Anorak News | Madeleine McCann: The First Robert Murat, McCanns’ Neglect Charge And Old Portugal

Madeleine McCann: The First Robert Murat, McCanns’ Neglect Charge And Old Portugal

by | 20th, April 2008

mccanns-birthday.jpgMADDIE WATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann


A shock new plan to charge Kate McCann over daughter Maddie’s kidnap was last night condemned as “spiteful and shameful”. British legal experts branded bungling Portuguese detectives “Keystone Cops” for considering neglect charges.

But are these comedy cops the only ones who think the McCanns erred?

One lawyer said: “After an inquiry costing millions and unprecedented international help, these Keystone Cops still haven’t got a clue what happened to Madeleine. The investigation was a mess from Day One.”

Says McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell: “We haven’t heard through official channels if they are considering this charge. But you’d have to ask yourself, ‘Why now?'”

Or why not now?

MAIL ON SUNDAY: “Madeleine special investigation: The damning case against the Portuguese police – and how Kate and Gerry are coping one year on”

At the holiday home where Madeleine was last seen:

The apartment gate was padlocked, but in the little paved front yard, a purple hibiscus and some dusty geraniums were coming into bloom. The Algarve spring is finally coming.”

Such are the facts in this special investigation.

“It’s a new season,” said a British woman who works in a local restaurant. “It’s tragic they haven’t found Maddie. But the time has come to move on.”

Moving on:

Of course, moving on is one thing Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry, cannot do. They remain arguidos, official suspects, – as does Robert Murat, a British expat living in Praia da Luz who has strenuously protested his innocence – still supposedly being investigated on the grounds that they may have caused her death or disappearance.

“Intellectually, they have grasped what has happened,” said Gerry’s elder brother, John. “Emotionally, they have learnt, to an extent, to cope: one’s psychology adapts. But they haven’t really come to terms with it. There are times when they can seem cheerful, but then the devastation bursts through. Madeleine’s disappearance is a cataclysm that is horrendous for them, and horrendous for all of us close to them.”

“It’s an intense, full-on existence for both of them,” said the McCanns’ spokesman, Clarence Mitchell. “Gerry is back at work [as a cardiologist] full-time, but when he gets home the campaign to find Madeleine is like having a second job.”

And what of Portugal, Britain’s oldest ally?

“You have to remember: until 1974 Portugal was a dictatorship,” said a veteran Algarve journalist, who asked not to be named. “That was the climate in which the PJ was created. Their methods were pretty rough.”


Brutal treatment of suspects was routine. One expatriate British woman told me how a friend of her mother had been arrested in the late Eighties on suspicion of breaking and entering a house – only to be savagely beaten in custody.

“She was bruised all over her body. Of course, the police said they hadn’t done anything, and were never called to account,” the woman said.

Rough. Very rough:

“This is Heartbeat country,” another expat said.

Heartbeat, Why do you miss when my baby kisses me? Greengrass – take him to the ‘pit’

“People talk to the police, and so often they think they know who’s guilty, but can’t prove it. So they make an arrest and turn up the pressure in the hope of getting a confession.”

Portugal. A place of rare dangers:

Thirty miles east of Praia da Luz lies the resort of Albufeira, where a collection of clifftop villas known as Val Novio was once a thriving development, favoured by British expats. Now largely abandoned, it was there, on November 19, 1990, that Rachel Charles, aged nine, went missing.

Neil McKay, a Bafta-winning TV scriptwriter who has specialised in factual dramas about crime, was on holiday nearby with his father at the time. “We were sitting in a bar having a beer one evening,” he recalled.

“This English guy came in, saying a little girl had disappeared two days earlier but the police were refusing to mount a proper search. He said her family wanted every British tourist or expat to meet on the beach at seven next morning to try to find her.

“So we went. There must have been more than 200 of us. Tragically, it didn’t take long to find her body, hidden among some pines.”

Those Portuguese police:

Len Port, now an Algarve publisher who covered the case for The Portugal News, said: “The police search was highly inefficient, as, frankly, was everything else about the case. The way the police handled it was desperately amateurish – and ultimately, a travesty of justice.”

Just as they would later do with the McCanns, the PJ soon hit on a suspect who knew the victim and her family. But according to Port, who attended his trial, it had “no real evidence. It was an unjust trial”.

Robert Murat:

The defendant was Michael Cook, a British expat businessman who had taken part in the search, and in 1992 he was convicted and sentenced to 19 years. Having protested his innocence, he was released in 2002. Last week, he told of his ordeal for the first time.

“This has ruined my life,” he said. “I still carry the scars from the six times I was stabbed in prison; as for the times I had the s*** kicked out of me, I long ago lost count.”

Posted: 20th, April 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann Comments (1,270) | TrackBack | Permalink