FIRST up, the Guardian’s Michael White tells us about how the “pornography of grief has devalued poignancy of the poppy” and how Madeleine McCann is implicated in it:
The Victorians made a lot of fuss over death too. Just look at those tombstones: exotic, even erotic, in old cemeteries. But at least it was the deaths of their own loved ones they were mourning. Death was everywhere all the time before the development of modern antibiotics.
Now death sits in rest homes, impatiently waiting for life to finish swirling round the plug hole.
We, who have so little experience of it by comparison, have forgotten how to handle the great unknown in a largely godless age. Hence the macabre fuss over Princess Di, over missing Madeleine McCann and over poor, abused Jade Goody too.
Jade Goody gets two adjectives; Our Maddie gets none.
After White, the Guardian gives space to Shannon Kyle to deliver yet another of those Odes To Parenting, in which Our Maddie is the parent’s bogeyman:
In “My talent will help hunt for Madeleine McCann”, the Chester Chronicle shines a light on piano player Brian Davies, who “hopes to win Britain’s Got Talent with a score he is dedicating to missing Madeleine McCann.”
Remember that if you don’t vote for Mr Davies then you’re not voting for Our Maddie. And that would make you an utter ****. Vote Paul Davies and keep Maddie’s name in your minds and so bring her closer to home.
Piano player Brian Davies, 59, of Old Chester Road, Helsby, who says he has never had a music lesson in his life, has written an instrumental piece – entitled Forget Me Not – which he hopes will help raise awareness of the Find Madeleine campaign.
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: In a piece entitled “Madeleine McCann’s Siblings, Sky News’ Colin Brazier delivers an article which blends fact with fiction to produce something opportunistic, hideous that should offer Kate And Gerry McCann no little comfort:
Just over two years ago the release of the film Gone Baby Gone was allegedly postponed because of parallels with the case of Madeleine McCann.
Not alleged. This is what we learnt from Affleck on October 12, 2007:
“Disney UK made the decision to postpone the movie but I absolutely support it and I’m pleased by what I think is erring on the side of good taste. There’s no rush. It’s obviously a sensitive time and if there are any similarities we can wait to distribute the movie in the UK. I was only vaguely aware of the Madeleine case because it wasn’t a big thing here in the United States. Maybe I’m out of it because I don’t read many newspapers, but I didn’t really know much about it until somebody said, ‘Hey, there may be some similarities’.”
Anyone traumatised by Afflecks’s performance in car accident movie Changing Lanes, who is a devout Christian and found Dogma offensive or who fears impending Armageddon can applaud Ben’s actions.
The Times told us:
However, in the wake of the Madeleine McCann case, this adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s 1998 novel was withdrawn from this year’s Times/bfi London Film Festival because of its sensitive subject matter, and may never be released in the UK”
The film was released. Child abuse was delivered as a form of entertainment. And Affleck told us:
Affleck: What has happened to Madeleine McCann is terrible and it was the right decision to wait until now before bringing out the film, as we didn’t want to upset the family.
Affleck: “I worked with the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children [which is involved in the search for Madeleine McCann] and I found out about the extent of child abuse internationally. It is horrifying.
Affleck: “Sometimes, abuse is as simple as leaving your kids in front of the TV all day and thinking that it is sufficient parenting.”
Back to Brazier and “Madeleine McCann’s siblings”:
It was felt the movie, which tells the fictional story of the abduction of a four-year-old girl, was too close to real life. Although written before Madeleine McCann’s abduction [sic], Gone Baby Gone contained some inadvertent but nonetheless [sic] extraordinarily coincidental material. The plot focuses on a 4-year-old played by an actress – actually called Madeleine – who shows an uncanny resemblance to the real Madeleine McCann. I watched the film six months ago and was quite staggered by how accidentally art had imitated life.
You mean to say that stories can be based on real life events, and fears? Brazier then introduces readers to more works of fiction:
Child abduction has been dealt with by artists before. In his 1987 novel The Child In Time, Ian McEwan writes about the disappearance of a three year old. The scene where the father loses sight of his daughter in a supermarket, while momentarily distracted, never to see her again, is brilliantly wrought.
How does it end, Colin?
Both stories have different endings. In the film the child is found alive and well. In the book the child is never found and the mystery is never solved. But the book does offer one answer.
And in Maddie’s story? What happens?
Mercifully, such abductions are as rare now as they were fifty years ago (it’s only our paranoia which has increased). But the phenomenon of couples destroyed by the loss of an only-child may be on the rise.
Anyone following his argument. Child abduction in books is rare. But many one-child couples break up. Are these parents in the real world or in books? Is there a difference? Is it all just a form of entertainment?
Think of some recent high-profile cases.
Tragic parents like Neil and Kazumi Puttick. In June, they leapt to their deaths from Beachy Head, clutching the body of their five-year-old son Sam. He had died of meningitis the week before and his parents were crippled with grief. Or parents like 40-year-old Joanna Coombs. Last year, her body was found on the same tracks where her daughter – and only child – had died two months before.
These are real parents whose tragedies are placed in the context of works of fiction. And what do they have to do with Madeleine McCann or her siblings, the twin or which there are, er, two?
It stands to reason that when parents put all their eggs in one all-too-fragile basket, the loss of that child may prove insupportable. Previous generations understood that a larger family provided a shield against the loss of a singleton. In the words of Churchill’s famous, if callous, dictum: “One for mother, one for father, one for increase and one for accidents“.
Anyone else feeling sick? Lucky the McCanns had a couple of children left over, then. Good news. How prudent of them to bring three children into the world. It might well be what has kept them going, and alive. You want more from Brazier? Here goes:
When tragedy strikes a multi-child family, parents are more likely to carry on for those who remain, no matter how grief-stricken they are.
How much more likely? More likely than the McCanns or less likely than the cast of Schindler’s List?
Some social scientists already fret about how the rise of the only child is changing society. One talks about the ‘Saving Private Ryan’ effect. The fictional Private Ryan was the only one of four brothers to survive the battle for Normandy in 1944. Would a modern parent be so sanguine about an only-child fighting for his or her country?
Answers in the form of a work of fiction.
That’s a choice few will have to make. But many will make much more quotidian decisions about danger. It is one reason why so many modern children are not permitted to take risks of almost any description.
Fact and fiction. Can you spot the difference?
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: Scotland Yard investigates, 19 countries – how many are Muslim, Daily Star readers? – refuse to hunt for Our Maddie and Gerry McCann tells the twins all he knows.
Sunday Express (front page): “YARD ASKED TO REOPEN MADDIE CASE”
“Calls for Scotland Yard to step in after police in Portugal fail to take the latest appeal for information seriously”
Calls by whom?
The Express features not a picture of the Our Maddie its readers know but the one mocked up by the fine people at Ceops. The piece is written by James Murray, who goes under the new title “Investigations Editor”. As for the news:
Kate and Gerry McCann want the Yard’s renowned kidnap team to assess an avalanche of new information after last week’s emotional internet appeal, which generated five million hits from around the world.
This does not seem unfair. A British national has gone missing. But what information should the police spend their resources looking at? James Murray investigates:
Portuguese ¬police, the Sunday Express can reveal, have failed to set up a new phone line for callers to ring with information.
So no police station have a phone? Has the National Emergency Number – 112 – been decommissioned by those bungling Portuguese coppers?
Last night there was fury over the dismissive response. Interpol and Europol are among 163 ¬forces worldwide that have committed to help with the appeal.
Fury. Always the fury. But can it be that 163 police forces have committed to help find Madeleine McCann? And if police in South African, Canada, Chile, Japan and Romania are looking then why not the Portuguese? There are 192 coutries in the UN. This means that 29 countries are not helping find Our Maddie. Which is shocking.
No news on what those 163 police forces are doing to look, but Murray is more concerned with what the Portuguese are not doing:
Portugal’s Policia Judiciaria is still in charge of the Madeleine case because that is where she disappeared over two years ago. It would say only that if credible information comes in by fax, letter or email, it would be passed to senior officers if it was deemed “significant”.
So the front-page headline that they will not investigate is wrong. They will. What the Portuguese will not do is investigate every phone call and emails. This entire front-page screamer seems to be based on one man’s opinion.
Last night former Scotland Yard chief Dai Davies said it was time to let the Yard take over. The former royal protection head said: “Madeleine is a British subject and she deserves the best, which the Yard can provide. It is time to put any daft police protocols to one side and get on with the job of finding her. It is a solvable case.
“It is astonishing and disgraceful that the Portuguese have not assigned a specific team to scrutinise leads which could provide a breakthrough in the world’s biggest child abduction case.
“It is frankly outrageous that the parents of this poor child should be hiring private detectives to conduct an investigation which should have been taken on by the Yard in the first place.”
Dai Davis…? Oh, him. He’s the top copper who in a retired and media-friendly capacity jetted to Paia Da Luz in 2007, and with skiful investigative prowess came up with just four theories as to what happened to Our Maddie. Mirror readers learnt:
MY FOUR THEORIES
1. Maddie was snatched by an opportunist paedophile.
2. A planned abduction, plotted in UK, in which she was “snatched to order” by a paedophile gang.
3. Someone holding a grudge against the McCanns.
4. Snatched by local childless couple.
In 2008, he opined:
“The Portuguese investigation has quite simply not solved the crime and it is now looking increasingly likely that it will be shelved. I would suggest that this is the time to call on the Yard to take the lead and to get them to form a team of detectives to work on the case”
In other Maddie non-news news:
Mail on Sunday: “McCanns use psychologist to help tell twins about Madeleine
Mrs McCann, 41, said experts have said the youngsters will ask about Madeleine’s disappearance when they are ready. “We’ll be led by them,” she said. “We’ve had advice from a child psychologist and they’ve said Sean and Amelie will lead the way. If they ask a question, we’ll answer them honestly. I’m not going to rush them, but if they ask something then I’ll answer them.”
Mr McCann, 41, a heart specialist, added: “We will answer their questions openly and honestly. What they ask, we’ll tell them. We’ll tell them what happened and what information we know.”
So what happened and what is known? Well , kids, an innocent child went missing. And the media went nuts.
Madeleine McCann: no suspects. No sign of the child. Just a media narrative…
* 192-163 equals whatever reader Martyn P tells us.
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: The Fund is investigated.
The Sun: “Anti-McCann group facing fraud probe”
FRAUD cops are probing the bank account of a campaign group which says Maddie McCann is dead – and aims to blame her parents.
Who are they, then?
Controversial lawyer Tony Bennett helped set up the Madeleine Foundation, but its account is now frozen.
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: A successful campaign.
Daily Mirror: “Madeleine clip success”
She’s been found?
Up to 100,000 people an hour have watched A Minute For Madeleine, it was revealed yesterday.
They come to help? Or do they come to stare?
McCann Twins: We will fight man who took our sister Maddie
What man? What kidnap? The Daily Record says a “beast” took her. If the kids are going to be crime fighters they need to understand the facts. And the facts are two: Madeleine McCann in missing. There are no suspects.
The media gets to work staring at the kids who we watched go to school, who now have speaking parts in the media circus:
Mirror: “‘The twins both know the person who took Madeleine has done something very bad.. they just want her back home’”
Madeleine McCann’s four-year-old twin siblings are now slowly grasping the horror of her abduction, their parents revealed yesterday.
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: The McCanns has aked the police to create an image of Our Maddie as she might look now. There is also a video. The media gets to work:
Sky News: “Pictures Of Madeleine McCann, Aged Six”
Police have released new age-enhanced pictures of Madeleine McCann. This is how Madeleine McCann would look now, aged six. We’ve seen similar artist’s impressions before.
There’s a video of the missing child in seven languages, on the website of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. One picture shows her with a deep suntan she might have developed if she is living in southern Europe or North Africa.
Says Ceop’s head Jim Gamble:
“The person we are looking to reach is likely to be a partner, family member, friend or colleague of the person or people who were involved in Madeleine’s disappearance. If you haven’t divulged your secret because of love, loyalty or fear, be assured that it is never too late to reveal the information to your local police…
“If you are a parent or carer, a student or member of the public who is a social networker, blogger or emailer, or if you run any type of online environment, big or small, please look at the film today, link to it, share it with your friends and post it in the online communities you occupy.”
That’s Ceop. Never heard of it? You have now.
Those front pages:
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: Madeleine McCann is on the cover of the Sunday Express. Says the headline:
McCanns launch TV blitz to find Maddie
If only the Express group and owners had TV channels they could use to help. Of, course, they do:
We interrupt this edition of Teen A*** Sla*s on the Fantasy Channel to bring news of the appeal to find Our Maddie.
We must all do what we can to help. The Sunday Express tells us:
KATE McCANN will take part in a round of heart-rending TV interviews this week appealing for anyone who has knowledge of her daughter Madeleine’s kidnapping to come forward.
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: A fresh appeal to imagine the worst, more jokes, a con and Our Maddie will now entertain you…
The Sun: “’Imagine if she was your child’”
She’s not? But if she were…
THE parents of missing Madeleine McCann have posted a poignant internet appeal for information – urging readers: “Imagine if she was your child.”
Isn’t that what columnists and mums and dads have been doing for over two years, looking at Our Maddie and whispering, “There for the grace of God…’? Isn’t it every parent’s worst nightmare? Hasn’t Anorak spent three summers chronicling sighting and repeats of Our Maddie?
Appearing beside two pictures of the vanished girl, the wording reads: “Imagine if she was your child, imagine the pain and grief, imagine if someone like you never came forward.”
Imagine if Our Maddie was not the media’s only story on missing children. Imagine if there were others who weren’t blonde of blue eyed who never made it to the front page and made Prime Minister’s weep. Imagine if Our Maddie was not a story that sold papers.
Another appeal says: “A little girl stolen, a family torn apart, but saying nothing is the worst crime of all.” Yet another says: “If you stay quiet you are as guilty as those who took her.”
The McCanns’ words are aimed at any abductors. But in the media they become something more, an appeal to every reader to do something or be complicit in a child’s suffering. But what can you do? You can look. Look. Look. No not look at the parents. Look for Our Maddie.
IN “MAIL-ORDER MADDIE ‘WAS SNATCHED BY CRIME LORD‘”, the Daily Star adds another theory to the many that have passed for reporting on the disappearance of an innocent child.
MADDIE McCann was a “mail-order kid” snatched by a scarfaced North African crime lord, according to explosive new claims revealed today.
This one has many of the elements of an Our Maddie story: foreigners; darkies, North Africa, kidnap and a “claim” supported by not a shred of evidence.
Police are now hunting an Algerian mafia boss who allegedly bragged to British associates in Portugal just weeks after the child’s disappearance.
And we know this now because…?
He told them he had snatched Madeleine in a £100,000 “steal-to- order” kidnap plot. And the Daily Star Sunday can reveal that police are set to quiz two jailed British gangsters believed to have heard his shock claims.
This is getting bigger and bigger. What facts? As June say in the Forums:
She was snatched for £100k allegedly? weren’t the rewards on offer multmillion at the time? strange they didn’t speak out then….
MADELEINE McCann is now an official Everton FC mascot. The club has printed T-shirts.
Shirts, emblazoned with pictures of Madeleine McCann, are being handed out ahead of Everton FC’s Europa League tie with Portuguese team Benfica. They have been created to highlight the campaign to find the child, who was three when she vanished while on holiday in Portugal in May 2007.
Benfica play in Portugal. Win it for Maddie, Everton. Can Our Maddie inspire? It might catch on. What team did Ben Needham support? Keith Bennett?
Congratulations to the McCanns for keeping their daughter in the public eye. But who does not crave for them to find her; to be left alone? Right now, their hunt for their daughter exists as a public spectacle. You wear the T-shirt to show that you care. You display a shallow sentiment. Others join in. You all feel it. Only you don’t. Not really. You go through the motions, afraid to say, “No, I don’t feel much at all.”
Every fan who bought a ticket can collect a T-shirt, which has the words “We’re Still Looking For You” on it.
And you thought Evertonians were just looking for a decent centre half.
A total of 6,000 shirts have been produced by the club – 3,000 in English and 3,000 bearing the message in Portuguese.
It’s all horribly mawkish. Anorak was there when Liverpool fans commemorated the 96 who died in Hillsborough. It was poignant and noisy. And it was relevant. This is something else:
Everton chairman Bill Kenwright said: “I will never, ever forget that image of a beautiful, smiling child in an Everton shirt.”
And you thought a missing child was painful enough; even though the media were turned on by her blue eyes and blonde hair. And you also might have thought fans were on there way to watch a game of football, excited at a chance to escape the pains of life for an hour and an a half, with a break for half time. But you should know different:
Fans with a match ticket can pick up a free T-shirt from Goodison Park or Liverpool Airport before embarking on their flight to Portugal.
Let us know if you got one and why you did; and why you didn’t. What, you didn’t get a T-shirt and wear it for Our Maddie? What’s the matter with you – don’t you care?
An anecdote: When Princess Diana was eulogised at Wesmintster Abbey, two Japanese people were laughing in Green Park, enjoying the sun. One began talking on a phone. A woman near to your writer moved across, hung up their phone call and asked them, rhetorically: “Don’t you have any shame?”
When we advertise our grief and care in public for someone we never met and never knew, we do so to reveal more about ourselves than the subject. We display signs of mourning sickness.
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: Portuguese organ Espresso reports Goncalo’s Amaral’s book has been “arrested” (seized?) – apologies for the translation (via Joana Morais):
The Civil Court of Lisbon has ordered the arrest of all the profits that were obtained through the sale of the book “Maddie, the truth about the lie”, by former PJ inspector Gonçalo Amaral, following a process that was filed by the parents of the little English girl that disappeared in the Algarve in May 2007.
by Ricardo Marques
According to the court order, the editors that published the book have already been notified that all profits from the cession and sale of the book will be arrested for the eventual payment of an amount of 1,2 million euro.
The court notifications about this injunction have already been sent to Italy, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Spain, France, countries where the book has been translated and published.
Gonçalo Amaral, the inspector who led the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, in 2007, was removed from the case after statements that he made to the media.
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: Madeleine McCann’s name is being used in the context of a bit of kit that tags your kids.
Anna Maxted tests a new device that enables parents to track their child via satellite from a computer or mobile phone.
The last time I mislaid a child – my four-year old, in the park, for 15 endless minutes – I wished unashamedly that he could be chipped, like the cat.
You mislaid a child? Surely you lose a child. You mislay your keys. Can you mislay a cat? Interestingly, one of Maxted’s kids – she has three boys – is called Oscar, which is a name ideally suited to a dog.
When Steve Salmon’s young daughter vanished during a family pub lunch (later found petting a pony in the adjacent field), he doubtless wished the same thing. Two years on, Salmon, chief executive of communications firm Lok8u, has launched the equally tongue-twisting NuM8, the world’s first GPS locator for children.
It’s not. A little research on the internet and Anorak finds this – and it is, like Maxted, beyond parody:
Child Locator as Featured in Duracell BrickHouse Child Locator Commercial; Distance Alerts help you keep a watchful eye on your wandering children, in a way that hasn’t been possible before. It’s Not You, All Children Wander; 2,185 Go Missing Every Day. Locate anything or anyone from 600 ft to an inch away. Get a warning from the custom distance alert or via included panic button tag.
“New laws to regulate the use of high-tech child-tracking devices are being called for by MPs amid fears they could be used by paedophiles and stalkers. The technology is aimed at parents wanting to keep tabs on their children after a series of high-profile child murders and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann”
And there was this pair who rented out child tracking devices at the airport. While your stick your locator on the nose on your face, Maxted reviews her gadget:
To all appearances, it’s a chunky, child-friendly wristwatch, worn by the subject, that enables the fond parent to track their darling via satellite from a computer or mobile phone. But this is not a gadget for the morally squeamish. Behind the bright colours – choose from aqua blue, hot pink and lime green, or neutral black – the rubber strap contains a “web of reinforced steel”. If anyone – rebellious child or dastardly adult – attempts to remove the locator from its assigned wrist, Mummy or Daddy is alerted from their cappuccino via text…
Better if the in-built blowers began to shape the froth on the cappuccino to form the word “PAEDO” in chocolate.
According to the charity Missing Persons, formerly National Missing Persons Helpline, an estimated 140,000 children and young people run away or go missing every year in the United Kingdom. This, coupled with mothering three boys, has eroded my principles. I cannot wait to tag my kids.
That many, eh? How many are found alive and well? Maxted does not care to say.We do:
Tarling and Burrows’ 2004 study of Metropolitan Police missing person cases found that 99 per cent of cases were resolved within one year.
Any other facts?
A 2004 Home Office study (Newiss and Fairbrother, 2004: 1-6) found that, of the 798 police reports of child abduction and attempted child abduction in England and Wales that year:
• 56 per cent or all reports involved a stranger
• 47 per cent of all reports were ‘attempted child abductions by a stranger’
• 9 per cent of all reports were successful child abductions by a stranger
…of the 798 police reports of child abduction and attempted child abduction in England and Wales that year, 23 per cent involved abduction by a parent.
Back to Maxted of the cappuccino:
Guilt forces me to opt for full disclosure. I tell the seven-year-old, “This is like a Ben 10 watch. You wear it, and I track you, like the police track baddies who try to escape from prison.”
He can but try…
I hunch over my phone in the park café, compulsively following the blue balloon on the screen’s Googlemap that proves that Oscar is safe beyond the trees, racing down the hill on his scooter without a helmet.
No helmet? WTF??!!!
It’s a luxury to sit for five minutes and know that one’s offspring has not been dragged out of the park by a predator.
Mums, eh. Always on the go.
I know he is fine, because my husband has marked a “safe zone” on the map – if Oscar breaches the park perimeter, I receive a warning text, and ‘live tracking’ will commence.
What if your husband’s taken him? What then?
Yet, as the locator doesn’t record heights, there’s always the chance that he might climb a tree – and, sipping espresso while staring at the screen balloon on my phone, if he fell out, I’d be none the wiser until the ambulance arrived.
Cappuccino. Espresso. We’re not medical experts, but we’d consider cutting down on the caffeine.
Suddenly, I feel NuM8′s reassurance is insufficient. I’m ready to step surveillance up a level. Might I suggest the next generation wristwatch comes with a hidden micro-camera, angled at my child’s face?
Then you can watch him being assaulted, smashing his head open or sobbing in real time?
This may be why, when I describe my new toy to Honor Rhodes, director of development at the Family and Parenting Institute, she is unimpressed. “Is this,” she says, “a symptom of panic-stricken but lazy parenting? I wonder what it is that we are trying to guard against, and I think it is that we don’t want our child to be Madeleine McCann. While that was so terrible, the worst thing that could possibly occur, it happens incredibly rarely. Your child is more likely to be struck by lightning.”
Was the media’s Our Maddie struck by lightning?
My resolve is tested when the three-year-old disappears into a school playground. He eventually turns up, happy and breathless, after a game of chase with the big children. I say sternly: “I didn’t know where you were, and I was frightened. Do not run off again!”
At which point he sobs and the big kids point and laugh heartily?
Meanwhile, Over in New Zealand, the tragic death of young child is the subject of the big debate: Aisling Symes was not abducted.
It is “Every parent’s secret dread“.
The tragic story of Aisling Symes captured so many hearts because it was a “lightning rod of dread” for all parents.
And then this:
The spectre of international cases, such as James Bulger, JonBenet Ramsey, and Madeleine McCann are buried deep in parental psyches, she says. However, when these cases are international, we can register but ignore them, she says. Suddenly, a child was missing in New Zealand and all those demons emerged.
And the global media reacts…
Madeleine McCann is missing – still missing. There are no suspects. there is no evidence of what happened to her. Her parents are innocent. Her name is being used to sell goods and services…
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: Justine McGuinness sues, Alan Johnson, Gordon Brown, Barack Obama and a satellite image…
Press Gazette: “People in payout over Madeleine Fund libel”
Justine McGuinness is back in the news:
A public relations expert who helped in the search for Madeleine McCann accepted a donation to charity today over a claim that she overcharged the fund set up to find the missing child.
Another day and with it another libel case.
In 2007, The People story “alleged that she had charged the fund £20,000 in excess of her agreed fee and that, following a discussion with Gerry McCann in the summer of 2007, she was forced to part company with the fund.”
Melville-Brown said MGN Limited had accepted that the allegations were incorrect and apologised. So damages?
It agreed to make a donation to an undisclosed charity of Ms McGuinness’s choice.
PRs know how to handle their own PR.
Says her brief, Amber Melville-Brown:
“The public is entitled to know, indeed demands to know, the truth, and the press fulfils a vital role in servicing our need for news. But Fleet Street must guard against rubbishing reputations in the process through the inaccurate and sensational reporting of emotive stories.”
Nice idea. But the public demands entertainment, and the papers demand readers. If you want the truth, you need to digest a lot of news and make up your own mind. Or read Anorak.
Which brings us to this story in the Sunday Express:
SATELLITE CLUE TO MADDIE KIDNAP
HOME Secretary Alan Johnson is prepared to ask US spy chiefs for satellite images which may show the face of Madeleine McCann’s kidnapper, following intervention by the Sunday Express.
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: Madeleine McCann is being used to advertise holidays in Praia da Luz, Portugal…
IN “The Algarve after Maddie” Laura Suter tells readers of Travel Bite, the site that “provides easy to find, useful information on destinations all over the world, so if you’re planning a holiday we can give you lots of ideas, tips, news and inspiration.”
Today you can be inspired about the Algarve, place of sun, sea, sardines and… Well, Laura has more:
In 2007 the newspapers were filled with the Madeleine McCann case and pictures of the four-year-old girl, now, two years on, press coverage has died down and the story is no longer front page news.
So why are you writing about the missing child, Laura? Why?
Laura Suter asks what happened to the town at the centre of it all when the disappearance happened?
Shortly after Madeleine’s abduction reports emerged that the former fishing village of Praia de Luz, which once thrived on tourism, was a ghost town, that cancellations had flooded in and the beach was empty.
Shortly after Madeleine McCann disappeared the town was heaving with people, mostly business travellers with expense accounts and deadlines. The place was booming.
Many families with children were dubious about going to the resort, while some felt that the police and media intrusion would taint their holiday. In the weeks following the incident the Mark Warner Club, which runs the Ocean Club where Madeleine disappeared, had a number of cancellations or families transferring to other resorts.
Anything to avoid the “gentlemen of the press”, grown men and women with cameras and recording equipment, looking iffy as they stand in the sun dressed in suit jackets and ties talking about paedos.
However, Cristina Teixeira, who runs Luz Holidays, which rents villas to many nationalities, said her firm did not see this effect. The company had two cancellations out of 300 in 2008 and even then “clients did not offer the Madeleine justification”.
So either Laura Suter’s story about a ghost town is plain wrong, people who rent with Luz are heartless bastards or ghouls, or Our Maddie is being used as an advertorial, a point of reference – a totem of local interest – for a holiday lettings company?
Chris Gladwin, 23, of Darlington, was one holidaymaker who braved the press reports and went to Praia de Luz just a few months after the disappearance, having pre-booked his holiday. However, he said that the break was not too different from a usual holiday – families flocked to the beach, the bars and restaurants were busy and toddlers played in the sand – albeit a little closer to their parents.
Anyone else feeling queasy?
Mr Gladwin added that going in 2007 was a little off-putting when the town was littered with posters of Madeleine and the hunt was still very much alive. “It was a bit hard to escape from the case and the media and it was talked about in many of the bars,” he explained, adding that the intrusion was not to the extent that it ruined the holiday.
Ms Teixeira admits that the ‘Madeleine effect’ did concern some holidaymakers and that those with young children were perhaps put off in 2008 “and maybe some are a bit nervous but the effect has mostly disappeared now”.
Disappeared. Like Madeleine… And it’s about to get even better:
And, it seems it is hard not to be won over by Luz’s charm, with Richard Gaisford, a GMTV reporter who spent most of last year in the Algarve covering the McCann story, saying he liked the town so much he wanted to take his family back.
Oh, the cruel irony. But Laura has more. She has reached a conclusion:
So, it seems the recession may have had more of an impact than the McCann case and Ms Teixeira adds that if it is sea, sun and golf courses you are after: “Portugal generally, and the Algarve especially, has plenty to offer all holidaymakers.”
And – fingers crossed – you might even get on the telly, or in a glorified press release….
Spotter: Bat E Bird in the forums
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann: Police find the body of what looks to be Aisling Symes, the New Zealand child prayed for by the McCanns and watched by the world’s media.
HORRIBLE news from New Zealand where police looking for Aisling Symes have found the body of a child in a storm water drain.
Aisling Symes was last seen near her grandparent’s home in Henderson, Auckland, a week ago.
“The immediate scene has been condoned off and treated as a crime scene,” says Insp Gary Davey.
Says Sky News: “There was speculation she had been abducted.”
This speculation is what made the missing child a global story.
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann : Aisling Syme is missing in New Zealand. The McCanns have issued a press release saying they are praying for her. And then one day on, Maddie is spotted in Sweden…
The Sun: “McCanns: Find girl in Swedish photo”
DETECTIVES were last night desperately hunting a girl who was photographed in Sweden – after computer-matching showed she could be missing Madeleine McCann.
The girl, who was pictured at a car show, bears a strong resemblance to Maddie, who would now be six. Her jawline is identical and her eyes are the same colour as Maddie’s.
Blonde child spotted in Sweden. Read all about it.
The girl was with a man and a woman at the car show, held in Sweden’s capital Stockholm in August. The man was Swedish but the girl spoke perfect English.
A seded woo can speak English? Hold the front page!
The woman remained silent, and the snapper said both adults refused to be photographed.
The man and woman with the child at a car show declined to be photographed by a stranger looking at the child they were with? Odd…
The couple’s official spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: “Kate and Gerry and their investigators are aware of the picture and are liaising with the relevant authorities. The investigation team are looking into it.”
The Sun told in August how a Victoria Beckham lookalike asked a man at a marina in Barcelona, Spain: “Are you here to deliver my new daughter?” One of the yachts linked to the woman came from Sweden.
The luxury cruiser was one of six recorded as having left the Algarve port of Portimao the morning after Maddie vanished. All the other boats have been traced and eliminated from the investigation. But all efforts to find the Swedish yacht have failed.
As Anorak told you:
In Sweden all vessels measuring over 12 metres (40ft) long must be registered with the Swedish Maritime Administration. But inquires with their head office in Stockholm yesterday found no record of the yacht.
You don’t suppose… No, it’s too far-fetched. Well, you don’t suppose the mystery yacht was smaller than 12 metres long?
Now in the Sun:
An investigator revealed: “It has apparently vanished without trace. The captain told port authorities he was going to the Algarve port of Albufeira, but the boat never arrived and has not been found since.”
UK Parents Lounge: “Madeleine ‘lookalike’ sought by Swedish police”
The tagline for this website is – cruel irony of cruel ironies – “a place to get away from the kids”.
Daily Telegraph: “New Zealand child disappearance ‘similar’ to that of Madeleine McCann”
Meanwhile in New Zealand…
More than 60 officers are searching for Aisling Symes, who vanished from outside a house in Auckland five days ago.
Aukland NewsTalk counts 40 officers.
Her mother, who was with her at the time, claims she disappeared within just a few seconds while her back was turned… Child abduction is extremely rare in New Zealand and Aisling’s case has caused widespread shock, dominating newspaper and television headlines for five days. A picture of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed toddler dressed in a knitted blue striped cardigan has stared hauntingly from front pages daily.
Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Relevant.
“I turned off the hot tap, looked behind me and there she was, watching what Caty and I were up to,” a tearful Mrs Symes said. I turned off the cold tap, looked behind me, and she was gone — that fast. I can’t believe that she moved so quickly. In the time it took just to turn off a tap, she was gone.”
Irish Herald: “Aisling’s kidnapping suddenly makes the world feel less safe”
We are continually protecting ourselves and our children against dangers, imaginary and real. This is why events such as the kidnapping of Aisling (2), the murder of James Bulger or the 2007 disappearance of Madeleine McCann on a family holiday have such a strong effect on those who have never met them.
Madeleine McCann is missing – but not in the press which continues to sue her as its fallback story…
Images: taken from The Sun’s website and published here in the hope that it can help find Madeleine McCann. If it is in breach of copyright, we will take it down immediately.
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann – Aisling Symes is missing. Aisling Symes is aged 2. Aisling Symes has gone missing from an Aukland suburb on Monday.
And you know what this means?
Kate and Gerry McCann say their “thoughts and prayers” are with the family of Aisling Symes. We do our emoting in public. Private matters are public spectacles. And Our Maddie has been the biggest shared grief fest in years, a global campaign lapped up by a once objective media.
But it’s not about the McCanns is it? This is about Aisling Symes. Or is it useful for the McCanns to be involved, and thereby raise the child’s profile in the UK – the child that went missing in New Zealand? How can us knowing in the UK help find the child? It can”t. But the McCanns need to do something – doing anything is better than doing nothing.
But the media has become the whole message. Kate and Gerry McCann are now the media’s familiar voice for all missing children and the face of the bereft parents, speaking about other missing children whether the parents want them to or not.
A cynic might believe the disappearance of Aisling Symes is both a tragedy and an opportunity? The McCanns are Ailsing Syme’s media celebrities, joining the singers and footballers on the side of the good, a familiar and reassuring face.
Mari Luz’s father, Juan José Cortés, said after a meeting with Manuel Chaves, President of the Junta de Andalucía, this weekend, that, while he is not against collaborating in the search for Madeleine and ‘even helping to draw up a poster of all the missing youngsters,’ the lines of investigation into the disappearance of the two young girls are distinct, and are being carried out in two separate countries. EFE [Spanish news agency] said he is considering taking legal action for using his daughter’s image for the campaign.
Said the Sun: “Both girls were pictured on posters put up by four-year-old Maddie’s parents because the cases were so chillingly similar.”
But does a missing child story need a point of reference? Are we so cynical and cold that we cannot feel unless the face of Our Maddie is placed before us? And what does it say about us that we need the innocent and abused McCanns’ authentic victimhood to shape the story of a missing child, that media obsession?
The McCanns’ kind words tell us nothing about Ailsing Syme – they just say something about them. The footballer in the Our Maddie T-shirt, the mawkish politician in the yellow ribbon and the woman with the balloon say nothing about the missing – they speak only about themselves. They have a need to advertise their caring.
No-one sane cannot but sympathise with the McCanns, working to keep their daughter in the news in the belief that in doing so there is a better chance of her being found. And Madeleine McCann, as we’ve noted, is no longer the benchmark for missing children.
But do the McCanns’ comment make us care about them or their daughter more, or less? Does it make anyone look for Our Maddie with a keener eye? Or is their appearance at the media spectacle when a child goes missing now just part of the show? We look. It’s on the telly. We look. But it’s not real. It’s just another show on the magic box. We look.
Mr and Mrs McCann, say in a statement:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Aisling and her family. We wish Aisling’s parents the strength and support they will be needing at this most painful time, and we join them in hoping for Aisling’s safe and speedy return.
“We urge anyone who has any information about Aisling to come forward to the local police as soon as possible and end this family’s suffering.”
Says Sky News: “McCanns Pray For Parents Of Missing Girl.”
Even a person’s prayers are now part of the public spectacle to be featured in the media.
And instead of looking for a missing child the media is still watching the parents…
Jaycee Dugard Watch – Anorak’s at-a-glance look at Jaycee Dugard in the news: Nancy Garrido not happy in jail, Melanie Hall is found and Madeleine McCann is no longer the benchmark for missing children.
In Melanie Hall and the missing, Cassandra Jardine asks:
Why are we so bad at keeping tabs on missing people, asks Cassandra Jardine.
Depends who’s missing? Anorak has been keeping you updated with every mention of missing Madeleine McCann in the news for over two years. Other missing people are not so well covered, like Melanie Hall:
The young hospital clerk, last seen in a Bath nightclub on June 9 1996, was in a rubbish bag under a bush by the slip road to exit 14 of the M5.
Melanie Hall was missing for thirteen years:
Thousands of people have driven past her while having map-reading debates or answering “How much longer?” queries from the back seat. The very banality of the scene is shaking. Even more troubling is the question that inevitably follows: how many more bodies of missing people have we glided past without knowing?
Jardine soon does as all journalists must and speculates:
It could be hundreds, even thousands, for every year at least 200,000 people go missing. The vast majority – 99 per cent – are found within a year, most of them within 48 hours. That leaves 2,000 people each year who never reappear. Sixty per cent of them are thought to be dead. But where are they?
Newspaper reporters might well investigate, or feature the missing in their pages. Or just get on with writing their copy for a deadline:
They could be victims of crime, like Melanie. They might be living it up in Panama, in the style of John Darwin, who notoriously faked his own death in a canoeing accident. Or, like Jaycee Dugard, the 11-year-old American girl who was found in August, they may have spent 18 years as the prisoner of a stranger.
And there is it. No Madeleine McCann. The only other high(ish)-profile missing person features is Andrew Godsen, who has been featured by Anorak before. But Andrew Godsen is of less interest to the mainstream media than his parents are:
Three months after his 13-year-old son Andrew left home with a one-way ticket from Doncaster to London King’s Cross, Kevin Gosden found the tension so unbearable that he attempted to hang himself from a balustrade. He would be dead now if the vicar, who had a key, hadn’t picked that exact moment to pay a visit. Nearly two years on, he still suffers suicidal urges: only the thought of his daughter stops him carrying out his plans.
When people go missing we get to watch the ones they leave behind. And what of Jaycee Dugard, the new benchmark for missing children?
Ski Channel: “Other suspect in Jaycee Lee Dugard kidnapping case having a tough time in prison”
Nancy Garrido: She is currently in prison, and according to sources, she has had to be put in isolation for her own protection. Other inmates have been threatening to rape and kill her, so Garrido was moved to isolation and has been described as “very lonely.”
Lonely. Like the ones the missing leave behind…
News Review: “The Leonard show – Sacramento’s infamous bounty hunter stars in a reality TV show in his own mind”
He doesn’t seem to notice the sun beating down, instead more concerned with the constant bleating of his cell phone, which rings no fewer than four times in the span of an hour as Padilla monitors the Jaycee Dugard case.
Back in September, Anorak joked in “Jaycee Dugard: Media Funds Phillip Garrido’s Bail”:
If the mainstream media can get $30million together – a big if – would it pay the bail and then be best able to pepple dash the world with Phillip Garrido exclusives? Because Jaycee Duagard is there for our entertainment:
MADDIE WATCH - Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann, Kate McCann and Gerry McCann - The Spanish news agency reports that Kate McCann and Gerry McCann could return to Praia da Luz before the end of the year.
The parents of the girl Madeleine McCann, Gerry and Kate, could return on a private visit to the Portuguese town of Praia da Luz, where their daughter disappeared before the end of the year.
Says Gerry McCann:
“Kate was like to return to Praia da Luz when things are less intense, but we would like it to be a private visit, probably before year-end.”
The Times: “Letterman extortion suspect is ‘true crime’ news producer”
David Letterman has been the alleged victim of an alleged extortion plot.
The man accused of trying to blackmail the talk show host David Letterman was named today as an Emmy award-winning TV news producer who specialises in investigating “true crime” mysteries.
A WORD on newspaper apologies in the University of Virginia’s Cavalier Daily – oh, the irony – featuring Our Maddie as the ultimate newspaper apology.
Christopher Hitchens has said that the purpose of putting corrections in a newspaper is not really to correct what the paper got wrong. It’s to point out that everything else in the paper was right.
Tim Thornton goes on to talk of corrections and clarifications. And then introduces Craig Silverman, who writes the excellent book Regret the Error.
MADDIE WATCH: Special Fury Edition. – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann, Kate McCann and Gerry McCann – Today the Sunday Express has chatting thigns over with Goncalo Amaral’s wife, Sophia.
Daily Express: “WE FEEL THE MCCANN’S PAIN AS WELL.”
James Murray speaks not for a nation but for a woman:
THE wife of Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral has denied they are locked in a personal battle with Kate and Gerry McCann and has spoken of their pity for the distraught couple.
Pity? But surely the McCanns want only their daughter. And for Mrs Amaral’s husband not to write any more books that speculate on what could have happened to their daughter..?
“Everyone thinks we are fighting the McCanns but this is not true. I tell people all the time that they are having to endure the hardest pain in the world, which is losing a child.”