Madeleine McCann: A PR mistake with Antonio Castela
The Sun (front page): “MUMMY, WE’ll HELP YOU FIND MADELEINE:
We see a photo of the family McCann, with the missing child and her younger twin siblings.
Page 4 and 5: “As the twins get older their desire to help the search for their sister will be even greater.”
One day they might ever read the details on the internet and join the ranks of armchair detectives. Right now twins Sean and Amelie are seven. Introducing them to the story in this way helps how?
Five years ago we told you that this story would run and run. Kate McCann agrees:
Kate, 44, said Sean had told her: “You know, Mummy, if you haven’t found Madeleine by the time we get older me and Amelie will find her.”
Says Kate McCann:
“…as they get older their understanding gets greater and their desire to find their sister becomes even greater. I have no doubt that if there comes a time when Madeleine has not been found and Sean and Amelie are of an age, maybe teenagers, they will want to help us and carry on the search.”
Page 5: “Plea for girl with no name”
KATE and Gerry revealed a new poster of Madeleine yesterday bearing her age progression image at nine and the words “Have You Seen Me?” The mum said the girl’s name had NOT been used on the poster as she may no longer respond to it.
Says Kate McCann:
“I want people to look at this picture and think, ‘Have I seen this girl?’ I don’t want them to think of Madeleine — she might not be called Madeleine.”
Has the story just moved on? Madeleine McCann is no longer the child we are looking for? Mrs McCann adds:
“We want to direct people to this image, not the little girl in the red dress. If you have seen a little girl who looks like this please contact the police immediately, or us through our website.”
A flutter of sightings must be expected. She adds:
“And if you were in Praia da Luz between April 28 and May 3 2007, and have not been spoken to by the police, please come forward. It’s not too late.”
Indeed. It would be good if everyone who was there came forward and went on the police’s record.
But what about a man who says he saw the child? What about Antonio Castela, a taxi driver on the Algarve?
Daily Star (front page): “I drove in Maddie cab”
She took a taxi?
“FOUR ADULTS WITH HER NIGHT AFTER SHE VANISHED”
Hold the phone! The London Evening Standard reported in 2008 that Castela picked up a blonde child with an unusual eye and wearing pink pyjamas. The paper reported his claim that he took her on a ride on the very night she vanished. Castela said she looked “doped”. The name Robert Murat, an innocent man libelled and defamed by pretty much everyone, was mentioned as being one of the men who might have been with her. Castela said he had the child in his car a few hours before she vanished. Then, yesterday, we heard that Castela did not give the child a lift on the very night of her vanishing. He says it was one day later. Both versions are still on the paper’s website.
Tom Hutchison reports on what Kate McCann said when she heard this old news served up as new news:
Maddie’s mum Kate last night urged police to get in touch to see if his information could help find her missing daughter. She said: “If there is any kind of lead that hasn’t been investigated properly, we want police looking into it.”
Kate McCann did not make specific reference to Castela’s sighting. That was left to another on their team. The Express reports:
Isabel Duarte, the McCann family lawyer in Portugal, said the driver’s information is one of several leads which police there have not followed up. The McCanns are familiar with the cabbie’s claims but it is not clear if his testimony is among the 195 “investigative opportunities” identified by the Scotland Yard review team.
The Star makes it seem even more important:
Kate and husband Gerry’s lawyer in Portugal, Isabel Duarte, said the sighting is crucial to the hunt for Maddie ahead of today’s fifth anniversary of her disappearance.
But the reports on what the taxi driver might have seen are conflicting. Robert Murat was not with the child in the taxi. Kate McCann was not in the taxi. Robert Murat and Kate McCann were not together.Would any policeman follow that up? Says Castela:
“The little girl in the back of my taxi had the same distinct mark in her eye as Madeleine. After I went to the police I never heard anything from them again. They did not seem to take me seriously and never questioned me. They simply took down the details and that was it. I am amazed it has been five years and nobody has ever asked me what I saw that night. I am absolutely certain it was her.”
Daily Express (front page): “TAXI DRIVER INSISTS HE PICKED UP MADELEINE HOURS AFTER SHE VANISHED”
John Twomey reports:
A TAXI driver who claims he picked up Madeleine McCann the night after she vanished has accused Portuguese police of dismissing his evidence.
Those Portuguese police are yet again proved to be ruddy useless. Right?
The McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell takes a view:
“Mr Castela did absolutely the right thing at the time by reporting his sighting to the PJ [Policia Judiciaria]. It is clearly deeply shocking that he now tells us he has not been interviewed once by a detective in five years. This is exactly the sort of thing that needs to be looked at in the investigative review now being carried out by the Metropolitan Police.”
Sure. Only, back in 2008, the Telegraph made a report about “Antonio Cardoso”, the taxi driver in Monte Gordo near the Spanish border. It must be assumed that Cardoso is Castela.
Mr Cardoso claimed the girl in the back of his taxi at 8.10pm on May 3 was wearing pink pyjamas and had a distinctive mark in her eye.
The Standard tells us on May 2, 2012:
The 72-year-old said he picked up three men, a woman and a child at 7:50pm on the May 4 2007, from Monte Gordo, about an hour’s drive from Praia da Luz, where Madeleine vanished the night before.
Back in the Telegraph, we were told:
The claims have shocked Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, who have rejected them for being incompatible with the known chain of events that night…But the McCanns spokesman Clarence Mitchell told the newspaper: “We are dismissing this primarily because the timings are entirely wrong.”
How can what was entirely wrong in 2008 now be credible and offering hope?
The Daily Mirror leads with “OUR NEW HOPE FOR MADDY – Kate: Lots of fresh leads…”
We get it that the McCanns want their child to be kept in the news, but should any PR become transparent, their quest risks being diminshed.
Madeleine McCann is misisng. There are no suspects.