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

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

The Brussels Trip *

MCCANN FILES HOME BACK TO GERRY MCCANNS BLOGS HOME PAGE PHOTOGRAPHS
NEWS REPORTS INDEX MCCANN PJ FILES NEWS MAY 2007
 
This page covers the trip Kate and Gerry made to Brussels on 09 April 2008 and their appearance at a press conference, in support of the Amber Alert System, the following day 10 April 2008.

Gerry and Kate talk in Brussels

Full audio recording of press conference
Listen to audio recording of full press conference here

Note: Clicking this link will download the recording into a temporary folder which opens up automatically into Windows Media Player.

At the 1:14 mark, the microphone cuts out due to a problem at the event. After a short silence Clarence Mitchell returns and apologises for the interruption.

This link connects direct to the actual recording made by the European Parliament and is therefore reliable. If you prefer to download direct from the EP site click here and then click on 'EU wide alert system for missing or abducted children: asf'.

First news of McCanns meeting in Brussels, 03 April 2008
The Week Ahead 7-13 April 2008 EuropeanParliament
 
Institutions - 03-04-2008 - 19:17
 
Missing child hotline.  A meeting to consider prospects for a Europe-wide alert system for missing or abducted children will hear from Gerry and Kate McCann, whose daughter Madeleine has been missing since May 2007 (Thursday).
 
*
 
 
RECORDED Press conference
14:00 - 14:30


 
Missing child hotline

Press Conference by Edward MCMILLAN-SCOTT (EPP-ED, GB)

Brussels, Press Conference room - 10.30-11.00

Kate and Gerry McCann in Europe kid safety campaign, 05 April 2008
Kate and Gerry McCann in Europe kid safety campaign Daily Mirror
 
By Rod Chaytor 5/04/2008
 
Kate and Gerry McCann fly to Brussels to launch a child safety scheme next week while Portuguese police quiz their Tapas Seven friends in Britain.

The couple will be present on Thursday when a draft declaration goes before the European Parliament, calling for a European-wide missing child alert system.

Kate, 40, and Gerry, 39, believe that if it had been in place it could have saved daughter Madeleine, four, who vanished from Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3.

The couple, official suspects in the Madeleine case, will also appear in a global televised press conference.
 
Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said yesterday: "Next to finding Madeleine, the introduction of a system which might save another child is the matter closest to their hearts.

"They never want another family to go through what they have gone through."

A three-man Portuguese police team will sit in on interviews by Leicestershire police of the Tapas Seven - who dined with the McCanns on the night Madeleine disappeared - from Tuesday.

First witness is Jane Tanner, 36, of Exeter, Devon, who saw a man carrying a child near Madeleine's apartment.

The friends have all volunteered to cooperate. None will be accompanied by lawyers.

Mr Mitchell denied that the trip to Brussels by the McCanns, of Rothley, Leics, was a "diversionary tactic".

The spokesman said: "It is a coincidence of timing.
"

McCanns travel to Brussels by Eurostar, 09 April 2008

 

Apr 9, 2008
 
McCanns Want Abduction Alert System
 
Kate and Gerry McCann have travelled to Brussels as police continue to re-question their friends over the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine. The couple are hoping to persuade MEPs to introduce a Europe-wide abduction alert system. No commentary.
 
00:00:47

McCanns To Argue For Child Alert System, 09 April 2008
McCanns To Argue For Child Alert System Sky News
 
Updated: 08:36, Wednesday April 09, 2008 
 
The parents of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann are helping to set up a dedicated information hotline for missing children that will be available across Europe.
 
Kate and Gerry McCann are visiting Brussels as part of the campaign to bring in a dedicated alert system for abducted children.
 
The phone number - 116 000 - will work from phones across the continent.
 
Kate, 40, and Gerry, 39, from Rothley, Leics, recently visited America to see the "Amber" alert system.
 
This allows police to commandeer the airwaves and television channels in different states if they believe a child has been abducted.
 
The system also allows news alerts, often including the registration number of a suspect's vehicle, to be flashed up on digital signs on main roads.
 
Tomorrow the couple will give a presentation to MEPs at the European Parliament in Brussels, providing them with details about how the system works and the case for introducing it in Europe.
 
The couple say such a system could have helped find their daughter Madeleine in the crucial hours after she went missing from their apartment in the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 last year.
 
The move has received cross-party support in the European Parliament and is being sponsored by five MEPs.
 
Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, said: "For Kate and Gerry this is an important opportunity to ensure better co-ordination in Europe when a child goes missing to make sure that no other family goes through the anguish that they are continuing to endure.
 
"They hope to get the support of a majority of the Parliament's MEPs and with such a moral authority they hope that the European Commission will ensure that such a system comes in to being."
 
For the proposal to be brought forward, it would have to be signed by a majority of the 785 MEPs within three months.
 
This week Portuguese police asked the couple to return to Praia da Luz to take part in a reconstruction of the events of May 3.

McCann abduction hotline idea... was initiated in 2006 and launched by European Commission in Feb 2007, 09 April 2008
McCann abduction hotline idea The Press Association
 
Wednesday 09 April 2008 
 
The parents of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann are in the process of setting up a dedicated information hotline that will be available across Europe for when police suspect a child has been abducted.

Kate and Gerry McCann and their team are believed to have already reserved the hotline number - 116 000. It has yet to go live.

The couple are visiting Brussels as part of a campaign to bring in a dedicated alert system for abducted children.

Kate, 40, and 39-year-old Gerry, from Rothley, Leics, recently visited America to see the "Amber" alert system, which allows police officers to commandeer the airwaves and television channels in different states if they believe a child to have been abducted.

The system also allows news alerts, often including the registration number of a suspect's vehicle, to be flashed up on digital signs above the country's motorways.

The McCanns are to make a power-point presentation to MEPs at the European Parliament in Brussels, providing them with details about how the system works and the case for introducing it in Europe.

They will then launch their declaration, calling for the introduction of such a system, to the world's media at a specially arranged press conference in the Belgian capital.

The couple believe such a system could have helped find their daughter Madeleine in the crucial hours after she went missing from their apartment in the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 last year.

A statement released by the couple said: "A written declaration is being tabled to re-enforce the political message with concrete action and it will be open for signatures at the next plenary session in Strasbourg."

The declaration has received cross-party support already. It is being sponsored by five MEPs.
 
COMMUNICATION TO THE PRESS European Federation

The European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children welcomes "116 000" as the European telephone number for missing children

Brussels, 20 December 2006 - The European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children welcomes today’s decision of the Extraordinary Communications Committee, reserving "116 000" as the European telephone number for missing children. The European Commission initiated this number as an example of services of social importance in its decision "on reserving the national number range beginning with ‘116’ for harmonised numbers for harmonised services of social value". The European number for missing children constitutes a major step towards strengthening the assistance offered by emergency hotlines across Europe in cases of disappearances of minors.

The development of a European telephone number for missing children that can be dialled anywhere in Europe has been on top of the agenda of the Federation since 2005. Such a harmonised telephone number is crucial for a variety of reasons:

* The phenomena of missing and sexually exploited children is by definition cross border. Victims and witnesses must have a number at their disposal, which can be used internationally. When losing a child, recognising a child that has been reported missing, etc. one will soon be able to dial 116 000 anywhere in Europe.

* Parents, children, teachers or siblings confronted with the disappearance of a child are submerged with a feeling of great distress and panic. At such occasion, it is crucial for them to have a short and easily memorable number that can provide them with support wherever they are in Europe.

* In cases of cross border disappearance of a child, one single international poster campaign can now more easily be distributed across the border, with reference to the European number. This will clearly and demonstrably advance the search actions organised by civil society organisations in cases of international disappearances.

* The European hotline number for missing children will allow the launch of international awareness raising and promotional campaigns, thus greatly facilitating this costly and time-consuming work of NGOs operating emergency lines. (1)

The European number will be operated nationally in the different countries of the EU, by existing emergency hotlines for missing children. Organisations managing such a hotline will have to address a request for using the number to their National Regulatory Authorities. By providing support to victims on the one hand, and assisting the judicial and law enforcement authorities in charge of the investigation on the other, these organisations play a crucial role in combating the aforementioned phenomena.

In order for the European telephone number to be operational in the shortest delays, the Federation calls upon the national authorities in charge of telecommunication as well as the operators to take the necessary measures to allow a swift implementation.

(1) This type of international awareness campaigns have already been organised, for instance, for the International Day of Missing Children, for which one set of graphical material was used in 2005 by 11 countries member of the European Federation.

Missing Children Europa

Missing Children - 116 000, European helpline telephone number

Justice, Freedom and Security 13/02/2007

A European emergency helpline for missing children is being set up. The telephone number - 116 000 - will allow citizens to notify, free of charge, the authorities that a child is missing. The Member States are being asked to put in place this important initiative which is in favour of children's human rights. Emergency help lines exist in many Member States but at present each country has a different number. The development of a help line number for missing children which can be used from anywhere in Europe will allow for efficient European harmonisation and the more rapid launch of a search.

PRESS RELEASE Cable Europe

8 June 2007

EU Telecoms industry support missing children hotline European cable, telecoms and mobile phone operators agree on Industry Guidelines to implement the 116 000 pan-European hotline number for missing children

Brussels: In cooperation with Missing Children Europe, Cable Europe, ECTA, ETNO and GSM Europe, which collectively represent all of Europe’s telecoms services providers, signed today Industry Guidelines for the implementation of the 116 000 pan-European hotline number for missing children. The Industry Guidelines were signed in the presence of Rudolf Strohmeier, Head of the Cabinet of Mrs Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media.

This initiative follows the European Commission's decision of 15 February 2007 to reserve national numbers starting with '116' for pan-European services of social value and to attribute the first one - 116 000 - to hotline services for missing children.

Now that the number has been reserved at an EU level, several steps will need to be taken at the national level to make the number operational. Each National Regulatory Authority will have to register the new number and attribute it to the national hotline in charge of operating the service. Following this, the hotline will select, on commercial terms, a single communications service provider in each country to activate the number.

By agreeing to the Industry Guidelines, the telecoms providers are being urged to make the 116 000 hotline number available and operational with minimal delays, and to make all necessary interconnection agreements to ensure that all operators carry the calls to the new numbers. Charges associated with these calls will follow the established model for national freephone calls.

Finally, signatories will call on their member companies to raise the awareness of the 116 000 number.

Alert would have saved Madeleine McCann Telegraph

By Sarah Womack Social Affairs Correspondent, Last Updated: 1:38am GMT 07/03/2008

Relevant section to 116000 number:

'The European Commission launched a Europe-wide missing-child hotline number, 116000, in February last year, but so far only Belgium, Denmark, Greece and Portugal have adopted the scheme.

The Commission’s vice-president, Franco Frattini, said he was disappointed with the progress made at a national level.

"Only four member states showed goodwill until now."'

Madeleine McCanns' parents to address MEPs, 09 April 2008
Madeleine McCanns' parents to address MEPs Telegraph
 
By Caroline Gammell
Last Updated: 12:54pm BST 09/04/2008 
 
Kate and Gerry McCann will address MEPs in Brussels tomorrow to call for a European-wide missing child alert system as the friends on holiday with them in Portugal when Madeleine disappeared continue to be questioned by police.
 
The couple travelled to Belgium today to prepare for their presentation to the European Parliament, which has been sponsored by MEPs from England, Wales, Italy and Germany.
 
It is nearly a year since Madeleine vanished from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz as her parents dined with seven friends at a tapas bar nearby.
 
They have campaigned relentlessly to find their daughter and hired private detectives in Spain, but no trace of the little girl has been found.
 
Suspicion fell on the couple themselves last September when they were named arguidos or suspects in their daughter's disappearance and they are desperate to clear their names.
 
While they are away, friends with them on the night Madeleine went missing are being questioned by Leicestershire Police in the presence of Portuguese detectives.
 
The first to be interviewed - Jane Tanner and Russell O'Brien - did not leave the force headquarters in Enderby until 9pm on Tuesday night, while Fiona Payne and husband David were interviewed today.
 
Portuguese police arrived in Britain on Monday and asked Mr McCann, 39, and Mrs McCann, 40, to take part in a full reconstruction back in the Algarve.
 
Although they are willing to help keep the case in the spotlight, they are concerned about going to Portugal while they are still regarded as suspects.
 
Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the fact that the McCanns were going to Brussels while the Portuguese police were in the UK was just a coincidence.
 
He said the pair, from Rothley in Leicestershire, saw the alert system as a way of creating some good out of their situation.
 
"For Kate and Gerry this is an important opportunity to ensure better co-operation throughout Europe when a child goes missing and to make sure that no other family goes through the anguish that they are continuing to endure," he said.
 
"They hope to get the support of the majority of MEPs and, with such moral authority, they also hope that the European Commission will ensure that such a child alert system comes into being."
 
Their declaration, which was drafted with the help of Geoffrey Robertson QC, calls for an alert system which tells border authorities, customs, police and law enforcement agencies, as well as media outlets, when a child goes missing.
 
Included in the alert is the identity of the child, a photograph, information about potential abductors and a general telephone hotline for people to contact.
 
They will also call for greater cooperation between countries and the creation of a central European body to provide assistance and training about missing children to the different member states.
 
The declaration has been backed by five MEPs - Edward McMillan-Scott MEP (England), Diana Wallis MEP (England), Roberta Angelilli MEP (Italy), Glenys Kinnock MEP (Wales) and Evelyne Gebhardt MEP (Germany).
 
MEPs will be able to sign the declaration at the next plenary session in Strasbourg, where it will remain open for three months. A majority of 785 MEPs are needed for the document to be adopted by parliament.

Smiling Kate McCann heads for Brussels, 10 April 2008
A smiling Kate sets off for Brussels
A smiling Kate sets off for Brussels

Smiling Kate's Maddie mission The Sun 
 
By Antonella Lazzeri
Published: 10 Apr 2008 
 
SMILING Kate McCann heads to Brussels yesterday to launch a child alert system she believes may have found Maddie in hours.
 
Kate and husband Gerry, 40, want Euro MPs to adopt the scheme based on the US Amber Alert plan.
 
Messages are broadcast on motorway billboards, radio and TV when a child goes missing.
 
Spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry saw the Amber Alert system operating and they believe Europe and Britain need to bring it in urgently."
 
Meanwhile Tapas 7 pals Dr Matthew Oldfield, 37, and wife Rachael, 36, who ate with the McCanns the night Maddie, four, vanished from Praia da Luz, were interviewed by cops in Leicester as Portuguese officers listened in.

McCanns Support EU Child Alert System, 10 April 2008
McCanns Call For Amber Alert System Sky News 
 
 
Updated: 11:47, Thursday April 10, 2008 
 
The parents of Madeleine McCann have urged European leaders to implement a missing child alert system throughout the continent - saying it may have helped find their daughter.
 
Amber Alert would see information on abductions - including details of the child and any suspected offender - released to the media within minutes.
 
Details would also be sent to customs, transport and law enforcement agencies.
 
Kate McCann said if the system had been in place last May when Madeleine disappeared, the chances of her being found "would have been higher".
 
Her husband Gerry said it would also take the onus off parents having to raise the profile of a disappearance at a time when they are traumatised.
 
The McCanns say a Europe-wide scheme is essential because offenders can rapidly cross borders and the quick release of information is essential to stop abductors getting away.
 
They are also frustrated that only four European countries have signed up for a continent-wide missing child hotline.
 
Belgium, Denmark, Greece and Portugal has adopted the facility, whose number is 116 000, which was set up by the European Commission. A charity has applied to run it in Britain.
 
The McCanns gave a presentation to MEPs at the European Parliament in Brussels, providing them with details about how Amber Alert works and the case for introducing it in Europe.
 
Madeleine went missing from the McCann's holiday apartment in the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz, on May 3 last year.
 
Her parents say they will not return to the Algarve to mark the anniversary, which they say will be private.
 
This week, Portuguese police asked them to take part in a reconstruction of the events.
 
The McCanns recently visited the US to see Amber Alert in operation.
 
Police also have the power to commandeer airwaves and television channels in different states if they believe a child has been abducted.
 
The system also allows news alerts, often including the registration number of a suspect's vehicle, to be flashed up on digital signs on main roads.
 
In the US, nearly 400 children have been found through the scheme while a similar system in France has been used five times with a successful outcome in each.

 

Apr 10, 2008
 
McCanns Support EU Child Alert System
 
The parents of Madeleine McCann have thrown their support behind a Europe wide system to help find missing children. Kate and Gerry McCann said the so called 'Amber Alert' could have helped them in the first few hours of their daughter's abduction.
 
00:00:58

 

Apr 10, 2008
 
McCanns Say They Still Have Hope
 
Kate and Gerry McCann have said they still have hope that they will find their daughter Madeleine. Speaking at a news conference to promote a Europe-wide amber alert scheme, they said their was no evidence she had been harmed.
 
00:00:40

 

April 10, 2008
 
McCanns Push For EU Alert System
 
Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of missing Madeleine, have been in Brussels to launch a bid for a Europe-wide missing child alert system. They said such a system could have helped find their daughter. Greg Milam reports.
 
00:02:16
 
The Sun Video link - further footage, courtesy of Sky News, showing question from Portuguese man concerning their attendance at this event whilst still being arguidos.

McCann alert 'could have helped', 10 April 2008
McCann alert 'could have helped' BBC News 
 
Page last updated at 11:11 GMT, Thursday, 10 April 2008 12:11 UK
 
 
The parents of missing Madeleine McCann believe there would have been a greater chance of finding her if a missing child alert system had been used.
 
Kate and Gerry McCann have appealed to the European Parliament to improve co-ordination between countries for the existing system.
 
Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, went missing aged three on holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal, last May.
 
Her parents said alerts should be restricted to the most serious cases.
 
They said the alert system had worked well in the US where hundreds of children had been recovered, and in France where it had been used five times and all five children had been found.
 
'Time is the enemy'
 
Mrs McCann described the system as a voluntary partnership between law enforcement agencies and media and transport companies.
 
An alert is published immediately when a child is abducted.
 
"The concept is quite simple in that time is the enemy in the case of a missing child and the goal is to instantly galvanise the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of that child," she said.
 
Mr McCann emphasised that the alert system should be used only in cases where police believe the child's life is at risk - such as in Madeleine's case, even though at first it was thought she had just wandered off.
 
"We have clearly stated that the alert should be used for the most dangerous cases, and there is no doubt that a very young child who has gone missing late at night, from an apartment, and particularly in a foreign country, would meet the criteria," Mr McCann said.
 
While in Brussels, the McCanns held a private meeting with Edward McMillan-Scott, MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, who is a driving force behind the scheme, and made a presentation to MEPs.
 
Across the EU there are big differences in how reports on missing children are handled, and Mr McCann said he was "exasperated" by the lack of progress getting an Europe-wide alert system in place.
 
Countries such as the UK, France and Belgium have systems for nationwide alerts, while others do not even keep national records of those reported missing.
 
Full alerts
 
The EU has a missing child hotline number, but it has been widely publicised in only four countries.
 
France and Greece are the only EU countries to have so far introduced full alerts along the lines of the amber system.
 
In a written declaration, MEPs urged better training for police and a central register of all known sex offenders in Europe.
 
Mr and Mrs McCann remain "arguidos" or formal suspects in relation to the disappearance of their daughter.
 
Portuguese police have asked the couple to return to Portugal for a reconstruction of the night Madeleine disappeared.
 
'Not going back'
 
The McCanns have yet to decide whether to participate.
 
Asked about plans for the anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance, Mrs McCann said it was a "private matter".
 
Her husband said they would "certainly not be going back" to Portugal on 3 May.
 
Mrs McCann said she was still hopeful Madeleine would be found alive.
 
"There's been many cases of children who've been recovered after a long period of time.
 
"I mean, none of us know what's happened to Madeleine - apart from the person who took her.
 
"But, there's still hope there - and we have absolutely no evidence, whatsoever, that Madeleine has come to any harm."

The Brussels Trip, 10 April 2008

Smiling Kate's Maddie mission, 10 April 2008
Smiling Kate's Maddie mission The Sun 
 
By Antonella Lazzeri
Published: 10 Apr 2008 
 
SMILING Kate McCann heads to Brussels yesterday to launch a child alert system she believes may have found Maddie in hours.
 
Kate and husband Gerry, 40, want Euro MPs to adopt the scheme based on the US Amber Alert plan.
 
Messages are broadcast on motorway billboards, radio and TV when a child goes missing.
 
Spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry saw the Amber Alert system operating and they believe Europe and Britain need to bring it in urgently."
 
Meanwhile Tapas 7 pals Dr Matthew Oldfield, 37, and wife Rachael, 36, who ate with the McCanns the night Maddie, four, vanished from Praia da Luz, were interviewed by cops in Leicester as Portuguese officers listened in.

The smile drops from Kate's face

Kate, without a smile, at the meeting

News of leaked police statements emerges, 10 April 2008
Portuguese police claim McCanns left Madeleine crying in her bedroom the night before she disappeared Daily Mail

Last updated at 16:08pm on 10th April 2008

Kate McCann admitted they left their daughter Madeleine alone and crying in their holiday apartment on the night before she disappeared, it has been reported.

The accusations stem from leaked statements apparently given by the couple to police in the immediate aftermath of the incident in May last year.

Portuguese police - who are believed to be infuriated by the McCanns' political influence and by Prime Minister Gordon Brown's interest in the case - apparently leaked the statements to coincide with the couple's visit to the European Parliament.

The McCanns are in Brussels to call on MEPs to call for a Europe-wide centre to help finding missing children.
 
Excerpts from the statements were broadcast by the Spanish station Telecinco, including a section of Mrs McCann's statement in which she allegedly said Madeleine was left crying in the family's holiday apartment on the night before she vanished.
 
She was reported to have told police that Madeleine remonstrated with her over breakfast the next day, asking why her mother had not come to her room to comfort her.
 
In the statement, Mrs McCann, 40, and her husband allegedly agreed they should be more vigilant.
 
Since their daughter's disappearance, the couple have faced widespread criticism over their decision to leave Madeleine and their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie sleeping in their holiday apartment while they went out for dinner with friends in a nearby restaurant.
 
Their spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, refused to confirm if the leaked statements were genuine.
 
He said: "I am not going to confirm or deny the content of any statements Gerry and Kate have made.
 
"But we are extremely concerned such material, if it is authentic, has apparently been leaked."
 
The claims came as the McCanns urged MEPs to adopt an "Amber Alert" scheme liked the one used in the US.
 
This broadcasts international radio and TV warnings in the vital first few hours after a child goes missing.
 
Mrs McCann said: "Alert systems have clearly demonstrated that they help save lives. Please do not wait for another child and family to suffer as we have."
 
The couple also want more co-operation between countries when search efforts are under way.
 
As they addressed the politicians - the first time they have spoken publicly since being named as suspects in their daughter's disappearance - Mrs McCann clutched a favourite photograph of Madeleine.
 
She also carried the toddler's soft toy, Cuddle Cat, with her to give her courage.
 
She spoke of the devastating impact Madeleine's disappearance had had on her family.
 
She said: "Madeleine was an incredibly happy, confident and loved little girl. This time last year we were a very happy family.
 
"I am unable to convey to you just how totally devastating Madeleine's abduction was. It's been totally awful.
 
"If anyone wanted to inflict the maximum amount of pain on us they have certainly achieved that."
 
She said she clung to the belief Madeleine was alive, saying: "We certainly still have hope."
 
The McCanns' call for increased resources to find missing children came as the couple revealed they will not return to Portugal to mark the first anniversary of their daughter's disappearance on May 3.
 
However, they said they are considering a Portuguese police request for them to take part in a reconstruction of the day Madeleine vanished.
 
Mr McCann defended himself and his wife against accusations that they should not be spearheading the "Amber Alert" campaign while they remain suspects, or arguidos, in the Portuguese police investigation.
 
He said: "We don't know how long we are going to be arguidos.
 
"We are very concerned that until this system is implemented other children and other families could suffer."
 
Mr McCann said he had been "exasperated" by bureaucracy surrounding their early attempts to publicise Madeleine's disappearance in Portugal.
 
Strict secrecy laws meant police there refused to release descriptions of a suspect seen carrying a child away from their apartment in Praia da Luz.
 
The couple told MEPs that the Amber Alert system - named after an abducted girl in the U.S. - had led to 68 children being found last year.
 
Mrs McCann said she believed a similar, Europe-wide system could have helped to find Madeleine.
 
"I believe the chances of recovery would have been higher. It would have improved our chances," she said.
 
MEPs attempted to introduce an alert system two years ago but failed to get sufficient support to pass legislation.
 
The Conservative MEP Edward McMillan-Scott said he backed the couple's proposal for a dedicated European hotline for information on missing children.
 
A number has already been reserved, but it has yet to go live.
 
The couple were dining in a tapas restaurant in Praia da Luz - just an hour's drive from the Spanish border - when Madeleine, who was aged three at the time, disappeared.
 
They believe a system similar to "Amber Alert" could have tracked her down in the hours after she vanished on May 3 last year.
 
The scheme is named for nine-year-old Amber Hagerman, who went missing and was later killed by her abductor.
 
Mr McMillan-Scott said it had saved nearly 400 abducted children since 2003, four-fifths of whom were found in the first 72 hours after they went missing.
 
He said the system worked like a severe weather warning, allowing the authorities to broadcast messages on radio, television and motorway signs. In Europe, only Belgium and France have adopted it.
 
He added: "Gerry and Kate want a European children centre - like the one in Washington - to bring together governments, the police and the voluntary sector to work on a united front and eliminate layers of frustrating bureaucracy and duplication of work.
 
"The McCanns tell me that the least they can do is ask for some political will. They have got the support of the leading missing children organisations and the goodwill of every right-minded European.
 
"It is impossible to know what they are going through. We are all praying for the safe return of Madeleine. At the same time Europe must together do all it can to prevent other families suffering like the McCanns."
 
The couple's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "For Kate and Gerry this is an important opportunity to ensure better co-ordination in Europe when a child goes missing to make sure that no other family goes through the anguish that they are continuing to endure."
 
An official declaration has been made, and it will remain open for three months. A majority of the 785 MEPs must sign it for it to go before the European Parliament.
 
While the McCanns are in Brussels, officers from Leicestershire Constabulary will continue to question members of the Tapas Seven - the friends they were dining with on May 3 - as a three-man team of detectives from Portugal listen in.
 
It is believed that yesterday was the turn of 34-year-old Fiona and 41-year-old David Payne from Leicester.
 
On Tuesday, detectives questioned Jane Tanner, 37, and her partner, 36-year-old Russell O'Brien, over a ten-hour period.

'Why I believe the McCanns' team were behind the leaking of witness statements', 11 April 2008
'Why I believe the McCanns' team were behind the leaking of police statements'
 

"At the moment there is nothing to say regarding the case. We are working well. The rest is a soap opera." Alipio Ribeiro to Expresso on 17 November 2007

 

Nigel Moore

11 April 2008
 
When considering where the 'leak' to Spanish programme Telecinco came from we must first look at the advantages and disadvantages of such a leak to the McCanns.

 

Advantages

 

Opportunity to smear the PJ by blaming them for the leak – with the bonus that the PJ are unable and unwilling to respond,

 

Opportunity to make a statement direct to the PJ, about the events of May 3rd - through the media - which had been denied them when they were not called for interview,

 

Revenge for missed opportunity to milk such interviews for PR effect,

 

Opportunity to reaffirm their timeline for May 3rd,

 

Opportunity to reaffirm that Madeleine was still alive on the morning of May 3rd,

 

An opportunity to account for the cries of Madeleine that were heard by Mrs Pamela Fenn, as well as…

 

The chance to show that they reacted as responsible parents, when it was said that "Gerry and I spoke for a couple of minutes and agreed to keep a closer watch over the children."

 

The opportunity to distract and divert attention away from the ongoing interviews of the Tapas Group,

 

The chance to order an internal review of the PJ and contribute to further distractions and consuming of PJ time and resources,

 

Substance to any possible claim they would not get a fair trial due to the adverse publicity.

 

The chance to use the "smear" as a reason to refuse to return to Portugal to participate in a reconstruction.

 

Disadvantages

 

Adverse newspaper headlines and public opinion,

 

Distraction from the McCanns trip to Brussels to champion the Amber Alert System

 

As you see, the advantages of such a leak to the McCanns massively outweigh the two disadvantages, neither of which have any bearing on the actual case against the McCanns.

 

There is no doubt that during the early days of the investigation leaks found their way into the public domain from certain ‘sources’. This was stopped completely when Paulo Rebelo took charge of the investigation on 08 October 2007. Since then there have been no leaks.

 

So, the question must be asked, why, after 6 months of running a water tight ship, against waves of abuse and derision from the McCanns, their supporters and certain elements of the UK press, should the PJ see any possible advantage to leaking such information now? The answer is simple. None. The very idea is, to quote Clarence Mitchell, ludicrous.

 

The PJ have steadfastly gathered their case against the McCanns and the British government has aided the process, eventually, by agreeing to the rogatory letter and further interviewing of the Tapas Group and other witnesses. The process is continuing with the full blessing of all those who have access to whatever evidence is held and who know the case.

 

To believe that they would throw that all in the air for the sake of one days newspaper headlines is completely ridiculous. This is not a soap opera. This is the investigation into the disappearance and probable death of a 3-year old girl.

 

So, what advantage is there in getting the McCanns timeline into the public domain and before the PJ’s watching eyes?

 

Well, it has to be said, there was very little in this leak that wasn’t already in the public domain courtesy of David James Smith’s article in The Times of 17 December 2007. That article showed such fine detail that it could have only come from the McCanns themselves – in effect, leaking their own timeline.

 

Consider this section of the article:

 

Gerry paused over Madeleine, who – a typical doctor’s observation, this – was lying almost in “the recovery position” with Cuddle Cat, the toy her godfather, John Corner, had bought her, and her comfort blanket up near her head, and Gerry thought how gorgeous, how lovely-looking she was and how lucky he was. Putting the door back to five degrees, he went to the loo and left to return to the restaurant. That, of course, was the last time he would see his daughter.

 

This is a virtual word for word copy of what we are now told is Gerry’s original police statement.

 

So, if this is 'old news', what can we say is new in the leak to Telecinco?

 

Four things:

 

1)     That Madeleine complained about being left to cry on the previous night and that she addressed this issue over breakfast with Kate and Gerry,

2)     Gerry opened the shutters further and that this was easy to do (explaining the presence of any fingerprints that may have been found),

3)     That work was done on the shutters in the main bedroom which were broken, and

4)     That Jane Tanner believed the man she saw walking away from the McCanns' apartment was the child’s father

 

I believe that this 'revelation' about Madeleine crying has been very carefully considered. We know that Mrs Pamela Fenn has made a police statement saying that she heard crying from the apartment on a previous night and that this needs to be addressed and explained by the McCanns.

 

(Note: The common myth that Mrs Fenn subsequently retracted her statement and said she heard no crying is false. What she actually said was that she heard no crying on the night Madeleine was reported missing – she did not deny hearing crying previously).

 

So, it is clear, the McCanns need to let the PJ know their explanation for this reported crying. They can’t do it in a police interview because they haven’t been called. Their only option? A leak to the media.

 

Maybe this was one of the questions they were allegedly unable to answer previously and they have now, after nearly a year, remembered.

 

If the McCanns have felt the need to leak this information now, would this not also imply that this information is crucial to the investigation? Why do they feel compelled to provide cover for screaming on a previous night?

 

Madeleine, so far as we are led to believe by the McCanns, did not go missing on a previous night, so this would appear to be purely circumstantial evidence. Unless there is a motive for this information being provided. 

 

Combined with details of the 'grown up' breakfast chat with Madeleine, could this be interpreted as an attempt by the McCanns to convince the PJ that Madeleine was still alive on the morning of May 3rd?  

 

We also hear, in this leak, further information about the state of the bedroom window:

 

"When I went to see Maddie I realised that she was not there, I looked in all the apartment, I returned to the children's room and at that time I saw the curtains move leaving visible to me that the blind was opened up. I went to the window and opened the curtains to see if she had climbed out there but I did not see any trace of her. I do not know whether or not I closed the window at the time," says Maddie's mother. "In shock I ran to Tapas Bar and shouted to Gerry: 'Maddie is not here, someone has taken her'."

 

In that instant all started rushing to look for the little girl. "When Kate came running and said, 'Maddie is not here, somebody has taken her', I thought that it could not be. I rushed to the apartment by the same path as always. I looked everywhere, I went back to the kids' room and started to think what could have happened. To my surprise I realised that one could lift the blinds without effort and almost no noise. When I went in I saw that Maddie's bed was almost untouched. The corner of the sheets was a little turned [back], the pillow, the pink cuddly toy and the piece of her blanket were almost in the same place that I last saw it."

 

So, one can assume from this that the curtains were drawn when Kate entered the bedroom.

 

Are we to believe an abductor clambered out of the bedroom window with Madeleine in his arms and then leant back through the window to pull the curtains together?

 

Surely unbelievable but consistent with the McCanns original story that the abductor gained entry by forcing the shutters on the windows and left by the front door, which they originally reported to friends and relatives as being left open. The 'abductor' may well have closed the curtains behind him in that scenario to hide what he was doing.

 

However, this explanation is found wanting when considered with the lack of evidence of a break-in and Clarence Mitchell’s confirmation on RTE’S Prime Time that "There was no evidence of a break-in".

 

But what of Gerry’s statement that he "realised that one could lift the blinds without effort and almost no noise." Could this be another later 'add-on' after realising that the blinds/shutters are impossible to open from the outside and that there could be fingerprints on it?

 

Also Gerry mentions he rushed to the apartment by 'the same path as always'. Yet it has been previously stated that this was the first night they had left the patio doors unlocked. On previous nights it has been claimed they entered by the front door, but fearing that the sound of the key in the lock would wake the sleeping children they decided that night to enter through the patio doors.

 

But such fine detail and knowledge of the events will be lost on casual newspaper readers who may simply have no desire or time to read further into the case than the information presented before them. So the PR damage on such fine detail is nil.

 

And what of the statement attributed in this leak to Jane Tanner? Does this reveal that these are not actually the original statements but later enhanced versions?

 

The Sun reports, in its coverage of the leak, that Jane Tanner told Portuguese police in her original statement she thought a man she spotted carrying a child moments after Madeleine disappeared, was the youngster's father.

 

Yet, how can this be when the original description issued by the police, and reiterated by Gerry McCann in a press statement, over two weeks later, was that the man was "carrying a child or an object that could have been taken as a child". How could there be ambiguity when Tanner had, we are led to believe through this leak, not only identified the 'object' as a child but also the carrier as the childs father?

 

Indeed, Martin Brunt has reported that when Jane Tanner first spoke to police she said "I'm not sure if he was carrying anything." So, is this evidence that these 'original' leaked statements, which have conveniently just appeared, are not quite as original as they seem? And who would benefit most from this?

 

So, what can we say about the disadvantages of such a leak as this to the McCanns?

 

Well, very little actually. True, for one day, a few newspaper headlines will superficially look bad for the McCanns but Clarence Mitchell has already been hard at work dismissing the reports as a 'blatant smear" by the PJ. Tomorrow will be a different set of headlines and today's papers will be lining the beds of rabbits and hamsters tomorrow.

 

Did the headlines the Express Group ran over a sustained period affect people’s perceptions of the case? Personally, I doubt it. Because the very next day a contrary headline would be run and people are now so anaesthetised by 'shocking' newspaper headlines in this case that they are going to shrug them off as folly until a charge is made or the case is dropped. Headlines in papers simply reinforce already held beliefs or they wash off people's backs.

 

That the headlines took away attention from the McCanns championing of the Amber Alert System in Brussels was really neither here nor there. The cause may well be a noble one and if it recovers one child it will have been worth it. But for the McCanns it is an expendable side issue. Something that could be comfortably sacrificed for the opportunity to sacrifice the PJ in the media.

 

It is also interesting to note that beyond the 'paper selling' headlines, the UK press are still using the leak to belittle and undermine public perception of the work of the PJ. The PJ have worked diligently, conscientiously and patiently in the face of continued abuse.

 

Clarence Mitchell has grasped this opportunity to slam the PJ for leaking these statements. And a 'friend' has grasped the opportunity to brand anyone who dares to question the McCanns as 'vultures'.

 

And the PJ?

 

Alipio Ribeiro, when interviewed by El Pais in October 2007, said this about the continued criticism of the PJ by the McCanns through their spokespersons:

 

"Yes, but they talked with the family and the press, not with the police. And it must be understood that the British press also works in this way. They made unfair remarks but we cannot react to this on a daily basis and play ping pong, the PJ against the British press. We are not interested in this game: We have a different tradition to theirs, one of less communication and the judicial secrecy that restricts us."

 

To suggest that the PJ are behind this leak is an insult to all the hard work and diligence they have displayed over the long months of the inquiry.

 

Only one group of people benefits from this leak and its fallout: The McCanns. Albeit on a superficial and short term level.

 

Those of us passionately concerned about securing truth and justice for Madeleine - as opposed to those whose only concern appears to be clearing the McCanns of their arguido status - should actually be heartened by the events of yesterday and today.

 

For it shows that the McCanns and their team have only the battlegrounds of PR and spin on which to fight.

 

Justice for Madeleine will not be served by a newspaper headline or a man in a pink shirt.

 

It will be served in law.

 

And that process continues... 

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files

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