Wednesday 21 September 2022

Gonçalo Amaral, The Truth of the Lie Chapter 1


Chapter 1


Certainly Not.


IT’S CARNIVAL SUNDAY. In the distance the shots of the hare hunters can be heard, resounding above the low-growing vegetation of the Barrocal.
On waking, I decide to stay at home. Recently, I’ve had no wish to go out, to go walking or to meet people. I yearn instead for peace and silence. That morning, the sun was shining, promise of a lovely day: but in the afternoon, the rain began to fall, ruining the fête and the parades.
From the window I admire the Algarve countryside: the pink and snowy-white of the almond trees contrasting with the blue of the sea that is glimpsed in the distance. Suddenly, the ringing of the telephone – more and more unusual of late – brings me out of my lethargy: I have to face reality.
From the receiver, a friendly voice, swinging between anger and sadness, asks me:
- How are you? Have you heard our national director’s interview?
I reply no and wonder what the clearly perceptible anxiety of my questioner is due to.
He says we were precipitous. That placing the couple under investigation was premature….I wonder what’s come over him. He totally validated that decision. What is he intending to do? End the investigation?
He is alluding to the investigations undertaken after the disappearance of a little English girl of nearly four years of age during the night of May 3rd to 4th 2007, at the Ocean Club, one of the many tourist complexes in the village of Luz in Lagos, Portugal. She was called Madeleine Beth McCann and she was sleeping in a bedroom in the apartment block, beside her sister and her brother – twins aged 2 years. During this time, their parents were dining a hundred metres away with a group of friends and holiday companions. This news story was the beginning of a criminal investigation, unpublished in Portugal and, I think, in the rest of the world. Even so, the case benefited from unprecedented international media coverage. Numerous suggestions were put forward, mixing truth and lies; at the same time as regular information bulletins from the police, a campaign of disinformation was developed with the objective of discrediting the work of the investigators. For me, the investigations came to an end on October 2nd 2007, the date on which there seems to have been a new English ultimatum, incidentally on the same day that the Treaty of Lisbon was being discussed.
Considering the length of time I witnessed that media spectacle, including, at its height, “forcing,” by the McCann family with the disclosure of a photo-fit sketch of the alleged abductor, nothing more could have surprised me.
-Don’t worry, it’s carnival…
I follow the conversation as if it was nothing, but deep down, I have the feeling that the world is caving in.
After hanging up, I go back to contemplating the almond trees in flower, planted in the hard soil of the Algarve. I wonder if a body is resting under that earth and if God, in the end, is not a little precipitous in making these trees flower in the winter….And then I tell myself no. A memory comes to mind of the legend of this princess from a country in the north, married to a Moorish king. She spent her winter days pining for the snow of her country, which she missed. Then, the monarch had the idea of planting almond trees throughout the surrounding region. Thus, when winter arrived, from the castle window, the young woman could contemplate the white mantle of the flowering trees that covered the countryside, and her sadness was dispelled.


From time immemorial, the Algarve has been a region open to the world. Its geostrategic position, its sky, its climate and the hospitality of its inhabitants have always attracted people from other regions. Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Greeks passed through here; the Romans established themselves here and set up communication routes. Numerous relics; at Estói, Vilamoura, Abicada, Vila da Luz, witness to their presence. The influence of the Moors, who spread Al-Andalus (it is thus that they named the region) to the west of Cordoba, to Al-Gharb, remains very present in the Algarvian culture.
The history of the relationship between the Algarve and England is as ancient as it is turbulent. Between 1580 and 1640, when Portugal lost its independence and was integrated into the Spanish Empire, Faro was attacked by the troops of the Count of Essex. This latter seized, amongst other assets, some precious property – not less than 3,000 volumes – from the library of the Bishop of the Algarve, Jerónimo Osório. Amongst these books was a Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) in Hebrew, printed in 1487 in Faro by Samuel Gacon, a Jewish publisher. This historic work (the first book printed in Portugal) is kept at the British Library in London. Later, the Algarvians will help the English to defend Gibraltar, a strategic place for the fleet of the British Royal Navy.
The Algarvians have always shown great independence, not hesitating to oppose any foreign domination attempt. In the 19th century, during the French invasion, the first reverses suffered by the Napoleonic troops were inflicted by the Algarvians. The population of Olhao rose up and drove the invaders back near Quelfes; young people of the town set out aboard a fragile barque to inform King John VI, then exiled in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, of the liberation of his homeland. Portugal is a country of brave and warm-hearted people, rejecting arrogance and insults, proud of their identity and independence, even from the European Union. It is also a modern state that welcomes a great many investors and tourists and moreover plays an important and recognised diplomatic role. Throughout its history, Portugal has concluded pacts, signed treaties and built bilateral alliances with many countries: the Luso-British Alliance is a good example, proof of the vitality of relations between the two countries, and above all of a deep understanding.
Nowadays, the Algarve is focused on tourism; since the 1960s, it is mostly the British who come to stay here. It is on this welcoming soil that little Madeleine disappeared.


I feel it; with that television statement, the national director has the intention of preparing public opinion for the inevitable, that is to say, the end of the investigation and the closing of the case.
I get the impression that that decision was hatched on October 2nd and that all actions taken after that date were only a matter of form, with the sole purpose of sticking to the pre-established schedule. I fear that challenging all the previous work of the investigation is only a pretext for closing a case that was beginning to undermine the judiciary police , the investigators and Portugal. Perhaps that was why it had to come to a close.
Placing Madeleine's parents under investigation - Kate Healy and Gerald McCann as arguidos - must have marked a turning point in relations between the police in charge of the investigation and the couple. The Portuguese police officers began to consider the McCanns as potential suspects, which their British counterparts did not. At that time, the two police forces seemed to agree about exploring the hypothesis of the child's death inside the apartment. But the English police - without any really practical justification - suddenly stepped back and gave up on following that track. We have always found it strange the way the couple were treated, even after they were placed under investigation, and we have often wondered how the McCanns could have had access to information that had not been made public.
I recall various moments in the investigation, and the memories come pouring out; I think of that little girl who was not yet four years old and who was denied the right to live.
It would seem that there are preparations to smother the case, that the importance of the evidence is being minimised, that it's losing its strength. Thus, the rights of that child are flouted, the rights of many other children. Who wants to get to that point? Who required my departure from the operational coordination of the investigation? Who is it who wishes to bring an end to the arguido status of the McCanns and Murat? Those who support the theory of abduction? Those who suggest - I'd go further and say they would - that in England the suspects would already have been arrested? Or those who perpetuate the lie, in straying from the search for the material truth? The closing of the case certainly serves someone's interests.
After my departure from Portimao on October 2nd 2007, I had decided to forget about this case. Perhaps the best thing to do, considering the forces at play. If the authorities of her own country were not worried any more about what had happened to that child and they satisfied themselves with the theory of abduction, why worry myself about it? It's certainly not the unfortunate statement from a director of police (as perhaps inferred by the journalist) that will make the existing evidence be forgotten - I no longer think that was his intention. The only means of erasing the record of everything that was done would be the destruction of the official records. And then, our memory remains, that of all those who set out on this investigation to discover the truth.
I receive another phone call: it's my wife Sofia. She is worried about me, and has been since May 3rd of last year, for nine months now. Previously, our marriage already knew highs and lows; after that date, it was worse. I had become an absent father and husband. At the beginning I distanced myself from my family to protect them from the media pressure, but also because of the pace of work imposed by the investigation; now I live alone and I am seized by a certain bitterness; I can't help feeling betrayed by the institution to which I dedicated myself for more than a quarter of a century. Nothing that happened to me seems justified to me, nothing makes sense. My family did not deserve that.
Sofia is shocked by the national director's statements.
- Come and have dinner with me in Portimao. The children are with their grandparents. We can talk a little about all of that.
I decide to go. I need to hear some reassuring words.
From then on I carefully follow all the details. I become aware of the importance of statements from the national director, who had always maintained that all leads in the investigation must be explored and remain open. That they be left open is possible, but they were explored.

Could the fact have been forgotten that we decided to constitute as arguido a couple suspected of the crime of concealing a body and simulating an abduction?
A short time later, in the course of a television interview, I hear my former professor of political science and constitutional rights, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, explaining the national director's statement. I remember very well his course on the separation of power. He maintains that the director's words have killed the investigation. The death of the investigation, once again! But this is about the death of a child! Yes, I affirm it, a child is dead! This certainty is not fed by vague assumptions, no, I base myself on facts, details, clues and evidence recorded in the official records. Many questions have been raised. But where are the answers?
In trying to find them, I think to myself that it would be judicious to go back to the beginning of the investigation - while it's still clear in the memory - from the moment the little girl disappeared. So much has been said....It is time for the story to be told by the one who was responsible for its operational coordination and who lived it intensely in the company of men and women who constitute the élite of the judiciary police.


In Portinmão, I meet chief inspector Tavares de Almeida, a member of the team I directed. We have known each other since we started in the judiciary police. He is worried because of the national director's statements; he heard that our work was going to be the object of an investigation. A request in that direction has allegedly already been placed before the national directorate of the judiciary police. According to him, that would allow the truth to be re-established and would lead to recognition of the quality of our work.
During the five months that the investigations lasted, we had heard all sorts of comments, but we had got on with our job. We remind ourselves of everything that was accomplished, with a great deal of effort, rigour and honesty, and we are certain that nobody could have done better. That might seem presumptuous, but it's just fair recognition of the conscientious attitude of all the police professionals who worked on the case.
- They can't count! How can they accuse us of being precipitous when the couple were only declared suspects four months after the events! Don't they know the principle of non-self-incrimination?
It is legally impossible to continue to take statements from someone as a witness if these statements risk later turning against him. While a witness is making a statement about an ongoing case and at a given moment it is realised that he could himself be involved in an illegal act, he is constituted arguido. Thus, from then on, he has rights and duties. Contrary to what one reads in the press - above all the English -, the arguido is protected and acquires the right to silence which no one can reproach him for - which would not be the case if he were being heard as a witness.
- I agree with you. If a mistake was made, it was in taking so long to make the couple arguidos. Too much politics, that's what there was, too much politics and not enough policing.
- I'd say rather that the mistake was in treating the McCanns "with tweezers." From the start of the investigation, we realised that certain things did not add up and yet, they continued to benefit from favourable treatment; that's what's not normal!
- Does the national director perhaps think that the couple only left Portugal because they had been placed under investigation?
- In fact, the McCanns stayed in Portugal as long as we stuck to the theory of abduction; from the moment that was placed in doubt, they talked about returning to England.
- From which can be concluded that their being placed under investigation gave them an excuse to leave the country...
- You know, certain English journalists consider Portugal to be a third world country. Of course, I don't agree with that definition. And yet, if it's not a third world country, why is the head of an ongoing investigation dismissed when the quality of his work is not in doubt....
- There is a lot of talk about the "politicising," of the law....they forget the extent to which a police investigation can be influenced.
- It's a matter of either or: either the investigation is entrusted to trustworthy people, or, if things go wrong those responsible are replaced with more "reliable," people.
- I don't believe that was the main reason.
- There are always reasonable and perfectly legal arguments. In fact, those who should stand in the way of this almost political management of the investigation are the most senior police managers. They should object to any situation or action that risks bringing prejudice to the investigation and to its correct operation. They can't agree to everything under the pretext of being afraid of losing their jobs.
- No, you are aware that you don't direct the police according to personal interests but properly according to public interests. It is only thus that we can conceive of a police force in a democratic state.
- OK, but look where we are! You will see, soon the arguidos will be choosing who leads the investigation. Maybe that's the modern way..

  • The modern way....Rather self-interests, you mean! Deplorable!

  • - Speaking of deplorable, have you seen any of the Benfica game recently?
    - It's not football any more, it's I don't know what. Incidentally, you've met Gaivota?
    Gaivota is the surname of a former Benfica player who was living in Portimão at the time of the investigation. A real companion who shared the good and the bad times with us. I remember his kindness, and the patience with which he showed his support for me.
    - If he was still at Benfica, maybe their defence would be up to something.


Sofia is listening to our conversation. She knows the importance of the work carried out by Tavares de Almeida. It was he who kept the crisis unit operational throughout the investigation, until the departure of the last English police officer, when the McCann family returned to England. As if, from then on, it was no longer necessary to continue the investigations where the disappearance took place.

It was he who, nearly every day, opened the local office at 6 o'clock in the morning, not to leave it until after midnight. All the information passed through there: there we centralised all the data we received, emails, telephone calls, communications from the police officers working on the case. That room was the real nerve centre of the investigation. The bits of information were analysed there in order to distinguish those that were of real interest from the many others - reports or witness statements - raising pure speculation. A great deal of sorting out had to be done, notably concerning the eye-witnesses, who multiplied as the media coverage took on enormous proportions.
The English investigators occupied the adjoining room: between the two areas, information circulated in an uninterrupted flow. The British investigators participated in our meetings, taking notes in their record book, Major Incident Enquiry Officer's Rough Book.
Another room was dedicated to dealing with information of a more practical nature, like, for example, the register of all paedophiles present in the region, in order to look for actual links to the case or the creation of patterns of connections; difficult and meticulous work of great value, which was later sent to the crisis unit.
Amongst other duties, Tavares prepared the documents - many of which had to be translated - so as to allocate the jobs between the various teams who, on the ground, executed the operational orders for the proper management of this lengthy work of verification. The revolt they now feel is legitimate. They suffer a deep sense of injustice: not only did the juduciary police not know how to protect them, but it called into question their reliability.
In the days following the national director's statement, rumour had it that he himself was going to be dismissed. Once again the judiciary police were in crisis; once again this crisis was going to be resolved by a series of resignations in the highest spheres of the hierarchy. Yet, stability is one of the essential conditions for the success of its mission, totally dedicated to the service of the community.

How come a criminal investigation - in this case, the research undertaken following the disappearance of a little English girl - could have caused so much upset to Portuguese justice and the judiciary police, and compromised the cooperation that existed for such a long time between the police of the two countries?
What are the powers that made the investigation so difficult to the point of stopping it abruptly? In recounting its operation, perhaps a response can be outlined and new light thrown on the events.
I invite researchers in communication sciences to look into this case in order to understand how a dramatic event could be transformed into one of the most media-covered happenings of our time.

The Algarve

Completely turned towards the sea and the south – Muslim Africa - , and pointing its imperious Cape St-Vincent towards America, screened by a wall of mountains, which does not lend grandeur but intimacy, the Algarve is like a small antechamber, a window for the world’s pilgrims. Small, let’s repeat, not only because of the area of land, by the rarity of grandiose monuments, but also for its blanket of vegetation, since cork oaks, carob trees, orange trees and almond trees, being dwarf, hardly lift themselves far from the earth and the fig trees, which bend their branches to the soil, creep along then rise up again, like the handles of an unlit chandelier.

Jaime Cortesão

Portugal A Terra e o Homem

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Gonçalo Amaral. The Truth of the Lie. Foreword


The Truth of the Lie

by Gonçalo Amaral

Soon, very soon, the world will know, the truth of the lie and we will gain truth and justice for a little girl who has no voice, dead on the evening of May 3rd at apartment 5A, Ocean Club, Praia da Luz, Algarve, Portugal.” – Gonçalo Amaral, 22nd April 2008.


Certainly, this book responds to the need I felt to defend myself, having been discredited by the institution for which I worked for more than twenty-six years, without being given any chance to explain myself, publicly or within the institution itself. I made the request several times, but it was never heard. I, therefore, scrupulously respected the rules of the judiciary police and I refrained from making any comment. But this goes without saying: I experienced that silence to which I was constrained as an attack on my dignity.

Later, I was removed from the investigation. It was then that I understood that it was time to speak. To do that, I requested early retirement in order to be able to express myself freely.

However, the purpose of this work is more important: to contribute to finding the truth so that justice can finally be done in the investigation known as the “Maddie case.” Truth and justice are two values strongly anchored within me, which reflect my profound beliefs: they always guided the work I did for the institution to which I am proud to have belonged. Even in retirement, they continue to inspire me and to be present in my life.

In no way does this text seek to challenge the work of my colleagues in the judiciary police or to compromise the ongoing investigation. I am convinced that the disclosure of all the facts may, in the present case, result in harming the investigation. However, the reader will have access to unpublished information, to new interpretations of events – always with respect for the law – and, of course, to relevant enquiries.

The only objective of a criminal investigation is the search for truth. There is no place for the “politically correct.”

“All of this exists

All of this is sad

All of this is fado”

Aníbal Nazaré song O Fado.

Thursday 9 February 2017

Kate and Gerry McCann: No Longer The Teflon Two?

Since Madeleine McCann disappeared into thin air nearly 10 years ago, her parents Kate and Gerry McCann have clearly felt confident enough to sue anyone who criticised them in print. They confidently repeated the mantra that there was no proof that Madeleine had come to harm, although more recently they have added the word physical: there is no proof that Madeleine has come to any physical harm. Perhaps they reconsidered that mantra because if Madeleine had been abducted, were we to accept that they truly believed that abduction did not harm a child?

Kate and Gerry have courted the media for 10 years, being able to grab the media's attention with a comment whenever a child who had gone missing many years before turned up safe and well. This gives us renewed hope bla bla bla....

We know that the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance was archived in 2008, at which point some, but not all, of the Portuguese police files of the investigation were made public. Soon after this, Gonçalo Amaral's book about the investigation was published. It then took Kate and Gerry nearly a year after the publication of that book to decide that they had been seriously harmed by it and to take legal action in the Portuguese courts.

Eight years on and the Portuguese Supreme Court has decided in Gonçalo Amaral's favour. The text of the Supreme Court's decision has been translated and the British media is on a wave. Kate and Gerry were not cleared of involvement in their daughter's disappearance. The lifting of their arguido status with the archiving of the case did not mean they had been declared innocent.

Thanks to Joana Morais, we have the translation of what are probably the most important parts of the Supreme Court's statement.

This is Joana's introduction to her translation: "Court acquits Gonçalo Amaral and points out that the couple was constituted as arguidos (suspects) with a "well-founded suspicion" of having committed a crime."

Several British newspapers, including the Sun, the Mirror, the Mail and the Metro, have picked up on certain important aspects of the decision by the Supreme Court.

The Judge-Counsellors continue: "It is true that the criminal investigation was eventually archived, in virtue of none of the evidence that led to the constitution of the claimants as arguidos was confirmed. Nonetheless, even in the archiving dispatch serious reservations are made about the verisimilitude (reality of) of the allegation that Madeleine had been abducted."

The theory of abduction is called into question.

As to the presumption of innocence invoked by the parents, they (Judges) consider that one should not say "that the claimants were acquitted through the order of archiving the criminal proceedings (investigation). The archiving was determined because it was not possible to obtain sufficient evidence of the practice of crimes. It does not seem reasonable to consider that said archiving dispatch, based on insufficient evidence, should be equated as substantiation (proof) of exoneration".

Kate and Gerry were not cleared of involvement in their daughter's disappearance.

So, what now? None of those newspapers can be sued for what they have printed this week because they are quoting the published text of the Portuguese Supreme Court's decision. Up to this point, Kate and Gerry have been able to repeat their mantra about having been cleared. They haven't been. They have used money from the fund that was supposedly set up to search for their daughter to drag Gonçalo Amaral through the courts and they have been given an easy ride by the British press, even though they admitted to having left three small children alone in an unlocked apartment in a foreign country. Maybe the Teflon has worn off!

I imagine that in their arrogance they thought they were free and clear and they were going to leave the Portuguese court with loadsa money. Nope! If they are now contemplating taking their case to the European Court, perhaps they should bear in mind the recent decision by that court that a Portuguese journalist had the right to express his opinion. Taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights could see this case taking several more years and end up costing the McCanns even more in legal fees than they are already liable for. I guess their other mantra, "It's up to our lawyers," will come into play here once again, but if they have been guided by those lawyers for eight years, maybe it's time to engage new legal advisors.

Tuesday 31 January 2017

And Kate and Gerry McCann are....disappointed!

Kate and Gerry are "extremely disappointed." Well, I can appreciate that having spent 8 years and thrown a great deal of the search fund for their daughter at suing the police officer who was trying to find her, they must be disappointed. Coulda made a million €s there folks! Drat! This is so disappointing!

Eight years since they brought the action. Rather a long time to be waiting for that payout from Gonçalo and now it's not coming. Drat!

And in that time "the landscape has dramatically changed." It sure has. While the mainstream media have jumped on every trivial utterance from their mouths, linked them to every high profile missing child case anywhere in the world, the McCanns have seriously lost credibility in the eyes of the general public as can be seen by reading comments, where they are allowed, on the web sites of major newspapers.

While Kate and Gerry state that they have always wanted a joint investigation by the Metropolitan Police and the Policia Judiciaria, the original investigation was carried out jointly by a team of British police officers working with the PJ in Portugal. In the years since the Metropolitan Police have been involved, hundreds of people have been interviewed, millions have been spent, but the original people involved in the case, the McCanns and their friends, have not been interviewed. Now, why didn't the Met Police go back to the beginning?

Both police authorities involved in the present investigation believe there is no evidence that Madeleine has come to physical harm? Well, I guess adding the word "physical" there makes the McCanns looks slightly less like they're living in La La Land. For years, they have been repeating the mantra that there is no evidence that Madeleine has been harmed. Right! They wanted the police and the public to believe that Madeleine had been abducted but that abduction does not harm a child? Taking a child from everyone and everything she knows is not harmful! If they believed that themselves, they really were/are deluded, but then there is no evidence that Madeleine was in fact abducted. The McCanns have to keep it up, though, especially now that the Supreme Court has decided in Gonçalo's favour.

While I think the Met Police have been looking in all the wrong places to find what happened to Madeleine, I do not believe the Portuguese police believe that Madeleine has not been physically harmed. I believe the PJ are still hoping for justice for Madeleine and justice for themselves too, after years of offensive reporting about a "botched investigation," and articles describing them as "sardine munchers,"

As for the "disgraced police officer," as the British press described Amaral on many occasions, he has finally been exonerated in court. If the McCanns are looking to take this to the European Court, maybe they should bear in mind the recent decision of that court that a Portuguese journalist had the right to express his opinion. They could end up even more disappointed.

Justice has prevailed: Kate and Gerry McCann have lost their appeal to Portugal's highest court

It's been a long time coming, but today justice has prevailed. The Supreme Court in Portugal has turned down the McCanns' appeal for a review of the decision on Gonçal Amaral's book and Snr Amaral will not have to pay any money into the McCanns' hands.

The court's decision very quickly hit the mainstream media. Why? Because Madeleine McCann became the world's most famous missing child, thanks mainly to her parents need to keep her name in the world's media. On return from Portugal, after being made suspects, arguidos, they hired a PR spokesman, Clarence Mitchell. Why would parents of a missing child need PR? Why would they have such a great need to keep their names in the media?

The mainstream media loved the McCanns because any story about them or about Madeleine sold newspapers and I'm sure the fund set up by Kate and Gerry, allegedly to help find their daughter, but used for, in my opinion, dodgy detectives and suing anyone who criticised them, benefitted from media attention. And remember folks, the fund is not a charity: it's a company limited by guarantee.

Kate and Gerry McCann have made the most of the opportunities presented by publicity given to other stories about missing children, especially those who have been found safe and well after many years. Get in there, newspapers and get a quote from the gives us renewed hope...bla bla bla. However or whenever a child disappeared and was found years later, it gave the McCanns hope!

Madeleine, according to her parents, disappeared into thin air from an unlocked apartment in a foreign country.  No evidence of abduction, though: no forced shutters and absolutely nothing left behind by this supposed abductor. There are witnesses though. Two dogs, who had had over 200 successful cases before the McCann case, alerted only on places and on items belonging to the McCanns or which the McCanns had used. Well, Gerry said "Ask the dogs, Sandra," and maybe it's time to go back to what the dogs actually said: they said there had been human blood and cadaver odour on items and in places connected to the McCanns.

The dogs said it loud and clear. Justice has prevailed for Gonçalo and now we want justice for Maddie. It has been a long time coming.

Força Gonçalo.

Friday 18 March 2016

Madeleine McCann: Madeleine's disappearance would not have triggered a missing child alert because it did not meet all of the criteria.

I am re-publishing an old blog post from 2014 because Kate McCann has once again been going on about how Madeleine might have been found if the alert system had been in place at that time and an alert had been triggered. There are four criteria which must be met before an alert is triggered and Maddie's disappearance met only one of them.

Coral Jones, mother of murdered April Jones, and Mrs McCann, mother of missing Madeleine, unveiled a digital billboard at King’s Cross station in London promoting an enhanced Child Rescue Alerts system to inform the public about missing children whose lives are considered at risk.

The scheme will use social media including text messages, email and digital billboards across the UK in addition to traditional broadcast media to issue the alerts when it is launched on Sunday, International Missing Children’s Day.

The Child Rescue Alerts System, which has been introduced in the UK recently, is based of the French Alerte Enlèvement system, which has been in operation across the EU for a number of years. The UK is one of the last of the member states to introduce this system for missing children.

I think Kate McCann is showing her usual arrogance in appearing in public to promote this alert system after attempting to replace it in 2008 when she and Gerry went to Strasbourg to sponsor the American Amber Alert system at a time when the French system was already being tried out in several EU states.

An alert system had been active in some member states of the EU for some time when the McCanns went to Strasbourg. In fact, Portugal was the second country after Hungary, to introduce an alert system in 2002, in accordance with an EU directive.

In June 2008, the McCanns went to Strasbourg to gather support for a Europe-wide system, based on the American Amber Alert. They presented a written declaration to the Commission, but this was not their own work, rather it had been drawn up by Edward McMillan-Scott, then Vice-President of the European Parliament, but presented by the media-savvy, media magnets, the McCanns.

The McCanns had simply tried to hijack an initiative that had already been working its way through the European Parliament for some time, turn it into something else and claim it as their own.

In December 2006, an extraordinary meeting of the member states approved an initiative of the European Commission to reserve certain numbers (Starting with 116 ) for a Europe-wide alert system for missing children. This was the system which had been in operation in France since 2006 and had proved to be effective in several cases.

Since 2006, the French system, known as "Alerte Enlèvement," which is the system now introduced across most of the EU territory and finally in the UK, has recovered many missing children through rapid response to reported cases of abduction. The success of the system, according to Rachida Dati, former French Justice Minister, is due to there being very strict criteria for launching an alert. Four criteria must be met.

1) It must be a confirmed abduction and not just a disappearance, however worrying.

2) The victim's life or physical safety must be at risk.

3) The Public Prosecutor must be in possession of sufficient information which, if broadcast, would help to locate the child or the suspect.

4) The victim must be a minor.

Would an alert have been triggered when Madeleine McCann disappeared? 

1) A confirmed abduction? No. All that was known was that Madeleine had been reported by her parents as having been in bed when they left the apartment to go to the Tapas Bar and that when Kate McCann went to check on the children at 10pm, Madeleine wasn't in her bed. In spite of what was stated to friends and relations of the McCanns by telephone in the early hours of May 4th, 2007, there was no evidence of a break-in at the apartment: the shutters had not been "jemmied," and no trace of an abductor was found in the apartment. Apart from the above, we have Jane Tanner's statement about having seen a man she originally described as "carrying a bundle that could have been a child," which gradually developed into a man carrying a child who was definitely Madeleine McCann. 

So, no, criterion number one  was not met.

2) Was Madeleine's life or physical safety at risk? Well, she wasn't tucked up safely in her bed and she was not hiding in the apartment or anywhere in the vicinity. She was a missing three-year-old, so a child at risk since it was not and still is not known what had happened to her. 

3) Was there sufficient information that would have helped locate Madeleine or the suspect? The question is, what kind of information would have helped? The first and most important piece of information would perhaps have been a description of a suspect, but Jane Tanner's description of "an egg with hair," would not have been very helpful! Secondly, the description of a vehicle that could possibly have been used by a suspect. None. So, based on a vague description of "an egg with hair," there would have been insufficient evidence, which if broadcast would have helped recover Madeleine or find a suspect.

Number 3 not met.

4) The victim must be a minor. Yes. 

As for little April Jones, an alert would probably have been triggered in her case. Several of April's friends reported having seen her getting into a white van. So, there would have been sufficient information, which if broadcast may have helped the police recover April, or at least discover her whereabouts. Madeleine McCann's disappearance is very different in many ways to that of April Jones. There are no independent witnesses outside the McCanns circle of friends who can state that Madeleine had been in bed when she vanished into thin air, but April was seen outside her home by many of her friends. April's case was an obvious abduction: Madeleine's disappearance was not. Even Andy Redwood, who is leading the team of British police officers investigating Madeleine's disappearance in Portugal, has stated recently that there is a chance that Madeleine may not have left the apartment alive. Is he suggesting that an intruder took away a dead child or is he suggesting something else? 

So, here we have Kate McCann appearing in public to promote a missing child alert system that she tried to replace with the American Amber Alert system, under the strict criteria of which, an alert would not have been triggered for Madeleine. That woman has some Chutzpah! But that's nothing new as far as Kate and Gerry McCann are concerned! They admit to having left three children under the age of 4 in an unlocked apartment in a foreign country while they wined and dined with their mates and have been behaving like celebrity victims ever since, courting publicity at every opportunity. That's amazing Chutzpah in my book! 

Monday 26 October 2015

The McCanns, a load of dodgy detectives and £100,000

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

"McCann fury as new libel cop case begins "

The Daily Star today laments how the poor McCanns are furious that so much money has been raised by "Internet trolls," to help Gonçalo Amaral launch his appeal against the decision of a civil court to award the McCanns a huge amount of money in damages against him. For a start, nothing new there: the McCanns seem to have been furious on quite a few occasions since their daughter disappeared into thin air.

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.