Stephen Street, Colette McPartland and Madeleine McCann is Scarlett
TOM Rawstorne has a question for Daily Mail readers – and it involves Madeleine McCcann:
Is Maddie the reason this girl was taken into care? Portuguese police say her British parents were too drunk to look after her… but the explanation could be more sinister
We meet Stephen Street, 42, and Colette McPartland, 37. They live in Portugal. They used to live with their daughter Scarlett, 2. She’s been taken into care. Rawstorne sums up the story:
…local police claim, the two English teachers — who have lived in Portugal for the past five years — had been drinking so heavily that Ms McPartland could not stand. Their child, meanwhile, had been left to run wild. At one stage, it is alleged, it was only the intervention of a passer-by that prevented Scarlett from running on to a busy road nearby. As a result, Scarlett was taken from the couple, bundled into a police car and driven to the local police station, where she was found to be wet, hungry and thirsty.
Bundled. The language has shifted. When the Mail first reported the story, it said:
Police claim the British couple were drinking white wine at a bar in Portugal while their daughter Scarlett played 100 yards away. Eyewitnesses claim they were staggering around.
We were told:
But there was no sign of them yesterday at their cramped ground-floor flat near to the square where they went drinking.
How does the Mail know the flat is cramped? Has it been inside? There is no word that it has. The paper is surely inviting its readers to side against the parents.
The parents have issued a statement. They deny any wrongdoing:
“Neither of us were drinking, we were not arrested and neither were we tested for alcohol. Neither was our daughter wandering away from us, she was in her pushchair next to our table. Our daughter is the centre of our lives and her welfare is what we are devoted to. We were amazed that an enjoyable evening which was a celebration of our wedding anniversary was interrupted by needless interference from an over-zealous police officer. All parents will understand that what was a happy family life has become a nightmare for us. The trauma of the past few days has been unbearable. We are praying that it will soon be over and that normality will return.”
But now the Mail involves Our Maddie and says the police have got it wrong. The story of a family in dispute with the police and a child taken into care has become one of bitter Portuguese:
Witnesses from that night say the child was never on her own — that she was by her parents’ side in Carcavelos, a small seaside town 15 miles west of Lisbon, when the police arrived. Further, a number of sources have confirmed that Ms McPartland is pregnant with her second child — casting doubt on suggestions that she had been drinking heavily.
Portuguese social workers investigating the child’s background are also understood to have received glowing reports about the family from those who know them.
Rawstorne quotes Mr Street’s father:
He said his son was not ‘a drinker’ and his daughter-in-law does not drink ‘for reasons I’m not prepared to say’. Those reasons are understood to be that Ms McPartland is four months pregnant — news she shared with friends on Facebook on August 27.
Only, before Our Maddie arrived to spice up the story, the Mail had previously noted:
Now it has emerged that friends of McPartland, in her hometown of Middlesbrough, Teesside, told the Sunday Express that she sent them a Facebook message on August 27 saying that she was pregnant. The paper quotes a former colleague of McPartland, as saying: ‘She shouldn’t have been getting drunk, she’s pregnant. She posted that she was pregnant on Facebook on August 27.’
Back to Rawstorne’s version of events. He asks:
So what could explain the reaction of the police that night?
Well, the Mail could ask the police. Or it could look at it previous story, the one that stated:
The couple had been drinking in a bar called the Manhas do Chocolate in a tree-lined square in the village, where they are both believed to work as English language teachers. They were sitting at a table drinking white wine on a pavement terrace which faces the busy two-lane street that runs through the middle of the square.
Only, now the Mail presents a different story:
The answer is certainly surprising: the unsolved mystery of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance in Portugal’s Praia da Luz in 2007.
The Mail cites an article in Portugal’s Correio Da Manha:
“The Portuguese police, this time, didn’t ‘lose’ a little English girl, they found one dying of hunger and thirst, in Carcavelos, while her parents, British and middle class, continued to drink merrily until they were legless — so much so that they forgot their two-year-old tied to her pushchair in the sun. The PSP (Portuguese police) rescued her from death. What would the legendary British ‘snobs’ say if this had happened with a Portuguese couple in London? They would refer to us again as a Third World country — and how the Portuguese authorities, through laziness or incompetence, were incapable of resolving the mystery of Madeleine’s disappearance. The devastated McCann couple would once again be remembered as martyrs to this strange Portuguese attitude towards abandoning one’s children while enjoying oneself. The courage to abandon children appears to be a characteristic English mania. This couple abandoned their defenceless child — and the McCanns did the same. The difference is slight. The girl in this story was left in her pushchair: Maddie was left asleep while her parents enjoyed dinner out.”
We hear from a Portuguese waiter “who witnessed the events”:
“Seeing what I saw and reflecting on what’s happened, I do wonder if the police haven’t been a little over-zealous because of what happened with Madeleine McCann. Then they were accused of doing too little too late. Maybe now they want to be seen to be strict with parents they feel have neglected their kids and have over-reacted. I’m sure that if they had been Portuguese and they were drunk, as the police say, someone would have got hold of them and taken them back home, and all this could have been avoided. It’s very unfortunate.”
Police officer Rui Vasconcelos is also a witness:
“Before our arrival, the child was playing alone and a witness said the girl was almost hit by a car. They placed the child in a baby carrier and the girl started to cry, but the parents were in a ‘big discussion’. I spoke to them. The lady could not get up from the chair. She tried several times, but always fell. The gentleman apologised and said that everything was OK. Then they shouted expletives.”
The Sun’s headline emphasises the parent’s professions:
Teachers whose daughter was taken into care in Portugal deny they were drunk
Published four days before the Mail’s story, the Sun says Colette McPartland is 38. It also make no mention of Madeleine McCann.
The Sun has also reported:
Booze pair’s six month wait to get girl back – Portugal binge parents face fight
The paper makes no mention of Our Maddie.