Madeleine McCann | Anorak - Part 47

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.

Reliving Madeleine McCann’s Missing Moments

madeleine-mccann-missing-poster.jpg“’WE’VE LET MADELEINE DOWN.’”

The Express is watching the McCanns. And it transcribes the “agonising moment” when Kate McCann realised her daughter had gone. “We’ve let her down, we’ve let her down,” she sobs. “

What light this sheds on the case is unclear. But the Express realises that no detail, however trivial, invasive and voyeuristic should be overlooked.

And it duly delivers the “extraordinary details” as told by a neighbour of the McCanns in Praia da Luz. This is “mum’s amazing outburst”.

Pamela Fenn, 81, lives in the flat above where the McCanns were staying. She says two night before Madeleine went missing she heard a toddler crying “Daddy, daddy” constantly between 10:30 and 11:45pm.

The crying is said to have stopped when the parents retuned to the apartment.

And on the night Madeleine went missing, Mrs Fenn also says she heard crying from below.

The sound of children crying… What can it mean?

Does the Mirror know? While the Express watches the parents, the Mirror is watching the detectives.

And it senses news. A development. The Mirror’s front page goes: “MADELEINE COPS: ‘She died by accident in the flat.’”

A source says the Portuguese police think Madeleine is dead and that it happened in the flat.

“COPS: WE HAVE THE EVIDENCE,” says another headline. And readers learn that the three detectives leading the search for Madeleine “insist they have evidence to show she died in her parents’ flat”.

Given Portugal’s secrecy laws, it seems odd that a meeting between the top three detectives should be accidentally leaked to the press.

It was only yesterday we heard the police spokesman say that all lines of enquiry remain open. We were told that the police have no firm evidence and if they did they would make an arrest.

Ad now they have “evidence”, although of what, remains to be deduced…

Posted: 23rd, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (473)

Brian Reade Sees Madeleine McCann In Cornwall

A LITTLE Madeleine McCann opportunism in the Mirror. Brain Reade uses the missing child to illustrate the impoverished state of Cornwall’s fire service.

Says he: “In bars across the land, the police involved in the Madeleine McCann case have been kicked senseless over their delayed reaction to her disappearance and the lack of manpower thrown at the case in the crucial initial stages. Which is fair enough.”

Yes, let’s give the foreign police a good kicking. Not that we need telling.
Reade goes on: “But what is our outrage over the disappearance (presumed dead) of two British citizens, along with the corpse of another, in an English holiday resort on Saturday night?

Reade speaks of the fire at Cornwall’s Penhallow Hotel, which has left three people missing and “dozens, of others, including children, mentally scarred”.

Says he: “Due to enforced changes, fire cover in Newquay is provided by ‘retrained’ part-timers.”

None of the fire personnel are believed to be Portuguese, although some may have been to the Algarve…

Posted: 23rd, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (10)

What’s Your Line On Madeleine McCann?


Or, as the Mirror’s front-page headline puts it: “DON’T GO HOME.”

Both papers feature the familiar picture of Madeleine McCann’s face. The Mirror talks of “hopes” of a “swift breakthrough in the case”.

The Express is, as ever, less circumspect, and says “a major breakthrough was imminent”. And, as yesterday, the investigation is at “crucial stage”.

So the McCanns won’t go home?

Here’s a “police source” to tell Express readers: “There is nothing to stop the McCanns going home. They are not suspects but we have told them it is not good timing because the investigation has changed. It is active now to assume that Madeleine is dead.”

So they can go home. The police have not told the McCanns to remain in Portugal. The Mirror’s source says “there could be developments”.

For starters, we now know “There is more than one person involved’.” Says police spokesman Olegario Sousa: “It’s natural than in a crime of this nature more than one person is involved.” But he can’t be certain. He adds: “If it was committed by one person, it would be difficult to resolve the case because only he or she knows what they did.”

Good to know that this case, now in its fourth month, is not as hard to crack as it could be. Says Sousa: “We don’t have a final view of what happened.”

So it could be one person. Or two. Or none. But there is a breakthrough imminent. “Do you think if we had the name we’d be waiting to arrest them?” asks Sousa.

The Express listens to this and manages to deduce from it, “police gave a rare official assurance that the investigation was nearing completion”.

Says Sousa: “The things that could happen depend on the decision of the group investigating the case.”

And: “We have already said that all lines are still open.”

And Madeleine McCann is missing…

Posted: 22nd, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (367)

Madeleine McCann’s Decisive Moments

madeleine-mccann-poster.jpg“MADELEINE: ALL POLICE LEAVE IS CANCELLED.”

Last week the Express told us that the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann had reached a “critical” stage. Today the paper enters the “decisive phase”.

We now know a critical stage lasts for one month. How long the decisive phase endures depends on how soon Portuguese police receive the forensic report on a “critical clue”.

This could also take a month. But the Express says this tiny scrap of evidence “has allowed detectives to build up a remarkably clear picture of what happened to Madeleine in the hours after she was taken”.

The paper does not say what this evidence is, only that police have refused to discuss it.

So the Express mentions the specks of blood found on the wall of the McCanns’ apartment, the ones identified as not being from Madeleine.

The Express says police have refused to say where this vital clue was discovered, but the Express narrows it down to either the apartment at the Ocean Club resort or one of 10 vehicles rigorously examined earlier this month.

Or it might be from one of the coastal areas around Praia da Luz searched by police. The Express hears that Madeleine might have been killed and thrown into the sea, or as the “credible” evidence once told us, her body “BURIED UNDER ROCKS” (the Mirror).

But whodunnit? The Express says “a possible suspect” is under surveillance in Britain. Is this person more possible or less possible than the last possible ‘suspect’ James Gorrod? And isn’t Robert Murat in Portugal?

We are not told. All we know is that after 110 days, the net is closing. This is, says the Express, the “final phase”.

And it might go on for months…

Posted: 21st, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (363)

Madeleine McCann Is Sjanneke Hofstede And Ribeiro Is Columbo

not-madeleine-mccann.jpgTHIS is the face of the girl they thought was Madeleine McCann, or Maddie, as the Mail’s front page rebrands the missing girl.

By way of a compare and contrast, the Express has its quotidian picture of Madeleine McCann on the front page. (Although it is expected to shift on the tenth anniversary of the Bouquet Revolution when Diana died, Elton sang and Britain’s top lip became soaked in tears and emotion.)

It is clear in an instant that Madeleine looks a bit like the Mail’s girl. But this new girl has a mole on her face, her eyes are dark brown and not marked by a dropping iris, her hair is blonder and her lips fuller.

And her name is not Madeleine McCann. Her name is Sjanneke Hofstede. She was the girl spotted by the child therapist who told the police and then posed for pictures in the Express. She was 100% sure Sjanneke was Madeleine.

The therapist wishes she’d have done more. Had only this expert walked over and seized the child she would have been the saviour. She would have been the child therapist who not only talked but did. She would have been the recipient of a massive reward. The therapist would have been wrestled to the ground by Sjanneke’s father, with whom she was having lunch, while his girlfriend, also present, dialled the authorities.

The Express makes no mention of this development. Doubtless it is still awaiting the results of DNA tests on the straw Sjanneke used to drink a strawberry milkshake before publishing the news. It will not jump to conclusions.

The Express focuses on the investigation. The Mail does hear “Portugal’s top policeman” Alipio Ribeiro answer critics that he has not deployed enough manpower to find the missing child. Says he: “I have always said that Poirot acted alone and was effective. This is not about numbers. Currently, it is not even about resources.”

We have always said that Poirot was Belgian, too overweight and a work of fiction. But we concede that if Ribeiro is to model himself on any crime fighter, better Poitot than, say, Spiderman or PC Plum from Balamory. Or Cracker.

But there is something of Lieutenant Columbo about Ribeiro’s investigation. He is waiting or the assumed kidnapper to slip up. He has a sense of who the criminal is, and then hounds them, all the time gathering evidence.

“Just one more thing…” says the Express. “MADELEINE – British suspect to be arrested in hours say police.”

Why let the papers know this unless the police want their man to make his move?

And this suspect is British. A Briton has been monitored for several weeks. Minds turn to Robert Murat, who, like Columbo, has a bad eye.

But before the denouement, the Express gathers all around. We are back to Poirot as it revisits the evidence and recaps the story so far. And then it revels all.

But not yet. Soon. Stay tuned…

Posted: 20th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (205)

Madeleine McCann: We’ve Told The Twins Madeleine Is Missing’

THE Mirror leads with: “Kate and Gerry McCann have told their two-year-old twins for the first time that big sister Madeleine has vanished.

“Taking little Sean and Amelie aside, Kate gently broke the news: ‘Madeleine has gone missing. Mummy and daddy are looking for her.'”

The Mirror has, however, stopped looking. Having pointed the finger at “creepy” Robert Murat, the paper’s writers are content with looking at the parents.

Such is the way of investigative reporting…

Posted: 18th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (200)

Madeleine McCann: Idle Talk Wastes Police Time

madeleine-mcann.gif“MADELEINE.” The Express begins in traditional fashion. “WE ARE JUST HOURS FROM THE SOLUTION.”

That “we” is not the Express, which has been leading with no news of Madeleine McCann for weeks. The paper’s front-page headline refers to the Portuguese police.

Yes, the same bundling foreign cops who give the Mail its headline: “We were too busy to tell the McCanns we think Maddie’s dead, say police.”

Alipio Ribeiro, director of the Policia Judiciaria, says his officers have “no idea” what happened to Madeleine McCann. But they are working on the “strong hypothesis” that she could be dead.

One other hypothesis, equally strong, is that she could not be alive. But the police have not swayed either way. And as Ribeiro says of Kate and Gerry McCann: “They are being informed into what happens but this is a very dynamic investigation with many hypotheses and more can still arise. We cannot explain everything to them that we investigate.”

In short, Ribeiro is a professional policeman who will not engage in speculation, least of at a press conference. He does not tell the McCanns their daughter might be dead or that she might be alive or that she might be sat in a Belgian café quaffing strawberry milkshake.

As for being on the verge of cracking the case, as the Express suggests, Ribeiro says: “In the next hours one of the keys of the case will become clear.”

Ribeiro deals in facts. As the Express hears him say: “There has been a lot of speculation, and if I denied everything erroneous that had been published I would have no time for anything else.”

Back To The Parents 

But the Express can fill in the gaps and confirm that accusations made against are, in the words of Madeleine McCann’s grandmother Eileen McCann, “ridiculous” and “obscene”.

The McCanns are not under investigation but we are, nonetheless, invited to watch them. They are on the Mirror’s front page. “YOU GIVE US HOPE,” says the headline. Kate and Gerry McCann are sat among a sea of cards and letters, some of the 20,000 messages of support they have received.

Inside, there is a picture of the parents smiling. Says the Mirror: “Every morning Kate and Gerry McCann wake up with hope that maybe this time the new day will release them from their ordeal. Every night they go to sleep with their hopes shattered yet again. Another day with no news of their vanished daughter Madeleine.”

Emotive stuff. But we at least do get news…of the parents. But now news of Madeleine. Not yet…

Posted: 17th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (67)

The Police Know Who Killed Madeleine McCann – Maybe

mccann-portugal.jpg“MADELEINE: Police: We know who killed her.”

Sadly, the Express has been relying on press releases and Gerry McCann’s blog for its investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and has no idea who killed the child.

But the police know. This is the “dramatic new development”. This is what has been “sensationally alleged”. These are the “claims”.

The Express has been reading Diario de Noticias, a Portuguese newspaper. It says: “The investigators have their hands in ‘a lot of information’ and even know who is behind the death of Madeleine.”

It goes on: “The key to the mystery resides in the friends of the parents who ate dinner together that night.”

Good to see that when it comes to finger pointing and conspiracy, the Portuguese press are every bit as able as their British counterparts.

So much for the reports in Portugal. What of the police’s latest press briefing?

The Mail’s listening in. Chief inspector Olegario Sousa says new official suspects, known as arguidos, “may” soon be named.

“Depending on the result of [DNA tests] there could be a change in the procedural position of those involved or their could arise other people who until now are not known.”

It’s as if Donald Rumsfeld never went away.

The Mail’s front page offers: “MADDIE ‘DIED THE NIGHT SHE VANISHED’.” Although it might not be true. So if you see her in a Belgian bar, Malta or Morocco, tell the police.

And tell the parents, who remain the focus of the Mirror’s front-page report on Madeleine McCann. There is the “MADELEINE PARENTS’ BOMBSHELL – WE COULD BE COMING HOME WITHOUT HER.”

Says Kate McCann: “We know we will be going back and I guess one day we will wake up and it will be right.”

This seems less of bombshell than a pained and calm reaction to the awful truth that her daughter is missing and there has been no trace of her.

And no trace of her in the family’s holiday apartment. As the Times says on its front page: “EXCLUSIVE: DNA blood is not Madeleine’s.” (You can read the same story in the Sun.)

Inside the paper: “DNA test boosts parents’ hope that Madeleine is still alive.”

This is the blood on the wall of the room where Madeleine slept, the blood that had sections of the British press aghast and appalled at those bungling Portuguese police who had not spotted it sooner, the blood that had the press speculating on her dying in the room. That blood is not hers.

The minute spots of blood discovered by British sniffer dogs are of a man from the “northeast European subgroup”. And this is a result that is “72 per cent accurate”.

But there are to be more tests. More accuracy. And more drama…

Posted: 16th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (103)

Madeleine McCann’s Parents Have Had Enough

madeleine-mccann.jpgMADELEINE McCann is on the Express’s front page. “MADELEINE,” says the headline, “We want to be the first to know what’s happened to her, say distraught parents.”

Well, they had best not rely on the Express, which has yet to shed any light on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, although it has cast shadows – yesterday we read of ‘suspect’ James Jerrod.

A source “close” to Kate and Gerry McCann tells the Express: “They have had enough of all this speculation and rumour.”

The Express says Madeleine might be dead. She might have been killed in the family apartment. It might have been murder. Or an accident…

Posted: 15th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (150)

James Gorrod Is Today’s Madeleine McCann ‘Suspect’

madeleine-mccann-express.jpgTHERE is no little skill in making something look easy. We speak, of course, of the Express’s editor who leads with the quotidian headline “MADELEINE”.

Easy enough to do, you say. But the Sun often can only manage “Maddy”, the Mirror “Maddie”.

And the editor still has to think of a reason for the headline being there at the expense of other news stories, like “Ziggy’s secret sex pics” (Star), “heroin addict Amy in rehab” (Mirror) and “True hero” (Sun), the story of father-of-three Garry Newlove, beaten to death on his doorstep by a gang of yobs.

As the Express’s TV advert says, the paper’s readers stand for good manners, traditional values and do not stand in the way of progress.

Madeleine on the cover smacks of tradition. Good manners, indeed, in allowing lawyer James Gorrod to defend himself. This is progress.

Today’s speculation 

Gorrod rented a blue Opel Corsa in Portugal five says before Madeleine McCann went missing. He returned the car on May 6. Staff at the rental centre were shocked to see that the car was fitted with a child seat. They believed Gorrod was travelling alone.

They called the police.

Says Gorrod: “A British police officer directly liaising with the Portuguese investigation team recently contacted me to eliminate the vehicle I hired with my wife and two-year-son in Praia da Luz at the same time Madeleine McCann disappeared. The vehicle has been identified and I have been told by the British police officer that he has no plans to interview me or my family, and he does not expect me or my family to have any further involvement in the investigation. We are, of course, deeply saddened by Madeleine’s disappearance and hope for her safe return.”

That’s that, then. But the Express wants us to know that it has been “discovered” that Mr Gorrod has “close links” with friends who were on holiday with Kate and Gerry McCann.

“British lawyer quizzed by Madeleine police on the ‘Exeter connection’,” says the Express.

The Gorrods live in Exeter, Devon, close to Dr Russell O’Brien and Jane Tanner, witnesses in the investigation who have pointed the finger at Robert Murat. The Gorrods are believed to have been staying in the same resort as their friends and the McCanns.

The Express reminds us that Robert Murat was in Exeter 10 days before Madeleine vanished.

And… And nothing. That’s it. The paper invites readers to draw their own conclusions.

And start again tomorrow…

Posted: 14th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (71)

Finding Medeleine McCann In A Woman’s Own Grief

madeleine-mccann-pics.jpgTHIS is “KATE McCANN’S AGONY.” This is Kate McCann telling Mirror readers via the front page: “I’d rather know if Madeleine was dead than live in limbo.”

“This is worst kind of limbo,” says Kate McCann. “In our hearts we’d both rather know – even if that means we face the terrible truth that Madeleine might be dead. I simply don’t know.”

More watching the parents. We can empathise with their suffering. But can we ever understand?

“Until you’re in that situation you can’t even begin to imagine what it is that gets you out of bed. You just have to go on. And it doesn’t take the guilt away,” says Mrs McCann.

She’s talking not to the Mirror but to Women’s Own magazine. And the tone has shifted. This is not so much about finding Madeleine McCann as about understanding the missing girl’s mother.

Such a story keeps the child in the news, the initial aim of the McCanns’ media campaign. But it also invites us to feel for the parents. This is an appeal not to find Madeleine but not to judge the parents.

But the search for Madeleine goes on. And the papers have narrowed the search down:

MADELEINE: SHE IS ALIVE,” says the Express on its front page.

SHE MAY BE DEAD,” says the Sun’s lead headline.

At least readers don’t have to speculate over the state of Kate McCann…

Posted: 13th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (39)

100 Days Of Madeleine McCann: Looking At Nothing

madeleine-mccann.jpg“KEEP looking for Maddie,” says the Sun.

It’s been 100 days since Madeleine McCann disappeared. And we’ve been looking. We’ve been looking at Robert Murat. We’ve been looking at the parents, Kate and Gerry McCann. We’ve been looking in Morocco, Malta, Germany, Belgium and Spain. We’ve seen balloons in Argentina and Gerry in the White House. We’ve seen the Pope and a butterfly in the Vatican.

The media has told us where to look. They have directed the search, swarming around the McCanns, competing to show how much they care.

This was the single thread story all parents can relate to. Every parent’s worst nightmare, fed by the tabloid press. Paedo panic. Dungeons. Child trafficking. Parents holding children’s hands that bit tighter as they warn off paedos.

And the news went to the very top. David Beckham was on the telly in Spain. JK Rowling was offering a reward. The English rugby union team wore Madeleine T-shirts. Hell’s Angels handed out posters. And in a mawkish display of overt caring and empathy, MPs wore yellow ribbons in the House. Gordon Brown vowed to help. The BBC broadcast live from Praia da Luz.

This Year’s Wristband

The disappearance of Madeleine McCann has become this year’s Make Poverty History campaign. And then we bought the Madeleine McCann yellow bracelet.

bandsthumbnail.jpgWe waited for the Maddy Catty, the official version of the toy Kate McCann holds, all proceeds going to expanding Sex Offenders Register. There isn’t a Register in Portugal. If only there were…

The Mirror wrapped a yellow ribbon to its masthead. “Click her for the slideshow,” says the Sun’s website today. The McCanns holiday snaps are now a horror show broadcast in a voracious media frenzy. The Mirror’s woman on the scene noted Murat’s “creepy” behaviour. But what is more creepy than this?

EastEnders changed it story line. So too Coronation Street. Entertainment should not impinge on reality. Such was the coverage; producers were concerned their viewers may confuse the livid pain in Portugal with a script, a work of fiction.

Looking To Speculate

And the public spectacle has been fuelled by speculation. Today the Mirror leads with: “SHOW US THE PROOF – Madeleine parents tell cops: Where is the evidence she is dead?”

Madeleine’s parents are Kate and Gerry McCann. We know them. They are the tabloid press’s Everyparent, the symbol of what could be us but for the grace of god.

“Madeleine,” says the Express, as ever, “New British suspect hunted by police” and “Riddle of ‘lost’ hour.”

And the Telegraph follows: “Parents tell of the 100 wasted days in the search for Madeleine.”

The broadsheet take on that travel and publicity is sobering. It counts for nought. Madeleine has not been found. And finding their daughter was all the McCanns wanted.

No End

The result has not been the happy ending we hoped for. Nothing has happened. There has been no meaningful debate on paedophilia, the crime the tabloids spoke of.

But the papers can’t look away. So we look at the parents. We look at the suspect. Fingers are pointed. Hands are wrung.

And we see the McCanns’ pain. And we read their blog and see interviews on the TV and in the press and magazines.

And we learn nothing new about the missing child. We just watch, voyeurs at a public display of heartache and pain…

Posted: 11th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (25)

Madeleine McCann: 100 Days Of Voyeurism And Entertainment

mccanns.jpgTHE case against Robert Murat is making slow progress, or no progress. An unblinking Madeleine McCann continues to stare at readers from the front page of the tabloids, scaring parents and children via leaflets in banks and cinema adverts.

But now there is a new bad man. He is Francisco Pagarete. He is the lawyer acting for suspect number one Robert Murat.

“Lawyers sick outburst,” says the Mirror’s front page. “These bloody McCanns should just go away and leave this town,” says he. “They’re giving it a bad name.”

The Express also leads with the lawyer’s words, albeit abridged to “Why don’t these bloody McCanns go home”. The words hang beneath the word “MADELEINE”, the Express’s bold statement playing at the bold facts.

And there is more from Pagarete. “As a Portuguese person I think it is strange that somebody would leave their kids. Then, after the first thing happened, they left their twins and went to see the Pope. It was like the McCanns on tour.”

The McCanns did meet the Pope. Or, as Mick Hume points out in the Times, “as a BBC headline put it, in a Lloyd-George-knew-my-father moment, ‘Pope meets Madeleine’s parents’.”

That was the private moment played out before millions. The McCanns were doing their bit, getting spiritual succour. But why were we all invited to watch? Were the media outlets going out of their way to help one family or just giving the public what they wanted: grief.

But there was no news. There is no news. All is a public spectacle. And now the lawyer for the only suspect is the bad man who says bad things.

“You would never leave them alone like that in a foreign country and go to have a drink. It is not a normal thing,” says he.

Many may well be appalled. Others will agree with Pagarete. But these words and their reporting add nothing to the case, shed no light on the girl’s disappearance.

In any case, the McCanns aren’t leaving. “I won’t be driven out by bullies,” says Kate McCann on the Mail’s front page. This is the “Kate McCann interview”.

Says she: “Sticks and stones… we will never go through anything worse than being parted from Madeleine. We will not be leaving or be forced out. I am not prepared to be bullied into something that I don’t want to.”

So she won’t go. And tomorrow when it will be 100 days since Madeleine disappeared, the McCanns will be in Praia da Luz. And so too will be the TV cameras and the newspaper reporters.

They will want a story. And they will get balloons, doves and to review an investigation that has turned into voyeurism and entertainment…

Posted: 10th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (239)

Getting Close To Madeleine McCann’s Parents

madeleine_belgium.jpg MADELEINE McCann is not on the Mirror’s front page. We are not looking for her today. We are looking at her mother Kate McCann.

“I AM COPING WITH THE GUILT,” says the headline. “Maddy mum pain as new DNA clues probed.”

Kate McCann is on the Mirror’s front page. Readers see her face. She is not talking to the world but to Mirror readers. That at least is the impression. The Mirror and the Express are locked in a fight to see which of them can be the official Madeleine McCann paper.

“MADEDLEINE,” says the Express’s front-page headline. “Police intercept parents’ phone calls and spy on their emails.”

Newspapers in Portugal says the local police have been watching the parents. We all have.

Dairio de Noticias says: “The police want to question the McCanns and their friends so that they can clarify the contradiction in their statements. They will put the telephone calls and emails which were intercepted to them.”

In the Mirror we see the “pain”. We are intruding into the mother’s grief, but then this is the story every parent can relate to. And there is a story to sell.

“I know the situation we were in that night. I have said all along that I didn’t think we were taking a risk,” says Kate McCann.

She is reliving the night of Madeleine’s disappearance. She is doing so on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. But the Mirror is up close. This is their story.

Does Kate feel guilty about leaving her children alone while she dined with friends? “I have actually come to terms with that a little bit,” says Kate McCann. And: “I do feel desperately sorry that I wasn’t with Madeleine when she was taken.”

But what of the whispering campaign against she and her husband? The McCanns’ friend Rachel Oldfield, who was with them in Portugal, is unimpressed. “It is very hurtful and all rather ludicrous,” says she.

She goes on: “Whether a journalist has had a bit of information and made the rest up, or the police are feeding some truth or untruths, I don’t know. I read a timetable of what was supposed to have happened in one paper and the timings are totally wrong.”

But the story is all. This is about keeping Madeleine McCann in the news, ensuring the disappearance of one child is the lead news story, above Iraq, floods and other missing persons.

What matter facts?

Posted: 9th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (28)

Madeleine McCann’s Plates And Cups

de-pauze-madeleine-mccann.jpgREMEMBER that sighting of Madeleine McCann in Belgium?

The Express has a photograph of the waiter who served “Madeleine” and her two adult associates at the De Pauze restaurant.

He carries a tray on which is sat a book and a bottle of pink Fisti milkshake.

Katleen Sampermans is the “child therapist” who saw the trio “flee” the eatery in a black Volvo. The car’s number plate contained the letters VUV, she noted.

But police cannot find the black Volvo. Says Detective Eddy Houben: “They would have some forward if they were an innocent couple. They could not have missed the publicity. We are taking this very seriously indeed.”

“Fake plates clue to Belgian duo,” says the Sun. The assumption is that because the police can’t locate the vehicle, the car’s number plates must have been falsified.

Some speculation there. But maybe Katleen Sampermans, who saw “Madeleine” got it wrong or made it up? Or perhaps she is so keen to help she looked and she saw what she wanted to see.

DNA tests on the straw Madeleine is said to have drunk from “failed to rule out she was spotted there”. The tests revealed the person who had drunk from the straw was a man…

Posted: 9th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (12)

‘They’ Say The Parents Killed Madeleine McCann


The Express is, of course, appalled at the suggestion that Gerry and Kate McCann did murder their daughter Madeleine. But the paper feels duty bound to report the denial on its front page.

Such is the passion evoked by the story of Madeleine McCann that the headline could read “WE DIDN’T KILL YOUR MADELEINE”, the McCanns’ appeal for understanding and compassion to the readers at large.

A source close to the couple tells the paper: “Kate and Gerry are well aware what these reports [Madeleine might have died in the apartment] are inferring – that they or one of their close friends killed Madeleine either deliberately or by accident.

“Gerry is completely livid about it all. It is completely hurtful and untrue.”

“Maddy parents’ fury at murder slurs,” say the Mail’s cover page. “YOU ARE NOT SUSPECTS,” says the Mirror’s front-page headline.

Police spokesman Olegario Sousa tells us: “The family are not suspects. This is the official position.”

But we don’t know. Facts on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann don’t stack up to much. The news of blood on the McCanns’ walls is open to much interpretation.

The Mirror considers the evidence. It says Madeleine may have died in the family holiday apartment. “Killers are often those closest to home, they say,” writes Julie McCaffrey, who repeats what “they say” for we readers to dismiss. “This shows the McCanns in a new light, they snipe. No smoke without fire…”

The writer goes on to warn: “But jumping to the wrong conclusions is dangerous, not least incredibly hurtful.” Indeed. Tell that to Robert Murat who one Mirror hack found so “creepy” she had to tell the police about him, rightly, and then tell her readers, wrongly.

In any case Madeleine McCann is not dead. As Gerry McCann assures us: “Kate and I strongly believe that Madeleine is alive and that she was taken from the apartment but obviously what we don’t know is what happened to her afterwards, who has taken and what was their motive.”

Which means the Express can feature stories about Madeleine in a Belgian restaurant. For three days running readers have been invited to wonder if it was Madeleine sat in a Flemish eatery with two adults. Today readers learn that the results of a DNA test on a glass will prove if it was the missing child.

And if it wasn’t Madeleine, what then? Are we back to watching the parents and seeing the media they are using to find their daughter turn against them?

Posted: 8th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (114)

Madeleine McCann: A Tabloid Play For Today

mosquito.jpgSPECULATION blurred with fact on the front pages. A conversation on Madeleine McCann.


Mirror: “IS IT HER BLOOD?”

A crowd forms.

Express: “Girl injured as she was snatched from flat”



Express: “Kidnapper tried to wipe away the vital evidence”

An old crone approaches.


Express: “Traces of Madeleine McCann’s blood have been found in the holiday apartment where she was last seen”

Good on the Express for slicing through so much speculation with fact, albeit fact that is uncorroborated by anything approaching proof.

The Mirror, which has now dispensed with the yellow ribbon attached to its masthead, says the traces of blood are being analysed. It is not yet known if they are from Madeleine McCann.

Britain v Portugal

And then there is the British angle. Blood is found after three months of looking for Madeleine McCann. It is found not by Portuguese police but by the British.

“British police have found traces of blood,” begins the Mail’s take on developments in Portugal. “The traces – found by British sniffer dogs – could be of the missing four-year-old or her kidnapper,” says the Sun. The Sun’s headline reads: “BRIT SNIFFER DOG FIND.”

There’s an element of patriotism in the Madeleine McCann story and with it a slight on the Portuguese police who failed to spot the blood. “10 ASTONISHING POLICE BLUNDERS,” says the Mirror.

If this blood responds with a person on the UK’s sex offenders’ register, the Sun will go into a nationalistic spasm. It will call for the register to be in place in all European countries, and for paedo-paranoia to be spread.

The British will have forged the way ahead on matters of child abduction.

Whose Blood Is It Anyway?

But we must not speculate. That is the job of the papers. Here’s the Sun to tell us of three “theories”. Portuguese police officers tuning in would do well to make notes:

1. The blood could be “Maddie’s, indicating she was injured before or during her abduction”
2. It could be the “kidnapper’s, especially if the child put up a struggle”
3. “Or it could belong to others who have stayed in the apartment – there were hundreds before the McCanns and several tourists have slept there since”

Point ‘3’ seems of interest. Might it be that the Portuguese police did not overlook this glaring evidence picked up by British dogs because the blood is not all that old, that it was not there at the time of Madeleine McCann’s vanishing?

And we would like to add to the Sun’s list and wonder if the blood belongs to any other member of the McCann family, a police officer or a mosquito smashed against the wall?

The yellow curtain falls…

Posted: 7th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (66)

Madeleine McCann: Murat ‘Cleared’, A Volvo And Urs Hans Von Aesch

ylenia-lenharda.jpegBELGIAN police are searching for the owners of the black Volvo in which Madeleine McCann was removed from a Belgian restaurant.

Madeleine was spotted by Katleen Sampermans. The “33-year-old therapist is professionally qualified in child welfare”. The Express places much stock in qualifications and education – see quotidian mentions of cardiologist Gerry McCann and GP Kate – and affords more time to Ms Sampermans’ testimony.

But the car has not been found. Shame. We wonder if the Belgian police are up to the job?

“Of course we are taking this sighting seriously, because that is our job,” says Detective Houben Eddy.

There are sightings of Madeleine McCann in Spain. Sightings in Morocco. Sightings in Malta. Sightings in Wales. Police are looking for Madeleine McCann all over Europe. But no-one has found her. Are they failing? Or is it an impossible job?

And the Swiss police are looking in. Alleged child abductor Urs Hans Von Aesch has killed himself. His body is slumped in a car. He was the prime suspect in the disappearance of Ylenia Lenharda, a five-year-old Swiss girl (pictured).

The Express says Ylenia bears a “striking resemblance to Madeleine”. She does not; not unless all white children look alike.

Readers learn that Von Aesch might have been holidaying in Portugal when Madeleine McCann went missing.

They read that Ylenia vanished last Tuesday from a swimming pool in north-east Switzerland. Von Aesch was the chief suspect. He was on the run. And he shot a man. This man is in Swiss hospital. The Express cites the theory that this man had evidence on Von Aesch and was silenced.

Anorak readers may wonder where all this speculation leaves Robert Murat. He has not shot himself. He remains at large.

The Mirror talks of “mounting speculation” that she is about to be cleared.

If so, the Mirror says the “Portuguese investigation” will be back to square one. Perhaps it would have been different had a Mirror journalist not turned police on to “creepy” Murat and then announced her suspicions to the world?

If Murat is cleared, the papers will pursue him for his story. They will surely pay him for his time.

And Madeleine McCann will still be missing…

Posted: 7th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (95)

Hunting Madeleine McCann And Robert Murat

madeleine_poster1.jpgPOLICE and two British cocker spaniels are swarming over Robert Murat’s home in Portugal.

One dog is trained to search for dead bodies. The other dog looks for live ones. In the McCanns apartment, a Portuguese dog can sense if a dead body has been in the room. It picks up the scent.

Robert Murat is chief suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

This is Robert Murat. One-eyed Murat.

File On Murat

The Sun has a “File on Murat”.

This is Murat, of whom the Sun’s Julie Moult delivered up a piece entitled “stories of a fantasist”. “He always seemed so eager to get involved in the police investigation,” said the Sun’s woman–on-the-scene. “Robert claimed he had a daughter just like Madeleine and said he felt compelled to do anything he could. But to me he seemed like classic fantasist.”

The Mail’s Neil Sears told us: “There was something more to the friendly expat who called himself ‘Rob’ than met the eye.” Murat made Sears “feel slightly uncomfortable”.

But it was the Sunday Mirror’s Lori Campbell who alerted police to Murat’s behaviour, she saw as “creepy”. She then told us, publicising her gut feeling.

Creepy Murat. But not half as creepy about the media’s voracious feeding frenzy which turned child abduction into voyeurism, a spectator sport. Madeleine McCann was turned into Maddy and Maddie, the victim of “every parent’s worst nightmare”.

“Kidnapping has weird echoes of Soham case,” said the Express’s front page. “MADDY SUSPECT BEHAVED JUST LIKE HUNTLEY.”

Paul Titcombe, Murat’s ex-boss recalled children’s parties: “Instead of mingling, he’d go straight to the bouncy castle and jump around. He got a bit of a name for himself. It seemed like a fixation.”

There were the “SEX SECRETS OF MADDY SUSPECT”. The “kinky threesome with pool cleaner and wife”.

Such is the file on Murat.

At home With Murat

And here is Murat. Creepy Murat. He is called a “liar” in a stage–managed confrontation with three of the McCanns’ travelling companions. His DNA is being examined and re-examined. Murat is being questioned by police.

And Murat? Says he: “It’s ruined my life. It’s made things very difficult for my family here and in Britain. The only way I’ll survive this is if they catch Madeleine’s abductor.”

The story of one girl’s disappearance had become the story of one man’s survival.

Murat’s Alibi

And now the Express leads with the news that Murat’s home has been taped off “as his alibi is blown wide open”.

But no trace of Madeleine McCann has been found at his home. An Irish ex-pat called Martin Smith says he saw Murat sat in bar on the night of Madeleine’s disappearance. Murat says he was at home all night.

“Madeleine: a major breakthrough,” says the Express in bold letters. Mr Smith says he saw a man carrying a child wrapped in a blanket on the night Madeleine McCann vanished. “If it had been him [Murat] carrying the child, I guarantee I would have recognised him.” So it wasn’t Murat?

Police have found nothing to link Murat with the McCann’s apartment. No DNA matches.

Who dunnit?

What now? The Express knows. “Prayers for Madeleine,” it orders. Praying will crack the case.

And over in the Mirror, the paper whose journalist informed the police of “creepy Murat, Madeleine leads. But no front-page word on Murat. The Mirror has a “SECOND SUSPECT”.

A police source tells of another man under police surveillance. Murat remains the child suspect but this other man is in the frame.


Readers aren’t told who he is. The papers don’t know. They are all looking at Murat. And wondering what “THE HUNT FOR MADELEINE” will deliver up next…

Posted: 6th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (202)

A Therapist’s Words On Madeleine McCann In Belgium

KATLEEN Sampermans is sat at a table. She’s the “child therapist” who saw Madeleine McCann dining in a Belgian restaurant with two adults.

Ms Sampermans is “100 per cent sure” she saw Madeleine. But by the time she had spoken to the waitress and alerted police to her discovery, the trio had “fled”, says the Express.

Now she’s talking to the press. “I feel very guilty that I did not do more when I had the chance,” says she. “I was hesitating. The day after I felt so sick that I had to go to the doctor.”

She tells us: “The only thing that has been in my mind has been the parents of Madeleine. I would say to them that if they want to contact me I would be happy to speak to them.”

About what? How she saw their daughter alive and well and drinking a strawberry milkshake? Perhaps as a child therapist this Madeleine spotter could advise the McCanns on the best way to heal their twin children?

“I would also like to say to them I am so sorry that I did not take the girl and they find her.” So says the child psychologist.

Or as one Anorak writer notes, Sampermans may also be sorry that she did not just ask the child if her name was Madeleine. Dashing over to a table and snatching a child is an ill-advised move, even for an expert in child welfare.

She says the little girl was laughing one minute and then sad. This she tells us is “not normal”. “The parent’s behaviour was very strange. They both spoke to the child but never to each other.”

Strange? Perhaps they were just a typical dysfunctional family at a café, or a group so at ease they find no need for small talk?

“As time went by I became more and more sure it was Madeleine but I did not know what to do.”

The man waited by the car – “his eyes were darting around everywhere, scanning everyone on the terrace.” Was he worried? Was he wondering why this strange woman was staring at him?

Sampermans gathered herself. She called the police. She wrote down three digits of the car number plate in which Madeleine and her dining companions had “fled”. She told all to the Daily Express.

And the Express tell us…

Posted: 6th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (23)

Madeleine McCann, Photofits And Career Criminality

madeleine-mccann.gif“WE DID SEE MADELEINE,” says the headline on the Daily Express’ front page. And this from the Express: “The world’s greatest newspaper.”

Truth upon truth.

The Express says the spotter is a child therapist. Her age is not given. But the inclusion of her career in dispatches – the Express never tires of reminding readers that Gerry McCann is a cardiologist and his wife Kate a GP – is shorthand for trust.

This woman works with children so it follows that she can recognise Madeleine McCann.

The Express says police in Belgium describe the witness as “trusted”. They add: “She works with children and noticed something unusual. That is why we are taking it seriously.”

Job Done

But the Portuguese police took seriously those other sightings of Madeleine McCann in Malta and Morocco. Were those spotters trained in child therapy or mere “holidaymakers” Back in June the Sun heard from Ray Roberts, a British tourist. It was late at night. He saw a girl with an Arabic-looking man in his 40s and a younger woman. The child appeared to be wearing a black wig. She tripped. “Get up, little girl,” said the man in broken English. “They were strange,” said Roberts, “it just jarred.”

The Star talked of “hundreds of reports of sightings”.

But this new sighting is special says the Express, and not just because of the spotter’s day job: “The Daily Express can reveal that the Dutch man matched an identikit image of one seen ‘hanging around’ Praia da Luz in Portugal at the time of Madeleine’s disappearance.”

This would be the image the Portuguese police would not allow the British tabloid press to see? The image produced by the “bungling” Portuguese police?

The paper notes that Briton Alex Murray, 60, recognised the man from the photofit image drawn up by police in Belgium. He spotted the Dutchman in Praia da Luz near the time the four-year-old went missing.

Says the Express: “The utilities worker from Newbridge on Wye, mid Wales, said the man was ‘hanging around’ the Jasmin Cafe – less than half a mile from the apartment where Madeleine was taken.”

A utilities worker, eh? But we won’t know the truth until the results of the “DNA test on ‘Maddy’ milkshake” (Mirror front-page headline) are revealed by a scientist.

Total Recall

The Express says a waiter and waitress have corroborated the child therapist’s report that a couple acting suspiciously accompanied “Madeleine”.

Waitress Jolien Houbrech, 21, is talking to the Mirror. The therapist approaches her. “She asked if I noticed any resemblance between Madeleine and the child,” she Houbrech.

“She said that because of her work as a child therapist she had noticed that their behaviour was not that of normal parents. After she said that, I said maybe she should call it in to the police.”

She adds: “Now I wish I had done more and paid more attention to the couple and maybe tried to hear the girl talking. But at the time I didn’t notice anything suspicious.”
But then what does a waitress know..?

Posted: 4th, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (76)

Madeleine McCann: Making A Meal In Belgium

madeleine-mccann-suspect.jpgPOLICE in Belgium have issued a computer image of the man seen with “MADELEINE” McCann close to the Dutch border.

No lazy eye. No cigarette. This face does not look like Robert Murat, the case’s chief suspect. Not even if you draw glasses on it. This man has been seen with a brown-haired British woman. They have both been seen with a child who looks like Madeleine McCann.

“Dramatic breakthrough in search as kidnapped girl is spotted in Belgium,” says the Express on its front page. No circumspection. Just fact.

And, of course, this is no less or more dramatic than those sightings of Madeleine in Morocco and Malta. No less dramatic than when the Dutchman’s picture with an ‘X’ marking the spot where Madeleine’s body could be found. No less dramatic than when Robert Murat was shut in a room at the police station with three of the McCanns’ dining companions.

There is no little drama in the case of Madeleine McCann. But there are no car chases. No flashing lights. No arrests. The drama is all in the telling.

And so to this couple, eating at the De Pauze restaurant. The girl is with them. Police are carrying out DNA tests on the cup used by this “Madeleine”.

A witness is watching all. She’s a child therapist. She says the child is “nervous looking”. She calls the police. When she returns, the group has “fled”.

The couple and the child get into a Volvo with Belgian number plates with the letters VUV. They are seen “speeding off”.

The Express says “several witnesses” in the case remember seeing the little girl. “They said all three were acting suspiciously.” The police are asking questions. Memories are being jogged. Did you see the poor little girl with the swarthy man? It might be Madeleine McCann. Do you remember?

But why Belgium? The Express lists the “legacy of abuse” in Belgium. It mentions Marc Dutroux, convicted of child murder and kidnap. The efit doesn’t look much like him. And he’s in jail. The Express talks of Belgium’s “paedophile rings” and a “paedophile village”.

Madeleine has been seen in Belgium before. In June she was with a Belgian couple outside Liege cathedral. But now more was heard of her. Either the people in Belgium are mistaken or not all that observant, given the so many Britons saw Madeleine in Malta.

“MADELEINE ‘SEEN’ IN BELGIUM,” says the Mirror’s front-page headline.

This is big news. And, as the Express says, Gerry and Kate McCann are “being kept informed”. And they are off to visit Huelva in Spain. Not Belgium. Not yet…

Posted: 3rd, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (56)

Get Your Madeleine McCann Insurance

jail-child.gif“ARE your kids safe,” says the Sun’s Fergus Shanahan. This question comes equipped with a picture of Madeleine McCann.

“Perhaps you’re lying on the beach. Or around the hotel pool.” Reading the Sun. Eating burgers and beans. Drinking pints of lager.

“So let me ask you: Do you know exactly where your kids are. Yes, you probably have a good idea. But can you put hand on heart and say you are utterly sure.”

You think. Well, I left them up the chimney…

The Sun’s man with a column goes on to say that the panic now gripping your heart is akin to what Gerry and Kate McCann are going through.

But there is hope. No, not that your child will be locked away in a young offender’s institution or a mid-ranking independent school with boarding facilities.

The hope is that should the kids go missing you will at least get a pay out. Added to the money saved on ice-creams, school books and fines, you are quids in.

The Express introduces readers to InsureandGo. It’s offering mums and dads the chance to inure their child. Should Armani go missing for longer than 24 hours after it has been reported to police, you qualify for ££££!

The caveats are that the child must be under 18 and the maximum windfall/ pay out if £110,000.

“We aim to give customers peace of mind when they go away,” says Perry Wilson, the company’s managing director, an adult you can trust.

“After the disappearance of Madeleine McCann we had a number of calls from concerned parents inquiring what support they would receive from their travel insurance company if their child went missing on holiday.”

So now the kind of parents who read of Madeleine McCann and think it could happen to their loved ones can go abroad assured that if Junior goes missing they can afford to mount a decent search operation.

And with £100,000 on the table, if Armani can just remain the suitcase for a few days more, the family can enjoy the sun and relax after an anxious year…

Posted: 3rd, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (41)

Not Another Madeleine McCann

hide_and_seek.jpg“I WAS terrified,” says Beverly Fleetham. “I kept thinking of Madeleine McCann’s family and I remember saying, ‘Don’t let this happen to me.’”

The Express brings more. “My partner Steven raced off in his car to look in all the places Morgan likes playing. It was the worst three hours of my life.”

Beverly dials 999. Friends and family search the woods and gardens in Kelty, Fife.

Morgan, aged five, wakes up. She has been asleep in the back of her mother’s car.


If you have any stories about games of hide-and-seek that went too far and calling for your child and not hearing them respond in an instant, call the Express.

It could be you…

Posted: 3rd, August 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (12)

Madeleine McCann Gets Cracker Princess Diana Treatment

maddie_hampden.jpgMORE news on Madeleine McCann. No, she’s not been found. No, someone has not been charged with her kidnap.

The Express will not let something so recherché as news impact upon its coverage of the missing child.

“MADELEINE,” says the headline across its front page:

Specially trained British police fly in

Portuguese detectives have cancelled all leave

Investigation at critical stage.

Madeleine McCann is getting the Princess Diana treatment. Each day brings more speculation and the promise of something different, or at least a new theory and with it a reason to show Madeleine.

Readers can deal with each point in turn. First up, “Cracker-style” psychologists are heading over to the Algarve. They will try to establish a likely “psychological profile” for Madeleine’s “kidnapper”. Cracker is, of course, the obese, sweaty-necked TV cop. The Express thinks nothing of merging true crime with TV drama. Both sell newspapers.

Of course, British police have already been in Portugal. Back in May, the Sun cheered as British coppers journeyed to the Algarve, including Detective Superintendent Graham Hill, attached to the Child Exploitation and Protection Centre. Hill was on the case. The Portuguese cops, branded as bungling, were ignorant of paedophile-panic. Hill and the British tabloid press would teach them.

And British police have helped the investigation. They have interviewed 490 holidaymakers who were in the resort of Praia da Luz when “the kidnap” took place. More than 2,500 inquires have been processed.

These new Crackers are “experts in the predatory behaviour of paedophiles and child abusers.” They have helped police catch “serious sex offenders”.

And now they are over there. But with paedo-panic cranked right up, British defences are depleted.

(The Times brings news: “Rise in number of sex offenders ‘is swamping supervision service’.” The story is accompanied by a picture of a man watching a child on a swing. Police officers have lost track of 322 registered sex offenders. The sex offender watchlist has been amended to include: outraging public decency, theft, burglary with intent, child abduction and harassment where it could be proved that the crime was sexually motivated.)

The Parents 

But the McCann investigation is at a critical stage, says the Express, something it has been telling us for weeks. We should let them go. The McCanns need them more than we do, for now.

And here come Kate and Gerry McCann, living what we are told is every parent’s worst nightmare – a nightmare the British press feed.

The Express hears reports that the McCanns’ relationship is under strain. But it says this is not so. “Gerry adores Kate, and she adores him,” says Madeleine’s grandmother, Eileen McCann.

Gerry McCann is dropping his sister Trisha off at the airport. It is an “emotional farewell”. Eileen McCann says Kate McCann is “really down”.

The Express watches her pass. It shows readers her face. Is she cracking up? The Express zooms in. It cares about the McCanns. It wants to show readers the truth.

So we look. But we see no change…

Posted: 31st, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (188)