The mystery continues to fascinate the world. Watching
the McCann industry at work is like watching a slow
motion train wreck.
Friends, relatives, neighbours - everyone now seems to
be in on the act. Despite asking for privacy the McCanns
seem keen to keep supplying the media with quotes and
But what did happen to the unfortunate three-year-old at
the centre of this tragedy?
Here's my summary of the possibilities:
1. A gang sussed out the territory and, knowing that the
McCanns were out having dinner, wandered in and
`abducted' her. This would probably not have happened,
of course, if an adult had been present. Many
commentators have played down the responsibility of the
parents (`they only did what thousands of other parents
do' seemed a popular argument, and one can only assume
that a good many people in the media are accustomed to
leaving their kids alone and felt guilty about it). But
it seems to me that if this is what happened then the
parents must bear much of the responsibility. An
unemployed 16-year-old mother who left her child alone
while she went out for chips would have social workers
on her doorstep within minutes. Two doctors ought to
2. A lone paedophile, wandering past, spotted Madeleine,
was tempted, snuck in and took her away. This would
probably not have happened, of course, if an adult had
been present. Once again, the parents must bear much of
the responsibility if this is what happened. If they
hadn't been out having dinner with friends, Madeleine
would now be at home in Leicestershire.
3. Madeleine got up by herself, wandered out of the
apartment and somehow disappeared into a hole in the
road or the sea. Once again, the parents must bear the
responsibility if this is what happened.
4. A parent, hurrying to get ready to go out to dinner,
became cross with Madeleine and hit her (or went to hit
her). The blow (or intended blow) resulted in Madeleine
falling and hitting her head. She died. To avoid trouble
with the authorities the accident was covered up. The
body was hidden and subsequently buried privately.
5. Madeleine had been playing up. One or both parents
decided to give her something to quieten her. A sleeping
medicine, perhaps. Madeleine reacted badly and died. To
avoid trouble with the authorities (and, possibly,
serious trouble with the General Medical Council) the
death was covered up. The body was buried privately.
There are several other bizarre possibilities.
But these five are, presumably, the most likely.
Though there must be a real chance that we will never
know exactly what happened.
There seems to be some surprise, and dismay, among some
sections of the population that the McCanns are being
considered as suspects.
Back in May 2007, when I first wrote about this tragic
affair, I pointed out that in most cases where a member
of a family disappears the first suspects usually
include the closest relatives.
I asked then if the McCanns had ever even been
considered as possible suspects in the disappearance of
their child. And if not, why not?
Although I am not, of course, for a moment suggesting
that they are in any way guilty, I am surprised by the
fact that for a long while no one seemed to have
regarded the couple as potential suspects. When anyone
is murdered the first people usually considered as
possible suspects are other members of the family.
Exclude those closest first usually seems to be the
standard police policy.
But the public and the media seem to be in love with the
McCanns. (And they seem to me to have taken to the
cameras with some enthusiasm.)
Meanwhile, the number of things that confuse me continue
Why don't the McCanns go back to work? They wouldn't be
the first parents to have to return to work after a
Work would provide some distraction from the tragedy (a
good thing) and it would enable them to earn some money
for their legal fees (another good thing). It would also
encourage the media to back off a little. (And it would
give the McCanns a good reason to demand that the media
do back off.)
The longer the circus continues the more difficult it
will be for the family ever to have a normal life again.
In my view it won't be long before their fame will make
the McCanns unemployable as doctors.
Some of the other media stunts seemed to me to be
intended to attract publicity to the parents rather than
to the cause.
Did Gerry really have to whizz off to America?
How and why did Gordon Brown get involved?
How was the Pope ever going to help find Madeleine?
To be frank, some of the stuff I've read sound more like
political spin than the heartfelt cries of grieving
And why don't the family and friends all shut up?
They may think they are helping but I can't see that
they are. Many of the comments seem to me to just stir
things up - and attract attention to the McCanns.
If the McCanns really want to be private then they
should keep their heads down - and tell their relatives
to go back to their own lives.
The media (and a large section of the public) seem to
regard the McCanns as victims - and deserving of our
sympathy and support.
I wonder if I'm the only person to have found the
McCanns to be a rather unappealing pair?
And the strange thing is that the more I see of them the
more I dislike and distrust them.
Perhaps that's just me...but here's a question for you:
Would you hire the McCanns as babysitters?
Copyright Vernon Coleman September 2007