Monday, 11 January 2010

The Circus Is Back In Town!


Roll up, roll up, folks, the circus returns to the Civil Court in Lisbon tomorrow, Tuesday January 12th. On my right is the "disgraced," former policeman who initially led the investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance. On my left, Madeleine's parents, who will return to Lisbon for the three days of the hearing.

We've seen the trailers for this momentous occasion.

Leicestershire police will keep all the information they hold on the case under wraps, some of which may be made public once those responsible for Madeleine's disappearance are brought to justice and all appeals have been exhausted. (The Express Sunday January 3rd)

There was much speculation as to the timing of this press release. What transpires is that this was advance notice for the statement that one Sgt José de Freitas, an English police officer who was sent to Portugal to act as liaison officer between the Portuguese and British police and to give support to the McCann family, will not be able to appear as a witness for Dr Amaral in the hearing about the temporary injunction on his book, "A Verdade da Mentira."

Sgt José de Freitas, in a letter to the judge, invokes English state secrets in his refusal to give evidence in court. (Jornal de Noticias 10/01.2010/)

Now, hang on a minute, I say, wasn't/isn't this a Portuguese police investigation? Logically and in some kind of fairness, doesn't all the information relating to this case belong to the Portuguese police? It seems that logic and fairness doesn't come into this. All the work that Sgt De Freitas carried out in Portugal was recorded and is now subject to the UK laws of state secrets. Which raises the question for me as to should liaison be a two-way process? Seemingly not since the communication that took place between De Freitas and the McCanns is officially now state secrets.

"The English cop, incidentally with a Portuguese name (José de Freitas), was the liaison officer between the Portuguese and English authorities and the McCann couple. On several occasions he accompanied Kate and Gerry, who would be constituted as arguidos, after being confronted with evidence of human blood and cadaver odor in the apartment at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, Lagos. The traces - remember - were detected by the English dogs "Eddie" and "Keela."

"As an usual standard in the procedures of the British, all the contacts and signals expressed by the McCanns were registered, including those that contributed to support the decision to constitute them as suspects. And it's relating to that, and to other data, that Gonçalo Amaral seeks a statement."

"Any potential evidence [testimonial] that I can give may be subject to confidentiality and Immunity of the English Public Interest. Furthermore, since all the services that I performed were official, it is applied the principle of State immunity and it will be necessary the consent of the United Kingdom authorities to waive that State immunity before I could be subject to the jurisdiction of the Portuguese courts and to be able to give any evidence, whether relevant or not. The State immunity covering my official acts is that of the United Kingdom and not mine, and can not be renounced by me, but only by the United Kingdom", wrote José de Freitas to the judge of the Civil Court of Lisbon after having been notified, in a letter that JN had access." (Joana Morais 11/01/2010)

And of course the UK media has made sure that the appearance of the golden couple, Mr and Mrs McCann, who left their three children alone in an unlocked apartment, night after night, but don't we all do it, and it was, "just like dining in your own back garden," has been well featured in their preparations for sending their journalists out to Portugal. Wey hey! Lights, camera, action!

Sky News "McCanns Return To Portugal For Libel Case."

Well actually, like most of the UK media, Sky has got it wrong: this is not the libel action, this is the hearing to decide on the temporary injunction on Snr Amaral's book, the English title of which is, "The Truth Of The Lie."

"Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "I can confirm that Kate and Gerry McCann will be returning to Portugal on Monday to attend the resumption of the Amaral trial on Tuesday.

"The details of their travel plans and itinerary will remain private at their request."

Their itinerary will remain private? Does he mean private as in there will be no details given out or private in that we will be swamped with photos of them wherever they go and only pre-prepared statements will be presented by them?

"The couple have previously said any money awarded in damages by the courts would go towards paying for private investigators to look for their daughter."

Oh dear! More private investigators? Like Metodo 3, the bunch of Spanish goons, who had never investigated even one case of a missing child, who claimed to know who had kidnapped Madeleine, exactly where she was being held and that she would be home in time for Christmas 2008? The bunch of cowboys who are suspected of paying witnesses in Morocco to report sightings of Madeleine?

More private investigators like Oakley International, whose boss is now languishing in jail on fraud charges?

"Kevin Halligen, from Surrey, was hired by the Find Madeleine fund as a security consultant. His Washington-based company, Oakley International, was awarded a six-month £500,000 contract by the fund, but Mr Halligen allegedly disappeared with £300,000."

And what about the intrepid duo Dave Edgar and Arthur Cowley, retired UK police officers, who:

Flew to Germany, insisting that convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett spoke to them to, "clear his name," as a suspect in the Madeleine McCann case. They issued a 15 year-old photo of Hewlett and claimed some resemblance to an e-fit image of Maddie's alleged abductor.

Received and acted on a report, two years after the event, from a British man on holiday in Barcelona, that he had been approached by a "Victoria Beckham look-a-like," who asked if he had come to, "deliver her daughter." This invoked a massive hunt in Australia for the woman who was said to have been voyaging in a luxury yacht from Australia. However, the dedicated duo of investigators appear not to have actually investigated very thoroughly.

"The Mail on Sunday however, has established that members of Mr Edgar’s team who had visited Barcelona:

  • Failed to speak to anyone working at the seafood restaurant near where the agitated woman was seen at 2am.
  • Failed to ask the port authority about movement of boats around the time Madeleine disappeared.
  • Failed to ask if the mystery woman had been filmed on CCTV.
  • Knew nothing about the arrival of an Australian luxury yacht just after Madeleine vanished until told by British journalists, who gave them the captain’s mobile phone number.
  • Failed to interview anyone at a nearby dockside bar where, according to Mr Edgar, the mystery woman was later seen drinking.
  • Failed to ask British diplomats in Spain for advice before or during the visit.

Also, Spanish police could not confirm that they had been contacted by the British investigators."

So, should they by any chance win their libel action, who next? There must be some reputable private detectives in the world, who would seriously and efficiently put their experience to work in searching for a missing child. Are the McCanns just unlucky or have they knowingly thrown money, other people's money, at a few posses of detectives who were never going to find their way out of the bank?

What else has been brought to our attention in the run-up to this media event in Portugal? Well, for some reason, creating a negative image of Snr Amaral maybe, by piling on as much negative guff as possible, several newspapers have dug up a story from last year about The Madeleine Foundation's invitation to Gonçalo Amaral to attend a meeting in the UK in February this year.

Not content with telling its readers about the invitation, which has not been accepted, the Scottish Daily Record/, takes this opportunity to purge itself of some of the rubbish relating to Snr Amaral, which it has fondly cherishing in its bosom, like a half-warmed fish.

"THE cop who led the hunt for Madeleine McCann plans to visit the UK to talk about his claims that her parents are to blame for her disappearance.

Portuguese former police chief Goncalo Amaral also criticised British police involvement in the case.

And he was pictured enjoying

boozy lunches when he should have been working. He was eventually sacked."

Amaral was not "sacked." He was removed from the invesigation and re-assigned to the PJ's offices in Faro. The Record adds something closer to the truth at the end of this piece of journalistic licence.......

"He was the one who authorised their status as arguidos, or official suspects.

But he was removed from his post after five months and then retired."

.........which makes it appear that retirement was imposed on Inspector Amaral, whereas he took early retirement in order to write his book, express himself clearly and recover his reputation which had been tarnished by the likes of the Daily Record.

So, tomorrow it kicks off! Clarence Mitchell, PR spokesperson for the McCanns has obviously been very busy making sure the Teflon Two get their great tranche of publicity in advance of their trip to Portugal. We've seen the videos, we've seen the photos, we've seen the comments about the supposed visit of Gonçalo Amaral and we even know that the McCann twins want to go back to Praia da Luz, from where their sister disappeared in 2007, when they were just two years and three months old, who, in Kate McCann's own words, had never spent much time with Madeleine. Perhaps in going there they will hope to see some evidence of the existence of the sister they probably hardly knew, whom they cannot possibly remember very well by now. Or perhaps, like most four-year-old children they see their parents upset and want to please them.

It appears that there has been an effort to tarnish the image of Gonçalo Amaral, at least in the eyes of the UK reading public in advance of the commencement of the hearings on Tuesday.

Only the Mail On Sunday, in reporting the invitation to Snr Amaral from The Madeleine Foundation, gives an accurate summing up of the reasons he was removed from the case.

"Next week, Amaral is due to appear in a Lisbon court to fight a £1million libel action brought by the McCanns over his book on the case.

In it, he accused the couple of neglecting their children, questioned their need to employ a spokesman and claimed British police were ‘too close’ to them."