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 news watch – a look at reporting on the missing child. There is “new hope” in the “Maddie hunt” says the Daily Express. Is hope born of new clues? (Any clues?) New evidence? (Any evidence?) No. It’s just that police have been given an extra £154,000 to keep investigating what happened to the child who vanished on a family holiday in May 2007. This, says the paper, is a “massive boost”.
But is it, really? It keeps the investigation going, yes, but unless we know on what it will be spent and if any investment will answer to the question ‘What happened?’ it’s pretty meaningless. What value £154,000 when the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Grange has cost over £11million? It’s less a massive boost than a top-up deal.
The story continues on page 9. We see a the familiar photo of Madeleine McCann in her Everton kit. And we see a picture of her parents, Gerry and Kate McCann. We hear Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns’ spokesman, say his clients are “extremely thankful to the Home Office and Scotland Yard for continued funding”. The McCanns are “encouraged that there remains work to be done that requires the extra budget,” he says. What work that is, we’re not told. Perhaps wrapping up a large police operation caries its own costs?
The story is all about the money because the changing number is the only new fact. The single thread story remains just that: child vanishes.
The Star carries the same story on its page 4, sticking to that bald fact and summing up the entire case in a caption that says “Missing: Madeleine”.
But the Mirror thinks the news of “MADDIE COPS” being “GIVEN ONE LAST CHANCE” worthy of its front page. The paper reasons that if police “fail” to find “fresh leads” the probe “could be axed”. On page 5, readers learn that £154,000 is enough for fur police to work full time on the case for 6 months.
Unless they find out what happened sooner, of course…
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child in the news.
Daily Express (Page 11): “Madeleine police seek funds”
To which the reply must be: don’t they always?
The story goes that Operation Grange, the Met Police’s investigation into the child’s vanishing, is running low on funds. The Express says Madeline McCann’ parents, Kate and Gerry, “are said to be encouraged” – by whom is not said – “that “there remains work to be done that requires extra funding”. Surley there always be will extra work needed until we know for certain what happened to her?
Daily Mirror (Page 4): “Madeleine hunt police ask to ‘pursue final line of inquiry'”
The McCanns have “fresh hope” their daughter will be found. Clarence Mitchell, the parents’ spokesman, says “Kate and Gerry are extremely thankful to the Met Police for requesting extra funds”. The Mirror says that without more cash, Operation Grange could be “shelved” in three weeks.
The Sun (Page 4): “MADDIE POLICE PLEAE FOR CASH”
The sum police are seeking from the Home Office has not been disclosed. The Sun speculates that this “could mean they are closing in on the kidnapper”. It could. Or it could not. The Sun reminds readers that the hunt has “cost taxpayers £11.2m”.
The summer’s been light on Madeleine McCann news. What with there being no news to report (there’s not been any every since she vanished – Ed) and August being renamed ‘Diana’, the media’s largely ignored ‘Our Maddie’. But now the news arrives that the school Madeleine McCann would have attended to study for her GCSEs has kept her place open.
Madeleine would /could have been a pupil at Catholic academy De Lisle College in Loughborough, Leicestershire. And if she wasn’t missing she’d be with other 14-year-old girls getting ready to begin her GCSEs.
This we know because the Rev. Rob Gladstone, the family’s “local vicar” (not a Catholic), has told the Sun: “She would be going into Year 10 and they welcome her return. There is no evidence Madeleine has died. We encourage Kate and Gerry in faith, hope, strength, perseverance and courage.”
Lest we find this story less than illuminating, a “friend of the McCann family” adds: “It is both touching and fitting that the ‘big’ school where she would have gone holds a desk for her.”
In other news: Madeleine McCann is missing. There are no suspects.
Madeleine McCann: very few words on the missing child haver featured in the national press of late. Big stories – murderous terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, and the horror that engulfed lives at London’s Grenfell Tower – have kept journalists and editors busy. No need to press f9 on the keyboard and fill the pages with no news of Madeleine McCann.
But let’s see what has featured in the past few weeks.
The Sun: “‘KEEP THE SEARCH ALIVE’ – Holidaymakers urged to print off and pack Maddie McCann posters when they go abroad in new bid to track down missing youngster”
Passports. Money. Tickets. Poster of missing child…The Sun tells us:
The posters have been printed in 17 different languages including Romanian, Filipino and Arabic
And English, right? Not just foreigners being reminded about the missing child. But anyone holidaying in Bucharest, St John’s Wood or Iraq can tell the locals to watch out.
None of the posters contain information on any reward.
Posters have featured a reward:
Of course, maybe the posters will help. You never know.
The Sun then hears from people it calls “website fans”, people who read the Find Maddie Campaign website. Fans is an odd word. Can you be a fan of finding missing child?
Sharon Wood vows: “Every trip I make posters go up in Lanzarote and I keep my Find Madeleine tag on my case.” Sarah Green adds: “I’m in Crete and my eyes are peeled all the time for her.”
Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal ten years ago.
The Star wonders if she left Portugal. “Is THIS where Maddie was hidden? Hundreds of wells were NEVER searched,” says the paper. “A WELL just 15 minutes from the apartment where Maddie disappeared is one of hundreds in the area reportedly never checked by investigators,” the paper reports.
The report runs the full gamut of Madeleine McCann reporting. We begin with the former detective’s opinion:
Ex-detective Roy Ramm said the well, which it’s claimed was used to hide swag by local crooks, was an obvious place to look for clues
Then we get the anonymous source:
The Brit, who asked not to be named, said: “This was brought up by an ex-cop who said that local criminals used it all the time. I don’t know whether that well has been investigated or not but if you pick wells on disused farms in the area of Luz there are lots of them.”
They don’t know about one well, and they don’t know about the other wells, either.
“It could be that one, it could be another one, it could be none of them. For it to matter, somebody needs to have information that Madeleine was in that well.”
And after speculation about place we get speculation about people:
Our source also said that – if a well was used to hide Maddie – her tormentor must have been someone with local knowledge who knew where to go.
After the “ifs”, “coulds” and “maybes”, the Mirror shoves Madeleine McCann into a listicle . “Agony of 7 most famous unsolved cases in the UK – including Madeleine McCann, Jill Dando and Suzy Lamplugh,” comes the headline. Yeah, “famous”.
“The shooting of TV presenter Jill Dando alongside the disappearance of Suzy Lamplugh and Maddie McCann are among the infamous unsolved cases that may remain a mystery forever,” the paper continues.
Readers can play along. The “seven” cases to solve are: Jill Dando (shot dead); Jack the Ripper (presumed dead); a dead child’s torso in the River Thames; Ben Needham; Madeleine McCann; and Suzi Lamplugh. Yes, that’s six. The seventh famous mystery will have to wait.
If you want more lazy journalism, South Africa’s East Coast Radio has a question: “What would you ask the universe to explain? If you could have one answer to any mystery of the universe, what would it be?”
“We live in a mysterious world and in mysterious times,” we’re told. “Do you ever stop to think about world events that just don’t have answers and wish you knew what had happened?”
The writer has a few wonders to get you started:
Things like the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that just literally disappeared off the face of the earth?
Bits of the plane were found on earth.
Princess Diana’s death, maybe? There’s been speculation and controversy around that story for two decades.
Had she worn a seatbelt, would she have survived a car crash whilst on holiday in Paris? Discuss.
Madeleine McCann – the young girl who disappeared while on holiday with her parents Gerry and Kate in Portugal?
Unlike the plane and Diana, no sign of the missing child has been found. And lest you think one missing child is a personal horror for her and her loved ones and not one of life’s great mysteries, the radio station tells just how big the story is.
What about the Bermuda Triangle, the pyramids, Stonehenge in England?
And above all else – and let’s toss in the meaning of life, God and why EastEnders is till on the telly – the writer has one burning question:
Mine would be: Where is Madelaine McCann [sic] and what really happened?
Maybe technology can help?
The Telegraph and Argus reports: “University of Bradford team develops digital face-ageing that could help in search for missing children like Madeleine McCann.”
As a test case, the researchers chose to work on the case of Ben Needham, who disappeared on the Greek island of Kos on July 24, 1991, when he was only 21 months old. Since then, several images have been produced by investigators showing how Ben might look at ages 11-14 years, 17-20 years, and 20-22 years. The team used its method to progress the image of Ben to the ages of 6, 14 and 22 years. The resulting images show very different results, which the researchers believe more closely resemble what Ben might look like today.
Such are the facts.
Madeleine McCann: a look at the missing child in the news. With the media full of huge and often terrible stories, Madeleine McCann has been largely absent from the tabloids’ pages. But she pops up in the Daily Star.
On page 11, readers are told: “BRIT MUM: I STOPPED ‘MADDIE’ KIDNAPPER.” To Mallorca, where mum Blaise Deacon says a “mystery blonde” woman “put her arms around” 23-month-old daughter Darcie and “said he was taking her”. Blaise “grabbed her child” and “refused to let go”.
At which point you wonder where Madeleine McCann comes into this? She went missing in Portugal. Are we to think that anyone who took her in what some theorise to have been been a well-executed crime, is now simply grabbing kids in broad daylight on a Spanish island?
The paper says this “Madeleine McCann-style kidnapper ran to a waiting car and fled”. Only, this person was not a Madeleine McCann-style anything. Moreover, Spanish police have CCTV footage of the incident, which cops investigating what happened to Madeleine McCann do not.
Blaise says the police were “excellent “. She says: “From what we understand they have a match of the suspect and are now looking for her.”
Meanwhile, Madeleine McCann is missing. The police have nothing. But the tabloids have another sensation.
Today in Tautological Tabloid news we read that Peter Sutcliffe has engaged in a “SICK RIPPER RANT”. Sutcliffe is perhaps better known as the Yorkshire Ripper, a man who in 1981 was convicted of murdering thirteen women and attempting to murder seven others. But what’s “sick” about the mass murderer is what he said about Madeleine McCann.
The story begins:
The Yorkshire Ripper sparked outrage with a sickening slur claiming Madeleine McCann’s parents were involved in her disappearance.
Hanging’s too good for him!
For any reader who gives a shit what the murdering bastard thinks about EastEnders, the price of fossil fuels, Theresa May’s haircut or the disappearance of an innocent child ten years ago, the Sun relays Sutcliffe’s opinions, as shared with a “source” at Frankland Prison:
Sutcliffe – serving life for murdering 13 women – said: “It makes you sick really, keeping it in the limelight. They’ve got a cheek anyway because they made it all up. They were involved. There’s no other explanation. They’ll do anything to try and make money out of a situation.”
What Sutcliffe thinks abut the Sun keeping him in the limelight will doubtless form the substance of another scoop. As for what happened to Madeleine McCann, Sutcliffe’s reported opinions appear based on prejudices, hunches, a murderous hated of women and very possibly psychotic delusions rather than any evidence-based appraisal. The parents are innocent.
To recap: Everyone is innocent. There are no suspects. Indeed, the police have yet to prove what crime if any befell the child. All we know is that a child vanished.
The Sun then adds:
A source said: “He was spouting off to anyone who would listen after Gerry and Kate did the television interview to mark the 10 year anniversary. It was callous and heartless to hear him go on about how the parents were to blame.”
Peter Sutcliffe Sensation! Yorkshire Ripper is ‘callous and heartless’. Says one mum in tonight’s special edition: “He seemed so nice.” Read all about it!
The unnamed source continues:
“It’s awful to hear criticism of them given what they have been through, especially from someone like him.”
Of course, had the killers’ views not been aired in the national Press, the McCanns might well not have heard them.
In other news…
Daily Mail: “Tycoon who flew by £1.5million private jet to Africa to find Madeleine McCann was left ‘shattered’ when tip-off about a lookalike blonde girl proved wrong”
It’s a great shame he didn’t find her. (Is £1.5m expensive for a jet?)
It was revealed last month by the missing youngster’s family spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, that a plane was put on standby after the English-speaking blonde girl was located in Morocco. But, millionaire Brian Kennedy 50, and his son, Patrick, 32, went one step further by actually taking off and flying across the Mediterranean in a bid to identify her.
“All the information coming back to us suggested heavily that it could be Madeleine, so much so that an aircraft was put on stand-by, with its engines running, waiting to fly to pick her up. Kate and Gerry sat tight. They had learned by that stage to be sceptical, not to give in to natural hope only for it to be dashed. They preferred to wait until the Moroccan authorities had checked it out. And when they did, it became clear she was not Madeleine.”
Such are the facts.
Ten year ago today Madeleine McCann was reported missing. Today the media marks the unhappy truth that a decade of reporting, fund-raising, investigating and watching has added not a single new fact to the original report: child vanishes. This is a round-up of the anniversary’s reporting. It’s a the usual mixture of speculation, name-calling and gawping.
Daily Mirror (front page): “As the McCanns mark 10 agonising years without their Maddie, how can Portuguese police keep being so vile”
Are feelings of paramount importance when investigating what happened to an innocent child? The Mirror’s front page promises more on pages 13 and 17.
Page 13: We see Madeleine McCann holding tennis balls. She is “THE LOST GIRL”. The headline tells us: “Portuguese cops: Brits’ search for Maddie is a waste of £11m.”
Is that an opinion exclusive to former Portuguese police officer Carlos Anjos, who says the the theory that the child was taken dying a burglary is “absurd”? He states: “Not even a wallet disappeared, no TV disappeared, nothing else disappeared. A child disappeared.”
Is that “vile”? Isn’t it just a statement of fact? Reading on we are told that Kate and Gerry McCann will attend a prayer service in Rothley, Leicestershire. We get to read a “leaked” 2010 Home Office report, which says: “The McCanns acknowledge a distinct lack of trust between all parties.”
We read of “more bile” from another former Portuguese policeman, this time it’s Goncalo Amaral, who appeared on the telly to tell viewers that the child could have been cremated. He says: “Three figures went into the church. They had a box. It is possible the child’s remains were in the box and cremated a well.” Can he prove his theory? Clearly not. But we get to hear Amaral’s opinion, and we are told how to read it. It is “vile”. It is full of “bile”. It is a “snub”. It’s speculation. There’s been a lot of that.
Page 17: “Fresh hell adds to Maddie pain.”
Alison Phillips uses her column to record “another agonising anniversary for the McCann family”. She spots the “slug-like” Amaral. She says the chances that the parents will be reunited with Madeleine are “less likely than ever”. Having told of the parents’ hurt and suffering, Phillips says: “Yet as the family mark 10 agonising years without Maddie today, how can some Portuguese cops be so cruel?” Amaral has been “airing his ludicrous claims about her disappearance.” He’s been on “local” TV in Portugal.
On May 10 2007, the Mirror produced “6 THEORIES” of its own. They were: “PAEDOPHILE GANG”, the “LONE PAEDOPHILE”, the “JEALOUS MOTHER”, Madeleine wandering off and “DROWNED”, the “OPPORTUNIST PAEDOPHILE”, the “CHILDLESS COUPLE”.
They never did get to the burglar theory.
Phillips returns to Amaral’s appearance on the TV, where he was “again pointing the finger at Maddie’s parents”, making “ludicrous claims about her disappearance”. Phillips wonders: “Why the Portuguese broadcasters give him airtime is a total mystery”. For those of you missed the show, the Mirror helpfully transcribes parts of it. Why a British newspaper gives him front-page coverage is a total mystery. Phillips says Anjos and Amaral could do “everyone a favour…by keeping their opinions strictly to themselves.” Even if it does give a columnist one less thing to write about.
She then notes – get his – “…these men know every smear or suggestion will be lapped up and repeated by sickos and saddos on social media.” There are some nasty sods on twitter and Facebook. Perish the thought that the mainstream media would stoop do low as to point the finger and whisper.
Daily Star (front page): “MADDIE: Parents Kept Info From Cops.”
The story begins:
“Madeleine McCann’s parents withheld information from police that had been gathered by private investigators hunting for her, says a Home Office report. The couple believed their treatment by Portuguese police was ‘inhumane’.”
Page 9: “Maddie’s parents did not trust them”
Jerry Lawton writes that the parents “did not truth detectives handling the case after they were declared suspects… Though the couple’s ‘arguido’ status was lifted in 2008 and the case archived as unsolved, the McCanns withheld details unearthed by their private eyes from both them and their local Leicestershire force , the report states.”
Daily Express: nothing. Not a single word is published on the child who has featured on the paper’s cover many times.
Telegraph (page 23): Allison Pearson says it is “miracle” of faith and fortitude that the McCanns are still together. She then embarks on a ‘Maddie & Me’ story:
My own children were small when she was taken and, for a while, my son was obsessed with her. I had to answer endless questions. “No, they didn’t find her yet, sweetheart. Yes, it’s very sad. No, a bad man will not take you. Because Mummy and Daddy will keep you safe, that’s why.”
In the past decade, how many parents have mentally run the “Madeleine safety test” before daring to leave their children even for a moment? It’s no consolation to the McCanns, but that may be her lasting legacy.
The Sun (page 6): “MADDIE BRUSH’S RERURN”
“A hairbrush belonging to Madeleine McCann has been returned to her parents on the tenth anniversary of her disappearance.”
Are the two moments linked, the brush’s return and the anniversary? Surely this isn’t some kind of macabre tribute?
The brush was in the possession of Danie Krugel, a private investigator. It was “handed” to the ex-cop after he offered to help the search for the the child. The McCanns spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, says: “Gerry did give a hairbrush to Mr Krugel at the time to assist in his work. He eventually returned to South Africa and the hairbrush slipped their minds. But they were delighted to get one of Madeleine’s possessions back.”
The paper goes on to refer to Amaral and his “vile suggestion Madeleine’s body had been frozen before being cremated”. Mitchell says the claim is “deeply offensive”.
Daily Mail (Page 31): “McCanns fell out with Portuguese and UK police”
Madeleine McCann’s parents fell out with both the Portuguese and British police investigating her disappearance, a leaked report revealed today. Gerry and Kate McCann’s relationship with detectives became so poor that they refused to share information dug up by their own private investigators.
A Home Office report ordered by then Labour minister Alan Johnson before the 2010 election shows that the couple’s ‘turbulent relationship’ with police led to a breakdown in trust.
It says that the McCann’s felt badly treated by the Portuguese authorities who closed the investigation into Madeleine’s 2007 disappearance.
But when the Met Police came in they then fell out with police in Praia de Luz – and later the McCanns too, the report says.
The Mail says its report is rooted in a Sky News scoop. Over on Sky, alongside a story on – yep – 6 theories on what happened to Madeleine McCann, we read:
The revelations are contained in a report ordered by the then Home Secretary Alan Johnson who wanted to know if it was worth getting Scotland Yard involved after Portuguese officers closed their first investigation. The report said: “It is clear that from the beginning the McCanns felt there was a lack of clarity and communication on the part of the Portuguese police. Despite the involvement of British consular staff, they were, by their own accounts, left for long periods without any updates or communication with the investigators. They state they were taken to the police station on more than one occasion and then left for hours waiting to speak to someone who never materialised.
“They describe this situation as inhumane, with no real consideration for their emotional and physical wellbeing.”
The report, written by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, also said too many UK law enforcement agencies had rushed to help and caused chaos, and that frequent criticism of the Portuguese investigation led to accusations the UK was acting like “a colonial power”.
The report said: “Clearly, the McCanns have had a turbulent relationship with both Portuguese and UK law enforcement. They now openly acknowledge that there is a distinct lack of trust between all parties.”…
The report said: “It is clear that the McCanns and the private investigators working on their behalf have gathered a large amount of information during the course of their enquiries. This information does not appear to have been shared fully with the Leicestershire constabulary or the Portuguese authorities.
“It is imperative that they are encouraged and persuaded to share this information.”
What happened to Madeleine McCann? She vanished. And that’s the sum of the facts.
Only one front page features Madeleine McCann today: the Daily Star leads with “Hunt for woman in purple”.
News is that a”mystery woman in purple was spotted where she vanished 10 years ago”. On Page 6, there’s more. Indeed, Police are “SET TO ‘SWOOP'” on the “prime suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance”.
What do we know of this mysterious woman? Only that she was seen “lurking outside” the McCanns’ holiday apartment 90 minutes before we know the child vanished. Two “witnesses saw her staring at the holiday flat”. Scotland year “believe” they know the woman’s identity. She “could have been involved in the youngster’s disappearance”.
Daily Mirror (Page 5: “A ‘woman in purple’ now Maddie cops’ No1 suspect.”
Big news, then. But the paper says the woman is someone British police are “thought to be searching for”. We hear from Jenni Murat, “whose son Robert Murat was the first arguido… but was formerly cleared of suspicion in 2008”. She’s quoted: “I saw the woman standing on the corner of the street… She caught my eye as she was dressed in purple-plum clothes. It struck me as strange. It’s so unusual for anyone, particularly a woman, to be standing alone on the street in our resort, just watching a building.”
At the time he was living with his elderly mother, Jenny, at their villa, Casa Liliana, only a couple of hundred yards from apartment 5a. In one of the greatest blunders of the case, police arrested him after hearing vague suspicions from a British journalist who was nowhere near Luz at the time Madeleine vanished.
That British journalist worked for the Daily Mirror.
The Mirror quotes a “police insider” who says the woman is not currently resident in Portugal. Police are “ready to move in and arrest the mystery woman”. It is a “hugely significant line of inquiry”.
No other newspaper features the news in it print editions.
Is that because it’s not new news?
In 2015, the Daily Express reported:
Jenny Murat, 78, the mother of wrongly accused Robert Murat, has potentially breakthrough evidence but no one has spoken to her. At 8pm on May 3, 2007, she went to a supermarket and then drove past Apartment 5a and saw a woman hanging around. Her notes from the time say: “There was a woman standing on the corner under a lamp post.
“I don’t remember much of her other than she was of slight build and was wearing a plum coloured jacket. She moved around the lamp post as if trying not to be noticed.”
As she turned into the driveway of her home, Casa Liliana, she was nearly hit by a car going the wrong way. “When I stopped to open the gates I could not see the car but the woman was in the road looking in my direction.”
And in 2009, the Express reported the words of a woman who wished to remain anonymous:
The slim, Portuguese-looking woman in a plum-coloured top and white skirt with long, dark, swept-back hair acted furtively when she was spotted at 8pm on May 3 in 2007 near the Mark Warner Ocean Club complex.
She was standing under a streetlight at a crossroads only 40 feet from where Madeleine was sleeping with her brother Sean and his twin sister Amelie.
Not quite the “New Clue” the Star presents it as, then.
So many words have been written on Madeleine McCann in the 10 years since she vanished from a holiday flat in Portugal – and not one word of it has led to readers knowing what happened to her. All we have is a reporting milestone. And the tabloids are going big on the child who became ‘Our Maddie’.
The Sun gives readers the “definitive case files”. They turn out to be just four pages long, half as long as the preview to Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight boxing match. And they could have been written months ago because in reading them we learn nothing new.
The Express, which has featured the blonde child on its front page many times in a a slot once reserved for blonde Princess Diana, says there is a ‘Prime Suspect’. And the big news is that this person of interest is a woman. Not a man. A woman. It’s an “exclusive” because this might be the first time the paper has couched the story in binary terms.
The Mail opts to play safe and look at the parents. Kate McCann is “brave”. She wears a “brave smile”. She and her husband have been talking to the TV media. Readers gawp. And readers learn nothing new.
The Mirror says Kate McCann “reveals” that she still buys birthday gifts for her missing daughter. It’s sad stuff. But even this fact is not much of a revelation.
The Sun, April 26: “DECADE OF HEARTACHE Madeleine McCann’s parents Kate and Gerry have a pile of unopened presents for their missing daughter in the hope she will return.”
Daily Mail, December 2016: “Kate McCann lays presents in Madeleine’s bedroom as she faces her 10th Christmas without her daughter.”
Daily Express, May 2014: “Kate and Gerry will remember their missing daughter with gifts and a cake as British police press on with plans to dig around the holiday resort where she vanished seven years ago.”
Daily Star, May 2013: “Kate and husband Gerry, 46, yesterday laid presents in their abducted daughter’s bedroom to mark her birthday at their home in Rothley, Leics. ”
The news has become routine. The story remains unfinished.
The Sun has some Madeleine McCann tenth anniversary news. Across two pages, the paper asks “Could Facebook find Madeleine?” It hasn’t found her so far, and the site’s been up and running for a few years now. But it could. Could is the new buzzword in media and police reporting on the investigation. Based on the premise that anything could happen, we’d say ‘yes’, Facebook could find Madeleine McCann. We hope it does.
And while we’re on it, you can get odds on all sort of things that could happen. You could win the lottery – the odds are around 1 in 13,983,816. You just need to buy a ticket and take the plunge. So “retired detective” Mick Neville is the latest to buy his ticket for the ‘Our Maddie’ charabanc for retired coppers – destination: media – and delved into Facebook. He now “believes the site’s cutting edge face recognition software could be the key to finding here”. The detective reckons that if Madeleine McCann is using Facebook to chat to mates and spread fake news about Hillary Clinton, she stands a better chance to being found than if she not on the web. Moreover, if her kidnappers or new parents are posting photos of her.
“If she is still alive – and there is no proof she is not,” says Neville, “then by using a combined tactic of technology and people with advanced facial recognition skills you could potentially find where Madeleine is today.” Yeah. Ten years of thinking went into that. And you can’t knock it for insight, precision and usefulness.
As the Met Police read the Sun and utter a collective ‘DANG!’ – and the press all race to copy the Sun’s story (see above) – we read if a DNA test that “could offer hope to investigators”. Called DNA17, the test “can produce a profile of a suspect from samples once deemed too small to analyse properly”. A “source close to” Kate McCann says the technology “seems to offer them real hope… If the test could be used to help solve the case it seems only sensible that UK and Portuguese police consider having he crime scene samples retested.”
Sounds right. But how new is the test? It’s new – but not breaking-news new. The CPS tells us:
DNA-17 is the term that has been adopted to describe the next generation of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) profiling methodologies to be utilised by the National DNA Database (NDNAD).
Currently, samples are profiled using the SGMPlus methodology, but from 24 July 2014, samples will be profiled using a DNA-17 profiling methodology.
News from July 2014 is news in April 2017.
Such are the facts.
Madeleine McCann: 10th anniversary news round-up.
The Daily Mail (front page): “MADDIE POLICE CHASING ‘CRITICAL LEAD'”.
That Madeleine McCann remains front-page news 10 years after her vanishing – and after ten years of no evidence of what happened to her emerging – is remarkable. As for the news, we learn that police are “chasing a critical leader”. How critical? Well, it “could crack the Madeleine McCann case”. So only potentially critical, then.
What of the “mysterious new clues”, then, that “could explain why the three-year-old vanished in May 2007″?
We hear from Mark Rowley, a Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner, who tells us that the “latest lead” is “worth pursuing”. He says: “It could provide an answer, but until we’ve gone though it I won’t know whether we are going to get there or not.”
That’s three “coulds” on the front page alone. So much for the “critical lead”. Rowley says – without irony – “I’m not going to discuss…because it is very much a live investigation”.
The Mirror makes “COULD” part of its front-page lead. It could just as easily says ‘Could Not”.
Millions of pounds invested in the search for answers and still none are forthcoming. Ten years of looking and the Met are in full PR mode. They “don’t want to spoil it by putting titbits of information our publicly,” says Rowley as he chucks a tasty morsel to the Press. Indeed, this isn’t a hunt for alleged VIP sex criminals. There will be no televised raids and no airport arrests. So can Rowley tell us anything? “We don’ have evidence telling us if Madeleine is alive or dead.” says Rowley, “but as a team we are realistic about what we might be dealing with.”
As the Met gets realistic about theories, the Mail moves on to look at the parents. Over pages 4 and 15, we get “10 YEARS OF PAIN”.
Pages 14-15: “Maddie’s bedroom is piled high with a decade of unopened gifts. Kate’s given up work to care or their twins – while Gerry’s now a world-renowned heart doctor. As police reveal a ‘significant’ new line of inquiry… 10 YEARS OF HOPE AND HEARTBREAK”.
What a parent looking after their own children has to do with the case is moot, moreover the husband’s job. But this story always was laced with a middle-class thread. The blonde child. The medical professional parents. The upmarket holiday camp destination. It all overshadows the fact that police only might have a significant new line of enquiry. We don’t know. They don’t know. All we know is that Kate McCann is a “fitness fanatic” who “finds finds comfort in daily work-outs at he gym”; Gerry McCann “was recently praised for saving the life of former footballer Alan Birchenall after he suffered a heart attack and ‘died’ for seven minutes”; and “they have coped in different ways with the tragedy”.
Daily Express (front page): “VITAL NEWS CLUES IN MADDY HUNT.”
No. They could be critical clues. They might not be of any value at all. The Express notes that Operation Grange, the police investigation, has cost £11m.
Page 5: “Yard reveals ‘critical lines of inquiry’ in Maddy case.” It did. And it didn’t. The Met mentioned the leads and then said they were secret.
The paper does have some news, though. We learn that in 2013, “officers identified four people as possible suspects but they have now been ruled out.”
The Telegraph prefers to lead with a question: “Madeleine McCann: Are the police any closer to knowing the truth?” As Betteridge’s law of headlines states: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”
This is Mark Rowley’s statement in full – delivered to deadline. The Met calls it “AC Mark Rowley reflects on the tenth anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.” It reads like mixture of school report and therapeutic journey:
As an investigation team we are only too aware of the significance of dates and anniversaries. Whatever the inquiry, we want to get answers for everyone involved.
The disappearance of Madeleine McCann is no different in that respect but of course the circumstances and the huge public interest, make this a unique case for us as police officers to deal with. In a missing child inquiry every day is agony and an anniversary brings this into sharp focus. Our thoughts are with Madeleine’s family at this time – as it is with any family in a missing person’s inquiry – and that drives our commitment to do everything we can for her.
On 3rd May 2017, it will be 10 years since Madeleine vanished from her apartment in Praia Da Luz, a small town on the Algarve. In the immediate hours following her disappearance, an extensive search commenced involving the local police, community and tourists. This led to an investigation that has involved police services across Europe and beyond, experts in many fields, the world’s media and the public, which continues to this day. The image of Madeleine remains instantly recognisable in many countries across the world.
The Met’s dedicated team of four detectives, continues to work closely on the outstanding enquiries along with colleagues of the Portuguese Policia Judiciária. Our relationship with the Policia Judiciária is good. We continue to work together and this is helping us to move forward the investigation.
We don’t have evidence telling us if Madeleine is alive or dead. It is a missing person’s inquiry but as a team we are realistic about what we might be dealing with – especially as months turn to years.
Now is a time we can reflect on an investigation which captured an unprecedented amount of media coverage and interest. The enormity of scale and the complexity of such a case brings along its own challenges, not least learning to work with colleagues who operate under a very different legal system. The inquiry has been, and continues to be helped and supported by many organisations and individuals. We acknowledge the difference these contributions have made to the investigation and would like it known that we appreciate all the support we have and continue to receive.
Since the Met was instructed by the Home Office to review the case in 2011, we have reviewed all the material gathered from multiple sources since 2007. This amounted to over 40,000 documents out of which thousands of enquiries were generated. We continue to receive information on a daily basis, all of which is assessed and actioned for enquiries to be conducted.
We have appealed on four BBC Crimewatch programmes since April 2012. This included an age progression image which resulted in hundreds of calls about alleged sightings of Madeleine; an appeal for the identity of possibly relevant individuals through description or Efit; and information sought relating to suspicious behaviour or offences of burglary. These programmes collectively produced a fantastic response from the public. The thousands of calls and information enabled detectives to progress a number of enquiries. This was in addition to over 3,000 holiday photographs from the public in response to an earlier appeal.
The team has looked at in excess of 600 individuals who were identified as being potentially significant to the disappearance. In 2013 the team identified four individuals they declared to be suspects in the case. This led to interviews at a police station in Faro facilitated by the local Policia Judiciária and the search of a large area of wasteland which is close to Madeleine’s apartment in Praia Da Luz. The enquiries did not find any evidence to further implicate the individuals in the disappearance and so they are no longer subject of further investigation.
We will not comment on other parts of our investigation – it does not help the teams investigating to give a commentary on those aspects. I am pleased to say that our relationship with the Portuguese investigators is better than ever and this is paying dividends in the progress all of us are making.
We are often asked about funding and you can see that we are now a much smaller team. We know we have the funding to look at the focused enquiry we are pursuing.
Of course we always want information and we can’t rule out making new appeals if that is required. However, right now, new appeals or prompts to the public are not in the interest of what we are trying to achieve.
He says publicly.
As detectives, we will always be extremely disappointed when we are unable to provide an explanation of what happened. However the work carried out by Portuguese and Met officers in reviewing material and reopening the investigation has been successful in taking a number of lines of interest to their conclusion. That work has provided important answers.
Answers? But there was only ever one question: what happened to Madeleine McCann?
Right now we are committed to taking the current inquiry as far as we possibly can and we are confident that will happen. Ultimately this, and the previous work, gives all of us the very best chance of getting the answers – although we must, of course, remember that no investigation can guarantee to provide a definitive conclusion.
However the Met, jointly with colleagues from the Policia Judiciária continue the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann with focus and determination.
No progress, then. The Met is looking back – just as it always has done.
Madeleine McCann: as we approach the tenth anniversary of her vanishing the news is coming thick and fast in the British Press.
The Mirror (front page): “MADDIE ‘WAS SNATCHED BY RICH FAMILY’.”
Missing Madeleine McCann ‘was snatched AFTER leaving apartment to look for parents’
She walked out the door and someone passing buy stole her. Maybe. Because what looks like fact to the Google news bots and headline readers is one man’s opinion. This is the “shocking new abduction theory”.
The man with the theory is Danny Collins.
The three-year-old could not have been taken from the Portuguese flat as the window shutters could only be opened from the inside, journalist Danny Collins has claimed.
The writer, who covered the case at the time, is convinced she left apartment 5a in Praia da Luz looking for her parents before being kidnapped and possibly sold to gypsies.
The gypsies did it?! If you’re going to guess who stole a child walking about a busy holiday complex searching for their parents dining in the area it’s always easy to Press f9 and blame the gypsies. No-one has yet claimed the Jews took her and used her blood to make Matzos and a ritual drink, but give it time.
With no evidence linking gypsies to the child’s vanishing, the story seems happy to point the finger at a group with long history of persecution. That’s revolting.
Says Collins, who has written a book on the case:
“I came across no clear indication that a planned abduction took place that night. Madeleine awoke and took the opportunity offered by the open patio doors to leave the apartment.”
He’s done lots of research and spoken with lots of people. He’s not found the child. But:
From his findings Collins believes “the most logical conclusion” was that she was snatched by a passing “itinerant” looking for some quick cash.
But Madeleine’s parents still insist the tot would not have wandered out, saying she would have had to open a patio door and two gates, one with a child safety lock, and close them afterwards.
The Mirror’s front-page screamer is sourced in the Sun. Over there we read:
But nearly ten years on, veteran investigative journalist Danny Collins believes he may have uncovered the truth behind the disappearance of little Madeleine McCann.
May. The Mirror’s front-page fact is looking sketchy. But gypsies continue to take a battering. Below a picture of the child in an Everton FC shirt, the Sun writers: “The shocking new theory claims Madeleine McCann could have been stolen by gypsies.”
Collins is quoted:
The McCanns overlooked the simplest of truths that would later be seized on by the Portuguese investigators and see them considered prime suspects.
“The metal shutters were impossible to lever upwards more than 1-2cm. Nor did the shutters or the sills on which they rested in the closed position show any marks of an attempt at forced entry.”
But what of the gypsies getting treated as suspects?
During his investigations, Collins was told by Iberian travellers that if Madeleine had been found on the street it was likely she would have been taken and a plan hatched to extract a ransom or reward.
But then, given the immediate high-profile nature of the case, they might have sold her to Romany gypsies.
Collins thinks this is the “most logical conclusion”.
As we grab the torches and mach on those Romany gypsies, other news sources have more on ‘Our Maddie’. What about the money?
The Independent: “Madeleine McCann may have been kidnapped by slave traders and sold, claims ex-Scotland Yard detective.”
May. There it is again, that word that can also mean ‘may not’. And who buys and sells children?
Gangs who operate in Mauritania, West Africa, reportedly sell children to rich Middle Eastern families
Leicester Mercury: “Madeleine McCann: New information in the hunt for missing Rothley youngster.”
Information or speculation?
An employee of the holiday resort where Madeleine McCann went missing 10 years ago could hold the key to solving the mystery of the missing toddler, it has been claimed.
Yep. It’s speculation.
In a ‘world exclusive’ Australian documentary aired today, former Scotland Yard police officer Colin Sutton told reporter Rahni Sadler: “There is an employee, somebody who worked within the Ocean Villa complex who has some information or some knowledge that may be of assistance.”
One man’s opinion is a world exclusive. So is this. So is that last breath you took, and the next one. It’s all unique and exclusive. And it’s all utterly useless in finding out what happened to Madeleine McCann.
Meanwhile, Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry, told the makers of the programme, called Sunday Night, that they would not rest until they had found their daughter.
Kate said: “It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, and it’s touched everybody, I think.”
She added: “I don’t believe we would ever reach a point where we think, ‘Oh, we’ve done everything now’. Whilst the situation remains as it is, Madeleine is out there and she needs us to find her.”
While there is no evidence that Madeleine is not alive, the programme looked at theories about why, if she had been killed, her body had not been found.
Is there evidence of gypsies? Can an entire race sue?
Mr Sutton told Sunday Night that despite Portuguese authorities conducting their largest ever police search, it was possible Madeleine’s remains could still be hidden in the Praia da Luz area.
He said it was “just large enough and difficult enough terrain to search” that police officers could “search for years and still not be satisfied you’d actually done it properly”.
Thanks. Very helpful.
Publisher of The Portugal News Paul Luckman said he believed there are up to 600 wells scattered throughout Praia da Luz, and that Madeleine’s remains could be in one of them.
He believes there are 600 wells that could contain a body of a child who could be alive. Got it?
He said: “[In] five, 10 years time, somebody suddenly decides to clear the well and they will bring it back into operation… they would clean it out and bones would be found.”
And on and on and on it goes.
Daily Star (front page): “MADDIE: MI5 HID HER BODY.”
In a bombshell documentary aired today on Australian TV, Goncalo Amaral suggested MI5 helped to hide Maddie’s body.
It’s duelling ex-cops on the telly.
The detective made the shocking claims on Aussie show Sunday Night which had said it would be revealing a major new lead in the disappearance case.
Amaral said MI5 “for sure had an involvement” in what happened to Maddie.
“I’m saying for sure [MI5] have an involvement in the situation”
On the same TV show, in response dad Gerry McCann said: “The less said about Goncalo Amaral the better.”
This might be the least edifying episode yet.
SMG: “Madeleine McCann’s parents deny killing or being negligent of their daughter on Sunday Night.”
Gerry McCann spoke to the show. He is quoted:
“The ludicrous thing is that Madeleine died in the apartment by an accident and we hid her body,” Mr McCann told Sunday Night. “Well, when did she have the accident and die? ‘Cause the only time she was left unattended was when we were at dinner, so if she died then, how could we have disposed of or hidden her body? You know, when there was an immediate search?
“It’s just nonsense! And if she died when we were in the apartment, or fell, why would we cover that up?”
Do not try to answer those questions. Libel is pricey.
When asked by Sunday Night reporter Rahni Sadler “Did you kill your daughter?”, Mr McCann replied: “No. No. Never.
“And you know, there’s nothing with any logic that could, you know… You would have to start with why? How? When? Who? And there’s just simply, you know, no answer to any of these things – there’s nothing to suggest anything. So no – that’s an emphatic ‘no’.”
He asks the questions. But, again, do not try to answer them here. It’d be speculation. Stick to blaming gypsies, who haven’t sued anyone for defamation (yet).
The Sun: “‘THEY ANNIHILATED ME’ Madeleine McCann crime expert who told doc her parents Gerry and Kate may have hidden body plans to sue show for twisting her comments.”
A CRIME expert who told an explosive Madeline McCann documentary her parents could have hidden their daughter’s body plans to SUE the Aussie TV channel which ran the show.
US criminal profiler Pat Brown featured on Channel 7’s Sunday Night show claiming Gerry and Kate McCann could have put Maddie’s body in a bag, hid at the beach and moved it weeks later.
But the expert – who told the show there was a possibility Madeleine had been killed as the result of an accident, neglect or abuse – now plans to sue the network for defamation.
Pat claims in her original hour-long Skype interview with journalist Rahni Sadler that she made it clear this was only a theory based on her view of the evidence available.
Some theories are cheap. Other theories can be expensive. Says Pat:
“I never stated the McCanns were guilty of anything other than neglecting their children, and I will stand by that. I never said the McCanns are guilty of covering up the death of their child or moving their child’s body. The show purposefully set out to destroy my reputation. The only reason I was featured was to annihilate me by making me look foolish.”
To recap: aliens took her. Probably. But not the ones with expensive lawyers. The other ones.
Such are the facts.
Madeleine McCann appears on two national newspapers front pages today. You can read more about the Mirror’s news on a top cop’s theories here.
So much for the opinion. What we who have followed this story from the outset crave are facts.
The Express has actual news on the actual investigation into what happened to the missing child. The paper leads with the “phone box clue” to “Missing Maddie”.
James Murray says:
DETECTIVES are investigating phone calls made from a telephone box in Praia da Luz in a bid to trace a man acting suspiciously shortly before Madeleine McCann disappeared.
Indeed. It is odd. Who uses a phone box these days?
The story goes that Adrian and Lizelle Marais, a married couple working at an eatery called The Dolphin close to the phone box, spotted a “strange” man who “looked similar to a photofit of a suspect”. Their restaurant is around 700 metres from the Ocean Club, where Madeleine McCann was staying.
That led Portugal’s public prosecutor to order all phone records for the call box to be checked in an effort to find the man, who has never been traced.
The prosecutor made the order on the grounds that the man may have abducted or murdered the lost three-year-old.
And so the jump is made. From being man at phone box at a busy summer holiday report, he is now someone who “may” have murdered a child.
We then get to which “suspect” the story relates to.
The call box is 50 yards from the spot where a man carrying a child similar to Madeleine was seen by Irishman Martin Smith and his family, who had been dining at the Dolphin at around 9pm on the night she disappeared.
Mr Smith’s account formed part of a Crimewatch reenactment.
Policia Judiciaria files on the case outline what Lizelle told officers the day after Madeleine vanished. The report states: “The person used the public telephone for long periods of time, always more than 10 minutes. To her, the person did not appear to be either a tourist or a resident. One time she had passed close to him and had felt ‘strange’ but did not know why.”
Mysterious stuff. But not new. Just old and in light of no developments in the case over ten years, still worthy of a look. And, as the Star proves with its interpretation of the Express‘ story, anything can be vital in the mystery of ‘Our Maddie’. Says the Star: “Madeleine McCann: Phone box may be key to finding Maddie.” Or not.
Madeleine McCann: A look at reporting on the missing child. It remains frenzied, speculative, lurid and light on news.
Daily Mail: “Did Madeleine McCann wander off and have an accident? Was she stolen to order? Or was it a burglary gone wrong? Detective lays out theories about her disappearance.”
In short: did any crime befall Madeleine McCann? The detective isn’t sure if one did. But, then, he’s isn’t a professional detective. He’s a “former Scotland Yard detective” who “believes he has come up with the five most plausible theories to explain the disappearance of Madeleine McCann”.
Only five. This is progress. On May 10 2007, the Daily Mirror produced SIX theories. They were: the “PAEDOPHILE GANG”, the “LONE PAEDOPHILE”, the “JEALOUS MOTHER”, Madeleine wandering off and “DROWNED”, the “OPPORTUNIST PAEDOPHILE”, the “CHILDLESS COUPLE”.
Colin Sutton is the “detective” with the five-fingered theory. He first told it to the Mirror, which is the source for the Mail’s story.
Daily Mirror: “Was Madeleine McCann stolen to order, taken by lone paedo or did she just wander off? The scenarios that could explain her disappearance.”
Sutton’s Five Theories that could be useful are:
1 The McCanns or the Tapas Seven
The McCanns have been libelled. Take care. Speculation hurst lives. Says Sutton:
I can understand why the Portuguese police asked questions about the McCanns and the Tapas Seven. As uncomfortable as it is, the first place I would have started looking is their group. Without any other information to go on, the most likely scenario when a three-year-old girl disappears into thin air is that someone close to her knows what happened.
However, the police do appear to have decided quite quickly that was the only line of investigation they were going to take.
By concentrating just on that scenario they may have missed tips or other lines that meant going down a completely different investigation route.
After that he adds a further four theories:
2 Targeted kidnap by a trafficking gang
This is the most likely scenario once those closely linked to Madeleine have been ruled out.
Given all the facts we know, it’s the most likely and credible scenario.
But why did they take her?
A trafficking ring is more likely than a lone paedophile or paedophile ring. Yes there are paedophiles, yes she is a little blonde girl. But I think six and seven-year-old girls are much more at risk from paedophiles or child abuse rings.
Paedophiles target blonde girls more than, says, brunette or black girls? We know that the media prefers blonde victims.
Looking at the trafficking angle, unless the order was specifically for a young blonde girl, why her and not one of the twins?
Dunno. Got a theory?
Babies have less memories than a three-year-old. If Madeleine is alive she will probably remember she had another mother and father and used to live in another house.
Probably. Or not. The theories contain more theories.
If you were stealing on spec you would have taken one of the twins. Not both, just one. So it goes back to a specific order for a young blonde girl.
Has a young blonde girl died and their parents want to replace her? Or is there another reason for stealing to order? When you pick it all apart it’s the most likely scenario.
He picks, but he comes up with no answers, just more questions. The scab grows back over the wound:
3 She wandered off and had a fatal accident
He says Madeleine McCann left Cuddle Cat, her toy, behind. He says the fact of the toy remaining in the holiday flat makes this theory unlikely.
4 Opportunist abducted her
This is less likely than other scenarios. The chances of a predatory paedophile just happening across Madeleine and being able to abduct her without being detected are just so remote.
Sarah Payne, right, who was eight (when she was killed by Roy Whiting in 2000), and five-year-old April Jones (who was killed by Mark Bridger in Wales in 2012) are probably the only cases that match something like that.
5 Killed as part of a burglary gone wrong
This is extremely unlikely. If you have got a burglar who has gone into the apartment for material theft, the chances are once they find there are kids in there they will run a mile.
The Mirror concludes this flight of fancy by telling readers: “Anyone with information about Madeleine McCann’s disappearance should call the Find Madeleine investigation line on: 0845 8384699 or email: email@example.com.”
Exactly. If you know anything, tell the police. If you know nothing, tell the readers.
The Sun: “MADDIE SUSPECTS – Convicted British paedo, heroin-addicted burglar and bogus charity collectors among main suspects in Madeleine McCann disappearance, says top cop.”
The top cop is Sutton As as for the smack head being a child snatcher, well, he told the Mirror: “Junkies don’t take three-year-old girls.” The convicted British paedo is Raymond Hewlett. He’s dead.
Having conjured suspects from the ether, the Sun adds in a second story: “WAS MADDIE KIDNAPPED TO ORDER? Top Brit ex-cop says Madeleine McCann could have been snatched by traffickers to replace grieving parents’ own dead child.”
As Sutton of the newsroom guesses – is that big reward still on offer? – and the newspaper lap up his thoughts, the Mirror turns to another ex-cop for more theories.
Sunday Mirror: “Ex-top cop breaks Madeleine McCann silence to say where he thinks she was taken.”
Madeleine McCann was snatched and taken to a warren of caves nearby that have never been searched, a Portuguese investigator has suggested.
The theory comes from ex cop Paulo Pereira Cristovao – who became the boss of Portugal’s missing children agency in the same year the three-year-old disappeared.
He says: “I think this case has lots of mistakes – from many persons, from many situations, from the police and maybe from the government. At the end of the day we all forgot one person: Madeleine McCann.”
No. We don’t. There has been ten years of reporting on the case. The innocent child has not been forgotten – she has, though, be turned into the benchmark for all missing children and used to sell papers. And, like all ex-ops with opinions, Cristovao didn’t take long to add a “maybe” to what he thinks.
We’re not told why Cristovao is talking now, only that he has imagined what he’d have done if he had kidnapped a child in Praia da Luz. He thinks Madeleine McCann is dead:
“I put myself in the role of someone who knew nothing about the streets or the region. Where would I put the body of a girl? I stood at the apartment door – to the right is the town of Portimao. There are lots of people there, lots of buildings. If I had kidnapped her that’s not the way I’d want to go. I would want to go left, and find the first side road. I put my car on that road, and I went straight to Burgau. It’s a nearby beach, with a lot of rocks with caves.
“It’s a good place to put somebody. As far as I know the police never went there, because you would need divers.”
As far as he knows. Good idea to check, no? Aren’t facts useful when you’re investigating and theorising?
“In a case where you hear theories like aliens and gypsies kidnapping Madeleine, I think this is as good as all the others.”
Alien abduction is notoriously hard to verify. Police divers looking in a lake less so.
“We’ve heard theories so stupid over these 10 years,” he adds without irony.” When we don’t understand something, we complicate it. I think sometimes – always – the best solution is the simple solution.”
Clydebank Post: “Madeleine McCann breakthrough: Aussie TV show claims to have solved mystery of tot’s disappearance.”
Pull up an armchair. You too, detectives.
Channel 7’s Sunday Night show has released a teaser clip of this weekend’s programme in which it promises to be a “landmark television event”.
The video claims the show has a new line of inquiry which could bring investigators closer to solving the mystery of the youngster’s disappearance.
Trailing a theory about what happened to Madeleine McCann is grim. A post on the channel’s Facebook says:
“The disappearance of Madeleine McCann has continued to captivate the world for nearly ten years. Maddie was only three years old when she vanished from her family’s holiday apartment in Portugal. The police search that followed became the largest in Portugal’s history – but no trace of the missing toddler was ever found. Now, new developments in the case could finally reveal the truth about what happened to little Maddie.”
Could. Or could not. Stay tuned. We’re right back after these ads.
Daily Star: “Madeleine McCann: Missing Maddie now 13 and looks like THIS.”
She’s alive! The Star knows it. In the paper’s rush to dash out an “exclusive” artist’s rendering of what the child might look like, it produces this (below). The person on the left looks a lot like Kate McCann.
Daily Record: “Cop in Madeleine McCann case remains utterly unrepentant after damning book blaming Kate and Gerry.”
The hatchet job on Goncalo Amaral begins:
Despite becoming a shadow of his former self, Goncalo Amaral still has no sympathy for the parents of the missing youngster.
F*** the policeman:
On the side of the run-down apartment building, the grafitti reads “Foda a policia”. You don’t need to be fluent in Portuguese to figure out the expletive-laden translation.
This crime-ridden Lisbon estate is home to the ex-detective once tasked with solving Madeleine McCann ‘s disappearance.
In the early days, he was alleged to work just four-and-a-half-hours a day. Sporting a large beer belly, he regularly enjoyed three-hour lunches.
Amaral, 57, split from second wife Sofia in 2012, blaming the pressures of the case. He moved back to the tough Lisbon suburb of Olivais, where he grew up. His expensive suits and fedora are gone.
So too has the beer belly and chauffeur-driven Mercedes, replaced by a battered Citroen Picasso.
His slimming is a negative?
But the arrogance remains – as the Mirror discovered when we confronted Amaral last week. Amaral also refused to apologise for the mistakes that hampered the early days of the probe. Instead, he threatened to have our reporter and photographer arrested.
But it was his cruel refusal to offer any sympathy to Kate and Gerry that was the most damning.
Is the purpose of the Mirror’s barrage of ‘Our Maddie’ articles aimed at securing an exclusive with the McCanns?
Daily Mirror: “Madeleine McCann’s parents Kate and Gerry met as junior doctors and had perfect life until their daughter vanished.”
That’s pretty much the entire story, which shows no sign of reaching an end.
Such are the facts.
In a “WORLD EXCLUSIVE” the Daily Mirror leads with Madeleine McCann and the statement: “What REALLY happened the night Madeleine disappeared.”
There are three pages to this front-page screamer. And they can all be distilled into four simple words: “We do not know.” But for the umpteenth time in almost 10 years since Madeleine McCann vanished and the media went into a voracious feeding frenzy, the Mirror will speculate and theorise.
The small twist in this latest burst of ‘no news’ is that the “Nanny” is breaking her “10 YEAR SILENCE” and will tell us what she saw happening in Praia da Luz after the child vanished. Over pages 4 and 5 we hear from an unnamed woman billed as a “nanny”, “ex-carer”, “former child minder” and “witness” who worked for Mark Warner at the Ocean Club Resort in the Algarve at the time of Madeleine McCann’s vanishing. Surely the woman who was there the night Madeleine McCann vanished and soon became the media’s ‘Our Maddie’ has spoken before, notably to the police? This is a woman who “looked after the girl several times”.
It soon becomes apparent that she does not know what “REALY” happened to the child.
She says she helped search for the child, including looking in bins “in case her body was in there”.
She says the police arrived late and the flat was already polluted by much to-ing and fro-ing.
She was interviewed by Portuguese police.
And then feelings takes over from fact. She says she was “astonished” Kate and Gerry McCann were “ever deemed suspects in their own child’s disappearance”.
She tells us Madeleine McCann was “pretty”, “a real cutie”, very sweet” and “really nice”. These are elements that made the story fly. The blonde child sold papers in a way a missing black child or adult would not.
She had a “feeling the locals didn’t want us there”. She says the place felt unsuited to families. She was handed a rape whistle and advised not to go out alone late at night.
She “hopes” Madeleine McCann is alive.
She does not tell us anything new about the night Madeleine McCann vanished. But the woman “believes all key witnesses – including herself and the McCanns – should be put together in the same room”. Why? For a TV spectacular? “I bet all of our memories could add up what actually happened,” she opines.
But those memories are in the same room. They in the room at the police station. They are part of a huge investigation. And as yet, the police have still not established what crime if any befell Madeleine McCann. There are no suspects. There is only the single fact we knew on May 7 2007: Madeleine McCann vanished.
More news on Madeleine McCan in our occasional look at reporting on the missing child. And the news is huge. The Sunday Express thunders: “Madeleine McCann alive but hidden in plain sight.”
She’s not hidden at all, then? Which begs the question: where is she? And then we read the paper’s news that this is not a fact. This is the view of “an expert”. He says the missing child whose picture travelled the world “could be living in an isolated property just miles inland from seaside towns on the Algarve”. She could be. And, then again, maybe she isn’t.
In this “exclusive” bout of speculation the Express hears from former police detective Dave Edgar, “who was hired by Kate and Gerry McCann for three years to try and find their missing daughter”. That he didn’t find the child is clear. But his work has formed an opinion. “There is every possibility that Madeleine is still alive and could be being hidden somewhere,” says Mr Edgar. It’s possible she could be alive. So says the expert, who adds: “When you get up beyond the main strip of the Algarve there’s countless isolated properties where Madeleine could be being held.”
So she’s not hiding in plain sight, then? She’s being “held” in a remote property. Maybe. Maybe not. We heard much the same eight years ago. Why is a man’s old theory presented as news today?
Having wondered aloud about the child’s whereabouts, Edgar then reads minds. “I would suggest that 10 years, while it seems a long time, would not feel like that to that person with information,” says Edgar. “What happened on that night would still be fresh in their mind.” Unless they’re deranged, demented, ill or forgetful. Or dead.
Such are the facts.
The absence of anything beyond theorising has turned Madeleine McCann into a commodity. And like all goods and services, the media’s speculative assault on Madeleine McCann means ‘Our Maddie’ can be exported to become any nation’s very own Maddie. Brazil, Israel, America, Spain, New Zealand, Panama, Greece and Holland have all had their versions of the media’s benchmark for missing children.
On March 31, the Daily Star led with news of a “Spanish Maddie ‘kidnap'”. That the word “kidnap” was served to readers wrapped in inverted commas promised a story light on facts. Line one told us: “A Madeleine McCann lookalike has been grabbed by a ‘scar-faced’ gypsy” in Estepona.
The “British girl’s mum said the abductor grabbed her daughter’s hand and tried to take her away after promising sweets”. The man known locally as “Paco” was already with a young child, “whom he used to strike up a conversation with the girl”. Paedo gypsy child kidnappers? (Always the gypsies.) “When the girl’s mum began to scream the man with a scar on his head ran off.”
So not all that much like the vanishing of Madeleine McCann, then. Unless you, like the Star, considers it relevant that the “girl bears a resemblance to Madeleine McCann”.
In other ‘Their Maddie’ news, the Sun says the remains of “America’s Maddie McCann” have been found. This ‘Maddie’ was called Isabel Celis. Her parents last saw her alive at their home in Tuscon, Arizona, in April 2012. “The mysterious case sent shockwaves around the world,” says the Sun, “and bore a haunting resemblance to the disappearance of Maddie McCann”.
But kgun9, Tuscon’s local news station, makes no mention of Madeleine McCann at all as it delivers the grim news of a dead child. Isabel Celis was 6-years old at the time of her disappearance.
But the Daily Mirror does. “Harrowing 911 calls from devastated parents of ‘America’s Maddie McCann’ on morning she vanished after police find remains,” comes the headline. The paper invites its readers to listen in. Come on, readers, pull up an armchair and watch the parents.
Such are the facts.
Madeleine McCann: A look at reporting on the missing child. Today the Mirror leads with news that “Someone is protecting Maddie’s kidnapper”. They are? Maybe. Who? Dunno. It’s a ‘SEARCH COP’S CLAIM”. A “detective inspector” is “convinced” the “abductor has confessed to a friend”.
It soon turns out that the “COP”, the “detective inspector”, is a “former Detective Inspector” called Dave Edgar. Having established that the front-page headline is a little light on facts – the “cop” is no longer a serving police officer; the “detective inspector” isn’t a detective inspector – readers might wonder at the point of the story, let alone why it’s worthy of the Mirror’s front page.
Reading on we learn that retired Det Insp Dave Edgar, for it is he, “broke his silence for the first time to open his files. Revealing findings, that a child-sex gang most likely took the three-year-old.” He tells the paper: “Someone knows what happened and it’s time they came forward.”
What is “most likely” is not a fact. But if you thought that woolly, the next line tops it: “Mr Edgar believes an abductor has secretly confessed to the crime.”
A detective deals with gathering evidence and facts. But this story is one of belief and an imagined secret. The story continues:
Calling for an end to the agony of Maddie’s parents Kate and Gerry, he pleaded: “If anyone confided in you, now is the time to come forward.”
Now. Or, indeed, any time in the last ten years.
We then get what Edgar, “one of the top experts on the case”, “also believes”. There’s a list:
There is no evidence to suggest Kate and Gerry were involved.
It was a well planned abduction.
There was no evidence against two prime suspects of abducting her from Praia Da Luz in May.
The motive for taking three-year-old Madeleine was sexual.
There is still hope she is alive.
With no child to look at, the Mirror just looks at the parents, raking over old ground:
After Madeleine vanished from the McCanns’ Warner Ocean Club holiday flat, while her parents were dining with friends, Portuguese police named Kate and Gerry as “arguidos” or suspects.
Yes. They were.
But Mr Edgar dismisses that, flying in the face of last week’s Lisbon court decision to uphold the right of Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral to publish his book alleging Madeleine had died and the McCanns covered it up.
“I was looking at everything and that would include them,” he said. “If I found any evidence against Kate and Gerry I would have given it to the police immediately. Kate and Gerry would expect no less. But I found no shred of evidence. We obviously look at all factors – motive, preparation, opportunity – and there was absolutely nothing.”
Fair enough. But why do other theories get aired? Is there evidence a sex gang stole Madeleine McCann? Is there evidence the child was abducted? Is there evidence she is alive? Isn’t broadcasting theories what caused the McCanns and Robert Murat to be libelled?
Mr Edgar was “paid for by the Find Madeleine Fund” to crack the case. That he didn’t is regrettable. But why are we now listening to what he believes? Surely it’s wise to stick to what he knows and has found?
He [Edgar] has heard dozens of theories about Madeleine – that she had wandered off, and been run over, become the victim of a random burglar or taken by someone wanting to raise a child for themselves.
So much for the theories. What of the facts?
He believes it was a planned operation by a lone kidnapper or a gang.
No facts. Well, only one: a child vanished.
Almost 10 years after the story began, a national tabloid is leading with speculation, just as many have done ever since May 2007. Says Egdar: “If the motive was gang-related child prostitution, there might have been more than one involved.”
Believes. If. Might. And on it goes, this guessing. However educated and based on well-trained hunches the theorising is, it remains guesswork. Get a load of this line:
Like millions of others, the retired detective clings to the hope that Madeleine is still alive, possibly being held prisoner and potentially still in Portugal.
Such are the facts.
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child.
We begin this round-up with news in the Sun that the missing child’s parents are posting on their official Facebook page. In “BEATING THE BULLIES” we read that Kate and Gerry McCann have re-opened their Find Maddie Facebook account amid a “huge outpouring of love and support” after “taking a ‘break’ from trolls”.
You might well wonder how that is news. But social media functions as something nasty for old media to look down on, like a school gates mum gathering her PTA pals around to snipe at the gauche new arrival. “As the page administrator switched it back on,” we’re told “she vowed to ‘continue to turn the page off if we receive hateful posts’.”
But you can’t turn off the Sun’s comments section. Beneath the paper’s story “MADDIE PROBE SLAMMED – Good Morning Britain viewers in meltdown over ‘ridiculous’ £11million bill for the Madeleine McCann investigation as top cop declares it a waste of money”, the Sun’s bleeding hearts offer lots of opinion. These are the comments in order of appearance on the Sun’s story:
The “TOP COMMENTS” are:
One site’s ‘Bullies” and “trolls” are another’s commenters and readers.
Having made not an inch of progress in finding out what happened to Madeleine McCann, the voracious Press see if they can have any better luck with a new ‘Maddie’.
“My daughter could have been the next Maddie McCann,” says the Mail’s headline. “Mother staying at five-star Cyprus hotel woke to find maid trying to snatch her one-year-old.”
The maid did it!
Siobhan Prescott, 25, “claims she woke to find her one-year-old daughter Harper crying as a dark-haired woman in her 40s attempted to pick her up out of her cot at the five star King Evelthon Beach and Hotel Resort in Chloraca Bay, Cyprus.”
As parents cancel their family summer holiday and eyes “dark-haired” women (in Greece!) with suspicion, the Mail tells us what happened next:
The horrified mother claims she was powerless to react because she was sleeping naked, so screamed out for her partner Simon Smith who was on the balcony of their room.
Who knew British holidaymakers were so demure?
Anyhow, Simon came running.
He confronted the sheepish woman, who was dressed in a maid’s outfit, and demanded to know what she was doing.
The woman said something in another language, before bursting into tears and trying to flee the room – but stopped to make a phone call from the room phone.
Eh? She made a phone call before legging it? So there are finger prints, a number to track and you got a good look at the would-be abductor. Right now the only thing Madeleine McCann-like about his story is that readers to examine someone else’s parenting skills.
“I was napping when a maid snuck into the room and tried to snatch my baby,” says Siobhan. “The only reason I woke up was because Harper screamed out, otherwise she could have been the next Maddie McCann.”
Well, yes, aside from the fact that this time both parents were in and the child never did go missing. What the incident could have been is the subject of the thrilling headline, but what actually was it?
“We were furious and we made our way down to the reception and demanded the hotel manager immediately,” says Siobhan. “I was absolutely hysterical, but the hotel management just said she was cleaning the room and picked up my baby to check she was alright. But it was rubbish. That woman had no cleaning products on her and it was the afternoon so our room had already been cleaned. I was naked in the bed, what kind of person walks into a room when a woman is lying naked on the bed? She let herself in with the aim to try and steal our baby.”
“TOT SNATCH HORROR,” thunders the Sun. “Brit mum reveals terrifying moment maid tried to snatch her toddler from cot on holiday and says ‘she could have been the next Madeleine McCann’”.
A TERRIFIED mum said she feared her daughter could have been the “next Madeline McCann” after she woke to find a hotel maid looming over her cot.
Siobhan Prescott, 25, claims the worker was attempting to pick up one-year-old Harper, who was screaming hysterically.
The baby was crying. The woman picked her up. The Sun writes:
The family were on a dream holiday to Cyprus between February 22 and March 1 when the horror unfolded.
It was weird and unsettling, no doubt. But a “horror”?
They claim they were later told by the hotel that the same maid had been sacked two years previously following an “incident” but was on her first day back in work.
So the woman “dressed as a maid” was a maid, which is why she was dressed as one. Is that right?
Siobhan said: “I am lucky to have woken up, but if I hadn’t God knows what would have happened. Harper could have easily been snatched and we would be in the exact same situation as Kate and Gerry McCann.”
What, hated by Sun readers?
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child.
Daily Mirror (front page): ”Maddie Cops Hunt Worker At Resort.’ The now ‘ex-employee has ‘vanished’. Like the missing child, he just disappeared?
In the very first paragraph we get not facts but news that ‘cops believe’ the missing worker has ‘clues about her disappearance’. The Portuguese man worked at the Ocean Club resort at the time Madeleine McCann ‘was snatched in 2007’.
The next headline adds: ‘Madeleine McCann cops hunt worker at resort as they fear he “kept secrets” from local police.’ So the missing man spoke with police, then. ‘He gave a statement at the time but detectives fear he may have kept secrets.’ The man spoke with police two days after the child vanished.
Believe. Fear. May. It’s the Maddie Mantra.
As ever with this story of the missing child, facts give way to feeling. Unable to add anything of substance, the Mirror repeats itself: ‘British officers trying to find the youngster fear he may have kept secrets from local detectives that could have led to a breakthrough in the case.’ Why do British police believe the wanted man may not have told local police everything? A Portuguese police ‘source’ tells readers: “British officers are convinced he knows more than he was previously saying and are very keen to question him.”
They don’t believe it. They know it. they are convinced. Is that why the ‘Maddie cops’ are ‘hunting’ him? They are not looking for him to help with their enquiries. They are hunting him, as you might hunt for a man who doesn’t want to be caught. The word is more loaded than Gorge bush at a frat house party. But hold on. The unnamed source tells us that the hunted man might not have anything to do with the missing child. “They are not suggesting he stole Maddie,” says the ‘source, “but he may know people who could have been involved after a burglary went wrong. The investigation in Britain seems to be grinding to a halt and they want to rule him out of the case if not rule him in. Then detectives know they have done everything in their power to try to solve the case.”
So much for the manhunt.
As for the facts, the Mirror soon revisits the old news: “Her doctor parents Kate and Gerry McCann , of Rothley, Leics, have always believed their daughter is still alive.” As ever, the paper mentions the parents’ jobs.
Daily Express (front page): ‘Parents’ joy at lifeline in hunt for Madeleine’
Another hunt, but this time it’s the search for the missing child. The Express hones in on Madeleine McCann’s parents. The child peers out from the paper’s cover, as she has done scores of times over the past decade.
And we learn nothing new. All we know is the child went missing. The rest is speculation.
Such are the facts.
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child. The Metropolitan Police continue to search for Madeleine McCann, the child who became the media’s ‘Our Maddie’.
Sunday Express (front page): ‘Madeleine Bombshell – Police net closes in one just one man who is key to the mystery’.
The police have been given more funding to find our what happened to Madeleine McCann in 2007. The Express‘s lead story and the extra cash are linked, as Caroline Wheeler explains:
DETECTIVES investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have identified a person they want to question and have been given an extra £85,000 to follow up the crucial lead.
That doesn’t sound like very much money. The BBC says it’s enough ‘to extend the search for a further six months’ – a search that has to date cost anything from £11.1m to £13m, depending on what publication you read.
Is it a sign the cops are closing in on their quarry? Or it a sign that funds are being reduced considerably – that the investigation is being wound down? The Express says there’s a ‘specific person of interest they need to question’:
The lead is seen as solid enough to persuade the Home Office to grant the extra money which will extend the search until September.
It’s not much money, though, is it, especially to follow up a ‘solid lead’.
All we’re told is that the mystery man was possibly in Portugal when Madeleine McCann went missing. If you think that’s all a bit blurry, it isn’t cleared up one line on when we’re told:
International intelligence agencies have been working together to find the “person of interest” who detectives believe may hold the key to solving the case.
And with that we’ve progressed not an inch. What detectives ‘believe may’ could be the Maddie Mantra. And very quickly what looked like fact becomes editorialised wishful thinking:
Had the information not been deemed a “solid live lead” then the £13million police investigation would have been wound up.
The mystery man is called a ‘crucial lead’. What was once shrouded in ‘believe’ and ‘may’ is now ‘crucial’.
A Home Office spokesman delivers the official line:
“Following an application from the Metropolitan Police for special grant funding the Home Office has confirmed £85,000 in operational costs for Operation Grange for the period April 1 until September 2017.
“As with all applications the resources required are reviewed regularly and careful consideration is given before any new funding is allocated.”
Cue an anonymous ‘insider’ to tell us: “There is just one person who detectives want to speak to who was near to the area where Madeleine disappeared almost 10 years ago. An international search has been underway to find them.”
Them or him? How near were they?
Policing Minister Brandon Lewis, who rubber-stamped the cash, steps in:
“I am pleased to be able to support the British police who are trying to get to the bottom of what happened to Madeleine McCann and give some kind of closure and justice to her family.”
When one newspaper leads the rest follow.
The Sun: ‘NEW MADDIE SUSPECT Cops given extra £85k to probe new key suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance a decade ago.’
Detectives have identified an individual they believe was near the coastal resort of Praia da Luz, Portugal when the tot went missing in 2007
That police only ‘believe’ the person was in Portugal soon becomes a fact that they were:
The person was near the area where Madeleine went missing from in the coastal resort of Praia da Luz, Portugal in May 2007.
Is this person who was there and maybe wasn’t there a suspect, then?
The person could be a Portuguese suspect.
For that insight we can look to now fewer than three journalists, the story is ‘By Ryan Sabey, Political Correspondent, Tracey Kandohla and Brittany Vonow’.
Over on LBC this morning, Andrew Castle has been fielding calls about whether or not the cash is value for money. After an hour of chatter, in which Castle says ‘as a parent, “you would expect your government to support you”, it turns out that no-one who calls in can be certain of anything other than that the child is missing.
And so it is that on a slow news day you can still press’f9’ on the keyboard and call up an ‘Our Maddie’ story and field all those nasty, doltish, unhelpful, anonymous and to-deadline opinions.
Madeleine McCann: what the media says about the missing child.
The Sun (page 4), tells us that the ‘MADDIE HOLS FLAT’ has been sold for ‘half price’. The flat in which Madeleine McCann and her family were staying when she vanished has been bought for ‘just £113,000’ by a ‘British gran’, having been put on the market for £225,000, we read. The new owner has been ‘living in the property after secretly buying it “years ago”‘.
Is she bought it year ago, why is her purchase news now? As the 10th anniversary of the child vanishing looms, is the Sun campaigning for an interview with the parents? And the price seems not far off the going rate.
In 2008, the Mail told us the flat’s owner had been ‘trying to sell the two-bedroom ground-floor apartment since 2007 with an asking price of £255,000 – around £50,000 less than the asking price’.
But the Portugal Resident website told its readers in 2008: ‘THE APARTMENT rented by the McCanns while they were on holiday in Praia da Luz in May 2007 is on the market for 215,000 euros.’
Such are the facts.
Madeleine McCann: a reporting review on the missing child.
As we must, let’s begin with news of the English child who went missing in Portugal by looking at the Australia’s Cairns Post, which features a message for Kate and Gerry McCann: ‘Maddie McCann’s parents need to move on, for their kids’ sake.’
Louise Roberts kicks off her heartfelt advice to the parents of a missing child who became the media’s benchmark for all missing children by telling her readers: ‘Only Madeleine McCann and her presumed abductors know what really happened the night she went missing, but none of them are available to reveal the brutal truth.’
You can wrestle with what ‘presumed abductors’ know and don’t know, being as they are unnamed and, as Roberts suggests, possibly unreal. As for that ‘brutal truth’, it’s delivered after Roberts imagines the teenage Madeleine McCann. ‘Maddie should be 13 now,’ she calculates, ‘armed with an iPhone and cocooned in family love and the carefree discoveries of teenage life in middle England.’ She then adds: ‘There isn’t a single clue as to whether she is alive today but the lucrative whodunit industry dogging her parents Gerry and Kate, who deny any part in her death, rumbles on.’
Having slammed the armchair detectives who spin the single fact – child vanishes – and confusingly told us that we don’t know if Madeleine McCann is alive but her parents are not to be blamed for her ‘death’, Roberts advises: ‘But it’s time for the McCanns to turn off the legal tap and focus on the family life they have left.’
Mawkish much. ‘The time they have left” suggests new horrors lurking around the corner. What they are Roberts doesn’t say, so she harks back to the night of May 7 2003 and tells us: ‘Maddie was asleep in the holiday flat alone with her twin siblings while their parents ate tapas in a bar 50 metres away. It was a spring evening in May 2007.’ May is in Spring. Fact! ‘She disappeared and the guilt and the blame game began for them. There is no doubt they were remiss in leaving her alone — even Gerry said it was a mistake.’
She adds: ‘Former Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral claims in his book that Maddie McCann’s parents faked her abduction, but they’d be better off ignoring his terrible claims.’ Terrible’ but worth repeating to the good people of Cairns. And then Roberts tucks into the parents, who we’ve been watching in the media for nearly a decade. She writes:
‘The couple are emotionally paralysed not only by her disappearance but by their consciences, never shaking off the sick feeling that they were not there when Maddie needed them. And the public has never let them forget it.’
The public, of course, are not journalists, who occupy a higher level. Roberts is here to inform. Not for her amateur sleuthing and a tawdry ‘whodunnit’. ‘The McCanns faked the abduction, according to Goncalo Amaral,’ she says in the spirit of enlightenment and moving on, ‘to cover up the death of their eldest daughter in their holiday flat in Praia da Luz in the country’s south.’
‘Maddie’s legacy has gone from a relentless search for clues to a ruinous, exploitative and mind-blowingly expensive war between her parents and anyone who challenges their steadfast belief that a stranger abducted her.’
And after the speculation, Roberts reaches her ‘brutal truth’: ‘It’s time for Gerry and Kate, trapped on a grief and reputation treadmill, to change focus. Time to get busy living, ditch the reputation management and let the chips fall where they will.’
As their spokesman Clarence Mitchell begins to file a ‘no comment’ comment, Roberts delivers the time-honoured media motif: Maddie & Me. ‘I speak with more than a passing interest in this case,’ she says. ‘I was a reporter in London when the story broke and my son was the same age as Maddie.’
There but for the grace of god.
She then speaks up for the McCann twins, who ‘have some right to fade into the background and find some kind of a normal life away from the glare of scandal and innuendo’. As the twins dream of a life away from the media spotlight – tip: they know who you are in Cairns – Roberts returns to her own ‘Maddie’. ‘I could never imagine giving up hope to find a missing child but I would not sweat over what was said about me either,’ she says, knowingly.
But before she goes to check on her child, Roberts, who told us of the ‘presumed abductors and mused on whether the child is alive or dead, opines: ‘None of it is going to bring Maddie back. Only the perpetrators know where her body is, who took her, where they took her. And why.’ The parents really can move on because Roberts’ ‘brutal truth’ turns out to be that Madeleine McCann was kidnapped and is now dead.
She signs off: ‘The only “winners” here are lawyers and so-called authors still making a buck from the blonde preschooler with the signature blemish on the blue iris of her right eye.’
And the media, right, who get to press f9 on the keyboard and churn out another ‘Our Maddie’ story?
And now for a few words from the fragrant English rose, Jodie Marsh.
Closer Magazine: ‘Jodie Marsh goes on a bizarre Twitter rant about the McCann’s after This Morning interview.’
You can read about that interview in which a to-deadline Madeleine McCann expert told mid-morning telly watchers he thinks she might have wandered off here.
Closer magazine’s Emma Dodds says ‘former glamour model Jodie Marsh’ was watching. She ‘vented her frustrations at the case, shockingly even blaming Maddie’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann for her disappearance, despite there being no evidence that they were involved… Jodie angrily tweeted that they “should concentrate on finding Maddie,” rather than being “concerned with all this legal action.”‘
Advice is coming thick and fast for the McCanns. It’s all well-meaning, of course. And before long Jodie is delivering her own ‘Maddie & Me’, tweeting: “I must admit, if it were my child I’d be on my hands & knees digging up the earth with my bare hands! Nothing else would matter…” With no children to hold tight, Jodie scouts around for something to make into her own Maddie. She finds it. “My dog went missing for 10 mins the other night & I was running up the street screaming her name like a lunatic. I was beside myself,” she reveals. “And if I was so hysterical over my dog, the hysteria would be ten fold if it were my child. I wouldn’t be suing people. I’d be SEARCHING.”
Having heard a missing child likened to a non-missing dog, we turn to the Sun, where the headline runs: ‘FIGHTING FOR THE CAUSE Kate McCann offers support to missing persons charity just hours after top cop claims new theory to Madeleine’s disappearance.’
Kate McCann is the ‘brave mum’ who ‘put aside her own anguish over snatched daughter Madeleine to help a pal raise money for charity’. As people ‘continued to heap more misery on her family, she has spared time to consider other missing children and adults.’ The charity is called Missing People. You can find out more here.
Such are the facts.
Madeleine McCann was not kidnapped, says a ‘top investigator’. ‘MADDIE “WENT LOOKING FOR HER MUM & DAD”,’ announces the Star’s front-page headline. This is, says the paper, an ‘astonishing claim’. When investigators make claims you wonder if they understand the rudiments of investigations, which are about gathering evidence.
The story begins by billing former child prosecution officer Mark Williams-Thomas as ‘an investigator who unmasked pervert Jimmy Savile’. Those are some credentials. And were it not for the unhappy fact that the depraved BBC DJ was branded the ‘man who groomed the nation’ after he’d stopped polluting the airwaves and started to befoul the soil, it would be useful.
The Star notes that Williams-Thomas was on TV’s This Morning when (continues on Page 7) he says: “We know the twins did not wake up on days prior to her disappearance.” The Star refers to the claim that on the morning of her vanishing Madeleine McCann had asked her parents: “Where were you last night?” He continues: “I think as a result of that, Madeleine was clearly aware they [her parents] were in the tapas bar that was in the resort. Now the interesting element is that in order to get to the tapas bar bar you had to actually come out of the premiss – walk on a public road – to go back in again. and that raises a concern I have…”
Still there? He’s getting to his point. Having told us what the missing child was thinking, he adds: “Madeleine, I believe…”
Yep. What a man believes is front-page news. As ever, the single fact – child vanishes – is stretched out. Anyhow, what he believes is that the child woke up and went looking for her parents. And then..? And…? And Philip Schofield, the show’s host, steps in and declares: “Legally we have to leave it there.” He did not add, “Come back next week to find out what an expert thinks happened next!”
As ‘Our Maddie’ continues to entertain the folk back home, the parents’ spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, issues a wordy no comment comment. “This is pure speculation,” he notes “and as such Kate and Gerry will not be dignifying it with any sort of comments whatsoever.” But their spokesman will. And so too will a “family pal”, who offers: “When did he [Williams-Thomas] become an expert on this high profile case?” This is a rhetorical question because the unnamed source swiftly answers, “Never.”
As the Star listens to speculation, the Mirror reports ‘Maddie “went to find parents in tapas restaurant”‘ below the bigger headline: “We ARE innocent – McCanns slam judges who says they haven’t been formally cleared.” Their lawyer, Isabel Duarte, states: “There is no evidence they have committed any crime.” Please don’t speculate on what if any crimes have been committed. To do so would be potentially libellous. Stick to reading the missing child’s mind via a TV expert and imagining what she did. The media has pointed the finger before and been found wanting.
This latest legal episode centres on the McCanns’ failed court action against Goncalo Amaral, the ex-copper who wrote a book on the case and having been ordered to pay the McCanns libel damages for things he claimed in it, saw the ruling overruled on the grounds of his “right to freedom of expression”. The Mirror says Amaral could now sue the couple. In making its ruling the Portuguese Supreme Court said nothing more should be read into its words, whether it be innocence or guilt. To what is moot. The McCann’s arguido status was lifted in July 2008, and the judges said nothing can be deferred by it. The McCanns’ complaint, notes the paper, ‘said the archiving took place because “sufficient evidence had been collected to show they had not committed any crime”.
Over in the Mail, we learn that Williams-Thomas was on This Morning to plug a new telly show about unsolved crimes. So that bit about Schofield saying ‘stay tuned’ was only half in jest. It really is that ghoulish.
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the vanished child.
The Sun picks up the news that sleuths can book a place on the ‘Our Maddie’ charabanc. Armchair detectives can go mobile. The paper tells us:
The trips to the apartment – named Luz Tours – where the missing three-year-old was last seen alive has been slammed as “appalling”.
Why are they not named Maddie Tours or something equally to the point? Luz Tours seems a tad cryptic.
The paper then repackages old news: ‘The McCann family were staying in an apartment at the Ocean club, Praia Da Luz, Portugal, when she vanished.’
And since May 7 2007 that has been pretty much the entire story. As facts go, those are them. But the single thread story has spun out and out until we get news of an ‘unnamed’ tour operator who apparently wrote about his trips somewhere – the Sun doesn’t say where:
The tour organiser wrote: “Luz Tours are for people with considerable expertise in the Madeleine McCann case.” He added: “I don’t think there is a way to commercialise Luz Tours and I wouldn’t want to even if it was possible. However, I find it ironic that I get keel-hauled for trying to progress the Madeleine McCann case, for free, and Scott Michaels gets lauded for running a business based on dead celebrities.”
Far from being ‘ghoulish, the Maddie Tour is a public service. As for Scott Michaels, well, he ‘founded the now infamous Dearly Departed Tours in Hollywood 15 years ago’. Book a seat and Scott will show you where famous people croaked.
Is this news or is this marketing? The paper hears from ‘one expat’. They’re upset and aghast. “I don’t know what’s worse – running this sick tour or pretending it’s doing it to find Maddie,” says the unnamed source. “I think the organisers are twisted and the people that go on these ghoulish tours are not much better. It’s totally uncalled for and needs to stop.”
Best leave the Madeleine McCann sightseeing to the journalists and the cops.
The Mirror calls the tour ‘sick’. It adds:
The trips also take in the nearby tapas restaurant where her parents Kate and Gerry were dining when she vanished and wasteland spots where British cops have dug for her body.
And you thought you wouldn’t have any fun on holiday.
Tourists on the excursions – named Luz Tours and dubbed the “Luz Challenge” – are reportedly then invited to speculate on what happened.
When it comes to speculation best leave it to the Mirror, which helpfully produced its six theories in May 2010. The paper told readers of the “PAEDOPHILE GANG”, the “LONE PAEDOPHILE”, the “JEALOUS MOTHER”, Madeleine wandering off and “DROWNED”, the “OPPORTUNIST PAEDOPHILE”, the “CHILDLESS COUPLE”. You can print it out and use it to kick stat chatter on the tour bus.
In other news, the Mirror says:
Kate and Gerry McCann lodge complaint after court ruled couple were ‘not formally in the clear’ over Madeleine’s disappearance
You can read more about that here. The Mirror then says, in the interests of sound reporting and fact: ‘Detectives are said to be working on a theory that she was kidnapped by a European trafficking gang.’ No need to spend your cash on a tour when you can debate the vanishing at home.
The Mail has more. And it adds a new word to the Madeleine McCann Glossary:
Correio da Manha reported today: ‘The McCanns have requested the annulment of the Supreme Court decision, terming it frivolous for saying it ‘had not been possible for public prosecutors to obtain sufficient evidence of crimes by the appellants.’
The newspaper said the McCanns had described the ruling as ‘leviano’ in the complaint lodged through their Portuguese lawyer – which in English translates as ‘frivolous’ but can also mean ‘sloppy’ or ‘rash’.
Leivano could be used to describe much of the repotting on this matter – reporting that libelled the parents and Robert Murat, pointed the finger at gypsies, demanded dying paedophiles make death-bed confessions and made Madeleine McCann into ‘Our Maddie’, the benchmark for all missing people.
To prove how little the case has progressed the Sun asks:
MCCANN COURT BATTLE Who is Goncalo Amaral? Ex-Madeleine McCann cop whose claimed Gerry and Kate faked her abduction
Question asked. Question answered.
Over in the Star, the paper produces news from nothing.
Maddie McCann parents blast ‘cash-in’ claims ahead of 10th anniversary of disappearance
Ten years of this. When Anorak first started to cover this tory we told you it would run and run. In place of news, the Star oozes:
KATE and Gerry McCann have blasted claims they plan to make a fortune from the 10th anniversary of daughter Madeleine’s disappearance.
How? Are there to be commemorative mugs, tours, newspaper retrospectives – ‘Maddie: 10 Years of Guessing’?
Spokesman Clarence Mitchell denied allegations in the Portuguese press that the parents were taking fees for interviews. He said: “They want to make it clear they are not making any money out of Madeleine’s disappearance. Any claims are spurious nonsense but fit in with the Portuguese agenda.”
The Sun adds:
As interest increases daily to clinch the sought-after decade deal by broadcasting and publishing giants, the family have admitted: “It’s crazy!”
You might even call it ‘sick’.