You may be wondering not only what relevance all these minute details might have to anything, but also how I can recall them so distinctly and how accurate my recollections can possibly be. The answer is that, within a couple of days, every single apparently inconsequential thing that happened on that holiday would become vitally important, and Gerry and I would soon be painstakingly trying to extract from our brains every tiny incident, no matter how small, that might have been significant. (Kate McCann in 'madeleine').
14 - JAN à AOÛ - Dr M. Roberts 9
Readers will no doubt be aware of, or may probably have seen the very recent ITV broadcast: The Lying Game – Crimes That Fooled Britain. For a production which leant heavily upon the contributions of currently active Academics, it was disappointing on a number of levels, not the least of which being the altogether cavalier and confusing way in which the term 'innocent' was bandied about. The reduction of descriptive comparison, very early on, to 'this man is innocent, this man is guilty', with nothing of the circumstantial context in either case, was frankly irresponsible. It is scarcely made less so when the term is liberally applied in relation to more explicit past examples of wrongdoing, even those that have been tested in a court of law.
The term 'innocent' is absolute, and not therefore entirely appropriate in every case, which will obviously include those where it is bestowed on the balance of probability. It would be a mistake to suppose that miscarriages of justice occur in one direction alone. There will inevitably be occasions where individuals are found 'innocent of all charges', despite their having committed the crime(s), just as there are those who, having been declared 'guilty' in the first instance, are acquitted following an appeal, or where the initial case against them collapses owing to some legal technicality or other. The latter situation is therefore more an example of 'case not proven' (or perhaps not even fully examined) than it is a demonstration of innocence per se.
Like a vial of nitro-glycerine, the word 'innocent', when used within in a legal context, is very sensitive, and should be handled with care. A citizen first found guilty of a crime by a jury of his or her peers, and who goes on to lodge a successful appeal is ultimately innocent therefore, or is at least to be viewed as such after due legal process. But guilt or innocence, like the weather, is not something that can be 'traded'. (The now defunct Enron corporation attempted the latter, but their collapse only served to prove the point). As regards the commission of a crime, someone is either guilty or innocent, literally. They cannot be both. Nor can their status migrate, in reality, from one to the other. And yet re-trials, appeals etc. give the impression of this happening. It is worthwhile therefore to distinguish between guilt and innocence in absolute terms, and those same attributes as finally determined by a court of law, since the two may not (indeed will not) be the same on every occasion.
With this caveat in view, what should one make of a professional's assessment that the McCanns are 'one hundred per cent innocent'? (At least Dr Leal, in this instance, did not succumb to the popular temptation to exceed the bounds of calculation and confer 110% innocence. She won't therefore be featuring as a judge for one of Simon Cowell's televised competitions any time soon). As 'sloppy' a remark as the 'Four legs good two legs bad' statement at the head of the programme, Dr Leal's observation fails to inform us of quite what it is that the McCanns are innocent of! Similarly the programme gave viewers to understand, albeit indirectly, that dingos now know how to fold clothing, following a batch illustration (although not demonstration) of 'innocence.'
It was all very slipshod.
One thing at least which Dr Leal overlooked was the innocence of a third McCann – Madeleine. Perhaps in a future programme, instead of treating us to a reworking of skill performance studies conducted over fifty years ago, Dr Leal might invite the McCanns themselves to elaborate upon their own assessments of their daughter's innocence:
GM: "I think Madeleine's picture herself that she was such a beautiful innocent young girl."
(IBA conference, Madrid, 6.10.09)
GM: "...it's about Madeleine and there's an innocent little girl that's missing."
(McCanns exclusive interview with SIC, 12.5.2009)
GM: "Why would someone try to persuade the public that a missing child, an innocent missing child, is dead?"
(McCanns exclusive interview with SIC, 12.5.2009)
KM: "It is still incumbent upon the British and Portuguese authorities to ensure that every credible lead has been investigated and that a meaning... meaningful search for an innocent and vulnerable little girl, our dearly loved Madeleine, is properly carried out."
(Please Don't Give Up On Madeleine, 19.2.2010 - McCanns' statement)
GM: "But Madeleine's rights should be put first. She's missing, she's innocent, and whoever's taken her is still out there, and that has to be of paramount importance."
(Daily Mirror, 19.2.2010)
"Kate McCann sent an emotional letter to the head of the Portuguese police begging him to keep her informed during the investigation into her daughter Madeleine's disappearance.
"In it she pleaded for an end to 'finger-pointing blame and a return to finding 'a beautiful, innocent little girl who is still missing', case files revealed today."
(Sky News video 12.37 - 6.8.2008)
The McCanns: "Our little girl is now seven years old; innocent, vulnerable and waiting to be found. Please, please sign the petition and help us to find her."
The Lie Detector – 09.01.2014
Congratulations to Dr Sharon Leal, for having caused more controversy with one sentence than many accomplish with a book. Her future as a media source of expert opinion is guaranteed (the likelihood of any court appearances in said capacity remote in the extreme).
During my own student days many years ago, I was once counselled: ‘Believe your data’, the message being not to attempt an explanation of experimental outcomes that was not reflected in the concomitant results of statistical analysis. In other words, do not engage in unfounded speculation as to causes or outcomes. Dr Leal, in contrast, holder of goodness knows what research grants, appears to believe in some other sort of scientific method, where ‘opinion’ alone can carry the weight of evidence.
The statement, 'the McCanns are 100% innocent (from my point of view)' would be perfectly acceptable in conclusion of a thorough-going appraisal of the McCanns' behaviour over time, i.e., one which addressed all of the variables acknowledged by those engaged in such a study to be worthy of consideration in any overall assessment. Otherwise it is fine as an after-dinner observation, or made over cocktails at the hotel bar even, but offered up without the support of evidential data and a rigorous argument as to the implication(s) thereof, itself based upon a significant statistical outcome, it is inappropriate, indeed unjustifiable as a representation of any professional determination. In other words it is not worth the breath that bore it.
If the expertise of Dr Leal is such as to be influential at even a cursory level of assessment by herself, then, in the context of a television programme dealing explicitly with the topic of criminals lying about their actions, and in the complete absence of any qualifying accusation, whether valid or otherwise, 'the McCanns are 100% innocent' must be read as 'the McCanns have not lied'.
Immediately one can see the fallacy in this argument, as there exists incontestable proof that they have lied. Various of their false statements have long been a matter of spoken (and written) record.
But more illuminating yet than a catalogue of behaviours, which even the untrained examiner might take to contradict the supposedly more informed approach of Dr Leal, is the outcome of subscribing unreservedly to her very position; a position which, ipso facto, confers the status of truth upon the McCanns' own actions and utterances.
Hence Kate McCann's most magnificent Freudian slip tells us, in no uncertain terms, that Madeleine McCann is dead, and has been so since before Kate McCann declared publicly (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."
And no, that is not over-interpretation. Kate McCann did not say:
"We're not going to sit here and lie OR be totally naïve and say she's one hundred per cent alive."
Lying and naivety are conjoined. And since lies are spoken for the most part (we're not concerned here with the written word), saying Madeleine is one hundred per cent alive is, in this instance, to be equated with lying.
Which makes the fundraising, both before and since, the biggest lie of all (Dr Leal).
Swindler's List – 10.01.2014
'Voice breaking with emotion, Gerry McCann read out a statement after disembarking from the plane at East Midlands Airport in which he said that he and Kate had "played no part in Madeleine's disappearance"' (Daily Mail).
It has long since puzzled me how Gerry McCann could have so readily fulfilled the demands of his assumed role on this occasion, given both the McCanns' earlier acceptance of their tacit involvement (they actually encouraged an understanding that their 'checks' were spaced at half hourly intervals at least) and the documented reluctance of unpractised liars to do just that. Quite unexpectedly, after seven years, Dr. Sharon Leal has kindly solved that particular riddle.
Briefed, as Dr. Leal must have been, to provide an instance of the McCanns' exemplifying her particular criteria for lie detection (or the absence thereof), why should she have settled on the very first public announcement either of them made, when there have been so many since?
To judge from other experts' behavioural analyses of lying, most, if not all, of Gerry McCann's 'pieces to camera' are plagued by tell-tale 'non-verbal' signs of one kind or another; hand gestures in the main. His ear lobes, nose and scalp would be generally safe from assault if his hands were occupied elsewhere, but Kate can only reasonably be expected to hold one at a time, leaving the other free to run riot – which, more often than not, it does. Despite the hours of footage available to her therefore, Dr. Leal would have found very little that was untainted; except, that is, for those moments when Gerry McCann has both hands full (i.e., 'silenced'), as when holding a piece of paper, for instance.
Suddenly the available exemplars are dramatically reduced in number. Furthermore, the purpose of the paper itself must be taken into consideration. As Dr. Leal informs us, if a speaker should equip themselves with a list of things he must be certain to remember, he won't think that looks suspicious', whereas 'a liar might believe that that is suspicious'.
After several months spent coming to terms with 'the situation they found themselves in', the McCanns would hardly have needed a list of prompts in order to deliver their homecoming pronouncement from the airport runway. Which further reduces the suitable options to include that very first emergence before the cameras in Praia da Luz, when Gerry McCann, according to Dr. Leal, 'brought out the list of things he must be certain to remember'. Except of course, he didn't.
For those brief moments, Gerry McCann was not extemporizing spontaneously with the aid of a 'crib sheet', any more than he would do so subsequently at East Midlands Airport, for example (he did not do so there either). He was, instead, reading a statement prepared beforehand. To attempt an evaluation of Gerry McCann's innocence on that basis alone is akin to accusing (or absolving) Sir Lawrence Olivier of Richard III's lies, as previously articulated by William Shakespeare.
In reality Gerry McCann was distanced from the text of his 'speeches' in terms both of time (they were written earlier) and emotional investment, which, although seemingly apparent, is anything but spontaneous. Actors too are able to cry 'on cue'.
In meeting her brief as best she could, Dr. Sharon Leal earned her fee. With so little material to work with she has to be satisfied that she was able to do so at all. But the machinations that must have gone into her choice of illustration suggest that, despite its title, the true purpose of the ITV programme, The Lying Game, was something other than reminding us all of what they had previously told us, five years ago now, in Tears, Lies and Videotape; a programme which contained much the same material, but with explicit exoneration of the McCanns falling to 'Mirror' journalist Rod Chayter ("The McCanns. Clearly innocent. Absolutely clearly innocent"). The voice of an 'expert' was no doubt viewed by the producers as more convincing on this occasion.
Laid to Rest – 18.01.2014
The normal distribution determines that most people will learn from their own mistakes. A few will have the good fortune to learn from the mistakes of others, while an equal proportion will struggle to learn anything at all, and probably go on to join an internet forum where they can exclusively discuss what they consider to be the 'stupidity' of others, while remaining completely oblivious to their own.
It is not a crime, legally or otherwise, for anyone to form a view or hold an opinion as regards on-going tragedy. As a social animal we thrive on discussion and, until the facts are known, speculation, as much as anything else, serves to keep a topic alive in the public consciousness. In a more close-knit, thinking community, it might be considered 'conjecture'. Whatever one may choose to call it however, it is entirely permissible, not something to be dismissively frowned upon, and, most importantly, sometimes correct. Given a clear bi-polar argument both parties cannot be wrong. Indeed science thrives upon the experimental resolution of such hypothetical conflicts. (...)
A former Portuguese police co-ordinator, Goncalo Amaral is nobody's fool. In terms of the normal distribution referred to above he is comfortably among the 68% in the middle, but in terms of police work, and given his professional experience, he most likely resides among the upper quartile. Hence he ought perhaps to take more than a passing interest in events of the last few days in Scotland. For whilst the police and other forces there have clearly played the situation 'by the book', and not laid themselves open to accusation of error in so doing, in the light of what we now know, had the search persisted, and proved entirely fruitless into the bargain, it would have been, in truth, an error-prone procedure; not a deliberate one I hasten to add, but a factual one nonetheless.
Goncalo Amaral might therefore consider himself in a position to learn from a mistake or two: a mistaken (although entirely sensible) assumption on the part of Scottish community members, police and populace alike, that little Mikaeel was wandering in the wilderness, and a view which he and his former police colleagues once shared – that Madeleine McCann suffered an accident on the night of Thursday 3 May, 2007. But who actually put the McCann children to bed that Thursday night?
KM (statement to police, 6.9.07): 'They also kissed Madeleine, who was already lying down. She was under the covers, she thinks, because it was a bit cold... She remained lying down on her left side, with the soft toy and a pink blanket, which she thinks was covering her.'
GM (from the documentary, Madeleine Was Here):"So, I actually came in and Madeleine was just at the top of the bed here, where I'd left her lying and the covers were folded down and she had her cuddle cat and blanket, were just by her head."
KM (6.9.07): 'After Gerry arrived the children went to brush their teeth and she then read them another story, this time all four of them sitting on Madeleine's bed. She thinks that Gerry entered the room, but does not recall him sitting on the bed.… she thinks that Gerry was in the room, and each one of them, the deponent and Gerry, placed a twin in its cot at the same time, between Madeleine's bed and the bed under the window. They also kissed Madeleine, who was already lying down.'
GM (statement to police, 10.5.07): 'At around 19H00, he made his way to the apartment, finding Kate and the children playing on the sofa. About 10 to 15 minutes later, they took the children to the bedroom and they all sat on Madeleine's bed to read a story.'
KM (6.9.07): 'They talked while they drank, until they left for the Tapas restaurant at around 8.30-8.35 p.m. Before leaving they checked on the children, she doesn't know who; however Gerry says it was him. She only knows the children were quiet. She doesn't know if they were in their same positions. She says she is sure that they were asleep, because Gerry told her so and all was quiet.'
Possible Certainty – 23.01.2014
Some things are certainly possible, others possibly certain, but let the McCanns loose on a QWERTY keyboard and semantics are certain to be twisted into all manner of extraordinary forms.
"Based on more recent information, the Metropolitan Police now believe this man may represent a guest at the Ocean Club who was carrying his daughter back to their apartment...it is not possible to be certain that these two men are actually the same person".
Admittedly this qualification of Scotland Yard's position does not entail illogical extension of an absolute, as in 'certainer' (cf. 'stupider') – just illogical extension.
The Metropolitan police do not now believe this man may represent a guest at the Ocean Club who was carrying his daughter back to their apartment. They know he does. He came forward to identify himself as such, did he not?
Next, Mills & Boon style authorship is eschewed in favour of something more appropriate to Science Citation Abstracts. 'We cannot be certain' would be clearly personal and rather provocative. 'One cannot be certain' still a tad too familiar perhaps. Best make it completely impersonal, eh Gerry? Hence:
'It is not possible to be certain that...'
Give me a break!
Since it seems a case is to be made here on the strength of uncertainty after all (despite Gerry McCann's repeated insistence hitherto that one 'cannot prove a negative' – another mixed metaphor as it happens), let's evaluate a few more aspects attaching to Madeleine McCann's disappearance, about which it is 'not possible to be certain'.
Adopting the 'guest at the Ocean Club carrying his daughter back home' as our point of departure, who is it he might not have been after all, according to the McCanns? Jane Tanner's sighting of course. And what was Jane certain of having seen, according to her own statements? Answer: A child's legs clad in white pyjama trousers with pinkish spots and a ruched hem. Clearly visible. Clearly certain. What did she definitely not see (or she would surely have said so)? Answer: A large coloured roundel on the right leg identifying the pyjamas as being of the Marks & Spencer 'Eeyore' variety. Jane Tanner did not report seeing it, suggesting she did not see it, despite its being larger and clearer than all of the spots she claimed she did see. It was not there. They were not Eeyore pyjamas. It is therefore 'not possible to be certain that' the child was Madeleine McCann.
Madeleine's abductor (The Find Madeleine website refers to 'abductors', but how do they know?) having entered the apartment via the patio at the rear, must have absconded via the front door in order to traverse Jane Tanner's path (I think we can treat the 'got out of the window fairly easily' line of argument with the contempt it deserves). That's feasible if we suppose that the McCanns left both front and back doors unlocked, which in turn makes one wonder why the Ocean Club even bothered to have keys made. But they did. And they supplied one to temporary occupants. Not a copy of one, nor one per person, but one per apartment; one which Gerry McCann left behind on the kitchen counter when he and Kate exited via the patio door for 'drinkies' on the night of Thursday May 3, 2007. That's what he told Control Risks.
Why should Gerry have considered it important to bring that little detail to anyone's attention? If the front door were unlocked it wouldn't have mattered if a crow bar had been left behind. It wouldn't have been used anyway. Clearly that one simple act of forgetfulness was to furnish the abductor, hypothetically, with a means of exit via the locked front door. (Did the McCanns know he/she/they were coming? Surely not?). But when the McCanns both returned to their apartment, searched and double-searched for their missing daughter, did either of them notice the key in the lock, 'other than where they'd left it'? No. it must still have been on the kitchen counter (or in Kate's pocket, as we'll see in a moment). It had not been used to unlock the front door therefore. The abductor could not have gone out through the locked front door without using a key. If he didn't use the key, then he didn't open that door, and he didn't cross Jane Tanner's path.
Clearly 'it is not possible to be certain that' Madeleine McCann was abducted shortly after 9.00 p.m. Equally 'it is not possible to be certain that' the burglar either waited three-quarters of an hour to leave with his captive, or gained admission to the premises later, and without being seen by any other of the OC guests passing to and from the Tapas bar.
But back to the key.
According to his earliest police statement, Gerry (and Kate) entered their apartment that night through the front door, using the key (it must have been locked therefore). How did they manage to do that with the key left behind on the kitchen counter? Ah yes. Gerry first used it then left it behind just before returning to the Tapas table after 9.00 p.m. And Kate? Well she came in through the patio really (as she stated to police), picked up the key, then went out again and around to the front, where she used said key to enter a second time. Sorted!
To judge from their own depositions, 'it is not possible to be certain that' the McCanns entered their apartment between 8.30 and 10.10 p.m. that night, whether looking for Madeleine or for any other reason.
And so to mid-week (parentheses mine).
"During Gerry's tennis lesson, Madeleine and Ella came to the adjoining court with their Mini Club for a mini-tennis session... Standing there listening intently to Cat's instructions, she (Madeleine) 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".
Thus Kate McCann tells us in her book (madeleine), clearly and unambiguously, exactly where her daughter Madeleine was that Tuesday morning, May 1st. She arrived at the tennis courts, together with Ella O'Brien, during Gerry's tennis lesson, which had started at 10.15. She was not therefore where she should have been at that time – with her kid's club playmates, at the pool.
On Thursday afternoon at about 2.40 p.m. Kate McCann captured the iconic 'last photo' of her daughter dressed in "an outfit I'd bought especially for her holiday: a peach-coloured smock top from Gap and some white broderie-anglaise shorts from Monsoon".
Madeleine was wearing nothing else but a sun hat. She was signed into the crèche by Kate that same afternoon at 2.50 p.m., no doubt following a hurried exodus from the pool area, but unfortunately twenty minutes late for the 'chalk space pictures' activity, which began at 2.30 p.m. Between them the McCanns arranged for Gerry to collect the children later while Kate went off for a run. That is what Kate McCann says in her book. There is no mention whatsoever of any additional visit to the children's playgroups in the meantime.
Since Kate has told us exactly what Madeleine was wearing at 2.40 p.m. we also know what she was not wearing – her swimming costume. So what did she do come 'dive and find' time at the pool from 3.30 to 4.30 p.m., stand and watch?
'It is not possible to be certain that' Madeleine McCann attended at the Ocean Club playgroup during the times referred to above and, by extrapolation, on any other occasion that week.
Expert Opinion – 29.01.2014
Former senior police officer (yes, another one with no direct involvement in the Maddie affair) Ian Horrocks is 'an accredited senior investigating officer for homicide, as well as having experience in high value and multinational fraud and other major crime. For the last five years of his service he led one of Scotland Yard's Kidnap and Specialist Investigations teams'.
In 'What happened to Madeleine McCann?' (14-Oct-2013), he draws upon his expertise and personal experience, putting forward a raft of conclusions and opinions, of which the following is a typical example:
"The thought that Kate and Gerry McCann had anything to do with the death of their daughter, whether being directly responsible, or covering it up is frankly preposterous. There is not one shred of credible evidence, either direct or otherwise to indicate that this is even a remote possibility."
Is that so? Is there really 'not one shred of credible evidence' (elsewhere described as a grain of proper evidence)?
The claim here encompasses concealment of a crime and indirect evidence of a remote possibility, but this exaggeration simply flies in the face of the facts. We are being encouraged here to believe in the immunity of the McCanns to circumstantial evidence, of which there is rather more than a shred, and to dismiss as 'preposterous' the very idea that their involvement in a cover up is even remotely possible. Horrocks continues:
"There are many reasons for saying this. Firstly and most importantly, it is statistically unlikely, the main reason being that there is no family history that would point in any way to this. I do not believe that anyone with any sense believes that they killed Madeleine deliberately, so this leaves a tragic accident. Even if such an accident had happened, is it feasible that they would not immediately seek assistance and call for an ambulance?"
There is, I would suggest, rather more to the application and understanding of statistics than this author appears to appreciate. Far from its being a 'main reason', 'family history', whether pointing upwards, downwards, or sideways, has no part to play in the frequency of observations, from which derive the simplest of statistical measures. The following is to be found at www.keepyourchildsafe.org:
Child Abduction & Murder Facts & Statistics
3. Around 100 children are abducted and murdered in the U.S. each year. Around 60% of all child-murder abductions are at the hands of someone the child knows, not a stranger.
5. Nearly all murdered children are killed by a family member, most often a parent.
That is statistical likelihood for you.
"I do not believe that anyone with any sense believes that they killed Madeleine deliberately, so this leaves a tragic accident."
What we choose to believe of others' beliefs neither quantifies nor explains anything. The author also fails to take into account the beliefs of all those possibly lacking in the 'sense' he wishes to attribute. Inevitably therefore a lot of people will in fact believe what he would rather they did not.
This does not simply 'leave a tragic accident' after all therefore.
"The spurious and often inaccurately reported forensic findings, the irrelevant behaviour of the cadaver dogs, Mr and Mrs McCann's perceived demeanour, as well as many other totally irrelevant points just fuel this uninformed and I must say offensive conjecture. The simple answer is, there is no information, let alone evidence to indicate their involvement in any way."
The really simple answer is that Horrocks is mistaken.
'...no information, let alone evidence to indicate their involvement in any way.'
Well who deliberately left the back door open, and the front door key visible inside, thereby facilitating an alternative exit? (We'll overlook the question of who swabbed the decks for now).
Gerry McCann has famously said (to Sandra Felgueiras on Portuguese TV, 5 November 2009): "I can tell you that we have also looked at evidence about cadaver dogs and they are incredibly unreliable".
In describing the behaviour of the cadaver dog in this instance as 'irrelevant', Ian Horrocks appears to be of a similar mind to the McCanns. However, such a flippant remark begs the question as to why a variety of services continue to train and deploy such irrelevant animals. Couldn't the money be better spent elsewhere? Perhaps they are simply waiting for the recognition of relevance to come into its own.
As recently as last evening (BBC2, 9.00 p.m.) the audience of 'Inside the Animal Mind' was treated to a remarkable demonstration of what these irrelevant animals, so called, are capable of.
Sniffer dog Fern
An EVRD dog (a spaniel once again) working in Northern Ireland, has been trained specifically to detect cadavers submerged within inland waterways (people do fall into rivers etc., unfortunately, and their bodies can drift).
What we witnessed was the dog sitting alongside his handler at the prow of an inflatable launch, as it criss-crossed a large lake (about a mile and a half in diameter) on the bed of which a team of divers had previously deposited a canister containing pork meat (this subsequently sank further, into the silt at the bottom, to a depth of a metre or so). The position having been 'fixed' according to GPS co-ordinates, the dog team then followed the divers onto the lake some time afterwards, and without exchanging any information as to the canister's exact whereabouts.
After a number of traverses, and following the dog's indications, the 'search' team stopped on the open water, at a location which corresponded exactly to the GPS co-ordinates recorded earlier by their colleagues. The dog had found the lure, in open water and variable wind conditions. Had it been a real body of course the result would have been the same.
Bearing in mind that a human diver only has vision and touch at his or her disposal, and that visibility under water can be limited in the extreme, searches of this nature are clearly facilitated by the introduction of an animal capable of detecting at the surface something that lies completely hidden from view beneath.
Irrelevant? Unreliable? I don't think so.
It does not take an expert dog handler therefore to arrive at the inescapable conclusion that Martin Grime's Springer Spaniel 'Eddie' indicated the presence, at some time or another, of a corpse in 5A the Ocean Club, Praia da Luz, just as he had been trained to do and had done on many previous occasions.
The resultant paradigm is so simple that even those lacking the sense to which Ian Horrocks refers cannot fail to understand it:
Corpse transient (i.e., none found).
Recorded deaths in 5A prior to May 3, 2007 = 0
Recorded deaths in 5A post the McCanns' occupation = 0
Occupants reported missing = 1 (Madeleine McCann).
No one, not even Gerry McCann, noticed a 'little body' inside 5A that night. One thing among many that a corpse cannot do of course is walk. How intriguing therefore that other items to which the EVR dog Eddie gave a positive reaction included a car key fob, and the car itself. (The word 'transport' springs immediately to mind).
As we know, in the enlightened legal world that is the UK and elsewhere, indications given by an EVRD dog are insufficient of themselves. A CSI animal is required to operate 'in tandem' in order to source the sort of biological evidence that is acceptable, e.g., blood residues and the like.
It scarcely advances any cause, however, if we proceed to draw unjustified conclusions of the sort arrived at by Ian Horrocks and his like-minded acolytes. What can be said without fear of contradiction is that the reactions of sniffer dogs (an EVR dog in this instance) are 'indications' of where something of particular interest might be found, be it paper money, drugs, an earthquake survivor – or a corpse. The location is of at least as much interest as the target itself.
The very interior of apartment 5A was of significance to the inquiry from the outset, that significance being reaffirmed with the later arrival of the two spaniels. As much as one might argue at length over the conclusion that a body was missing, pursuant upon 'Eddie's' reactions, other things seem to have gone missing well before then.
The original crime scene photographs, recorded prior to the arrival of the PJ, have frozen the status of apartment 5a in time, such that anyone can see for themselves what represented the interior on the night of Thursday May 3, 2007. There are items pictured that disappeared subsequently (notably a blue sports bag and a pink blanket), just as there are others conspicuous by their very absence at the time.
With clothes adorning the dining chairs, it is clear that the parents weren't obsessed with straightening the apartment up before setting off for their evening's 'me time'. Fair play to them though. They were on holiday after all. But where is the evidence of milk and biscuits before bed-time? The child's colouring book indicates earlier child activity (the PJ would not arrive for another hour, so the items on the kitchen table cannot reflect the consortium of adult 'timeliners'), but would children have drunk large glasses of water (or wine perhaps)?
The McCanns had three children to deal with, yet there do not appear to be three sets of cast-off junior day wear around the table. One item is an adult top, another a large towel. But is that really Madeleine's swimming costume on the drying frame outside (she should have used it that very afternoon)? If not, why not. And where are the pieces of artwork she should have completed at the kids' club days before – 'Lobster pictures' and postcards from the Sunday, 'Spaceship collage' from the Monday, 'Happy handprints' from the Tuesday and 'footprints' from the Wednesday? And those four passports lying on top of the bedroom cabinet- shouldn't that be five?
It is as though whoever 'abducted' Madeleine McCann took with them all the evidence they could of her very existence. Such was the desecration of her presence that Gerry even had to return home in order to furnish police with a sample of her DNA (despite more 'local' instances being put forward as responsible for the 'body fluids' discovered in an inappropriate place at the rear of the car hired by the McCanns weeks later).
Yes, those interior photographs are richly informative. We can even identify Kate McCann's digital camera as belonging to a product lineage prone to random focussing error. Lucky for her that the 'tennis' and 'last 'photo' were both nice and sharp.
Houston, We Have a Problem – 01.02.2014
Rumour alone has it that executive officers of Scotland Yard's Operation Grange are endeavouring to identify a trio of burglars believed to have taken Madeleine McCann from apartment 5A, the Ocean Club, Praia da Luz. (That's 'burglars', not 'body snatchers' by the way). They have four months to make the 'collar' before things become even more problematic.
If the agencies of the law can find the culprits in time, then they can lay a charge of child abduction ('as if it happened in the UK' folks). And if they don't?
If they don't, then they may have to consider a charge of murder, or abduction leading to death, given that Madeleine McCann may, after seven years without any news of her, be considered legally (even if not actually) dead.
Suddenly, from being paid agents of a child trafficking ring, Winking, Blinking and Nod have a death on their criminal CV, and whatever they were (or are) being paid 'ain't gonna be enough'.
The intriguing question however concerns the direction in which they might choose, hypothetically, to pass the buck.
'She was alive when we had her. We sold her on to...'
O.k. Now please identify the first 'fence' at which Madeleine may have fallen, given the possibility that she could have gone on to fall at the second, third, fourth etc.?
Whose doorstep(s) might that chain of razor blades lead to exactly?
Plan B: 'We didn't abduct anyone. She was already dead'.
The coming anniversary of Madeleine McCann's disappearance could prove the most significant yet. We might even discover a hitherto unknown canine ability – clairvoyance. Although the classical stimulus-response contingency remains the more likely explanation of sniffer dog behaviour.
Balloons at the ready everyone.
Alberta McCann? - 09.02.2014
Those of a certain age may recall the film Albert R.N., which tells the true story of how a number of naval officers, imprisoned in Germany during the Second World War, escaped undetected, whilst their beleaguered colleagues substituted a uniformed dummy during the role calls. It was all about filling what would otherwise have been a noticeable void.
Madeleine McCann's disappearance was announced on the night of Thursday 3 May, 2007. That it took 'a couple of days' for 'every single apparently inconsequential thing that happened on that holiday' to become 'vitally important' perhaps explains why Kate could remember absolutely nothing about either the Monday or the Tuesday when making her statement to the Portuguese police on 4 May. The inconsequential things had not yet become vitally important obviously. Give them a day or two to ripen in the mind, as they did in Gerry's, who at least (10 May) slipped in an account of the family's beach trip on the Tuesday afternoon, 1 May; a recreational alternative decided and acted upon by both parents. And yet Gerry McCann's own observations regarding Monday amount also to absolutely nothing, despite his extensive recall of the Sunday before.
So what did Kate have to say about either day (Monday, Tuesday) when re-interviewed months later, on 6 September?
Again, nothing. ("When asked about the 1st of May 2007, a holiday, she says that on that day they left the apartment around 8:30PM, the same time that was repeated every night."). Nothing save mention of the shutters in the parents' bedroom:
'...she knows they use the shutters, even because Gerry broke them and they were repaired on the Monday'.
Except the repair in question was not carried out on the Monday, but Tuesday morning, between 10.00 and 11.00 a.m.
What on earth has become of those 'vitally important inconsequential things'? Recollections which we are told required but a couple of days to mature in fact took four years!
It is in 'madeleine' that we learn (?) the detail of the maintenance staff visit to 5A that Tuesday morning, to explain the workings of the washing machine and to repair the bedroom shutter. Kate leaves them to it, we are told, as she unexpectedly turns photographer at the tennis courts, where Madeleine unexpectedly appears for mini-tennis (her playgroup was scheduled to be swimming at the pool). We also gain an understanding of the emotional trauma brought on by having to cross the road for ice cream, and the practicality of sunglasses in more southerly climes.
Kate, who finds herself belatedly able to wax lyrical in retrospect about Tuesday May 1st remains totally silent regarding Monday April 30th.
Where was Madeleine on the Monday? What did she do for over two and half hours in-between leaving the crèche for lunch at 12.30 and returning again at 3.15 p.m., for a mere fifteen minutes? She must have been needed for some significant purpose to have been removed so swiftly. What was of such importance that she had to forfeit her afternoon garden adventure and mini dance?
It is clear from the signed record of attendance that Madeleine McCann was not at the crèche beyond 3.30 p.m. so where was she?
In the P.O.W. camp it took two naval officers to hold the stand-in in place. The McCanns likewise have a space to fill in their story, yet neither of them could keep their end up sufficiently as to give a convincing impression. Not then. Not now.
Monday's Child – 10.02.2014
According to her parents Madeleine McCann disappeared sometime between 9.15 and 10.00 p.m. on Thursday night, May 3, 2007, having last been seen by her father within the hour.
If that's where the story begins, then why should the parents and their holiday-making friends have made false statements in relation to each of the four preceding days (Monday – Thursday)?
Monday's lie gives time and place:
Monday morning, April 30th
Kate McCann (6.9.2007): 'When asked, she said that the cleaning, which was provided by the resort, took place on Monday and Wednesday.
'The window in the deponent's bedroom was closed and she knows they use the shutters, even because Gerry broke them and they were repaired on the Monday.'
Kate McCann (2011): '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.'
Tuesday's lie - a pictured face:
Kate McCann (2011): 'During Gerry's tennis lesson, Madeleine and Ella came to the adjoining court with their Mini Club for a mini-tennis session... 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.'
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."
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."
Wednesday's lie is another game:
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..."
There was only one mini-tennis session scheduled for Madeleine's play group – on the Monday morning (10.00 – 11.00 a.m.).
Thursday's lie, a crying shame:
Kate McCann (2011): 'Why didn't you come when Sean and I cried last night?' (a question attributed to Madeleine).
Kate McCann (6.9.2007): 'Thursday, during breakfast, Madeleine said to both of them that she had been crying and that nobody had come to her room' (a statement attributed to Madeleine).
Kate McCann (4.5.2007): 'She reports only one episode where, on the morning of Thursday the 3rd, Madeleine asked the witness why she had not come to look in the bedroom when the twins were crying.'
Gerry McCann (4.5.2007): 'on the morning of May 3rd, MADELEINE asked her father, GERALD, why he had not come into her bedroom when the twins were crying.'
Gerry McCann (10.5.2007): 'When they were having breakfast, MADELEINE addressed her mother and asked her "why didn't you come last night when SEAN and I were crying?"'
Monday's child was fair of face,
Tuesday's child full of grace,
Wednesday's child was full of woe,
Thursday's child had far to go.
Swimming Against The Tide – 11.02.2014
It is said that the Anglo-Saxon king, Cnut the Great (otherwise known as Canute), revealed the omnipotence of a higher authority when he had his throne set down on a beach and unsuccessfully commanded the waves not to encroach upon his feet. Whatever his motives, the ancient king's demonstration of the ocean's stubbornness is both classical and convincing. However much his followers might have believed in his personal magisterial powers, there could be no denying the weight of evidence.
The abduction of Madeleine McCann, fixed in time to the night of 3 May, 2007, is an assumption which has no evidence to support it; only further assumptions. The one certainty is that the child has been missing for seven years since. Despite presenting to the Police (and the world) an account of how her daughter Madeleine was last seen asleep in her own bed, Kate McCann has also said, quite incongruously, 'You don't expect someone to come into your apartment and take your child out (of) your bed'. The question this raises is quite why anyone recounting such an event might wish to re-position the locus of a genuine crime. What is there to be gained from going against the grain?
In isolation the remark is puzzling. A slip of the tongue perhaps, made while the tide is still off-shore. But time passes, and the waves become more numerous as they surge in the same inward direction.
The contradiction inherent in Kate McCann's extraordinary 'bed' reference finds company in the false statements made, not only by the McCanns but by various members of their holiday entourage, in relation to the four days immediately preceding Madeleine's disappearance (see: Monday's Child – McCannfiles). What possible reason could there have been for misrepresenting events prior to the commission of the crime as understood, or should one say 'assumed'? In tandem with this questionable behaviour, it is clear from the records of Madeleine's attendance at the holiday crèche that these same four days are not unequivocally accounted for in that context either.
What was it Kate McCann said in her book once upon a time? 'One coincidence, two coincidences – maybe they're still coincidences. Any more than that and it stops being coincidence.'
A week's worth of lies (coincidence number one). A week's worth of dubious crèche records (coincidence number two). Shall we go for the hat-trick?
The young Mark Warner nanny, Catriona Baker was questioned by Portuguese police at the beginning of their investigation. Months later she was 'outed' by the Daily Mail (14.10.2007), her situation at that time represented thus:
'The McCanns believe Ms Baker is a key witness in the defence that they are assembling with the aid of a team of lawyers and investigators.'
Bearing in mind the timing of events as fixed by the McCanns' own accounts, this statement is, on the face of it, rather perplexing. How, exactly, can someone coming into innocuous contact with Madeleine before her 'abduction' become a key witness in the McCanns' defence afterwards? And what manner of charge were they planning to defend themselves against? Not the abduction of their own daughter, surely? Nocturnal neglect, perhaps? The worst case scenario, as generally understood, might have been something in connection with a fatal accident occurring on the Thursday night; again, after Catriona Baker's duties as 'nanny' had been discharged.
Could Catriona have been considered a character witness therefore? No. She hardly knew the McCanns. A witness to their movements then? No. She was elsewhere for most of the day - everyday. A witness to Madeleine's abduction? No. It happened at night. She would have been out enjoying herself, as she put it, when not resting at home. Was she someone who witnessed a stalker, or stalkers, immediately before or after the abduction? No. She said not in her first statement to the police. What could possibly have been her role within the McCann defence strategy therefore?
Common sense dictates that Catriona Baker's value as a 'key witness' could only pertain to the period of time she spent in her capacity as 'nanny', something the McCanns have acknowledged and the Daily Mail have explained: "She was witness to the McCanns' movements during the week they were on holiday in Portugal and fed Madeleine less than three hours before she disappeared."
Except that, but for fleeting glances in the morning and at mid-day, she very obviously was not a witness to the McCanns' movements 'that week they were in Portugal'; a week which embraced exactly the same four days less than adequately accounted for by others, including the McCanns themselves. And that makes her recruitment as a potential witness for the defence anything but coincidental.
Comparison of Catriona's own 'evidence', as given to the PJ, with the Daily Mail's clarification of her later value to the McCanns, reveals how, like Michael Wright latterly in Lisbon, she was to be 'briefed'.
CB (6.5.2007): It was always Madeleine's parents that would bring her to and fetch her from the "Minis".
Compare this with Gerry McCann's own statement four days later:
'The deponent and KATE returned to the OCEAN CLUB. They stayed there, talking, until 16H45, at which time the twins went to the meal area. At 17h00, as usual, MADELEINE arrived accompanied by the nannies and the other children. After her arrival, MADELEINE dined, having finished at 17H30.'
On the subject of episodes untoward she is quite voluble:
She replies that since that date and until Thursday, the 03rd of May, 2007, she was with Madeleine every day, but is unable to specify if she was present on the Sunday morning.
She replies that within the exercise of her functions, both inside the building and outdoors (above specified activities), she never noticed anyone suspiciously observing the children under her care. She didn't notice anyone taking pictures of the children, namely of Madeleine.
She refers that her colleagues never mentioned anything concerning their children, either.
The deponent mentions that following Madeleine's disappearance, she didn't see or hear anything, no plausible reason that could explain what caused said disappearance.
And yet, five months later, the Daily Mail was able to offer its readers:
'On the morning after Madeleine's disappearance it is believed she even told Portuguese police of a man she had seen acting 'suspiciously' around the apartments.'
'Intriguingly, Ms Baker revealed to one friend - spoken to by this newspaper - that she told Portuguese police of a man she saw acting strangely near the apartments in the days leading up to Madeleine's disappearance on May 3.'
What may well have been 'believed' by a McCann spokesperson clearly did not represent what Catriona Baker herself had previously said.
In November 2007 Catriona Baker paid the McCanns a personal visit at their home in Rothley. The following April she was interviewed again by police.
"On Thursday the 3rd of May 2007, I remember Gerry having accompanied Madeleine to the club between 9h15 and 9h20 in the morning. I do not remember who came to pick her up for lunch but after she returned in the afternoon for a dive/swim. These activities were realized with the other children. On this day I remember that we sailed and I saw friends of the McCanns on the beach, David and Jane. Around 14h45 Madeleine returned to the Minis Club on top of the reception but I do not remember who accompanied her. This afternoon we went swimming."
This is of course that strangest of days, when Madeleine went swimming in her gap top and broderie Anglaise shorts, having earlier been for a boat trip at the beach where no-one else saw her, apart from Cat Baker that is. The nanny's most significant evidential contribution here however is this one:
"I stayed with Madeleine, 3 years old, in my group (Minis Club that week) together with Ella, daughter of Jane Tanner. Either Kate or Gerry would accompany Madeleine every day in the morning and would return at lunch hour to take her back."
Admittedly she had said something vaguely similar to Portuguese police originally, but she had also proceeded to observe:
"Since the beginning, when she received the little girl, it appeared to her that her parents were affable and showed their interest in her well being, as they cared to inquire what Madeleine did and even accompanied some of the child's outdoors activities."
So name one. And if that doesn't sound like the McCanns, then maybe we're not talking about Madeleine either. The fact that the McCanns were clearly planning to field (concoct?) answers to such questions as 'Where was Madeleine on...?' further validates those very questions.
Sadly or, Sadly – 20.02.2014
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has spoken, for the benefit of a bewildered public attempting to make sense of the status quo regarding the parallel Portuguese and UK investigations into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann: "Obviously the Portuguese police have got a line of inquiry which is different to the Metropolitan Police's but we're working together to try and resolve that." Obviously, Sir Bernard. In the sense that the Portuguese 'prime suspect' (deceased) is a world away from being any kind of a match to DCI Redwood's favoured e-fits, then Portugal and 'The Yard' do indeed appear to be pursuing different lines of inquiry. There is, however, a disturbing ring of inevitability to the phrase 'obviously', almost as though it would apply regardless. Surely not. Is it even remotely possible that two investigative agencies with a shared purpose would differ quite so markedly in their approaches to the common problem? They are, after all, equipped with an identical context in which to set their endeavours. We know of course that the approach taken by the Metropolitan Police has been to regress to 'point zero', DCI Redwood having said as much. And that in itself could provoke, shall we say, a difference of opinion – obviously. But do go on Sir Bernard.
"We're trying our best to keep the family informed and I think in the middle of all this, quite often their torment gets lost. Have they lost a child or, errr... by being murdered or... sadly... or have they lost a child by someone else stealing them."
May we please clarify this observation just a little? (There are one or two redundant 'ors')
"Have they lost a child by being murdered or... sadly... have they lost a child by someone else stealing them?"
An interesting question that. Juxtaposed as they are, the child thief and the murderer are clearly not viewed as one and the same. And with only one 'sadly' to go around, kidnap comes across as the more regrettable outcome. If, sadly, Madeleine has been murdered, might not the murderer have been a thief also? A hapless petty criminal, who lashed out simply to silence the shrill alarm of a startled child (always supposing that their intention was to steal something other than an infant)? If such were the case, the fugitive would no doubt have left the body behind, having set off with neither kidnap nor body snatching in mind. Like Jon Benet Ramsay's supposed assailant, he would most likely have bolted empty handed (save for the valuables he came for of course, yet such was his haste he forgot those also).
If Madeleine was murdered by a panicking thief, what happened to her body after he fled the scene? Or if, on the spur of the moment, he decided to remove his victim, perhaps with a view to 'bluffing out' a blackmail attempt (although nothing of the kind has ever been hinted), then it cannot have been Madeleine's frail remains that left their mark for Martin Grime's EVR dog to zero in on. They would not have been there long enough to have done so. It looks as if the options here are murderer or thief, not thief and murderer. So who besides a thief might have murdered poor Madeleine McCann, Sir Bernard?
"We've generally got to work together. We can't police Portugal, they can't do everything over here; we must work together. So, we're insist... you know, we really can work in genuine partnership on this."
O.k. Sir Bernard. We get it. You wish to insist that the Portuguese follow the Met's lead. That's it isn't it? Could it be, perchance, that the difference between the two investigations resides in the fact that the Portuguese are pursuing a murder inquiry, whereas the Met. have adopted the 'stolen' approach? A discrepancy of that order might also explain perhaps, for the benefit of those who notice such things, why the Portuguese would see themselves as having to 'do everything over here', whilst the Met., as we know from the recent spate of letter writing, cannot police Portugal.
If the Policia Judiciaria were genuinely keen to 'collar' a trio of burglars for having 'stolen' Madeleine McCann (be they Portuguese, Romany, Cap Verde, German, Scandinavian, Moroccan – the list of candidate nationalities is a lengthy one), then it's difficult to see why they should want to do anything 'over here' at all. Unless of course the perpetrators were already numbered among the UK immigrant statistics for the past seven years.
Mental Fatigue – 25.04.2014
Staff at Rupert Murdoch's 'Sun' and others are suffering. They are experiencing 'Maddie Failure', like 'metal fatigue', the weakness that shows up as the cause of so many calamities, from Titanic to the BOAC Comet:
"MADELEINE McCann vanished seven years ago, and every day since her parents have been through hell. (sometimes even the turnstiles at Goodison Park)
"They must have mixed feelings about the latest development. (I bet)
"It's clearly helpful that Scotland Yard now has 18 potentially linked incidents to look into. (helpful to whom exactly?)
"But if such promising leads can be found so many years later, the McCanns must wonder how different things might have been if the Portuguese police had done their job properly at the time. (or if the Portuguese had been allowed to do their job properly).
"We are all wondering the same" (original thinking clearly not a feature of their job description).
I do not recollect there being any mention within the remit for Scotland Yard's review of/investigation into the case of Madeleine McCann, of the Met.'s being expected to pursue various members of the Portuguese Algarve's own 'Hole-in-the-wall' gang, for crimes other than abduction (while 'Butch' and 'Sun cream' slip quietly off to Bolivia, Canada or wherever).
I am neither a police inspector nor an astronaut with a unicorn for a pet, but there is one thing of which I am quietly convinced: If promising leads can be found many years later, it is because they were laid, dormant and unconcealable, at the point of commission, when most criminal mistakes are made. That obviously does not apply to 'foul body odours' (so that's why Madeleine McCann's abductor opened the window...) but is very much the case as regards actions taken – actions with tangible consequences which cannot be eradicated, however many years may elapse.
Rock on! (Andy, Sir Bernard, Kate, Gerry et al). Pray to God for answers by all means. I'll side with Gödel!
All the Premier's Men – 29.04.2014
The following dialogue features in the award-winning Alan J Pakula film, All The President's Men, starring Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. Based on the book by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the film traces the development of their joint investigation into covert practices conducted on behalf of the Republican party; deeds sanctioned by the White House administration under President Richard Nixon, and which first came to light following the June 1972 break-in at the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee:
TV interviewer: "I'd like to move on now to the subject of the break in at the Watergate and the controversies that keep coming out of that. It has recently, very recently been reported now that some documents were torn up at the Committee to re-elect the President, er, are you investigating the er, the tearing up of those documents?"
Richard G Kleindienst (US Attorney General): "Well I think that came out in a story in the Washington Post. I think the investigation that has just conclude itself [sic] has probably been one of the most intensive that the Department of Justice and the FBI has ever been involved in, er, some fifteen hundred persons were interviewed, eighteen hundred leads were followed, three hundred and thirty-three agents were involved, fourteen thousand man-hours, fifty-one of the fifty-nine FBI field officers were involved, er, and that, I think, is a great credit to justice in this country."
TV interviewer: "Did you know that documents had been destroyed?"
Richard G Kleindienst: "No I did not."
Following a reported break in at apartment 5A, The Ocean Club, Praia da Luz, Portugal, on the night of 3 May, 2007, a major Portuguese police investigation was launched into the disappearance of young Madeleine McCann. The investigation, initially supported by police representatives from the UK, was eventually suspended after the two principal 'arguidos' (persons of interest to police), Madeleine's parents, returned to the UK. Their suspect status having been lifted by the Portuguese authorities, there followed an official investigative hiatus until, in May 2011, and with the backing of Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May, the Metropolitan Police announced they were to embark upon an investigative review of the case. As reported in the Daily Telegraph (18.5.2011): 'A team of 30 detectives from Scotland Yard will be assigned to the search for missing Madeleine McCann in an investigation which could cost millions of pounds.'
That process, known as Operation Grange, remains on-going.
Journalist (speaking to Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood of the Metropolitan Police at a press conference on 4.7.2013): "What has changed, errm... Have you had new information, new evidence? What has changed to lead you to open this investigation?"
DCI Andy Redwood: "Well, as we have worked carefully over the last sort of two years, through that review process, we have now processed some 30,000 documents and some of those documents could have, say, one page, some have got hundreds of pages. From that, you will recall last year that I said we had 195 investigative opportunities. We have now generated over 3,800 actions and it is from a careful analysis of that work that we have been able to establish new thinking and we have spoken to witnesses that have provided new evidence for us."
Journalist: "How... how big is the team that is involved in this and where do you go from here?"
DCI Andy Redwood: "My team consists of 37 staff; that's a mixture, predominantly of police officers but also police staff as well. The size of my team will stay largely the same, errm... and moving forward from here we will hopefully have a position where - whilst the legal inquiries are being conducted, errm... by the Portuguese - that we have the ability to be present while those inquiries are taking place. So I envisage a situation where a small number of officers will be present in Portugal."
Journalist: "And obviously there has been many years since this case - are you still confident you can discover what happened to Madeleine?"
DCI Andy Redwood: "We have been in a unique position, in drawing those three key strands together. That has given us the ability to see this case with fresh eyes and through that bring out new... genuinely new lines of inquiry and I'm hopeful that when we pursue those lines of inquiry that we'll be able to bring some sort of resolution. Whether we'll be able to solve it is a different issue but I hope that we'll be able to make... have the ability to move the investigation on."
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said at a Metropolitan Police briefing on 3.10.2013: "There remain a total of 41 persons of interest, 15 of which there are UK nationals. The work on three of those 15 UK Nationals nears completion with indications that they are not of any further interest to Operation Grange.
"Of note, we currently have 30 ILORs (31 including Portugal) in various countries following up requests for information concerning telephones used in Praia da Luz at the material time.
"We have engaged with Crimewatch to assist us in a public appeal in their October programme, and have expanded our appeal for information to Germany, Holland and Ireland.
"The appeal will piece together new lines of enquiry, and DCI Redwood will be appearing alongside Mr and Mrs McCann to appeal for information."
DCI Andy Redwood said at that same briefing: "The information and purpose of this broader appeal is based on phone traffic analysis we have examined, which determines the footfall of people in the resort at that time. Our investigation in the UK remains ongoing. The total number of documents we have to go through is 39,148, of which we have processed 21,614 so far."
If it quacks like a duck...
Famous Last Words – 29.04.2014
Gerry McCann (to Piers Morgan, for CNN, 11.5.2011): "I think the worst thing though about the focus on our behaviour and, you know, if we could change it we would have. We can't change it, but it takes the focus away from the abductor and that becomes quite frustrating for us because Madeleine's still missing and th...those, that person or those responsible for taking her are still at large."
As interesting as is McCann's verbal fumble here over the number of people presumed to have been involved in his daughter's abduction, the observation of greater importance for present purposes is the clear separation between the guilty person(s) still at large and the McCanns, who, by the time of this interview, had long since been 'relieved' of their former 'arguido' status by the Portuguese. They were no longer suspects as far as the original investigation was concerned. Let us carry forward therefore the reasonable contention that innocent parties do not have to defend their position.
Recent personal experience has illustrated the application of an obnoxious courtroom tactic, whereby the accused, when questioned as to statements made earlier before the police, suddenly 'comes clean', denouncing them in whole or part as lies, occasioned by fear, stress, sickness or whatever. This not only 'wrongfoots' the prosecution, whose case before the court is built upon evidence of which prior witness statements form a part, possibly even a crucial part, but it denies the jury a benchmark against which to assess what suddenly emerges from the lips of the defendant as 'the truth'.
We know, without the McCanns ever appearing before a court, that their police statements are contradictory. They would hardly need therefore to grovel in remorse and invite a jury to disregard admitted inaccuracies within their earliest testimonies, occasioned by stress, insecurity, misunderstanding or whatever else. They made mistakes for which they are no doubt sorry, so let's wipe the slate clean and start afresh; reset the dial to zero (following DCI Andy Redwood's example). In 2011, four years after the case of Madeleine McCann's disappearance first saw the light of day, Kate McCann did exactly that.
In her 'account of the truth', Kate states:
"You may be wondering not only what relevance all these minute details might have to anything, but also how I can recall them so distinctly and how accurate my recollections can possibly be. The answer is that, within a couple of days, every single apparently inconsequential thing that happened on that holiday would become vitally important, and Gerry and I would soon be painstakingly trying to extract from our brains every tiny incident, no matter how small, that might have been significant. Armed with notebook, pen and dated photographs, I would be challenging myself to piece together as comprehensive an outline of the sequence of events as I could. The regular routines of the week helped to make any deviations from them stand out and undoubtedly made this easier".
Leaving aside the rather obvious question of how the McCanns could possibly have given mistaken information to the police in the first instance, having made such a conscious intellectual effort to enumerate every detail of their recent experiences, we should simply subscribe, as Kate invites us to do, to the idea that by now (2011) she and Gerry are in a position to be unequivocal. Whatever may have been said before, this is the truth. All else is water under the bridge. Metaphorically speaking, the particulars enshrined in 'madeleine' represent the McCanns' position at court. And yet, as we have previously illustrated (see: 'Porkies', McCannfiles 1.8.2013), Kate McCann's opus is littered with lies, none of which can be defended on the grounds of duress, memory loss, illness etc., etc.
As observed at the outset, innocent parties should not be in need of a defence and therefore not feel inclined to lie, especially about irrelevancies. With the focus on an abductor out there somewhere and the McCanns concomitantly blameless, what was so sensitive about the time Kate McCann signed the crèche registers, and the name she used to do so, that she felt the need to lie about such things in her book?
Moving forward two years in time, the BBC Crimewatch broadcast of 14 October last featured a reconstruction of events in Praia da Luz on the evening of 3 May, 2007, and the latest findings of Operation Grange, under the stewardship of DCI Andy Redwood. His presentation of the Grange team's analysis was described by the presenter as 'the truest account yet of what really happened that night'.
As a careful choice of words this one statement is surely among the most startling ever made in connection with the case of missing Madeleine McCann. It tells us at a stroke that the scenario envisaged by Scotland Yard is not necessarily correct, nor were any of those preceding it.
Of course we live in a world where the distance between absolute truth and blatant lies is often cloaked by a grey patch in-between, but, when pared down to essentials, statements are ultimately true or false. (Were that not to be the case then I could not be sitting at a computer writing this, Boolean logic being the very foundation of computing). Describing something as 'truest' does not place it in the box marked 'true'. It merely raises it nearer the top (but not altogether out) of the box marked 'false'. Ultimately, neither the account advanced by DCI Redwood nor that previously articulated by Kate McCann can be accepted, without reservation, as true. Why not?
Scotland Yard's fall-back position is easy – they missed something somewhere. Kate McCann does not have one. She knows. She was there. And without the attendant pressures of urgent police inquiries she was in a position more comfortably to reconstitute all of those 'minute details' she and Gerry so carefully assembled and recorded during the first couple of days. And yet, according to a BBC presenter, her 'account of the truth' is, by definition, untrue.
Does it really matter? We all make mistakes at some time or another after all. The point is, that should the McCanns ever be called to defend themselves before a court of law, as opposed to a rabble of journalists outside of one, Kate cannot simply open the trash can and toss 'madeleine' into it as representing one or more errors of judgement. In functional terms they have played that card already with their divergent statements to police. The parties presumed innocent would not have a truthful account to put before a jury. The jury would nevertheless have its benchmark .
Schadenfraud – 30.04.2014
According to Tracey Kandohla (Daily Mirror, 25 April), former GP Kate has said: "There is nothing to suggest Madeleine is not alive."
She has also said: "Madeleine is still alive until someone proves otherwise."
As has been pointed out on several previous occasions, it is not actually necessary to prove Madeleine is dead (or 'not still alive') by revealing her corpse. It can be done indirectly by proving that she was not abducted (see: 'There's nothing to say she's not out there alive' – McCannfiles, 27.6.09). Given that condition, there can be only one answer to Gerry McCann's outburst, "Where is the child?" Telekinesis is not, I'm afraid, an option in this case.
Prior to the first of DCI Andy Redwood's 'revelation moments' it could be (and indeed was) established that no abductor could possibly have exited the McCanns' apartment at a time coincident with Jane Tanner's so-called sighting (see: 'No Way Out' and 'No Way Out At All' – McCannfiles, 8.7.13 and 13.7.13). Despite (or perhaps because of) the obviously contrived emergence of an innocent parent portering their own daughter around the streets of Praia da Luz at the time, the McCanns remain of the view that this is not whom Jane Tanner saw on the night of May 3rd, raising the possibility of there having been no end of transient child bearers in the vicinity that night, like a Pierce Brosnan scene from the re-make of The Thomas Crown Affair.
Recent personal experience has confirmed two things in particular: that the introduction of an unverifiable third-party into the account of a crime is a gambit as old as Methuselah and, despite jurors being cautioned against speculation, phrases such as 'could have', 'might have' etc. are as irresistible as bananas are to monkeys. (Their use in deliberation - the phrases not the bananas - should be banned). Nevertheless, in the context of the McCanns' account of Madeleine's 'abduction' they are rife, which would leave any prosecuting counsel the task of discounting limitless flights of imagination before they could address the most probable cause or sequence of events.
So now how do we prove Madeleine was not abducted? Perhaps by focussing on what a child abduction is, or isn't.
Both parents, Kate McCann especially, have expressed remorse at not having been present 'at that minute', when 'it' happened. Needless to say, had they been in attendance at the time then 'it' should not have happened at all. Taking things at face value, it is perfectly obvious that the McCanns would not have stood back while their daughter was abducted by a stranger. No parent would do so (unless faced with Sophie's Choice perhaps). Hence, if the McCanns were seen to have been tacit accomplices to the act of Madeleine's removal from apartment 5A the Ocean Club, they will not have been complicit in abduction, but something else entirely. Either way they would have harboured some fore-knowledge of the event.
And that's the rub. They did exhibit foreknowledge, which means (a) the event in question was not abduction as commonly understood and (b) they knew what it was, just as well as they knew what it wasn't. In the words of an anonymous lawyer, repeated for emphasis by Kate McCann in her book 'madeleine', "One coincidence, two coincidences - maybe they're still coincidences. Any more than that and it stops being coincidence."
Coincidentally Kate McCann experienced a sudden aversion to own her camera, following her last photograph of daughter Madeleine, eight hours before she was found to be missing. Coincidentally, Gerry McCann's receipt of regular text messages, and his predictable recourse to voicemail thereafter (a daily routine associated with the aftermath of Madeleine's disappearance), was a behaviour he exhibited on May 2nd – over twenty four hours before Madeleine was found to be missing. Coincidentally, a McCann family member photographed a subject of unique relevance to the search for their missing daughter before she was discovered missing. That's three coincidences where, according to no less an authority than Kate McCann herself, the occurrence of more than two means none of them can be considered chance events (as there's no means of identifying the one that might be).
If Madeleine McCann was not abducted then she is dead. She was not abducted. She is therefore dead, and has been for seven years, since before the establishment of 'Madeleine's Fund' by her parents, who did not ask for money at first but very quickly set up a way of dealing with it that traded on the false premise of the child's unexplained disappearance, and continues to do so.
'Right' Said Fred – 06.05.2014
If you find yourself already in a hole - stop digging! Unless you're the Metropolitan Police, who, pursuant to their intention of discovering the fate of Madeleine McCann, are about to land in Portugal, as the United States CB's once did the Philippines, taking with them sensitive detection equipment and forensic expertise. Oh, and some shovels. The contingent could usefully include certain staff from Leicester University, who have proven experience already in locating significant buried skeletons.
The reality is best summed up in the Guardian announcement of 5 May, that UK police are to 'oversee excavations'.
Decades ago, when some serious civil engineering projects were being undertaken in the City of London, the contractors erected opaque protective screens so that the citizenry could pass to and fro alongside the earthworks without danger of falling in or being felled by an unruly girder. Considerately these shields included 'peep holes', where office workers would park themselves and their sandwiches at lunchtime to watch the proceedings beneath. That is the likely measure of the Met's 'overseeing'.
According to Tracey Kandohla and Russell Myers of the Daily Mirror (4 May):
"Police have assured Kate and Gerry that it does not mean they are specifically searching for her body. They are doing searches as much as to rule scenarios out as much as rule them in. They will be concentrating on several different places at different phases."
Let's get this straight. Officers from Scotland Yard are going to officiate in the excavation of two or three sites in the vicinity of the Ocean Club, Praia da Luz, with the intention of ruling a few things out? As if!
If there is so much as a grain of truth in this story, then one thing it is not is an agricultural experiment with a field marked out in plots chosen at random. (That's random as in a 'random sample' for statistical purposes, not random as in 'on a whim'). To rule out certain scenarios the Mets' contractors would have to excavate virtually the whole of Portugal! ('O.k. so you found nothing this time, but what if there's something buried in that area just over there?' – you get the picture).
We are clearly not being told the 'hole truth' here about Scotland Yard's playing a 'bloke in a bowler' to the PJ's Bernard Cribbins:
"Don't dig there! Dig it elsewhere!
You’re digging it round when it ought to be square,
The shape of it's wrong. It's much too long,
And you can't put a hole where a hole don't belong."
Should an excavation team, be they Portuguese or British, sadly uncover the remains of a female child, I wonder what these might be clothed in? If they were to be pyjamas they could help identify the body.
On the other hand, perhaps not.
Role Reversal – 08.05.2014
Is one of DCI Redwood's Portuguese landing party a Sergeant Bilko by any chance, about to play 'Granger on the shore'? If so he'll be well placed to imitate his fellow ostriches, burying his head in the sand like Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, from whose lofty perch we hear tweeted:
"The critical thing is, as Madeleine's parents have said and we all support, is that they need to have some closure on this, they need to know what happened to their daughter."
Er...Hello...Wake up at the back. They already know, and have done for years.
Kate McCann (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." In case you feel that requires translation Sir Bernard, it means: 'The truth is, she's dead'.
But let's not allow the truth to get in the way of a good story eh, or a good story to get in the way of a spot of digging, as requested on the Official Find Madeleine Facebook page:
"7th of May 2014
"We are dismayed with the way the media has behaved over the last couple of days in relation to our daughter's case. There is an on-going, already challenging, police investigation taking place and media interference in this way not only makes the work of the police more difficult, it can potentially damage and destroy the investigation altogether – and hence the chances of us finding Madeleine and discovering what has happened to her. As Madeleine's parents, this just compounds our distress. We urge the media to let the police get on with their work and please show some respect and consideration to Madeleine and all our family.
"Gerry and Kate"
Experience is clearly a good teacher.
So how can we help? By following the advice of your understudy, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley perhaps:
"As well as being aware of the dangers of disrupting the work of the Portuguese, I would also ask you to think carefully about the information you decide to put into the public domain. Although we will continue not to comment on specific information, I would ask you to think twice about what impact that information or speculation might have on the investigation if it is published or broadcast.
"We do not want to undermine our prospects of providing Mr and Mrs McCann with answers in this tragic case."
Well that does rather depend upon the nature of the answers Scotland Yard are keen to provide. The fact that the McCanns have not been prevailed upon to come up with any themselves has of course been widely noted.
As for those outside the Operation Grange loop thinking carefully about the information they might decide to 'put into the public domain', I take it we may harbour no such reservations about further discussing information already in the public domain, should the fancy take us (as well it might)?
Far be it from members of the British public to tell the Police how to do their job. Provided, that is, they do their job, and not someone else's.
Actually Rubbish – 11.05.2014
Let us be reminded of a few words published long ago by Paulo Reis, and which focus on data included within the P.J.'s original archived reports:
When he was asked by "Expresso TV" on 6th September 2008 about the "sixteen SMS messages" received, he flustered:
"No one has asked to see any of my text messages. There is no way there was 16 messages on the day or even, you know, the day after. You know, the day after, we got hundreds of text messages..." Kate McCann came to his rescue and interrupted; "Gerry hardly ever sent text messages until after Madeleine was taken". Gerald McCann continued: "So, you know, that is... it's actually rubbish".
'The McCanns' denials were, of course, technically true although perhaps disingenuous - because there were only 14 messages received on the day before they reported Madeleine missing and two on the day after.'
The McCanns to a tee. Quick to answer the question that isn't put, so as to avoid answering the one that is.
Oh how Gerry must have yearned for a career in Marketing, 'turning dreams into reality'. The McCanns were good at that alright, dreaming up explanations for the unprecedented urgency with which British diplomacy was brought to bear, tearful late night conversations with friends and relatives at home, interrupting Kingsley-Napley partners at golf on a Saturday. As Gerry so eloquently put it, 'it is actually rubbish.' That, and digging up Praia da Luz at the start of the tourist season. We know how slowly a funeral cortege can travel, but would a Renault Scenic really be required to access urgent shallow workings within easy walking distance?
'No hurry', say the McCanns. 'We've got a birthday to celebrate'. But the Met need to wrap things up soon, before the courts lose patience and declare Madeleine dead (the McCanns obviously have a financial reason for not doing so) – 'No bodies here', abductor and victim both missing presumed lost, but hopefully alive somewhere, case closed. (Carry on trading).
Otherwise the search is on for a killer somewhere (See: Houston We Have a Problem - McCannfiles, 1 Feb. 2014).
Should the PJ pursue their recently declared change of course they might just discover the truth for themselves. As for the Metropolitan Police under Sir Bernard...well they may by now have decided 'what the outcome is', but that, I'm afraid, is about as certain as the success of the 'Schlieffen plan', which failed miserably. (Kaiser Bill and his generals didn't count on the French and the BEF actually putting up a fight).
So, 'chocks away' chaps. We can't wait to see what sort of a case the CPS might make against any abductor(s), if ever they were called upon to do so, 'cause the evidence for abduction on 3 May isn't half as good as the evidence for what happened beforehand, and a 'helicopter view' will always reveal the 'bigger picture'.
Buried Treasure – 14.05.2014
DCI Redwood and associates from the Metropolitan Police will possibly/probably/definitely/not be revisiting Praia da Luz in the very near future in an attempt to exhume evidence relating to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, no doubt with a view to giving the parents 'closure' by satisfying Kate McCann's recent appeal and 'need to know'. The signs are that the child is being considered dead, even though the court, of which she is still a ward, has yet to 'go firm' on that position.
Returning to the scene of a crime in order to bury the victim is a scenario worthier of 'Fargo' (the original Cohen Brothers film) than anything a child abductor might do in reality. In addition, it can only have been as part of a funeral cortege that a Renault Scenic might have been called upon to drive from outside apartment 5A to a location just a couple of hundred metres distant. Two considerations, then, that mitigate against local pot-holes, sewer ducts etc. representing a place of rest in this case. Notwithstanding the obvious need to 'back-fill' an excavation, however small. No one can have stolen the bucket and spade from 5A with that purpose in mind as Gerry McCann returned to the apartment for it himself on the Saturday. Another factor against is the unlikely possibility that Madeleine died immediately on her removal from the family's apartment. What of? Shock at being exposed to the cold night air? That didn't happen to Crecheman's daughter did it?
Nevertheless the auguries are that Madeleine McCann is no longer with us, for which someone must be responsible, since she did not leave a farewell note.
We have known ever since Operation Grange was just a toddler with ambitions that neither Gerry nor Kate McCann, nor any of their so-called 'Tapas' friends, were persons of interest to the inquiry. Indeed Gerry unequivocally announced once upon a time:
"We have played no part in the disappearance of our lovely daughter Madeleine".
(Note use of the term 'disappearance' here).
Hence Scotland Yard's finest must have someone else in their sights, if they have anyone at all. But even if there were child abductors on every street corner in Portugal (which there clearly are not), none of them are at all likely to have left Madeleine in a shallow grave close by the Ocean Club, which is where DCI Redwood and his men propose to look, as like as not for a body, conceivably in connection with a disappearance rather than an abduction.
Now that should come as something of a relief to the McCanns, who played no part in their daughter's disappearance – no part whatsoever.
So who arranged for Madeleine to 'disappear' without actually abducting her?
Just Desserts – 22.05.2014
It's European election day. Me, I'm a member of the silent majority, and now cannot even be bothered to cross the street in order to make my democratic mark in support of a proposed representative (proposed by some organization to which I do not belong) who will, I am sure, enjoy the regular 'chunnel' commute to work in picturesque Brussels . I bet he or she won't have to pay for their season ticket though.
Maybe we get the government we deserve, so that the apathetically disinterested among us can have no grounds for complaint when neo-nazi policies come into force (as if they haven't already, in the guise of 'health and safety' guidelines). However, as Clint Eastwood's Oscar-winning cowboy character said whilst staring down upon a soon-to-be past-tense Gene Hackman: "Deserve's got nothing to do with it".
Madeleine McCann did not deserve to die. Goncalo Amaral did not deserve to have his career curtailed. The Portuguese do not deserve to be 'badmouthed' at every turn by semi-literate UK journalists and other 'media types', and no one deserves to be addressed by personnel in public office, directly or indirectly, as though they were obliged to be grateful certain tasks are carried out on their behalf at all, when it's we the people who are subsidising their very existence!
So, as the apologia are passed among those public representatives who feel compelled to comment on the McCann investigation, we have heard from the DCI leading the day-to-day efforts, the 'top brass' who are guided by government, and now the deputy headmaster at New Scotland Yard who 'did not give details about what the next phase would involve, but said officers were working through every credible line of inquiry as part of the "slog of a major investigation".'
Where in god's name do they find these people!
For the benefit of slow learners he even repeats the statement:
"It's something that you would expect in any major inquiry.
"A thorough serious crime investigation works systematically through all the credible possibilities, and often in an investigation you will have more than one credible possibility”.
I think we understand the 'rule out method'. Gerry McCann does, so it cannot be that hard to grasp. What is far more difficult to understand by far is how this spokesperson (for Mr Rowley one might just as easily read Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, DCI Redwood or any other member of the Grange Brigade) can calmly speak of the 'slog' of working through 'every credible line of inquiry' in this case. How many credible lines of inquiry does he (or they) imagine exist? In reality there is only the one.
Sitting round a table over coffee in Portugal discussing which plot of tundra a child abductor might favour when disposing of a victim's body is not at all a credible line of inquiry when one considers that Madeleine McCann's abduction was simply not possible in the first instance. The McCanns have confirmed that all the window shutters were down, Kate McCann confirms in her book (p.130) that the front door was locked, and Rachael Oldfield confirmed in a statement to police (15.5.2007) that the patio shutter was closed also. Apartment 5a lacks a chimney.
Proceeding from there, Mr Rowley, no credible line of inquiry, no credible line whatsoever, can originate with the hypothesis of abduction, although, if you ask him nicely, I'm sure Gerry McCann will lend you his copy of 'The Interpretation of Murder', which deals with the very same access conundrum.
On the face of it sir, your colleagues at Operation Grange are wasting their time, taxpayers' money, and assisting in the process, not of resolving a crime but of turning UK society into something of which I am fast becoming ashamed to be considered a part.
Taking a Gamble – 25.05.2014
Nowadays, for the McCanns and their public champions, appearances before the camera or on radio are fraught with more risks than ever before. Former head of CEOP, Jim Gamble, illustrates the point only too clearly. Interviewed recently for the Belfast Telegraph (19 May) he concludes with:
"I think Gerry and Kate McCann will get closure in my lifetime. My heart goes out to them. I never cease to be appalled by some of the things people say.
"A woman on the radio earlier was more fixated that Kate and Gerry left the kids and went for a meal.
"You know what? Lots of people make mistakes. Few people pay this price. Sometimes people should just think before they speak.
It must surely be a comfort to know that 'closure' for the McCanns will come within a lifetime. Can we afford to sustain Operation Grange for quite that long? But you're right Jim. People really should think before they speak. The world would be a happier place if we all did so, including your good self if I may make so bold.
That 'woman on the radio earlier' was followed by none other than our Jim, interviewed on the same programme no less (The JVS Show phone-in on BBC Three Counties Radio, 15 May). But before we take a closer look at the thoughts of career copper 'Cap'n Jim', let's just adjust the starting blocks with another of his explanations to the Belfast Telegraph:
Q. "You invested a lot in CEOP, you built it up but then you walk away in 2010. Do you regret it?
A. "I came to the point it was a matter of principle. For me it was the right thing. My fear was that it would be subsumed into a larger organisation. The Home Secretary said it would retain its identity, its profile and they would build on the success it had. Well, arrests have dropped in the last three years, the sign outside CEOP no longer says CEOP. It says National Crime Agency. Its profile has dropped. In NCA the C stands for crime. In CEOP the C always stood for children".
Never mind the beguiling Home Secretary and Gamble's paternal concern for children, the answer to the question is writ large in sentences 1 – 3. 'Subsumed into a larger organization' would mean, inevitably, that he would no longer be 'top banana', and since 'wherever egos Jim goes', Jim went.
The sheer arrogance of Jim Gamble is reflected in his conspicuous lack of professionalism toward fellow police officers and sardonic ungraciousness toward others. He and Gerry McCann no doubt got on very well together. After listening to what 'that woman on the radio' said earlier, Gamble expresses his considered opinion with respect to the proposed excavation of Praia da Luz requested by the Metropolitan Police:
"'Why now?' that's a question perhaps for the Portuguese police. These issues are being addressed because they weren't done at the time. The... the British authorities and the Metropolitan Police, who have brought a real professional focus to bear on this..."
Implying, of course, that the Portuguese police brought something other than 'a real professional focus' to bear. Gamble's insinuation is not only tactless, it is unwarranted, disrespectful and quite disgraceful. But no more so than his comment upon 'that woman's' (Sarah's) earlier point of view:
"I think it's misplaced and she's given us a lot of her opinions, so let me just give you my opinion of her call.
"I think it's spiteful, I think it's small-minded, I think she's a condescending individual that needs to reflect on the hurt that parents feel - not the issues in the margins". He later adds:
"So, I think she needs... she really needs to look in the mirror, and if I was her this morning, after listening to my interview be broadcast, I wouldn't want to look in the mirror, and, quite frankly, I wouldn't want to meet ordinary mums and dads in the street after what she just said, whether it's in Praia da Luz or where she lives".
Well, Jim, we are each of us entitled to hold an opinion about things, but is a concentrated character-assassination really worthy of a former Police supremo with residual ambitions? I think not. The true worth of Jim Gamble's advocacy of the McCanns soon emerges, as he continues:
"but the fact that a child was, you know, has... was... did go missing... is still missing, and that those parents are tortured..."
Let's get one thing out of the way shall we? The parents have been 'tortured', as Gamble puts it, for seven years. Their daughter Madeleine is dead for eternity.
Now, what was it he twice had to duck out of saying? 'has been abducted', 'was abducted' perhaps? What makes him so uncertain? Let's allow 'big Jim' to tell us himself:
"These are the parents of a child who is suspected to have been abducted".
(The boot's on back-to-front here isn't it? 'She was the child of parents who were suspected of hiding her body').
"The initial inquiry had led, you know, to... to no... no one being arrested, no one being held to account for this".
(Standing a bit too near the edge again here are we? The initial inquiry had led, you know, to... to the McCanns. That’s in the evidence the 'professionals' engaged in Operation Grange will have reviewed)
"I mean, this is about searching for a child who may well have been abducted and who may well have suffered, you know, harm including murder. And I really don't like to speculate about what may, or may not have happened, but had the investigation covered all these bases in the beginning we wouldn't be here now".
Ah Jim... Jim... No sooner do you attempt to feed the world bullshit than you give yourself the impossible task of polishing a turd.
"I mean, this is about searching for a child who may well have been abducted"
The child may have been abducted. On the other hand she may not. Small wonder then that Gamble declines to 'speculate about what may or may not have happened'.
You see, as Jim Gamble so eloquently explains, this is all about a child who may have been abducted OR...
Our Jim, for glaringly obvious reasons, refrains from articulating the alternative. The same alternative that was expressly 'shut out' from the (published) remit for Operation Grange. But since he has introduced the element of doubt, there can be nothing illegitimate about our clarifying the situation on his behalf.
Madeleine McCann may have been abducted, or something else must have happened to cause her disappearance. Now what could that be? There's no way she could have left the family's apartment on her own (we've been told that often enough) and yet she has not been seen in her parents' company, or anyone else's for that matter, for seven years. Someone must have taken her from 5A. But that's abduction isn't it? And she may not have been abducted (the admissible alternative to Jim Gamble's 'may well have been').
Notwithstanding his understandable reluctance to speculate, Jim Gamble nevertheless gives us, in the same breath:
"...but had the investigation covered all these bases in the beginning we wouldn't be here now".
All what bases? The ones pertaining to the search for a child who 'may have been abducted'. Which makes the question of abduction itself a base to be covered, then as now.
So you're thinking of pruning a tree in your garden which happens to overhang the fence with your neighbour (who is entitled to engage in deforestation on his own account), and considering which side of the fence to work on yourself. No contest. Especially when you weigh up the number of branches involved. No one makes unnecessary work for themselves do they? No. So the first base either the Portuguese or the Met Police should have covered, Jim, is whether Madeleine McCann was abducted or not – not who might have abducted her in the event that she 'may have been'.
Well the seemingly less professional Portuguese acted sensibly. The Met, on the other hand, are lumbered with pruning all those extra branches. Which means, Jim, that you, the McCanns, and the rest of us, will probably have to wait a lifetime after all for the 'closure' to which you refer, unless or until someone in authority decides to lift the taboo on the blindingly obvious, and permit examination of the forbidden alternative, the existence of which you yourself have admitted.
Care to take a gamble on how long that might take, Jim? It would make a change from taking the Michael for the past seven years.
Abdoctors 'R' Us – 02.06.2014
There has been a good deal of speculation recently regarding the identity and purpose of a male seen carrying a child through the streets of Praia da Luz on the night of 3 May, 2007. 'Smithman', so called, is variously supposed to have abducted Madeleine McCann from apartment 5A, buried her body, clothing or other artefact(s) within walking distance of said apartment, and disappeared without trace thereafter. The gentleman in question is known as 'Smithman', on account of having been witnessed that night by a family of holidaymakers, surname Smith, their sighting having since been ratified by members of both the original Portuguese inquiry into Madeleine's disappearance and Operation Grange, the latter day equivalent currently being pursued by Scotland Yard.
Apart from the basic contention that 'Smithman' was carrying Madeleine McCann off into the night, a contention made reasonable by the noted absence of the child shortly after the evil-doer was spotted some distance away, there are all sorts of problems attaching to the remaining suppositions concerning this individual. The child he was carrying was dressed in something other than Madeleine was described as wearing on the night of her disappearance; a stranger abductor would not bury a captive who died subsequently, much less return to anywhere near the scene of his crime in order to do so (Dump or conceal somewhere yes, bury no). Nor would they export from a stranger's premises a victim who was dead before they had even got there, or who died while they were present (cf. JonBenet Ramsey).
As for relevant artefacts, disposal of anything the criminal might have come into contact with personally would make sense from the standpoint of eradicating trace evidence of their crime, but, like the body, common sense alone dictates that any such intentional disposal would take place well away from the scene of the crime. What, therefore, the Operation Grange team expect, or even hope to find buried in the scrubburbs of Praia da Luz, in connection with a stranger abduction, is anybody's guess. And since they are likely to find nothing, then ‘nothing’ is the equally likely answer to the question of their expectations - in the context of a stranger abduction; a caveat to which we must inevitably return.
It is curious in retrospect (Indeed it was at the time} that while DCI Redwood was demonstrably keen to promote Janus of the Algarve, he paid no attention whatsoever to what the man was described by the Smiths as wearing – only what he was carrying. Taking the two aspects in tandem, his actions and clothing, promotes an altogether curious interpretation of events. Since we know from the diligence of observant others that Gerry McCann himself owned items of clothing remarkably similar to those reportedly worn by this individual, and given the pyjamas being worn by the child were not Madeleine’s (not that night at least), this coalescence suggests a very curious state of affairs: that Gerry McCann was out walking carrying someone else’s child (well he would hardly abduct his own daughter, surely).
Such an improbable scenario could be viewed as but one aspect of a complex deception, requiring, say, the temporary presence of a young girl other than Madeleine to fill a void created by the latter's absence. McCann confidante David Payne did not identify the 'three children' he last saw inside apartment 5A that inauspicious Thursday evening and, had Matthew Oldfield actually 'gone all the way', as he was invited to do by Kate McCann later that night, he would have expected to see three children asleep in the one room, not two, although there is always the possibility that bedclothes could have been just as effective a substitute (they almost worked for Kate after all).
As anyone with 'O' level Maths will recall, where you have an equation involving two unknowns, the effective way to proceed is to solve first the one, then substitute that value and solve the second. If we therefore overlook, for the moment, the incongruence of the child's pyjamas, and focus attention on the Gerry McCann look-alike, what might he have been engaged in other than abducting his own daughter or taking another's home for the night? (See the process files in connection with the original investigation for hypotheses).
Those of a charitable disposition would allow that Madeleine McCann might have suffered a fatal injury that Thursday evening. If so, who discovered her, after 9.15 p.m. as it must have been, for Gerry to decide on the spur of the moment that the first thing to do was remove the body, and only then to 'phone the emergency services - eventually? Those of a less charitable persuasion might rather conjecture that Madeleine's fatality occurred earlier than that very evening. In which case, and with immediate removal of the patient paramount, why leave it until the last moment to do so? And why risk someone like David Payne or Matthew Oldfield noticing that the boisterous three-year old in the flat was not Madeleine, or that for some reason she, unlike her siblings, appeared not to be breathing while asleep?
There are two explanations at least for this seemingly unlikely eventuality. One is totally pragmatic: the cleaner would not call again before the weekend. Another would appear more speculative, but for the fact that Gerry McCann himself has offered us confirmation.
The second explanation for the last-minute extrication of Madeleine McCann from 5A turns on the possibility that proceedings that evening, at least those as described, and including Matthew Oldfield's cold-feet call on the McCanns' apartment, were largely hokum; inventions intended to furnish a context within which an abduction might be postulated. As Gerry McCann once said, "Everyone is acting, some in big ways".
In a nutshell, the simplest explanation for Gerry McCann to have been wandering abroad that Thursday night is that, abduction having been scheduled for that very time, it was necessary only for Madeleine to vacate the premises before her disappearance was announced, and 'just before' was time enough. Exactly what she was wearing was only of importance afterwards.
Whatever one's present opinions of Operation Grange and its leadership, it is a safe bet that a team including homicide specialists would hardly need us 'armchair defectives' to suggest what a child killer might do with that child's body subsequently. If their expectations of the 'grassy knoll' at the outset were nil in relation to a stranger abduction it would beg the very obvious question, 'Why bother?' Unless, of course, their search for evidence in the area were already defined by the very context any incriminating discovery is most likely to indicate: that said evidence, if found within a stone's throw of apartment 5A, was most likely deposited by someone with a limited range of movement, e.g., someone who could not have wandered too far because they had afterwards to return whence they came.
Hot Tips Healy – 05.06.2014
It seems that scouts on behalf of Operation Grange have been paying attention, possibly too much attention, to whispers in the grass regarding the fate of Madeleine McCann. Procedures to date in the scrubland of the Praia da Luz outback however provoke the question of why, before resorting to ground penetrating radar, they appear not to have first turned their antennae toward the McCanns themselves; they who earlier lost no opportunity to 'get information into the investigation'. If Operation Grange is only ever going to nurture a cuckoo in the belief that the little chick was abducted, they'll never arrive at the genuine explanation for its puzzling absence or realize the whereabouts of its corpse. There's always a reason why something doesn't look right. Usually it's because it isn't. So why not simply listen to what Messrs. Healy and McCann have had to say in the past?
GM: "No, I mean, that, I think, was absolutely certain but, you know, before you raised the alarm, we double and treble checked, but we certainly had no doubt in our mind that she'd been taken".
"We truly believe that a member of the public holds the information to unlock where Madeleine is being kept".
"Everyone is acting, some in big ways".
KM: "I think she's probably in someone's house".
"We certainly have no plans at all to go home with Madeleine".
"...There's no evidence at all to suggest that Madeleine's come to any harm".
"I mean the last thing I want obviously is to cause any extra further harm to Madeleine..."
GM: "I glanced (at the photographic age-progression image). It's a different child and that is really important. It's not the four-year-old, or nearly four-year-old little girl, and it's hard, because, in our memory, we remember her the last day she was in Portugal and what she looked like".
"It's really important we get this image out, as far and as wide as possible. Because ultimately, we don't know where Madeleine is, and if she was moved out of Portugal quickly, she could be anywhere".
"That's the... I think, the worst thing of the lot, that, momentary pause I had at that door, that's actually what it felt like. You know, a few minutes before our world was essentially shattered and probably, three or four minutes before Madeleine was taken".
"Kate and I strongly believe that Madeleine was alive when she was taken from the apartment. Obviously we don't know what happened to her afterwards..."
"The experts are saying there is a strong chance Madeleine is out there but it's back to what we need to do which is address the situation: Who took her? Is that person alone? If they are alone they don't live in isolation, they live in a town, in a holiday resort, they interact with people and they might have accomplices we don't know what motivates them".
KM: "Even people who are classed as loners are known as the loner down the road".
Need we go on?
And if you are not entirely sure you are digging in the right place, then perhaps instead of looking for Madeleine's pyjamas, as some have suggested, you might be better advised to look more closely at them.
Action Stations – 09.06.2014
Actions speak louder than words they say, and since the 'big dig' began in Praia da Luz very few of the latter have been exchanged between members of the investigating teams and the circling press pack waiting to be tossed a morsel or two. DCI Redwood is credited with having said 'Good morning' at least, but that's almost as far as it goes. So the world is left to ponder the significance of what might be glimpsed through a telephoto lens. Until now. Now we know that earthworks soon to be completed at 'the snail' are shortly to be followed by a similar examination of terrain somewhere nearer Lagos or, if the second site is actually to the west and not the east, toward Burgau. Right or left, it scarcely matters. That there is to be a second 'dig', and outside of town, is information aplenty.
Since the immediate objectives of Scotland Yard's forensic archaeology have not so far been publicly announced, onlookers of all persuasions have defaulted to the understandably obvious conclusion that the searches currently being undertaken were planned, in the expectation, or hope at least, of finding either the body of Madeleine McCann or else some artefact or other that would illuminate more clearly the nature of the crime committed against her. And with nothing explicitly forthcoming from the investigative team, it has also been reasonably assumed that the much discussed 'Smith sighting' constituted a background to this practical and highly visible endeavour. But even with attention directed at just the one site in the first instance, any hypothetical connection between discoveries, of whatever complexion, and the notional abduction of a minor from the nearby holiday complex, was always likely to be theoretically unstable.
Even the casual observer would quickly notice that a local burial per se cannot sensibly be attributed to an opportunist child abductor or, for that matter, to one whose plans were laid in advance. Given the anticipated exhumation of 'items of interest' in association with an eye witness sighting (of what might have been abduction in progress), the most obvious and impenetrable obstacle to their union is that a man was seen carrying a child, but not a shovel. Presumably therefore the hopes of DCI Redwood and his colleagues were all along pinned on discovering clues lying very near the surface, which, after an interval of seven years, would rule out a discernible body of any description. Either that or 'Smithman' had a confederate whom he could trust to dig a hole for him somewhere.
Interest in one or other plot of vacant land within Praia da Luz cannot therefore follow, even on common sense grounds, from any acceptance that the Smith sighting genuinely represented a criminal undertaking. Perhaps, therefore, something by way of specific information, from whichever quarter, has led Scotland Yard to focus their attention on the area they have so far been exploring. With the announcement of a second dig out of town however, comes a clearer understanding of what is, or is not, at the back of this latest initiative on the part of Operation Grange.
Others with considerably more experience of criminal types and behaviours than I have argued elsewhere that selection of local sites for retrospective ground searches conforms to the premise that anyone with an urgent need to dispose of a victim’s body is likely to do so within a reasonable distance of their own domicile, place of work, or other familiar locus with which they are particularly comfortable or associated. In the case of Madeleine McCann, even if one were to suggest the possibility that her assailant was a temporary resident within the Ocean Club resort, say, similar considerations would apply. In addition, the need to minimise the duration of any absence from base, so to speak, would further determine that victim disposal should take place within a comfortable walking distance, there and back. And that, in a nutshell, tells us exactly what DCI Redwood and company would rather not.
Acknowledgement that a second dig is to be located several kilometres to the east, west, north or south of the supposed crime scene indicates immediately that Scotland Yard are neither acting on a tip off nor entertaining the possibility of the parents' involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.
The surmise that Myra Hindley and Ian Brady's victims were buried somewhere on Saddleworth moor did not itself kick-start a directed search (the moors represent a very large tract of land). Fortunately the police were in possession of indicative location photographs. Similarly, a hint to the effect that Madeleine McCann might be buried on wasteland in or near Praia da Luz is simply not specific enough to justify the targeted operation we see unfolding before us. Nevertheless, pursuant upon the hypothesis, however outlandish, that Madeleine was abducted dead or alive by one or more reasonably local Algarve residents, both 'the snail' (so called) and the locus of the forthcoming fieldwork very probably represent candidate disposal areas, being close to the residences/places of employment of certain supposedly shady characters, whom the Metropolitan Police would wish now to question in connection with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann (assuming of course that they themselves are still alive and haven't fallen under a bus or a tractor in the meantime).
If, therefore, Scotland Yard's spadework on this case should continue at a site some kilometres distant from the Ocean Club, it is more than a fair indication that those thought to have been responsible for Madeleine's exodus were not themselves resident there at the time (nobody knowingly carries a corpse for miles do they?) and that blame awaits whichever local(s) might best fit the bill. If so, the 'bill' will have a very tough time making the fit.
Burglars who steal nothing of value are either beyond stupid or on another mission altogether. Drug dealing vagabonds, even those in the Portuguese Algarve, are extremely unlikely to fund their habits by entering captives into mini-slave auctions (that scenario belongs only in a Liam Neeson movie) and the excavators of Scotland Yard are clearly not looking for 'live' evidence. It has however been mooted abroad that an intruder intent on theft might have been interrupted, panicked, and unintentionally killed a child witness to their lesser crime, taking the body for a hike immediately afterwards – one that is now conjectured to have taken a good deal of time and several kilometres to complete.
That proposal is absurd - less credible even than the idea that the 'Spring-heeled Jack' of Praia da Luz actually disturbed a sleeping Madeleine in the first instance. Gerry McCann failed to do so when he noisily opened the front door to his own apartment and before gazing down upon three children, who were all still asleep. They were just as unruffled by Matthew Oldfield's later intrusion by all accounts. Even if Gerry too had crept in through the back door after all, he still flushed the toilet, yet roused no one. Or perhaps Madeleine followed him toward the patio in silence and Gerry just did not see her behind the heavy drapes as he turned to slide the door shut. Then, in sheer frustration, Madeleine climbed upon the sofa on hearing her father's voice project from across the road – and fell to her doom, invisible to Oldfield and burglars alike and quite unable to witness anything or anyone thereafter.
The only realistic role that any underworld character could conceivably have played in Praia da Luz that Thursday night, May 3rd, would not have involved stealing, but receiving, from someone dressed more like a British tourist than a local itinerant, if all of the details of the Smith sighting are taken into account.
But they have not been, have they? Decapitated e-fits have been transplanted onto football club away strips/promotional wear (take your pick) as most likely worn by refuse collectors (who thoughtfully removed from 5A a corpse they could not find in the dark). Did someone else point the way then, or was it all another Tim Burton production? ("Can I please speak to the wardrobe department"?).
Killing Time – 13.06.2014
FROM SKY News correspondent Tom Parmenter, with a ringside seat at the oracle, Praia da Luz, we first heard that Scotland Yard had 'refused to reveal what intelligence led them to the search areas or to give any updates on their progress.'
The progressive geophysical distribution of the different dig sites itself indicated that 'intelligence' was not the trigger for the excavations' taking place at all.
We have since been told that:
'This is the police moving through their investigation, almost perhaps going through a list, ticking them off as they go through. What that list is based on...the intelligence that they have gathered over the course of the past year, or so, looking again into this disappearance of Madeleine McCann'.
What that list is based on...God only knows.
However, now that said activity has been officially wound up, for the time being at least, we have an official explanation for it at least:
"The decision to search the 'horse shoe' shaped piece of waste ground to the west of Praia da Luz and other sites was as a specific result of the UK’s investigation work to date".
So not based upon 'intelligence' per se, as an anonymous local resident clearly guessed and wryly observed (in red paint).
We have also been treated to another deluge of numbers, no doubt for the joint purposes of reassurance and statistical comparison (see: All The Premier's Men – McCannfiles, 29.4.2014). Most significantly however we are told in conclusion that:
"There is still a substantial amount of work yet to be completed in the coming weeks and months, which again should be viewed as no more than normal operational activity in a case of this size and complexity. This recent work is part of ensuring that all lines of enquiry are progressed in a systematic manner and covers just the one hypothesis that she was killed and buried locally".
Jolly good. Operational standards were apparently observed in carrying out the tasks in question, so everyone could go home happy, and those with unwavering faith in the system could be satisfied that 'part one' was accomplished satisfactorily and in complete accordance with expectations (as if the crime were committed in the UK).
Unfortunately the 'Met' have just dropped a stitch, and now there is every chance that, three years and a few million drinking vouchers later, Operation Grange will soon assume the same status as Operation Market Garden – a heroic failure (something the British are lamentably better at than football).
'How is it possible to be so pessimistic?' you ask.
Well let's examine the announcement that all this digging, the exact purpose of which was kept a closely guarded secret at the outset, covered 'just the one hypothesis', that Madeleine McCann 'was killed and buried locally'.
With no specific purpose, only optimistic expectation, the gamble was clearly that Madeleine's remains, or something of significant relevance to her disappearance, would be discovered, either of which outcomes could be used in support of the 'one hypothesis' in question. Otherwise what, exactly, does Scotland Yard base its hypothesis on? The McCanns have been quick to publish (via their spokesperson, which makes it all the more solid) a 'sigh of relief' statement on learning that the BEF is returning home:
"We are very pleased that significant activity has taken place in Praia da Luz over the last 10 days with police officers and support teams from the UK working closely with the Policia Judiciaria and the Guarda Nacional Republicana.
"We are further encouraged that despite the intensive searches, no trace of Madeleine has been found and this reinforces our belief that she could still be alive".
We are further encouraged that despite the intensive searches, no trace of Madeleine has been found.
What parent in the world could possibly be 'encouraged' to learn that no trace of their missing child had been found? (Oh, hang on. There is one couple...).
(Does anyone remember reading a similarly gushing 'official statement' along the lines of, "We are very pleased that significant activity is to take place in Praia da Luz over the coming days with police officers and support teams from the UK working closely with the Policia Judiciaria and the Guarda Nacional Republicana"? I think I missed it.)
And that, dear reader, is where the absurdity of Operation Grange 'doing exactly what it says on the remit tin' is revealed, the McCann reaction to the expedition's failure being the 'shadow' that, although shy in terms of dimensionality, reflects the reality of the situation nevertheless.
With the revelatory discovery of 'Tannerman', Jane Tanner was exonerated and abduction became feasible at least. It took the McCanns a little while to figure out that Rip Van Tannerman's coming forward after six years was about as likely as Madeleine herself doing so but, following a modest hiatus, they soon reverted to plan A, confident that there would be no repercussions from 'The Yard'. Their insecurity over the more recent evidential escapade will have stemmed not from their knowing the intentions of the investigators, but from their not knowing what might have been deposited in or around Praia da Luz by others on their behalf, whether explicitly sanctioned or otherwise (it only takes one loose canon). But now they have been given the 'all clear' from 'the Yard' once more and it's 'business as usual' thank you very much.
That is not the crux of the matter however.
Despite DCI Redwood's apparent enthusiasm, the McCanns, and, it must be said, a great many others, couldn't quite bring themselves to accept 'Tannerman' into evidence, so to speak. All the while he might prove somewhat reluctant, shall we say, to answer a court subpoena, one could reasonably proceed on the basis of less than absolute confidence in this 'evidence' that Jane Tanner was genuinely mistaken. Now too, and no doubt to the Yard's chagrin, there is (you've guessed it) 'no evidence that Madeleine has come to any harm'.
This is not to say that DCI Redwood and co. are deliberately setting out to do the McCanns a favour, but the inevitable result of their misguided approach to the whole puzzle is exactly that.
With no evidence to speak of in support of this one hypothesis (that Madeleine was killed and buried locally) Operation Grange have now saddled themselves with some unwanted luggage, in that they have now to continue 'ensuring that all lines of enquiry are progressed in a systematic manner' and in relation to other hypotheses, however implausible.
All lines of enquiry. Which must surely include the possibility that Madeleine was killed locally but buried at a more distant location, or removed (kicking and screaming?) some distance, then killed and buried. How are they going to test that one – excavate the whole of Portugal? (there is a veritable raft of complications attaching to any idea that Madeleine was extracted from apartment 5A then buried near or far – enough to warrant a separate discussion). Perhaps she was not killed at all, but sold to some passing Sheikh to feature in a video production (like the one entertained by Leicester Police, even though it existed before Madeleine's supposed abduction). There is no evidence that Madeleine has come to harm remember.
In adopting the strategy they have, the Metropolitan Police have opened up two very serious areas of concern. First, with their hopes dashed and nothing now to evidence the fact that Madeleine McCann is dead, on what did they base their supposition of her death in the first place? Second 'all lines of enquiry' being opened up once more, exactly how many of them can Operation Grange exhaust before DCI Redwood, and no doubt various of his more experienced 'Maddie' team members, retires?
As to the first of these questions, there is of course one very obvious answer, but this being 'multiple-choice' it is extremely unlikely that the Grange strategists would want to go there, any more than did Jim Gamble during his recent interview (The JVS Show phone-in on BBC Three Counties Radio, 15 May). Ironically, yet predictably, their failure to uncover confirmatory evidence for their own act of faith has dropped them straight into the bucket they were instructed to avoid at the outset. The bottom line is that Operation Grange, having ploughed the soil, is now between a rock and a hard place, irrespective of whatever activity they might have planned for the future.
At this stage it looks very much as if the operation is destined to conclude, before the year is out and Redwood retired, that Madeleine McCann is simply 'missing, whereabouts unknown' (and don't you dare accuse us of a 'whitewash', because all of the investigative procedures were followed to the letter and 'best practice' observed in accordance with standards as laid down – we have the statistics to prove it).
The Art of the Possible – 25.06.2014
From the report of Mark Harrison, NPIA (submitted 23.7.2007, restricted 21.8.2007)
Processo Vol IX Pages 2224 to 2234
"The apartment in which the McCann's had stayed may present further opportunities to search. The use of a specialist EVRD (Enhanced Victim Recovery Dog) and CSI dog (Human blood detecting dog) could potentially indicate on whether Madeline's (sic) blood is in the property or the scent of a dead body is present. In relation to the dead body scent if such a scent is indicated by the EVRD and no body is located it may suggest that a body has been in the property but removed. This search process could be repeated in all the apartments that were occupied by the friends holidaying with the McCann's".
From the witness testimony of Mark Harrison
LEICESTERSHIRE POLICE SQUAD
Occupation: Police Agent
(Cartas Rogarorias 3, pages 19-20)
"This statement, consisting of two pages, each signed by me, is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I make it knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have wilfully stated in it anything I know to be false or do not believe to be true".
Date: 2 May 2008
4. In this particular case, based on the information and on your experience, what is the possibility that a cadaver was concealed?
"To this question I am not in possession of any information or sufficient knowledge to comment".
In late July 2007 therefore, and on the basis of his personal knowledge and experience, Mark Harrison advises the PJ to deploy an EVRD as "If (such a) scent is indicated by the EVRD and no body is located it may suggest that a body has been in the property but removed".
The removal of a body from the apartment therefore becomes a possibility.
Dog handler Martin Grime's searches were conducted and concluded that first week in August, 2007. Subsequently Mark Harrison personally attended a meeting at which the filmed outcomes were reviewed by investigators, as he stated in his evidence given in answer to question 3 of the same Rogatory request:
"After the conclusion of the searches, a meeting in the Portimao offices of the PJ took place in the office of Goncalo AMARAL and those present included Guilermino ENCARNACO, an official representative from the Leicestershire police, Martin GRIME and myself. During the meeting were exhibited videos with the details of search activities including the sniffer dogs led by Martin GRIME. GRIME commented on the actions of the dogs and added that no confirmed evidence or information could be taken from the alerts by the dogs but needed to be confirmed with physical evidence".
All parties in attendance at that meeting, including Mark Harrison, were afterwards in possession of unconfirmed information. They were not entirely bereft of information however.
And yet, within a matter of months, Mark Harrison feels he has to answer question 4 with: 'To this question I am not in possession of any information or sufficient knowledge to comment'.
I beg to differ. The question did not call for a definitive conclusion but an opinion as regards a 'possibility', the same possibility in fact that encouraged Mark Harrison to propose the deployment of an EVRD in the first instance. Furthermore the possibility arises as a direct consequence of the behaviour of the EVRD. 'Confirmation', resulting from the subsequent activities of the CSI dog, merely raises the status of likelihood, from possible to probable/certain depending upon the outcome of forensic examination of any residues retrieved from the scene.
Why did Mark Harrison become evasive in the interim? Did the removal of a corpse from apartment 5A cease to be a possibility for some reason?
The initial report by the FSS (6 September 2007) concerning samples submitted for analysis following the CSI dog's indication toward the tiled floor area of apartment 5A were largely inconclusive:
"An attempt to obtain an LCN DNA result from any cellular material on the swabs from the tiles 286/2007 CR/L 5 stains 1, 2 & 3 were unsuccessful in that no DNA profile was obtained.
"An LCN DNA result which contained too little information for meaningful interpretation was obtained from cellular material on the swab from the tile (286/2007 CR/L 9).
"Low level LCN DNA results were obtained from cellular material on the swabs from the tiles (286/2007 CR/L 4 & 12). In my opinion there is no evidence to support the view that anyone in the McCann Family contributed DNA to these results.
"An attempt to obtain a DNA profile from any cellular material recovered from a further area on tile 2 and two areas on tile 3 (286/2007-CRL(3) were unsuccessful in that no profiles were obtained".
Taken as a whole these outcomes do not, in themselves, discount the possibility that a body was removed from apartment 5A (i.e., concealed elsewhere). Hence Mark Harrison's 'information', albeit unconfirmed, continued to suggest the possibility that a body had at some time been present in the apartment.
The second report to come from the FSS (18.6.2008) was, if anything, even more equivocal. As author John Robert Lowe concluded:
"In my opinion, the laboratory results that were attained did not help to clarify whether or not the DNA results obtained within the scope of this case were from Madeleine McCann".
The original possibility, although unsubstantiated, remained unresolved therefore. It was never dismissed, either by dint of the FSS results or by Harrison himself, although he later elected to avoid it for some reason.
The Gatekeeper – 26.06.2014
Perhaps it owes something to the fascination of novelty, but there is a distinct tendency for us to view the most recent solution to a problem, be it ours or someone else’s, as correct, or at least more likely to be so than its predecessors, an experience reflected to some degree in product evolution. The McCann case is a repository of so many unsolved problems as to keep criminologists engaged for a very long time to come, but one which, after seven years, has continued to vex a good many, is quite how a couple of hitherto obscure middle-class professionals have been able to count on the unwavering support of three prime ministers to date, despite the Foreign Office being cautioned very early on as to the inexactitudes of early accounts of the drama unfolding in Portugal.
The situation has seemed almost unfathomable, and many a discussion has turned on the nature of who besides the McCanns might be the beneficiary of government protection in this particular context, or what manner of leverage they themselves might have over Downing Street, what they might know, and about whom, that is, in effect, immunising them against further investigation. (We've all been there). Suddenly, with announcement of the verdicts from the 'phone hacking trial', yet another explanation suggests itself. Novel to a degree, although not necessarily correct, it involves a pawn that made it all the way across to the other side, became a queen and changed the game.
In corporate life there is an entity as powerful almost as the CEO. They do not sit on the board, but usually in a separate office just outside the one with the big desk. Nowadays they are called PAs (they used to be called secretaries). I have known one or two in my time that were models of efficiency – conscientious, discrete and charming. I have also attempted (and failed) on occasion to 'get past' the other kind; the type that see their role more as a filtration unit than a conduit, and who accrue unto themselves an overly significant decision making function. (They can also be seen to pursue a course of horizontal promotion and sometimes even succeed in marrying the object of their admiration).
These personnel, usually but not invariably women, are the latter-day equivalent of a gate-keeper. If they are not prepared to lower the drawbridge, you do not get to speak to the king. (An example of this type can be seen in a classic episode from the Redford/Hoffman film All the President’s Men).
But this is about the McCanns and a queen is it not? Indeed so. Not the one married to the king who sat at the big desk, but the proxy queen who sat in the office just outside; the one who became so adept at making corporate decisions she was eventually allowed to sit at the big desk when the king was away, to the extent that the king could choose to be away almost as often as he liked.
The post medical careers of the McCanns have been ones of relentless self-aggrandisement, such that we have all been seduced into believing they had, and continue to have, the ear, not just of senior government officials but the prime minister of the day, whoever that might be. Reality is depicted elsewhere however. The true constant in the equation of Downing Street with a pair of hapless Rothley residents is the recently exculpated Rebekah Brooks.
In the immediate aftermath of her recently concluded trial, where Ms Brooks shared centre stage with her former lover and editorial colleague Andy Coulson, those of us largely unfamiliar with the inner workings of Fleet Street (or Thomas More Square in her case) have learned just how remorselessly unfeeling were the workings of the human press apparatus under their stewardship. Not that they weren't beforehand, but these two clearly took the art of cynicism to dizzying new heights.
Well we're not there just yet but, joining a few dots, we have the News of the World and the Sun, both News International titles, on the (McCann) case from the off, and with Rebekah Brooks, formerly of the first club, now managing the latter. It was she who was 'pally' with prime minister Tony Blair, not Gerry McCann, and although she did not care for him quite as much, she was happy to do business with his successor Gordon Brown also, at a time when the Sun was still shining both in and on the Labour hemisphere (they were in government after all).
Rebekah Brooks gives the impression of being an 'ask no questions' individual when it comes to sources of compromising knowledge, of the sort that came her way during her time at the News of the World and after. She was once, for instance, happy to approve a disbursement of £40k in cash without even bothering to inquire as to who, exactly, were to be the beneficiaries. Hence, and quite independent of any complicity in illegal practices of which she has only very recently been found not guilty, she would unquestionably have garnered some very spicy news over time concerning those senior politicians whom she once faced across the dinner table at No. 10.
It has been said of Jack Straw (Home Secretary, then Foreign Secretary in the Blair administration and Lord Chancellor under Gordon Brown) that 'he knew where all the bodies were buried'. Gerry McCann possibly knows the whereabouts of one. Rebekah Brooks on the other hand...
One need only consider her behaviour toward her 'friend and neighbour' David Cameron, to appreciate that Brooks, a hypocrite of the first water, is without moral principle and totally unscrupulous. Being found 'not guilty' at the Old Bailey recently does not define her as the epitome of innocence. Or do we imagine that the Prime Minister's immediate intercession with Scotland Yard in answer to the McCanns' very public request (via the Sun) for an independent review of their case was the direct result of a sudden urge of latent sympathy? That development was not achieved because of something Gerry McCann knew, but because of something Rebekah Brooks threatened to do.
What this episode illustrates perfectly clearly is that, from the perspective of an incumbent Prime Minister, there is indeed something more significant than the McCanns of Rothley: self-preservation.
The 'review' gambit was a win-win for the McCanns and for News International. A UK based undertaking driven by the same 'evidence' that caused the Portuguese to archive the original inquiry, would most probably arrive at the same place, with the Sun first in the queue to make the eventual (and loud) proclamation on the family's behalf that there was 'no evidence that Madeleine is dead and no evidence to implicate them in her d...d...disappearance'. In the meantime of course the story of 'the search', much as the couple's fund, would run continuously, with Madeleine remaining, in effect, the cash cow in both cases.
Perhaps, therefore, the fact that the McCanns dodged a bullet in the first instance had rather less to do with their own low-level scheming and more with the fact that, in their apparent victimhood, there existed a saga that could be written about for days/weeks/months/years to come. And if Rebekah Brooks was capable of waving the red flag of self-preservation in front of David Cameron, what might she have been capable of as regards Gordon Brown, someone of whom she was altogether less fond?
This is all speculation of course, but another clue as to the Brooks web of intrigue exists in the fly that got away.
Nick Davies' very thorough review of the now concluded Brooks/Coulson case for the Guardian includes the following observation:
"The judge agreed to delay the trial for seven weeks while she instructed Laidlaw – and that meant Coulson lost his barrister, Clare Montgomery QC, because the new timing overlapped with a case she had to conduct in Hong Kong".
Clare Montgomery QC. Now there's a name to conjour with. Clare Montgomery, of Matrix Chambers? The firm co-founded by Cherie Booth QC (aka Cherie Blair)? And with handy specialisms in criminal, regulatory and fraud law? Andy Coulson probably didn't get to go riding with Rebekah's Chipping Norton set (they would only have played away fixtures) so who, one wonders, might have put Ms Montgomery forward as his prospective counsel, and might we perhaps be reading her name in the papers again before too long?
The Little Shop of Horrors – 04.07.2014
I wonder if the account handlers at Operation Grange (the ones who had their wanted posters designed and printed by the SUN) invited the Plain English Campaign to set out their 250 item questionnaire intended for suspects in the new Madeleine McCann investigation? Did the headings make it any easier to complete? (Personal Data/Criminal Record – 'DO NOT include driving offences, but DO include any murders within the last ten years').
We have long known that the DCI Redwood's crusade is unique in drawing together information from diverse sources, including that of private investigators Metodo 3 (a Scotland Yard 'snatch squad' was pictured wheeling several boxes of files across a Barcelona street as I recall). According to some it was information contained in one of these very boxes which lay at the heart of recent requests to the Portuguese authorities for analytical assistance in connection with hairs/DNA recovered from someone's sofa. Fair enough. Lateral thinking is no bad thing and 'relevance' must surely be determined by the purpose of the investigation, not the origin of data necessarily. Except that 'Lucky Dip' selections from the box marked PJ seem consistently to be of the sherbet lemon variety, i.e., things 'not done at the time', in the opinion of insider (now outsider) Jim Gamble.
That the investigation code-named Operation Grange appears to be "back where it was seven years ago" renders a recent release of information doubly puzzling. We are told, reliably or otherwise, of an intended visit to retail premises of some kind, to be made 'by hook or by crook' and with a sniffer dog or two. The venue is described as somewhere a suspect was seen in the company of a young girl shortly after Madeleine McCann's supposed abduction. If the earlier excavations of Praia da Luz by Grange team members were based on 'intelligence' then this proposed sweep must be the result of a 'tea leaf' reading (well they are on the trail of burglars after all).
Going back seven years, as a Portuguese commentator and others have intimated we might, British search expert Mark Harrison (formerly of NPIA, now a police Commander in Australia) was directly involved in the investigation at that time. This is a man whose knowledge and experience allowed him to 'cut to the chase', literally as well as figuratively, and his report made very clear recommendations as to where searches might most profitably be directed. He proposed separate itineraries to be pursued under each of two scenarios, one of these being if Madeleine should have been killed and buried locally – the very same hypothesis that has been seen to drive the diggings and doings of Operation Grange in Praia da Luz of late.
Given that the analysts of Operation Grange have such information at their very finger-tips, how many of Mark Harrison’s recommended search sites have the more recent endeavours of Scotland Yard addressed?
None! Nor is the petrol station/all night 'deli'/beach stall, or whatever, among them.
So why is Scotland Yard intent on taking the dogs for a walk there? Puzzle number one. Puzzle number two is the reported justification that an anonymous suspect was seen there with a little girl. Presumably whoever 'shopped' him told police they had seen him with a child, not carrying a corpse.
Well, maybe Madeleine, if it were she, went in alive and emerged dead some time afterwards. The dogs will tell us in any case, and I'm sure police canines from Wales are as trustworthy, credible and reliable as any others. But wait a minute! Even if Madeleine died, or was killed on the premises, and an enthusiastic cadaver dog behaves like it’s auditioning for Simon Cowell as a result, if she walked into the shop, then she was alive at the time and could not have been fatally 'larruped' by a burglar inside 5A earlier on. (Good dog, Rover! You're a chip off the old 'Eddie' block).
Are DCI Redwood and colleagues hedging their bets here, as in 'Madeleine McCann may or may not be alive', 'may or may not have been abducted', 'may or may not have died in 5A'? Because the moment they put their faith in Turner and Hooch, or whoever's dog gets to give the signal in Portugal now, is the moment they have to confront the earlier alerts of Martin Grime's cadaver dog, Eddie.
No one is known to have died inside apartment 5A prior to the McCanns' occupancy. However, in the event of a non-fatal burglary/abduction, obstinate refusal to accept any implied association between a suggestion of death on the one hand and the actuality of a sole missing person on the other, results in there being only one, altogether bizarre possibility remaining: that someone introduced a corpse into the McCanns' apartment. On their way back from the shop perhaps.
Shutter Island – 08.08.2014
Madeleine McCann was reported missing by her parents on the evening of 3 May 2007. She had been left inside apartment 5A, the external configuration of which was still fresh in the memory of the McCanns' holiday-making associate Rachael Oldfield (nee Mampilly) just a fortnight later when, on 15 May, she told police:
'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.'
There are no 'ifs', 'ands' or 'buts' here. The McCanns' patio door, whether locked, unlocked, open or closed at night lay behind a metal shutter, unambiguously in the 'down' position. The witness does not specify whether the McCanns' necessary raising of the patio shutter was accomplished from inside or outside the apartment. In all their accounts of how they, and presumably their daughter's abductor, came and went that evening, 3 May, the McCanns have not once referred to the status of this shutter, only the door.
If we append to Rachel Oldfield's observation those which Kate McCann makes in her book when failing to explain quite why the window to their children's bedroom should have been opened (p.130-1), it becomes clear that, by all accounts, Madeleine McCann was inside a sealed unit. The front door was locked, all the windows were closed and, as both of the holiday party's written timelines confirm, in upper case for emphasis, all the shutters were down, including, clearly, those shielding the patio door.
Whether attached to the front, back or side of apartment 5A, the shutters, all of them, worked in exactly the same way, properly operated from inside via a winding mechanism. A filmed illustration of what happens when such shutters are raised from outside, 'against the grain' so to speak, demonstrates that they can only be elevated to about 75% of their full extent before becoming stuck. Significantly, since this physical intrusion is made without the collaboration of the interior aspect of the apparatus, in order for the shutter to remain open it has to be held aloft by whoever manhandles it into that position. Without such extraneous physical support it just comes crashing down again.
The shutters obscuring the McCann's patio door (there were in fact two of them, side by side) were more than twice the size of those protecting the windows, and therefore more than twice as heavy. Artificially raising either one three quarters of the way off the floor, and keeping it there, would require an adult’s strength. Matthew Oldfield, for instance, could have managed it, and, if the door beyond were indeed open already, he would not have had to prop the shutter up with one hand like Atlas while sliding the door back with the other. But neither his arms, nor those of any intending abductor, are infinitely long.
In order to progress from patio to bedroom, the visitor, having coerced the shutter upwards, now has to release it again, either with a loud bang as it simply plummets to the floor, or by gingerly lowering it behind him somehow, only to raise it again, mechanically this time, once inside the apartment.
Nowhere has Matthew Oldfield described negotiating such an obstacle, whether on his way into or out of the McCann's apartment on the one occasion he offered to check on their children. Rather more significantly, had a child abductor preceded or followed him through that same patio door they too would have had to deal with the shutter, unless either Gerry McCann or Oldfield, in sequence, deliberately left it in the raised position when previously exiting the apartment. In which case, bearing in mind there is a child-in-arms at this point, the shutter would have remained open thereafter, unexpectedly so perhaps. Yet no mention has ever been made of any such startling discovery, suggesting that completely unimpeded access to the rear of apartment 5A came as no surprise to the returning adults.
Gerry McCann has offered police two quite different accounts of how he entered and left 5A around 9.00 p.m. that night. Version one has him going in through the locked front door then simply out again (the patio does not explicitly enter the equation and Matthew Oldfield may therefore have had to address the obstacle of the shutter subsequently). Version two on the other hand sees Gerry going in and out via the patio which, for reasons just discussed, would mean either that he must have first raised the shutter from outside, which he has never described doing, or the McCanns had left the patio shutter in the raised position in the first place, contrary to what Rachael Oldfield has said in evidence. If they left their apartment via the rear initially, as they claim, then they must have left the patio door unlocked and the shutter up, since they cannot have locked the door nor closed the shutter behind them.
Thursday appears to have been exceptional in any event, as Kate McCann had at last decided upon an extraordinary course of action; one that offered her daughter a means of escape in the event of an emergency, as she mentioned to her friends at dinner that night, not at the commencement of their holiday you notice, but very shortly before it was due to end.
Unless he already knew what would afterwards take place (in terms of visitors, checks, or abductions even) there should have been no reason at all for Gerry McCann to have left the apartment completely unsecured in exiting though the rear. Nor should Matthew Oldfield have done so on the McCanns' behalf, unless of course he merely left the situation as he had previously found it. On 10 May Gerry McCann told police that although he was certain the front door was closed it was unlikely to have been locked, because they left through the back door. On this evidence apartment 5A was literally open to all comers, something it never was on any other occasion during the holiday, as the McCanns would customarily lock the patio door from inside before leaving via the front door which they, or the last person to leave at least (usually Gerry) locked behind them.
For anyone entering the McCann's apartment from the rear, a lowered patio shutter would have posed unavoidable logistical problems. These would, in turn, have led inevitably to hand and finger prints around the shutter base and on the glass sliding door which, although unlocked, would still have to be slid back to allow entry (as David Payne discovered, or so we are told).
Returning then to the unequivocal evidence offered by Rachael Oldfield on 15 May, and confirmed (twice) by the entire Tapas group's written timelines, either they were all lying in saying that ALL the shutters were down, or any investigation intent on identifying who it was took Madeleine McCann from apartment 5A (Operation Grange, for example) should begin (and quite possibly end), with the keyholders.
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