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Wikileaks And Madeleine McCann: Spinning A Story From A Thin Cable

by | 14th, December 2010

MADELEINE McCann is back on the front pages. The missing child is on the front page of the Guardian. Having encouraged readers to suggest which search terms would be useful to browse the Wiikleaks cables for, the Guardian settled on Our Maddie keywords.

Can it create a story from the cables? Well, it tries to. The paper duly leads with:

“UK police ‘developed’ case against McCanns”

The cables are those of Britain’s ambassador to Portugal, Alexander Wykeham Ellis. On September 21, 2007 – two weeks after Portuguese police named Gerry and Kate McCann as arguidos – he commented on the happening in a memo to Washington, US Ambassador Al Hoffman. He wrote:

“Madeleine McCann’s disappearance in the south of Portugal in May 2007 has generated international media attention with controversy surrounding the Portuguese-led police investigation and the actions of Madeleine’s parents.”

Well, yes. He goes on to talk of the media frenzy and that British police had “developed” the current evidence against the McCann parents. The Guardian’s sensational is that the British and Portuguese police were working together. What?! Britain oldest ally was working with the British authorities to try and solve the case of British subject missing overseas? Who knew?!

The US ambassador adds:

Without delving into the details of the case, Ellis admitted that the British police had developed the current evidence against the McCann parents, and he stressed that authorities from both countries were working co-operatively.”

The Guardian says the message is marked “confidential”. This makes it sound important. But not all secrets are. This one isn’t. But, still, it’s front-page news.

Ben Quinn, the author of the Guardian’s front-page shocker, then tries to validate his news by conjuring up this nonsense:

The comments attributed to the ambassador appear to contradict the widespread perception at the time that Portuguese investigators were the driving force behind the treatment of the McCanns as suspects in the case.

No, they do not. The British police provided sniffer dogs to work on the case. They processed DNA samples in a Forensic Science Service lab. The Portuguese ran the case. The British helped.

In July 2008, the McCanns’ status as arguidos was dropped.

A spokesman for the McCanns responds to his secret news:

“This is an entirely historic note that is more than three years old. Subsequently, Kate and Gerry had their arguido status lifted, with the Portuguese authorities making it perfectly clear that there was absolutely no evidence to implicate them in Madeleine’s disappearance whatsoever. To this day, they continue to work tirelessly on the search for their daughter, co-operating when appropriate with both the Portuguese and British authorities.”

Oh, and if thsie was not weak news anough, the Guardian has more. This from a missive dated 11 October 2007:

Missing Children Alert: Frattini used the well-known case of Madeleine McCann, a missing British girl, to lay out his intention to develop an EU wide alert system for missing children. Frattini specifically and repeatedly mentioned the Amber Alert system in the U.S. as the model that the EU needed to copy. In addition, the e-Justice Portal, according to Costa, will include a list of missing children and direct users to appropriate Hague Convention resources.

Wow, indeed.

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Posted: 14th, December 2010 | In: Key Posts, Madeleine McCann Comments (3) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink