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Anorak | Madeleine McCann: Alan Johnson, Satellite Images And Barack Obama

Madeleine McCann: Alan Johnson, Satellite Images And Barack Obama

by | 18th, October 2009

5110520 Madeleine McCann: Alan Johnson, Satellite Images And Barack ObamaMADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: Justine McGuinness sues, Alan Johnson, Gordon Brown, Barack Obama and a satellite image…

Press Gazette: “People in payout over Madeleine Fund libel”

Justine McGuinness is back in the news:

A public relations expert who helped in the search for Madeleine McCann accepted a donation to charity today over a claim that she overcharged the fund set up to find the missing child.

Another day and with it another libel case.

In 2007, The People story “alleged that she had charged the fund £20,000 in excess of her agreed fee and that, following a discussion with Gerry McCann in the summer of 2007, she was forced to part company with the fund.”

Melville-Brown said MGN Limited had accepted that the allegations were incorrect and apologised. So damages?

It agreed to make a donation to an undisclosed charity of Ms McGuinness’s choice.

PRs know how to handle their own PR.

Says her brief, Amber Melville-Brown:

The public is entitled to know, indeed demands to know, the truth, and the press fulfils a vital role in servicing our need for news. But Fleet Street must guard against rubbishing reputations in the process through the inaccurate and sensational reporting of emotive stories.”

Nice idea. But the public demands entertainment, and the papers demand readers. If you want the truth, you need to digest a lot of news and make up your own mind. Or read Anorak.

Which brings us to this story in the Sunday Express:

SATELLITE CLUE TO MADDIE KIDNAP

HOME Secretary Alan Johnson is prepared to ask US spy chiefs for satellite images which may show the face of Madeleine McCann’s kidnapper, following intervention by the Sunday Express.

Well done to the Express for coming up with a new angle on the Our Maddie story, and making itself a part of the story. Anorak readers may recall this news from 28th, September 2007:

DAILY EXPRESS front page: “MADELEINE. SPY-IN-SKY PLAN TO FIND HER KIDNAPPER.”

“Satellite and aerial footage as well as internet traffic should be used to help the hunt,” say “intelligence experts”, including Professor Anthony Glees, Director of Brunel University’s Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies. Security is his thing.

That was taken from a letter to the Times.

So what changed in making this news once more – other than the Express’s need for a story? Alan Johnson is now a front-line politician – he may yet lead the Labour Party – and as such he needs to wear his heart on his sleeve. Can he find Our Maddie?

Hope of new progress came after it emerged Leicestershire Police never made a formal request to the Home Office for views of Praia da Luz on Portugal’s Algarve at the time the little girl vanished in May 2007.

Hope of progress because something was not done? And then this loaded opinion by James Murray of the Maddie News Beat.

The quality of pictures taken by satellites in space is now so good they can reputedly identify the colour of someone’s eyes.

Reputedly, eh. Got any evidence of that? And what if the target declines to look up?

Last night a senior source with the Portuguese police said: “We know US spy satellites regularly sweep over Portugal looking at military installations and government facilities. So we thought they might actually have images of Praia da Luz on the day of the kidnapping and the preceding days.

Well, they might. It is possible. Any amateur space watchers who track satellites know?

“We hoped spy images may have captured the kidnapper watching the apartment prior to the event or even on the day itself. Obviously, having a picture would have speeded up the apprehension of the offender.”

And from all the pictures of the tops of heads and faces, the Portuguese police will track down everyone in the images, eliminating each as they go? Anyone they can’t tracks down will be a person of interest? So long as the alleged kidnapper has a natural luminous green head of hair it’s a mighty plan. It can’t fail. And what of those bungling Portuguese police, mocked by the fine British press which then went on to libel the McCanns?

Yet more than two years after Madeleine was snatched no help has been forthcoming, despite early requests from senior Portuguese detectives.

And now?

Last night a spokesman for Mr Johnson said extensive checks within the security intelligence community had failed to discover any formal request ever having come to them through Leicestershire Police from Portugal. However, he said that if a request were now made Mr Johnson would see whether he could offer any assistance in trying to persuade the Americans to become co-operative.

Would. Whether. If… Want more facts? At least we now know that the Americans are to blame, then. This might test the resolve of that special relationship.

The issue appears so sensitive that Prime Minister Mr Brown may have to speak directly to US President Barack Obama in order to achieve co-operation.

If Obama will speak to Brown.

The Sunday Express sought explanations for the extraordinary situation from the US government’s ultra- secretive National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The agency’s lawyers are now considering a Freedom of Information request from the Sunday Express. A spokesman for the agency said: “NGA does not provide imagery to private citizens or private companies. For reasons of national security we do not discuss specifics about what images we have or our capabilities.”

Is this the biggest non-story of the year? No images of Madeleine McCann on satellite. Maybe.

Madeleine McCann – three summers’ of speculation…

Madeleine McCann: The Story In Pictures

Pictures Of All The Madeleine McCann Suspects



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