Saturday, 29 May 2010
Madeleine McCann: Her parents have never requested the re-opening of the investigation into her disappearance.
Madeleine McCann's parents, Kate and Gerry, have never requested the re-opening of the investigation into their daughter's disappearance.
Neither the McCanns nor their lawyers have asked for the re-opening of the case, was confirmed by the office of the Chief Prosecutor of the Republic, putting an end to speculation.
Despite its being three years since the little British girl was reported missing, her parents have at no time taken the necessary steps for the Portuguese authorities - those who hold jurisdiction - to carry on with the case.
As a reminder, the investigation by the Portimao PJ's Department of Criminal Investigation was harmed when the McCanns and their friends left Portugal: the British people never wanted to participate in a reconstruction of the events surrounding Maddie's disappearance, blocking several diligences of the investigation.
"Her parents insist on a so-called private investigation which has produced no results," a police source confirmed, stressing that, "the latest revelation from the British media about a new witness in Portugal has no credibility, but is part of an orchestrated campaign that is a long way from an investigation," an opinion shared by the Prosecutor's office who stress that, "it's common practice for the media to disclose an abundance of imaginary news stories from time to time."
"If we have evidence with any reasonable degree of credibility, the case can be re-opened," the Prosecutor's office concluded.
Hat tip Mercedes for drawing my attention to the above.
Monday, 24 May 2010
Monday, 17 May 2010
(The "Eggman," courtesy of Himself at Good Quality Wristbands)
According to yesterday's Sunday Express:
"This is the sensational picture of a suspicious man on the beach which could lead to a breakthrough in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann."
Mrs Gail Cooper of Newark, Nottinghamshire, who was on holiday in Praia da Luz the week before the McCanns, remembered this strange man when she had returned home and heard about Madeleine McCann's disappearance. Her first sighting of this very odd character, was when she saw him walking along the beach on his own (definitely suspicious) in the rain (Oh no! He's got to be a nutter!)
Gail Cooper is convinced that it was the same man who turned up at her £2m (Oh me oh my! She must be a classy lady!) rented villa, claiming to be collecting for a local orphanage. Obviously a cover story as there were children playing in the pool at the £2m villa, when this clearly unworthy person had the cheek to knock on the door of that luxurious abode.
The hazy image of "Fuzzyman," was found in the background of a holiday snap taken by one of Mrs Cooper's holiday companions. Mrs Cooper and her companions had obviously done their civic duty by painstakingly pouring over all their holiday photos with a magnifying glass and thanks to their efforts, we now have this crucial image of the man who must have taken Madeleine since he is clearly a very odd and suspicious character.
The Express also gives us this vital piece of information which confirms "Fuzzyman," as the number 1 suspect:
"However, he does appear to bear a resemblance to a man the McCanns’ friend, Jane Tanner, saw walking with a child in his arms at about the time Madeleine disappeared."
"Ms Tanner saw him crossing a road yards from the McCanns’ apartment and it is widely believed that he was the man who abducted Madeleine. She also worked with an artist to create a drawing of the man she saw. It did not include facial features as she did not see his face.
The man Ms Tanner saw, walking in the glare of an orange street light, was wearing light coloured trousers and a dark top and appears to have slightly hunched shoulders.
The man in the photo was also wearing light coloured trousers, a dark top and appears to have slightly rounded shoulders."
Well, there you go! Rounded shoulders, dark top, light-coloured trousers. That's yer man!
What, I hear you say, of all the other suspects? So, here is a roundup of the previous Hall of Infamy. I can't remember who these people were seen by, and frankly I can't be bothered to go trawling the internet to find out. I do recall that "Eggman," was the first in the line-up, his image based on Jane Tanner's original description, before her memory improved and improved and improved. The others are in no particular order.
So, come on, folks, join in this wonderfully entertaining game that Mr Pinocchio of the McCann traveling circus invites us to play, "Pick a suspect, any suspect." Or you could always come up with one of your own if you happened to be on any one of the five continents in the three years since Madeleine disappeared into thin air!
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Mr Jim Gamble Monday 3 May 2010
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre
33 Vauxhall Bridge Road
Dear Mr Gamble
re: (1) Freedom of Information Act 2000 Questions
(2) CEOP’s close relationship with the McCanns - New video produced by Jon Corner and released by the McCanns, using images of Madeleine McCann with make-up and jewellery
We write to express our concern about the images of Madeleine used by the McCanns in relation to Madeleine on the recent video made by Jon Corner, which they released yesterday to much fanfare.
We do so for a number of reasons, including the very close nexus between yourself, CEOP and the McCanns (to which I shall refer below), and also of course because of your role as Chief Executive of CEOP, an organisation apparently dedicated to eliminating or minimising all forms of the exploitation of children.
The Madeleine Foundation is a membership organisation founded in 2008, partly to help learn the lessons from Madeleine’s disappearance, not least to campaign against the practice of leaving very young children on their own, thus exposing them to all manner of serious risks, not least that of being abducted. In a context where the McCanns’ spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said as recently as 19 February in a Channel 4 interview that Madeleine’s disappearance remains ‘a complete mystery’, we also continue to work with others to try to establish what really happened to her and we campaign on a number of child welfare issues.
The video in question features three images of Madeleine. One very striking one shows her in an unusual pose, shot from well below her face, wearing make-up, including much blue eyeshadow, lipstick and jewellery, and looking unhappy.
The McCanns have claimed that ‘the photo shows her when she was three after a raid on the dressing box’. However, it is very unlikely that Madeleine could have put the necklace on herself, nor applied eyeshadow in the manner shown in the photograph, nor applied the pink bow to her hair. The evidence from the photograph suggests that an adult made her up and of course an adult was on hand to take that particular image of her. Even if Madeleine had ‘raided the dressing box’, it is one thing to take a photo of something like that for your family photo album, but altogether another thing to release it for millions to see.
The McCanns explicitly approved the very public release of this video. As one newspaper reported: “Parents of Madeleine McCann, who went missing three years ago, have released a new video and photo of their missing daughter to mark the third anniversary of the girl's disappearance”. The photo the McCanns specifically chose to feature was the one with Madeleine made up, apparently by an adult and not by herself.
There has been strong adverse reaction by many members of the public to this image being used in connection with a missing child. Not least was that of Mr Mark Williams-Thomas, a former police detective and now leading criminologist and child protection expert, who has often in the past spoken with strong sympathy and understanding for the McCanns. His unambiguous reaction to this particular photograph yesterday, and promoted on his ‘Twitter’ blog, was that it was ‘so inappropriate’ and ‘so damaging’. With respect, we agree with him.
The McCanns have from the day Madeleine was reported missing claimed explicitly and on many occasions that Madeleine must have been abducted by a paedophile, or paedophiles, often described by them as ‘predatory’, ‘evil’, or ‘ monsters’. Yet the photo of Madeleine featured by her parents shows a child looking much older than her actual three years, due to the make-up and jewellery, as all the news media yesterday quickly picked up.
You may recall statements made by the McCanns claiming that they were advised by the police ‘not to show any emotion’ in front of the cameras. As one newspaper reported around the time the McCanns appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show: “The couple also admitted they had been advised not to show any emotion while in front of the media, because any potential abductor ‘may get a kick out of it’.”
It is therefore a matter of concern to us that the McCanns should project and promote an image of Madeleine which might well appeal to certain paedophiles, some of whom are unfortunately attracted to young children.
The general topic of the early sexualisation of young girls has recently been addressed by the Home Secretary, to whom you report and who appointed you. As a Guardian editorial earlier this year noted:
“It is a year since Jacqui Smith invited the TV psychologist Dr Linda Papadopolous to head a ‘fact-finding’ review. Her report describes a world where young girls who can barely walk are first cajoled into wearing high heels and T-shirts with Playboy motifs, before progressing into a grim future dominated by an internet-based youth culture that pressurises them into dress and behaviour which defines them overwhelmingly as sexual objects”.
The Home Office report stated: “The evidence gathered in the review suggests a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm”.
I enclose a copy of a letter sent yesterday to the chief public relations manager for the McCanns, Clarence Mitchell, expressing our concerns. In the light of the exceptional degree of publcity given by CEOP to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and your own high degree of personal involvement, we would request you to give appropriate advice to the McCanns as to whether it is right to use these particular images, and especially the ‘make-up photo’, to draw attention to a missing child. We consider it sets a most unfortunate precedent if the one girl whose image has most frequently been used by CEOP to promote concerns about missing and exploited children should now be portrayed by an image which clearly shows her lookijg like a much older child (as the press realised straightaway) and wearing make-up applied by an adult.
May we also draw your attention to one specific comment made on ‘Twitter’ yesterday: “If CEOP endorse this type of public relations for a supposed missing child, then their role in child protection has to be questioned!” This is your opportunity to say unequivocally on behalf of CEOP and on behalf of missing children everywhere that CEOP does not approve of the use of such inappropriate images.
Your degree of commitment, on behalf of CEOP, to the McCanns, has been immense, despite the doubts prompted by their being made ‘arguidos’ and being pulled in for questioning and the contents of the interim police report of senior police inspector Tavares de Aleida.
You have heavily featured Madeleine McCann on your website and in other publications about your work. You appeared together with the McCanns 12 months ago in a one-minute ‘viral video’, strongly emphasising that Madeleine was still alive and needed to be found. You also appeared on morning news shows side by side with the McCanns.
You also invited Dr Gerald McCann in January to be the keynote speaker at a conference of the abduction of children by paedophiles, a matter that concerned many of us, as there is not a shred of evidence that Madeleine was abducted by a paedophile. On top of all that, Home Secretary Alan Johnson recently asked you to recommend a new British police force to carry out a review and possibly a re-investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance and, according to press reports, you have already delivered your recommendation to him. In view of this intense activity on behalf of the McCanns, then, you are without doubt in a powerful position to advise them as to their choice of images being used to remind people about Madeleine. We trust you will provide suitable advice to them.
The role and activities of CEOP: Freedom of Information Act 2000 requests
We understand that CEOP has a role as a police force and has powers to investigate alleged crimes relating to missing, abducted and exploited children. We have also seen recent publicity in which, as we understand it, you have advised children, young people and their parents to report possible crimes against children such as ‘internet grooming’ directly to yourself and not to their local police force. We have also seen recent publicity in which you have publicly threatened ‘Facebook’ with various sanctions if they do not adopt your suggestion of a compulsory ‘panic button’ linked to your website.
We presume that as a public authority you must be covered by the Freedom of Information Act and therefore under the FOI Act we ask the questions below. If you are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act, we trust you would answer our questions anyway, as they are clearly in the public interest:
1. What legal powers are available to CEOP and its staff?
2. Under what powers can CEOP insist or encourage children, young people and their parents to report alleged crimes to CEOP rather than to their local police force?
3. What action does CEOP take if they have reasonable grounds for believing that an offence against children has been or is being committed; do they investigate and if necessary charge the offender themselves, or do they refer cases to the local police service, or does it depend on the circumstances? If so, what are the criteria for deciding whether a case is investigated by the police or by yourselves?
4. What campaigning work, if any, has been carried out by CEOP to stem the rising tide of the sexualisation of young children, upon which so many commentators have remarked recently?
5. How many staff does CEOP employ?
6. What was the annual cost of CEOP for the last year for which figures are available?
7. Please refer us to any campaigning work CEOP has done on the risks to children posed by known sex offenders released into the community or to any statements made by CEOP on this issue.
8. Has CEOP expressed a view on current proposals, supported at the last annual conference of the Liberal Democrats, to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to view pornography and visit sex shops; if so, please direct us to where any such statements may be found.
Finally, to the extent that CEOP is effectively addressing the main issues concerning missing, abducted and exploited children, we fully support your organisation’s work and I would be pleased if you could kindly send us a paper copy of your latest annual report.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Monday, 3 May 2010
Mr Clarence Mitchell Sunday 2 May 2010
Consultant, Crisis and Media Management
55 Newman Street
London W1T 3EB
Dear Mr Mitchell
re: New video produced by Jon Corner using images of Madeleine McCann with eye shadow and jewellery - now on YouTube
We write to express our concern about the images of Madeleine used by you, the McCanns and Jon Corner in the video message which was widely trailed in today’s newspapers and has already attracted several hundred views on YouTube. We understand that you as the McCanns’ chief public relations adviser must have approved the production and distribution of this video. Indeed, you are quoted in one of today’s newspapers as follows:
“McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: ‘The video is designed to remind people that the search for Madeleine is ongoing. Just because she’s not in the headlines every day doesn’t mean nothing is being done. Kate and Gerry are still devoting a large part of their daily lives to the search’.
The fact that your clients the McCanns explicitly approved the distribution of this video is clear from the following report of SKY News:
“Parents of Madeleine McCann, who went missing three years ago, have released a new video and photo of their missing daughter to mark the third anniversary of the girl's disappearance”.
The concern we have and that is being expressed by thousands of others is the use of clearly-posed photographs of a three-year-old wearing make-up, such as eye shadow, a necklace and lipstick.
You and your clients the McCanns have from the day Madeleine was reported missing claimed explicitly and on many occasions that Madeleine must have been abducted by a paedophile, or paedophiles, often described by you and your clients as ‘predatory’, ‘evil’, or ‘a monster’. Yet the images of Madeleine that you have allowed to be used in your campaign are of a child looking much older than her actual years - the very kinds of images that often appeal to paedophiles. Even former police detective, now leading criminologist and child protection expert Mark Williams-Thomas, who has often spoken with strong sympathy and understanding for your clients, has today commented adversely on the McCann Team’s use of these images of Madeleine on ‘Twitter’. He said, in five separate messages earlier today:
1) “On the eve of Madeleine's disappearance I agree with the release of a new photo but question the appropriateness of the photo chosen”
2) “Have not yet seen the new Madeleine video but the photograph is so inappropriate & damaging on so many levels - ill advised again”
3) “Am trying to find out now who gave advise [sic] to use the make up photo - so damaging - as I know what it will become”
4) Jon Corner may b able 2 answer ur question on who advised the McCanns to release THAT picture. He's friends with Esther McVey”
5) “No response yet re who advised of the use of recent photo of Madeleine - as soon as I get a response will let u know”.
There has also been questioning of the following statement in one of today’s newspapers:
“Kate and Gerry McCann have released a new picture of their daughter Madeleine as they prepare to commemorate tomorrow’s third anniversary of her disappearance. The photo shows her when she was three after a raid on the dressing-up box - she has a pink bow in her hair and a gold bead necklace and is wearing blue eyeshadow”.
The statement that the photograph shows her ‘after a raid on the dressing-up box’ implies that Madeleine made herself up but is open to serious question for at least the following reasons:
a) it is doubtful if Madeleine could have put on the necklace herself without adult help
b) similarly, the eyeshadow looks neatly put on in certain places around the eye, whereas a three-year-old attempting to put on eyeshadow would have probably made a mess of it
c) Madeleine appears to have no eyelashes. Photographic experts who have analysed the picture suggest that colour has been digitally added on, hiding they eyelashes
d) Madeleine’s eyebrows look quite different from other photos, possibly covered with some form of make-up
e) There appear to be two obvious brush tool traces above the eye on the right of the photo.
Thus, whatever the truth about the circumstances under which this picture was taken, there are very good grounds for believing that an adult has applied the make-up and also of course been there to take the photograph. Taken together with two of the other images of Madeleine shown in the film, it is perhaps not surprising that, for example, on sites like ‘Twitter’, ‘Facebook’ and other forums, comments like the following have been made:
“The picture of Madeleine reminds me of JonBenét Ramsey’s beauty pageant photos, that kind of images could entice sexual predators”.
“If CEOP endorse this type of public relations for a supposed missing child, then their role in child protection has to be questioned!”
“The latest photo the McCanns have released makes for very uncomfortable viewing. Alongside the Gaspars’ statements, something is very wrong here”.
The context here includes the ever-increasing sexualisation of young children, highlighted recently when a high street store, Primark, had to withdraw the marketing of padded bikini tops to 7-year-olds, following a storm of protest from parents. The dressing up of young children to look adult has been condemned by most child welfare organisations and with good reason. For example, a recent Home Office commissioned report stated: “The evidence gathered in the review suggests a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm”.
The circumstances in which that photograph of Madeleine was taken may have been wholly innocent, but as many people have been saying today, its use by your clients the McCanns in their attempts to locate a missing child possibly abducted by paedophiles is surely inappropriate. We would therefore ask you and your clients to remove the video from circulation and from YouTube.
Your clients obviously still want the whole world to look for Madeleine and not forget about Madeleine. The problem is that we do not know where to look nor who to look for. For example, fourteen different artists’ impressions have been published in British newspapers of people whom the McCanns claim are either the suspected abductor or ‘persons of interest’. Twelve of these are men and two are women.
As for where to look, the advice given by the McCanns’ private investigators suggests that despite using the services of many of them for nearly three years, there is not a single piece of useful information that you can give to the public which would enable us to know where to begin to look. Despite millions of pounds being spent on Metodo 3, Control Risks Group, Red Defence, Oakley International, senior ex-Metropolitan Police detectives, senior ex-MI5 security staff and now the team of ex-Detective Inspector Dave Edgar and ex-Detective Sergeant Arthur Cowley, we have not a jot of information on where to look.
Mr Edgar told newspapers last year that he was ‘convinced’ (his word) that Madeleine was being held ‘in a prison lair within 10 miles of Praia da Luz in the lawless hills around’. Subsequently you and Mr Edgar told a press conference that a conversation at 2.00am (which had been kept secret for two-and-a-half years) between a British banker who had been drinking round the bars of Barcelona and a woman looking like Victoria Beckham and with an Australian accent was ‘a strong lead’ and as a result a nationwide alert was put out in Australia.
Prior to that, in December 2007, Mr Francisco Marco, the boss of the first major detective agency used by your clients, Metodo 3, told the British media that he ‘knew Madeleine was alive’, that ‘his men are closing in on where she is being kept’ and that ‘Madeleine will be home by Christmas’.
It would surely be much more helpful to the public to give out the best description of the abductor that the McCanns’ various detective agencies have, between them, been able to compile, so we know who to look for, and to give the public as much information as you are able to about what really happened to her. You have often been quoted in the newspapers as saying: “Our investigations are confidential…we cannot disclose the information our investigators have” etc. But this gives the public no help at all in knowing where to look for Madeleine.
I trust you will pass these comments on to your clients. At the same time we are raising with Mr Jim Gamble, Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), and other organisations concerned with the welfare of children, whether they approve of appeals for a missing child being made using images of that child in a pose for the cameras and with a considerable degree of adult make-up.
Sunday, 2 May 2010
The man the Sunday Express describes as "the prime suspect," in Madeleine McCann's disappearance, has apparently been filmed working at a market, somewhere in Portugal.
Attention was first drawn to this suspect in January 2008. (Maddie: New sketch reveals face of kidnapper suspect)
Mrs Cooper had contacted the police on May 7th 2007, with her suspicions about the "creepy man," she had seen on three occasions in the days before Madeleine disappeared. She gave a statement at her home on May 21st, but it appears that this statement was not given to the police because the sketch was passed to Leicestershire police by Clarence Mitchell.
So, who interviewed Mrs Cooper in her own home? Clarence Mitchell? Metodo 3?
"Last night the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the new image had been passed to officers from the Leicestershire Constabulary, Portuguese police and Interpol. They hope the hunt will also be joined by forces in Spain and Morocco.
Metodo 3 believe the kidnapper may have had accomplices in Praia da Luz who helped spirit Madeleine away to the Moroccan hills." (News of the World)
So, what made Gail Cooper suspect that this man was "the kidnapper everyone is searching for."? Well, she saw him walking along the beach in the rain. Obviously a suspicious character to be doing that!
Then, the man turned up at her rented villa saying that he was collecting money for a local orphanage, which Mrs Cooper did not believe. However, a man collecting for a local orphanage was also encountered by Paul Gordon, who with his wife Saleigh, had been staying the Apartment 5A just before the McCanns.
The, "strange," man was actually not.
It was also Paul Gordon who saw and spoke to a man described by several British media, quoting sources close to the McCanns, as strange and suspicious. However, in his statements to the police, Paul maintains that the individual never, "watched," the children or the apartment: "I would describe the man as well-educated, of good appearance (...) I remember him as looking tidy and shaved with light downy facial hair. "
"I went over to the man who asked me if I would be interested in making a donation to an orphanage (...) I spoke with him and noticed that he had an indentification badge and that he had what looked to me like a receipt book," Paul Gordon stated to the police, adding that he had even received a receipt which he had left behind in Portugal.
Since January Paul Gordon has been contacted several times by Brian Kennedy, Kate and Gerry McCann: "There are times when I feel like a chess pawn." (This blog August 4th 2008)
Mr Gordon was actually contacted by the McCanns and by Brian Kennedy about his encounter with this man. Seems that they didn't take a lot of notice of his statement as to the charity collector's veracity, though, because today's Express tells us that Mrs Cooper was contacted by, "a person working for the McCanns’ investigators," in the summer of 2008 and shown the footage, which the Sunday Express is today proclaiming as an exclusive that shows the suspect. Why, I ask myself and the Sunday Express, has this only just become front page news? This footage came to light in the summer of 2008!
Mrs Cooper, from Newark, Notts, said in the summer of 2008 she was asked to look at footage of the suspect shot over several days in Portugal.
“He was unloading his market stall from a white van,” said Mrs Cooper.
"His hair was lighter and he had shaved off the moustache but to my mind it was the same man. For me the giveaway was his protruding teeth, which were exactly the same as the man I had met in Luz.
The giveaway was his protruding teeth? So, different hair, no moustache, but he had protruding teeth and therefore it must have been the same man! Are we to assume that dental practice in Portugal is so good that absolutely no one, apart from this man, has protruding teeth? Well, Mrs Cooper did say that the man did not appear to be Portuguese, so that must explain his poor dentistry then and why she is so sure, based on his teeth!
"I was shown the footage by a person working for the McCanns’ investigators who took notes of everything I said and then left but I haven’t heard anything since. I asked where the film was shot but he would only say it was shot ‘inland’ in Portugal.”
Mrs Cooper has not heard anything from the person working for the McCanns' investigators since she was contacted in the summer of 2008 and shown the film. Yet, last week the Sunday Express took Gail Cooper back to Praia da Luz for some reason. Why?
Watching the video in today's Express, we are given details about a second sighting of the "creepy man," on the beach in Praia da Luz.
"..the man seemed to be shadowing a group of children coming down to the beach from the Mark Warner complex. Again, he was acting oddly."
This seems to give the impression that the man was walking down the beach in a way that made it look like he was trailing after the children. Yet, in the original story published by the NOTW, Mrs Cooper said:
"There was a children's outing there from the Mark Warner Ocean Club at the same time. The man was again alone and standing near the group of youngsters. Mrs Cooper said: "He looked odd and out of place."
That statement seems to be describing a group of children already on the beach and the suspect standing, not shadowing this time, quite close to them. Mrs Cooper's story appears to have been somewhat embellished! He was standing close to the children. No, he was shadowing the group coming down onto the beach.
I am truly at a loss to understand why this story has resurfaced and why the Sunday Express has taken Gail Cooper back to Praia da Luz to re-tell her tale. If this exclusive footage of Mrs Cooper's "creepy man," unloading his wares at a market somewhere in Portugal was shown to her in the summer of 2008, why is it big news now? Why has the Sunday Express taken up basically the whole of its front page to scream out about this number 1 suspect being seen on video when this actually dates back nearly two years?
Gail Cooper was interviewed by someone acting for the McCanns in May 2007, having contacted the Find Madeleine helpline I would imagine. In the summer of 2008, she was shown a video of the suspect and has heard nothing since. Is this one of those leads that the McCanns are insisting have not been followed up properly by the Portuguese police or is it just the most dramatic one the Sunday Express could come up with at this time when we have had a veritable tsunami of articles and interviews leading up to the third anniversary of Maddie's disappearance and Kate and Gerry now want the investigation to be re-opened?
Perhaps the Express just had to come up with something a bit different when the newspapers have already covered in great detail how Kate McCann felt suicidal, what the McCanns are telling the twins, how they are still searching and will never give up etc etc! Well, Kate McCann may think that some people would be embarrassed if her daughter turned up, but this looks like an acute embarrassment to me and more worthy of the word "embarrassed," than the prospect of a missing child being found.