Madeleine McCann

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 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)

Madleine MCcann: The ITV Film, Tabloid Crime And Scarlett Keeling

madeleine_mccann3.jpgMADDYWATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann and Shannon Matthews

THE SUN: “McCanns could be in ITV film”

KATE and Gerry McCann are in talks to appear in an ITV documentary on missing kids. But the film will not be based on Madeleine’s case. Instead it would focus on how other countries treat lost children.

Are the McCanns doomed to be the media faces of missing children? Will they be invited to off their views on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Unsolved Crimes?

DAILY TELEGRAPH: “Madeleine McCann’s parents discuss TV offer”

Representatives of Kate and Gerry McCann have met with the broadcaster about a documentary that would be shot over a long period of time, their spokesman confirmed. It is thought that, while the documentary would feature four-year-old Madeleine’s disappearance from Portuguese resort Praia da Luz last year, it would focus on the wider subject of how countries respond to children going missing.

Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns spokesman, says: “We have talked with one or two companies and have a number of proposals and we are moving forward with those proposals. It is more than likely it would be with ITV at this stage, but I am not at liberty to go into details.”

Is this Brand McCann at work?

Says Clarence Mitchell: “They don’t want to do anything about ‘woe is us a year on’. That is what the tabloids would like us to do, but we are not following their agenda, we are following our own agenda.”

Indeed. No film. It will be tasteful and not at all mawkish. It will not be all about viewing figures and advertisers. It will be an ITV film…

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Posted: 12th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (759)

Madeleine McCann And Shannon Matthews: Pets And Parents, The Sun Raises And A Disco

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

DAILY MIRROR: “McCanns diver fury”

Always “fury”.

Kate and Gerry McCann reacted with fury yesterday after divers began a second search of a reservoir for Madeleine’s body.

The couple told friends the search – funded by a Portuguese lawyer who they claim is a “fantasist” seeking publicity – is a distraction from the hunt.

Marcos Aragao Correia claims crime contacts told him she was killed and left in the lake two days after going missing.

Says a McCann “source”: “There’s no evidence Madeleine is in that reservoir. They believe she is alive and are concentrating on finding her.”

IRISH INDEPENDENT: “Divers search remote Algarve lake for Maddy.”

Says Mr Aragao: “If I was Madeleine’s parents, I’d want to be helped. It may not be the outcome they want if I find Madeleine, but it’s important for them that they find out what happened to her and recover her body if she is dead. There may be genetic evidence on the corpse that could help the police discover who killed her.”

Indeed. Any more clues? Can the paper help?

A Portuguese lorry driver told Metodo 3 he saw the German girlfriend of Madeleine suspect Robert Murat handing over a child in a blanket to a mystery man in Silves, a five-minute drive from the reservoir, on May 5 last year.

Michaela Walczuch has claimed she is being framed to protect the McCanns and denied any involvement in their daughter’s disappearance. She has never been made an official suspect and has only ever been quizzed as a witness.

So why mention it?

THE SUN: “Stepfather is innocent says Shannon’s dad”

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Posted: 11th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (980)

Shannon Matthews: Craig Meehan Denies, Roy Greenslade Writes And Whispers

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


The media carries much news of how missing Shannon Matthews is being ignored. A smaller reward. Just one celebrity friend. The picture of a missing child. A child not there.

She is not Madeleine McCann, say the papers. Her stepfather Craig Meehan is not erudite Gerry McCann. But he is “beleaguered”. Fingers are being pointed. Speculation. Whispers. If not Gerry McCann, is Craig Meehan the Mirror’s “creepyRobert Murat?

“I THINK HE’S A DECENT GUY..Missing Shannon’s real dad backs under-fire stepfather.”

Says Leon Rose: “I’ve always thought he was a decent guy. Whenever I went to pick up Shannon he’d be around. It was obvious she looked up to him. If she’s got time for him, then so have I.”

Whisper: “Shannon’s grandmother June Matthews claimed at the weekend that he was a sinister presence in the family home.”

Whisper: “Worried uncle Martin Matthews said Shannon told him that Craig hit her and begged to stay at his house the day before she disappeared.”

Says Craig Meehan, who has lived with “mum of seven Karen” for four years: “I’ve never laid a finger on Shannon. To tell the truth, these allegations say more about Karen’s mother than they do about me. She’s never liked any of Karen’s ex-partners and is always trying to make trouble for us. She wants to rule Karen’s life.”

Says Uncle Martin Matthews: “Shannon came here at teatime. She said to me ‘Please can I stay here tonight? I can’t go home as I’m in trouble’.

Says Uncle Martin: “Shannon has shown me bruises on her arms and told me Craig lashed out at her.”

Says “Grandmum” June: “Karen was a great mum before she took Craig in. Those kids were loved and cared for. Since he arrived, they’ve had a terrible time.”

Karen Matthews says “Rubbish”.

Fingers are pointed. Whispers. One fact: Shannon Matthews is missing. But no yellow ribbon in the Mirror’s masthead. No solidarity. Just introducing the family. One by one. No yellow ribbon. Not yet…

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Posted: 10th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (1,161)

Madeleine McCann, Shannon Matthews: A British ‘Spanish Maddy’

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

SUNDAY PEOPLE: “Maddie’s parents in cash offer


Are there shades of a melodrama in this story?

“The parents of Maddie McCann yesterday pledged cash to boost the hunt for Shannon. Gerry and Kate, whose daughter has been missing for 10 months, are “deeply concerned” at the plight of Shannon’s family. Kate, 39, said: “My heart goes out to them. We always hoped and prayed that no other family would have to suffer like we have.”

The McCanns are the media voice of missing children. Providers of the easy quote.

“Money from the Find Madeleine Fund could perhaps pay for a massive poster campaign.”


McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: “Kate and Gerry have no control over the money. The board will want to know what it is needed for.” The fund now stands at £544,000.

Perhaps not.

GLASGOW SUNDAY MAIL: “Maddie Parents Pray For Tragic Mari’s Family.”

“THE parents of Madeleine McCann yesterday offered prayers for the family of tragic Mari Luz Cortes.”

No money. No more posters. Prayers.

Their McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell says: “Gerry and Kate are extremely sad. They had developed a sense of unity with Mari Luz’s parents as both families were going through similar agonies.”

Mari Luz is dead. Her body has been found.

As the Sunday Mirror screamed: “Spanish ‘Maddy’ Mari Luz Cortes found dead in river.”

SUNDAY MIRROR: “’Two women broke into our home and tried to snatch our little girl. I had to fight them off.. I thought of Madeleine’.”


Another “Spanish Maddy”?

A British mum told yesterday how she fought off two intruders who tried to snatch her toddler daughter in Spain – in a chilling echo of the abduction of Madeleine McCann.

Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal. It has not been established what happened to her. Her parents have been named as suspects in her disappearance. So too has a Robert Murat.

To Moraira, Costa Blanca…

Brave Adele Spencer, 28, wrestled with the Moroccan-looking women when they broke into her home and tried to pluck 18-month old Annabelle from her high-chair.

A swarthy foreigner. A swarthy foreign child snatcher. In Morocco. Morocco. Like him in Malta. Malta. And him in Belgium. And them.

And last night aides to Kate and Gerry McCann said they are keen to find out more about both cases – to see if there are any links to four-year-old Madeleine’s abduction in Praia da Luz, Portugal, last May.

Yesterday tearful Adele cuddled her blonde daughter and admitted: “If I had been 10 seconds later she would have been gone. I’m just thankful I managed to get to Annabelle in time to save her. “I never thought we would come close to suffering the same fate as Madeleine’s parents. You read about horrific stories like theirs but you don’t expect it to happen to you.”

Adele’s fiancé is called Carl. Says he:

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Posted: 9th, March 2008 | In: Broadsheets, Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (786)

Madeleine McCann And Shannon Matthews: Mari Luz Cortes And A Middle-Class Media

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

DAILY RECORD: “Body In River Is Mari Luz”

Sad news. The picture of a girl. A girl not here.

THE body of a girl found in a river estuary in south-west Spain was identified last night as that of missing Mari Luz Cortes. Five-year-old Mari Luz vanished on January 13 after going to buy sweets from a stall only yards from her front door in Huelva.

The town is near the border with Portugal and less than two hours’ drive from where Madeleine McCann went missing.

Last night Madeleine’s parents Gerry and Kate sent a message of support to Mari Luz’s mother and father, Juan Jose Cortes, 34, a former professional footballer, and Irene Suarez.

Are the cases linked? Spain and Portugal. A body found. A child missing. Are the McCanns now nodding heads with whom the media consult and look to for an easy quote whenever a child goes missing; a child is killed; a child goes missing somewhere in the world?

THE SUN: “Mari Luz Cortes found in river”

The five-year-old’s parents feared she had been snatched like Madeleine McCann when she vanished on January 13. Last night Maddie’s parents Kate and Gerry were “extremely saddened”.

Who cannot be made sad by such grim news? Who in their right mind?

Huelva is less than two hours’ drive from Praia da Luz where Maddie, four, disappeared on holiday in Portugal last May. The McCanns, both 39, of Rothley, Leics, said their “thoughts and prayers” were with parents Juan Jose, 34, and Irene, who had been sure Mari was being held alive.

The McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: “They had developed a sense of unity with Mari Luz’s parents. Both families were going through similar agonies.”

Will the press now look for a new child to link Madeleine McCann to?

DAILY TELEGRAPH: “Spanish police find body of missing girl”

Her disappearance less than two hours drive from Praia da Luz in the Algarve had prompted police to investigate whether there was any link to the apparent abduction of Madeleine McCann.

Shannon Matthews is missing. A picture of a girl not here.


Best friend Megan Aldridge, nine, yesterday told “GMTV that her pal, also nine, who disappeared on February 19, had a hideaway near her home in Dewsbury, West Yorks.”

Children on the telly. News or exploitation? Hearts or minds?

“She has pinpointed the location of the ‘foxhole’ to detectives during two interviews. Megan said: “A girl came up to her at school and started bullying her. “I told her to go away or I would tell, so she walked off.”

INDEPENDENT: Deborah Orr provides context.

Many commentators have remarked that the disappearance of Shannon Matthews has not made the same impact as the disappearance of Madeleine McCann because of “class”. There is truth in that, but not all of it is as uncomplicated as some observers suggest.

There was an undercurrent in the McCann case of antipathy towards the couple, who could dine out each evening in a nice resort but scrimped on babysitting, and a sinister hope that these seemingly upright citizens might have had a hand in their daughter’s fate, and that their “class” might be shielding them from exposure.

There is, at least, no such smear of Schadenfreude in the Matthews case. It is understood that nine-year-old girls going home from school in insalubrious areas are rarely, but plausibly, abducted.

There may have been no great rush to sanctify Karen Matthews, whose anguish over the loss of her daughter is not questioned. But there has been little attempt to accuse her either. People feel sorrow, but not as much surprise. The less comfortable an existence you have, the more likely it is that you will undergo awful life experiences. That isn’t class prejudice, but a sad fact of life in a remarkably unequal society.

Money. A missing child is a matter of money? A mising child is a matter of a white middle-class media entertaining its white middle-class readers? A mising child is a matter of empathy?

BRISBANE TIMES: “Two mothers, two lost girls, one class system”

Meet the two sides of the social class coin in Britain: Karen Matthews and Kate McCann. From parallel socioeconomic worlds, the two women are bound by perhaps the most traumatic experience a parent can have: the disappearance of a child… The unkind have depicted the two mothers as Waynetta Slob – Britain’s most famous underclass stereotype – versus Kate Moss – darling of the glamour set.

Anyone read of such a thing?

They have compared Ms Matthews’ seven children by five fathers and her 22-year-old boyfriend with Mrs McCann’s IVF-conceived twins and heart-surgeon husband. The high-minded say these things should not matter; it is the missing girls that are important. But it is clear that the perception of class does matter when trying to capture the public’s imagination…

The high-minded? Or just the police and those looking for the missing children. The children pictured. The children not here.

A former Daily Mirror editor and media commentator with The Guardian, Roy Greenslade, appraises public perception and media judgement. “The mother (Karen Matthews) is unsympathetic. This is a dysfunctional family, and people feel, ‘Does she not bring this upon herself? Is she not the author of her own misfortune?’ ” He says Ms Matthews represents an underclass that Daily Mail readers and their like cannot and do not want to relate to.
But the McCanns, he says, with their seemingly respectable lives, represent the aspirations of Middle England. “It shouldn’t matter. But it does. This is a really difficult thing for editors. They don’t like talking about this aspect because it really does betray the unspoken way they make their mind up.”

Media spin? If it bleeds it leads. Stories of girls not here.

Shannon Matthews is on the front pages of the Sun. Madeleine McCann is on the front page of the Daily Express.

The media on Madeleine McCann

Posted: 8th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (920)

Madeleine McCann: Kate And Gerry McCann May Sue Express Newspapers Over Coverage

mmc.jpgAS Anorak readers told us days ago, the Daily Express may be preparing itself for legal hostilities with the McCanns.

READ: Is Madeleine McCann Disappearing From The UK Press?

For days on end the Daily Express led with news – and no news – of Madeleine McCann. And they stopped all mention of her. No longer story big enough for the nationals?

If the McCanns sue the Express, what could it mean for the paper that “strands for decency”, as the adverts say, and for the McCanns who maintain they are innocent in their daughter’s vanishing?

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Posted: 7th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (272)

Madeleine McCann: Tapas Sums, Shannon Matthews And GMTV

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

THE SUN: “Cops plot McCann pals’ quiz.”

“It could involve British police putting questions to the ‘Tapas seven’.”

Gran’s plea over missing Shannon

A picture of Karen Matthews wearing a T-shirt bearing the image of her missing daughter. The mother is smiling. Why show this picture?

MISSING Shannon Matthews’ heartbroken gran fought tears yesterday as she pleaded: “I just want to see her little smiley face at my window again.”

June Matthews is a “pensioner”. She suffers from “ill health”. Is interviewing the grandmother now part of the protocol for reporting on missing children?

THE SCOTSMAN: “Madeleine: police may quiz ‘Tapas Nine’ again”

The Sun’s Tapas Seven becomes the Scotsman’s Tapas Nine. Such are the facts.

Detective Superintendent Stuart Prior, of Leicestershire Police, returned from the Algarve yesterday after meeting counterparts in Portugal about how the fresh interviews would be conducted.

The Leicestershire Police spokeswoman says: “Since Madeleine’s disappearance, we, together with other law-enforcement agencies, have been working closely with the Portuguese authorities.

“Mr Prior has attended a series of meetings with his Portuguese counterparts,” she said yesterday. “He travelled to Portugal on Tuesday and returned this morning.

“He went to discuss how the request for mutual legal assistance is to be executed and to seek clarification over elements of the request.”

DAILY MAIL: “Madeleine: British police meet Portuguese detectives to plan fresh interviews with Tapas Nine”

The “so-called Tapas Nine – the McCanns and their seven friends – could still hold the solution to the unsolved mystery that began in May last year”.

Says the McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell: “The sooner this re-interviewing takes place the better. The friends are very keen to help police understand their original statements. No one will be changing their story. We are not aware that Kate and Gerry are to be re-interviewed at this stage, but if so, that’s not an issue.”

Tapas Nine minus Tapas Two equals Tapas Seven.

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Posted: 7th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (570)

Madeleine McCann: Shannon Matthews, Karen Matthews And Britain’s ‘Sickest’ Man

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


This “I” can reach the police on a special hotline, number 999. A team of trained operatives are there to take your call…

“Clairvoyant dramatic claim to missing schoolgirl’s mum”

Missing Shannon Matthews’ mum Karen has dramatically been told by a psychic: “I know who snatched your daughter.”

He said the schoolgirl, nine, was abducted by a man both she and Karen knew vaguely – but was alive. A relative of distraught Karen, 32, revealed last night: “What he said got to her as he knew a lot of personal information.”

Three clairvoyants looked for Madeleine. And a psychic barber

MY GIRL IS ALIVE: “THE HUNT FOR SHANNON Father clings to belief she will be found”

Hunt. Like the “Hunt for Madeleine”.

“The distraught dad of missing Shannon Matthews yesterday spoke about his “beautiful angel” – and said he is convinced she is still alive.

Says Leon Rose: “I’m living a nightmare and keep pinching myself to try and wake up. I still keep hoping she’ll come walking through the door.

“I have never felt such pain before but I’m determined to find her. I need to stay strong for her sake and to keep my head straight.”

We are watching the parents. It is as if the grim case of Madeleine McCann has set new standards in tabloid reporting.

In “DADDY’S SNAPS”, readers see pictures of Shannon Matthews. In one she is holding her hands over her face. Do you recognise her? The pictures reflect normality but there is nothing normal about a missing child.

Last pictures are not always the full picture

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Posted: 6th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (979)

Madeleine McCann And Missing Shannon Matthews In The Media

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

DAILY MAIL: “The shocking truth behind daycare at nurseries and crèches”

“Britain’s childcare industry is booming,” says Imogen Willcox, who has no children. But she knows. And she’s blonde.

“Every working day, more than a million parents drop off their precious little cargos at childminders and private nurseries. All of them do it firm in the belief that those they trust with their babies are highly-qualified, strictly regulated and genuine, caring people. Terrifyingly, they are wrong.”

Spread the fear:

“During an eight-month investigation for the BBC1 investigative programme Whistleblower, I uncovered a childcare culture where a new career’s criminal records and references are never checked, yet they will immediately be left alone with young, vulnerable children.”

You mean someone with a conviction for criminal damage, non-payment of their TV licence or being banned from driving can be in charge of a child!?

And – worst of all – they may be left in the care of a childless TV reporter and Daily Mail writer posing as a caring nursery school helper as she snoops on her fellow staff members – those sad sacks circling life’s plughole without a media career!?

Imogen Willcox carries secret filming equipment into nurseries. Sick? Certainly. Perverted? You decide.

“The builders left their power tools inches away from where the children were playing and no one seemed to notice. I spent that particular session on tenterhooks,” says she.

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Posted: 5th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann, Tabloids | Comments (726)

Madeleine McCann: Our Survey Says

madeleine-mcann1.gifMADELEINE McCann is missing. Are Kate and Gerry McCann innocent. They say they are. Or are they guilty. Nothing proven, but people will talk.

Press your keypads now…

PRESS Association: Madeleine McCann’s parents were said to be “encouraged” after a survey suggested public opinion in Portugal was shifting in their favour.

The Correio da Manha poll found that 38.6% of those questioned still believe Kate and Gerry McCann were involved in their daughter’s disappearance in the Algarve.

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Posted: 4th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (182)

Madeleine McCann: A Jetski, A Bag And Terrorist Attacks On Israel

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

DAILY MAIL: “Couple saw bundle taken out to sea near where Madeleine disappeared but police ignored them”

A bundle?

A British couple saw a package being bundled onto a jetski on a beach just six miles from where Madeleine McCann went missing. The tourists had been for a morning swim just nine hours after the little girl disappeared when they spotted the jetski.

A man in a dark wetsuit was riding it, with a 2ft- to 3ft-long black package on the front. He took it to a small “official-looking” grey boat moored just off the coast at Salema.

Man with bag spotted… Read all about it!

The McCanns’s spokesman said they were concerned the Portuguese police had not followed up such a “potentially significant lead”. Really.

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Posted: 4th, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (382)

Elizabeth Smart, Chandra Levy, JonBenet Ramsey, Madeleine McCann And Vicky Iseman

IN “McCain Sex Scandal Blonde Missing – Day 12”, the Huffington Post’s Chris Kelly wonders what happened to the “missing blonde woman in John McCain’s lobbying scandal”, Vicky Iseman?

Iseman is not dead. She is not presumed to be dead. There is no police case. Says the trite Kelly: “Until we hear her speak, or hear she’s been identified from dental records, how can we ever have closure?”

(Iseman was the subject of a New York Times story that suggested she and Sen. John McCain had a close relationship that “may have been romantic”.)

And that’s it. Only:

Elizabeth Smart and Chandra Levy, Laci Peterson and JonBenet Ramsey, Madeline McCann and Jessica Lynch, the Runaway Bride and the remains of Anna Nicole Smith. Those stories were made for cable. Sure, it’s fun to watch a casino implode, the first hundred times, but it doesn’t have the same urgent familiarity; the same prurient arc of tension and relief, like a cross between a nipple slip and a mining disaster. There’s something about missing white women that just works for 24-hour news. Like shipwrecks in Shakespeare, or the way you can’t write a truly awful folk song without mentioning smoking.

Says Kelly: “Here at Huffington, the two headlines are OBAMA and SOMEONE’S NOT PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION TO OBAMA.”

And Ms Iseman. The organ likes Ms Iseman, too. Barack Obama is a black man. You can read about him and listen to him on 24 hour news.  Ms Iseman is a white woman. Madeleine McCann is a missing child whose name Kelly misspells.

In the prurient language of the tabloid, amid a vociferous media feeding frenzy, all are made equal. Just forms of entertainment…

Posted: 3rd, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (151)

Madeleine McCann And Shannon Matthews: Watching The Parents

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

BELFAST TELEGRAPH: “Missing: The contrasting searches for Shannon and Madeleine

Has class influenced the rewards offered and publicity given to two campaigns to find missing children? Cole Moreton goes to Dewsbury to investigate…

Two girls are missing:

Back in Britain, within those first 12 days, the McCanns got Premier League footballers to wear Madeleine T-shirts and athletes to run in yellow ribbons. They asked for advice from the likes of Phil Hall, former editor of the News of the World. And there was another factor: Madeleine was cute, and Kate McCann good-looking.

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Posted: 3rd, March 2008 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (661)