Should this be here? - 05.07.2012
(...)“The doctor guy.” “Martin? “Yep. This Dr Roberts. Couldn’t find a thing about him. No fucking trace.”
“ What about Halligen?” He shook his head. “Halligen’s not an agent, just a fucking con artist who got lucky.
(...) “As for these McCann characters…somebody killed their child, OK. But what’s it to you? You’re not a friend of theirs.” “They think she’s alive.” (...)
The sky is darkening - 14.07.2012
(...) It was Dr Roberts, can we remind you, who described Kate McCann’s Madeleine, as resembling “a defence script being held in abeyance until called for,” and that still strikes us as the most penetrating one sentence assessment that has ever been made about the book. Until called for…
End of the status quo? - 26.08.2012
Hogan-Howe bleats. Well, the Yard have spoken. Those who speak darkly of a whitewash, both our Portuguese friends who have the perfectly valid excuse that they don't know the British system any more than we know the Portuguese, and UK citizens, should reflect for a moment. A "whitewash", if it means anything, means a positive result for the McCanns – some sort of exoneration or some way of putting the case against them to sleep. But the statements of Hogan-Howe and, before him, Redwood clearly indicate that nothing has been found to provide any basis for such a finding: the status quo remains and, if no more money is provided, it will still remain when the review is closed down. We might ask proponents of such an outcome a very simple question. A whitewash posits a joint effort by police, secret services and government – oh dear, even describing it sounds silly – to give the couple a clean bill of health. The resources of the three bodies are easily sufficient to knock together in a weekend false but irrefutable documentary evidence excluding the couple without going through the palaver of a review. So why haven't they done it? Now, back to reality.
The status quo. The factual status quo, remember, remains the definitive Portuguese prosecutors' archiving summary which released the McCanns from their arguido status, stating that there was no evidence of any crime by the pair and that they had failed to demonstrate their innocence. Let's turn to the 2012 BBC Panorama report which, unlike its 2007 predecessor, was made with the co-operation of the British police. In that programme Redwood said that the review was unique in its comprehensiveness: DCI Redwood:
We are drawing together information from three separate sources; the legal enforcement bodies within Portugal, the UK law enforcement agencies of which obviously the police are a main part and also and unusually the private investigation world which as we know is an element that was used by Mr and Mrs McCann to further the search for their daughter… and so what we've done over the past number of months is bring into one place, i.e. here at Belgravia all of those, all of those pieces of the jigsaw.Police forces leak important details when they are worried about resources – if they have any. It is evident from Hogan-Howe's comments that the triple sourced investigation has found nothing to add to or modify the prosecutors' conclusions and, in particular, hasn't located any new suspects. The views of those in Portugal, the only country with first-hand knowledge of the case and the only country with knowledge of what the McCanns actually said when examined by the police (rather than what Kate McCann, a self-confessed liar, claims they said) and the only country to have considered the case against the pair judicially (in the civil courts) are fairly clear. The Portuguese appeal court judges stated in 2010 that the prosecutors' "opinions", while valid, were neither judicial nor definitive and that the "death in the apartment" claim remained an equally valid and non-excluded theory of events. As for the public, both educated and otherwise, we have Panorama again. Carlos Anjos:
I think something happened accidentally in the flat that night. In general I think most Portuguese investigators think the same as me. And I think there will be problems for the British authorities.Bilton (Panorama):
Despite Kate and Gerry McCann no longer being suspects, Portuguese public opinion hasn't changed and it continues to be influenced by the man who initially led the investigation before he was removed.Isabel Duarte:
I feel alone because I don't feel support, not in public opinion. I have friends that don't want to talk to me about the case. Because everyone believes in Goncalo Amaral. Everyone believes that I am defending a father and a mother who have killed the daughter and got rid of the corpse.Bilton (Panorama): Here [i.e. in Britain] people seem to be open-minded. There is not the slightest evidence for Bilton's comment. If "open-minded" means "willing to consider anybody as a perpetrator" then it is absolutely untrue, indeed absurdly so. The clear view in Britain, as put forward by the police (Redwood), a judge (Leveson), Parliament (the media select committee), all the television stations and their bosses, (Desmond, Murdoch), their reporters (Brunt, Simmons) all the quality newspapers and their editors on oath at Leveson, all the tabloids and their journalists (in front of Leveson again) and most of the readers' comments in response to the latter's stories, is that Kate & Gerry McCann had nothing to do with the disappearance of their daughter and cannot be considered as suspects. It is clear that such unanimity can't be the result of "hushing up" – it is of course much too widespread. More importantly it is also clear that this unanimity of public opinion cannot be based on the evidence either, since, to take just two examples out of hundreds, the Portuguese prosecutors' views quoted above are never quoted in full and are therefore unavailable to the majority: only the "no evidence" section, not the "failure to demonstrate their innocence" one is quoted in the UK media; and the Portuguese appeal court judgement that Amaral's interpretation of the evidence was of equal validity to that same, legally untested, prosecutors' opinion, is almost unknown in Britain.
Something is wrong. One of these two countries is clearly not "open-minded" and is not looking coldly at all the evidence, even though it believes it is. There isn't any alternative, is there? If UK opinion is right then Portugal's is delusory and vice versa. Which one is it, Portugal or the United Kingdom? The country with all the first-hand knowledge of the case cited above or the country whose only real connection to the affair is that the former arguidos were born in and have a loud voice in it? Perhaps readers will have a clearer idea now why we refer to the case as a "psychological" one. On the evidence above one country or the other, at least as expressed publicly, is psychologically incapable of accepting possible evidence and interpretations brought to its attention and is convinced that the other country's view is wrong. There is nothing new or revolutionary about this – it has happened throughout history once those enemies of the truth, national loyalties, are brought into action, whether in war, diplomacy or something as harmless as a football tournament. And it is the public media, the tabloids in particular, who have always been in the forefront of fanning atavistic flames. That's something of a clue for the open-minded, isn't it – which of the two countries was the first to whip their redtops into action and create an "enemy"? And citizens of which country used paid agents to influence those tabloids?
Sometimes, however, events force the truth on unwilling recipients. It may be that this four year status quo is finally about to end – but not through any efforts of Scotland Yard. In Britain the first of the prosecutors' conclusions, the favourable one, has sufficed for all purposes. In Portugal the other conclusion, that the pair "failed to demonstrate their innocence" is, assuming Goncalo Amaral can sustain his efforts, about to be tested. In Portuguese law libel claimants have to prove their accusations: Kate and Gerry McCann will finally have to demonstrate their innocence of involvement in the child's disappearance in court if they are to win their case. To prove libel they will have to show that the prosecutors' report, the one that has been so useful to them, is wrong. And then they will have the Herculean task of overturning the findings of the court of appeal judges on the validity of Amaral's theory. If it were clear that developments since 2010 had overtaken the judgement they might have a good chance. If Scotland Yard had managed to dig up a single suspect or even a tiny piece of real evidence, anything, for the lawyers to put before the court they might be home and dry. But the cupboard is empty. Bad luck Kate, bad luck Gerry. You can blame nice Mr Redwood.
Demonstrating innocence - 29.08.2012
"The McCanns have a good case for defamation as they have already been cleared by Portugal's Attorney General." The Sunday Mirror, July 12 2009. As we reminded people the other day the Portuguese prosecutors' report stated that the McCanns had failed to demonstrate their innocence. And, as the Portuguese Attorney-General has pointed out recently, no evidence has emerged to modify the report's findings and re-open the case. But what did "failing to demonstrate their innocence" mean? How can anyone demonstrate their innocence? There is no provision for doing so by the judicial process in European democracies, since a criminal trial is exclusively concerned with determining guilt, not innocence. And, in any case, no judicial process had taken place. So the prosecutors were not talking judicially. Then in what sense were they talking? They were talking in the context of investigation, the process which has to be completed before a trial, any criminal trial, can take place. And their investigation, even though it made clear that the couple were being released from their arguido status because of the absence of evidence against them, had been unable to exclude Kate & Gerry McCann as possible perpetrators of a crime against the child. Of course you could argue – especially if you were determined to make excuses for the parents – that this is all nonsense, an absurdity and that nobody can "demonstrate innocence" in this way. But that is wrong: in the investigative phase, which is precisely what the prosecutors are summarising, they certainly can.
And the law recognises it. People who have irreproachable alibis demonstrate their innocence; people incapable of committing a specific crime by dint of their inability to have executed it – by physical disability or other lack of means – do that; people whose DNA does not match that of the perpetrator at the crime scene do so. And the reader can no doubt think of other examples: while Kate McCann was made a suspect, for instance, her mother was not, since she was physically too far away from the crime scene to have had any direct involvement. Such "demonstrable" innocence can form the basis of a wrongful arrest claim – something which, by the way, the McCanns and their spokesman said they would pursue but – what do you expect? – never did.
But then was this just a subjective, general opinion of the prosecutors that could be ignored or rebutted? No it was not. The prosecutors cited the facts on which their statement was founded, drawing attention to events on May 3 2007 which gave cause for concern and needed further investigation. One of these was the troubling problem of how it was possible for Jeremy Wilkins and Gerry McCann to have missed the mystery figure seen by Jane Tanner. Then there was the children's bedroom window which Kate McCann claimed was so wide open at 10PM that a door slammed in the draught – yet none of the people who had passed the apartment, the last of them only twenty minutes or so before, had spotted an open window. Furthermore, although the group had provided "timelines" of their movements in writing, the investigators did not accept that they were truthful and accurate. Indeed, even in July 2008 the prosecutors still had no confirmed account of what the holiday group's movements had been for the period between 6.45 and 10PM. And, lastly, the prosecutors had not accepted Jane Tanner's sighting of what they called "the supposed abductor" as an accurate and complete account.
It was these critical problem areas – "among others", as the prosecutors wrote – that prompted police and prosecution to appeal to the Tapas 7 to join the parents in a clarification and reconstruction exercise. As we know the Seven refused and so the prosecutors had to write the archiving report in 2008 without the assistance of the Nine and with the problems completely unresolved. As a result the McCanns "protestations of innocence" as the prosecutors called them, remained just that, protestations not demonstrations. Prosecutors cannot demonstrate innocence or guilt: only the evidence can do that. Since there was no evidence of a crime the prosecutors said so; since there was no evidence to demonstrate their innocence the prosecutors said that too.
Leicester police, the main UK arm of the investigation, said the same thing, although, unlike the Portuguese, they did not provide the evidence on which their statement was based. The assistant chief constable of that force used almost the same words as the Portuguese prosecutors: "while one or both of them may be innocent, there is no clear evidence that eliminates them from involvement in Madeleine's disappearance."
That remains their position today, although some of the parents' less intelligent supporters have danced on the head of a pin to claim that the Leicester police statement was made in ignorance of the Portuguese findings and was therefore somehow rendered out of date by them. Nonsense. The assistant chief constable knew the findings: his officers were in Portugal discussing them at the same time as he made his statement.
But, as we've pointed out before, attempts to cherry pick and distort the archiving summary, whether by Carter Ruck attempting to intimidate website owners, by the parents and Clarence Mitchell providing false versions of it to the UK press, or by the dwindling band of McCann apologists convincing themselves that black is white, really no longer matter, any more than blog opinions of the Bureau matter. What matters are judicial conclusions.
Goncalo Amaral's financial resources are much smaller than those of the McCanns, whose lifestyle, unlike Goncalo Amaral's, has greatly ripened since the disappearance of their daughter – not many Leicester doctors without a private practice get to fly in private jets, do they? Everything has to be paid for in litigation – not just the attorney's fees but everything, including the transcripts, the photocopies and the paperclips. So do the high costs of assembling research material that may help clarify matters to a court, such as the time-consuming trawl through the McCanns' public statements to the UK audience which provides so many undeniable examples of their lies. So as a little gesture of solidarity the Bureau does that for free and makes sure that the evidence behind the opinions is made known to Goncalo's legal team. Every little helps.
Isabel Duarte may feel that the triple track evidence of prosecutors' findings, Leicester police words and, last but not least, the McCanns' myriad untruths since summer 2008, can somehow be countered in front of the libel court judges. Unfortunately for her it is irrefutable, which is why the parents won't appear to refute it and why the numerous witnesses she has managed to assemble will steer well clear of the facts and will only testify to personal belief in the McCanns' innocence. But they won’t be able to "demonstrate" that innocence, will they?
Testing the truth - 31.08.2012
Most of the millions of words said about the McCann case over the years have been expressed in the media. But the media is the arena of claims and entertainment, not truth. However loud the noise, however emotional the articles, however professional the news manipulation, media, including internet media, establishes absolutely zero. Hence the futility of searching for the truth via old newspaper articles. Our only arena for the establishment of truth is the courtroom, where truth is put to the test. Even the evidence of witness statements to the police, including confessions, is vastly weaker since it is merely provisional until tested in court. After five years the Madeleine McCann case has entered the arena of truth-testing just twice: in the case of McCanns vs Leicester Police in 2008 and in McCanns vs Amaral & others in Lisbon in 2009. Their successful UK libel claims, of course, did not come to court. In the first case, their somewhat extraordinary attempt to get hold of confidential Leicester Police files lasted until they heard what the assistant chief constable told the court. If the McCanns were to be prosecuted in the matter of their child at some future date then they would be granted the normal defendant's right to the prosecution papers. Unless that happened their status as the parents of the missing child meant nothing and the force was not going to provide evidence that might assist potential defendants which, the officer stated, the parents most certainly remained. Despite a judge whose bias in favour of the pair was almost as great as that of Lord Justice Leveson, and despite sympathy for the parents from lawyers on both sides, the truth and the evidence won and the pair immediately withdrew their claim. Not a good beginning.
On the second occasion the couple once again did well until their evidence was tested. On the basis of their unproven assertions that Amaral was damaging their human rights a Portuguese judge granted an interim injunction of extraordinary severity which, as we know, brought Amaral to the brink of penury, banned him from even discussing the case and removed the financial means necessary for him to assemble his own defence. An interim injunction means "we will accept your claims on the temporary assumption you are telling the truth even though you have not yet established it. The truth of it will be examined in court." At the end of 2009 the case finally came to court so that the pair could establish it. When it concluded in the court of appeal in mid-2010 the parents lost and were refused further appeals. Truth 2, McCanns 0. The law moves slowly... The people who have followed the case and understandably wondered if the truth will ever prevail should take heart. The record shows the gigantic and apparently unstoppable world-wide media campaign of the parents has failed to have the slightest impact in the judicial arena. The truth of their claims has, slowly but surely (and inevitably) been found wanting on both the occasions it has been tested. (...) The more cynical of our Portuguese readers, by the way, should note that they came to London to decide their dispute because the legal system there is the fairest and most uncorrupted in our very imperfect world, which is why it is the international centre of arbitration. The costs are likely to pan out to over a hundred and fifty million pounds, so fairness is a very profitable commodity for the UK. (...) Until the truth about the Madeleine McCann affair comes out Kate and Gerry McCann are going to be in and out of the civil courts for the rest of their lives. On every appearance the little matter of their reliability and truthfulness, the one which the Bureau has so boringly been investigating and highlighting for four years now, will trail into court with them, like Banquo's ghost. Don't give way to cynical pessimism. The McCanns haven't even been dragged into the witness box so far and yet they have a 100% loss rate in their court cases already. Now let's see what the next round brings.
Thanks, Marcos - 04.09.2012
We covered the archiving summary in considerable depth, not to argue a case about its meaning – the Lisbon appeal court has already done that definitively – but so that open-minded people with no knowledge of Portuguese law can get an idea of its critical importance in the libel case between the McCanns and Amaral. There is no evidence to demonstrate that Amaral's claim that "the child died in the apartment and the parents simulated an abduction" is false. What if? But let's lift off into fantasy for a moment and assume that somehow the judge accepts that Amaral's claim is, indeed, provably and utterly false. A triumph for the McCanns? You must be kidding.
In Portugal "It is up to the claimant to prove that what was said or written about him/her was false because in the event that the information published was at the time true, or that the client gave consent for this information to be released, or there was accidental publication, or a privileged person involved directly in the furtherance of the public's interest had said or written the defamatory statement, then the claimant may have no case."
So how are the parents going to climb this next hurdle – how will they show that Goncalo Amaral was not "a privileged person involved directly in the furtherance of the public's interest"? Amaral investigated the case, with others, as a direct representative of the public interest. He chose to resign in order that he could bring his interpretation of the case to the public directly, something that he was forbidden to do while in PJ employ. It will, to say the least, be interesting to discover how the McCanns intend to challenge this status.
But now let's take the stage two rocket into further fantasy and assume that Duarte has managed to convince the judge that Amaral didn't have any such status but was just an average outsider repeating false rumours. Now we come to the last and best bit. Having fulfilled the first two requirements of Portuguese libel law the McCanns and their lawyers must fulfil the critical third and demonstrate that Amaral knew that what he was claiming was untrue.
Now that really is a tall order. Even Amaral's greatest enemies have hesitated to claim that he didn't believe in his "interpretation", if only because the idea is simply laughable and cannot be made to fit in with the stubborn and unyielding consistency with which he has advanced his case over the last four years. But the McCanns will have to provide such proof.
Marcos Aragão Correia
In the most delicious of ironies one of those enemies, the highly unstable Marcos Aragão Correia, has provided up-to-date case law on this requirement. A dedicated worker for the truth in Portugal, a good friend of ours whose explanations of Portuguese law we gratefully acknowledge, has drawn our attention to the judgement in the recent Amaral .v. Aragão Correia libel case.
The judge observed that Aragão Correia "fully believed Leonor Cipriano when she told him Goncalo Amaral had beaten her." Aragão Correia's belief in the veracity of her statement to him was enough, irrespective of whether Cipriano had actually told him the truth! In fact the judge stated she had not told him the truth and that Amaral had not taken part in any assault on Cipriano but because Aragão Correia had believed her he was going to acquit him of libel!
And the same goes for Goncalo Amaral – even if the PJ inspectors' report of 2007 which set out the claims circulated by Amaral was a pack of lies from start to finish then as long as Amaral genuinely believed them he cannot be guilty of libel. So in the long run Aragão Correia may finally have got his way and made a historic contribution to the Madeleine McCann Affair. But not at all the one he wanted.
No one can ever be sure how a case will turn out and it is not impossible that Amaral will lose – but not on one individual's misguided and shoddily reasoned whim, as was the case with prosecutor Menezes' comments. That is why we've always wanted the case to come to court. If the McCanns win then the appeal court will ensure that the legal requirements outlined above have been met – and we will all gain from the information about the affair so provided. Otherwise the verdict will be overturned.
Libel diary 1: it's called gratitude - 05.09.2012
The official Portuguese police files, processos Volume 15, page 3498 onwards, intercalary report by Inspector Joao Carlos 31-01-2008: "The call to the GNR took place at 22.41, according to the list in folio 3051." At 10.41 pm on May 3 2007 a phone call was received by the Portuguese police reporting the disappearance of the three year old child Madeleine McCann. That is forty minutes after Kate McCann discovered the unambiguous physical evidence that intruders had entered their apartment, evidence that immediately convinced her "beyond any doubt", as Kate McCann has repeatedly told us, that their child had been criminally abducted. Forty minutes in which absolutely nothing was done to report the incident by Kate McCann and the eight people with whom she shared her certainties. Forty minutes head-start for the abductor. What's that in distance for a car-borne abduction –forty miles? Have you ever come home to find open shutters and windows or other evidence of recent intruders – and waited forty minutes before contacting the police? Well have you?
Within a few hours of that dilatory phone call, which guaranteed that the police had no chance of local pursuit and arrest, the McCanns had begun to whine about the Portuguese police who, along with the local population, had turned out in numbers to search for her daughter, even though it was probably too late already.
Kate McCann: "…two policemen arrived from the nearest town, Lagos, about five miles away. To me they seemed bewildered and out of their depth…Tweedledum and Tweedledee."
Alex Woolfall, eye-witness, PR man and supporter of the parents: "There were lots of police, I have to say. There is a big emphasis placed on children and family in Portugal. There was no doubt there was a massive effort trying to find her. And you had Portuguese policemen cancelling leave and working over weekends.” WHERE ?
Kate McCann: "Our first impressions of the police station were not encouraging. Basic and shabby, it didn't seem conducive to efficiency and order…in the control room officers in jeans and T-shirts smoked and engaged in what sounded more like light-hearted banter than serious discussion."
Within days the whining had turned to systematic mockery and abuse, now using the family to brief to the media against those same police.
Trish Cameron, Gerry McCann's sister:"It was frustrating for him [Gerry McCann]then because between 5am and 7am the police seemed to do nothing, they were standing about."
Philomena McCann: "It was hours before the local police turned up and we're talking two bobbies that totally downplayed the incident and said that Maddie had maybe just wandered off, and that... but what 3-year-old would wander off for hours on their own? It took the CID 5 hours before they responded to come and even then it was, kind of, shrug of the shoulders. There's been no feedback from the Portuguese police to Gerry. The stress levels have been through the roof because of this, it's just been shocking."
The Portuguese and their police are the only people who have ever made a comprehensive search for her child, as the record and over a dozen volumes of evidence demonstrates. The input of British police was helpful but advisory and their numbers were insignificant. The so-called “searching” as the parents repeatedly and endlessly describe their own efforts, amounts, in comparison to the Portuguese work, to a contemptible near-zero. As if engaging a few dodgy ex-police officers to look at case files and chase rumours, or calling excitable and dramatic press conferences every year or two is searching!
The giant effort that the Portuguese made was rewarded with a poison that the parents, and the parents alone, are responsible for. They it was who set the tone for the countless horrible attacks on the host country and its institutions, our oldest ally and one in which the British have been made welcome for hundreds of years—and those attacks began long before the McCanns even knew who Goncalo Amaral was. It was they alone who encouraged and stimulated the language of the gutter about the nation in which they had been guests, they who chose to use "journalists" like Lori Campbell as their confidantes to spread the poison with such enthusiasm in the most ignorant, cynical and vulgar of the British papers. And it was they and their paid mouthpiece who always found time to feed the broadsheets with their latest carping while simultaneously denying that they ever discussed details of the case. And when their own anti-police briefings weren't enough they used their family to make co-ordinated phone calls to British editors en masse and feed them with yet more insult and contempt, a process which Kate McCann triumphantly describes as "giving the green light".
Real news, real entertainment . . . in real time
Revealed: How shamed cop made a fortune spouting lies about Madeleine McCann's parents
Goncalo Amaral has been paid at least £320,000 for a book and DVD peddling his outrageous claims that Kate and Gerry McCann covered up the death of Madeleine
Five years on little has changed. The child, of course, has not been found since the parents acquiesced in the suspension of the Portuguese search and inquiry. But the sordid briefing has continued, using not only the British media but even a separate Public Relations company in Portugal in their pursuit of one of the police officers who tried to help them but whom they turned on when his theories about the fate of their child became too uncomfortable.
They never came back to Portugal to assist the investigation once they'd run away, hiring the world’s best extradition lawyers as soon as they arrived in London. They and their friends wouldn’t agree to return in response to a last desperate appeal by the Portuguese to help the search for their child with a reconstruction.
No, they wouldn’t do that. But when it came to tying Goncalo Amaral up in a legal mesh Gerry McCann couldn’t get on the plane fast enough to meet a Portuguese lawyer and plan a legal ambush, all the while pretending that he had come to Portugal to “build bridges”, as the shameful video footage of him lying to the Portuguese journalists at the time so clearly demonstrates.
And when Amaral went to court in Lisbon in late 2009 in an attempt to free himself, Kate McCann, who the papers had so often assured us was traumatised at the thought of going back, was on the plane to Lisbon like a shot, not to give evidence – she doesn’t do that – but to sit in the audience in court and enjoy, as she hoped, the further destruction of the ex-inspector.
Will she be in the audience in a week’s time to witness the struggle for her pound of flesh? We shall see.
Libel diary 2: giving the abductor a head start - 06.09.2012
Report call highlighted at 22.41.29. The whole point of our section on the forty minute delay before the police were contacted is that Kate McCann has stated adamantly on dozens of different occasions that she instantly “knew” that the child had been abducted. Not "pretty sure", not "thought it likely", not "half-convinced". No, she “knew.” Granted, once the files were available her "knowledge", like so many of her statements, had become, shall we say, controversial, since until then she had strongly implied in her many unauthorised contacts with the media that it wasn’t just the state of the shutters and the window that had provided such certainty but other evidence known to the police that she wasn’t able to talk about. Of course no such evidence existed. But never mind, life is short and if we listed every statement of Kate McCann's that turned out to be untrue we'd run out of ink. An open shutter, an open window and a missing child is good enough evidence of intrusion for most of us to accept and shift our arses to act on it PDQ. And since the parents and their friends, as Kate McCann herself told the police, had been checking so frequently then the abduction must have taken place very recently. Time, obviously, was of the essence.
In which case why did Kate McCann not act immediately on her privileged knowledge? Her husband was equally convinced of the abduction apparently, certain, as he told his friends, that "paedophile bastards” had taken his child. No room for doubt. So what on earth was the point of the chaotic shouting and screaming at the reception desk and the absurd and worthless scurrying to "search" the local area, calling the child’s name and banging into each other in the dark like characters in a Feydeau farce? Were the parents expecting a filthy paedophile voice to rasp out "Coo-eee we're here"?
Mention has been made of panic perhaps accounting for the delay. For forty minutes? Were all nine of them in such a panic that they couldn’t ring the police from their own mobile phones? Yes, we know that the friends describe in their rogatory interviews – extremely unconvincingly – how panicked they all were. Doctors? In a state of panic over someone else’s child? Really? If they were as prone to panic as they asserted, these forty year old professionals like O' Brien and Oldfield, they wouldn’t have survived an hour in an A&E unit, would they? In fact they would never have passed out of medical school.
But again let’s give them bucketfuls, lorry loads, avalanches of benefit of the doubt regarding the forty wasted minutes. What about the period before Kate McCann made her dreadful discovery? The holiday group are adamant that the fang-dripping, lank-haired hunchbacked smelly[delete as appropriate] baby lover had been seen drooling and crooning [delete as appropriate] by Jane Tanner at 9,20 PM, when she’d been close enough to describe his monster features and the hair at the back of his pervert’s neck – though somehow quite unable to recognise the child in his paedophile arms as the one she’d just spent a week with, or even to observe whether she was conscious.They all look the same in the dark, these infants, can't tell 'em apart.
9.20: in the car with the accomplices from the paedophile ring which we’ve been told so much about.
9.25:speeding away from Praia da Luz. That means 75 minutes head-start before these caring people, whose children were constantly checked, contacted the police. In that time a car would likely have been over 120 kilometres away from Praia da Luz—in any direction bar the sea. So just where were the famous helicopters that Gerry McCann wanted supposed to start searching?
The fact is that the negligence and inaction of the parents and their friends and the criminal negligence of Mathew Oldfield, virtually guaranteed the failure of any search for the child unless the salivating monster paedophile had been carless, just as their negligence and inaction had made the abduction possible in the first place – if we are to believe their stories.
By the time of the call the search radius was already hopelessly large, ticking away at a mile a minute while they were printing pictures of the child, lying on the floor screaming, or busy constructing timelines. To put it in context an abduction in Brighton in the UK under the same circumstances would have involved a search encompassing the south coast ports, the whole of Sussex and the whole of London before 11PM. By midnight the search area would have been the size of Wales!
There was never any critical delay or failure of search methods by the PJ. None at all. Nothing they did or didn’t do made any difference once the parents had given the supposed abductor that critical lead. There was never the possibility of sweeping a fraction of such a huge area even if the target had been a plutonium-carrying terrorist and every police officer and serviceman in the country had been called in.
The Portuguese police were, of course, too busy investigating the disappearance and too sympathetic to the parents to bother with pointing out these elementary facts to the ignorant guttersnipes of the press, so Gerry McCann’s self-serving fantasies were accepted unchallenged – as they, and so many others, still are to this day.
So even accepting the abduction story in all its idiocy the group are condemned by their own words and actions as having prevented his possible apprehension by the police. Funny that. And if one doesn't accept the abduction story, as, unsurprisingly, the Portuguese police didn't, then the extraordinary delay has an altogether more sinister interpretation, doesn't it?
Libel diary 3: It gets worse - 07.09.2012
“Time is the enemy in the search for an abducted child. It was clear to Gerry and me that if such a procedure had been in use in Portugal, Madeleine might have been swiftly tracked down. It breaks our hearts just thinking about it.” Kate McCann.
Il faut être sûr que l'enfant a été enlevé
Not the lost seventy-five minutes then. Plutôt 40 minutes si l'on croit la découverte à 22h.
Not whining but briefing
Of course the toxic contempt and insult which Kate and Gerry McCann directed at their Portuguese hosts did not end in the days following May 3; it was just that the expression of it became much more cunning and concealed. It was all very well for Kate McCann, as she described it, being “on the phone half the night to our friends and relatives, sobbing that nothing was being done”; but when said friends and family appeared on Portuguese screens on May 4 blabbing information that could only have come from one source the parents had rapid second thoughts.
One sensible solution might have been to stop their insults, shut their traps and let the police get on with the job. No, no, no. For whatever reason – and that reason must lie somewhere near the heart of the Madeleine McCann mystery – the parents were determined to continue, indeed increase, their attacks on the police. From now on, however, their source was to be concealed and a twin-track strategy employed, with the parents dutifully expressing stilted support for the police in public – while secretly and continually feeding the ammunition to damage those same police to their willing family and paid mouthpieces. Kate McCann, aware, as usual, when evidence of her activity can no longer be hidden, puts her own inimitable gloss on this poisonous deceit in Madeleine: “We were just worried that any criticism of the police might not do us or, more to the point, Madeleine, any favours.”
So we got news reports like this one from the Guardian on May 8: “Members of the family are understood to be growing impatient with the response of police in the Algarve to Madeleine's disappearance”, and on May 12, again after secret briefings, the rather more full-throated, "Regrettably for the distraught McCann family, their daughter Maddie has been abducted in a sleepy Portuguese fishing village where, up to now, PC Plodriguez's main job has been rubber-stamping lost handbag forms for holidaymakers' insurance claims."
Simultaneously Kate McCann’s well-briefed mother, in one example out of many, was saying "I am sure that the Portuguese police are doing everything that they can now." Now isn't that clever? Aren't those parents clever.
Is there a doctor in the house?
So the poison dripped and surged and by September there was something psychopathic about it. The deliberate briefing of half the world’s media after their September 6 interviews is too well known to be worth repeating but it included stuff that makes one wonder about Kate McCann’s sanity, as well as her viciousness. Did she really say, “Police don't want a murder in Portugal and all the publicity about them not having paedophile laws here, so they're blaming us"?
Yes she did. Did she really believe this crazed, paranoid cum egomanic junk?
Well, it pretty much remains her view today, although, with the need once again not to be caught out offending the Portuguese people too much, this time because of the approaching libel case, she now expresses essentially the same view in what she thinks are more diplomatic terms. In the pages of Madeleine she expresses her bafflement that the Portuguese believe in and support the PJ interpretation of the evidence as described by Goncalo Amaral. It’s nothing to do, of course, with the Portuguese knowing plenty about the case; nor having the ability to judge for themselves; and naturally it has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with any actions of herself and her husband, either before or after May 3 2007. No, she has the answer: Portugal is in need of therapy.
From Madeleine: “Perhaps Amaral had tapped into some kind of national subconscious desire for this to all just go away. The country was already reeling from a child-abuse scandal involving Casa Pia, a state-run institution for orphans and other disadvantaged children (when this finally came to court in 2010, six men, including a TV presenter and a former UNESCO ambassador, would be convicted) – the first such case ever to be tried in Portugal. Perhaps it was more convenient and less troubling to lay Madeleine’s disappearance at the door of her foreign parents, put an end to the matter and move on. Who knows?”
The sublime idiocy, or pathology, of this comment in which she projects her own sickness onto a whole nation, might provoke sympathy if it weren’t for that feline little “Who knows?” Read the passage in context in Madeleine and you will detect not only the slimy nastiness of the words but her little frisson of self-congratulation at the cleverness of her barb.
That’s what Kate McCann thinks of the Portuguese police and people, the same people she is depending on next week to defend her “honour”.
Libel diary 4: Differing futures - 08.09.2012
As many have pointed out a judgement in the libel case will not be the end of the matter: appeals will drag on for years whoever wins.
But the consequences of the appeal process will be quite different for the parties. If Amaral loses it is going to be extremely painful for him and the struggles which have taken such a toll will continue. That devout catholic Kate McCann will naturally be exultant. As she has written in Madeleine:
"That man has caused us so much upset and anger because of how he has treated my beautiful Madeleine and the search to find her. He deserves to be miserable and feel fear."
Whether a person writing those words can be considered quite normal is an interesting question, especially in the light of the contempt and hatred she has expressed for others who disagree with her; if those are her public words what do you think her true, uncensored feelings about her enemies must be? That's why we've said it's the McCanns who are responsible for the five year long toxic malevolence of her supporters in the media, both overground and internet, its latest expression being the intense pleasure some of them have taken in Goncalo's weight loss, which may or may not be a symptom of serious illness: these people have always taken their cue directly from her, her words, her tone, her "fucking tosser" vulgarity, her vindictiveness.
But whatever little dance of satisfaction and victory Kate McCann might perform in the dimly lit privacy of her Rothley bedroom – the mind reels – the infliction of misery on Amaral improves the position of the parents not one whit. The book can never be pulped or permanently injuncted whatever the court orders since it is available everywhere and can be placed on the internet without difficulty in any language: that genie can never be put back in the bottle and the various legal methods the couple have used to hold Bennett accountable for internet repetitions of his views cannot be used against Amaral.
If the McCanns lose, however, the prospects are rather different. Their case has always been about the maximum suppression of information and it is quite obvious that an Amaral victory will provide a flood of legally privileged comment on the case for the next few years, with consequences that cannot be foreseen.
Ah, say our friends the McCanns' supporters, but she will have stopped him damaging that holy grail, The Search, which has always been her main aim.
But the likelihood is that, even if the court find for the couple on other areas of the claim, they won't do so on that one, as Kate McCann herself has implicitly acknowledged. Describing the final appeal court judgement on the original Lisbon court case, she writes in Madeleine: "The latest verdict was that Amaral’s poisonous allegations did not damage our investigation in any way." Hard to see that being reversed, isn't it?
Libel diary 5: The phone call again - 09.09.2012
Facts don't lie. We mentioned the Portuguese telephone logs in the context of proving that the McCanns' claims about the failure of the Portuguese police to act speedily, first made during the night of May 3/4 and repeated incessantly since, most notably in Madeleine, are groundless and false. Yet the media, the clever Keirs and all their colleagues, continue to accept this dishonest pap to this day.
The “abductor” was given a minimum of 75 minutes (based on the abductor driving off at 9.25PM) to get clean away, that is if we accept the claim that the child vanished between 9.13 and 9.20.
So it is proven that this extraordinary and fatal delay, which guaranteed that the police would have no chance at all of pursuing or intercepting a fleeing vehicle, was the sole responsibility of those who failed to report the crime until 10.41PM.
Extraordinary? What other word can there be when the group of nine were unanimous in their police statements that the children were all being checked every half an hour? How can half-hourly checking for safety lead to one hour and fifteen minutes delay before police are informed? The group cannot be telling the truth –any of them – otherwise the absence of the child must have been detected at 9.30. So they are all lying.
The various excuses they have used to conceal their initial lie about the supposed “fact” of half-hourly checking – Oldfield not seeing the child etc. – were uttered in the context of explaining away the impossibility of their version of events, i.e lie upon lie, so they are therefore worthless for evidential purposes. The group are all proven liars and their lies assisted the so-called abductor’s escape.
But let us return to the period after 10PM, that is the additional 41 minutes before the police were informed. We repeat Kate McCann's claim that she knew that an intruder or intruders had forced their way into the apartment and kidnapped the child. She was certain, and in the light of the clear evidence of intrusion she was quite right to be so.
We have not seen the 2007 Portuguese police guidelines for their own citizens and tourists but the last time we looked, a year or two ago, the position was quite clear:
“Burglaries and similar crimes should be reported to the police at the nearest police (GNR) station. If it is an emergency then 112 (UK 999)should be dialled.” Or le numéro dialled était celui de la GNR de Lagos.
The recent abduction of a child was an immediate, indeed critical, emergency, as her mother knew. Yet nobody ever contacted the emergency services on 112, not at 10.41, not before and not later. The Ocean Club staff who were given their information by the parents and the group, did not report it as an emergency, ils n'ont pas parlé d'enlèvement en tout cas and nor did the group of nine on their own phones.
Instead the only call that was ever made – the claims by some Ocean Club staff that calls had been made before 10.41 are not supported by the evidence – used the slow-track, non-emergency route to the GNR. The Algarve Resident website states that the GNR will treat such reports as non-urgent unless the criminals are clearly still in the area. They “will respond as soon as they can, given their other priorities, for instance dealing with an emergency.” (!)
Who was responsible for failing to contact the emergency services and report a break-in and child kidnapping, an exceptionally rare and serious crime? On whom lies the ultimate responsibility for reporting only “a missing child”, which by definition is not an emergency, when both parents had witnessed the crime scene evidence? Why should such a thing have happened?
Libel Diary 6 : they know y' know - 10.09.2012
We know nothing about the nature of the illness that has apparently side-lined Goncalo Amaral’s lawyer because these days we have virtually no inside information about the case.
In 2009, at the time we were actively working to assist Amaral & his team, we had plenty of day-to-day information, not all of which we’ve ever passed on.
We knew that Antonio Cabrita, Amaral's then lawyer, was seriously, probably incurably, ill and we knew the exact nature of the complaint. It was mainly for that reason, indeed, that we attempted to explore the appointment of a new and younger lawyer for the future, without success. When the news came that Cabrita couldn’t risk attending court we weren’t surprised.
Then the news broke publicly and we read with mounting amusement the "inside information" that the usual suspects, the Amaral haters clique, were churning out. As always they took their cue from the unsavoury personality and slightly psychopathic comments of Kate McCann, the lady who wants the ex-public servant Amaral to “feel fear” – presumably for the rest of his life.
So the nastier corners of the net were filled with claims “based on sources” that Cabrita was fit and well and the simulated illness was to cover a last minute bid for new supporting witnesses: this at a time when Amaral’s witness list had long been finalised. The lawyer, of course, was said to be a deceitful crook incapable of telling the truth and in a panic about being on the losing side.
And then, in the same slightly fear-ridden and hysterical way that the McCann allies are behaving now, they announced that it was “well known in Portugal” that Amaral was terrified and was organizing delays because of a nervous collapse in the face of his imminent destruction. All these mad claims were expressed with a certainty indicating that there was solid evidence to demonstrate the truth. We sat back and laughed.
We all know what happened in Lisbon and the calm, unruffled way in which Amaral emerged to handle the case and the media while his opponents, forced for the only time in their lives to answer media questions without a script, a minder or an agenda to support them, collapsed into spitting fury on the court steps under the pressure. And that was when they thought they were winning!
The comments this week by the Amaral haters are almost identical to those of 2009 – but when did they ever change their views or their methods?
Amaral may have disappeared to South America with a false passport for all the information we have, or his lawyer may have become a ballet dancer. But whatever transpires you can be quite certain that the clique will be the last to know.
Over to you, Edgar - 14.09.2012
As far as the first batch is concerned the response has been plenty of hot air and abuse but, as always with the Bureau claims, no refutation of the facts: the parents never contacted the emergency services, nor were they contacted on the parents’ behalf; the police were finally contacted – not by the parents – using the non-emergency local police route, some seventy five minutes after the claimed abductor would have driven off. Kate McCann, in Madeleine, page 74, by the way, helpfully points out that it takes seventy five minutes to drive to the Spanish border from Praia da Luz.
To which, as a footnote, we can add the little matter of Kate McCann’s encounter with Mrs Fenn. In her artfully scrambled description in Madeleine of the hour following her discovery of the empty bed (artfully scrambled in exactly the same way as her description of events on September 6 )* devout catholic Kate McCann devoted a lengthy paragraph to this brief episode, most of it consisting of bewildering abuse of the old lady.
Nigel Moore has pointed out to us that Kate McCann somehow managed to place this meeting at “about 11PM” and made no mention of Gerry McCann being present, only Fiona Payne.
“Upon leaning over the terrace," runs Mrs Fenn's police statement, "after having seen the mother,
Mrs Fenn asked the father, Gerry, what was happening to which he replied that a small girl had been abducted. When asked, she replied that she did not leave her apartment, just spoke to Gerry from her balcony, which had a view over the terrace of the floor below. She found it strange that Gerry when said that a girl had been abducted, he did not mention that it was his daughter and that he did not mention any other scenarios. At that moment she offered Gerry help, saying that he could use her phone to contact the authorities, to which he replied that this had already been done. It was just after 22.30.”
So, according to this independent witness, Gerry McCann told her that the police had already been called ten minutes before any call had been made. Kate McCann's version differs by half an hour and implicitly exonerates Gerry McCann from having made such an untruthful and inexplicable statement. Quelle surprise!
No, no, black remains white
Regarding this example the defenders of the parents will always seize on the possible unreliability of Mrs Fenn’s version of events, even though her statement is precisely sequential in its description of that evening while Kate McCann’s is, shall we say, an impressionist one, i.e. a deliberate non-sequential jumble. Whatever happens, in this case as in all others, they won’t treat the evidence to a fair evaluation but will always find reasons why the McCann evidence is truthful and that of anyone with a different account is likely to be wrong.
The various wrigglings of the defenders when confronted with evidence, always resolving conflicts of evidence in the parents' favour, are of no significance except in one regard. When the Scotland Yard review officers argue out the case among themselves in brainstorming sessions –as police do – the group asked to argue for the innocence of the pair will find themselves having to do exactly the same thing. And doing it too often to fit the probability calculus. From which certain inferences follow, even to the most blinkered of policemen…
Talking of which, one last point. We hear much from the defence side about witness conflicts and how normal it is [yawn] that different people should give different versions of events, blah, blah, as though Detective Goatherd Edgar and his cohorts are telling us anything new. But get this: they never seem to apply to the McCanns themselves. Now why should that be? Why, for example, are the myriad “usual inconsistencies”, starting with those of the Tapas 7 and Jeremy Wilkins, missing when the parents give their individual versions of events to the police? There are none of the usual conflicts between them. Why?
This is not a question that the Goatherd has ever allowed himself to chew on, in public at least. Perhaps the Bureau can help, even though we lack Edgar's brains and, thank God, those hands. The only time that the parents have ever given the police descriptions of events that could be compared is on May 4 2007. On the next round of statement-taking, the first in which the PJ were actually looking for inconsistencies, there couldn’t be any conflicts between their accounts because Kate McCann was unavailable for questioning, so only Gerry was heard. And on the next round, on September 6, only Kate McCann was questioned, not Gerry, so there couldn’t be any conflicts there either. And then on the next day, as we all know, only Gerry McCann answered the questions so there couldn’t be any conflict then either! Nor does it end there. Gerry wrote a blog and Kate McCann didn't. Kate McCann wrote a book about the events while Gerry McCann didn't. Finally, even in that most supportive forum, the Leveson inquiry, they both turned up together, like they did for Kate McCann's May 4 statement-taking.
Those May 4 interviews were preliminary and skeletal and thus, unlike subsequent interviews, it was easy for the pair to synchronise their versions, which is what they undeniably did. Not only were there no conflicts between the pair's statements but they were almost word for word identical, including the passages when one describes what the other was doing – clear proof that the statements were not independent.
Mais ils ont divergé sacrément quant à la porte utilisée pour entrer et sortir !
Over to you, Edgar.
*Those people who have the time and interest can try this little project. Take both episodes, that is pages 71-75 of Madeleine and pages 239-245 and try and write an accurate timeline of the events from her description without large gaps – what is happening at, say, ten minute intervals in the first case and one hour intervals in the second. You will find it impossible. That is no accident.
Too hot to handle - 16.09.2012
"Nothing ever appears in the media except for a reason. And the reason isn't usually the stated one" – The Blacksmith Bureau, often.
With the libel trial out of the way for now we can turn our attention for a moment to the other subterranean drama taking place, the Scotland Yard review, and indulge in a little worthless speculation. The four months since the Scotland Yard Holy Memorial Day media blitz have provided time for some re-appraisal of its actions and motives, maybe even time for re-appraising Andy Redwood. But these are very murky waters indeed and inevitably much remains hidden.
Scotland Yard’s PR show in Panorama and elsewhere contained almost nothing revelatory. The new facts revealed were that the team apparently had 195 leads derived from the Portuguese material (i.e. not resulting from post-archiving investigation); that Redwood meets the (female) head of the Portuguese review team at least monthly and that, lastly, there is apparently some sort of potential problem amid the otherwise close collaboration with the Portuguese.
What this problem may actually be about is not revealed. What is certain is that the Yard, in attempting to cue the media, was led into ever more nonsensical and self-contradictory language, suggesting either that Redwood was a buffoon or that things were not what they seemed.
Collaboration is excellent, said a Yard spokesman, sounding suspiciously like Redwood himself, but “there are significant differences in our legal systems. We recognise the law does not allow them to investigate as the case is currently closed. We do still believe, however, that there are matters which need to be considered, and therefore we are currently seeking a more formal way of addressing this.”
That quote makes no sense and the acknowledgment that Portuguese law prevents any re-opening without new evidence means they can't be pressing for re-opening in the way the media suggested: policemen don't get foreign laws changed and the only "new evidence" put forward is the "195 leads" tale, which is a re-interpretation by the British of old Portuguese evidence. And think about it – if they really were trying to get the case re-opened now then diplomacy would be required, not sudden, half-prepared and contradictory media leaks, otherwise Portuguese backs would be put up, wouldn’t they? And that is exactly what happened after the anti-Portuguese headlines appeared, although it is noteworthy that the Oporto police backs remained obstinately down. No, underneath all the flags and bunting, the age progression photos, Panorama and the stumblings and lurchings of Mr Redwood there's something not quite kosher about the whole Yard PR show.
We certainly don't know exactly what but we have some clues. As we said the Yard weren’t revealing anything new about Oporto and the Portuguese review squad – that had already come out over a month before. Where? Mainly in a huge media blitz aimed at the UK but launched by the McCanns’ PR company in Portugal. It was exported to the UK on the 9-12 March in response to some Portuguese press reports a day or two earlier. The McCanns’ criminal lawyer was part of the package and Mitchell had already agreed a statement “in response to the news” before it was simultaneously released –as usual with Team McCann – to all the major papers and broadcasters here. The best example, which contains all the required elements, is here Madeleine McCann: Portuguese cops launch new review - Mirror Online and it contained some pretty huge fibs, including the lawyer’s complete – and crucial – invention that the Oporto team review was “sparked by a fresh specific lead in the hunt”.
Now the Yard knew that was fiction and they knew that the McCanns were spinning it all just from reading the press, a risk to the couple that the Bureau had publicly warned might catch them out once the review began, but one that they were prepared to take. Mitchell made a limp attempt to cover tracks by adding that he "wouldn’t be commenting on the review any more". Too late, chum.
Why did the McCanns take such a risk? It looks like it was for the same reason that the Yard launched their blitz: damage limitation.
The McCanns had got the information, as we said, from the Portuguese press and then they acted with extreme rapidity. And where had the Portuguese press got the information from, what was the original source? An old friend of ours. And what he had to say on March 1 2012 was absolute dynamite.
“The decision of that Prime Minister has been twisted. The McCann couple has spoken of a re-examination of the child's "sightings". When, in fact, what is known is that Scotland Yard, who were appointed to re-evaluate the whole investigation, has set aside the pseudo-sightings, focusing instead on the investigation process that remains archived. Elements from Scotland Yard have been working with an investigative [Judiciary Police] team from Oporto (Oporto because Algarve and Lisbon has already been involved), and what is known is that the "affair" is not going well for the McCanns.” Goncalo Amaral in an interview with O Crime.
Goncalo Amaral’s statement is the only known source for the information that the McCanns and the Yard both peddled in their different ways, strictly secret until March 1. And they both peddled it in direct response to his statement, which many of us had read when he made it but had put aside as a mystery, incapable of confirmation.
The Portuguese authorities tumbled over themselves to confirm chunks of it before Amaral had a chance to say anymore. The head of the PJ gave a statement about it. Details, such as the name of the head of the squad and the length of time it had been in existence, were given officially. All of which strengthens the veracity of Amaral's bombshell – except for the bits that everybody in the PJ, as well as the UK, left out. The Portuguese, like the McCanns, like the Yard, had simply no idea how to counter, even how to go near, the claim that the Yard had already set aside the “pseudo sightings”, that the PJ knew it and that “the affair [the joint review] is not going well for the McCanns.” That claim, which if released prematurely could sink the entire review, was just too hot to handle. So they said nothing.
That is presumably why the McCanns had their – possibly fatal – media blitz, to pre-empt and drown the revelations with alternative spin. As for the Yard blitz, you can take your choice. Either Redwood and the Yard were being open and Panorama and the accompanying newsfeeds are just what they and the media claimed they are. Or, like the Bureau, you can believe it was a form of damage limitation in response to Amaral’s claims; that Redwood knew he wasn’t telling the truth, which is why it came out in such a garbled manner; that the “reopening disagreement” is almost certainly a red herring; and that the extremely helpful things he said about the McCanns were to demonstrate publicly to that couple that they should not believe Amaral.
Whether Amaral's leak was a spontaneous comment or a planned initiative we don't know. We don't know whether the authorities have contacted him about it. And he himself doesn't talk about it anymore.
Amaral's dynamite - 17.09.2012
Yesterday we wrote a speculative piece based on the murky waters surrounding the Yard review and, in particular, Amaral's contribution. We should have separated the speculative from the evidential more clearly and given more information about what prompted the inferences and speculation, but life is short: in some ways we said too much yesterday, in others not enough. So for those people who don't bore easily and who are interested in the large amount of evidence, including inferential evidence, here’s a much fuller explanation of the factual background. People can then interpret the evidence differently and draw their own conclusions.
The Amaral statement
On March 1 Amaral made his comments. He revealed that there was a Portuguese review team that nobody had dreamed existed and which was working jointly with Scotland Yard.
There was operational detail. He claimed that the Yard was not concentrating on "sightings" (which Team McCann and the UK media had been suggesting, without evidence, was the focus of their effort); he claimed that, on the contrary, their focus "was on the investigation process that remains archived". What does this mean? Our own interpretation is that he is saying the Yard are following the same lines as the original investigation, that is the same lines as Rebelo and before him Amaral himself followed. Readers may have different interpretations.
The information about the Yard working directly with an Oporto review team, rather than merely liaising with "the Portuguese" suggests structural and investigative co-operation (with the Portuguese squad apparently being set up simultaneously with the review, according to later reports) a great deal deeper than is contained in the original Yard remit.
The secrecy involved in the establishment of these arrangements may be judged by the fact that the office of the Attorney-General, Pinto Monteiro (the nice man who made the statement releasing the couple from their arguido status) has announced that he knew nothing about it. Questions have been raised as to whether the arrangement is even legal under the Portuguese constitution.
And Amaral said that the "affair" was "not going well with the McCanns".
The veracity of the statement
Clearly if the statement is factual then Amaral must have sources within the investigation, (which incidentally doesn't fit with the various claims that he is "out of the loop"). In assessing its veracity one looks for reaction and corroboration or denial.
Reaction was almost immediate. Explicit and public confirmation was given by the highest authorities in the PJ of the existence of the Oporto squad and further details, such as the name of its commander, were added.
Confirmation was immediately given by the PJ of the existence of the joint working arrangements with Scotland Yard. In answer to questions the authorities appear to have suggested that the Oporto squad had been set up simultaneously with the Yard review.
There was no confirmation of Amaral's operational information about the lines being followed by the teams.
In particular there was no denial of any of Amaral's claims.
So Amaral's statement cannot be rejected as untrue. There is no explicit confirmation of his explosive operational claims but there is not a word of denial, or rubbishing of Amaral himself. Given those responses we cannot see any evidence that all or any of it should be rejected. Of course the McCanns and their allies can comfort themselves by picking and choosing and, despite the absence of denial, claiming that his operational details are an invention. To us that seems excessively unlikely.
The Team McCann response
The response, put together in a hurry and clearly a media "package", followed the PJ response within days. Its contents are best illustrated by the Mirror link we gave yesterday.
We cannot be certain why the package was put together, except that the subject matter came primarily from Amaral, though of course the team were anxious to smother and disguise this. Certainly it was a spin exercise: the material claimed that there was a "new review". There is no new review, only the establishment of the Portuguese review squad a year previously. The package was anxious to stress that the McCanns welcomed these "revelations".
The material included an invention by the McCanns' lawyer Rogerio Alves about the year-old arrangements. He said: "There is something that aroused enough interest from the Portuguese and British police to warrant "this" review [untrue] in search of new clues [untrue] .The most plausible explanation [of these untrue facts] is that information passed to or acquired by the Judicial Police has put them on the trail of something specific." Plausible? It is without foundation, it is untrue.
Clarence Mitchell followed up with the same fibs. "Kate and Gerry welcome this review. They see it as a positive development." Which "review"?
Like the authorities the McCanns had nothing to say about Amaral's operational claims. No acknowledgement, no denial. Not even a claim of libel.
So, pretty much the usual type of package then. As we noted yesterday, however, it was risky. The invention of a "new review" that they could "welcome" cannot cover the fact that they were spinning about the Scotland Yard review in their own favour. Why should they need to do that? And what do the Yard team infer from it?
The "package", by the way, failed to take off after three days' headlines, presumably because there were no other facts, apart from Amaral's operational comments, to sustain it. And just like the Portuguese authorities and the rest nobody was going within a mile of those.
The Yard Response
UK police had said they were not going to give a "running commentary" on the case. For seven weeks they said nothing publicly about Amaral's claims. During that time, however, they must have been working with the Panorama programme, since these things are not put together overnight. When they began working with them we don't know.
At the end of April, tied in with the fifth anniversary of the disappearance, the Yard came out with its publicity blitz. The Yard told us almost nothing that was completely new, just the 195 leads and the near-monthly visits to Oporto.
The publicity drive gave the impression that the Yard were opening up: "the first time Andy Redwood has spoken about the case". But he wasn't opening up: the main information was yet another direct confirmation of the non-operational claims of Amaral and once again, like the Portuguese authorities, avoided any mention of Amaral and his comments on where the inquiry was heading.
The rest of the apparently new stuff was actually about Redwood's supposed beliefs – his conviction that the child was abducted by a "stranger", that the child might be alive and so on, together with very strong verbal support for the McCanns.
For whatever reason the Yard made comments that the press could report as some sort of conflict with the Portuguese, apparently to do with either re-opening or some interim structure before formal re-opening. We don't know why.
Our conclusion now is that the Yard was not being frank in the publicity drive and that they deliberately masked the fact that it was essentially a response to Amaral, something that puts Redwood's apparent buffoonery into a quite different context. Otherwise the waters are so murky that many interpretations across the spectrum are possible. We just don't know.
Amaral's leak: too hot to handle
Too hot to handle: the clamorous confirmation of certain parts of Amaral's statement and the absolute silence and non-denial about the other parts – from the Portuguese authorities, from the McCanns, from the UK media, of course, and from Scotland Yard – is a fact and is too suggestive to ignore.
Amaral himself has added absolutely nothing to enlarge on his statement.
In subsequent interviews he has made references to the review in both countries but has taken a quite different line and has not referred to his initial claims. Plenty about what the Yard has said in its PR drive, plenty of criticism and an attack on the 195 leads, plenty of stuff that he'd said in other places before. But about the meat of his March 1 statement, not a word. It's as though someone else had said it and he knows nothing about it.
He took part in the Panorama programme. For whatever reasons he confined himself to subject matter that had no relationship with the March 1 statement. He has not said subsequently that Panorama edited him unfairly.
In the seven months since he made his statement there has not been a single denial anywhere that all of what he said was true. Nobody has claimed, on or off the record, that he was giving an incorrect or misleading version of the facts, nobody from the PJ's directorate, nobody from Oporto, nobody from the Yard, nobody from the McCanns. Nobody has come forward to defend the McCanns against the explicit charges.
All the evidence suggests that nobody knows what to do with the second half of Amaral's comments.
From all this material we've concluded that Amaral was telling the truth in his statement. If this inference is true what might be the implications?
Already the leak has caused dissension between the Attorney-General's department and the PJ. If the conflict continues it could result in the Oporto squad being abolished on the grounds that it is illegal, something that is already being claimed. That would damage the current Yard review irreparably.
There is no evidence that the McCanns knew anything about any of Amaral's revelations. If they are true then clearly their lawyers will be looking to exploit the leak, on procedural grounds or the legal questions surrounding the Oporto squad or on whatever grounds they can dig up – leading to the interesting situation that they would be using Goncalo Amaral as a source in their own defence!
We do not know what stage has been reached in the re-examination of the evidence. If it has produced grounds for examining the parents more closely, but not conclusive grounds, then premature acknowledgement of the existence of the claims could prejudice attempts to make them conclusive.
If, a definite if, the Yard team have been giving the parents a false sense of security, as many suspect, then a spanner has been thrown into those works.
The implications for the McCanns are obvious.
No doubt readers can think of other possible implications.
There we are. We wouldn't even have bothered trying to search the muddy waters, let alone write about them, if Scotland Yard hadn't deliberately done a McCann – bringing a version, a narrative of events, to the public via the media. Otherwise we would have waited until late in the game. But when public bodies give a version so partial and so full of obfuscation then it's time to examine it, and the possible circumstances linked to it, very closely.
The affair is not going well with the McCanns - 19.09.2012
Heard much from the parents lately? No, we haven't either. Gosh, things have changed a bit since early 2011, haven't they? That was when the McCanns were glorying in the reception of "the book" and the possibility that they might both eventually become national treasures, bathed in a glow of approbation that had last been reached in summer 2008. My, my.
Not that fame, private jets, the Pope's personal blessing, and an overflowing fund on which they could draw for private expenditure whenever they wished,* had turned our Kate's head: you could tell she was still sweet Kate Healy from a paragraph on page 365 of Madeleine:
"It may be suggested that in criticizing individuals and organizations involved in the investigation we are merely seeking someone to blame because Madeleine hasn't been found. This isn't true. If we had allowed ourselves to be consumed by bitterness, we wouldn't have survived this far. What's done is done, and we are not interested in looking for scapegoats..."**
Do it – or else!
At that point Kate McCann felt secure and strong enough to issue this hardly-veiled threat to the British government: "If a review is declined, or indeed if no decision is ever made, we will be left with no alternative but to seek disclosure of all information possessed by the authorities relating to Madeleine's disappearance. In the absence of any other active investigation, it must surely be in Madeleine's best interests that we and our team are given access to records that will otherwise just sit there gathering dust."
Anyway, as we know, nice Mr Cameron gave her everything she wanted. In fact he gave her more, because the terms of the remit included the right to further investigation as well as review, something the Yard itself acknowledged was very unusual.
And, since March, we've learned that the British and Portuguese police added even more gifts – a review squad in Portugal itself and close liaison between the teams, in other words a joint investigation. For some reason they didn't tell the McCanns about it, even though their spokesman had said that the couple, "were being kept fully informed" about the course of the review.
Goodness, what riches they've been granted!
Running out of breath
But this complete acceptance of their demands and the extra cream on top hasn't made them arrogant, any more than Kate's experiences made her look for scapegoats. On the contrary, all that bossiness has been bleeding away now for about a year. Not only are they not making threats to politicians anymore, or claiming that they're in the loop, but the Team McCann PR initiatives, the ones that conquered the world as well as Lord Justice Leveson, have dwindled from about three a month since 2008 to almost zero today.
It's only been scraps for a year now, apart from the cold lunch in early March 2012 about the Oporto revelations – and that stemmed mainly from their defence lawyer, not Clarence and Gerry. Sad little items suggesting that the Yard were in Spain taking Metodo seriously in 2011; occasional left hooks in the Mirror against the libellous Amaral. Walk-on parts in the Holy Memorial Day celebrations; crumbs from the table in the shape of Kate's appointment to a charity and photographs of the pair, most appropriately, running for their lives, one underweight, the other wheezing, in more charity events.
Why, with Andy Redwood making it absolutely clear that a "stranger" abducted the child and that 195 leads to that abductor are lined up like ducks in a gallery just waiting to be shot, isn't it time for triumphant Team McCann packaged media stories to appear all over the place announcing that "Kate and Gerry are finally cleared" by Scotland Yard? An appearance by stout, unaccompanied Philly McCann*** at the Notting Hill carnival, celebrating their vindication? Or for blanket coverage of the fact that the archiving summary conclusions have been "confirmed" by UK police? They could even give a special to Lori Campbell of the Mirror, reminding everyone that the review is achieving just what they hoped.
Granted most of their chums in the press who used to work with them so enthusiastically are now on bail or under arrest, like Lovely Lori's partner; granted also that their faithful News of the World is unavailable for package deals, by virtue of being dead. But they can't be the reasons, surely.
Beyond the Jeers
It's not as though they'd be doing anything wrong in trumpeting their exoneration, even though the review is still in progress. And having had their "innocence demonstrated" at the end of April they having nothing to fear from anyone. And if, for some strange reason, none of this open celebration is appropriate, surely they could have got David Smith of the Times, who hasn't been arrested, to do one of his celebrated Gerry & Kate – Beyond the Fears routines, you know the sort of thing:
"For a year now Kate & Gerry have bitten their lips and stayed silent as the Scotland Yard review which they established has gone about its work. Of course wild and untrue rumours have circulated that the British and Portuguese police have been going through their evidence line by line and are almost ready to re-interview their seven friends. But, as Kier Simmons has already demonstrated for ITV, these scurrilous lies are like the last dregs of an ancient but undrinkable New Zealand white wine – full of wind and bitterness. Now, having had their innocence demonstrated, they have spoken. Much has to be withheld still to avoid alerting the abductors but the couple can finally give us an idea how the review is justifying all their efforts, all their agonies, all their heartbreak, all their suffering, all their loyalty to a still missing child, [Ed. Use whichever one of these you feel is right.DS]..."
What sort of silence, do you think it is? Strong confident silence? Dignified – not a word one normally associates with the McCanns – silence? Stoic – another word that hardly springs to the lips about the couple – silence? Determined-not-to-interfere-with-the-course-of-justice silence?
Or is it the other sort of silence, the sort you might expect under different circumstances, perhaps when affairs aren't going too well with you and you're frozen like a fucking rabbit in the headlights?
As Kate McCann famously said, who knows?
Running out of time
Running out of time
*3.13 of the articles of association, May 15 2007: "to provide support, including financial assistance, to Madeleine's family"
** As demonstrated by all her references to Goncalo Amaral (there were sixty of them), the "dishevelled" Neves, (27), the "out of their depth" GNR officers Twinkledee and Twinkledum of the GNR, the "staggering" and "interfering" PJ police interpreter (page 239), the appalling PJ officers who walked past her as if she didn't exist (page 89), the "terrifying" PJ officer with his "life-threatening" driving (page 92).
His colleagues who "sent her on her way" after "ten minutes of torture" (page 92), the Portimao PJ, who after failing to put Kate through to an officer she wished to speak to, made her feel "caged and demented", "screaming, swearing and lashing about" (page 96), PJ Inspector Encarnacao, who "had joined the PJ in 1973, a year before the dictatorship was overthrown" and made her "uncomfortable" as well as "insulting her intelligence" while his officers "wasted precious time" (pages 98 and 155).
The British family liaison police officers who were unwise enough to tell Kate that "they'd had a frustrating day" to which she responded by "raging" and the threat of an ultimatum (page 114), the staff at Lisbon airport whose fault was their failure to put up posters of the child, leaving her "dismayed" and in tears, the "incredibly insensitive" and "unfair" PJ officers who stated that the McCanns and their friends had contaminated the crime scene, leaving her "livid" and demanding redress via the British ambassador and others (page 185), all of the the UK police, for failing to speak out against the PJ, (page 302), Rebelo whose requests for a reconstruction turned "brusque" (page 303), Leicester police and their commanders, of course (page 316) who left the pair, once again, "staggered", and the entire police and prosecution system in Portugal as revealed by her reading of the newly released files. No bitterness, no scapegoats there then.
***Nobody else could fit on the float.
Of course we're not frozen in the headlights! - 21.09.2012
The official Find Madeleine site says:
Thank you to everybody who has supported our summer campaign again. By displaying the new poster, car sticker or luggage tag of Madeleine, awareness of her plight is maintained, as is our appeal to the general public to keep looking for her. We are constantly thinking of new ways to improve our search for Madeleine: we don't know what it will be, or what it will take to bring us that vital call. It may even turn out to be a simple case of 'the right place at the right time' which is why we need to persevere in our efforts and to keep prompting people. The Metropolitan Police are continuing with the investigative review and we are really encouraged by their work. We continue to hope that the case will be re-opened in Portugal in the near future so that the investigation to find our daughter can be resumed.The Blacksmith Bureau says:
(...) We thought that September 20 2012 would be the appropriate day to remind people of things, even though we didn't have time to get a new picture taken and had to use old stock instead. We also thought that readers need telling that the Yard review isn't finished yet, which I'm sure you will all agree, it continued in the curious wooden language of Gerry McCann's blogs, is a matter of importance and even though we do not have anything meaningful to say about it and do what Clarence does and make this third paragraph down so it doesn't look obvious. We would also like you to know that we are really encouraged by the progress of the review, not quivering behind redbrick walls, and would also like to remind you of a comparable time when we wrote in exactly the same truthful and reliable manner, "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. 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." (...)
Friendly debate - 27.09.2012
Just about the only neutral territory in the McCann forum world is on Amazon where both pros and antis debate, to some extent at least, joined periodically by trolls. While it shares the fate of all factual-question forums in having no mechanism to model the judge who at intervals says to both lawyers, "are we agreed that this is now established?" – meaning it cannot be re-opened – and therefore exhibits an occasional Groundhog Day repetitiveness, the site sometimes opens genuinely new perspectives. The strange and rather sinister passivity of the parents in the face of their younger children's apparently drugged condition on May 3/4 has been noted many times but it wasn't until it was comprehensively explored on that forum a few months ago that the full implications were laid bare.
Now we have another interesting thread.
For years we've decried the grotesque, indeed loathsome, sentimentality, both planned and unplanned, which has surrounded the McCann case since day one. By sentimentality we mean expressed emotion that is in conflict with reality – an example being any emotion whatever expressed in soap operas and the like which, by definition, are unreal.
And there are plenty of other examples, Facebook, for instance, where physical separation usually allows gross sentimentality to thrive unchecked. When such separation breaks down, as, for instance, in the meetings of groomed children with their supposed admirers, reality breaks in with the force of a cosh.
One aspect of McCann case sentimentality has been the comforting but childish idea of a happy ending, one which heartens supporters of the parents on a very large scale and underpins their conception of hope: if only "we" can go on hoping and thinking positively then eventually this nightmare will be brought to an end. It's what's known also as "magical thinking and the myth of return".
Le symétrique de à force de parler de choses horribles, les choses horribles finissent par arriver "à force de parler de dénouement heureux, le dénouement heureux finira par arriver".
The latest debate on Amazon is, OK, what would happen when, let's say, the child is found? What then?
This question hasn't been explored much because it hardly mattered when the possibility existed that the child might be returned within weeks. Much as media reporting, and the soap-opera thinking on which it is based, would have it that time stands still, the fact is that almost five and a half years have passed since Kate McCann found the open window and billowing curtains, and the child will soon be entering puberty.
For much of the time the Amazon debate has featured the dry and not very pleasant issue of what "the authorities" might do if the child turns up, with all the unpleasant (for libertarians like us) consequences: enforced medical examinations, a further blanket of media injunctions for the good of the kiddie, and her delivery into the slippery hands of the self-important but essentially useless child protection industry, one of the greatest cons of modern UK life.
Then concerned professionals, rather like the nauseating busybody Yvonne Martin, a hero for many antis who, surprisingly, was not hurled off the Rocha Negra by David Payne for her impudence, or the Hogg woman (as in hogging our fiddled expenses), wife of Dodgy Douglas, will decide what happens to her and where the balance of [insert child protection psychobabble] lies in deciding where she should go and when.
Awkward, eh? To explore the question at all involves something of a shock to the system for sentimentalists. Will the parents still be together when she is eventually located? - marriage statistics suggest not, with the probability of separation increasing day by day, as for all UK couples Will they both be alive? How can we know? And what if the young lady, when finally picked up in John Wayne's arms like the girl in John Ford's The Searchers says, I'd rather live with fat Philly than you two, believe me. I want a fag.
These are rather invasive questions, not at all in the original script, and ones which the Bureau avoids by assuming she's dead and that's it. But,while the Amazon posters who brought the matter up, most of them more gentle than us, haven't rubbed in these implications, they are deadly for the supporters, which is why the response of the latter has been an almost tangible shocked discomfort, coupled with denial.
But there isn't going to be a soap opera happy ending whatever happens, or anything resembling it. The Searchers was just a film. The McCann-prompted media may present the affair as a satisfying and essentially static legend of Suffering Parents, Wicked Abductors and, let's all sing, Hope, Hope, Hope, frozen in time: but life isn't like that and the parents won't be the same parents as five years ago and the child, obviously, won't be the same child and that's without even speculating on the other general disasters that afflict most human lives.
In other words their hopes for the child, like their beliefs in abductors, are illusory, and like all illusions, sentimental or otherwise, they cannot survive confrontation with reality, in this case, temporal reality, the passage of time. It is reality, in the shape of the passage of time, that has produced the Amazon posters' questions. And for illusionists it will only get worse.
Brain Teasers - 29.09.2012
How could you? The other day we finished with the assertion that the active supporters of the parents (not the parents themselves) are making illusory claims.
Life is short. The web is not the best place to deal with complex matters of theory, rules of inference and their relationship with reality, the books on which would fill the Olympic stadium. Every now and then, though, we have to offer some insight into where we're coming from, what methodology we're using, so that professional students of the case can assess our views for reliability and those nice libel courts can see that a truth-defence awaits.
So, with all the usual warnings about skipping the post if you aren't interested, and with a plea for forgiveness from others for grossly simplifying extremely complicated matters, here is a very brief guide at breakneck speed to the way the Bureau forms its judgements and then makes assertions, about illusions and other things, in the case. The rather childish visual analogies to what we're explaining may be of some help to those who are interested but unfamiliar with the subject matter.
For our purposes here we distinguish sharply between inference and supposition.
Inference from the facts is based on evidence, follows certain definite rules and is concerned with the establishment of truth. Supposition does not follow rules, is not bound by evidence and is the product of the imagination. We cannot deal with the status of supposition in this post since it would make it even longer and even more boring. Next time.
While inference, in its formal guise, features large in science and investigation it belongs to everyone. A sign in a tube station says "Do not touch the third rail". If we are ignorant and cannot read then we are at the mercy of chance and other forces. The rest of us make the inference from the sign that it would be unwise to touch the third rail. You will note that a wrong inference is not only useless but can lead you into trouble. Life consists of such problem-solving but its everyday application is an even more complex matter than the establishment of truth – mainly because we deal with only one inference at a time in investigation, while in everyday life the alert human mind is making and testing dozens of inferences a minute. So let's stay well away from there.
Now, some visuals. An inference is always provisional until it has been confirmed in some way and thus converted into evidence. An investigative inference can be visualised as a section of metal ladder, or a bridge girder, that can be pushed out from a bank over a chasm or gap, which represents the mystery. Each section can only bear the weight of one person, otherwise it collapses.
It cannot carry the weight of another section unless it is somehow additionally supported. If we wish to investigate whether we will fry or not on a third rail we can make an inference, our first ladder/bridge section, that "Do not touch the third rail" is an authorised, not a misleading, sign. Having done so, by grabbing the station master like some mad trainspotter and demanding to know the origins of his sign, we can conclude that our first section is supported and established, thus following the rule that you cannot make a valid inference from an inference. Having got our confirmation we can either continue building our metaphorical bridge, take the next tube to work, or try and evade the transport police looking for a crazed nutter who grabs stationmasters.
That is our explanation of how the establishment of truth by inference works. The steps are repeated until the gap is bridged or we cannot go any further.
No such rules apply to supposition. You are free to surmise as you wish.
And lo and behold…
Right, now some more or less concrete applications. Two people, call them Gerry and Kate, find an open window and shutter, an empty bed and a missing girl and infer that an intruder has abducted the child. With one proviso* that is a solid and correct inference, a ladder over the unknown, which the parents can build on by raising the alarm and either searching or, preferably, pursuing.
What about the rest of us, can we make the same inference? No, we cannot. For us, like it or not, the ladder is unsupported. We can only infer the abduction by finding supporting witnesses as to the state of the apartment before Kate McCann arrived, or by establishing that the parents are truthful witnesses. Once we have done so then the inference is supported and we can move on with a second section of ladder. The alternative, adding inference to unproven inference, leads nowhere except into the imagination and the realm of supposition.
Another example. Some people who saw Gerry & Kate on television in early 2007 felt that they were not being frank. They made an inference that the parents were unreliable and pushed out their ladder. But in 2007/8 they couldn't add a second section because the rules applied, as they always do. They couldn't demonstrate the truth of their belief to themselves or anyone else.
So everything comes to a halt, as it did in summer 2008.
Time, however, what we called "temporal reality", has brought further information. The inference that the parents are not truthful has now been proved 100% correct by the irrefutable evidence of the couple's own words in the "blog", the book Madeleine and certain specific television statements, examples of which are scattered all over the Blacksmith Bureau. The support is there to push out a follow-up ladder.
By the same token, of course, the first ladder of the "abduction crossing" hangs in space and will remain there until evidence comes forth to prove that in this case at least the parents did not lie. That is why we have said over and over that the abduction theory "leads nowhere".
The same processes apply throughout. Thus the evidence of the dogs gives a cast-iron inference that something was up in apartment 5a that night. Forget all the waffle about unreliability, the pseudo-scientific arguments put forward and exactly what Mr Grime meant in his cautionary comments – it's a 100% valid inference by anyone interested in the truth, and the first ladder can be pushed out. Done. Support? There isn't any, so that's another ladder left to hang in space.
Again, the problems of the Nine's witness statements led the PJ to infer that their evidence was either incomplete or incorrect, as outlined in the archiving summary. A ladder! The next step was a reconstruction to confirm or exclude the inference. If the reconstruction provided the support then it could be used for a further ladder – that the nine had blurred their actions. Then another section could be put out -- that they had deliberately blurred their actions. Confirmation of that then invites another look at the dogs' findings and the case is moving towards solution. But they could never support the first ladder! The Nine's absence – based on advice from their lawyers, who know a thing or two about the laws of inference – stopped them doing it.
And that is the state of play today, five years on, and it is a hopeful one except for the supporters of the parents and a couple of others, for the reconstruction ladder sits in place, all shiny, waiting to be used. On the other side the abduction ladder still hangs uselessly. In five years nothing, including those 196 leads**, has provided any support, so no further inferences can be drawn. Only suppositions.
That's it. Sleep well.
* The proviso, of course, relates to what other information Gerry & Kate might have had at the time which would make the abduction inference invalid.
** Unless Scotland Yard is working on information not in the files there are no valid inferences taking the case beyond Praia da Luz.
The missing paragraph - 02.10.2012
In the last post we referred to what Goncalo Amaral calls "the interrupted investigation" and the famous archiving summary which preceded the official release of the McCanns from their arguido status by that sturdy survivor, the Attorney-General, Fernando José Pinto Monteiro. The most important finding in the summary is the absence of any evidence indicating the commission of a crime by the pair, a conclusion which prosecutor Menezes emphasises, in a somewhat rhetorical passage, by asking his readers to point to any of the known evidence and show him material that would convince "an average person" sufficiently to convict the pair. And clearly there wasn't any.
The problem, of course, lies with that little phrase "the known evidence" and its connection to the well-known reconstruction section in the summary, taken word-for-word from the final PJ report submitted to Menezes. The problem is simple: of the three arguidos one, Robert Murat, has been fully investigated, there are no grounds for further inquiry, and he is no longer a person of interest in the case. But that is not the situation with Kate and Gerry McCann, since there are still unresolved issues surrounding their behaviour on May 3 and their police statements about that night, as well as with those of their seven friends. The reconstruction section describes the precise steps to be taken to resolve the problems one way or the other and then notes that the reconstruction could not be carried out because the group did not make itself available.
Attorney-General Fernando José Pinto Monteiro.
OK. All that's needed is a paragraph in the summary noting that the archiving (shelving) is taking place without completing the investigation into two of the three arguidos, together with the reason why. And it isn't there.
It is this omission which drove Goncalo Amaral absolutely nuts – you can't do it, you can't interrupt an investigation when it's waiting for crucial information – and which guaranteed that the summary would forever be surrounded by suspicion and a new question: why isn't the paragraph there?
Funny things happen on the way to the forums - 08.10.2012
It's not for us to plumb the mystery of why some cases "seize the imagination of the public" and others don't. Still, we did a brief tour of the forums to listen to the voice of the people and were slightly taken aback at the intensity of it all, particularly – as is the way with forums, no? – some of them where the constant expression of grief was accompanied by weird insults at others for not grieving enough or for grieving in the wrong way.
That rather suggests that written "grief-at-a-distance" is something different in kind from the feelings that accompany the death of someone genuinely close. But these are deep thoughts, Holmes, and we choose instead to pass on our delight at visiting one of them, the forum known as the purple place.
Once they're in they never come out
Anyone who has had a relative in a care home for the elderly will find the experience of reading the site strangely familiar. The outside world impinges almost exclusively at second hand, through the television or monitor screen; there are hours-long silences suddenly broken by a confused and isolated wailing; a rambling conversation about the weather abruptly mutates into a vivid expression of hatred for some wrong done in a past now lost; and there are contributions which are clearly fuelled by recent medication, often ending in a "what am I talking about this for?" conclusion; there is, above all, loneliness, the loneliness that stalks care homes and fills us with guilt as we wave goodbye.
This Pinter-ish, comic nightmare of life slipping away with no lessons learnt and no insults forgotten is compulsive viewing in a sort of nose-wrinkling way, as long as one doesn't go too often. One facet above all makes it a place not to be missed. Have you ever seen the aged talking to imaginary friends? This care home has a subsidiary cast of outsiders, all of them much younger than the rest of the group, all invented by one of the elders who summons them to enter at intervals, there to be engaged in dialogue.
Don't miss it! A visit is highly recommended so that you can test yourself in distinguishing between the real and the invented personae. Just a couple here will give you the flavour. The other day there was a surreal follow-up to an idiomatic French phrase used by a poster in which an intermittent Francophone ghost named Jean-Pierre most helpfully translated the phrase and apologised for being a know-all. Not much risk of that from a "Jean-Pierre" who thinks that "en" is the French for "one" in English, (yes, really), cannot recognise the imperative tense and fails to correct the original mistaken usage of "en" for "on". No doubt an amended biography and country of origin will follow at some time in the future. But Jean-Pierre shrinks into insignificance beside another visitor to our shores named Pedro Silva.
Enter ghost, stage left. Mr Silva has been enlivening the nodding dayroom for years. Perhaps he is in search of his roots. Neither familiarity with the Portuguese sensibility nor advanced analytical knowledge of the language is required to determine that whenever Mr Silva appears he is accompanied by the strong smell of stinking fish. To put it bluntly, his creator lacks the sophistication to complete the character that she has invented. Silva has entertaining, if over-coloured, character traits. His appearances on stage are always announced by ponderous Wagnerian Leitmotive to keep the character established, such as his invariable references to "sweet" Madeleine McCann and his unvarying salutations to "my friends". He speaks in broken English just like Fawlty's waiter Manuel but, to counter the inevitable amusement which such misuse of the language engenders in the English, he is given a particularly foul mouth intended to demonstrate that he is a masculine figure not to be trifled with. Unfortunately his creator is incapable of developing the character, lacking both the creative skill and the sophistication to place him within Portuguese society. Thus, some four or five years after his first appearance he remains exactly the same, without even the primitive infill of a character in The Archers: he has never displayed any knowledge of that society, let alone of Lusitanian culture or history, has no interests of his own and never engages in debate in case he muffs his lines or is asked if Figo is his favourite footballer or bacalhau his favourite dish. In short, even as a fictional character he is non-existent.
Those with an eye for these things can feast on Mr Silva's inconsistent, rather than incorrect, English. For every ten postings that he makes using his curious Pidgin-speech there is always one where his creator has got carried away with the message rather than the messenger and has forgotten how to cover herself: suddenly he uses a colloquial English phrase in perfect context. Ten posts later he will express himself using the subjunctive or conditional tenses with easy familiarity. And then it is all forgotten and Mr Silva reverts to addressing us in his usual "Me Tarzan, you Jane" tones. And for the piece de resistance or la paix d' Ohm, as Jean-Pierre would no doubt have it, we have Mr Silva translating from his native tongue. Strangely, indeed peculiarly, Mr Silva posts copious news extracts from Portugal on the care home notice board with two especial characteristics. They are always rendered into English via unmodified Google translate and, secondly, on the very rare occasions when someone asks him to enlarge on the meaning of a particular word or phrase even Pedro's Pidgin flies away: either he leaves immediately for a pressing appointment or he pastes another piece of Google: Pedro Silva cannot speak Portuguese.
Although… So well worth a visit, especially as Pedro and Jean-Pierre may be dangled into action to prove they exist. But mon dieu what languages will they speak in? It has to be admitted, though, that at times the care home is a faintly strange place as well as a sad one. Sometimes one wonders just what sort of person is setting up these imaginary conversations. Where, exactly, is her head at? And what does she recognise when she reads the scented pages of Kate McCann's Madeleine? And, coming full circle, Holmes, what does this deception tell us about the reality or otherwise of feelings, such as grief-at-a-distance, expressed on the net?
Enter stage left, on cue - 9.10.2012
Exactly as forecast Mr Pedro Silva has been jerked into action and a lengthy demonstration that he isn't the figment of anyone's imagination. Readers will note without surprise that his visit to the care home today is by far the lengthiest he has ever made and that he was engaged in a comically self-conscious dialogue by his creator. As David Cameron might say, she must have been up all night working on that one. But Mr Silva's interminable contributions consisted, yet again, of his trademark Google Translate newspaper extracts and the "dialogue" between him and his mistress was so wooden that you could almost see her pulling him out of his suitcase and flopping him onto her aged lap, there to watch the screens together with one arm inserted into his Rear Controls until she got his lips moving up and down; indeed one almost expected Pedro's first words to be "Gottle of gear, gottle of gear". It would, of course, have been an exceptionally interesting chapter in the history of philosophy and culture if Mr Silva had debated the question of his own existence in real time, as it were. What would we hear? I post therefore I am? Or would he stand, silent, in the visitors' lounge before coming out with those pregnant opening words of Hamlet, "Who's there?" Pedro, Pedro, speak to us.
Finally observant readers should note the delicious way in which Brazil is introduced by the pair, thus offering a possible refuge if Pedro's roots in Portugal are too closely questioned or his language mastery is queried (Brazilian Portuguese differs from Portuguese Portuguese). It would, though, be a severe loss if Silva turns out never to have set foot in the mother country and is posting from his estates deep in the Matto Grosso, since the whole point of his invention some years ago was to demonstrate that there was indeed a single Portuguese person who didn't believe in Amaral, other than the mad lawyer and the foaming TV chat show boss.Meanwhile readers are begged to keep an eye out for signs of Pedro anywhere in the world. Never give up the search.
Reality keeps working - 22.10.2012
OK, the "poor Gary" story. It is significant in the McCann affair for two reasons. The first of these is the long-running claim that the McCanns "must have" had protection. To us that now seems a Cracked Mirror view: like the abduction claim it cannot be derived from the evidence. As a result of this absence of factual grounding people claiming such protection have no source but their own imaginations, exactly the same as the abduction school with its paedophiles/gypsies/criminal rings etc. * Boring Stuff
Examples of "evidence" would be the following:
"X has admitted protecting the McCanns."
"The case files show that documents concerning the McCanns were destroyed by Inspector X and Prosecutor Y."
"Goncalo Amaral names the person who stopped the investigation and claims he has a recording of the conversation in which the stopping was agreed."
Rupert Murdoch told Leveson that Gordon Brown had asked him to "lay off the McCanns" and the then prime minister had added "it's very sensitive."
"Jimmy Savile [or insert latest fashion figure as required] attended dodgy orgies with the McCanns and the archbishop of Canterbury in hospital mortuaries. Gordon Brown watched from the shadows – as he always does – with his video camera. The recording is now in the possession of Scotland Yard."
And so forth.
We've asked and asked
When challenged for evidence like this nobody, not even members of Goncalo Amaral's team, has ever provided any. Instead, after offering up their preferred plotters, people have said more or less this: "Just look at what has been done for them. Starting with the ambassador's visit there has been a level of support for the pair that is absolutely unheard of for ordinary people. Planned protection is the only theory that accounts for this unprecedented support."
That is the claim and it is, or rather was, by no means a weak one. But with the resolution of the Gary case it is now refuted. Nobody could be more ordinary in their circumstances than this lonely nerd and his mother. They had neither money nor power, nor contacts, nor secrets,nor social position, nor valuable information. And yet they have achieved more protection than the McCanns ever have, culminating in the blocking of the nerd's extradition by the home secretary even though he admitted his guilt.
So this statement that ordinary people could never gain such a high level of protection and political assistance is simply untrue, end of story. And since, in the absence of any evidence, it is really the only thing that conspiracy people have ever been able to refer to in support of their theories, people would be wise to keep up to date with events and accept the refutation. Of course if mysteries are your hobby and creating flesh-creep scenarios appeals to you there is no reason to alter your opinion or bother with all this evidence nonsense. Those, on the other hand, who want to get just a bit nearer the truth a bit at a time can accept this new gift from "temporal reality" and finally discount the protection theory and concentrate on other areas.
One of these areas, unsurprisingly, is the Bureau's pet, the PR question, to which we'll return.
*The onus is on those who do not accept this view to demonstrate exactly where their named plotters' or abductors' group derives from. And if they get all fancy like the dolt Horrocks and say "probability" then the onus is on them to demonstrate exactly which part of the probability calculus they used for the derivation, together with their methods.
A worthy cause - 24.10.2012
Mr Tony Bennett finds himself in a tight spot.
The Bureau and Mr Bennett very much don't get on for all sorts of reasons, none of which are we going to list: doing so would only be seized on by the parents' diminishing bunch of allies who have precious else to sustain them than pleasure at the misfortunes of others.
Mr Bennett, like many before him when faced by opponents with greater financial clout, chose to try and avoid being bankrupted in the libel courts. For reasons which he has never given the public he then chose not to stay silent as the terms of his formal gagging order demanded.
He told us what his savings were some time ago and it is clear that the Smethurst and McCann costs already accrued will wipe out that figure. It is clear also that the chances of a support fund raising significant amounts of money to assist him as things stand are very low.
He is bankrupt. The temptation to try even now to cut his losses shouldn't trouble him any longer – it is too late. He is broke, virtually on his own, and unless he publicly recants he is likely to face jail, perhaps repeatedly. It is a position which is going to test him to his very roots, as it would test any of us.
And in that situation lies his salvation. What else can the courts and his enemies do to him? It is Kate and Gerry McCann who are asking for Mr Bennett's imprisonment. And it is they who will have to decide what action to take should Mr Bennett, his original contempt purged and with no financial means to pay future fines or costs, make fresh and, one hopes, very carefully considered, comments on them.
Should Mr Bennett go to jail he becomes, to put it bluntly, a valuable commodity for the first time. Whatever criticisms can be made of him he will be in jail because of his beliefs about justice and the way he has expressed them to the public, something that most people thought could no longer happen in the UK. Mr Bennett has never gained financially from his stance on the fate of Madeleine McCann, unlike the journalists who profited so richly from writing about the family and unlike the fortunate recipients of the Find Madeleine fund. People instinctively recognise and respond when someone makes a sacrifice for their beliefs. And so, as both Mr Bennett and, more particularly, the McCanns should recognise, do the media. He may not believe it at the moment and he may feel that we are being presumptuous about even discussing his affairs like this; but once he is truly broke he has a surprisingly strong hand to play.
We've said some very harsh, indeed libellous, words directly to Mr Bennett in the past. So be it. If he goes to jail we'll be among the first to make a financial contribution to assist him.
The media it deserves - 26.10.2012
We'll leave the case of Saint Gary aside for the moment, apart from repeating the claim we made over a year ago, that almost everything that the public thought they knew about the saint is the invention of a PR company that they've never bothered to check out for themselves. But don't let us spoil any feelings of satisfaction that justice has been done and brave little Britain has given the awful yanks a black eye. The precedent set by the home secretary in preventing extradition because the victim might kill himself, by the way, will apply rigorously to a certain Mr Dewani. And now we have another saint, poor Mr Christopher Tappin, who along with his wife sobbed all over the TV cameras about the wickedness of extraditing a totally innocent pensioner and "golf club captain" to the USA back in the spring. Now why do you think the press always mentioned the golf club captain bit?
Dear old granddad – isn't he sweet?
It's all there if you check it on Google: just about every national newspaper accepted the Tappin bullshit and repeatedly wrote lengthy, knowing, stories in his defence, alongside the usual posse of supposed civil libertarians and human rights lawyers. The London Times was in the forefront once more, this time with Martin Fletcher playing the David Smith role. Fletcher even tried to carry on the story once Tappin was trapped behind the fearsome Silicon Curtain: Christopher Tappin - My Barbaric Weeks in Jail
We've given up blaming the media: it's the public, the people who gave Gerry McCann three million quid to spend on crushing Amaral and paying off the mortgage that's the problem. And yes, we know we're part of the public ourselves.
Still, here's what we wrote in the Bureau before Mr Tappin left us.
"Having told the world that he'll be a hundred years old before he gets home – if he survives his ordeal at all – watch poor, innocent Mr Tappin change his tune in the next few weeks: he'll plead guilty to everything and get about two years in jail."
And now, of course, after a decent interval, Tappin is doing just that.
The public gets the media it deserves. Bye for now.