Four years after she disappeared in Portugal, Madeleine McCann
has not been found.
Kate McCann has written her account of her daughter's disappearance and
the aftermath By Enid O'Dowd
You're meeting seven neighbours, with eight children under four between
you, in one of Ranelagh's many restaurants, only 120 metres or so from
your homes which you can't see from the restaurant; what do you do about
That was the 'almost' equivalent dilemma faced by Kate and Gerry McCann
and their friends on their holiday in Praia da Luz in May 2007 ' except
they were not on their home patch as you were in Ranelagh. The group,
which became known as the Tapas nine and six of whom were doctors,
decided to make 30 minute checks. This system, Kate claims, had worked
on previous evenings but when she checked at 10 pm on Thursday May 3rd,
Madeleine was not there and, despite an international search involving
the Portuguese and UK police and private detectives, she has still not
Last month Kate McCann published 'Madeleine - our daughter's
disappearance and the continuing search for her'. In the foreword of the
book she states that her 'reason for writing the book is to give an
account of the truth'. Isn't that odd phraseology - surely there can
only be one version of the truth' All kinds of tales have circulated
about Madeleine's disappearance according to Kate,
and indeed they have; the publication of this 'truthful' book seems to
have accelerated the internet debates on the discrepancies in the
The book is actually the story of Kate's life to date. It covers her
childhood, her education, her meeting and marriage to Gerry McCann and
the births of their three children. The McCanns needed a series of IVF
to become parents which makes it all the more odd that they would
leave three children under four in an unlocked apartment on the ground
floor in a foreign country. According to Kate, all three children were
good sleepers. She did not want to use the evening cr'he provided by
the holiday company; understandable as her children had a routine and
were in bed by the time the cr'he opened at 7.30 pm.
She argues on p. 54 that it would have been unwise to leave the children
with someone neither they nor themselves knew. Yet her children were
happy in the day childcare facilities and had come to know the staff who
were available, at extra cost, to babysit for clients in the evening.
She states 'we felt so secure we simply didn't think it was necessary
(to hire a babysitter) and our own apartment was only 30-45 seconds
An astonishing statement.
Surely security concerns are not the main reason parents organise
babysitters' As a GP, she more than anyone, would appreciate that the
risks of leaving children alone at night do not relate to 'security' but
to other factors, like vomiting and choking, waking up from a nightmare,
wetting the bed, and febrile convulsions which affect one in twenty
children under five.
Kate does not mention a witness statement by Pamela Fenn who
lived in the apartment above stating that she heard a child crying for
75 minutes on Tuesday May 1st calling for 'daddy'. This contradicts Kate's statement of 30 minute checks.
The book cover proclaims that all royalties are donated to the Madeleine
Fund. A company called Madeleine Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned Ltd was
incorporated on 15 May 2007. According to Kate, over the weekend of
11th, 12th and 13th May she and Gerry had meetings in Praia da Luz with
a paralegal from the International Family Law Group and a barrister. The
barrister told them 'our behaviour (in leaving the children unattended)
could not be deemed negligent' and was 'well within the bounds of
The legal pair suggested the McCanns use London solicitors
Bates Wells and Braithwaite to set up a company to manage the funds that
would be donated. On p.137 she records that this firm drew up articles
of association for the fighting fund (limited company) and talked to the
Charity Commission who ruled that the proposed company did not meet
the requirements for charity status as it focussed on one child and did
not meet the public benefit test. Hence Kate says, the decision was that
'it would be a 'not for profit' private limited company. It was set up
with great care and due diligence by experts in the field'.
From the dates Kate gives, it would appear that Bates Wells and
Braithwaite could not have had instructions to act until Monday May
14th, yet they were able to incorporate the company the very next day.
A day is very little time for the solicitors to have drafted company
documents for this proposed company which was not an ordinary trading
company, to have agreed the documents with their clients the McCanns who
were in Portugal and also to have obtained a ruling from the Charity
And what was the hurry given that Madeleine could have been found at
this early stage of the investigation'
On p.138 Kate says 'everyone agreed that despite the costs involved it
(the company) must be run to the highest standards of transparency'.
To date, three sets of accounts have been filed with the UK Company's
office. In the first set going to March 2008 an analysis of expenditure
is given though this is not a statutory requirement under UK law.
accounts filed for the years to March 2009 and to March 2010 give no
expenditure analysis. Now this is perfectly legal but not the
'transparency' to which Kate referred. In 2009 for example the only
expenditure information filed gives the merchandising and campaign costs
as '974,786 and
the administration expenses as '30,865. Not very informative!
When the McCanns were made arguidos (suspects) in September 2007 Kate
refused on legal advice to answer the 48 questions put to her. This was
her legal right but the refusal fuelled the doubts about her story. It
why she might not want to answer questions in a foreign country with the
possibility of mistranslations complicating her difficult situation but
surely there is no reason now not to put the record straight by
answering thequestions in her book. She doesn't do so.
British sniffer dogs Eddie and Keela and their handler Martin Grime were
used by the Portuguese authorities. These dogs had a 100% accuracy rate
in 200 cases and found both blood and cadaver (dead body) traces in
various places in the holiday apartment and in the boot of the car
rented after the disappearance. Kate says that research Gerry conducted
after the Portuguese police showed
them the video of the dogs' search revealed that dog evidence is
unreliable. She quotes Gerry as dismissing the sniffer dog video as 'the
most subjective piece of evidence gathering imaginable'. She claims that
the dogs had merely been trying to please their instructor.
If you read this book without having read the other material available
which questions the abduction theory, you could not fail to have the
greatest of sympathy for the McCanns. However, it is a statistical fact
that in the majority
of missing children cases, a family member, a neighbour or someone known
to the child, is involved. The Portuguese police would have been
negligent if they did not consider this possibility. They did not find
any forensic evidence of an intruder in the apartment which had been to
some extent contaminated by the Tapas group searching the apartment when
Kate raised the alarm.
Since the book was published last month, Scotland Yard has agreed to
conduct a review. A reconstruction of that evening which the Tapas nine
initially agreed to do but which never happened would help. Hopefully
the review will be independent with the co-operation of all and with no
The book costs '15.99 in local
shops and is published by Bantam
(includes Portuguese police files)