Comments from the UK media following the release of the PJ case files.
Sifting through McCann case files, 05 August 2008
Sifting through McCann case files BBC News
By Alison Roberts
Page last updated at 14:15 GMT,
Tuesday, 5 August 2008 15:15 UK
Days after the
McCanns' lawyers began sifting through files from the investigation into their daughter's disappearance, media organisations
are doing the same, with different objectives.
The couple's lawyers are, according to their spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, hunting for leads for private
detectives to follow up.
But journalists are focusing on key parts of the investigation such as the questioning of the McCanns
on the day they were named arguidos, or formal suspects.
The files released to dozens of journalists on 4 August contain nearly 30,000 pages in digital format.
These range from photographs of the room from which Madeleine disappeared, to the conclusions of the prosecutor,
Jose Magalhaes e Meneses, outlining the decision on 21 July to shelve the case and lift the arguido status of the McCanns
and of Robert Murat.
It has emerged that police on 7 September last year "confronted" the McCanns, in the prosecutor's words,
with evidence that could point to their having committed "crimes, including homicide".
This "evidence" was the reactions of cadaver and human-blood sniffer dogs at points in the apartment and
in a car hired weeks after Madeleine went missing and results from forensic tests on samples taken from these.
But the Birmingham laboratory that did the tests had already warned that the results were inconclusive.
In an e-mail dated 3 September 2007, John Lowe of the major incidents team of the Forensic Science Service
wrote that findings regarding a possible match between DNA in the samples and Madeleine's DNA were "too complex for meaningful
The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, who had criticised police for failing to secure the crime scene,
has now accused them of misrepresenting the evidence.
Before putting the evidence to the couple in separate interviews, police had to declare them arguidos,
assuring them the right to remain silent.
After Kate McCann was made an arguido, she declined to answer dozens of questions, such as what she saw
and did on finding Madeleine gone; and why, when she raised the alarm, she left her two-year-old twins alone in the apartment.
She was fully within her rights not to respond, and according to the couple's spokesman was advised by
her lawyer not to.
Only when asked by police if she realised she was jeopardising the investigation did she say: "yes, if
that's what the investigation thinks."
In his final conclusions the prosecutor said, while referring to the McCanns' "carelessness" in leaving
their children alone, he saw no evidence of wilful neglect.
As for other possible crimes, while there was a "high degree of probability" of homicide, hard evidence
was lacking. Aspects of the FSS findings that seemed significant later turned out to be "innocuous".
Overall, no proof was secured that led to "any lucid, sensible, serious and honest conclusion" about how
the little girl disappeared, "nor even - and most dramatically - to determine whether she is still alive, or dead, as seems
The report concludes by stating that further investigations may be undertaken if fresh evidence emerges
to warrant them.
Maddie fiasco, 05 August 2008
Published: Today, 05 August 2008
The Sun says
KATE and Gerry McCann have finally been handed the Portuguese
files on their abducted daughter, Madeleine.
The papers contain evidence of lazy policing, human failing and official stupidity. They reveal cops shamefully
made the McCanns suspects even though they were warned four days before that there was no DNA evidence against them.
But in the right hands, the files may just yield the precious clue that will solve the tragic little girl's
They will also clear her parents of any last, lingering, ludicrous suspicion that
they were in any way involved in her disappearance.
Maddie's parents are INNOCENT, 05 August 2008
(Author not identified)
no chance that the parents of Madeleine McCann would be charged with her murder in this country.
It would be an outrageous miscarriage of justice if they were.
I don't say that from any feelings of sympathy for Kate and Gerry McCann, but from examining the facts
of the case — or rather, the total LACK of them.
I've been a detective at the most senior level for 30 years and have never seen such a witch-hunt, or
one based on such flimsy evidence.
Again, I don't say this from believing in the McCanns' innocence or their guilt. I simply don't know either
But from the evidence I have read I don't think they did it.
Unless the Portuguese police have something else, it doesn't make sense. The couple don't fit the profile
and their opportunity was limited.
Throughout my career I have based my conclusions on hard evidence—and here there isn't any.
Sadly, I have to admit that is because of the sheer inadequacy of the police investigation that began
when little Madeleine disappeared on the night of May 3.
Among the many things the Portuguese police SHOULD have done that night, but didn't, was treat the McCanns
as the prime suspects.
That's what I'd have done. It's a matter of statistical fact that three out of four child murders are
committed by the parents.
So their behaviour, movements, what they said, how they said it, what they did, who they were with, should
have been instantly put under the police microscope.
They should have been sympathetically but relentlessly grilled again and again about what had happened
That police error has become their tragedy now, because if they had been properly investigated back then
they may well have been cleared. And thus free now to concentrate on the hunt to find their missing four-year-old, rather
than somehow proving their innocence.
Hand-in-glove with treating the McCanns as suspects, the entire apartment and its environs should have
been totally sealed off and barred to anyone but specially-trained police and forensic scientists who would have checked every
millimetre of it for evidence.
Police don't call the time after a crime, particularly one against children, the Golden Hour for nothing.
In fact, I always insist it's a Golden Day — the time when forensic evidence is most fresh and easy to detect, when
memories are most sharp, when lies and alibis are most vulnerable.
At its most basic, a bloodstain is easiest to see when it's still wet.
Instead, Kate and Gerry McCann were just treated as grieving parents. Nicer for them, but no use in solving
a crime they may have been involved in.
And the possible murder scene was treated as a glorified meeting-room to organise a search for a missing
child, instead of the potential treasure trove of clues it actually was. To any experienced British detective, it is incomprehensible.
I spent ten years heading Britain's Psychological Offender Profiling Committee for the Home Office. It
was set up after the so-called Railway Murders, in which monster John Francis Duffy killed two women and stalked and raped
four others close to London train stations.
I worked alongside other very senior detectives, top civil servants and psychological profilers like Professor
David Canter — who this week appeared on a TV programme about Madeleine's disappearance.
And I instinctively found myself agreeing when my friend Prof Canter concluded: "I feel abduction is the
most likely possibility."
In other words, the McCanns were not involved. Everything I've learned about the couple tells me their
profile simply doesn't fit as killers of their own child.
They've been criticised for being too controlled in their dealings with the media. It doesn't surprise
me at all. They're both highly professional medics, one a surgeon the other a GP.
They're trained and experienced in dealing with crises — and professionals react to crises with
Of course, anyone can get caught in horrendous circumstances and in panic try to lie their way out of
But my experience has shown those lies, particularly elaborate and choreographed deceit as this would
have to be, can rarely be maintained before cracks start to show.
And particularly so when the suspects choose to place themselves under the intense, unprecedented scrutiny
the McCanns have faced. But that's just my opinion, informed and based on considerable experience as it is.
Meanwhile, the police investigation that started so disastrously has turned to farce. Every apparent stream
of evidence has been either missed, fatally compromised or is simply ludicrous.
For instance, Mrs McCann being allowed to hang on to Madeleine's favourite toy CuddleCat. Consoling for
her, of course, but that's not the point —it had gone to bed with Madeleine, been taken from her and placed on a high
shelf, presumably by the abductor.
CuddleCat was therefore vital evidence. Even a rookie detective should know it was highly likely an abductor's
DNA would be on it.
But it was left for Mrs McCann to clutch, her other children to play with and spread Madeleine's DNA around.
Then there was the suggestion the McCanns somehow smuggled their daughter's body away in a car they hired
25 days after her disappearance.
Where did they hide the remains in that time? How did they do this when their every move, at their encouragement,
was under the media spotlight?
There's also a very unpleasant aspect to face. What state, unless it had been in a deep freeze, would
the body have been in? I'm afraid very gruesome indeed, probably with considerable leakage of bodily fluids and sloughing
off of body cells.
The smell alone would have been appalling and would linger endlessly in any enclosed space like a car.
I'm bewildered by reports leaked by the Portuguese police that tiny traces have been found in the vehicle.
My experience says it would probably be a great deal. If not, then anything found should be treated with extreme caution.
In Britain, forensic evidence alone rarely solves cases. When it does, such as in rape cases, it hits
the headlines because of its infrequency. But even then it's usually in support of more conventional evidence.
None of the so-called forensic finds being boasted of in Portugal sound either likely, admissible or even
possible to me.
Evidence from cadaver dogs, for instance, could not be used to bring about a conviction here. Generally
they are regarded as being at best 80 per cent reliable.
And so it has gone on. The police haven't even found poor Madeleine's body — though that doesn't
surprise me when you know rubbish bins in that small Portuguese seaside town weren't even searched in the week of her disappearance,
before the contents were dumped in a landfill site.
To me, there is only one possible conclusion. There is so far not a single shred of evidence that justifies
charges against the McCanns.
But the worst thing is that, while the Portuguese police continue their single-minded determination to
nail them, they ignore other lines of inquiry.
And, worst of all, they are failing to carry on the hunt to try to find Madeleine alive.
Shame of cops, 07 August 2008
Published: Today, 07 August 2008
The Sun says
WE already knew that the hunt for Madeleine McCann
was a shambles — but the sheer scale of police incompetence beggars belief.
Thousands of documents, CCTV images and photographs prove that they systematically
ignored or trampled crucial evidence.
Chances to catch Madeleine's abductor were missed, likely sightings downplayed and trails allowed to run
Police were so focused on pinning the blame on Kate and Gerry McCann they refused to publish crucial e-fit
images of suspects.
Eyewitness sightings are gold-dust in any kidnapping investigation.
This fiasco leaves a stain on Portugal’s image as a modern, crime-fighting society.
It can only be erased with an official apology to Madeleine's
Madeleine revelations offer few facts, 07 August 2008
Madeleine revelations offer few facts BBC News
By Steve Kingstone
Page last updated at 17:55
GMT, Thursday, 7 August 2008 18:55 UK
was no shortage of compelling lines of inquiry to emerge from the Portuguese police files on the abduction of Madeleine McCann
released this week.
One possibility was that Madeleine was abducted by a loitering stranger, whose description was not circulated
Another claim was that she was seen being carried by her own father, shortly before 10pm on the night
of her disappearance.
Madeleine may have told a woman in an Amsterdam fancy dress shop that she was abducted while on holiday.
And she could have been kidnapped to order by a Belgian paedophile gang.
The fact is, though, that while all of these lines of inquiry featured in the files, the documents also
showed that none of them produced meaningful results when investigated further.
Specifically, Portuguese police decided the loitering "stranger" was, in all probability, a local musician.
Detectives accepted that Gerry McCann could not have been carrying Madeleine through Praia da Luz shortly
before 10pm because other witnesses placed him at the Ocean Club's tapas restaurant.
Portuguese sources have told the BBC that the richly-detailed sighting of Madeleine in a Dutch costume
shop was judged "not credible".
And the Belgian kidnap-to-order theory stemmed from an anonymous phone call, the significance of which
is being played down by the Metropolitan Police.
The documents, released to journalists on Monday as a CD-Rom, contain 11,223 pages of witness statements,
photographs, e-mails and expert testimony.
On their own, the myriad potential sightings of Madeleine - from Spain to Serbia, Mexico to Indonesia
- take up a 14-volume annexe, stretching to 2,550 pages.
Unsurprisingly, the police have not given details of every single outcome. Instead, a foreword to the
sightings annexe states that, although well-intentioned, many witness accounts were "of little substance and purely speculative."
Wryly, the police report points out that "Madeleine" was sometimes seen "on the same day, in places 4,000km
Having been starved of hard facts about the case for 15 months, in line with Portugal's judicial secrecy
laws, journalists are now eagerly sifting through the files and unearthing genuinely insightful details.
But it's worth bearing in mind that these revelations are "new" only to reporters and the public.
In most cases, the sensational lines of inquiry were dismissed long ago by Portuguese or British police
There is also a fierce war of interpretation, with different media outlets assuming opposing positions.
For example, one Portuguese tabloid, which still harbours suspicions surrounding Kate and Gerry McCann,
has focused on the "possible compatibility" (a phrase from the final police report) of Madeleine's DNA with samples taken
from the couple's hire car.
By contrast, UK newspapers have highlighted the more cautious tone taken by Britain's Forensic Science
Service, which warned that the results were "too complex for meaningful interpretation."
Likewise, Portuguese media have used police photographs of the McCanns' apartment to allege that the couple
and their friends somehow altered the scene of the crime - an allegation which is vehemently denied.
Back in Britain, tabloid newspapers have seized on apparently unresolved sightings of Madeleine to denounce
the Portuguese police as incompetent.
In the days ahead, there will be more revelations, and they will no doubt help sell newspapers.
One Portuguese editor told me that since 3 May last year, his tabloid had carried 170 front pages related
to Madeleine, and sales had leapt by 25%. I imagine a similar effect has been seen in Britain.
However long these intriguing stories run, the epic police files really boil down to three basic facts.
They are: Madeleine McCann went missing on the night of 3 May 2007; there are no certainties about what
happened to her; Kate McCann, Gerry McCann and Robert Murat have all been explicitly cleared of involvement in her disappearance,
after prosecutors found "no proof that they committed any crime" (press statement by the attorney general).
And if you want one paragraph which sums up the tragedy of these events, turn to volume 17, page 4,647,
in which the Portuguese public prosecutor outlines his conclusions.
"No element of proof was found... as to the circumstances in which the child was taken from the apartment
(whether alive, whether dead, whether the victim of negligent homicide or wilful homicide, whether the victim of kidnap-to-order
or an opportunistic kidnap).
"We can't even make a consistent prognosis of her fate, including... whether she is alive or dead."
Curiously, the prosecutor then adds that "it seems more probable" that Madeleine is dead.
But like so much of what we are now seeing and hearing, his words are interpretation rather than fact.
Why were the senhors deaf to Kate's cries of despair?, 07 August 2008
Why were the senhors deaf to Kate's cries of despair?
By Jan Moir
Last updated at 10:56 PM on 07th
months after her daughter went missing, Kate McCann wrote a letter to the Portuguese detective leading the investigation into
It is a shattering document, written at a point when the McCanns' relationship with the police appeared
to have reached rock bottom.
By then an official suspect, Mrs McCann's letter was a plea to be kept informed as to how the investigation
was progressing, even if in only the 'broadest terms'.
Just a hint! Give us a clue! Any news, senhor?
That was all she was asking, nothing more. Yet despite her careful
sentences and softly, softly tone, a mother's anguish hammers behind every single word.
I hope you do not mind me writing to you, she begins. Are you a parent? I am appealing to you as a fellow human being.
She uses words such as grateful, victim and torture to describe her situation.
Humane, blame and culture outline the ongoing situation.
Please, please help us is the unmistakable message. Yet despite
her plangent pleas, that help was never forthcoming.
Kate McCann's screams of despair were silent on the page, but the police chiefs still affected not to
She never did receive a proper reply, only a curt note of acknowledgement some months later that her request
had been filed.
I suppose we should be grateful that the wretches didn't just bin it, along with any real hope of ever
finding Madeleine McCann and the person or persons unknown who snatched her.
Their conduct throughout this entire investigation has been utterly shameful.
Mrs McCann's beseeching letter was part of the Madeleine case files, released by the Portuguese police
to the public for the first time this week.
Among the crackpot 'Maddie' sightings, the dead ends, the cadaver dogs, the leaks, smears and famous e-fits
of boiled eggs with hair, it is obvious that the Portuguese police took against the McCanns from the beginning.
To find out why, you have to turn your mind back to those dreadful days in May last year, when chaos and
belligerence heralded the beginning of the Maddie hunt.
'We are not magicians,' huffed the officer leading the investigation at the time, in a snit because he
didn't like the type of questions being lobbed at him by international journalists at the very first press conference.
Meanwhile, news crews filed reports uncomfortably close to the McCanns' apartment, further tainting a
crime scene that had already been contaminated.
There were no missing posters, no details of what she was wearing and no officials to co- ordinate the
haphazard public searches.
There was nothing except the narrowed eyes of the local police, focusing more and more on Kate and Gerry
From the start, the Cluedo cops were convinced that Mum and Dad had done it, in the bedroom, with a bottle
of maxi-strength Calpol.
Nothing would ever dissuade them from this point of view. For the McCanns' guilt, real or imagined, was
the only option available to them to camouflage their chronic ineptitude.
The publicity blitz launched by the couple was also anathema to Portuguese officials.
Yet even if one allows for cultural differences and the heavy burden of the Portuguese secrecy laws
- which prohibits even the parents of missing children being given details of evidence collected - something
darker and more inexplicable lurks in the shadows of this awful case.
Certainly, Gerry McCann is a decent man, if difficult to like. While his wife shirked away from publicity,
seeing it as a necessary evil that might help bring their daughter back, he seemed to enjoy it just a little too much for
The fury and energy he ploughed into the campaign to find his daughter was also a convenient channel in
which to assuage his own feelings of guilt. Sometimes it even felt that it was our fault, not the McCanns, that Madeleine
had gone missing.
However, if the only way forward for the Portuguese police is sullen recrimination, the only way forward
for the McCanns is to try to wrest something positive from their ongoing nightmare.
Alongside the continuing campaign to find their lost child, the McCanns are supporting a Europewide alert
system for snatched children. This is very admirable and worthy of them, but the terrible truth is that once a child has been
snatched by perverts, it is almost always too late to get them back.
Paedophiles see nothing immoral or wicked in what they do.
They are organised and energetic, with an ability to hide in society and molest at will that is truly
British police now believe that Madeleine McCann was snatched to order by a paedophile ring, and it certainly
seems the most plausible, if chilling, theory of all.
One that the Portuguese police overlooked in their apparent enthusiasm to fit up the McCanns.
Yet while amber alerts and increased border checks may help locate missing children, the truth is that
only increased vigilance at home can keep them safe.
Maddie shock, 07 August 2008
Published: Today, 07 August 2008
The Sun says
IT'S the news Kate and Gerry McCann always dreaded.
Little Maddie may have been snatched on the orders of a sick gang of Belgian paedophiles.
The shocking claim is made by a British vice cop.
An email from John Shord of Scotland Yard's elite clubs and vice intelligence unit reveals that a ring
of child abusers made an order for a young girl just THREE days before Maddie was snatched.
Her photo was passed to the gang and the chilling deal concluded.
Within hours, Maddie had vanished.
This bombshell email was passed to Portuguese police.
Yet despite its explosive contents, the shambolic inquiry continued to focus on Kate and Gerry. As a result,
the monsters who may have abducted Maddie have evaded justice.
The Portuguese police must reopen their inquiry immediately and examine this dramatic evidence.
But if the Met believes Maddie was snatched by a Belgian paedophile gang, they should start working with
the police in Belgium.
Perhaps then our skilled officers can help the long search for Maddie make some real progress.
It's the very least Kate, Gerry and their missing daughter deserve.
Joan Smith: Everyone, it seems, has a theory about Madeleine, 08 August 2008
Joan Smith: Everyone, it seems, has a theory about Madeleine The Independent
Friday, 8 August 2008
Fifteen months after the disappearance
of Madeleine McCann from her parents' holiday apartment in Portugal, the mystery of her whereabouts is as compelling as ever.
At least two new theories have emerged this week, one involving a paedophile ring in Belgium and the other a possible sighting
The less sinister of the two is based on an incident not long after the disappearance, when a little girl
answering Madeleine's description apparently told a shop assistant in Amsterdam that she had been taken from her mother. The
other involves a "spotter" photographing Madeleine in Portugal, sending the images to paedophiles in Belgium and then kidnapping
the child to order.
Both theories emerged as the police released files on the case, which were immediately seized on as containing
significant pointers to Madeleine's fate. Her parents' decision to launch a massive publicity campaign, which was understandable
in terms of their desperate situation, produced thousands of sightings in the weeks after the little girl disappeared; most
of them were well-meaning but mistaken and there is no evidence that the Amsterdam lead is any different. When a second woman
came forward this week, asserting that she too had spotted Madeleine in Amsterdam, it emerged that the local police had responded
promptly to her call and decided it was a case of mistaken identity.
"Maddie" has been spotted all over Europe and indeed in Morocco, where a sighting of a blonde child caused
great excitement before turning out to have an innocent explanation. Many of these "leads" are based on nothing more substantial
than calls to the police switchboard from members of the public who have been racking their brains in the hope of remembering
something that might help; the McCanns' media strategy has worked, insofar as it has made millions of people feel personally
involved in their daughter's disappearance, but the truth is that most of us have nothing to offer that might help. With reporters
hungry for new angles, tip-offs and cases of mistaken identity have been elevated into sensational developments that will
supposedly crack the case, producing unbearable feelings of disappointment when they go nowhere.
Few criminal investigations have produced such an intense craving to become involved, but there are parallels.
From the beginning, the McCann case has had echoes of the kidnapping in 1932 of the Lindbergh baby, the 20-month-old son of
the celebrated aviator Charles Lindbergh, which attracted the intense interest of everyone from the US President to prominent
members of the mafia. (It also changed US law, leading to kidnapping becoming a federal offence.)
One of the ransom notes was leaked to a newspaper, prompting a rash of false claims and letters, and all
sorts of theories were floated to establish the toddler's whereabouts. But the case ended tragically when his body was found
in woods two miles from his parents' house in New Jersey. A German carpenter, Bruno Hauptmann, was convicted and sent to the
electric chair four years later.
The reason that a minority of cases catch the public imagination is not just to do with the family's relationship
with the media, although the McCanns have become as well known as the Lindberghs in the months since their daughter was spirited
from Praia da Luz. As well as incarnating parents' deepest fears, the disappearance (and reappearance) of children is a regular
feature of myths and fairy stories, a fact which has clearly, if unconsciously, influenced the theories floated by newspapers.
A persistent theme in coverage of the McCann case is the sighting of a flustered woman, dragging a reluctant
toddler in her wake, who has taken Madeleine to fulfil her craving for a child; in this narrative, Madeleine functions as
a changeling who might one day be reunited with her real family.
Then there are the strangers with evil intent, who prey on children and steal them for their own wicked
purposes; two decades ago, they would have been on the look-out for children to use in Satanic rites, but now they come in
the more up-to-date guise of paedophiles.
This is not to argue that such explanations for Madeleine's disappearance could not possibly be true,
but it does sound a warning note about placing too much credence in new "leads" unsupported by hard evidence. For more than
a year now, the McCanns have been searching for their daughter amid headlines which have repeatedly presented speculation
as fact. Tragically for them, the huge publicity surrounding the case has thus far been much more effective in producing fantasies
than the breakthrough which might lead to her recovery.
News Review: The Maddie files: A tide of words that say little, 08 August 2008
News Review: The Maddie files: A tide of words that
say little The Scotsman
By Stephen McGinty
Last Updated: 08 August 2008 8:32
At up to 40,000
pages, the Portuguese police's Madeleine McCann case files raise more questions than they answer, writes STEPHEN McGINTY
THE worn stone of the court house at Portimao glowed in the late afternoon sunshine. Since before noon,
journalists and television camera crews had been waiting outside for access to the locked files on the disappearance of Madeleine
Each individual had to fill out a form stating their interest in the case and to hand over a blank DVD
to which the files, the size of which has been estimated at between 10,000 to 40,000 pages, were copied. On Monday at 4:10pm,
European time, a female court official carried a cardboard box down the steps and called out the number of each media organisation.
15 months in which all information connected with the abduction of the three-year-old was restricted under Portuguese law,
except for partisan leaks designed to blacken the names of her parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, the press and the public were
drowning in witness statements, photographs, e-fits and reported sightings.
As the press hurried off to translate key
files into English, and lawyers and detectives for the McCann family began focusing on tangible leads, it would quickly become
apparent that, as the Portuguese authorities decided on 21 July, when the case was closed, the files contained everything
For the armchair obsessives who view the abduction of the little girl from the bedroom of her parent's
holiday apartment in the resort of Praia da Luz as the 21st century's equivalent of the assassination of JFK in 1963 or the
kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby in 1932, there were the poignant pictures of the child's bedroom and personal details about
the couple's relationship.
A hand-drawn sketch by Kate McCann showed that when the couple left their three children
to dine at a nearby tapas restaurant with seven friends, they did not sit beside each other.
In a police interview,
Kate explained that the previous night she had been angry at her husband for ignoring her during dinner and had decided to
sleep in the room next door, beside the children. Gerry appeared to be unaware of the tiff, saying he assumed she had gone
to the next-door bedroom because of his snoring.
Then there was Kate McCann's heart-breaking letter to Chief Inspector
Paolo Rebelo, the man leading the investigation, pleading for information: "Madeleine is the most precious thing in our life."
It went unanswered.
The principle emotion the couple have had since examining the case files is anger at a botched
job. For the first time they saw the e-fit drawings never publicised of a young white man with dark, deep-set eyes, that were
put together from sightings by Derek Flack, a holidaymaker and Lance Purser, a British expat. Mr Flack, 64, told police he
had seen a man acting suspiciously around the McCanns' apartment just before Madeleine went missing. Mr Purser, 45, said he
had seen a similar man in the weeks before the disappearance. They learned that four days before both were named as "arguidos"
– official suspects – the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham had told the police that suspected blood samples
sent to them might not be blood and could not be directly linked to Madeleine. However the Portuguese police used the samples
to name the McCanns as arguidos then leaked the false line that the couple may have used the car, which was rented 25 days
after her disappearance, to move their daughter's body. The police note said: "Confronted with the fact that Madeleine's DNA
was gathered from behind the sofa and from the boot of the vehicle, and analysed by a British laboratory, he said he could
not explain why this would be."
While others may question a police decision to release all their files, the McCann
family believe it is to be welcomed. John McCann, Gerry's brother yesterday told The Scotsman from his Glasgow home: "We are
continuing in a very co-ordinated way the search for Madeleine and it's been very useful to see the police case files as it
allows us to see what has and what has not been done.
"The e-fits and potential sightings were hugely frustrating to
learn about. But there is a strange irony in the fact that we could not get any information for so long, and now we are flooded
with information, especially as the police were persistent and selective with their leaks."
THE line of inquiry that
offered hope, albeit of a horrendous sort, was that the child had been abducted to order by a paedophile gang. An intelligence
officer in the Metropolitan Police Vice Squad heard that a Belgian child abduction ring had placed an order for a "young girl".
According to the report, Madeleine McCann was spotted on holiday by someone connected with the gang, who took her picture.
It was sent to Belgium, where the paedophiles agreed she should be abducted – and three days later she was gone.
e-mail was sent from the Met on 4 March to counterparts in the Leicestershire force and in Portugal. DC John Hughes from Leicestershire
forwarded the e-mail to the Policia Judiciaria at Portimao on 21 April, the next day it was sent to Ricardo Paiva, one of
the three Portuguese police officers leading the investigation.
On 28 April the Portuguese police faxed the information
to Interpol in Lisbon and asked them to investigate it as a matter of urgency. Interpol replied on 23 May, passing all the
information gathered from its bureaux in London, Brussels, Germany and Finland.
On 27 May, Interpol sent an urgent
fax to Portuguese police asking for more information, but an undated return fax told them they had all the information that
Belgium is less than 100 miles from Amsterdam where there have been two possible sightings of Maddie. Shop
assistant Anna Stam, 41, spoke to a little girl called "Maddy" who said she had been taken from her mother while on holiday
in May last year. Hannie Wiechmann, 71, called police after seeing a young child she believed to be the missing girl in the
second week of May last year. Police have also investigated a sighting of a girl who looked like the missing child at a service
station near the town of Tongeren on Dutch border last August.
EARLIER this week the Metropolitan Police said the tip-off,
recorded by an intelligence officer working for Scotland Yard's CO14 clubs and vice unit, was second or even third-hand and
impossible to corroborate in the UK or abroad.
Yet last night a former senior detective said the material was "a gold
mine" for the detectives hired by the family.
He explained: "The first thing I would be doing is looking for a policy
file or master index. In British investigations these files detail all the lines of inquires and the reasons why some have
fallen off or been abandoned.
"I would also examine all the forensic evidence and reports. Then you would do a detailed
structured review. The benefit is that they can now take a cool, detached look.
"The case is very cold. The golden
period is the first 12-24 hours. Yet the files are an absolute gold mine of possibilities."
Perhaps the most poignant
and honest words in the vast case files were written by Joao Gomes and Jose Magalhaes e Meneses, the prosecuting lawyers who
reviewed the police files. They said: "No element of proof whatsoever was found which allows us to form any lucid, sensible,
serious and honest conclusion about the circumstances (of Madeleine's disappearance]."
THE EXPERT'S INSIGHT
'Nobody's done anything to find her'
Danny Collins, journalist and author of Vanished
DON'T think the release of the files enhances the case; it's yet another hindrance.
As we've seen on TV and read in
the newspapers over the past few days, each day brings another direction, another sighting. First we've had a very questionable
sighting in Amsterdam and the next day Madeleine is in the hands of a Belgian paedophile ring after a "kidnap to order" operation.
won't give the McCanns any viable leads, it will just send the detectives of Método 3 chasing around to follow year-old sightings
to justify their huge monthly fee.
The most interesting revelation in the case files is that nobody appears to have
done anything to find her.
If a parent left a three-year-old unattended in an apartment with access to the street
and returned one and a half hours later to find the child missing, what's the first logical thought that should enter their
mind? That the child has wandered off.
Madeleine was tracked by a Republican Guard dog to 400 metres from the apartment
on the night. This was largely unreported because it fitted neither the McCanns' insistence on abduction nor the police conviction
that the child was dead.
Madeleine McCann will not be found until someone starts seriously looking for her.
Vanished: The Truth About the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann is published by John Blake, priced £7.99.
'The McCanns are frustrated by the delays'
Clarence Mitchell, McCanns' family
IT HAS been frustrating beyond words, and the worst thing is that all this time, Madeleine
has been let down by this lack of apparent co-operation. Kate wanted to write the letter. It was her idea. She wrote it in
a more emotional way than perhaps Gerry would. It was sent without much hope and there was no response for a long time. There
finally was a short response acknowledging the letter. We were told it would lie on file.
A reconstruction for Crimewatch
has been on the cards for a while. We have had low-key contact with Crimewatch ever since they wanted to do something with
us last year. Kate and Gerry may well take part – it is certainly something we would consider.
(On the report
that the child may have been abducted to order, Mr Mitchell said:] Clearly any information of that nature – Kate and
Gerry would hope that the Portuguese police with Interpol have acted to the absolute best of their ability in following this
The private investigators, as with all the other sightings and all the other information, will be pursuing this
line as an absolute priority to establish if it has been fully investigated and properly ruled out. They have some of the
information already from their lawyers and investigators and they are waiting to hear what is legitimate, what is promising
and what is not.
They are frustrated by the delays and the mistakes. They have learned an awful lot, and God forbid
she has fallen foul of any of these types.
"Intelligence suggests that a paedophile
ring in Belgium made an order for a young girl three days before Madeleine McCann was taken. Somebody saw Maddie, took a photograph
of her and sent it to Belgium. The purchaser agreed and Maddie was taken."
– CO14 (vice unit) report from Metropolitan
"Unsubstantiated information was received by CO14 relating to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann."
A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman
"I am appealing to you as a fellow human being to work with us … Lack of communication
and a void of information, as the parent of a missing child, is torture."
– Kate McCann
"She came right
to me to pat the dog. Then I let her go. Stupid, but I thought, since the police are so convinced it wasn't Madeleine. I let
her walk away."
– Hannie Wiechmann, 71, who said she saw Madeleine in Amsterdam
"This is not , unfortunately,
a crime fit for the investigative mind of a Sherlock Holmes or an Hercule Poirot, guided by the illusion that the forces of
law and justice always restore order."
– Public prosecutor's report
"So the little girl stood before me
and asked in English: 'Do you know where my mummy is?' I answered that her mother was a little further back in the shop and
she answered: 'She is not my mummy.'"
– Anna Stam, Amsterdam shopkeeper in her witness statement to police
they left their daughter alone with her siblings in the apartment, sometimes for extended periods, they were keeping an eye
on them. We must also recognise that the parents are already paying a heavy penalty for their carelessness."
Public prosecutor's report
Arguido derives from the Latin
'arguire' or 'arguere'. The English words "argue" and "argument" have the same etymology. Under Portuguese law an Arguido
(male) or arguida (female) is normally translated as a "named suspect" or "formal suspect". Arguido status gives a range of
legal protections, such as the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer during questioning.
Is the name of the detective agency, based in Barcelona, and hired by the McCann family last September to conduct
their own investigation. Initially, the British security company Control Risks Group, a firm founded by former SAS men, was
called on for advice. The Spanish detective agency was hired, according to Clarence Mitchell, because of Portugal's "cultural
connection" with Spain.
Watch your kids for Maddie's sake, 09 August 2008
Watch your kids for Maddie's sake The Sun
Published: Today, August 09, 2008
all the many cruelties inflicted on Madeleine McCann's parents, the possibility that their little girl begged an Amsterdam
shop assistant for help shortly after she went missing is surely the deepest cut of all.
According to Anna Stam, who worked in a party shop and whose statement has only come to light this week,
the little girl told her that her name was Maddie then asked Anna if she knew where her mummy was.
She added that the woman she was in the shop with was "not my mummy" and that "they took me from my holiday".
It is chilling enough for us to read, but can you imagine the effect on Kate and Gerry McCann?
Anna, who called the police in Holland, said the child spoke English and had a very pallid and emotionless
If it was Madeleine, this would make sense as she would be in deep shock at being ripped away from her
mum and dad and the twins.
This sighting was just days after Madeleine disappeared. Although Portuguese police were informed, Kate
and Gerry were never told and, as far as we know, it was never checked up or acted upon.
This week it also emerged there were two further sightings of a little girl in Amsterdam who matched Madeleine's
description and three more in Belgium.
Pensioner Hannie Weichmann, who claims one of the sightings in Amsterdam, said: "Those eyes. I knew it
All of these cases could have been nothing more than mistaken identity, but we will never know for sure.
The police in Portugal were so focused on trying to shoehorn the evidence into proving Madeleine's parents
had killed their daughter that they lost a potential chance to find the little girl.
More and more experts now believe that Madeleine, a stunningly beautiful child, was specifically targeted
by a paedophile ring and "kidnapped to order".
I know that the thought of what these monsters can do to children has given Kate and Gerry sleepless nights,
but their anger and frustration at the profoundly inept police investigation must have also made them want to howl in despair.
It transpired this week that Kate even sent a heartbreaking letter to the police pleading with them to
share information and begging them to work with her and Gerry to find their daughter.
It is deeply moving and shows not only her utter despair, but also her desire to move heaven and earth
to find her girl.
Without wanting to panic every parent with a cute little boy or girl under five, it is clear there are
evil gangs of paedophiles who will stop at nothing to get their hands on little kids.
Those who snatched Madeleine are still lurking out there, possibly taking photos of other boys and girls
and plotting their next kidnap.
I believe we desperately need some sort of Europe-wide anti-paedophile task force with enough money to
be effective and enough expertise to smash these vile rings of perverts and sickos.
We are in the middle of the holiday season and it is easy to be less vigilant when we are in a "sun, sea
and sand" mentality.
Without becoming paranoid we need to keep a watchful eye on our children and grandchildren at all times.
Don't think it could never happen to you.
That's what Kate and Gerry McCann believed. They will spend the rest of their lives searching for their
daughter and torturing themselves over whether she is alive or dead.
And if she is still in the land of the living, just what sort of hell is she being subjected to?
Deborah Orr - Opinion piece, 09 August 2008
Saturday, 9 August 2008
* One of the many gross liberties that the media have taken in their reporting of the disappearance of
Madeleine McCann is the widespread adoption of a diminutive epithet. No matter how often her distressed parents insisted that
their daughter had always been known only as Madeleine, the fictitious intimacy of Maddie, or Maddy, endured. Now an Amsterdam
shop assistant, Ana Stam, claims that she talked to a girl who told her that her name was Maddie, and that she had been stolen
from her parents. Maybe the Portuguese police were remiss in failing to take seriously this sighting. But in my experience
a small child thinks that her name is what her parents say it is, and not what the press has christened her.
Gonçalo Amaral - 'Matter of Fact' column,
09 August 2008
Matter of Fact
Ex-coord. investigaçao Criminal
Saturday, 9 August 2008
Thanks to 'astro' for translation
so-called "Maddie Case" process was made public last Monday. On that day, a new era in the relationship between the Portuguese
Justice and the public was started. Journalists from all over the world jumped on the thousands of pages, looking for secrets
as if they were the key to a mystery. It did not take more than a few hours for the brilliant minds to discover what a vast
team of Portuguese and English investigators and experts hadn't found in 14 months.
Leads and sightings jumped up in
great numbers – all of them credible and despised by the police, obviously. It is only elementary commonsense that the
process is read and re-read, so it can be understood completely and in a serene manner; criticism, if it exists, should come
afterwards, or we risk falling into the gratuitous sensationalism that some of the press victimised us to (us, incautious
citizens). The right to inform is not to speculate. And that is not what is expected from our journalists who, truth be told,
always knew how to distinguish themselves from the British. Do not lose reason now. You are thanked by Justice, by the citizens
– and, let’s not forget, by the child that disappeared on the 3rd of May 2007.
Barbara Ellen - Opinion piece, 10
The latest speculation about Madeleine feels like exploitation to keep this sad story going Guardian
The Observer, Sunday August
though the thought is, is it time to hope that Madeleine McCann died the night she disappeared?
Anything seems preferable to the explanation that she was abducted by a paedophile ring, and is perhaps
still suffering. That it was always unlikely that some childless couple just fancied a little British girl, and all this time
Madeleine has been enjoying ice cream and piano lessons. In their heart of hearts, the British public probably considered
all this the moment Madeleine disappeared.
Odd, then, that with the publishing of the case files, the 'paedo-ring' angle has been shoved in our faces
as 'breaking news'. What's new about this news? Nothing of course. Just as there seems nothing particularly new about the
sightings, some of which seem dubious to say the least. Surely anyone who'd have spotted Maddie, especially in those first
feverish weeks, would have locked the door on her and her 'sinister' companions and screamed the place down.
Who are these people who muse at their leisure on 'the strange sad blonde little girl' before calling
the police? The real McCoy, or the usual attention-seeking nut-jobs - we'll never know.
In the grand scheme of things, all this may seem harmless PR padding, but it isn't. The result is that
'Maddie-sightings' are going to end up having the same ring of authority as your bog-standard UFO, Elvis, or Lord Lucan spottings.
By the same token, last week's sensational spin on what most of us guessed anyway, has given the case
a dramatic unhelpful 'Maddie: the sequel' feel. A background hum of just wanting to keep the story going - to keep selling
and exploiting as long as possible.
None of which is remotely fair. In real terms the only new development is that the McCanns can feel vindicated
at how shabbily the investigation was conducted - which is what they said all along. However, if the speculation turns out
to be true, how hollow a victory is that?
The truth won't mend the pain, 10
I SOMETIMES wonder if The Truth is all it's cracked up to be. I wonder if there are times when NOT knowing is
better than knowing.
Because now we think we know Madeleine McCann didn't die, as police suspected, in her holiday apartment.
Neither was she taken by an opportunist killer. Nor did she wander off into the sea.
However, what we now think may have happened is worse than all of those scenarios because it looks certain
this angel-faced little girl was snatched to order by a vile paedophile ring and delivered to people who hunt down pretty
children to degrade. Maybe even kill.
And how much better do we all feel for knowing that? What kind of images are going through your mind at
this minute as to the fate of this little mite?
If Kate and Gerry McCann thought it was torture NOT knowing what happened to their sweet, innocent girl,
what agony must they be living through now knowing she could have been— maybe still is—a sex toy for a bunch of
perverts so depraved that they get their kicks from abusing and killing terrified children.
For months, Kate and Gerry have fought to have the files on the investigation to find Maddie made public.
Understandably they wanted the cruelty, stupidity and ineptitude of the Portuguese police exposed. I suspect they also wanted
THEIR names and reputations restored. Perhaps they even believed that if Maddie was catapulted back on our front pages it
would pump new energy into the increasingly lacklustre hunt for her.
But it hasn't done that. What the information inside those files has done is confirm our worst fears,
the grotesque inevitability that this innocent's fate was probably neither quick or painless.
And if I can't bear to think about what might have happened to her after she was "delivered" to those
perverts I can't imagine how Kate and Gerry can close their eyes at night without the horror of it exploding inside their
At least when there was still ignorance and hope we believed it would only be a matter of time before
Maddie was delivered back into the arms of her family. Even on the black days the only shred of comfort was knowing that if
she had been taken by a family who wanted a child of their own, at least she'd be loved and cared for.
Most naively of all, we believed that if she was already dead—THAT was the worst thing that could
have happened to her.
Well, now we know it isn't. Now we know that what might have happened to her while she was alive could
have been worse.
Did Kate and Gerry really want to know that? Will having The Truth writ large help them move on with their
lives? Will they ever be able to accept she might never come home?
Because while there's an odd kind of comfort in listening to stories from those well-meaning people in
Holland and Belgium who believe they saw and talked to Maddie, it actually makes the whole thing more excruciating knowing
that Portuguese police let this little girl slip through their fingers while she was so close and while she was still the
Maddie her Mum and Dad knew.
Where's the comfort for Kate and Gerry knowing while they were running around Praia De Luz, Maddie was
alive and talking to strangers just a few hours away from them.
The McCanns have always said they needed to get at the truth of what happened to their daughter.
But what has that "Truth" delivered. Not peace, not comfort, not a conclusion.
I never really understood what the phrase "Fate Worse Than Death" actually meant.
Now I think I might.
And, tragically, the only Truth Kate and Gerry have got from the opening of these files is that now they
Stung by the Portuguese men of law, 10
Evidence from files on the Madeleine McCann investigation show how badly her parents were treated by Portugese police
|Kate McCann holding Madeleine's cuddly toy
Steven Swinford. Additional reporting : Rita Jordao
August 10, 2008
In recent months Kate and Gerry McCann have been trying to regain some normality in their lives after their daughter
Madeleine disappeared in May last year. Gerry has returned to work as a hospital consultant, Kate is busy with Sean and Amelie,
their three-year-old twins.
Then last week the Portuguese police, the Policia Judiciaria, released their dossier on the case - and its contents stunned
the family all over again.
Despite being prepared for the worst, the couple were shocked by the dossier's evidence of incompetence, missed opportunities
- and of the determination of the Portuguese police to implicate the McCanns in their daughter's disappearance.
They learnt that two e-fits of suspects were never released; that a series of reported sightings of Madeleine were kept
secret from them; and that Scotland Yard intelligence suggested Madeleine had been snatched by an international paedophile
ring. The McCanns also discovered how the police had misconstrued and overplayed evidence against them; attempted to bug their
rented home and car; and asked the Home Office to hand over details of the couple’s credit card bills.
In a document translated by the Sunday Times yesterday, Tavares Almeida, a chief inspector with the Portuguese
police, accused the McCanns and the friends on holiday with them of "lying". In a memo dated September 10, Almeida noted:
"The statements from the whole group result in a total lack of coherence, from which we easily conclude that they're all lying."
Also in the file was a letter Kate had written to Paolo Rebelo, the head of the investigation, begging to be kept informed
of developments. "I am appealing to you as a fellow human being to work with us (if possible to include us) and to remember
that we are Madeleine's parents . . . lack of communication is torture," she wrote.
She appears to have received no reply. Once again the file rams home how coldly the Portuguese had treated the family.
Yesterday a friend of the McCanns said: "There is a sense of anger, frustration and great sadness. They've waited for
this [evidence of sightings] for a long time. It's work they could have started 15 months ago. But this is the time for them
to keep focus and consider everything carefully before deciding what course of action to take. Then they will have their day,
they will make their views clear."
The couple's priority remains finding Madeleine, but they are angry and hurt by what the files reveal. They are now considering
suing the Portuguese police.
Rogerio Alves, the couple's Portuguese lawyer, has been briefed to examine the files for evidence of incompetence, negligence
and malicious intent and then to prepare to lay charges. "I believe he can recommend charges or action be taken against the
police as a whole as well as individual officers if it’s felt necessary," said a friend of the family.
Why did the Policia Judiciaria get it so wrong? Why were they obsessed with proving the McCanns' guilt? From the beginning
the dossier reveals how incompetence blighted the investigation. Carlos Pinto de Abreu, one of the McCann lawyers examining
the police files, said: "The early stages of the investigation, led by detectives in Portimao, really were very poor."
When those detectives arrived at 3.30pm on May 4, more than 17 hours after Madeleine's disappearance, they discovered
that dozens of local police, friends and family had traipsed through the room, heavily contaminating the scene.
One report in the voluminous files released last week records: "A number of people had touched the window and entered
Madeleine's and the twins' room prior to the arrival of the GNR [local] police . . ." There was a "lack of preservation of
the crime scene".
The case file also reveals how four other families were allowed to stay in the holiday apartment from which Madeleine
disappeared before further detailed forensic searches took place.
From the start the McCanns were keenly aware how publicising information about their daughter could help the investigation.
So they have been dismayed to discover that the Portuguese police had detailed e-fits of potential suspects - but refused
to make them public.
The case files reveal that the police had two near-identical PhotoFits of a man who was seen acting suspiciously near
the McCanns' apartment before Madeleine's disappearance. Yet the only image of a suspect circulated publicly was a vague drawing
with no facial details. It was ridiculed as an "egg with hair".
Among the witness reports in the dossier are also three sightings of a girl matching Madeleine's description in Belgium
and one in Holland. The McCanns were never told about them. A further potential link with Belgium came in April when the Portuguese
police were passed intelligence from Scotland Yard suggesting that Madeleine had been abducted by a Belgian paedophile ring.
John Shord, from the Metropolitan police clubs and vice intelligence unit, wrote: "Intelligence suggests that a paedophile
ring in Belgium made an order for a young girl three days before Madeleine McCann was taken. Somebody connected to this group
saw Maddie, took a photograph of her and sent it to Belgium. The purchaser agreed that the girl was suitable and Maddie was
Last week British police were playing down the strength of that report. But the McCanns' view is that if they had been
kept informed, they and their private investigators could have helped.
The Portuguese, however, had other ideas. What the case files make clear is just how suspicious the Policia Judiciaria
became that the McCanns were responsible for Madeleine's disappearance - and yet how weak the evidence for it was.
The pivotal shift in the investigation came at the end of July, after the Portuguese police called in British experts
to help review the case. The experts suggested using specialist British sniffer dogs capable of detecting the scent of dead
According to the case files, the dogs detected scent at five locations in the McCanns' apartment, including by the door
of the back bedroom, behind the sofa in the living room, on the veranda outside the parents’ bedroom and in the garden
under the veranda. The dogs later "marked" the boot of the McCanns' car.
The case file contains documents showing that Mark Harrison, the British search expert, and Martin Grimes, the dog-handler,
warned that the results should be treated with caution. They insisted that "corroborating evidence" was needed and that no
"intelligence reliability could be placed on the results".
The Portuguese police, however, treated it very differently. On August 1, the day after the searches, Inspector Joao
Carlos, one of the senior investigators, wrote to his superiors stating: "One must suppose that the child Madeleine McCann
could have died inside the apartment."
On the same day Carlos applied for court orders to plant two bugs in the McCanns' rented apartment and one in their holiday
home. The requests were rejected, but by this stage the police's intentions were clear. The McCanns noticed a distinct coldness
in the police response to them, which culminated in them being made suspects just over a month later.
The Portuguese police's approach was also clear in their treatment of forensic evidence. On September 3, John Lowe, a
scientist from the Birmingham-based Forensic Science Service, informed detectives that a sample taken from the McCanns' Renault
Scenic hire car had 15 out of 19 of Madeleine's DNA components.
However, he also urged caution, warning that the result was "too complex for meaningful interpretation or inclusion".
That qualification was ignored. The case files show that days later the Portuguese police attempted to extract a confession
from Gerry by insisting Madeleine’s DNA had been found in the boot of the car.
One chief inspector of the Portuguese police recorded how he found Gerry "cold", attributing it to his work as a doctor.
He noted: "During many moments of his professional career he had to make decisions in a fraction of a second, which gives
him a coldness." Yesterday a friend of the McCanns said: "The whole attitude throughout was one of 'we think they're involved,
there are some vague indications, let's throw caution to the wind and see if we can get a conviction'." For the McCanns, being
cut off from the details of the police investigation has been even worse than being made suspects (they have now been exonerated).
After Kate's letter in December, the family's lawyers made two further requests for information. Both were refused.
Disappointed but undeterred, the McCanns remain steadfast in their belief that Madeleine will be found. Two months ago
the couple decided to relegate the role of M3, the gaffe-prone team of Spanish private investigators whose director boasted
last year that Madeleine would be "home by Christmas". They are now paying an international team of private investigators
£166,000 a month (partly funded from a libel settlement with a newspaper) to follow fresh leads. The release of the case files
has demonstrated just how much they have to do. "They're starting from scratch," said the friend. "They have to rebuild the
entire police investigation."
They hope that, better late than never, the information from police files will reinvigorate the search for their daughter.
On Monday a girl resembling Madeleine was sighted at a bank in Brussels: a security guard became suspicious after spotting
a woman of north African appearance struggling to speak French with a blue-eyed, blonde girl. Detectives are also investigating
other leads in Belgium.
Yesterday Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, said: "The documents are a field of potential leads and any one
of them could unlock the case. They will never give up the search for Madeleine."
International reach of paedophile rings
Are paedophile gangs at work, especially in Belgium? The existence of paedophile rings
in Europe is well documented, writes Nicola Smith.
Last year the UK's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) brought down a ring of 700, run by a Briton,
which disseminated images of horrific child abuse. Many paedophile rings stretch across borders, partly through easy internet
communication. Belgian police, however, deny that such gangs operate in their country.
For a nation of just 10m, Belgium has been rocked by shocking paedophile scandals. In the 1990s the notorious Marc Dutroux
kidnapped and sexually abused six young girls, killing two of them. Dutroux told a Flemish television station: "A network
with all kinds of criminal activities really does exist. But the authorities don’t want to look into it."
Are there any links with Portugal, where Madeleine McCann disappeared? In 2002 Portugal
was shaken by allegations of a paedophile ring targeting a state orphanage. Press reports at the time referred to Dutch and
Belgian paedophile gangs operating on Portuguese soil. Belgium is well known as a transit point for people trafficking and
Belgian nationals have been caught up recently in police stings on international child abuse gangs.
Late last year police in 28 countries busted a global paedophile ring. The operation began when Australian police intercepted
a video of two young girls being abused by a Belgian man.
Is there any evidence of children being snatched to order? Child crime experts say
the kidnapping of specific children to order is extremely rare. "In general, paedophiles ask for a particular type of abuse
rather than a particular child," said CEOP. "The majority of sexual abuse occurs in the home or by people the child knows."
The Belgian police said: "We have never had a paedophile network like that to our knowledge, and we have not come across
any cases of children being ordered by paedophiles."
The News of the
World says..., 10 August 2008
Madeleine McCann files released this week prove what we always feared - and barely doubted.
The Portuguese police investigation has been a shambles.
But for their blinkered and suspicious approach, little Madeleine might have been back with her anguished
Instead, her fate remains uncertain.
That's why we remind everyone that our £1.5m offer for information leading to her safe return still stands.
Naturally, Kate and Gerry McCann cling to the belief that their daughter may be out there alive and unharmed,
And our witness today gives them a precious glimmer of hope.
Like millions of others, we pray that hope - and their heart-rending faith - may yet be rewarded.
The News of the World is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with this inspiring couple.
All this publicity is no help to Maddie, 10
by Our Correspondent, Wales On Sunday
Aug 10 2008
Madeleine McCann is back as headline news, and the agony for her parents must still be unimaginable.
But is all this new publicity really any good for Madeleine herself if there is any hope of miraculously
finding her alive? To be perfectly honest, I almost feel ashamed now of the way we all kept her story on the front pages for
so long last summer, and wonder if this too was really in the little girl’s best interests.
Newspapers were selling spectacularly well as we all thrived on the titbits fed to us every day. It mattered
nothing that a lot of these turned out to be untruths, we wanted to read them anyway. Television news was also forced –
by us – to keep Maddie’s name alive. We searched news internet sites for her name so in order to keep the viewers
happy she was constantly kept in the daily running orders.
Recently-released Portuguese police files show they maybe didn't react in the way they should have, and
Kate McCann's poignant letter to them begging for some information was truly heartbreaking, but did the bad press that the
police got from day one in the newspapers really help? Did all the criticisms make them want to believe that Madeleine's parents
were to blame so that they could throw the whole sad affair back in our faces?
You could hardly blame them for feeling aggrieved at the arrogance of the English press.
Robert Murat has been well compensated for the terrible untruths that were printed about him. He deserves
every penny for the indignities he had to suffer just because he went out of his way to try to help the McCanns. What message
does this give the rest of us?
If someone's in trouble don't offer to help, it could land you in serious trouble.
You may remember that it was a member of the British press who pointed the first finger of suspicion at
him because he was trying so hard to be helpful. He also has a daughter the same age as Madeleine, and he's estranged from
her mum, so he had to be guilty!
But that little girl too is a terrible casualty of the Madeleine story; her suffering must have been appalling.
Kate and Gerry McCann just want Madeleine back, but if the latest round of stories about a Belgian paedophile
ring are true and that she may have been snatched to order, then surely all this publicity must be far more dangerous for
Madeleine, if she is still alive. I would much prefer now not to read about Madeleine.
Surely it would be better if any inquiries and detective work and searches that needed to be done were
done quietly? But our appetite for Madeleine stories is such that anything revealed in these police files is sensationally
turned into a new front-page headline.
I hope the little girl is still alive and, if she is, the best thing we could do is to let others get
on with trying to find her, and to just forget about her for a while. This, I'm certain, would make any chance she may have
of survival greater. To stop reading about Maddie and to forget about her may be the greatest gift we could now give her.
Peter McKay - Opinion piece, 10 August
By Peter McKay
Last updated at 9:56 PM on 10th August 2008
sightings of missing Madeleine McCann seem to involve Belgium and a paedophile 'ring' which might have kidnapped the child
'to order'. Belgian police received more than 100 sightings, 30 of which required checking.
But the latest - by British businessman Trevor Francis, 64 - was on the Venezuelan
island of Margarita.
Nursing home owner Francis, who keeps a yacht there, says a girl he thinks was 'Madeleine' came into a
restaurant with three women - all of Latin origin - and had the telltale blemish in her right eye.
The McCann family's spokesman says the investigation team is taking this report 'very seriously'.
But they can't 'emotionally commit' to any sighting unless they have something concrete to go on.
Any fair-haired child accompanied by an adult or adults who are not obviously the parents might be so
In one sighting, the girl involved said she was 'Maddie' and had been taken from her mother.
Yet the McCanns say Madeleine was never known as 'Maddie' to them. It's an abbreviation devised by newspapers
so the name will fit headlines.
What would your first instinct be if you saw a girl you were sure was Madeleine? Surely to find a policeman.
But none of those spotting her seems to have had time to do this.
I am sure the majority of Madeleine-spotters are honest, if mistaken, but the sad reality is that, for
some time, it's a form of attention-seeking.
Diary: Esther Addley, 14 August 2008
Thursday August 14 2008, last updated at 00:05
sympathies today are split, however, for we must also spare a small pang of pity for the security guard in Brussels who on
Tuesday told the Sun about his sighting of a young girl who absolutely, definitely, without question was Madeleine McCann.
"I saw her face and recognised that it was her," said the man. "I would bet everything I own that it was her." And sure enough,
Belgian police later confirmed - dear reader, you are ahead of me - that it wasn't. We can find nothing, as yet, on eBay,
but Kate and Gerry McCann will be heartened that the man is without doubt now living under a cardboard box with only his own
gnawed fists and his shame for sustenance.
Piling on pain, 15 August 2008
Aug 15 2008
THE supposed worldwide
'sightings' of Madeleine McCann must be torture for her parents. However hard they try not to get their hopes up, every new
report must offer a sliver of hope. And when every new report is discounted it must feel like losing her all over again. But
as more sightings come through it shouldn't be left solely to her parents and their private detectives to investigate and
gauge their validity. And if the theory she has been snatched to order by a paedophile ring is true, then surely the British
police should now take an active role in the hunt for her? She may have been taken while on holiday but Maddie is first and
foremost a British citizen.
to Nigel at