Sara & Kate… true heroines The Sun (appears in paper edition only)
The Sun, 07 November 2009
By Lorraine Kelly Saturday 7th November 2009
I WAS hugely impressed this week by two tragic mothers who somehow manage to keep going despite suffering the torments of hell.
First there is the astonishingly brave Sara Payne, whose eight-year-old daughter Sarah was murdered by paedophile Roy Whiting in 2000.
Sara has spent the past nine months – the same length of time she carried her little girl in her womb – listening to fellow victims of crime and hearing their stories of pain and betrayal.
Then there is Kate McCann. I met her for the first time this week and found myself tearful at the sight of this bone-thin, haunted-eyed mum who just wants her daughter back.
Both these women were thrust into the media spotlight through no fault of their own, but have been grimly determined to use their unwanted “fame” to try to make some sort of sense of their experiences.
For Sara, who was appointed the Government’s victims’ champion, it is a passionate desire for those hit by crime to be heard, and not to be forgotten. She has been through the justice system and knows its flaws first hand.
Her long-awaited report will, hopefully, bring about much-needed change.
Kate just wants to ensure that Madeleine’s disappearance remains in the public eye and to appeal directly to anyone who might be shielding her daughter’s abductor.
A new campaign this week showed computer images of how Maddie might look today, at the age of six.
The website with appeal video A Minute For Madeleine has received more than four million hits.
No doubt some of the responses will be time-wasters, but there is always the hope that one day there will be a breakthrough.
It is now more than two-and-a-half years since Madeleine disappeared. Her little brother and sister are growing up with a ghost.
Four-year-old twins Sean and Amelie talk about her all the time and want to know when she is coming home.
Heartbreakingly, they have told Kate and Gerry they want to punish the people who have taken their sister away.
None of us can really know the anguish Sara and Kate have been through and I cannot make up my mind who suffers more.
The mother who has had to bury her child but at least knows her fate, or the mother who still has a glimmer of hope but never knows any peace of mind.
What’s certain is that both of them are fighters.
Sara battles in her daughter’s name for victims of crime and Kate will never give up her search for her child. They are real heroines.
McCanns use psychologist to help tell twins about Madeleine, 08 November 2009
By James Murray, Investigations Editor Sunday November 8, 2009
SCOTLAND YARD should be brought in to take control of the investigation to discover what happened to Madeleine McCann.
Kate and Gerry McCann want the Yard’s renowned kidnap team to assess an avalanche of new information after last week’s emotional internet appeal, which generated five million hits from around the world.
Portuguese police, the Sunday Express can reveal, have failed to set up a new phone line for callers to ring with information.
Last night there was fury over thedismissive response. Interpol and Europol are among 163 forces worldwide that have committed to help with the appeal.
Portugal’s Policia Judiciaria is still in charge of the Madeleine case because that is where she disappeared over two years ago.
It would say only that if credible information comes in by fax, letter or email, it would be passed to senior officers if it was deemed “significant”.
There were also reservations last night about Leicestershire Police, who are aiding the investigation from this country because the McCanns live in their catchment area, at Rothley.
Last night former Scotland Yard chief Dai Davies said it was time to let the Yard take over.
The former royal protection head said: “Madeleine is a British subject and she deserves the best, which the Yard can provide. It is time to put any daft police protocols to one side and get on with the job of finding her. It is a solvable case.
“It is astonishing and disgraceful that the Portuguese have not assigned a specific team to scrutinise leads which could provide a breakthrough in the world’s biggest child abduction case.
“It is frankly outrageous that the parents of this poor child should be hiring private detectives to conduct an investigation which should have been taken on by the Yard in the first place.
“The Yard has a kidnap squad with a brilliant success record, and access to the best Holmes computer technology, forensics and investigative techniques in the world.”
Holmes, which stands for Home Office Large Major Enquiry System, is a state-of-the-art data system designed to deal with the huge volume of information major crimes generate.
Sources claimed last night that Leicestershire detectives have not been inputting all their information on Holmes.
Police forces across Britain have cracked scores of tough cases using the system because it can be programmed to highlight suspects and analyse the value of myriad leads.
No one was available at Leicestershire Police yesterday to confirm or deny the claims.
On Tuesday, Kate and Gerry, both doctors aged 41, made new television appeals via the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
They urged: “Please take a minute and help us bring Madeleine home. Let’s hope and pray this message reaches those who know who took Madeleine and they find the strength to do the right thing.”
On Friday, a Leicestershire Police spokesman said any new information from the CEOPC initiative would be passed on to the Portuguese who would consider credible lines of inquiry.
Requests from the Portuguese to carry out new inquiries in the UK would be co-ordinated by Leicestershire Police.
New images of Madeleine, who would now be six, were shown in a video in English, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, French, German and Italian.
One showed how she might appear if her skin had darkened and her hair had been dyed brown to make her look like other children if she is being held in Morocco or Tunisia.
Another time-generated image showed how she might look now with her natural blonde colouring if she is being kept in Northern Europe.
While Kate and Gerry McCann believe Leicestershire detectives have worked hard, they feel Scotland Yard’s experts on kidnap, forensics and offender profiling could bring much needed impetus to the inquiry.
Madeleine vanished, aged three, from the family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on the Algarve on May 3 2007.
From paper edition:
What do you think – Should Scotland Yard Launch Investigation?
By Dai Davies Former Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent 23/09/2007 EXCLUSIVE THE SEARCH FOR MADELEINE DAY 143
In my 38 years of police and private security work all over the world I’ve never known anything like the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
To the outsider it has all the ingredients of a classic Agatha Christie-style whodunit – but in reality it’s far more complex and heartbreaking, because it involves the disappearance of a little girl.
I spent a week in Praia da Luz where Madeleine went missing, “walking the shop floor” as I call it, going over the available evidence and unearthing some startling new information about the case. And in what will surely be another hammer-blow to the McCanns’ hopes of finding their little daughter, I’ve discovered from lengthy talks with my barrister contact that Portuguese investigators have unofficially abandoned the hunt for Madeleine’s alleged abductor.
There is now NO detective work being carried out by Portuguese police to link anyone other than the McCanns to Maddie’s disappearance. Officially, they say they’re continuing the search for an abductor. But their policy is now to only respond to sightings reported to them by Europol and Interpol.
The officers leading the investigation are pinning their hopes on the DNA evidence, getting some sort of confession from the McCanns or their friends, or finding Madeleine’s body.
They remain convinced of her parents’ guilt, apparently unwilling to consider another scenario, even as their “house of cards” case collapses around them. Another fresh revelation that undermines the Portuguese effort is that police also failed to take DNA samples from Madeleine’s little brother Sean, two, and his twin sister, Amelie, until their parents were made “arguidos”, or suspects, just over two weeks ago. This failure has seriously undermined the whole forensic case against the McCanns. It means early forensic work is flawed and needs to be re-examined. A process that could take months.
Evidence gathered by the Portuguese police against the McCanns which we have learned about in the past couple of weeks depends entirely on forensic tests, including DNA evidence, so-called bodily fluids and hair. Yet I have found that evidence has been fatally flawed through their own incompetence. The apartment was also not sealed off properly, meaning any evidence was contaminated from the outset.
Also, I can now see the McCanns in no way abandoned their kids, as some have suggested. I was amazed at how close their apartment was to the tapas restaurant. After just a few hours it was also possible to dispel some of the slurs that have been levelled at the McCanns. Gerry did not call Sky TV before he called the police, as the Portuguese media has claimed. Police now know this was done by Gerry’s sister, Philomena, in Glasgow. But they have allowed that rumour to fester.
The McCanns are also deeply religious, yet the Portuguese police want us to believe they have disposed of their daughter’s body at sea or buried it in unconsecrated ground.
The police now need to halt their campaign to pin this awful crime on two innocent people and bring in new officers for a complete overhaul with fresh eyes. It’s back to square one. MY FOUR THEORIES
1. Maddie was snatched by an opportunist paedophile. He only planned to abuse her but panicked, possibly strangled her and took the body. Profile: White male, 20-35, single, lives with mother. Known to police, knew resort.
2. A planned abduction, plotted in UK, in which she was “snatched to order” by a paedophile gang. Profile: British, male or female, 20-40, living alone.
3. Someone holding a grudge against the McCanns. Profile: Impossible to estimate, but likely to be more than one person.
4. Snatched by local childless couple. Profile: Portuguese, 30-45.
I am afraid to say it is most likely Maddie is dead. And I fear the failure of the Portuguese investigation could lead to the shadow of suspicion hanging over the McCanns for years to come.
UK police chief hits back at Portuguese detective’s claims, 08 November 2009
UK police chief hits back at Portuguese detective’s claims Sunday Express (appears in paper edition only)
Sunday November 08, 2009
The head of Leicestershire Police has rejected claims from a former Portuguese detective that his officers withheld a witness statement from the Madeleine McCann inquiry.
Chris Eyre, the Temporary Chief Constable, said “I can assure you that at no time were statements withheld and not passed on.”
Goncalo Amaral, the Algarve detective who was removed the inquiry early on, made his claim in a book, which is now banned.
Mr Eyre responded after Freedom of Information requests were submitted by the Sunday Express.
A team of Leicestershire family liason officers went to Portugal on May 5 2007 to support the McCanns.
It has also emerged that the Foreign Office has withheld details about the investigation so as not to damage relations between Britain and Portugal.
An individual submitted Freedom of Information requests to get details of negotiations by John Buck, Britain’s former ambassador to Portugal.
The then Information Commissioner Richard Thomas refused in case it caused Portugal to lose trust in Britain’s discretion.
Just over two years ago the release of the film Gone Baby Gone was allegedly postponed because of parallels with the case of Madeleine McCann.
It was felt the movie, which tells the fictional story of the abduction of a four-year-old girl, was too close to real life. Although written before Madeleine McCann’s abudction, Gone Baby Gone contained some inadvertent but nontheless extraordinarily coincidental material. The plot focuses on a 4-year-old played by an actress – actually called Madeleine – who shows an uncanny resemblance to the real Madeleine McCann. I watched the film six months ago and was quite staggered by how accidentally art had imitated life.
Child abduction has been dealt with by artists before. In his 1987 novel The Child In Time, Ian McEwan writes about the disappearance of a three year old. The scene where the father loses sight of his daughter in a supermarket, while momentarily distracted, never to see her again, is brilliantly wrought.
Both stories have different endings. In the film the child is found alive and well. In the book the child is never found and the mystery is never solved. But the book does offer one answer.
The abducted daughter is an only-child. Her parents split up because they cannot cope with her loss. It is only when the mother falls pregnant again – and there is the promise of another child to care for – that the couple are reconciled.
Mercifully, such abductions are as rare now as they were fifty years ago (it’s only our paranoia which has increased). But the phenomenon of couples destroyed by the loss of an only-child may be on the rise.
Think of some recent high-profile cases.
Tragic parents like Neil and Kazumi Puttick. In June, they leapt to their deaths from Beachy Head, clutching the body of their five-year-old son Sam. He had died of meningitis the week before and his parents were crippled with grief.
Or parents like 40-year-old Joanna Coombs. Last year, her body was found on the same tracks where her daughter – and only child – had died two months before.
It stands to reason that when parents put all their eggs in one all-too-fragile basket, the loss of that child may prove insupportable.
Previous generations understood that a larger family provided a shield against the loss of a singleton. In the words of Churchill’s famous, if callous, dictum: “One for mother, one for father, one for increase and one for accidents”.
When tragedy strikes a multi-child family, parents are more likely to carry on for those who remain, no matter how grief-stricken they are.
Some social scientists already fret about how the rise of the only child is changing society. One talks about the ‘Saving Private Ryan’ effect. The fictional Private Ryan was the only one of four brothers to survive the battle for Normandy in 1944. Would a modern parent be so sanguine about an only-child fighting for his or her country? That’s a choice few will have to make. But many will make much more quotidian decisions about danger. It is one reason why so many modern children are not permitted to take risks of almost any description.