Sunday, 14 February 2010

Gerry McCann: "There is no evidence that Madeleine is dead."


Gerry McCann outside the Lisbon Court in January.

So, going back to how this all started, what reasons did the McCanns give for taking this legal action against Gonçalo Amaral to have his book, "The Truth of the Lie," banned?

"In a statement, the parents of the missing girl said: "We - together with our three children Madeleine, Sean and Amelie - are taking this legal action against Goncalo Amaral over his entirely unfounded and grossly defamatory claims. "[They were] made in all types of media, both within Portugal and beyond - that Madeleine is not only dead, but that we, her parents, were somehow involved in concealing her body."

"We can no longer stand back and watch as Mr Amaral tries to convince the entire world that Madeleine is dead. "Nor can we allow this blatant injustice to Madeleine, with its obvious risk of hindering our attempts to find her, to continue." BBC 17/05/09

So, the McCanns were seeing the book as Mr Amaral's personal opinion, his trying to convince the world that Madeleine was dead and that this would stop people searching for their daughter. Yet, the McCanns were amongst the first people to lay their hands on the police files of the investigation when the case was archived, in which they could read, as any one else could, that the theory of Madeleine's being more likely to be dead was not Gonçalo Amaral's personal opinion, but the conclusion of the joint English and Portuguese police teams who investigated Madeleine's disappearance.

Gerry McCann has stated that the thesis of death was investigated to the exclusion of other theses, because the PJ were convinced that Madeleine was dead and so were blind to other ideas. Not true.

"On reading this report, which was given to me on the morning of May 4th, I understand that there is no evidence sufficiently convincing to tip the investigation in one direction rather than another. There are many possible leads: voluntary disappearance - the child could have wakened and not seeing her parents, gone off to look for them; accidental death and concealing of a body; physical abuse causing death; murder by negligence or premeditated; an act of vengeance; taken hostage followed by a ransom demand; abducted by a paedophile; kidnap or murder committed by a burglar." Chapter 3; The Truth of the Lie

"The idea of a robbery gone wrong is not to be ruled out either. During the holidays, burglaries are not rare, and the police are not always informed, because hotels avoid spreading this kind of information. Even if the examination of apartment 5A reveals no trace of a break-in - contrary to what the parents insist and that Sky announced - we have to take stock of the petty crimes committed in the seaside resort and at the tourist complex. We are counting on the management of the hotel so that no incident of this nature remains hidden. Even if we don't have much belief in the scenario of a burglar who enters the apartment for a burglary and leaves it with the child, dead or alive, this hypothesis, as ridiculous as it may be, must not be neglected" (Chapter 3: link above.)

In July 2007, the hypothesis of death was being considered by the joint investigating teams of English and Portuguese police. The English police suggested bringing in specialist a dog team, trained by South Yorkshire police. Mark Harrison arrived to assist with the investigation.

".........we welcome Mark Harrison, a specialist in murder, and the search for missing persons and victims of natural disasters. National advisor to the British police, he is well known for his exceptional professional experience. He has already participated in dozens of international criminal investigations.

His work consists of defining new strategies for research. He gets to work immediately, supported by the Portuguese PJ and the investigators from Leicester and Scotland Yard. On his arrival, we place at his disposal details of the case, as well as all our material and human resources. Harrison reads up on the statements and interviews from the principal witnesses - including, of course, those of the parents and friends -, all the analyses, simulations, hypotheses and cross-checking already carried out. He carries out a reconnaissance on the ground, by helicopter and then on foot. He paces the streets and the access roads to Vila da Luz and compares them to the diagrams created in the course of the investigation. Nothing is left to chance: measurement and timing of possible routes between buildings, apartments and restaurants; analyses, with the help of the best specialists, of weather, geological and maritime factors in relation to the investigation; consultation with the best forensic anthropologist in the country, who indicates for us what would be the actual state of the body in the hypothesis of death occurring on May 3rd; study of the region's natural carrion predators. All the research already conducted by hundreds of people - GNR, civil defence, firemen and other volunteers - is re-examined in detail and re-analysed.

After a week of intense work, Harrison presents the results of his study to my coordinating group. Even if we were expecting it, his conclusions confirm our worst fears. The most plausible scenario is the following: there is no doubt that Madeleine is dead, and her body is hidden somewhere in the area around Praia da Luz. He praises the quality of the work carried out by the Portuguese authorities in trying to find the little girl alive. According to him, the time has come to redirect the searches in order to find, this time, a body hidden in the surrounding area.
Chapter 16: The Truth of the Lie

Mark Harrison showed the PJ a video of the work done by Eddie and Keela, the two specialist sniffer dogs trained by Martin Grime of South Yorkshire police. The dogs were brought in on Mark Harrison's recommendation. The results are widely recorded.

Mark Harrison's conclusion, which is recorded in the police files, was that there was no doubt that Madeleine was dead and that her body was hidden somewhere in the area around Praia da Luz. This, therefore, was not Mr Amaral's personal opinion, but the conclusion reached by the English specialist, based on painstaking work on the ground, before the dogs were brought in. The dogs were brought in as a result of conclusions drawn by Mark Harrison.

Gerry McCann's repeated mantra is that there is no evidence that Madeleine is dead. Even if we rule out the work done by the specialist dogs, Eddie and Keela, there is no evidence to support the idea that Madeleine is not dead: there is no evidence of a break-in at apartment 5A; a witness for Gonçalo Amaral, during the process in Lisbon in January, stated that it would have been impossible for an abductor to have got through the narrow bedroom window, carrying a child; there was no forensic evidence left by an alleged abductor; the only witness is Jane Tanner, whose evidence has changed several times. Added to this, we have the many reported sightings all over the world, all of which have been ruled out. All of this would logically point to the fact that Madeleine has not been found because she is not alive to be found and her body has been disposed of in such a way that it will probably never be found.

There is actually no evidence of an abduction and there have been no credible sightings of Madeleine, in spite of the huge reward that was offered. Two dogs with a 100% success record separately alerted in the same areas of the McCanns' holiday apartment and in the car they rented three weeks after Madeleine's disappearance. And this is all in the police files of the investigation and described in Gonçalo Amaral's book as his personal story of that investigation.

Should police officers be liable to being prosecuted for leads they follow as part of an investigation? Should they be sued for investigating certain people as suspects? If so, there would be very few cases being properly investigated and brought to trial.

In my opinion, the McCanns' decision to sue Gonçalo Amaral was very ill-advised. The information which has come out in the course of the four days of the process in Lisbon cannot have helped the reputation they claim has been damaged by Amaral's book or their repeated mantra that there is no evidence that Madeleine is dead. The most damning piece of information to the cause of pinning the thesis of Madeleine's death squarely on Dr Amaral's shoulders came in the reading of a hitherto confidential report by Criminal Profiler, Lee Rainbow, of the National Policing Improvement Agency, which was sent to Portugal in June 2007, just one month after Madeleine's disappearance.

"Gerry McCann was made a suspect in his daughter Madeleine's disappearance after a British expert said he should be investigated for 'homicide', a Portuguese court heard yesterday.

Criminal profiler Lee Rainbow recommended that police on the Algarve investigate the doctor and his wife Kate because of 'contradictions' in his statement.

The report by Mr Rainbow, of the National Policing Improvement Agency, was sent to Portugal in June 2007, a month after the three-year-old disappeared.

His (Gonçalo Amaral's) lawyer Antonio Cabrita, reading from a Portuguese translation of the previously- confidential report, said: 'The family is a lead that should be followed.

The lawyer added: 'Portuguese police had only considered the abduction theory. It was British police who said they must consider homicide as well.' Daily Mail 11/02/10