Madeleine McCann: just £85,000 left to find ‘Our Maddie’
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child. The Metropolitan Police continue to search for Madeleine McCann, the child who became the media’s ‘Our Maddie’.
Sunday Express (front page): ‘Madeleine Bombshell – Police net closes in one just one man who is key to the mystery’.
The police have been given more funding to find our what happened to Madeleine McCann in 2007. The Express‘s lead story and the extra cash are linked, as Caroline Wheeler explains:
DETECTIVES investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have identified a person they want to question and have been given an extra £85,000 to follow up the crucial lead.
That doesn’t sound like very much money. The BBC says it’s enough ‘to extend the search for a further six months’ – a search that has to date cost anything from £11.1m to £13m, depending on what publication you read.
Is it a sign the cops are closing in on their quarry? Or it a sign that funds are being reduced considerably – that the investigation is being wound down? The Express says there’s a ‘specific person of interest they need to question’:
The lead is seen as solid enough to persuade the Home Office to grant the extra money which will extend the search until September.
It’s not much money, though, is it, especially to follow up a ‘solid lead’.
All we’re told is that the mystery man was possibly in Portugal when Madeleine McCann went missing. If you think that’s all a bit blurry, it isn’t cleared up one line on when we’re told:
International intelligence agencies have been working together to find the “person of interest” who detectives believe may hold the key to solving the case.
And with that we’ve progressed not an inch. What detectives ‘believe may’ could be the Maddie Mantra. And very quickly what looked like fact becomes editorialised wishful thinking:
Had the information not been deemed a “solid live lead” then the £13million police investigation would have been wound up.
The mystery man is called a ‘crucial lead’. What was once shrouded in ‘believe’ and ‘may’ is now ‘crucial’.
A Home Office spokesman delivers the official line:
“Following an application from the Metropolitan Police for special grant funding the Home Office has confirmed £85,000 in operational costs for Operation Grange for the period April 1 until September 2017.
“As with all applications the resources required are reviewed regularly and careful consideration is given before any new funding is allocated.”
Cue an anonymous ‘insider’ to tell us: “There is just one person who detectives want to speak to who was near to the area where Madeleine disappeared almost 10 years ago. An international search has been underway to find them.”
Them or him? How near were they?
Policing Minister Brandon Lewis, who rubber-stamped the cash, steps in:
“I am pleased to be able to support the British police who are trying to get to the bottom of what happened to Madeleine McCann and give some kind of closure and justice to her family.”
When one newspaper leads the rest follow.
The Sun: ‘NEW MADDIE SUSPECT Cops given extra £85k to probe new key suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance a decade ago.’
Detectives have identified an individual they believe was near the coastal resort of Praia da Luz, Portugal when the tot went missing in 2007
That police only ‘believe’ the person was in Portugal soon becomes a fact that they were:
The person was near the area where Madeleine went missing from in the coastal resort of Praia da Luz, Portugal in May 2007.
Is this person who was there and maybe wasn’t there a suspect, then?
The person could be a Portuguese suspect.
For that insight we can look to now fewer than three journalists, the story is ‘By Ryan Sabey, Political Correspondent, Tracey Kandohla and Brittany Vonow’.
Over on LBC this morning, Andrew Castle has been fielding calls about whether or not the cash is value for money. After an hour of chatter, in which Castle says ‘as a parent, “you would expect your government to support you”, it turns out that no-one who calls in can be certain of anything other than that the child is missing.
And so it is that on a slow news day you can still press’f9’ on the keyboard and call up an ‘Our Maddie’ story and field all those nasty, doltish, unhelpful, anonymous and to-deadline opinions.