Madeleine McCann | Anorak - Part 38

Madeleine McCann Category

News digests and reviews of the missing child in the news. Madeleine McCann vanished on Thursday, 3 May 2007 from a rented holiday flat in Praia da Luz, Portugal. Madeleine, on holiday with her twin siblings and parents Kate and Gerry McCann,became the biggest news story of the past decade. We’ve followed it closely ever since the story broke.

Madeleine McCann: Mari Luz Cortes, Santiago del Valle Garcia And Clarence Mitchell Says

mari-cortes-mccann-poster.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

THE SUN: “Quiz killer paedo over our Maddie”

Santiago del Valle Garcia has been arrested by Spanish police over the death of Mari Luz Cortes – “Maddy 2“. He has neither been tried nor convicted of murder. Although the Sun is certain.

Says the Sun: “Both girls were pictured on posters put up by four-year-old Maddie’s parents because the cases were so chillingly similar.”

A spokesman for the couple, “who are both doctors aged 39” – such are the facts – says: “Given the similarity in their ages it is important police make absolutely sure there’s no connection.”

But what of the similarity between the cases?

“Sources said the pervert, who has convictions for child abuse, confessed he dumped Mari Luz’s body in panic after she fell to her death down stairs.”

DAILY MIRROR: “McCanns want Spanish paedophile quizzed on missing Madeleine”

Says Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns: “We hope the Portuguese police will be liaising with the Spanish police to establish this man’s movements around the time Madeleine disappeared.

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Posted: 27th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (816)

Madeleine McCann: Selling Books, Keeping Your Child Safe And Michael Donovan

children-in-danger.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

IRISH INDEPENDENT: “Wearing kid gloves – In this age of multiple dangers, how do parents strike a balance between wrapping children in swaddling clothes and giving them leeway? Aine Nugent reads a new guidebook on the subject”

Clinical psychologist Paul Gilligan has penned Keeping Your Child Safe, a book that will spread anxiety and must be read ANYONE who genuinely cares about their kids. If you don’t read it, then you only have yourself to blame should something dreadful befall your children.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief as nine-year-old Shannon Matthews was found safe and well. It is every parent’s worst nightmare that their child should go missing — a tragic reality that the families of Madeleine McCann and Amy Fitzpatrick are still going through.

Keeping our children safe is the first priority of parents, and the modern world has more dangers in it than it did when we were children — perhaps because we’re more aware of them. Because of developments in technology, communication has never been easier — and never more fraught with danger.

Read on if you dare…

Keeping Your Child Safe looks at the ways in which children can be put in danger, unwittingly, unintentionally, but detrimentally.

Madeleine McCann: Spreading the fear

Shannon Matthews: Michael Donovan, 39, will appear before Dewsbury magistrates court in West Yorkshire. He was arrested on March 14 after police raided a house and found the missing 11-year-old.

Posted: 26th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (514)

Madeleine McCann: On Lawyers, Media And Local Newspapers

madeleine-graffiti.jpg MADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

LIVERPOOL DAILY POST: “Local experts forecast liklihood [sic] of Madleine McCanns’ damages case”

DEFAMATION specialists in the region have commented on the outcome of a case brought by the parents of Madeleine McCann which resulted in four national newspapers issuing front-page apologies for their coverage of the toddler’s disappearance.

Liverpool has taken the McCanns to its big heart. Not for nothing is Liverpool the European city of Culture. Kate McCann was born in Liverpool and her mother Susan Healy lives in the area.

The local Liverpool paper has invited a panel of local lawyers to share their thoughts with locals about the local story of a young girl from Leicestershire who went missing in Portugal.

We are no longer watching the parents in the media. We are watching the media in the media. Anorak is watching the media watching the media. Thank you for watching.

THE GUARDIAN: “This reckless reporting cannot continue”

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Posted: 25th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (470)

Madeleine McCann: Robert Murat’s Relief

murat1.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

DAILY MIRROR: “Murat: It’s big relief”

Madeleine McCann suspect Robert Murat, 34, last night spoke of his joy that he looks likely to be officially cleared in days.

After having his computers returned, he said at his Praia da Luz home last night: “I’m so relieved.”

No mention of the Mirror’s super sleuth Lori Campbell who fingered “weird” Murat.

DAILY MAIL: “Murat could soon be cleared as Madeleine suspect after police return his possessions”

Even his computer – with the Sun’s “kid porn”.

His lawyer Francisco Pagarete said: “The police received an order from the public prosecutor to give everything back to Robert. All his items have been returned. We believe it is another step towards his clearance as a suspect. It’s a good sign.
“But we will have to wait and see. There is nothing official saying his status as an arguido is being revoked.”

Even if yesterday the Sunday People had “CLEARED” him.

No word from the The Mail’s Neil Sears, who told us: “There was something more to the friendly expat who called himself ‘Rob’ than met the eye.” Murat made Sears “feel slightly uncomfortable”.

DAILY TELEGRAPH: “Robert Murat close to being cleared over Madeleine McCann disappearance”

Robert Murat has moved a step closer to being cleared as a suspect in Madeleine McCann’s disappearance after police returned possessions seized from him 10 months ago.

Says hi mother, Jenny Murat, 74: “Every single item that the police took has been returned to us. Of course we hope it means Robert’s arguido status will be lifted shortly. But we’ve had no official confirmation that that is the case and we’re not getting too excited.”

Madeleine McCann: Speculation and survival

Posted: 24th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (978)

Madeleine McCann: Robert Murat ‘Cleared’, Maddy’s Bedroom And ‘No Case’ Against McCanns

murat-innocent-1.pngMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann


Portuguese cops hand back Murat’s seized computers Arguido status set to be dropped Family demands apology for ‘unfair’ smears against dad

Robert Murat is no longer a suspect. Robert Murat is longer a suspect?

Madeleine McCann suspect Robert Murat was last night sensationally CLEARED of snatching the four-year-old. The ex-pat Brit has suffered ten months of torment after being named an arguido by Portuguese police.

Robert Murat is no longer a suspect. The Sunday People has the facts.

Only: “Last night relatives called on investigators to formally lift his arguido status.”

Robert Murat is still a suspect. Read all about it.

Murat’s ex-wife Dawn says: “There are a lot of weird people out there and if something happens to one innocent child they think ‘An eye for an eye’. They want to hurt another innocent child – my daughter. I’m constantly on the lookout for anything suspicious or anyone paying her attention.”

It’s “every parent’s worst nightmare”, says she. It’s not at all pleasant. But scream “paedo” and this is how people who care deeply for children react.

Dawn told how the “worst moment” came when a newspaper compared him to Soham murderer Ian Huntley. School caretaker Huntley, 33, openly joined the hunt for missing ten-year-olds Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells in 2002.

EXPRESS: “Kidnapping has weird echoes of Soham case – MADDY SUSPECT BEHAVED JUST LIKE HUNTLEY.”

BBC: Says Robert Murat:

“It is a very positive sign, there’s no doubt about that whatsoever. Why would they return something if it was in the middle of being investigated in any way, shape or form? We are very happy to have the computers back, and I hope I will have my arguido status dropped very shortly.”

SUNDAY EXPRESS: “Kate and Gerry MCann Sorry”

Another day, and another front-page apology. How many times can the Express say sorry to the McCanns? And does saying sorry lead to an increase in sales?


What a day it is for The Sunday People: Murat no longer a suspect; case against McCann dropped. The People scoops the rest.

The Tapas Seven face fresh questioning next month as cops launch a last ditch attempt to solve the Madeleine McCann mystery.

No longer the newspapers’ “Tapas Nine”.

Portuguese detectives will fly to Britain on April 7 after winning permission from public prosecutors to quiz the seven pals who were at a tapas bar with Maddie’s parents Kate and Gerry when the four-year-old disappeared.

But what of the headline that police have “no case”?

A source revealed: “Police had prepared various questions they wanted to ask Kate and Gerry. “But the prosecutors felt it was a waste of time because the McCanns would refuse to answer the questions – a right that Portuguese law grants official suspects.”

And the exclusive about the headline about there being “no case”?

Kate and Gerry, both 39, of Rothley, Leics, deny involvement in the disappearance and believe the new move will show they have no case to answer.

Such are the facts. No speculation in the Sunday People. No room for a libel payout.

Comfort of the room that’s frozen in time

Madeleine McCann’s parents have kept their daughter’s bedroom exactly as it was before she disappeared…Kate still sits quietly there every night and prays. And they have vowed never to move from the house in Rothley, Leics, until they know what happened to Maddie.

And we’re back to being voyeurs, peeking inside the room of a missing child. Voyeurs.

Her bed sheets and patterned duvet remaining unchanged and her clothes are still hanging in the wardrobe and neatly folded in a chest of drawers. Kate has refused to hand down the clothes to Maddie’s three-year-old sister Amelie who bears a striking resemblance to her.

But this is not speculation. This is fact.

Gerry’s mum Eileen McCann said: “At one time the door to Madeleine’s room remained closed. But now the twins go in and play. Kate and Gerry don’t want to shut them out. The whole family feels closer to Madeleine by being in her bedroom.”

As do tabloid readers.

DAILY MIRROR: “Maddie cops fly to Britain”

By Lori Campbell – the hack who fingered Murat as creepy and then told everyone about her scoop.

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Posted: 23rd, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (276)

Madeleine McCann: Porn, Liverpool For McCanns And Libel

madeleine-liverpool.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

THE INDEPENDENT: “Saga of the McCanns is not yet over”

Says Richard Ingrams:

No one can feel too sorry at the thought of Express owner Richmond Desmond, who has made a huge fortune out of pornography, having to shell out a fraction of his profits to the needy McCanns.

No, not climate porn, the Independent’s apocalyptic visions of climate change, but real flesh and hair porn – the porn that has given Richard Demsond “huge profits”; which must mean many not only enjoy porn and are happy to pay for it. Would “no one” feel sorry for Mr Desmond if his fine curtailed his porn output?

The Story of the McCanns and Express Newspaper was broken by Anorak 

All the same, the story is puzzling. The Express was undoubtedly guilty of libel. But the suggestion that the McCanns might have been in one way or another responsible for their daughter’s death did not originate with the newspaper. It was the Portuguese police who long ago branded the McCanns as suspects. And officially they remain so. It has never been explained why they were so convinced of the McCanns’ guilt when all the facts seem to point the other way.

Facts? There is only one fact: Madeleine McCann is missing.

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Posted: 22nd, March 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (453)

Madeleine McCann: The Anniversary, Malinka’s Car And Unsavoury E-Mails

rothley-mccann.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

DAILY MIRROR: “KATE TOLD TO FORGET PORTUGAL – She’ll miss Maddy anniversary”

A year of Madeleine McCann stories.

Lawyers have told the couple that to return on May 3 may be risky in view of the fact they are still official suspects over the missing four-year-old. There are fears it might provoke demands for them to be quizzed by police again.

“May”. “Fears”. It’s News of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in a nutchell.

A “friend” says: “The lawyers are just being ultra-cautious. But there remains a possibility they may suddenly be called in. The anniversary would then become a circus which is the last thing they want. It is sad because Portugal is where Kate feels closest to Madeleine.”

So says a friend of the McCanns in the national press.

The six-month anniversary was marked by a flurry of speculation, yellow ribbons and a book.

THE SUN: “Murat pal’s car is torched”

A close pal of Maddie suspect Robert Murat has been targeted by an arsonist — apparently attempting to make him reveal details of the case.

Apparently. Or not.

There was a similar arson incident last year when Malinka’s van was blown up at night.

This is Sergey Malinka. Back in May 2007, the Sun heard Portuguese TV report that Malinka has convictions for “sex crimes.” Does he have any criminal convictions? “Not as far as I know,” said Moscow-born Malinka. Did the Sun bother to investigate further? Is Portuguese TV a reputable source of fact?

What says Malinka of his car: “It was a nice car, but at least I wasn’t inside it. I’m angry and I want to find out who it was.”

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Posted: 21st, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (982)

Madeleine Mcann: Express Newspapers Win, Robert Murat’s Tabloid Trial And Money

maccann-inflatable.jpgMADDYWATCH Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

What irony in the McCanns winning £550,000 damages from the tabloid press, to whom they turned to keep their missing daughter Madeleine in the public eye. Thanks to the tabloids, Madeleine is big news once more. And with the money – notably the Star’s – get this – donation going to the Find Madeleine Fund, Express Newspapers have helped the search for the missing girl.

Meanwhile, the News of the World’s reward remains unclaimed. So is this a victory for Express Newspapers? Is the Express the tabloid that cares most?

FINANCIAL TIMES: “McCann libel payout cues media debate”

Lawyers and newspaper executives agreed on Wednesday that a £550,000 ($1.1m) payout by Express Newspapers to the parents of missing Madeleine McCann would temper tabloid behaviour. But not for long.

Not for long:

“WHY was Shannon laughing,” Sunday Express

Broadcaster Andrew Neil, former editor of The Sunday Times, said: “The Express got its come-uppance and I believe the editor should resign. But it is only the worst example…Whether that lesson will be heeded for long, I’m not so sure.”

Hunting Madeleine McCann And Robert Murat

A former tabloid editor, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, added: “It’s a disaster for them from a PR point of view, but I don’t think it will affect their circulation, certainly not the Star. It might make everyone more cautious, but I doubt that will last.”


THAT “Express apology – By Robert Shrimsley”

We now acknowledge there is no evidence whatsoever to support our theory that repeating this rubbish every day on our front page did in fact bring us any extra readers. We furthermore recognise that we should have stuck to the Diana inquest, given that she is dead and can’t sue.

Sun: “TWO British sisters have revealed they saw oddball Robert Murat lurking by the Portuguese holiday apartment from which Madeleine McCann vanished”

As an expression of our regret we are going to spend the next few weeks hounding Heather Mills in the hope this does the trick.

She’s blonde. So she’ll do.

Express front pages to look out for:


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Posted: 20th, March 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (770)

Madeleine McCann: The Star ‘Donates’ To The McCanns, The Express Apologises And Sue Carroll Explains

mccann-express.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann and Shannon Matthews

DAILY EXPRESS: “Kate and Gerry McCann: Sorry”

The Express once more has the disappearance of Madeleine McCann on its front page. No picture of the missing blonde child. Not now. Instead, readers see a picture of her parents looking pained.

Read more here.

And how Anorak broke this story.

The Daily Express today takes the unprecedented step of making a front-page apology to Kate and Gerry McCann.

We do so because we accept that a number of articles in the newspaper have suggested that the couple caused the death of their missing daughter Madeleine and then covered it up.

We acknowledge that there is no evidence whatsoever to support this theory and that Kate and Gerry are completely innocent of any involvement in their daughter’s disappearance.

We trust that the suspicion that has clouded their lives for many months will soon be lifted.

As an expression of its regret, the Daily Express has now paid a very substantial sum into the Madeleine Fund and we promise to do all in our power to help efforts to find her.

Kate and Gerry, we are truly sorry to have added to your distress.

We assure you that we hope Madeleine will one day be found alive and well and will be restored to her loving family.

The paper paid the money into the find Madeleine Fund, or the paper paid the money to the McCanns – as the law decreed it should – and it is they who have chosen to pay it in to the Find Madeleine Fund?

Anyhow, at least the sensation is now at an end.


The Daily Star today makes a wholehearted apology to Kate and Gerry McCann for stories suggesting the couple were responsible for, or may be responsible for, the death of their daughter Madeleine and for covering it up. We now recognise that such a suggestion is absolutely untrue and that Kate and Gerry are completely innocent of any involvement in their daughter’s disappearance.

As an expression of our regret we have now made a substantial donation to the Madeleine Fund in the hope that it helps efforts to find her.

We sincerely apologise for any additional distress we have caused the family.

THE SUN: “McCann rage at Maddie book claim”

A FORMER Portuguese police chief has angered Madeleine McCann’s parents by claiming in a novel that the toddler is dead – and her body dumped at sea.

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Posted: 19th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (645)

Madeleine McCann: Four Newspapers To Pay McCanns Damages

daily-express-mccann11.jpgNEWS is that the Daily and Sunday Express and sister papers the Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday will pay a “substantial” sum and print front-page apologies to Kate and Gerry McCann, parents to Madeleine McCann.

This story was broken by Anorak.

Kate and Gerry McCann’s lawyers says that some of the newspapers’ articles were “grossly defamatory”.

All damages will be donated to the Find Madeleine fund.

The Daily Express is to carry a full front-page apology in Wednesday’s paper, while the Star’s apology will take over half its front-page. The papers are expected to apologise for suggesting Kate and Gerry McCann were involved in their daughter’s disappearance. The action relates to more than a hundred stories across the four titles, including 42 printed in the Daily Express.

Says Roy Greenslade:

“I think this is an amazing stand-down, u-turn, by the Express newspapers. I think when people realise that more than 100 stories have been complained about as being grossly defamatory, it will annihilate the Express’ readers sense of trust and credibility in their newspaper.”

THE GUARDIAN: “Express and Star apologies to McCanns bring all journalism into disrepute”

Five days ago, when it emerged that the group had removed all its McCann stories from its websites, I gave some examples of the tendentious, and often mendacious, material the Daily Express had been running. Over the weeks and months since May last year, when Madeleine vanished in Portugal, they added up to a substantial libel on the McCanns.

Five days… Sureley longer than that, Mr Greenslade. February 22nd.

This was no journalistic accident, but a sustained campaign of vitriol against a grief-stricken family. The stories were not merely speculative, but laced with innuendo which continually made accusations against the McCanns on the basis of anonymous sources and without any hard evidence.


Wild claims, often made by unattributed sources to Portuguese newspapers, were then spun even more negatively by the Express and Star titles. Of course, they were not the only papers to carry prejudicial material, but they were by far the worst.

I am delighted that the papers, owned by the pornographer Richard Desmond, have been forced to humble themselves. I only wish the McCanns had acted even faster, but no blame should attach to them. Their major concern has, quite naturally, centred on their missing daughter.

A single fact: Madeleine McCann is missing. And speculation, sensation and innuendo. Anorak has followed the case from the outset – a voracious media feeding frenzy.

But, taking into account that other papers have also carried inaccurate and inappropriate stories about the story, it is also a day in which many British journalists have cause to hang their heads in shame.

But it goes on still…

Did the Express titles go to such lengths, eschewing all ethical standards, purely to win sales? If they did, it didn’t show up in their circulation figures because all four titles have lost sales over the past nine months. Or was it, as I suspect, less calculating, a case of casual cruelty rather than premeditated sales-building? It’s hard to know which is worse.

The disappearance of Madeleine McCann

Posted: 18th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (79)

Madeleine McCann: A Source Says, Shannon Matthews And Down Under

mccann-picture.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

THE SUN: “Maddie picture was ‘a mistake’”

MISSING Madeleine McCann’s parents yesterday blasted claims that releasing a photo of her had led to her death. Publishing the image may have “panicked” a kidnapper into killing her, said a legal source in Portugal. It was also claimed that Portuguese prosecutors now believed her body would NEVER be found.

A legal source?

The source said: “An abductor felt trapped and got rid of her. The parents may have contributed to this story having an unfortunate ending.”

A source says and the Sun reacts. Contact the usual sources.

Says the McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell: “They don’t believe Maddie is dead.”

THE HERALD: “Why Shannon’s welfare is the only priority”

Is it? And what has it to do with Madeleine McCann?

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Posted: 18th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (556)

Shannon Matthews: Bratz, Mystic Babies And Sir Norman Bettison

shannon-m.jpgSHANNON WATCHAnorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Shannon Matthews
Shannon Matthews has been in the care of the local authority since she was found. The media had a few hours to speculate and focus on Shannon “what ifs” but now the shutters are down. The man has been charged and will appear in court today.

DAILY MAIL: “Don’t let Shannon go home because her mother’s not ‘ready’, say her grandparents”

You can always interview the family.

“We just don’t want Shannon going back to that house. She can stay with us,” said the nine-year-old’s grandfather Gordon Matthews. “I don’t think that Karen and Craig are ready to look after her properly. While all this has been happening, we had Shannon’s brother and sister staying here with us and they were both so happy – they didn’t want to go back.”

Wonder why? Let’s speculate…

He and his wife June are fearful that Shannon, who is in foster care after her 24- day abduction ordeal, could soon be back at home. Mrs Matthews, 64, added: “I have been thinking of Shannon going back to Karen. It’s just not right. Karen was a great mum before she took Craig in. Since he arrived they’ve had a terrible life.”

Craig Meehan is innocent. Why mention him?

Mr Matthews added: “Craig is like a tiny child. He’s so immature. He rings Karen all the time on the phone, literally 20 times a day.”

Maybe it’s love? Maybe Karen Matthews likes children?

“Karen is like a taxi service for him. She picks him up and drops him off everywhere. I have never liked him and I don’t want Shannon going back to her mother while he is around, you just wouldn’t want him looking after your child.”


Shannon Matthews will not return to her mum and stepdad but will be looked after by specialist carers. Police chief Sir Norman Bettison confirmed that the nine-year-old will not be going home just yet to Karen Matthews, 32, and 22-year-old Craig Meehan for the moment.

Norman Bettison. West Yorkshire’s leading copper. After listening to the grandparents, listening to Norman is the next story. Prepared to update the Wikipedia entry, sir!

Says Sir Norman B-E-T-T-I-S-O-N: “She is safe. She’s well. She’s in the place where we think that she’s safest at the moment.”

He singles out Detectives Paul Kettlewell and Nick Townsend who refused to leave when they got no answer at a flat where neighbours said they could hear a child’s footsteps. They watched the front and back entrances and called for a battering ram. They broke down the door and discovered Shannon.

Says Chief Constable Sir Norman: “I think it is amazing and I think it is a question of pride for me that they started to make inquiries of the neighbours. Given this was the 700th action they had undertaken since the start of the investigation…

“It’s been phenomenal and it’s been unprecedented [“You’ve already used ‘amazing’ sir!] and let me tell you where I’m standing it’s been entirely professional. It’s painstaking methodical work.”

Of his officers: “They’re special people, extraordinary people doing an extraordinary job.”

Wikipedia: Sir Norman Bettison the Amazing, phenomenal, extraordinary, unprecedented…

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Posted: 18th, March 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (94)

Shannon Matthews: Sir Norman Bettison’s Wikipedia Update

SHANNON Matthews is safe. The man suspected of taking her in a suspected abduction is being quizzed. And over the newswires:

Meanwhile, West Yorkshire chief constable Sir Norman Bettison highlighted the work of detectives Paul Kettlewell and Nick Townsend as he defended the professionalism of his force. Sir Norman said his officers have interviewed 6,000 people and searched 3,000 houses over the past three weeks and said he was amazed to have to defend his force publicly against criticism over its speed in recovering her.

Sir Norman Bettison, Wikipedia And Celebrity Policing

Posted: 17th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (51)

Madeleine MCann: Spotted In Sydney, Following Robert Murat And Arab Slavery

madeleine_mccann-sydney.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

NEWS.COM.AU (News Corp.): “Maddie Sydney alert after ‘sighting’”

SYDNEY police were sent into a flutter today when a member of the public called in thinking they’d spotted missing British girl Madeleine McCann in the CBD. Rail staff appeared to shadow a middle-aged man wearing a black beret and a little, blonde girl until police arrived at Town Hall train station to question the pair.

How did she get there from Malta?

The Daily Telegraph spotted three police officers talking to the man and the girl at the Luneburger German Bakery underneath the Queen Victoria Building in the heart of the city. But police say the report turned out to be a false alarm.

DAILY MIRROR: “Madeleine McCann suspect’s fury at finding GPS tracker”

Madeleine McCann suspect Robert Murat has discovered tracking devices fitted to his cars. British expat Murat, 33, found the GPS bug when he was fixing a fault on his VW Transporter.

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Posted: 17th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (394)

Shannon Watch: Mick Donovan, Good Neighbours And A Brain Tumour

shannon1.jpgSHANNON WATCH: – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Shannon Matthews


Pages 4 and 5: “’IT WAS ALL FAMILY SCAM’”

So says the man “suspected” of abducting Shannon, “allegedly”.

Such are the facts.

THE SUN (front page): “STALKER – Weirdo’s months watching..from next door”

The Sun “can reveal” that Mick Donovan visited one Amanda Hyett “up to four times a week to ‘comfort’ her after her father died”. Hyett is Shannon’s aunt. Hyett is Donovan’s niece.

“It is now thought Donovan…was secretly watching the schoolgirl.”

Thought? Indeed. So says the Sun’s “SHANNON EXCLUSIVE”.

Pages 4 and 5: “I’ll kill my kids”

Donovan “threatened to kill his won daughters after barricading himself into his house with them”.

Donovan is “crazed”. Donovan is a “toothless misfit”. A neighbour called Hayeley Brown says Donovan is a “real weirdo”.

“The mum of four told how a brain tumour had left him with a limp. She said: ‘His arm was a bit a paralysed as well. That and the limp and this big horrible eyes made him look a bit weird, bit pervy.”

What more evidence do you need?


“Mick Donovan is said to have made the brothers, aged six and 12, fondle each other.” Allegations. Unproven.


Of Shannon: “It I believed that so far no evidence of sexual abuse has been discovered…”

Believed? But the police are not releasing any information. Shannon Matthews is still being questioned. So too Mick Donovan.

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Posted: 17th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (213)

Shannon Matthews: The Psychic, The Reward, The Ex-Wife, The Kinky Sex, The Speculation

shannon-mum-karen-matthews.jpgSHANNON WATCH: – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Shannon Matthews


POLICE want to examine the exact nature of the relationship between Shannon Matthews and the man who is suspected of abducting her.

The mystery of how she came to be found hiding under a bed in a shabby upstairs flat with her stepfather’s uncle, Paul Drake, is now the key focus of their investigation.

In a shock twist last night, it emerged that neighbours of Drake have told police that they heard the youngster laughing and joking with him.


John Stalker Former police chief takes a break from advertising garage doors to address the matter of missing children

Former police chief JOHN STALKER believes Shannon’s return may lead to further shock revelations. He suspects cops may be focus on further family links with her stepdad Craig Meehan.

What has Craig Meehan done? He says nothing. He has not been arrested. So why single him out? Not that the article even mentions him, his name only appearing in the teaser.

I was convinced that they were purposefully un-picking Shannon’s family relationships. At the same time they were conducting a large-scale conventional search in case she had died accidentally or was lost. But at no time did they seriously extend their interest outside of Dewsbury, despite the town lying close to the M1 and M62. This tells me they knew more than they were saying. A clearer picture will soon emerge of what took place.

In the meanwhile, let’s speculate…

What happened while Shannon was with Donovan? Did she go voluntarily? He was no stranger to her. Most importantly, was her divan drawer hiding place part of a game to keep her away from others she wished to escape from? The arrest of a family member throws up difficult questions about whether others were involved.

Let’s have a heated debate…

Police must seriously examine whether family connivance may be a feature. Large cash rewards are often available for the return of a missing child, such as in the Madeleine McCann inquiry. In Shannon’s case, the money on offer will undoubtedly have tempted some to make fraudulent claims. A shrewd investigator will know that.

BAFFLED COPS probe extraordinary new Shannon theory.. WAS IT A HOAX?

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Posted: 16th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (576)

Madeleine McCann: Compare And Contrast, An Easter Miracle And David Cameron

madeleine_mccann-blonde.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

INDEPENDENT: “Shannon’s miracle: the backlash begins”

Cole Moreton writes:

Comparisons with Madeleine McCann who went missing in Portugal last year were inevitable. Shannon was not the daughter of a couple of good-looking, wealthy, middle-class doctors with friends who knew how to work the media, as Madeleine was…

There are already signs that the togetherness brought on by the search for Shannon could fall apart. But so much was achieved by the people of this much-maligned area. They lacked the glamour, the organisation or the wealth of the campaign to find Madeleine McCann (currently offering a reward of £2.6m sponsored by Sir Richard Branson, among others), and they faced the prejudice of people who looked down on a scruffy council estate on a hill in West Yorkshire, but they kept going anyway, even when it looked hopeless. “People are saying Julie Bushby deserves an honour, and she does,” said Mr Hyett, “but there should be something for the whole community. We didn’t give up.”

Poor but plucky. That’s the real story in the media…

IAIN DALE (Tory blogger): “The ‘People Like Us’ Phenomenon”

Last night on Sky News we briefly discussed why the media gave a much higher profile to the Madeleine McCann case than the Shannon Matthews disappearance. There are, I’m sure lots of factors, but one was the fact that for the media, the McCanns were very much “people like us”, or should I say, people like them. The Matthews family were nothing like the media classes in appearance, lifestyle and outlook. I really think there is something in this. Let’s take the analogy further.


My fellow panelist, Peter Whittle, asserted that the reason David Cameron was given more or less a free ride by the media in his first eighteen months was because he belonged to the “people like us” class. Was this part of the reason the media were so keen to promote him, and do down David Davis after his conference speech? Not consciously, but I do wonder if there was something subconcious about it.

Why was the coverage of the New Orleans floods slightly underdone by the US media? It might it have been different if it had happened in Manhatten, where “people like us” live?

Harriet Harman was given a comparatively easy ride by the media when she sent her kids to a selective school. Could it have been because many media people were facing the same dilemma?

Then: “I could go on, but you see my point.”

That Madeleine McCann can be placed in the cotext of the New Orleans flood, Harriet Harman’s children and a speech by David Cameron? MaddyWatch was made for such things…

SUNDAY HERALD: “How fortunate the police chose not to follow the media’s shoddy example”

Torcuil Crichton on class and crime

EVEN THOUGH it is close to Easter, describing the discovery of missing Shannon Matthews alive, just one mile from her home, as “back from the dead” may not have been media hyperbole…

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Posted: 16th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (84)

Anorak Bingo: With Shannon Matthews, Madeleine McCann And Scarlett Keeling

fiona-mackeown-rampling.jpgMcCANN, MATTHEWS. McKEOWN. It’s all part of Anorak Bingo – the game that’s taking the press by storm. The aim is to get the names ‘McCann’, ‘Matthews’ and ‘MacKeown’ into your article. Get all three and score double points. Pens at the ready…

THE INDEPENDENT: “Sarah Sands: Scarlett Keeling died at the roll of a dice. It’s a perilous game”

Each human tragedy has its socio-economic dimension. The terrifying abduction of Shannon Matthews is coolly discussed as a portrait of a debased white working class, with its multiplicity of fathers and attendant social workers. When Madeleine McCann went missing we rapidly absorbed the context. The parents were doctors, ambitious, gym conscious, dressed in high street chic. The holiday destination, Mark Warner in Portugal, was family minded and middle class. The McCanns felt safe to leave their children in the room, because they were among their own people.

Tick. Tick.

Fiona MacKeown was as trusting of her own way of life. Goa was the geographical affirmation of her identity. Gentle, free, non materialist, non judgmental. True to her beliefs, she has rejected the conventions of work, family structure and social aspiration. She has nine children by five fathers.

The Good Life:

One person’s small holding is another person’s squalor. The shack that she calls home looks wretched to me, but I was not very shocked by the interior shots of Scarlett’s bedroom. My daughter’s room is just as untidy.

But let’s look anew at Diona MacKeown. Nice hair… blonde hair…

Similarly, I do not share the distaste of many journalists for Fiona MacKeown’s hippy appearance. She has a calm beauty and resembles Charlotte Rampling in some photographs. Scrubbed up a bit, the whole family could appear in a Calvin Klein advertisement. The children with their tousled hair and burnished bodies laughing on a beach with their carefree mother. It would be an alpha ideal if they had a few million in the bank and a Bryanston education.

Fiona MacKeown’s daughter has bene raped and murdered in India.

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Posted: 16th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (66)

Why Shannon Matthews And Madeleine McCann Are So Different:

ANORAK reader Marie Nicholas on why Shannon Matthews and Madeleine McCann are so different:

I am pleased that little Shannon was found alive, and hope the aftermath of her story will not weigh too heavily on her future. That said, I must say I never took the same interest in her story as in the MC’s story. It made me understand what fascinates me there.

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Posted: 15th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (31)

Madeleine McCann: Prayers, Bones And Media

mccann-reward.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

Remember, everyone, to play Anorak Bingo you must mention Madeleine McCann, Shannon Matthews and – here’s the tie-breaker – Scarlett Keeling. Eyes down…

DAILY MAIL: Amanda Platell

There cannot be a person in the country who didn’t feel a surge of delight on learning that little Shannon Matthews has been found alive and well.

We can think of one.

All the more so in these days when good news has become such a rare commodity. Yet even as we celebrate, we should spare a thought for Gerry and Kate McCann, for whom Shannon’s discovery, wonderful as it is, will be a fresh reminder of their own terrible loss. The return of one lost girl is a marvel. The return of two . . . now that’s a miracle worth praying for.

Was it the power of prayer that got Shannon Matthews found? If so, who gets the reward?

Tick. Tick.

THE INDEPENDENT: “Deborah Orr: Wonderful news that carries a message for the media”

It isn’t often that the papers have some really wonderful news to report. But it really is wonderful that Shannon Matthews has been found alive.

Amanda Platell agrees.

This amazing news also carries a lesson for the media, about the way it turns horrible crimes into great stories, and what an unpleasant, self-regarding business this can be.

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Posted: 15th, March 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (621)

Shannon Matthews: Paul Drake, Mick Donovan And Claiming The Reward

shannon-great.jpgSHANNON WATCH: – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Shannon Matthews

THE SUN: “Warped uncle took Shannon”

The man who named Shannon Matthews’ kidnapper Mick Donovan to police told last night how the weirdo bounced her on his knee at a funeral. Ryan Baynes told The Sun that the “oddball loner, had a reputation for ‘acting oddly’ around children”.

Says Ryan, “a tiler” from Dewsbury:

“Donovan behaved very strangely at that funeral. He was bouncing her up and down on his knee. Everyone at the funeral noticed it and thought it was far, far too close. Mick’s always been odd around kids. He really cracked up when his own kids were taken off him… I’m just glad she has been found alive and very glad I helped. Donovan is a very sick man to have done this. He’s a monster.”

Ryan called the police.

He says: “I was expecting a call back from the police to say they either arrested him or discounted him. But each time I called I was told it was being ‘looked into’. I even thought about taking a ladder down to Batley Carr, finding where Donovan lived and looking through the window of his flat to see if Shannon was there.”

Donovan is the brother of Alice Meehan, the mother of Craig Meehan — who is the partner of Shannon’s mum Karen Matthews.

Says Alice: “I can’t believe he had Shannon, my own brother. It feels like he has brought shame on our family. I have great mixed feelings because he is family and he’s done this.”


When detectives knocked on the door and got no reply, they smashed it down and discovered the missing girl hidden in the base of a double bed.

They asked her: “Where is the person who took you?” Shannon replied: “He’s in here.”

Detectives then found him lying in the same bed base, on the other side of a partition.

THE SCOTSMAN: “Schoolgirl found alive against all odds”

It began with a suspicious neighbour and the sound of a child in the flat above. The small home of pale brick in Lidgate Gardens contained a secret.

Didn’t it begin when Ryan Baynes told the police of Donovan?

The property where she was found, which had a small Pokémon toy in the window, was just a mile from the nine-year-old’s home and was understood to be on a police watch-list. When two detectives visited yesterday morning, they grew suspicious and questioned a downstairs neighbour, who told them of hearing a child’s footsteps in the property, which was not usual.

So it was routine police work that found Shannon?


Neighbours described Drake, who was arrested on suspicion of abduction, as a loner who had an obsession with washing his car. Mother-of-four Mandy Dixon said: “He is a weedy little man who nobody bothered with. He is obsessed with washing his car – he’s always out cleaning it, but he hasn’t been doing that for a couple of weeks. I didn’t give it much thought, to be honest.”

How was he discovered?

Detectives had all but given up hope of finding Shannon Matthews alive when she was discovered in what they thought was a routine door-to-door inquiry. Mother-of-eight Julie France said she had noticed the nine-year-old when she was driving near her home in Dewsbury, about a mile away from Shannon’s house, around the time she disappeared.

Mrs France, 45, said: “I remember seeing her pink Bratz boots and I could see her school uniform. It was about 4.15pm when I first saw her and then I spotted her again on her own 45 minutes later near the ginnel [alley] by my house. I remember she looked sad and lonely. I even stopped the car because she was on her own and thought about asking her if she was OK, but I decided not to and drove away.”

A couple of days later she heard on the news that a schoolgirl had disappeared from her area. She recognised the girl she had spotted in the pink Bratz boots as Shannon Matthews. But she couldn’t remember if she had spotted her before or after her disappearance.

“I’d only seen her for a few seconds both times. I had a mental block and thought my mind was playing tricks on me. I didn’t want to waste police time but I was so sure I’d seen her.

“I couldn’t let it drop and went to the police station a week after she disappeared.”

No mention of Mr Baynes. It was Julie France who tipped off the police.

THE GUARDIAN: “After 24 days, the sound of footsteps then a policeman’s shout: ‘We’ve got her’”

There were no sightings of Shannon Matthews, no fingerprints to work on or images of suspects. In the end, it was the sound of small footsteps through a ceiling that led police to the missing nine-year-old girl, hidden in an upstairs flat overlooking the former textile mills of Batley Carr.

Routine police work found Shannon. What of Craig Meehan? What of the whipers?

He added: “Basically I’m in the clear now – all my alibis were true. That Tuesday [when Shannon disappeared] I was in until the police officers came round. Then me, my brother-in law, my cousin and my mate went out searching. I live in this family – why would I want to do it for? I love Karen and I love the kids – everybody knows that. I know she’s my stepdaughter. But I always treated her like my own flesh and blood.”

THE INDEPENDENT: “The girl who came back from the dead”

Last night, a 39-year-old man was being held on suspicion of abduction. Neighbours named him as Michael Donovan, whois thought to be a distant relative of Shannon’s step-father and lived inthe flat raided in the Batley Carr area.”

The Sun says Donovan is Craig Meehan’s uncle. Not so distant.

Mr Donovan, a tall, thin man with black cropped hair, described by local people as a “loner”, is said to be distantly related to Shannon’s stepfather, Craig Meehan.

The reward for Shannon’s safe return was a paltry £50,500, £50,000 of which was put up by The Sun newspaper.

Police are believed to have found Shannon after acting on a call from Julie France, who lives in the same street as Mr Donovan. THE TELEGRAPH: “Shannon Matthews suspect is a loner

Paul Drake, 39, also known as Mick Donovan, is the uncle of Shannon’s stepfather Craig Meehan and lives only a mile from Shannon’s home. His sister, Alice Drake, 50, is Mr Meehan’s mother. Dewsbury-born Mr Drake claims disability allowance and, according to neighbours, spent much of his time washing his car, a silver Peugeot 406, or sitting in the vehicle late into the night…

What else?

The Daily Telegraph understands that Mr Drake saw Shannon at the funeral of her grandfather, Brian, in November. His brother-in-law, Danny Meehan, said: “My brother died from a heart attack in November time and there was a funeral up at Dewsbury Crematorium. I thought at the time there were too many children around. Shannon was there and Paul.

“I knew him when he was a kid and Brian got together with Shannon’s gran, Alice, but I’ve hardly seen him since at all.”

Mr Drake married Susan Bird in 1996 and the couple had two daughters, now aged 12 and 10. However, the couple separated and their children were taken into care. Mr Drake’s sister Alice said: “I have great mixed feelings because he is family. He lost his own children three years ago after a bitter split from his wife. He had custody of the kids but now he no longer sees them. This killed him. He was told he should never make contact with his children. I’m sure there is no way he would have hurt Shannon.”

Craig Meehan’s sister, Caroline, said: “When they said the address on the television we just knew it was him. We knew he was on the list for the police to go and see but they hadn’t been round before today.”

As he was dragged away from his home in handcuffs by three police officers, he was heard shouting: “I’m a poorly man, I should be taken to hospital. I am not well.”

Such are the facts.

Sandra Foster, who lives in the same street, said Mr Drake was small with a sharp nose.

Keeping tabs

Posted: 15th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (42)

Madeleine McCann And Shannon Matthews: Paul Routledge’s Media Debate

shannon-matthews.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann and Shannon Matthews

DAILY MIRROR: “Class snobs taint hunt for Shannon”

Paul Routledge says: “Her stepfather Craig Meehan is right to say that being working-class is a factor in this case.”

Shannon Matthews went missing because she is from a working class family?

Compare the treatment of Shannon with the hype surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal last year. It pays to be middle-class when your daughter vanishes.

How? Madeleine McCann has not been found. How does losing a child pay? The Mirror told us it was the biggest manhunt since the Yorkshire Ripper? Is the police effort not as important to solving a mystery as the media’s comments on it?

Huge sums of money flooded into the campaign to find Maddy. Spin doctors, including former TV newscaster Clarence Mitchell, were hired to manipulate the media.

The McCanns, young, smartly-dressed, articulate and professional, became overnight celebrities. They flew to America, Scandinavia and to Rome where they met the Pope. In contrast, Shannon’s mother Karen and her partner have been treated almost like lepers.

A snooty BBC radio interviewer was keen to find out if she had had seven children by six fathers.

Seven children by six fathers… Why does Mr Routledge find a need to repeat that fact? If the McCanns have a spin doctor does it matter if the press refuse to listen to him, decline to repeat his words?

Routledge writes in the Mirror, the paper that in the maw of the McCann feeding frenzy told us of “creepy” Robert Murat and placed a yellow ribbon on its masthead. No ribbon now. Not for Shannon Matthews.

He says: “God grant they find her safe and well. But this case brings to the surface some unpalatable facts that many would prefer not to face.”

No kidding…

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Posted: 14th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (1,097)

Express Newspapers And The McCanns

daily-express-mccann1.jpgTHE Guardian notes on the Express Newspapers:

A spokesman for Express Newspapers declined to comment on the removal of the articles from the company’s websites.

The Express once featured the Madeleine McCann story on its front page. Not any more.

An email from the Daily Express online editor, Geoff Marsh, quoted on the website, said: “For operational reasons, some articles previously available on have been temporarily removed. I’m afraid I can’t go into any more detail.”

Carter-Ruck partner Adam Tudor, who is representing the McCanns, told last week that the complaints against Express Newspapers were ongoing.

However, it is thought the case could be settled imminently.

What will happen when the matter is settled?

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Posted: 13th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (439)

Madeleine McCann: The Benchmark For Missing Children

madeleine_mccann4.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann

THE SUN: “How could she just vanish?”

The Sun is speaking of Shannon Matthews.

The absence of any clues is not for the want of looking. In contrast to the bungling by Portuguese police in the early days of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, the hunt for Shannon by West Yorkshire police has been textbook.

Even if the child has not been found, neither in Yorkshire, nor in Portugal.

CNN: “’Underworld’ tip leads to new Maddie hunt”

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Posted: 13th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (376)

Shannon Matthews: Ripper Yarn And Not In McCanns’ Class

shannon.jpgSHANNON Watch: Anorak’s look at Shannon Matthews in the media

DAILY MIRROR: “Hunt for Shannon Matthews is the biggest since the Yorkshire Ripper”

Is it?

The search is the biggest since the one for Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe who murdered 13 women in the 70s and 80s.



Chief Inspector Graham Armitage said: “It’s certainly the biggest missing persons inquiry since the Yorkshire Ripper, which I also worked on.”

Ripper. Ripper. Ripper. Is this a new context to place the disappearance of a child in? Is comparison with Madeleine McCann no longer apt?

DAILY MAIL: “Someone I know abducted missing Shannon just to hurt me, says mother”

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Posted: 12th, March 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (255)