Monday, 26 October 2015
Following on from the reports yesterday that a polish man, who had been cleared by Portuguese police of any involvement in Madeleine McCann's disappearance, had now handed a great wad of photographs to the Sunday Mirror, today we have 2 whistleblowers and the case of the swindled £100,000.
According to The Sun, the Find Madeleine Fund was ripped off to the tune of £100,000 by someone who was paid to help the search for Madeleine, but who used the money to fund his own lifestyle. This information was handed to The Sun by two whistleblowers and it has now been passed to the McCanns.
So, who might this terrible person be? The McCanns have employed various organisations over the eight years since Madeleine disappeared. When they were in Portugal, they hired Control Risks Group, an organisation which is usually involved with helping companies to set up in areas of the world that are a bit risky and then helping them get out if trouble arises. Why the McCanns should use that company is open to speculation. However, according to The McCann Files (24/09/2007)
A private security firm has been secretly investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann for four months because her parents feared that Portuguese police were failing properly to search for their daughter.Control Risks Group (CRG) is believed to have been checking reported sightings of Madeleine from around the world and building up profiles of likely abductors.
Firstly, it is illegal in Portugal for a private investigation to take place while there is an on-going police investigation. Maybe that's why the investigation was secret. Who knows, but it was, ostensibly an illegal activity. Secondly, why employ a company that was usually involved with corporate security. If CRG ever did very much, it certainly didn't help the investigation, unless it was CRG who found all the sightings of Madeleine all over the world.
Then there was the Spanish outfit, Metodo3. No previous experience in looking for missing children, but the McCanns paid them a handsome monthly fee out of the fund. Metodo3 were accused of paying witnesses in Morocco (this blog), embezzlement and money laundering (this blog) attempted murder (this blog) and theft of cocaine from a Barcelona dockyard. (The Telegraph) Now, I reckon that lot were a bit dodgy, but they were probably paid well in excess of £100,000 and amazingly, Kate and Gerry said that Metodo3 had done some good work. Go figure!
Next! Well, next came Kevin Halligen.
A conman who set up a firm to search for Madeleine McCann has denied he funded a lavish lifestyle using cash donated by the public.
Supporters of Kate and Gerry McCann handed over around £300,000 to Kevin Halligen's Washington-based company, but his contract was terminated early and he was later convicted of fraud in America on a separate matter. (The Mirror 3/06/2014)
Now there's an accusation about funding a "lavish lifestyle," but the McCanns claim that he was paid £300,000, not £100,000. If the whistleblowers are referring to Halligen and he did indeed rip off the fund to the tune of £100,000, where did the other £200,000 go that Kate and Gerry say was paid to him? So, were the McCanns unlucky enough to have two men, separately, rip them off for mega bucks to fund a lavish lifestyle? And who was the other man? Maybe they should have done some investigating themselves before throwing money at dodgy geezas!
And finally (I think!) Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, otherwise known as Dave Edgar and Arthur Cowley. Retired Cheshire detective Edgar and his sidekick Cowley, worked from an office in a house in Knutsford and don't appear to have done very much at all. In August 2009 Mirror writer Tom Wordon asked why the McCann detectives didn't ask more questions when they went to Barcelona to investigate that strange case of the "Victoria Beckham lookalike" who was allegedly hanging about in the vicinity of a marina waiting for someone to hand over a child to her. Apparently, Edgar sent a few detectives out there, but they failed to ask any questions of anyone who might have had contact with the suspicious woman. In fact they didn't ask anything of anybody at all by the sound of it.
Edgar and Clowley's weirdest bit of detecting, in my opinion, was when they declared that Madeleine was being held in a "hellish lair in a lawless village," near Praia da Luz, but somehow they weren't worried enough about her apparent suffering there to go and have a look.
However dodgy Edgar and Cowley were, sitting there in their little office in Knutsford, there is no report of their having gone on to be living a lavish lifestyle, so my money is not on them for the rip-off.
I don't know of any other people hired by the McCanns to search for their daughter. It may be that Halligen was only paid £100,000 by the McCanns, which could turn out to be rather embarrassing to say the least, since the fund was said to have paid him £300,000. Halligen is the only former contractor for the search who appears to have spent search money on his own lifestyle.
The McCanns haven't said that they know who this person is, who has defrauded the search fund, only that they would be willing to help with any investigation. If the two whistleblowers are friends of the McCanns, cynical me wonders if this is a ploy to garner sympathy and get some more cash pouring into the fund. If they are not friends of the McCanns, then perhaps this missing or ripped off £100,000 will turn out to have been paid to some anonymous searcher...or just someone anonymous! Who knows! I hope we'll find out.
Monday, 5 October 2015
The Daily Star
So, what has the daily fish and chip wrapper said?
"They could help to strip the couple of £357,000 they hope to use to find her."
Now, is that the money they were hoping to get out of Gonçalo or the amount that they could have to pay in legal fees out of their handy pot of cash, the Find Madeleine Fund should Gonçalo succeed with his appeal?
"Ex-police chief Goncalo Amaral, 56, has been flooded with nearly £50,000 in public donations since he lost a libel hearing against Kate and Gerry McCann six months ago." Now that conjures up a strange picture. Gonçalo has been been "flooded." What with? A funnel? No, silly Mr Lawton, the account has been flooded! And since you have given the fund such good publicity, it now stands at over £50,000 and is rising steadily.
"The GoFundMe webpage donors include trolls who have abused the McCanns online." So, Jerry Lawton has been going through the list of donors and can identify people who have supposedly "abused the McCanns online"? Are those the people who have been asking awkward questions like, "Where is the proof of abduction?" Maybe he could ask the McCanns for a copy of the dossier that "the family" gave to the police, the one that got into the hands of Martin Brunt, who used it to doorstep Brenda Leyland. I doubt he'll actually want to read the sickeningly abusive messages to Brenda Leyland that were posted on Twitter by supporters of Kate and Gerry. Mr Lawton has firmly set himself on the side of those who are never going to accept any responsibility for the loss of their daughter and who instead are ready to sue anyone who contradicts their version of events.
"A friend of the couple admitted they were “exasperated” by the appeal and the source of its funding." Well, how awful for them that Gonçalo is able to exercise his legal right of appeal. And the source of its funding? The money donated to Gonçalo's defence fund will be used for the stated purpose. The money the McCanns are using to sue Gonçalo has come from the money donated by the public to help the search for Madeleine. So, the McCanns making a statement about the source of funding seems rather hypocritical to say the least.
"It seems strange indeed these people may be indirectly able to influence civil court proceedings. Kate and Gerry are exasperated.” Yes, I imagine that they are rather exasperated. They must have thought they had Gonçalo by the proverbial short and curlies since they have had his assets frozen. Thousands of people donating to the appeal fund have proved them wrong and left them "exasperated." Those who have given to the fund will not, of course, influence civil court proceedings, either directly or indirectly. What they are influencing is whether or not a Portuguese citizen is able to exercise his rights in law, a right the McCanns would take from him if they could.
May justice prevail for Dr Amaral and for Madeleine McCann and all those people like Brenda Leyland. They, and not Kate and Gerry, are the victims of this saga.
Friday, 26 December 2014
A damning new “evidence-based” documentary is being prepared for screening in 2015 and promises to tell the “Untold Story of Madeleine McCann” - alleging that “no abduction took place at all”.
Orchestrated by independent journalist and social activist Sonia Poulton, the project got underway following the death of 63-year-old grandmother Brenda Leyland - the so-called internet “troll” “outed” over tweets that questioned the official version of events “as put forward by mainstream media”.
According to Poulton, Leyland wrote in a tweet last year that “should she die in odd circumstances” she hoped “people would question, and not just accept the first version of events”.
This is what Poulton claims has spurred her on. In a Christmas message posted on Youtube, the former broadcaster with Internet TV station The People’s Voice reveals her documentary should be ready by the end of March.
Poulton claims her investigation has already flagged up “plenty of evidence to suggest there was not an abduction”. Her focus, she explains, has been on “interviews with “central characters” in the disappearance.
“As you can imagine, these have not exactly been forthcoming”, she adds.
Thus, the decision to “door-step” those she believes have “questions to answer”.
This far Poulton claims to have door-stepped four key characters in the mystery, and she says her investigation has also “traced someone involved in the campaign” to maintain the official version of events, whose identity will “shock people”.
Read the whole article at:
Sonia Poulton talking about her upcoming documentary on the Madeleine McCann case.
Thursday, 9 October 2014
On Saturday 4th October 2014, the body of Brenda Leyland, who posted on social media site Twitter as @sweepyface, was found in a hotel room in Leicester, two days after she was doorstepped by Martin Brunt of Sky News in relation to comments she had made on Twitter about the Madeleine McCann case. Following this "outing" Brenda Leyland was all over the media as a "McCann Troll," and Brenda left her home and went into hiding.
This is the video that appeared on Sky News on Thursday October 2nd, 2014.
"Police Investigate Madeleine McCann Family Online Abuse" presented by Martin Brunt.
At 0.10 on this video, Jim Gamble, ex-Chief Executive of CEOP, says that there is "...a hardcore small group of individuals, who will lie, who will menace, who will bully"
Like this, Mr Gamble? I think this fits with the second and third of your descriptions related to that "hardcore small group.."
Like this, Mr Gamble? I think this fits with the second and third of your descriptions related to that "hardcore small group.."
Posted by Rainne@dirndllass on Twitter on October 3rd, the day after Brenda was accosted by Martin Brunt.
At 0.42 Jim Gamble states that in his opinion, those people who will lie, menace and bully should be held to account in a court of law for what they have done. Well, the above is still, at 7.20pm on October 9th, available to read on Twitter. Does Mr Gamble think that woman should be held to account for what she did on October 3rd, the day after Brenda Leyland was doorstepped by Martin Brunt and one day before Brenda's body was found in a hotel in Leicester? Seems rather like menacing and bullying to me.
At 0.50 on the video, Martin Brunt is seen approaching Brenda Leyland. He states that "this woman uses Twitter to attack the parents of Madeleine McCann"
At 1.20 Martin Brunt tells Brenda, "You know you've been reported to the police, to Scotland Yard? They're considering a whole file of Twitter accounts and what supporters (who are these supporters?) say is a campaign of abuse against the McCanns."
Brenda says very little in response. But Martin Brunt later goes on to say...
"The Crown Prosecution Service is considering it. Are you worried about that?"
Well, it's true that a file was handed to the police, but keep that second quote about the Crown Prosecution Service in mind because I will refer to it later in the light of what Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Head of the Metropolitan Police Service says in a radio interview.
The question that immediately occurred to me on watching the Sky News video was: if this was a file handed to the police, how did Martin Brunt of Sky News come to be in possession of it? If indeed the CPS was considering, whatever Martin Brunt thought they were considering, should he have been presenting her with that information and publishing it on a news web site for millions of viewers?
On October 4th, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Head of the Metropolitan Police Service, was interviewed on Radio London's "Drivetime," show by Eddie Nestor. In this extract from the interview, the discussion is focused on cyber crime and on the dossier regarding "McCann trolls" on Twitter.
EN: Let's talk about cyber crime then, more specifically bullying. Tell me about that file that was handed to you re the McCanns and concerned individuals. And certainly that story's been in the headlines with tragic consequences yesterday. A file handed to you. Are you looking at it at the minute?
HH: What happened then. First of all, you may have seen over the last ten days, we've launched a cyber crime unit of 500 officers. That's really intended to target people who steal things, not necessarily bullying. I think that's going to be a real challenge to us in the future, just in terms of bullying.
Errrmmm, in terms of that file, what happened, if you recall, is that the family handed it to our team, who were investigating or reviewing the murder of..sorry..reviewing the missing girl, errrrr.. the McCanns' daughter.
(Note: murder? Investigating the murder of......the McCanns' daughter? Now why did Hogan-Howe refer to "murder" and then do a woops!)
The uh..file was handed to that team ..err...and we were liaising with Leicestershire Police, which is where the McCann family live...err.. and sadly it turned out that possibly the person who was trolling or abusing people..err..may well have been. So, the file was in the process of being considered, partly by the Met, partly by Leicestershire, but it was likely to have been dealt with by Leicestershire Police, not by the Met.
(Note: does Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe mention the Crown Prosecution Service here? The CPS is usually brought in when evidence gathered by the police is presented with a view to consideration for prosecution, but all Hogan-Howe says above is that the file was being considered by the Met and Leicestershire Police. It does not appear that the file had been referred to the CPS, so why did Martin Brunt tell Brenda Leyland that the "Crown Prosecution Service is considering it"?)
EN: Just give us an idea of what trolling is actually, because on Drivetime we've been arguing...errr... I can say, "I don't like the Commissioner." I can say "I don't like the way he talks to me." That's an opinion. That's not trolling, is it? At what point, where is your line, because as far as I'm aware, it looks to me like a subjective line. Where's your line, Commissioner?
HH: It's not really where my line is, it's where..err..what does the law say? So, where does...
EN: What does it say?
HH: Where does abuse become a criminal offence? And of when, I don't like you, you don't like me, we are neither conversational nor abusive. As human beings that's what happens in life, isn't it? But, of course, if you become racist errrr...
(Note: like this, Commissioner?
...if you become threatening, if you threaten to kill someone, these are very different forms of things as human behaviour. That becomes a crime. (Is Rainne going to be investigate then for racism?) If you threaten to kill someone, you can go to prison for ten years, if they believe it and you want them to believe it. If you are racist (Rainne!!) there is a consequence. If you are threatening in your behaviour. If you transfer that into the cyber crime, it's broadly the same. Then, you know, abusive behaviour between individuals, sadly, rightly or wrongly, well the police can't get involved in all human behaviour. They can only get involved where there is a crime. And generally, it's where there are very aggravating circumstances. You cannot blackmail people, you cannot threaten them, you cannot be racist. And generally, that's the sort of line that we draw in cyber, in cyber area.
(Note: having read tweets posted by @sweepyface (Brenda Leyland) it doesn't appear to me that Brenda was threatening or blackmailing the McCanns and the case does not appear to have been handed to the CPS for prosecution)
EN: ???? (unclear) ...challenges, isn't it?
HH: Yes, frankly, we the police cannot get involved in all bad behaviour between human beings. I mean, sometimes if we were to be defamatory with each other, you know, we might have to go to the civil courts, not to criminal courts. Well defamation is a different area altogether. The police don't get involved in that, thank goodness. You have to go to the civil court for that. In some of these areas, it's the civil courts that have to consider remedies. It's not always going to be the criminal law or the police.
Brenda Leyland, posting on Twitter as @sweepyface, posted tweets like: "must the Mccanns suffer' answer 'for the rest of their miserable lives'."
Not very nice, but then she wasn't threatening to make them suffer, was she?
Now, Kate McCann, referring to Gonçalo Amaral wrote that, "He deserves to be miserable and feel fear."
Is that very different to what Brenda Leyland wrote? Not in my book.
So, of the many thousands (and I do mean many thousands) of people on social media questioning the McCanns' account of what happened to their daughter, why was Brenda Leyland singled out? Why did Martin Brunt think it was OK to accost her on her doorstep, telling her that the Crown Prosecution Service was considering...? And if there was a police investigation, how did Martin Brunt come into possession of details from it, including Brenda's real name and address?
I think these questions needs answers and I am glad that there will be a police investigation into Sky News reporting of this affair. I hope that those who were abusive towards Brenda, those like Rainne on Twitter, will also be investigated. Brenda was hounded by the media and by a few people on social media, who would rightly, in my opinion, be called trolls and there are many of us who want to know why.
Katie Hopkins did not cause a "Twitter Storm." The hounding of Brenda Leyland caused it and I hope there will be a full and rigorous investigation.