Madeleine McCann: chasing shadows and guilty foreigners
Madeleine McCann is back. The Sun highlights the £11 millions and rising spent looking for the missing child.
In “We can’t keep on chasing shadows”, the paper hears from a former Flying Squad chief. He urges Scotland Yard to “consider winding down its hunt for Madeleine McCann — adding: ‘You can’t keep chasing shadows.’
The voice of reason is John O’Connor, who pops on the media treadmill and opines:
“If there are no firm leads, and by that I mean no substantial operational things like active surveillance on suspects, then I’d have thought they should be considering winding it down now.”
There never have been any firm leads.
At the current rate it will top £12million by April — more than double the £5million promised by David Cameron when Operation Grange was launched in May 2011.
Does Dave dare to shut the investigation? We’d say ‘yes’. Once upon a time, Madeleine McCann was the mawkish ‘Our Maddie’, but time hardens opinions. Reality bites.
The task force, which at its height was 37 strong, has yet to make a single arrest.
“You can’t keep chasing shadows. Chasing sightings all over the world. It depends on whether the detectives are making any real progress. For me it needs to be reviewed by a senior officer. The Met’s rank and file would be thinking, ‘Are there more recent cases that could be progressed with the right resources?’ It’s about priorities.”
What the Met’s rank and file think about the case is not something we know. It’s not worth the effort to wonder at. The Met are there to find facts. And, as yet, we have but one: child vanishes.
O’Connor had much to say on the case in 2013:
The Sun, however, wants to apportion blame.
The initial Portuguese investigation into three-year-old Madeleine’s abduction was marred by blunders. Officers made the catastrophic mistake of deciding parents Kate and Gerry were the key suspects — and so failed to take elementary steps to secure evidence that might have caught the real abductors.
We have made not a jot of progress. The only angle is to bash the foreigners. Those blunders could include large chunks of the British media which libelled the McCanns and Robert Murat, the poor sod who went to help and was ‘grassed up’ to police and public by the Daily Mirror’s gossipy reporting.
They failed to seal off the family’s apartment, allowing the crime scene to become hopelessly contaminated. They also failed to put out a global missing persons report for five days and did not bother to set up checkpoints in and around the Algarve. In July 2008 the Portuguese authorities admitted there was no evidence against Kate and Gerry and said the unsolved case was to be closed.
There is no evidence against anyone.
Then in May 2011, following a campaign by Kate and Gerry that was backed by The Sun, the PM told Scotland Yard to launch its own investigation, called Operation Grange.
The PM was playing to the crowd. Politicians can only ever play politics. Would Dave dare say no to the Sun? But the Met are the best we have. And they’re very good. If they cannot find anything, we should suppose they have to yet to look beneath the right stone.
As ever we get a word form the child’s parents. We hear from a “source close to the McCanns”, who told us yesterday:
“Kate and Gerry are eternally grateful to the Metropolitan Police for making Operation Grange possible. They are pleased so many officers are still looking for Madeleine.”
The Sun then turns to the crowd and offers an aside:
There are currently 155 children on the Missing Kids UK website, including Madeleine. Research shows an average of £2,415 is spent investigating a missing child.
That’s because many are quickly found. The story of Madeleine McCann is so rare. It’s not often a child vanishes on holiday. What we are told and told is “every parent’s worst nightmate” – a syrupy tagline of a phrase that seeks to evoke empathy and sympathy and fear in equal parts – is not an every day event.
The child went missing. And that is all we know.