Fredrik Skavlan [Host]: Kate and Gerry McCann welcome to Stockholm.
Kate and Gerry: Thank you.
Host: It’s been almost five years eh since, since eh Madeleine
disappeared and now you Kate are reliving the whole thing by writing a
book about what happened. Why are you doing that?
Kate: Well I actually started to keep a diary back in May 2007 I was
advised to do it actually, and at the time I felt it would be important
for Madeleine really, so that when we found her we’d be able to fill in
the gaps in her life, and then I also thought it would be good for Sean
and Amelie as well, so that they would have an account of the truth of
everything that happened.
Host: Your twins?
Kate: That’s right.
Host: If we could start by going back eh to May 3rd 2007, what’s your
strongest memories of Madeleine from that day?
Gerry: I think the strongest memory I have is, of really, the photograph
it was the last photograph we have of her and eh ye know, we’d had a
lovely holiday. Madeleine was having a great time and just after lunch
we went over to the pool area and eh she was sitting there paddling in
the pool and I was sitting next to her and she turned round and she’s
just beaming. And then the last time I saw her which was probably
minutes before she was taken when she was lying asleep. It’s terrible,
I’ve said this a few times but I had one of those poignant moments as a
parent where I went into the room the door was open, I just paused for a
second and I looked and she was sound asleep, and I thought how
beautiful she was. The twins were asleep in the... their cots and I
thought how lucky we were. And within ye know, minutes that was
Host: What happened is that you went to eat with the other parents that
you were on vacation with?
Kate: That’s right.
Host: This was not far from the apartment?
Kate: It’s about 50 metres as the crow flies but that’s about 70 metres
Host: Yes, and as you sat there in this restaurant you went back and
forth on shift to check on the children is that right? And what happened
when the last time you went to check?
Kate: Well it was 10 o’clock when I went to check on Madeleine and em I
walked into the sitting room of the apartment and I noticed that the
children’s bedroom door was open further than we’d left it. We always
use... close it quite far over but just enough so some light gets in and
it was quite open. And it was our friend Matt who had checked on the
children at half past nine when he was checking on his daughter next
door, and I thought to myself well maybe, maybe Matt‘s left the door
open when he checked on them. So, I walked over the bedroom door and I
was about to close it to again, and as I did that, it kind of slammed
shut, and I thought oh there must be a draught and I checked the door
behind me and I hadn’t left that open.
And then I opened the door again of the children’s bedroom just to leave
it open a little bit and that’s when I really looked in. And I couldn’t
quite make out Madeleine in her bed and I just looked and looked and erm
it was obviously quite dark, it must be a parental thing when you don’t
switch a light on in case you’re worried about waking them but then I
realised she wasn’t actually there and then I thought she must have
wandered through to our bedroom and maybe that would have explained why
door was open. So I went into our bedroom and she wasn’t there and that
was the first time really that the panic hit and I just ran back into
her bedroom, and literally at that point the curtains which were closed
just kind of flew open and that’s when I noticed that the window was
open as far as it could go and the shutters outside had been raised all
the way up. And I just knew straight away that someone had taken her.
Host: So, this was your first thought?
Kate: Yeah, absolutely, there’s no way a young child could have got out.
Host: This decision of not eating in the apartment it has been lot of
discussion about that not staying in the apartment, to go to eat with
the other parents as you did every night.
Gerry: We felt incredibly safe and we were in a very quiet holiday
resort. We were with a group of friends we hardly saw anyone of an
evening and it was so close that it didn’t feel very different to eating
outside in your garden, with the kids upstairs in the bedroom, and
literally we were only going back erm to check that no one had woken up
and of course at the time someone stealing your child was the furthest
thing from our minds...and erm...
Host: This was really not something you thought twice about?
Gerry: Yeah, no, it was it just felt em...
Kate: I think if we’d had to think about it or, even say to each other
‘do you think that’s okay?’ it wouldn’t have happened. But it just felt
like a really natural thing that we’ll eat at the restaurant on the
Gerry: I think the hardest thing with this is, ye know with hindsight we
made a mistake erm it was a collective mistake but unfortunately we
can’t change that, and erm whatever anyone may think about our decision
making that night Madeleine’s completely innocent and you know she’s
been taken and erm it’s hard for us because ye know no one could feel
more guilty than we did to... to... to, think that your behaviour gave
someone an opportunity, a risky opportunity , but one that they took,
and ye know we persecuted ourselves for that, but you’ve got to look
forward you can’t go back we can’t change that unfortunately, and erm
what we’ve tried to do is, is always to look forward.
Host: Were you the worrying kind of parents, I mean..?
Gerry: I’ll answer that! I would say - I wasn’t but Kate was! I would
have said that Kate was a bit over protective. Whereas I grew up in a
big family the youngest of five and you feel, oh you know,
indestructible but Kate was much as an only child maybe I don’t know,
but definitely much more protective of the children than me.
Host: There were...eh you, you came in contact very, very quickly with
the Portuguese Police...
Host: Eh how was that experience?
Gerry: We were expecting a Metropolitan type response and I remember
saying to the officers “where’s the helicopters? I want helicopters with
heat seeking equipment.” And ye know the officer kind of laughed at us
and said “you know this isn’t you know we don’t have a Royal Navy” and
this thing... and you just... and I’m sure every single parent can
understand this because everyone has lost a child momentarily and the
terror and how frightening it is, be it in a supermarket or a playground
or a park, and you just want everything done and you want... you want
the world to stop, and, and scream, and the response ye know was slow.
And that’s been one of the hardest things for us, because ye know,
Madeleine could have been moved very easily and the Spanish border is
only about 90 minutes away and obviously you are on the Mediterranean,
and one of the aspects of why we are campaigning internationally is
because she could have been taken anywhere.
Host: What happened was that as time went by, you didn’t really trust
the Portuguese police and they didn’t trust you?
Gerry: We were there for three/ three and a half months we felt we had
been completely eliminated from the enquiry we’d been interviewed...the
circumstances, ye know em and then ye know for whatever reason, and
possibly pressure, and a desire for this case to go away, it was
portrayed in media that there was very strong evidence that Madeleine
was dead people have said DNA and other things, and that we were
responsible for hiding her body...and..
Host: Was there not DNA in the car, in the car that you hired?
Gerry: And we want to be absolutely clear about these things there are
two aspects- We didn’t hire that car for 3 and half weeks until after
Madeleine was taken, and the second aspect is there is no DNA match. Eh
you know when you see the files there’s a mixed sample of DNA that comes
from 5 people and obviously some of it matched Madeleine’s. But of
course, all, of our DNA matches Madeleine’s. To be fair, ye know it was
incredibly frustrating from the time we were arguido, through to the
file being closed the following July but the Prosecutors final report
was very clear, actually unequivocal, there was no evidence Madeleine
was dead. And there was no evidence that we were involved but certain
people have chosen to ignore that information.
Host: Which one of these media speculations was most shocking, was most
Kate: I mean there were loads, but I guess the worst thing is if they
say she is dead, and there is no evidence because if she is dead there
is no search.
Gerry: I think the other thing just to go back to that Frederik is that
- We had an interview with the police which Kate details in her book, an
unofficial interview, and basically two of the senior officers were
saying to us em “Tell us what happened, we know what happened.” And I
was in tears, saying “Do you have evidence that Madeleine is dead
because if you do, as her parents we need to know.” And they were saying
“it’s coming, it’s coming”. And that ye know, the pressure that was put
on us to confess to a crime of hiding your own daughter’s body and to
say that you were going to pursue us for murder. And it’s not unique to
Portugal, this happens with police the world over, it’s happened to many
different people it’s happened to other parents in similar situations to
Host: How is your daily life, it’s been five years, how is your daily
life affected by this...or do you have a daily life?
Kate: Yeah we’ve reached a new normality I guess. You know our life will
never be what it was ye know it’s never gonna be truly normal again
after what’s happened but we’ve got to a place where we are obviously
functioning and Gerry works full time. I haven’t returned to medical
practice but I’ve worked on the campaign and investigation. Six months
of my life was spent going through the Portuguese police files, nine
months was spent writing a book, and of course we’ve got two other
children. We’ve got Sean and Amelie, and it’s ye know, it’s actually
quite a luxury, but a nice luxury to be able to take them to school and
be there for them when they come home, so...
Gerry: It’s probably important to emphasise ye know, we do spend
obviously a lot of our spare time focused on it. The last year we’ve
slept a lot better knowing the review is taking place. But if you had a
casual observer looking at us as a family they would see a family of
four. They’d see a happy family of four, and they wouldn’t really see
they wouldn’t suspect that we’ve been erm ye know suffered a great
trauma... em but for Kate and I... Sean and Amelie are as happy as any 7
year olds that we know and for Kate and I, we get enjoyment from life
and we do, we do, do that, but until Madeleine is back with us there’s
always going to be a void and there’s a limit, whereas before you could
be, you could have unbridled joy, anything now, there is always a tinge
its often the family things because Madeleine is not there with us.
Host: How has it affected your relationship?
Kate: Well we’re very lucky in that our relationship was very good very
strong before this happened and I’m not sure we’d have survived if that
wasn’t the case I mean I don’t think there could be anything more
traumatic than what’s happened to us plus all the additional stuff on
top of that.
Host: You said you’ve written the book for the twins, how much do they
Kate: Probably as much as we do to be honest now.
Gerry: Virtually yeah!
Kate: We did take advice from a child psychologist and he said to be as
honest and as open with them but let them take the lead so if they ask
you a question you respond as fully as you can and that’s exactly what
we’ve done. So we’ve got to the point now where they understand that a
man has taken Madeleine. They, they view it like burglary, that she’s
been stolen and you shouldn’t take something that doesn’t belong to you
but they understand ye know that there are lots of people helping us.
They, they, understand why we are in Sweden today, the purpose of that
is to ask for more help really...
Host: Can they really remember?
Kate: Well obviously they were very young, but they have re-counted
things that happened prior to May 2007, which has kind of thrown me a
little bit. Obviously they have been surrounded by Madeleine ever since.
There’s pictures all around the house and Madeleine’s bedroom is still
there, they’ve obviously seen things on the television and they know
that my job really has changed from being a doctor to looking for
Gerry: And I think it’s important to say that they still see Madeleine
as a big part of their life, and as parents that’s incredibly comforting
and they’ll say things like “We’re going to go on a an aeroplane and
we’re going to look for that man, and when we find him we’re going
to...”and I’ll say we’ll give him to police, but they even talk about
that. But I think if we don’t find Madeleine in the next...period we
will face more difficult times as they get older and they are on
internet and they start seeing some of the vile material which is there.
Host: In your book you mention that you have been perceived as, as cold
in a way?
Kate: Well someone’s always got an opinion and I think we’ve learned how
judgemental people can be and I mean I think its maybe part of human
nature, we are all quick to judge from a position of ignorance.
Host: Is there a right way of grieving a wrong way of grieving?
Kate: Well exactly, I mean how should a mother or father grieve when
their child is abducted and... erm...
Gerry: I think the other thing people probably don’t understand is that
when we’ve done media and in particular in the early days you had to
really psyche yourself up to go on there and deliver the message, you
know we set objectives...
Host: Were you advised on how to behave?
Gerry: We...I mean the very initial things we weren’t, but when we did
the first sort of direct appeal to the abductor, em Kate... we were...
and I was told that Kate should speak as the mother, female voice and
that she should not show any emotion in case that gave the abductor some
sort of kick so that particular appeal, but I think as much as anything
ye know Kate had probably cried 16 hours a day for 4 days, by time we
did that, and we were just drained, you cannot physically cry 24 hours a
day, I mean it’s impossible.
Kate: The day we did the appeal to the abductor which was on the Monday
and I spoke to Alan the councillor and I said, I feel really numb and I
felt really bad that I felt numb I just... and he said “Kate you can’t
cry for 24 hours a day, you know this is, this is natural” but..(lets
out sigh) it’s hard I mean if you laugh people will say how can they
laugh when their child has been abducted if you don’t laugh you’ll
either get called cold or you’re on the edge of a nervous breakdown or,
it’s just hard, you’ve just got to be who you are.
Host: Do you have days that when you can forget, when you can sort of
not think about it?
Kate: No I don’t think there is any day when Madeleine is not on my mind
you know she is always there but... For 18 months/2 years I never
thought I’d enjoy myself again I never thought I’d allow myself to enjoy
anything again, and with time you adapt and I realised that actually it
is okay to do that and it is important to do that, you need to get rest
you need to enjoy life, and you have to be well and happy ye know for
each other, for Madeleine when she gets home, for Sean and Amelie, and
thankfully ye know, we are in a position now where we get a lot of
enjoyment out of things, Sean and Amelie in particular.
Host: Today almost 5 years later what do you believe happened to
Kate: Well my view hasn’t changed you know since 4th May really, and
that is, that a man took Madeleine. And that man was the person who our
friend J. Tanner saw carrying a child away from the area of the
apartment. And sadly I don’t really know anything else since.
Host: How long can, do you think you can find the strength to continue
Kate: As long as it takes. I don’t think any parent would ever be able
to give up on their child and even the weeks where we are absolutely
shattered erm or there’s another injustice that comes your way, you get
up the next morning and think ‘right let’s go again’ because Madeleine
is part of our family we all need her back and she needs to be with
us...just need to keep going.
Gerry: I mean There are times when you just think - I cannot do this,
any more, em its too much - and particularly the attention that’s comes
through the media, but as Kate says that bond with us, and with
Madeleine and for Sean and Amelie, and even if you wanted to I don’t
think we could stop.
Host: Please know that our thoughts are with you thank you so much for
coming here to Stockholm and telling us, reminding us about Madeleine is
Broadcast by STV, Skavlan Talk Sow, March 23, 2012