McCanns could not actually see their apartment from the
tapas bar due to the wall around the pool. To get back
there, they had to use the gate and walk around that
wall, which made it a 75 yard hike. And the apartment
had double doors onto the street on the opposite side of
the block from that facing the pool.
not see how anybody understanding this geography can
consider that it was normal parenting for the McCanns to
leave two one year olds and a three year old, alone in
the apartment in these circumstances – for hours, and
repeatedly several days running. It is something I would
absolutely never dream of doing with my own children. If
nothing else, had any of the children been crying and in
distress – and the chances of that with three tiny
children are pretty high – there was no way they could
claimed abduction is not the only thing that could have
happened. Cholic. Vomiting. Sore nappies. Coughing.
Choking. Bad dreams. Overheating. All kinds of thing can
distress children. So far as I can judge, it is not that
I am weird in my own views, rather it is absolutely
accepted in British society that you do not leave 1 year
olds without care of an adult. Why are the McCanns an
leads me on to the question of why they received such
exceptional treatment from British authorities, directed
straight from No. 10, to the extent that Blair and Brown
eventually gave them a PR representative? I used at one
stage to be Resident Clerk in the FCO, a now abolished
post effectively of night duty officer. I can tell you
from horrible personal experience that the FCO deals
with gut-wrenching cases of lost or dead children abroad
frequently. I spent one of the most terrible three hours
of my life, through to a cold dawn, on the phone with a
hysterical bereaved mother desperate to explore any
avenue that might give a possibility that the boy who
had just drowned in Brazil was misidentified as her son.
On average, I am afraid such tragedies get substantially
less than 1% of the public resources that were devoted
to the McCanns.
going to come straight out with this. British diplomatic
staff were under direct instruction to support the
McCanns far beyond the usual and to put pressure on the
Portuguese authorities over the case. I have direct
information that more than one of those diplomatic staff
found the McCanns less than convincing and their stories
inconsistent. Embassy staff were perturbed to be ordered
that British authorities were to be present at every
contact between the McCanns and Portuguese police.
again is absolutely not the norm. On a daily basis more
British citizens have contact with foreign authorities
than the total staff of the FCO. It would be simply
impossible to give that level of support to everybody.
Plus, against jingoistic presumption, a great many Brits
who have contact with foreign police are actually
British Ambassador in Portugal, John Buck, had been my
direct boss in the FCO. he was Deputy Head of Southern
European Department when I was Head of Cyprus Section.
He and his staff were concerned by contradictions in the
McCann’s story. The Embassy warned, in writing, that
being perceived as too close to the McCanns might not
prove wise. They demanded the instruction from London be
reconfirmed. It was.
know of people’s misgivings because I was told directly.
But material was also leaked
to a Belgian newspaper confirming what I have said.
It was published by the Express, but like so much other
material which is not supportive of the McCanns, it got
taken down. Fortunately that last link preserved it. It
also shows that the FCO continues to refuse Freedom of
Information requests for the material on the interesting
grounds that it might damage relations with Portugal.
the avoidance of doubt, I do not believe there was a
high level paedophile ring involved. I make no such
argument. Nor do I claim to know what happened to
Madeleine McCann. But I do believe that the McCanns were
less than exemplary parents. I believe that New Labour’s
No.10 saw, in typical Blair fashion, a highly photogenic
tragedy which there might be popularity in appearing to
believe there is a genuine danger that the high profile
support from the top of the British government might
have put some psychological pressure on the Portuguese
investigators and prosecuting officers in their