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)

13 - JAN à DÉC - Dr Martin Roberts 8


@mccannfiles.com
 
 
 
Forward Thinking – 27.01.2013

'Ice-berg dead ahead!' Too late.

Of course, knowing there are ice-bergs in the area one might, as an act of prudence, advance more cautiously than at record-breaking speed. That's what hindsight would tell us. But in the on-going saga of Kate and Gerry McCann (as in the all-encompassing book, Madeleine is written out of the story early on) anticipation was always very much the name of the game; like making sure you get the clothes washed before the forensic team arrives, or getting your information into the investigation at the appropriate time. It's what you do. So, years later, and the leopard being as spotty as heretofore, one might wonder exactly why Dr Gerry McCann should have publicly urged prime minister David Cameron to 'do the right thing' in the face of the Leveson report on press conduct, and enact the recommendations therein.

First off, where is the evidence from either of the McCanns' own track records that their evaluation of the 'right thing' should be respected? 'Clamming up' before an investigation into the whereabouts of a missing daughter can hardly be seen as doing the right thing, by the child at any rate. And as for frittering away other peoples' money on a world-wide 'search' conducted by one man and his dog, with only the dog on station...

But let's not be unduly harsh. The McCanns seem to have a certain moral compass, even though it might appear to open with some difficulty.

In the summer of 2011 the pair were interviewed for Australian TV programme Seven on Sunday, during which interview Gerry McCann stated, with reference to Madeleine: 
And if she died, while we were in the apartment, or fell injured, why would we... why would we cover that up?

It is a moot point whether, in the above construct, Madeleine's 'falling injured' is to be considered alongside the parents' presence in the apartment or not. Be that as it may, there is one thing for sure that we are allowed to conclude from this statement: Madeleine did not sustain an accidental injury. Had she done so the McCanns, according to husband Gerry, would have done the right thing and reported it. They didn't. So she didn't (have an accident). Of course one could introduce the caveat that Gerry McCann is referring expressly and solely to such an eventuality occurring while the parents were present, which does not preclude its happening during their absence, foreseen or otherwise. But then there's Kate's much earlier contribution to consider. In an Interview for Flash! Magazine she is reported as saying, "What happened is not due to our leaving the children asleep. I know it happened under other circumstances."

Whatever it was, therefore, happened when the children were not left asleep. Yet no accident was reported. So no accident occurred.

'It was an abduction wot happened!' they cry.

Not in the hour between 9.00 and 10.00 p.m. that Thursday it didn't (see Crystal Clear/Another Story – McCannfiles 19/25.3.2012).


But to return to the Leveson moment, why should Dr Gerry McCann have come out in public support of press controls supported by legislation?

According to record, the McCanns, having been abused by the press in the past, have been richly reimbursed for their suffering. The press, for their part, having experienced the nature of the McCann Rottweiler, are unlikely to repeat their error. Once bitten, twice shy. The newspapers have ever since been noticeably coy in their coverage of the pair and events surrounding them.

So why should the McCanns themselves be overly concerned about press behaviour in the wake of the Leveson inquiry; an investigation to which they contributed as witnesses to what they claim was an historical abuse of privilege? Altruism is not in their game plan.

Such concern is revealing. It reveals Dr Gerry McCann up in the crow's nest, keen to pre-empt another press onslaught in the future. Why? The risk of a future media attack can only exist if the potential is there.

Journalists are free to publish information emerging from court proceedings and, as we know, a rather significant court case was on the horizon. Whether enacted in London or Lisbon, a libel trial would inevitably bring information freely onto breakfast tables that the McCanns had already spent large sums trying to suppress. In addition, a fully reported libel trial, of Dr Amaral in this instance, would represent an advertisement for his book; the very book the McCanns would rather the UK public at large knew nothing about.

And who is to say what information may or may not emerge in the course of such proceedings. Remember the filibustering on the steps of the Lisbon courthouse following the revelation of Kate McCann's dream, when cardiologist (not neuro-surgeon) Dr Gerry McCann placed himself in the absurd position of denying his wife's mental activity? Dr Amaral's 'purported' thesis being multi-faceted, about the only way the McCanns might discredit it in its entirety would be if they were to turn up at court with Madeleine in tow.


There is currently some indication that the McCanns are seeking 'vindication' from Dr. Amaral. Whether that might take the form of a million or so euros is unclear, but should the McCanns vs. Amaral proceed to trial, and the McCanns lose, then it will be the author who is vindicated. And what a can of worms that would open up! It would not take a 'first' in classics to unite a validated proposition of no abduction with the McCanns own denial of any accident.

The media have made considerable capital of late from Lance Armstrong, who abused his own body in order to enrich himself at the expense of other cyclists, none of whom were physically injured as a consequence. What lies in wait for the McCanns I wonder?






Opening Gambit – 08.02.2013

Chess is an intriguing game. Like the stylised warfare it is often said to represent, a player's success rather depends upon his or her ability to play two roles concurrently, their own and the opponent's, the tactics of both becoming increasingly complex as the game progresses. Broadly speaking, victory is gained when one party overlooks or misreads the other's intentions.

If there is one anomaly which stands out above all others in the McCann case, it is the matter of the bedroom window. For never mind its being an 'open or shut' case, once the pros and cons of that more obvious aspect are addressed, it becomes something of a puzzle as to why it should ever have been introduced into the story in the first instance.

A naïve, dismissive answer might be that the aperture was brought into play by an intruder into the McCanns' apartment. But we do not know that. Kate McCann may lay claim to knowing that, on the basis of having been there, but however proximal she was, in time or space, to events on the evening of May 3, 2007, such an explanation can be based on nothing more than surmise, there being no residual evidence to confirm it one way or another.

Perhaps the most important thing about the window in question is not whether it was open or closed, its shutters raised or lowered, or its curtains drawn, but where it was exactly, i.e. on the elevation furthest from the Tapas Bar dining area and out of sight of patrons; the same elevation as the front door in fact.

Anyone who enjoyed the recent Channel 4 documentary, The King in the Car Park, would have understood the closing analogy regarding alternative interpretations of history, and the significance of evidence which disambiguates a given situation. If a topic should sit squarely between diametrically opposed positions, then clearly both views cannot be correct. Like it or not, one of them must be wrong. Who can forget the look of disbelief on the face of ricardian Philippa Langley, when her lady colleague in the trench pointed to skeletal remains that displayed visible signs of spinal curvature, a supposedly mythological characteristic of Richard III and one which many a ricardian would previously have dismissed as merely Tudor propaganda?

I digress. But only in order to set up the contrast between an abductor's view of the circumstances surrounding the McCanns' dormant children and the McCanns' (particularly Kate's) understanding of the same, both perspectives governed by the same set of constraints; Kate playing white, the abductor black, as it were.


In her book, Madeleine, Kate confesses not to know, exactly, why the supposed abductor should have opened the bedroom window to apartment 5A. Whether to gain access to her children, export one of them, or simply to confuse the issue, she offers no definitive answer. She also entertains several other speculative possibilities concerning the behaviour of Madeleine's aggressor: that he/she had previously stalked the family for several days, that they gleaned information from a cursory glance at a staff note book kept at the Tapas Bar, and that they may well have paid a reconnaissance visit to the McCanns' apartment prior to the night of May 3, causing the children to wake prematurely.

Let's suppose he/she did all of those things, made all of those moves if you will.

Familiarity with the McCanns' pattern of behaviour in the evenings, especially if gleaned from an overlooking balcony by a 'spotter' smoking themselves to death, would have confirmed which door the parents typically used at night, as well as the schedule of their return visits from the nearby Tapas bar (i.e., every 10, 20, 30, 60 minutes). Since no visible signs of intrusion were reported by the family on either the Wednesday night or Thursday morning, any preparatory exploration of the 5A interior by an intending abductor must have been carried out without breaking and entering, using either the patio door or, given Gerry's assertion to police that it was 'unlikely' the parents had locked it, the front door even. Hence the window would not afterwards have entered into consideration, at least by the intruder. And while lounging in cognito at the Tapas Bar, casually flicking over the pages of the revealing staff note book, this Portuguese speaker would most certainly have taken note of the fact that the rear entrance to apartment 5A was not visible through the restaurant's Perspex screen (and distant shrubbery), despite any and all subsequent protestations to the contrary.

It is this last point which is perhaps of most significance when it comes to deciding upon the origins of the window's contribution to events, for whatever the chosen means of entrance into, or exit from the McCanns' apartment, being witnessed in the act by the carousing family was arguably the least of any criminal's concerns. Front door or patio door, the window will have had no part whatsoever to play in proceedings.

Black's strategy is as good as sorted then. And it's black's move. But what does white have in mind?

Contrary to expectation, and despite having their backs to it while at the restaurant, the McCanns could 'see the apartment from where they were sitting.' And since no self-respecting intruder is deliberately going to place himself in jeopardy, he would most likely opt for being out of sight when making his entrance. So he'd prefer to go in through the front somehow.

Of course the McCann position is that an abductor's access to daughter Madeleine was via the rear patio doors. But that position was adopted only after it was firmly established that neither the bedroom window nor the shutters had been tampered with; from outside at any rate.

The abductor had therefore to force open the bedroom window (because the front door must have been locked). Otherwise he would simply have walked straight in; something he appeared at first not to have done.

So, armed with sufficient information about white's disposition to allow 'mate in three,' is that not what black would do? Are we to expect that he would instead delay the agony unnecessarily, making a pawn sacrifice to no purpose whatsoever (the 'red herring' proposal)? Clearly that is white's interpretation of black's strategy. But that is what white imagines, and not what black actually does.






Not In My Children's Lifetimes... - 13.02.2013

...would I wish to see Dr Gerry McCann's, or for that matter his wife's voice influence the legislation of this land. And no, I am not just an envious forker. I'm forking angry. Angry that anyone should attempt to gain social or other advantage at the expense of a child's life (see Shakespeare's Henry V, Act 4 Scene 7). Let it not be forgotten that Gerry McCann the orator is one and the same person as he who, since early May 2007, has done more to ensure that his missing daughter stays missing than he has ever done to repatriate her.

For the benefit of those who might need reminding:


Etcetera, etcetera.

 

















Gerry McCann has, it seems, spoken of his fears that David Cameron might be prepared to water down the proposals of the Leveson enquiry. "If our testimony was in vain it would be a permanent stain on the reputation of this government," he said.

As permanent a stain, no doubt, as once appeared on a pair of child's pyjamas six years ago. Almost. Still, it would be on this government's reputation. Unlike the previous administration of arrivistes, who have the McCanns personally to thank for the stain on theirs; not one but two Labour prime ministers saluted the McCann flag. Small wonder then that the campaigning doctor is tilting at the other side. He obviously knows on which side his bread has been buttered.

Apparently Dr Gerry McCann and his wife Kate have been harassed by newspapers which made "profit from misery." Unlike Kate McCann's novel, Madeleine, which, as much a work of fiction as anything else, largely excludes the subject it purports to discuss and proudly announces via a 'flash' on the book's jacket, 'All royalties donated to Madeleine's fund.' (That's the fund which has been paying for those two 'searchers' long since given their P45s). Strange, but there appears to be no itemisation of 'author's royalties' within the company (i.e., the fund) accounts. As others have pointed out, 'book income' (after publication) doesn't seem quite the appropriate definition. Perhaps someone should break it gently to Transworld publishers that, should any or all of these royalties have actually gone elsewhere, then they could find themselves to have been party to mis-representation, since the inducement to purchase was clearly printed by them and not affixed to the product subsequently.

But we are considering profit from misery are we not? Would anyone care to weigh the misery of the McCanns against that of their missing daughter, who benefits not one iota from book sales, who never got to tour Europe, holiday in Canada, visit the USA or Scandinavia? And never will.

He said: "To keep his promises all he (Prime Minster David Cameron) has to do is follow what Leveson said and put the Leveson recommendations into law through parliament without meddling in back door dealing and without checking that the press is happy with it."

All he has to do? Sounds a tad more complicated than posting a letter to the Portuguese Justice department requesting they re-open the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance. Whatever happened to 'We would be more than happy for the case to be reopened?' 'More than happy' is clearly not happy enough for some. And what’s all this about 'back door dealing?' Is Dr McCann speaking from experience here?

Referring to the Parliamentary Select Committee on the media (2010) Dr Gerry, who believes his 'phone has never been hacked, told his audience at the Hacked Off Conference:

"Three years later, I see little remorse, no contrition. Sections of the press are still in denial. The sick culture has not changed, and they can't be trusted to change it of their own accord.

"If you look at the reporting of the Leveson Inquiry and the behaviour of some newspapers since then, it's clear that they aren't sorry and they still think they should not have to answer to anyone when they publish harmful lies and distortions."

This coming from someone who clearly took the hypocritic oath.

Six years after the McCanns as good as admitted child abandonment, but nothing else, there is little remorse, no contrition. It's clear that they aren't sorry and they still think they should not have to answer to anyone when they publish harmful lies and distortions (such as resulted from their joint performance before the Leveson inquiry - see 'Digging Beneath the Surface,' McCannFiles 28.11. 2011, and that poor excuse for a 'tear jerker' written by Kate).





Are We Being Double-Helixed? - 18.02.2013

Last Summer Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe commented publicly upon the status of Scotland Yard's costly, on-going review of the original Madeleine McCann investigation thus: "There will be a point at which we and the Government will want to make a decision about what the likely outcome is."

Not, you will notice, what the likely outcome might be, but what it is. And what it is will, ipso facto, wear a political complexion, otherwise the Government need not, indeed should not, be involved in the decision making process at all.

In this context, recent reports of DNA being sent from New Zealand in order simply to verify that the donor is not Madeleine McCann might be interpreted as reflecting, if not a hint of desperation, a long-term strategy; the same strategy in fact that would be embodied in the Portuguese being encouraged to pursue the 190 odd 'lines of inquiry' so far thrown up by the review.

And what is that?

Well one can't fail to be intrigued by archaeology of serious historical significance – Howard Carter and Tutankhamun, Philippa Langley and Richard III, and so on. Burials and cover ups galore! Imagine though, in the latter case, what might conceivably have ensued had the indefatigable Ms Langley, an ardent ricardian, not been prepared to face up to the newly excavated evidence before her. I refer specifically to the revelation of a distorted skeleton very early in the dig. Might she not have felt just a little tempted to say, 'leave it for now. Let's wait until more of the trench has been exposed, in case we find a straight one.' (skeleton that is).

Perhaps you can already see where this is going, but just in case, let us remind ourselves of Dr Gerry McCann's self-confessed enthusiasm for the 'rule out method' of medical diagnosis. It is of course a perfectly sensible procedural strategy; one which goes hand in glove with a limited number of ailments allied to a limited number of symptoms. It does not take forever to arrive at the correct diagnosis. If it did the patient would be more likely to die in hospital than emerge cured. Now, without repeating others' allegations, or inappropriately citing indices as evidence, it is still rather more than a reasonable assumption that ruling out Maddie claimants would be an open-ended, i.e. never ending process.

Are the Metropolitan Police being scrupulously thorough therefore, leaving no stone unturned? Or is this latest 'requirement' of a DNA sample potentially the first of many? If so, then despite their apparent rigor in ruling out cases of mistaken identity, it may just be the case that they are applying the right methodology to the wrong questions, setting aside the questions they should be asking, but would rather not (or dare not, perhaps), in favour of more politically correct propositions.

It comes down to this: If her very existence is a given, then 'will the real Madeleine McCann please stand up?' becomes a game that will run and run. Otherwise Scotland Yard should be asking questions of a completely different nature and applying the 'rule out method' to parties other than unsuspecting holiday makers in Ibiza or residents of the distant antipodes. Everyone has a double somewhere. Very young children have them in spades (and Madeleine is still only ten, possibly).

It's time therefore for Scotland Yard, the government, the press and the wider public to face up to the fact that the backbone of the Madeleine McCann investigation is crooked.




Time And Tide – 25.02.2013

Gerry McCann announced before the recent Leveson enquiry, "I strongly believe in Freedom of Speech...I don't have a problem with somebody purporting a theory..." Perhaps then it is time, at last, to do a little, perfectly admissible 'purporting.' Time, the 'grim reaper,' takes its inevitable toll in many ways, not the least of which being of one's memory. And, in that particular context, it does not take weeks, months, or years over doing so.

'Mini Club - Lobsters' schedule for the week of Madeleine's stay: Processo Volume IV, page 873

Lobsters' schedule for the week of Madeleine's stay

The McCanns have, not infrequently, been cavalier with time itself, their various accounts of seemingly unimportant incidents during their week in Praia da Luz dragging events, in a largely forward direction, away from their actual point of occurrence. To give but one example, Kate McCann, in her only book to date, makes wholly unequivocal reference to her own photography of daughter Madeleine during a mini-tennis session on the Tuesday morning, when it is perfectly clear from the Ocean Club's printed schedule that said mini-tennis took place on the Monday morning. Were it an isolated case one might be prepared to accept this as a one-off error in recall. Unfortunately it is neither.

KM (Statement to police, 6.9.07):

'When asked about the fact her daughter had been crying on Tuesday night for one hour and 15 minutes, between 10:30 and 11:45 p.m., she says that is not true. She says that on that night, after midnight, Madeleine went to their room and said that her sister Amelie was crying, so she stayed to sleep with her and Gerry in their bedroom. She says that before Madeleine appeared in her bedroom, she had already heard Amelie crying, however she did not go to the room, as Madeleine came into the room almost at the same time she heard the crying. She does not remember if afterwards she, or Gerry, went to the children's room, however she asserts that Amelie cried for a short time.'

KM (in 'Madeleine,' p.59):

"...some time in the early hours Madeleine came through to our bedroom, complaining that Amelie was crying and had woken her up. Gerry checked on Amelie, who settled quickly, and we let Madeleine jump into bed with us."

After four months Kate McCann was unable to recall whether either of the parents (both present) looked in on their younger daughter. After four years, she writes, without hesitation, that Gerry did so. That in itself is an impossible cognitive development. But then one has to take husband Gerry's account of the incident into consideration, an account which he gave to police on 10 May, i.e. no more than a week after the pair announced their daughter was missing. From Gerry's re-telling one gets the impression he was not even there:

"He cannot say exactly, but he thinks that on Monday or Tuesday MADELEINE had slept for some time in his bedroom, with KATE, as she had told him that one or both twins were crying, making much noise."

Kate McCann's experience of her husband's presence and behaviour that Tuesday night appears to have been illusory. But it would seem that the McCanns were not alone in not knowing whether they were coming or going.

Anomalies in the creche records, extending back in time from May 3, 2007, have previously been examined (see: Seventeen Come Sunday/It Never Rains, McCannFiles October 2012). They include one R. O'Brien being somewhat uncertain of their apartment's location. From May 2nd he/they would appear to have made up their mind(s), but, judging from their earlier indications, the decision cannot have been an easy one to make.

Processo Volume I, page106

Lobsters' attendance record, Monday 30 April 2007

On the Sunday afternoon Ella O'Brien was staying in apartment G5D. The very next morning (30th April) she was staying in 5B, while, in the afternoon, none other than R. O'Brien himself attended the creche, though normally resident in 5D. The following morning (Tuesday 1 May) Emma (afterwards amended to Ella) O'Brien was back in 5B. She must really have liked it there, because it was her given address that afternoon also. And it would have been again on the Wednesday morning (2 May) had someone not altered it to read G5D where she remains for the afternoon and throughout Thursday.

How very odd.

Equally strange, and with particular reference to timing, is a pair of entries made in the creche register for May 2.

Judging from the various scripts used to write down the children's names, this aspect (the role, if you will) was not pre-recorded by the nanny or nannies on duty that day. Rather the complete entry, i.e. name, room number, parent's location, time and signature would have been the responsibility of the parent/guardian in question. Like completing a visitor's book really. Adopting just that analogy, if we think of entry number five being made on a given date, and at a given time, then entry number six, which follows it, cannot usually be made any earlier. Uness we are considering attendance at the Ocean Club creche where, on the morning of Tuesday May 2, the registration of Jessica Berry and Ella O'Brien at 9.30 a.m. is followed by that of Elizabeth Naylor and Madeleine McCann – ten minutes earlier, at 9.20. (All other arrivals recorded that week are perfectly sequential).

And so to theorizing.

Pursuant upon earlier discussion (2012), one might reasonably conclude that Madeleine may not in fact have attended the 'Lobsters' creche between Tuesday 1 and Thursday 3 May at all, despite written entries in the register to the contrary, apparently. Such a line of reasoning must however provoke the question of why anyone should elect to falsify such a record, if not to conceal the fact. Well (and here's where a little 'left field' purporting comes in), the answer might well reside in why that same register was possibly in error even on the afternoon of Monday 30th.

Despite the McCanns accent on routine, at the time and since, they seem no sooner to have established one on the Sunday than they deviated from it the very next day. Whereas all of the children were re-submitted to their specific clubs after lunch on the Sunday, Madeleine rejoining the Lobsters at 2.45 p.m. (accompanied by Gerry, whilst Kate delivered the twins elsewhere ten minutes earlier), on the Monday afternoon Madeleine arrived fully half-an-hour later at the Lobsters, in the company of her mother, who, after proceeding to drop off the twins once more, returned to extract Madeleine again barely fifteen minutes after her arrival (in at 3.15 p.m. out at 3.30 p.m.). That's what the register tells us.

There can be only two perspectives on the movement of children into and out of a playgroup, that of the parents on the one hand and the facility on the other. If Madeleine were required for some significant purpose shortly after 3.30 p.m. that Monday, then why deposit her at the creche at all? For the sake of fifteen minutes she could more easily have remained with one or other parent or temporary minder, as the kids' club was not exactly en route to the younger group's location. If however staff at the kids' club thought it expedient to request Madeleine's urgent removal for whatever reason, then this eventuality would later have been reflected, surely, in one or other statement given by those staff concerned. It is not.

The only two sensible explanations for Madeleine McCann's extraordinarily brief sojourn at the Mark Warner kids' club that Monday afternoon can therefore be discounted.

Which means that the true explanation is an unusual one.

Did not Kate McCann once intone, "I know that what happened is not due to the fact of us leaving the children asleep. I know it happened under other circumstances."?

Meaning, indubitably, that something happened at a time when the children were not asleep, i.e. in the daytime (and they didn't do afternoon naps but played instead).

So what might have happened that Monday lunchtime to make Madeleine and her twin siblings unexpectedly late for their afternoon playgroup sessions, when Gerry was clearly unable to share in their delivery (it fell to Kate to go in both directions)? And did Madeleine really make the journey? Or was her name simply entered, first for appearances sake, and then, very shortly afterwards, to avoid a noticeable absence?

As Gerry McCann told the Irish Independent on 10 June, 2007, "Early on I had said to Kate I wonder how long it will be before someone says 'I wonder if he had anything to do with this?' The circumstances are such that physically it is impossible that I was involved."

Well he doesn't appear to have helped out with the children that Monday afternoon, that's for sure.




The X Factor – 28.02.2013

The concern here is not with that talent contest, nor the instantly forgettable 'celebrities' it spawns. The X in question is that enshrined by one of the most iconic images in all science: The X-ray photograph of the DNA molecule taken by Rosalind Franklin, that confirmed the suspicions of those locked in the race to formulate the structure of the 'life' molecule and led directly to the announcement by Crick and Watson (for the second time), that they had figured it out. And this time they had. Some eight years later both they and Maurice Wilkins, a co-worker of Franklins and himself an expert in X-ray crystallography, were awarded the Nobel Prize. Tragically, Rosalind Franklin was not nominated. The prize is never given posthumously.

Crick and Watson were unabashed opportunists, who profited mightily from the investigative work of others, that of Wilkins and Franklin especially, provoking resentment of their 'discovery' in scientific circles, amid the feeling that the Cambridge duo had simply rounded off the spade work done elsewhere. But since the study of DNA dated back almost a century before the pace quickened post-war, it would have been all the more remarkable had Crick and Watson not exploited others' work; the less than contemporary endeavours at least. No doubt they did. But they also succeeded in 'ripping the rushes off the press,' so to speak, before relevant current news was broadcast to a wider audience.

And yet the Nobel Prize laureates genuinely brought something of their own to the table; an ingredient no less essential to the process of discovery than the dogged pursuit of observational data - constructive imagination. You see, it does not matter how much data you gather, if you cannot interpret it successfully it remains simply that, and the old cliché about letting the data speak for itself becomes something of a futile exhortation if, in the event, no-one is listening. One need be in no doubt however that Crick and Watson were listening; to everyone else as it turned out.

But this is not an essay on the conduct of science. It has really to do with the explanatory power of hypotheses. Crick and Watsons' postulate, in particular, was revealed in all its three-dimensional glory via a model, the full implications of which were obscured to those who had confined themselves to pencil and paper analyses. The beauty of the thing can be appreciated by a child. Not so its formulaic counterparts. Significantly, Crick and Watson proposed a unique molecular structure; one which took account of a number of pertinent coincidences, i.e. that the four chemical bases comprised two of one type plus two of another, that the quantities of these substances within the molecule were consistently balanced across species, suggesting these DNA components might be paired together somehow, and that the crucial Franklin X-ray photograph, the clearest achieved at the time, was suggestive of a helix. Their three-dimensional representation was unquestionably the right one and has proven itself to be the mainspring of genetic research ever since.

But what on earth does all this have to do with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann?

Simply this: That whatever the explanation for her apparently unexpected departure from the holiday complex where she was lodged in May 2007, it must, if correct, be able to account for each and every 'pertinent coincidence' one might identify. Despite protestations of the 'I know because' variety, until more definitive evidence becomes public, no-one is in a position to be categorical. Whether inclining toward 'abduction' or something else, one's theory (and that includes the McCanns' own), can be no more than hypothetical. Which gives us a level playing field and the opportunity to ask the following question: Which of two opposing views better accommodates a number of identifiable coincidences pertaining to events in Praia da Luz during the period 1-3 May 2007?

On the one hand we have the postulate of abduction on the night of Thursday May 3. On the other, the possibility that something rather serious happened to Madeleine as early as Monday.

And the coincidences in question are?

In a nutshell, a variety of odd occurrences in the period before Madeleine McCann's alleged abduction.

A previous discussion (the Cerberus Problem, McCannFiles, 13.8.11) examined the possibility that Thursday 3 May was, in very many respects, an addition to the narrative of the holiday, and logically unconnected to prior events. One might straightforwardly question therefore whether an altogether unexpected abduction that Thursday night can provide any sensible explanation whatsoever for earlier, otherwise coincidental, eventualities; eventualities such as Kate McCann's sudden retirement from photography that very afternoon, the seemingly bizarre anomalies contained within the Ocean Club crèche registers, and the synchronised deletion of call records from the mobile phones of two individuals, to mention but three. There are others.

If we address these facets one at a time, it quickly becomes apparent that Madeleine's 'abduction' on the Thursday night is in no way contingent upon any of them and, across the board, has no explanatory power in that regard whatsoever. But what if we now test these coincidental events against the alternative hypothesis, that of a much earlier drama of some kind? Are they any better explained?

Taking them in the order as above, Kate McCann's 'I haven't been able to use the camera since I took that last photograph (of her)' would, given the alternative view of events, necessarily apply to a photograph taken much earlier than the Thursday afternoon. (If for some reason Madeleine were indisposed on the Monday, she would not have emerged brimming with smiles on the Thursday, simply in order to have her photograph taken). The observation makes rather more sense in the context of the aftermath of a contemporaneous traumatic event, one that Kate McCann would rather not refer to specifically, than it does in the wake of a subsequent, sudden abduction. Unless Kate McCann's actions represent anticipatory behaviour, one might expect her to have said: 'I haven't been able to use the camera since Madeleine's abduction,' there being no 'taboo' attaching to mention of the principal event. Fixing the onset of 'down-time' with the photography itself however, suggests that something else (occluded) detracted from its pursuance in the meantime.

Turning to those apparently coincidental anomalies within the crèche registers, their pertinence in the context of an 'early exit' hypothesis is clear. 'Keeping up appearances' would have been an essential part of any alternative explanation to be advanced in the immediate future. Again, such activity ahead of an altogether unexpected abduction would be quite inexplicable.

Similar considerations apply to the selective deletion of recent communications histories. Unless they were the victims of some internecine power struggle, what possible bearing could the recent prior contacts of parents have on the unanticipated abduction of their child? None at all. So they should be concerned to erase them? However, whilst conversations concerning 'what we did back then' may not be of relevance, those of a 'what on earth do we do now' nature most certainly would be. And these would of course follow a significant occurrence of some kind, not precede one.

Three at least, then, of the peculiar coincidences surrounding the supposed abduction of Madeleine McCann would be better explained in the context of a prior event than in the singular context of a later abduction, which offers no explanation for them at all. We may continue in this fashion with a fourth item on the agenda: The sudden return to Portugal of Robert Murat.

Murat's arrival in Praia da Luz on May 1st was prompted, so we are told, by his need to attend to business at short notice. But who made the 'phone call to England, and what exactly was the nature of the business? (Property. O.k. Whose property?) Well Murat's arrival on the scene had nothing whatever to do with Madeleine's abduction on May 3rd. His intervention as translator was clearly after the event and Gerry McCann almost hadn't heard of him before then. So the two events remain unconnected and the one cannot even begin to explain the other. But in the case of an 'incident' on Monday 30th there will have been 24 hours at least in which someone could have invited Robert Murat to lend assistance. That is not to say they did so, but merely to point up the greater feasibility of his coincidental return's being associated, in some way, with an unforeseen eventuality on the Monday than the Thursday.

At the risk of seeming over-confident, one could go on in this fashion, evaluating the coincidences against each hypothesis and invariably finding a better fit with the time flag shifted left rather than right. In fact I would go so far as to suggest that Bet 365.com would happily lay it off. But no doubt those of a different persuasion would throw a flare or two onto the pitch in an attempt to obscure the game. And the smoke screen would probably look like this:

What about all those coincidences Kate and Gerry mention? And Jane Tanner? And...?

The blanket dismissal, put in its simplest form, is that we are here concerned with coincidental fact, not fiction. Without exception, the contingent observations of the McCanns, and others associated with them, are entirely speculative. They are all of the 'what if' or 'may be' varieties, lacking in evidential confirmation entirely. The abductor 'casing the joint' beforehand, reading the staff notebook, climbing in or out of the bedroom window, carrying a little girl dressed in pink pyjamas, etc., are all suppositions, nothing more. As such they are worthless. The 'coincidences' we are concerned with however are entirely factual. Kate McCann herself admitted to the sudden onset of photophobia. The crèche records contain glaring anomalies (confirmed, again by Kate McCann, in her book Madeleine). The McCanns' mobile 'phone memories were 'adjusted' prior to their examination by police in Portugal and Robert Murat undoubtedly returned to Portugal prior to May 3, 2007. The $64,000 dollar question in each case has to be 'Why?'

Although this discussion is not in itself an attempt to put forward an answer, it remains the case that these rather strange goings on in the days immediately preceding the announcement of Madeleine McCann's disappearance are a better fit with her absence, for want of a better word, on the Monday than the Thursday. It is this hypothesis which reveals itself therefore as potentially able to accommodate all of these known data; something the claim of abduction on the Thursday night simply cannot do at all.




Believe It Or Not – 13.03.2013

Ripley's collection of facts from around the world has for decades been presented together with the invitation extended by the title – a cornucopia of extraordinary things that have happened/existed, whether the reader is prepared to 'believe it or not.' One is of course at liberty to not believe, but such disbelief, as others would be quick to acknowledge, is wholly independent of the actualities Ripley's publication describes. It's rather hard to argue with photographs of Flo Jo's fingernails, eye witness accounts of 'out of the blue' events, and museums containing bizarre relics of all sorts. So belief and truth may happily exist as one, or co-exist as quite different from each other. We either believe in the truth, or in the face of the truth, as it were.

When actuality and belief coincide, the one encapsulates the other in our understanding. To give a very simple example, if we happen to be caught out in an unexpected shower in the morning we would feel perfectly comfortable telling a friend later that afternoon, 'it rained this morning,' whereas the friend (who had remained dry, having been elsewhere all day) might ask, 'I believe it rained this morning?' One knows, the other believes. And since knowledge is paramount we are not usually so guarded about it as to articulate only the belief, unless of course we are trying to be extremely diplomatic for some reason.

The mildly inquisitive are constantly reminded by those busily searching for Madeleine McCann that 'there is nothing to suggest that Madeleine has been seriously harmed,' and while they might just as easily subscribe to a pragmatic view, there can be no doubting the official line's promotion of the more optimistic outcome, given the apparent absence of evidence to the contrary. Belief in Madeleine McCann's survival of her own ordeal is therefore perfectly admissible. Her parents no doubt share that very belief, just as they shared the (very strong) belief that Madeleine was alive when she was taken. Belief 1 is nearly as good as belief 2 therefore, even if perhaps not quite so strongly held. And yet, as an equation, the two are peculiarly imbalanced.

There is no 'evidence' that, subsequent to having been taken, Madeleine McCann has come to serious harm. Equally there is no 'evidence' of her enjoying perfect health. So belief in option 1 has to be seen as independent of the facts, which, at the present time, remain unknown. In the case of option 2 however...

Madeleine McCann's abduction is assumed by some, her father included, to have occurred shortly after he visited the family's holiday apartment – within fifteen minutes if other 'witness' statements are taken into account. For the duration of his stay inside, all three children were said to have been asleep (as well as being recognisably beautiful). This is not something the proud father supposed, but something he claimed to have witnessed. An incontrovertible fact therefore. And yet we have ever since been treated to the 'strong belief' that Madeleine was alive prior to being taken. Whereas such belief may have become weakened with Madeleine's removal from the apartment, it is no less a belief for that. And whilst belief in the child's later situation is understandable, the other, rather more significant act of faith, is less so.

Why should the McCanns hold to a belief, not in the truth but in the face of truth? It's akin to being a member of the flat earth society. Nor can it be argued that this particular belief of theirs is justified on the grounds that Madeleine might have been killed just prior to being removed. The days of the 'resurrectionists' being long gone, there is currently no international traffic in infant corpses as far I'm aware.

The McCanns' strongly held 'belief' that Madeleine was alive before being taken from the apartment is not therefore a reflection of the facts, but wholly independent of them. Furthermore, coming as it does from the lips of the father, it calls into question the very circumstance he himself had earlier defined as fact by virtue of his own description of it. Madeleine was asleep. Therefore she was alive. If Gerry McCann only believed her to have been alive at that time, then he clearly harboured some sort of doubt and, as a trained doctor, might have been expected to do something to allay his own doubt, fear or suspicion, as Kate herself did with her laying on of hands (or was it fingers beneath nostrils? The story differs with the teller). But he did no such thing. Instead, and confident that Madeleine was asleep (therefore alive), he left the apartment without further ado. And yet he could afterwards only muster the belief that Madeleine McCann was alive all the while.

Once again, instead of telling it like it was, Gerry McCann has told it like it wasn't. Whilst a lie is, as we know, a flagrant contradiction, alternative interpretations of the truth must at least be consistent in one or other crucial respect or mutual understanding would be seriously jeopardised. If we genuinely believe in something, then we typically articulate the fact itself, which subsumes our belief in it. Stating one's belief on the other hand is an expression of doubt; one of self-doubt In Gerry McCann's case. And if he cannot trust what he says to be true then why on earth should anyone else?

And whilst on the subject of trusting in the statements of others, there are, as we know, two slightly divergent attempts at a 'timeline' in existence; a moment-by-moment account of the actions and whereabouts of the McCanns and their friends on the night of Thursday May 3, 2007. How very helpful. It's the sort of thing that Miss Marple or Poirot would be interested in reading were they to be pondering the apparent suicide of a corpse with a knife in its back. But Madeleine McCann had been abducted, had she not? And criminal abduction, as commonly understood, implies that something or someone is taken away. Yet the McCanns and their friends were still there. Self-evidently they can have had nothing to do with the urgent and distant relocation of a child when they were all still eating less than an hour later. So why were they so concerned to collaborate in providing themselves with alibis for fractions of the intervening period, when they would have been much better served searching for the missing child?




In The Eye Of The Beholder – 15.03.2013

The other evening, while watching TV, my daughter, who is fast approaching the age at which I first met her mother, unwittingly struck a pose that reminded me of that much earlier, pre-nuptial encounter. In the intervening period Miss R. has, from time to time, been described as sharing a resemblance with one or other of her several aunts (all on her mother's side) but not, at least as far as I can recall, with her elder brother (well they're boy and girl, right?).

So much for our family history which, strange to relate, is not uniquely reminiscent of our family history.

Toward the end of the film 'Madeleine Was Here' (from the 40' mark), the McCanns are pictured being entertained at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Washington, where founder and President Ernie Allen, describing the centre’s purpose and imaging techniques, alludes to genetic considerations in the reconstruction of photographs. He draws attention to those specific facial characteristics of Madeleine McCann that were taken into account in the process of rendering her infant image into that of a six-year-old. Most of the traits (e.g., jaw-line, mouth and dimples) originate with her mother. But she has 'Gerry's nose.'

NCMEC generated, as we know, a variety of photographic templates, including one distinctly darker in both skin tone and hair colour, and with striking green eyes. They were generally considered a good stab at what would have been Madeleine's altered facial appearance. Nowadays of course Madeleine is nearer ten. Children can change dramatically in so little time that a more up-to-date impression of the missing youngster, as produced by Scotland Yard, was no doubt not only welcomed by the family but approved by them as, by all accounts, the Met. liaised with them over its production at the time, and Kate at least was prepared for her satisfaction with the image to be made public. As The Guardian (25.4.2012) explained:

'Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, worked closely with the Met to produce the new image of their daughter.'

'"Kate says she can see Madeleine's brother and sister Sean and Amelie in it as well as something of herself," said the family's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell.'

Well now. I look at my daughter and see echoes, primarily of her mother. (For the record, the balance of resemblance between my son and myself is greater, although he also bears some facial hallmarks that are his mother's). Kate McCann looks at a contrived photographic likeness of her daughter and sees something of herself, plus something of each of her other two children – Madeleine's brother and sister. But nothing of Gerry. Not even his nose (you know, the one she'd previously been told about by Ernie Allen).

Still, never mind Daddy's nose. Daddy still knows best.

'Daddy, what's the difference between a grass snake and a snake in the grass?'

'You'll discover that when it bites you, son.'

According to today's redtops:

A "historic opportunity" for press reform could be "squandered" following the end of cross-party talks into regulation, the father of missing Madeleine McCann said.

Gerry McCann said David Cameron was faced with a "binary choice" between newspaper barons or the victims of press intrusion.

Apparently the Prime Minister intends to 'bring the matter to a head by forcing a vote in the House of Commons on Monday,' a move which has 'prompted campaigners to accuse Mr Cameron of a "shameless betrayal of victims of press abuse."'

For Gerry McCann the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson didn't go far enough. Nevertheless, he and other victims of gross press misconduct were 'prepared to regard them as the minimum acceptable compromise.'

"We want our politicians to protect us (he wails), to stand up for the ordinary victims instead of siding with the wealthy and powerful. On Monday, it comes down to a binary choice: the newspaper barons or the people they abused in search of profit."

Here we have the celebrated father (correction: father of a much talked about child) advising the citizenry at large, including the Prime Minister, exactly how the latter should proceed. (Thank you Mr McCann. Next).

Rather more interestingly his monologue identifies a series of what, for him and no doubt others of his campaigning associates, are reprehensible behaviours:

Squandering an opportunity. The shameless betrayal of victims. Siding with the wealthy and powerful. The abuse of people in search of profit.

There seems to be more than a modest projection of self involved here. Just what class of snake might we be looking at?

As we are reminded, 'when the Leveson report was published in November, Mr McCann said if its recommendations on press regulation were not implemented, giving evidence to the inquiry would have been "almost useless."'

Almost, but not quite. Which begs the question of what useful purpose was fulfilled? The chance to lie under oath was not it exactly, although it doubtless contributed to the overall result. It was certainly not an opportunity squandered.

For politicians to "do the right thing" according to Mr McCann, whose authority stems from nothing but being the unapologetically negligent parent of a missing child, who courted the press in the first instance and whose mobile 'phone was not 'hacked' (unless it was an overly inquisitive 'journo' who deleted a clutch of McCanns' stored messages in error) they should accept in full the suggestions for a new regulatory system.

Mick Philpott probably feels the same way, except no-one's bothered to ask him. Perhaps because he has not personally experienced the effects of siding with the wealthy and powerful (like Tony and Gordon, for instance). Should the Philpotts be found guilty of the crime with which they are charged then the world will doubtless view this as a shameless betrayal of the victims. They are not unique in that. Nor in the abuse of people in search of profit; a bigger house in their case. But what do you do if you're living in a big house already? Turn to politicians for protection (again), I suppose.

Meanwhile Mr McCann's equally unapologetic wife has said she 'hoped it (the Leveson Inquiry) would mark the start of a new era for the press, urging Mr Cameron to "embrace the report and act swiftly".' (Edited to add, 'in case that other f***ing Portuguese tosser succeeds in getting us inside a courtroom').

A recent comment on Twitter points up the issue of concern:

The Sun reporter @sunnewsreporter

@glitter_brain just because something is in a police file does not allow us to use it without fear of being sued, unlike things said in court.

Where are those politicians when you really need them? Just like the Banks – offer you an umbrella while the sun's shining – take it back inside when it rains.




Now And Then – 17.03.2013

What used to be a back street game between the Charlton brothers and their Mancunian playmates has evolved over time into one of the most powerful outfits in world football. What was once an exhaustive schedule of legal dogfights between the McCanns and their various perceived accusers (representatives of the UK press, one Tony Bennett, and a certain Portuguese police investigator) has now metamorphosed into something else entirely.

Life is a strange assemblage of coincidence is it not? Andrew Wiles, the outstandingly rigorous mathematician who proved Fermat's Last Theorem (by proving something inordinately more complex) was drawn to his result by what was, for him and his fellow academics, another's establishment of a connection between seemingly unrelated geometric forms. Now, hands up anyone who might previously have guessed that there could be a very meaningful connection between Lord Justice Leveson's Inquiry into press standards of behaviour and a Metropolitan Police review of the Portuguese/British investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann? And don't all shout, 'Me! Me! Me!' because two persons called to give evidence at the inquiry are at the epicentre of the Met.'s review and we know that the world's press have frequently reported on the case, at the time and since. Newspaper stories do not constitute 'evidence.' No, the connection is more subtle and potentially more profound than that.

Whilst the Leveson Inquiry was not convened as a court of law, witnesses for the prosecution, metaphorically speaking, included an array of celebrity types and others denouncing the practice of 'phone hacking,' something, by the way, the McCanns had previously claimed not to have endured. Notwithstanding which, the press had long since made fiscal amends toward the McCanns for their over exuberance. Case closed then. However, someone, either in or close to the Leveson team, thought it expedient to include the duo among the witnesses to some of Fleet Street's most dire misdemeanours. So they were invited to chip in their 'tuppence worth' and, before you could say 'Madeleine' the missing child's parents turned an examination of the press into a critique of the original police investigation, Kate McCann perjuring her way to absolution by categorically denying the whereabouts of certain biological material, including of course that which she had earlier claimed to have introduced herself!

Thus did the innocent McCanns (the press had made it all up) become additional public affiliates of the pressure group Hacked Off.

What happened next?

Leveson levitated, his scribes scribbled, and a trolley load of volumes, akin to that dumped on Tony Bennett by Carter Ruck, was delivered up to government, in order that they might consider the Lord Justice's nominally impartial recommendations; recommendations which, of course, carry neither legal weight nor obligation.

Politics being the 'art of the possible,' the back catalogue of public inquiries, evidence heard and recommendations ignored is extensive. History is a graveyard of 'what if's,' and it doesn't take long for the deceased to be forgotten. Except, in the case of Leveson, we have a group of voices reluctant to stop singing at the bar despite the wake's being over, loudest among them 'New Labour' acolyte Gerry McCann, who believes that politicians should be offering him protection, as though that were something he'd become rather used to.

There's a card game going on in the corner and it's not 'snap.'

We have witnessed one McCann challenge to David Cameron already, in the form of 'Do the right thing and authorise a police review of our case.' Now we have another. 'Do the right thing and enact the Leveson proposals – in their entirety and quickly would be good. Just like your opposite number David Miliband (Labour) believes you should in fact.' And with dissention in the House comes dissention in the ranks, the Blair/Brown protégés wondering whether they can get a knife in-between the incumbent coalition's shoulder blades (any part of Achilles will do, be it heel or otherwise).

Is that all there is to it then? 'The review' and 'The Inquiry' being distributed acts of political pressure aimed at undermining the present administration?

No, it is not.

Whilst Plan B is obvious, the Cameron authorised 'review' is, as yet, an unbound molecule. Both it and the Leveson farrago may be linked with David Cameron's perceived security of tenure however.

It will be recalled that Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has already intimated that Scotland Yard and the government will, between them, decide what the likely outcome of the review is. Such a decision had obviously not been reached on that occasion and, procrastination being the thief of time, has probably yet to be arrived at even now. Even so, decisions, including those made in the political arena, are not usually irrevocable (declarations of war notwithstanding). Which leaves David Cameron holding the 'court cards.'

Unless the McCann influence extends across party lines, Mr Cameron, if push came to shove, could see to it that Labour remained in opposition for a very long time to come, simply by allowing the McCann-New Labour relationship to mature publicly, like a piece of Stilton, then revealing it as the source of the stench by eventually deciding on the most advantageous outcome (to himself) of the Scotland Yard review. Although 'spattered' in the process, he could be the last man standing.

Whilst the fate of Kate and Gerry McCann may be of little concern and much less consequence to many, the possibility that they might become instrumental in either the enactment of legislation or a forced change of government is something for us all to ponder. Tony Bennett was recently upbraided in court by Judge Tugendhat for soliciting information to which, as a member of the public with no particular responsibility for law enforcement, the learned judge felt he was not entitled. In the event that David Cameron should avoid or resist having to torpedo the McCanns whilst they are still at large (sorry, anchor) then they would remain at sea, in open water and, in the court of public opinion, where the rules of engagement are somewhat less proscriptive, they are just as vulnerable to unauthorised attack.

Forum commentators may well find amusement in the McCanns' behaviour currently, but there is seldom smoke without fire. Laugh now, lament later perhaps.

If only I could see the funny side.




The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner – 17.04.2013

It's no fun being a 'Billy no mates,' especially on holiday. Much better to be sociable and go jogging in company, if that's your thing. It wasn't really Matthew Oldfield's thing though:

"I don't like it, but I quite like it on holiday when it's a bit warmer and it's not so bad on your joints and I quite like running on the beach, because it feels quite sort of Bay Watch and it's kind of Californian." He said, to the interviewing police officer.

Unfortunately for Matthew he drew the short straw. Instead of having Pamela Anderson for company that Wednesday, 2 May, he got Kate McCann:

"Today it rained. The children went to their clubs, but our tennis lessons were postponed. Instead we joined Fiona, David and Dianne at the Millennium restaurant for coffee. We then returned to our apartment and a little while later I left again, to go for a run with Matt." (Kate McCann, in 'Madeleine')

Whose idea was it anyway? Matthew's, the reluctant athlete, who doesn't even like running, much less on the roads and in the rain, or the enthusiastic Kate McCann's? Matthew could not so much as remember who took the initiative:

"...I think Kate might have run most days, because she was quite a keen runner, and it may just be that either I thought I'd go for a run and she was already changed, or I was changed and, or Gerry might have said that, erm, I'm speculating, it may just have been coincidence that we both got into running gear and then decided to run together."

Somehow a 'your guess is as good as mine' answer during a police interview doesn't seem terribly convincing, and even though it appears perfectly reasonable to suppose Kate took the lead on this occasion, there must have been more than an element of chance in their running together. They didn't just bump into each other outside at the Ocean club, both coincidentally changed into running gear. If, as Kate tells us, she returned to her apartment and a little while later left again, to go for a run with Matt, the expedition must have been pre-arranged.

So there is Matthew Oldfield in his running strip, prepared to do something he's not desperately keen on, unless it's on the beach and in the sunshine, about to pound the roads that lunchtime:

"I remember I went running with Kate at lunchtime, she's quite a good runner, and we went out on the road all the way up to the main junc... erm, the sort of main road where you access Praia da Luz from and then back."

It wasn't a comfortable experience for our Matthew (4078 "But you went on this route and are saying you found it quite hard to keep up?") but Kate must have revelled in it, having already softened the glare from her new girly pink trainers with several outings in the PDL sand.

Raised paving stones and pot-holes are like snipers lying in wait for a victim when you're training out on the road. Kate was hit by an anti-personnel device in the form of a dog, apparently.

"As we ran along the promenade, a small dog jumped out from under a bench and attacked my right calf. It was pretty sore and I was a bit shaken, but I carried on as coolly as I could manage."

Funny how Matthew did not recollect this incident during his rogatory interview, Kate having been 'a bit shaken' by it after all. Might that be because he and Kate went running in different directions, and at different times of the day, Kate along the promenade in the morning, before lunch, Matthew away from PDL and back at lunchtime, three to four miles each way? Matthew could of course have kicked off with the beach leg of the route, but then he'd surely have remembered their joint encounter with the dog, even if only by being grateful that it was Kate's leg that was sore after the 'attack' and not his own!

Hospital patients of Matthew Oldfield should breathe a sigh of relief that medical histories/charts are available at the foot of their beds. Trusting in Dr Oldfield's memory could prove disastrous otherwise. He appears not to have one:

4078 "Okay. Right. So, I mean, having said that you had struggled to remember what you did each day, you have done pretty well really so far, you have remembered, for example, that Rachael was unwell all day on the Wednesday, so therefore you had gone for a run with Kate. I am guessing, would that have been when Grace was asleep or?"

Reply "I think that was lunchtime."

4078 "Yeah. Do you remember what you did after your run with Kate?"



Reply "No, because I'd have been on, I'd have been on Grace duty I think that afternoon... (waffle, waffle).

Well we know doctors are accustomed to schedules, but Matthew Oldfield's readiness to keep pace with Kate McCann in this instance is seriously impressive. Three to four miles each way, squeezed into a lunchtime outing on account of a sick wife and a child needing care and supervision back home. ("Grace had loose nappies nearly every day, but until after Madeleine went, erm, disappeared, she was never sick." Is that 'went on her abduction,' Matthew?).

A total of some seven miles, say, plus the time it will have taken for Oldfield to change into, and afterwards out of, his athletic strip. Roger Bannister was himself a medic but I don't think that can be taken to imply that non-runner Dr Matthew Oldfield could get remotely close to the four minute mile, then or now.

And that dog he remembered nothing about. The one that attacked poor Kate from beneath a public bench. Did it leave a mark of any kind? It's hard to see quite why Kate should have been shaken by the experience, and sore, otherwise. It was only a small dog after all. A small creature with teeth and claws that, from a prone position, launched an assault on Kate's anatomy, just a foot or so from the floor. Perhaps, seeing the flailing legs, the dog took it to be an act of self-defence.




The Lull Before the Storm – 04.05.2013

Whether portrayed by Hollywood or enacted in real life, contemporary military engagements are typically preceded by strict radio silence, as part of the plan of action. Self-evidently the plan comes first, the action follows. Previous commentaries have pointed up the impression given by diverse indices that significant events in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann transpired before the announcement of any abduction (see, for example, The X Factor, Time and Tide, The Cerberus Problem: McCannFiles), prompting one to question whether Kate's raising the alarm on the night of Thursday May 3 was indeed a spontaneous act, or the commencement of a planned action.

Little if anything has been revealed by the McCanns in respect of either the Wednesday or the Monday of that week in May (see: Thirty Days). But radio silence? Well, if communication is inevitable, at least one could ensure it wasn't recorded, even if only in retrospect. And have we not long since learned of the McCanns' selective deletion of text messages pertaining to Wednesday 2 May? The timings remained even if the content did not (see: Chapter and Verse). For Gerry McCann on-going contact with a third party throughout that day was clearly essential. Intriguingly, Jane Tanner, alone among the remainder of the Tapas clique, also found it necessary to communicate that day. Coincidentally, one of her contacts occurred at precisely the same time as one of Gerry McCann's (13.59 exactly). Jane Tanner's was an incoming signal (no more than a 'blip'), from Exeter apparently. And Gerry's?

But the synchronous activity in this instance is altogether less startling than the synchronous silence. The coincidence of Gerry McCann's and Robert Murat's mobile phones both falling silent over exactly the same period (from 15.45 on 2 May to 23.15, after the "abduction", on 3 May) has been highlighted elsewhere (see forum: The Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann - The Concise Phone Thread).

In addition, and with the sole exception of Jane Tanner's Wednesday calls, referred to above, and perhaps Fiona Payne, not one of the Tapas 7's mobile phones was called into action during the 48 hours of 1 – 2 May.

Those concerned early on to seek out communications links between disparate players in this melodrama were perhaps misled into looking for 'positives', when the meaningful connections were not that straightforward. One is reminded of the broad brush artwork of Rolf Harris for children's television, where the resultant image is brought about by seemingly unrelated 'dabs' and splashes, and scarcely recognisable until completed. In this instance the significance resides, not so much in the communications that occurred but in those that did not. Taking that general silence together with the catalogue of coincidence already established brings us that much closer to a clearer understanding of the overall picture.


No Way Out – 08.07.2013

With Scotland Yard in hot pursuit of thirty-eight 'persons of interest', all of whom were in Portugal on the night of May 3, 2007, apparently, one must assume that there is some plausible connection between one or more of these individuals and the sequestration of a minor from her bed in Praia da Luz that night. In point of fact there were rather more than thirty-eight people in Portugal at the time, any one of whom might have some, as yet unrecognised connection to, or knowledge of, dark deeds in the Algarve.

But all of this rather pre-supposes that a crime of abduction was committed in the first instance. Whilst there are 'experts' walking among us, who are only too happy to write books, give media interviews etc., covering subjects for which the supposedly known photographic evidence is demonstrably fake, i.e. a hoax (e.g., the nephilim giants), it cannot be difficult to appreciate that the interrogation of thirty-eight (give or take as many as you like) over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, can only serve a true purpose if the child was actually abducted in the first place.

Unless money is no object, the most cost-effective way for Metropolitan Police to narrow the scope of their review-turned-investigation into Madeleine's disappearance must be to consolidate their position as to the nature of any crime committed against her. That was the approach taken by the Portuguese (surprise, surprise) in their original investigation, encouraged not just by the indications of trained sniffer dogs, but by the earlier input of UK based expertise, in the form of the NPIA's National Search Adviser, Mark Harrison MBE. Surely his voice must count for something, even in the face of absolute refusal to entertain interpretation of the dogs' behaviour subsequently.

"There is no evidence Madeleine is dead".

But that, as both the McCanns and DCI Redwood should know, does not constitute evidence she is alive. Equally, there is no evidence that she was abducted, which, likewise, is insufficient to prove she was not. But what, therefore, should one make of evidence that abduction, under the circumstances understood and at the very specific time alluded to by the only possible witnesses in the vicinity, could not have occurred? Such evidence clearly does not exist in the PJ files under the discrete heading 'evidence against', but it can be adduced. What is more, an evidence based argument, however persuasive, carries only the weight of probability. A logical proof, on the other hand, confers absolute certainty.

Earlier essays (Crystal Clear, Another Story) examined the circumstances in question, arriving at the conclusion that the putative abductor's biggest challenge was not getting into apartment 5A, but getting out again. And if they failed to do so by the time they were 'spotted' in the street by Jane Tanner then that incident itself could not have occurred. Crucial to any such conclusion is not the status of the patio door to the apartment but that of the front door, which various statements (e.g., those of Russell O'Brien, Matthew Oldfield and, importantly, Gerry McCann) inform us was locked, in which case a key would have been required in order to enter or exit the apartment that way.

Ah, but Gerry changed his mind. From: 'The deponent entered the club, using his key, the door being locked', to: 'Concerning the front door, although he is certain that it was closed, it is unlikely that it was locked, because they left through the back door'. Not exactly a categorical volte face you will notice. Nor is there a genuine causal relationship between synchronously unlocked doors.

'But this is all uncertainty, not evidence! Whe... Whe... Where is the evidence'?

It exists in the form of a book, and a statement therein which confirms that the front door to apartment 5A was locked on the night of May 3, 2007. That being the case, our hypothetical abductor of Madeleine McCann could not have exited the apartment without being seen by the two gentlemen conversing at the foot of the back stairs or, for that matter, in order to be seen by Jane Tanner. Basically he could not get out. And if he did not get out, then he did not get in either.

The book in question is 'Madeleine' by Kate McCann and the crucial statement is as follows:

"For a long while we would assume that the abductor had entered and exited through the window of the children's bedroom, but it is equally possible that he used the patio doors or even had a key to the front door."

The equation of possibilities here is perfectly clear. Any of three access points may have been utilised, including the front door, provided the intruder had a key. But why should he have needed a key to enter through an unlocked door? The implication is unmistakable. The front door was locked. But that would not have deterred anyone in possession of a key. Unfortunately for the McCanns' belief in abduction, it is not equally possible that he had a key to the front door.

As David Payne explains in his rogatory interview:

"...essentially you needed the key you know, to use, if I remember to gain access into the, err into the apartment, and you know generally it was difficult because there was, you know we'd ask about more than one key, there was the only one key to the apartment."

There was only one key to the apartment and the abductor did not have it.

He could not, therefore did not, exit the apartment with a child in his arms in the two or three minutes between Gerry McCann's last 'check' on the children and Jane Tanner's 'sighting'. Nor did he leave the apartment afterwards, carrying Madeleine past the Smiths. The child they witnessed was wearing the wrong pyjamas. And since the intending abductor was not discovered inside the apartment subsequently then he was not there at all.

Without an abductor there can have been no abduction, but thirty-eight people, at least, were in Portugal that night.




No Way Out (at all) – 11.07.2013

According to the Irish Independent, an Irish couple 'could hold the key to solving Madeleine McCann case.'That would be the Smiths, would it not? Martin Smith described a man carrying a child with their head against his left shoulder and arms hanging down alongside the body. The child was wearing light coloured or pink pyjamas. Aiofe Smith described a man carrying a child in light trousers, white or light-pink, that may have been pyjamas. She also had a light top, with long sleeves. Peter Daniel Smith does not remember her clothing very well but believes it was light summer clothing, light in colour. As the whole world knows, Jane Tanner also saw a man carrying a child dressed in pyjamas that night - 'the pyjamas had a pinky aspect to them so you presume a girl.'

Pink pyjamas to left and right. Was Madeleine wearing one pair, or both? Or neither? She certainly was not dressed in the clothes described by Aiofe Smith, having been 'taken' whilst wearing her short-sleeved Disney patterned 'Eeyore' Pyjamas. With two pairs of Marks and Spencer Eeyore pyjamas at liberty to meander about the Ocean Club, Praia da Luz, that week, if one wished to choose between the Smiths' or Jane Tanner's sighting being genuine, the non-matching aspect of the description given by Aiofe Smith would suggest Tanner's was the more likely. There again, a description based largely, if not entirely, upon a view of the child's feet is hardly likely to be definitive. Perhaps Madeleine was nowhere on the streets that night after all, in the arms of a stranger or otherwise. She most certainly was not wandering the streets unattended. "There's no way she... she could have got out on her own." Said Gerry McCann. And he was absolutely right about that. Kate McCann has since indirectly confirmed (Madeleine, p.130) that the front door to their apartment was locked that night, whilst Rachael Oldfield (nee Mampilly) has given a police statement (15.5.2007) in which she points out that the patio door, locked or unlocked, was screened by its own shutters - in the lowered position:'The window shutters of the McCann's apartment were closed. The patio door that they used to enter the apartment also had its shutter closed. In order to enter they had to raise the shutter.'

An observation given support by the Tapas Group's two hand-written timelines, which state, 'all shutters down', the second time in underlined capitals for emphasis, no less. All of which casts a very dubious light on a statement to camera made by Gerry McCann during the May 2009 documentary, 'Madeleine Was Here':

GM: "Part of the reason we ended up coming through the back was the noise coming through the front door. We didn't want to disturb them. Stupid, now, isn't it."

Even accepting that it was only 'part of the reason', one has to wonder how unlocking and/or opening an apartment door could be considered a noisy pursuit; especially when compared to the clatter which would necessarily result from having to raise a metal shutter some two metres from the floor, simply in order to access said apartment from the opposite end. Stupid now? Stupid then.

It seems that there was indeed no way she (Madeleine) could have got out on her own.

And if that's one remark that does not now require explanation, the following sworn statements by both parents of the missing child could definitely benefit from clarification:

GM (4.5.07) - The window was also open, the shutters raised and the curtains drawn open.

KM (4.5.07) - At around 10pm, the witness...noticed that the door to her children's bedroom was completely open, the window was also open, the shutters raised and the curtains open, while she was certain of having closed them all as she always did.

GM (15.5.07) - He is certain that, before leaving home, the children's bedroom was totally dark, with the window closed, but he does not know it was locked, the shutters closed but with some slats open, and the curtains also drawn closed.

KM (6.9.07) - The window to Madeleine's bedroom remained closed, but she doesn't know if it was locked, shutters and curtains drawn, and that was how it remained since the first day, night and day. She never opened it.

And so the story continues:

KM (Madeleine Was Here – Channel 4) - the curtains of the bedroom which were drawn,... were closed, ... whoosh ... It was like a gust of wind, kinda, just blew them open..."

KM (Madeleine) – "On our arrival we had lowered the blind-style shutters on the outside of the windows, which were controlled from the inside, and closed the curtains. We left them that way all week."

"As I ran back into the children's room the closed curtains flew up in a gust of wind."

Self-evidently a lone abductor fleeing the scene of the crime via the window, and with both hands full, cannot have closed the curtains behind him. He must therefore have drawn them back, before handing Madeleine to a confederate waiting outside, then closed them again before making his own escape via the front door he couldn't unlock, or the patio within earshot of the conversationalists beneath. At least he did not have to contend with those shutters, which Gerry himself will have raised on entering the apartment earlier, and probably left up in case Matthew Oldfield or Russell O'Brien should stop by afterwards. But would someone so security conscious as to close ALL the shutters on exiting their apartment, leave them in the 'up' position following a return visit in the interim? Perhaps Gerry lowered them again after all, giving the abductor another obstacle to overcome. Or perhaps, and more likely, apartment 5A was as secure as Fort Knox from the outset that night, as it would have been on previous nights, and as Rachael Oldfield implied. Small wonder that nothing of value was taken.




Reasons to be Cheerful – 27.07.2013

John Twomey (writing in the Daily Express, 26 July 2013):

GM: "It's taken a tremendous amount of pressure off us as a family to have that support now and to know people are now actively looking."

So why didn't the McCanns do exactly that, at the time and afterwards? Tia Sharp's father couldn't wait to look for his missing daughter, and he was nowhere near the vicinity when she disappeared. And what were Messrs. Edward and Cowley doing to earn their salaries exactly.

At last people are 'actively looking.' But for whom? And for what?

Timesonline (Steve Bird and David Brown in Praia da Luz and Adam Fresco, May 24, 2007) was among a number of newspapers to carry a report of what has become known as the 'last photo':

"The picture was taken at 2.29pm on May 3 - Mrs McCann's camera clock is one hour out so the display reads 1.29pm."

Precise EXIF data derived from the exposure include:

'Date/Time Digitized 2007:05:03 13:29:51+01:00'

On Sept. 6, 2007, Kate McCann made a lengthy statement to police which included the following observations:

"... they went to the apartment for lunch .... This would be around 12:35/12:40 .... Lunch lasted around 20 minutes. After finishing lunch they stayed for a while at the apartment, then they went to the recreation area .... They remained at this area for about an hour, maybe more, then they left the twins at the crèche next to the Tapas and both of them took Madeleine to the other crèche.

"After leaving Madeleine at around 2:50 p.m., they both had, once more, a tennis lesson."

In her more recent book (Madeleine, p.66) she claims: "Together we took Sean and Amelie back to the Toddler Club at around 2.40 p.m. and dropped Madeleine off with the Minis ten minutes later." (The times entered in the two crèche registers are 2.45 p.m. and 2.50 p.m. respectively).

Ten minutes, during which to dry and dress five pairs of feet ("We then sat round the toddler pool for a while, dipping our feet in, and I took what has turned out to be my last photograph to date of Madeleine"), leaving six minutes to reach the crèche. Not impossible. But is it likely?

Kate McCann (again in 'Madeleine'): "Some images are etched for all time on my brain. Madeleine that lunchtime is one of them. She was wearing an outfit I'd bought especially for her holiday: a peach-coloured smock top from Gap and some white broderie-anglaise shorts from Monsoon – a small extravagance, perhaps, but I'd pictured how lovely she would look in them and I'd been right. She was striding ahead of Fiona and me, swinging her bare arms to and fro. The weather was a little on the cool side and I remember thinking I should have brought a cardigan for her, although she seemed oblivious of the temperature, just happy and carefree."

How curious? Kate thought Madeleine might have benefitted from a cardigan that afternoon, but not so Amelie, who was sitting immediately alongside her elder sister at the pool and likewise dressed in a short-sleeved top. Gerry too seemed oblivious to the temperature, although dressed only in his t-shirt (the one he is seen wearing aboard the airport transfer bus on the day of arrival) and shorts. Gerry was impervious to both hot and cold it appears, as the body that had just spent five days playing tennis in the sun had just about as much colour as one might expect to get from a Sunday spent dining out in the back garden.

Anyway, a proud mother allows herself a 'small extravagance' over her daughter's holiday wardrobe - then waits five days before she reveals it, barely 48 hrs. before the family are due to return home?

No, no. Madeleine must have worn her special holiday outfit prior to May 3. But then Kate ought not to have been pleasantly surprised by the confirmation of her own fashion sense that afternoon at the pool, where she describes herself as having previously 'pictured' Madeleine in her new outfit. Surely by Thursday she would already have seen Madeleine in her Gap-Monsoon ensemble at least once? (She'd been wearing her Disney pyjamas all week after all). And if Madeleine looked so lovely in her designer outfit on Thursday, she would have looked no less lovely when wearing it beforehand, and no less photographically tempting. Yet it took Kate until Thursday to seize the moment, despite being prepared to run back to their apartment to fetch her camera in order to take a snap of Madeleine holding some tennis balls ("She looked so gorgeous in her little T-shirt and shorts, pink hat, ankle socks and new holiday sandals that I ran back to our apartment for my camera to record the occasion").

Although Kate attributes this photograph of hers to the Tuesday (ruling out Rachel Oldfield or Jane Tanner's claim to it, whilst contradicting the Ocean Club's own timetable, which shows mini-tennis scheduled for the Monday) Madeleine's new holiday sandals were clearly unveiled at the commencement of the holiday, not nearer its conclusion. Perhaps by the Thursday Kate had already pictured Madeleine looking lovely in her designer wear after all.




You Have Been Warned – 30.07.2013

(Twice)

On two previous occasions (McCannfiles, 18.2.2010, 27.4.2012) the McCanns' 'get out of jail free' card has been identified as a stratagem aimed at super-imposing a new 'inquiry' over the original, and suspended, investigation. It is both simple and effective: Launch an altogether new investigation predicated upon new evidence, 'lines of inquiry' if you will, that can be shown to have arisen since the Portuguese saw fit to archive their process and which, ipso facto, cannot implicate the McCanns, not even in retrospect.

Having first attempted, unsuccessfully, to foist this turkey upon the Portuguese, the Metropolitan Police appear to have embarked on Plan B - the DIY approach. As ridiculous as it may seem to some, the hints are dropping thick and fast that Scotland Yard, with the not so tacet support of the UK government, intend to plant their own tree on the grave of Portuguese sovereignty. If you were in any doubt about that, just read the Evening Standard report of 30 July. It's explicit enough:

"Home Secretary Theresa May has sent an official request to Lisbon for permission for Scotland Yard to begin a new investigation in Portugal into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann."

A new investigation. 38 potential suspects.

"Last month the Met said that the review, which cost £5 million, had identified 38 'persons of interest' from four European countries, including Portugal. They will be the subject of the new probe. Twelve are Britons who were in Portugal at the time.

"Scotland Yard has said neither the McCann family nor the friends who were staying with them were among those they have identified for further inquiries."

And why should that be? Because:

"If Portuguese approval is given, the Met is expected to seek new forensic evidence in the country, and pursue hundreds of possible leads the review is understood to have uncovered."

New forensic evidence (discounting entirely the 'old' forensic evidence). Hundreds of possible leads already uncovered. But (there's always a 'but' isn't there?):

"sources caution that there remains no prime suspect and the Met's inquiries are still at an early stage."

In other words the new investigation is potentially open-ended. It rather depends on the openness of the Government's cheque book (our money, don't forget). And to camouflage this cynical reality we are offered the following weasel:

"The new Yard inquiry began partly because Portuguese authorities are unable, under their law, to reopen their probe unless compelling new evidence emerges. Met detectives will hope to uncover this, and believe it could eventually lead to the case being solved."

Oh no they don't. Hasn't DCI Redwood already informed us that 'solving' the case is a different matter altogether? It follows that Met detectives are not therefore expecting, or even hoping to uncover the class of compelling evidence that will both convince the Portuguese to re-open their investigation (it's too late for that now) and lead to the case being solved. Solution is no longer viewed as within the Met's current remit, if indeed it ever was.

"The Home Office ... confirmed that Mrs May remained determined to offer every assistance to Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry as they seek to find their daughter.

"The Home Office remains committed to supporting the search for Madeleine McCann, and we have always said we would provide the Metropolitan police with the resources they need to investigate her disappearance."

So there. The Home Office is disposed to assisting the McCanns in the search for Madeleine, i.e., their search. They may no longer have their hands on the tiller, but they remain as figureheads at the bow. And yet, despite the best efforts of the political classes, there remains the possibility that theirs is an unenviable impression of Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet spearheading the Titanic disaster.

How so?

As much as either the Met or the McCanns might attempt to close the lid on the preceding Portuguese diligencies, the escape of toxic fumes through the gap is unavoidable. The files are a repository, as much of facts as 'evidence.' Since admissibility before a court of law is not a question of immediate relevance, it is both unnecessary and misleading to speak of certain information as 'evidence', when it more properly represents those indices that drive an investigation – any investigation. As far as the search for Madeleine McCann is concerned, either one identifies the individual who died in the McCanns' apartment before they used it, or one is obliged to suppose the worst. Such a consideration should colour the nature of any inquiry, as indeed it did at the time. This is not evidence that can reasonably be consigned to the irrelevance basket simply on account of its residing among the determinations of the earlier inquiry. However, even if such factors are so consigned, unreasonably or not, the ship is still destined to sink.

In the world of Mathematics there exists a very significant theorem (no, not Einstein's). Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorem was directly responsible for scuppering a decade or more of prior endeavour on the part of Bertrand Russell. Grossly simplified, Gödel's was a logical proof that no formal system of Mathematics could ever be 'complete' in terms of its ability to describe/explain any and every postulate or contingency. There will always be some aspect or circumstance beyond the explanatory scope of any system considered complete as such. It's analogous to the limitless nature of infinity. Just when you think you've reached it – add 1.

And the Met's new investigation?

Let's say the new investigation proceeds on the basis of 'new evidence' exclusively, bagging up the 'old' evidence (all of it) and tossing it over the cliff. No doubt those inspectors believing in abduction will adopt the optimistic view, that somewhere in the great beyond there lurks Mr. Big the abductor, who was all the while in cahoots with one or other of those persons of interest listed in the current catalogue. It's only a matter of time (and money) before he, she or they are discovered (the closed system viewpoint). Then, like Gödel, it only remains for others to remove the horse's blinkers. Whilst the Met may consider they have new evidence, new leads, etc., etc., steering them away from the McCanns, they must also deal with any new evidence steering them straight back again! Evidence, for example, in the form of statements by Kate McCann, published well after the archiving, and which are demonstrably blatant lies.

A dog has no motive for deliberately misleading anybody. They are never that desperate for a ball or a biscuit. Likewise a person of no interest to a police investigation, unless they have a perverse interest in drawing attention to themselves, has no motive for lying. Or do they?

The McCanns, the Met, the Government even, can indulge themselves in the fantasy of a search for Madeleine as much as they like. Sooner or later someone is going to toss them a curved ball. Bails off. Innings over. So, before the government, as represented by Theresa May, commits irrevocably to the voyage, she/they would be well advised to count the lifeboats.




Porkies – 01.08.2013

"I want for your children what I want for mine: that they're safe and that their innocence is protected." – Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Is Madeleine McCann safe? She might be, according to Scotland Yard. Should that be so then the matter of her 'innocence', protested on more than one occasion by her parents, is largely beyond anyone's control, or protection for that matter. Perhaps, in her case, the intention is to protect her innocence in retrospect. Maybe that's why Kate McCann decided to deliver up an 'account of the truth' rather than a truthful account - not one and the same thing. Indeed the very title serves as an absolution from the deliberate lies the work contains, such that the perspicacious reader cannot say they weren't warned in advance.

Given the recent emphasis placed on 'new evidence' by the Met and the media, coupled with unequivocal exclusion of the McCanns and their holiday making associates from the current 'persons of interest' pool, it is important that the paradox inherent in this extraordinary situation be made clear.

How can the parents possibly be ignored, when the father claims to have been the last to see his missing daughter (subsequent 'witness' accounts describe unidentified children) and the mother has since maintained a litany of lies, to the point of perjury?

Kate McCann's book, 'Madeleine', far from being a testament to the truth is a fabricated 'account' of it. Yet it exists, having been written, published and broadcast well after the closing date of the original Portuguese instigation. The book contains statements of fact, supposedly; statements which, given the chronology of their presentation, represent new evidence. Not the 'facts', you understand, but the statements themselves, a number of which are demonstrable lies. Such statements of apparent fact as include the following:

"Our own apartment was only thirty to forty-five seconds away, and although there were some bushes in between it was largely visible from the Tapas restaurant." (p.54)

Whereas, according to Martin Brunt, for SKY News (The Mystery of Madeleine McCann, 24.12.07):

"The view from there (the tapas bar) to here is not a good one. It's partially obscured. And of course at the time, it was dark."

"The apartment is some distance away (from the Tapas Bar). It's beyond the swimming pool. There's a wall and a hedge and behind that is a path. It would be very difficult, from here, to see anybody going in and out of the apartment. Going to check on the kids wasn't easy ... eighty paces as far as the gate, the distance between the Tapas Bar and the apartment. Not quite as Gerry McCann described it."

(Tuesday) "We dropped the kids off at their clubs for the last hour and a half, meeting up with them as usual for tea." (p.59)

Creche records archived among the case files show all the children signed in at 2.30 p.m., the younger children signed out again at 5.20 p.m., nearly three hours later.

(Thursday) "I returned to our apartment before Gerry had finished his tennis lesson and washed and hung out Madeleine's pyjama top on the veranda." (p.64)

This was previously offered in a statement to police as: 'When her lesson ended at 10:15, she went to the recreation area next to the swimming pool to talk to Russell until Gerry's lesson was over. Afterwards... they went back together to the apartment.'

(Thursday) "I had finished my run by five-thirty at the Tapas area, where I found Madeleine and the twins already having their tea with Gerry." (p.66)

It is Kate McCann's own signature that appears on both sets of crèche records at the time when all three children were supposedly collected, at the close of the afternoon session – 5.30 p.m. precisely.

"Gerry left to do the first check just before 9.05 by his watch...Madeleine was lying there, on her left-hand side, her legs under the covers, in exactly the same position as we'd left her." (p.70)

In his statement to police on 10 May, 2007, Gerry McCann volunteered the following information: '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'.

"It wasn't until a year later, when I was combing through the Portuguese police files, that I discovered that the note requesting our block booking was written in a staff message book, which sat on a desk at the pool reception for most of the day. This book was by definition accessible to all staff and, albeit unintentionally, probably to guests and visitors, too. To my horror, I saw that, no doubt in all innocence and simply to explain why she was bending the rules a bit, the receptionist had added the reason for our request: we wanted to eat close to our apartments as we were leaving our young children alone there and checking on them intermittently." (p.56)

This was a staff message book, supposedly, the messages written by, and for, speakers of Portuguese. Kate McCann does not speak Portuguese. She would not be able to understand and translate a complex sentence in that language into an equally complex sentence in English; a sentence such as constituted the 'request', for instance.

"As we now know, the chemicals believed to create the 'odour of death', putrescence and cadaverine, last no longer than 30 days." (p.253)

The possibility exists, at least, that the 'chemicals' herein referred to evaporate, when in isolation, within thirty days. Whether or not they do so as the constituent of a compound however would be quite another matter. In any event it is the longevity of detectable odour (detectable by a trained dog at any rate) that is the salient consideration. This from a UTV news report of 8 March 2006:

"A murder trial heard today of the "distinct smell of decay" after a specialist police dog uncovered the make-shift riverbank grave of pensioner Attracta Harron four months after going missing walking home from Mass in December 2003."

"She had addressed me as Kate Healy, and although this was the name by which I was always known before Madeleine's abduction, since then I'd only ever been referred to as Mrs McCann." (p.189)

Madeleine was 'abducted', we were told, on the night of May 3, 2007. On several occasions, prior to and including May 3, Kate Healy signed the Ocean Club creche registers as K. McCann.

STOP PRESS

Kate McCann confesses to abducting her own daughter!

"I wanted to make sure that they (the children) would always have access to a written chronicle of what really happened." (p.1)

"Others have seized the opportunity to profit from our agony by writing books about our daughter, several of them claiming to reveal 'what really happened.' Which is extraordinary, given that the only person who knows this is the person who abducted her on May 3, 2007." (p.2)

What the Met and their sponsors in this 'investigation' charade apparently fail to appreciate is that 'putting a lid on it' does not eradicate, or even constrain, the problem. There is always going to be some unwelcome information outside the box, and more where that came from.




The Longest Day – 03.08.2013

On 6 June, 1944, with their comrades in the Pas de Calais on a state of alert, German defenders stationed along the Normandy coast looked complacently out to sea from their gun emplacements, the beaches littered with idle steel poles and 'porcupines', plus the occasional cigarette butt. The weather wasn't promising, and the channel waters had the mood of a man with a hangover. It was shaping up to be yet another unremarkable day by the sea-side. And then look what happened!

3 May 2007 was also D-Day in Praia da Luz, Portugal - Donnerstag. Thursday, the day of thunder, preceded immediately by Wotan's tag (in old Norse), the day of the supreme God (of battle and death). Most historians would recognise 6 June, 1944 as 'the longest day', but ask any surviving member of the landing forces and they might well qualify that opinion, having spent the previous 24 hours entombed in their landing craft, following postponement of the invasion in view of inclement weather!

By all accounts it took until 10.00 p.m. on that Thursday night in PdL for anything dramatic to occur. Otherwise it had been an unremarkable day. Well there's drama, and then there's melodrama.

Except for one overarching consideration, the day before had been equally unremarkable, as Kate McCann explains in her book (Madeleine, pp. 59-61):

"Wednesday, 2 May 2007. Our last completely happy day. Our last, to date, as a family of five. If only it was possible to rewind. Even for an hour."

So what transpired on this last happy day? Not a lot it would seem, and nothing conspicuously out of the ordinary either, apart from an isolated 'separate beds' incident. (A dog can be expected to react defensively if it thinks it's about to be stepped on):

"Today it rained. The children went to their clubs, but our tennis lessons were postponed. Instead we joined Fiona, David and Dianne at the Millennium restaurant for coffee. We then returned to our apartment and a little while later I left again, to go for a run with Matt...As we ran along the promenade, a small dog jumped out from under a bench and attacked my right calf. It was pretty sore and I was a bit shaken, but I carried on as coolly as I could manage.

"Gerry and I picked up the children, had lunch in the apartment and then took them to the play area for an hour before walking them to their clubs. The tennis group lessons were rescheduled for the afternoon...After that it was the usual routine: tea with the children, playtime, bath time, milk, stories, kids' bedtime, get ready, Tapas at 8.30pm.

"Tonight it was Rachael's turn to be feeling a bit under the weather and she gave dinner a miss...The only other difference was that after dinner we ventured into the enclosed bar area...for a liqueur. As a result we went back to our apartments a little later than normal.

"At about 11.50pm, Gerry abruptly announced, 'Right, I'm off to bed. Goodnight.' As he turned to leave, Dave said jokingly, 'She's not that bad, Gerry!' I must admit I was slightly hurt that Gerry should just go off without me, as if I was unimportant – irrelevant, even – and Dave's remark was an indication that it wasn’t just me being over-sensitive...It's just Gerry, I'm used to his foibles and generally any deficiencies in gallantry simply go over my head.

"As far as Gerry was concerned, it was late, he was tired, and he was going to bed. End of story...I followed him a few minutes later...by the time I got into the apartment, he was asleep...Still feeling a bit offended, I decided to go and sleep with the children. This was highly unusual; unprecedented, even: the only occasions when we ever slept apart were when our jobs and on-call duties dictated it. I wasn't the type to flounce off to the spare room and never would have done so at home.

"I suppose it was because there was a bed made up and ready in the other bedroom and at that moment my peaceful, slumbering babies were more attractive room-mates than my snoring husband. It was a storm in a teacup, and I'm loath even to mention it as it was such an isolated incident and not at all representative of our relationship. However, since every scrap of information was shortly to become potentially crucial, I feel it is necessary to state for the record that I was in that room that night."

Hence the McCanns enjoyed a run, tennis and tea before they put the children to bed, then dinner and liqueurs, followed by a storm in a brandy glass and, finally, separate beds for the night.

"Though it can have no bearing that I can imagine on subsequent events, the thought of Gerry and me sleeping alone on this of all nights still makes me feel sad."

I was long ago advised by a girlfriend to 'expect the unexpected', shortly before she volunteered herself for the role of ex-girlfriend. So, with nothing much happening, Irwin Rommel took a little time off – just as the allies were poised to land in France (D-Day, following immediately upon an inauspicious D-day minus one). If we consider the same pairing as it relates to the experiences of the McCanns, the experiences as outlined by Kate McCann that is, we are likewise offered a view of two inauspicious days, during which something dramatic happened – Madeleine was 'taken'. But was she abducted on the Thursday night, as we are encouraged to believe?

In an interview with Lori Campbell (published in the Sunday Mirror, 5.8.2007) Kate told how, on the evening she went missing, before she went to bed, she (Madeleine) said, 'Mummy I've had the best day ever. I'm having lots and lots of fun.'

'The evening she went missing'. Thursday.

Is it not a tad strange that Madeleine should have her 'best day' on Thursday 3 May, whereas Kate's experience of Wednesday 2nd was of the family's 'last completely happy day'; their last, to date, as a family of five? Kate and her daughter's respective best days are misaligned by 24 hours.

The story, with which we are all now overly familiar, tells of an unexpected trauma following an otherwise routine Thursday at the Ocean Club. In her 'account of the truth' Kate McCann describes an equally routine Wednesday, but goes on, in lachrymose fashion, to express a very specific regret:

"Though it can have no bearing that I can imagine on subsequent events, the thought of Gerry and me sleeping alone on this of all nights still makes me feel sad."

Had that statement appeared as an appendix to Thursday's eventualities it would make perfect sense. Here it does not. 'This of all nights'? Wednesday night. 24 hours before their daughter unexpectedly disappeared. Why 'of all nights'? That distinction surely belongs to the night yet to come. And the thought of Gerry and herself sleeping alone still makes Kate McCann feel sad, meaning it made her feel sad at the time. She is not simply reporting a sorrow in retrospect.

Kate McCann, therefore, was particularly sad on the Wednesday night, of all nights, although 'it can have no bearing (that she can imagine) on subsequent events'.

Cue 'Imagination', cue red flag.

Kate and Gerry's sleeping in separate beds on the Wednesday night could have had no material bearing whatsoever on a stranger abduction occurring the following night, much less an imaginary one. Perhaps, then, it is not this aspect which is imaginary. But something must have occurred for Wednesday to have qualified as the 'night of nights'; something other than the McCanns' temporary separation ("It was a storm in a teacup, and I'm loath even to mention it as it was such an isolated incident and not at all representative of our relationship"). That 'something' in question was probably associated with Wednesday's proving to be the McCanns' 'last completely happy day' and their last as a family of five.

As the Paynes looked complacently out to sea from their first floor balcony that Wednesday, oblivious to the real drama unfolding beneath them, the McCanns were witnessing the end of their complete happiness, causing Kate McCann's fleeting reversion to 'Healy' that evening at the creche. David Payne himself would go on to see Madeleine for the last time, twice, on the following day; and then the melodrama would ensue.




Santa's Little Helpers – 26.08.2013

So there we are in Lisbon, the court suffused with an eerie glow from the assembled journalists' lap-top computers, when Isabel Duarte, or whoever the McCanns' advocate happens to be, looks toward the judge's bench, whilst opening their hands in a melodramatic gesture of appeal: "How can anyone possibly decide that the author's conclusions are correct, whether they be based on prior police work or not, when, even at this very moment, police inquiries are continuing into the child's whereabouts? Such conclusions are clearly premature, with every chance of being wrong. As such they amount to nothing more than scandalous surmise!"

So what do you do as a team manager, when you know that, position for position, your team is the weaker? Stop the opposition from playing their game of course. And with a team of thirty-seven detectives engaged in the pursuit of thirty-eight persons of interest, Scotland Yard are busy man-for-man marking, the player-coach ready to leap from the bench with shouts of "Leave him! He's mine." once the lynch-pin of the criminal operation has been identified.

Eliminating possible abductors, given the likelihood of some other kind of crime, is akin to tracing all local gun owners in connection with the recent discovery of a corpse with a knife in its back. Rigorous yet meaningless. You have a link to the caboose when all the time it was the first carriage that sheared off, causing the train wreck. Scotland Yard are actively engaged in re-writing history just as surely as King James knowingly commissioned re-writing of the gospels. And 'knowing' is what the McCann case is all about.

In mid-August 2007, Correio da Manha published a claim that Alipio Ribeiro, then head of the Policia Judiciara in Portugal, was contacted at about 11.00 p.m. on 3 May by the British Ambassador John Buck, the ambassador being so desirous of discussing the disappearance of young Madeleine McCann that he interrupted Ribeiro at dinner that night in order to do so. Three weeks after this report the McCanns were made arguidos and, barely a week after that, on 14 September, Correio da Manha produced another, which included an observation of direct relevance to their earlier revelation:

'The first call Gerry made on the night of the crime was to Alistair Clark, a good friend from University days and a diplomat close to Gordon Brown.'

That would go some way toward explaining the extraordinary speed with which John Buck himself, resident in Lisbon, had been appraised of the situation in Praia da Luz, the police having yet to arrive.

Well it might if Gerry McCann had actually made the call in question, but he did not. In fact he did not contact anyone in the UK until he telephoned his sister Trisha, who put the phone down after ten minutes, at 11.51 p.m. Buck and Ribeiro at least were already 'on board'. So too was the Portuguese Justice Minister, apparently; another of Buck's urgent contacts. Oddly, Ribeiro seems not to have communicated with any of his PJ colleagues immediately, or at all, that night. Staff in Portimao only became aware of the incident when later contacted by the GNR.

Someone clearly set the diplomatic wheels in motion very early on and it wasn't Trisha Cameron, nor was it 'Uncle Brian' ('phoned at 11.52 p.m.), as Kate McCann (Madeleine, chapter 5) might wish us to believe. Does it really matter who did so? Maybe it was the Mark Warner management, who knows?

Correio da Manha apparently.

In the wake of the initial tsunami, in December 2007, CdM editor Manuel Catarino published a book, "La culpa de los McCann", in which he repeated his newspaper's earlier claim that, on the night of 3 May, PJ director Alipio Ribeiro was informed of the McCann abduction by Ambassador Buck. He went further however, adding that UK Prime Minister-in-waiting, Gordon Brown, himself already knew of the incident through a mutual friend of Gerry McCann's.

Gordon Brown's insistence on being kept up-to-date on developments in the McCann case has long been a matter of public record, but this little twist is of potentially greater significance.

Perhaps the original claim, of John Buck's early warning signals, is a myth. Yet neither Buck nor Ribeiro afterwards took pains to deny their late-night conversation. Rather, an explanation of sorts, appeared subsequently; an explanation which, if CdM were in possession of it beforehand, would surely have appeared in conjunction with the original story line. Instead it emerged the moment the temperature had risen, within a week of the McCanns being questioned as suspects (persons of interest if you would rather) in their own daughter's disappearance.

To judge from the 'phone records currently resident in the long-since archived PJ files, it is Gerry McCann's earliest call to Alistair Clark, who, by the way, was not a diplomat of any complexion, which is the more fictional.

Was it really Alistair Clark who 'must have immediately contacted people at the highest level – before the PJ were informed'? And was he the 'mutual friend' of both Gordon Brown and Gerry McCann? Whatever the identity of the mystery informant, there are two parameters of singular importance to be observed: He/she was UK based, and a confidante of Gerry McCann's.

If the first of these conditions is true, then the diplomatic initiative in Portugal cannot be attributed to any direct altruistic intervention on the part of a McCann affiliate or other interested party inside Portugal, with either the British embassy in Lisbon or the Algarve consulate, whose initial instructions must therefore have emanated from the Foreign Office in London. If the second is true also, then third-party intervention (Portugal via London) is ruled out completely, on account of the conduit being a personal friend of Gerry McCann's, who would obviously have made the call himself.

Neither before nor since have the McCanns offered any rationalisation of the original CdM story of August 12. They should, and for one very good reason: Whether Gerry McCann personally took ownership of the information flow at the outset, or had it gifted to him by a 'spokesperson', the fact remains that he did not communicate anything of significance 'on the night of the crime' to anyone in the UK, in time to enable John Buck to telephone Alipio Ribeiro at dinner. If the various CdM attributions are fundamentally correct however, then whoever had that information, i.e., whoever 'phoned the FCO and/or Gordon Brown from within the UK, was in possession of it prior to 10.00 p.m. on 3 May, 'the night of the crime'.




Not A Leg To Stand On – 10.09.2013

So what does a pair of girl's legs in pink pyjamas look like when draped over a supporting arm? Jane Tanner long ago, and after some hesitation, insisted on giving the McCanns, and everyone else thereafter, a fairly clear idea. With the advent of their 2014 catalogue the picture's made clearer by IKEA. We can see for ourselves, on the front cover, exactly what a pair of young girl's legs in pink pyjamas look like draped over the arm of a chair.

But these are the legs of a model, somewhat older than the four years Madeleine McCann was about to complete at the time she disappeared. Madeleine, we are told, stood just 90 cms.

Since one half of the adult human body consists of the head, neck and torso (measured down to the mid-buttocks), the legs in Madeleine's (reported) case would have accounted for no more than 45 cms. (The proportions of a young child's body will be different, the mid-point being more nearly at the midriff and the legs per se representing less than half the individual's overall height. For the sake of argument however, we shall adopt the adult scaling). Madeleine's thighs being out of sight from Tanner's point of view, approximately 23 cms of her pyjama clad leg(s) would therefore have remained potentially visible. Deduct a centimetre or two, to account for the fact that the pyjamas in question were not designed to cover the entire leg, and you have about 8 inches worth of white material, ruched at the hem and decorated with mauve and green spots, not pink (see official photographs).

This ensemble was supposedly glimpsed in transit from a distance of approximately 5 metres (according to Tanner's own police statement of 10 May, 2007) in the dark, and under the vaguely orange cast of a street light. The most conspicuous aspect of the attire, as witnessed by Tanner, would have been the Eeyore motif on the right leg – which Tanner did not report seeing! As she said in her rogatory interview of 8 April, 2008: "It was the bottom bit of them that gives me the most thought in my own head that it was Madeleine. So I don't know, I feel, I thought I saw pink pyjamas and I thought I could see colours but I don’t know, it was fairly orange so I don't know."

In addition, the Tanner induced artist's impression, when seen in its entirety, presents a slightly downward trajectory onto the subject, whereas Tanner herself was, if anything, walking uphill. The carrier's arms (and the supposed child's legs) would have been further from the floor than those of the chair in the IKEA photograph. Thus the 20 or so visible centimetres will have presented a slightly different perspective, given also the continuously changing angle between both parties, as the abductor crossed Tanner's path while she continued forward. Assuming they were each walking in a straight line, and at approximately the same speed, then Tanner would have been no nearer the subject than 5 metres (a conservative estimate to say the least) at any moment in time. Unless she deliberately tracked him visually all the way, her angle of view would have become progressively more acute.

At a constant distance, greater even than the width of floor space so recently pictured by IKEA, and on the basis of information provided separately by the McCanns and herself, Jane Tanner could not have seen the degree of detail that the artist's impression purports to represent; detail which, if it were as accurate as the McCanns et al. would have us believe, should have included one rather significant, yet missing, feature – a 'badge' on the right leg, and the only genuine suggestion of 'pink' to be found anywhere on the lower aspect of the garment.




Those Who Can – 12.09.2013

'Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.' So the saying goes. Well let's not kid ourselves. There are many self-opinionated 'professionals' (far too many in fact) who cloak their own incompetence in posture and bluster, and who couldn't teach their grandmother to suck eggs into the bargain.

But this piece is about learning, not teaching: Learning from one's professional mistakes. Learning that one cannot make a silk purse from a sow's ear, nor fill a silk's purse selling sour beer. And making sure that prosecuting counsel earn their fee is the job of the Crown Prosecution Service; the body which decides, fundamentally on our behalf, whether a criminal case should be brought at all, i.e., that the public's interest would be served by a suspect's being tried in a crown court, and with a better than reasonable chance of conviction, bearing in mind the very significant costs associated with legal proceedings of any complexion nowadays. (The Police, the 'Met' especially, have long been more interested in pursuing crimes associated with significant 'recoverables' than dealing with the more mundane acts of criminality). As the London CPS itself puts it:

"As the principal prosecuting authority in England and Wales the CPS is responsible for criminal cases beyond the police investigatory stage. The CPS will advise the police on cases for possible prosecution, review cases submitted by the police, determine any charges in all but minor cases, prepare cases for court and present cases at court. Primarily, the CPS will review the evidence gathered by the police and provide guidance. During pre-charge procedures and throughout the investigative and prosecuting process the CPS may assist the police by explaining what additional work or evidence could raise the case to a viable charging standard thereby rectifying any evidential deficiencies. Once the evidence is gathered the CPS will then decide, on the basis of this evidence, whether a case should be pursued or dropped."

With their rather grand, nay, regal title, one might suppose the CPS to represent the pinnacle of legal expertise and savoir faire. But no. A glance beyond the window dressing and we quickly discover that what we thought was Harrods is actually Arding and Hobbs.

And on what, pray, do I base such criticism...?

Sweeping the decks clear of each and every previous 'mistake', one need only consider the very recent acquittal of actor Michael Le Vell from all child abuse charges previously laid against him. Nor is it the fact of Le Vell's acquittal that need concern us, but the manner of it.

Just over a year ago (July, 2012), Alison Levitt QC read a statement to the media, explaining in some detail the collaborative procedures which led her, on behalf of the CPS, to decide that there was sufficient evidence for them to proceed with charges against eight individuals identified during the police investigation of 'phone hacking, including, among others, Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson. Furthermore, prosecution was deemed to be in the public interest. Levitt reached her conclusions after applying the 'two-stage test in the Code for Crown Prosecutors'.

This lady clearly plays by the book, in particular the 'Code for Crown Prosecutors' which, one imagines, offers clear guidelines in respect of case law and precedent and, in so doing, affords a set of working standards applicable across the service.

And so to the matter of Le Vell.

It was this same Alison Levitt who, in her capacity as principal legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions for England, and following a complaint to the CPS by the plaintiff's mother, decided to over-rule an earlier decision not to prosecute, that decision having previously been taken by her colleague, Nazir Afzal, himself Chief Crown Prosecutor in the North West. (These two 'decision makers', don't forget, are supposedly reading from the same page - literally).

It was therefore the CPS (in the shape of Alison Levitt) that felt there was sufficient evidence for the case against Michael Le Vell to proceed to court, where it took the defence Barrister to point out that, actually, there was no evidence against the man at all! On which basis his acquittal was virtually assured.

Mr Afzal had called it correctly in the first place and, with Jo Public once more footing the bill, we are left with the soundbite of a 'defiant CPS spokeswoman' (according to today's Sun - Sept. 11. Ms Levitt, perchance?) and a lingering suspicion that the legal system, our system, has just been taken for yet another ride. And lo! The spokesperson spaketh (parentheses mine):

"This case was reviewed in great detail and the evidence subject to careful scrutiny before a decision was taken to prosecute. (What evidence? There was none!)

"On the basis of the reviews the CPS concluded that there was sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. (Again, zero plus zero equals...?)

"As these were very serious allegations of child sexual abuse it therefore followed that it was in the public interest to place that evidence before a jury at court."

Now then, now then.....this flagrantly counter-productive behaviour on the part of the CPS speaks directly to the SY 'investigation' currently being undertaken in Portugal, following the royal seal of approval bestowed upon it by yet another 'Alison of the CPS'. It is not even necessary to read between the lines. Just read the lines.

A decision to prosecute (whomever for whatever) would follow a review of the case 'in great detail', when, on the basis of demonstrably no substantive evidence at all (as Le Vell's acquittal demonstrates) the CPS might well consider there to be a 'realistic prospect of conviction.' Furthermore, as the allegations would necessarily entail 'very serious allegations of child sexual abuse' it therefore follows that 'it would be in the public interest to place that (non-existent) evidence before a jury at court.'

What the Le Vell escapade suggests is that, goaded by considerations of 'public interest', as they would have to be, the CPS could well encourage the Met to bring a case in the UK against anyone whom they suspected of abducting Madeleine McCann. But how, in the eyes even of Sun readers, like myself, can a 'person of interest/suspect' ultimately be brought before a UK or any other court to face a charge of child abduction, when there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that such a crime was ever committed in the first place? And it doesn't take a QC in receipt of a defence brief to illustrate that point. It has already been established by the Portuguese, together with Leicestershire Police.

So are we to expect a state-sponsored 'fit up', followed by an inevitable acquittal and an institutional shrug of the shoulders, or are Scotland Yard merely 'marking time' until a better idea presents itself? If the McCanns and their Tapas allies have genuinely been ruled out, then avoidance of the same spotlight that has just shone on the Le Vell trial would obviously suggest plan B. But then someone would be obliged to explain the not inconsiderable waste of yet more public money in pursuit of absolutely nothing, even though the Portuguese are once again being coerced into putting their hands in their pockets.




In Pursuit of Defame and Fortune – 18.09.2013

In the heady days of celebrity alliances, what the McCanns may once have considered a case of 'last man standing' appears now to be rather more one of 'Last to leave please turn out the lights'; a tragedy on the verge of descending into farce. (We have been here before, and in no uncertain terms. See: Cloud Cuckoo Land, McCannfiles 20.1.2010). Whilst we, the audience, can see the absurdities for what they are, the protagonists, at least those largely responsible for the choreography, seem oblivious to their situation, like a pantomime principal inexplicably dependent on calls off-stage of 'Look behind you!'

It would be surprising indeed if Goncalo Amaral's legal team did not have a full quiver of arrows, so to speak, hence nothing said here is likely to be novel in any way. Nonetheless, even familiar facts can be of renewed interest given a different interpretive context. Facts such as were put before us by a McCann supporter three years ago:

''The Truth of the Lie' by Amaral, has sold several million copies to date, netting him somewhere in the region of 1.2 million euros in royalties.'

And why ought we to acknowledge that statement as fact? Because the McCanns are seeking damages of 1.2 million euros, that's why. Or are we to suppose that they settled on that figure simply because they liked the sound of the number? Eureka! The extent of the McCanns' suffering is exactly equal to Goncalo Amaral's financial ruin – malevolent design or extraordinary coincidence? Well, like Andrew Wiles' assault on Fermat's Last Theorem, the answer to that one is arrived at by a surprisingly circuitous route.

On her way into the Lisbon court, Isabel Duarte was asked by a journalist exactly what compensation the McCanns were seeking. 'Money' came the obvious answer. And when the inevitable supplementary question followed, she duly elaborated with a simple Maths problem: '250 thousand euros for each of the persons involved, they are five.' (Hands up those who wouldn't want either Carol Vorderman or Rachel Riley to report from Lisbon, instead of Martin Brunt!).

Anyway, we have 5 x 250 (thousand) equals 1,250,000 (euros), which appears to tally with the 'fact' fed us all that time ago. Except that Goncalo Amaral is not the only defendant facing the charges. There are four parties being held to account, each of whom is destined to finance a quarter of the bill for damages should the decision go against them.

Part B of the Maths problem set by Isabel Duarte therefore is to divide 1,250,000 by 4. The result is 312,500. 'Good for Goncalo. He gets to keep a lot of change even if he loses then!' Oh no he doesn't. Underneath 'stone two' there lurks a statement published in The Sun:

'But by the time Amaral's 2008 book came out they had been cleared. It was never published in the UK but sold 140,000 copies and is estimated to have netted the former detective £320,000.'

Well, well, well. So Gonçalo Amaral did not become a euro-millionaire from his book sales after all. Never mind. The McCanns still calculated to take him for virtually every penny he did earn from the exercise. If we 'do the math' according to Duarte's initial equation, it quickly becomes apparent that a per capita claim of 250k is almost exactly the ratio required for Amaral's obligation to fall within his estimated earnings (and therefore offer some guarantee of being met). Cynical or what?

1.2 million euros worth of libel, in total, it is then, by the time the various 'injuries' are accounted for. Reason enough to travel to Portugal and no mistake. As Kate McCann was reported to have explained (in the Express and elsewhere):

"I'm here to stop the damage that has been caused and is still being caused directly and indirectly to the search for our daughter and stop the suffering that has been caused to our family by the theories in Gonçalo Amaral's book and the documentary."

Except her objective, as actually declared, was rather different – not exactly putting a stop to the suffering caused by an author's theories by refuting them, but merely challenging them:

"I'm here today for Madeleine and obviously I strongly hope for justice. I'm here to stop the damage that has been caused, and is still being caused, both directly and indirectly to the search for our daughter, and to stop the... the d... the suffering that's been caused to our family, and will carry on being caused to our family, if the theories of Goncalo Amaral and his book and documentary go unchallenged."

Whereas a challenge can be mounted by anyone, on any grounds and however spurious, refutation necessarily requires that the contestant demonstrate a solid proof. Leaving certain presumptions aside, in order to establish, once and for all, that they were not party to a concealment of any kind, the McCanns would have to prove their daughter Madeleine was abducted; something they have been unable to do in the six years since she disappeared, the Tanner sighting notwithstanding (see: Not A Leg To Stand On, McCannfiles 10.9.13). The current legal dispute is taking place on Portuguese soil don't forget, where the onus is upon the plaintiff to prove their point, rather than the accused to defend theirs.

Challenging theories is not what libel trials are about in any case.

Shouldn't the McCanns therefore be concerning themselves with more fundamental issues, pertaining to what, specifically, was said about them by Goncalo Amaral in his book 'A Verdade Da Mentira'? In accusing their adversarial author of libel, the litigants in this case should be intent on establishing, beyond question, that their personal and/or professional reputations have been damaged by him, not some vague 'search', conducted in Portugal or elsewhere by employees of the McCanns; operatives who work to contract, not according to the theoretical whims of outsiders. But again, they have to prove it. All the defendant has to do is convince the court of his own belief in the veracity of any contested claim. There is a precedent for that also. And If Goncalo Amaral's published statements were, or are, libellous, then they became so at the point of publication, not a year later once the sales had been racked up. But then they might not have been worth quite so much and concomitantly not worth pursuing.

The McCanns would have known all this before ever Kate boarded the plane to Portugal. That is why they tried to finesse Amaral with the offer of a 'settlement' (it worked with the Express after all) and why, with the Portuguese version of 'See you in court!' ringing in their ears, they have had to recruit a motley crew of mercenaries to testify on their behalf, the witnesses so far having previously been employed by the McCanns in some capacity. That makes their testimonies not only hearsay but prejudiced hearsay at that. Nevertheless, opening themselves up to cross-examination inside a court of law is definitely not on the McCann agenda (their discomfort during the Leveson Inquiry was plain enough, and it wasn't even their gig!).

Libel is absolute, not relative, whichever side of the ocean one is on. The Oscar Wilde case affords us a neat precedent in that regard. Unjustified derogatory remarks are not rendered more or less libellous depending upon the number of persons who might read them. It has nothing whatever to do with whether or not a theory, if uncontested, might adversely influence the future behaviour of people toward third parties, however closely related. We do not, as a rule, 'visit the sins of the father upon the son' (or daughter), and unquestionably the best way to challenge the theories of Goncalo Amaral, should they require it, is to discover Madeleine McCann alive.

Surely Kate would not take the view that the McCanns alone are able to mount such a challenge, thereby denying others the opportunity of doing so? At issue of course is whether others genuinely do have such an opportunity. Perhaps, should Goncalo Amaral be vindicated, we might then proceed to find out. Unless of course the overseas arm of 'Operation Grange' comes up with a challenge of its own in the meantime.




On the Use of English – 19.09.2013

To the ear of a non-speaker the romance languages can appear almost song-like. That mongrel tongue known as English on the other hand exhibits an altogether different peculiarity. Having discarded the demands of gender, adjectival agreement, and the rest of that latinate bag of tricks which virtually guarantee an accurate understanding of the written word, English strips down to the bare essentials, risking all on the logical determinacy of its semantics and associated capacity to overcome ambiguity. In simple terms, 'what you say is what you get'.

So what do we gather from what the McCanns have said?

Madeleine McCann is dead

Kate McCann has said so (to Sara Antunes de Oliveira, SIC, 9 March, 2010):

"We're not going to sit here and lie and be totally naïve and say she's one hundred per cent alive."

Less than 100% alive equals dead. A lie is a deliberate contradiction of a known truth, not a speculation.

On the strength of the available evidence Gerry McCann also believes this to be the case (to Nicky Campbell, Radio Five Live Breakfast, 1 May, 2008):

"We have contact with the Foreign Office, errm... from predominantly a consular basis. We do put requests in, that we do want to get as much information as possible and, I think, what we've asked, and will ask repeatedly, is: 'What evidence does anyone have to suggest that Madeleine is dead?' Because we know of no evidence to suggest otherwise and we would like a public acknowledgement of that."

It wasn't an accident

During a 'Seven on Sunday' broadcast in Australia, two years ago now, Gerry McCann was asked: "Did you kill your daughter?" To which he replied: "No. That's an emphatic 'no.'"

English offers a speaker various ways to emphasise a statement: Tone of voice, qualifiers, repetition – they each have their place, depending upon the context in which they are deployed. This answer of Gerry McCann's, so simple on the face of it, is disproportionately subtle in significance.

If the answer to a question is genuinely 'no' then, if the speaker considers it appropriate to reinforce the negation, all they have to do is to say 'no' emphatically. Describing the word subsequently, as being emphatic or anything else, does not accomplish that objective (assuming of course that was the objective).

Hence Gerry McCann's 'emphatic denial' that he killed his daughter (the question having been put to him rather than his wife) is, in actuality, not emphatic at all, just a monosyllabic rebuff.

Later, in concluding his over-elaborate answer he makes the following remark:

"An' if she died when we were in the apartment or fell injured, why would we... why would we cover that up?"

If we invert this observation and view it as a statement, rather than a question, Gerry McCann is implying that they would not have covered up either an injury to their daughter or Madeleine's death in their presence. There is no contingency expressed which would cover her death in their absence. Should it transpire that Madeleine McCann was not abducted however, covering up a death is exactly what the McCanns will have done. And if covering up a death due to accidental injury is deemed to have been unnecessary, then the fact of a cover up would signify that the death was not accidental.

Another of Gerry McCann's sound bites, from elsewhere in the broadcast media universe, speaks more pointedly to the same issue:

"There's been an evil crime committed here, a heinous crime...it's just so important to concentrate on that. We've got to live with ourselves for that misjudgement, but really the focus should be on that person who is out there."

Several contiguous statements refer to 'an evil crime', 'a heinous crime', 'misjudgement' and 'that person out there.' In order to focus more clearly on the real meaning of this utterance we can profitably jettison the closing remark, which results in the following:

"There's been an evil crime committed here, a heinous crime...it's just so important to concentrate on that. We've got to live with ourselves for that misjudgement."

Suddenly we begin to see the true nature of the confession. Taking concentration on 'that', i.e., the evil, heinous crime as a given, we may reduce the statement further, making it clearer still:

"There's been an evil crime committed here, a heinous crime. We've got to live with ourselves for that misjudgement."

Readers of Ripley's 'Believe It Or Not' may already have discovered for themselves how it is possible to construct a sentence which includes seven consecutive instances of the word 'that'. Here we began with three (that crime, that misjudgement, that person) and have since reduced the number to one (a demonstrative adjective), the referent for which is the same as for the intervening pronoun. In simple terms what 'that misjudgement' and 'that' as an object upon which to concentrate each have in common is their relationship to the aforementioned 'evil, heinous crime'. In a nutshell the McCanns have to live with themselves for a misjudgement, which happens to have been a crime, and not just any old crime either, but an evil, heinous one.

Would one normally view leaving a child indoors unattended as an evil or heinous act?




The Wright Stuffed – 23.09.2013

Is it just me, or is the behaviour of persons connected with the on-going libel contest in Lisbon truly as childish as it appears?

Thanks to Anne Guedes, who has single-handedly succeeded in bringing transcripts of proceedings to the world's attention, while the press fuss about the amount of ink on their rollers, we learn, courtesy of these unofficial records of an official process, that evidence offered by Michael Wright was preceded by an 'overture', involving one António Marinho Pinto; a peculiar on, off, on again, off again episode, in which he first expressed a wish to present his evidence in writing, rather than give oral testimony. That was in January, 2012. A year later and he changes his mind (supposing perhaps that GA's silence could be bought in the meantime). Hence he is required to appear in court after all and – changes his mind once again. He really does prefer to exercise a professional privilege and submit in writing, consequently denying any opportunity for cross-examination. Sensibly the judge was having none of it, saying that this witness (AMP) should have revealed his intention during a specific 10-day legal period. Having failed to do so, he had therefore forfeited his right of privilege and would be required to appear in court.

What makes this vacillation beyond the 11th hour so totally bizarre is the status of the culprit - President of the Bar Association (bastonário da ordem dos advogados)!

After this somewhat out-of-tune rendition of a chorus from Fleetwood Mac, it was curtain up on Michael Wright.

A preliminary on the part of the judge concerned whether the witness's family relationships would influence his testimony. "Yes" came the reply. But would it prevent him from telling the truth? "No".

Of course not. Influence extends only so far after all. Well, I for one do not believe him. This from the original transcript:

ID - In which circumstances did the McCanns learn about the book and the documentary?

MW - says they knew before the shelving of the case, that a book would be published. About the documentary, they were told it had been broadcast on TV in April 2009.

ID - When did they read the book and watch the documentary?

MW - They read the book when I sent them the translation that was on the internet in August 2008.

(Later) MW objects that the book was published immediately after the release of the files and was written by a PJ Inspector. Moreover he says GA's book can be read in a day.

Oh dear, Michael. What it is to be easily led.

On 6 September 2008, Expresso published an interview with the McCanns, both of them. Whilst more than one exchange therein is of relevance to the current proceedings, the following single example is oh so pertinent:

Q – Former inspector Gonçalo Amaral remains convinced of your involvement in Madeleine's disappearance. Did you read 'The Truth of the Lie', the book that he wrote?

Kate and Gerry – No.

Kate – Why would I?

Gerry – I won't learn anything from reading it.

We have a couple with anticipatory knowledge of a potentially 'harmful' book, albeit written in Portuguese, who, in August 2008, receive a translation via the internet that can be read in a day, and who, according to court witness Michael Wright (who is under oath to tell the truth don't forget), read it at that time, presumably in the one day required to do so. And yet, when asked about it publicly in September, both denied having read the book at all.

Someone else has clearly been listening to that FM song. Either Michael Wright was wrong about his friends' August 2008 access and reaction to Goncalo Amaral's ostensibly contentious book or the McCanns were lying to Expresso; par for the course in the latter case.

There are instances during Wright's testimony when he refers to his 'understanding' which has obviously to derive from third-party input given his own lack of first-hand knowledge:

ID - asks whether the investigation was hampered because of GA's book and an article in the Correio da Manhã (Portuguese Morning Post newspaper).

MW - says it's what he understood.

TVI - They were collaborating in the realisation of another documentary, theirs. This documentary wasn't broadcast by TVI, in spite of the agreement between TVI and Channel 4.

MW - says they decided it wasn't appropriate to broadcast their documentary on the same channel that would broadcast GA's documentary (they being 'Kate and Gerry').

Thus are we afforded a subtle glimpse or two into the 'influence' the McCanns have had upon this witness in particular. There is only one thing to add. If, Michael, someone tells you a lie in the street, they are not committing a crime – merely telling lies. Represent that information in court as the truth however and the crime is yours.




Wright's Folly – 27.09.2013

That the McCanns are perfectly happy to let others do their lying for them has been evident ever since they separately and severally fed their kith and kin the line about their holiday apartment having been broken into. They did their own line in perjury though. Kate McCann herself proclaimed before Lord Justice Leveson: 'There were no body fluids' (found in their hire car), despite having long ago attempted to explain away that very discovery as possibly arising from the transportation of soiled nappies, previously worn by bodies no doubt.

That was until quite recently. Michael Wright's testimony in Lisbon on their behalf has since 'pushed the envelope' significantly.

Maybe Wright forgot where he was. Maybe he did not properly understand what he was being called upon to do. The script was so new to him after all, that he had to jot it down on a hotel napkin. Whatever the reason, he is now in the very precarious position of possibly becoming a defendant himself, should Goncalo Amaral, win lose or draw, exercise his right to sue Mr Michael Wright for giving false testimony against him (we shall come to the specifics in due course).

First a word or two about correlations; those slippery statistical things that, even when significant, prove nothing (see: www. correlated.org). They are often appealed to as indices though, just like the behaviour of sniffer dogs in fact. And what might the principle of correlation have to do with the McCanns vs. Amaral? Gerry McCann, newly arrived on the scene, gives us a clue:

GM - "The law has changed, and I think that Kate and I know better than anyone else what we have experienced, and what we have gone through, the facts of the file and the damage that has been caused to the search for Madeleine."

Notice that his conclusion is not 'the damage that has been caused to the search for Madeleine by Goncalo Amaral’s book'. That might just have been untrue, the more especially if the court should eventually find otherwise. Furthermore, 'damage' is left clinging to the lifeboat of 'the facts of the files', which Kate and Gerry 'know better than anyone else' just as they do 'what they have experienced'. Which raises the obvious question as to why those with such superior knowledge did not elect to speak for themselves in the first place? (Could it have had something to do with point one above, perhaps?).

It rather appears that Gerry McCann, having watched proceedings from a safe distance, has been parachuted in to provide additional data; data that will strengthen the correlation earlier witnesses, including Michael Wright, have laboured in vain to establish - the three-way correlation (as yet unspoken by Gerry McCann, who is obviously saving himself for the witness stand) between Goncalo Amaral's book 'The Truth of the Lie', the McCanns' interminable suffering, and the damage done to the 'search' for Madeleine (whether defined as a brand or an activity is unclear).

The story so far is that, according to the McCanns' writ, an unquantifiable degree of damage and suffering (unquantifiable except in terms of financial compensation demanded) can be attributed, directly or indirectly, to the publication of the Amaral book. Several witnesses for the McCanns having now been heard, this putatively indisputable association appears somewhat less convincing, especially given the earlier, widespread announcement of the McCanns' arguido status and immediate release to the public of the process files upon relaxation of this status in 2008, the year in which A Verdade Da Mentira, to give it its Portuguese title, was published.

A major difficulty for the McCann case therefore is the impossibility of disentangling these, shall we say, causal elements, in order to apportion 'effect' with any degree of accuracy. And that's just as regards Portugal, both productions being in Portuguese in the first instance. Hence we have heard attempts to convince the court that the Goncalo's book is the more credible/influential on account of its being easier to read and digest, say, in a day. The significance of the all-important correlation is therefore weakened. From being 'entirely responsible' the book is inevitably down-graded to 'largely responsible' - at worst, if at all, given that quantitative attestation has so far been conspicuously absent from any witness testimony to date (no doubt that is what Gerry McCann intends to bring to the table). The issue does not rest there however.

The 'search' for Madeleine McCann has been considered a worldwide activity since her parents first stepped aboard that hired Learjet on their tour of Europe, and then 'did America'. If that nasty paperback edition of the Algarve Police Gazette (or the film of the book) had any meaningful effect upon its readers' searching intentions, that effect would have been restricted to Portugal, Brazil and one or two African communities. To maximize the return on their investment in proceedings, the McCanns need to be rewarded (compensated seems altogether inappropriate a term) for damage to their search elsewhere on planet earth. All English speaking zones should cover it, i.e., virtually everywhere else. Except everywhere else doesn't speak or read Portuguese necessarily.

And so we begin to close in on Michael Wright's folly.

It is difficult to apportion individual effectiveness, should two or more publications on a single subject emerge at around the same time (e.g., Newton - Leibniz, Darwin - Wallace). Better, in principle, if there is a lapse of time in-between, following which one can assess any influential change(s) occasioned by subsequent accounts. The histrionic Ms Stilwell, who might care to reflect upon what happened to her namesake Frank after he shot Morgan Earp in the back (they almost lost count of the bullet holes Morgan's brother Wyatt put in his body), would have it that there was a rebellious upsurge of anti-McCann feeling following introduction of Amaral's material to the world. She is, however, wholly unable to offer evidence in support of such a claim. Just like those witnesses who have preceded her.

One of those witnesses was Michael Wright, whom we know, thanks to the astuteness of the lady judge, was 'coached' before giving evidence. His approach to the complete absence of reliable data on search and suffering effects (those phenomena obviously more familiar to the McCanns) was to broaden the contiguous alignment of 'The Truth of the Lie' and the official files (the Portuguese scenario), so as to embrace translations available via the internet, English in particular, and endeavour to push home the claim that the book took precedence in the public mind. Of course for that situation to pertain, the relevant materials had to be publicly available at the same time.

As we have seen, Michael Wright, clearly influenced as much by his understanding as his knowledge, has made two very specific claims on the McCanns' behalf, viz:

'They knew before the shelving of the case, that a book would be published.'

'They read the book when I sent them the translation that was on the internet in August 2008.'

Whereas attention was previously drawn to the possible unreliability of this 'evidence' in the light of the McCanns' own admissions, come September 2008, that neither of them had bothered to read the book in question, one may now be altogether more specific. It wasn't the McCanns who lied on this occasion, but Wright, who lied to the court.

The English translation that appears on the Internet is taken from the French version of Goncalo Amaral's book, L'Enquête Interdite - 'The Forbidden Investigation'. The French edition of the book was not published until 03 May 2009. There has never been an English translation made of the Portuguese. And in case anyone should protest that Wright had the English narration of the broadcast documentary in mind, that programme did not materialise until April 2009 either.

Exactly what translation of A Verdade Da Mentira does Michael Wright believe he discovered on the Internet in August 2008 therefore; a translation communicated to the McCanns that very month and which, for their part, they did not read?

Not only should Wright's testimony be stricken from the record, but it should be regarded as prejudicial to that of any other of the McCanns' witnesses who appeal to the same 'translated' source in support of whatever claim they might make (or have made) regarding supposed adverse effects upon the plaintiffs.

As for Michael Wright, the best advice one might offer is 'Lawyer-up mate!' That's what funds (sorry, friends) are for, is it not?




The Cross Word Puzzle – 02.10.2013

'McCanns devastated by shameful lies of disgraced ex-cop', or words to that effect (word order hardly matters), is the kind of rabid headline that has continuously attended the McCanns' attempts to suppress Goncalo Amaral's 'Truth of The Lie'. Well, 'those who live in glass houses...' and all that. When all's said and done, lies are no less shameful when told in English under the title 'Madeleine'. But let's not get into a puerile 'tit-for-tat' argument. Let's instead envisage a brief exchange which, for all the world, might just have occurred in the summer of 2008:

'Hi Gerry. Michael here. Do you want me to e-mail you a translation of what Goncalo Amaral has to say in print?'

'Nah. Don't bother mate. We've read it.'

'Oh' (scratches head in bewilderment).

'Michael', as we know, is convinced that his friends the McCanns were historically 'enabled' through his linguistic intervention some time during August that year. He has said as much in a Lisbon court recently:

'They read the book when I sent them the translation that was on the internet in August 2008.'

For their part the McCanns each claimed in September, i.e., the following month, that they had, in fact, not read the book, whereas reports carried in the UK press on July 25, well before Michael Wright thought to take the initiative, cited both the McCanns and their poodle (sorry, spokesperson) as claiming that their 'legal team' had already begun scrutinising Goncalo Amaral's book, that extracts from the book published online had already been translated (without specifying by whom exactly) and that the legal team had also begun translating the work (which rather suggests that the 'extracts' referred to had not been translated by them in the first instance). Furthermore, the legal team would 'take their time' going through the text.

Peering through this fog it can be said without fear of contradiction that lawyers are not also linguists by profession. So, unless a Portuguese ally was on hand, 'The Truth of the Lie' would have to have been scrupulously translated in its entirety for the tame UK 'silks', first to scrutinize it, and then to form any reliable opinion as to its legal character. What can be read in a day can surely be translated in a month. Thus Michael Wright's diligence on the McCanns' behalf would have been a day late and a dollar short. By the end of August they should already have been armed with their legal team's 'first impressions', hence the imaginary exchange portrayed earlier. But we have just begun to sharpen the pencil.

Whereas Michael Wright's unambiguous claim before the Lisbon court might appear to offer scope for re-interpretation, that is, I'm afraid, a false hope. To recap:

'They read the book when I sent them the translation that was on the internet in August 2008.'

In its fullest sense the statement equates to:

'They read the book when I sent them the translation (of it) that was on the internet in August 2008.'

Predictably, however, there are those of a perverse persuasion who wish to read into it:

'They read the book when I sent them the translation (of an excerpt, a summary, or of something else entirely) that was on the internet in August 2008.'

Implying that the McCanns were goaded into action by their unexpected acquaintance with whatever it was Wright believes he sent them. But we already know that the McCanns may either have anticipated Wright's communique, courtesy of their own legal team, or else did not follow his lead, according to their published statements; all of which relegates Wright's claim to the logical status of 'piggy in the middle'. For one reason or another, what he says happened, did not. In any event there is no way the McCanns could have read a book written in Portuguese on account of a piecemeal introduction to it, in whatever form. They do not speak or read Portuguese, period.

This 'alternative' view of Wright's explanation does not work therefore. Which leaves us with the intuitive interpretation, and that in itself tells us about more than a mere coincidence in timing.

The statement, 'they read the book when I sent them the translation that was on the internet in August 2008' associates the book with the translation. In order to read one from the other both must be complete. There is no suggestion that the McCanns read the book 'in part'. Furthermore, there is only one translation – the translation. And that does not mean one English translation among several, being the one available on the internet versus however many others might have been to hand, whether in English or some other language. It means exactly what we should take it to mean, because, in reality, in August 2008 there were no complete translations of Amaral's book available to the public at all, on the internet or otherwise.

Michael Wright's apparent 'discovery', barely a month after initial publication, would seem to confirm, or to suggest at the very least, that an understanding of the book's legal ramifications would have been arrived at reasonably quickly, even allowing that the McCanns' legal team were deliberately, and quite sensibly, taking their time over it. Notwithstanding the differences of interpretation and adjudication of libel between the UK and Portugal currently, one would have thought the implications of 'The Truth of The Lie', from that particular legal perspective at any rate, would have been assessed and demarcated by the end of 2008. A 15 November statement of Clarence Mitchell's confirms this:

"Lawyers for Kate and Gerry have been aware of what Mr Amaral has been alleging for some time. What he has said and written before now is grossly defamatory of them." (The Independent, 16.11.2008).

From the McCanns' point of view therefore, defamation was determined within three months of publication. Mitchell went on to say:

"If he chooses to publish them in Britain those words will be studied intensely carefully and they will not hesitate to act if they are defamatory."

Before any rush to judgement however, it should be borne in mind that Mitchell was speaking in the context of a future publication predicated upon a translation already in the possession of Dr Amaral's publishers; one that was most definitely not on the internet, but open to discussion, in the sense that the publishers (Guerra & Paz) themselves acknowledged the possibility that the Portuguese and planned English editions might not say exactly the same things. However, the situation as regards the original was cut and dried, and Portugal would be where the McCanns would take action. Except they did not – for a further seven months! Of course libel can be damaging, and its effects immediate, which is why litigants typically lose no time in bringing charges (not even Oscar Wilde, and he was the only one to read the remark that offended him in the first place). Why did the McCanns wait seven months therefore?

There is a school of thought that, with an authorised English version on the cards, a pre-emptive strike was to be preferred. Better to muddy Amaral's waters before the home market got wind of potentially damaging information, than mount a challenge afterwards. Needless to say an English edition could not be challenged before it was even printed – but the Portuguese could. As we have seen, Mitchell's cautionary remarks, made in November 2008, were made in respect of that very possibility – an English edition. And yet nothing happened. In fact Mitchell confirmed that the McCanns' legal team were prepared to sit back and wait, nursing a brief to study Amaral's words 'intensely and carefully' should he choose to publish in Britain. So why the delay?

On November 18, Mário Sena Lopes, representing Guerra & Paz, intimated that The Truth of The Lie would be appearing in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Germany by the end of the year. In reality it was released in Germany and Holland during April, 2009 and France the following Month, May 3rd. The McCanns' decision to sue the author for defamation was announced within a fortnight, and their formal writ issued on 24 June.

The Sunday Mirror (12.7.2009) ran a major feature on this development which included a synopsis of the injury the McCanns felt had been done to them by Goncalo Amaral's book, expressed in phrases such as 'total destruction', 'irreparable damage'. The McCanns themselves, when prefacing this announcement with one of their own back in May, chose to use the terms 'huge' and 'immense'. So just how long is a piece of string?

It is clear from the evidence presented in court so far by their witnesses against Dr Amaral, that with the sole exception of Trisha Cameron, none of them is able to quantify the alleged damage done to their sponsors, the McCanns, nor the pain they are alleged to have suffered. Trish Cameron spoke today (Wednesday) of her family members' distress having been 'multiplied 100 times' by the publication of Goncalo Amaral's book. (Shouldn't that be 180,000 times, i.e., the number of Portuguese copies sold? Perhaps not). So what was the level of distress beforehand? Maybe that doesn't matter, but, with distress under the microscope, how does Trish Cameron know better than anyone else, better than even Kate and Gerry McCann so far, exactly which level of magnification to adopt? It's all vaguely reminiscent of Michael Caine's closing line in the film, Too Late the Hero (1970):

'Out there? He was a hero. Killed fifteen single-handed. Thirty, if you like.'

The McCanns themselves were no less coy in 2009, but they seemed to have discovered one metric at least for conversion of their hardship – money. Not only did they feel themselves capable of assessing their various emotional ailments according to very precise and extravagant figures, they even had the temerity to suggest where their adversary might look for the cash in order to meet their miserable demands:

£500,000 from the book sales in Portugal (180,000 copies).

£430,000 (from the extra 150,000 books sold in Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Holland).

Only the foolhardy would appeal to a correlation as conclusive evidence of a causal relationship, but one cannot help question the true nature of the McCanns' case against Goncalo Amaral. The effect(s) of a genuine libel on a person's good name is immediate, not cumulative (one cannot base a case on hypothetical future developments in any case) and demands an equally immediate response. It cannot be that deep a wound if it takes almost a year for the injured party to seek a cure. If they simply stand back and watch whilst donations continue to drop into the bucket, then the motive for legal action becomes something other than a concern for their personal reputation(s).

Some years ago the McCanns eschewed an opportunity to quell the UK press, via the customary route of the PCC, in favour of taking legal action against various titles. They succeeded in finessing Express Group Newspapers out of half a million. The present confrontation in Lisbon was clearly not triggered by any defamation of which the McCanns' legal team were already convinced prior to November 2008 (according to Clarence Mitchell). Guerra & Paz published in Portugal and nothing happened. Instead it took a spate of releases throughout Europe for the McCanns to feel sufficiently wronged as to do something about it. For a moment it looked as if history would repeat itself. But then Goncalo Amaral and those acting for him proved better bridge players than the McCanns imagined.




You've Been Framed! - 11.10.2013

We have heard a lot already about the forthcoming edition of the BBC's Crimewatch special on behalf of the McCanns and their missing daughter Madeleine, much of it very appealing (according to a source from Scotland Yard):

"We are not prepared to discuss, comment or speculate on the content of the upcoming appeal in relation to the Metropolitan Police investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

"This has been weeks in the planning and each element of the investigation must be set into the overall context of the appeal. "We will be asking for help from the public in a number of countries, delivered through a series of public appeals. "We will do nothing to jeopardise the effectiveness of these appeals.

Jerry Lawton, Chief Crime Correspondent for the Daily Star (10 Oct.), offers us a little more, on the subject of suspects:

'On a Crimewatch special due to be broadcast on Monday, Det Chief Insp Andy Redwood, leading the inquiry, is expected to reveal details of the suspect's movements around the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz around the time Madeleine, then three, disappeared.

'He is understood to be one of 41 "persons of interest", including 15 Brits, the Met's 37-strong Operation Grange team want to trace after spending two years reviewing the original shelved investigation.

'Mystery

'Police will urge witnesses to come forward if they recall seeing him near the apartment or recognise him from the detailed image, according to Sky News.'

So far, so good. But then...

'Crimewatch will feature a reconstruction of events leading up to Madeleine's disappearance and a new public appeal by the McCanns, who will be in the studio with presenter Kirsty Young, 44.'

Hence we have, as a purpose, jogging the memory of passers-by in Praia da Luz that notorious Thursday night in May 2007, who might just have seen the as yet unidentified person of possibly greatest interest slinking around in the vicinity of 5A, The Ocean Club. (Redwood of the Yard does not need to be told of said person's other movements around Praia da Luz in general. He already knows them apparently, and is expected to reveal them to us himself).

Bravo! Except that this enterprise seems doomed to fall on its own sword, on account of the 'excluded middle', as the much vaunted reconstruction will be of events 'leading up to Madeleine's disappearance'.

Presumably the casual passer-by (aka 'witness') will not be expected to recall, or even relate to, the interior of the McCanns' holiday apartment, their exits and their entrances, or the state of any of their beds, including Madeleine's. Relevance to an appeal for witnesses therefore – nil. Yet they might just have noticed an individual loitering with intent between, say 8.30 and 8.55; someone who hadn't already been spotted as a 'wrong 'un' by any of the Tapas diners walking to and fro, in the course of keeping an eye on their offspring that night.

Interior reconstructions aside, there is perhaps an outside chance of the miscreant having been spotted – outside. Well we already have one witness to that very occurrence do we not? Jane Tanner, who saw what has long since been depicted, literally, as Madeleine being carried off in the arms of a stranger.

Whoa there kemosabe! We've seen the 'rushes'. The reconstruction, based on Scotland Yard's latest findings, places Madeleine's (rather large) feet to the left. Jane Tanner must therefore have seen just the crown of a child's head, if she saw anything at all. And yet she has already offered a detailed description of pyjama trousers - dangling down on the opposite side, virtually out of view?

That must be the 'revelation moment' Redwood is talking about. The moment when he realised that, although genetically unrelated, both Jane Tanner and Matthew Oldfield have the most extraordinary visual capabilities.




Anyone For Tennis? - 13.10.2013

Is it really any wonder that the Tapas 7 showed no enthusiasm for a reconstruction of events on the night of May 3, 2007, or that the McCanns just shrugged their shoulders, rather than encouraging their friends to assist in the 'search' for Madeleine? Hardly, when one considers that the written record since includes three significantly different accounts of a single event, given by three people all claiming to have been there at the time!



In the days when photography was a game of intuition played with wonderfully engineered machines and light-sensitive film, professionals would 'bracket' their exposures of an important subject (in a - 0 + fashion), so as to improve the chance of a perfect outcome. That's three exposures of the same subject at a given time. But trust an amateur to misconstrue the principle. For Kate McCann, Rachael Oldfield and Jane Tanner, the route to success is clearly for two different 'sharpshooters' to capture the same subject, on three separate occasions! The result is a photograph, taken on a tennis court, that's a load of balls.

Rachael Oldfield (Rogatory interview):

1578 "The third of May, are you able to summarise the days activities"?

Reply "Yeah, ...I think Diane might have been there as well, remember chatting to Kate cos we were talking about schools and that sort of thing, erm and holidays, erm and then I think it must have been at about ten thirty, Madeleine and Ella and their sort of group came to have a tennis lesson as part of their crèche activities, erm and Kate didn't have her camera and Jane was there then as well and Jane took some photos of both Madeleine and Ella, that's one, that poster of Madeleine with the tennis balls, that sort of pictures".

1578 "That was taken on the"?

Reply "Yeah that was that morning."

1578 "Thursday"?

Reply "Yeah, erm so we sort of watched them have their tennis lesson, erm and there were a few other parents there, sort of taking photos and that sort of thing."

Jane Tanner (Rogatory interview):

4078 "Okay. And can you remember what happened then for the rest of the day from your point of view?"

Reply "No. Err the Wednesday, err again I think it would have just been a, Evie would have had a sleep and just round the pool or in the, each other apartments, until, until high tea but I think Ella, and Ella would have, Ella went to err, Ella went to the err the kids club. Actually that morning was the morning Ella and Madeleine had the tennis lesson I think on the Wednesday. You've got the picture of..."

4078 "Yeah."

Reply "Err so after the, would it be the Wednesday, after our tennis lesson they all came down so we did stay and watch them for a bit, so that makes me wonder if it was actually the sailing that day. No, yeah because the sailing started, sorry, the sailing started at half eleven so between half ten and half eleven that day we would have stood and, we stood and watched, I stood with Kate and probably Rachael we watched them having their, the kids having their tennis lesson."

And later:

"On the Wednesday me, Rachael and Kate watched Ella and Madeleine having their tennis lesson."

4078 "Yeah."

Reply "But then on the Thursday another group of children came down for their tennis lesson and that's when Russell and this other person was there with the video camera. Because just going backwards, I'm thinking Russell dropped Ella off and then came to watch us finishing our tennis lesson with Evie, because Evie didn't go to the Kids Club. And after our tennis lesson that day another group of children came down for their tennis lesson, so."

4078 "Not Madeleine?"

Reply "Not Madeleine and Ella, no, another group. And we sort of just watched them starting and that's when the conversation with this other person with the video camera, because he was taking pictures of his daughter."

Kate McCann (in 'Madeleine'):

'Our apartment was cleaned on the Monday and Wednesday (another perk) by a middle-aged Portuguese lady. On Tuesday 1 May, after my tennis lesson, two maintenance workers came to have a look at our washing machine, which I couldn't get to operate. Gerry had also managed to break the window shutter mechanism in our bedroom shortly after we'd arrived, in spite of the sign asking guests to be gentle with it. What can I say? It's the Gerry touch . . . The two men looked at the washing machine first. Once they'd established that the problem was something simple – not quite as simple as me not having pressed the 'on' button, but not much more complicated than that – I went to meet Gerry, whose lesson had started at ten-fifteen, leaving them to fix the shutter.

'During Gerry's tennis lesson, Madeleine and Ella came to the adjoining court with their Mini Club for a mini-tennis session. Jane and I stayed to watch them. It chokes me remembering how my heart soared with pride in Madeleine that morning. She was so happy and obviously enjoying herself. Standing there listening intently to Cat's instructions, she looked so gorgeous in her little T-shirt and shorts, pink hat, ankle socks and new holiday sandals that I ran back to our apartment for my camera to record the occasion. One of my photographs is known around the world now: a smiling Madeleine clutching armfuls of tennis balls.'

In short, Rachael describes how Jane took the photograph on Thursday, Jane describes the event taking place on Wednesday and Kate describes how she (Kate) took it on Tuesday. Imagine. 'Just hold that pose, dear!' 'How long for?' 'Er...tomorrow.'

And yet the photograph cannot have been taken during a mini-tennis session on the Tuesday either, because there wasn't one. Mini-tennis took place, according to the 'kids' club' schedule, on the Monday morning. If, this photograph is construed as representing Madeleine McCann's 'last hours' therefore (as a recent Sunday Telegraph report would suggest), then these will have been spent on the morning of Monday April 30th, not the early evening of May 3.




Read it and Weep – 15.10.2013

The Book of Revelations (by Kate and Gerry McCann - author unknown).

Jane Tanner, friend and confidante of the McCanns, gave birth to a revelation in Praia da Luz, soon after being 'cognitively induced'. Gerry McCann had another when he 'saw the light'. Now, six years on, but adhering to the rule of three, we are invited to believe that DCI Redwood of the Metropolitan Police has experienced one also, his 'revelation moment' being the realization that Tanner's was in fact coincidental, and about as reliable as a Ouija board.

The BBC's very recent 'Crimewatch' appeal in respect of Madeleine McCann has, almost inevitably (it could have been avoided) provoked a gossip-fest of opinion and counter-opinion as to the motives behind the various inclusions, exclusions, conclusions and delusions expressed during the broadcast. The internet, having given voice to all those of us who choose to exploit it, is suddenly now teeming with Madeleine-related communications, whilst 'phone lines are buzzing with callers eager to shed light on the identities of persons unknown. The media have their hands firmly on the whisk, as Maddie fever is stirred up once more. But we older dogs in the kennel are less excitable. We've seen prospective rescue come and go on many previous occasions, only to note a by now predictable reticence to adopt that which is unattractive.

As far as the Madeleine McCann saga is concerned, prime candidates for extermination since 2009/2010 are Goncalo Amaral's book, The Truth of the Lie, and the prior findings of the Portuguese investigation upon which it is based. The McCanns' own libel action against the author was thought to take care of the first, Scotland Yard's 'Investigative Review' the second. And, like a slow acting weed-killer, the process was working. Until a court injunction on the sale and distribution of the Amaral book was overturned, an appeal decision that definitely rained on the parade, and another heavy downpour in Portugal earlier this year, when Dr Amaral's representatives told the McCann contingent to 'go forth and multiply'. O.k., so you might not be able to 'up the dose' immediately beneath the trees, but what about the rest of the lawn? The territories of the Iberian peninsula might be lost, but there's a heck of a lot of sympathy still to be mined in northern Europe and beyond, provided those earliest conclusions can be either cast into doubt or dismissed as irrelevant.

Is this straying too far from Crimewatch? I don't think so. Syphilitic blindness is not caused by a poke in the eye any more than DCI Redwood's flagrant oversights during his BBC show were a consequence of editing to time. In the very same programme which went on to request information from the public concerning the identities of individuals whose faces could not be seen, but whose clothing was visible, DCI Redwood stressed the importance of identifying a face (or two), but made no mention whatsoever of the clothing which one person in particular is known to have worn.

Too clever by half

It is a fair supposition that the McCanns, having been party to 'the biggest f*ck up on the planet' (Robert Murat's take on something or other, presumably the investigation but one cannot be absolutely sure) could not themselves have dreamt up what happened in that TV studio. They would have done so well before now otherwise. And, since Gerry cannot contain himself, we would have known all about it long since. I refer, of course, to Redwood's revelation.

Scotland Yard and the BBC between them having already poured petrol on the barbecue, the salivating press were quick to publicise an alteration to the abduction timeline in advance of the programme's airing, both here in the UK and abroad. 'WHAT YOU KNOW IS NOT THE TRUTH', proclaimed The Star (13 October). There are solid epistemic grounds for correcting this headline so as to read 'WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD IS NOT THE TRUTH', since one cannot genuinely 'know' something that was not true to begin with. Hence people instinctively took the view that the McCanns et al had lied and we would all be shown why by the good men from the Yard.

Not so. The timeline - that confection first fed to the PJ by the McCanns on the cover of a sticker book - remained completely unaltered, but for the most modest of corrections to a single entry therein.

Jane Tanner lied? She didn't see an abductor after all? Goodness me that leaves the McCanns without...too much to worry about as it happens.

The Tanner sighting has been a double-edged sword from the very beginning (see: A Tanner in the Works, McCannfiles, 19.1.2010). Having been obliged to admit it into evidence, so to speak, the McCanns were thereafter reluctant to weave the Smith sighting into the story as well, since it contradicted Tanner's tale at every turn (1-1=0). What Scotland Yard have pulled off therefore is a stroke of insightful genius. Far from discrediting Jane Tanner's 'evidence' they have simultaneously extricated Tanner, exonerated Oldfield, and rendered 'abduction' feasible at last.

Contrary to popular belief in certain quarters, Jane Tanner is by no means a discredited witness, merely a mistaken one. Matthew Oldfield can sleep more easily at night knowing that Madeleine McCann was still in apartment 5A when he thought to intuit her presence from outside her bedroom, and the abductor has enough time to carry out his mission before Kate McCann’s auspicious return at 10.00 p.m. So now the Met can pursue their remit of investigation 'as if the abduction happened in the UK'. After all, it would be pretty difficult to justify the expense of the enterprise if it could too easily be shown that 'abduction' could not have happened under any circumstances.

Jane Tanner's sighting was simply getting in the way, but with only two options open (removal or replacement) the 'pros and cons' will have needed careful consideration, as there is still no physical evidence of abduction (there never was). Hence a sighting of sorts was always good grist to the mill, but the alternative might come at a price. The decision, as we now know, was taken in favour of replacement, but not by the McCanns. And if the purpose had been to discredit Tanner, just so as to bring the Smith sighting centre stage by way of accusation, that could have been accomplished easily enough without resorting to the latent recollections of yet another holiday making parent, a 'Brit' I might add, who must have been living in exile somewhere for the past six years.

Get the message?

With the exception of Portugal (given up as a lost cause) the remainder of the Western World is being advised that Madeleine McCann was most definitely abducted. Even if Goncalo Amaral should be vindicated come November, there will already be enough steam in the sauna to cloud that decision, as well as the earlier investigative conclusions of the Portuguese that accompany it. After several years now of (re) investigation by the Met's finest, we know (because we have been told) that neither of the parents, nor any of their erstwhile holiday making friends, are suspects in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. And there is a message for the McCanns also.

If the Met Police can produce a rabbit from the hat once, giving human form to human fiction, they can do so twice. Virtually any (blonde haired?) adult male on planet earth, who does not have an alibi for the night of Thursday May 3, 2007, is a candidate for identification as the nocturnal beach-comber of Praia da Luz. And the CPS will be after you (see: Those Who Can, McCannfiles, 12.9.2013). The chances of anyone coming into the frame are, however, enhanced if they speak German.

One among several curiosities to arise from media interpretation of the Yard's handouts, the known details of the Smith sighting (known to those of us who have read them that is, including Met Police detectives obviously) include an observation that the adult male seen carrying a female child at night walked past the carousing family in silence. He did not answer when one of them asked, 'Is she asleep?' Paradoxically therefore, the UK investigators are giving the impression that silence is a sign of nationality. Or perhaps they are keen to associate this individual with someone seen leaving their towel on an Ocean Club sun-lounger before breakfast. Something from nothing then, to accompany the photo e-fits of the man's face(s), as opposed to their making absolutely nothing of the something he was seen wearing at the time.

And you think Redwood of The Yard not capable of discovering someone 'uncannily' like the faceless wonder of Praia da Luz?

Sad to say there is also a conclusive message in these very shenanigans for all those who have taken a vocal interest in the McCann case from the beginning.

The internet can be overly democratizing, in as much as while sharing in debate is all well and good, the forum is not off limits to the uninvited. Anyone can walk in. And they have done - repeatedly. One need look no further than 'Madeleine' by Kate McCann for confirmation of a concern to address (and attempt to dismiss) all those troublesome questions which the public at large (or for that matter a court of inquiry) had yet to ask. So how did those questions arise in the authors mind? The answer is simple. They did not. They arose in the minds of others, but were 'harvested' for consideration. As McCann-in-law Michael Wright explained in Lisbon not long ago:

ID - What does "negative e-mail" mean?

MW - says it refers to all sorts of conspiracy theories that appeared on various forums.

ID - asks if the witness can name some of these forums.

MW - The 3 Arguidos and Madeleine Foundation. He says Tony Bennett invited Gonçalo Amaral to do conferences in the UK. These forums were full of speculation focused on GA's conclusions. People said those conclusions must be true because GA had been in charge of the initial investigation.

ID - When?

MW - Activity was increased and heavy in March/April 2009.

ID - Did the McCanns learn about these forums? How?

MW - They learned through me, the family members who monitored the activity and their support group. I wondered whether it was worse to let them know or not to. I didn't want to add up to their pain, but a significant change happened. There were several instances of threats to kidnap the twins on the 3 Arguidos site. Then I couldn't but speak. There was a chat where a poster suggested someone should kidnap a twin to get to the truth.

ID - Is this dialogue on the forum? Can you get a copy?

MW - says he has a copy and can deliver it.

And if the McCann 'support group' should now extend to Metropolitan Police 'family liaison'? Or are we to suppose that a fully-fledged police operation would not include the monitoring of internet activities?

Redwood's team may have another 10,000 pages to turn, but if they know about the Smith sighting at least, and clearly they do, then they know all about it, not just the fact of its occurrence. Professional stand-offishness is all very well, but it in no way compensates for errors of fact, omission and commission during a formal broadcast in which the Metropolitan Police have collaborated fully and completely.

Meanwhile members of the public are urged to come forward with any information they might have concerning Madeleine McCann's disappearance. There is even talk of a £20,000 reward 'for information leading to the identification, arrest and prosecution of the person(s) responsible for the abduction of Madeleine McCann from Praia da Luz, Portugal on 3 May 2007.' A safe bet if ever there were. Failing a wad of cash you might just be offered a blunt pen-knife, a bottle of tranquilisers and an escorted walk through a forest glade somewhere.




In the Company of Strangers – 26.10.2013

The McCanns may appear to be leading a charmed life when it comes to abduction cases emerging, as if to order, in support of their long held contention that ‘there is no evidence that Madeleine has come to any harm.' The most recent incident, featuring a similarly young blonde haired girl, four years of age supposedly but assessed as being nearer five or six, must be arguably the best illustration yet that misplaced children in alien domestic circumstances can indeed come to no harm. Little Maria's adoptive parents, Mr/Ms Silas and Dinopoulou (I use the word adoptive loosely since other accusations against them are as yet unproven) have been quite specific on this very point: 'We did her no harm.'

Let us then suppose that the McCann brand of optimism sees their own missing daughter Madeleine safely in the clutches of an unrelated family somewhere, perhaps exploited in a fashion similar to young 'Maria' who, we are told, was expected to dance at the roadside for 'tips' from passers-by (well they can't all sell basketfuls of lilies, can they?). A grim life, but not a physically injurious one at least. And, quite possibly after six years (the child is thought to have been displaced as early as two weeks after birth) the little girl was discovered healthy. Dishevelled and unkempt, yes. Ailing and malnourished, no.

There's a saying in Spanish: 'You can call me a dog so long as you feed me.' Now what would someone in Madeleine's assumed position think if they were to weigh up their past and present circumstances, I wonder? Never mind being 'happy and you know it' in the comfort of an executive home in Rothley, Leicestershire, how might her more recent experiences of that last family holiday to Portugal measure up against, say, living among strangers, arguably exploited but physically un-abused, for the last six years? Viewed objectively she would be well within the bounds of normal parenting assessment to conclude that she is actually better off for being in safer hands.

No, really. When questioned on the subject, Madeleine's natural parents could only advance the opinion that they 'believed Madeleine was alive when she was taken'. For all we know therefore she might already have been less than 100% alive at that moment (following Kate McCann, who has ever since considered life to be a game of percentages). In that case I'm pretty sure I'd know which side my bread was best buttered. And that's without taking into account the unmistakable fact that my parents were prepared to abandon me to my fate in the event of a fire!

'That's why we ended up coming through the back', said Gerry McCann, once upon a time, while in the company of co-star Matthew Oldfield, 'so as not to wake the children', who will perforce have been asleep and blissfully unaware of any danger in the event of a fire suddenly taking hold of the apartment in which they were lodged that Thursday night, May 3, 2007. Picture the scene: Two-year old twins completely somnolent, virtually trapped in their respective cots, sleeping alongside their three-year old sister, who, at barely 90 cm. tall, could not have reached the only window in the bedroom to have opened it successfully, much less climb through it; a locked front door at one end of the apartment, a large sliding patio door shielded by heavy drapes at the other.

Maybe, just maybe, Madeleine might have been able to negotiate her way out – after previously lifting her brother and sister from their cots?

Unfortunately, twins Sean and Amelie McCann would not have been the only sacrifices in the face of a flammable catastrophe. Their parents, both of them, have been forthright in proclaiming that there is 'no way' Madeleine could have exited the apartment unaided that Thursday night, for any reason.

If the Ocean Club crèche registers are to be believed, Madeleine McCann and her twin siblings were left in the company of strangers on every day of their holiday. The only difference then, as far as Madeleine was concerned, is that any new adult acquaintances with whom she might have been placed after May 3 possibly spoke a language other than English. On the benefit side however they will have fed her, whereas the crèche nannies did not.

Taking everything into consideration, is it not reasonable to suppose, from a notional health and safety perspective at least, that Madeleine McCann, wherever she may be, is somewhere where the grass is greener?




A Bedtime Story – 22.11.2013

Olga Craig (Sunday Telegraph, 27.5.2007), wrote that when the McCanns moved to an apartment near to the one from which Madeleine was taken they "unpacked their missing daughter's clothes...laying out her pyjamas on what would have been her bed."

The Daily Mirror (19.9.2007): 'It is believed the entire Portuguese case rests on DNA evidence from body fluids which allegedly suggests that Madeleine's corpse was carried in the boot of the McCanns' hired Renault Scenic.

'But the McCanns say the fluids probably came from Madeleine's unwashed pyjamas and sandals which were carried in the boot when the family was moving apartments.'

[Kate McCann (under oath, to Lord Justice Leveson): "These were desperate times. You know, we were, having to try and find our daughter ourselves and needed all the help we could get and we were facing (we'll come onto the headlines) 'Corpse in the car.' How many times I read 'body fluids in the car,' and it gets repeated so often that it becomes fact. There were no body fluids."]

Kate McCann (Statement to police, 6 September, 2007):

'She noticed a stain, supposedly of tea, on Madeleine's pyjama top, which she washed a little later that same morning. She hung it out to dry on a small stand, and it was dry by the afternoon. Madeleine sometimes drank tea; nevertheless the stain did not appear during breakfast, maybe it happened another day, as Madeleine did not have tea the previous night and the stain was dry.'

Inventory of pyjamas owned and/or worn by Madeleine McCann between April 29 and May 3, 2007 therefore:

Three pairs - one unpacked (presumed clean), one soiled, one abducted after washing.

Three pairs of pyjamas for a week’s holiday? It won’t wash. Nor could Kate get the machine in 5A to do so.

"On Tuesday 1 May, after my tennis lesson, two maintenance workers came to have a look at our washing machine, which I couldn't get to operate."

Gerry appears to have been on crèche duty that morning. He signed in both Madeleine (9.30) and Amelie (9.20), although Sean's whereabouts are unconfirmed. Kate's tennis lesson was scheduled for 9.15 a.m. The maintenance workers arrived at 10.00. So either Kate McCann had attempted to operate the washing machine before, during or immediately after breakfast that Tuesday morning or she did so the day/evening before. In any event she had some washing in hand and knew better how to deal with it by the time she left to join Gerry at the tennis courts. Having attempted to deploy the washing machine on or before Tuesday morning, is she likely then to have deferred doing so for a week or more?

Returning now to Kate's statement regarding the tea stain, 'the stain did not appear during breakfast (Thursday), maybe it happened another day, as Madeleine did not have tea the previous night and the stain was dry.'

The stain on these pyjamas was unlikely to have arisen the previous night, as Madeleine did not drink tea that night. Nevertheless, she must have been wearing these pyjamas on the Wednesday night, and Tuesday night as well if 'maybe it happened another day', even Monday night if Tuesday morning/evening are considered to have presented opportunities for tea drinking and/or pyjama staining. We may gloss over the question of how Kate managed to not see the stain before Thursday morning in that case, in favour of one the McCanns clearly did not anticipate when they put their September 2007 proposal to the Daily Mirror, that 'Madeleine's unwashed pyjamas ... were carried in the boot when the family was moving apartments.'

What unwashed pyjamas?

The only pyjamas that can have been worn by Madeleine between the Tuesday and Thursday nights were the pink 'Eeyore' set that was washed, for the purpose of stain removal, before disappearing along with the child. It would of course be entirely reasonable to suggest that she wore a different pair for the first three nights of her stay in Praia da Luz, i.e., Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and that these may well have been soiled by then. But we know, because she has already told us, albeit indirectly, that Kate was keen to do some washing as early as Tuesday morning.

Are we therefore to suppose that, after so short a period, and with concomitantly so little soiled clothing as a result, Kate would not have washed whatever other pair(s) of pyjamas Madeleine might have been wearing during those first three days? And since Madeleine was not present to wear pyjamas of any description after May 3, there can have been no soiled, i.e., unwashed pyjamas of hers in evidence from that date onwards, whether in the Ocean Club apartment or the boot of the Renault Scenic.

Hence the notorious 'body fluids', perjured into nothingness during the 2011 Leveson Inquiry, were probably not introduced by Madeleine's soiled pyjamas after all, as her various pyjamas (assuming she had more than one set), should either have been washed earlier or else unused. However, we must not overlook the fact that Kate was able to suggest at least one other potential source for those absent body fluids.

'But the McCanns say the fluids probably came from Madeleine's unwashed pyjamas and sandals which were carried in the boot when the family was moving apartments.'



These sandals, perchance?



"...she looked so gorgeous in her little T-shirt and shorts, pink hat, ankle socks and new holiday sandals that I ran back to our apartment for my camera to record the occasion. One of my photographs is known around the world now: a smiling Madeleine clutching armfuls of tennis balls." (Kate McCann, in 'Madeleine')

Sandals worn with socks covering the feet?

Silly me. That photograph was taken on Tuesday, before the afternoon beach trip, when Madeleine may have taken her shoes and socks off, although she didn't enjoy the wet sand. Maybe mum and dad didn't bother to put the socks back on her feet before returning her to that already empty crèche for the last hour and a half.

At least we know how Madeleine dressed for tennis that Tuesday morning. We have Kate's photograph to prove it. We do not of course have Jane Tanner's photograph from either the Wednesday or the Thursday, since Kate had already taken it. But we do have both her own and Rachael Oldfield's description of Madeleine's involvement in tennis after Tuesday. And how was Madeleine typically dressed for tennis? In 'ankle socks and new holiday sandals' was how.

And from this combination of clothing we are invited to infer that 'body fluids' were deposited, first onto the inner sole of a pair of sandals, then transferred, via the under sole no doubt, onto a solid surface in the back of a car.

It would appear, on reflection, that Kate McCann was correct when she declared, while under oath, 'There were no body fluids', at least none that might have originated with recently washed pyjamas, or sandals worn over ankle socks. However, the behaviour of a blood detecting sniffer dog suggests, and the FSS examination of cellular material confirms, that there was body fluid in the wheel space of the McCann rental vehicle, albeit in miniscule amounts. So where did it come from?

Secondary options were also put to the Daily Mirror all those years ago (19.9.2007), in the form of 'dirty nappies belonging to twins Sean and Amelie, who have similar DNA to their four-year-old sister' while 'at least 30 people connected to the family, including close relatives, used the Renault before police searched it.'

What manner of desultory people would toss unwrapped, or worse yet unfolded nappies, lining downwards, into the rear of a rented vehicle, alongside the spare wheel? The stench alone would have put any one of the car's thirty plus (!) users off of changing the tyre!

On a less flippant note, the Portuguese police were minded to 'lift' biological debris from the Renault Scenic at the suggestion, so to speak, of a sniffer dog, whose forte was the detection of blood residues – human blood residues, which in itself puts paid to the fall back positions of either 'weepy nappies' or careless passengers. Unless the McCann twins suffered from internal bleeding or haemorrhoids, and/or an overly inquisitive passenger or two cut themselves whilst trifling unnecessarily with the car jack, there seems to be no reasonable explanation for the presence in the vehicle of the body fluids examined by the FSS, especially that detected by the dog.

No soiled pyjamas. No skin cells on sandals. No bloody stools. No bleeding passengers. Hence 'no body fluids', according to Kate McCann. The same Kate McCann who knew immediately her daughter had been, er, 'taken'. Perhaps Gerry McCann, when loading the car with leaflets for the highly publicised journey to Huelva, accidentally cut himself on Occam's razor.




I Say, I Say, I Say – 30.11.2013

Kate McCann (re-enacting her frightening discovery for the benefit of Crimewatch viewers):

"...the curtains - that I say, were closed - just kind of 'whoooosh!'"

Funny. That's not what either of you told police on May 4, 2007.

"At 10pm, his wife Kate went to check on the children. She went into the apartment through the door using her key and saw right away that the children's bedroom door was completely open, the window was also open, the shutters raised and the curtains drawn open. The side door that opens into the living room, which as said earlier, was never locked, was closed." (Gerry McCann).

"At around 10pm, the witness came to check on the children. She went into the apartment by the side door, which was closed, but unlocked, as already said, and immediately noticed that the door to her children's bedroom was completely open, the window was also open, the shutters raised and the curtains open, while she was certain of having closed them all as she always did." (Kate McCann).

"And then I could see that the window had been pushed right over and the shutters were up."

Barely half-an-hour earlier and fellow diner Matthew Oldfield witnessed a similar scene, or so he claims; one which he also reported to police, on May 10, 2007.

'That he did not enter the bedroom where Madeleine and the twins were sleeping. He recalls that the bedroom door was half open, making an angle of 50 degrees. He does not know how far away he was from the bedroom door. He recalls having the perception that the window curtains – green in colour – were drawn closed but could not determine if the window was closed or open. Concerning the external blinds he clarifies that he did not see if it was closed or open...'

Oldfield could not have seen the bedroom window at all from where he repeatedly claims to have been standing, given that the door was only 'half-open'. That is why he saw green curtains instead of the blue gingham that were actually in place, and why he would not have known if the window was open or closed. (He claimed in an earlier statement that there were in fact two windows). Nor would he have been able to see the status of the shutters or, for that matter, the infant occupying the nearer of two cots. He would have to have been in the room in order to do so. In which case he would have had sight of Madeleine's bed also.

So what else are you all lying about? Oh don't bother. We know.




The 'Get Out' Clause – 04.12.2013

Excerpt from Fiona Payne's Rogatory Interview (10.4.08)

1485 - "What were the circumstances regarding her telling you that?"

Reply - "She did, she brought it up and that she, I mean, this is awful in retrospect as well, she asked what my opinion was on, erm, tut, on whether they were okay leaving the, the doors unlocked, because she was saying 'Is it better that if Madeleine wakes up she can get out and find us or', erm, 'or locking it and, you know, finding that we're not there and the door's locked if she woke up', because Madeleine had woken up, what I thought was the night before. Erm, tut, and it was in that context really, just asking, you know, what I thought. So it was obviously something that was on her mind a bit, huh".

1485 - "So she asked you what your thoughts were regarding locking?"

Reply - "Yeah".

1485 - "Did she say whether she had locked or?"

Reply - "No, that was the point, I think they said they'd left it, well she'd said she'd left it unlocked".

The key question paraphrased

What was better for Madeleine if she woke up: That she could get out or, finding the door locked, she could not?

The decision

They left through the balcony door, which they left closed but not locked. (KM witness statement 6.9.2007)

'...a sliding glass door at the side of the building, which was always unlocked'. (GM witness statement 4.5.2007)

The resultant status

Balcony door left unlocked, therefore Madeleine could get out if she woke up.

Question 1.

If the sliding glass door was 'always unlocked', then why should the question as to what was best for Madeleine have arisen that Thursday evening? Supposing 'always' to have applied from the outset of the holiday, the decision had long since been made. Wasn't day six leaving it rather late to openly ponder the option of locking the patio door?

Question 2.

Given the resultant status of the apartment (unlocked patio door so that Madeleine could get out if she wanted), why have you since insisted that there was 'no way' Madeleine could get out of the apartment unaided?

Question 3.

Exactly why could Madeleine McCann not have walked from her bed to the patio door, left unlocked for her benefit?

[See: Just Listen (5.2.11) and Still Listening? (7.2.11) for suggestions.]




The Illusionists – 11.12.2013

Illusions take many forms. They can be aural or visual, even tactile, but the one thing they cannot be is veridical. And since appearances can deceive in any modality it can sometimes be worth putting one's perceptions to the test; either that or suspend disbelief. In Christopher Nolan's 'magical' film The Prestige (2006), after the 'Pledge' and the 'Turn', the 'Prestige' associated with a stage magician's making songbirds disappear before the eyes of a bewildered Victorian audience depends very largely upon the unnoticed, and unsuspected, squashing to death of a canary or two, the magician's assistants in this case sacrificing their all for his art. Dying for the cause is by no means without precedent therefore.

Six years ago in Praia da Luz, Portugal, a pair of contemporary illusionists were hard at work pledging that they would turn every stone so as to overcome a certain personal hardship, whilst basking in the prestige occasioned by their own daughter's unexplained absence. Not being particularly practised in their craft however, they needed a warm-up trick or two. A card trick for starters, performed with a couple of 'signing-in' cards:

"We dropped the kids off at their clubs for the last hour and a half, meeting up with them as usual for tea." (Kate McCann in Madeleine, p.59).

Meanwhile Gerry had already signed Madeleine into her 'lobster' group at the Mark Warner creche (at 2.30 p.m. that afternoon, Tuesday 1 May), and not for the last hour and a half either.

No less amazing is Kate's having been elsewhere at the very same time signing both Sean and Amelie into their 'jellyfish' group, where they stayed for fully two hours and fifty minutes, before Kate signed them out again (at 5.20 p.m.).

How did they do that?

Then, before moving onto the grand illusion, the duo offered up a variation on 'cups and balls'. Not one where the ball appears unexpectedly under a different receptacle, but where the receptacle itself, a young child, cups some tennis balls in her arms and moves back and forth in time, posing for the camera on Monday, yet absent when photographed on Tuesday and when mysteriously seen adopting the very same pose on Wednesday.

Already we are into the realm of illusion. When the camera 'snaps' the subject is not there. Like the body an audience believes has just been impaled inside the magic box. Although our illusionist visitors to the Portuguese Algarve had yet to attain such dizzying proficiency as to make either a Lear Jet or Tower Bridge disappear, they were nevertheless working toward the grand illusion, utilising an entire apartment as their magic box.

Magic box

The Magic Circle

"...we played no part in the disappearance of our lovely daughter Madeleine". (Gerry McCann, September 2007)

It is a rule of membership that practitioners do not reveal their secrets. We are left to guess at their methods. So should one expect the presenter of a vanishing act to 'vanish' his subject completely, i.e., without a subsequent return to the stage followed by thunderous applause, or, in a more down-to-earth context, comprehensively abduct his own daughter, never to be seen again? What would be the point? (Unless of course there was a prior expectation that the show would go on interminably.)

What we can expect is that any illusion we witness is deceptive, just like illusionists themselves. Convincing the Victorian audience, as portrayed in the Nolan film, that 'the bird had flown', required the death of a canary; something the magician could never publicly admit. Technological innovation may since have saved the life of many a captive bird, but what secret door might Madeleine McCann have disappeared through? We were all made to think it was a window at first but, in a typical magician's 'double bluff', this was afterwards revealed to have been transparent misdirection.

The box containing Madeleine McCann was shown to the audience at 9.00 p.m. She was there. And again at 9.30. She appeared to be there still. But after one more rotation, at 10.00 p.m., she was gone. The illusionist's partner checked the box inside and out. There was 'no little body' in the form of Madeleine McCann.

Was the little bird alive or dead? Was it being carried away as the audience looked on? Not alive if so, but with sufficient strength to adapt its cradle, not dead either. Perhaps it was hidden within a secret compartment inside the magic box? Had Madeleine fallen unnoticed behind the sofa? Then it would only be a matter of time before she was discovered and the trick spoilt. She was not discovered. There was no trace of her left that night.

So how was it done? How was the illusion created? Well, despite advances in technology and presentation, the fundamental elements of any good illusion remain the same. The magician's assistant is obviously not in the box when the lid slams shut. Unless of course she's a canary, and expendable, in which case someone has to clean the mechanism afterwards, and before the (next) show.

The Prestige

A Trick Missed

"At around 10pm, the witness came to check on the children...She verified that the twins were in their beds, unlike Madeleine, who had disappeared...After searching the whole apartment thoroughly...she returned to the restaurant, and alerted her husband and the rest of the group to the disappearance". (KM witness statement 4.5.07)

The Smiths' sighting occurred at just before 10.00 p.m. If the child they witnessed being carried was Madeleine McCann then she must have been removed from the apartment before 10.00. Supposing the adult carrier to have been Gerry McCann, why on earth would he wish to abduct his own daughter? And if she were dead?

If it were Madeleine's body the unidentified porter had in his arms that Thursday night, then when did she have her fatal accident, and when was her body discovered? Not at 9.00 p.m., when Gerry found 'no little body' in the parents' bedroom but gazed down upon three sleeping children in their own. Nor at 9.30, when Matthew Oldfield entered the apartment. Although he claims not to have entered the children's room, and therefore could only assume (but not confirm) Madeleine's presence, it scarcely matters, since a child lying fatally injured between the living room sofa and adjacent wall could not have returned to her bed anyway. Even so she would still not have been noticed, in the dark, by Oldfield. It was for the very purpose of exposing hidden objects that Gerry McCann himself claims to have moved the sofa:

"Regarding this sofa, he remembers it was drawn against the window. He is not sure, but thinks that this sofa was probably a bit further away from the window, and he vaguely remembers pushing it back a bit, because his children threw objects behind it, namely playing cards". (GM witness statement 7.9.07)

So, if a child's body was encountered inside apartment 5A between 9.00 and 10.00 p.m. that Thursday night, then when exactly, and by whom? If in fact it was discovered earlier then 'abduction' becomes a prepared scenario, not an outcome of spontaneous panic, and the plan seriously contrived.

The McCanns have a 'last photo' to prove that an accident could not have happened before 2.29 p.m. that same day and a crèche register signed 'K McCann' at 5.30. So Madeleine was safe until next seen (as one of the three children) by David Payne at around 6.30. Within the hour she's asleep in bed:

"It was around 7:15 p.m. when they put the children to bed and checked they were sleeping, she is sure of this". (KM witness statement, 6.9.07)

The bottom line, as they say, is that either Madeleine McCann was seen by the Smiths, being carried off alive in the arms of a stranger, or she was dead. And if Madeleine's corpse could not have been discovered on the Thursday night, then both it and the unfortunate accident she suffered must have been contingent upon earlier events. How much earlier would govern, in turn, the extent of the subsequent misdirection. The fact that the child seen by the Smiths was wearing long-sleeved pyjamas would seem to rule out the 'Madeleine McCann alive in the arms of a stranger' option, so maybe Kate McCann was right. Maybe Madeleine would have been better off had she been wearing her long-sleeved 'Barbie' ones.




Answer Page – 13.12.2013

Question 2.

'Given the resultant status of the apartment (unlocked patio door so that Madeleine could get out if she wanted), why have you since insisted that there was 'no way' Madeleine could get out of the apartment unaided?'

Answer

It would have been physically impossible for a 3-4 year old child to exit via a dead-locked front door, a sliding patio door with drapes in front and closed shutters beyond, or a window they simply could not reach.

Gerry McCann statement to police (extract), 4.5.07):

'Thus, at 9.05 pm, the deponent entered the club, using his key, the door being locked.

'At 10pm, his wife Kate went to check on the children. She went into the apartment through the door using her key'.

(Through the front door. The patio door locking mechanism was not key operated).

Rachael Oldfield (nee Mampilly) statement to police (extract), 15.5.2007:

'The window shutters of the McCann's apartment were closed. The patio door that they used to enter the apartment also had its shutter closed. In order to enter they had to raise the shutter.'

The winding mechanism for the shutters was inside the apartment. In order for anyone to enter via the patio once the shutters were down they would normally have to be admitted by someone already inside, even if the door itself was unlocked.

Question 3.

'Exactly why could Madeleine McCann not have walked from her bed to the patio door, left unlocked for her benefit?'

Answer

Because she was not there.

The true configuration of apartment 5a was exactly as described by key witnesses at the time. Neither of Madeleine's parents had any problem getting in, since they were in possession of the key. Matthew Oldfield was not. But that was unimportant, as his customary gesture toward the invigilation of children other than his own was simply to listen at the window. The tale of his halting exploration of the interior on the night of 3 May, 2007 is as fictional as his description of the fixtures and fittings.

The story of how the abductor 'came in through the window' was concocted, reasonably enough, on the basis of the security measures in place. He did not have a front door key and could not have passed stealthily through the shutters at the rear. He might just have managed to 'jemmy' his way in unnoticed at the front of the apartment however. That was until it was established that he had clearly not done so.

Thus a 'fall back' position was called for, which was the unlocked patio door. True enough, it wasn't locked. But with a sturdy steel shutter closed in front of it there was scarcely any need to lock it. For this alternative story to have a semblance of credibility all that was necessary was to omit any reference to the shutter!

Unfortunately Rachael Oldfield forgot her lines. A pity really, since husband Matt had managed, under some duress, to stick reasonably slavishly to his, which included the absurdity of his not going all the way into the children's bedroom. What was that all about?

It's quite simple really. If the McCanns alone had gone down the unlocked patio door route, further questions would quickly have followed. Third-party confirmation of their claim was required to bolster the account. Step forward Matthew Oldfield. How about, Matthew, you actually go into the apartment the same way? But you must not see anything because there's nothing to see. So you enter via the unlocked patio door, o.k., and stop before you reach the bedroom. There. You've done your 'check', the status of the patio door is confirmed, and no-one else is compromised.

Credit where credit's due, he did his best to make it sound convincing. But why didn't the parents accede to the check for real and simply lend the trusted Matt their front door key? One reason of course is that no-one assumed any responsibility for the others' children at all. Another reason is that the last thing the McCanns wanted that Thursday night was for anyone else to have entered their apartment. The incorporation of 'I didn't go all the way in' into Oldfield's storyline is itself confirmation of the importance of Oldfield's seeing nothing of significance - at 9.30 p.m.

Bear in mind that it is not Oldfield who has chosen to place himself inside the apartment at all but the McCanns, for reasons of their own. So why is he kept on a hypothetical leash? Who knew before 9.30 p.m. that it would have been counter-productive for him to have genuinely inspected Madeleine's dormitory? Gerry McCann's latent awareness of someone else having been inside 5A earlier was yet another development in hindsight. He did not carry the suspicion of Madeleine's abduction back to the Tapas Bar with him, so the Oldfield confection cannot have been constructed on that basis. And Kate McCann did not discover that her daughter had been, 'errr, taken' until after Oldfield himself had returned from 'checking'.

For reasons one can only guess at, the McCanns did not wish Oldfield to discover, or even fictionally acknowledge, that Madeleine was missing – at 9.30 p.m., although there had been no indication before then, at least as far as they could have been aware, that Madeleine was indeed 'gone'. And yet they knew.




Open, Sesame! - 15.12.2013

There invariably comes a point beyond which our imagination will not reasonably extend, whereupon a joke ceases to be funny. Hence a good comedian will realize the limitations of a given situation and look for a new angle.

The classic sun-dial illustrates a good angle; an angle which serves the desirable purpose of informing the watcher the time of day. For the McCanns, whose lives, we're told, were turned upside-down overnight, it is a door which points to both events and time. The chorus has become so familiar it could almost serve as a Christmas number one: 'The door was open much further than we'd left it'.

What this invites us all to appreciate is that the position of the bedroom door in question should be taken as an indication of intrusion. 'Where we'd left it' - fine. 'Open further than we'd left it' - interfered with by someone else. The relationship expressed is a very simple one. So simple that, like 1 + 1, if anyone tried to convince us the result was anything other than '2' we'd immediately question their motive for doing so.

Anyway, together with the angle of swing, as it were, climatic constraints must be taken into account. Just as a sun-dial cannot function under cloud cover, a door will not blow open, or close spontaneously, against the wind, which, unlike a 'rip-tide', does not immediately pull in the opposite direction, unless of course it's a tornado (not typically experienced in Portugal I believe).

Armed with these basic postulates we may now proceed to review arguably the most bizarre equations ever to be advanced in the history of human discourse!

Gerry McCann (statement to police, 4 May 2007 at 11.15 [extract])

'Thus, at 9.05 pm, the deponent entered the club, using his key, the door being locked...At around 9.30 pm, his friend MATT...went into the deponent's apartment, going in through a sliding glass door at the side of the building, which was always unlocked. He went into the room, saw the twins and didn't even notice if Madeleine was there, as everything was quiet, the shutters closed and the bedroom door half-open as usual.

'At 10pm, his wife Kate went to check on the children. She went into the apartment through the door using her key.'

So, while the stand-in child inspector takes the short cut, both parents choose the long route? That is odd in itself. But the position of the bedroom door is unequivocal: 'half-open, as usual'.

Oldfield confirms the McCann account minutes later:

Matthew Oldfield (statement to police, 4 May 2007 at 11.30 [extract])

'At around 21h25, the interviewee went into his apartment and Madeleine's apartment...He states that the door of the bedroom...occupied by Madeleine...was half-open and that...he couldn't see the bed occupied by Madeleine.'

'Half-open' (as usual) witnessed by Matthew Oldfield implies 'as usual' left by Gerry McCann earlier, who, by the way, makes no observation himself at this time regarding the door's position before he entered the room. Oldfield, however, 'couldn't see the bed' (from inside the room according to Gerry McCann). Still it's 'all quiet on the Western Front'. The door is definitely not seen to have been disturbed earlier than Gerry McCann's own visit to the apartment at 9.05, nor afterwards at 9.30. Alien hands cannot therefore have touched it until well after Jane Tanner's mistaken identification of a fellow holiday-maker as a child snatcher.

What does Kate McCann have to say about all this later in the day?

Kate McCann (statement to police, 4 May 2007 at 14.20 [extract])

'At around 9.30pm...her friend Matt...went to the witness's apartment. He entered the apartment through a glass sliding door at the side that was always unlocked and once inside, he had not gone into the children's bedroom. He remained at the bedroom door, listening for noise and observing the beds. He went back to the restaurant and said that everything was fine.

'At around 10pm, the witness...went into the apartment by the side door, which was closed, but unlocked...the door to her children's bedroom was completely open.'

It's perfectly clear. Matt uses the tradesman's entrance, does not enter the bedroom (although Gerry McCann has already told police that he did) and yet deliberately observes the beds (beds plural, not cots), one of which Oldfield has already claimed he 'could not see'. And the door is 'completely open' by the time Kate McCann sees it; opened 'much further than they'd left it' and by a third-party no doubt, as Kate's later, more florid assessment for her TV audience described how the breeze blew the bedroom door shut. It cannot therefore have blown it open at all, from which we may only conclude that 'the abductor' struck at some time between 9.30 and 10.00, unless of course Matthew Oldfield interfered with the door, which he did not, as he only remained 'at' it according to Kate McCann.

Already we have a situation in which 1+1+1 equals 3 when, from a logical standpoint, it should really equal 1. These three accounts of the same experience differ in certain fundamental respects, whereas they should concur. There is nevertheless a degree of unanimity regarding the all-important angle of the door, which, when one takes into consideration that we are harking back to a time before Jane Tanner's 'sighting' was so ruthlessly invalidated, becomes an issue all on its own. How can Jane have witnessed a fleeing abductor before he had left, or even entered, the apartment?

In an effort to make that problem go away Gerry McCann had one of his insightful moments, when he was sure, in retrospect, that someone had entered the apartment before him and was hiding somewhere (maybe it was Spiderman clinging unnoticed to the ceiling). The door however, like the sundial, would have to tell the correct time. Its angle simply had to change, which it did during that very week.

Gerry McCann (statement to police, 10 May 2007 at 15.20 [extract])

‘He walked the normal route up to the back door, which being open he only had to slide, and while he was entering the living room, he noticed that the children's bedroom door was not ajar as he had left it but half-way open, which he thought was strange.'

Now we see Gerry too using the back door. He goes on to add:

'MATHEW returned, saying only "all is quiet" (SIC), he having entered through the back door, given that he did not have the key and it was usual for them to enter in that way.'

Well it wasn't that usual for the McCanns to enter their apartment 'that way' when Gerry gave his statement a week earlier. Not only that, the 'half-way open' bedroom door is no longer 'usual', but 'strange', implying that it had been interfered with prior to 9.05 p.m., allowing time, of course, for 'the abductor' to escape before the watchful gaze of Jane Tanner. Job done then? Not quite. Having digested the matter Gerry goes on to drop the banana skin:

'He left the children's bedroom returning to place the door how he had already previously described.'

Ever observant, ever diligent, Gerry spots the door, now at a 'strange' angle, and exits the apartment leaving it in its original position – ajar.

Then along comes Matthew Oldfield.

Matthew Oldfield (statement to police, 10 May 2007 at 16.00 [extract])

'...the deponent went alone to the McCann apartment...he took the quickest route...to the rear patio of the McCann residence, to which he gained access through the glass sliding door into the apartment lounge. The door was closed but not locked as Kate had said it would be.

'...he did not enter the bedroom where Madeleine and the twins were sleeping. He recalls that the bedroom door was half open, making an angle of 50 degrees.'

50 degrees. That's 'ajar' plus 'half-open' (the breeze can only blow the door shut, remember). Well I guess we can forgive Oldfield a five degree error. But what does our 'door dial' now tell us?

The abductor must have followed Gerry out, once more leaving the door 'half-open as usual' (Gerry McCann's first statement) and not the more recent 'ajar' (Gerry McCann's second statement). But did the abductor also forget something, paying 5A a second visit that night once Oldfield had returned to his seat at the Tapas Bar, this time leaving the bedroom door for Kate McCann to discover 'completely open' (that's another 40 degrees folks, against the prevailing wind)?

Were it not for the fact that these observations reflect statements to police that were 'read, ratified and signed' at the time of their deposition, the opening and closing of doors here presents almost as comical a scene as one from Labiche and Michel's 'Italian Straw Hat', and a pointer to anything but the truth.




Brought to Book – 17.12.2013

As regards the question of whether the McCanns did or did not see fit to promote the Smith sighting to a wider public all those years ago, it has recently been claimed that Kate McCann has since devoted half a dozen pages (of her book madeleine) to the 'Smith sighting'.

Did she by Jove?

Instances of the name 'Smith' contained within the book sum to zero. It does not even feature in the Index.

There is however an entry which reads: Irish family, see man carrying child on Rua da Escola Primária 98, 328–9, 365.

That appears to be four pages where the topic is mentioned (not 'devoted to'), not six, and the last reference is an error in any case (the Smith sighting per se is not referred to). The total coverage amounts to little more than a page.

Well what else should one expect from the semi-literate? Mind you, some of what is said on those very pages is, without question, extraordinary.

"Every time I read these independent statements in the files (and neither could have been influenced by the other, remember – Jane's description had not been released to the public before the Irish witnesses made their statements), I am staggered by how alike they are, almost identical in parts." (p. 328)

Which parts might they be – Adult male carrying young girl? What about the man's short versus long hair, travelling West versus East, or holding a seemingly dormant child wearing a long-sleeved top vertically, as opposed to cradling one in short-sleeves horizontally? Do such details not matter then?

Heaven protect all NHS surgical patients from the anaesthetist capable of confusing Oxygen with Nitrous Oxide, both gases being administered from canisters almost identical in parts (size, shape, valves and metal – colour and labelling don't count).

"Who knows why there was a forty-five-minute gap between the two sightings, or where this man might have been in between? I long ago stopped trying to come up with answers because I don't think I need to. If the child was Madeleine – and in four years, no father has ever come forward to say it was him and his daughter – why would we assume he would be behaving normally or logically?" (p. 328-9)

How right you are. Assumptions really are the most dangerous of things. Had you but waited a further two years this very question could have been avoided altogether, as we now know that a father has come forward to identify himself and his daughter – We have been told so by none other than DCI Redwood of the Metropolitan Police.

No less extraordinary than these confused observations are equally confused observations occurring elsewhere within the same tome.

"The most critical question relating to the use of the dog alerts as evidence is how likely is the dog's alert to be correct. In this regard, the only testing of these handler and dog teams recorded an abysmal performance. Here 'the basis' for the possible past presence of human remains is that there is a 20 or 40 per cent chance that a dog's 'alert' was correct. In other words, with respect to residual odour, the dog-handler teams performed significantly worse than if the handlers had simply flipped a coin to speculate as to the presence of residual odour at each location.

State of Wisconsin v. Zapata, 2006 CF 1996 – defendant supplemental memorandum

These tests, it should be noted, were performed within twelve hours of body parts being removed from the testing area. Just imagine much how worse (sic) the results would be after three months.

"Almost all erroneous alerts originate not from the dog but from the handler's misinterpretation of the dog's signals. A false alert can result from the handler's conscious or unconscious signals given by them to lead a dog where the handler suspects evidence to be located. We are mindful that less than scrupulously neutral procedures which create at least the possibility of unconscious 'cueing' may well jeopardize the reliability of dog sniffs."

United States v. Trayer, 898 F. 2d 805.809 (CADC 1990)

Sounds impressive, but let's take a closer look.

"The most critical question relating to the use of the dog alerts as evidence is how likely is the dog's alert to be correct".

Agreed, but….

"In this regard, the only testing of these handler and dog teams recorded an abysmal performance".

I'm sorry, which handler and dog teams were these?

"...with respect to residual odour, the dog-handler teams performed significantly worse than if the handlers had simply flipped a coin to speculate as to the presence of residual odour at each location".

Oh, I see. The dog-handler teams trained, managed and tested in the U.S.A. Not the British dogs employed by Martin Grime then.

Isn't that rather like saying the fuel consumption figures announced for your small diesel engine car cannot be considered valid, on account of the neighbours' 2-litre Mercedes (another car) not meeting them?

"These tests, it should be noted, were performed within twelve hours of body parts being removed from the testing area. Just imagine much how worse the results would be after three months".

Why should we imagine that results for odour detection, in relation to residues proven to be detectable after weeks if not months, even in the USA, be worse in this instance? This is unjustified special pleading. Never mind. Another quote from American case law should straighten things out.

"Almost all erroneous alerts originate not from the dog but from the handler's misinterpretation of the dog's signals. A false alert can result from the handler's conscious or unconscious signals given by them to lead a dog where the handler suspects evidence to be located. We are mindful that less than scrupulously neutral procedures which create at least the possibility of unconscious 'cueing' may well jeopardize the reliability of dog sniffs."

Almost all erroneous alerts originate not from the dog but from the handler's misinterpretation of the dog's signals. Errare humanum est then. Dogs rule, o.k9.

"A false alert can result from the handler's conscious or unconscious signals".

In exceptional circumstances 'a false alert can result from the handler's conscious or unconscious signals'. It can only be in exceptional circumstances, since it has just been determined that almost all errors are attributable to misinterpretation by the handler(s). That something can occur is no guarantee that it will, making the incidence of misdirection in this context even more unlikely. But this explanatory context still cannot be taken to subsume Mr Grime's Spaniels, as they were not among the subjects tested, nor even referred to.

One very basic piece of advice, given to exam candidates since the dawn of the GCE 'O' level, is to 'answer the question on the page, not the one that springs to mind'. How on earth Kate McCann ever qualified as a doctor is, on this basis, rather hard to imagine.




Curtains for the McCanns – 26.12.2013

Kate McCann (interviewed)

"Well the shutter was up and the window was open, I'm not lying about that, and even if they want to say theoretically, 'oh she wandered out the back of the apartment', then they're basically saying a three-year old has opened the long curtains, closed them behind her, opened the patio doors, closed them behind her, opened the gate at the top of the stairs, closed that behind her (GM interjecting: 'with the child lock') and done the same at the bottom... you know it's just not... it's not possible."

So let's get this straight. The repertoire of manoeuvres described here by Kate McCann is what daughter Madeleine must have done had she departed 5A on her own initiative that Thursday night, May 3, 2007. That being so then the same observations must apply to the last person to have exited 5A via the patio before Kate McCann revisited the apartment at 10.00 p.m., necessarily navigating her way past all the re-positioned obstructions she personally describes in her interview. But there's a hitch.

If the McCanns had ever had their house ransacked they would know full well that burglars never tidy up after them, whether escaping with valuables (e.g., jewellery) or, in the McCann scheme of the world, incidentals, like a child in arms. Hence anyone fleeing the scene of the crime prior to Matthew Oldfield's 9.30 p.m. inspection would not have bothered to draw the drapes behind them, re-set the child-proof lock on the gate, etc., etc. And, if we examine Matthew Oldfield's various (redacted) accounts of his utterly pointless, and eventually fruitless, entry into the McCanns' apartment, we discover that he makes no reference whatsoever to unlocking gates or drawing back heavy curtains; only going through the door and 'seeing the light':

MO first statement

"That the door through which he entered the apartment was closed but not locked. That he doesn't know if it is usual for Madeleine's parents to leave the door closed but not locked in so far as that door is visible from the restaurant."

MO second statement

"...he took the quickest route between Russell's apartment and the side garden gate entrance to the rear patio of the McCann residence, to which he gained access through the glass sliding door into the apartment lounge. The door was closed but not locked as Kate had said it would be."

MO rogatory interview

"So I thought I might as well and I can report back and they can be, you know, be reassured that everything was okay. And we talked a lot in the previous interviews about what state the shutters were in, whether they were, and they were all definitely down, there's three shutters, you know, there's, you know, two, and they're all at the same level, there was no, I would have noticed if they were, if one was up and the rest were down, it would have looked odd.

"I went in to check on G**** and actually went in through the door, unlocked the door, looked in, into her room, all fine.

"So I went back and did the check on five 'A', on Madeleine and the kids, erm, and went back through the patio entrance, so through the gate, through the patio doors, erm, there was, it was light enough to see through the apartment and there sort of a little table light on the right at the end of the sofa and when you walk into the room, you could see straight into it, because the door was open.

"And I just sort of came back out really through the same way and shutting the patio doors.

4078 "Okay. Did you leave by the patio door?"

Reply "Yeah, back the same way, because this door would have been locked and that's the shortest way anyway of coming through there, so I would have gone back out the same door."

Clearly the only effort expended by Matthew Oldfield was in sliding back the patio door – hypothetically. He does not even conclude here with his exit as a statement of fact, merely one of likelihood ('I would have gone back out the same door'). There's really no call for the subjunctive mood in a situation as cut-and-dried as this one is attempting to be.

But back to the curtains.

It seems as though the abductor has already struck, and that Oldfield, in his naivety, has failed to notice the unlocked gate(s), the withdrawn drapes or the victim's absence. So he 'just sort of came back out really through the same way and shutting the patio doors', redressing absolutely nothing. How then did Kate McCann encounter all those closures, if neither the child snatcher nor Matthew Oldfield was responsible for them, to say nothing of Madeleine herself?

Oh, I know. The abductor wove in and out of the passers by to snatch his victim in-between Oldfield's visit at 9.30 (when all the shutters were down) and Kate McCann's return at 10.00 (when the bedroom shutter was open).

But he would still have left the patio curtains drawn back, the doors open and the gates unlocked.

Since we may reasonably infer, from Kate McCann's own description of the status quo at the time, that no sign of interference was evident (apart, that is, from the open bedroom window and raised shutter, something which Kate McCann would not lie about at least), it is therefore highly likely that no-one left 5A in a desperate hurry via the patio during this second half-hour either.

The non-discerning might, I suppose, subscribe to the poodle's prediction that, 'he got out of the window fairly easily', like a stale odour perhaps, or that he simply walked out through the front door, which Matthew Oldfield has already told us 'would have been locked'. There's 'no way' of course that Madeleine herself could have done either of those things, is there?


The End-Game – 30.12.2013

Just days away from closing arguments in McCann vs Amaral, when the former Portuguese Police co-ordinator might, with reasonable justification, expect to point out that the McCanns themselves 'harmed the search for Madeleine' by withholding information, and their PR machine coerces something of a retraction from the Thunderer on Sunday. One can almost imagine Kate McCann repeating her performance of the night of May 3, 2007. 'Do something!' So the men in black, quite unable to subscribe to the IPA code of practice (Legal, decent, honest and truthful) much less the courtroom oath (The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth), brandishing their solicitor's letter (ready typed and no doubt requiring just a signature or two), exhort the authors to qualify their earlier comments.

Oh boy! Pity the poor parents now the journal accepts that 'the articles may have been understood to suggest that the McCanns had withheld information from the authorities.'

If only the McCann Fund source who allowed him or herself to be quoted at the time of the original article had been more explicit. Having explained that all the information contained within the contentious report had been passed on to the McCanns' new team of private investigators, why could he/she not simply have added that it had long been in the hands of Portuguese and Leicester police also? It would not have cost significantly more breath to have done that. Instead they went to considerable lengths to explain why the evidence under consideration, in particular a set of e-fits, was not publicised at all by the McCanns' own media machine, via the press or the Fund's own web-site; a significant oversight when taken in the context of all those earlier platitudes preaching the need for widespread 'public awareness'.

It seems the McCanns' were long on delegation and short on personal involvement. They must have pinned their hopes on the investigating authorities announcing the importance of this 'evidence', publication of which they themselves considered counter-productive. Wouldn't that have been inviting the public bodies in question to promote a hindrance? Not really. You see 'the Fund' has already issued a statement to the effect that "all information privately gathered during the search for Madeleine has been fully acted upon where necessary" and had been passed to Scotland Yard.

Fully acted upon 'where necessary' means fully acted upon 'selectively'. This could be taken to imply that the information had indeed been passed on, but minus the e-fits, or that the e-fits themselves, although in the possession of certain investigative 'professionals', were not then acted upon subsequently. Hardly surprising when one considers that these morsels were, as we now know, 'provided to the Portuguese and Leicestershire police by October 2009'; on September 30th perhaps. Still, only fifteen months after the Portuguese had already archived the case.

Shame on the Portuguese then for not recognising the significance of this new 'evidence' and re-opening the case forthwith. Really? Let's look at that statement again:

'provided to the Portuguese and Leicestershire police by October 2009'

The material was not provided to 'both the Portuguese and Leicestershire police', nor are the Portuguese and Leicester police a homogeneous organisation. So are we to imagine that the McCanns' 'admin' team in Cheshire, or the visiting Rothley book-keeper, sent the sensitive e-fits by special delivery to Portimão, whilst one or other of the parents drove down the road for a quiet chat with 'Stu' before handing him separate copies?

Well let's just ask ourselves how the McCanns were accustomed to 'getting information into the investigation' in the past. Via Leicestershire police family liaison is how. So, 'provided to the Portuguese and Leicestershire police' could quite easily be a rather liberal interpretation of 'handed to Leicester for 'selective action' and onward transmission 'where necessary'. Entrusting such liaison to the same organisation that had deliberately withheld the Gaspar statements would have been akin to tossing a coin into the fountain at St Peter's and considering it a donation to the church.

A constituent part of all the information however, the e-fits were in the hands of Scotland Yard. Well of course they were – handed over by the authors on request; a request accompanied by a letter of absolution from the same fund that had previously restricted these very authors by means of a legal straight-jacket of confidentiality. Scotland Yard had essentially to seek the Fund's permission to secure the information in question. It wasn't proffered up-front and therefore would not have been otherwise.

Still, full marks to the Sunday Times for clarifying any misunderstanding. The McCanns, it must be accepted (at least by the publication), placed their evidence in the hands of the authorities, somewhere, once the Portuguese had lost interest. But that is hardly the point. Even at a parochial level, if one's purpose is to instigate a neighbourhood search then that involves rather more than simply asking the couple next door to look out of their window.

The contentious e-fits, first brought to the attention of the general public by Scotland Yard, fully five years after their production, yet never, and quite deliberately, by the fund which sponsored them, finally made a reluctant appearance on the world stage, only to be overshadowed, rather prematurely, by a snow-capped Christmas tree! Oh, and a message from St Katherine, which singularly neglects to say, 'Merry Christmas Madeleine, wherever you may be'.

Christmas is clearly colder in Rothley than elsewhere.