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The McCanns: Real Trolls under the Bridge – Part I



Original Source: Top Secret Writers 2  November 2014
02 November 2014 10:00

The suicide of an English woman in a hotel room on the 4th of October, 2014 made worldwide headlines. Her name was Brenda Leyland from the village of Burton Overy in Leicestershire. Leyland died two days after a well-publicized encounter with Sky News crime reporter Martin Brunt. 

Brunt is a well known journalist in the UK; hence, one would think Leyland was some public figure accused of murder, sex offending, or mass fraud. However, Leyland, a 63-year-old mother of two, was unknown to the public at large. She had no criminal convictions either; thus, what was her heinous crime? Well, she was an aggressive critic of the McCanns and their supporters on Twitter!

This two-part follow-up to our popular 2013 article here at TSW will discuss “Team McCanns” targeting of Leyland (something they deny). This woman is the most recent, and tragic example of their aggressive war on freedom of expression and speech. Therefore, in light of the support for Leyland the author decided to address a niggling question concerning the McCanns current popularity


Twitter: An Online Post-Apocalyptic Australia

Via her Twitter ID, @Sweepyface, Leyland mentioned the McCanns in some 5000 plus tweets. Many were not nice; she was decidedly obsessive and she did hang out with some rather nasty anti-McCann figures.

Nevertheless, Twitter reminds me of the post-apocalyptic Australia envisioned in the original “Mad Max” films with Mudguts, Lord Humungus, and Aunty Entity running around.

Leyland appears to be the typical online brawler you see all over the wastelands, yet she rarely used profanity, nor did she threaten the McCanns physically. She was not even the leader or spokesperson of any anti-McCann group. Hell, at the time of her death, the woman only had 183 followers.

Apparently, the McCanns do not have an official Twitter presence (more about that later). Therefore, most of her tweets targeted media, the police, and pro-McCann individuals. I hasten to add there are some genuinely nice people concerned about Maddie, who believe/disbelieve the McCanns.

Nevertheless, online there are far more critics of the couple than supporters. This does not sit well with a coordinated, hard-core, pro McCann Internet counter-offensive or their allies in the MSM. Neither group will admit to the dilemma of the McCanns online unpopularity; because, in so doing they risk admitting the McCanns unpopularity in the real world

Blaming Everyone, But Our PR Strategy

Media interest in the McCann case was inevitable; however, rather than tighten the screws and go to ground, the pair made themselves high profile celebrities in the process.

Any-and-all public figures get mean and nasty comments said about them. The truly awful stuff clearly does need investigating. Furthermore, one can only imagine the vitriol aimed at people who made fortunes amidst allegations of negligence with their kids. Hell, regardless of the cash bonus it would be horrible to lose one’s child.

Thus, to a degree, one empathizes with McCann supporters’ mantra “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Nonetheless, the author also agrees with a comment on Yahoo Answers…

  • I’d have a lot more sympathy for them if they used their fame to advertise that you shouldn’t leave small children without a responsible adult in charge because of the possible terrible consequences. Instead, it’s all ‘it was someone else’s fault, we demand that even MORE public money is spent investigating it.’ (1)

For all their millions spent on getting crud advice, why didn’t they employ this bright spark as their PR guru? Someone had to be sniffing glue when their PR advocated the following.

On the third anniversary of her disappearance, the McCanns used an awkward image of an unsmiling Madeleine in makeup (clearly put on by an adult). Kids playing dress up usually smear makeup all over their faces. Moreover, they look like they are having a great time (she didn’t). Sure, she may have just been tired; nevertheless why take only one photo? If there are more, why release one of her looking grim? If they were so concerned about possible abduction by perverts why did they use a picture of their kid in make-up? Hell, why ignore professional advice against their bombarding the press with Maddie’s image in the first place? (2)

The McCanns are now concerned about their twins growing up, going online and reading horrible stuff about Madeleine, Mum, and Dad. Kate and Gerry were not thinking too hard about their children reading their own “horrible stuff”.

In extracts from Kate’s book published in the Sun, she discussed her intimacy issues with Gerry in the aftermath of Praia De Luis. Moreover, at the same time other parts of her book have leaked online. If you couldn’t get enough of sexy Gerry, you can read Kate’s musings on her perfect daughters’ violation by kidnappers. Quite clearly, the content is more vomitus and disturbing than anything Brenda Leyland wrote. (3)

Why No Opinion Polls in the Press


Thomas K. Grose wrote a Time article five months after Madeleine’s disappearance, entitled “The McCann’s Trial by Media”. He pointed out a Yougov poll published in the Sunday Times had found only 20 percent of Britains thought the McCanns entirely innocent.

This is significant because the McCanns like to make out they ran the media gauntlet straight away. In Portugal, they certainly did; however, as Grose points out, their treatment in Britain for the most part was highly favorable during that time.

Therefore, the few dissenting voices against them were hardly to blame for the low levels of public support. Moreover, there are even less dissenting views in the press than there were seven years ago. (4)

Nevertheless, evidence indicates the McCanns are still unpopular.

Post Leyland an Easypoll established that 88 percent of people believe the McCanns abduction claims are bogus. I agree with the McCann supporters that these sorts of polls are easy to manipulate. (5)
However, the above numbers are similar enough to the Yougov poll. Furthermore, there is much anecdotal evidence corroborating the numbers. Numerous MSM outlets like the Express forego their comments section entirely or delete negative McCann comments. There is a reason for this censure.

One month before Leylands death IBT (International Business Times) discussed McCanns suing of the Sunday Times in 2013. What is of interest is the McCanns dissing the paper for allowing comments from punters. As if to prove a point, IBT and the Independent (who also published an article about the McCann trolling manifesto) kept their comments sections open. The opinions concerning the McCanns were unanimously negative on both sites. (6) (7)

The McCanns leave us with the two possibilities. The first being they likely thought they would win public support outing Leyland. If this is the case, their advisers are apparently mistaken.

Leyland, for all her foibles, would now have Twitter followers numbering in the tens of thousands. The second possibility conjoins with the first. Many believe Team McCann also chose Leyland as an “example” to scare ordinary people out of speaking critically. This is a rather scary allegation, and it shall form the basis of Part II of this article.

Stay tuned for more on the McCanns and share your thoughts below.

References & Image Credits:
(1) Yahoo Answers
(2) Daily Mail
(3) McCann Files
(4) Time
(5) Easy Polls
(6) IB Times
(7) Independent
(8) Daily Mail
(9) Telegraph
(10) Wikipedia: Disappearance of Madeleine McCann

Originally published on
Original Source: Top Secret Writers  8 November 2014
Seamus 08 November 2014 10:00

The McCanns: Real Trolls under the Bridge – Part II


Just after Brenda Leyland’s conversation with Martin Brunt, the press reported that concerned members of the public had handed the police an 80-page dossier of twitter trolls. On the evening of October 3rd, the night before the discovery of Leyland’s body, Gerry McCann claimed on Radio 4 that he never read the files. He also stated the police “need to make examples of people who are causing damage”.

Hence, there are three significant problems with the documents and his statement of intent.

A) Critics have seen the dossier and noted there is little or no distinction between negative/critical comments about the McCanns or those advocating harm to the family. People genuinely concerned about the McCanns’ safety would not trivialize serious threats by bothering with someone like Leyland, or Sonia Poulton. Nevertheless, Anorak sagely pointed out people intent on a fatwa against any and all dissent would. (1) (2) (3)

B) The McCanns have tried to distance their organization from involvement in the dossier; moreover, the press’ marketing of it as an outgrowth of public concern, is utterly dishonest. On October 2nd, Closer Magazine said the McCanns had called the police. Then, on the 8th of October, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe confirmed the McCanns handed the document over to SY. Ten days later, the Sunday Times also said the McCanns had handed the file over to police. Closer and the Independent reported the McCanns had filed the complaints on the 9th of September just under a month before Leyland died. (4) (5) (6)

C) Buzzfeed report Leyland was aware of people trying to unveil her identity and location by March. However, people had gotten hold of Leyland’s identity and threatened to out her publicly as early as February, 2014. This was well before the McCann’s handed anything over to the police. I bear witness to the content linked on Joana Morais’ site (I would reference this, but even its cache has been deleted).
Bearing the Brunt of a Smear Campaign

Martin Brunt friended Leyland aka @Sweepyface on Twitter circa the 29th of September 2014; this was also the day she deleted her account. When he accosted her, Brunt lied that the police had her under investigation, and he later denied he had been stalking her (a bald-faced lie).

After her death, he stated he had not received the information on Leyland from McCann supporters or the dossier but from public records. As we have seen, he befriended Leyland well before the document became public. Furthermore, on the day he confronted Leyland, Brunt declared on his Twitter account the police had a dossier pertaining to online McCann abusers.

Later, he had the gall to say the media reporting on the McCanns was even-handed. He even deluded himself by saying he was not “part of the establishment” (hell, with his logic he’d think he was capable of reporting for TSW). (7) (8)

Brunt’s fascinating combination of ducking, diving, and delusion lend additional support to allegations of his being at the sharp end of the McCanns online machine. Many believe the person swinging the blade is a one Jim Gamble.

Gamble was the head of Scotland Yard’s “Child Exploitation and Online Protection” (CEOP) program from 2006-2010. A controversial, colorful figure, he aggressively pursued an odd quasi privatization of his office in the face of its merger with another department. Moreover, he ran the out of control Operation Ore and famously pressured Facebook to have his departments contact details on every page. (9) (10) (11)

Gamble clearly has a bee in his bonnet about online paedo’s and cyber bullying. I admire Gamble’s stance, as it is serious stuff. However, he has been one of the McCanns chief defenders since their daughter’s disappearance, and belittled the Portuguese investigation publicly. Therefore, I would not call his actions very objective or professional considering his line of work.

He congratulated Martin Brunt’s swoop on Leyland, essentially saying she suffered the “consequences” of her actions. (12) Marty, for his part, appears to have given him high praise in his CEOP work back in the day. Considering their occupations, the two have known each other for some time. The duo’s potential relationship with the McCanns is thus something of a no-brainer. Gamble is also on friendly terms with one of the chief dossier compilers on Twitter. (13) (14)

Was Leyland Followed?

Lest we forget, the McCanns testified they employed family members to patrol the Internet for unsympathetic voices. (15)

Furthermore, the McCanns frequently employ Clarence Mitchell, a one-time head of the Tony Blair Labour government’s (MMU) Media-Monitoring Unit. (16) Thanks to their powerful pals at Carter Ruck, the McCanns have banned books and sued numerous big newspapers.

Brenda Leyland was supposed to be small fry. However, the McCanns tragic war with her has received far more coverage than any legal actions and far less sympathy. In late November of 2013, Leyland ominously tweeted her followers should she die “in odd circumstances” not to believe the official version.

Leyland had a flair for online theatre, and this author has seen nothing suspicious in her death so far. Nonetheless, It is obvious to anyone Leyland knew she was being stalked, she simply had no idea of the extent.

Leyland was pugnacious online; however, she was clearly mild mannered, and well spoken, off it. Moreover, she was nowhere near as abusive as some mentioned in the files were. The McCanns and their PR team had a long time to choose and monitor their target.

Choosing one of the more aggressive twitterers could have been dangerous in the sense Brunt and the McCanns might be shamed by a tirade. Hence, in choosing Leyland they calculated she wouldn’t react with anything but fear. Thus, when we consider the intensity with which they followed her online, the probability team McCann physically staked out Leyland some weeks before Brunt turned up is rather high. If true, this adds even more scandal and alarm to the whole McCann

Orwellian Child

It is an inescapable fact the net result of the McCanns’ multi-million dollar PR effort has become an all-out assault on good taste and freedom of speech.

In so doing, the McCanns’ actions have aroused more suspicion about their role concerning the fate of their daughter than rallied support.

By any stretch, their campaign to find Madeleine has been an embarrassing, vicious disaster summed up by the death of Brenda Leyland. The irony for the McCanns is she now looms larger offline than she ever did on it.

Orwell’s classic novel “1984” described the voluminous images of the glaring, black mustachioed “Big Brother” surrounding Air Strip One. In subsequent television and film adaptations, he appears as a hybrid of Hitler and Stalin.

Who would have thought the face of Big Brother in the 21st Century is fast becoming that of a three-year-old English girl with a coloboma?

References & Image Credits:
(1) ForuMotion
(2) YouTube
(3) Anorak
(4) The Sunday Times
(5) BBC
(6) Closer Online
(7) Buzz Feed
(8) BBC
(9) Twitter
(10) The Guardian
(11) Daily Mail
(12) Jill Havern
(13) Sky
(14) Tweet
(15) Miscarriage of Justice
(16) Acronym Finder
(17) Telegraph
(18) Wikipedia: Praia da Luz
Originally published on



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