Grâce à la liberté dans les communications, des groupes d’hommes de même nature pourront se réunir et fonder des communautés. Les nations seront dépassées.
Friedrich Nietzsche (Fragments posthumes XIII-883)

Chapitres 28-30 (8)

The Pool Photo is of crucial importance. Of that there can be little doubt. To put the matter simply –
IF it was taken on Thursday 3rd May 2007 - it is capable of showing that Madeleine was alive and well at lunchtime that day.
IF it was not, - then the implications go far beyond a simple misunderstanding.
The fact that it was presented by Mitchell on behalf of the McCanns as having been taken at a particular time on a particular date, and the fact that Kate unequivocally repeated this in her autobiography has great bearing on almost every aspect of the case. It goes directly to the veracity of the McCanns and the involvement of Mitchell – amongst many others. In previous essays the issue of the weather was set out, and some contemporary photos and weather reports were appended in support of the thesis. This failed to impress some, who argue that the photos themselves are not sufficient to prove the negative, namely that the photo could not have been taken at lunchtime on 3/5/7. Proving a negative is notoriously difficult, but not impossible. The legal process deals with this by insisting on an overwhelming weight of evidence. What follows therefore is another more detailed examination of the weather conditions, with yet more evidence introduced in the form of weather reports from several stations, many more contemporary photos, and a recapitulation of the pertinent parts of statements and comments. No apology is given for the length of this essay, nor for the volume of the evidence included. For ease of understanding, and for reasons of clarity I am pasting edited pieces about the formation of clouds taken from various places on the internet. All can be searched through “google”. Many of the photos may be accessed on Flickr, using the search engine on that site. Some were accessed from ‘google images’, others are screen shots from the videos of the World Windsurfing competition in Portimão held between 29/4/7 and 3/5/7, and four are from the author’s personal collection. I have included only a few in the main text, in thumbnail format, to illustrate the various points. The rest are included in an appendix after the reference section. The weather reports are all available on the internet, and the exact references are given to allow anyone who has a genuine interest to do their own research. A small fee was payable for one set.

After I have set out the main thesis I shall try to raise and answer the objections I am already aware of, or can think of, but as always if strong contrary evidence can be adduced, I am prepared to be shown to be in error. I shall first discuss Clouds, then Weather reports in general terms, then I shall look at specific reports before looking in detail at the photos and analysing what they can tell us. After this I shall look again at what people said in their statements, and at pertinent extracts from Kate McCann’s autobiography, before discussing a personal diary kept by a resident of PdL.
What causes clouds
A cloud is defined as ‘a visible aggregate of minute droplets of water or particles of ice or a mixture of both floating in the free air’. Each droplet has a diameter of about a hundredth of a millimetre and each cubic metre of air will contain 100 million droplets.
Clouds form when the invisible water vapour in the air condenses into visible water droplets or ice crystals. For this to happen, the parcel of air must be saturated, i.e. unable to hold all the water it contains in vapour form, so it starts to condense into a liquid or solid form. There are two ways by which saturation is reached.
(a) By increasing the water content in the air, e.g. through evaporation, to a point where the air can hold no more. The steam from a boiling kettle is a simple example. As it rises it reaches air which is not saturated, and so disappears from human view
(b) By cooling the air so that it reaches its dew point – this is the temperature at which condensation occurs, and is unable to ‘hold’ any more water. There is a maximum amount of water vapour the air, at a given temperature, can hold. In general, the warmer the air, the more water vapour it can hold. Therefore, reducing its temperature decreases its ability to hold water vapour.
Method (b) is the usual way that clouds are produced, and it is associated with air rising in the lower part of the atmosphere. As the air rises it expands due to the reduction in atmospheric pressure, and the expansion causes the air to cool. Generally speaking, for each 100 metres the air rises, it will cool by 1 °C. The rate of cooling will vary depending on the water content, or humidity, of the air.
Therefore, the vertical ascent of air will reduce its ability to hold water vapour, so that condensation occurs.
Put simply, clouds are simply air containing moisture, which condenses so it can be seen.

This can also be seen in mountainous areas where clouds form over the highest peaks and ridges, and although the clouds appear to ‘move’ they warm up as they lose altitude and the moisture is lost to human view. The English expression “burning off” is sometimes used to describe this phenomenon.

These photos are taken of the Sierra de Grazalema near Ronda in southern Spain. The high peak shown is 1654 m. (5,400 ft.) the village lying at 800 m. (2650 ft.)
The photos are taken towards the west, and the prevailing wind is a westerly i.e. from the west. It has picked up moisture as it crosses the Atlantic, and this ridge is the first high one it crosses. Grazalema has the reputation of being one of the wettest places in Spain
The “burning off” effect may be seen here as the cloud passed through the pass “Puerto de las Palomas”. (In this photo the wind is travelling from left to right)

These and more photos may be found at Appendix A - CLOUDS
Weather reports
Most weather reports are recorded automatically by Meteorological stations, situated at intervals around a country.
These weather stations measure a large variety of different meteorological parameters, including air temperature, atmospheric pressure, rainfall, wind speed and direction, humidity, cloud height, visibility, and sunshine.

This map shows the distribution of the weather stations in Portugal of which current data and forecasts with pinpoint precision are available. In general, the weather stations measure air temperature and humidity (2 meters above ground), wind speed and wind direction (10 meters above ground), as well as sunshine duration, amount of precipitation and air pressure

The nearest ones to Praia da Luz are at Faro airport to the east of Praia da Luz, and at Sagres at the far western point of the Algarve. Their position relative to PdL may be seen here
The distance Sagres – PdL is 22 km.
The distance Faro – PdL is 66 km.
The distance from Sagres to Faro is 86 km.
A similar pattern is observed in the UK.
The distance Camborne – Yeovilton = 150 km
The distance Hurn – Eastbourne = 100 km

When was the Pool Photo taken ?
In what follows I shall concentrate on two dates.
The first is Thursday 3rd May 2007
The date on which Mitchell said on the McCann’s behalf the Pool Photo had been taken.
The date which Kate herself repeats in her book ‘madeleine’ that the photo was taken.
The date which is embedded in the EXIF Metadata on the photo as released to the world’s press on 24th May 2007
The second is Sunday 29th April 2007.
I shall explain why.
The family arrived in PdL on Saturday 28th April, and it was not until mid to late afternoon, after checking in and being taken to their apartment, then re-arranging furniture and unpacking, that they were able to visit their part of the resort to explore.
It is fairly clear that the three photos of the children in the play area on the lawn and with the playhouse were taken then.
p. 69 ‘madeleine’ - The weather was pleasant enough, although there was a cool breeze.
In fact there were large ‘fluffy’ cumulus clouds, which are seen on the photos of the children.
On Sunday 29th April the weather was, on any test, beautiful. There was no cloud, the sun shone for 13 hours at Faro – the Meteorological Station just along the coast, and photos from third parties posted on Flickr are clear evidence of this
On Monday 30th April the weather ‘closed in’ and it was dull and cold for the next few days. It rained on Wednesday 2nd May, as the group record.
I do not therefore concentrate on the days 30th April to 2nd May, though for the sake of completeness several dated photos may be found in Appendix D
But on one of the days between Saturday 28th April and Friday 4th May, the Pool Photo was taken.
The question is obvious.
What day ? What date?

Weather stations record meteorological date in coded form. It is standardised through the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) which allows it to be understood throughout most of the world.
An example looks like this
Two layers of cloud are then described
There is another common entry, which is important for this discussion
CAVOK Definition : Provided the visibility is >= 10 km, AND the height of the lowest cloud (any amount) is >=5000 ft (or highest minimum sector altitude) AND there are no cumulonimbus clouds (CB, any height) within sight, AND there is no significant weather (see list below), then the visibility and cloud part of the standard METAR is replaced by CAVOK (say "cav-oh-kay": 'Ceiling And Visibility OK').
Here we shall confine ourselves to looking at the period 1230 to 1530 on each day
Q: What does the METAR data tell us?
A: At lunchtime on Sunday 29th April the sky was clear - CAVOK
At lunchtime on Thursday 3rd May the sky was overcast - with 2 levels of cloud
The tutorial on the interpretation of METAR data may be found by activating the reference, and at Appendix B
The full set of METAR data from which the above have been extracted may be found by activating the references given, and at Appendix C1 and C2

Some weather stations record the total sunshine on a daily basis
Both Sagres and Faro do so.
The charts and details may be found in Appendix C and by consulting the references given
They show that
In Faro, on 28th and 29th April 12.6 hours of sun were recorded
On 30th April, 1st May and 2nd May NO sunshine was recorded
On Thursday 3rd May only 0.9 hours (54 minutes) of sun were recorded over the entire day
In Sagres, on 28th and 29th April 12.6 hours of sun were recorded
On 30th April, 1st May and 2nd May diminishing amounts of sunshine were recorded
On Thursday 3rd May only 8 hours of sun were recorded over the entire day
Q: What does the Sunshine data tell us?
A: It confirms what we already know from the raw METAR data

For most of Sunday 29th April the sky was clear - CAVOK
For most of Thursday 3rd May the sky was overcast

Observation: The sunshine recorded in Sagres is exactly as expected. The weather station is on the furthest west point of the Algarve, and the wind during that period was a fairly consistent WSW. As we have already discussed, cloud does not usually form until the air begins to rise over the land, and so we would predict that Sagres would have clear skies. The next section examining the photos will make this more clear

The website Flickr invites people to upload photos, and large numbers of people do so. Most if not all have the date and the type of camera and other details attached
The site has a good internal search engine, and is thus a useful if unintended resource where weather conditions are an issue.
There is the obvious caveat – that people do not take many photos on dull days, and secondly that even on a cloudy day where the sun appears only occasionally, unless the event itself is the focus of attention, they may wait until such a moment.
On a dull or overcast day however, there is no such choice.
A few photos in thumbnail size will suffice. The originals and many more are to be found in Appendix D, and the relevant url is shown in the reference section
Sunday 29th April
Thursday 3rd May
Between 29th April and 5th May 2007 the World Windsurfing Championship was held in Portimão, Algarve, some 17 km from PdL.
The website has a wealth of photos and video of the whole event, and brief references to wind speed and sea state with wave height in the daily Press release.
It is also instructive since the archive shows photos taken not only from the land out to sea, but also from the official launches back towards the coast
These photos were taken on the same day at the World Windsurfing event.

Photos taken from the sea show thick cloud over the land.
Those taken from the land show clear sky over the sea.
The wind was blowing at an angle from the sea towards the land, (WSW)
So we can observe how the saturated air is forced to rise and how the clouds form over the land.
This is incidentally how mariners across the ages knew they were approaching land
But even if we have a photo taken outdoors which does not show the sky, we may deduce what the weather must have been. To make this more clear, consider these.
Here a photo taken on land is seen, showing a lack of sharp shadows, from which we may reasonably deduce significant cloud cover, even though we cannot directly see it
From this photo however we can reasonably deduce clear sky, again without being able directly to see it
The first photo is dated 3/5/7. The second 29/4/7
Knowing how clouds form and disperse as the air reaches the coast, we can therefore look back at the three photos at the start of this section, and deduce that in the third, although there appears to be only 6/8 cloud cover, this is out at sea, and therefore over the land must have been considerably more. The cloud is, to use the common English expression ”breaking up”.
This solves another of the apparent objections raised by this issue.
The METAR data at Faro reports one layer of cloud at 1/8 – 2/8 cover, and a higher one at 3/8 – 4/8 cover. Faro airport is close to the coast, only 2,200m to the control tower.

The cloud cover report is of the entire visible sky, in this case horizon in the south to the mountains in the north.
Full cloud cover over the land and clear sky over the sea gives 4/8 cover even if the lower 2/8 layer is ignored.
In Appendix 3 many more photos from the windsurfing event may be viewed, including not only those taken towards the sea, those taken from the sea towards the land, but some taken on the land.
Q: What do the Photos tell us?
A: They confirm what we already know from the METAR and the Sunshine data
For most of Sunday 29th April the sky over land and sea was clear - CAVOK
For most of Thursday 3rd May the sky over the land was overcast

Let us look at what witnesses said about the weather.
Firstly the Tapas 7
These are clipped from the full statements.
References for the full statements may be found in App F
* * * * *
Kate McCann has told the world that the Last Photo was taken at 14:29 on Thursday 3rd May 2007. At that time there was heavy cloud, overcast and an ambient temperature of only 17ºC or 18º C (62.5ºF - 64.5ºF)
By 9pm that evening the temperature had dropped one or two degrees, to 16ºC, a temperature which prompted Jane Tanner to complain about the cold and to make quite an issue of collecting one of her partner’s thick fleeces during her visit to their apartment.
Kate McCann describes the day of their arrival, Saturday 28th April, thus
p. 69 “The weather was pleasant enough, although there was a cool breeze.”
There is no mention of the weather on Sunday 29th April.
She goes on to say of Tuesday 1st May
p. 84 “The weather wasn’t great: in fact, on the beach it started to rain.
Strangely, Kate McCann also describes the weather at the time and date she states she took the Pool Photo
p. 94 “The weather was a little on the cool side and I remember thinking I should have brought a cardigan for her,
Referring to the evening of Thursday 3rd May Kate McCann is very clear that outside, the weather was cold.
p. 104 “It was so cold . . .”
The remaining quotes refer to the evening of Thursday 3rd May
Jane Tanner is insistent in her rogatory interview
JT: . . . and I just thought that child's not got any shoes on because you could see the feet, and it was quite a cold night in Portugal in May it's not actually that warm, and I'd got a big jumper on, and I can remember thinking oh that parent is not a particularly good parent, they've not wrapped them up.
- - -
and yet again
4078 “So you went on the wrong day.”
Reply “Yeah, I think err so it wasn’t, that’s one reason why we didn’t open the shutters to open the window or anything in that room, it wasn’t actually really hot at all, it was actually quite cloudy in the days and at night it was actually quite chilly.”
The remaining Tapas group are also clear that 15ºC is cold.
Russell O’Brien : The nights were quite chilly
Matthew Oldfield : in the evenings it was very cold,
Rachel Oldfield : it was really cold in the evenings
David Payne : it was quite cold some nights and you know perhaps nearly too cold to be sat outside
Fiona Payne : it was still very cold
Diane Webster : when they were brought up to our apartment and they would have to
come out into the cold
Here they are describing their experience of a temperature of 15ºC or 14ºC
This is only one or two degrees less than that recorded at lunchtime on 3rd May
Q: What do these accounts and statements tell us?
A: They confirm what we already know from the METAR and the Sunshine data
From 30th April to 3rd May a weather front passed over Portugal, bringing cold and cloudy conditions, only moving away late on Thursday 3rd May

Weather conditions may not only be seen in or deduced from photographs and METAR data. Many people for personal or professional reasons keep diaries in which they record weather, and many have recollections, particularly if asked soon after the event, or if given access to photos they have taken
A local PdL resident and retired RAF Navigator, who continued into his retirement his practice of observing weather and recording it in his diary said
[NOTE: This has been heavily edited to concentrate on the weather related items]
Saturday, April 28 2007. Clear skies with warm temperatures for time of year enabled a full entry in the golf competition at the nearby Boavista Resort. From 1 ’til 4pm, warm dry conditions. Clear skies at night resulted in cooler conditions by dawn the following day.
Sunday, April 29 2007. Another fine day (warm once the Sun got up) but some evidence of weather on the change by evening. No threat of frost for the following day due to cloud cover that night.
Monday, April 30 2007. Cloudy day, but dry and average temperatures.
Tuesday, May 1 2007. Cooler cloudier weather,
Wednesday, May 2 2007. Cool, cloudy with sunny spells and moderate winds
Thursday, 3 May 2007 Weather continues cool and cloudy with sunny intervals, but not pool dipping weather. Noticed first evidence of weather change, as by 7.15 pm cloud was clearing from the North. Just after 11pm night sky clear with full moon. I arrived at my apartment about 11:45pm. It was a clear dry moonlit, and it was good to reflect that better weather had now set in.
Friday 4 May, 2007 I was awakened at c.0750 on a fine clear morning,
Saturday 5 May, 2007. Weather continues fine and sunny.
He was then asked to view a series of photos taken from Flickr - shown in Appendix D
He replied
All show the same pattern, of the clear skies on 28 and 29, then turning to heavy overcast and beginning to open up on 3/5/7 in the evening.
Q: What does this account tell us?
A: It confirms what we already know from the METAR and the Sunshine data, and from the photos, and from the first hand witness statements
For most of Sunday 29th April the sky over land and sea was clear - CAVOK
During the week a weather front moved across Portugal bringing cold, cloudy, and rainy weather
For most of Thursday 3rd May the sky was overcast and the day was cold
From late evening of Thursday 3rd and on Friday 4th May the weather improved

Q: What does all this tell us?
A: Does all this tell us that Thursday 3rd May 2007 was largely overcast, cold and windy, but Sunday 29th April 2007 was clear, and warm. Does it tell us that on the first full day of the holiday the McCann family acted normally, as would any other family of five, the children dressed in their new holiday clothes, wearing their new sun hats, exploring, having their photo taken, dipping their feet into the pool, and generally enjoying the sensation of being on a family holiday ?
It may do.
But there are two important objections to all of this
1 Gerry McCann is on record as saying the evening of 3rd May was HOT
Concerning the bed where his daughter was on the night she disappeared, he says that she slept uncovered, as usual when it was hot, with the bedclothes folded down'. Police statement 10 May
2 Mitchell, acting for the McCanns, and subsequently Kate McCann in her autobiography, have united in saying that the photo was taken on Thursday 3rd May
Those 3 people clearly reject the Meteorological Office records, ignore the many photos on Flickr, dismiss the evidence of official photos of the World Windsurfing Championships, reject the statements, turn a blind eye to the diaries, and insist that the photo was taken at lunchtime on Thursday 3rd May 2007
Is it even remotely possible that it could have been ?

These relate to Thursday 3/5/7 unless otherwise stated.
Q: The charts show there was 4/8 cloud cover. Only half the sky is covered, so the sun would have shone through the other half.
A1: Clouds are not static. They move more or less quickly across the sky. Everyone knows how the sun ‘comes out’ and then ‘goes back in’ to use the standard English expressions. The Pool Photo shows bright sun, but also, crucially, shows Gerry with a sheen of perspiration on his forehead, and everyone wearing light clothing.
If the Pool Photo had been taken during a brief appearance of the sun through a gap in the clouds, we might have to explain why everyone was suitable dressed for that exact moment, and not for a generally overcast and cool day. Even Kate says so -
p. 95 “The weather was a little on the cool side
At Faro airport only 54 minutes of sunshine were recorded for the entire day
A2: There were two levels of cloud. The higher altitude one was in the range 3-4/8 cover, the lower one in the range 1-2/8. These move at different speeds, and in slightly different directions depending on the wind direction at each altitude. Thus some of the time there would have been 6/8 cloud cover. Only when the two levels coincided would there have been only 4/8 cover. It is submitted that although this might have been enough to allow the pool photo to have been taken in one of the short intervals, it would not have caused, or allowed Gerry and the children to dress in light clothing, don sunglasses, sun hats, nor to persuade Gerry to wear sunglasses and develop a sheen of sweat on his forehead.
The highest temperature recorded on 3/5/7 was 19º C (66º F) some 2 hours after solar zenith. At 1429 it was 18º C (64º F), with a Force 3-4 wind off the sea.
A3: The figure of 4/8 cover is recorded by the Meteorological station at Faro. Faro is close to the coast. As we have seen, cloud forms as air comes in from the sea, and rises over the land. The land can then have total cloud cover and the sea be entirely cloud free. The report will then show 4/8 cloud cover. This is clearly illustrated in the windsurfing photos.
The weather report from Faro records only 0.9 hours of sunshine on 3/5/7


Chapter 29: Fake News
When a normal person does it, it is called a Lie
When a child does it, it is called a Fib
When a person does it in court, it is called Perjury
When a politician does it, it is called Spin
When a journalist does it, it is called Fake News
But is there a difference ?
And why do we not like a Lie, teach a child to forgo a Fib, punish Perjury, but suck up Spin, and just shrug our shoulders and give up on Fake News ?

WIKI gives a reasonable definition of Fake News.
Fake news is a neologism often used to refer to fabricated news. This type of news, found in traditional news, or fake news websites, has no basis in fact, but is presented as being factually accurate.

Claire Wardle of First Draft News identifies seven types of fake news
. satire or parody ("no intention to cause harm but has potential to fool")
. false connection ("when headlines, visuals or captions don't support the content")
. misleading content ("misleading use of information to frame an issue or an individual")
. false context ("when genuine content is shared with false contextual information")
. imposter content ("when genuine sources are impersonated" with false, made-up sources)
. manipulated content ("when genuine information or imagery is manipulated to deceive", as with a "doctored" photo)
. fabricated content ("new content is 100% false, designed to deceive and do harm”)

Those who have followed the Madeleine McCann case quickly became hypersensitive to the stream of Fake News and indeed outright lies put out by Team McCann through the compliant media. It quickly became clear, for example, that anything said by the spokesman Clarence Mitchell was likely to be the reverse of the objective and verifiable truth. Lists of his falsehoods have circulated for years.
And although at 11 years after the event, the stream of invented sightings has diminished, and the attention seems to have turned in a different direction, there remains a body of unconditional supporters of the McCanns who will hear nothing said against them, and who refuse to address issues raised by the available evidence.
Recently, and right on cue, the main offenders published two stories. The first about the impending decision of the ECHR in the case brought by the McCanns against the State of Portugal. The second about various aspects of the “Fund” and the six-monthly application for further funding for Operation Grange to continue. Both appeared in the tabloid press, and were copied freely between and among them. Both were so riddled with mistakes, falsehoods and downright lies that they are hardly worthy of comment, except to observe that the clear intention of both was somehow to present the McCanns as permanent victims of a cruel and inhuman system.
Kate and Gerry McCann are returning to court to fight against the ex-detective who claimed they were responsible for Madeleine's death. No they are not. The ECHR does not take evidence from individuals, it considers documents and Legal arguments. If they lose the case the pair will be forced to pay Goncalo Amaral £750,000, after he made a bid to sue them for compensation. No they will not. And no he did not.
The couple will face Amaral in the European Court, as public money which was funding the search for Madeleine is about to dry up. No they will not. The case is McCanns v Portugal, They have to show that Portuguese law and its Constitution is contrary to Human Rights. Their case against Dr Amaral was lost a long time ago. And in any event none of the parties ‘go’ anywhere. A hearing is expected this year after Amaral decided to sue the McCanns when their libel case was overturned. No he did not.

The McCanns are embroiled in a row with Goncalo Amaral. No they are not. They took him to court, won at First Instance and then lost on Appeal and on final Appeal to the Supreme Court. That part of the case is finished, over, terminated, ‘res judicata’. The legal action is aimed at overturning a Portuguese Supreme Court ruling that detective Goncalo Amaral — who wrote a book about the case claiming Madeleine died in Portugal and her parents covered it up — did not defame the McCanns. No it isn’t. It is about something else entirely.
If the couple lose the European Court of Human Rights case they face having to pay Amaral £430,000 in damages, plus costs, which could wipe out most of the remaining money. No they won’t. They do not have to pay Dr Amaral anything in Damages. He was the respondent in the original action. They sued HIM. And lost. So they have to pay full costs of all the actions.

As we see, if we ignore the inevitable padding in the articles, the only attempts at presentation of ‘facts’ are simply inaccurate, or wrong. Given that the authors have all the resources of their own legal departments and researchers, proof readers and sub-editors, these examples of False News can be classed as downright lies. And furthermore, lies told with a specific intent, which makes them more sinister. The manipulation of the public’s credulity by the Press may however be coming to a close. The internet allows people to do their own ‘research’, and to cross check the facts against many other sources. But the traditional dead-tree press continue to blunder on in the way they always have, secure in the delusion that they will be believed. Increasingly they seem to be using a desperate form of self-justification to add an air of authority as in “I have been reporting on this case for 10 years and I can say . . . .” or “I was first on the scene . . . ” with the phrase “. . and therefore know more than you do” implied. One notable example is the free newspaper circulating in southern Spain - ”The Olive Press”. The proprietor, who was once a decent investigative journalist, wrote the obligatory 10 year anniversary article, which also appears on the on-line version. In the article he repeats the following “Facts”. 
When I arrived at about 11.45am I was firstly able to walk into the apartment, where I introduced myself to the McCanns and told them I would do everything I could to help. The only reporter on the scene till late that evening – apart from Sky News reporter Kate Burley, who happened to be on holiday there – I spent time grilling neighbours..
Note: In the initial piece he referred to a KATE Burley, but he amended that to ‘Kay Burley’ after the Comments Section pointed out his mistake. But he has failed to amend the name to that of the journalist who WAS there. Ms Burley was in the UK at the time. Timed and dated video evidence of this fact exists and was pointed out to the author. The identify of the reporter who was there is known, and has been pointed out, but despite this, he has done nothing to correct his potentially serious allegation. And then he introduces a very familiar “Straw Man” fallacious argument.
“These are just some of the reasons why I am convinced the McCanns did not kill their daughter.”
(This is also technically an Argumentum ad lapidem, a statement made forcibly, but without any relevant facts adduced, or a species of Proof by Repeated Assertion. The ‘facts’ he does adduce are entirely irrelevant to his conclusion, including as they do the number of people in the group, their professional status, and the fact that he personally cannot see how ‘it’ could have been achieved). He recounts one of the more egregious leads for which he was responsible
.. I inadvertently found myself interviewing a former nightclub bouncer in Huelva, who claimed he knew who snatched Maddie. A huge Angolan chap, he told me she had been taken on order and was now, most l likely, in America. We double checked his credentials, ran it past Maddie’s family and published a carefully worded and, I believe, sensitive piece, which then of course got picked up by the Sun to be splashed on its front page. Not so sensitively. (1)
And he finishes with a nice journalistic oratorical flourish I doubt the case will ever be solved, but I am certain the parents were not involved. And nor, should I add, was I.
[ I think “And nor, I should add, was I”, is stylistically better; the personal pronouns separated slightly more for balance, but the iambic-anapestic-iambic is satisfying]
So how much of this is objectively true, how much is “Spin”, how much “Fake News”, and how much deliberate lying. It is difficult to know where to start, but his criticism of The Sun is as good a place as any. The facts are that he was writing exclusively for The SUN and other papers for many months. Even though he had his own newspaper which was in its early stages of development, he did not publish a single article about the case there until September or October. Some articles in the Sun appeared under his name alone, others jointly with Lazzeri, some with Emily Nash, some with others.
The Sun make no pretence that he is on their team. [6]
Sun team: John Scott, Guy Patrick, Antonella Lazzeri, Alastair Taylor, John Coles, Gary O'Shea, Emma Cox, David Goodwin, Tom Worden, Jon Clarke and Doug Seeburg.
Which begs an important question.
Why did he ask me to refrain from making the link between him and News International in his Comments columns all those years ago ? I have refrained, but now, 11 years on, I feel able to reveal this apparently insignificant fact.
But let us go back, once again right to the beginning. Keep our eye on the squirrel.
He tells us he walked into the apartment, and spoke to the McCanns, and then spent time “grilling neighbours”.
He does NOT tell us and never has told us, about the state of the apartment, of the windows, of the shutters, of the curtains, or of the doors.
He does NOT tell us about the conversation he had with the McCanns, about their physical or emotional state, nor the story they told.
He does not tell us if he re-traced the walk from the Tapas bar to the apartment, or paced it out, or timed it, or indeed of anything he actually did.

Since he was there (and there is no reason to suspect that he was not) he will have seen that the shutters were NOT damaged in any way. He will - must - have observed this by mid-day.

But he clearly did not relay this first-hand information back to his employers. For several days many media outlets in the UK, both in print and television news, were repeating the totally false and frankly mendacious claim that the shutters had been forced or broken, jemmied or smashed.

Why did he not ?
It was left to John Hill, the manager of the Ocean Club to make that statement. Strangely, after his announcement he was quietly sidelined by the media and never again asked to comment. Not one reporter, investigative or otherwise, has published an in-depth interview with him about what he saw and what he found. Not one.
Why not ?
The question that springs up is not Why were they all doing this ?, but rather WHO was controlling this information flow, to ensure that the LIE about the shutters was repeated sufficiently often and for sufficiently long to enter the mendacious narrative ?
And WHO was paying for this mendacity ?
A Portuguese investigative journalist, (a real one) Paulo Reis, did some investigation of his own. Specifically he investigated the way in which ex-pat and British journalists were behaving, by going incognito into their midst. It is a fascinating or deeply worrying description, depending on your view of the role of the Media in modern society.
I quote a few short extracts. Entire article 10 May 2018 Why I went undercover to Praia da Luz
... I approached the crowd of onlookers, tried to be close to the British journalists, listening what they were talking about. As it happens with most British coming to Portugal (and don’t take me wrong, I don’t want to be offensive) they believe “natives” could not understand English, so they talked. And talked a lot. The comments of John Hill were published and broadcasted by the British Media only in the first couple of days after Maddie disappeared. Then, as people used to see in Soviet Union, something happened to Mr. John Hill: he just vanished from the newspapers pages and TV reports, like the rivals or supposed enemies of Stalin were erased from official pictures. I collected a lot of information, during those three times I stayed “incognito” at Praia da Luz. I had the opportunity to find how the system set up by Alex Woolfall, from Bell Pottinger, worked, “managing” information released by PJ to the McCann couple and "feeding" it to be published and broadcasted (after some“adaptations”…) by British Media.

So let us look again at the two main claims for Friday 4th May 2007.
“When I arrived at about 11.45am I was firstly able to walk into the apartment, where I introduced myself to the McCanns and told them I would do everything I could to help.
There is no doubt about what he is saying. No doubt about the time, day, date or place. No doubt about the people. It is a straightforward and unequivocal statement of ‘fact’.

The PJ had taken photos of the scene during the night and early hours of the morning, and then, as is normal practice, sealed the scene, and left it under the control and supervision of the GNR. Their statements are clear, the practice is so normal as hardly to merit further consideration. [8]
Even Kate in her autobiography confirms this, though she puts a different interpretation on their presence [9].
p.81 I couldn’t see anyone about by this time, except for a couple of GNR police cars in the road outside and a handful of officers hanging around. None of them appeared to be doing very much.
And at 9 am
p.85. The GNR patrol was still in evidence, although again, there didn’t seem to be much sense of urgency

Around 10 am the McCanns were taken to Portimão to give statements. They did not return until 8.30 pm.

How can we be sure ?

Because the McCanns’ statements are timed and dated; the PJ officers’ statements covering the McCanns’ statements are timed and dated and confirm this; the Tapas 7 confirm it in their statements; AND Kate spells it out in great detail.
p. 88 It was about 10am by the time a couple of PJ officers turned up. (One of them, in his thirties, tall and well built, I thought of for ages simply as John. I’m not sure he ever gave us his name, but later – much later – we found out that it was João Carlos.) They told us they had to take us and our friends to the police station in Portimão. We couldn’t all go at once as somebody needed to look after the children. After some discussion, it was agreed that Gerry and I, Jane, David and Matt would be interviewed first and the PJ would come back for the others later in the day. Fiona and Dianne took Sean and Amelie to their club along with the other children. While our world was falling apart, the best way of trying to keep theirs together seemed to be to stick with what they were used to.
Gerry and I travelled in one police car with the others following in a second vehicle. It was an awful journey. It took twenty, twenty-five minutes, but it felt much longer.

And then

p. 92 We were completely unprepared for what we found when we drove back into Praia da Luz some time after 8.30pm.

Conclusion : - The McCanns were in Portimão, NOT in the apartment. And the apartment was sealed and under the control of the GNR until the arrival of the Forensic team.

The apartment was examined later that day in detail by Forensic scientists.

How do we know ?

Because it is normal practice; because their statements tell us what they did; because the list of things they did and the exhibits they collected is available for anyone to read; AND because Kate tells us in her autobiography that she watched the proceedings on the television in the police station in Portimão

p. 86. A forensic team also arrived from Lisbon that Friday. Having moved out of apartment 5A, we weren’t aware of exactly when, but presumably it was some time in the morning.

Her use of the Perfect Participle “having moved out”, carries in English the clear indication that this was an action which had been completed, and the context tells us this happened some time before the morning.

But the Author tells us he walked into the apartment and spoke to the McCanns . . .
As someone once said . . .
“And surely Brutus is an honourable man . . .”

He then says something very strange - for an investigative journalist.

And this may be the clue, the brain leak, the hidden confession . . .

He says
“I introduced myself to the McCanns and told them I would do everything I could to help.”

He does not say he asked them for details; that he quickly rehearsed the story with them; that he had a look at the window and the shutters - (which even while he was there were being described across the English speaking news media as smashed, broken, forced and jemmied); he does not say he did any of the things an investigative journalist might reasonably be supposed to have done.

He told them he would do everything he could to HELP.
What part of an investigative journalist’s role is it to HELP the principal suspects in a case ?

But was that in fact his brief ? Has he just told the truth ?
Has he inadvertently revealed the link between News International and Team McCann ?
And does his admission that with the Angolan bouncer story he “ran it past Maddie’s family”. also give the game away ?

* * * * * * *
So in the space of one short piece of parrot-cage, cat-litter, free-paper ’journalism’ we have

Four classical fallacies. (Straw man, Argumentum ad hominem (abusive), Argumentum ad Lapidem and Proof by Repeated Assertion)
One demonstrably false story about a named person placed at the locus delicti - potentially a very serious allegation
Two further demonstrably false stories about his visit to the scene and about his speaking to the principle players in the Missing Person enquiry
One long story of extremely dubious content clearly designed to be repeated in the English gutter press.

But not much else.

The author had had 10 years to do the research, to cross check, to compare and contrast, to read the statements of the principal parties and others, to write out time lines, to think about alternative scenarios, and so on.

Instead of which he tells us he does “not believe the McCanns killed their daughter” !

Where then to place this ?
Can we say he is LYING ?
Tricky, for if he genuinely believes his own fantasy after 10 years then that is a species of delusion, and he is not culpable in the usual sense.

Can we say it is a FIB?
Not really. He is a self-professed investigative journalist who years ago did some good and perspicacious work. He is no longer a silly child.

Can we say it is PERJURY ?
Certainly not. He has never sworn or even averred or insisted that what he has said is the truth. (He is a journalist, and like Government spokesmen, they do not give evidence under oath). He has however said it, and written it in permanent and electronic form, and clearly expects it to be taken at face value and believed.

Can we say it is SPIN ?
We could, but that is normally reserved for politicians and their spokes-people. In any event this is not slight distortion of background truth. This is blatant invention.

Can we say it is FAKE NEWS ?
More difficult. We might have to delve into the intention behind writing the piece. It seems to fit three of Claire Wardle’s categories, but doesn’t sit easily there.

Or do we think it fits into another category ? That of a long and detailed conspiracy to deceive, in which the Author may be merely a innocent pawn, himself deceived into churning out nonsense stories for money without perhaps understanding the “Bigger Picture”, or understanding how so many small players were being manipulated, nor why or by whom.

I do not know.
I do not know why he wrote what he did, nor why he used the manner or tone in which he wrote it.
Nor do I know why having been given documentary proof of several glaring errors, he did not correct the article, or take it down.

These are indeed strange times.
Over the years we have grown to despise, revile and reject anything written by Lazzeri, or Kandohla, or said by Mitchell.

But his tragedy is this -

His credibility and personal veracity have been damaged
His credibility as a journalist is seriously damaged
His credibility as an investigative journalist was lost long ago
The credibility of his newspaper has gone
He can no longer rely on anyone’s believing anything written by him, either before or since.

In mitigation we can suggest that he is an old fashioned wordsmith, trained in a pre-internet age, and believing that by putting his words on paper and on-line they somehow acquire ‘gravitas’. The reality is different.
He is not alone. Team McCann had clearly also not seen it coming, and had not realised that so much of the documentary evidence would be released into the public domain, or subject to the detailed scrutiny it has had over the past decade.

We no longer live in the Age of Credulity and Gullibility
Journalists may not like it, but we no longer do.

And behind all this is the fear that we may all be being manipulated by the Press, under the control of an Orwellian MiniTrue
Let us hope it is more Lewis Carrol. (Alice Through the Looking Glass)
Alice laughed. 'There's no use trying,' she said, 'one can't believe impossible things.’
'I daresay you haven't had much practice,' said the Queen. 'When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

As someone else once more trenchantly remarked -
“You are entitled to your own opinion
You are NOT entitled to your own set of facts.”


This is the Sun article in question.
Madeleine McCann is in America – and I know who took her
From EMILY NASH and JON CLARKE in Huelva, Spain
18th February 2011, 12:00 am Updated: 4th April 2016, 8:00 pm
AN INVESTIGATOR has told cops Madeleine McCann was taken to the US — and he has named two key suspects.
Marcelino Italiano, 36, said she had been snatched by an Algarve-based paedophile ring. Angolan-born Italiano said the gang of influential and dangerous perverts had hunted children in the Algarve before smuggling them out of Portugal. And he told how he had to flee for his life when his investigations threatened to unmask them. . . The facts, if anyone is interested, are that Huelva is just over an hour’s drive from Faro along the coast into Spain. There is no border control as both countries are within the Schengen zone. The English expression “flee for his life” tends to imply something slightly more than this.
And if anyone cares to ‘double check his credentials’ they will discover very easily that Italiano lived and worked in Huelva, and had done so for some time, being named as one of the main players in the local basketball team. His height of 6’4” must have been of great benefit, as they were promoted in their first season. He also clearly made no attempt to hide his identity or whereabouts.

Shutters had been jemmied.. Maddie was gone
John Askill and Julie Moult in Praia da Luz, Portugal, and James Clench in London
5 May 2007
The Sun

Sun team: John Scott, Guy Patrick, Antonella Lazzeri, Alastair Taylor, John Coles, Gary O'Shea, Emma Cox, David Goodwin, Tom Worden, Jon Clarke and Doug Seeburg.

After the site had been isolated, he proceeded to make an inspection, together with the inspection and photographic report carried out by Deputy Specialist Joao Barreiras.
* * *
He then states that upon leaving the apartment was locked, leaving the space preserved for the GNR elements that were stationed next to the apartment.

9 ‘madeleine’, Kate McCann, 2011, Bantam Press


Ref 7

Paulo Reis, Thursday, 10 May 2018

Why I went undercover to Praia da Luz

In 2007, I wrote in my blog “Madeleine McCann Disappearance” that I went to Praia da Luz once. That is not truth. But this not exactly a lie. I went once, as a journalist. I was there three other times, acting not as a journalist, but playing the “role” of another “Portuguese native”, curious like all the other inhabitants of the small village about what was going on with Madeleine McCann’s police investigation.

Before going there, those three times, I took some precautions. I shaved my hair just like a skinhead (I had it medium to long-sized), cut my moustache and, to help the “disguise”, at the time I already had to use glasses. It’s amazing how much these little details can change your appearance. I didn’t want to be recognized by other colleagues, journalist that knew me before.

I had something in my favor. In 1986, I went to Macau and stayed there until 1997. Came back to Portugal, worked on a national weekly newspaper “O Independente”, between 1989 and 2004. I had editorial responsibilities, so spend most of my time in the office, not in the street, reporting and getting in touch with other journalists. Between 2004 and 2008, I worked as a freelance journalist.

Many of the colleagues that knew me before 1986 had a successful career and are, actually, working at top jobs, in newspapers, radios and TV. The actual editor of “Correio da Manhã”, the leading daily newspaper in Portugal, Octávio Ribeiro, around 1984/85, was just a young man, friend of a fiend of mine, also journalist and, at the time, I think he wasn’t planning a career in journalism. My good friend António Ribeiro Ferreira, who I know since 1981 as we started as journalists at the same time, in the same newspaper, was until recently editor of a daily newspaper, the “i”. Nuno Tiago Pinto, who was a trainee at “O Independente”, now is deputy-editor of “Sábado”, a weekly news magazine. They just stay in the office, don't go out for reporting.


While I was at Praia da Luz, I kept a closed eye on Portuguese journalists that were there, reporting. They had the natural tendency of bundling together, exchanging tips and information, so it was easy to spot them. During those three stays at Praia da Luz, I detected only two journalists that knew me: Rui Gustavo, from the weekly “Expresso” and Francisco Leong, a photographer from Agence France Press.

I was sleeping in a tent with capacity only for one person, at a camping park, a few miles from Praia da Luz and I always parked my Honda CB 500 far from the place where action was going on, near the Ocean Club resort. I approached the area carefully, trying to spot those two friends and, in case of a “positive identification”, I just change my path and went to a coffee-shop near by, waiting until they left the area.

When there was no risk to meet them, I approached the crowd of onlookers, tried to be close to the British journalists, listening what they were talking about. As it happens with most British coming to Portugal (and don’t take me wrong, I don’t want to be offensive) they believe “natives” could not understand English, so they talked. And talked a lot.

After lunch, I spend time at the terrace of supermarket Batista, very close to Ocean Park and the only place where you could buy all British newspapers. But I never bought a single one, always choose one or two Portuguese newspaper and spend a long time reading them. Many British journalists spend their free time in that sunny terrace. They had laptops, mobile connection to Internet, fresh beer and some snacks. They sat down in groups of three or four and, once again, they talked among them with the same lack of basic precautions, convinced that the few “natives” sitting there English illiterates.

At the end of the afternoon and after dinner time, I used to made a round up through a few bars were retired British expatriates met, for a couple of beers and a small chat. Late at night, I had the routine of going to the two only places that were open until dawn. There was a big disco, but I don’t remember the name, and a bar, I think it was known as the “Carlos Bar” – but I’m not absolutely sure.

There, I played the role of a joyful “native” who had a couple of beers more that he should, but always in a good and happy mood, choosing carefully my “targets” (groups of British journalists), making toasts with them, trying to make “contact”, and speaking in a rather primitive and basic English.


Some people may question the ethics of this behaviour, from the point of view of the Deontological Code of Portuguese Journalists, “spying” on his own colleagues. May be this a matter for discussion and debate and there will be, of course different views. I did what I did because, since the beginning of this case, when I was in Lisbon, sleeping 5/6 hours and spending the remaining of the day (and night) zapping through Sky News, BBC, ITV, checking dozens of British website newspapers and online news sites, I had the feeling that there was something strange, in the way UK Media was reporting the case.

I remember one of the first details that called my attention: the alleged broken shutters, and the Press reports “quoting” that “Gerry and Kate reportedly believed someone had ‘jemmied open’ the shutters to get into (Madeleine) her bedroom”.

A direct testimony of Kate McCann was more clear: at 10.00pm she checked the children and “she becomes alarmed when she reaches out to the children's bedroom door and it blows shut. Inside the room, the window is open and the shutter is up. The twins are sleeping but Madeleine's bed is empty.” More details came from Gerry McCann. He told Polícia Judiciária “that, when he was first alerted to the disappearance, he had lowered the shutter, then had gone outside and discovered that it could be raised only from the outside”. Against this, the police said the shutter could not be raised from the outside without being forced, but there was no sign of forced entry; they also said forcing the shutter open would have caused a lot of noise.

"Trish Cameron and Philomena McCann, Gerry’s sisters, Jill Renwick, a family friend and Jon Corner, Madeleine’s godparent were important key players in the McCann’s campaign of manipulation and distortion, since the early hours. Despite the clear and blunt denials of John Hill, the Ocean resort manager, Portuguese police and witnesses, they insisted that the shutters of apartment 5A were “jemmied” or “broken” and – small but interesting detail – the door, which had been locked, was open.”

The comments of John Hill were published and broadcasted by the British Media only in the first couple of days after Maddie disappeared. Than, as people was used to see in Soviet Union, something happened to Mr. John Hill: he just vanished from the newspapers pages and TV reports, like the rivals or supposed enemies of Stalin were erased from official pictures.

I collected a lot of information, during those three times I stayed “incognito” at Praia da Luz. I had the opportunity to find how the system set up by Alex Woolfall, from Bell Pottinger, worked, “managing” information released by PJ to the McCann couple and "feeding" it to be published and broadcasted (after some“adaptations”…) by British Media. It will be the subject, soon, of another detailed post in my blog.

I must tell one of the most curious stories of this case. Around September 2007, after the McCann were made “arguidos”, his British lawyers from Carter-Ruck asked for meetings with the editorial board of several UK Media organisations. One of the newspapers that got the request was a little bit uncomfortable, expecting something bad, from that meeting. So, minutes before, the team of lawyers from the newspaper came in and waited in another room, ready for a confrontation with Carter-Ruck lawyers, as they were expecting some kind of legal threat that could take them to court.

But the newspaper’s lawyers spend around 30 minutes waiting for nothing. All that the Carter-Ruck lawyers wanted to explain to the editorial board of that newspaper (and they did the same with other Media organizations) was that, according to the Portuguese Law, if there was no body found,the McCann never could be accused of nothing…

That, is not truth. Recently, a group pf criminals kidnapped a Portuguese businessman, to demand a ransom. They killed him and dissolved his body in a tank with sulfuric acid, leaving no trace, not even a small piece that could be used for a DNA analysis. But they were arrested, went on trial and sentenced, because their phones were wiretapped and PJ collected other strong evidence, enough to convince the court send them to prison for 25 years. 


In Chapter 17 we started to consider some of the philosophical issues concerned with this case. We looked at whether absence of evidence could become evidence of absence ( it can !) and we touched on Logic and fallacious arguments
What I want to do now is look at it purely from the point of view of Formal Logic. We know that there is no forensic evidence of an abduction on Thursday 3rd May 2007. So let us look at the logic of the arguments that have been put forward in the absence of that evidence. There seem to be three phases, each involving different fallacies. I will try to pursue them in chronological order

1 Argument by assertion.

Of the night in question, 3rd May 2007 Kate writes “I’d done that, and I knew, I knew, that Madeleine had been abducted.”

The addition of the second ‘I knew’, and putting it in italic is clearly designed to emphasise and therefore to persuade. This is a classical fallacy known as the Argument by assertion
qui consiste à essayer de faire valoir un point en affirmant simplement qu'il est vrai. Une affirmation en soi (comme l'effraction par la fenêtre) n'est pas vraiment une preuve de quoi que ce soit, ni même un argument réel - une affirmation démontre simplement que la personne qui fait la déclaration y croit ou feint d'y croire. Un argument par assertion véritablement fallacieux est celui où une personne continue à affirmer sans argument, même après sollicitation d'un argument. Un argument répété par assertion peut également prendre la forme de non sequitur (qui ne suit pas les prémisses, que la conclusion soit vraie ou fausse) qui demande peu d’effort et est donc souvent utilisé pour fatiguer les personnes qui avancent des arguments réels, guerre d'usure.
If you have no evidence, simply state something. If necessary shout, and as we saw in Chapter 17 in the Lewis Carrol extract - What I tell you three times is true ( and other less amusing and more sinister examples). If in doubt, keep repeating it. It is then sometimes referred to as the Argument by repeated assertion.

This does not reinforce the argument. In some cases it may make it weaker in the minds of perceptive listeners, as the lack of any supporting evidence is exposed. In fact Kate does this as well in her book. In one paragraph she says “Refusing to acknowledge what I already knew.. mentally ticking boxes that I knew, deep down, were already ticked.” In two short paragraphs she uses the word four times, without adducing a single piece of relevant evidence to support the contention. Gradually this fallacy can begin to metamorphose into the Argumentum ad baculum* - the Argument with the club, as the repetition becomes more violent and aggressive, and develops into legal proceedings or in hounding a person to their death. I discuss this later. 
* ex. Crois ce que je dis ou je te frappe. C'est un cas particulier de la forme négative de l'argumentum ad consequentiam (par la conséquence), qui conclut qu'une hypothèse (généralement une croyance) est vraie ou fausse, selon que la prémisse entraîne des conséquences souhaitables ou indésirables, autrement dit en se fondant sur un appel à l'émotion. Si P, alors Q . Q est indésirable, donc P est faux.
It can also become the Argumentum ad lapidem - the argument by kicking a stone to prove its existence.  
Il s'agit de rejeter une déclaration comme absurde sans donner la preuve de son absurdité.

2 Affirming the consequent
This is a form of non sequitur (it does not follow) argument, and was used from the start by the McCanns. The correct form of the argument is this. It is called the modus ponendo ponens ou "détachement" : manière d'affirmer en affirmant. En logique, règle affirmant que si une proposition A implique une proposition B, alors si A est vraie, B est vraie, (la règle du "modus tollens", manière de réfuter, affirmant que si A est fausse, B est fausse)
It is usually put in the form of a syllogism, formed by the combination of a general statement (the major premise) and a specific statement (the minor premise), from which the conclusion is deduced :

If a child is abducted, it disappears (General statement, antecedent -> consequent)
Madeleine has been abducted (Specific statement, confirming the antecedent)
Therefore she has disappeared (Conclusion following logically)
But affirming the consequent turns it round : it places the consequent (the consequence = ‘disappears’) before the antecedent (abducted) and this makes it logically unsound, a fallacious argument

If a child is abducted, it disappears (General statement, antecedent -> consequent)

Madeleine has disappeared (Specific statement, confirms the consequent)

Therefore she has been abducted (Conclusion is not logical)
To continue with this argument would require evidence of abduction, but this cannot be deduced from the second line.

3 The Red Herring 
They then move to a fallacious argument, that even Kate in her book refers to, by name. The McCanns invoke several ‘red herring’ arguments to wriggle out of their original statement that the window was open, the curtains were wide open, and the shutters were pulled up when she entered the room. These range from “the intruder was in the room whilst I was there,” to “someone did a dummy run the night before”, and even to “ left the shutters open as a red herring” whilst leaving by the patio door and down the stairs right past where Gerry was standing . . . (I’m not making this up !). The Red Herring is a reference to a stinky fish dragged across a trail being followed by hounds in order to divert them by leaving a stronger scent. 

In fact the main Red Herring which was pulled across the trail of the PJ was the insistence by 9 professional people that everything happened on the evening of Thursday 3rd May 2007 between 9:10pm and 9:50pm. (see also Appeal to authority). It was wholly successful.The PJ and almost everyone else concentrated on that day and date, those times, and the description of the situation in the apartment, and tried to make everything fit within them.
In fact even the alleged “evidential facts” do not fit. But the Red Herring was sufficiently pungent to keep most of the Truth Hounds on the false trail for a long time. Get back on the real trail and follow the squirrel - not the herring, and another much more productive line of enquiry shows itself.

4 The Argumentum ad nauseam
The fallacy of Argument by constant repetition. For this they quickly sought professional help. Bell Pottinger who were paid £0.5m, Hanover who were paid some unspecified amount, several gullible or paid tabloid journalists, and a series of spokesmen, culminating with the egregious Clarence Mitchell who went round the world repeating the official story ad nauseam, were employed specifically to promulgate this fallacy. Their job was to repeat the word “abduction” as many times as possible, and to allow no other possibility to be promulgated.

5 Shifting the burden of proof (another fallacy intertwined in all this)
If you state something to be true, then you have the burden of proof, and it is not up to people who doubt you to provide any evidence against what you have said, until you yourself provide evidence of its truth.

Gerry does this outside the Court in Portugal. “where is. . . where is . . . Where is the child, we’re looking for that evidence, what other explanation can explain why she’s not here , . . .” [3] at 7:15

Simple answer – MANY – but it is not our responsibility to provide them, until you show us the evidence you have of abduction. In fact the reporter presses the point “Are there any other explanations . . .?”
But Gerry shuts him down, turns away with “OK, any other questions.” (See also false dilemma). After the initial stages we moved into TV interviews, articles in the press, visits to foreign countries, press articles and other things, and a new set of Logical fallacies came to the fore.

6 At this stage the Argumentum ad baculum - the argument with a big stick, became much more serious. The famous or infamous – depending on your status as litigant – libel lawyers Carter-Ruck specialise in this and are acknowledged to be best in the world at what they do.
Never once did they allow their case to be sullied with evidence, or statements given under oath, or to be tested in open court by qualified forensic practitioners.

What they do is more devious.

They threaten their victims with penury, with impoverishment, by quoting exorbitant fees and costs, all of which will have to be paid if one word or phrase can be shown to be defamatory . . . and by so doing are able to get grudging and coerced agreement for signed undertakings, and qualified admissions. They then claim this as victory for their clients.

It is NOT.

None of it speaks to the truth or otherwise of what has been said.

It is therefore a fallacious argument.

The only time the truth has been even partially tested, the McCanns lost. And the Supreme Court of Portugal made the unprecedented statement that their status as suspects was still not settled.

The Argumentum ad baculum was then used to deadly effect against a random internet poster, Brenda Leyland, who after being hounded by Sky News and Martin Brunt over an entire day, took her own life. The ‘truth’ or otherwise of the contents of the ‘Dossier of Death’ may be judged by the fact that neither the Metropolitan Police, nor Leicestershire Police found sufficient in it to take any action at all. [vide Chapter 13]

7 the Argumentum ad numeram, the bandwagon argument, which is a species of Appeal to the people.

In Germany at a press conference they were asked whether they were involved in the disappearance.

Kate replies “To be honest I don’t actually think that is the case, I think that’s a small number of people who criticise us”. [4]. 0:27

Whether that statement is correct or not is immaterial. The issue is whether they were, or were not involved. The numbers of people who believe it or do not is entirely irrelevant to the truth of the matter.

8 The Appeal to Authority

This is an interesting one.

We are used to accepting the word of experts with knowledge outside our own personal sphere.

We might for example be impressed by a keynote speech on the Aetiology of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation if it came from an experienced consultant cardiologist.

We might be equally impressed by a description of the protocols and legal procedures necessary to take a case to the European Court of Human Rights if that came from a Queens Council

But perhaps not if these were the other way round.

The appeal to authority becomes fallacious if the authority itself is irrelevant or non-existent.

We saw that in the court in Portugal where one witness, Pike, held himself out to be a psychologist. His evidence was undermined when he did have to tell them that he held no such qualification.

Similarly the retired Detective Inspector Edgar gave evidence which was similarly undermined when he admitted that not only had he not read the book in question, but that neither had he been given, nor had he read, all the relevant documents.

Their evidence may in fact have been accurate, but their proven lack of authority condemned it.

The fallacy is overused. A man whose authority depends on his historical skill in playing Association football and of selling potato crisps is invited to give his views on the ‘political and socio-economic implications of Britain’s leaving the European Union’.

A woman with a décolletage whose size can vary with the seasons and a name which is similarly flexible, is invited to give her views, not about décolletage, but about matters unrelated to any of her known or supposed expertise.

9 The Appeal to vague authority

Here the authority itself is presented as relevant, and may indeed be so, but the identity is so vague as to leave the statement as fallacious.

“Many scientists believe that the Universe is beginning to shrink”. Well, possibly, but if they are micro-biologists their views may not be as authoritative as those of, say, Astrophysicists.

Kate used this “So on the afternoon of Friday 11 May, the paralegal, accompanied by a barrister, flew out to Portugal. . . .

. . . the barrister first of all assured us that our behaviour could not be deemed negligent and was indeed ‘well within the bounds of reasonable parenting’. “ [p. 124]

We do not know the identity of the alleged barrister, nor whether she or he was a specialist in Family Law, nor of her or his experience, nor whether s/he has a list of relevant authorities and precedents up the sleeve of the gown . . . All we have is Kate’s statement that this was said.

10 The Argumentum ad hominem (abusive).

Anyone commenting on any aspect of the case was dismissed as a “troll”. The McCanns even had boxes into which they put correspondence they did not agree with, labelled ‘Nasty’, ‘Nutty’, and ‘Psychics Visions Dreams’

This vituperation continues to this day on the internet, with some people, suspected to be in the pay of the McCann team scanning the fora and blog sites and putting on-line vile abuse and threats of physical violence against anyone critical of the official story.

[See argumentum ad baculum, supra.]

11 The false dilemma is a favourite fallacious argument used by people in a tight corner

Gerry used it outside the court room in Portugal, where it was also a species of Shifting the burden of proof

His words “where is. . . where is . . . Where is the child, we’re looking for that evidence, what other explanation can explain why she’s not here , . . .” [3] at 7:15. not only try to shift the burden, but to suggest that there is no other valid alternative to the theory being proposed.

12 Every schoolboy knows...

Here a statement is made in such a way that there is a suggestion, which may be explicit or implicit, that anyone who does not agree is ignorant or stupid, or both.

It is used more frequently that we notice

“Everyone knows there is no link between smoking and lung cancer”. (Said for many decades)

“Only a fool would argue that speed kills, Look at Formula 1”. (Still used !)

And here we saw Gerry

GM: We’ve looked at evidence of cadaver dogs, and they are incredibly unreliable.

Q: Unreliable ?

GM: Cadaver dogs. Yes [5] at 4:39

The clear implication being that only a fool would disagree.

The truth might be that only a fool would refuse to read the detailed evidence of their incredible reliability and almost total infallibility.

We then entered a third phase. That of consideration of the McCanns themselves and the implications or their being prosecuted or convicted of a crime or offence in Portugal or England

Whilst these may be valid as arguments in themselves, they are fallacious when they are said to speak to the guilt or innocence of any concerned

13 Argumentum ad misericordiam 
The Appeal to pity - think of their suffering in a Portuguese or English prison, think of the twins, and the breakup of the family, of the loss of their professional reputations, of the impact on their friends. Who would look after the house...?

Very clearly this says nothing at all about guilt or innocence, but it diverts neatly from that inconvenient issue.

14 The Argumentum ad sentimus (Emotional appeal)

Pity us, cry with us, light candles, hold vigils, pray during services, make programmes with tear-jerking poems about dead children for Radio 4, drop broad hints about mental strain, and even suggest incipient mental illness when convenient. (But obviously be in a position to deny it vehemently when it is not convenient, such as when it is suggested that mental illness might have been the reason behind an assault...)

15 Appeal to ignorance

We see this fallacy from various people. Some in the press have used it, as have some retired senior Police officers (all of whom ought to know better.)

They all amount to the same thing each time. A bald statement after a re-statement of usually irrelevant details, usually taking the form . . .

“That is why I can’t believe they killed their daughter . . .” or

“I can’t believe they were involved in the disappearance of their daughter . . ."

We are clearly supposed to follow this, relying on the Appeal to authority, but it is fallacious.

The fact that YOU cannot believe it is frankly of no interest, and immaterial to the argument. The question is DID THEY, or DID THEY NOT

16 The Genetic fallacy 
This is normally used to destroy an argument, but here it is being used to positive effect. They are Doctors, THEREFORE they are not guilty.

There would rightly be outrage if anyone were to invoke it the other way round, and make loud noises about Dr. Harold Shipman, Dr Crippen, Dr Bodkin Adams, and others through history. [6]

17 The Slippery Slope 
This can appear to be persuasive, and is clearly used to stop prosecutions of famous persons, with those cases labelled “Not in the public interest”

The argument runs –

If they are prosecuted, let alone found guilty, then look at the list of people who will be sucked into the case. There will be those who on any test would be guilty of Conspiracy of one sort or another, many who would be guilty of professional negligence, those who would be exposed as stupid, and so many who will be embarrassed, either personally or professionally, and risk having their public lives changed irrevocably.

Better to let it just die away, and say no more about it !

Books on the subject and references

1 “How to win every argument: The use and abuse of Logic”. Madsen Pirie, Continuum International Publishing Group, (Available from

2 Mastering Logical Fallacies”, Michael Witney, Zephyros Press, (Available from

3 At 7:15

4 At 0:27

5 At 4:39