Madeleine McCann: Martin And Mary Smith, A Spade’s A Spade And Digging For Agony
MADELEINE McCann: Anorak’s look at the missing child in the news media…
She’s front-page news:
The Sun leads with a prosaic picture of woman holding two spades. Hovering over the photo of the missing child, the inference is clear. The police are not looking for a living person.
As the Mail reports:
‘They understandably have to remain positive and assume Madeleine is alive, but the dig raises the possibility of finding evidence that she is not’, a source close to the couple said.
The Mirror ops to focus on the parents. It is “AGONY FOR THE McCANNS”. The headline appears beneath the message to “How to look HOT this summer…” The Mirror is not empathising. The Mirror is gawping at the parents. Nothing has changed in seven years.
The Express has the child’s face in a familiar slot.
As for the actual story:
Police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have started surveying a large section of scrubland in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.
On 22 May Scotland Yard said a “substantial phase of operational activity” would start in Portugal in the coming weeks. Police officers from the UK and Portugal are cooperating on the search of the area.
What other facts?
British police bring in radar to search scrubland 300 yards from Praia da Luz apartment where Madeleine McCann was last seen alive
Compare that to the Express:
Hunt for Maddie: Brit police dig just 300 yards from kidnap scene
The problem is that after seven years of no news, the police cannot say for certain what crime, if any, befell Madeleine McCann. Although reading on, the Mail agrees with the popular consensus that she was stolen:
The site is 300 yards from the Praia da Luz apartment she vanished from and close to where a suspect was seen with a girl in his arms on the night she was abducted in May 2007.
Over in the Star, the focus is on those doltish Portuguese:
They are liaising with archaelogists and using ground-penetrating radar and sniffer dogs to comb a former cabbage patch.
A local police source said: “They have preferred to bring all the technical resources from England. The Portuguese resources are pickaxes and a digger.”
Get a load of those inadequate Portuguese with only rudimentary tools.
As for those Great British tools, the Mirror has a word:
The four-wheeled device in use at Praia da Luz is made by the Swedish firm Mala Geoscience and costs around £24,000. It can scan an area the size of a football pitch every day.
The Express adds:
The cold-case review by Scotland Yard has brought together detectives, forensic archaeologists and geologists using mechanical diggers, sniffer dogs from Britain and specialist radar equipment.
The sniffer dogs have not always been a success. Go on:
Officers wearing rucksacks carried equipment around the wasteland – which is about the size of three football pitches – and were seen hammering marker posts into the ground.
Pickaxes and spades will be used first. Mechanical diggers will then be brought in if necessary.
Over in the Times, we learn a bit more on why this spot has been chosen for the search:
The search is based on the evidence of a family of Irish tourists who told police they saw a man carrying a blonde-haired girl towards the waste land at about the time Madeleine, who was almost four, disappeared in May 2007.
Martin Smith initially said that the man did not appear to be a tourist but months later said he was similar to Mr McCann, who has been ruled out as a suspect.
The retired businessman told Portuguese police that he saw the man and child at about 10pm walking from the Ocean Club resort, where the McCanns had been staying, towards the Rua 25 De Abril which borders the wasteland on a small hill overlooking the Atlantic.
Mr Smith said he was not wearing his glasses at the time but described the man as white, aged 35 to 40, 1.75 to 1.8m tall, with short brown hair. The girl he was carrying was aged about four. He said he did not believe that the man was a tourist.
After returning to Ireland he told British police in September 2007 that he thought the man was Mr McCann after seeing television footage of Madeleine’s parents returning from Portugal.
The Mirror quotes the McCanns’ lawyer:
The McCanns’ Portuguese lawyer, Isabel Duarte, said the distraught couple “just want to know exactly what happened to their daughter”.
She added: “It is my belief that police have some very good information to be carrying out ground searches.
“I believe there is data in the criminal file which has led to this operation because, if not, police would not be performing this very drastic task. Kate and Gerry have not been given any information that Madeleine is dead, and until this happens they have to believe she is still alive.
“But they think police will come up with some significant news. It is such a stressful time for them and my heart goes out to them. It has been so long, and the investigating officers now have new information and there may finally be some answers.”
Ms Duarte added: “I don’t need to ask them how they are feeling. It is very clear. But it is not for me to say if they fear the worse.”
Believe. Fear. No suspects. Such are the facts.