|Francisco Goya - La forge (1819)|
A criminologist writes - 14.10.2010
P [stands for pro, not proposition] 1. Kate & Gerry are truthful witnesses of events.
P2. They described an abduction.
P3. Eye witness Jane Tanner's sighting was almost certainly the fleeing abductor.
P4. There's no evidence of any observed suspicious or unusual behaviour by the parents in PDL.
P5. The police investigation was a mess, if not corrupt, and its conclusions are worthless.
P6. So it was an abduction.
In the opposite corner...
A [Guess what that stands for] 1. The police investigation was reliable.
A2. They signed off saying the child was not abducted and probably died in or around the apartment on May 3.
A3. The parents are not truthful witnesses of events.
A4. Jane Tanner is not a reliable eye-witness.
A5. There is no evidence of abduction beyond the claims of the parents and Jane Tanner.
A6. Therefore... no abduction and the child is dead.
A prediction is not a suggestion or a guess. It's a firm forecast, capable of what we call refutation, derived from the theory which is, in turn, derived from the evidence. The following unrefuted, predictions were made by various representatives of the two sides in summer 2007 and at intervals since.
PP1. The parents will not be convicted of any involvement in the disappearance of the child since there is no evidence of their wrong-doing.
AP1. There will be no sightings of Madeleine McCann.
AP2. The child will never be found alive.
AP3. Private detectives will find no evidence of abduction.
AP4. There will never be supporting evidence for Jane Tanner's "sighting".
Did we manipulate the predictions? Forget it. Out of kindness we've left out the refuted ones from both sides but there were never that many (for sheer lunacy let's make an exception for the Metodo mob's "home by Christmas" classic, even though Metodo were too cynical to be pros themselves). The 2007 forum and press records are available for you doubters to check, I guess, but who wants to read that stuff again?
But are they really valid predictions?
Well, check for yourself and, while you're at it, see if you can find more, especially since the pro beast looks a bit starved and in need of a good meal, but remember they must be "derived from the theory". Can we fatten up the Pro-Prediction beast and predict, say, that the child will be found alive, to counter AP2?
No, the abduction theory as stated cannot make such a prediction. OK, "evidence will emerge to confirm Jane Tanner's veracity" – how about that? Nope, that's a hope, not a prediction from the theory. What about "private eyes will uncover some tiny evidence of the abduction"? No again: have a look – where and how does the abduction theory lead to such a prediction? It doesn't. Now look again at A6, "the child is dead." The prediction "the child will never be found alive" is generated by the theory itself, not as a suggestion by someone holding to that theory: understand that bit and you're most of the way there. All four AP predictions are of this self-generating nature, like them or not. Have a look at them again - can you see?
We have a huge 4:1 imbalance in so far unrefuted predictions between the two theories. That is because of the even greater difference in the total information content of the two, what we call explanatory power. The pro theory cannot provide enough predictions of value because it contains insufficient data behind it to generate them: it is not necessarily a false model of what happened on May 3 but it is certainly an inadequate one. And this is where theory and theories – bang! – meet real life. The inadequacy of the theory, the model, is the only reason the PJ couldn't run with it, even if they'd wanted to – because it leads nowhere: virtually zero predictive power means no potential to move an investigation forward. And that's the real reason why the Portuguese authorities - who, believe me, know plenty about the academic science underpinning investigations - ignore all the parental pleas for another investigation. Look at it this way: the authorities – not just the cops - are saying that if the parents want the case re-opened then they and the seven friends are going to have to get on that plane to Faro for intensive questioning to get things moving forward, otherwise forget it. Given that agreement then bingo, the PJ can go into action – picking a team, picking up phones, assembling the questions, analysing and cross-matching the data and so on. As a result – here comes the science again - the information content of the investigation must increase, and not necessarily to the detriment of the McCanns either.
But re-opening from the viewpoint demanded by the parents, which implicitly means no questioning of the nine, is another matter. Where to start? Information content zero, remember. All right, assemble a team, then what? Pick up the phone. To whom? Put together some questions, sure – who are they going to face with them? Follow the abduction trail, then – but there isn't one, it ends fifty yards outside apartment 5A, no CCTV, no further eyewitnesses, no airport records, no forensics, no trail. Follow the suspects – but there isn't a single suspect who can be connected to 5A to follow. Just how, in practice, would the police go about strengthening Jane Tanner's veracity, rather than weakening it? And if the parents are perfectly truthful, as the pro theory states, then they clearly have nothing to add to their accounts of May 3 so there's nothing to ask them - again, no trail to follow, no pieces to pick up. So what can they do? Well, take the assembled team, sit them on their asses and have them go through eleven thousand pages of case files again looking for "overlooked" clues. And appeal to the public for further information. That's it. Big deal. So our airy-fairy academic look at two opposing theories ends very much in the real world. And it ends, also, in a paradox. The only way the McCanns can ever get the Holy Grail of exoneration for themselves and their kids is by going along with a new PJ investigation on anti-lines! Because, for scientific reasons, it's the only game there'll ever be in town. You need to chew on that, Gerry and Kate.
He made it - 22.10.2010
The first thing to say about the appeal verdict is that it represents a personal triumph for Goncalo Amaral. Yes, he has had a dedicated band of volunteers, chiefly in Portugal, assisting him with appeals for legal funding and offering strong moral support; yes, he has had lawyers to represent him and the vocal support of some ex-police officers. But it is Amaral and Amaral alone who has risked absolutely everything since writing his book, "to recover my good name," as he said, "which was publicly sullied while the institution that I served for 26 years, the PJ, did not allow me to defend myself." In pursuing that matter of honour he triggered a nightmare of dubious criminal accusations, disgusting, indeed almost unbelievable, insult and abuse and a determined and well-financed attempt by the lawyers of two countries and their clients literally to destroy him, a campaign which came perilously close to succeeding and which really was, for once, like something out of Franz Kafka.
Il faut quand même dire que le pire pour GA a été d'être écarté de l'enquête. Il avait été passablement mal traité par les médias sans que sa hiérarchie lève le petit doigt et le jour où il n'en peut plus, on le dégomme sans crier gare.
From the sidelines distant well-wishers such as we at the Bureau have been free with advice and, on occasion, criticism, the latter prompted by the belief that Goncalo Amaral might be underestimating the forces against him and fears for his capacity to survive the onslaught (only when this affair is at an end will the public discover just what Amaral's family have suffered). The Bureau was wrong: Goncalo Amaral and his family have survived and his way of doing things has been vindicated. It is an extraordinary achievement. Now, the verdict. The human rights aspect has been dealt with elsewhere and we won’t repeat it. What we want to highlight are the implications of the rest of the judgement: they are much worse than the McCanns could possibly have expected and that is why the pair have been unable so far to formulate a response.In clear and unambiguous language the judgement plants a stick of dynamite under the entire McCann case as presented to both the public and the legal system since July 2008. When those two good Catholics, Kate & Gerry McCann, are safely tucked up at night, dreaming perhaps of the merits of Christian magnanimity to one's enemies, there may well be a bible under one pillow. And under the other? Probably a copy of their other holy book, the Prosecutors' archiving report, the Humpty Dumpty report as the Bureau has described it.
The McCanns, their lawyers and their associates have staked everything on making it the mainspring of their cause, as we have chronicled in our previous posts. Its misuse began with a pre-emptive strike by the parents and the loathsome Mitchell when, in July 2008 before the document had been translated in the UK, they fed grossly distorted extracts of it to the UK press, extracts which, to their everlasting shame, mocked the efforts of the policemen who had searched for the McCanns' own flesh and blood. Faced with The Truth of the Lie and the situation that a failure to sue Amaral would be taken as an admission of guilt the search was on for a firm basis for libel actions. It was found by using the fact that in the UK and most other countries a previous criminal court verdict is accepted as definitive: the trial evidence can be quoted but it must be done fairly and without any attempt, for example, to cast doubt on an acquittal, otherwise it is an open and shut libel.
With the contempt for the Portuguese that has characterised all their efforts so far, oh-so-clever Team McCann hi-jacked Humpty Dumpty for its own purposes. Their lawyers equated the prosecutor's (civil servants') report with a judicial (courtroom) finding of guilt or innocence thus providing, they hoped, the same cast iron protection as a courtroom acquittal.
It was, of course, a bluff but a very powerful one because of the potential legal costs of proving them wrong. Nevertheless they buttressed this sleight of hand with the further claim that the report was both the objective summation of the investigation and, based on the evidence, an official and definitive dismissal of the case against them.That is how it has been used ever since. Until last week, that is. The McCanns can reach under their pillows and chuck the report in the bin: the verdict of the judges has blown the fib away, as we shall show in the next posting.
Usually an ass but not always - 22.10.2010
The judges begin by describing the three main grounds for the appeal: the claim for freedom of expression under the Portuguese constitution [which has been described elsewhere since the verdict JB]; the second claim that the facts in the book were "mere reproductions” of the investigative data and the third, that those same facts were "even part of the Prosecutor’s report." All three claims are accepted at the end of the judgement. They summarise Amaral’s theory, with no weasel words and nothing for the McCanns to pick out and spin: in the book, they say, Amaral defends the theory that the child died in the apartment on May 3, that an abduction was simulated, that the parents are suspected of concealing the body and that there was child neglect. They then turn to the individual himself, someone that the legal system has until now shown every sign of treating as a non-person: Amaral. The judges remind us of his reasons for writing the book and quote: "Later on, I was removed from the investigation. I then decided that it was time for me to defend myself in a public way. Therefore, I immediately requested my retirement, so I could regain the plenitude of my freedom of expression."
The judges add that it is "important" that the author feels he is the victim of injustice and wants the truth, or at least his version of the truth, to come out, especially since he felt his honour was in question and he was not allowed to reply in his own defence. With considerable understatement they add that this is not a minor point. In the book, they say, Amaral presents a multiplicity of facts from the investigation, all of which are in the DVD and which are evaluated in the Prosecutors' report. In this multiplicity of facts some are primary, some secondary: Amaral evaluates and weighs them accordingly, from the standpoint of someone with 26 years experience of police investigation. Amaral, say the judges, describes in the book, in detail, a number of apparent facts and situations that from the outset of the investigation were not compatible with each other leading to contradictory conclusions. They confirm that these reservations were not in opposition to the Prosecutors' report but were essentially the same as those given by Humpty himself – by immediately turning to and quoting from his report:
From the analysis of the depositions that were made, [runs the report] it became evident that important details existed which were not fully understood and integrated, which needed to be tested and verified at the location of events, thus rendering it possible to establish the apparent failures to agree and the lack of consistency in a suitable investigative form: the reconstruction. This could not be carried out, despite the commitment that was displayed by the Public Ministry and by the PJ, ... [my translation JB]The judges then turn to the dogs, quoting not from The Truth of the Lie but, once again, from the Prosecutors' report. The findings of Eddie and Keela are given in some detail. Having done so the judges add that the combination of the inconsistencies and the performance of the dogs was enough to constitute making them arguidos [there is no mention of "haste" JB]. As far as the dogs are concerned they state that forensic evidence, as we know, did not corroborate their findings; as far as the contradictions are concerned the Portuguese authorities, Justice ministry and PJ tried to perform a reconstruction but failed due to the lack of availability of the McCanns and their friends, leaving those contradictions still unresolved. Here, once again, they quote not The Truth of the Lie but the Prosecutors' report, [you know, that document that clears them] in support of what Amaral claims:
(…) despite the fact that the national authorities took all measures to render their travelling to Portugal possible, due to motives that are unknown, after the many doubts that they raised concerning the need and the opportunity of their travelling were clarified several times, they chose not to show up, which rendered the diligence impossible to perform. We believe that the main damaged party were the McCann arguidos, who missed the possibility to prove what they have protested since they were made arguidos: their innocence towards the fateful event; the investigation was also hindered, because said facts remain unclear (…).Now, the killer blow and here we will quote the judges in full:
What is certain is that since the start of the investigation, there were incongruent and even contradictory situations concerning the witness statements, the telephone records of calls that were made and received on mobile phones that belonged to the couple and to the group of friends that were on holidays with them, the movements of people immediately after the disappearance of the little girl was noticed, concerning the state in which the bedroom from where the child disappeared from was found (closed window? open window? partially open window?), etc., and the mystery would only become even thicker due to the clues that were left by the aforementioned sniffer dogs.Note the phrase: "what is certain". Killer blow number 2:
Where Amaral differs from the Prosecutors who wrote the dispatch, is in the logical, police-work-related and investigative interpretation that he [Amaral] makes of those facts.And number 3:
We need, the judges say, to stress the following: the facts that led to the applicants' constitution as arguidos within the inquiry were later on not sufficiently valued by the Public Ministry's Prosecutors to lead to a criminal accusation, but those very same facts, seen from a different angle, may lead to a different conclusion from that of the prosecutors. Suggestive data ("indications") that were deemed to be insufficient in terms of evidence in a criminal investigation, can be appreciated in a different way, in an interpretation that can legitimately be published as a book, as long as the interpretation does not offend any fundamental rights of anyone involved. In our view that said interpretation does not offend the applicants' rights.Costs were awarded against the McCanns. The full implications of the judgement are going to take time for all parties to evaluate fully. But the claim that the Prosecutors' report was a finding of either guilt or innocence is dead: it is an interpretation of the evidence of no more validity than that of Goncalo Amaral, perhaps – given, as the judges say, the experience and ability of the inspector – even less. The verdict makes it quite clear that the burden of legal suspicion has not been lifted from the McCanns by the archiving report. And, by quoting the report in its relevant passages, the judges also show that the failure of the Tapas Nine to co-operate in clarifying the events of May 3 was, and remains, central to the investigation. The TM lawyers – who have to be paid - will no doubt be studying the judgement – whose translators had to be paid - very carefully, in liaison with Shrieker Duarte, who has to be paid. Where will the Dirty Pair go on getting the money? In the UK last week the famous Liverpool football club court case which involved virtually no preparatory work and ran for a mere few days had costs awarded against the losing party of around one hundred thousand pounds per day. Goncalo Amaral, God preserve him, has already faced the problems of trying to defend himself without any available funds: it may well be the McCanns' turn next.
Dear, dear - 24.10.2010
At the Bureau we no longer bother with the media much these days. Why? Because as far as the Madeleine McCann case is concerned it is quite clear that they will always follow, never lead. The fond hope of the internet forums that the media will somehow "break" the case, either by digging up new facts or by bringing news of significant events to the public that will somehow turn the population against the Dirty Pair is, in our view, just another illusion. There is no secret injunction, no shadowy political protection, no ban by the Murdoch group. We don't believe there ever was interference from the UK, come to that, no, not even from Ambassador Buck, that charming and, above all honest, civil servant, but that's another story. The media are quiet because, despite the myths, they have all along responded to events, not initiated them, and at the moment nobody is trying to use them. Not even the McCanns.
The media did not make the Madeleine story: Gerry McCann did that, using them in such a professional way that media people are still locked in admiration for his achievements. When the PJ, its suspicions growing, began itself to use the media, by selective leaking, the press dutifully defamed the pair, covering themselves, as they thought, by allowing sob-sister "we've all done it" pieces to sit alongside the libels. That came to an end in October 2007 when Brian Kennedy's money – you got it wrong Brian - allowed the assembled support team to be next in line to use them, with writs, threats of writs and a propaganda offensive. Kennedy's tame lawyer, Smethurst, was, as we know, frank about this episode, saying on Panorama – which of course he and his colleagues were using – that their aim was to "expunge" the idea of parental guilt from the public's minds. That period ended in July 2008. With the publication of the Prosecutors' archiving report the Portuguese, with one heroic exception, washed their hands of the case. Nobody save the McCanns wanted to use the media any more. That is how the modern media works: it responds to whoever is trying to use it most effectively. Yet the myth of the investigative, digging journalist, the Woodward and Bernstein crap, persists, along with the bizarre habit of quoting "news" stories as evidence, that "they" know more than "we" do.
This was brought home over the last few days when a junksheet called the Algarve Resident was quoted by the dwindling number of boobies who believe in the McCanns as "evidence" about the Amaral book verdict. The AR, like its sister papers in Portugal, is for UK expatriates who are too thick or lazy to learn Portuguese; it is a pure scissors and paste job copying news stories from the UK press (because they can't speak Portuguese either). In this case they copied and pasted the Guardian – who had taken the story, since they haven't yet seen the judgement - from the Portuguese press! The Guardian hasn't seen the judgement because it hasn't been officially released. Even by printing the little they did they were taking a chance since their lawyers, lacking a copy of the judgement, have been unable to guarantee that the paper's report is a fair and accurate assessment. The rest of the media are in the same boat: without a full copy they would be wide open – and rightly, under UK law - to action from Carter Ruck. For the verdict makes no immediate difference to libel in the UK. If The Truth of the Lie was published in the UK tomorrow the fact that it has been cleared for sale by a Portuguese court would not help in the slightest against a libel writ. Ah, but there’s the rub: "immediate". Because, boy, will it do so in the future.
We dealt with the appeal court judgement in two posts. One, titled "He made it", dealt with the dependence of the McCanns and their lawyers on the Prosecutors' archiving report to succeed in any libel case against Amaral, whether here or in Portugal. The excerpts we gave related specifically to that preceding post. They were the evidence and justification for our claim that:
1) The McCanns' libel claim is based almost entirely on the Prosecutors' report.
2) The verdict destroys any chance of using it as a statement of truth or a legal finding of innocence. It is not a statement of truth, the judges state, it is an interpretation, something quite different.
We have no intention of getting the volunteers who make up the Bureau into trouble by quoting the entire verdict verbatim, much though our enemies would wish it, just as we never betrayed the trust of the various people who provided us with the case papers, the rogatory interviews, the Scotland Yard decisions on officer de Freitas and, oh yes, the Tanner Murat court case. All them before the media got anywhere near them. The full verdict will be available soon enough and then, as always, people can make up their own minds.
We have no hesitation in repeating, without any hopes or illusions, that the verdict destroys the chances of the McCanns winning a libel case against Amaral. But, friend or foe of the Bureau, don't take our word for it: ask yourself the question – when did Team McCann ever fail to have a comment ready at critical stages of the affair? When was that disgusting, bewigged, liar Mitchell unable to respond? Until last week it hadn't happened since May 3 2007. That tells you all you need to know about how serious, or rather lethal, is the setback they have suffered.
The stick of dynamite - 26.10.2010
We stated that the appeal court judgement planted a stick of dynamite under libel claims against Goncalo Amaral by the McCanns both in Portugal and the UK. That was because, we maintained, the team have based their entire claim on the notorious prosecutor’s archiving report. Not only does that report have fatal weaknesses and contradictions in it but it has also been deliberately misrepresented by the McCanns and their lawyers. Under legal scrutiny both the misrepresentations and the contradictions have been partially exposed, and the process will continue as the various documents come under further judicial study. So is there any evidence for those claims of ours and our conclusions? The details are in a number of our previous posts. Broadly, however, the conclusions of the report cannot be reconciled with the police evidence on which it is based and the claim that it exonerated them cannot be sustained. The prosecutor states not that they are "exonerated" or "cleared" – only a judicial body such as a court can do that – but that there is "no evidence" of their wrong doing. The report itself makes clear, however, that the McCanns helped ensure that the evidence was incomplete by refusing, along with the Tapas 7, to co-operate in clarifying the events of May 3.
Under those circumstances it is impossible to clear them as the report itself acknowledges by saying that in failing to attend the clarification and reconstruction exercise they lost the chance of exoneration. Come on folks, even supporters of the McCanns – if he says they lost the chance of exoneration ("proving their innocence" in the English translation) then they can't have been exonerated (or "proved their innocence"), can they? In court in Lisbon earlier this year the prosecutor – who cut a dreadfully unconvincing and unreliable figure - further weakened the exoneration claim by stating that the parents had not checked on all the occasions that they claimed, in other words they had not told the investigators the truth. The more the archiving report comes before the courts, whether via further appeals or in future libel hearings, the more credibility it will lose, exactly as contradictions in witness testimony are eventually exposed in court. The claim, by the way, made by supporters of the McCanns that the parents never actually refused to attend, is based on either ignorance or dishonesty. The parents made it clear in a BBC radio documentary broadcast on April 26 2008 – and made while the requests for co-operation were still being processed – that they would not return to Portugal in the foreseeable future. Pas vraiment, GMC évite de répondre en évoquant seulement la perspective d'une accusation de négligence.
The McCanns have form when it comes to dishonest misrepresentation, rather than misinterpretation, of the Portuguese legal system for their own purposes. On the day the report was published the McCanns and their advisors helped their chosen feed, the London Evening Standard, write a scandalously dishonest article about it. As well as making the first known claim that the report "cleared" the parents it claimed equally dishonestly that the same report also "mocked" and "lambasted" the Portuguese police force for its inadequate investigation and criticised it for failing to establish proof of what had happened. According to the story a "source close to the McCanns' legal team" added that the report established that the police had "blatantly misrepresented" the evidence and that legal action against them was on the agenda. Mr Frightwig himself confirmed his own story by saying that legal action against the police was indeed an option. Maddy police were no Poirots, mock their own prosecutors .
05.08.08 - Evening Standard (Jack Lefley)
The Portuguese police inquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was condemned in the strongest terms by the country's public prosecutors, new documents revealed today.
Detectives were criticised for establishing "no element of proof " about what happened to Madeleine or even whether she was alive or dead.
Madeleine, three, vanished from her family's holiday apartment at Praia da Luz on 3 May last year. The police file included pictures of the room and Madeleine's bed. Her parents are now likely to take legal action against police in the country. The case was initially led by top investigator Goncalo Amaral, who last month published a book on the investigation entitled Maddie The Truth about the Lie. The huge police dossier contained a report by public prosecutors Joao Melchior Gomes and Jose de Magalhaes e Menezes about why the couple were not charged with any offence.
The report refers to the "objective circumstances" which justify the "noninvolvement of the parents of Madeleine in any relevant criminal act". It said they were not in the apartment when Madeleine disappeared and noted their "normal behaviour adopted before the disappearance and afterwards".
It said that "in reality, none of the indications which led to them being made arguidos came to be confirmed or consolidated later". "No element of proof whatsoever was found which allows us to form any lucid, sensible, serious and honest conclusion about the circumstances" of Madeleine's disappearance from the apartment ... including, and most dramatically, establishing whether she is alive or dead, which seems more probable."
It continued: "The investigators are well aware that their work is not exempt from imperfections. "They worked with an enormous margin of error and they achieved very little in terms of conclusive results, especially with regards to the fate of the unfortunate child. This is not, unfortunately, a police story, a crime fit for the investigative mind of a Sherlock Holmes or a Hercule Poirot, guided by the illusion that the forces of law and justice always restore order."
The report also revealed why the McCanns were not charged with "abandonment" of their children on the night Madeleine vanished. It said the couple did not knowingly leave their children in any danger and had been "keeping an eye on them". It continued: "While it is a fact that Madeleine disappeared from the Ocean Club apartment, the circumstances and manner of how this happened is not known. It is obvious that neither of the defendants, Gerald or Kate, acted with intent ... they could not predict that the resort they had chosen to spend a few days' holiday would leave the lives of any of their children in danger. "It was located in a quiet place, where the majority of residents are foreign citizens of the same nationality and without any known history of this type of crime. "Although they left their daughter alone with her siblings in the apartment, sometimes for extended periods, it's true that, in any case, they were keeping an eye on them. We must also recognise that the parents are already paying a heavy penalty - the disappearance of Madeleine - for their carelessness in monitoring and protecting their children." The prosecutors also rejected the theory that the couple had been involved in disposing of their daughter's body saying: "It would be always left to explain how, where, when, with what means, with whose help, in a restricted space and time."
A source close to the McCanns' legal team said action against the Portuguese police was now increasingly likely. He said: "Given this blatant misrepresentation of evidence, legal action against the Portuguese police is very much on the agenda. "The lawyers are considering very seriously whether action needs to be taken against individual officers when evidence was clearly misrepresented in such obvious ways at such crucial times." The couple's official spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the priority was still the search for Madeleine but admitted legal action against the police was an option.
So the written evidence is there – for use, we hope by Amaral's lawyers in any future libel trial – that the selective distortion of this important document by the McCanns, their spokesman and "sources close to their legal team" began on Day One and has continued ever since. But Team McCann had, it seems, descended into a dream world, apparently seduced into the belief by then that spin could accomplish anything: rather than just kidding the British public with their dishonest and lying version of the report, they actually came to believe that the same tactics would work in court – by founding their libel claims on it.
Have a look and see how total their dependence is.
This is the letter which Carter Ruck sent out to the website GerryMcCannsBlogs and which the site owner – thank you Pamalam – posted up. It contains virtually their entire case. In the second paragraph they state the parents have denied all the libellous allegations made in the media and that – here it comes, folks - the Portuguese prosecutor confirmed that there was "no evidence whatsoever" to implicate the McCanns.
Well even the bluffers at Carter Ruck could see that a claim using the Prosecutor's support alone was a bit thin. So what else did they come out with to support the claim of libel against Amaral? They couldn't find a fucking thing. Not a thing. So they invented – yes, Carter Ruck invented – the claim that the original Portuguese gagging injunction against Amaral was a "Court Order" that Pamalam was breaching! That was a year ago, October 30 2009. Pamalam called their bluff about the court order but now it doesn't even apply to Amaral; the claim that the court has "discredited" Amaral's allegations cannot now be made; and the prosecutor's report which "confirmed there was no evidence" against the pair has been established as "an interpretation" by three judges. The McCanns are said to be in consultation with their lawyers. You bet. The dynamite has done its job.
Why not - 27.10.2010
The McCann strategy that has been in place since October 2007 – to silence the expression of all doubts within the UK about their conduct, using all the resources at their disposal, has failed. The McCanns have had undeniable tactical successes in the last three years: using criminal lawyers to build a powerful defence to the Portuguese claims made against them, suing or wooing the media, returning to the TV screens on both sides of the Atlantic to put their story across. The British public show no overt animosity towards them, and the Portuguese, perhaps surprisingly, have shown little antagonism on their increasingly frequent visits to that country.
The Portuguese police: roundly defeated.
The Tapas 7: silent or actively co-operative.
The UK media: brought completely onside or silenced.
The UK police and courts: supportive.
The UK government & parliament: supportive.
The UK public: willing to live and let live.
The Truth of the Lie: unavailable in the UK.
And the price
There is one particularly notable omission from this list of triumphs: Madeleine McCann. The "successes" of the parents completely exclude her. She has received none of the millions of pounds collected and expended by them; the money is almost gone so she will never see any of it; nothing on that win-win checklist has helped her in the slightest. All the victories relate only to the parents, not to her. Knowledge of her fate has not advanced one iota since 10 PM on May 3. The Portuguese police defeat was a defeat for the child. However understandable Kate McCann's refusal to answer their questions, however fearful they might have been of the Portuguese system, in defeating the police they took out of the game the body with the greatest knowledge and the greatest resources. Their domination of the media has served the parents well but not the interests of their daughter: since October 2007 none of the journalists have made their own independent enquiries – which might, just might, have turned up something. The Tapas 7's blind identification of their own interests with that of the parents has achieved nothing for the child. The steadfast, if passive, support of the UK police and courts has, again, been of great value to the parents: what Lady Hogg et al accomplished for the child is less obvious. And so it goes on, right through the list: every "victory" has been a defeat for the parents' own flesh and blood. Right at the bottom of the list we have The Truth of the Lie, whose author, the supposed failure, the "disgraced cop" and persecutor of the parents, is the only person actually working for the re-opening of the case in order to discover what happened to the child.
The parents are manifestly not doing so, since despite their absurd calls for a supranational enquiry into the case, they have failed to take the one action that could get it re-opened tomorrow morning: a statement that they and the Tapas 7 wished to return to Portugal to assist the investigation unreservedly, without lengthy legal argument and negotiation, in clarifying the discrepancies in their original statements: that would produce, one way or another, the "significant new evidence" required for a formal re-opening. The efforts of the McCanns' own so-called "investigators", that rabble of crooks and failures on whom the McCanns have lavished something like half a million pounds of Madeleine's money, are not even worthy of discussion. But that is not the full extent of their failure. The strategy of ensuring their own freedom and either silence or compliance with their opinions in the UK obviously implied that one day they and their other children would be left alone to get on with their lives: all doubts about them "expunged", as the BBC was happy to allow nice Mr Smethurst to say on their airwaves. It is now over two years since the report came out that might have offered them closure, about their own fate and reputation if not that of their child. With the developments in the Portuguese courts the likelihood is that the libel case against Amaral cannot be fully resolved before 2012 at the earliest. Whatever happens The Truth of the Lie will always be available over the internet. And there is nothing to suggest that a live Madeleine McCann will turn up.
Is this really what they want? Years and years more of the same treadmill of struggle and the pus-filled enmity that seems to increase, not diminish, with time? The futile search for that mirage "exoneration"? The same goldfish bowl existence for their children? The same battle to the end with Amaral or, if he is defeated, another Portuguese police officer yet unheard? The answer is there, staring them in the face: volunteering to return to Portugal with their friends. Even looking at the worst possible case none of them would be at risk: there is no real stomach amongst their critics to see any of them punished if they incriminated themselves in some way. Most people, and that very much includes the Bureau, simply want the doubts that they themselves raised by their behaviour put to rest, without any desire for retribution at all. As against the downside the ultimate prize is on on offer: the chance to show that Amaral's interpretation is wrong, genuine and lasting exoneration for themselves and the friends, and a new direction for the investigation. As Rachael Oldfield said in another context, "well, everyone's a winner really." Isn't the twin prize – the chance of vindication and exoneration and the possibility that their evidence might help resolve the case - worth it?
What stops them - 03.11.2010 Mrs Oldfield said: "We are more than happy to help the police with their ongoing investigation." Despite their experiences Kate & Gerry McCann seem surprisingly ignorant of law. There is no such thing – no mechanism, no legal basis, no money - as an international legal "review" of a national criminal case: it is, for too many reasons to list here, impossible. And it is quite unnecessary. Once again we return to the question: when will the parents cease asking and start acting - to co-operate, finally, with the existing investigation? What is it that prevents them from doing so? Kate and Gerry McCann : "We are pleased that the investigation remains so active and we are cooperating fully with the Portuguese and British police, as we have done since day 1." Let us go back to that investigation, which is merely shelved, not closed. Why is it shelved?
"The investigation will have a new coordinator appointed to replace chief inspector Amaral. We are happy to continue cooperating with the Portuguese authorities." When Rebelo took over the case and reviewed his predecessor's work he was able to move in only one direction – the same one as Amaral. He found not a single line of enquiry regarding an abduction that led anywhere. The various private investigators - for what they're worth - who "reviewed" Rebelo's work have found the same thing: no evidence of anyone outside Praia da Luz being involved in the disappearance, no trail to follow.
After checking those within PDL including, of course, Robert Murat, (who, unlike the other two arguidos, fully co-operated), only one practical line of investigation remained: the activities and evidence of the nine people around Madeleine McCann on May 3.
Gerry and Kate McCann : "We have always felt that the best chance of finding Madeleine is through the police investigation." Certain things were clear:
1) The forensic evidence for either their involvement or exoneration was absent.
2) There were inconsistencies in their evidence.
3) Arguido status for the parents meant they could not be compelled to co-operate in the search for the child.
4) There was no legal basis for forcing the 7 to co-operate in the search if they did not wish to.
By November 2007 Rebelo's task, then, was straightforward: to find out whether the nine would co-operate voluntarily. If they did so then the search for the child could move forward; if not it would be incapable – in the absence of any other leads - of further progress. With nowhere else to go it would have to be shelved. "On Saturday we asked the Portuguese police if they had any objection to us coming back to the UK. We had assured them that we will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation and of course will return as requested." Despite their protestations of co-operation the McCanns made no effort to return to assist. On the contrary: KM had already refused to answer further questions and the pair were consulting expert lawyers in their own defence. That left the question of whether the 7 would co-operate voluntarily. Accordingly the rogatory letters were issued for interviews in the UK, which took place in April 2008, with Rebelo observing. In those interviews the 7 made it clear that they had no stomach for returning to Portugal to assist the missing child. That was enough for Rebelo: he left even before the interviews were completed, having already gained the answer to his remaining question. Before the rogatory interviews had been translated and analysed he officially requested their assistance in a reconstruction and the answers he expected from the 7 were received in late April.
On the basis that the evidence to help discover the child's fate was incomplete and that there was no prospect of the 9 assisting in its completion he immediately moved to conclude the case. That is how the Portuguese search for Madeleine McCann – not the criminal investigation of the parents, but the effort to find out the fate of the child - stands now: incomplete owing to the failure of the witnesses to co-operate - and therefore shelved.
The McCanns and their loathsome spokesman greeted the shelving with mocking elation.
"BILTON: Have you been asked to return to be questioned?
BILTON: Would you be prepared to?
JANE: Yes. Yeah of course we would. Yeah, and I mean if it helps to find Madeleine, be interviewed tomorrow, you know, we're obviously key witnesses"
At any point the McCanns can get the search for their child re-opened without asking anyone else to assist except their seven friends. "Friends of the couple have now indicated that they would refuse to return voluntarily unless they were formally cleared of any wrongdoing."
They can do it tomorrow. Why won't they? Why?
So which is the real one - 05.11.2010
When the debate over the McCanns' behaviour on May 3 was at its height the couple's defenders often put forward the "modified profiling" argument. Pure profiling – the claim that the probability of involvement in a crime is scientifically linked to personality traits and evidence of past "criminality" - is, of course, a pseudo science developed largely by the Nazis and unworthy of discussion. The "modified version", though, claims that as worthy respectable citizens, professionals even, with no background of offending, the McCanns were intrinsically less likely to have done something nasty on May 3 than "criminal types", you know, the sort of people like God-sent Mr Hewitt or the various horror-film portraits of suspects at the Team's press shows.
Buttressing this argument, as the somewhat unworldly Portuguese prosecutor pointed out, is the fact that the couple went on behaving as "normal" people do all through that evening. Kate McCann would have to be a wicked simulator indeed to have acted normally knowing that the child had already come to harm. And happy Gerry McCann, the loving parent who "romped" with his children and their friends, who was beside himself with shock and terror at the loss of his daughter, behaving as David Payne said "exactly" as one would expect after such a tragedy – was it really conceivable that this provincial doctor had the qualities required to initiate and put into practice a nerveless cover-up in self-defence that night?
It is an argument that has continued to appeal, though it is slightly weakened in Kate's case by her performances when posing daily for campaign-led photo ops in the weeks after May 3, able to turn on with ease the role and expression requested by the surrounding press pack - soulful, grief stricken, determined, stoical, lost:she was, they say, a "natural". Still, nobody recalls her behaving in a ruthless or even unloving manner prior to 2007, let alone showing the sort of Lady Macbeth-like qualities implied by the theories of the Portuguese police. No wonder that fair-minded people rightly find it hard to accept the idea of her involvement in something chilling.
And the same goes for Gerry. When had anyone ever claimed to witness the devious ruthlessness and suppression of all personal feelings needed to carry through such a plan of deception? How could someone without any experience of crime and deceit suddenly act so decisively while presenting a mask to the rest of the world?
While readers of the Cracked Mirror might pause, as the author did when writing it, at the extent of the pair's apparent unknowability in earlier years, that is no reason to reject the argument.
But could The Truth of the Lie affair throw some light on it? Once the book had been published the McCanns made no secret of their eventual intention to sue Amaral for libel.
So Dr. Gerald McCann took legal action against the man who had libelled him and his wife. The manner of his doing so, however, makes one, again, pause for thought.
The parents were frank, via nice Ed "expunge it" Smethurst, that they would seek an injunction in Portugal to silence his claims, preparatory to a full libel hearing. But there was no hint of the intensity of the coming attack: instead there was deception, deliberately implying that their aims were moderate and defensive. "The intention," said their spokesman in May 2009, "in suing Mr Amaral is simply to censure him. He has been publicising his book across Europe and they just think enough is enough."
In western societies a libel case is normally about the future suppression of the libel and financial restitution: it is about withdrawal and compensation. The concept of personal retribution and vengeance for a non-criminal libel is not normally part of European law. But the actual writ, as revealed in July, was certainly heading that way, not at all a matter of mere censure. Apart from claiming a list of mental and physical ailments, apparently attributable to Amaral, that, if true, would have made them unfit for work, even on the Oprah show, they wanted upwards of a million in damages and, as the lawyer Duarte made clear, Amaral should be "punished."
And when the injunction was eventually granted at the second attempt it was unprecedented, as we know, in the extremism of its attack on Amaral and his family's liberties rather than a "silencing" of his claims. The McCanns had explicitly worked on and asked for these measures while, for public consumption, remaining silent about their demands. Quite a performance and even Amaral himself, who has seen plenty of aggression and deviousness in his career, was taken aback by the extent and venom of the onslaught.
No, we are not about to get the violin out for Goncalo Amaral. Yes, people can argue that Amaral deserved what he got. But the question here, whichever side one supports, is what does the history of the McCanns versus Amaral tell us about Gerry McCann, his abilities and his "profile"?
It is unarguable that the legal means adopted by McCann against Amaral have involved lies and deception ("we only wish to censure" "we're here in Portugal to build bridges"), secrecy (masking the extreme nature of his demands until the injunction was granted in September), ruthlessness (obviously) and indifference to human feeling (the known grief and pain caused to Amaral's wife in particular).
So which profile of McCann does this performance fit – the clean and harmless cardiologist of fond remembrance, "Good old Gerry", or someone quite different, someone with a talent for secrecy, ruthlessness and indifference to human feeling when self-defence is involved?
My, how things can move - 07.11.2010
This blog began when we discovered that the witness list for the Lisbon hearings in January this year had the Dirty Pair and their team staggering for the first time since October 2007.
There have been many ups and downs since that week when the lights burned late into the night while the group struggled to think of something – anything – that would help them cope with what was emerging. For the very first time the parents began to realise that amongst all the soap-opera phantoms they and their group had created – abductors, paedophiles, allies at the heart of government, all that tawdry Scouse fiction - there was somebody real: Goncalo Amaral was not only an enemy but a very dangerous one indeed. So dangerous that they couldn't even discuss their deepest fears with Mitchell. Always willing to help the Bureau pointed out to interested readers – and they included the loathsome Coffin – that, yes, Goncalo Amaral was engaged with them in a fight, a proper fight, not PR crap from people like Mitchell who'd only ever confronted real struggle as a voyeur from the media sidelines, not battles for a bigger NHS hospital budget from provincial doctors but a genuine fight that really – yes, really - was going to end with either he or they being destroyed.
The soap opera that they created is now being pushed aside by a genuine drama: not the cheapo version of their deprived imaginations but something as strange and disturbing as any No Country for Old Men script: a fight to the finish before our eyes. And just as they struggled and gasped in January 2010 now, as things move towards the climax, they are struggling again but with fewer options and less hope. The media suspect what is going on; some politicians have sensed what is happening and are quietly backing away from the case.The Bureau has, shall we say, a feeling about what is taking place. The supporters of the pair, however – there were 3 million plus of them when the fund was set up, 30 000 plus now – are out of the loop: bafflement has taken over. Enjoy Lisbon, Gerry.
We just hate – but they know - 08.11.2010
(...) Good ol' Keir's case amounts to this: He was in PDL in the twenty four hours after the disappearance. He is a journalist. He knows all about the case because he is a journalist and knows these things. He has decided that Gerry & Kate McCann are not just likeable, which he knows because they have let him get "close" to them, but beyond suspicion. We are cruel and wrong. (...) In PDL in the first twenty four hours, were you? Tell us, did you measure out the distance from the apartment to the tapas bar? No? Damn it, that might have helped a lot of people form an opinion. Did you interview Mr Hill, Mark Warner manager, who was adamant that there was no evidence whatever of a break-in at the ocean club apartments? No? Drat it. But of course, you're a journalist, an expert. Back home after your exhaustive on-the-spot investigation you studied the case in depth, no doubt. Did you ever look up Mr Hill to see what he thought in retrospect? What a pity. Been through the case files, Keir? Who did your translations? ITV didn't, because we know they haven't got the money. Did you depend on the McCanns' versions by any chance? Or whose? Cos you couldn't afford to do it either. And we and the other haters? We depend on a network of Portuguese people who've worked amazingly hard translating and putting their stuff on the net for nothing, for a belief in making the truth available. In 2007 we used to have a laugh sitting reading the latest Portuguese statements in English and betting each other how you and your colleagues – when you'd caught up and translated – would spin them. Did you read the rogatory interviews? Where did you get hold of them? We ask because we and our colleagues put them on the internet before you'd had a whiff of them and not one of you has ever admitted reading them. Try them sometime – they're very interesting, especially about Kate & Gerry. Ah, Kate and Gerry, who you got so close to, close enough to know. How come your interviews always take place at the same time as the pair speak to all the other broadcasters? Who tells you each time that interviews will be available – the McCanns or somebody else? (...)
Dear Keir Simmons... - 08.11.2010
"But why should two parents who have suffered so much continue to have this groundless campaign against them?" (...) I don't defend any vile accusations made against the parents and I have no theory whatever about any involvement by them in the fate of their daughter. I don't take part in internet forums or comment boxes precisely because of the incredible violence with which people disagree. But that is nothing to do with the McCanns – it is a function of internet debate. But are you seriously suggesting that there are no important questions about the behaviour and veracity of the McCanns since May 3 2007? You will recall, I'm sure, the shouted comment from a journalist on the Lisbon court steps early this year, referring to the irrefutable evidence earlier that Goncalo Amaral was not a "rogue cop" but a person representing the views of a whole police team. "Yes," came the shout, aimed at Amaral, "all old stuff – what's new?" And that is the trouble: to you and your colleagues there is a great deal of "old stuff" that anti-McCannites harp on about, as if its age alone made it somehow worthless - a very journalistic view if I may say so. But the reason the "old stuff" persists is because it has never been satisfactorily answered by the parents – so articulate, not to say verbose about so many other subjects – nor properly analysed and refuted by journalists such as yourself. Can I ask you about a few instances of "old stuff" and exactly what you make of it? Not wild accusations, not theories about what the parents did or didn't do on May 3, but documented examples of their conduct since.
An easy starter for ten. Why do you think the parents have cherry-picked the prosecutors' archiving report, highlighting the "clearance" of themselves but never, ever alluding to the comments about the lack of co-operation from their friends and the bald statement that the couple gave up the chance to demonstrate their innocence? The McCanns were not telling the truth to the police about their "checking" routines. No doubt you were in court in Lisbon when the prosecutor himself stated this explicitly. Portuguese law prevented a full cross examination of Mr Magalhaes e Menezes at that hearing to compel him to tell the court more about the untruths. There will be, I can assure you, opportunities for him to do so in the coming months. Do you really think this is a mere old stuff detail? If they weren't telling the truth about the "checking" then what have they told the truth about? Do you believe they have always told you the truth?
In December 2007, immediately following the announcement that the Portuguese authorities were formally requesting interviews with the so-called Tapas 7, a meeting was held in Rothley at which the case and the evidence were discussed. Prior to that meeting it had been maintained for months that all 9 were willing and keen to assist, either by returning to Portugal or by being interviewed again. It was a genuinely secret meeting, in the strict sense of that overworked word, but information that it had occurred leaked out. Their spokesman, initially caught off guard, said that "it was a show of solidarity under police claims that one or two had wanted to change their stories." He later refused to enlarge on that most revealing statement and announced that he was not going to comment on the meeting in future. Why, with a background in crime reporting, do you think 9 supposedly independent but associated witnesses met in secret and have refused to discuss the matter, or even mention it, ever since? What stops them? After those UK "rogatory" interviews had indeed taken place the head of the Portuguese investigation formally asked the 7 if they were willing to return for a reconstruction of their movements on the night of May 3 2007 to assist the inquiry.
Collusion for beginners - 12.11.2010
Move one, you move 'em all - the killer timelines
Three people are known to have been involved in the creation of the first two, illustrated yesterday: Gerry McCann, David Payne and Russell O'Brien. Where? In apartment 5A. When? Between, say, 11.30 PM- 2AM on the night of May 3/4. More details? Few: only O'Brien – who'd been seen in possession of them by the Portuguese police – has been questioned about them: that was in 2008 and by then he'd forgotten all about them, even their very existence.
The Third Timeline is different from the other two. It is a typed document which, according to David Payne, "represented the views of the whole group". It was finalised after the first police statements had been given on May 4 but before the second round of questioning on May 10. The group asked if they could take it into their second interviews so that they could refer to it! The request was refused. So far, so daylight.- The possible motivations are numerous and obvious. What is the "innocent" explanation – the one that the participants have given and that, out of fairness, we should accept? There isn't one – after three and a half years! They will not agree to clarify them or reconstruct the movements they claim to describe. That is the heart of the "why won't you?" question. Taking all the evidence together the explanation that is most favourable to the group is that they conspired to stretch the evidence in order to protect themselves against potential accusations of child neglect. All other credible explanations are less favourable to the group.
There is unmistakeable evolution to convergence in the T9's evidence, indicating the construction of a timescale to fit supposed events. We cannot bore the reader with all the many examples but will give just one, the very beginning of the evening. The witness evidence that all nine were at the tapas bar by 8.45, give or take a few minutes, is quite unambiguous. O'Brien's first timeline is based on what he saw and knew: "8.45 everyone meets at the pool for dinner". The second, after consultation with Gerry McCann, repeats: "8.45 Pool". In his first police statement he makes an alteration: he says he went there "around" 8.45 but now says the Payne group were not there. They arrive, he says, five minutes later, 8.50. David Payne, who helped create the first two timelines, was ahead of the game: he stated that they arrived at the bar at "around" 8.55 – but he hadn't squared the change with his family: Fiona Payne, a pretty sharp observer who was not involved in the first two timelines, said they left at 8.45 for the two minute journey to the bar. Dianne Webster says "around" 8.45. Not one of the three mentioned meeting Oldfield on the way.
In his statement Oldfield didn't mention meeting them either but contradicts all three by saying that they arrived at 9PM. Rachael Oldfield agrees with her husband's timing but she remembers them arriving after Matthew, who had left, apparently on his famous first check of the evening, which fitted in with the early claims of a couple of the group to the police that they were all checking "every fifteen minutes". Whoops! Fifteen minutes just wasn't on and the timeline creators knew it. Catch up Matthew! To complete this disarray Jane Tanner stated that her partner O'Brien - who'd written "8.45, everybody at the pool" - arrived at nine!
The day after those police statements, and after discussions with the group, Payne wrote the third timeline. It is an absurd, as well as a thoroughly dishonest document, which shoehorns these differing recollections into an unsustainable narrative. "Every fifteen minutes", by the way, is never mentioned again. And every half an hour was no joke to slot in either. Payne changed the evidence of his wife and mother-in-law to state that they were "on their way" to the bar at 8.55, corroborating this with the previously unmentioned meeting with Oldfield. The vagueness of "on their way" is then turned into farce by the stop-watch precision of "20.57 (!) MO listens..." Could they explain these changes to the police, though? David and Fiona Payne have still, after three and a half years, not done so. Along with Kate McCann they missed the second round of questions on May 10, leaving elderly Dianne Webster to fend for herself. Early in her second interview Webster introduced the helpful detail, previously unmentioned, that although the dinner booking was always for 8.30, the whole group "never gathered before 20h45/21h00" due to chronic unpunctuality. Further on she "recalled" that they had been late because they only managed to get to the Restaurant around 21h00. So far so good. She was asked if she had "crossed paths" with anyone (Oldfield obviously included) on the way. Whoops! She said no. [A year later, interviewed by the Leicester police she forgot her lines again and fell back on something nearer the truth – arrival at 8.50 or 8.55 – and, perhaps remembering some interesting conversations elsewhere, hastily added "...er and the thing that I didn't mention at the original interview in Portugal was that I do vaguely remember seeing Matt, he was coming up..." Whoops!]
In his second interview Mathew Oldfield was on the ball about the third timeline arrivals-board, except for Payne's fictional "8.57 Oldfield listens..." And Jane Tanner too, who had previously remembered nothing about arrivals except O'Brien's lateness, had a giant burst of Recovered Memory Syndrome. She "recalled" that Oldfield had left "a few minutes before nine". Oh, and she remembered him talking about it before going, announcing that he was off to hurry the group up and, blimey, she even remembered that "on the way he took the opportunity and looked in on the children's bedrooms." It gets deeper, like hypnosis. Jane Tanner climaxed by "remembering" that Oldfield had passed the Paynes and Dianne Webster on the way and "made a circuit to listen at the apartments". To be blunt about it – and this applies to most of the other claims - how did she know those things? She didn't. She is not recalling anything. She is, for whatever reason, attempting to falsely corroborate a friend's story to the police about which she has no corroborative knowledge. Not for the last time.
A completed work of art – Timeline 3
2030: Standard booking for meal at Tapas restaurant for group - same all week (Sun-Thur)
2035: Gerry McCann (GM) and Kate McCann (KC) arrive at table at Tapas Restaurant.
2040: Jane Tanner (JT) arrives, followed shortly by Matthew Oldfield (MO) and Rachael Mampilly Oldfield (RMO).
2045: Russell O'Brien (RJO) arrives at table.
2055: MO returns to apartments to check on ground floor flats, passing David Payne (DP), Fiona Payne (FP) and her mother Dianne Webster (DW) on their way down to the table.
2057: MO listens outside all ground floor flats' windows on the car park side of the apartment (5A, 5B and 5D) to make sure they were asleep. At this time, all the shutters were down on each window.
2100: MO return to the table. Starters were ordered.
[Post arrival stuff omitted]
Done – for now
So we see the evolution of a version in progress, the creation of a fictional story that not one of them could have known to be true, from which they never again deviated. But, you might say, all this fuss about a mere ten minutes? Yes, since it is a vain attempt to fit their purported actions into a bounded timeframe that cannot accommodate them, just as, later in the evening, even with everything shifted along by ten minutes, it couldn't accommodate the supposed actions of Jane Tanner, Gerry McCann and Mr Abductor: the pieces were moved around the board but as each one was moved, like a board game or a Rubik's cube, it affected all the others. When Rachael Oldfield, questioned by BBC after the rogatory interviews, was asked, if "the story" had changed she replied, "no, because there never was a story to change." Really? Do you come here often? Will you be back?
5. (C) Madeleine McCann's disappearance in the south of Portugal in May 2007 has generated international media attention with controversy surrounding the Portuguese-led police investigation and the actions of Madeleine's parents. Without delving into the details of the case, Ellis admitted that the British police had developed the current evidence against the McCann parents, and he stressed that authorities from both countries were working cooperatively. He commented that the media frenzy was to be expected and was acceptable as long as government officials keep their comments behind closed doors.
There is only one consistent thread running through the three and a half year history of the Madeleine McCann case: the "development", to use a buzz word, of the hypothesis that the child died in the apartment and that the parents disposed of her remains with the possible assistance, active or passive, of some of the Tapas 7. Suggestive evidence for the case mounted steadily: the indications from the police statements that the holidaymakers were defensive rather than forthcoming in their descriptions of May 3; the clear evidence of their collusion in drawing up a sequence of events on that night; the weaknesses in the evidence of Jane Tanner, including her identification of Robert Murat as the abductor; the results of the EVR dog searches; and the eventual refusal of the parents to co-operate in the investigation.
As we know, however, all attempts to develop the suggestive indications into a prosecution case likely to achieve a conviction failed. The Tapas 7 maintained a solid front and refused to return to Portugal to have their evidence tested; Jane Tanner was able to avoid confirming or denying that she had identified Murat since the operation in which she did so was legally unauthorised; the preliminary indications of the dogs were not backed up by unequivocal forensic evidence; once away from Portugal the parents moved from non-co-operation to building up a powerful defence case exploiting the weaknesses in the evidence. Despite much noise this absence of a prosecutable case is not a matter of dispute. The Portuguese prosecutor produced an incoherent summary of the case which was maddening in its lack of intellectual or legal rigour and which skated over the failures of co-operation by the Nine; nevertheless it is overwhelmingly clear that the failure to turn the suggestive evidence into a compelling legal case doomed all chances of prosecution. That remains the case today.
Goncalo Amaral himself accepts that, at the time of his removal from the investigation, the evidence was insufficient, adding that when he was taken off the case he was about to fill in some decisive gaps, particularly in the vexed matter of how the body of the child could have been hidden. Perhaps he was, but that is speculation, not evidence.
Amaral has been admirably consistent until recently in his attempts to keep the focus on the activities of the Nine, in particular by encouraging a movement to get the Tapas 7 back to Portugal to clarify their activities on May 3, the one absolutely glaring example of a failure to provide information to the investigation. Compared with this lead, which the prosecutor himself admitted was completely unexplored, all of the supposed leads followed up by the parents and their private detectives are insignificant. So there we have it. The focus has narrowed to the one gaping hole in the investigation.
One would have thought that the next question was how can we move to fill that gap? How can we persuade these key figures to co-operate voluntarily in the interests of truth? Are there intermediaries trusted by both sides who could actually talk to the seven? Do they even accept that they have a contribution to make? Should the question of immunity be pursued? What would the McCanns like the seven to do? Could they be called in a libel case? For some reason, however, since the Portuguese appeal court ruling which, among other things, attested to the validity of the Amaral hypothesis or interpretation, the focus has become blurred, as the reaction in Portugal to the ambassador's cable has highlighted.
Inasmuch as there is any coherent theory behind the claims being seriously put forward by Portuguese commentators and their supporters - and of course the claims are infinitely flexible - it appears to be this. The McCanns had government protection due to their shadowy but powerful influence with key figures in the equally shadowy corridors of power within the British Establishment. There was what Alfred Hitchcock called a MacGuffin – something utterly secret but uniting the forces of evil – that had to be protected and covered up. The British ambassador, representative of the Establishment, moved quickly to start influencing the investigation and influential figures, including Dodd and the Machiavellian power-broker Mitchell, were dispatched to make sure that nothing leaked out to the assembled world media. Despite these powerful forces the Portuguese police established a case but just as Goncalo Amaral was about to put the final brick in the wall and bring the pair down the secret forces struck. The Portuguese authorities, playthings in the tentacles of the British Empire and acting under the direct command of the evil Gordon Brown removed him from the case. The forensic results confirming the dogs' searches, which had already been communicated verbally to GA, were changed by the FSS. The UK press were DA-noted into silence. A decision was taken at the end of September 2007 to bring in a figurehead, a "clean-up lady", to wind up the investigation and ensure that the McCanns went free. As always in this sort of world the plans were executed with flawless precision.
As far as assessing this theory there is little worth saying except that if it is true then all hopes of clarifying the Madeleine McCann affair are doomed: clearly the forces are so powerful that they will stop at nothing, including, presumably, killing off anyone who gets too close. So goodbye to that. Of course we are only hearing from a minority of the Portuguese, not the large majority who seem unexercised by the affair and who, one suspects, have a less Manichean view of the world. Certainly my own experience of friendships within the sizable London Portuguese community has been of level-headed realists, comfortable within their adopted society. But the voices that we do hear in the Portuguese media seem to call out from a simply terrifying world, a world of shadowy interests in which ordinary citizens have no power, in which virtually everyone can be bullied and corrupted, that has no legal system worth defending and, most of all, is one in which "they" will always get their own way against little "us". Who would live in such a society except helpless victims? I do not know Portuguese society. Portuguese friends have told me that there is, as yet, a lack of belief in democratic institutions, a feeling that personal contact and influence are still the best way to get things done. I do know that the portrait the Portuguese television commentators paint of British capabilities and the power of British politicians is simply bizarre. As for the power attributed to nine provincial nonentities from the medical world... In their rogatory interviews and their responses to Rebelo regarding returning to Portugal for the reconstruction some of the seven expressed concern that, whatever they said and did, the Portuguese would twist their responses. They were going on their experiences with the Portuguese media. If the commentators now talking of the "evidence withheld by the British" etc are typical then might they not be justified in their claimed worries? Would they be in the hands of realists or fantasists? And is that going to help get them to co-operate?
Another year gone - 23.12.2010
When we launched this blog a year ago one of our main aims was to do anything we could to help expose and dismantle the parents' fib 'n' spin machine which we've called Team McCann. The latest Christmas update has an altogether different tone. It is one of pessimistic resentment – not at kidnappers. We don't know what happened on May 3 2007 and we wish we shared all the certainties about guilt or innocence of the parents so prominently on display elsewhere. The systematically dishonest activities of the machine set up by Kate and Gerry McCann to lie and spin to the public, on the the other hand, are not a matter of conjecture or imagination but of clearly established fact. We hope that the evidence of its workings we have laid out here over the past twelve months has helped others to perceive the reality. In any case the machine is now in terminal decay. Was it only a year ago that Kate McCann made her royal progress to Portugal? That was before the full horror of Goncalo Amaral's defence case hit the airwaves and all the carefully contrived Team initiatives and responses of previous years finally vanished, with Mitchell suddenly silent for want of instructions and the parents lurking, speechless, behind closed curtains in Rothley, as they had done after their flight from Portugal in 2007. And when the parents did eventually regain the power of speech things were utterly changed. The press corps assembled on the Lisbon court steps watched in amazement as the dignified heart consultant Dr McCann, the besuited figure who had lectured the House of Commons, was abruptly transformed into the repulsive, spitting Gerry "Hyde" McCann, snarling at the media with foam flecks on his lips. Just for an unguarded few minutes all the posing was gone, revealing someone who, as a commentator observed, looked capable of absolutely anything.
Even so, when Kate McCann came to give her confident Christmas message to her subjects last year, she was able to refer merely to "some people" not sharing their objectives. or gypsy paedophile rings but at the "injustices" that she and her husband have been subjected to and at those who "compound" their suffering. It is, perhaps, unfair to say it but in speaking of their resentment at the way they have been treated, rather than the treatment of their daughter, Kate McCann sounds for the very first time as if she might mean what she's saying. Until now three and a half years of blogs and website updates – not to mention the seriously disturbing "diary" extracts - have consistently shown a pathological separation between the emotions the pair claim to feel and the actual tone of the entries, which have all the emotional conviction of a dead fish falling onto a slab. This time there's a bit of feeling. Now it may be that until recently Kate McCann has been suffering from a genuine problem involving a total inability to express real feelings or possibly even experience them. And that it is this strange condition - needing treatment? - that also accounts for the robotic, droning nature of her pronouncements in screened interviews, so reminiscent of a programmed Bladerunner replicant. Apart, that is, from recent flashes of anger – usually at Amaral – that bring about a semblance of animation.
As we've said before it is just possible that the pair have become so utterly and completely disturbed since their child's disappearance that even though they're innocent they convince virtually everyone who investigates them that they are as guilty as hell of something, because in almost every word they utter, and however hard they try to be "normal", they come across all wrong. That would be a strange irony, wouldn't it – to be eternal but innocent suspects because something vital inside them had died with the loss of their child? But is that credible? Their apparent emotional deadness is hard to reconcile with their enthusiastic manipulation of the emotions of others via Mitchell and the spin team. And friends and family describe no radical change in their personalities since May 3. So most of us are thrown back on the simpler explanation, one that is perfectly consistent with their spin machine activities: yes, emotionally there is something missing but yes too, they are acting, for whatever reason. Except when they're angry. Still, with the slow disintegration of the team over the past year and the apparent death of their hopes that the accusations against them will one day be forgotten, they are forced to speak more and more for themselves rather than skulking in the background while others project their words, lies and "feelings" for them. So perhaps we will learn more in the future. With their agitated response to the Wikicable the year ends, as it began, with the pair on the defensive, unpredictable, scenting danger and betrayal. Sometimes it seems that all the participants in this bizarre affair are steadily losing their marbles.