people hurriedly stuff yellow Look For Madeleine wristbands
into envelopes, surrounded by cardboard boxes containing
thousands more earmarked for the campaign. Nearby, in the
untidy garage store room, Madeleine badges and posters are
awaiting delivery to supporters around the world who have
donated £2 for the bands that symbolise the search for the
Policeman's son Calum
MacRae, 18, is responsible for the campaign's website and
distribution network for Madeleine's campaign from the
unlikely location of the Loch Broom garage, on a windswept
industrial estate on the outskirts of Ullapool, Wester Ross.
parents, Kate and Gerry, both 39, now being treated by
Portuguese police as suspects in her disappearance while on
holiday in the Algarve, Calum claims there has been a recent
surge in interest in the website and wristbands.
"There's no let-up," said
Calum, whose Infohost firm hosts the family's official
website, run using some of the £1 million in donations being
sent to the privately run Madeleine's Fund: Leaving No Stone
Unturned. "There's been a big increase in orders since they
became suspects. Somebody came back 30 times, ordering 100
bands. Sometimes people just want one or two, so we throw a
couple of extra bands in. It's difficult to get rid of some
of the medium-sized bands as they don't fit many people.
People would still want the Madeleine bands even if she was
found. Her face is a mark. It's everywhere."
Calum, who has designed
websites "since he was 10" is paid out of the global
donations to the fund, which won't be contributing to the
McCanns' legal costs.
He refused to be drawn on
how much his team of six are paid, and the Sunday Herald's
repeated calls to the fund's spokeswoman, Esther McVey, were
not returned. He added: "I can't tell you that, it's not
much honestly. We are just covering our costs. You would
need to speak to the fund about that."
Calum is convinced of the
couple's innocence and says he will continue to run the
website even if they are charged and tried in Portugal. He
said: "I know from speaking to Gerry on the phone that he is
100% innocent. They are definitely not guilty. Gerry is very
determined to find his daughter. You can tell it in his
voice when he talks on the phone. He wouldn't have done all
this if they were guilty. If the fund is still going, we
will continue the website even if they are charged and face
trial. They wouldn't want us to back off ..."
He remains convinced
"someone" in Portugal knows the truth about Madeleine's
whereabouts, and the family yesterday launched an £80,000
TV, newspaper and billboard campaign, which will be
translated into several languages primarly aimed at Spain,
Portugal and other mainland European countries, beginning in
Madeleine's uncle, John
McCann, from Glasgow, said: "The main objective of the
Madeleine fund is to leave no stone unturned in the search
Calum became involved
after Madeleine's aunt, Philomena McCann, his former
schoolteacher in Ullapool, approached him four days after
the girl disappeared on May 3.
He said his staff spent
between "12 and 20" hours each week on the website and
wristbands. Although he claimed to have lost money on an
earlier stunt for Premier League footballers to wear
Madeleine t-shirts, he is pressing ahead with the
distribution of T-shirts to the public in return for £10
Calum said: "We stopped
every other thing we were doing that day and put the Find
Madeleine site straight on. It's pretty much full-time doing
the website and bands. We just invoice the fund, but it's
not expensive compared with what other companies would
charge. We have to account for how many hours are worked.
It's not for us to decide what we are paid, but the fund
insist we are."
English-based server crashed when 1.5 million users tried to
watch a video of Madeleine shown at the Uefa and FA Cup
Figures obtained by the
Sunday Herald show the Find Madeleine website attracted as
many people as Missing People, the established UK charity
formally known as the National Missing Persons Helpline, on
September 7, the day Kate and Gerry were named as suspects
in the case.
They show that 400,000
people viewed the Madeleine site, compared to only 150,000
for www.missingpeople.org.uk which is responsible for
issuing appeals for thousands of people who vanish across
the UK and Europe. American interest accounted for 103,000
hits on the Madeleine site, with only 15,000 from Portugal,
and around 20,000 each from European countries such as Spain
and Germany, which the family are hoping to target with the
Calum also revealed how
Kate checks Gerry's blog before it is emailed to the site.
However, Gerry has only posted one message since his return
to Britain last week. Calum added: "It has got crazy at
times, we've even got people going on in places such as
Another worker on the
site, Rona Eddington, 18, the daughter of a senior police
inspector in Ross-shire, said: "We've had people saying in
emails we killed her and taken her away' and we hate you.'
We don't know if they are genuine, but they are passed to
the police, who chase them all up. We've had so many like
that and have to filter them. The website is about
supporting the family."
Rona's father, chief
inspector Paul Eddington, said he had no problems with his
daughter's involvement in the website following
Leicestershire Police's decision to take Kate's diary and
Gerry's laptop, which he used to write his blog, for their
Portuguese counterparts to examine last week.
The Portuguese magistrate
examining the case is expected to announce this week whether
the couple will face further questioning.
"I view what my daughter
is doing as a parent, rather than a police officer. In the
unlikely event that the investigation did involve the
website, I would take a pragmatic view and wouldn't seek to
get involved," said Eddington.
Calum is already working
on new ventures after spotting a market in missing-person
websites. Last week he contacted the family of missing
schoolgirl Rosemary Edwards, from Hampshire, after her
father made an emotional TV appeal. He said: "I don't think
we should be making money out of it, but I would love to do
more stuff like this. We phoned up to see if they wanted a
website for that missing girl, but they haven't called