Madeleine McCann Category
News digests and reviews of the missing child in the news. Madeleine McCann vanished on Thursday, 3 May 2007 from a rented holiday flat in Praia da Luz, Portugal. Madeleine, on holiday with her twin siblings and parents Kate and Gerry McCann,became the biggest news story of the past decade. We’ve followed it closely ever since the story broke.
“Body of German Maddie is found,” says the Daily Star on its page 7. The so-dubbed “German Maddie” is a “missing girl who looked like Madeleine McCann”. How grim. A dead child called Peggy Knobloch – yep, she had a name of her own – is recast as another person. Worst yet, Peggy vanished from her home in May 2001 – six years before Madeleine McCann went missing. Before Madeleine McCann – the Star’s ‘Our Maddie’ – had been born.
Peggy Knobloch was nine and making her way home from school when she vanished.
The Mail says Peggy Knobloch is “considered ‘the German Madeleine McCann'”. The Sun says she is the “German Maddie”. The Mirror calls her the “German ‘Madeleine McCann'”.
Madeleine McCann was four when she vanished. She was on holiday in Portugal.
As papers browse old missing person’s files for other blonde children they can rebrand as “[insert location here] Maddie”, we read that a man was jailed for life in 2004 for telling police he had sexually abused Peggy and killed her. After 10 years in a secure hospital, the man withdrew his confession and was released.
He wasn’t in Portugal in 2007.
The link between Peggy Knobloch and Madeleine McCann exists only in the pages of the febrile Press, wherein blonde children are always news.
The Mirror, however, produces a tasteless clickbait-style “Five reasons why ‘German Maddie’s’ disappearance 15 years ago is strikingly similar to the McCann case”. Writes Sophie Evans as “REASON 1”:
Peggy had blonde hair – just like Madeleine. The German youngster also had bright blue eyes, while Madeleine has ‘blue and green eyes’.
Will the Mirror see spooky similarities when black or Asian children go missing in Portugal, the UK, Germany or beyond? Or does the Mirror save its biggest scoops for blondes?
And why else is Peggy in the news? The Indy says the “remains of ‘German Madeleine McCann'” were found in woods after a 15-year search. The thinking is that a wild animal dug up her body, which was found by a man out looking for mushrooms. The paper adds”: “At the time it was presumed she had been kidnapped and murdered, although police will now be able to launch a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.”
A body helps a missing person story reach a conclusion.
The search for Madeleine McCann goes on.
Daily Star (page 8): “Peado MP’s New Links to Maddie”
The paedo MP is the alleged paedophile MP Sir Clement Freud. He’s dead. He’s no longer an MP. Indeed, when he was alive he was not a known paedo, either. For a man who achieved celebrity and popularity in his lifetime, Freud’s post-breathing career has been disappointing.
The Star says that “bombshell emails” between Freud and Kate and Gerry McCann will be investigated as part of the police probe into the dead man’s alleged crimes against children. The former BBC TV broadcaster reached out to the McCanns when their daughter vanished. He had a home in Portugal not far when were Madeleine went missing. Kate says Freud “cheered her up”. Now a “source close to the family” says: “They took it at face value that he sympathised with their situation. They did not see anything sinister in his behaviour.”
You wonder what sinister intent he might have had? The mind boggles.
Daily Mail (Page 8): “Freud ‘drank in resort bar with ex-Maddie suspect'”.
Who is this former suspect? Why, it’s the entirely innocent Robert Murat, the poor sod libelled by sections of the British press. The Mail says the “paedophile ex-MP” – now a fact, apparently – “was said to have been on ‘nodding terms’ with Robert Murat”. What happened to Murat and Freud being drinking buddies, drinking “with” each other?
The Mail says the “ex-MP’s local was dubbed the Plough and Paedophile”. It’s the Plough and Harrow, dubbed a haven for child molesters after a Briton working at the pub “went on the run after police tried to talk to him about allegations of child sex abuse images and grooming”.
But that is not where Murat drank. The pub Freud and Murat visited – but not together – is called the Pig’s Head. The landlord, one Robert Hurst, has been speaking with the Sun. That paper reports:
Freud, who was unmasked as a child abuser last week, was also a regular at a pub in Praia da Luz dubbed The Plough and Paedophile. The fact Freud and Murat knew each other is one in a series of odd links that the dead former Liberal MP had to the McCanns. He had also entertained Gerry and Kate at his house in the days after Madeleine disappeared in 2007.
Is that an odd link – two Britishers abroad on the Med frequenting the same local pub? Murat is innocent. The Sun features a photo of him and the caption “Prime suspect…Murat was later cleared by cops.” So, he’s not a prime suspect, then. He’s not a suspect at all. He was an arguido, much as the McCanns were branded. They too were libelled in the British Press. They too must be presumed innocent. There are no suspects in the case of Madeleine McCann. But there are victims who have been tarnished by association.
Robert Hurst, landlord of the Pigs Head, said: “I find that really odd. I can’t imagine why he would suddenly want to invite them to his house. At the time Madeleine went, all hell was going on. Police everywhere, people just stunned and he’s straight in there having them over to dinner. When it came out this week that he was a paedophile, it made you wonder what he was up to?”
Back in the Mail, we hear of Vicky Hayes, “one of Sir Clement’s victims”, who says she told the police of Freud after she read of his befriending the McCanns in Kate McCann’s book. She was “convinced he was part of a paedophile rings operating in the Algarve”. The paper notes that Freud’s son, Matthew, says his dad was in the UK when the child vanished.
Some claims can’t be hard to prove. The rest of it invites nothing but speculation.
‘Paedophile’ Sir Clement Freud lived close to where Madeleine McCann went missing as police ‘urged to probe link’
Sir Clement Freund, who died in 2009, was a paedophile? The Mirror wants us to consider it. But it’s uncertain if the dead man molested or raped or kidnapped children so it’s placed the word “paedophile” inside inverted commas. How fair is that.
Freud is believed to have sexually abused girls as young as 11, a documentary has claimed, and invited the McCanns to his Portuguese villa after she disappeared
Believed. By whom and why? And – get this – Freud reached out to the McCanns after not before their child vanished.
First up, we can look at who says the dead man did criminal things to innocent children.
Sylvia Woosley, now in her late seventies, said she was repeatedly assaulted by Freud over 60 years ago. A second woman claimed the former star of Radio 4’s Just a Minute panel game raped her aged 18 after years of grooming that included taking her on trips to the House of Commons.
Just a Minute is on the BBC. It’s a hat-trick of the tabloids game of Paedo Hunt for Freud: MP. Tick. BBC employee. Tick. Dead. Tick.
Former Crown Prosecution Service chief Nazir Afzal told the ITV Exposure programme that Freud, who died in 2009 aged 84, would have been charged with child sex offences based on Sylvia’s case if he was still alive.
He said: “I would have no doubt there is sufficient evidence to prosecute Sir Clement Freud.”
What the current CPS chief thinks we are not told. But it’s good to see Afzal finds life after service as TV pundit. Can Sylvia’s claims be tested?
Freud’s widow Jill, now 89, said in response to the film: “This is a very sad day for me. I was married to Clement for 58 years and loved him dearly. I am shocked, deeply saddened and profoundly sorry for what has happened to these women. I sincerely hope they will now have some peace.”
Now back to the paper’s ‘Our Maddie’ news:
‘Paedophile’ Sir Clement Freud had a villa in the resort Madeleine McCann vanished from and befriended her parents in the weeks after she went missing. Detectives investigating the three-year-old’s disappearance from in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in 2007 have been alerted to the revelation and are reportedly expected to assess the new information before deciding if it may be relevant to the inquiry.
Did the McCanns ever visit with Freud?
They were invited to his house twice after Madeleine vanished and kept in contact by phone and email…. Writing about their first meeting – two months after Madeleine vanished – Kate wrote in her book Madeleine: “I’m usually very intimidated by people with brains the size of planets but Clement was incredibly warm, funny and instantly likeable.”
He had cooked a watercress and egg salad followed by a chicken and mushroom risotto which was “the best risotto we’ve ever tasted before or since”.
He invited them for dinner again in September that year but they cancelled because they had been named arguidos in the investigation. But they did go to his house for drinks later in the evening and he was dressed in a nightshirt watching a cookery show.
The depraved old bast…
Kate wrote of the meeting: “He gave me one of his looks and a giant glass of brandy, and managed to get a smile out of me with his greeting: ‘So, Kate, which of the devout Catholic, alcoholic, depressed, nymphomaniac parts is correct?’ Clement cheered us up with his lugubrious wit, and would continue to do so by email after his return to England,” she added.
The Telegraph has more: “Sir Clement Freud exposed as a paedophile as police urged to probe Madeleine McCann links.”
Exposed? Surely it has been alleged or claimed.
Sir Clement Freud, the former broadcaster and politician, was exposed on Tuesday night as a paedophile who sexually abused girls as young as 10 for decades.
Sylvia Woosley said Freud befriended her family in 1948, when he was working at a hotel in the South of France, and started abusing her when she was 10.
Four years later, following a family crisis, her mother asked Freud and his wife Jill if they would look after Mrs Woosley, and she found herself living under the same roof as her abuser, being brought up as a daughter. The abuse continued until she managed to move away when she was 19…
A second woman wishes to remain anonymous. She alleges:
Another woman told ITV that Freud started abusing her in the 1970s, when she was 11, and eventually raped her when she was 18, by which time he was a Liberal MP sharing an office with Cyril Smith, who was also unmasked as a paedophile after his death. The rape was so brutal that his victim bled for a week.
The Telegraph than adds this to the dead man’s history:
With his finger on the capital’s showbiz pulse he helped propel a number of young acts to stardom and later boasted of being the first person to book the now disgraced entertainer, Rolf Harris.
The Sun: “NEW INFORMATION ‘Paedophile’ Sir Clement Freud lived close to where Madeleine McCann went missing – as TV doc makes startling claims”
Startling claims made by TV show. Yes.
Such are the facts.
The Sunday Mirror leads with the child it calls “Maddie”. The headline thunders: “Sharon’s Shocking Rants Over Missing Maddie.”
Foul-mouthed, pixie-voiced reality TV show Sharon Osbourne, for it is she, has said something. With no other news to report on (what – no killer wasps in your picnic basket and Great white sharks in Devon? – ed), Sharon’s words are front-page news.
Outspoken star Sharon Osbourne has been blasted by the parents of missing Madeleine McCann after she branded them “insane” for leaving their daughter alone.
Outspoken woman speaks out! That’s a shock? This is Sharon who is married to drug-addled rock star and bat-head-biter Ozzy. If anyone knows insane… Which makes us wonder: is Sharon trolling the McCanns?
Former X Factor judge Sharon made the hurtful claims on her US chat show The Talk as she criticised parents for leaving children without supervision.
How cutting-edge is The Talk in talking about a news item from 2007 that has trundled on in the media, turning the missing child into the benchmark of all missing children. The ‘Missing Maddie” story is a fallback news item. Just press f9 on the keyboard and watch as the journalisamobile churn out some non-news.
In a clear attack on Kate and Gerry McCann, Sharon said: “I will tell you a very quick story. There was a husband and wife on holiday in Portugal. They left their baby in the room sleeping, sleeping while they went to dinner in the restaurant. While they were in the resort their baby was taken. And it is like, ‘Oh but we can see everything that is going on’ and it is, like, insane.”
Quick story, yes. One with no ending and – get his – Sharon can’t even get the facts right. The McCanns left three children in their apartment. Madeleine McCann was not a baby – she was aged 4. Then she vanished. Them’s the facts. it. It’s a single-thread story.
Sharon’s comments are facile, desperate and appear calculated to attract headlines (job done).
Of course, this is the story of Madeleine McCann and the Mirror is every bit as desperate. It too presses f9, slaps the non-news on its front page and then asks “Kate and Gerry” for a few words, which they duly don’t give.
A family friend said: “It’s very disappointing when someone with such a high profile makes this sort of ignorant, ill-informed comment. She should think about the effect it could have on Madeleine’s brother and sister, as well as the wider family.”
Chances are the children wouldn’t have heard Sharon’s words on her dire US telly show. So, good of the Mirror to broadcast them in the UK and tell them what they missed. Cheers. Not that anyone under 16 buys the Mirror.
Goncalo Amaral is back in the news. The former Portuguese detective has won an appeal against his libel defeat to Madeleine McCann’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann. The court order for him to pay the McCanns £395,000 in damages in April 2015 has been overturned. The Press pick up the story of Amaral and his 2008 book, The Truth of the Lie, in which he accuses the McCanns of “faking Madeleine’s abduction to cover up her accidental death in their apartment” (Star).
Daily Star (front page): “Maddie: Cop Wains Right To Accuse Parents”
“A banned book which accuse Madeleine’s McCanns parents of covering up her death will go on sale across Europe after a shock ruling by three appal court judge in Portugal yesterday,” writes Jerry Lawton. No shock here, at least not to Anorak readers. Back in 2010, AGW told you:
The media awaits the verdict of McCanns Versus Goncalo Amaral. Much depends on it. The McCanns have taken a risk in going against the former police officer in a foreign country. While it can be argued – as they have done – that any publicity for their missing daughter is good because it keeps her name alive in the voracious media.
But it does not keep us looking for the child. It just allows us to gawp at them, the distraught parents of a missing innocent:
YOU know when an accident is going to happen. They even have corporate speak phrases for it these days: “Risk Assessment” is one.
You know when a playing kitten is going to fall from the arm of the chair, you know when the child is going trip and fall, no matter how quick you are to try and get there.
Sometimes you see disasters being created and thundering, in silent-movie slowed down train-wreck style, toward you or others and there’s little you can do other than stand and watch horror-struck by the enormity of it all.
You know the accident’s about to happen and there is nothing you can do but perhaps wonder why you knew?
It has nothing to do with sixth senses, it is because the most powerful computer known to man, your brain, has gathered in all the previous experiences you have weighed in the balance and made a predictive analysis.
That is what is so strange about the current and past behaviour of the parents of the missing child Madeleine McCann.
They have started a court action defending their reputations in Lisbon because the former chief investigating officer Goncalo Amara, is accusing them of being involved in Madeleine’s disappearance. They have also started an action seeking a money settlement for the Portuguese equivalent of libel and in addition are taking on a Lisbon-based documentary production unit for reporting on the detective’s objected to book and the case.
Lisbon was never going to be a perfect spot for the McCann’s to start legal sparring and this week they were dealt what can only be termed a body-blow when the detective’s lawyers produced evidence the UK’s top criminal profiler has said there were “contradictions” in their statements and both should be treated as possible “homicide” suspects.
No arguments, no amount of reshuffling or clarifications can change that and the facts can not be forced back into the can of worms which the McCann parents themselves have allowed to be opened.
The background PR work after the Lisbon shocker has been impressive. The McCann lawyers strode from the courtroom and counter-claimed there were tens, hundreds or more sightings of the missing girl. The UK’s Red Tops dutifully followed the thread and reported the lawyer’s statement. My experience and training gave the brain the predictive text that this looked like a smoke screen, a damage limitation. The missing fact was all these sightings came after the McCann’s themselves had been released from Arguido, suspect, status. The case was archived. It was a cold, leading nowhere, case in the eyes of the top legal and police professionals in Portugal…the responsible authorities have no clues and have suspended work on the case.
It has already been said in these columns, taking on the Portuguese legal system was going to be a minefield but there is one question:
Who is taking the responsibility for the Risk Assessment for this McCann course of action?
Whoever it was needs to be replaced or kept out of the limelight.
Mass public opinion is turning. The McCanns are slipping lower and lower down the celebs’ to be seen with list, certainly no-longer A list and slightly embarrassing to be around according to some whispers.
The McCanns are innocent. No charges have been brought against anyone…except the Chief Investigating Police Officer, Goncalo Amaral.
A second question would have to be: Who on earth took the Risk Assessment decision Amaral was a buffoon an incompetent, bungling, Jacques Clouseau Pink Panther type of police officer?
Come on, wake up! Police officers do not rise through the ranks to positions of authority without being good thief-takers and being very good at spotting the wrongness of something.
Amaral is tougher than the baying section of Britain’s media has portrayed.
The McCanns are becoming battered and worn by this. Just look at their recent photographs. The child is still missing, lost, gone. Arguments still rage over the rightness or wrongness of it all.
Something is judgementally wrong in the Risk Assessments taken here. This week has been hugely damaging to the McCann’s and their cause. The information given this week in the Lisbon court can no longer be ignored or forgotten. It will have a high cost and one of the costs are potential new helpers and donations to the campaign of finding the child.
Daily Star Page 7: “Maddie SHOCK”
The Portuguese appeal court judges “ordered” the McCanns to pay “full legal fees of the three-year hearing”. The McCanns have “instructed lawyers to appeal against the new ruling”. But the judges call Amaral’s book a “legitimate exercise in the right to express an opinion”. Portugal was once a police state. Free speech is enshrined. The lawyers’ appeal looked doomed.
We then get a rapid-fire vox pop. The McCanns deny Amaral’s claims. A “pal” says they are “seething”. Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell says, “It is a matter for Kate and Gerry’s lawyers to deal with .”
The Sun (front page): “MADDIE: Agony for McCanns as cop wins libel case”
Page 4: “Hunt Hit By Cash Crisis – Maddie £430k Libel Loss Blow – Tec wins against McCanns”
The payment “deprives the Maddie Fund o9f cash to keep the nine-year search going”. Private cash. But not public purse monies. That continues to be spent on the search.
Daily Mirror (Page 7): “Bungling cop in libel triumph over the McCanns”
Is every policeman who fails to solve a case a bungler?
And then we get to the money. The cash Amaral was ordered to pay the McCanns never left his account. All payments – £360,000 and £76,000 in interest – was held until the appeal judges had ruled. The money never came out of the Maddie Fund, did it? It was never in the Fund.
Daily Express (Page 8): “McCanns ‘seething’ as Maddy detective overturns book ruling”
We finally hear from the McCanns’ legal aide. Their Portuguese lawyer, Isable Duarte, “said she was ‘disappointed’ but not surprised” at the ruling.
Daily Mail (Page 30): “McCanns suffer £395k libel loss”
Page 30. The story continues – but less and less people are listening to it.
Daily Mirror (front page): “Maddie Police: We Hope to Find Her Alive”
Well, yes. Of course they do. They’re not ghouls.
Mick Duthie, the police chief leading the “hunt” for the missing child, says, “We hope that we will fine her alive.”
Page 5: “There is always a possibility that we’ll find her…work still needs to be done.”
Got that about the possibility of news? It’s PR-speak for, “We haven’t found her.” With, as the Mirror states, £12m spent on the search so far, police are keen to show they’ve made progress. If Duthie does know what happened to the child, he’s not letting on. He says, “We want to find her alive” but “If she’s been murdered…” She might be alive. She might be dead. Maybes.
Daily Star (front page): “Maddie Search Sensation”
Oh, go on. We’ll play along. What is the sensational news?
It is news that cops “hope to find her alive”. Read. All. About. It.
Page 7: “Top Maddie Cop: New Maddie Clues”
Joe Kasper writes: “Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie says detectives are still pursuing “justifiable and reasonable” leads. No. What he said was that if the police needed more money to find Madeleine McCann, they would ask for it: “There is a missing girl and is she has been murdered and if we think we have got reasonable and justifiable lines of inquiry to pursue then they should be dealt with.”
The Sun (Page 6): “Cops ‘ no closer’ to locating Maddie.”
So much for the Star’s new leads sensation.
Duthie says cops “do not have a ‘full understanding’ what happened to her or why she was taken”.
Mentions of murder: nil.
Daily Express (front page): “Police: Maddy could Still Be Alive”
No body. No proof of anything.
Page 7: “Madeleine police follow up new leads”
Number of new leads mentioned by police: nil.
As another anniversary of Madeleine McCann’s vanishing looms into view, and the news cycle picks up the PR, we learn that nothing has change. Child disappears. And that’s the sum of all the facts.
Daily Mail: “Detectives believe the missing youngster could still be found alive”
Progress: nil. We are still in the lyrical land of “could” and “believe”. Time moves on but the single thread story of the child who vanished in 2007 is snared. The Mail notes the words of Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie. He’s been speaking with the London Evening Standard. We read:
Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie, the head of the Yard’s homicide squad…
Homicide? Is that significant? We are clutching at straws. No evidence whatsoever any harm befell Madeleine McCann, let alone murder.
…said officers were pursuing “justifiable and reasonable” leads in the investigation into the missing three year-old.
Good. Get on with it. Best of luck.
He was speaking weeks after the Home Secretary Theresa May granted police £95,000 to extend the five year old inquiry for a further six months.
This is about money, then, and value in how it’s spent.
Mr Duthie, who is in overall charge of the investigation Operation Grange, said: “There is ongoing work. There is always a possibility that we will find Madeleine and we hope that we will find her alive. That’s what we want and that’s what the family and the public want and that is why the Home Office continue to fund it. There is work that needs to be done still. “
The police chief admitted detectives did not have a “full understanding” of what happened to Madeleine or why she was taken but added: “That is why the work continues. “
Full understanding? Is that another way of saying they don’t know what happened to her?
He told the Standard: “There is a missing girl and if she has been murdered and if we think we have got justifiable and reasonable lines of inquiry to pursue then they should be dealt with.”
Murder. He said it. That’s grim. He added:
“The investigation continues. We go to the Home Office every six months. We have a smaller team dealing with it because we have less inquiries to deal with but we still have a job to do. I imagine that if we have not completed our inquiries within six months we will go back to the Home Office and ask for more money.”
We told you that.
He refused to give further details about the inquiry but confirmed that detectives were still examining possible links to a series of burglaries in the Algrarve area at the time Madeleine went missing.
If. Could. Possible. A child vanished. And that’s what we know.
The Sun (Page 15): “Maddie haunt get another 6 months”
News that £95,000 in “extra funding” has been earmarked to find the missing child “brings fresh hope to parents Kate and Gerry McCann”. We hear from “gran Susan Healy”, who says the police “must think it is worth continuing. We are very grateful.”
We also hear from the McCanns’ PR Clarence Mitchell, who says the family “have enough money left in the Madeleine Fund” to pay for private detectives.
The Mirror (Page 7): “Maddie hunt can carry on”
The money has comes from Home Secretary Theresa May, we’re told.
Daily Star (Page 14): “Six Months to Find Maddie”
Really? No. There is extra money for six months more police work. Then… Well, why with £12m invested in the investigation would police and the holders of the public purse baulk at another £100,000? This one will carry on.
Such are the facts…
The paper says “the Home Office has set a budget for this year of just under £95,000, which will pay for only half a year of investigations by the team of four working on the case.” So, not six months to find the Madeleine McCann, then. Six months until the latest tranche of cash runs out. And then..?
Once the money runs out in the autumn, Scotland Yard will almost certainly shelve Operation Grange, their five-year review and investigation, which has cost close to £12million but has failed to bring anyone to justice or discover what happened to Madeleine.
The paper had us right up to “almost”. “Almost certainly” is another way of saying “definitely uncertainly”. We then get to the missing child’s parents:
Soon the child’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, face the emotionally daunting prospect of paying for a new private investigation with a war chest of some £750,000, raised largely through sales of Kate’s widely praised book on the enduring mystery.
They have paid for private detectives before. Having speculated on the money, the police hunt and the McCann’s state of mind, the Express has a few facts:
At the height of the Yard’s inquiries more than 30 detectives and support staff were working on Operation Grange, based at Belgravia police station in central London. When the inquiry was in full swing a team of specially trained officers carried out detailed searches of carefully chosen scrubland near where Madeleine was taken at Praia da Luz on the Algarve on May 3, 2007.
And that is it. Although we do get to hear from the Home Office:
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Following a request from the Metropolitan Police Service, we have agreed to provide nearly £95,000 of further funding. The funding reflects the reduced scale of the investigation, which was announced by the force last year.”
Such are the facts.
The Sun has a loaded headline:
Joy for Ben Needham’s mum as cops given extra £450k to find missing son – while Maddie hunt totals £11M
Are the two cases of British children who vanished on overseas trips connected? Why else would Madeleine McCann’s name be invoked in a headline about Ben Needham?
SOUTH Yorkshire Police have been given an extra £450,000 to find missing Ben Needham as the 25th anniversary of his disappearance draws near. Police were granted £700k by the Home Office last January for more resources into the investigation, but that money will have run out by the end of the month.
Good news. The disappearance of Ben Needham is an open sore. But then this:
The amount given to Operation Ben still pales in significance compare to the £11 million spent on Madeleine McCann’s search fund.
A great deal of money has been invested / spent on the hunt for Madeleine McCann. Good. Let’s hope we get to know what happened to her. The problem is not what is spent, rather what is not. Do you think it unfair that the case of one missing child gets more public cash than another because, like the media and police who stand accused of picking blondes over blacks and rich over poor, there is bias at work?
If you want to compare what is spent on what, it might be better wondering how much has been spent on the hunt for other children who vanished in the UK, like, say Charlene Downes? She disappeared 12 years ago from her home in Blackpool, Lancashire, when aged 14. There is a £100,000 reward on offer for information leading to, well, something. Was she murdered, as Paige Chivers was? Paige went missing from her Blackpool home on 23 August 2007. She was 15. Three days later her feckless father reported her missing. The police operator recorded the year of Paige’s birth incorrectly – as 1962 not 1992 – and that she had left home voluntarily. Police were looking for a 45-year-old woman who had left home of her own accord. On 7 September the error was rectified.
Paige had sought help from Robert Ewing, 37 years her senior. Ewing, a known paedophile, had groomed Paige for sex. To keep her quiet, he murdered her. In July 2015, Ewing was convicted of murder at Preston Crown Court. His co-defendant, Gareth Dewhurst, 46, was convicted of disposing of her body three days later.
How much cash was spent investigating the disappearances of these two girls from impoverished backgrounds? How much police work has gone into either investigation?
The BBC provides notes:
Less than a fortnight before her disappearance, Ewing “tested the water” with police when he contacted them anonymously and said a “problem child” had turned up on his doorstep after being thrown out by her father. The prosecution said Ewing had wanted to see what official reaction there would be to a 15-year-old girl turning up on the doorstep of a 52-year-old man. “The answer he learned… was very little,” said Brian Cummings QC.
Back to the Sun’s story of stolen lives and money:
But it is still a promising step for Ben’s heartbroken mum Kerry Needham, as the government agreed to hand over more cash to find her long-lost son. Kerry said: “Please end the pain my family are suffering. I know he’s out there somewhere, please call the detectives and put an end to it.”
Ben was 21-months-old when he disappeared on July 24 1991 as he played outside the house his grandparents’ farmhouse in Kos.
Resources are finite, of course. But where police chose to spend their money and time should not be a decision triggered by media pressure.
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child.
Daily Star (front page): “Maddie is potted in Paraguay”
A “massive police hunt” is underway in Paraguay, says the Star, which adds that this is “Paraguay, South America”, and must not to be confused with any other Paraguay.
Page 9: “Copes Probing Maddie Sighting in Paraguay”
Is the missing child “living in custody of a woman in the city of Aregua”? Was British private eye Miraz Ullah Ali, who “praised the alarm”, right to believe sources who told him the child arrived in Paraguay “a month or two ago” as “sources” told his “team”?
The paper adds: “He says wealthy well-wishers were offering a 2million euro reward for information leading to the youngster’s safe return.”
Daily Mirror (Page 9): “‘I saw Maddie’ claim denied
Claims made by Briton Miraz Ullah Ali Isa (his name keeps on growing) have been “dismissed”.
So much for the “massive” police search, then.
Not other news in the British Press, os we go to AS Color in Paraguay (South America), where this story first aired.
We learn that many locals have now claimed the “juicy reward” – “part of that reward was posted by English magnate Richard Branson”. That reward still stands? In 2007, the BBC reported:
Rewards totalling £2.5m have been offered to anyone who can help with information leading to the safe return of Madeleine McCann. The News of the World and businessmen including Sir Richard Branson have jointly pledged £1.5m. Scottish tycoon Stephen Winyard has offered £1m.
The NoTW is no more.
The News of the World has promised £250,000 – matching the contribution of Top Shop owner Sir Philip Green.
Such are the facts.
The Mail: “Heartache for McCann family as authorities debunk reports missing Madeleine is living ‘in the custody of a woman’ in Paraguay following claims by British ‘private eye'”
Is that huge reward still on offer, the one the News of the World put up?
British man Miraz Ullah Ali Isa, who claims to be a private eye, had said Maddie was living ‘in the custody of a woman’ in the city of Aregua. His claims are believed to have triggered a major search involving four local police stations, an anti-kidnapping division and Interpol.
Claims. Claims. Believed. Any more facts?
Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, had been informed of the reports and appealed for anyone with information to come forward. But investigators have now debunked the alleged sighting and questioned the credibility of researcher Miraz Ullah Ali Isa.
Maybe he just made an honest mistake? Many others have seen her in – deep breath:
Canada,Italy, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Majorca,Belgium, Bosnia, France, Australia, Brazil,Wales, Malta, Italy, Germany, Austrialia, France, Dubai, Dorset, USA , India and New Zealand (by boat).
The Mail adds:
But the report is still understood to have sparked in investigation.
Any other names in this story?
Commissioner Sanny Amarilla, a deputy chief involved in the search, said four police stations, intelligence personnel from the Interior Ministry and Interpol divisions were involved in the search. He said: ‘We are investigating neighbourhoods where there are foreign citizens, villas, condos, to see if there is someone with a similar description that corresponds to the newspaper clipping. ‘This news stretches across the globe, it is very important. So if they are in the area we need to find this girl and return her to her family.’
But the allegations have now been dismissed by inspector Luis Ignacio Arias of Interpol in Paraguay, who said that his office had ‘nothing concrete’ about Isa’s identity. He told EFE the researcher had never contacted the National Police or the Foreign Ministry with his reported sighting.
The Sun: “‘Madeleine in Paraguay’: Cops launch manhunt after missing McCann is ‘spotted'”
More inverted commas, or are four in one headline enough? We hear more from the PI:
Ali told Color ABC: “My team and I received the information that Madeleine arrived in Paraguay a month or two ago and is living in Areguá in the custody of a woman.”
Such are the facts.
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child.
Daily Star (front page): “Maddie: Parents ‘blamed'”
For what? Why? But whom? We soon get to know:
Katie Hopkins sparks fury by saying Maddie McCann’s parents ‘must share blame’
Katie Hopkins, for those of you blessedly not in the know, is a former contestant on The Apprentice TV show – the one on which ‘driven’ people try to win a job working for Alan Sugar in a Brentwood office block. Hopkins lost but did score a job belching ‘controversial’ opinions to deadline for the Sun newspaper and, remarkably, a TV show of her own. That all ended, meaning Katie now shouts exclusively on free-to-air Twitter.
The Star thinks her tweets worthy of its front page. Robin Cottle has created a story from a tweet:
She claimed Kate and Gerry McCann should take some blame for her disappearance.
The 41-year-old also insisted the heartbroken couple did not “deserve” the £11million of taxpayers’ cash shelled out to search for Madeleine.
This is in the Star, which once libelled Kate and Gerry McCann.
One Twitter user wrote: “Katie Hopkins victim blaming the McCanns suggests people have no self control, the blame lies with whoever wrongly took what wasn’t theirs.”
Good grief. This story had not made any progress.
Another added: “Yes they made a mistake. Thousands do the same every day and get away with it. Cruel for Hopkins to rub salt in it surely. How did she become our moral guide?”
Answer: when the Star wanted cheap filler.
But some supported the outspoken celeb, with one saying: “Agree with absolutely everything @KTHopkins has said about Maddie’s disappearance, she’s only saying what the rest of you think anyway.”
Always useful when talking of “outrage” to report both sides of the shouting match.
Having seduced readers with a limp story on the missing child, the report takes a jerking twist:
Madeleine went missing during a family holiday in Praia de Luz, Portugal, almost nine years ago. Meanwhile, Hopkins announced yesterday that she was about to go under the surgeon’s knife to cure her epilepsy.
“Meanwhile…” Even the Dallas TV show (‘Meanwhile…back at the Ranch’) didn’t jump around like a demented kangaroo – which might very well be writing both the Star’s reports and Katie’s tweets.
She told fans she will “see them on the other side” and claimed not to be scared about the brain operation.
For those of you not on Twitter, ‘the other side’ is thought to be a reference to Facebook.
Daily Star (front page): “MADDIE: Twins Secret torment”
The twins are the child’s siblings Sean and Amelie. Kate McCann has “for the first time revealed” what the children, aged 11, “feel about their sister’s disappearance”. Not true. In November 2009, the Mirror told us:
Madeleine McCann’s four-year-old twin siblings are now slowly grasping the horror of her abduction, their parents revealed yesterday. Heart specialist Gerry revealed: “They’re saying, ‘When we find who took her we will fight them’. That doesn’t come directly from us saying that.
And right at the start, back in 2007, the Sun told us:
“MADDIE COME HOME – Amelie hugs Maddie’s cuddle cat.”
The story of what Amelie and Sean feel continues on Page 8. The headline declares: “Kate: Twins Want Sister Maddie Back.” Not really a shock that, is it. Kids can be unpredictable and cruel, but no-one really expected the headline to declare the children happy their innocent sister is not by their side.
Matthew Young writes:
Madeleine McCann’s siblings says they wants her back. Parents Kate and Gerry have told twins Amelie and Sean, now 11, all about missing Maddie.”
At 11, you’d suppose they also read about her on the internet and, maybe, in newspapers – although what any child is doing with the Daily Star is one for the health experts.
Eventually we hear from Mrs McCann, whose words gave the Star a front-page scoop. “There is nothing kept from them,” she says. “They still raise money at school for the Find Madeleine Fund, which is great.”
In no other newspapers are Kate McCann’s words mentioned, let alone turned into a front-page sensation. Is the Daily Star attempting to make up for libelling the McCanns by keeping their missing child’s name in the news? Or is it just lazy reporting?
Maddie Watch: a look at reporting on Madeleine McCann, the child who vanished in 2007.
Daily Express (front page): “MADDY – Why I think our daughter is still alive and in Portugal”
Maddy – why is this front-page news?
On Page 7 we hear from “MUM KATE”. The headline assures us: “Maddy’s mum: We’ll never give up. I want and end, answer.”
We all do. The story has become all. The single fact – child vanishes – remains unaltered since 2007. The voracious media feeding frenzy has created victims of libel but shed no light on that fact.
Maddie Watch: a look at reporting on Madeleine McCann, the child who vanished in 2007.
The Sun (front page): “McCann Exclusive”
What news is worthy of a front-page exclusive?
The headline declares: “Kate: Maddie still in Algarve.”
Does that mean we can stop looking for the missing child elsewhere?
KATE McCann yesterday said she believes her missing daughter Madeleine is still somewhere in the Algarve
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child:
The Sun: “New Maddie hunt as Kate and Gerry launch last-ditch bid using final £750k in appeal fund”
The story is, as ever, a no-news story.
KATE and Gerry McCann are set to launch a final bid to find their missing daughter when funds for the police operation to find her dry up next year.
We’ve been her before.
Scotland Yard officers and detectives in the £12million ‘Operation Grange’ investigation have been searching for information on the whereabouts of missing Maddie McCann since 2011 but funding is only guaranteed until April 2016.
And then what?
However, parents Kate and Gerry have kept back £750k to launch a final private investigation if the operation fails to find conclusive information about their daughter, who went missing in Portugal shortly before her fourth birthday in May, 2007.
And the McCanns are set to dip into this fund in the New Year as part of a last-ditch attempt to trace Maddie or uncover the truth about their missing daughter.
And on and on it goes.
What is interesting is what the Sun allows in its comments section. The story has garnered three comments. We’ve screen-grabbed them all:
Is calling the parents “vermin” and suggesting they “did it” – whatever “it” is – allowable? Is this what the tabloids call ‘trolling’? We assume jibird65 is referring to the child’s parents and not the police
Wonder what Sun columnist Lorraine Kelly thinks of it? She wrote of “trolls” talking about the McCanns:
They have been accused of killing their own child, of hiding her body and covering up their “crime”. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so downright cruel.
I cannot begin to comprehend what would make someone even think such thoughts about a couple who have suffered such a devastating loss — never mind writing down the venomous comments and posting them on Twitter and Facebook.
Not to mention the Sun.
Labelling people who do this as “trolls” doesn’t describe the vileness of their actions. So I am heartened that the police are investigating the internet abuse directed at the McCanns.
Such are the facts.
Comments are closed.
Madeleine McCann is back. The missing child – the media’s benchmark for all missing children – looks out from the cover of the Daily Express, as she has done so many time before.
What do we miss most about ‘Our Maddy’ at Christmas”?
As the Daily Express readership compile a list of things they miss about ‘Our Maddy’, we interject: it’s not about your ‘Our Maddy’, the media construct; it’s about the parents’ ‘Our Maddy’. It is the “Parents’ Heartache”.
On Page 5, we get more. We get a list of things Kate and Gerry McCann miss about their daughter.
You might have read this front-page scoop on November 11, when it featured in pretty much every tabloid.
Why now has the Express seen fit not only to repeat the story but to make it front-page news?
We can only suppose that what with there being no other news in the world right now, the editor pressed f9 on the keyboard and pumped out a routine ‘Our Maddy’ no-news feature.
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child.
On November 7th, the Sun and Mirror had news.
Mirror: “Gerry and Kate McCann reveal the reasons why they miss Maddie”
Well, she’s their young daughter. Surely we can imagine the reasons, which could go on for pages and pages until exhausted the bereft surmise: everything.
The parents of Madeleine McCann have compiled a heart-rending list of all the things they miss about their long-lost daughter in the run-up to Christmas.
The list accompanies a picture of the couple standing at their front door in Rothley, Leics. The photo, taken for the charity Missing People’s Home for Christmas Exhibition, is among 12 pictures of families who have missing loved ones.
Do we see the other in the Mirror? No.
The exhibition – at The Crypt in London’s St-Martin-in-the-Fields – highlights the plight of thousands of people across Britain who are living in limbo after the disappearance of a family member.
It’s not news, then. It’s charity PR.
A charity spokesperson said: “These powerful images depict families standing by their front doors, symbolising the hopes and fears experienced by those desperately waiting for news.”
As ever, in place of any actual news on the missing child who became the media’s benchmark for all missing people, we get the same old:
The picture of heart doctor Gerry and former GP Kate , both 47, is on public view until November 22. The couple, parents to 10-year-old twins Sean and Amelie, refuse to give up hope of finding their eldest child, who would now be 12.
We don’t get to know the names, jobs, ages of the others looking and waiting for missing people to return.
Missing People’s Jo Youle said: “The exhibition will give the public the opportunity to stand with these families missing a loved one by sharing messages of support.”
Stand with them? But you can’t stand with them. there is no enemy to sand firm against, unless forgetting is the encroaching intruder?
The Sun also the Missing Maddie missing things list, here tastefully presented in the Buzzfeed style:
The 23 things we miss most about our Maddie, by Gerry and Kate McCann
In yer face, Closer:
This is the Sun’s list:
Her sense of humour
Her imitations of people and characters
Her voice, her ‘chat’
That knowing look
Styling her hair
Chasing her round the garden
Sharing her excitement in the run-up to Christmas
Spoiling her on her birthday
Shopping with her
Going to a cafe with her
Holding her, hugging her, kissing the top of her head
Lying next to her
Our complete family of five
We miss her
On Missing People, we see other names of people being sought by loved ones:
On November 11, the Liverpool Echo had more on the missing:
Christmas carol service to be held in Anfield to remember people missing from Merseyside
The story begins:
Madeleine McCann’s mum is encouraging people to support a carol service is to be held next month in memory of Merseyside’s missing people.
Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal.
The special service is being organised by UK charity, Missing People, as part of their Home for Christmas campaign…
Liverpool born Kate McCann Kate McCann whose daughter Madeleine has been missing since she disappeared while the family were on holiday in Portugal in 2007, was previously a member of the All Saints congregation.
No name of any other missing person features in the story.
In the Express & Star, Kirsty Bosley wonder why public displays of grief are now commonplace:
I remember back when Madeleine McCann went missing. The people of the small town of Willenhall created a shrine in the marketplace, leaving flowers, teddies, cards and messages for the girl and her family. I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t know how cluttering up a massive space that needed to be used for the practical purpose of trading would make anything better. And I didn’t see how those letters, that would go unread by Madeleine’s parents, were possibly helping the situation. Fortunately, I have never had to go through the horror of what they’re experiencing, and I hope I never will. Unless that happens, I won’t know what difference it can make; that strangers in a place I’ve never heard of dedicate a big chunk of their marketplace to teddies and candles.
You might call it mourn porn.
The Willenhall shrine to Maddie was the scene of much uproar a little while after it’s creation, when a councillor put her foot down and made the decision to clean it up. I understood exactly why she’d make that call, even though it was an unpopular one. At what point do you have to stand back and say enough is enough? If we leave flowers, scarves, shirts and letter memorials everywhere for anyone lost, we’d be trudging the streets knee-deep in the stinking brown sludge normally reserved for the bottom of a grave-top flower holder.
And that’s exactly where I think these memorials should be left, in gardens of remembrance, on graves and at specially-created monuments. There are only so many lamp posts and telegraph poles to decorate.
But newspapers mastheads remain fertile ground for emotive reporting in place of news.
Madeleine McCann – a look at reporting on the missing child.
Daily Star (front page): “MADDIE HOPE – Missing boy found alive after 13 years”
Beneath the news of a boy having been found and a massive advert for a Aldi, we read:
Julian Hernandez was reported missing in 2002 by his mum. Police suspected he had been snatched by his dad, Bobby, from his home in Birmingham, Alabama, but all efforts to trace the pair failed.
Child went missing, presumably gone off with father…
Now an 18-year-old boy found living 700 miles away has been confirmed as missing Julian.
Who took the boy?
Dad Bobby Hernandez faces abduction charges and has been remanded in custody
One parent in a failed relationship taking the child and running is not that rare.
But to the Star this is about the tabloids’ ‘Our Maddie’:
The case is sure to give hope to Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry, both 47.
But the story of Julian Hernandez had one massive clue: the dad was also missing.
Last night, a source close to the inquiry into her disappearance said: “Whenever children who have been missing for so long are found safe and well it shows why it is so important to leave no stone unturned in the search for Madeleine.”
Fair enough. But “FBI special agent Vicki Anderson said Julian had been living in Cleveland, Ohio, with his father since he disappeared.”
The father is in police custody.
The Express tries to add a dash of intrigue:
Still hope for Maddie: Child found alive 13 years after mysterious disappearance
Mystery? Child and dad vanish from broken home. the BBC says: “Authorities suspected around the time of the boy’s disappearance that his father was possibly the culprit.”
Not that much of a mystery, then. More of a hunt.
The Sun and Mirror stick to the facts – neither newspaper mentioning Madeleine McCann in their stories:
The Sun says the “mystery” was solved when Julian applied for a university and his social security number kept coming back as incorrect.
Such are the facts.
Madeleine McCann: the missing child is in the news.
The Sun (Page 13):”Maddie quiz for double lad killer”
A child killer known as Silvio S has been arrested in connection with the disappearance of five-year-old Inga Gehricke.
The Sun says she is known as “The German Madeleine”. As we’ve noted, every country seem to have a version of the missing child.
We’re told that Scotland Yard wants to know if he was in Portugal when Madeleine McCann vanished.
There are no leads linking Silvio S with that vanishing. We don’t even know if he has ever been to Portugal, let alone was there when Madeleine McCann vanished. The story is thin.
The Berliner Kurier says sniffer dogs have not found the child.
News.de tells us:
Since early May, the police from Stendal have been looking for the five-year Inga Gehricke. The little girl from Schönebeck was with her family have been visiting Wilhelmshof. It is thought that Inga Gehricke went in the forest to find wood for a campfire. But she did not return. The biggest search operation in the country began:thousands of civil servants and workers scoured the area for days – without success. Still going police assume that Inga is still alive.
Missing Inga (5) in Stendal: Police believe that Inga is still alive
“We do not just hope, we also assume that Inga is still alive.” Said Andreas Schomaker, President of the Police Headquarters.
Such are the facts.
The Sun delivers a photo of Madeleine McCann dressed as pumpkin. Is this news? The headline tells us:
Missing Maddie’s pumpkin suit snap – Parents ask public not to give up hope
Antonella Lazzeri writes:
A POIGNANT picture of Madeleine McCann in a pumpkin suit has been posted on a campaign site as her parents vow to keep looking for her.
Indeed, it would take hard heart not to look at the innocent child playing and not fell a sadness.
The snap shows her as a three-year-old just months before she vanished in Portugal’s Praia da Luz in May 2007. Parents Kate and Gerry posted it on a Find Madeleine page to mark Halloween. A caption urged: “Please don’t give up on Madeleine. To continue looking for Maddie is to acknowledge that hope doesn’t die.”
The Liverpool Echo has the same story. But it say:
Kate and Gerry McCann posted the Halloween picture on the Official Find Madeleine Campaign Facebook page yesterday to remind the world that their daughter is still missing. The picture was posted alongside a short message that simply read “Happy Halloween”.
We all want to see an end to this story. The newspapers, especially the tabloids, want the happy ending – any ending – and then an interview with the parents. But the only fact remains unchanged: child goes missing. In place of any advancement of that we are left with the familiar composite mix of no-news, PR, money and emotion. And, as ever, we are reminded of the parents’ jobs in the Sun:
It comes just days after Scotland Yard announced that they were scaling down the hunt from 29 cops to four. Former GP Kate and heart doctor Gerry, both 47, of Rothley, Leics, have set aside around £750,000 from the Find Maddie Fund. The money will pay for their own private investigators if needed.
Are readers looking?> Does the story of ‘Our Maddie’ still sell newspapers? Below the Sun’s story, are a few comments. These are they in full:
Hope does not die – and neither do accusations and a game of armchair detective.
And the Express has a clue:
Did this German serial killer snatch Madeleine McCann? Police probe new suspect?
No. The answer to any headline posed as question is always no.
James Murray writes:
A CHILD murderer who has confessed to killing two boys is expected to be investigated over the disappearence [sic] of Madeleine McCann.
Expected by whom?
German detectives believe they have a new suspect, known only as Silvio S, in the search for Maddy
Detectives in Germany also want to know if the 32-year-old double killer, known only as Silvio S, took five-year-old Inga Gehricke. Since she vanished on May 2 this year after walking into woods during a family barbecue in the Saxony-Anhalt state, some 50 miles from Berlin, Inga has been known as the German Madeleine.
Madeleine McCann has become the benchmark for all the world’s missing children. See:
Australia has an Our Maddie – Chloe Campbell Is Australia’s Madeleine McCann
Brazil has an Our Maddie – Madeleine McCann: Isabella Nadoni Is Brazil’s Our Maddie
Israel has an Our Maddie – Madeleine McCann: Israel’s Rose Is The International Our Maddie
France has an Our Maddie –Typhaine Taton Is France’s Madeleine McCann
America has an Our Maddie – America’s Madeleine McCann Turns Up Alive
Spain has an Our Maddie – Madeleine McCann: Mari Luz Cortes, Maddy 2 And Gerry McCann Writes
New Zealand has an Our Maddie – Madeleine McCann: Patronising Aisling Symes
South America has an Our Maddie A Madeleine McCann Found In Panama
Holland has an Our Maddie – Madeleine McCann: Milly Boele Is Holland’s Our Maddie
Australia has an Our Maddie – Kiesha Abrahams Is Australia’s Madeleine McCann
Says the Express:
Scotland Yard detectives seeking Madeleine, who disappeared in Portugal aged three on May 3, 2007, are following developments closely. It is expected they will ask their German counterparts to check the killer’s passport to see if he was ever in Portugal.
And that is the “exclusive”.
He would have been 24 at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance during a family holiday. Silvio was arrested on Thursday and has since admitted two child killings after his mother gave information to police.
Four-year-old Bosnian refugee Mohammed Januzi was snatched as his parents visited a government welfare office in Berlin on October 1. Last Tuesday police released CCTV footage of the child being led away from the building by a bearded man. Later Silvio’s mother called police because she was suspicious about the behaviour of her son.
And this has what to do with Madeleine McCann?
Madeleine McCann disappeared whilst the family holidayed in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz
Such are the facts.
The Sun (front page): “SUN EXCLUSIVE – MADDIE:McCann: We’ll never give up”
Is that news?
We learn via bullet points:
- £750,000 IN FUND
- EX-COPS TEAM
Page 13: “NEVER QUIT”
We’re told that the police operation is to be “shelved”. As ever, an unnamed “source close to the McCanns” says: “They are very much of the mind, ‘We will never give up’ and they won’t. They have spearheaded the hunt for Madeleine themselves before and will do so again if they have to.”
We also hear from the McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell: “Should the need arise for a private investigation to be resumed, they have made sure they have enough money left in Madeleine’s fund.”
Page 12-13: “HOW DID MADDIE HUNT GO WRONG?
Do we know that it has? The Met’s Operation Grange has been gathering evidence and reviewing all data. Four police officers will now work full-time on the case. The 25 who also worked on it have been put on other duties. Maybe one of them can look for Andrew Gosden or Steven Cook?
The Sun says the Met’s enquiry is “expected to be wound down completely in the New Year”.
The paper wonders “how could an inquiry that to date has cost more than £11million seemingly achieve so little?”
The British taskforce, which at its height was 37-strong, has yet to make a single arrest, despite 560 lines of inquiry and 60 suspects.
Why is the Sun no keen to present this as a failure by the Met police? Why is the Sun, the paper in the eye of the police’s phone hacking purge / witch hunt, keen to ask: ”
It also became mired in a spending controversy with some cops staying in the £200-a-night five-star Hotel Dona Filipa during visits to Portugal. Last year there were 67 flights to the country by cops costing £16,000, with overtime on top. So what were all these officers actually doing?
That hotel price is for peak season. The officers were then in the off-season. And:
By the latest count, the Met claims “7,154 actions had been raised” and 560 lines of inquiry identified. They had identified more than 60 persons of interest and 650 sex offenders were also investigated.
But the numbers mask the chaos going on behind the scenes.
Having found the police wanting, the Sun than adds a fact:
Madeleine’s case was always a special one. Never has a missing child received so much worldwide focus. Indeed, the average amount spent on investigating a missing child is around £2,400.
a) The media saw the missing blonde child and launched a voracious feeding frenzy.
b) Most children are found quickly
In other tabloids today: Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Mirror all nothing on Madeleine McCann.
Madeleine McCann: a look at the missing child in the media.
The Sun (front page): “Cops in hunt for Maddie slashed”
The “search” has been “drastically cut back”. Reducing the number of police officers on the case from a platoon-sized 29 to a small office-sized 4 is “a huge blow to parents Kate and Gerry”.
This news is shared with the other front-page police matters that “Britain’s tops cops” have warned that “huge spending cuts will spell the end for bobbies on the beat”. It’s cost The Met Police not much under £11m since 2011 to find out what happened to Madeleine McCann. The Sun’s juxtaposition of the two stories is not accidental.
Page 9: “FEAR OF LOST GIRLS PARENTS – IS THIS END OF COP HUNT FOR MADDIE?”
Answer: No. Four police remain on the case.
We hear from a “source close to Mum Kate and dad Gerry”. They say: “They know it can’t go on forever. They’re preparing for it to be shelved for good in coming months.”
We hear their official “statement”: “We remain hopeful she may still be found…”
Daily Mail (Page 25): “”Maddie probe team is slashed from 29 detectives to just 4.”
Just 4. Just?
We learn that the Government “initially set aside 5m for the Met probe”. We are reminded that the Portuguese investigation was “marred by blunders”.
It has also sold a lot of newspapers and garnered online clicks.
Daily Express (front page): “MADDY: POLICE RUN OUT OF CLUES”
Did they ever have any?
The Express agrees that there will “just” four offices working full-time on the case.
Page 9: “McCanns cling to hope as inquiry is cut back”
To illustrate how this story has gone nowhere, this is the Daily Express headline from 29 April 2009: “Madeleine’s parents still cling to hope.”
The paper notes:
Since the little girl, who would now be 11, vanished, every possible theory has been explored including that she was kidnapped by a peadophile [sic], killed during a botched burglary and her body dumped, snatched by traffickers and sold to a childless couple and she wandered out of the apartment and died in a tragic accident.
The Express, of course, indulged in another theory that cost it dear when it libelled the McCanns:
The question of what happened to the little girl has not only become a personal tragedy for the McCann family, but a national obsession in the UK and in Portugal. However, to date, not one shred of proof of what happened to Madeleine has been unearthed.
Not everyone has been as obsessed as the Express:
Daily Mirror (front page): “MADDIE – Police scaling down hunt”
Page 11: “Maddie Cops Cut From 29 To Four – But Met says investigation continues”
Not shelved, then. But there are – get this – “just four” detectives on the case.
Daily Star (front page): “Search for Maddie cut”
Page 6: “Family’s agony as cops slash Maddie squad”
Agony? Surely the agony was the child vanishing. The case remains open. The parents “remain hopeful”
Such are the facts.
Madeleine McCann: ‘just’ four police working full-time on case, 8,685 potential sightings, years of sensation
There were 29 police officers working full-time on the hunt for Madeleine McCann. Soon there will be four, the Metropolitan Police says.
Scotland Yard has cut the number of officers investigating Maddie’s disappearance from 29 to just four.
Just four. Just…
The Met said the “vast majority” of the work in its inquiry into Madeleine’s disappearance had been completed. It said no conclusion had been reached but it was now following a “small number of focused lines of inquiry” which was why the team had been cut.
Four full-time officers on one case still sounds a lot, no?
Spokesman for the McCann family Clarence Mitchell says the the case into her disappearance is not drawing to a close.
If only it were. We all want closure. The story foes on and on.
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, from the Met, said: “The Met was asked to take on this exceptional case as one of national interest.”
Less time was spent looking for Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.
“We were happy to bring our expertise to bear only on the basis that it would not detract from the policing of London; and the Home Office have additionally funded the investigation above normal grants to the Met. That will continue at the reduced level.”
As ever, we are left looking at the parents:
Madeleine’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann praised the “meticulous and painstaking work” done by police. They said: “We are reassured that the investigation to find Madeleine has been significantly progressed and the Met has a much clearer picture of the events in Praia da Luz leading up to Madeleine’s abduction in 2007. Given that the review phase of the investigation is essentially completed, we fully understand the reasons why the team is being reduced. We would also like to thank the Home Office for continuing to support the investigation. Whilst we do not know what happened to Madeleine, we remain hopeful that she may still be found given the ongoing lines of inquiry.”
The investigation has been huge:
Officers have investigated more than 60 persons of interest, the Met said, adding that a total of 650 sex offenders had also been considered as well as reports of 8,685 potential sightings of Madeleine around the world. Having reviewed all of the documents, “7,154 actions were raised and 560 lines of inquiry identified”, the Met said. It said more than 30 requests had been made to “countries across the world asking for work to be undertaken on behalf of the Met”.
No arrests have been made, despite officers investigating 60 people of interest, taking 1,338 statements, collecting 1,027 exhibits and investigating 560 lines of enquiry. The Met said it had investigated 650 known sex offenders in connection with the case, as well as reports of 8,685 potential sightings of Madeleine around the world, receiving 200 emails a week from members of the public.
And on it goes…