Madeleine McCann | Anorak - Part 50

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.

‘New Clues’ And No News For Madeleine McCann

madeleine.jpg“MADDIE SUSPECT QUIZ HELD UP BY NEW CLUE.” So says the Star as Madeleine McCann continues to be missing.

A police source tells the paper: “In view of the outcome of the secondary interviews there may not be time this week. It may now be next week – but we will interview him as many times as necessary.”

There may not be time to interview Murat? And what of this new clue?

“Madeleine,” says the Express,” police reveal new clues.”

But not to us. Not to readers. These new clues have, apparently been revealed to Gerry and Kate McCann, Madeleine’s parents.

They have had “intense talks” with Guilhermino Encarncao, lead detective in the hunt.

Gerry McCann uses his blog to say the investigation is “very active”.

He tells us that he and his wife had a “longer meeting than usual with the Portuguese police. There is loads lot of labour-intensive work going on behind the scenes.”

But we get no news of this clue. The Express says Portugal’s “strict secrecy laws” prevent the McCanns from revealing what these new clues are. The Express reports much but reveals nothing – see it here.

Which given how the McCanns have solicited help from the world seems odd. If they have a clue and the public can help, surely Gerry McCann would tell us?

Perhaps the clue points to Madeleine’s whereabouts. She has been spotted in Malta, Morocco, Portugal and even Wales.

We wonder if there is any clue, or clues. How does the Express know there are clues when the police will not share any details with the press?

We leave another bulletin with the impression that there is no news, only speculation.

And know only that Madeleine McCann is missing. Still missing…

Posted: 20th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (82)

Not Finding Madeleine McCann

madeleinemccann.jpgWITH Princess Diana is post-party recuperation, the Express continues to fill the vacated space with news of Madeleine McCann.

Of course, Madeleine McCann is not yet a tragedy. She may still be alive and well. We hope so. Who cannot hope for that? But the Express is not on her trail; it’s not asking questions and probing for answers.

It is just watching Robert Murat, the only named suspect. As was reported in yesterday’s Express, Murat is to be questioned by police once more.

Again readers are told of eyewitnesses who claim to have seen Murat on the night Madeleine went missing. He says he never went out. They maintain they saw him near the apartment from where Madeleine was “snatched”.

Murat will face questions. Chances are they will be the same questions he has been asked before. The Express makes no mention of any new evidence.

So we are watching Murat. And watching the parents.

“We have no plans to go come home,” say the couple in a statement. “We only want to return with Madeleine.”

They have been granted leave by there employers to continue their search.

And they have the means to keep going. The Express says the Find Madeleine fund, looked after by Madeleine’s great-uncle Brian Kennedy, has raised £900,000.

And it is not just for Madeleine. As Mr Kennedy says: “Any parents wherever they are, whatever they do, should get the same publicity as Madeleine has and if we can do anything through the fund for others we will.”

The talk is of hope. But the message is forlorn and touched by the cruel reality that Madeleine McCann is missing and there has been no sign of her.

Posted: 19th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (123)

Locals Spot Robert Murat By Madeleine McCann’s Flat

mccann2.jpgMADELEINE McCann is in the news.

“New witnesses say they saw suspect near Madeleine flat,” says the Express on its front page.

“We saw top suspect near Madeleine kidnap flat,” says a headline deeper inside the paper. The Express says these witness statements cast doubts on Robert Murat’s alibi.

A police source tells us: “On Monday and Tuesday a number of witnesses were questioned at police headquarters. They claim they saw a man matching Murat’s description outside the Ocean Club on the night Madeleine disappeared.”

The source says the statements appear to contradict Murat’s alibi that he was home all night on the evening of Madeleine’s disappearance. “As a result of this evidence we will question Mr Murat again later this week.”

Robert Murat was questioned by police for more than 30 hours last week, says the Express. The paper tells its reader that the investigation has reached a “critical stage”.

“MADDY ALIBI QUIZ FOR MURAT,” say the Mirror. The paper says “Portuguese locals” told police they saw a man resembling Murat outside the McCanns’ flat “on the night she was snatched”.

The Mirror has established that’s Madeleine McCann was snatched. It tells us: “The sightings back up identical claims made by friends of Gerry and Kate McCann last week.”

Good that progress has been made in this case. And by the tabloid press. But Madeleine McCann is missing. Still missing…

Posted: 18th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (74)

Madeleine McCann Tests The Imagination Of Harry Potter Fans

madeleine-mccann1.pngHAVING stopped scaring children at the cinema, Madeleine McCann is now giving children sleepless nights at the bookshop.

“MADDY POTTER,” says the Mirror’s front page, “JK asks for Madeleine poster in EVERY shop selling her book.”

In this tabloid world where we are all friends on nickname terms, Maddy is being championed by JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter diaries.

Rowling has written to every bookshop selling her tome asking them to place a picture of Madeleine McCann at the till point.

Amid those spontaneous purchases for miniature books on chicken soup, Top Trumps and Nunzilla (the fire breathing nun) will be the face of the world’s most famous missing child since Charles Augustus Lindbergh Junior.

“This is fantastic,” says Gerry McCann, father of the missing child. And it is, but not in the way he thinks.

Says Gerry McCann: “I got her [Madeleine] a DVD and like most kids she is a fan. We look forward to reading the books to all three children.”

Cynics may read an endorsement in these upbeat words, Mr McCann’s clear statement that Madeleine will be found safe and well. But Rowling needs no endorsement.

“I fervently hope that posters displayed prominently in shops all over the world will help find Madeleine McCann and raise the profile of the many other missing children in different countries,” says Rowling.

Surely then the poster should be of those children?

But Rowling can only do so much. She imagines the good the posters will do. And children buying her book can stretch their imaginations beyond Potter’s spells and dark arts to what happens to little girls stolen from their beds.

“In Madeleine Mum’s New Hope”, the Express hears Gerry McCann say: “We’ve jointly come up with this poster. The reach of something like that really will be global.”

But Madeleine McCann went missing in Portugal. Is she likely to be in America, Canada, Brazil?

Or have things moved beyond finding Madeleine McCann, who is no longer a missing child but the face of all missing child the world over?

And what is the likelihood the bookshops will agree to put her by the till?

Posted: 17th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (32)

Situation “Critical” For Madeleine McCann And Robert Murat

robert-murat.jpgMADELEINE McCann remains on the front of just one newspaper: the Express.

“MADELEINE,” says the small headline, “Search will reach critical stage this week, say police.”

News indeed to followers of crime who think the first minutes after the incident are the most vital. Who knew that the critical moment comes ten weeks after the apparent crime has been enacted?

The Express is at the forefront of investigative journalism. It tells readers that Robert Murat is to face further questions. Says a police source: “After a series of interviews last week, the investigation is moving forward and we now believe that the inquiry has reached the critical stage.”

So why has Kate McCann, Madeleine’s mother, flown back to the UK, the first time she has returned home since her daughter disappeared?

She cannot leave at a time like this, surely? Although she is soon back from the family Christening.

What next?

The Express hears prime suspect Robert Murat tell us: “I can’t carry on living like this, no human being could. I am the only suspect and it could take years for them to release me from this investigation.”

But the Express says this is the critical time. Although critical for what or whom, we are not told. Is this the crucial moment to find Madeleine McCann? Or has the story moved on and this is this now the critical moment to see if Robert Murat will survive?

“I wake up with this nightmare every morning and I go to bed with it every night,” says Murat. “I can’t speak on the phone because they are listening to everything I say. “I have had no help from the British authorities… I can see no light at the end of the tunnel.”

It is a critical time…

Posted: 16th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (122)

Madeleine McCann: Is This Relevant?

THERE has been no little talk on the Anorak Forums and comment pages about Madeleine McCann – about 4,000 posts.

And not all of it has been supportive of the parents. Some voices accuse Madeleine’s parents of not taking proper care when they left their children alone in the holiday apartment while they went out with friends.

My view is that it mattered but not much. If Madeleine was stolen – as it appears – the criminal only needed a moment to act. And if not her then some other child.

Erin in Madeleine McCann: Face To Face With Robert Murat thinks this is “interesting”. Do you?

(Jacksonville, FL) — The mother of four young children pleaded guilty yesterday to child neglect charges. Police say she left her kids ages eight-months to five-years-old alone for at least three hours in her westside apartment last month. A judge sentenced 28-year-old Wynette Smith to the 22 days she’s served in jail since her arrest plus two years of probation. Police responded on June 21st to a tip from the management of Smith’s Collins Road apartment complex. The children remain in state custody. Smith’s boyfriend, 33-year-old Shakir Muhammad, remains in jail on 100-thousand-dollars bond facing the same charges.

Posted: 13th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (145)

Madeleine McCann: Face To Face With Robert Murat

madeleine-mccann.jpg“MADELEINE SHOWDOWN,” says the Mirror’s front page. “McCann pals tell suspect: You were there night she vanished.”

Over in Portugal, Fiona Payne, Russell O’Brien and Rachel Oldfield, friends of the McCanns, say they saw Robert Murat, suspect No.1., the only suspect, on the night Madeleine McCann went missing.

The three are questioned together. Murat joins them. They are sat in a small room. A police source tells us: “Because there was a disagreement it is normal in Portugal for the two sides to be brought together to find the truth.”

This seems entirely sensible. Get all parties talking and see what occurs. Don’t demonise Murat but make him answer his accusers in camera.

In the course of this exchange, the Mirror says it is “believed” the trio saw Murat close to the Ocean Club resort’s pool minutes after Madeleine went missing.

The Mirror says the sighting contradicts Murat’s claim that he was at his mother’s villa all night.

“Madeleine,” says the Express’s front page. “Family friends: We saw chief suspect at apartment.”

The “face-to-face showdown” could “shatter” Murat’s alibi. So the police are talking to him. They talk to him for six hours after the McCanns’ dining companions have left.

And then Murat is allowed to leave the police station. He is not arrested. Madeleine McCann disappeared 71 days ago and her whereabouts are unknown.

We know about Robert Murat. But we know nothing of Madeleine McCann…

Posted: 13th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (71)

Madeleine McCann: Murat, Toscano And Friends


The Express looks on as Rachael Oldfield, Russell O’Brien and Fiona Payne are questioned by detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

All three were dining with the McCanns on the night Madeleine went missing. The Express says O’Brien and Payne are doctors. As the express tells us every day, Gerry McCann is a cardiologist and his wife Kate a GP.

Prime Suspect 

The Express then relives the night of Madeleine’s disappearance. But after 70 days of searching the facts have not altered one bit: it is night; the thee McCann children are in the holiday apartment; the parents are 100 yards away having dinner; Madeleine McCann is missing. The McCanns are doctors.

And Robert Murat is the chief suspect. The only suspect. He is at the police station the same time as the McCann’s dining party. “There was a reason why they were present in the station at the same time as Murat,” says a police source.

Was it to trigger a memory, to see if one of the dining party had seen Murat before, possibly around Madeleine or on the night of her vanishing?

We are not told. All we know is that Murat has spent another 6 hours in the company of the Portuguese police. That is 35 hours in total since Madeleine McCann went missing. So many questions. Robert Murat has not been arrested.

And there’s Antonio Toscano, the “Spanish investigator” who talks of ‘The Frenchman’ taking Madeleine.

Anorak readers have heard more of this Frenchman. Paulo Reis in Portugal tells us his name is Bernard Alapetite. He denies taking Madeleine. He denies being in Portugal since 1977. He has a sordid past.

But Alapetite has not been arrested. He has not been questioned. Toscano has not delivered up the criminal.

And Madeleine McCann is missing. Still missing…

Posted: 12th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (51)

Madeleine McCann: 29 Hours With Robert Murat

robert_murat.jpg“MADELIENE SUSPECT QUIZZED FOR TEN HOURS,” says the Express on its front page. Readers see Robert Murat going for his “interview” with Portuguese police.

For the tape, Murat is neither handcuffed nor in the company of uniformed persons. He walks in the company of his lawyer Fancisco Pagarete. His head is unbowed. Although this is school holiday time, no mob of mums and kids is there to scream “paedo” and chuck eggs and darts his way.

Murat is innocent? But this is the second time Murat has been questioned in the Madeleine McCann mystery. He denies any involvement in the child’s disappearance. But still the questions come.

The Mirror’s front page says: “Madeleine suspect held over “English girl” email. The Mirror calls this a “suspicious email”. Why this is suspicious we are not told. It was a Mirror journalist who told the police, and then the world, that she found Murat “creepy”.

But the police have found no evidence linking Murat to Madeleine. No link has been established between Madeleine and computer “geek” Sergey Malinka. No link has been established between Madeleine and Murat’s German lover Michaela Walczuch.

Murat was held by the police for 19 hours the first time. He has now been interviewed for ten more hours. His DNA has been taken, but it is not that of the “stranger” found in Madeleine’s bedroom.

A Briton Abroad

Murat is unable to comment on the case, bound by law. But his friend, Tuck Price, tells us: “He told me they are just going through everything again but he sounds well and I’m sure it’s just a routine thing.”

He goes on: “It’s been a very surreal experience for him. He is holding up, but he wants it to be over.” Murat’s estranged wife Dawn says she has never doubted his innocence.

But Murat has received stacks of hate mail, says his aunt, who runs a guest house near Praia da Luz. He has been a “virtual prisoner” in his home. He fears reprisals.

Is Murat another victim? As a Briton abroad should the press be defending him more, standing up for his rights? Or is his sanity and wellbeing a small price to pay in the hunt for Madeleine McCann?

After weeks of investigative work, Murat remains the only suspect.

Posted: 11th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (56)

Madeleine McCann In The News

kiditeldm_228×387.jpgMADELEINE McCann in the news.

Not in my name:

A drug user who carried out a fake door-to-door collection for missing Madeleine McCann to fund her habit has been jailed for 90 days.

Heroin addict Debbie Clifton, 33, formerly of Boswell Road, Chadsmoor, called at the home of an 83-year-old woman on June 2 and asked for a donation for Madeleine’s Fund. She was given £2.70 in loose change.

Yes, £2.70.

John Peel, prosecuting at Cannock Magistrates’ Court, said Clifton then called without success at several other addresses.

Still £2.70.

Never again:

Worried parents will be able to monitor the movements of their children via a satellite tracking device.

The device – which can be carried in a rucksack – allows parents back at home to pinpoint exactly where their child is when they step out.

It lets them to watch satellite images on their computer of the area where their child is and the route they are taking.

Including a panic button and mobile phone, it also allows a child to send an SOS text message to their parent’s mobile phone if they get into trouble.

Not with Gordon Brown on the case:

Mr Brown said: “I have talked to Madeleine McCann’s parents. I have heard from them their appreciation of the work that has been done in this investigation.

“Obviously there are issues they want to be assured about and I have raised these with the Portuguese Prime Minister.

“He has assured me that everything that can be done will be done and obviously we look for progress in something that’s heart-rending in its sadness, that a young child can be separated from her parents for so long.”

Mr Socrates said: “It’s important for Great Britain but it’s important for Portugal, and it’s very touching in public opinion in Great Britain but also in Portugal.

“We have dedicated to this investigation all the resources we have in order to give it high priority and we are doing our best. Everyone in Portugal and the family knows we are doing our best.”

Madeleine McCann is still missing…

Posted: 10th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (20)

Grace Before Film: “Net Closes” In On Madeleine McCann’s Kidnappers

madeleine-mccann.jpgTHE Express’s front-page headline (“MADELEINE”) is married to the promise of a “FREE £15 EYE TEST FOR EVERY READER AT ASDA.”

The face of Madeleine McCann stares from the page. Readers are used to the image, familiar with Madeleine’s distinctive right eye, where the pupil runs into the blue-green iris.

The official Madeleine McCann website features the song Everything I Do (I Do It For You), chosen no doubt because it opens with the line “Look into my eyes”. Although the song also implores listeners to “Search your heart – search your soul/ And when you find me there you’ll search no more”, words that appeal to the tabloid press for whom Madeleine is “our Maddy”.

Entertaining Stuff

Such mawkishness causes Tony Parsons to write in the Mirror of the people who felt uneasy about the cinema showing of Shrek The Third (certificate U) featuring an appeal for “snatched” Madeleine. Parsons says of the people on a fun day out who don’t like their four and five-years old learning of children “snatched” from their beds and never seen again: “And they should be grateful that their own children will sleep in their own beds tonight.”

Only a lunatic would want to experience what the McCanns are going through. But we should not give thanks that our children sleep in their own beds in this Grace Before Film. The crime of child abduction is rare. We should be shocked at the crime, not anxious and fearful that our children will be next.

Fishing Net

But Madeleine McCann does appear as the victim of a heinous crime. And now good news. Promising news. “Net is closing in on kidnappers,” says the Express. “Chief suspect faces new quiz.”

Only the Express has news of a breakthrough. And the news is that police “expect a major breakthrough in the hunt for her kidnappers”.

What it is? Can’t say? Will it lead to Madeleine being found? Can’t say? Will it be a happy ending? Can’t say. Will the ogre get it in the neck? Can’t say.

The Express is thin on facts but it does say that the chief suspect is Robert Murat. He is due to be “hauled in” for more questions later this week.

Says a police source: “While there is only one official suspect so far, investigators have identified other people they believe were involved in this case and they are now being sought.”

But the only suspect we have is Robert Murat. And his estranged British wife Dawn tells us: “Hopefully, any new meeting with police will be able to tell him he is no longer wanted with their inquiries.”

That might be it. If any new evidence were incriminating, the police would not wait to speak with Murat or arrest him.

But still the Express looks at Murat twice and tells us all about him. It offers no new insight, no new clue. But the net is closing in, we are assured.

Keep your eyes peeled. Wear glasses if you must. Help find Madeleine…

Posted: 9th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (114)

Madeleine McCann Not In Malta Or Morocco

FROM Paulo Reis in Portugal:

Portuguese CID spokesman, about Madeleine abduction: “The clue to this mistery is in Praia da Luz”

Portuguese authorities have dismissed as groundless all leads on sightings of Madeleine McCann in other countries rather than Portugal, namely in Morroco and Malta, said Polícia Judiciária (PJ), Portuguese CID, spokesman Olegário de Sousa (…) Further investigations are being carried out centered mainly on the area of Praia da Luz itself, said Mr. Olegário de Sousa. «The clue to this mistery is in Praia da Luz», according to other police source quoted by Diário de Notícias. (…)

Note: Kate and Gerry McCann are innocent.

Posted: 9th, July 2007 | In: Madeleine McCann | Comments (6,189)

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)