Madeleine McCann | Anorak - Part 48

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.

Madeleine McCann: The Exeter Connection

mccann-friends.jpg“MADELEINE – Now her parents’ friends are hit by hate campaign.”

Lat week, the Express told us of the hate campaign targeted at Kate and Gerry McCann. Today the talk is of “smears” against the McCanns family and friends.

Why has the Express promoted Madeleine McCann to its front page, positioning her in the spot reserved for Princess Diana? Is this what Diana would have wanted? What is the Express selling? Hope? Its credentials as a caring organ? Conspiracy?

Reading on, we learn that there is no hate. The McCanns friends have not been subjected to physical and verbal attacks. There is just a Portuguese newspaper Sol saying that detectives hold no-one above suspicion.

The police are pouring over inconsistencies in the friends’ statements. All nine are being treated as suspects.

And hospital consultant Russell O’Brien, friend to the McCanns, has, it is claimed, been spoken to by police about his time in Exeter. O’Brien and his partner Jane Tanner moved to the city weeks before their trip to Portugal. The Express reads Sol and thereby learns that Murat was in the Devon city for 10 days, arriving back in the Algarve on May 1.

Justine McGuinness, the McCanns’ campaign manager, tells us: “It is absolutely not the case that anyone in the party with the McCanns had ever met Robert Murat before they went on holiday.”

And that’s it.

And Madeleine McCann is still missing…

Posted: 30th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (135)

Madeleine McCann: Look Into Robert Murat’s Eyes

murat.jpgAGAIN the Express has Madeleine McCann where Princess Diana once resided in perpetuity: on its front page.

“MADELEINE,” says the headline, “witness tells chief suspect: You are lying.”

The Express has news of the face-to-face meeting between Robert Murat and three of the McCanns friends. One of the women launches a “tirade”. It is claimed she points the finger at Murat and screams: “I know you were there. I would recognise you anywhere.”

They recognise Murat because, as the Express says, he has a lazy right eye. Look into my eyes. He has a detached retina.

The Express says this could “Shatter” Murat’s alibi. It could. Or couldn’t. Murat remains a free man, albeit under suspicion.

Murat’s “spokesman” Tuck Price, says: “Robert found it traumatic. He could not understand how these people could sit there and accuse him of lying. It all seems to revolve around them recognising his dodgy right eye.” Adding: “It was dark, how could they have seen it. Besides that, he was not there anyway.”

Mr Price is billed as a “friend” to Murat in the Mirror. Why not in the Express? An oversight by the paper or a slight shift designed to show Murat as friendless. Who would stand by him but a spokesman?

But Dr Russell O’Brian is adamant. He says he saw Murat at 1am. A Dr Fiona Payne is alleged to have told police: “He seemed to be peeking into the apartment.” Dr O’Brien’s partner, Jade Tanner, tells of a man rushing away from the resort carrying a small child in blanket.” All three are friends of the McCanns.

“You’re a liar. I saw you peek in apartment,” says the Mirror’s headline.

But we don’t know if he did. Murat says he is innocent. A friend of the McCanns says Murat was in the area on the night Madeleine McCann went missing. And that is it.
More is need to secure a conviction. But we know no more.

All we have is the finger pointing…

Posted: 27th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (432)

Speaking Of Madeleine McMann…

madeleine_posterjpg.jpgANOTHER day for no news of missing Madeleine McCann. Another day for more news of Madeleine McCann’s parents.

The Express has Madeleine as its unshakable front-page story. Voices ask if this would it be so if she were not blonde, not the daughter of a consultant cardiologist and GP, facts the Express never tires of repeating?

The investigation being carried out in the tabloid press is “who is to blame?” – a choice between the Portuguese police and paedophiles. But the single thread story is of the parents.

Such has been the media feeding frenzy that the Express can produce the headline: “MADELEINE – Now Her Parents Face Hate Campaign.”

The Express says “several websites” have been bombarded with “nasty and offensive” messages. The message writers accuse Kate and Gerry McCann of “not doing enough to protect their daughter from being snatched”.

That is not a hate campaign. This is people voicing an opinion. The Express would have it that the McCanns are beyond reproach but in the media feeding frenzy all parties are likely to get bitten.

Trolling The Web  

And it’s not just on Anorak that questions have been raised about McCanns behaviour since their daughter went missing.

As a further headline in the Express says: “Madeleine’s home town turns against her parents.”

The website of the Leicester Mercury newspaper has disabled its message facility after “nasty” comments were posted.

The papers editor, Nick Carter, says: “A tiny minority of people seem to want to say nasty, spiteful and defamatory things about the McCann family. They are bombarding our site and we had no choice but to block comment entirely on reports about the family.”

Or the paper could monitor comments before allowing them on site. Although this is a huge undertaking.

Express readers are not party to any of these offensive comments, and having seen some of the stuff submitted to Anorak – and one writer has been banned – comments can be a spray of masturbatory spite.

No News 

But it is not a hate campaign. These are internet trolls mouthing off because the web offers them anonymity and a platform. It might be these voices are less commenting on the case than just wanting to throw stones at people in the public eye?

(The Express also reports that more than 30,000 paedophiles and sex offenders “may” have used the social networking site My Space. The Express is part of group that owns the Television X, the website of which advertises the show Teenage Dirtbags 3 – Cant Be Shootin No. Such is the Internet.)

The nasties may be complaining in a foul-mouthed and limited way about how the disappearance of one child has been used to point fingers and spread anxiety, specifically about paedophilia.

But whatever they say, it makes not difference to the case. How do offensive message on a local newspaper’s website affect the McCanns and their search for their missing daughter?

How can a comment on a website do anything? Unless it offers a clue to where Madeleine McCann is and what happened to her…

Posted: 26th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (106)

No-One Above Suspicion In Case Of Madeleine McCann

madeleine-mccann.jpgMADELEINE McCann is back on the front page of the Express.

“Dad protests: We are not to blame.”

Gerry McCann is in Washington. He is in the White House meeting staff in the employ of First Lady Barbra Bush.

It is the way of American politics that while the husband declares war and puts up taxes, the Waspish wife delivers homespun wisdom. But Mrs Bush cannot meet Gerry McCann. She has other arrangements.

Or might it be that she does not want to appear too caring, too close to the man accused of neglecting his daughter.

Ever since Madeleine McCann went missing the Anorak message boards and comment pages have been filled with thousands of readers saying they think the McCanns acted irresponsibly in going out for dinner and leaving their three young children alone in the holiday apartment.

“The McCanns part with all that money when they wouldn’t pay for a babysitter? Get real!,” says Marian. “The media’s criticism of these parents is justified and useful, if it stops other irresponsible parents from leaving their toddlers unattended,” says Fulmar. “It was grossly irresponsible and I can’t help but feel if they were not educated middle-class people, that there would be a lot more censure about it in the press and the news coverage,” says Liz.


And now, as the Sun says, Madeleine’s father is facing a “TV grilling”. Mrs Bush has not met him. But the ABC Good Morning America show has.

“We were 50 yards away and could see the apartment,” says Gerry McCann. “It’s like we were at the end of our garden…We didn’t think we needed a babysitter.”

And they did not break the law. As Gerry tells CNN in a later interview: “We have been assured by the authorities that what we did fell well within the boundaries of good parenting. Madeleine was targeted by a predator and we shouldn’t have to be worrying about people getting into our homes and gardens and playgrounds. That is real criminal act here.”

He is right. Of course. The criminal is the one who, as we suspect, took Madeleine. And then there are the feelings of guilt Mr McCann talks of on his blog. They do not need reminding what that they could have done more. Their child is drowning and they have forgotten how to swim. There is much pain.

And a media frenxy. But the Express is on their side. The Express is championing the McCanns. The paper has no news on Madeleine, which is the point of the McCanns’ media onslaught. But the Express backs Gerry McCann to the hilt. After all, he and his wife are the story.

And it will “fight the smears”. Over in Portugal, Sol magazine “bizarrely” accuses Madeleine’s parents and friends in their holiday group of a “pact of silence”.

The report says: “Madeleine parents and friend with whom they spent their holidays are suspects in the inquiry. There are contradictory versions about the night of the kidnapping and an assumed pact of silence in the group.”

It is claimed that statements differ over how often Madeleine and her siblings were checked. Gerry and Kate McCann are said to be “deeply hurt” by this story.

But surely it is a valid line of inquiry. Should anyone be above suspicion in this case? No. And if Robert Murat, suspect number one, the only named suspect, is found to be innocent, where would fingers then point?

In a case where facts are thin and speculation rife, right it is that all parties are questioned, their testimonies scrutinised.

Or else what is the point?

Posted: 25th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (146)

Madeleine McCann: Hope Floats

madeleine-mccann.jpg“MADELEINE ‘smuggled out of the country on a boat’.”

The Express is making the Madeleine McCann story its own. Should there be any information of the missing child, the Express will be able to flick through its scrapbook and point to the line that confirms that it was first with the truth.

Of course, to get to the kernel of truth readers must make their way through pages and pages of speculation. And today they learn that Madeleine McCann was taken from Portugal on a boat.

The paper says detectives have uncovered details of the route the youngster’s kidnappers took. The details are sketchy – was it a boat or a yacht?

A police source says: “It is a strong line of inquiry. We believe Madeleine is no longer in Portugal and this is the most likely way of taking her abroad.”

And who took her? Was it Robert Murat? The Express hears a witness say they saw a man rushing to the seafront on the night Madeleine went missing.

The Express has a picture of Murat, suspect number one, walking with his lawyer. But he has never left Portugal. Indeed, it was his presence around the crime scene that sparked his being named as the chief suspect.

And there is Gerry McCann saying goodbye to his wife Kate. He is off to America, a long boat ride away from Portugal.

“Kate and I felt it was important to make this trip to America,” says he. “It’s not that we think Madeleine is in the US. But it is predominantly a trip to speak to the top experts in the field of missing children.”

No, not the Express…

Posted: 23rd, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (87)

‘New Clues’ And No News For Madeleine McCann

madeleine.jpg“MADDIE SUSPECT QUIZ HELD UP BY NEW CLUE.” So says the Star as Madeleine McCann continues to be missing.

A police source tells the paper: “In view of the outcome of the secondary interviews there may not be time this week. It may now be next week – but we will interview him as many times as necessary.”

There may not be time to interview Murat? And what of this new clue?

“Madeleine,” says the Express,” police reveal new clues.”

But not to us. Not to readers. These new clues have, apparently been revealed to Gerry and Kate McCann, Madeleine’s parents.

They have had “intense talks” with Guilhermino Encarncao, lead detective in the hunt.

Gerry McCann uses his blog to say the investigation is “very active”.

He tells us that he and his wife had a “longer meeting than usual with the Portuguese police. There is loads lot of labour-intensive work going on behind the scenes.”

But we get no news of this clue. The Express says Portugal’s “strict secrecy laws” prevent the McCanns from revealing what these new clues are. The Express reports much but reveals nothing – see it here.

Which given how the McCanns have solicited help from the world seems odd. If they have a clue and the public can help, surely Gerry McCann would tell us?

Perhaps the clue points to Madeleine’s whereabouts. She has been spotted in Malta, Morocco, Portugal and even Wales.

We wonder if there is any clue, or clues. How does the Express know there are clues when the police will not share any details with the press?

We leave another bulletin with the impression that there is no news, only speculation.

And know only that Madeleine McCann is missing. Still missing…

Posted: 20th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (82)

Not Finding Madeleine McCann

madeleinemccann.jpgWITH Princess Diana is post-party recuperation, the Express continues to fill the vacated space with news of Madeleine McCann.

Of course, Madeleine McCann is not yet a tragedy. She may still be alive and well. We hope so. Who cannot hope for that? But the Express is not on her trail; it’s not asking questions and probing for answers.

It is just watching Robert Murat, the only named suspect. As was reported in yesterday’s Express, Murat is to be questioned by police once more.

Again readers are told of eyewitnesses who claim to have seen Murat on the night Madeleine went missing. He says he never went out. They maintain they saw him near the apartment from where Madeleine was “snatched”.

Murat will face questions. Chances are they will be the same questions he has been asked before. The Express makes no mention of any new evidence.

So we are watching Murat. And watching the parents.

“We have no plans to go come home,” say the couple in a statement. “We only want to return with Madeleine.”

They have been granted leave by there employers to continue their search.

And they have the means to keep going. The Express says the Find Madeleine fund, looked after by Madeleine’s great-uncle Brian Kennedy, has raised £900,000.

And it is not just for Madeleine. As Mr Kennedy says: “Any parents wherever they are, whatever they do, should get the same publicity as Madeleine has and if we can do anything through the fund for others we will.”

The talk is of hope. But the message is forlorn and touched by the cruel reality that Madeleine McCann is missing and there has been no sign of her.

Posted: 19th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (123)

Locals Spot Robert Murat By Madeleine McCann’s Flat

mccann2.jpgMADELEINE McCann is in the news.

“New witnesses say they saw suspect near Madeleine flat,” says the Express on its front page.

“We saw top suspect near Madeleine kidnap flat,” says a headline deeper inside the paper. The Express says these witness statements cast doubts on Robert Murat’s alibi.

A police source tells us: “On Monday and Tuesday a number of witnesses were questioned at police headquarters. They claim they saw a man matching Murat’s description outside the Ocean Club on the night Madeleine disappeared.”

The source says the statements appear to contradict Murat’s alibi that he was home all night on the evening of Madeleine’s disappearance. “As a result of this evidence we will question Mr Murat again later this week.”

Robert Murat was questioned by police for more than 30 hours last week, says the Express. The paper tells its reader that the investigation has reached a “critical stage”.

“MADDY ALIBI QUIZ FOR MURAT,” say the Mirror. The paper says “Portuguese locals” told police they saw a man resembling Murat outside the McCanns’ flat “on the night she was snatched”.

The Mirror has established that’s Madeleine McCann was snatched. It tells us: “The sightings back up identical claims made by friends of Gerry and Kate McCann last week.”

Good that progress has been made in this case. And by the tabloid press. But Madeleine McCann is missing. Still missing…

Posted: 18th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (74)

Madeleine McCann Tests The Imagination Of Harry Potter Fans

madeleine-mccann1.pngHAVING stopped scaring children at the cinema, Madeleine McCann is now giving children sleepless nights at the bookshop.

“MADDY POTTER,” says the Mirror’s front page, “JK asks for Madeleine poster in EVERY shop selling her book.”

In this tabloid world where we are all friends on nickname terms, Maddy is being championed by JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter diaries.

Rowling has written to every bookshop selling her tome asking them to place a picture of Madeleine McCann at the till point.

Amid those spontaneous purchases for miniature books on chicken soup, Top Trumps and Nunzilla (the fire breathing nun) will be the face of the world’s most famous missing child since Charles Augustus Lindbergh Junior.

“This is fantastic,” says Gerry McCann, father of the missing child. And it is, but not in the way he thinks.

Says Gerry McCann: “I got her [Madeleine] a DVD and like most kids she is a fan. We look forward to reading the books to all three children.”

Cynics may read an endorsement in these upbeat words, Mr McCann’s clear statement that Madeleine will be found safe and well. But Rowling needs no endorsement.

“I fervently hope that posters displayed prominently in shops all over the world will help find Madeleine McCann and raise the profile of the many other missing children in different countries,” says Rowling.

Surely then the poster should be of those children?

But Rowling can only do so much. She imagines the good the posters will do. And children buying her book can stretch their imaginations beyond Potter’s spells and dark arts to what happens to little girls stolen from their beds.

“In Madeleine Mum’s New Hope”, the Express hears Gerry McCann say: “We’ve jointly come up with this poster. The reach of something like that really will be global.”

But Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal. Is she likely to be in America, Canada, Brazil?

Or have things moved beyond finding Madeleine McCann, who is no longer a missing child but the face of all missing child the world over?

And what is the likelihood the bookshops will agree to put her by the till?

Posted: 17th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (32)

Situation “Critical” For Madeleine McCann And Robert Murat

robert-murat.jpgMADELEINE McCann remains on the front of just one newspaper: the Express.

“MADELEINE,” says the small headline, “Search will reach critical stage this week, say police.”

News indeed to followers of crime who think the first minutes after the incident are the most vital. Who knew that the critical moment comes ten weeks after the apparent crime has been enacted?

The Express is at the forefront of investigative journalism. It tells readers that Robert Murat is to face further questions. Says a police source: “After a series of interviews last week, the investigation is moving forward and we now believe that the inquiry has reached the critical stage.”

So why has Kate McCann, Madeleine’s mother, flown back to the UK, the first time she has returned home since her daughter disappeared?

She cannot leave at a time like this, surely? Although she is soon back from the family Christening.

What next?

The Express hears prime suspect Robert Murat tell us: “I can’t carry on living like this, no human being could. I am the only suspect and it could take years for them to release me from this investigation.”

But the Express says this is the critical time. Although critical for what or whom, we are not told. Is this the crucial moment to find Madeleine McCann? Or has the story moved on and this is this now the critical moment to see if Robert Murat will survive?

“I wake up with this nightmare every morning and I go to bed with it every night,” says Murat. “I can’t speak on the phone because they are listening to everything I say. “I have had no help from the British authorities… I can see no light at the end of the tunnel.”

It is a critical time…

Posted: 16th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (122)

Madeleine McCann: Is This Relevant?

THERE has been no little talk on the Anorak Forums and comment pages about Madeleine McCann – about 4,000 posts.

And not all of it has been supportive of the parents. Some voices accuse Madeleine’s parents of not taking proper care when they left their children alone in the holiday apartment while they went out with friends.

My view is that it mattered but not much. If Madeleine was stolen – as it appears – the criminal only needed a moment to act. And if not her then some other child.

Erin in Madeleine McCann: Face To Face With Robert Murat thinks this is “interesting”. Do you?

(Jacksonville, FL) — The mother of four young children pleaded guilty yesterday to child neglect charges. Police say she left her kids ages eight-months to five-years-old alone for at least three hours in her westside apartment last month. A judge sentenced 28-year-old Wynette Smith to the 22 days she’s served in jail since her arrest plus two years of probation. Police responded on June 21st to a tip from the management of Smith’s Collins Road apartment complex. The children remain in state custody. Smith’s boyfriend, 33-year-old Shakir Muhammad, remains in jail on 100-thousand-dollars bond facing the same charges.

Posted: 13th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (145)

Madeleine McCann: Face To Face With Robert Murat

madeleine-mccann.jpg“MADELEINE SHOWDOWN,” says the Mirror’s front page. “McCann pals tell suspect: You were there night she vanished.”

Over in Portugal, Fiona Payne, Russell O’Brien and Rachel Oldfield, friends of the McCanns, say they saw Robert Murat, suspect No.1., the only suspect, on the night Madeleine McCann went missing.

The three are questioned together. Murat joins them. They are sat in a small room. A police source tells us: “Because there was a disagreement it is normal in Portugal for the two sides to be brought together to find the truth.”

This seems entirely sensible. Get all parties talking and see what occurs. Don’t demonise Murat but make him answer his accusers in camera.

In the course of this exchange, the Mirror says it is “believed” the trio saw Murat close to the Ocean Club resort’s pool minutes after Madeleine went missing.

The Mirror says the sighting contradicts Murat’s claim that he was at his mother’s villa all night.

“Madeleine,” says the Express’s front page. “Family friends: We saw chief suspect at apartment.”

The “face-to-face showdown” could “shatter” Murat’s alibi. So the police are talking to him. They talk to him for six hours after the McCanns’ dining companions have left.

And then Murat is allowed to leave the police station. He is not arrested. Madeleine McCann disappeared 71 days ago and her whereabouts are unknown.

We know about Robert Murat. But we know nothing of Madeleine McCann…

Posted: 13th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (71)

Madeleine McCann: Murat, Toscano And Friends


The Express looks on as Rachael Oldfield, Russell O’Brien and Fiona Payne are questioned by detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

All three were dining with the McCanns on the night Madeleine went missing. The Express says O’Brien and Payne are doctors. As the express tells us every day, Gerry McCann is a cardiologist and his wife Kate a GP.

Prime Suspect 

The Express then relives the night of Madeleine’s disappearance. But after 70 days of searching the facts have not altered one bit: it is night; the thee McCann children are in the holiday apartment; the parents are 100 yards away having dinner; Madeleine McCann is missing. The McCanns are doctors.

And Robert Murat is the chief suspect. The only suspect. He is at the police station the same time as the McCann’s dining party. “There was a reason why they were present in the station at the same time as Murat,” says a police source.

Was it to trigger a memory, to see if one of the dining party had seen Murat before, possibly around Madeleine or on the night of her vanishing?

We are not told. All we know is that Murat has spent another 6 hours in the company of the Portuguese police. That is 35 hours in total since Madeleine McCann went missing. So many questions. Robert Murat has not been arrested.

And there’s Antonio Toscano, the “Spanish investigator” who talks of ‘The Frenchman’ taking Madeleine.

Anorak readers have heard more of this Frenchman. Paulo Reis in Portugal tells us his name is Bernard Alapetite. He denies taking Madeleine. He denies being in Portugal since 1977. He has a sordid past.

But Alapetite has not been arrested. He has not been questioned. Toscano has not delivered up the criminal.

And Madeleine McCann is missing. Still missing…

Posted: 12th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (51)

Madeleine McCann: 29 Hours With Robert Murat

robert_murat.jpg“MADELIENE SUSPECT QUIZZED FOR TEN HOURS,” says the Express on its front page. Readers see Robert Murat going for his “interview” with Portuguese police.

For the tape, Murat is neither handcuffed nor in the company of uniformed persons. He walks in the company of his lawyer Fancisco Pagarete. His head is unbowed. Although this is school holiday time, no mob of mums and kids is there to scream “paedo” and chuck eggs and darts his way.

Murat is innocent? But this is the second time Murat has been questioned in the Madeleine McCann mystery. He denies any involvement in the child’s disappearance. But still the questions come.

The Mirror’s front page says: “Madeleine suspect held over “English girl” email. The Mirror calls this a “suspicious email”. Why this is suspicious we are not told. It was a Mirror journalist who told the police, and then the world, that she found Murat “creepy”.

But the police have found no evidence linking Murat to Madeleine. No link has been established between Madeleine and computer “geek” Sergey Malinka. No link has been established between Madeleine and Murat’s German lover Michaela Walczuch.

Murat was held by the police for 19 hours the first time. He has now been interviewed for ten more hours. His DNA has been taken, but it is not that of the “stranger” found in Madeleine’s bedroom.

A Briton Abroad

Murat is unable to comment on the case, bound by law. But his friend, Tuck Price, tells us: “He told me they are just going through everything again but he sounds well and I’m sure it’s just a routine thing.”

He goes on: “It’s been a very surreal experience for him. He is holding up, but he wants it to be over.” Murat’s estranged wife Dawn says she has never doubted his innocence.

But Murat has received stacks of hate mail, says his aunt, who runs a guest house near Praia da Luz. He has been a “virtual prisoner” in his home. He fears reprisals.

Is Murat another victim? As a Briton abroad should the press be defending him more, standing up for his rights? Or is his sanity and wellbeing a small price to pay in the hunt for Madeleine McCann?

After weeks of investigative work, Murat remains the only suspect.

Posted: 11th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (56)

Madeleine McCann In The News

kiditeldm_228×387.jpgMADELEINE McCann in the news.

Not in my name:

A drug user who carried out a fake door-to-door collection for missing Madeleine McCann to fund her habit has been jailed for 90 days.

Heroin addict Debbie Clifton, 33, formerly of Boswell Road, Chadsmoor, called at the home of an 83-year-old woman on June 2 and asked for a donation for Madeleine’s Fund. She was given £2.70 in loose change.

Yes, £2.70.

John Peel, prosecuting at Cannock Magistrates’ Court, said Clifton then called without success at several other addresses.

Still £2.70.

Never again:

Worried parents will be able to monitor the movements of their children via a satellite tracking device.

The device – which can be carried in a rucksack – allows parents back at home to pinpoint exactly where their child is when they step out.

It lets them to watch satellite images on their computer of the area where their child is and the route they are taking.

Including a panic button and mobile phone, it also allows a child to send an SOS text message to their parent’s mobile phone if they get into trouble.

Not with Gordon Brown on the case:

Mr Brown said: “I have talked to Madeleine McCann’s parents. I have heard from them their appreciation of the work that has been done in this investigation.

“Obviously there are issues they want to be assured about and I have raised these with the Portuguese Prime Minister.

“He has assured me that everything that can be done will be done and obviously we look for progress in something that’s heart-rending in its sadness, that a young child can be separated from her parents for so long.”

Mr Socrates said: “It’s important for Great Britain but it’s important for Portugal, and it’s very touching in public opinion in Great Britain but also in Portugal.

“We have dedicated to this investigation all the resources we have in order to give it high priority and we are doing our best. Everyone in Portugal and the family knows we are doing our best.”

Madeleine McCann is still missing…

Posted: 10th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (20)

Grace Before Film: “Net Closes” In On Madeleine McCann’s Kidnappers

madeleine-mccann.jpgTHE Express’s front-page headline (“MADELEINE”) is married to the promise of a “FREE £15 EYE TEST FOR EVERY READER AT ASDA.”

The face of Madeleine McCann stares from the page. Readers are used to the image, familiar with Madeleine’s distinctive right eye, where the pupil runs into the blue-green iris.

The official Madeleine McCann website features the song Everything I Do (I Do It For You), chosen no doubt because it opens with the line “Look into my eyes”. Although the song also implores listeners to “Search your heart – search your soul/ And when you find me there you’ll search no more”, words that appeal to the tabloid press for whom Madeleine is “our Maddy”.

Entertaining Stuff

Such mawkishness causes Tony Parsons to write in the Mirror of the people who felt uneasy about the cinema showing of Shrek The Third (certificate U) featuring an appeal for “snatched” Madeleine. Parsons says of the people on a fun day out who don’t like their four and five-years old learning of children “snatched” from their beds and never seen again: “And they should be grateful that their own children will sleep in their own beds tonight.”

Only a lunatic would want to experience what the McCanns are going through. But we should not give thanks that our children sleep in their own beds in this Grace Before Film. The crime of child abduction is rare. We should be shocked at the crime, not anxious and fearful that our children will be next.

Fishing Net

But Madeleine McCann does appear as the victim of a heinous crime. And now good news. Promising news. “Net is closing in on kidnappers,” says the Express. “Chief suspect faces new quiz.”

Only the Express has news of a breakthrough. And the news is that police “expect a major breakthrough in the hunt for her kidnappers”.

What it is? Can’t say? Will it lead to Madeleine being found? Can’t say? Will it be a happy ending? Can’t say. Will the ogre get it in the neck? Can’t say.

The Express is thin on facts but it does say that the chief suspect is Robert Murat. He is due to be “hauled in” for more questions later this week.

Says a police source: “While there is only one official suspect so far, investigators have identified other people they believe were involved in this case and they are now being sought.”

But the only suspect we have is Robert Murat. And his estranged British wife Dawn tells us: “Hopefully, any new meeting with police will be able to tell him he is no longer wanted with their inquiries.”

That might be it. If any new evidence were incriminating, the police would not wait to speak with Murat or arrest him.

But still the Express looks at Murat twice and tells us all about him. It offers no new insight, no new clue. But the net is closing in, we are assured.

Keep your eyes peeled. Wear glasses if you must. Help find Madeleine…

Posted: 9th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (114)

Madeleine McCann Not In Malta Or Morocco

FROM Paulo Reis in Portugal:

Portuguese CID spokesman, about Madeleine abduction: “The clue to this mistery is in Praia da Luz”

Portuguese authorities have dismissed as groundless all leads on sightings of Madeleine McCann in other countries rather than Portugal, namely in Morroco and Malta, said Polícia Judiciária (PJ), Portuguese CID, spokesman Olegário de Sousa (…) Further investigations are being carried out centered mainly on the area of Praia da Luz itself, said Mr. Olegário de Sousa. «The clue to this mistery is in Praia da Luz», according to other police source quoted by Diário de Notícias. (…)

Note: Kate and Gerry McCann are innocent.

Posted: 9th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (6,189)

Going Dutch On Madeleine McCann Reward

madelinemccann.jpg“MADELEINE – NEW CRUEL CON TRICK,” says the Express on its front page. The familiar face of Madeleine McCann looks out.

News is that Dutch police have arrested a 39-year-old man. It is alleged he pretended to know the whereabouts of four-year-old Madeleine and her kidnappers. And that he wanted a reward.

“Madeleine’s parents hit by £1.4m hoax,” says the Mail. But they weren’t hit at all. They never handed over any money, any of the fighting fund or £2.5m reward pot.

“Consultant cardiologist” Mr McCann, 39, says: “This extortion attempt has caused Kate and I considerable distress.

“We would like to thank the Dutch police for treating this seriously and directing their resources into investigating this outrageous crime.”

Sorry for them. But are we outraged?

The person, if guilty, fails to come across well. But he wanted the money. The shock is that not more people have come forward to claim the reward.

All we have is this Dutchman and Danilo Chemello and his girlfriend Aurora Pereira Vaz who have been questioned by police about their alleged plot to sell false information on Madeleine for money.

A spokesman for the Dutch prosecutor’s office says: “He said that out of boredom he had started to play with the feelings of Madeleine’s parents.

“Money was probably his motive although he claims he did not really expect to get it.”

The money remains on the table. It has served no purpose other then to waste police time.

And Madeleine McCann is missing…

Posted: 7th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (162)

Madeleine McCann And Spinning The New Labour Of Love

mccann.jpg“DAVID Miliband was under fire yesterday on turning his back on the parents of missing Madeleine McCann.”

Is this the result of Gordon Brown’s no-spin policy, a departure from Tony Blair’s heart-on-shirtsleeve caring? No picture of missing Madeleine on Gordon’s mug of tea.

When Tony’s Chancellor, Gordon promised to help “in any way he could”. Back then the MPs in the chamber were wearing yellow ribbons. They no longer wear them. Have they forgotten or just moved on with a clean slate?

But Madeleine McCann is an ongoing tragedy. She’s not been found. So what’s changed? Was it mere exploitation back then, a mawkish and cynical move to show the carers in a good light?

Now we get what the Express calls “fury at Labour’s snub to family of Madeleine.”

Miliband is the new Foreign Secretary. His predecessor, Margaret Beckett, is said to have made “regular calls” to the McCanns to see how they were.

Amid war and famine Beckett found time to call the grief-worn McCanns and relay her feelings of sorrow. A source, said to be close to the McCanns, tells the Express that Beckett even broke off “important” calls to Washington to telephone Kate and Gerry.

But not 41-year-old David Miliband. Not the country’s youngest Foreign Secretary since David Owen, 38, took the job in 1977.

Miliband has a child. Is the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, billed by the media as “every parent’s worst nightmare”, no longer so?

Says the source: “If I were Kate and Gerry, I would have expected something but there hasn’t been anything.”

Is this right? Do they really expect the new broom who represents the Government overseas to call them? And does anyone really care that Miliband doesn’t? There is talk of “fury”, but who is furious?

The Story So Far

If the McCann story were a novel, a mystery, we would be in the middle chapters, reading along because we have started the story and made a commitment to finish it. But the end is not in sight. It may never end. The story is getting tedious. How long do we stay with it?

Of course, the McCanns do not complain. They just want to keep their daughter’s name to the fore. And with no little success. They have already had more media coverage then, for instance, the five Britons being held by Islamists is Baghdad; countless other murders and heinous crimes that have not been reported so avidly.

And all is linked. The media are working with the McCanns. And the McCanns are working the media, or so they suppose.

This means the McCanns are being invited to fill column inches on the promise that anything they do or say will to keeping Madeleine’s name alive. Nothing is too wandering or tangential.

Here’s Gerry McCann: “It was heartening for Kate and I to learn of the release of Alan Johnston after almost four months in captivity.”

Anything and everything the McCanns do and say is newsworthy. But are we listening? And do we still care?

Posted: 6th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (32)

Madeleine McCann Runs With The Ball

madeleine-rugby.jpgENGLAND’S rugby union squad is training in the Algarve. And they are wearing T-shirts with a picture of Madeleine McCann on the front. And the official Madeleine wristbands, this year’s Make Poverty History item.

“I really hope that today helps further to raise awareness of Madeleine’s disappearance,” says Jonny Wilkinson.

“My thoughts and those of the squad are with the family.”

Brian Ashton, England’s coach, meets with Gerry and Kate McCann. He says he is “humbled” to meet them. He is made to feel lowly. Rugby fans may wonder how Ashton finds reason to feel anything but humble, given his team’s results and performances.

“This generous gesture from the England squad, we hope, will remind sports fans that Madeleine is missing,” says Kate McCann.

Any moment now one of the players Madeline’s disappearance adds a sense of perspective to their imminent failure to retain the World Cup.

And we will say how sport, at its best, is about glory and lifting the human spirit. How sport enables us to escape the worst of mankind and life. How sport can break down boundaries and build bridges.

And, sadly, how sport is useless at finding a missing girl…

Posted: 5th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (79)

Madeleine McCann: Gerry On The Telly And It Could Be U

bands.jpg“MADELEINE: It’s not too late says mum.”

The front page of the Express contains a “Dramatic Plea”.

But it’s not dramatic so much as it is desperate. “It’s not too late, please give her back,” says Kate McCann.

As ever the Express tells readers that Mrs McCann is a GP. Gerry McCann, we learn is a “consultant cardiologist”.

Says she: “Every day is hard. Every day is very difficult… The important thing is getting Madeleine back and we hope that what we are doing increases the chance of that.”

What’s The Story?

Indeed, that is the important thing. It is the only thing. But the press want more.

Says Gerry McCann: “We have a mix of very positive days, when we have done big things and achieved things or big events with the campaign, but we are aware these things are secondary.”

He’s right. Of course he is. But the press have been pointing fingers at the police, gawping at “creepy” men, listening to anyone with a paedophile story, looking for bodies and signs. They have not been on the trail of Madeleine. They follow the McCanns around, first Spain, then Germany, then the UK, the Vatican and Morocco. They are watching the parents. The parents are the story. And we are invited to look on like voyeurs.

We can wear braclets. Find Madeleine is this year’s Make Poverty History campaign.


The Sun says Gerry McCann is to appear at the Edinburgh TV Festival. No, not because he’s given us hours of great telly. Although he is taking the slot once occupied by Simon Cowell and Michael Barrymore. Gerry will be “quizzed” by Newsnight presenter Kirsty Walk on the media campaign to find Madeleine McCann.

Peter Barron, organiser of the event, rated the Find Madeleine campaign a “new and moving phenomenon”. What was that about good telly?

But it’s scaring the children. The Star says an appeal to find Madeleine is being screened before cinema showings of U-rated Shrek The Third.

Children with faces full of popcorn and crisps hear that Madeleine was “snatched” from her bed. “Madeleine’s parents are devastated, but they haven’t given up hope.”

A mum says it’s “unfair” to show this to children. “It makes them fear that they too could be abducted.”

It spreads the fear. It creates anxiety. And it shows no sign whatsoever of finding Madeleine nor the person or persons who might have taken her…

Posted: 4th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (669)

Madeleine McCann, Toscano, Malta And Going Equipped

madeleine_mccann_parents.jpgTHE Express likes Antonio Toscano, the man who claims to know who kidnapped Madeleine McCann.

The paper hears Toscano say once again that he knows of “the Frenchman” who stole Madeleine. She was abducted to order by a gang of “wealthy paedophiles”.

But Madeleine has been seen in Malta, or at least a blonde girl has; the Express talks of three fresh sightings. Is it Madeleine? And if it is, do the criminals who seem to have taken her read the UK papers, or want to be caught?

But what should we do if we do see the missing child?

Gerry McCann tells us: “The clear advice is to call the local police as soon as possible, or someone working in an official capacity such as hotel staff or tour representative.”

He goes on: “Please note that the emergency police numbers are variable in each country and for those going on holiday it might be a good idea to enter the number in your mobile phone.”

Mr McCann, who the Express likes to remind its readers is a “cardiac consultant”, needs the world’s help.

We cannot help but feel for him. We want to read about his daughter being spotted and found alive and well. But people go on holiday to escape stress and grief. Only ghouls would go equipped with a Madeleine spotting kit.

Or someone after the massive reward.

Let Me Help

Which brings us back to Toscano. “I’m certain that Madeleine is still in Europe,” says he, “perhaps even still in Portugal, that’s she is alive and is being held by this man.” The Frenchman.

He goes on: “I intend to contact the McCanns and offer my help to the family and get this girl back”.

But Gerry McCann has already advised anyone with information to go to the police.

If Toscano was wanted wouldn’t the fraught and desperate McCanns seek him out? He’s not too hard to find.

What can be gained from him contacting them, aside from fame and the authority to help shift copies of any subsequent book…

Posted: 28th, June 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (141)

Hope Above Expectation For Madeleine McCann

mccann2.jpg“WE couldn’t get it out of our heads that she was likely to be dead and we were grieving,” says “heart consultant” Gerry McCann, father of missing girl Madeleine McCann. “But then the psychologist said, ‘Is there any other possibility?’ And we started to see that.”

“McCanns feared the worst,” says the Sun’s headline. News indeed for those among use who believed the McCanns would not be worried sick to discover their child was not in her bed.

Says “GP” Kate McCann: “I’ve felt guilty asking ‘Will this make or break my faith?’ But it’s done the opposite — it’s given us hope.”

Beneath and advert for an Alan Titchmarsh radio and another for a washing machine, the Express hears the McCanns speaking. Its front page announces: “MADELEINE: ‘WE BELIEVE SHE’S ALIVE.’”

Good that they do. Who cannot hope Madeleine McCann daughter is not found alive and well.

But it’s another day of no news. And we are, as ever, watching the parents

And this from Gerry McCann’s blog:

Six weeks since Madeleine disappeared. We believe Madeleine is alive and I am glad to say that following yesterday’s letter in the Telegraaf (Netherlands) there has been no evidence that Madeliene is in the area indicated although there will be further searches tomorrow.Kate and I picked up a friend from Faro airport who has been instrumental in helping with the campaign. He has been fantastic, producing the DVD of Madeleine to ‘Don’t you forget about me?’ which has been shown at many sporting events and concerts as well as producing the look for maddie logo and various posters. We spent most of the day updating each other and discussing future campaign ideas.

We are getting closer to appointing a campaign manager who will handle media liaison and coordinating events to keep Madeleine?s disappearance highly visible.

Posted: 16th, June 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (181)

Finding Madeleine McCann’s Body – “Vermoedelijke Vindplaats”

madeleine-mccann.jpgIS Madeleine McCann dead? A letter to a Dutch newspaper. And a map showing where her body can be found. It’s credible:

Police in Portugal are investigating an anonymous letter and a map claiming to show where missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann’s body is buried.

The letter, sent to Dutch paper De Telegraaf, identifies an area 15km (9.3 miles) from where Madeleine vanished.

It strongly resembles another letter sent to the same newspaper last year, accurately pinpointing where two missing Belgian girls were buried.

Ch Insp Olegario de Sousa said officers were “checking the information”.

Next to a cross and two question marks, the sender writes “vermoedelijke vindplaats Madeleine” – this is the place where Madeleine can probably be found.

A murder investigation. And still only one suspect.

One day on and “BURIED UNDER ROCKS,” says the Mirror’s front –page headline.

The paper notes how the handwriting on the letter is the same as that on the paper giving the whereabouts of Stacey Lemmens and her sister Nathalie Mahy who went missing in Belgium last year.

As the Sun reports, the note says Madeleine is buried “north of the road under branches and rocks, around six to seven metres off the road” in an spot near Odiaxere, close to the Algarve resort from where the girl went missing 42 days ago.

The Mail says the author of this letter and, most likely, the one concerning the Belgian sisters, is unknown to police.

A certain Abdullah Ait-Oud, a convicted paedophile, has been charged with their murders. He denies any involvement. Although police believe he acted with an accomplice who has not been traced.

“MADELEINE IS BURIED HERE,” says the Express on its front page. Portuguese police are searching the area…

Mr McCann says:

“We were extremely disappointed in the publication of the anonymous letter in The Telegraaf claiming to know where Madeleine is buried.”Although all information will be taken seriously, we were very upset that the credibility of this letter had not been examined and, more importantly, published before the Portuguese police had an opportunity to investigate the claim, and search the area if appropriate without massive media attention.

“We feel strongly that this was an irresponsible piece of journalism and, even if it were true, is insensitive and cruel.

“One can imagine how upsetting it is for Kate and I to hear of such claims through the media and if every piece of information was published like this there would be nothing else in the newspapers.”

Read the update here – no body found

Posted: 14th, June 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (274)

Madeleine McCann And Amaral Policing

madeleine-mccann.jpgMADELEINE McCann is missing and the Mail has news.

No, not of the girl. No news of her. The Mail looks instead at Goncalo Amaral, billed as the officer leading the search.

We’ve not heard of Amaral before now. But we will hear of him again now that his name has been brought to the fore.

The Portuguese officer has become embroiled in another sex case. Or no, dear reader, this is no repeat of Soham policeman Brian Stevens, who was charged with offences relating to the possession of indecent images of children. He was later cleared.

This is the matter of how Amaral, head of the regional Judicial Police, is accused of beating up a suspect during questioning. He and four fellow officers are said to have assaulted Leonor Cipriano, whose nine-year-old daughter Joana disappeared in the Algarve in 2004.

Joana’s body has never been found.

The Express (“Madeleine: Police chief quizzed over torture of mother”) has a picture of Mrs Cipriano’s bruised face. This is the same Mrs Cirpriano who, along with the girl’s uncle Joao, was convicted of killing her daughter and jailed.

The Express hears “echoes” of this in the Madeleine McCann case. It says police failed to seal off the house where the girl was last seen. It says “hundreds of police trampled over the crime scene”.

But police did watch the McCanns apartment, although it as not immediately sealed off. Hundreds of police did not storm the crime scene. In fact, the papers told us that little was being done, that evidence of police action was in short supply.

And then there is Mrs Cipriano. The Times says she killed Joana when the girl discovered mother and brother having an incestuous relationship. Similarities between then and now, at least to the Express’s mind.

And what of Mr Amaral? Well, he’s still in his job. A police source tells the Times that he is “very angry”. And: “He is very upset because reporters never speak of their successes.”

Might it be that rather then being clueless dolts, the Portuguese police get the job done?
And are we to believe that Mail and Express readers are appalled at this alleged use of brutal police tactics against people who harm children?

How long before the papers begin to laud Mr Amaral and demand more of his kind…?

Posted: 11th, June 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (30)