the debate over the
McCanns’ behaviour on May 3 was at its height the
couple’s defenders often put forward the “modified profiling” argument.
profiling – the claim that the probability of involvement in a crime is
scientifically linked to personality traits and evidence of past
“criminality” - is, of course, a pseudo science developed largely by
the Nazis and unworthy of discussion. The “modified version”, though,
claims that as worthy respectable citizens, professionals even, with no
background of offending, the McCanns were intrinsically less likely to
have done something nasty on May 3 than “criminal types”, you know, the
sort of people like God-sent Mr Hewitt or the various horror-film
portraits of suspects at the Team’s press shows.
Buttressing this argument, as the somewhat unworldly Portuguese
prosecutor pointed out, is the fact that the couple went on behaving as
“normal” people do all through that evening. Kate McCann would have to
be a wicked simulator indeed to have acted normally knowing that the
child had already come to harm. And happy Gerry McCann, the loving
parent who “romped” with his children and their friends, who was beside
himself with shock and terror at the loss of his daughter, behaving as
David Payne said “exactly” as one would expect after such a tragedy –
was it really conceivable that this provincial doctor had the qualities
required to initiate and put into practice a nerveless cover-up in
self-defence that night?
is an argument that has continued to appeal, though it is slightly
weakened in Kate’s case by her performances when posing daily for
campaign-led photo ops in the weeks after May 3, able to turn on with
ease the role and expression requested by the surrounding press pack -
soulful, grief stricken, determined, stoical, lost:she was, they say, a
“natural”. Still, nobody recalls her behaving in a ruthless or even
unloving manner prior to 2007, let alone showing the sort of Lady
Macbeth-like qualities implied by the theories of the Portuguese police.
No wonder that fair-minded people rightly find it hard to accept the
idea of her involvement in something chilling.
the same goes for Gerry. When had anyone ever claimed to witness the
devious ruthlessness and suppression of all personal feelings needed to
carry through such a plan of deception? How could someone without any
experience of crime and deceit suddenly act so decisively while
presenting a mask to the rest of the world?
While readers of the Cracked Mirror might pause, as the author
did when writing it, at the extent of the pair’s apparent unknowability
in earlier years, that is no reason to reject the argument.
Truth of the Lie
affair throw some light on it?
the book had been published the McCanns made no secret of their eventual
intention to sue Amaral for libel. Quite understandable too, if they
were innocent, as was an appropriate claim for damages: everyone has the
right to defend a reputation under attack.
Dr. Gerald McCann took
legal action against the man who had libelled him
and his wife. The manner of his doing so, however, makes one, again,
pause for thought.
parents were frank, via nice Ed “expunge it” Smethurst, that they
would seek an injunction in Portugal to silence his claims, preparatory
to a full libel hearing. But there was no hint of the intensity of the
coming attack: instead there was deception, deliberately implying that
their aims were moderate and defensive. “The intention,” said their
spokesman in May 2009, “in suing Mr Amaral is simply to censure him.He
has been publicising his book across Europe and they just think enough
western societies a libel case is normally about the future suppression
of the libel and financial restitution: it is about withdrawal and
compensation. The concept of personal retribution and
vengeance for a non-criminal libel is not normally part of European
law. But the actual writ, as revealed in July, was certainly heading
that way, not at all a matter of mere censure. Apart from claiming a
list of mental and physical ailments, apparently attributable to
Amaral, that, if true, would have made them unfit for work, even on the
wanted upwards of a million in damages and, as the lawyer Duarte made
clear, Amaral should be “punished.”
when the injunction was eventually granted at the second attempt it was
unprecedented, as we know, in the extremism of its attack on Amaral and
his family’s liberties rather than a “silencing” of his claims. The
McCanns had explicitly worked on and asked for these measures while, for
public consumption, remaining silent about their demands. Quite a
performance and even Amaral himself, who has seen plenty of aggression
and deviousness in his career, was taken aback by the extent and venom
of the onslaught.
we are not about to get the violin out for Goncalo Amaral. Yes, people
can argue that Amaral deserved what he got. But the question here,
whichever side one supports, is
what does the history of the McCanns versus Amaral tell us about Gerry
McCann, his abilities and his “profile”?
is unarguable that the legal means adopted by McCann against Amaral
have involved lies and deception (“we only wish to censure” “we’re here
in Portugal to build bridges”), secrecy (masking the extreme nature of
his demands until the injunction was granted in September),
ruthlessness (obviously) and indifference to human feeling (the known
grief and pain caused to Amaral’s wife in particular).
which profile of McCann does this performance fit – the clean and
harmless cardiologist of fond remembrance, “Good old Gerry”, or someone
quite different, someone with a talent for secrecy, ruthlessness and
indifference to human feeling when self-defence is involved?