Lord Justice Leveson ends the year - 12.01.2012
He did so by reminding us, once again, that the Madeleine McCann Affair is a psychological phenomenon as much as a legal one. 2011, remember, was when we got the words out of the couple’s own mouths and were able to come to a final conclusion, not just a view, on their veracity. That veracity is the foundation of the abduction claim and the year saw it demolished.
* Kate McCann herself admitted in Madeleine that they had lied (page 206) to the media about the police investigation and attempted to change the untruthful story that she had illegally leaked to the media (Lori Campbell) about a supposed deal offer by the Portuguese police.
Which confirmed the previous evidence of:
* The Lisbon court statement by the prosecutor Menezes in January 2010 in which he asserted that the group of nine, which included the parents, “had not told the truth” about the circumstances of their checking.
And was followed by:
* The materially misleading evidence under oath to the Leveson inquiry given by Gerry McCann as to the origins of the “media pack” in Praia da Luz and his relationship with the Press Complaints Commission.
All this evidence derives from irrefutable sources, not the deniable newspaper garbage and forum myths of the past five years. It won’t be challenged by McCann supporters because it is unchallengeable. The blogs were direct communications to the public from Gerry McCann via his site, not the media; Madeleine, of course, is on-the-record primary source material which she attests (Page 1) to be the truth; Menezes’s statement, unlike his unsworn material in the case summary, is on-oath judicial record; Gerry McCann’s statements, also on oath, are now in the public arena.
It all amounts to this: we did not tell the truth to the police about the circumstances of the evening of May 3 2007; we lied to the public about our role in the police investigation of summer 2007; when tested under oath at the Leveson inquiry our version of events was found, once again, to be untruthful. We are also the source of the abduction claim. A pretty Cretan Liar paradox for Scotland Yard!
There is no reason for Leveson to know much about this. And none at all for him to be suspicious of the pair. But Leveson wasn’t just sympathetic to Kate and Gerry McCann: he went out of his way to make a demonstration of his emotional solidarity with the parents, addressing them as he might address two terminally ill grandchildren. Later, by word and deed (impatient tossing of his head, that repulsive lower-lipped sneer) he contemptuously dismissed as “tittle-tattle” evidence of the reports reaching the UK about the progress of the police investigation. The witness he patronised and scorned so loftily, the manifestly decent and reliable —for a journalist— David Pilditch, made it quite clear that his reports had accurately reflected police thinking at the time and had been run by Clarence Mitchell (busy briefing the press against the police daily at the time, according to Pilditch) in advance of submission. Leveson was having none of it, turning away in another now-familiar contemptuous gesture, that of the rude and grumpy stage husband sniffing and then rejecting his wife’s smelly and unpleasant meal. In fact this was perhaps the only time when he almost lost control of the tribunal since an agitated counsel for the celebrities was at once on his feet, anxious to refute Pilditch’s statement that the case papers confirmed his claims.
The judge, confronted by David Sherborne and the disturbingly thick sheaf of McCann provided questions under his arm, was stuck, clearly seeing the possibility of a derailment and a mini-McCann trial within an inquiry. He became embroiled in debate before, finally, allowing Sherborne to make a statement but not examine the witness nor produce his evidence —the worst of both worlds. It was an unseemly incident but who was to blame other than Leveson himself ? He had derailed matters by ostentatiously demonstrating his emotions — obviously derived from prima facie superficial knowledge gained outside the court, not from the proceedings— rather than sticking to the proceedings themselves.
Judges know very well the importance of their own attitudes and body language, both because they are schooled and warned about them on appointment to the judiciary and because they have witnessed —and deliberately exploited— their impact in open court. There is all the difference in the world between a Lord Justice Sneerson in a criminal case stating “the witness is clearly telling the truth” and using the same words with a raised eyebrow and a crooked smile—both of which, of course, pass clean under the transcript radar and can never be appealed. Leveson knows it yet, unlike counsel for the inquiry Day, who was sympathetic, courteous but largely neutral to the pair, he couldn’t resist making a demonstration of his feelings. From the bench about an open case!
So why did he do it? Why? Well, there are plenty of interpretations. starting with the possibility that, underneath the fierce intellect, lurks a self-important and at times rather noxious—watch that pendulous lip!— little bully with his own certainties and without much knowledge of the real world beyond the confines of his court. Like most judges in fact. And then at the other end, of course, sigh, wilt, yawn, we have the Department of Easy Answers conspiracy version: Leveson is being over-nice to the McCanns as part of the protective screen provided by the Establishment. As we said at the beginning, we lean towards the psychological answer and the one that has always been the greatest ally of the parents: decent people, not the operators who surround the McCanns like flies on vomit, but the mainly decent, mainly pretty intelligent people in the public who don’t study the case in detail share a common, if only half-conscious, attitude to the case: its unthinkability. To study the case rather than skim the headlines is to be drawn in to murky and uncomfortable waters. The possibility of infanticide, even—horribile dictu— within a group, runs so perilously close to our western taboos that most people not only do not wish to contemplate it but refuse even to consider its contemplation, partly because to do so would be a betrayal of our normal sympathy for a stricken pair brought close to us by the media. Discussing it makes them, as many of us have witnessed, acutely uncomfortable, even physically so —just like the judge in fact. Once the evidence in such taboo-touching cases is laid out in its full horror within courtroom walls then people will accept it, often with a shudder. But unless there is cast-iron evidence of guilt we think most people, like Lord Justice Leveson, simply find its contemplation revolting. Unlike S.Amaral and some others perhaps, we haven’t the slightest doubt that Leveson would preside fairly over any trial of the McCanns. Given our own view of the case—and this is the essential gulf between us and the hidden-handers—we worry not about judges and other “thems” but about juries, i.e. us. In the confines of the jury room people like us will still want that “cast-iron evidence of guilt” before facing the possibly unthinkable: it wasn’t there in 2007, as the prosecutors knew, and it isn’t there now. Short of the cast iron making a hefty appearance we can see only one possible threat to this complex public reaction, what we might call the drip, drip, drip effect. All-or-nothing, the unthinkable, suits the McCanns. The slow accumulation over time of evidence not of the unthinkable but of a vastly lower level of dishonesty, such as significant and persistent lying, which the Bureau attempts to publicise, or the assiduous repetition of mere accident which S.Amaral cleverly conveys, could gradually feed its way into public attitudes. Or even to the jury room. Who knows, if Scotland Yard or some other force turn up light aluminium, rather than iron, one day, such attempts might tip the balance. The lawyers for the McCanns know this perfectly well which is why their main aim in the UK is always to prevent the drip, drip, drip, getting to a wider audience than that of the net and us net nutters. It began with “expunging”, remember?
Pass it on. As always the Bureau is glad to help: we did not tell the truth to the police about the circumstances of the evening of May 3 2007; we lied to the public about our role in the police investigation of summer 2007; when tested under oath at the Leveson inquiry our version of events was found, once again, to be untruthful. We are also the source of the abduction claim.
Absent friends - 28.01.2012
The McCanns. They are shown demonstrating the terrifying psychological damage that their libel writ describes. We ourselves have had no information about whether S. Amaral’s lawyer Antonio Cabrita has ceased working for his client. Still, as we wrote in 2010 Cabrita is a serial incompetent who came close to destroying what remained of Scotland Yard police officer de Freitas’s career by his bungled attempt to call him as a witness for Gonçalo Amaral as well as simultaneously embarrassing both the Yard and Leicester police. Some weeks later he excelled himself in court when the prosecutor Menezes offered him a gift-wrapped treat in the form of his now-famous statement that the group had lied about the “checking”. Unfortunately Cabrita gave it back to him unopened. He completely failed to appreciate its importance and thus didn’t develop a line of questioning that would have brought its significance to the attention of both the judge and the slavering media pack outside. Finally the “interpretation” finding in the appeal court judgement which brought eventual success to S. Amaral seems to have owed more to the judges’ own reasoning about the case than to any arguments put forward by Cabrita. Nor does it help that he has been severely and incurably ill for some years.
Il a maladroitement poussé Menezes dans ses derniers retranchements avec une question de syntaxe, sans pertinence, sur la phrase suivante : "(...) ni même – et c'est le plus dramatique – d'établir si elle est encore en vie ou si, comme cela semble plus probable, elle est morte", insistant à plusieurs reprises pour que Menezes estime en pourcentage la chance de vie et lui soufflant finalement un fifty/fifty que dément l'ordonnance de classement.That was why we called on Amaral to get rid of him and that’s why we can’t help thinking that any replacement would be preferable. But what do we know?
The McCanns describing the appalling and continuous symptoms of pain that the libel writ outlines. Anyway the case is postponed, to the disappointment, no doubt, of those who are certain that Amaral is hurtling towards his doom. Much has been made of the impossibility of Amaral demonstrating the likely truth of his central contention that the child died in the apartment on May 3. After all we have David Payne who can testify that he saw the child alive, well and strikingly pretty at 6.40 PM, staff at the Tapas restaurant who can testify to the couple’s arrival time and the unanimous evidence of the whole group that the demeanour and behaviour of both Kate and Gerry McCann was completely normal and untroubled until 10 PM that night. All the other stuff, say the parents’ allies, such as the traumatising effect that the parents claim Amaral’s accusations had on them, is really unimportant and peripheral compared with what these solid and undeniable witnesses will tell the court. So what are we to make of the witnesses called by the McCanns?
Just a little reminder
Well, a large chunk of the police and legal system are there, from Alipio Ribeiro down — João Melchior Gomes, António Marinho e Pinto, Paolo Rebelo, José Barra da Costa. Oh, and our dear old friend José Magalhães e Menezes. That the latter was called by Amaral himself in the Lisbon hearings should remind us that in Portugal a witness for one side or the other has a rather different status than in the UK. Their knowledge of what happened in apartment 5A that night comes to them courtesy of Amaral’s officers at the scene. Then we have Susan Healy, Trish Cameron and Michael Wright. They were rather a long way from the apartment that night but with luck they’ll be able to tell us all about those shutters. And Susan Healy can tell the court all about her conversations with Kate McCann about the deal that the PJ offered. Next we have Emma Loach, Susan Hubbard and Alan Pike who’ll be able to give the court plenty of “colour stuff” about what wonderful people the pair are and the dreadful symptoms that the pair have been showing ever since Amaral made his claims. Now some big guns to prepare us for the climax : Ed Smethurst, that well known eye-witness to events will be there, as will Jim Gamble, a Mr David Trickey and Angus McBride.
Finally, ladies and gentlemen, after all these warm up acts we have the stars of the show, the Tapas 7. Only they’re not there. Not one of them. They aren’t calling a single witness with actual knowledge of anything that happened in and around apartment 5A that night. Well, well, well. Not one. However there is one last name to add to the list: that modern Sherlock Holmes, Dave “Strangler’s Hands” Edgar. He’ll sort it all out.
A lesser evil - 31.01.2012
Leveson is now shrouded in an increasing atmosphere of futility. The inquiry, with all the grand trappings of screens, massed lawyers, strong legal powers and a judge whose air of self-importance has become more risible as his proceedings sink into irrelevance, was based on sand—an assumption from the beginning that “something had to be done” about the press, rather than merely throwing a light on its workings. Unproven prior assumptions make bad law and worse tribunals. Not only has the truth of the assumption not been demonstrated but it has looked more and more superficial and misguided as the proceedings have progressed. The industry witnesses have rightly pointed out—after a shaky and slightly shamefaced beginning—that 98% of the problems have been nothing to do with regulation of the press but derive from the failure of the police and prosecution authorities to deal with the clear breaches of the law which phone hacking and surveillance involved. The other 2%,say, involve two very unusual cases, the Millie Dowler and McCann affairs and this time hard cases, as the old legal saying goes, also make bad law. As for the showbiz celebrity “victims” who strutted and flounced their way through proceedings like stoned peacocks, their mere memory has become an embarrassment. Lurking in the background but rarely referred to is the knowledge that the inquiry’s eventual findings will either be pre-empted or overtaken by what comes out at the criminal trials now in prospect and by the expected measures to crack down on political lobbying and the use of the back door to Number Ten by media bosses. That leaves the inquiry with virtually nothing significant to recommend but recommend it will, oh but it will. And that is the final guarantee of futility: almost every witness from the industry and its regulators has seen the proceedings, despite the comical Lord Justice’s protestations, as a potential threat to the freedom of the press, if only by the imposition of quasi-legalistic and detailed regulatory powers to a new PCC equivalent. And they are right. As a result the industry and its professional advisors—the crowd of high-powered lawyers for the press sitting at the back of the inquiry, including probably the sharpest legal brain in England, James Dingemans QC—will be ready to deal with the recommendations when they finally arrive. With such disparate bedfellows as steamy Richard Desmond, the editor of Private Eye, Ian Hislop, and Christopher Meyer of the PCC all united in defending the status quo, the likelihood is that all but the most anodyne of recommendations will be fought and, eventually, buried.
From our own narrow perspective, the McCann affair, we have gained rather more than we expected. We regret that we have to allude yet again to our supposed blind spot about hidden hands and conspiracies, something which disappoints some of our readers. Yes, we have written reams about the subject over the years but we’ve failed to convince some that the evidence for any conspiracy to protect the McCanns by UK authorities is exactly on a par with the evidence for abduction: there isn’t any. This led, of course, to our regrettable falling out with S. Amaral and his team. We wanted to help the truth come out by actively assisting his cause rather than merely theorizing and to a certain extent we did so, though here isn’t the place to give the details of that collaboration. At times we had wanted to clarify certain episodes such as the Jane Tanner/Robert Murat surveillance operation or the sequence of events in police headquarters on the night of September 6, which we felt were the twin keys to the whole case, but we eventually accepted that while others were able to assist us G. Amaral was unwilling to commit himself, quite possibly because he wanted to keep his powder dry—from everyone.
Il n'était présent ni lors du faux tapissage suggéré par Bob Small, ni lors des interrogatoires des arguidos. Ces tâches ne sont pas celles d'un commissaire.But the issue of UK protection for the McCanns was critical. Here there was no question of G. Amaral holding back information because of its potentially explosive future impact (now, now Jane, don’t worry so much): he talked about it openly in his book, his press interviews and on television. Now G. Amaral knows a great deal more about detection than any of us ever will ; on the other hand the Bureau has a pretty good knowledge of how UK institutions, including the secret services, actually operate and G. Amaral’s claims simply didn’t tally with what we knew. So, ultimately, we had to ask him and his team to produce a single item of evidence, just one, on which he was basing his claims, to give us the confidence to go with him all the way. Well, they couldn’t do it. We were given examples but they didn’t stand up. From here we move from facts to speculation, in this case that G. Amaral certainly had felt pressure but in our view it came from within Portugal, about which we know almost nothing, not from outside. With such a basic disagreement about the dynamics of the case. collaboration, sadly, was no longer possible.
Les pressions étaient pour une bonne part "imaginaires", suscitées par la présence du corps diplomatique, le tsunami médiatique, le souci aussi de ne pas être pris en faute, tout cela sur fond de complexe d'infériorité. C'est là que la hiérarchie aurait dû venir au secours de Gonçalo Amaral et lui apporter le soutien dont il avait réellement besoin.So back to Leveson. As soon as the McCanns made their entrance we were reminded, once again, why so many people have felt there must be a secret explanation for the apparent untouchability of the pair. As we wrote previously Leveson himself was loftily dismissive (and if you dismiss you don’t learn) of the pressmen’s work and handled the McCanns with velvet gloves. It was, as we said, an unnecessarily excessive public display. But everybody else behaved similarly, including the very people who’d written the stories ! That is why we still believe that the Madeleine McCann affair is a psychological phenomenon, not merely a criminal one. How would any protection for the parents tally with these responses which we were able to watch live ? That everyone was sworn to secrecy ? That they were following a script ? These questions will have to be answered, not because of opposing theories and egos but because the time approaches when they will be tested, and judged, in court. We don’t claim to know the exact make-up of this complex psychological reaction but there it is, a gulf in attitudes to the pair as deep as the Grand Canyon between many people who have studied the case and “neutral” outsiders such as Lord Justice Leveson and the majority of the population. When describing the press reporting of the affair, Sir Christopher Meyer, ex-head of the PCC, screwed his face up into an expression of disgust and called it “abominable”, reminding us of the way the good Lord Justice had thrown his head back as he muttered about the tittle-tattle. Why the intensity of the reactions ? Is it that back in 2007 both of them had allowed themselves to wonder whether the supposed leaks were right and now they are deeply ashamed that they ever had such thoughts? Just as the journalists who made their embarrassing apologies to the inquiry, for all the world like redeemed heretics, might be. And just as the most vituperative of the McCanns’ internet allies are when they talk of the bad old days — when they attacked the parents with the viciousness that they now reserve for the parents’ enemies. Those supporters actually talk in terms of having been indoctrinated into a quasi-satanic cult of hatred when they were sceptics and describe themselves as since being “saved”! Could anything more clearly demonstrate the psychological depths that lie beneath this investigation?
Meyer, by the way, an ex-ambassador to the United States, is a gentle reminder that intimidating behaviour by a diplomat, in Portugal or elsewhere, does not necessarily mean that they are using the secret power of the UK to subvert. It just comes naturally to many of them to bark at non-diplomats, partly because the only real power a diplomat has in this age of instant communication is the power to be rude and bossy to waiters, drivers, doormen and, possibly, overseas policemen. Or, as in this case, to counsel for the inquiry. Meyer added that the parents were in “an impossible” position: they needed the press to help the search for their daughter and yet that exposed them to the damage that the press could do. It was, he said, a “Faustian bargain”, revealing, once again, the strange way that myth bubbles to the surface when people discuss the case. But was Meyer, a man given to the grand statement, correct? There are many of us who maintain that Gerry McCann should never have started the media ball rolling. The Portuguese police warned him he would be putting his daughter’s life at risk by doing so and for all we know they were right and she was slaughtered once her description hit the screens. Oh no, says the chorus, people who know these things, experts, say that modern best practice is to give an abduction the widest publicity. Really? So Dr McCann just happened to know about this “modern best practice” on the night of May 3 when he started blabbing to the media did he? Why would that be? And then Sir Christopher, who had been deeply involved in the affair, confirmed that experience and bullying doesn’t necessarily bring knowledge when he followed Team McCann’s untrue claim that in July 2007 the press were under pressure to create new and novel stories because nothing much was happening. It has to be repeated that this, however often and however loudly stated, is garbage: July is precisely when, as Kate McCann’s "Madeleine" confirms, things started happening as the police turned their attentions to the weaknesses in the parents’ version of events.
What else did we learn at Leveson? Well, the Bureau has had to bite the bitter bullet and take the side of the journalists. The latter, and in particular, the tabloid editors, we had pictured as cynical exploiters deliberately supporting the McCanns early on for their own purposes; Medusa Brooks clearly is one but Colin Mylor equally clearly isn’t and the editor of the Mail on Sunday came across as a balanced and highly able professional. “Slimy” Morgan deserves his nickname but wasn’t involved in the McCann case. Such is the humanising power of TV, as it was when it brought The Pair to our screens. Despite the fact that it suits internet blogs and journals to have the overground press hobbled by more legislation and regulation while we prosper, especially if we are located beyond UK jurisdiction, one has to hold one’s nose and say what most of the witnesses from the industry would like to have said and, in Richard Desmond’s case, almost did: fuck off lawyers and leave the press alone.
Futility revisited - 01.02.2012
Anyway, we came out yesterday and admitted that if we have to choose between the lawyers and the tabloids we support the latter; historically the lawyers have always been the enemy of free speech. It’s no coincidence that the Bureau’s view of the press “crisis” is the direct opposite of the inquiry’s. Just as we believe the media only began to tell some of the truth about the McCanns after July and the real scandal was the way they’d reported the affair before then, so we believe that the real problem with UK journalism lies with the so-called quality newspapers, not the tabloids. We agree with the coarse and crude (he’s Australian after all) Rupert Murdoch view: if people want to read trashy tabloids full of celebrity tripe with tits on page three, piles of adverts for internet gambling (a true reflection of what the tabloids really think of their readership) with some over-simplified news slipped into the pot then it’s their right to do so.
The “quality” press is a different matter. Preoccupied by weak finances and declining readership, it has blindly refused to combat the infiltration of its pages by people and organizations with an agenda. For decades now, as the Bureau has described exhaustively, whole industries have been growing up dedicated to penetrating and using the quality press: about 80% of the paper is created by bodies feeding the journalists, either openly, as with the press conferences organized by charities, unions and other visible pressure groups, or semi-openly, like the corrupt travel and motoring pages or secretly by the vast PR and lobbying industry—an industry, by the way, packed with lawyers. They don’t bother with the tabloids much because nobody except the thickos really believes what they read there. The qualities, however, still have the false, if diminishing, reputation that if something appears in them then it’s probably true, a situation worsened by the increase in news opinion pages—easier to corrupt— at the expense of factual reporting.
The significance of the McCann affair is that for the first time a spotlight was shone on the way that information professionals—from PR companies, legal practices and government information departments–were shaping the news reported in the qualities. Not only have these papers never admitted what they knew was going on but they actively encourage it by using the conventions taken over from the original infiltrators, the political correspondents. Did you ever read a paper which said “the following stuff comes from a dodgy source that you can read but shouldn’t trust”? Unthinkable, isn’t it? Instead we have “a pal told us”, “sources say ” “a friend of the family said”— deliberate lies. And so we reached the position that by late 2007 The Times was used (“Beyond the Smears”) by Gerry McCann to plant secret material regarding Jane Tanner’s baby monitor in the public domain in his own interest, something which its wretched reporter only admitted when confronted by a clever German blogger.
And what does the Leveson inquiry have to say about this sink of misinformation and corruption and what might be done to clean it up? Nothing. It hasn’t even noticed it. But then what can one expect from a supposed legal tribunal that, as we wrote yesterday, had clearly determined before any hearings were held to treat witnesses differently according to prior assumptions? Some of them were to be aggressively examined by the absurdly smug and self-righteous Jay while others had their written evidence accepted virtually without question or demur. Is this sort of goodies and baddies, victims and persecutors, soap-opera view of the world a basis on which to recommend legislation limiting free speech? Does it reflect reality? So we had the nauseating spectacle of the bearded Jay, who asks his questions from behind his hand as though hiding bad teeth and worse breath, and the toad-like Leveson, treating the surprisingly dignified and sensible Peter Hill, editor of the Express in 2007, like a bad smell. Had they bothered to listen carefully to Hill’s evidence–and we invite those interested in the subject to read the transcript—they would have learned much about how the media work. But they didn’t listen: they mocked and sneered.
Jay : And the answer is what? What did you do to check on the validity of those stories?
Peter Hill: We did the best that we could do, which was not very much.
Q. Which was nothing, wasn't it?
A. I'm not saying it was nothing, but we tried our best.
Q. Okay. But against that, of course, you had another eye on the circulation figures, didn't you?
A. One always has an eye on the circulation.
Is that a neutral attempt to discover the truth? Read some more.
A. I felt that the stories should be published because there was reason to believe that they might possibly be true.
Q. So that was a sufficient basis: reason to believe that they might possibly be true, so we'll whack it in the paper. That's true, isn't it?
A. I don't use expressions like "whack it in the paper". I find that to be a very judgmental expression.
Q. Yes, well, I don't actually apologise for it. I'm going to carry on. At the same time, Mr Hill, you knew –
A. The fact of the matter is that this is a public Inquiry. And I do not believe that I am on trial.
Q. I'm sorry, Mr Hill, I'm just going to carry on.
A. But I think you are putting me on trial.
Rather different from this, don’t you think? No we’re not making it up: it also comes from the transcript – except for our italics.
LORD TOAD: [sinks to knees] Before we start, you've probably heard me thank others before you for coming along, voluntarily, to speak of matters which I have no doubt are intensely personal and extremely sensitive, and I am [chokes back sob] very, very grateful to you for doing so. In your case, of course, nobody, and in particular nobody with children, could fail to appreciate the terrible impact of your daughter's abduction on you and your family, so words of sympathy for these appalling circumstances are utterly inadequate, but I am very grateful to you for coming.[rolls on back]
Urgh! You can tell they’re going to get a really rough and probing ride, can’t you? Finally, for those like the Jay and the Toad who swallowed Gerry McCann’s untruthful line that the UK media really had “turned on” the McCanns in summer 2007 because they wanted new, invented and sensationalist stories, have a look, for once, at a neutral view: The McCanns' Trial by Media - TIME in September 2007 beginning:
There's been no shortage of surprises in the ongoing saga of Madeleine McCann, the 4-year-old British girl who disappeared from her family's vacation apartment in Portugal more than four months ago — the biggest shock occurring earlier this month when Portuguese police officially named her parents as suspects. Still, it was somewhat stunning when a YouGov poll published in the Sunday Times of London this week found that only 20% of Britons think Gerry and Kate McCann are completely innocent.Doesn’t quite tally with the McCann version, does it? But who cares? Still, as we said the inquiry is becoming irrelevant. The press itself is looking for new models as the failure of the “quality” pretence becomes clearer. The Guardian, having lost hundreds of millions over the last few years despite its large-scale tax avoidance, now says that it is considering closing the paper edition completely and going 100% on line, an admission of the depth of its failure. And the Murdoch group has been exposed as a nest of criminals with consequences we can’t yet foresee. Meanwhile, thank God, the internet is here and the public can get behind the newsfeeds to find out more. They can also see some things for themselves – such as how the tribunal witnesses performed. Better than sitting like fat, passive Strasbourg geese waiting to have the Clarence Mitchell version stuffed down their throats.
That indicates a huge disconnect between the public and Britain's many and multifaceted newspapers, which are usually adept at playing to their readers' biases. The press here — from populist tabloids to serious-minded dailies — has largely been unswerving in its support of the McCanns. [our emphasis] "Madeleine: Her Mother is Innocent," shouted Wednesday's Daily Express. "Torture," declared Sunday's The People over a picture of Kate McCann, Madeleine's mother. And Chris Roycroft-Davis, a media consultant and Express commentator, thinks that's how it should be. "The media have been very, very sympathetic toward the McCanns, quite rightly so," he said on a Sunday morning BBC Radio 2 program.
When is an oath not an oath ? - 03.02.2012
Let us return to Gerry McCann’s claims about the strange change in UK media attitudes at the Leveson inquiry. These followed (very closely indeed) the answers he and Clarence Mitchell had given to the Commons select committee in 2009. At first the huge media pack were “broadly supportive” but altered their attitude in late June 2007. This was because, he says, there was a shortage of hard news about the case around that time which led to the media, under pressure from their editors, searching for scraps or, worse, starting to invent stories. These, for some unknown reason, were critical of the parents, either by innuendo or pure invention. Despite their denials that there was any truth to these stories the situation got worse and worse as the imaginations of the journalists ran free until they were printing horrible fantasy speculation.
Counsel: The date you give for the shift of the emphasis of the media reporting is about June 2007, is it, but then you feel the mood may have been moving or turning a bit in the British press? Or perhaps a bit later than that?
McCann: Yeah... it was probably towards the end of June 2007, and slowly deteriorated through July, culminating in September 2007. This repeated what he and Mitchell had told the Commons committee in 2009:
Mr McCann:We saw pressure, particularly on journalists, to produce stories when really there was not anything new to report. Probably that was the point where things became what I would call irrelevancies or half truths or suggestions were making front page news.
Chairman: Your impression was that the newspapers wanted to go on reporting stories about Madeleine's disappearance and, if there were no new facts to report, they started to resort to making up things?
Mr McCann: I totally agree with that.
And from the Leveson evidence again:
“In June 2007 it appeared to us that the focus of the media reporting was shifting from the search for Madeleine to Kate and myself which made us very uncomfortable. ..as information from the investigation began to dry up the journalists had to look elsewhere for their copy. Not only were journalists seeking stories from and about our friends and relatives at home in Leicestershire. At other times we believe they were simply making stories up. One story that sticks out in this regard was an article in the Daily Star that suggested that we had sold Madeleine and shift this back to Madeleine into white slavery to pay off our mortgage. I cannot imagine how any self-respecting journalist in Praia da Luz at that time, and who could witness what Kate and I were going through, could write such lies.”
Note how McCann has phrased this. “One story that sticks out in this regard” clearly means at this period. But the Star story was published on November 26 2007 ! And this sums up the deception.
Now, the facts. Computerised tracking of all the English language media articles coming out of Portugal on the McCann story shows a dramatic drop in material from late June to late July— and with a virtually complete absence of any obviously “made-up” anti-McCann tales. And there are two good reasons why. First : the man who’d been creating so many of the “broadly supportive” stories, Clarence Mitchell, had gone home ! He had been recalled to the MMU in London when his contract posting ended in mid-June. The latter, by the way, makes a nonsense of Mitchell’s claim to the Commons committee about witnessing the idle UK press pack sitting in the bars waiting to make up stories during this period – he wasn’t even there! And when do the computer tracking statistics show the quiet period ending ? In early August. And what do they show? That there had been "no “shortage of facts” and that the McCanns had become the focus of the police investigation. That, of course, was the other reason for the “quiet period”: unable to answer the gradually increasing questions from the media about the PJ homing in on them, the couple, lacking Mitchell to screen them and invent alternatives, had first lied and then gone to ground. We are not talking here about rumours or behind-the-hand PJ leaks but about material events such as the pair’s apartment being searched and their car seized, or their being called in for interrogation by the police. These facts had nothing to do with invention and were no more a campaign against the parents than were the similar events that had been so fully reported about police actions regarding Robert Murat. In themselves the events didn’t mean that the parents were guilty of anything, just as the searches of Murat’s property and his interrogation didn’t mean guilt in his case either. What possible reason was there to deny the truth of them? Never once have the pair answered this crucial and obvious question. We know what they’d say now, don’t we? The all-purpose magic nonsense answer still being used in the libel claim against Goncalo Amaral – that it was to avoid a diversion in the famous “search for Madeleine”. But that’s junk as well, isn’t it? And disingenuous junk at that. Because one can accept that the McCanns are totally innocent of anything involving their daughter but pose the question: surely admitting the truth of the police focus and dealing with it honestly would have speeded up the process of freeing them from investigation and getting everyone back to the search? Whereas documented lying, evasion and a determined defence kept the energies of both themselves and the police away from other avenues until summer 2008.
But deny them they did, and lie about them, they did, both in their “blog” and (Madeleine, page 205) in their meetings with the UK media. And the UK media, far from having turned against them in June, were not only “helpful” but actively suppressed the stories of police interest in them that were all over the European media by August. By then it was simply impossible for the UK media to help them anymore – to anyone outside the UK it was making them look biased and foolish. And note this report from the Guardian of August 10 2007, by which time the McCanns, paralysed by the fact that the things they had lied about or denied were now seen to be true, and unable to unsay them, were refusing to deal with media questions at all: “With the small town's beaches now packed with holidaymakers, the couple face a besieged existence behind the high gates of their villa, loaned to them by friends. "We are trapped," said Mrs McCann. "What can we do?" The couple's criticisms were directed at local media. British journalists in Praia da Luz have been careful not to harass the family.” It wasn’t the UK media that had changed, let alone invented things. It was the McCanns who had invented things (page 205 again) and the McCanns, their lies exposed, who had changed their behaviour.
In their evidence to both the Commons committee and the Leveson inquiry the McCanns have tried by every means at their disposal, but primarily by lying, to give the impression that the UK reporting in late June/July and early August— which in the main was either suppressing information in the McCanns’ interest or completely accurate and truthful in reporting police activity against them— was all of a piece with the quite different reporting after they were made arguidos. Nothing, as we have seen above, could be further from the truth. The real inventions began, in the inventive UK tabloid press, after September 6, for the very simple reason that all the latter had become convinced that the McCanns were heading for trial and conviction and would therefore be unable to sue—something which they are now ashamed to admit either to the tribunal or the public. And something which the McCanns are determined to go on lying about.
Paranoia ahead - 06.02.2012
Despite the tears of remorse that Fleet Street’s finest shed when testifying about how ashamed they were of persecuting the McCanns, the story itself remains a magnet for the tabloids. And not buried on the inside pages, either, but as we can see, still taking over front pages. Had Mr Richard Desmond really meant it when he said how dreadfully sorry he felt for the parents then one can assume he would ask his editors to leave stories concerning the pair and their friends—rather than the “search for Maddie—alone. But no: Murray’s article is a gratuitously “unhelpful” piece which highlights yet again some of the extremely questionable elements of the collective version such as the Jane Tanner sighting and the Mathew Oldfield unsighting. And the Mail, the skilled and cynical voice of Mr and Mrs Average Opinion, had no hesitation in following the story up. Lord Justice Leveson, the greatest defender of the untouchable sanctity of the grieving parents (the person who prevented the wild “McCanns-ate-their-baby” headlines from the written submissions being read out to the inquiry) has, most ironically, brought the period of press silence about the case—rather than the search—to an end.
Such is the wide-ranging ferocity of the UK libel laws that the media could, until recently, have been warned off such a story. Not because of super-injunction nonsense but because Carter Ruck could claim that, in the absence of significant new events, reporting the possibility of re-interview could imply that the T7 have information that had not been provided before and was, therefore, potentially libellous. Any press defence would have to prove that this was not the case. So, no story. That, for example, is why James Murray, in his 2010 Express piece year about Praia da Luz CCTV, carefully covered his paper by referring to the person who may have stashed a body nearby as “the abductor”, even though he knew that Amaral was talking about the Smith sighting and his belief that the person carrying the child may have been Gerry McCann: referring to the “abductor” avoided any libel problem. Now, however, there are significant new events, both the hearings themselves and, more importantly, the Scotland Yard review, and as long as the media hang their stories around these twin towers they are safe.
When attempting to make sense of the rumours that will increasingly surround the review until its completion the safest bet is to assume that none of them, now or in the future, come from Scotland Yard. The Yard, like Leicester Police, have shown a rigid determination not to leak about the case, illustrated by their attempts to keep references to their operations out of the Portuguese case files before publication. They are not about to jeopardise that record now.
Mais ils ont réussi à obtenir que "leurs" documents ne figurent pas dans le DVD (bien que le procureur et le juge d'instruction les eussent déjà exclu de la divulgation au public).Thus stories about the progress of the case, other than official statements from a Yard spokesman, are likely to reflect jockeying for position by the two public sides in the affair, not inside information. One side is now a press which senses that changes are afoot and doesn’t want to miss out, and the other is the careworn and faded Team McCann. Significantly, the days of Clarence Mitchell setting the agenda are gone and he is now reacting to the media instead of—with the aid of the lawyers—leading it. The press are going to continue twisting his tail, as Murray has done in this case. Murray, in fact, claims that his information derives from the Tapas group, not the police: “the Sunday Express has learned that the Tapas Seven “fully expect” to be asked to go over the statements they made to Portuguese officers shortly after Madeleine vanished on May 3, 2007.” Neat, eh? Since they aren’t in daily contact with each other they don’t know whether one of them has been talking to Murray or not. And if Clarence rings them all up – on whose behalf? –to find out then the Yard will draw the appropriate conclusions. The paranoia count rises. Richard Desmond is someone very determined in his own interests and a games player who doesn’t give a shit. Both qualities were exemplified when Desmond, a Jew, lost patience in complex negotiations with a major German printing group some years ago and started goose-stepping up and down and giving the Hitler salute in front of the stunned executives. £375,000 and costs is certainly an interest to be determined about. Expect much more.
The line about SY possibly asking for retranslations has brought out our intellectual friends, the internet McCann supporters. The Portuguese, they claim, are wily and dishonest translators; one of their most unreliable and dishonest bloggers, they say, is Duarte Levy:* he provided the rogatory interviews to the UK and deliberately mistranslated parts of them in Goncalo Amaral’s favour before doing so. Clearly, they conclude, the Yard know that they have been corrupted and that nobody can trust this supposed “evidence”. This claim, which is demonstrably wrong in every particular, was first made on a blog which is supposedly dedicated to careful critical analysis and refutation of anti-McCann “myths” [loud and prolonged laughter.] It illustrates the inability to handle evidence and the sheer determination to avoid the truth which characterises the work of that crowd. The Bureau has corrected them before but, yawn and stretch, we’ll do it again.
RECORD OF TAPE RECORDED INTERVIEW
"Right it’s sixteen twenty nine and it’s the afternoon of Tuesday the eighth of April in the year two thousand and eight. This I think is our fifth interview and I’m DC Sophie FERGUSON from the Major Crime Unit and you are?”
"I’m Jane TANNER.”
"Thank you Jane. We’ll carry on, well I say from where we left off, we won’t, we’ll go over some things that I want to just clarify with you.”
"Firstly, the (inaudible) label should be attached to your plan that you’ve drawn which we refer to now as JT one, so can I just ask you to sign that please there. And whist we’re talking about plans, this is a copy of exhibit reference DM two, that refers to whoever it is that’s drawn it, it’s their initials. (...)*The rogatory interviews were not distributed in the UK by Duarte Levy : he was given access to them at the same time as a small number of others, including members of the Bureau. We all stayed quiet except Levy* who set up an English language members-only forum and fed edited extracts from the interviews to its readers. The original documents were not translations but prints of the English language Microsoft Word original transcripts, as shown in the example above, complete with timings synchronised to the DVD record. Examination and analysis showed that they had not been tampered with in any way, that the personal details, telephone numbers and addresses etc. were correct and would have been unknown to anyone except the participants and the police and that there was no evidence of interpolation. Furthermore, as anyone with the most rudimentary knowledge of English and Romance language grammar and usage would have noted, the language was demonstrably original English throughout.. The legal questions surrounding the reproduction of the documents in their original Word format meant that it was safer to publish only edited and unformatted versions and this is probably why Levy did so. Still, to some of us it was unsatisfactory that one group was publishing edited parts of them not to the public but only to selected forum members—all “antis” — without showing the originals. Out of fairness, therefore, one of the recipients sent one unedited facsimile copy to a notoriously pro-McCann and anti-Amaral UK internet researcher and forum poster (calling herself “Nicked”) and one to a more or less neutral and reliable UK poster (who used the name “Cushty”), giving them permission to use and circulate the material as they saw fit. This ensured that any attempt to provide inaccurate versions of the documents, either for or against the McCanns, would be easily identified and challenged. From then on they were gradually circulated throughout the net. Scotland Yard will have been using exactly the same facsimiles in the review since there are no other transcripts. Our intellectuals won’t correct their stories though: they never correct anything. That’s why they’re stuck in May 2007.
* But we have to make a correction: we called him Reis instead of Levy when this blog was originally posted, a remarkably stupid error. Apologies to Paulo Reis.
Finally, the Portuguese legal system remains shrouded in mystery to us, despite our attempts to master it. So we were fascinated to be told by a Portuguese legal expert that the McCanns will have to prove the truth of each of their libel claims against Amaral, not merely make a suggestive case. As we know, the only member of the British public that the McCanns have shown the 36 page writ to is the dodgy Lori Campbell of the Mirror, so we have to depend on that paper to feed us a few scraps. Still, it will be interesting to see how they prove the truth of claims that they suffer "permanent anxiety, insomnia, lack of appetite, irritability and an indefinable fear" because of GA's book, as well as the claim that Kate McCann is "steeped in a deep and serious depression". Then there is the claim that the couple are "totally destroyed from a moral, social, ethical, emotional and family point of view, beyond the pain that the absence of their eldest daughter causes them". Quite, we’ll go with that. But what was the book to do with it? We shall see. “Proof”, rather than anecdotal opinion, that the book has hampered the famous search for Madeleine might be slightly hard to find as well.
Duarte Levy - 07.02.2012
We don’t take comments or defend this blog. That is either because we’re all liars incapable of taking criticism or because we think it only leads to trolling and strife –take your choice. But a word about yesterday’s item on the rogatory interviews. We criticised Duarte Levy years ago over what we thought were important matters but that was then, not now, and we haven’t the slightest desire to prolong disagreements. We made no overt criticism of Levy in the latest piece. Levy broke no agreements, tacit or otherwise, in publicising the interviews and owes the Bureau no explanations at all. Some of us felt that it was unfair or unwise to ration them and so we acted in a different way. The interviews, one way and another, are now available in reliable copies for anyone interested in the case to study, which is all that matters. The reason for the post, as we said, was to correct the blockheads who still maintain that the interviews are “suspect” because they “were translated from the Portuguese” – not to re-open old conflicts or claim the moral high ground.
Pssst… - 10.02.2012
Keir Simmons. He knows, you know.
We posted the other day that the safest course to take with rumours of progress in the case, whoever they come from, is to make the assumption that Scotland Yard officers have not leaked anything to anybody about the progress of the review and will not do so before the investigation ends. Therefore it follows, if you accept our view, that any article or broadcast claiming to have information about the review that has not been given in the terms of reference or official statements to the public will not be true. Readers must judge for themselves what the appearance of such untrue articles or broadcasts actually signifies and in whose interest they are being published.
The main reason we gave for offering this advice is that the Metropolitan and Leicester Police forces have not leaked up to now but have, indeed, shown a ruthless determination since 2007 to protect the secrecy and integrity of their investigations. In 2008, as we know, Leicester Police went to the High Court to deny anyone, including the McCanns, the right to see the files. And in December 2009, following some subterranean negotiations between themselves and the Metropolitan force regarding police officer Jose De Freitas, they issued a definitive statement covering McCann case information, Operation Task Publication Strategy. Relevant excerpts from the document can be found here:
But there are further reasons why we should completely disbelieve the existence of any such supposed leaks or comments to journalists. The police know that a large number of lawyers are monitoring the media for any material that might prejudice a trial in the UK and they will have impressed on their officers the vital necessity to avoid anything that could be construed as prejudicial. And, lastly, there are the current circumstances. In the past it was accepted that media crime correspondents were briefed unofficially and off the record in exactly the same way that the PJ did in the McCann case in 2007, although with a good deal more discretion. Those who wish to know more should study the evidence and the various public statements of the ex-editor of the Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie. The relationships, however, which were always vulnerable to cash-for-information attempts, got out of hand, particularly where News International journalists were involved. With the Joanna Yeates/ Jefferies case highlighting the risks of such prompts, with Leveson running and, last but not least, the arrest of a number of Metropolitan Police officers for criminal offences connected with these sweetheart relationships, officers know that until calm is restored some time in the future the game is over. Some of the arrested leakers will go to jail and the careers of anyone caught leaking in the McCann case are finished. As a footnote, by the way, we observe that in the Joanna Yeates affair the UK police, faced with a scary case and a really large press pack, a combination that our Portuguese friends had had to deal with before them, performed abysmally regarding leaks to the media and far, far worse than the PJ. The latter have not had to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds in damages to the McCanns, as our brave bulldogs have done to Jefferies, have they?
Now, the whitewash question, one frequently raised by overseas followers of the case. Unlike the Yeates/Jefferies affair, which centres on bad judgement and bad briefing, here we are talking about the supposed perversion of the course of justice. Just as we are not criticising people for accepting some of the dodgy stories coming out at present and supposedly based on leaks, nor do we criticise people from other jurisdictions—whose knowledge of UK investigative systems is on a par with our knowledge of those of the Portuguese—for wondering if such a review could be corrupted. For those from the UK of the same mind, however, it is slightly different. Presumably they have some knowledge of their own country’s institutions so we can ask them just how such a whitewash could be arranged. A whitewash, unlike, say, the attempt of one corrupt policeman to protect an individual or gang, implies an organized institutional effort. How would such an effort be made? Who would initiate it? Who would speak to whom? How exactly would a large number of officers be selected to break the law? How would it be squared with the information already held by Leicester police? Would they too have to collude with the Yard? What would be the incentive for collusion? How would it be done? It’s no use saying that you don’t know how it would be done, because that means you are claiming it ignorantly and without evidence, doesn’t it?
There is no evidence of any Scotland Yard organised investigation ever having “whitewashed”—come to a deliberately false and corrupt conclusion about a guilty party—anybody, whether gangster or politician. A major gangster can delay nemesis by bribing a few policemen and terrorising potential witnesses. For a while. A knowing politician with deep pockets and good lawyers can slow down a sensitive inquiry, again for a while, by making it go over its facts again and again to ensure that they will stand up in court. But actually subverting it? Perhaps people would like to ask themselves how Mr Christopher Huhne would have gone about it. Who would he have approached? How exactly would he ask them to help him? If such a person agreed how would they help him? Anyway, just for once the Bureau has a nice hopeful message. There is no reason to suggest that the review will be anything other than straight as a die. We hope that those who disagree with us will give us the evidence for supposing otherwise.
Not like the good old days - 13.02.2012
As a bearded loony (Karl Marx) once wrote, “history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” Oh for the great, late, days of 2007 when the Team of the parents, their paid mouthpiece, their relatives and their lawyers set out to enlist the public as their human shield against extradition – when the pages of the Mail were used to plug weaknesses in their stories (“the missing hours”) and invent new defences (“Gerry thinks abductor was there with him”) ; when the Times reporter was willing to smuggle secret details (the baby monitor) into his stories at Gerry’s prompting and when even the BBC was used by Ed Smethurst and his “expunge” campaign in Panorama. Such, such were the days!
But now? The tired team, or its pathetic remnants, sees no other course but to repeat the strategy, only this time with no new information – after five years—and when British public opinion is now irrelevant to their fate. They have been “exonerated”, their enemies have been sued or scattered, they have not a blemish—even of tea-stain size—on their characters. Yet they cannot, simply cannot, stop spinning in their own defence. So to the Mirror story about a far off libel case where UK public opinion doesn’t matter and can’t help: “Revealed: How shamed cop made a fortune spouting lies about Madeleine McCann's parents.” There it is once more, an article that from the internal evidence could only have come from the McCanns, that pours on the old insults about Amaral – “outrageous...shamed...booted off...spouting lies...slurs...three hour boozy lunches”. But what a come-down, what a parody of past glories now the ammunition cupboard is bare. Boozy lunches? Again? Is that the best they can do after five years? Even Clarence Mitchell is ashamed to admit being involved —not once are his normal, transparent disguises, “a source” or “a pal of the McCanns”, used in this rubbishy piece; instead the information is credited to a “legal source”, which cannot mean Mitchell. It bears, indeed, all the hallmarks of the McCanns themselves.
And then—farce after tragedy once more—they follow the old Team method of putting in new factual material near the end of the piece. Like we said recently, the remnants of the Team not only have nothing new of significance to offer but all they can do these days is passively react, not enact. So what is the “new material”? It is a lacklustre confirmation of what the Bureau wrote over a week ago, when we gave the names of the witnesses they were calling and pointed out that the only people with a chance of factually rebutting Amaral’s claims of death in the apartment, the Tapas 7, were not being called, with the obvious inference that the lawyers, or the Tapas group itself, dare not risk their examination in the witness box. With the second inference, that our list of the names of “friends, relations and those who worked with the couple after Madeleine’s disappearance” demonstrated that they were going to go for an emotion-based claim in which those witnesses will testify to having seen “evidence” of Amaral’s impact on the pair’s emotional well-being. And sure enough the Mirror thuds the message in with a picture to prove that that’s what they going to try, captioned “Destroyed: Kate and Gerry McCann.”
And what is an “emotion-based claim” in this case? It is an admission of defeat. It tells us that the prosecutor Menezes and his colleague told the truth in the Archiving Report, when they wrote that the McCanns’ behaviour and their lack of co-operation with the Portuguese police “lost them the chance to prove their innocence”. What? shouted the parents’ allies, how ridiculous, when do people have to prove their innocence? At the libel trial in April 2012, that’s when. As we now know, the burden of proof in that trial is on them. Menezes is right and the parents know it: the chance is gone. They are admitting it by concentrating instead on the more hopeful and subjective “we saw how destroyed Kate was”. The one piece of new information in the report is a shame-faced attempt to slip out the fact that they themselves don’t want to risk cross-examination either and will try and avoid testifying.
The only thing in the Bureau’s report the sad Team haven’t attempted to spin is the list of police and judicial witnesses we provided. Obviously if they had certainty that all of them would testify that the suspicions of the parents are utterly groundless then they would be broadcasting it from the rooftops, with Clarence visibly in the forefront instead of skulking in the rear. They haven’t got that certainty so they are left with hope – hope these witnesses will answer the harridan’s obvious shrieked questions in the right way:
Duarte: [bellowing] Did your final conclusions include any claims of death in the apartment?
Duarte: [SCREAMING] Why not?
Rebelo: We found no firm evidence of it.
Duarte: [discharging spittle] Exactly.
But it’s high risk with all of those witnesses because cross examination – now that Cabrita is gone—may reveal a less black and white picture. So the parents are too unsure to spin about them yet. But even if the public were convinced by this passive and shoddy reminder of the great days, what would it achieve? As we’ve asked before, why? Why, faced with the inability of the public to help them, don’t they just shut up? We admit we don’t know. But we found ourselves pondering the words of a recent message to us by one of the wiser commentators on the case: “it’s beginning to look,” he wrote, “like the [book Madeleine] is derived rather less from any diary and more from a defence script being held in abeyance until called for.”
A wolf by the ears - 23.02.2012
Want to know why Gerry McCann went to Lisbon in January 2009? Just turn to these pages in McCann Files and you’ll find Gerry giving interview after interview explaining that he was there to see how to improve the “search for Maddie” with his criminal lawyers and to “see how we can work with the authorities to explore areas where other things can still be done that might make a difference”. And there were lots of other comments as well, such as his desire to “build bridges” with the Portuguese, forget the past and start afresh. The one thing he didn’t give us was his true reason for going to Lisbon. That’s because, yet again, Gerry McCann was lying through his teeth, as he does with monotonous regularity. Not forgetting, not being slightly misleading, but outright lying in the dictionary sense of the word. His wife confesses to having an equal propensity to lie (Madeleine, p.206), but in this case it seems we can accept her version on p. 335 of the same book. Having spoken to Duarte on the phone at the end of November, she writes, “Gerry went to Lisbon to meet her” exactly six weeks later. Welcome to the world of the McCanns’ Portuguese libel claims. Spin and lies are at the heart of them, as they have been since the very beginning; only now, three and a half years after the case was archived, can we see that gradually but inexorably the legal system has begun to catch up with the couple: spin has encountered the courts and the courts are winning.
It was in July 2008 that the case was shelved and the McCanns were released from their arguido status. On the face of it this was their moment of triumph. The UK press, chastened and confused by the failures in Portugal that had led to the Express libel awards, lapped up the dishonest versions of the archiving report provided by a sneering Clarence Mitchell—that the report had “mocked” its own police force for its incompetence and had exonerated the pair. The way was now clear for the parents to use this “acquittal” as the basis for proceeding not just against the fantasists of the Express and Star but against anyone who questioned their role in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Almost simultaneously Goncalo Amaral launched The Truth of the Lie in Europe, complete with the startling claim that the child had died in the apartment on May 3 and the parents had concealed the body. There was little mention of the book in the UK press and almost none describing its central claim: as the media lawyers no doubt pointed out, the book clearly defamed the McCanns and merely repeating the claim was equally defamatory. Amaral would have to prove the truth of his assertions and that was impossible since the investigation, as summarised in the archiving report, had found “no evidence of any crime” by the pair.
Amid the euphoria of the parents’ exoneration Amaral’s claims were initially of little significance and the couple were content to wait for the policeman to launch a UK edition of the book and then crush him in the courts. But the huge and continuing success of the work and the impact of its associated television programme proved to be too much for the pair and in April 2009, following further consultation with Duarte, they took the decision to sue.
La publication en ligne de la traduction en anglais aussi, à partir de la traduction en français malheureusement, en rendant le livre accessible à la planète entière, a probablement été la dernière goutte.Was it a rational decision? It was certainly an extremely difficult one: Amaral had deliberately set a trap which might lead the pair out of the protected comfort zone of spin and media domination and towards the courts, where spin and spokesmen alike counted for nothing and where failure to prove the truth of their claims might lead to unpredictable dangers as well as financial penalties. Yet silence and inaction would be tantamount to acceptance of Amaral’s devastating claims. “I’ve always been considered quite a gentle person”, wrote Kate McCann, apparently with a straight face, “but these attacks [by Amaral] stirred up terrible emotions in me. It was as if my whole body was trying to scream but a tightly screwed-on lid was preventing the scream from escaping. Instead I was just howling internally.” So it looks as if Kate McCann’s serious lack of emotional control which, as we know from the pages of Madeleine, had featured so largely in Portugal in 2007, influenced their decision to sue, despite the risks.
Lawyers always get paid. Nevertheless their lawyers, both Duarte in Portugal and Carter Ruck in the UK, put together a package that offered some prospects of success. There was no guarantee that a Portuguese court would accept the archiving summary as an absolute statement of innocence but there was a chance; the parents had always denied any involvement in the disappearance of the child; attacks on Amaral’s personality could demonstrate that he was motivated by money rather than principle; and, finally, the Tapas 7 could testify both that there was insufficient time for the parents to dispose of a body on May 3 and that their behaviour on the night was inconsistent with Amaral’s central claim. In addition the critical burden of proof issue could be put off to the distant future by a preliminary attack on Amaral using the infinitely flexible language of human rights, rather than libel, law. That attack, when it came, astonished almost everybody by its malevolence (Duarte’s hallmark) and manifest vindictiveness (characteristic of the McCanns). It virtually removed Amaral’s own human rights and it didn’t do much for the image of Portuguese justice abroad but it had a logic of its own: it greatly increased the chances that Amaral would sue for peace before any full libel trial with its proof requirement ever came to court. Despite the acute discomfiture of the parents at the Lisbon injunction hearing when they encountered the painful realities of a Portuguese courtroom for the first time, January 2010 represented an apparent triumph for the couple as decisive as their “exoneration” eighteen months before: judgement was given in their favour and Amaral remained hog-tied and virtually helpless. Soon afterwards it emerged that Amaral’s wife had virtually collapsed under the pressure of their ordeal and was begging her husband to reach a settlement with the McCanns.
Rien de ce genre n'a émergé, en tout cas publiquement.
“In victory magnanimity...”, as a British statesman (Churchill) once wrote. But just as Kate McCann’s mental instability had featured in the decision to sue, now another quality of their personalities, their vengefulness, ensured that they would never reach out to Amaral in their moment of triumph but would pursue him to the end. Amaral, to his great credit, simply carried on, helped by a small number of dedicated supporters and fund-raisers. Finally, in summer 2010 his persistence and determination were rewarded when the Portuguese court of appeal found in his favour and lifted some of the injunctive restraints.
En septembre 2009 le juge du référé avait décidé le retrait provisoire du livre de la vente en attendant que le fond de l'affaire soit jugé, ce qui fut fait en février 2012. GA fit appel et la décision fut annulée, décision confirmée par la Cour suprême.Despite the near silence that greeted Amaral’s success in the UK it was clear that a watershed had been reached. The judgement, which was definitive, made it clear that whatever supporters, spokesmen or lawyers like Carter Ruck claimed outside the courts, the archiving report/AG statement was explicitly not a judicial finding of any kind but was one possible interpretation of the investigation data with no legal (i.e. conclusive) standing. It was exactly on a par with other possible non-judicial interpretations or opinions based on the same data, the judges said, in particular with that of Amaral as expressed in The Truth of the Lie. Thus the conclusion of the report, “that there was no evidence of the commission of any crime” by the pair was at once downgraded to the reason for their release from arguido status at that time, not to a finding of innocence. Duarte had to tell the incredulous –and inevitably furious—pair that a large chunk of their “proof” of libel had been despatched at a stroke: the summary and A/G statement could not be used in the forthcoming libel trial in the way they had hoped and as Carter Ruck, in the UK, had already been attempting to use it.
In fact the situation was much worse than that for the true significance of “the onus of proof on the claimant” now began to emerge in ways that the pair had never anticipated. When attention had been drawn to other parts of the archiving report in the past, particularly the statement that the McCanns had “lost the chance to demonstrate their innocence”, whatever that might mean, they were dismissed as irrelevant—since when did suspects have to demonstrate their innocence? And now, disturbingly and unexpectedly, there was an answer: soon, and in court. With the “exoneration” excluded Duarte could only argue that the archiving summary is a more convincing interpretation of the investigation than that that of Amaral—yet that interpretation asserts in black and white that they have failed to demonstrate their innocence as the libel court requires them to do! In the world of fib’n’spin this might be dismissed: because they couldn’t demonstrate their innocence then doesn’t mean that they still can’t do so, just as the Leicester police view that “there is no clear evidence that eliminates them from involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance” while true in 2008 might not be true now. Dream on! The Portuguese Attorney-General confirmed as recently as 2011 that no significant evidence had appeared since 2008 to add to the case or justify a re-opening. A “demonstration of innocence” or “evidence that eliminates them from involvement” would, of course, be “significant evidence”. It hasn’t appeared.
With this leg of the claim gone the testimony of the parents and their friends assumes much greater significance if there is to be any chance of the McCanns proving their case. But now, astonishingly, we know from the list of witnesses being called by the McCanns that none of the Tapas group are going to testify. And from the noises being made on behalf of the parents it looks increasingly as though they themselves won’t be called either. The reasons remain a mystery. As we posted recently that list indicates that Duarte has now given up on proving that Amaral’s central claim is libellous. Yet how do they let go of the wolf’s ears without being savaged? Their hope seems to rest, as we said, on concentrating on an emotion based defence combined with personal (and no doubt loud) attacks on Amaral, a strategy that, as we have seen, has already been floated via the Mirror. While they won’t be able to prove their central claim they have a chance of convincing the court that the pair –and the famous search—have been harmed by Amaral’s “harassment”. Hm.
What about all the police and legal figures that the McCanns intend to call—might they provide new material to strengthen the pair’s claims? Answer NO. The Attorney-General’s statement that no new evidence has emerged once again applies and the days of libel court ambushes are over. The police and legal worthies can only give their personal opinion about the differing interpretations of the archived investigation, not new facts. So what can we make of it all? We have to say that our relatively recent gloom about Amaral’s chances has lightened considerably: it appears that his views on what caused the shelving may not need to be aired in court. And never for a moment did we think that the Tapas group would fail to testify. It is impossible to avoid the feeling that after all these years the character flaws of the pair –the compulsive lying, the blind vengefulness, the manipulation of the press that seems to have damaged their own view of reality and the strange violence—now documented—of Kate McCann’s personality—are finally catching up with them in the only place that has ever mattered: the courtroom.
Innocent victim - 26.02.2012 Words always catch up with you in the end. Have a look at this entry in Gerry McCann's blog on August 11 2007. It begins "Just another day..." and is followed by four paragraphs supposedly dealing with everything that had been happening to them. The last paragraph runs: "Other tests are outstanding and Kate and I do hope that these take us forward in finding out who took Madeleine and where she is. Unfortunately we have to add patience to our other characteristics. There was a statement from the Portuguese police today regarding the recent activity in the investigation and media speculation. They confirmed that there are new leads and that we are not suspects in Madeleine's disappearance."
Mais la PJ, le même jour, a déclaré que les MC n'étaient pas suspects, qu'ils étaient des victimes.Not suspected, eh? The entry was written nine days after the police had ejected them from their villa while it was forensically examined and bin bags of their possessions were seized for examination, including Kate's diary, her bible, all their clothes and the cuddle cat toy; five days after the pair's car was seized for testing without warning; three days after they were interrogated and accused of failing to tell the truth about the disappearance, leaving both of them in hysterical tears. None of these events had been mentioned by Gerry because, as his wife foolishly let slip in her book, they felt lying was a better option than letting the public - their potential saviours as long as they continued to believe in the pair's innocence - know the truth about what was really happening. Suspect, noun: "One who is suspected, especially of having committed a crime." But wait! Gerry, our clever Gerry, has been very careful in his use of words: the intention was clearly to lie, to pretend that the police didn't suspect them in any way - that was the whole point of the deception which Kate McCann later admitted was taking place. But he's used that word "suspect" in a context where, should the truth of what had been happening ever come out - as it eventually did in Madeleine - his paid liar, Clarence Mitchell, or his defence lawyer would be able to say, with a straight face, "Gerry stated quite correctly that the police had told them they were not arguidos, so he was telling the truth." Dishonest rubbish, of course, as so many as the Team's statements are, but difficult to disprove conclusively. But time passes and, if you are compulsive liars, the more that passes the less able you are to keep track of your own "cleverness" anymore.
In November 2011 we find this in Gerry's witness statement to the Leveson inquiry: "The nature of the reporting changed dramatically after Kate and I were declared arguido by the PJ...this officially meant that we were "persons of interest" and were entitled to legal aid representation which is not the case for "witnesses". Under Portuguese law at that time the police determined when a witness became an arguido and this status would remain until the investigation was complete. The media interpreted it as meaning we were formal suspects in the police investigation.” And, just in case we hadn't got his point, he added as a witness:
Mr Jay: To be clear about it, and you'll correct me if I'm wrong because you know more about this than me, arguido does not mean "suspect", it means "person of interest"; is that correct?
A: [trying to cover himself yet again] That's what we were advised was the closest correlation.
Mr Jay: Maybe there are two points here. The first point is the obvious one that needs to be stated. There isn't an equivalent concept of arguido in English law. Do you think, rightly or wrongly, the British press somehow interpreted "arguido" as equivalent to "suspect", which carried with it, therefore, its own connotations?
A: Yes. I mean clearly the word was used that way almost exclusively.
So arguido, according to Gerry, definitely does not mean "suspect". Therefore if he was telling the truth at the Leveson inquiry then he cannot have been telling the truth in his blog entry! And if he was not telling the truth at Leveson then he still cannot have been telling the truth in the blog entry! You see how constant and compulsive lying eventually starts to trip you up virtually every time you open your mouth?
They're busy "underground", as it were, putting the final touches to yet another "smear Amaral" campaign in the Portuguese media. To coincide with the libel trial and to pre-empt Amaral's forthcoming new book. Don't step in the new stuff when it appears.
Leveson again - 02.03.2012
With little happening above ground regarding the case this week it was time to see how Leveson was doing. It was pleasing to find that, now the inquiry has moved away from the free speech arena – where it never had any right to be – its proceedings have lost some of their musical-comedy surreality. Faced with a proper forensic task, instead of a clumsy-footed and naïve trespass onto ground it doesn’t understand, it provided some valuable insights. As to why the Yard bailed out of the phone hacking investigation after the prosecution of Mulcaire and Goodman there is no longer any mystery. (...)
Now, turning to our limited-view perspective and looking at these matters from the Madeleine McCann angle, did we learn anything? Yes, a little. An apparently rather esoteric debate in Leveson as to the role of evidence led to some interesting insights into police operations that came as a surprise not only to the audience but to all the lawyers at the inquiry, from Leveson down. It has particular relevance to those followers of the case who have expressed repeated mystification at the police willingness to accept the innocence of the McCanns despite suggestive circumstantial evidence regarding their veracity. To Clarke, Hayman and Yates, reflecting orthodox police operational doctrine, “evidence”, when evaluating a possible criminal investigation, means evidence that will “stand up in court” and excludes circumstantial or inferential evidence. An inferential evidential indicates information was not personally experienced but was inferred from indirect evidence. Some languages have different types of inferential evidentials. Some of the inferentials found indicate:
information inferred by direct physical evidence,
information inferred by general knowledge,
information inferred/assumed because of speaker's experience with similar situations,
past deferred realization.
And unless such evidence is available or likely before a formal investigation begins the police are likely to be uninterested in proceeding.
The inquiry found this difficult to accept because, apart from anything else, it raises the question of how the hell any inquiry ever gets started. The police witnesses however were clear: first of all it was a resource question – we need “evidence” in advance to justify committing limited resources. Secondly the police want bags of the stuff before they will consider interviewing suspects. Clarke said, “we don’t like to question people unless we hold the cards”, that is a mass of solid evidence already in reserve to ensure that in interrogations the police will always hold the initiative. So any question of hauling people in for questioning as an exploratory move is out: the police don’t work that way. Implicit in this “holding all the cards” view is that potential suspects should have no warning of any kind that they are to be questioned until the last possible moment. Readers will note that this doctrine, which seems to apply to CID investigations across all UK forces, differs from that of the Portuguese criminal police.
So there we are, one possible reason why UK police have never questioned the Nine as part of their inquiries. How it pans out in the context of the Yard inquiry – which has no resource constraints – remains to be seen. This operational information also throws a little light on the rogatory interviews, which fall into a rather special category. They were being undertaken at the request of the Portuguese authorities and not because the UK police had enough evidence to interrogate them from a position of strength. The transcripts of the interviews, however, reek (empestent) of knowledge that the police do have – the details of the surveillance van operation, for example, or a certain interest in tennis bags – but this knowledge is deliberately kept under wraps and manifestly not used to trip them up or catch them out. The Bureau has always believed that this was because of limitations laid down when the interviews were authorised and this probably remains a factor. From the operational insights we have gathered this week, however, it seems clear we have an answer to the baffled “why didn’t they explore this bit further”, “why did they go so easy on them” questions heard so frequently on the internet: Leicester police were clearly determined not to let any of the Tapas group know just what information they do have. Not at that stage. That would imply that they saw at least some of them as potential suspects, not, as they told the group time after time, as mere “significant witnesses”.
Confronting Jane Tanner with certain statements of officer Bob Small, for example, about the surveillance van episode would have let her –and two friends of hers – know exactly how extensive their knowledge was and, obviously assist them in their defence. Instead they let Tanner fumble around trying to gear her answers to what she thought they might know, saying a great deal about herself in the process while discovering almost nothing about what her questioners knew. Such nice, helpful policemen! It fits in exactly with what the Yard officers have been letting slip this week about their modus operandi. And the latter makes complete sense of the persistent Leicester police refusal to let the McCanns anywhere near their case files. Forget the “Dear Stu” and “Dear Jane” charade and watch what they do not what they say. If ever we’re ready you won’t have to come looking for us... (...)
The "vestiges of a simulation" - 07.03.2012
Gonçalo Amaral who, according to reports from his various enemies was recently trying desperately to extricate himself from the deadly consequences of his libels on the McCanns, has been seen showing his head above the parapet once more. And, surprise, surprise, not beneath a tattered white flag but, on the contrary, with something looking suspiciously like a rocket propelled missile launcher on his shoulder. In two interviews he has put his personal troubles aside and emphatically repeated, with additions, the charges of the utmost gravity against Kate & Gerry McCann he originally made in his book and television documentary on the case. Not quite the behaviour of a broken man suing for peace is it? Also, and refreshingly, he cut through nearly five years junk reporting by the media and outright lying by the McCanns and went straight back to the essence of the case - the "impossibility" of the parents' version of events on the night of May 3. "Undeniably," he said in one of the interviews, "this window, [the children's bedroom window] as I have said before, is a window 'facing the world'." Not only was the window open to the world's view on May 3, with no place to hide for potential evil doers, but in another sense it is also the window through which one can enter this mysterious case. And probably exit it too, for as GA added, "it is where the solution of the case lies." Five years well-funded adventurism by the couple, the crazed chiaroscuro of SAS men, paedophile rings, private jets, the Vatican, Metodo, the committee rooms of the House of Commons, moustachioed fugitives, moored yachts with waiting baby-buyers, lost wallets, dying suspects and the rest, all created by that artist of futile melodrama Gerry McCann, have failed to serve their purpose: do anything possible to muffle or drown the message of the window facing the world until it can be written off as "old news"...
GA's case has always been, forget the mysteries, the possibilities so beautifully dreamed up by the McCanns, forget, at least by implication, the everlasting world-wide search for a living child - a brutal but necessary decision - and concentrate on a trail: "vestiges", says Amaral, "of a simulation". The investigation of the case then consists in following the evidence of this simulation through to the end. Was he right? Or should he have been busy "closing the borders" and pursuing the paedos as all those failed policemen-consultants told us - until News International stopped paying them. For our purposes there is no need to list contradictions by the dozen until the head spins. Let us enter that open window, look briefly at some of those "vestiges" and the outlines of an investigation immediately become clear - for those initial "vestiges" lead on to new problems and then to new "vestiges", as the witnesses alter and develop their stories to plug the new holes. We can see it in action - and as the Bureau once asked, to a certain amount of bemusement, why bother with mysteries when we can concentrate on the "knowns"?
The definitive conferral evidence
At its heart lies an apparently trivial, but in the event absolutely intractable, problem. A period of just five to ten minutes means the difference between a possible abduction and an impossible one; some members of the Nine realised this by May 5 yet the attempts to master it, beginning with the construction of the third "timeline", not only failed completely but ended up providing the trail. At their first conferral over the day's events, between 10.30 PM and 1 AM on the night of the 3/4 May, documentary evidence (the sticker-book entries) proves that the participants, Gerry McCann, Russell O'Brien, David Payne and Mathew Oldfield, all agreed, in writing and in two separate documents, that there was a gap of between five and ten minutes between the return of Oldfield from his "shutter check" and the departure of Gerry McCann for his "check". The walking time between restaurant and apartments is some 90 seconds to the front of the apartments, 65 seconds to 5A patio doors.
Timeline A relevant entries
8:45. pm Matt returns 9.00-9.05 - listened at all 3 - all shutters down
Jerry 9.10-9.15 in the room + all well ? did he check
9.20/5 - Ella Jane checked 5D sees stranger & child
Timeline B relevant entries
8.45pm. all assembled at poolside for food
9.00pm. Matt Oldfield listens at all 3 windows 5A, B, D ALL shutters down
9:15pm Gerry McCann looks at room A ? Door open to bedroom
9:20pm Jane Tanner checks 5D - [sees stranger walking carrying a child]
Such agreement and documentation cannot be "reversed" since it is definitive – the participants were all present and jointly created the document and no relevant information sources that could change their conclusions were absent during the conferral.
The police statements
The conferee's May 4 statements, made before they had any chance for further discussion, are instructive. Gerry McCann: "at 9.05 pm, the deponent entered the club, [Ocean Club apartment] using his key, the door being locked, and went to the children's bedroom and noted that the twins and Madeleine were in perfect condition." But there was no mention of Oldfield and his return to the restaurant.
And Payne made no mention of Gerry's first check at all. "He no longer remembers in what order they went see their children."
O'Brien was no support. "He recalls that Matthew Oldfield left the restaurant at shortly after 21h00 to check the children. He is no longer sure who went out first, but five minutes later [our italics] Gerry McCann and his own partner, Jane, went out, almost at the same time, [ours again] to check the children."
But Oldfield's statement was the best: "That around 21h05, the interviewee went to the area of the apartments, notably to the area near the windows of all the children's bedrooms. That he did not hear any noise."
So when Gerry McCann approached his front door with a key he would have found Matthew Oldfield bent over listening to the shutters...
Put shortly: the twin parameters of time/distance analysis results and the presence of the independent witness Wilkins determine fixed intervals that cannot be manipulated: the abduction, whatever form it takes, key or no key, abductor or abductors, has to occur after a certain time (the time Oldfield left the shutters) and be completed before a certain time (Tanner's sighting). That being so a gap between Oldfield's return and McCann's departure from the restaurant of more than a few seconds, combined with McCann's entry to the apartment via the locked front door, cannot be fitted in. It is impossible.
Entre le retour de MO au restaurant et l'arrivée de GMC dans l'appartement, il y a juste le temps pour une intrusion par la porte-fenêtre laissée ouverte. À peine entré dans la chambre des enfants, l'intrus entend la clef dans la serrure et se cache (suivant GMC derrière la porte mouvante)....and developments
It was not just the police who began noting this impossibility. In his second statement on May 10 Gerry McCann decided to tell the police about others' actions as well as his own. Mais le 4 mai il décrit déjà les faits et gestes de KMC.
"At 21H05, Mathew returned, the time at which the deponent left the table to go check on his children." Mathew has been pulled away from the shutters he stated he was listening to at 9.05, been teleported through the darkening streets without being asked and the interval is down to zero. So Gerry now knew to the second when he had left - 9.04. He wasn't asked how he could be so exact before his arguido statement in September. That was when he told the police he had looked at his never-before-mentioned watch! Of course this completely contradicted the sticker book evidence which he had helped prepare and the chief feature of which was the inability to time that same departure exactly by any of those present. Including Dr McCann. Anyway it was incorporated (as 9.05) in David Payne's helpful exercise in clarifying new timelines. Finally McCann bites another bullet - there was no alternative because of the timescale and the possibility of further theoretical "collisions" like that between himself and Oldfield outside the apartment door - and completely changes his description of how he entered the apartment.
Une des raisons est qu'il est apparu très rapidement que personne n'était ni entré ni sorti par la fenêtre.Now you cannot "unremember" an event. And it is well known that for information analysis purposes the first statement is always the most reliable in describing actions, rather than emotions or states of mind. Gerry McCann had told the police flatly that he went into the apartment by opening the locked front door with a key and had then signed and attested the truth of his statement having had it read back to him in English.
Ce n'est pas anodin. En fait il assume deux fois qu'il est entré par la porte avec sa clef (un détail qui exclut une confusion avec la porte coulissante) et deux fois que sa femme est entrée vers 22h avec sa clef.The only entrance requiring a key is the front door one off the car park, for the patio doors do not have a lock but are bolted from inside. But now he claimed, without comment or explanation and in breach of his previous attestation of the truth, "He walked the normal route up to the back door, which being open he only had to slide." Then, in an easy procedure for Gerry McCann he signed for and attested to the truth of this statement, having had it read back to him in English.
Step back – that's it! The history of the rest of the case consists not of moustachioed Monster sightings nor, regrettably, the search for a living child, but of the doomed attempts to remove these wicked little problems and polish the "authorised version", each of which, of course, leaves an audit trail. Much of the work was done in late 2007 when Gerry's lawyers so helpfully pointed out the weaknesses which jumped out to the legal, or prosecutorial, mind and invited him to reconsider his evidence yet again - before testing out the new versions in the media via Clarence Mitchell to see if they floated. That led to the farcical Medical McCann Memory Total Recall Syndrome when Gerry discovered that he was now "sure" there was a Hiding Monster listening to him pee from some secret refuge in 5A. Mitchell's will-it-float feed of this epiphany sent poor old Carlos Anjos into something resembling an apoplexy but there was no need to worry: Gerry McCann and his bad-breathed paid mouthpiece had added another bit to the trail that began at 10.30 in Praia da Luz. It's all still there, Clarence. The work still proceeds: many of the proposed "solutions" to the ten minute problem can be heard softly, like an almost hidden background theme, in Madeleine. Clearly, as at least one other commentator has noted, she feels they may yet be needed
The full extent of Tapas 7 collaboration with the pair is vexed. Note, for example, that even after the Rothley meeting David Payne's recollections of 6.30 - 7PM on May 3 were still very much out of line with Kate and Gerry's, which implies an absence of late group collusion. But when the memories of two of the core group who conferred over the sticker-book have evolved so usefully for the couple, then at the very least a passive willingness to fall in with Gerry McCann's untrue assertions without necessarily being privy to exactly why they were needed is quite indisputable. Oldfield, for example, who was ignorant of the exact time of Gerry's departure at the sticker-book conference, has made neurological history alongside Gerry McCann by the constant improvement of his memory, so that in April 2008 he could say, "So, erm, back to the table, erm, we have, oh, back to the table, Gerry got up to go and, to go and check on his kids, I mean, and I'd come back and said, you know, I didn't hear any noise when I listened outside your room, so I thought it was a little bit odd that, you know, not kind of a wounded pride that he sort of didn't trust me, but..." My, my. While O'Brien has made similar history in the reverse direction – Selective Short Term Memory Loss Trauma Syndrome: "Erm," he muttered in that same week, a week in which his recall was generally quite magnificent, "Erm as we discussed the other day, I'd forgotten these over the year." "These" were no doubt eminently forgettable to Dr. Russell O'Brien, who had far more important things on his mind than those little sticker book covers, overwhelmingly sad and desecrated remnants of a child's life, torn out thoughtlessly in a gesture that remains the abiding symbol of the Madeleine McCann Affair. There is only one reason why the Tapas 7 question is "vexed": it has still, after five years, never been fully investigated. Investigated, that is, in the sense of the attempted reconstruction of claimed events and the clinical confrontation of the McCanns and the core group with their different and developing stories. A withdrawal and substitution of evidence, such as Gerry McCann's two statements about his entry to the apartment, is itself evidence for the prosecution.
The vestiges of a simulation
That is why Amaral, whatever his merits and faults, was and remains rightly furious at the eventual failure of the investigation to look through "the window facing the world" at these vestiges of a simulation and, indeed, its lame surrender when confronted with the Seven's outrageous refusal to return to Portugal. Instead the investigation dropped the shutters on the window, turned away and succumbed to the childish mass delusion of the "world-wide search for sweet missing Maddie" - until it ran into the sands, as illusions, helped on by the cowardly evasions of creatures like Menezes, always will.
Vroom vroom! - 10.03.2012
Things are gathering speed very nicely indeed. There is little point in trying to push too hard for the progress of the Yard review: the conclusions haven’t yet been written. In the meantime, as in 2007, we are at liberty to infer. That is not quite the same as guessing. Because of the documentation kindly made available by the Portuguese and, even more kindly, by Kate McCann, we can be quite certain that those lay people who have studied the case know more than most of the Scotland Yard officers did before they were appointed to the review team. And very much more than any journalists, whose knowledge of the case is gained by skimming the blogs and – again! – copying from the Portuguese media: note how poor Kier Simmons was once more caught out. That is one of the few benefits for those of us who have become obsessional about the case while others, police, journalists, lawyers, in both countries, have had to concentrate their energies on other cases, other stories. Those fortunate enough to have the time and wealth to keep in touch with the case in a way that is impossible for the others can be surprised by the eventual packaging of the review but no, not by its contents. 90% of the evidence is known to us. 5% say, the vital 5% which includes the likely identity of the person or persons who removed the child from the apartment and disposed of the body, is unknown but will almost certainly already have been explored as a possibility by those interested in the case; the remaining 5% is the detailed information still held in confidence, mostly consisting of UK police files which were excluded from the case papers release, such as the statements of officer Bob Small, for example.
Conclusions of a report are another matter. While there isn’t the slightest likelihood of a Yard whitewash –nobody would know how to perform one even if it were desirable – we know from the archiving report that conclusions can sometimes contradict the data itself, if the authors simply see no way of going forward and wish to provide a halt, temporary or otherwise, to what’s going on. The decision to release the arguidos at that time was a perfectly reasonable one, marred by the unfortunate attempts of the prosecutor Menezes to invent a flowery intellectual justification for it instead of saying the truth which everyone except Amaral tacitly acknowledged – “we’ve had enough,we’re buggared, we aren’t getting anywhere, release them and let’s all go home”. Still, there was never going to be a tidy and trouble-free end to that particular chapter. Can the same thing happen again after the Yard review? In a sense, yes. Unless someone can be prosecuted then the police have little room for manoeuvre. Only a court can exonerate the McCanns so if nobody is prosecuted then the report will have to be kept confidential on “natural justice” grounds to the parents. That will irritate us but will bring no change whatever for the McCanns: they’ll have to continue in their self-imposed limbo until the next state-sponsored attempt to get at the facts in another five years and on and on for the rest of their lives. Unless the civil law, in the shape of the libel courts and their effect on public consciousness, imposes its own solution. So, for those interested, here are our views of events so far. Readers will accept or reject them according to their estimate of our reliability.
The Portuguese investigation was first reviewed by its own prosecutors who recommended the archiving of the case. That review, the archiving summary, lists and evaluates the data uncovered in the investigation: almost 100% of the information is found to offer no opportunities, or leads, for probing the case further. That remains the case. Almost 100%. There is just one section in the summary which deals with the few leads which have not been followed up and it is headed “About the Interest of the Reconstitution”. It follows that any new review which is not prompted by new information must, after the reviewers have familiarised themselves with the case, concentrate on that section. How could it not? And no new information prompted the establishment of the review. The only prior claims of possible new information, the McCann’s various suggested suspects, were found to lead nowhere, usually within hours of their announcement. Therefore, the foundation stone of the review remains the “About the Interest of the Reconstitution” section and the complete resolution of the questions raised there. The success or otherwise of such a resolution will determine the success or failure of the Scotland Yard review; successful investigation of the questions may lead to a re-opening of the case and the possibility of a trial. Failure to do so will leave matters exactly where they were in 2008 – except that the chances of the child being alive are now much less than the official “fifty-fifty” then.
And now for the good news
The apparently reliable news of the Oporto connection, of course, fits in rather cheerfully with the above conclusions. Again, look at the logic of events. The Portuguese, whom you could almost hear sighing with relief when they got rid of the McCanns in 2008, have turned into gluttons for punishment and established a fresh squad of their own before the Yard review has finished. Why would that be? Well, there are two answers. Both of them seem to suggest liaison between Portugal and the UK is as good as we were hoping. The first is the one that the lawyer Alves seems to be hinting at: that something quite outside the Tapas 9 has been discovered in the review so important that a squad has been set up to “develop” it, probably working once again with British officers. Since it’s Alves who’s claiming it, in a mumbling sort of way, we can assume that it’s abductor news. Dreams do, after all, come true. If they do you’d think the McCanns would be the first to know, wouldn’t you? All right those hard protestant northerners in London and Leicester aren’t saying anything but you might think that Alves and Abreu, Duarte and the rest would have picked up some good vibes to pass on to them by now. Nope. The McCanns know zero from England and only what they read in the newspapers or Amaral tells them from Portugal. Odd, don’t you think? Or you can ignore Alves as a clumsy windbag who won’t have any facts to add and believe, as Amaral and for what it’s worth, the Bureau does, that the Yard and the Portuguese are together getting close to completing the work that the archiving summary was inviting them to undertake. And Kate and Gerry McCann are frozen in the headlights.* Come on Clarence! There’s a lorra, lorra work to do! Stop ignoring Gerry’s calls and start meeting him to work out a strategy for the rest of 2012. What about the obvious stuff like driving a wedge between this bloody Brits and Ports co-operation, for Christ’s sake? And why haven’t you provided the follow-up to the the Mirror stuff about the libel trial? Clarence, you can’t just lie there and hope it will all go away. Clarence! He’s gone missing again
*The McCanns, like their lawyers, always read the Bureau. Can we expect a public appearance to prove us wrong?
|Pourquoi reconstituer ?|