Chapter 37: A short re-cap

A short re-cap.
A brief restatement of some of what we know.
An easy entry point for people new to the research and analysis. 
And above all a reminder to us all of why we are still here after 13 years.

First the known facts:
On Thursday 3rd May 2007 the world was told that a three-year-old British girl, Madeleine Beth McCann, had been abducted that evening from her bed in an unlocked apartment in Praia da Luz, a small seaside resort on the Algarve, Portugal.

Over the next 24 hours details were released for publication. Many of these were proven within a very short time to be false; others were so extraordinary as to be incapable either of proof or refutation.

Over the following weeks more stories and details were added, and eagerly seized on by the world’s media. Many of these have been shown to be false, and several are clearly deliberate fabrications.

This was spotted in the very early stages of the investigation by the GNP – The Portuguese National Police – and then by the PJ – the Polícia Judiciária, the Portuguese Criminal Investigation service.

British police were sent to assist the PJ with nationally accredited search experts and others. All came to the same conclusion: the story was not coherent; the “abduction” hypothesis was not credible.

In plain English – it did not hang together.

Bluntly – the more they looked, the less they found.

Several of the initial stories are characterised by their inaccuracy or impossibility

The shutters were not broken, forced, smashed or jemmied
The curtains did not “whoosh”
The apartment could not be watched from the tapas bar
The pool photo could not have been taken on Thursday 3rd May 2007
The tennis balls photo was not taken by Kate after mini-tennis
The waterslide did not even exist
The deep trench was not immediately outside the apartment
Jane Tanner did not see an abductor
Jon Clarkedid not go into the apartment and speak to the parents

And so on for dozens more examples.
Every one of these lies has been exposed and picked over. In some cases we have the facts behind the falsehood; in others it is more difficult to see why the lies were told.

But every lie has a motive. Lies are told for a reason, often a very specific one:

– The shutters and curtains, the visibility of the apartment, and the alleged sighting of Tannerman are clearly intended to make us believe in an abduction.

– The pool photo, the tennis balls photo and the unforgivable waterslide fabrication are clearly designed to convince us that Madeleine was alive and well from Sunday onwards.

Jon Clarke’s contributions are less easy to divine, since he has produced three different and contradictory versions of going to the apartment and of speaking to the parents. His disgraceful insistence on a deep but non-existent trench is clearly designed to convince the gullible that there might have been an alternative explanation for the disappearance.

All fail.

We can, reluctantly, understand why the parents might lie, and why they might invent elaborate stories. We can, almost, begin to understand why their friends, the Tapas 7, might offer a degree of support. But from that point it gets murky.

Is it as simple as “follow the money”? Journalists are paid for what they write, and their success is judged by the numbers of copies sold. We remember Martin Brunt of Sky News, who had a reverse Damascene conversion, moving from professional detachment and skepticism to being an active proselyte and persecutor of non-believers.

Jon Clarke professes to having been neutral on his way to PdL, but also undergoes a conversion despite being in a position to see for himself the falsity of much of what he was being told. He continues to repeat falsehoods, and adds many of his own, even though videos of the scene expose his mendacity.

But then we learn that he too was ultimately on the payroll of News Corp (now News International), the company which owns Sky News, employs Brunt, and pays Kandohla and Lazzeri.

Let me take each of the nine points in turn. I shall try to explain them briefly and then give the references so that people may either refresh their memories, or look more closely at what is being suggested.

1. The shutters were not broken, forced, smashed or jemmied 
    (See Chapter 1

This was almost the first detail to be put into the public domain.

Apologists have tried to argue that there is no evidence that the McCanns said these things. This is not quite correct. The McCanns phoned various members of their close family and friends during the night of 3rd and 4th May, and they in turn dutifully contacted media outlets on the 4th and gave verbatim reports of what had been said.

The fact that these reports were going out on live TV and radio news at the same time that viewers could also see live footage of a hapless forensic scientist trying to find a single fingerprint on shutters, which were clearly intact and unmarked, seems to have escaped notice by people determined to believe everything they were told.

2. The curtains did not “whoosh” 
    (See Chapters 3, 12)

This extraordinary story was a later invention by Kate McCann.

In the parents’ original statements, and the second one by Gerry, there is no mention of curtains “whooshing”, nor of the door “slamming”. In fact both parents are very specific that the window and shutters were wide open and the curtains were also drawn back, fully OPEN.

It was some years later, both in the autobiography and then in various TV interviews, that Kate develops this into the curtains being tightly CLOSED, and 'whooshing' into the room when blown by a sudden powerful gust of wind, complete with histrionic excess involving dramatic gestures with open and outstretched arms. On two occasions this draws a look of astonishment and incredulity from Gerry, who had of course in his police statements originally said the curtains were wide open.

The story is disproved by simply accessing the wind records for the night in question.

3. The apartment could not be watched from the tapas bar 
     (See Chapter 4)
 It was said in the initial reports that there was a clear line of sight from the tapas restaurant to the apartment, and it was implied that this of itself ruled out any suggestion of negligence in the child-care arrangements.
When the facts began to emerge a different situation emerged.

It was night. What lighting there was came from low-power lamps on posts. The tapas restaurant is around 65m in a straight line from the patio doors, across the pool, and over a high wall. There was at that time a thick overgrown hedge which stuck up over this wall. In any event the children were in the “front” room at the opposite end of the apartment overlooking the car park. There was a thick translucent plastic screen enclosing the tapas bar area which distorts images, reflects the light from the lamps, and is difficult to see through clearly.

And . . . on their own “admissions” when asked to sketch their positions round the circular table, the McCanns BOTH place themselves as having their backs to this screening.

4. The pool photo could not have been taken at lunch time on Thursday 3/5/7 
     (See Chapters 12, 14, 15 28, 28A)

The pool photo, widely referred to as the “Last Photo”, was presented to the world three weeks after the night in question, after a visit to the UK by Gerry, his return to PdL with Clarence Mitchell, and the arrival of his sister Philomena, the wife of a keen astronomer and skilled manipulator of digital images.
So far as is known it was not first handed to the PJ, but went straight to a press agency from where it was sent across the world.

Embedded in the digital photo is the metadata, also called EXIF, the detailed record of the camera settings and of the date and time of the creation and subsequent alteration of the image.

There was considerable debate about this image, which was said to have been taken during the luncheon interval on Thursday 3rd May.

Analysis of weather reports, sunshine records, travellers’ photos posted on various sites, and a host of other independent sources shows that this photo cannot have been created at that time on that date.

It allows us to speculate, with some certainty, that it was taken on the Sunday 29th April, and to imagine the possible sequence of events which led to the metadata’s being altered.

5. The tennis balls photo was not taken by Kate after mini-tennis
     (See Chapters 21, 22)

The tennis balls photo represent a strange anomaly in the midst of so many other anomalies.
 It is said to have been taken by two different people on any of three different days.
What is plain however is that despite what Kate insists in her autobiography, it was not taken on the McCann’s camera, and examination of the evidence available within the picture leads to a belief that it does not depict what it is supposed to.

Whether it has been tampered with is still debated. The original has never be put in the public domain, and the quality of what has been released in its various forms is so poor that further analysis is barely possible.

6.  The waterslide did not even exist 
     (See Chapter 20)
This story illustrates the depths to which journalists and journalism will sink in order to create a story out of nothing. It is a clear fabrication from start to finish. Every part of the story is invented. Not only does it not ‘hang together’ internally, with clear contradictions and impossibilities included in its own text, it is apparent to anyone who has bothered to look at the photos and video of the resort that is it full of downright lies. There is no waterslide. There was no waterslide.

Nevertheless it was published, and for some reason has never been denied, corrected or disavowed by the McCanns nor by their teams of advisors and acolytes.

7. The deep trench was not immediately outside the apartment
     (See Chapter 33)

Although the story about the trench in the road emerged a long time ago it had been consigned to the folder marked “journalistic puff”, and dismissed as irrelevant exaggeration or nonsense.
The actual trench and indeed all the roadworks in the village had of course been identified on the first day by the GNP and the PJ, and the statements from the supervisor, and the detail of the searches carried out are in the PJ files released on DVD when the investigation was shelved. They are available to anyone who cares to read them.

The story came back to prominence when the Netflix production released a long and detailed piece to camera by Jon Clarke, a self-styled investigative reporter, the editor of The Olive Press, a tabloid free news- and-advert sheet available at supermarket check-outs in southern Spain.
 His appearances on the Netflix “documentary” were widely trumpeted in his own paper, which printed several different versions of the events. All different, and all incompatible.
 As the chapters observe, his lies and deceit know almost no bounds, and he persisted in his mendacity even as the accompanying video from sources recorded in the days immediately after the report of the missing child show conclusively that he is lying.
It is entirely unclear why he did this, or why Netflix did not edit the footage.

8. Jane Tanner did not see an abductor
     (See Chapter 4)

Jane Tanner’s alleged sighting of a man carrying a motionless child across the top of the road was one of the first ‘red flags’ which alerted the PJ within the first days to the probability that the entire story put out by the entire team was an elaborate but badly flawed invention.
To re-cap. Tanner said she walked past Gerry and Jez W who were standing on the pavement directly outside the small gate at the foot of the stairs of Apartment 5A, with a pushchair containing yet another child. The pavement is around 2m wide. Tanner says she pushed past the two men.

One of the men confirms they were standing there, on the west side of the road, the other insists they were on the opposite pavement, on the east side.
Neither man recalls seeing Tanner, and neither man saw the alleged man carrying the alleged child across the top of the road.

But the image was planted in the public’s mind and for years the man was sought.
Then in a bombshell moment, a ‘revelation’, the then head of Operation Grange, DCI Redwood, revealed that the man had come forward and identified himself as a doctor known to the McCanns as a holiday tennis partner, and had explained that he had been carrying his own child home from the night crèche. The inconvenient facts about the location of the crèche, Dr Totman’s apartment, and the alleged direction of travel were quickly glossed over.
As was the inconvenient fact that four years of ‘investigation’ had been wasted.

9.  Jon Clarke did not go into the apartment and speak to the parents
     (See Chapters 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 36)

Jon Clarke’s egregious and disgraceful role in this whole miserable affair has yet to be fully exposed. It continues to be investigated and may one day be properly documented so that he can be called to account for it.

In the meantime all that can be done is a case by case dissection of his extraordinary interventions and inventions.

The four chapters referred to show the way in which Clarke is apparently quite happy to foist different and conflicting stories onto his readership.
The exact circumstances of his involvement and his early arrival in PdL cannot yet be ascertained. His various explanations not only contradict each other, they are not in accordance with the known facts.
But he says, variously:

– that he was able to go into the apartment and spoke to the McCanns there;

– that he was not able go into the apartment because it was taped off and that he spoke to the McCanns as they left [to go to Portimão police station for interview].

The available video from that time, which is in the public domain for anyone who wishes to view it, shows him not speaking to the McCanns, and being a considerable distance from the cars as they left.

To conclude:

After 13 years of enquiries by the police of two nations, by at least three private detective companies, by other official and unofficial agencies, and by many more concerned individuals . .

not a single piece of evidence has been discovered to support the official “abduction” hypothesis.

Not one.

On the contrary, the evidence which has been uncovered, the detailed investigation of the arguments put forward, the application of logic, the analysis of statements and of body language and non-verbal communication, all lead us towards another hypothesis.

Whether that can ever be proved in a Court of Law, in Portugal or the UK, is another matter entirely.