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.

Going Dutch On Madeleine McCann Reward

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry for them. But are we outraged?

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

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

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

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

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

And Madeleine McCann is missing…

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

Madeleine McCann And Spinning The New Labour Of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Story So Far

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Madeleine McCann Runs With The Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s The Story?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Madeleine McCann, Toscano, Malta And Going Equipped

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or someone after the massive reward.

Let Me Help

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope Above Expectation For Madeleine McCann

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this from Gerry McCann’s blog:

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

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

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

Finding Madeleine McCann’s Body – “Vermoedelijke Vindplaats”

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

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

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

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

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

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

A murder investigation. And still only one suspect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr McCann says:

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

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

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

Read the update here – no body found

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

Madeleine McCann And Amaral Policing

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

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

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

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

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

Joana’s body has never been found.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Madeleine McCann’s Wearside Jack And Toscano’s Suspect

madeleine-mccann-1.jpgAFTER weeks of no news, and much speculation, we learn that Madeleine McCann was “SNATCHED BY ORDER BY GANG”.

And not just any gang, but a “paedophile gang”. The Express leads with this hideous development, telling readers how Spanish journalist Antonio Toscano claims to have met members of an international crime ring which specialises in kidnapping children.

It seems that while British journalists have been turning up the volume on Madeleine McCann’s parents, a Spanish hack has been trying to crack the case.

Toscano says a man was spotted in a bar in Seville, two hours from the Portuguese border. This man, a known paedophile, apparently told the reporter how he planned to travel to the Algarve. This meeting occurred days before Madeleine’s abduction.

A source tells the Express: “He was hired by two other people to abduct Madeleine, who had been identified some time before she disappeared, possibly in the UK. He was doing this on the orders of others.”

So it was this known felon, right? Or wrong. The Express doesn’t say. It just gives front-page space to Toscano’s tale. And in so doing the paper spreads the anxiety. There really are paedos on every corner. They are at the airport. They are watching. They communicate across borders. They are everywhere. The evidence? Senor Toscano says so. And that will do for us.

But before we take to the streets on paedo hunt, we hear a phone ringing. The police take the call. A voice. “I know where Maddie is,” it says. The Sun hears it too. It commands: “FIND THE CALLER.”

But a police source says how the “urgency of the situation waned”. Kate and Gerry McCann were told of the call and advised not to board a plane. The caller might call again. The man may want to speak with them and they must be instantly contactable.

But the Mirror says this is “no longer regarded as a significant line of inquiry”. So much for rolling news. Readers hear about a sensational new development that has already been consigned to the bottom draw.

This caller is Madeleine McCann’s Wearside Jack, the Sunderland hoaxer who claimed to be the Yorkshire Ripper – “I am Jack. I see you are still having no luck catching me…”

Gerry McCann says this call “turned out to be nothing of interest”. Of course, he could be bluffing, keeping it low-key to not scare off this mystery caller.

Better to keep the media out of it, lest they provide too much heat and not enough light.

More on Toscano

Posted: 8th, June 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (74)

Madeleine McCann: Crimewatch And Just Another Day

mccann1.jpgIT’S Gerry McCann’s birthday today. He’s 39.

This is, as the Mail says, “the hardest birthday of his life”.

So how does he feel? The Sun wants to know. “I can’t even think about it,” says Madeleine McCann’s father. “As far as I’m concerned it’s insignificant.”

The Sun considers the evidence. What about last year’s birthday? What were you doing back then, when Madeleine was with you? “I can’t think about that either,” says Gerry McCann.

The Sun needs its story. And the story is: “TORMENTED MADELEINE DAD FORGETS BIRTHDAY.”

Not forget. More can’t find a reason to celebrate.

Tonight, though, the criminal case will take centre stage. The McCanns will appear on the BBC TV show Crimewatch.

The Sun says plans for a reconstruction of the night of Madeleine’s disappearance have been shelved because Portuguese laws blocked access to the area. Instead, the parents of the missing girl will ask for help.

They will then travel to Amsterdam, Berlin and Rabat. The Mail says the McCanns lived in Amsterdam for a year. There are many German tourists in the Algarve. And a blonde girl has been sighted in Morocco.

But before they leave the Mail says the McCanns will ask local police for a progress report. The Mail is not optimistic. It talks of a “wall of silence” and the McCanns receiving “most of their updates either through the British police or from news reports”.

But what do these reports teach them? That they are upset. That today is Gerry’s birthday. That Madeleine McCann is missing…

Posted: 5th, June 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (625)

Madeleine McCann: Blown Out Of All Proportion

maccann-inflatable.jpgMADELEINE McCann is on the beach at Praia da Luz. Or at least her likeness is.

As the Mail reports, Chris Lennox and Les Harley, have driven 2,200 miles from Scotland. They have brought along a 800 sq ft giant inflatable billboard appealing for Madeleine’s safe return.

The Mail doesn’t say anything about Chris Lennox and Les Harle nor why they should choose to display Madeleine’s image in such a fashion. Is this not a little unusual, creepy even?

At least the BBC bothers to speak with campaigners. It hears Mr Lennox tell us: “My heartstrings have been pulled on this and I want to help. I have a family with small kids and my wife has been following this from day one. She told me to come out here and do what I could. I am clearly here to help raise awareness.”

Such is the way of public spectacles, like the Madeleine McCann mystery, that many feel involved. They want to do their bit. But what can they do? Put themselves in the public eye? Make a huge inflatable and show the world how much they care?

Lennox and Hale plan to tour the area with their massive inflatable sign. And surely it will keep Madeleine’s name in the public eye. People will be reminded that Madeleine McCann has gone missing. Parents on holiday will be made aware that children can be taken. They will anxiously hug their children closer. And, if they’ve read some of the over the top media coverage, they will worry over holidaying in Portugal.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, Sun readers can go online and watch a video of Madeleine. It’s called “Maddie on Mobile”. The Mail has stills of Madeleine McCann at the airport, excitedly climbing the airplane’s steps.

The two films, one of 13 seconds and another of nine, were taken on camera phones. “Somewhere in the background there’s even the sound of her voice,” says the Mail. Ghouls will love it.

And they can see it on the Sun’s website. Right after an advert for a film called Paradise Lost, featuring lot of babes in bikinis, and before “Sex in the City, a video showing a couple shagging on a London rooftop, there’s Madeleine on the airport shuttle bus.

So we look. But what does it teach us? Only that the media owns the story of Madeleine McCann. And that she is just another form of entertainment to pass the time before the next show…

Posted: 29th, May 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (262)

Madeleine McCann: The Full Picture

mccannfamily.jpg“MADELEINE: The last picture.”

So says the Mail’s front page. And readers may take this as a literal. But this is not the final shot the paper will publish of Madeleine McCann. This is the last picture taken before Madeleine McCann disappeared.

Her parents have released this picture of their daughter smiling as she dips her toes in the holiday swimming pool.

And the papers are appreciative of the new development.

With no new suspects and no new leads, the Sun posts the picture on its front page.

This is “little Madeleine McCann”. She “smiles for the camera”. A new picture but no news, so the Sun explain what the picture shows.

It tells us that next to father Gerry dressed “in an orange top” is Madeleine’s sister Amelie. Next to Amelie is Madeleine. “She has a smile to melt any heart.” She is wearing a “pink” top. She is wearing a “sunhat”.

More news of this “last picture” in the Mirror, which promises to have the “FULL STORY”.

But there is no full story. There is just another picture. And though it tells a tale of a happy child, the holiday snap reveals little else other than the colour of Madeleine’s clothes, and the Sun has that line of enquiry covered.

So have you seen Madeleine? And have you seen those other children who are “MISSING LIKE MADDIE”?

Maddie is, of course, what the Sun has renamed Madeleine McCann. And today the paper has shots of other missing children.

Twenty-eight faces look out from the page. All are minors. All are missing. The Sun tells us that in the 22 days since the four-year-old went missing an estimated 1,100 other children under 16 have “vanished from homes in Britain”.

This is “International Missing Children’s Day”. And the Sun wants us to look at the faces of the missing teenagers and see if we know them?

So we look. And we read the potted stories beneath each picture. We study their measurements. And we realise that most are aged 16 and if they don’t want to be found then they won’t be.

And, in any case, in real life people change. It’s only their “last pictures” that remain the same…

Posted: 25th, May 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (414)

Madeleine McCann Fact And Fiction: EastEnders Sorts It Out

madeleine-mccann.jpgMADELEINE McCann continues to attract media coverage.

The theft of Madeleine McCann has always been a single thread story. Remove the speculation and it is the story of one girl’s disappearance.

But it is real. The story is “every parent’s worst nightmare”. Parents watch the McCanns with pity, sorrow and anger. Footballers appeal for help. MPs wear yellow ribbons and Gordon Brown has tears in his eyes.

But the story is running out of steam. Only one tabloid paper, the Sun, makes any mention of Madeleine McCann on its front page. And it does so to tell us: “ENDERS CANCEL MADDIE PLOT.”

Readers will recall a similar move by Coronation Street. That soap opera was to feature a plot in which Claire Peacock’s baby Freddie was abducted.

A spokesman for the show explained: “We are aware that there are some similarities in future storylines to the events surrounding the disappearance if Madeleine McCann. We would not wish to add to the family’s anguish at this terrible time.”

The show wanted to tell us how it understood the power of soap opera fiction and what it could do to the McCanns. The McCanns had lost their daughter and could surely not cope with the hammer blow of a soap opera storyline. The plot was shelved. The McCanns would not be made to endure further ordeal, providing Corrie is even broadcast in Portugal and that the parents of a missing girl are watching anything but the rolling news.

Coronation Street was doing it bit to show how much it cared.

And now EastEnders does the same. In the show, Dawn Swann was to have had her newborn baby taken by the wife of the baby’s father. Wife had paid mother to have the child and than found to her great horror that surrogate and husband had been having an illicit affair in hotel rooms after mother had been hired to pretend to be another man’s wife.

Indeed, the similarities between this plot and the McCanns ordeal cannot be overstated.

So EastEnders will settle back to its key plot drivers – “Sort it”, “You’re a Mitchell!” and “It’s all about family!” and Ian Beale’s beige jacket.

An EastEnders spokeswoman tells the Sun: “It was felt any storyline that included a child abduction was inappropriate and could cause distress.”

If the show is now sensitive to the real world, can EastEnders see fit to stop any stories involving fighting, guns and shootings, murder, rapes and all love interest stories involving Phil Mitchell lest they cause a dip in the national birth rate.

Oh, and get the writers to make it so that Madeleine McCann is found alive and well…

Posted: 23rd, May 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (19)

MPs Yellow Ribbons And Creepy Behaviour For Madeleine McCann

THEY’RE showing off their support for Madeleine McCann in the House of Commons. Gordon Brown’s eyes “filled with tears” (Sun) as he held the hand of Madeline McCann’s aunt Philomena.

Says Mrs McCann: “His eyes filled up with tears, he was every emotional…he said he would do as much as he possibly could.”

So what’s he going to do? Find Madeleine? For now, Gordon’s plans are a little vague.

Maybe he’ll wear a yellow ribbon like other MPs in the chamber.

As Matthew Parris writes in the Times:

Yellow ribbons for Maddy in the Commons chamber. Yuk. What disgusting, mawkish, creepy behaviour by pathetic MPs hoping to tap in to the emotions of the mob, to live like the common people, feel what the common people feel. “Look, I’m blubbing too, just like you: vote for me.”

Forget kissing babies. This lot want to save them…

Posted: 17th, May 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (63)

Madeleine McCann: Watching Robert Murat

robert-murat-madeleine.jpgMADELEINE McCann is missing. Still missing.

But now the police have a name. And, more importantly, so do the papers.

Robert Murat is all over the front pages. He is a suspect in the hunt for Madeleine McCann. But what of the evidence against him?

The Evidence

“Kidnapping has weird echoes of Soham case,” says the Express’s front page. “MADDY SUSPECT BEHAVED JUST LIKE HUNTLEY.”

Huntley is, of course, Ian Huntley the man who murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, crimes for which he is serving two life sentences. Huntley is the man who had a female accomplice, one Maxine Carr, given three-and-a-half years for conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

Is this what the Express means? Is Murat’s mother Jenny, who has been doing her bit to help the hunt for Madeleine, abetting her son’s crime? At his trial, it emerged that Huntley had been accused of having sex with underage girls and of rape several times in the past. Has Murat a history of criminal depravity?

One thing at a time. We would not want to jump the gun and hang Murat without a full investigation. Of Murat’s mother, the Express says he has advised her son not to return to the family home while he is under suspicion. We hear him tell her: “I am innocent. I am very upset and I think that Portuguese police are just trying to find and Englishman to blame.” But there is no suggestion she is involved in any crime. No-one has questioned her.


And of Murat’s warped sex? You mean “SEX SECRETS OF MADDY SUSPECT”. You mean the “kinky threesome with pool cleaner and wife”.

Star readers have every right to be appalled at such a front-page headline. It’s not as if the paper that carries adverts for sex phone lines (“Cheap and Dirty”; “Hot and Horny”; “Filthy 4 Free”; Unzip and Unload”) is used to such things.

Readers will be relieved to hear that the threesome is not so shocking. The Star says Murat has been the lover of German Michaela Wulczuch for over a year. And during that time, Wulczuch has been living with her husband, Luis Antonio, a Portuguese swimming pool cleaner.

Readers looking for tales of illicit and degenerate sex may be less than impressed. And we advise them to watch daytime telly and see Armani identify her baby’s father by way of Jeremy Kyle’s DNA test kit and affairs exposed by lie detector.

This is Murat’s “TANGLED LOVE LIFE” (Mirror). All points of this love triangle have been questioned by police. We are not told why, nor what form the questions took.

Murat. Wulczuch. Antonio. This makes one woman and two men, the outline of the people seen with a child at a service station on the road out of Praia da Luz. Walczuch has light, auburn hair.

Is this the evidence? Is this a why they have been questioned?

Jekyll and Hyde

“SUSPECT OR SCAPEGOAT?” asks the Mail. “I’ve been made a scapegoat,” says Murat. The Mail says Murat is the sole suspect in the case of Madeleine McCann. So much for Walczuch and Antonio.

“It’s ruined my life,” says Murat. “It’s made things very difficult for my family here and in Britain. The only way I’ll survive this is if they catch Madeleine’s abductor.”

But the talking has started. This is Murat, of whom Paul Titcombe, an ex-boss speaks. Titcombe is troubled by Murat’s past. He has seen Murat in action, at children’s parties. Says she: “Instead of mingling, he’d go straight to the bouncy castle and jump around. He got a bit of a name for himself. It seemed like a fixation.”

The Sun hears from Murat’s former work colleague Ji Stanton. Says he: “If he didn’t take his medication, he could be very Jekyll and Hyde. People did see him as creepy.” Ji once accused Murat of trying to nick his sale: “Rob just flipped out in seconds. He went berserk, eyes bulging. I was freaked out.”

Such is the evidence. Such is the case against Robert Murat.

Meanwhile, Madeleine McCann is missing…

Madeleine McCann: Robert Murat And More Questions

Posted: 16th, May 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (23)

Madeleine McCann: Robert Murat And More Questions

murat.jpgMADELEINE McCann is missing. Still missing.
But today there is news. The daily front-page shots of Madeleine’s traumatised parents are moved further within the papers to make space for the head of Robert Murat.

“MADELEINE BRITISH MAN IS QUIZZED!” says the Mirror’s front-page headline.

Robert Murat

After the speculation the paper delivers a welter of facts. Robert Murat lives with his mum. Robert Murat is in his 30s. Robert Murat lives with his mother in a villa 150 yards from the apartment where Madeleine McCann was snatched.

The Sun (“MADDIE: BRIT QUIZZED”) says Murat lives 100 yards from that McCann apartment. Like the Mirror, the Sun produces a front-page picture of “one-eyed Murat”. The Mail hears that Murat lost his eye in a BMX accident when he was a boy. The Mail says Murat lives 80 yards from Madeleine’s holiday apartment.

Murat is “stocky”. He offered to help the police hunt as a “translator”. He lives in Casa Liliana, with his mum Jenny.

The Suspect

The Sun’s Julie Moult considers the evidence. And delivers a piece entitled “stories of a fantasist”. “He always seemed so eager to get involved in the police investigation,” says the Sun’s woman–on-the-scene. “Robert claimed he had a daughter just like Madeleine and said he felt compelled to do anything he could. But to me he seemed like classic fantasist.”

The Sun introduces Martin Brunt, the crime news correspondent from its sister organ, TV’s Sky news.

He says Murat told him he’d been taken inside the McCanns’ apartment by police.

Sky news correspondent Ian Woods says he asked Murat to help him speak with locals.

“I met him and had a conversation with him. I tried to find out as much as I could about him,” says Woods, who checked out Murat’s details. “They did check out, and I left it at that for the time.”

The Mail’s Neil Sears also spots Murat. In “My encounters with a man ‘who just wanted to help’”, Sears tells Mail readers, “There was something more to the friendly expat who called himself ‘Rob’ than met the eye.”

Murat made Sears “feel slightly uncomfortable”.

But it was the Sunday Mirror’s Lori Cambell who alerted police to Murat’s behaviour, she saw as “creepy”.

Writing Wrongs

So much for investigative journalism. Questions were asked but nothing more was done. Murat is with police because he made a show of himself, because he acted as if working in an official capacity. Even though the Times says Murat was acting as “an official translator”.

So now the man in the chinos, with the glass eye, who lives with him mum and whose estranged wife, from Hockering, near Norwich, tells a neighbour “How could someone do something so terrible to little girl like that?’ is all over the papers.

Is Murat guilty? The papers produce nothing to indicate that he is. But if Murat is involved, look out for the stories of how British journalism cracked the case.

And look out for Madeleine McCann. Still missing…

Posted: 15th, May 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (1,194)

The Sun Shines On Madeleine McCann

madeleine-mccann-portugal.jpgMADELEINE McCann is still missing.

“WE HAVEN’T GOT A CLUE,” says the Sun’s front page. The paper quotes Chief Inspector Oligario Sousa: “We have examined many leads, but each has now been discontinued. Everything that we have looked at so far has been discounted.”

At least this is what Sousa is telling the Sun. The Portuguese police have not involved the British press in all aspects of the hunt for Madeleine McCann. Sousa is not a recognisable face to British readers and TV watchers from press conferences. The E-fit picture of Madeleine was not made available to the Sun.

So instead of the Sun saying how tireless Portuguese police work is, by a process of elimination, moving ever closer to solving the mystery, readers get an altogether less positive headline.

The message is that the Portuguese police haven’t a clue, and this despite the McCanns thanking them for their hard work. And this in light of what the Mirror calls an “official news blackout”.

madeleine-mccann-media.jpgWhat will get results is the Sun’s poster, which it tells us is “a big hit”. The poster is “flying around the globe”. Thanks to the Sun, 15,000 posters of Madeleine’s face were handed out at Saturday’s Celtic v Aberdeen football match.

“Maddie cops are back to square one,” says the Sun. Although they are not. The Portuguese police have ruled out suspects and possibilities.

But no matter, because the Sun will crack the case. Or at least spread the anxiety, remind people that a girl has gone missing and that it could have been your child.

But the Sun is not alone. Here’s Tony Parsons in the Mirror. He has lost sight of his child:

“My wife and my daughter were in the school changing room packing up the tutu after ballet. I was waiting right outside, kicking around a ball with the kid brother of one of my daughter’s friends. Eventually my wife came out alone. ‘Where is she?’ my wife asked. ‘Isn’t she with you?’ I said. And that’s how it happens.”

Parsons’ child was found in a classroom. She was “chilling out”. Nearly all children are found. The theft of a child is extremely rare.

Parsons is a victim of the anxiety of what is routinely called “every parent’s worst nightmare”, and he is helping to spread the virus of fear.

Meanwhile, away from Parson’s ballet trauma and a football match in Scotland, the Mirror leads with yet another picture of Madeleine McCann’s parents. More time for readers to see the strain “etched” on their faces. “PRAY FOR MADELEINE,” says the Mirror’s masthead.

There is no news of Madeleine McCann. But the papers continue to report without any need to inform or educate, to spread the fear and compete to show which of them cares the most…

Posted: 14th, May 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (80)

Madeleine McCann: When Will It End?

maddieposterportuthumb.jpgTHE search for Madeleine McCann goes on. And all we want to read is that she has been found alive and well.

But each day just brings more pictures of Madeleine McCann’s parents. Cameras in ther faces. Microphones to their lips. Watching them. But we have seen enough of the McCanns’ suffering.

A reward has been posted. The News of the World has put up a “record” £1.5 million reward for the safe return of Madeleine McCann. “POTTER GOLD,” says the headline as JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, has offered £250,000.

Others have donated money: Simon Cowell, tycoon Philip Green, Richard Branson, Wayne Rooney, the England cricket team and more.

The money may work. When dealing with the lowest form of human life, money may trigger a reaction, a lead to find Madeleine. Appealing to the criminals’ better nature is hopeless. But will money affect they who stole Madeleine? How could they claim it and get away with their crime?

The reward may also trigger a lot of bogus calls, false claims from chancers afer the cash.

“COPS: MADDIE IS STILL ALIVE,” says the front page of the People. But they don’t know. Not for sure. To put this headline on the front page is bad reporting, offering false hope. It smacks of opportunism, using Madeleine to sell newspapers.

The News of the World has money. The People has Madeleine alive. And the Express has the group experience, turning Madeleine into “OUR MADELEINE”.

All that helps the effort to find Madeleine is good. But what more can be done?

But how long before Madeleine is moved from the front pages? Talk of the police in Portugal scaling down the hunt is a sign of nothing.

All hope of finding Madeleine McCann alive, if at all, is lost when the tabloids no longer feature her on their front pages.

And her family is left alone…

Posted: 13th, May 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (36)

Madeleine McCann: Watching The Parents

mccann.jpgMORE no news on the Madeleine McCann case.

It is now a week since the three-year-old girl was snatched from a Portugal holiday resort.

The story has been distressing to watch on our TV screens. What it must like for the parents of Madeleine only a few can know.


But their misery is far from complete. With no news of Madeleine, and the Portuguese police having no need to indulge the British tabloids with speculation and theory, Madeleine’s parents are the central characters.

And today’s front-page news, as reported by the caring Mirror, is: “THEY KNOW LEAVING KIDS WAS WRONG.”

Does the Mirror mean to say that Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry, now think they did the wrong thing in nipping out for a bite to eat and leaving the children in the apartment on what they thought was a secure resort?

Does the Mirror mean that the McCanns know that popping back regularly to look at their children and checking on their well being was less than perfect?

Does the Mirror mean that the McCanns realise they should not have left their children alone, just like it is wrong to leave a child in a hotel under the auspices of a baby monitoring service, to leave a child in the car while mum goes to pay for petrol, to talk to a neighbour over a garden fence while the children are indoors?

Of course this is not the Mirror’s view. Oh, no. This is Madeleine’s grandmother, Susan Healy, saying: “They know this was a mistake. But it wasn’t child neglect, it wasn’t not caring for your children.”

mccanns.jpgThat she feels the need to say this is wrong. That the Mirror can lead with Madeleine’s grief-worn parents is pathetic and misguided. That the paper can talk of “people are asking why they didn’t make use of the crèche” at the resort or take the children out to dinner with them is wrong.

But the Mirror has news to write. And the police aren’t playing the game.


So the Mirror produces: “THE 6 THEORIES.”

Only six! Why this cautious approach? But it is all the Mirror has. And readers hear of the “PAEDOPHILE GANG”, the “LONE PAEDOPHILE”, the “JEALOUS MOTHER”, Madeleine wandering off and “DROWNED”, the “OPPORTUNIST PAEDOPHILE”, the “CHILDLESS COUPLE”.

But the Sun has more. It has 130 more. As the front-page headline screams: “MADDIE COPS HUNT 130 BRIT PAEDOS.”

The paper says “at least” 130 British paedophiles “might” have taken Madeleine McCann.

In “ALGARVE IS ‘HAVEN’ FOR PERVS”, readers learn that Portugal is a “magnet for sun-seeking perverts from Britain and the rest of Europe”.

Who knew that perverts get off on watching children at the beach?

Us And Them

But help is on its way. The Sun lists the British coppers who will go out there and see to it that justice is done. We, says the paper, are the only country with a sex offenders’ register.

All convicted perverts must inform the police of their desire to go abroad. At least 130 have. And the police are looking for them.

But – and whisper this – might it be that convicted sexual deviants don’t all tell the police what they plan to do? They are not monitored while overseas. And might it be that not all sexual predators are caught and make it to the list?

Among the policemans’ names is Detective Superintendent Graham Hill, attached to theChild Exploitation and Protection Centre. Hill is on the case. He has flown to Portugal.

Hill worked on the case of Milly Dowler. She was snatched from near Walton railway station, Surrey, in 2002. Her body was found six months later. Her killer or killers have never been caught.

Perhaps Hill’s experiences can help. Perhaps he’ll have more luck. Perhaps not.

Meanwhile, a family is distraught, and bearing up incredibly well under the strain and the merciless gaze of the newspapers…

Posted: 10th, May 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (2,260)