Gerry McCann were grilled
yesterday for the first time about allegations they could have been
involved in their daughter's disappearance.
Portuguese police had previously named the couple as "arguidos",
or formal suspects, in the case in September 2007.
But the McCanns, both 41, have always strenuously insisted they
are innocent, and their suspect status was lifted when the authorities
Portugal shelved the case in July
However, last night
Sandra Felgueiras, a reporter for
Portuguese TV station RTP, questioned the McCanns about claims made in a
book by Goncalo Amaral, the former
detective in charge of the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance.
The couple took legal action against Mr Amaral and in September
Lisbon's main civil court banned
further sale or publication of his book.
The McCanns were visibly frustrated by the course of the RTP
interview, which included questions about the findings of sniffer dogs
brought in to search their apartment in Praia da Luz and whether they had
close links to the British government.
Ms Felgueiras quizzed them on claims there was a "pact of
silence" between the couple and friends on holiday with them when
Mr McCann explained that there was no pact, but they had all
refused to talk to the media about what happened that night in line with
Portugal's strict judicial secrecy laws.
The journalist also asked if they felt they were victims of the
Portuguese investigation, to which Mr McCann replied: "The victim is
Ms Felgueiras said afterwards: "It is two-and-a-half years after
Madeleine disappeared and this was the first time they talked to us in a
big interview since the files were closed. I think I should feel free
and they should feel free to talk about it. It would be the only chance
to clear up the rumours."
But Mr McCann insisted that: "The place to have those discussions
is in the judicial and legal environment where they can be properly
assessed and dealt with within the bounds of the law.
"That's the approach that we've taken, and clearly we're very
pleased that the Portuguese judiciary have agreed that there is
absolutely no evidence that Madeleine is dead or that we were involved,
and that's why injunctions have been given.
"If people accept that, then they will accept that Madeleine is
missing and can still be found."
Earlier Gerry McCann told how the couple's four-year-old twins
have started saying they want to find and fight the person who took
their missing sister. Sean and Amelie were just two when Madeleine
But their parents have discussed the fact that their big sister
is missing with them and they are now fiercely protective of her.
The McCanns were speaking as police released a video showing how
Madeleine might look now, in a bid to prick the conscience of anyone who
knows what became of her.
The 60-second video, released in seven languages, features film
footage of Madeleine and digitally enhanced photos of what she might
look like now with shoulder-length blonde hair, as well as one with a
tan and dark hair.
The clip, produced with the aid of psychologists, can be viewed
"This message is aimed at pro
mpting the conscience of an individual who is keeping a secret,"
said Jim Gamble, head of the
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
Mr McCann hailed the global online appeal as "a world first".
"We're optimistic that this message will get to them, it will
cause them to wrestle with their conscience," he said.
- Paul Burnett
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT BY JEANNIE D ARC 03-11-09
Sandra: Hello Kate, Hi Gerry. You have
called us here, or invited us here to show these two new pictures of
how Madeleine might look like now at the age of six and also to
watch a video, a new appeal video, but you have been recently
together in Lisbon. Have you truly felt that the Portuguese public
opinion is still with you?
Gerry: I think obviously there has been a lot written that is
very negative, and ehm it is inevitable that given so much..., so
much was written negative about us, that some people felt that we
were involved, that we do feel now, that legal action has been taken
and the judicial process has seen that there is no evidence to
support what has been written.
Sandra: You are talking about Goncalo Amaral's book?
Gerry: Yeah, but also with the publication of the file in the
first place erm an initial process of the criminal erm file and
regarding Madeleine's disappearance. You know there is no evidence
that we were involved and
the action we have taken recently I think that
people are now prepared to continue the search for Madeleine and
that is why we are here today asking people to help us trying to get
this very important message...
Sandra: But how can you explain that Goncalo Amaral has sold
over 175.000 copies defending that you played the key role in
Kate: I mean I think it's important to remember Sandra, the
only victim in all of this is Madeleine erm and that is obviously
why we are here today really, we are trying to, we are trying to
(sigh) reach that person who knows something, and there is somebody
who knows something, not the person who has taken Madeleine, but the
person on the periphery, and that might just be erm a colleague of
the person, a neighbour, a fami..., you know this person, the
abductor, has got a mother, a brother, a cousin, a part of family,
Sandra: Do you believe that the public opinion in Portugal
right now after reading the book of Goncalo Amaral erm still can
support you? Still can answer to that appeal?
Gerry: Now that's the key point why we
action Sandra and that is part of the legal process as you know.
There is a
against the book
he's banned from
repeating his thesis that Madeleine is dead and we
involved. Now that has been
separate judges plus the original judge
file have said that that.
what we will do
discussing the facts.
Thats the correct place to discuss.
Goncalo Amaral and the book..
Sandra: Are you saying that Goncalo Amaral doesn't have the right to
share his opinion, his conviction under the evidence he gathered
into a book? He doesn't have freedom of expression to say that and
to publish it?
Gerry: There is a difference between freedom of expression
and evidence to support a theory. What the judges have said there
isn't evidence to support this theory, so he shouldn't be saying it.
And that is about as much as we want to say about him. You know
that's a legal process and we have challenged it, it's been through
the judicial process and thats
Sandra: The files were closed and no thesis won. How can you
explain that after Goncalo Amaral, Paulo Rebelo, the next
investigator, also pursued this thesis? He also investigated the
possibility of you both play the key role in Madeleine's
Gerry: It was investigated, the evidence was presented to the
judiciary, and the judiciary concluded there was no evidence to
support that thesis, that's very...
Sandra: No DNA, but how do you explain...
Gerry: No no...
Sandra: ...the coincidence...
Gerry: The DNA is only one aspect of it, there was no
evidence to support our involvement in Madeleine's disappearance,
that is the key thing. Madeleine is still missing, we are here as
her family to continue the search. Now I can't speak for people who
have read the book but obviously it doesn't stand up to critical
Sandra: But this is the first time that you give us a big
interview not being arguidos, not being arguidos. Since then. erm.
So now I feel free to ask you this directly. How can you explain the
coincidence of the scent of cadaver found by British and not
Kate: Sandra, maybe you should ask the judiciary because they
have examined all evidence. I mean we are also Madeleine's mum and
dad and we are desperate for people to help us find Madeleine which
is why we are here today. The majority of people are inherently good
and I believe the majority of people in Portugal are inherently good
people and I am asking them if they will help us spread this message
to that person or people...
Sandra: So you don't have an explanation for that?
Gerry: Ask the dogs (smirk) Sandra.
Sandra: Ask the dogs, no Gerry? Now I feel free to ask you,
don't you feel free to answer me?
Gerry: I can tell you that we have also looked at evidence
about (haha) cadaver dogs and they are incredibly unreliable.
Gerry: Cadaver dogs, yes. That's what they have ensured us,
if they are tested scientifically.
Sandra: You read the files, Kate?
Kate: Yes I have read the files.
Sandra: What did shock you most? Any part of the... any
detail that...you weren't... aware of? Something that has really
surprised you or you didn't find anything?
Kate: Oh I have been through them and I have made notes and I
passed that on to our investigation team obviously.
Sandra: And you found any evidence? Of anything?
Kate: Well obviously the only evidence I wanna find is who
has taken Madeleine and where she is. They are the key things and
until we actually get that bit of information you know we are always
gonna feel like we are a long way away. But basically what we are
doing is trying to get as much information as we can and trying to
put the jig-saw, jigsaw together, so finally we have the complete
Sandra: And what about your friends? Did you have a pact of
silence with your friends?
Kate: (laughing) You know the judicial secrecy?
Sandra: I know it but we don't have it anymore.
Gerry: You have to put it into context of the situation that
we were in...
Sandra: But now is the time to explain it...
Gerry: That, ar.. ar... article that was written in June was
direct as a result of the journalist phoning all of us, and saying
what can you tell us about it and we were under expressive
instructions that we were not to talk about the details of the case,
under judicial secrecy. So that is all that people did. And I don't
think that should be considered a pact of silence. We were told,
that's all. And you wouldn't expect witnesses in other cases in any
country to begin divulging information that may be useful to the
perpetrator of the crime
Sandra: Are you still friends? Do you plan another trips together
or did it damage...?
Kate and Gerry: No No
Kate: We are still friends. We haven't got any holidays planned
but we are still friends. We are in touch with each other, we still meet
up and see each other.
Sandra: Don't you agree that there were a lot of details that in
a certain way contribute to people to doubt of you, for example, when
you went to the Vatican so quickly, all the contacts that you have made.
Can I ask you Gerry, if you personally know Mr. Gordon Brown the Prime
Gerry: (moving on his chair uncomfortably) No, and
Gordon Brown. We have spoken to him once on the phone several weeks
after Madeleine was abducted. People have got to remember that, and what
today is about... good ordinary people wanted to help find an innocent
missing child. And that's what happened. Clearly there was a huge amount
of media coverage and people wanted to
ways to help. Our government wanted to assist the investigation to find
Sandra: Are they still supporting you, Mr. Gordon Brown still
talks to you directly?
Gerry: We have had continued meetings with both the Home Office
and also with the Foreign Office to discuss ways in which the search can
continue. Obviously today is a
example of law
initiative with CEOP
conjunction with other law enforcement agencies, Interpol, Europol, and
you know, the key thing is, that law enforcement believe we can get
information from those who may know.
Sandra: How could you explain that Clarence Mitchell left the
British Government where he was a press speaker to be your press
Gerry: Obviously, when Clarence came first out to Portugal
working for the Government at that time he came out and spent I think
almost three, two to three weeks with us, and he got to know us very
very well, and he felt very very passionate about the search for
Madeleine and when the opportunity arose, erm, you know, we asked him if
he would come back and shield us from the intense media interest and
that is what Clarence has done superbly well, and he has become an
extremely good friend during this.
Sandra: But he must be paid.?
Gerry: He was paid, that's right
Sandra: And now he must be paid?
Gerry: yeah, but you know...
Sandra: Isn't it difficult for you to pay him?
Gerry: You know, in the first period Brian Kennedy paid his
salary and then he was subsequently paid by the fund and now, you know,
he works part-time on this, and he is a consultant for Freud Agency, so,
you know, as the media interest dropped down, we haven't needed a
full-time spokesperson. He still works with us, we are working very
closely with him and he has done a brilliant job protecting us and
allowing us to have some degree of normality as a family considering the
very very intense media interest.
Sandra: You have also hired a new communication agency back in
Portugal. Why do you think you need it and is it easy for you to afford
Gerry: Well again, it is an agreement that it is funded out of
Madeleine's fund. It's a decision that was made by the directors of the
fund, because we felt... Kate and I are both directors of the fund,
there are nine directors in total, that to really make the search
successful we had to present information to the Portuguese public, given
how much had been written in a negative way about us, and obviously we
want to work with someone who understands the Portuguese culture and the
Portuguese media and how we could persuade people that Madeleine is
still out there and still can be found....
Sandra: Until when do you think that you will afford all this?
Two lawyers in Portugal, a news agency, Clarence Mitchell... I don't
know if you still have the two lawyers that you have hired here in
Kate: It's not ideal, you know, Sandra. We wouldn't have any
lawyers, we wouldn't need any appeal if we weren't in the situation....
Sandra: But don't you feel strangled? Don't you feel that some
day you feel it will be finished the money?
Kate: We have to do whatever we can to find Madeleine and
obviously we have to look at sort of , you know, if the fund starts to
run out we have to try and get more money in, we can't stop...
Sandra: And how do you do it?
Gerry: Well, you know, people have been extremely kind. You have
to remember that the fund was set up initially because so many people
offered money to try and help and wanted to help and were prepared to
donate. We would love nothing better for Madeleine to be found and for
the remaining moneys in the fund to go to helping other families of
missing children both in the UK and in Portugal, and that is one of our
objectives when we have found Madeleine... AND her abductor, then the
moneys will be used for that. Obviously if the money runs out... is
running out, then we have to look at alternative ways of fundraising erm
small events community events, which have been very good for
teambuilding. We have had a small auction in Madeleine's school and the
school where the twins are.
Sandra: Do you still have the support of Mr. Richard Branson, JK
Rowling, this multimillionaire that initially gave you a lot of money?
Gerry: (burblegurgle) ..an independent investigation that has
been funded completely out of Madeleine's fund... I mean an event like
today, there is no specific
for it, and this is obviously the internet, people already have
subscriptions, they can do this. There is the willingness of the
population to help and I think we will find hundreds of thousands if not
millions of people today will forward this link to their contacts in
countries all over the world. That is cheap.
Sandra: Do you still have money in the fund?
Gerry: There is some money still in the fund and it continues to
be used and we will use every single penny in that fund in the search
Sandra: You have asked Goncalo Amaral to pay you 1 million euros
for damage erm for the defamation for example. Do you need that money to
finance the campaign?
Kate: The reason why we have taken action against Goncalo Amaral
is the damage that he has done for Madeleine. That's our main focus.
Sandra: Which motives could he have to make up all this story?
Gerry: We can't speak for Goncalo Amaral.
Sandra: But I presume that you think something? Why should an
investigator make it up, a story without evidence
Kate: It has to be financial gain, hasn't it?
Sandra: You think that he made this with the commercial
Kate: You would have to ask him to get the answer to this.
Sandra: So this is your idea?
Kate: It's a possibility, isn't it. I mean I have....
Sandra: You think Goncalo Amaral is trying to win money playing
with your, erm your child's life?
Kate: We have to wonder why an ex-inspector of the PJ would want
to convince the population that Madeleine is dead, with absolutely no
evidence whatsoever. And that question should be asked.
Sandra: Do you feel that there is a difference of treatment
between the Portuguese authorities and the British authorities? In any
moment did you feel, or do you feel still, that you were victims of the
Gerry: The key victim is Madeleine. I mean, that's what the crime
is about. We know we had to be investigated. And we have been
Sandra: Sorry Gerry, but you Kate said once, that you were
feeling bad with what they asked you inside the PJ, trying to get a
confession from you...
Kate: I know the truth Sandra, you know what I mean, and all I
want to do is find Madeleine and I was upset...
Sandra: So have you forgotten everything that already passed?
It's passed for you both?
Kate: The only thing we can do now is look forward, you know, you
know. There is lessons to be learned by everyone ourselves included,
from what's happened. But, all we want to do is find Madeleine and the
only way of doing that is by looking forwards and trying to be proactive
and see what we can do now, which is why this message has gone out
Sandra: Did you go back to work? Are you working already?
Kate: I am working fulltime in the campaign to find Madeleine. I
am looking after Sean and Amelie.
Sandra: You don't have any plans to go back to the clinic?
Kate: No I don't, no I don't
Sandra: You don't. And talking about the twins. Now the time is
passing. Two years and a half since Madeleine disappeared. They are
growing up. How will you be able to explain them what happened one day
they have the age to really understand it?
Gerry: It's like filling in a picture for them with the
information we have available and we will give them as their minds
inquire, and as they are able to handle that information, then we will
answer all of their questions openly and honestly.
Sandra: But what will you tell them
Gerry: Well, we will answer the questions. So what they ask us we
will tell them. And we tell them exactly what happened and what
information we know. And what we do know, is that we are continuing to
look for their sister. They want people to look for their sister.
Sandra: But will you go into details about what happened?
Kate: We will be led by them. We have had advice from a child
psychologist and they said Sean and Amelie would lead the way. If they
ask a question answer them honestly. We are not gonna rush them, but if
they ask something, then obviously we will answer them.
Sandra: They are in the same school where Madeleine was?
Gerry: Well she didn't get a chance to start yet so, she was
there, her place is there, and the twins are there now.
Sandra: The room, Madeleine's room is still the same?
Kate: The bedroom? Yeah, it's quite a few more presents in it
now, but yeah, it's still the same.
Sandra: And what do you keep telling the twins whenever they ask
for her? I presume that they ask about her a lot of times?
Kate: Well they know she is missing, you know, and they know we
are looking for her, and they also say things to me like, if they see
things like a Madeleine sticker or a poster, they say "look Mummy they
are helping to find Madeleine with us", and they might point at other
people saying "Mummy are they helping us to find Madeleine?" and you
know, so *shrugs*
Sandra: Is it still very hard for you or are you getting used to
this reality? Are you trying to live with it?
Kate: You have to, I think, you have to adapt and you have to
function. And if we want to look after Sean and Amelie, and if you want
to search for Madeleine, then you have to function. Erm. I am obviously
stronger than I was say a year ago, and, obviously the emotion is still
Gerry: Well we do as much as we possibly can to ensure that the
twins see us happy, and see us happy with them, and they give us a
tremendous amount of joy, and our life, you know, on a day-to-day basis
superficially would look like any other family with two young children.
Obviously one of our children is missing. And they know that and they
know that that's not good and they want her back and they understand why
on occasion, you know, that we are particularly upset and... we all want
Madeleine back to be a complete family again, but the twins are coping
Sandra: You told me once that you are both living a nightmare. In
your more optimistical perspective, what do you imagine, what do you
think, it could be the best way to recover Madeleine.
Gerry: I think, the first thing today is that this message, it
can be downloaded and distributed, get heard and seen by someone who
knows, and it will tweak their conscience and get them to give
information to bring Madeleine back.
Sandra: The last lead that you have shared with us was about a
women in Barcelona. Has this anything to do with this appeal? (Kate
shakes head?) Is it for that, that you are asking the relatives of
people that can be involved in her disappearance, to call you?
Gerry: I think the first thing to say is that the investigation
,matters are to be dealt with by the professionals and obviously we have
got David Edgar working for us or law enforcement as appropriate. Today
is about this appeal. It is completely separate. It is going out in
seven different languages, we want it to be spread as far and as wide as
possible because we don't know where Madeleine is and we don't know who
took her and that's why we need the public's help to spread the email,
an email to all your contacts. I know you have already done it, Sandra.
Sandra: Thank you very much to you both.