activist supporters and their methods. Anyone who dismisses my description of them as decent but
suggestible, unable to see the McCanns in the round and therefore susceptible to having their strings pulled, as mere insult
needs to think again. I made the charge based on some years' insights into their activities but most of all on that January
2010 experience, because time and again that month they were exposed making stuff up to cover their own ignorance and the
psychological fixation with the couple that had made them incapable of independent judgement. I had the grim and slightly
disturbing pleasure of reading their numerous withering posts about my blog "lies", which they repeatedly compared
with the alternative truthful versions of the "real journalists" covering the same stories on the nationals. But
both versions came, every time, directly from me!
We all know that Amaral lost that round and for the time being
there was little more I could do to help, so my brief period manufacturing the news came to an end. But I'd learned my
lessons and I'd learned enough about the methods of Team McCann to feel pretty sure that I'd be able to analyse whether
the 2013 rumour was true or not before deciding whether to put it out. Always accepting, of course, that I might end up being
...and conclude, 05 March 2013
Posted by John Blacksmith
Tuesday, 5 March 2013 at 17:40
John Blacksmith (Antony Sharples) writes:
So when it came
to evaluating the story that the parents were suing for terms the predictability of the McCanns and their activist victims
made the task easier.
The-who-blinked-first-yah-boo stuff was just a trivialization. There was no dispute that
both sides had agreed to discuss terms. What mattered was that one of the two sides was acknowledging by its actions that
it was facing comprehensive defeat. That also meant the dreaded cycle of appeals and counter-appeals was now unlikely: you
don't ask for terms because your position is hopeless and then spend money on appeals.
So which side? I went
for a walk under bitterly cold January skies to help me think and follow the logic through. The journalist had contacted us
for confirmation of the rumour that it was the McCanns who were giving up. But all the UK national journalists possessed the
contact number of ever-co-operative Mitchell. So why would they turn to the little Bureau, a place with no reputation
for confirming anything? It could only be, I reasoned, because Mitchell had been contacted. The journalists
were scratching around elsewhere, obviously, because they'd hit a blank wall: he'd refused to comment.
never refused an off-the-record answer unless he'd been taken by surprise or was unable to work out a spin curve with
the pair. Never. It stood to reason that any Portuguese agreement to pause couldn't have come suddenly: it would have
been preceded by weeks of consideration, if not informal negotiation. If the question came as a surprise to Mitchell then
the parents hadn't yet informed him of events, which told its own story. If he did know but the three of them hadn't
yet worked out a curve, or even a temporary holding statement, then the news, again, couldn't be positive. Could the silence
possibly be for legal reasons? No. Everyone knew the McCanns never stayed silent for legal reasons, whatever they claimed.
To me it was beginning to look open and shut. Still, I went over it again, from the other angle. What if it was Amaral
who faced defeat? There'd been none of the usual gloating at the "lying cop's" problems from the Team or
the Mirror but leave that aside for a moment.What would a losing Amaral have to gain by a false story claiming that
he was on the verge of triumph? Clearly nothing at all: it would be a hopeless lie with no purpose, one bound to drive supporters
away when the facts were finally established. So silence from the McCanns on the question and silence from Amaral meant two
very different things, but both of them fatal to the couple.
I went on following it through from every angle I
could think of, including, crazily, the idea that a highly respected McCann expert had put forward that it might be misinformation
to trap and discredit the unimportant little Bureau. Possible, just, but vanishingly unlikely and, anyway, who cared?
No, after all the thinking, whichever way I looked at it the analysis came out the same: the story had to be true,
the parents were facing defeat and were temporarily incapable of response.
Over the next few days there was only
one thing left to decide: how should the Bureau respond – stay quiet until the facts somehow reached the public
or publish the story? The risk of betraying readers by claiming an unsourced story was true was real enough, so the safest
course was to say nothing until neutral information or some other disaster beyond the libel courts, perhaps connected to "things
not going well for the McCanns", produced certainty. And how long would that take?
There would be nothing
of value from the media, that was for sure. The belief that if pressure was kept up for long enough the media would do the
famous "turn", pull out their hidden dossiers and destroy the McCanns was, I was sorry to say, as unjustified as
the belief in hidden protection. Whatever finally appeared in the media would only do so when the facts had been established
Broadcasters were now reduced to disingenuous timidity about the McCanns, the memories of their disastrous
performance throughout 2007 still fresh in their minds, as their continuing failure to report the Lisbon appeal court findings
showed so clearly. Only in spring 2012 had the BBC finally started to move away from its 2007 written commitment "to
report the case exclusively from the parents' point of view" and begun to tip-toe into slightly more neutral waters
in the Panorama programme.
As for the press, it was now irrelevant. Their witnesses at Leveson, with the
notable exceptions of former Express editor Peter Hill – stressed, red faced and quietly defiant – and
his PDL correspondent Pilditch – world-weary and resigned – had revealed such deeply confused shame about their
entire McCann coverage and such fear that the hysteria surrounding Leveson might prompt legislation, that they were no longer
capable of contributing. What an irony that their 2007 death ride and its galloping manipulation of emotion into hysteria
had now been turned back on them! Still it was horrible to watch their public humiliation: the sight of UK journalists acting
out the 1937 Moscow trials with loud cries of "we're so sorry, we're so ashamed" was just disgusting, an
admission of collective breakdown. I'd watched Hill give his evidence and the atmosphere inside the tribunal, as he refused
to roll over like a dog in his own urine under the maliciously contemptuous examination of the bearded Jay, grew spine-tinglingly
tense as he stood his ground, while Brian Vyshinski-Leveson radiated a hostility which seemed to hit Hill like a wave and
before which he struggled to speak at all.
The McCanns and their lawyers stood quite apart from the other witnesses:
there was a vengefulness and, more important, a studied calculation in their performance (in which Kate McCann, notably, wore
no make-up) which placed them on a different level from the others, whether these were cross (Grant) or comical (Murdoch),
skittish (Rebekah) or farcical (Morgan). The McCanns were deadly serious with only one, unstated, aim: immunity. Even the
politician Hunt, whose whole career depended on his day's testimony, seemed to be playing for altogether smaller stakes
than the couple. As Pilditch would say, with a shrug, that's the way it goes. I'd seen enough of all this to last
for the rest of my life and now that Amaral had won I didn't want to watch the whole miserable performance any longer.
As other reports began to come in, including the news that yet another UK journalist had been asking, here and in
Portugal, for confirmation of the story which he clearly couldn't get from the normal source, and as the sightings tap
was turned on yet again, I decided not to wait. Why delay and give the couple time to gradually put some sort of narrative
together for the Amateur to drip-feed to the whipped curs in Kier Simmons-land? Forget that. Better to do it in our time,
Internet time. You can never get people to admit the truth in Internet debate but the Net can be used to make them reveal
the truth about themselves, on the record.
I decided to give the news in the most annoyingly provocative way possible
to stir the activist bee hive, some of whose workers have a line to the couple, into even more than its usual demented action:
that way they could show us the disbelief/fury/denial/silence cycle once again. Trivial but fun.
And the McCanns?
Well those "real, professional" journalists hadn't been able to get the couple to break their frozen silence
and confirm or deny the story, and nor could I. But the Net, now growing stronger than the overground media, most
certainly could.Once the Twitter and Facebook amplifier was turned up to full volume I thought the uneasy silence would be
impossible to maintain and the pair would be forced to say something. And why did I feel that if the McCanns were
finally forced into a response by the Net uproar then it would be the fib, the false denial, that would come? Let Kate herself
tell us by turning for the last time to page 205 of Madeleine:
"We'd never lied about anything
– not to the police, not to the media, not to anyone else. But now we found ourselves in one of those tricky situations
where we just didn't seem to have a choice."So, we're sure she'll tell the truth about a matter
of this importance.
The End of the Game
Very recently I received this message from
one of that select group of people in Portugal who have dedicated themselves to something worth struggling for and besides
whom I feel very insignificant indeed. And it sums up better than I can the costs, as well as the final rewards, of fighting
for an honourable cause.Its tone is justifiably emotional but intelligent and dignified, in sharp contrast to the coarse and
gruesome sentimentality – that certain sign of inner dishonesty – that has always hung like an oily shroud over
the defence of Kate and Gerry McCann.
"With the libel case, I almost went mad when the injunction was upheld.
I was there, throughout the hearings (though of course we hadn't had the privilege of hearing the McCanns' witnesses,
as they had been heard in secrecy). I thought that I had heard the same stuff that the judge had heard for I really had gone
into it with an open mind. I actually thought that Isabel Duarte had put on a hell of a show - but I thought that it was obvious
that it was a show, that she was trying too hard, that she didn't have enough arguments and needed to play the
emotional, almost insane role - emulating the insanity that must befall parents who lose their children...And thank you.
ruling from the Appeals Court restored my sanity. I remember when Gonçalo received it, he called me and we met at a
restaurant in Portimão, and I started to read it and he said nothing, absolutely nothing, as tears were falling down
my face, because I rarely cry, and most often I cry out of joy, not sorrow."
Posted by John Blacksmith
Saturday, 9 March 2013 at 12:48
Meanwhile, as the out-of-the-loop activists fight over the bones of yesterday's battles, there is the next question
they haven't even begun to face because things are moving too fast for them: is there a link between the Scotland Yard/PJ
review and the McCanns/Amaral libel case?
Of course there is! Don't take our word for it: you can
work it out from public information for yourselves.
In early 2012, as we know, Goncalo Amaral received hitherto
secret information about the Anglo-Portuguese review. He then made three public claims before just as abruptly falling silent.
Two of those claims, the existence of close liaison between UK and Portugal and the existence of the Oporto squad, were immediately
confirmed by the Attorney-General's department as 100% accurate.
On the third, "things are not going well
for the McCanns", they were silent, for obvious reasons. Note that the Attorney-General's department made no criticism
of Amaral for speaking publicly.
We know that the original position of the McCanns and their lawyers was that Amaral
was a "lone voice", a "rogue cop" who did not reflect the views of his fellow investigators. That position
was destroyed in court in January 2010 by the evidence of fellow officers, the demolition confirmed by the appeal court later
in the year. Duarte then critically altered her case, as she revealed in her long press release following the Wikileaks stuff:
everything before October 2007 was just "old news", no longer relevant since the PJ had altered the direction of
Since early 2012 and the Amaral revelations Duarte has had to wrestle with the possibility that
Amaral's informant, or informants, on current, not old, PJ thinking might be called at the libel trial. Note
that Amaral's complete silence on the matter has given her no clue.
Whether the informant's name is now
on the current Amaral witness list, visible to both parties, we don't know. But does anyone seriously believe that Amaral
made public everything about "things" and how they were going? And that his lawyers are not going to bring this
information to court?
Still living in the past, 12 March 2013
|Still living in the past The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 at 15:33
Got a minute?
Here's a little task for people with ten minutes to spare: look up "Goncalo Amaral"
on Google, varying it, if you like, by adding typical UK media insult terms like "liar" and "shamed".
You'll find that the UK press stopped abusing Amaral completely in spring last year. The final story was a questionable,
but by previous standards harmless, piece on April 28 (long after everyone else had stopped) when Martin Fricker of the Mirror
squeezed out "the bungling cop who led the botched Madeleine McCann investigation last night backed calls for the case
to be reopened."
Only two months before, in February 2012, the Mirror had still been writing about
him in their traditional terms: "thrown off the case in disgrace...made a fortune spouting lies...peddling his outrageous
claims...booted off the investigation...I don't know how he sleeps at night, knowing he's cashing in on the tragic
Does this mean that the famous "turn" in opinion against
the McCanns has taken place?
Nope. It's purely to do with the lawyers. And the facts.
of Trinity Mirror, in particular, as a PLC is open to a challenge of putting shareholders' funds at risk if its long-term
defamation of Goncalo Amaral can be characterised as "clearly reckless": Tweeters may wish to ask the company press
office whether the board has considered this risk.
Their pursuit would be clearly reckless if they continued it
while knowing they had no prospective defence in truth or public interest for a repeatedly defamatory campaign against him.
The words quoted from the February 12 story above are, unlike the words of April 28 but like nearly all their previous stories
on Amaral, quite clearly indefensible – key in "Martin Fricker McCanns" for juicy examples. But then the press,
with its consistent ignorance of Portugal and Portuguese law, assumed that Amaral was yesterday's goods and would lose
his libel case there: being sued by him in the UK was unlikely (he'd be too skint if he lost, apart from anything else).
Fricker: fond of long junk food at his desk, made a salary spouting lies The
train now leaving...
All that is, as the poets say, changed terribly. The last act began with Goncalo
Amaral's well aimed broadsides immediately before he went into libel trial seclusion.
In those interviews he
strengthened and augmented all his original claims against the McCanns (not the actions of a man looking for a way out), dismissed
their chances of succeeding ("the McCanns [legal] action is inept"), mocked them for their ignorance of Portuguese
law and the legal process ("I am beginning to doubt the McCanns are aware of the decisions of the Portuguese courts"),
hinted that Isabel Duarte was letting the pair go nose-down kamikaze to keep the fees coming in as long as possible, despatched
the then half-forgotten Metodo with contempt ("creating bogus sightings"), thus presaging their downfall this year,
and pointed out the increasingly defeatist tone of the pair's libel lawyer ("...some panic in the opposing side").
The journalists could ignore these strong warning signs if they chose: the lawyers could not, so in common with all
the other UK nationals, the Mirror
has withdrawn from the Amaral defamation game. Under UK law libel complaints have
to be made within a year of the appearance of the offending article so all of them are, just, covered, as long as they continue
to be good boys – which they most certainly will, both before and after the McCanns' defeat in the libel case is
...the poor sods behind
As always those poor boobies, the activist McCann
supporters, are out of the loop and living in 2008. Key "Goncalo Amaral liar" into Google and you will note the
usual forum/blogger suspects all foaming madly against Goncalo – but doing so alone. The media have left the losers
behind and moved on without a word.
will miss cop's trial Daily Star SundayBy Daily Star reporter
9th September 2012
of Madeleine McCann will avoid a showdown with a former police chief who wrongly claimed they lied about their daughter's
Kate and Gerry McCann are hoping to win a £1million libel payout from disgraced Goncalo
Amaral, who they say has made their life hell.
But the McCanns, both 44, are staying away from this week's
trial in the Portuguese capital Lisbon.
Mr Amaral, 55, is attending the four-day hearing, which is scheduled to
start on Thursday.
Kate and Gerry branded the ex-officer "poisonous" for claiming in a once-banned book
that Maddie is dead and that they lied about her disappearance.
Their daughter vanished in Praia da Luz, Portugal,
five years ago, aged three.
The McCanns' lawyer Isabel Duarte said yesterday: "Kate and Gerry are not
needed in Portugal for the trial."
She said they were confident of victory, adding: "We reasonably expect
compensation for the dreadful damages this book has brought the family."
Any payout will be spent entirely
on the continuing global search for Maddie, the couple said.
Mr Amaral led the bungled investigation but was sacked
for criticising British police.
Kate wrote in her 2011 book Madeleine: "That man has caused us so much upset
Now we're talking..., 15 June 2013
& Gerry McCann reacting to the good news
by John Blacksmith
Saturday, 15 June 2013 at 11:47
"Under the plan, Yard detectives will seek
the assistance of the Portuguese to carry out some inquiries on their behalf. British police do not have jurisdiction in Portugal
but they have the right to investigate and prosecute any British suspects who might be linked to Madeleine’s
As Goncalo Amaral has said repeatedly, the original investigation was "incomplete"
and the Attorney-General's department in the archiving summary detailed the exact ways in which it was incomplete - the
common factor was that British persons of interest were beyond reach. If the review, which we remind readers is a joint review,
had led to the re-opening of the case in Portugal then the authorities there would be faced with exactly the same problem
that they had then: no way of forcing those people back, insufficient evidence to seek European arrest warrants and another
crisis in Anglo-Portuguese relations as the paid shysters stall, wriggle and spin on behalf of their British clients. That
cannot happen now that the Yard are taking over the inquiry. The only British "persons of interest" to the investigation
are the holiday group: the others are now dead.
Forget the forthcoming rumours that the Portuguese will be upset
by the decision – that is a Scotland Yard steer and untrue. The fact is that the two countries have finally found a
way to cut the Gordian knot. Everyone who wants the truth to come out, such as the parents of the child and their supporters,
will naturally welcome the news. Hooray!
Agony-Aunt Bureau – your question
answered, 21 June 2013
Posted by John Blacksmith
21 June 2013 at 14:00
The London Crown Prosecution Service
The London CPS covers the Metropolitan police (Scotland Yard) area. Quote: "As the principal prosecuting authority
in England and Wales the CPS is responsible for criminal cases beyond the police investigatory stage. The CPS will advise
the police on cases for possible prosecution, review cases submitted by the police, determine any charges in all but minor
cases, prepare cases for court and present cases at court. Primarily, the CPS will review the evidence gathered by the
police and provide guidance. [Bureau italics] During pre-charge procedures and throughout the investigative and prosecuting
process the CPS may assist the police by explaining what additional work or evidence could raise the case to a viable charging
standard thereby rectifying any evidential deficiencies. Once the evidence is gathered the CPS will then decide, on the basis
of this evidence, whether a case should be pursued or dropped."
"London's chief crown prosecutor Alison Saunders and her deputy Jenny Hopkins flew to Portugal in April
to meet counterparts to discuss leads identified in the Met's review." Evening Standard, June 21 2013.
The Evening Standard is even more broke than its stable mate the Independent, is owned by one of the Russian
oligarchs – the plunderers who Putin perhaps should have executed – and has almost no full-time journalists. So
it's about as original and reliable as the Portugal News.
But it does have an agreement with the Mail
owners to use their stories (this one is understood to be left over from the Mail's "UK takeover"
piece last week) and the two prosecutors are named and have not denied the news item. Jenny Hopkins is not just a deputy:
she is Head of the Complex Casework Unit.
No sauces needed
two points. First, it is another opportunity for a Home Office or Yard refutation of last week's stories and yet, once
again, no rebuttal, or even guiding hint suggesting caution, has appeared. Inference: the "takeover" story is again
strengthened and, as things stand, very likely to be true in broad outline.
Secondly, what can the CPS Metropolitan
police area heads have been doing there?
Well, they are prosecutors, so even in this crooked old world it's
fair to infer that they went to discuss possible prosecution in accordance with their role quoted above.
The answer can
only be either people who were neither arguidos nor persons of interest in the original Portuguese investigation
or those who were. The former, in theory, could be, literally, anybody: ink-blots from the troubled but vivid imagination
of Gerry McCann such as paid toddler-thieves and international paedophile rings; others who have hitherto escaped any study
at all and may be living anywhere from New Zealand to Brazil; still others who might have been highlighted by the Yard team
in their "opportunity" investigations and, lastly and most fatuously, the unfortunates like Hewitt whose names were
bandied about by the paid liar Clarence Mitchell, the sheep-strangler Edgar (seen above demonstrating the tools of his trade)
and their paymasters.
The one thing we know for absolutely certain about this disparate group is that the same
Portuguese Attorney-General's department which highlighted the absence of any evidence of wrong-doing by the McCanns and
archived the case has repeatedly stated that "no new evidence" of significance has been provided to it during the
period of the Scotland Yard review.
Your Question Answered
the Attorney-General's department is publicly lying on the record, which we consider absolutely out of the question, then
no material has been provided to that department to justify even investigation of any new names, let alone possible prosecution.
So the answer to the question who could have been the subject of Anglo-Portuguese discussions regarding prosecution
is self-evident and incontrovertible: persons against whom the evidence for prosecution has already been gathered
(remember "no new evidence") in the original Amaral/Rebelo investigation.
Forgiveness is all, 01 July 2013
|Forgiveness is all The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Monday, 1 July 2013 at 16:50
Be your own expert
"British detectives have expressed dismay over
flaws in the Portuguese police investigation in which dozens of people were allowed to trample over the crime scene."
Such is the song we've heard for many years until, like so much in the case, it is accepted as obvious fact.
Much of the local "trample" colour was provided originally by an extremely dodgy press leak by two policemen
who spoke, surprise, surprise, on condition of anonymity. Note the date the stuff appeared – November 2007: "counter-attack
month" for Team McCann. [see full article below]
A Team effort
The articles are worthless except as signs of the Team's successful efforts to sap the Portuguese case against
Kate & Gerry McCann by anonymous disparagement. As local journalist Brendan de Beer pointed out, (himself used by the
Team then hung out to dry, as he ruefully admitted to us years ago) certain journalists were going around offering fat fees
for anonymous interviews with policemen.
But starting a debate on supposed police shortcomings served its purpose:
diverting attention from the question of what the nine holidaymakers were doing between ten and midnight and just what
they permitted to happen.
Confusion is good
on the case with a gram of honesty could have pointed out that "crime scene" for apartment 5A should be used with
care. "Crime scene" conjures up images of a dead victim with a knife in the back, or a puddle of blood on the pavement.
"Contaminating the crime scene", in that naff TV watcher's pseudo-expertise first brought to us by Gerry McCann
(Helicopters, I tell you!) and David Payne (Seal the borders men!) suggests thicko coppers slipping on the
blood as they blunder.
Like those bunglers who opened cupboards in 5A to look for the child instead of
calling a national emergency. What they should have done was march the McCanns out to a police car, lock the apartment doors
and say, in peasant Portuguese, "right, it's a crime scene. Nothing can be done until forensics arrive in a couple
of hours. We can't even look for her under the bed."
As always, trying to help the McCanns led to ridicule
In normal parlance a crime scene is a specific location where a crime is known to have taken place.
There was not then, and there still is not now, any evidence that 5A was the scene of a crime between 9.15PM and 10PM on May
3 2007 demanding immediate forensic precautions. None. Ever. Perhaps the Yard will tell us.
Kate McCann: "It's inexplicable, of course, that we should ever have been left
in what was now a crime scene." Her statement, made in 2011 in Madeleine, has precisely the same value as her
claim that she "knew" it was a crime scene at 10PM. She has never provided evidence to justify either of her assertions.
"People had been in and out of the apartment for the last three hours, [i.e from 10PM] and until one of the PJ
officers "stuck a piece of police tape" [note the intentionally contemptuous language about the people who were
simple enough to try and help her] across the doorway of the children's room, it was Gerry who tried to make sure everyone
kept clear of it."
So there it is. Unlike anyone else, unlike any of the police at the time, the couple were
both certain that it was a crime scene. And Gerry explicitly accepted responsibility for protecting it from contamination:
"...it was Gerry who tried to make sure everyone kept clear of it."
OK, how did he try? Did he sit on a chair in front of the bedroom door? Did he ask someone to deputize for him if
he was called elsewhere? Like Matthew Oldfield, say, or O'Brien. Gerry could have ripped out a page from a child's
colouring book and made a sign for the door – no entry! Come to think of it they could have taken the table the three
were using to create their timelines and placed it in front of the door while they went on "working".
a wonderful word, "try", isn't it?
Was he trying while he was rolling on the floor screaming like
a wounded buffalo about paedophiles? Did he make his numerous phone calls while supervising the door? Do any of the recipients
of those calls describe him saying, "can't talk any longer, there's someone by the bedroom door."
As always with that pair, everything is somebody else's fault, from Mrs Fenn, with her "plummy voice" and
casual attitude to the doltish "tweedledum and tweedledee" coppers, who drove too fast and didn't keep their
police station as clean and tidy as a Rothley redbrick loo.
Forgiveness is all
Unless it's one of the "friends". That's different. No, says Kate, doesn't worry me at all that
Jane Tanner, who had only to shout and the bogeyman would have left the child and legged it, did nothing and kept her trap
No, no, we forgive nice Robby O'Brien who was supposed to do our 9.30 check but betrayed us by caring
only for his own kid. And Matthew? Well, she's not terribly warm towards Matthew but has no criticism for his criminal
negligence, which like Tanner's behaviour eighteen minutes before, prevented the alarm being raised to save the child's
She really is all heart, isn't she?
It's just a pity that the media people, so full of
questions for the Portuguese bunglers, could never bring themselves to ask Kate McCann, "What exactly did you mean, Kate?
How did he try?"
Police 'looked on as Madeleine crime scene was trampled by circus
of people' Daily Mail
By VANESSA ALLEN
Last updated at 14:50 06 November 2007
officers among the first to investigate Madeleine McCann's disappearance yesterday blamed their superiors for allowing
the initial crime scene to be contaminated by a 'circus' of people.
Breaking a six-month silence, the pair
said the behaviour of senior detectives in the first few hours of the investigation had made Portuguese police an international
Speaking for the first time about the night of May 3, the rank-and-file officers said they looked
on in horror as potential evidence trampled underfoot in Kate and Gerry McCann's holiday apartment.
Total strangers were allowed to wander in and out of the two-bedroom
flat when it should have been sealed off as a crime scene, according to the duo's damning accounts.
"It was chaos. The world and his dog were in that room just to look under a bed. It was crazy allowing so many people
to trample through.
"There was nothing we could do. The damage had already been done."
officers, who spoke on condition that they were not identified, arrived at the Ocean Club complex within two hours of Mrs
McCann raising the alarm that Madeleine, then approaching her fourth birthday, was missing.
Referring to the senior
detectives, one of the men said: "They know they mucked up. They regret it because now the whole world's laughing
and pointing fingers in disgust, saying how incompetent the Portuguese police are.
"The world's eyes are on us and we mucked up big and there's
nothing they can do to change things - it's too late."
Both men are officers in the Guarda Nacional Republicana,
the Portuguese force which acts as the country's rank-and-file police.
The duo, who between them have 35 years'
experience, said they were horrified by what they found at the apartment in Praia da Luz.
Other GNR officers and
their superiors had allowed the McCanns, their friends, other police officers and total strangers to walk through it and even
pick up items.
One officer told the Mail: "It had been completely compromised before we arrived.
"There was nothing to protect. It should have been done.
"To arrive as back-up and find a circus walking
in and out of a possible crime scene, well... it's ridiculous."
His colleague added: "It's not
brain surgery and probably, in this case, could have saved a lot of speculation, heartache and unnecessary investigation time
The pair said "hysterical civilians" were running in and
out of the apartment, and said their colleagues had called the Policia Judiciaria - the country's equivalent of the CID
- because they felt "something wasn't right".
One said of the McCann group: "They were upset,
panicking, wideeyed, the usual, but there was something else.
"They were scared - not the usual scared, they
were jumpy, nervous. It wasn't normal. None of it was normal.
"They'd all been drinking. They weren't
falling over but it was hard to deal with them. They were hard to get sense out of."
Mr and Mrs McCann, both
39, and their seven friends have always denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.
But one of the officers said he thought the parents would be "suspects
for ever" because of the bungled investigation.
He said: "This case has no end. It'll get filed away
with an open verdict. The parents will be suspects for ever."
In a telling insight into opinions within Portugal's
police forces, his colleague added: "They left their babies alone every night. Now they'll forever be known as 'that
couple who got away with it'. That's a fair price."
More on Munchin' Mitchell, 31 October
What exactly is the status of Clarence "Maggot" Mitchell?
That question begins to loom as the bright new investigation gathers momentum. Should it "vindicate" the
McCanns, then their position as proven and practised pathological liars and intriguers will be left unchanged. But what if
something more serious occurs? Where exactly does he stand then?
Mr Mitchell is most commonly described, of course,
as a "spokesman" but that's clearly an inadequate description of his role. But even as a mere spokesman his
role is significant: a spokesman has to know a great deal about the activities and behaviour of his employers to be able to
field questions and voice opinions on their behalf: he has to be familiar with the way they think.
As he says, he's a Very Important Person
But he isn't just a spokesman, is he? Ever since
the autumn of 2007 Mr Mitchell has been something much more, a self-taught reputation manager for the parents, a trusted strategist
and, particularly in 2007/8, a vital member of the defence team which so successfully turned the tables on the Portuguese
prosecution authorities. It was Mr Mitchell, remember, who toured the offices of all the UK national newspaper editors with
defence lawyers and gave a confidential and categorical assurance to each of them that the McCanns were completely innocent
and that continuing to print accusatory stories would result in legal action.
Unlike his fellow travellers, however,
Mr Mitchell is not a lawyer. As someone who left school early without any qualifications, indeed, he isn’t a member
of any profession. Does that matter or are we being snobbish?
Oh, it matters all right; it matters a great deal
and with every day that goes by it matters a great deal more.
Thinking the Unthinkable,
Professional advisers such as chartered accountants or lawyers have immunity regarding
their clients' actions. However repulsive their behaviour – and the McCanns have collected just about the most repulsive
crew of lawyers to be seen since the OJ Simpson trial – they don’t go down with their clients if things go wrong.
The Maggot has no such protection if the unthinkable occurs. As a spokesman he is a paid and trusted servant of Gerry
and Kate McCann with intimate knowledge of their affairs. As a spin doctor, that is a paid liar by definition, he is self-taught
and, importantly, he did not have a PR agency of his own to give him even a fig-leaf of quasi-professional protection or distance
from the pair: he did it, as he himself has stated, for personal reasons. And as a member of the 2007/8 defence effort he
had a crucial role in protecting them from the possible legal consequences of their actions.
In law, therefore,
rather than in his own very high estimation, Mr Mitchell is both an employee and, more important, a voluntary "member
of a joint enterprise".
The question of exactly what that joint enterprise set out to achieve, and how, is
being closely investigated by the police of two countries right now*, who are very anxious indeed to repeat that the McCanns
are not suspects, definitely not, absolutely not, no question, Christ no, not, as Kate McCann used to love saying,
not in a million years.
* For those interested, the "tractor driver" farce has unravelled
quicker than one of Mr Mitchell's sightings: the widow has freaked out and is already suing the people who made the claim
and the doors in the AG department are banging loudly as people rush to distance themselves from it.
The vulnerabilities of Mr Mitchell –
continued, 01 November 2013
Three people – one enterprise
We now know, nearly seven years
on, that the harm done to the original investigation by the McCanns is much greater than we supposed.
In May 2007
the one and only physical "search for Madeleine" that has ever taken place, the scouring of PDL and other areas
for traces of the child by the PJ, was placed under critical strain by the unauthorised ("no media!") and illegal
("please observe judicial secrecy") interference of Kate and Gerry McCann. Helped by some of their friends.
Their media activities led directly to a mass of irrelevant,
and in many cases half-crazed, "sightings" of the child worldwide. The resources of the PJ were stretched to the
limit by these reports, each of which had to be investigated.
Whether the child was murdered by a panicking abductor
as a direct result of the parents actions, as the PJ feared would happen unless the parents saw sense, we may never know.
That alone is a crushing burden of potential culpability, one which the parents have never acknowledged. But it gets
worse. The activities of the couple and their friends over the weekend of May 5/6 when they constructed a narrative of events
built around an "abductor" seen by Jane Tanner led to yet further diversion of effort and resources. Every man-hour
spent on tracking the JT suspect foisted on them by the group was time stolen from the real PJ search. Without the loss, again,
we cannot know if it might have been successful and the child traced.
But with the recent revelation that Tanner
never saw any "abductor" the culpability of the parents and their friends grows even greater, if that is humanly
possible. The search, the one real search, was hamstrung and corrupted by a complete fantasy, the sole responsibility of the
parents and their friends.
In search of a sense of shame
It is a quite shocking episode, one which, you might think, would have led to shamed silence for the rest of their lives
by the people responsible. But no. Instead of well-merited silence and shame at their culpability, unwitting or otherwise,
they have led an insane, megaphone attack on the very people who tried to warn, to plead and to prevent their fatal interference,
You'd think it can't get any more rotten or shameful, wouldn't you? It can.
content with their 2007 wrecking ball the parents engaged an accomplice, a paid liar, to help breathe life and credibility
into the abductor who never was. This project of invention and untruth was largely entrusted, in a truly Faustian way, to
hungry Clarence Mitchell.
Sports News, 19 November 2013
|Sports News The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Tuesday, 19 November 2013 at 16:10
Are we all relaxed?
The smooth and untroubled progress towards
a denouement of the Affair following the carefully planned Bladerunner vaporization of Tannerman, the shadowy Praia
da Luz replicant on whom the entire abduction-by-aliens depended, gives us, the increasingly smug critics, the luxury of breathing
space to enjoy the successful re-opening of the case.
The parents, though, have been uncharacteristically restrained
with their celebrations about the re-opening – the culmination after all, of their hopes for the last four years –
and their triumphant appearance on Crimewatch lacked, shall we say, a certain joie de vivre. Still, they
must, like us, be bubbling within at the prospect of vindication. Mustn't they?
The lack of obvious celebration
probably has other reasons. Perhaps they are, ssshhh, operational, a big word for an Important Couple Who Move
Unobserved Near The Levers of Power.
Or could they still be following that famous advice they received about
not showing emotion in case it turned an abductor on at long range? The mind boggles.
Most likely it's that
typical Scouse decorum which Kate exhibits on those frequent occasions when her dreams come true, as for example, her memorable
response to Phil "Barrow Boy" Green's offer of a private jet for the couple's personal use — "but
what would people say? That we were hobnobbing with celebrities and swanning around in the lap of luxury while our daughter
Strange. Perhaps we'll find out one day.
a Lighter Note
Meanwhile to more cheerful subjects and the reflections of the Bureau's
sports correspondent the delightful Henry Brooke-Percy, who has returned to us with the renewal of hope in the McCann case,
the abrupt ending of his civil partnership and his release from a short stint in Leyhill open prison over a misunderstanding
involving some credit cards and a young male friend.
Henry in better days
Underneath his bluff old Etonian veneer Henry is a perceptive observer. The other day we were sitting around in the
Bureau's office spending an extremely pleasant afternoon sipping champagne and laughing at the
latest tweets from the Lisbon libel trial while Henry was talking about the American writer and journalist Norman Mailer,
an oddball with a thing about violence and a lifelong love of boxing. Mailer, the subject of a massive forthcoming biography,
once wrote, said Henry, that you can usually identify who is winning a big bout, even on television, because they seem to
swell, literally and physically, while their opponent, in contrast, begins to shrink.
"Just have a look, old
boy," he said, sipping someone else's drink, "watch a bout on TV and you'll see it happen. Really does.
"Always?" someone asked.
"The big fights," said Henry, "oh yes,
the ones that really matter."
He Could Be Right
yes, remembering past brawls at the TV ringside, Mailer seems to have been largely right with this – let's face
it weird – generalization. In When we Were Kings, the movie about Muhammad Ali's "rumble
in the jungle" in which Mailer himself made a typically ungracious appearance, opponent George Foreman looked like a
giant rather than a man yet late in the fight it was as though he was leaking air while Ali began to bounce and grow.
...beginning to shrink
Another, more conventional and much more widely accepted observation in the fight game, is that one of the boxers,
usually the champion, will "have the centre of the ring", according to Henry's phrase, that is, occupy the middle
area of the canvas while his opponent is forced to dance in circles around him as he attempts to land his blows.
After Henry had left with the tenner he'd borrowed the rest of us returned to the pleasures of the trial. Still, this
writer at least couldn't help thinking again about Henry's words. Did winners really swell and losers shrink? And
did they "lose the centre of the ring"?
Trauma Time – Again? Part I, 28
|Trauma Time – Again? Part I The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Thursday, 28 November 2013 at 16:21
That Was Then
Back in 2011 or so the Bureau came out with
a piece on the Yard review, basically saying that the public would have no idea which way the tide was running until pretty
near the end, since the Yard was never going to leak about its true knowledge and intentions and the words of the parents,
then as now, are too provenly dishonest to be trusted about anything.
So how did we suggest that, despite these
problems, we might get late clues to the eventual result? Regular readers won't be surprised to know that a discovery
of a living child, or a dying hunch-backed paedophile's confession, didn't feature as one of our markers, but we'll
leave that aside. No, we suggested that the McCanns were going to maintain near-silence or claim they were "pleased"
with the review, whether through gritted teeth or not; if they stuck with this line until completion was imminent then we
could infer that their future would be looking bright. If, however, the information they were gaining suggested looming trouble
then – and only then – they would start leaking. And give the game away.
We won't give you a full
account of that post for the same reason we won't give you a link: blogs – with the important exception of The
Cracked Mirror, http://madeleinemccannaffair.blogspot.co.uk/ which isn't really a blog and was built to last – are, like the opinions of the people who write them, pretty worthless
after a week or two and so we regularly delete them.
But not only did we delete the thing but we also forgot our
own warnings in it that the Yard's words would never give us a clue about what they were actually up to, just as Leicester
Police's words, after nearly seven years, never have. Once the CPS was involved we reckoned the End Game was approaching
and were suitably contradicted, and chastened, by the Yard itself, with their explicit "not suspects" statement.
How Does it Work?
Why, though, would
it be such a significant marker if the leaking/spinning started? Because, as the Bureau has hammered home since 2007
the McCanns' statements, however concealed by cut-outs like the Maggot or others, are an integral part of the case
Without their consistent pattern of proven lying and evasion and without their colossal appetite
for the pleasures of the media game which they attempt to conceal and dignify with talk of the, ahem, "search",
few would agree with ex-head of the Yard John Stalker's claim that the couple hold "a big secret"; there wouldn't
really be a case of any sort against them and not much appetite for pursuing one either, whether for neglect or more serious
matters, such as those suggested in the Lisbon libel trial evidence.
Quite the reverse: dignified silence and humility
[one sighs at the sheer absurdity of the prospect] from the couple since May 2007 would have done more than anything
to guarantee increasing sympathy for them and an untroubled future for their surviving children. It was, after all, a Portuguese
policeman who, in answering the charge that they could have been more sceptical of the couple in 2007, recently said that
cops, too, have a heart and are exceptionally reluctant to press home accusations against relatives of a missing child.
Kate McCann's Normality
Policemen can be stupid as well
as sympathetic but they know their Standard Operating Procedures well enough to keep an eye on – and sometimes deliberately
provoke – comment and reaction by relatives of a missing person, "suspects" or no. So, for instance, Kate
McCann's admission of successful deception in Madeleine page 206 would hardly be ignored by any cop not actually
senseless from too much scrumpy, since it immediately destroyed the "nobody could have behaved normally in the Tapas
restaurant knowing her own child had suffered..." argument, best expressed in the Archiving Summary:
behaviour until the moment of the disappearance was perfectly normal, not manifesting any kind of preoccupation or any other
similar feeling, contrary to what happened after that moment when panic was manifest".For Kate McCann
avoided "manifesting any kind of preoccupation or any other similar feeling" to journalists as she acted
out her role on August 2 2007, even though she bore the burden of knowledge as she lied that the police were coming to "do
some forensic work" regarding the investigation, news that she believed would be absolute dynamite if it got out.
The Balance of Risks
So why damage herself with those dangerous
words in the book four years later? Well, she writes on the same page about the decision to deceive that they "just didn't
seem to have a choice", an interesting cop-out and an interesting insight into the lying mind. The truth was that she
was choosing between risky, or dangerous, alternatives and the same words can be used about her decision to write about the
event four years later in Madeleine. Stripped of the deception and self-deception on both occasions she
had only a choice of risks: ignore the lie in the book and wait for the PJ to read it and betray her by giving the
world and the Yard the real reason for the "upset stomach"; or kill that certain result by admitting the lie and
accepting the accompanying risk to her "normality".
And, such is the nature of the path they have chosen,
exactly the same has applied ever since: with the Review/ Reinvestigation the choice of risks is between speaking
to try and influence, somehow, the direction of the inquiry or maintaining silence and an impression of guiltless,
unflappable confidence in the result, difficult though that is these days when one wears the uneasy, hunted look of a bird
watching out for the guns. The risk of the former is that even the most doltish cop is capable of asking "just why are
they worried?" and of the latter that silence leaves them unable to try and influence their fate.
Living with Paranoia
The parents, of course, have no more knowledge of whether the police of either country are speaking the truth about the
case than the rest of us and, accordingly, no knowledge of how their risk calculations have worked out. How could they know?
There are no sources of such certainty for us or them, just as the honeyed words and first-name greetings of Leicester police's
Stuart Prior to all the Nine back in 2008 meant nothing compared with that force's tigerish response to the pair's
attempts to find out what their files held. The difference is that for the rest of us the question of police sincerity in
this case is largely academic whereas for the couple it is shatteringly important, hence, perhaps, their present appearance
– a stark contrast to all those photographs showing them well-fed, comfortable and often laughing once they had adjusted
to the disappearance of their daughter some years ago or, as "psychologist" Alan Pike put it in Lisbon, once they
"had recovered from their initial trauma."
So is it Trauma Time again? Might the parents fear that yet
another police attempt to stitch them up lies behind nice Mr Redwood's comforting burr? Are we near the point forecast,
rightly or wrongly, by the little Bureau two years back? Let's have a look and see whether Mr Mitchell's
words give us a hint. In Part II, later today.
Trauma Time – Again? Part II,
29 November 2013
Posted by John Blacksmith
Friday, 29 November 2013 at 13:34
...this is Now
And so to the Mirror article here
– In Keir Simmons Land
It's something of a period piece: just as the parents, like all celebrities, are insulated from the real world
by fandom and don't know how absurdly they come across on the box these days, so Mitchell seems to have no idea of how
old-fashioned his "news management" on behalf of the couple looks in 2013. And note particularly how the off-the-record
sourcing – as dated as a Monty Python sketch – makes a mockery of ancient Keir Simmons-land claims that, unlike
the wicked and anonymous Net, the mainstream puts a name to its reports thus guaranteeing the reliability of its stories.
So the piece is a two-headed "pal and spokesman" Mitchell feed – somewhat vitiated
by the fact that the McCanns can't afford a spokesman anymore and never had a pal – using the now-debased
mainstream press to help the McCanns achieve something. The risks to themselves that we highlighted yesterday, magnified in
this instance since it is their first public intervention in the Review/Investigation process, exclude the possibility of
simple media meddling, so the question is what are they trying to achieve? Or put it another way –
Do the Portuguese and the PJ?
"Not pulling their weight …frustration…PJ
are back to their old game..." Obviously not; far from helping them the piece is a straight attack on the Portuguese
police, end of story.
So does it help the Yard?
It suggest it's trying to, doesn't it? All that
concern [coughs] from the caring parents and their pal [retches violently] to get help for Hulk Hogan in
his lonely attempt to "find Madeleine" [dons airline sickbag to continue] without obstruction from the
dagoes who, try as they might, just don't understand modern grown-up teamwork.
But linking Hogan to this little
bit of poison in the McCanns' only remaining house journal, the Mirror, is hardly going to increase co-operation
is it? On the contrary it's pretty much guaranteed to scratch at the tender sores of Portuguese resentment at any
attempt by the Yard to "nudge" or manoeuvre them from long range. No, the article is clearly not helping the Yard
either. In fact it could hardly be more inflammatory if it was deliberately designed to put the two organizations against
each other, what with its alarmist talk of "mounting tension".
And that's our answer, the only one
that makes sense: it's a deliberate, poorly disguised and poorly executed attempt to increase friction between
the two forces and weaken the likelihood of a JIT by three people whose time is gone. Only the McCanns, and
perhaps the unblinking Mr Redwood, know why they fear co-operation so much that they risked it.
Too late. And too
When Drama Turns to Farce, 04 December
|When Drama Turns to Farce The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Wednesday, 4 December 2013 at 15:51
When do we know that public perceptions of people have changed and support is bleeding away? When the evidence is known?
When someone is obviously a monster? When they are tracked down by dedicated investigators?
No, no and no. When,
mysteriously, they and belief in them start to become ridiculous.
Media gave it...
The evidence, for example, that Robert Maxwell, a favourite of these pages, was
a thief had been on record twenty years before he got hold of the Mirror and its pensioners' savings. You look
at that bloated toad's interviews now – the hypnotically grotesque waist and crutchline, acres of it, so appropriate
for someone who simply wanted to roll over and squash anyone he couldn't buy off, the lizard eyes and the Broadmoor smile
–– how come people didn't, no couldn't, see it then? How come they didn't laugh at such an absurd,
pantomime villain but fell for him, starry-eyed, like supposedly hard-bitten Alastair Campbell, a pretty typical mainstream
journalist, who sobbed at the news of his hero's last swim?
For obvious monsters we need look no further than
the BBC, not for Jimmy Savile but someone who made that typical showbiz operator look like a model of sexual restraint: the
sculptor Eric Gill, whose paedophilia was so extreme that it not only regularly encompassed his infant daughter's birthday
party friends but the infant daughter herself, a habit which his arty middle-class friends – and mums – observed
but accepted without much comment. Eccentric, you know. What on earth did the church-going governors of the BBC have
to say when little Eric turned up in his "easy-access for the young" skirt every day to create, on the
front of Broadcasting House, the largest tribute to child abuse ever sculpted and one which still, ahem, stands? What can
you do but laugh grimly?
Eric Gill Expressing
enough: the examples of those who mysteriously manage to get taken at their own valuation long after the facts are screaming
for Christ's sake get real are countless and, we guess, always will be.
What do people say, long after
they've bought Waterloo Bridge for £250 from a couple in frayed suits with charming smiles? "I don't know
what came over me." Because in the end, granted when it's often too late, the spell is broken and people
look back in wonder at their own credulity.
… and You Tube Takes
Kate and Gerry McCann are right there, right now. The mainstream media, as always these
days, lags behind while the public finds the truth for itself elsewhere, in this instance often on You Tube. The
Mirror, with its unfathomable death-wish, prefers, publicly at least, to wait a little longer for the arches and
piers to arrive from Waterloo; the BBC simply keeps its head very much down about the couple these days, just as its directors
do every morning as they hurry under Gill's mocking erection into Broadcasting House's welcoming embrace. But the
spell is broken and eventually they, and all the others in Keir-Simmons land who gave the pair a stage, will have to acknowledge
Not that the couple are thieves on the Maxwell scale, of course, no, not at all, just as they definitely aren't
suspects in the relocation of their daughter, as the police have told us so often, no not at all. But their behaviour, no
longer seen through the sharp prism of shock and sympathy of six years ago, now looks quite different: their interviews, every
one of them, look like crushingly poor performances.
Readers will surely have noted the significant comments
by those on Twitter and elsewhere whose curiosity about the couple was stimulated by Crimewatch and who turned to
You Tube to find out more, only to be struck by the extraordinary, even absurd, nature of this long-running
double act. Many of these converts had watched the interviews in the past, perhaps with only half an eye, without noting anything
odd about the couple. And in a sense that's quite natural and a tribute to the decency, rather than credulity, of ordinary
people – if they see a person lying unconscious in the middle of a road they don't ask themselves is this person
worth helping? They just help.
The McCanns, in one way, are like that unconscious victim in the road: the
overwhelming "prism of shock and sympathy", that gave them their chance no longer exists to protect or empower them
and without it their performances look cheap and shoddy, above all quite unbelievable. "I don't know what
came over me," says the bridge buyer, whose own prism was constructed of normal human greed rather than sympathy,
"I just don't know why I believed such a ridiculous story but I did."
Once people start saying that
there's no way back.
Soul Food Issue, 06 December 2013
|Soul Food Issue The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Friday, 6 December 2013 at 16:48
Read the f****** small print, suckers
Along with many
others we've noticed that for the first time in nearly seven years the begging bowl has a lid on it. The McCanns missing
a chance to add to their personal fortune – never! That's the Find Madeleine Fund remember, the great gravy
train, the fund started with money poured in by shocked well-wishers who wanted to express their help and support somehow
– and ended up paying for countless fat arses on flights to the sunny Algarve and pampered nights in the Dom Pedro Hotel
Portugal for a "searching" Gerry McCann.
"Of course," Clarence "Maggot" Mitchell,
of whom more below, might say, "of course it's all right to spend Fund money that way. Kate and Gerry have been assured
that what they have done is well within the bounds of good Funding."
"Of course," say the supporters
dismissively, "of course it's legit for the family to do anything they like with the money. People knew exactly what
they were donating to, didn't they? Why look at the small print, the legal papers setting up the fund, for goodness sake.
It's all there for everyone to see." Asked if the small print was available to donors in May 2007 the supporters
use the now-famous Lisbon Courtroom Response: speechlessness.
"Everybody beyond this circle of moral cripples," says Henry Brook-Percy,
the Bureau's financial ("Got a tenner old boy?") correspondent and general good egg, "everybody
knows the impulse behind death and disaster donations – they're a cry, look, I just want to help in some way,
to ease a terrible episode, it's all I can do, I feel helpless but I want to do something at this terrible
Right, Henry. But no, not with the McCanns. With them, it's always read the f******
small print, isn't it? Imagine if that gang had held up huge placards at Everton Football Club's ground with
a bit of large print:
Do you think they'd have copped their millions then?
So the gravy train has rolled on, a bit like a Wonga loan. Skint people – and some of the people
who sent in pathetically small donations in May 2007 were skint – suddenly faced with 5000% Wonga interest
they hadn't bargained for? Read the small print, you suckers!
it's don't give us the ackers!
But now the pink site has an updating notice and a
"check back soon" message so that you can't hurl money at the pair anymore or buy their revolting tat. "Soon"
has a special meaning in McCannland, remember, as in "Metodo will have the child home soon", so the notice has been
up for quite a while. Can you imagine all those poor luxury hotel managers trying to work out their winter budgets and finding
the same dismal message greeting them every morning? How very unfair.
After 6+ years we all take it for granted
that just as nobody, public or private, expects an answer if they ask for details of Buckingham Palace seating arrangements,
so the idea that someone might ask servants of the McCann Dynasty what's up with the donations and tat on your crappy
pink site? is, well, ludicrous. It's just not done.
In the meantime we are free to speculate
as to the problem's cause. Could it be a software glitch – overflow on stack 33 ##4 – that nobody, not even
another McCann relative showered with another thirty grand website fee from the Fund, can crack? Or a result of recent flooding
in the Tatroom?
Want a Clue?
Check out the "Purchase
Our Book" button on the site and you'll find, lo and behold, that it's working perfectly. Hmm. So why is it possible
to buy a piece of printed tat but not a
rubber glove wristband? We can't see any difference ourselves,
except that getting royalties on a book you've written is legally unchallengeable – the money is watertight,
yours, even if you're serving thirty years in the nick.
Whereas public "donations", even to a private
fund, are altogether more tricky. If young Madeleine McCann had actually been found at the beginning of this month, for example,
but we plebs hadn't yet been told, it might be dodgy, even illegal, to go on asking for search money or selling schmutter
to help locate a child if it could be proved that beneficiaries knew the money was no longer needed.
to say that nice Mr Redwood hasn't already found Madeleine and she's at this very moment being counselled by trauma
experts, lollipops in hand, in a Rothley safe house? After all, the parents keep telling us how well the Yard are doing so
her return, or at least some dramatic news about her, could well be in hand. couldn't it? So we think that all those lawyers
credited in Madeleine's introduction are making sure everything is absolutely dead straight and above board,
as they always have, and have jammed the lid on the bowl. Better safe than sorry, you know.
Is Mitchell OK?
Mitchell after he was dug up by volunteers from the No Regrets Club*
Rubber gloves, search poles and body
can be purchased from the Tat Fund for £2000 each will be available soon Our medical correspondent writes: Ever since
Mitchell was found lying under the detritus, dried students' vomit, empty bottles and manifestly used condoms on Brighton
beach after swimming away from the shipwreck of his dreams, there have been concerns about his health. Mr Alan Pikey, well
known expert on abducted Travellers believes he is suffering from the late stages of Trauma Nihilismus, or to give it its
vulgar name, Extreme Nonentity Disease.
He knows y' know
Speaking from a deserted Travellers Site filled with empty caravans, Mr Pikey said confidently and in a funny voice, that
the "progression" of TN is always the same and, even though he somehow missed making an examination of the sufferer,
he could diagnose it without difficulty due to his "great expertise about these matters and diploma in Pikeology".
TN, which is closely related to Munchausen's Disease By Proxy (do check it on Google, here for instance) and sometimes associated with the barely known Fundgal infection Scammer's Syndrome, begins with severe psychological
feelings of inadequacy, social and sexual, compensated by an irrational belief that the sufferer is "meant for better
A pattern of complex fantasizing and constant and uncontrollable lying ("doing it" ) takes
hold, at first hardly noticeable but soon nakedly pathological, with an itchy and compulsive desire to "do it" in
public and to the widest possible audience, with a complete absence of normal feelings of shame. Sufferers are also overcome
with an embarrassing need to "do it for money", sometimes with imaginary sexual partners to whom they give lovingly
affectionate names, such as "Pal" and "Friend".
The unfortunate victim, says Pikey, tinkering
obsessively with a piece of scrap-iron as he talks, typically sleeps badly and experiences terrible fear of being returned
to "paltry insignificance" and a small house, manifested by recurrent nightmares of being forced into Hendon Central
by uniformed men demanding to see his GCSE grades. He dreads the future. There is no cure although a period of confinement
is sometimes indicated.
There is an Alternative
Others are unconvinced, particularly believers in organic remedies. "It could be a dietary problem," says attractive
Internet Health Monitor Michaela Rong, occasional Guardian writer, part-time windmill mechanic and close friend of
child-loving directorial genius Emma Roach, speaking in the cocktail bar of Lisbon's Dom Pedro Hotel.
"volunteer for Maddie" she takes an interest in Mr Mitchell's health via the internet, since she feels it's
"preferable" to being in the same room as him. "The poor man might have swallowed a lot of seawater as he swam
for his life," she trills, "he looks puffy and bloated and with the beginnings of Alopecia Roseus. Or else he's
M/S Rong, a green vegan who eats alone in the fabulous Searcher’s Suite penthouse
above, adds, "I think there is a mystery component which natural treatments and possibly Tantric yoga could ameliorate.
Plus super-sized hourly enemas! The jumbo tube!" She stops and pushes back her hair. "God, that would be
great, wouldn't it...sorry, where were we? Yes, I'm sure lots of people who've met Clarence would recommend those.
But he absolutely has to get a grip on his munching. When did he start binge eating?" She squints at his picture
on her iPad for a moment, "hmm, looks like about six or seven years ago".
taken by H&H Health Centre Security Man to discuss payment day
Note the hair, the weight, the
"smile" and the dead eyes running on autopilot
Aren't Doctors Wonderful?
For New Age Michaela the problem
is something to do with trouble in the "soul", whatever that might be. But others, more realistic, more worldly,
put his chronic malady down to a group of doctors he met in 2007, when in his own words he was "searching for something".
Mr Mitchell himself admits that one of these people, the controversial Dr Faustus of the Hendon & Hades Heal Yourself
Health Centre, whose fees are described as "scary, even though you're given a lifetime to pay", approached him
that year with a "tempting" special offer that he was "strangely unable" to refuse.
results of his treatment were "brilliant", he says, giving him a wonderful feeling that the suddenly watching world
revered him. His earning power "vastly increased" after each consultation, he says, his hair, a lifelong disappointment,
improved dramatically and new friend Helen, a sophisticated blonde from the glittering Mediterranean shores of southern Turkey,
introduced to him by Dr Faustus, brought a thrilling, if disruptive, element into his personal life.
being the man who has almost everything Mitchell still suffers with his mystery ailment and dead eyes. Now, to make things
worse, Faustus, who has left Hendon & Hades and gives no interviews, is rumoured to be talking about his fees being due
All of us who care for him will wish him the best.
*Named after comedian
Peter Cook who, when asked in an interview what his greatest regret was, answered "saving David Frost from drowning".
Oscar Nominations in Lisbon, 12 December
|Oscar Nominations in Lisbon The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Thursday, 12 December 2013 at 17:57
Enter PR Genius
A special correspondent writes: watching
the Lisbon libel trial was akin to having a curtain jerked open. To take just one example out of dozens, the evidence has
given us something of an answer to an abiding, if trivial, puzzle dating from the first weeks of the affair. In a famous Times
piece describing his work with the McCanns in May 2007, here Alex Woolfall, the PR man despatched to Portugal to protect Mark Warner's reputation (their turnover has been in unbroken
fall ever since), mystified some readers by writing "They gave no indication that they thought she had been snatched,
let alone by a paedophile."
Woolfall based his comments on his own powers of observation and appraisal. As
you will note if you bother with the article – which now reads like a comic period piece – Mr Woolfall is very
pleased indeed to be Mr A Woolfall, whom he rates very highly. He has no doubts that his view on what the couple thought and
felt didn't derive from what they told him. or what they said for his benefit, oh dear no, but from his own astute judgement.
"All the time I was around," he said, "it was whether she could have wandered off and had an accident or somebody
had actually taken her in, perhaps not with ill-intent."
All the time I was around. It assuredly
never occurred to Mr Woolfall, whose professional speciality is protective spin, i.e. manipulation of the truth for financial
gain, that a couple might have used the tools of his own lying trade against him – no, no, no, that only happens to
the "little people" whose strings he's been attempting to pull for most of his life. The article is headed "I
saw Kate and Gerry McCanns' despair and if they were acting they deserved an Oscar." Really Mr Woolfall?
And now the Professionals
This lethal combination of inflated
self-belief and fallible judgement was, by no accident at all, much in evidence in Lisbon. Most of the claimants' witnesses
came out with the now well-known description of the long ordeal of Kate and Gerry McCann, that touching narrative of gradual
"recovery" from initial agony, as though they were the victims rather than the child they mislaid, with
the skies suddenly darkening again in Wizard of Oz mad Technicolor as the wicked Amaral blew into view. With his
equally wicked lies he stirred the world up against them and their "Search" until their despair finally overcame
their well-known tolerance and reluctance to take legal action. They sued.
What was quite extraordinary about this
once again essentially soap opera tale was not its repetition by different witnesses but the way they told the same story
from quite different angles, all of them believing, just like sharp Mr Woolfall, that they hadn't been fed this junk but
had worked it out for themselves after observing the couple's behaviour. That is much more interesting and valuable
than the stories we'll no doubt be hearing from the worldly-wise that claimants and witnesses planned and scripted the
whole performance. If only life were that simple.
Kith 'n' Kin, Pikopathology,
the media pronounces, Trickey blames the future on Amaral
Thus Mr Wright was sure he'd had
unique access to the couple's real personalities and unguarded behaviour through his intimate family
connection with them, deducing from his own observations, not hearsay, that the only explanation for their plunge into misery
in 2008 was Amaral's vile campaign against the "search"; little Mr Pike, on the other hand, a comic character
straight out of Dickens in his mingling of pomposity ("I have a diploma in psychology") and wrong-headedness, believed
his professional skills gave him unique access to, you've guessed it, the real personalities and unguarded behaviour of
the pair. Amaral, he decided – for himself, of course, and without hearsay. of course – was the root cause of
their collapse. He'd never actually examined them – the couple don't do examinations – but he'd observed
all the symptoms.
The ineffable Emma Loach, on the other hand, was certain that her "expertise" about
the case, gained through friendship with the McCanns and her qualifications as a media queen and occasional Guardian contributor,
gave her a unique insight into the unguarded couple that only, well, important broadcasters and documentary makers like her
can possess, enabling her to see for herself the progressive torture of the pair by ignorant media comment provoked by a certain
Portuguese detective. Hearsay from the McCanns never came into it.
Trickey, the child psychology expert, didn't
have much to say about the couple's disintegration at Amaral's hands because that wasn't his brief, but his "study"
of the surviving children via zero examinations, one informal meeting and much parental phone
gave him unique access to make judgements about them. Amaral hadn't actually caused them any harm yet, partly due to the
parents' brilliant work on their behalf, but he might in the future.
And so on.
There are some major issues here that will have to wait.There is the huge question
of Emma Loach as a representative of the British media-mind-set and the strong evidence she provides that the media never
needed gagging since, contrary to common belief, their bullshit detectors have rotted away due to their divorced-from-the-people
hothouse environment. Then there is the extraordinary repetition of the "jemmied-shutter - phone call phenomenon"
in which information which could only have derived from one source, complete with tell-tale errors and untruths, is blithely
repeated as fact.
There is the quite stunning, chameleon-like talent of the couple for showing different aspects
of themselves to different people, and an even more mysterious ability to "touch" people and bind them into a voluntary
but uncompromising, and to the outsider troubling, loyalty. Here,though, we are moving away from the law into deeper realms
of psychological interdependence: as the court gradually exposed the witnesses' dependence on the McCanns for information
about the case I found myself thinking why are they so resolute in their refusal to look at the case evidence? Can it
be that they're deep-down scared that reading it will somehow be a betrayal of the parents? Or all parents? But enough
Watson: that way madness lies.
wished he was somewhere else
But even the judge appeared to be taken aback as, one after another, they revealed their ignorance of the investigation
coupled with those dread words "Gerry and Kate told me". Both Pike and Trickey were clearly discomfited by this
exposure of their own ignorance. Trickey, more honest and less self-deceived than most of these witnesses, looked slightly
shocked at the situation he found himself in while Pike, who runs on narrow rails, took refuge in grumpy silence or wandering
beyond his area of supposed "expertise" to make bitchy and ineffectual personal attacks on Amaral.
Wright, who like Ed Balls will never win a popularity contest, attempted to justify his failure to look at the Archiving Summary
with an ill-judged assault on the Portuguese justice system itself, straight out of Alice in Wonderland. There was no
need to read the Summary, he insisted, suddenly red-faced, his voice rising, what use would it have been? He knew
without reading it that it wasn't the truth!
Don't Scare the Horses!
Emma Loach hiding
from the limelight
Smithman is probably on the left, holding the camera
Emma Loach didn't shout but instead took refuge
in girlie upset at a bad school report, even though her teenage years are long behind her. She had reason to be troubled since
she'd begun with a performance quite beyond satire, breezily telling the court that she was an "expert" on the
case and quoting audience statistics that proved how influential Amaral had been in corrupting the public. Ah the public!
Modestly she told us how lucky she was to be able to understand complicated things so much better than they, a public that
she consistently referred to in terms that an average eventer would use about her horse. Within ten minutes one was almost
feeling sorry for her, so plentiful were the hostages she gave to fortune. Amid this rubbish, psychology once more raised
its head: just like her fellow Guardianista, Bridget O'Donnell, Emma Loach seemed simply star-truck by the pair.
But that didn't help her when the questioning began and Emma dissolved slowly into her chair like a messily melting
ice-cream. Her "expertise" was based on a few case files that the McCanns had thoughtfully chosen for her. The Archiving
Summary or PJ report? No, she'd never read either. The source of her audience statistics? Ah, now that she was asked well,
hmm, she thought that she'd read them somewhere but, oh dear, no, perhaps she hadn't. Amaral's
book, which she had read – no wait a minute, no she hadn't actually but she'd read, well, something
on the Internet somewhere – anyway it was so influential because, you know, it was "so easy to read"
that even the public (given an apple and a nosebag to go with it?) could understand it, unlike those Case Files which were
far too complicated for the poor darlings. How did she know they were complicated if she hadn't read them? She didn't
say. With each answer the lip trembled a bit more. Enough of this intrusion into private grief! – let's pull the
curtain back again before the judge starts on her.
The only one of the claimants' British witnesses who brought
a trace of dignity to these proceedings was M/S Cameron. For a short time the self-importance and vapidity of this procession
of wilfully deluded "professionals" was interrupted and M/S Cameron, measured, sincere, dogged in her belief in
family unity and action as a balm in a situation beyond understanding, spoke quietly of the support that the pair have received
over the past six years and the pleasures of her relationship with the surviving children. It was a brief, very human, respite
from this fascinating but horrible McCann affair.
Now, Mr Woolfall hasn't talked about the McCanns lately,
has he? Do they get that Oscar now or later?
Xmas Appeal, 13 December 2013
|Xmas Appeal The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Friday, 13 December 2013 at 17:31
Oh dear – that pesky donate button on the Find Madeleine site still isn't working. Strange, isn't
it? Especially just before Xmas, when as our social affairs editor Antonia so memorably said anyone can get rich, even
bloody pit-bull charities. She suggests overcoming the frozen bank account problem by packing the High Streets with Polish
chuggers in Father Xmas beards (to disguise their native melancholy, she says) rattling plastic buckets from Poundland.
Family motto: do you take cash?
Has anyone asked Kate via Facebook
if she knows exactly what's happened? Back in the spring when there were some unhelpful rumours going round, Kate told
us everything we needed to know via that site. People were suggesting then that it was too dangerous for her to answer the
question about the rumours, though we never understood why. But that couldn't be the case now, surely?
|Bang! The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Monday, 16 December 2013 at 18:13
At the beginning of September 2013 Gerry and Kate McCann's position, as expressed by their support team and lawyers,
rested on two pillars. The first was that their daughter had been abducted on May 3 2007, a claim corroborated by the so-called
Jane Tanner sighting of a stranger hurrying away from their apartment with an inert child in his arms. And, secondly, that
their claim was vindicated after a year long investigation when the Portuguese authorities explicitly exonerated them from
suspicion in the disappearance.
How rapidly old certainties change.
For since then, as we all know,
the first pillar has been demolished by a carefully placed charge of Redwoodite. There are no arguments, no ifs or buts, the
sighting was fully investigated and produced the first result of the Yard/ PJ review: Jane Tanner had never seen a stranger
hurrying from the apartment, and nor had anyone else. The sighting has been blown away, a conclusion which Jane Tanner herself
has not challenged.
The implications are still sinking in even now, even if they haven't yet reached the official
"Find Madeleine" website where a picture of the child-snatcher is still prominently displayed. But then in those
irresistible You Tube videos of demolished tower blocks there is a rather wonderful pause just after the Redwoodite
charges have detonated when one side of the structure, for an instant, defies gravity.
Way Back When
By far the most important of those consequences is that we are back in "jemmied shutter" territory, that brief
period when it was only the words of Kate and Gerry McCann suggesting abduction, nothing else. Without M/S Tanner's vision
the claims of a hysterical couple are just that – claims without support, which ultimately have to be assessed against
the likely truthfulness of the claimants.
Even before the Big Bang that was a tall order since the question of
the McCanns' "likely truthfulness" had already been answered in 2011, in the pages of Madeleine. In
her description of the episode in August 2007 when the PJ had evidence that the couple deceived journalists about the investigation
to maintain their credibility in the UK, M/S McCann admits that she and her husband lied when they felt they had no alternative.
It is self-evident that people who are proved to lie when they feel "they have no choice" face serious problems
in asserting that – this time – they are telling the truth. For any desperate situation can leave people
feeling that their choices are non-existent or highly limited. But not everyone chooses to lie.
That is the reality
of their situation now. They would, for example, have been in serious difficulty from defence lawyers clutching their copies
of Madeleine if they had testified in the libel trial, rather than giving the mere "verbal statement" which
cannot be cross-examined by the lawyers, that they are supposedly considering.
And as if this wasn't enough, the secondary leg of their position, their "formal
exoneration" by the Portuguese legal system, a fiction which has existed ever since August 5 2008 when the McCanns produced
their version of the Archiving Summary and released it via Mr M. Mitchell to a media which had no translated copy of its own.
Over the past five years the parents and their libel lawyers have used the bewilderingly labyrinthine Portuguese
legal system, in which interpretation can play a startling role, to give the Summary a status as a legal finding and confirmation
of the parents' innocence. By the time the media had seen the translated document for themselves they'd given up on
coverage of the investigation, fingers-burnt, opting instead for the more cuddly – and safer – "McCanns'
Agony" tale. As a result the various legal hearings at which the meaning of the Summary was explored were ignored in
the UK media and were clearly not brought to the attention of Judge Tugendhat in the High Court.
the verdict, the transcript and judgement of the 2013 libel trial, when published, will bring things nicely up-to-date for
the judge and others. Briefly, the views of investigators, including Mr Amaral, in 2007 have not been invalidated
by the Attorney-General's department and have not been overtaken by further investigation or new facts. The theory
that Madeleine McCann died in the apartment on May 3 and that the parents disposed of her body remains un-refuted. More parochially,
for what it's worth, the claim by some of the parents' less intelligent supporters that Leicester police's own
formal statement on the status of the pair has lost its applicability since the shelving of the case, a particularly noxious
piece of special pleading on their part, is an invention.
Thus ends, after some five years, the attempt of Kate and Gerry McCann
to prevent any public mention in the United Kingdom of the investigating officers' hypothesis that they took
the dead body of their own daughter from the apartment, disposed of it and simulated an abduction. For a time they were supremely
successful: the first occasion since 2008 that we remember the hypothesis being mentioned neutrally and without elaborate
verbal arse-covering by the mainstream media was on Panorama in 2012. And is anyone harmed by this gift which the
Portuguese justice system has now granted to the British mainstream media, helped by the new U.K Libel Act which privileges
the reporting of court proceedings from that country?
A Changed World
Everyone who wanted to could find out the facts of the investigation through the Internet and, particularly, the case files
which were deliberately made available so that all, but particularly those involved, could see the evidence for themselves.
This was an act of faith in democracy and one that looks a good deal less eccentric than it did in 2008 with respect to privacy
now that, it seems, there is nothing which a broad mass of the people are ashamed of publicly presenting about themselves.
In this regard it is the words "those involved" that are particularly relevant. It has always been the Bureau's
contention that Kate and Gerry McCann involved every U.K adult in the crime by making their appeals and asking people to "get
involved" with the case, a conclusion shared by the Portuguese courts when they judged that the parents had "sacrificed
the right to privacy" by their media actions, a statement the court made factually, not critically. It was desperately
ignorant, and more than ignorant, to suppose you could call a whole population to your aid and then control and suppress the
facts once the money was in and people had served their purpose.
Who gained by keeping the lid on the facts of
the investigation's course with repeated threats of legal action? It was a crazy idea, no doubt encouraged by lawyers
who, like so many other professionals, stood to gain from the vast Madeleine money-pot, to think that such a strategy could
work, just as it's crazy to suppose, as David Trickey does, that the surviving children can somehow be "protected"
from those facts in the future, Amaral or no Amaral.
Judging by what kids are already exchanging via smartphones
and the web, for God's sake, blocking what Amaral and his colleagues said or did will be the least of the pair's problems.
To know the content of the investigation isn't to accuse the parents of anything and certainly doesn't make us, for
instance, any more likely to believe in the death in the apartment claim.
And if evidence never turns up to exonerate, so what? Over-ambitious world-wide injunctions
from the UK protecting the identities of "innocents", a misbegotten idea anyway, are failing in the face of modern
communications but the universe doesn't collapse. There's a very successful British journalist with, so far as one
can judge, a pretty down-to-earth and balanced view on life, "Expert" Mr Trickey notwithstanding, writing at the
moment. His by-line name indicates to anyone with a knowledge of history that his father or grandfather was probably the killer
in a murder case that was once almost as notorious as the McCann affair, but frankly nobody much cares and we doubt if they
ever did. No doubt there are quite a few other such examples (although please cesspit sites, don't start a f*****g
thread on who they might be): life goes on.
Which way the tower will fall with the twin supports now gone we
don't know, nor what will eventually replace it. It is unlikely but not impossible that now that the McCanns are finally
unable to continue their lid-tightening efforts their reputation could actually improve since nothing could look more suspicious
than their threats and evasions of the last six years. Either way, the building's down and their attempts have failed,
whether they fully recognize it yet or not.
Louis McNeice had it nicely summed up:
It’s no go my honey love, it’s no go my poppet;
Work your hands from day to day, the winds will
blow the profit.
The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall for ever,
But if you break the bloody glass
you won’t hold up the weather.
Xmas Blog, 21 December 2013
Xmas Blog The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Saturday, 21 December 2013 at 00:19
Kate and I have decided to have a quiet Xmas in Rothley. Like others our thoughts turn
to the things that matter at this time of year and we have always felt that simplicity brings us closer to the important things
in life. Staying in Rothley brings us closer to Madeleine.
As you may know we have had some problems on our Find
Madeleine site which are proving difficult to solve. Our software team was assisted by the directors of the fund who are experts
in these things and the local police sent a few people along to help as well! Our local solicitor, who once set up his own
website, dropped in to see if he could help with his expertise. Unfortunately the meeting went on very late. A long day and
the problem is still not sorted out but the police were kind enough to take us home.
Kate brought the twins over and they wanted their presents today! We had to explain to them that you sometimes just have
to wait. Father Thomas Campanella had called in to say hello and he re-affirmed that there is more to Xmas than just presents
and how very pleased he was that we were staying in Rothley this Xmas. Father Thomas convinced the twins to wait a few more
A meeting with one of the Scotland Yard officers today confirmed that they are in agreement with us on the
lines of inquiry we need to take. Kate has done a photo shoot with the rugby club Sale Sharks in their dressing room. She
is very impressed with their attitude to Madeleine and is very grateful to one of the players called Donny Capriati for who
nothing is too much trouble. I am an Everton man myself!! Donny has apparently arranged for all the Sale players to wear an
image of Madeleine under their shirts with the message "Close to us all!"
Met with the GBNSR yesterday where I am chairman, hopefully a good one! They do brilliant work. Kate and the twins are off
to Sale again for a pre-Xmas break where she will discuss new initiatives with Donny. In the afternoon we had to leave our
home for a while because one of the emergency services needed to do some checks on the building. We had intended to drive
to Cannock Chase to visit the dump but our car had to be taken away since it wouldn't start. It will need some tests done
A peaceful morning. The Portuguese police came over to wish us a
happy Xmas though they were disappointed that Kate wasn't here. We expect them to award us something called "Assistiente"
status soon, which is a kind of reward that the Portuguese offer to those like us who have been helpful. It would have been
rude to refuse such an offer. Hopefully it will speed things up over there. We can't give more information even though
we'd like to in case we prejudice future proceedings against the people who took Madeleine. Donny rang and said that he
and Kate spent an afternoon touring sports shops to raise awareness.
Kate and I had an early start since we had agreed to be guests at a Scotland Yard meeting to discuss missing children. Kate
came down from Sale on the overnight train and we went on to SY at 4.30 in the morning, getting a lift from a helpful police
van driver. We had a very constructive meeting. By chance eight of our solicitors were meeting for the same event! These co-incidences
are very strange. The meeting ended at 2.55 AM as there was much to discuss. Andy Redwood just happened to be around and came
to thank us for supporting them in this way. Apparently they have some people in their sights.
Our car was returned to us so we were able to drive up to Cheshire. The garage apparently had to remove all
the seats and carpets and interior lining, boot lining, spare wheel cage etc. to find out why it wouldn't start. Strange.
We stayed for lunch with some relatives and old friends Jane and John who have just come back from holiday in Venezuela and
made us envious with the weather rather poor here. In the afternoon we walked on the sands near Fleetwood. It was very cold!
Just before it got dark one of our relatives had us all in fits as he buried the twins up to their necks in the sand and videoed
them pretending to scream for help!
A very unhelpful news story today suggesting
that Mr Amaral may come to England in 2014. Kate and I think this would be a mistake and we have asked for an interview with
the Home Secretary to discuss a banning order. It cannot be right that this man should abuse our hospitality after what he
This afternoon we had a surprise Xmas reunion with seven of our closest friends. Unfortunately, as the
local press showed, we had a team of engineers in white coats arrive to dismantle some of the brickwork under the house to
cure a structural issue and excavate the garden. I am only a doctor so I don't know what is wrong with houses! So we had
to find somewhere else to meet and all the hotels were full I think. Believe it or not the only space for a reunion of old
friends in Rothley was a spare function room at Leicester police headquarters!
We were surprised to see Andy Redwood
and the head of the DPP there as well as fourteen of our barristers who were probably there to buy Leicester's famous
red cheese! It was a very constructive meeting and when we left at 4.40 AM the stars were shining brightly. It was very cold
though since for some reason we forgot some of our clothes at the police station and Kate has now developed a worrying cough.
We came down to see Mr Redwood at Scotland Yard early this morning to give him
his Xmas presents to show our gratitude for his efforts. Unfortunately he said the rules prevented him from accepting them
which was yet another blow in this sad year. While we were there nine of our lawyers dropped in for some reason so there wasn't
much space! We left at midnight and walked along by the river but Kate's cough got worse and I fear she may need a change
When we got back to our very cheap and small hotel we had a welcome surprise when we found some well-wishers
from the PJ waiting in our suite with a Xmas card for us and some paper work to complete I think confirming the obvious fact
that we are not persons of interest in the investigation. We are both very pleased at these signs of co-operation although
I would like to apologise to the people in the next room who thought that there was some sort of argument and raised voices
going on all night. It was just a celebration!
Kate's chest is much much
worse today so we think we might have to avoid Rothley for Xmas because of the well-known bad climate in the midlands. Fortunately
we just happened to hear about a place in the warm in Venezuela from some friends called Fred and Frieda and Donny has offered
to come with us to help with the twins and introduce us to the mysteries of Venezuela rugby. Father Campanella assured us
this was the best thing to do and stressed how Catholic Venezuela is, so that we can think of all the things that really matter
at this time of year in a way we can't in busy Rothley.
Apparently the police have been keen to meet us so
that they can assure us at this time of family values that we are not suspects of any sort which I find incredibly moving.
Unfortunately our flight leaves in an hour from a private airport but we’ll leave them a message. A happy Xmas to you
Choice and Necessity, 24 December 2013
Choice and Necessity The Blacksmith Bureau
Posted by John Blacksmith
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 at 18:28
"…those tricky situations in which we didn't seem to have a choice." K. McCann, "Madeleine".
In the treacherous waters, or perhaps sands, of the committed Internet nothing much remains the same for long: friendships
and alliances suddenly blossom, new leaders are found, PMs fly back and forth, new enemies are demonized — until next
week or next month, say, when disillusion sets in or flaws emerge. A bit like real life but speeded up.
2013 was a pretty good year in the McCann Affair, except for the mainstream press which continued to bleed in a most satisfactory
manner. Of course the child wasn't found but Goncalo Amaral finally got his day in court and for the first time we were
able to see and hear his enemies telling their stories to a judge under their own names, rather than via the parents or the
Net or the journalists or the backs of their hands. And the investigation showed signs of leading to the end of a chapter,
if not the end of the affair. The Bureau has never had or claimed to have the answers to what happened on May 3,
nor what will happen in the future, only that the parents chose to take the wrong path that night by drawing us in
as witnesses in their support and then failing to be frank with us, something we have described over the years with various
degrees of noise and colour.
Comment is Free
On both sides
psychological forces rather than hidden allies are increasingly visible as the real drivers of the Affair. The claims of secret
UK government support for the parents, the D notice stuff, Murdoch, the whitewash and all the rest of it, have dwindled markedly
in the last year, as they were bound to. They will never go away completely, though, as long as there are people who want
[choose] to believe that they are insignificant pawns in someone else's game rather than free and equal human
beings, as a glance at the comment pages of the Guardian on any subject reminds us. The startling psychological powers
of the parents to inspire loyalty and active support without appearing to be trying to do so were finally revealed, rather
than surmised, in the Lisbon courtroom; unfortunately the flip-side of unquestioning loyalty is a potential well of something
approaching real hatred for the other side, in this case the McCann sceptics, as the comments of Keir Simmons or David
James Smith and others demonstrate.
So the bottomless well of belief, loyalty and hatred, much more powerful but
less easily managed than the hidden hands of the secret and rich, drives the Affair along on both sides. For every tacit incitement
to the drones who populate Facebook support sites there is a corresponding attempt to enlist and manipulate the sceptics by
some guru or deceiver. It was always thus but the Net makes it easier now for Pied Pipers, whether mad, misguided or simply
vicious. We on the Bureau claim, unconvincingly, to be somewhat outside the game of selling solutions and gaining
disciples, not because we're clever or above it all but because we're not much good at it and aren't cuddly enough,
being equally detested by a majority of both sides: so no leadership for us. Sigh. Or, or course, we might be kidding
Good Old Ed
Whatever, the emotional "well"
has its limitations. For a time, properly channelled, it can achieve amazing things, as it did in late 2007 when the UK population's
intense emotional involvement with the couple was manipulated into becoming a moat against extradition. Remember the famous
words of Ed Smethurst on Panorama that year demonstrating that the Bureau's belief in the reality, indeed
the primacy, of the psychological battle is not some crank theory of ours but a fact:
"Part of the
reason why we're here disclosing evidence to you today as opposed to keeping our powder dry is a recognition that there
were two strands to this case, part of it is the criminal case, but part of it is the media speculation and the media perception,
and we see it as incumbent upon us to portray the truth to the media and in particular to try and expunge any ill-founded
theories about Gerry and Kate's involvement so that the media attention can focus back onto the abduction and therefore
onto the fact that we have a missing little girl out there."One of the finest defence teams ever assembled
in the UK had a purely psychological aim alongside its legal one: use money to change ("expunge") people's
opinions and you can change the future. Of course neither Smethurst, whose company is famous for altering people's
opinions and modifying their [choices] about the beauty or otherwise of expensive plastic double-glazed windows,
nor Mitchell, whose profession we all know, would put it like that intentionally but their actions and their occasional unguarded
words betray them.
But while "expunging", with its unintentional sci-fi resonances, is pretty f*****g
weird and creepy when you think about it, almost as weird and creepy as Madeleine, it's not magic. At some point
emotional manipulation has to conform to the facts and at some point it has to be refreshed, since people's emotional
commitment eventually wanders off to other attractions. But nothing has occurred to provide refreshment or nutrition, as we
know: no suspects, no physical evidence, no discovery of the child, nothing – with the result that probably a majority
of people have now come to believe that something, somewhere is not quite right with the McCanns.
Special Offer – Free Will
Have they come to [chosen] that
tentative conclusion realistically and independently or, in the absence of nutrition and the mystifying unwillingness of people
to discover things for themselves but depend on dodgy guidance from above, has Mr Smethurst and his team simply been supplanted
by other manipulative groups, temporarily in the ascendant because of the shortage of evidence?
Answers to that
question depend on how free and independent we believe people are, or are capable of becoming. The "whitewash" and
"hidden forces" people obviously believe we're neither free nor independent since they say we're helpless
zeros unable to prevent the powerful deceiving and ruling us, a belief which, far from demonstrating their realistic judgement,
paradoxically makes them easy meat for anyone clever enough to pretend to share their views. The Bureau retains an
uneasy belief – faith? – that people are not zeros but are capable of choosing to rise above the deceivers
who surround us on every side to determine true from false, and, accordingly, their own real interests as well. The abiding
fascination of the McCann Affair is that these central questions regarding belief, truth, free will and choice lie
constantly in the background of the Affair, like real life but speeded up.
On which philosophical note we wish
you a Happy Christmas and thank readers for their time over the past year.
to Nigel at