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.