Anthony Summers and Robbyn
Swan, who wrote a book about
Madeleine McCann and the
missing girl's parents, Kate
and Gerry. Michael
A vicious internet campaign has been
unleashed against the Irish-based
authors of a book which exonerates Gerry
and Kate McCann of any involvement in
the disappearance of their daughter,
Madeleine, in Portugal seven years ago.
Anthony Summers and his wife, Robbyn
Swan, have been subjected to a campaign
of abuse, mostly via Facebook and
Twitter, because their investigative
book, Looking for Madeleine, vindicates
the missing girl's parents.
The Waterford-based authors, who between
them have written eight award-winning
biographies and investigative books, now
believe something has to be done to
tackle the "feeding frenzy" on the
internet which targets individuals. Kate
and Gerry McCann also suffered abuse in
the months and years after their
daughter went missing.
Madeleine vanished from her parents'
apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia
da Luz just nine days before her fourth
birthday on May 3, 2007.
The couple were having dinner with
friends just a few metres from where
their three children, including
Madeleine, were sleeping, when the
The monitoring system the couple set up
didn't work properly that evening, and,
because they weren't physically in
Apartment 5A, they have become the
targets of a witch-hunt by internet
'trolls' who blame them for what
Despite one of the biggest manhunts in
European police history, no trace of
Madeleine has ever been found.
The McCanns launched an appeal to find
their missing daughter and continue to
campaign for information on Madeleine's
The UK is currently funding a Scotland
Yard probe into the youngster's
disappearance that could cost more than
Anthony and Robbyn, who are based in
west Waterford but don't want their
precise location given for personal
security reasons, said they were
completely taken aback by the savage
nature of the internet abuse they were
subjected to. The book, an analysis of
the events of May 3, 2007, revealed that
there was no evidence as to what
happened to Madeleine and no forensic
indication that the little girl had
Their research also showed just how many
convicted paedophiles were in the
Algarve at the time and how a number of
UK children had been the subject of
Three of those paedophiles have died in
the years since - one of whom took his
own life after the death of a
five-year-old girl in Switzerland just
three months after Madeleine's
A dossier on the abuse against the
McCanns - similar in nature to the abuse
directed against the authors - has now
been submitted to the Metropolitan
Police by a group of concerned internet
"As part of our research into the hate
campaign, one of the people we
interviewed was part of the group that
recently passed a dossier and a letter
of concern to the Metropolitan Police
Commissioner," Robbyn explained.
"The internet attacks on the McCanns
were so vicious and hateful they feared
they could spill over into actual
"As far as these internet trolls are
concerned, we were informed about a week
before our book came out that we should
be very careful and very alert to the
possibility that our book would become a
target for these people.
"Sure enough, days before the book was
published, it was being reviewed despite
the fact people couldn't have seen the
Robbyn said the worrying aspect is that
at least some of the online abuse and
vilification appears to be organised.
"It is a combination of what cultural
anthropologists call 'mobbing' where a
group of people anonymously gang up on
someone and it's then a feeding frenzy.
They find a target and everyone moves in
on that target."
The authors stressed that what the
McCanns have been put through is nothing
short of appalling given the ongoing
rumours and innuendo.
"The truth is that there isn't any such
evidence (as claimed online)," Anthony
"This is an embattled couple who have
When Looking for Madeleine was
published, the authors were accused of
being "mercenaries" and "agents for the
"My daughter burst into tears over some
of the things she read online. She was
worried that her friends might read and
believe the things that had been written
about me," Robbyn said.
The priority for the authors now is that
the Portuguese police continue to
co-operate with the Scotland Yard
inquiry and that no effort be spared to
uncover the truth of what happened.
Anthony said the reality, as of now, is
that no-one knows precisely what
happened to Madeleine or if she is dead
or alive, but he pointed out that a US
study into the abduction of children
aged under five years found that 56pc
eventually turned up alive as older
teens or even adults.
"No one has the right to remove from
parents any hope that they might have,"
Anthony Summers was born in the UK but
brought up in Ireland and has been
living in Waterford since 1976.
Robbyn, a native of Connecticut in the
US, has been living in Waterford since