BBC Radio 4 - 24.04.2008
transcrit par Shesaidwhat et Nigel Moore
(music playing: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Steve Kingstone : With it’s spring flowers in bloom, the tennis courts booked out, and holiday makers unwinding besides two swimming pools, the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz looks much as it must have done a year ago, when two doctors from Leicestershire arrived here with their three small children. To one side of the main pool is the tapas restaurant where Gerry and Kate McCann sat down to dinner with their friends on the night of May 3rd. On the other side about 50 metres away the ground floor corner apartment, where their children, Sean, Amelie and Madeleine had been sleeping. What followed would become one of the most extraordinary stories of recent times. (1)
Archive Kate MC : Madeleine is a beautiful, bright, funny and caring little girl. Please, please do not hurt her, please give our little girl back.
Archive news : Today, Kate and Gerry have both been declared arguidos with no bail conditions.
Archive Gerald MC : We have played no part in the disappearance of our lovely daughter Madeleine.
SK : It sometimes feels as if we have heard everything about the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and yet ultimately, no, nothing. But there are signs that the police investigation are reaching a conclusion. In this programme we’ll hear insights from Portugal; an exclusive interview with Gerry McCann; and for the very first time we will hear from Rachael Oldfield, one of the seven friends who was dining with Madeleine’s parents on the night of her disappearance.
Archive KMC : Gerry and I would just like to express our sincere gratitude (voice breaks, becomes tearful) and thanks to everybody, but particularly the local community here, who have offered so much support. Please continue to pray for Madeleine. She’s lovely.
SK : For the Portuguese police, what had begun as a search for a missing child was, within 24 hours, being treated as a case of abduction. But a chaotic first news conference on the Monday, four days after Madeleine’s disappearance, I put a question to the spokesman for the enquiry, Chief Inspector Olegario de Sousa. So how confident are you that she’s alive?
Archive OdS : It is very difficult to say, to give you an answer, because I have no threats that are sustained that the child is alive or not.
SK :The Chief Inspector would give no details about suspects, witnesses, or evidence supporting the abduction theory. In Portugal, he said, detectives were bound by strict judicial secrecy laws. So as police dog teams continued to search the area around the Ocean Club, much of the information about Madeleine’s disappearance was coming from her family back in Britain. Gerry McCann’s sister, Trish Cameron, was one of the first to speak publicly.
Archive Trish Cameron : They last checked at half past nine, they were all sound asleep sleeping. Windows shut. Shutters Shut. Kate went back at ten o’clock to check. The front door was lying open. The window had been tampered with. The shutters had been jammied (sic) open, and Madeleine was missing. (2)
SK : But even at this early stage, there wasn’t signs that the Portuguese police had doubts about the family's version of events. Within three days of Madeleine’s disappearance, local newspapers were quoting unnamed police sources as saying there was no evidence of a break-in, and that the little girl might have been taken by someone known to her.
Archive news : Police in the Algarve, looking for the missing child Madeleine McCann are searching a villa owned by a British family// A British man has been formerly named as a suspect in the case of the missing girl Madeleine McCann. He is believed to be Robert Murat, but his uncle insists..
SK : On day 11 of the enquiry, the focus shifted to Robert Murat, a British man living with his elderly mother living just 100 metres from where Madeleine was last seen. From the start he denied any wrongdoing but, as an official suspect, or ‘arguido’ he was unable to discuss the case. Outside the family villa, I spoke to Mr Murat’s mother, Jenny.
SK : Hi Jenny, can I just ask how Robert is?
SK : Later, Jenny Murat would explain to me her son's alibi. That on the night that Madeleine went missing, he had been at home, with her.
JM : That evening, I came back from taking the dogs for a walk, and Robert was already there, and we had dinner and we sat and talked. Because he’d been in England until the Tuesday, and I hadn’t really seen very much of him until that evening, and that was the first time I had really spend an evening with him.
SK : And you, the suspect's mother, are absolutely convinced that he didn’t leave the house that night?
JM : I know he didn’t leave the house that night!
SK : Other witnesses would contradict that account. In their police statements, three friends of the McCann’s said that they had met Robert Murat on the streets of Praia da Luz, in the hours after Madeleine’s disappearance. The implication, strongly denied by Robert Murat, was that he was lying about his alibi. (3)
(playing of Simple Minds and celebrity please find maddie appeal clips)
SK : To the strains of a campaign theme tune “Don’t You Forget About Me” David Beckham lead the galaxy of stars lining up to help the McCann’s. An official ‘fund’ raised more than an million pounds in public donations.
Archive GMC : We will travel, wherever is necessary, to ensure people across Europe recognise Madeleine’s picture and we will encourage them to come forward with any information that might lead to Madeleine’s safe return.
Archive news : The parents of the missing 4 year old girl Madeleine McCann have met the Pope in the Vatican.//The parents of Madeleine McCann have arrived in Madrid to launch a fresh set of appeals for her return// The parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann are visiting Morocco today as part of their campaign to find their daughter//
SK : But back in Portugal the couple's travels were greeted with some bemusement. Never had a Portuguese child received attention like this. Many found it incomprehensible that the McCanns had left their children unattended. Alexandra Lorerdo (?) Is a Portuguese television reporter.
AL : Portuguese people nationwide were in shock that two adults could leave behind their your children, unattended, that the judicial system in Portugal actually considers this as negligence, so I would say that public opinion in Portugal, the initial reaction was certainly of emotional shock, but also somehow of mistrust. What kind of parents would leave behind their children? (4)
Archive KMC : I knew the situation we were in that night and I mean I’ve said all along I didn’t feel I was taking a risk.
SK : Kate McCann was challenged on the issue on Woman’s Hour.
Archive KMC : I do feel desperately sorry I wasn’t with Madeleine at that minute when she was taken. I’ve had so many letters and comments sent to me from other families, and particularly other mums saying “We have done what you’ve done a hundred times over, do not blame yourself”. (5)
SK : The unthinkable. But for the McCanns, in Berlin, just over a month after Madeleine’s disappearance.
Archive GMC : I have never heard before that anyone considers us suspects in this. The Portuguese Police certainly don’t. We were with a large group of people, and there is absolutely no way that Kate and I are involved in this abduction.
(sound of chainsaw)
SK : They would search the villa of the suspect, Robert Murat, using cutting equipment to clear the sprawling garden. It sounded dramatic, but after two days one of the British officers involved in the search told me they had found nothing, and were unlikely to return. As it turned out, the discovery that would change the course of the investigation was made not at the Murat villa, shrouded in trees behind me, but back at the Ocean Club, at the other end of the street, about two minutes walk away. Inside the McCann’s apartment, the British dogs found miniscule traces of what appeared to be blood, and it was later reported that they detected an odour – apparently suggesting that a dead body might have been there. (7)
Archive BBC Radio 4 : The news at midnight. Police in Portugal have acknowledged for the first time that Madeleine McCann might be dead.
SK : The police went public with their fears for Madeleine’s life, without presenting the new evidence to the McCanns. The couple's relationship with detectives was on the point of collapse.
Archive news : There has been a significant development in the Madeleine McCann case in the last few moments. We have just heard from the Algarve that the McCann’s spokeswoman has told the BBC that Kate McCann will be questioned again this morning by Portuguese police and she has been told that she will be named as a (formal) suspect.
(background noise of wolf whistles and geering)
SK : There were geers from some onlookers as Madeleine’s mother arrived at Portimão police station for that second day of questioning. The family spokeswoman Justine McGuiness gave details of the accusations which detectives have put to Kate McCann. They centred on the couple's hire car.
JMG : They believe they have evidence to show that in some way she is involved in the death of her daughter, which of course is completely ludicrous. They have suggested that blood has been found in a hire car that they hired 25 days after Madeleine had been taken. She was absolutely horrified. Kate is a lovely mother to her children. She would never hurt them. (8)
SK : Thinking back, that day back in Portimão was chaotic and almost surreal – the main square where I’m standing now, with it’s fountains, the cafés, the historic town hall was hosting a children’s fashion show and just yards away to my right in the police station that looks like a rundown apartment block, Kate and Gerry McCann were being accused of causing, and then covering up, their daughter's death. In the square, the couple's spokeswoman was providing regular updates to journalists of an ongoing police interview, and back home in Britain friends and relatives of the McCanns were saying that Madeleine’s mother had been offered a plea bargain. Under Portuguese law, there is no formal system of plea bargain but friends insist that Kate McCann was encouraged to make a confession and furiously refused. Her mother, Susan Healy, hinted that evidence might have been planted to incriminate her daughter. (9)
Archive Susan Healy : She knows that whatever evidence the Portuguese police have she was in no way involved in Madeleine’s disappearance, and therefore will be asking herself if there is evidence, how did it get there.
SK : That suggestion is denied by the police, who would next confront Madeleine’s father. Gerry McCann emerged from the police station in the early hours of the morning flanked by a lawyer, and another media advisor, David Hughes.
Archive David Hughes : Today, Kate and Gerry have both been declared arguidos with no bail conditions, and no charges have been bought against them. The investigation continues”.
Reporter : David, are they still insisting on their innocence?
David Hughes : They certainly are. no further comment.
SK : Jane Tanner was one of the seven friends who were dining with Kate and Gerry McCann on the night of Madeleine’s disappearance. In November she gave an interview to the BBC's Panorama programme. She said that about 45 minutes before the alarm was raised she had gone to check on her own children. On the way she had seen a man carrying a child, close to the McCann’s apartment. (11) The man has never been traced. Despite an appeal by the Portuguese police, and the release by the McCanns of an artist's impression. Gerry McCann is in no doubt that the man abducted his daughter.
GMC : I’m certain he took Madeleine. I'm absolutely certain because Jane gave the description of the pyjamas that the child was wearing, which were an exact match for what Madeleine had on and Jane had no idea what Madeleine had on. So she gave that information without knowing it. And that is what makes me convinced. (12) Tels les fils du roi de Serendip, Gerald MC déduit de pieds et du bas des jambes d'un pyjama non pas un enfant, mais son enfant. Eut-il fait preuve, comme Zadig, de perspicacité scientifique, sa déclaration péremptoire n'eut pas subi d'affront lorsque DCI Redwood fit part de son revelation moment : Tannerman n'était que Crecheman, pas un ravisseur.
SK : Behind the scenes the McCann’s contracted Spanish private detectives, who would follow up sightings of young blonde girls as far a field as Bosnia and Mexico. The investigators have so far been paid almost £300,000, but appear no closer to finding Madeleine. (music playing) On the police side, one of the lead detectives (Gonçalo Amaral) was taken off the case in October, for reportedly criticising British officers. Then, in February this year, there was a candid admission from the man in overall charge of policing in Portugal. In a radio interview Alipio Ribeiro was asked about the decision to declare Kate and Gerry McCann arguidos. Pressed by the interviewer he admitted there had been “a certain hastiness” on the part of the police. So, was the Director of Police in Lisbon distancing himself from the actions of detectives? Mr Ribeiro’s comments may have reflected the lack of obvious progress on the forensic side of the investigation. The samples from the McCann’s apartment and hire car had been sent for analysis at Britain’s Forensic Science Service (FSS).
Archive Paul Hackett : Hello, good morning. My name is Paul Hackett, I work for the Forensic Science Service, and today we are here in the Birmingham forensic laboratory.
SK : Paul Hackett is a senior scientist at the FSS. He can't discuss the detail of this case but he did make a general point that is undoubtedly relevant to the Madeleine McCann enquiry. Mr Hackett stressed the paramount need to preserve a crime scene, from the moment a crime is committed until the moment forensic samples are gathered.
SK : In this case, the golden rule was broken. After Madeleine’s disappearance there was a gap of well over two months before the arrival of the British dogs, during which time the McCanns’ apartment was opened up, and rented out to other holiday makers. In late November Portuguese scientists visited the FSS and just days later police sources were telling Portuguese newspapers that the forensic results were inconclusive. (On location report – traffic noises in background) Well here in the capital Lisbon I'm just staring up at an austere looking office block that houses the policia judiciaria, the investigating police in this case. The building sits behind imposing wrought iron gates, which remain firmly closed to journalists. We must have made a dozen approaches to the police for an interview. Each one was turned down. The attorney general's office, and the ministry of justice are also refusing to talk publicly about the case. But off the record, I have managed to meet a senior figure here in Portugal with direct involvement in the Madeleine McCann inquiry. (back in studio) That person, who had not spoken to a British journalist before, admitted that unless Madeleine’s body were found the chances of any of the arguidos ending up being charged with murder or manslaughter was slim. The source insisted that all lines of inquiry remained open. Including the original theory that Madeleine was abducted.
Archive news : Portuguese detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are arriving in Britain today to attend new police interviews with friends of her parents
SK : Since my conversation with that senior figure in Portugal, all seven of the McCanns’ friends have been re-interviewed by British police officers, with detectives from the Policia Judiciaria, or PJ, present. The seven witnesses include Rachael Oldfield, who has given her first ever interview to this programme.
Rachael Oldfield : I was there on the night. I spent time with Gerry and Kate during the week, you know, before the 3rd of May and afterwards. You know, their emotions and their reactions was just agonising. It was just no way they’re involved in anything to do with Madeleine’s disappearance. You know, if you take the common sense approach as well and just look at, you know, timings of how things happened and the fact that they’re both medics, there are four other medics in the group, they would know what to do to resuscitate a child… or anyone else for that matter. Anyone with an ounce of common sense really would be able to see that they couldn’t have done it. I was there and I know that they didn’t do it.
SK : You know that there are a lot of people, possibly including the police, certainly including a lot of bloggers who have suspicions about your group who’ve written all sorts of things about a potential conspiracy theory. What do you say to them?
RO : Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s outrageous. We’ve all felt very angry about it. We were asked to comply with the Portuguese judicial secrecy laws, which we were made to understand that we could face two years in prison for speaking out. So, you know, as a group we’ve not said anything from day one. And there have been all these rumours flying around and leaks from sources close to the PJ which, you know, we haven’t been able to refute. We would have loved to have spoken out really and just sort of put the record straight but, you know, we were asked not to. It’s their legal system, their legal process. We believed that the investigation would be the best way of finding Madeleine if we cooperated with the police and, sort of, complied by their rules and regulations. So, you know, we stuck to our side of the… story.
SK : And on their side?
RO : Well, double standards. They leaked information and… these rumours that have flown around for the past year.
SK : So, if the leaks stop, you think the McCanns could let bygones be bygones and move forward?
RO : Yes, absolutely. Errm, they want to find Madeleine. Presumably the Portuguese want to as well.
RO : No. We clearly remember the events of that night. You know, you wouldn’t forget them. And nobody changed any sort of story because, you know, there isn’t a story to change.
SK : Gerry and Kate remain suspects. What, in your opinion, needs to happen now for the investigation to move forward?
RO : It would enable the investigation to move forward, and certainly Gerry and Kate to work more closely with the PJ, if the arguido status was lifted. Currently they don’t really have any communication with the PJ, which, when they’re investigating the disappearance of their daughter, is quite astounding.
SK : Have they, to your knowledge, heard from Paulo Rebelo. He’s the man heading the enquiry?
RO : Not as far as I know, no.
SK : And what do you think of that?
RO : It is strange.
SK : But it’s not just friends and relatives of the three suspects who want their status to be reconsidered. A senior voice within the Portuguese judicial system has told me the same thing. The President of the Portuguese Order or Lawyers, Antonio Marinho e Pinto believes the police are using the judicial secrecy laws to conceal their lack of progress.
SK : The frustration with judicial secrecy is shared by Gerry McCann. When we spoke earlier this week he could barely disguise his annoyance.
SK : And are you convinced that the police are still trying to find your daughter?
GMC : I don’t know, because we don’t have that information. Obviously we would like to know, we’d like to know why the files are still secret almost a year on with a change in the penal code. We would like to know what has been done to find Madeleine. We’d like to know who has been eliminated from the enquiry and on what grounds, and what leads are still being followed.
SK : As we understand it, the Portuguese authorities believe that the files will currently remain closed until the middle of May, I mean how frustrating is it for you not to know what information they have?
GMC : It’s incredibly frustrating. We’re the parents of a girl who’s missing and I don’t know who is benefiting from the files remaining secret. Certainly not Madeleine. We’ve always said that we want to leave no stone unturned, and to do that, we need to know which stones have already been overturned.
SK : In this programme we’ve chartered the breakdown in trust between yourselves and the police, which obviously terminated in September, but there have been very strong words on both sides since then, often played out through the media. Assuming your arguido status is lifted, can you imagine that trust being restored?
GMC : We want to work with the Portuguese authorities, err, we have co-operated with them since day one and we have been completely open and transparent. We’ve told them every single bit of information that we have had at our disposal and answered all their questions, so of course we can see a scenario by which we continue to work with them.
SK : The McCann’s, and their friends, have been given until the end of the week to decide whether they’ll return to Portugal to take part in a police reconstruction, literally walking through their movements on the night of Madeleine’s disappearance. I asked Gerry McCann whether going back was a risk, given that prosecutors could still pursue a charge of child neglect.
GMC : Well we talked about this early on. We were given legal advice that what we did was well within the bounds of reasonable parenting and of course, at the time, we thought what we did was perfectly reasonable. However hindsight has proven that we made a mistake. Clearly we would never leave the children again. We are paying more for that than anyone could possibly ever imagine, but, you know, clearly I think such a charge one has to ask why are people talking about that now when we’re almost a year down the line and Madeleine hasn’t been found? They have no more information now than was available to them on the 4th of May, so why are we talking about such a charge now?
SK : So the McCann’s continue to campaign and to travel, but for now Portugal remains off limits. The crime of ‘abandoning’ children carries a jail term of up to 5 years, and the couple simply won’t risk another confrontation with the police. There is no suggestion that prosecutors are planning to file charges. Portugal’s justice minister has said publicly that the investigation is nearing its conclusion. For all three suspects the delay has been deeply troubling. Nonetheless, almost a year after Madeleine McCann’s disappearance, her parents say they still have hope.
GMC : I think that she is probably alive. One thing’s for certain, I’ve seen nothing to suggest that she’s dead, and I mean nothing. Absolutely zero. And I’m sure if there was any evidence, then we would have heard about it a long time ago.
(1) Cette description est trompeuse : entre la piscine et l'appartement du rez-de-chaussée il y a un très haut mur délimitant l'enceinte Tapas. De l'autre côté du mur il y a une allée piétonne bordée de l'autre côté par les murs des patios des appartements du rez-de-chaussée. Pour aller de l'enceinte Tapas à l'appartement du coin, il faut sortir par un bâtiment de réception donnant sur la rue Francisco Gentil Martins, remonter cette rue jusqu'à la rue Agostinho da Silva, perpendiculaire, tourner à gauche dans cette rue; entrer dans un parking, en sortir par une rampe aboutissant à un corridor et longer le corridor jusqu'à la porte d'entrée de l'appartement 5A.
(2) C'est la narration fictionnelle que fit Gerald MC à ses proches, la nuit du 3 mai. Elle ne semble pas avoir été destinée aux médias en dernier ressort mais leur fut transmise. C'est de là que provient une rumeur qui perdura pendant des mois malgré ou plutôt à cause des démentis. Non seulement il n'y eut aucune effraction, mais une porte était ouverte et l'autre non verrouillée. Rien n'indiquait que l'enfant avait pu être enlevée.
(3) Il n'est pas juste d'omettre que seuls ces trois témoins, qui n'avaient jamais vu Robert M, ont assuré qu'il était près de l'appartement, avait parlé à la GNR, etc. D'autres témoins présents, qui connaissaient au moins de vue Robert M, ont déclaré ne pas l'avoir vu.
(4) Les Portugais ne sont pas les seuls à avoir été choqués d'apprendre que de si jeunes enfants étaient laissés sans surveillance. Ils dormaient, certes, mais l'un pouvait se réveiller, appeler, pleurer parce qu'on ne venait pas et réveiller les autres enfants.
(5) Je suis si désespérément désolée de n'avoir pas été avec Madeleine à la minute où on l'a prise. Drôle de phrase, on s'attendrait à Je suis si désespérément désolée d'avoir, en laissant Madeleine seule, permis qu'elle soit prise. On a l'impression, grâce à "à la seconde où" que la "prise" a été rapide comme l'éclair, ce qui atténue la responsabilité.
(6) En juin, un profiler du NPIA, Lee Rainbow, rédigea un rapport d'une trentaine de pages sur l'affaire. Ce rapport est inédit, on n'en connaît qu'un bref passage dans lequel LR recommande d'investiguer la piste "famille" autant que la piste "enlèvement". C'est à la suite de ce rapport, et aussi parce que les recherches n'avaient rien donné, que fut consulté le spécialiste des personnes disparues du NPIA, Mark Harrison, qui préconisa de faire venir le chien EVRD et la chienne CSI.
(7) L'appartement 5A fut le premier lieu où furent envoyés les chiens.
(8) Les spin doctors sont comme ça, ils répandent leurs opinions avec une assurance qui donne à pense qu'ils mentionnent des faits.
(9) Kate MC envoyait des SMS (dont le contenu n'engageait qu'elle) à JMG qui les répercutait vers les médias et les proches, leur conférant ainsi une authenticité. On imagine que c'était à la barbe des inspecteurs de la PJ, mais quand même !
(10) L'écrasement dans le temps (les MC assignèrent l'Express Group en février 2008) comme le rapide retour à Rothley donnent à penser que ce qui s'est passé à Portimao n'était qu'une "histoire médiatique" et qu'il n'y avait en fait aucune charge contre les MC.
(11) L'homme était plus près de son appartement et de celui des Oldfield que de celui des MC.
(12) Tels les fils du roi de Serendip, Gerald MC déduit de pieds et du bas des jambes d'un pyjama non pas un enfant, mais son enfant. Eut-il fait preuve, comme Zadig, de perspicacité scientifique, sa déclaration péremptoire n'eut pas subi d'affront lorsque DCI Redwood fit part de son revelation moment : Tannerman n'était que Crecheman, pas un ravisseur.