Sunday, 29 July 2007

Aunty Phil and that reward!

I really don't know what to think of Philomena McCann's comments regarding the reward that's been offered for information leading to Madeleine's safe return. Here is what she said:

"It needs only one greedy, unscrupulous character to come forward," said Philomena McCann.”

Daily Mail July 27th

From, a definition of unscrupulous:



Devoid of scruples; oblivious to or contemptuous of what is right or honourable." (I have changed the American to English spelling!)

"Contemptuous of what is right or honourable."?

So, let me have a think about the reasons for offering a reward in this kind of situation and the type of person Auntie Phil thinks might go for it.

Why do people offer a reward? Well, when my cat went missing I offered a reward to encourage people to look out for her and to take the trouble to ring me should they spot a cat that looked like the one in the photo. Call me naive, but I thought that was why the reward was being offered in the case of Madeleine's disappearance.

In the case of a missing child, what kind of people might be imagined to be tempted by the opportunity to claim a large reward?

  1. There is possibly the hope that the temptation of a good bundle of money for nothing will encourage an abductor's co-conspirators, friends, family, partner, person who lives next door, upstairs etc, to turn informer.
  2. People who were on holiday at the same time as the McCanns and are motivated to report something they noticed at the time, which they thought was significant.
  3. People all over the world, looking at every little blonde girl they see, wondering if this could possibly be Madeleine McCann, or wondering if that child with dark hair is Madeleine wearing a wig or having had her hair dyed!
  4. People all over the world who are simply concerned for that little girl who is missing and for whom a reward would be secondary to being able to help find her.
Now could any of the people listed above be considered to be unscrupulous, "Contemptuous of what is right or honourable."? I'm going to eliminate groups 2-4 immediately and assume that those are all just ordinary folks who might be encouraged to keep looking for a missing child, thinking it would be so satisfying to be helpful and that the money would be useful.

What about the people in group 1 above? If they contacted the police with information which led to the safe return of Madeleine to her family, could they be regarded as being, "Contemptuous of what is right or honourable." If Aunty Phil thinks so, does that imply that she thinks they would be wrong to do so? And if it isn't an honourable thing to do, who would that person be being dishonourable towards? The abductor? (Assuming that Madeleine was abducted, for which there is no real proof) Is Aunty Phil suggesting that there should be, "honour among thieves," and that someone who grassed up the abductor would be dishonourable?

I wonder if Aunty Phil thinks it's wrong to have offered any reward because she appears to hold in contempt anyone who might conceivably be in a position to claim it.