Chapter 1: Changes in Story

Changes to the original story

Changing the initial version of events, especially concerning a report of a missing child, is a classic ‘red flag’ warning to police investigators to query both, or all, versions of events in great detail. Indeed when presented with changes the Police may begin to focus on that aspect, to the exclusion of the original report.

First reports

In the 24 hours following the report of Madeleine’s disappearance the following family members and close friends reported almost identical stories to the press

They are of course hearsay as to the state of the shutters and window, but they are direct evidence of what they were told by the McCanns.

That is a crucial difference.

Trish Cameron -
Gerry McCanns sister, said she received a telephone call from her 39-year-old brother, a consultant cardiologist, who was "hysterical and crying his eyes out". She said: "They last checked at half past nine and they were all sound asleep, sleeping, windows shut, shutters shut. Kate went back at 10 o'clock to check. The front door was lying open, the window had been tampered with, the shutters had been jemmied open or whatever you call it and Madeleine was missing...” [1]

Brian Healy -
Madeleine's maternal grandfather, told the Guardian his son-in-law had phoned him shortly after returning "Gerry told me when they went back the shutters to the room were broken, they were jemmied up and she was gone," said Mr Healy. "She'd been taken from the chalet. The door was open." [2]

Jon Corner -
a close friend of Kate McCann and godparent of the twins, said she phoned him in the middle of the night distraught. He said: "She just blurted out that Madeleine had been abducted. Kate said the shutters of the room were smashed. Madeleine was missing It looks as though someone had gone straight past the twins to get to her. [3]

Jill (or Gill) Renwick -
a family friend told GMTV the McCanns were certain that Madeleine has been abducted. "They were just watching the hotel room and going back every half-hour and the shutters had been broken open and they had gone into the room and taken Madeleine," she said.” [4]

1 In all four cases it is reported that the shutters were broken open, smashed, or jemmied.
2 Three of the reports include that the door was open, or hanging open.

As one commentator, Antony Sharples writing under the name John Blacksmith, percipiently noted:

“What must be appreciated, at this point, is that these comments, from closest family and friends - the first to be contacted, are not Chinese whispers. It is not a case that the McCanns rang one person, who got the message wrong, and this got passed on to everyone else. These are four people who received independent telephone calls from Gerry or Kate, in the hours following the 'abduction', and made independent statements. Yet, the statements all recount the same story. The McCanns' apartment was locked, so the 'abductor' must have gained access via the jemmied shutters and left via the front door.” [5]

First change of story.
This change relates to the shutters’ being damaged

The first police statements were taken during the morning of 4th May 2007, by which time the story had already changed in regard to the shutters having been damaged. Now they are merely “raised”.

It is also notable that all reference to the door being open, or hanging open has been quietly dropped.

Gerald McCann, statement, 4 May 2007: 11:15 a.m.
“. . . Thus, at 9.05 pm, the deponent entered the club, using his key, the door being locked, and went to the children's bedroom and noted that the twins and Madeleine were in perfect condition. . .
“. . . At 10pm, his wife Kate went to check on the children. She went into the apartment through the door using her key and saw right away that the children’s bedroom door was completely open, the window was also open, the shutters raised and the curtains drawn open. The side door that opens into the living room, which as said earlier, was never locked, was closed.

Kate McCann, statement, 4 May 2007 2:15 p.m.
“. . . At around 10pm, the witness came to check on the children. She went into the apartment by the side door, which was closed, but unlocked, as already said, and immediately noticed that the door to her children's bedroom was completely open, the window was also open, the shutters raised and the curtains open, while she was certain of having closed them all as she always did. [7]

1 The door is now ignored
2 The McCanns and two of their friends were taken from Praia da Luz at around 10 am for the statements to be taken. [8]
Gerry was first. He was interviewed alone. When his statement was completed Kate followed.
Unusually Gerry was permitted to remain in the interview room, whilst Kate was interviewed and her statement was taken. [9]
He was permitted to sit behind her and she states that from time to time he “would place a hand on my shoulder or give me a reassuring squeeze”. [10]
Further observation
3 Physical contact of this sort may be reassuring. It can also be a very effective method of communication.
During the same morning, whilst those two statements were being taken the PJ started the forensic examination of the apartment, including of the shutters, and took photos.

It is clear that the shutters had not been broken, smashed, or jemmied open. [11]

Meanwhile other people with a knowledge of the resort were giving evidence.

John Hill Mr Hill said that despite the report by a family friend that the shutters to the couple's apartment were broken, there was no sign that anyone had forced their way in while the McCanns ate at the tapas restaurant 200 yards away. [12]
"It's still questionable as to whether it's abduction," [13]

Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa, spokesman for the investigation, later confided in British former Chief Inspector Albert Kirby that neither the windows nor their shutters had been tampered with.
Mr Kirby told The Mail on Sunday: "
I had a very interesting chat with the officer in charge. The window shutters are not an issue. Their mechanism makes them almost impossible to open. The door was left unlocked. They did that every night.”

Photos exist of the forensic scientist from the PJ examining the shutters. It is clear that the shutters are in perfect condition. [15]

A short video clip of an attempt to open the shutters from outside may also be seen on YouTube. In this it is clear that the shutters jam into the housing above the window, and do not remain in the raised position once released. [16]

Second change of story

This concerns the point of entry of Gerry and Kate into the apartment

In the second statement, made on 10 May, Dr Gerald McCann changed his story for a second time, this time in relation to his point of entry.

“He is certain that, before leaving home, the children's bedroom was totally dark, with the window closed, but he does not know it was locked, the shutters closed but with some slats open, and the curtains also drawn closed. Asked, he mentions that during the night the artificial light coming in from the outside is very weak, therefore, without a light being lit in the living room or in the kitchen, the visibility inside the bedroom is much reduced. Despite what he said in his previous statements, he states now and with certainty, that he left with KATE through the back door which he consequently closed but did not lock, given that that is only possible from the inside. Concerning the front door, although he is certain that it was closed, it is unlikely that it was locked, because they left through the back door”. [17]

This brings his version into line with that of Kate’s statement of 4th May, and incidentally makes it more compatible with the first version given by Dr Matthew Oldfield.
“ That the door through which he entered the apartment was closed but not locked. That he doesn't know if it is usual for Madeleine's parents to leave the door closed but not locked in so far as that door is visible from the restaurant.” [18]

It also brings it in line with the statement by John Hill [supra, 14]

Third Change of story

This concerns the first acceptance that the window was not the point of entry.

On 18 October 2007 the Dispatches programme aired “Searching for Madeleine”. In that programme it was effectively proved that there was no way anybody could break into the apartment and leave no forensic trace or damage to the lightweight aluminium shutters, which are covered with a fine coating of polyurethane paint which marks extremely easily.

David Barclay (Former Head of Physical Evidence UK National Crime and Operations Faculty)
“We must be very careful that we're not saying this is actually staging, but it is difficult to see how anybody could have interfered with those shutters from the outside without leaving some trace. In fact, having looked at them, I think it's almost impossible.” [19]

Important Note: The statements detailed above were not made available for examination and comparison until the case was shelved in July 2008. What follows is therefore a significant announcement, as it was placed into the public domain BEFORE the public at large were made aware of the previous contradictions and changes in stance.

During the week following the Dispatches programme the McCanns’ official spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, announced that the McCanns now reversed their previous stance on the break-in story.
“THE spokesman for the family of Madeleine McCann has reversed a statement made in the early days of the search for the missing child. . . However, in the early part of the hunt, friends and family members told journalists that the shutter on the apartment where the McCanns were staying had been broken. . . "There was no evidence of a break-in," said Mr Mitchell.
"I'm not going into the detail, but I can say that Kate and Gerry are firmly of the view that somebody got into the apartment and took Madeleine out the window as their means of escape, and to do that they did not necessarily have to tamper with anything. They got out of the window fairly easily.” [20]

David Barclay repeated this view on “Madeleine McCann - The Mystery,” by Sky News 24.12.07 when he said,
“I think it is impossible for someone to get in and out of that window without leaving a forensic trace . . .” [21]

The McCanns’ change of view was reinforced 18 months later by the McCanns themselves, on their “Find Madeleine” web site, where they admit the force of some arguments.

“Lisbon 14th January 2010
There are few points which have been raised in the last few days which I would like to address specifically:

Abduction theory: For us, there is only the abduction theory possible because we were not involved in Madeleine's disappearance and we know Madeleine did not wander off by herself. It is obvious and right that the police should consider other theories initially.

The window: I described to the police officers exactly what I found that night, as it was and is highly relevant and I knew that every little detail could be helpful in finding my daughter which is our only aim. The window which is a ground floor window was completely open and is large enough for a person to easily climb through it. Whether it had been opened for this purpose remains unknown. It could of course have been opened by the perpetrator when inside the apartment as a potential escape route or left open as a 'red herring'.

1 Kate refers to the “abduction” as a theory. Not as a proven fact.
2 Kate described in her statement an open window and wide open curtains. She described in interviews and in the ‘truthful’ book an open window and completely closed curtains.


Important Note

A. Many of these references may be accessed on the web site http:/ which has a good search engine.
We have tried wherever possible to find and to quote the original source.

B. In several cases an original interview was reported by different newspapers. In some cases there are slight differences in the actual words in the quotes used, which may be for several reasons. We have tried to attach the correct reference for the exact wording shown, but there may be instances where a slight variation can be detected.
It is submitted that the importance is the meaning, rather than the actual form of words used.

C. Some of the original web site references are no longer available, having been deleted, or archived beyond the reach of a casual researcher. In those cases we show the original as it was recorded at the time, indicated by strike through that it is no longer available, and where possible show a web reference to which the original material and the original reference was copied and pasted, and where at the time of publication it may still be viewed.

References and Links




4 algarve-holiday-447404.html join-Algarve-hunt-for-missing-three-year-old

Reported on

copied and pasted from Blacksmith bureau blogspot
written by one John Blacksmith

6 Witness statement of Gerald Patrick McCann, 4th of May 2007, 11.15 a.m. Processos Vol I, pages 34 - 41 Location: CID Portimão
may be accessed on

7 Witness statement of Kate Marie Healy, 4th of May 2007, 2.20 p.m.
Processos Vol I, pages 58-65 Location: CID Portimão
may be accessed on

8 madeleine, by Kate McCann, 2011, Bantam Press, at p.88

9 Ibid. p. 90

10 Ibid. p. 91


12 algarve-holiday-447404.html

Quoted at
referring to Press Association ,4 May 2007 By PA Reporters


14 patio-doors-unlocked.html



17 Witness statement of Gerald Patrick McCann, 10th of May 2007, 3.20 p.m. Processos Vol IV, pages 891-903 Location: CID Portimão
may be accessed at

18 Witness statement of Matthew Oldfield - 11h30, 04 May 2007
may be accessed at

(NB; This is no longer available. That account has been closed.)
Transcript is to be found at

20 over-breakin-evidence-1203473.html