The purpose of this site is for information and a record of Gerry McCann's Blog Archives. As most people will appreciate GM deleted all past blogs from the official website. Hopefully this Archive will be helpful to anyone who is interested in Justice for Madeleine Beth McCann. Many Thanks, Pamalam

Note: This site does not belong to the McCanns. It belongs to Pamalam. If you wish to contact the McCanns directly, please use the contact/email details    

Misc. Media Comments (01 Jan - 30 Jun 2008) *

A collection of interesting, and sometimes controversial, press articles and general comments about various aspects of the case, covering 01 January 2008 to 30 June 2008.

Who do we blame?, 14 March 2008
Beatrix Campbell
Beatrix Campbell

Who do we blame? Guardian
Compare and contrast the stories of Shannon Matthews and Madeleine McCann - and what we see is a narrative of nasty class prejudice
March 14, 2008 6:00PM
Beatrix Campbell
The story of Shannon Matthews' disappearance - and dramatic reappearance, apparently alive and well, today - has confirmed the degree to which class is still the cultural register in our purportedly classless society.
The comparison between Madeleine McCann and Shannon Matthews is saturated by class. It isn't just a matter of resources, and which children attract our attention. The comparison registers class as a courier of moral tales. Both stories dramatise the distribution of virtue and blame that fixes the working class and the middle class in moral hierarchies.
Shannon Matthews' neighbourhood, community and family are poor, lacking in resources, and yet they have spontaneously displayed remarkable resourcefulness - children organised a vigil, adults went out searching for the missing child, community intelligence led the police to her. And once she was found, a party was promised.
Karen Matthews has acted appropriately throughout: she was waiting for Shannon at home; she contacted the police as soon as she had exhausted all the obvious locations. And yet, our eye is drawn to her poverty, numbers of partners, cans of lager going into her household. Everything about Ms Matthews' life has been up for scrutiny.
There has been talk of domestic violence. I can think of several high-profile "human interest" tragedies in which the domestic violence endured by a middle-class woman has been successfully screened from public knowledge.
Karen Matthews has been subjected to a Today programme interrogation that appeared to position the mother as the perpetrator: Sarah Montague asked her seven times about her lifestyle. Her patronising preoccupation was how many men there have been in her life, not her judgment about them. Has any other, apparently blameless mother been so sweetly assailed?
The McCanns attracted a torrent of money and celebrity solidarity. The McCann campaign was focused on them as young, professional, personable victims. Her silence, his flat verbosity, contributed only to a sympathetic sense that they were traumatised. Their reputation as good parents was redeemed by their apparently sleepless quest to find their child. They needed to be redeemed, of course, because they had left their children sleeping alone in their holiday apartment. They said their daughter had been abducted. Every parents' nightmare - and the campaign invited every parent's sympathy. "There but for the grace of God," people said.
It was the McCann campaign, not the police, that guided the world's thinking about the child's fate: that their daughter had been taken from them. She was not dead, they kept saying; their religious faith bathed them in piety and in merit. The campaign's determined hypothesis got people, from airports to football grounds, posting their child's image to keep her in the collective consciousness as a child who was alive somewhere.
Their parenting was simultaneously aired and withdrawn from scrutiny in this crest of sympathy. Yes, they were drinkers. But wine, not cider or lager. Yes, they were arguably neglectful; they'd left their children alone, but hey, who hasn't. Yes, they'd taken their children away for a week and didn't seem to spend much time with them. That didn't make them bad people; it just made them tired parents. The father apparently preferred golfing to child care. Well, men!
Their resources - money, looks, religion, organisation, focus (all a function of class) - were all mobilised to protect them and to obscure the question of culpability. It was the McCann's photo-opportunity with the Pope that eventually exposed the campaign to criticism as inappropriate, not to say unseemly. And yet, even when they ultimately emerged as suspects, they still attracted personal, hyper-identification in the press and a sense of outrage that a foreign reporter had dared ask them about their own culpability and that social workers - the stormtroopers of the Daily Mail's gallery of hate figures - dared assess their competence as carers.
No one thought Karen Matthews had abducted or killed her daughter - and yet she has been judged. Some commentators think they can say anything they like about this woman and even to her. She has spoken with reticent dignity, yet her class makes her available for blame. The McCanns are official suspects. And yet - unlike Karen Matthews - they are presumed innocent.

Madeleine: in Praia da Luz, there's not even a traffic cop, 06 April 2008
Madeleine: in Praia da Luz, there's not even a traffic cop Guardian
Ned Temko, Praia da Luz
The Observer, Sunday April 6 2008
This article appeared in the Observer on Sunday April 06 2008 on p8 of the News section. It was last updated at 00:01 on April 06 2008
The 'missing' posters are mostly torn down. The hotels are preparing for the first of the season's tourists. Police are still talking to witnesses, but there is growing acceptance that Madeleine McCann's disappearance will never be explained.

The good news for the reception desk at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz is that they have every prospect of a full house for late April and early May. It is particularly welcome this year, as tourist numbers have been down because of the pound weakening against the euro and Easter falling early.

The downside is that many of their guests are likely to arrive not with bathing costumes, tennis rackets and sun cream, but with laptops, microphones and television cameras. And their focus will be on the one flat in the Mark Warner holiday complex that has lain empty for 11 months: Apartment 5-A, where Madeleine McCann disappeared on the evening of 3 May, 2007, a few days before her fourth birthday.

The media's first-anniversary invasion has not yet begun in earnest. Last week only a trickle of British newspaper reporters, the odd photographer and a team from al-Jazeera television were in evidence. There was no sign of the Polícia Judiciária, Portugal's equivalent of the CID, nor even an ordinary traffic cop, outside the flat where Madeleine was last seen. Only a flimsy silver chain barring entry to the back garden entrance recalls the tragedy, the agonising efforts to find Madeleine that became a worldwide campaign and the deepening mystery surrounding the case after her parents, Kate and Gerry, were interrogated and declared arguidos, or formal suspects, by the Portuguese authorities last August.

The posters of Madeleine that filled every shop window in the weeks after her disappearance are gone. Just one faded image of her is still on display - on the bulletin board outside the church, where the local Catholic and Anglican communities hold an ecumenical service every Friday to highlight the case of Madeleine and of other missing children around the world.

Poignantly, a poster recently pinned up at the entrance of the Baptista supermarket, a few dozen yards downhill from the flat where Madeleine last hugged her mother goodnight, pleads in Portuguese: 'Não te esqueças de mim.' Don't forget about me.

In recent weeks, to the alarm of Madeleine's parents back home in the Leicestershire village of Rothley, that had seemed a real possibility. In Portugal the active search for their missing daughter by the police and hundreds of local residents on the oceanfront, in gardens, olive groves and scrubland has long since ended.

The police, and the Spanish-based Metodo 3 detective agency hired by the McCanns, are still responding to 'sightings' or claims of fresh evidence of what has happened to her, but these have become less and less frequent. A recent claim by a taxi driver on the eastern end of the Algarve coast, near the Spanish border, that he had driven Madeleine and four adults to a nearby hotel on the night of her disappearance appears to have come to nothing. So, too, has a freelance search by a Madeira-based lawyer of a lake down a twisting potholed lane outside the Algarve's old Moorish capital, Silves.

The police investigation, and the often lurid local newspaper headlines accompanying it, have gone quiet. Last October a new officer was put in charge. The official spokesman for the investigation has been replaced by two Lisbon-based officials who were politely replying last week to all press inquiries by saying: 'Sorry. It is our policy that we cannot comment at all on the case.'

In fact, there are now signs of new movement in the investigation - and every prospect that, starting in the next few days and building towards the first anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance, her case will again be front-page news in Portugal, Britain and around the world.

Early this week a team of Portuguese police is due to travel to Britain to re-interview witnesses from the so-called 'Tapas Nine' - the seven friends who, along with the McCanns, were dining at a poolside tapas restaurant 50 yards from Apartment 5-A on the night Madeleine disappeared. Particularly in the light of a comment by Portugal's Justice Minister, Alberto Costa, two months ago that the investigation was nearing its conclusion, the mission is likely to prove critical in determining in what direction, and at what pace, the next stage of the largest police probe in Portugal's history is now taken.

The only other person named as a suspect in the case would already seem to be out of the frame, to the cautious relief of his distraught family, veteran pillars of Praia da Luz's expatriate British community. Robert Murat, 33, was on a week's visit from Britain to his mother Jenny's home, yards from Apartment 5-A, when Madeleine disappeared. But he cancelled his return flight, stayed on in Praia da Luz, and was informally helping the investigators as a translator when a British Sunday newspaper journalist told the police she thought he was acting suspiciously.

They brought him in for questioning and - largely, Portuguese polices sources have said, on the strength of British crime profilers - formally made him an arguido in mid-May. They secured a routine three-month extension to his suspect status last January, but in recent weeks have returned a computer, his clothing and other property removed from the home that Murat shares with his mother.

The McCanns, too, are drawing some hope from the Portuguese police team's visit to Britain. Their spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said yesterday that while the couple had made clear their readiness to speak to the investigators, or even to return to Portugal if required, 'there has been no request to talk to them'. He also revealed that, contrary to media speculation in recent months, the visiting investigators have conveyed no plans to conduct any searches in Britain, to take possession of Kate's personal diary, or of Cuddle Cat - Madeleine's favourite toy - which Kate constantly clasped by her side during the weeks after her disappearance.

But an unprecedentedly detailed account of the days and weeks after Madeleine's disappearance from a well-placed Portuguese police source suggests that - after numerous fruitless twists and turns in the investigation, and in the absence of either a 'body or a confession' - the police focus is on the accounts of the McCanns and their friends of precisely what happened to Madeleine on the night she vanished.

The source has not suggested there is evidence that Madeleine's parents were involved in the disappearance, or the possible death, of their child - a suggestion that Kate and Gerry have passionately denied, pressing home the point last month in securing a half-million-pound settlement from the Express newspaper group over stories suggesting they were implicated. Indeed, amid the rash of reports last September suggesting there was DNA proof linking Madeleine's parents to her death, the same police source emphasised that the DNA samples had proved to be degraded, incomplete, possibly contaminated and inconclusive. But the source has said that, almost from the outset, particularly amid growing Portuguese police scepticism that Murat had any connection with Madeleine's disappearance, the 'key' to the investigation had been in unravelling what the Polícia Judiciária felt were 'difficulties and contradictions' in the accounts given by the McCanns and their friends in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.

Part of the police concern, he said, involved details of Kate and Gerry's initial statements - whether the back window and shutters in the flat had been open or closed, for instance, and whether Gerry had entered from the front door or the back and exactly when the parents or their friends had checked to make sure Madeleine and her then two-year-old twin siblings, Sean and Amelie, were safe and well.

Equally crucial to somehow resolving the case, he said, were the accounts of the 'Tapas Nine' - and particularly Jane Tanner, who earlier this year went public in a BBC Panorama documentary with her account of having seen a man carrying a child in pink pyjamas like Madeleine's outside the McCanns' flat at 9.15pm.

'Jane at first made no mention of the pyjamas,' the source insisted. He said that this detail and a number of others about the man apparently carrying a child emerged only later in her statements to the police. He said the initial statements by the McCanns and each of their friends had 'never fit together' and that the police were particularly sceptical when, after the group had had time to talk a few days later, an 'agreed time-line' seemed to emerge.

Mitchell said yesterday that, far from opposing the latest move by the Portuguese police to press their concerns over the 'Tapas Nine' testimony, the McCanns, Tanner and their other friends eagerly welcomed the opportunity, in the hope of finally bringing the legal process to an end and focusing 'on what really matters - Madeleine'. Some of the friends, he said, had even considered going back to Portugal to try to speed an end to the investigation.

Mitchell said he was not surprised by the inconsistencies in the initial accounts. 'You had nine people in a bar without watches on, without mobile phones, and absolute panic set in when they realised what had happened. They were running around and then several hours later they were forced to sit down and recount their movements in exact detail and they were at sixes and sevens... We would say that, if the police had a perfect time line across nine people, that would be a damn sight more suspicious than the fractured, illogical composite statements they might have got.'

And although Mitchell was not in Praia da Luz in the days after Madeleine disappeared, he said his personal contacts since then with Tanner and the other friends had convinced him there was 'nothing furtive or suspicious' about the time-line provided to the police. 'Everything I've seen and heard on a private, human level tells me that this is an innocent group of people who have got caught up in this awful situation and they're doing their best to try and help their friends on a decency level.'

Luis Maia, a leading Portuguese television journalist who co-authored the first of what are now five books on Madeleine in Portugal, said yesterday his gut feeling was that - barring an unexpected breakthrough, or a formal police request to re-interview Kate or Gerry - the investigation was finally nearing an inevitable end, with the mystery of the missing girl no closer to resolution.

For the parents, the next few days and weeks are likely to be difficult, with the approach of the anniversary of the disappearance of a daughter nearing her fifth birthday - especially in Rothley, in the home Kate had said she could not bear to live in again without having Madeleine back.

'Some days, for both Kate and Gerry, are better than others,' Mitchell said. 'But they still believe she is quite possibly alive. There has been no evidence to the contrary.

'And every day that goes by without her being found makes them think that she must be somewhere, very well hidden, and that someone must have her.'

How life changed for those caught in the public glare of a heart-rending case
The parents

As the first anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance draws closer, her parents are back home in the Leicestershire village of Rothley. Gerry has returned to full-time work as a cardiologist, on call, with regular NHS hours. Kate, a GP, has decided not to go back to work at a local surgery until the fate of her daughter is resolved. She takes Sean and Amelie to nursery school every day and is in frequent phone or email contact with 'Find Madeleine' campaign organisers, charities, the family's lawyers and police.

'There are good days and bad days,' says the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell, but they take hope from the belief that, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, their daughter is still alive.

Meanwhile, they have thrown themselves into urging Britain and the rest of Europe to improve co-ordination in dealing with missing children and to adopt an American-style 'amber light' alert system to speed up attempts to find them.

That will be the core message of a British television documentary in which they plan to take part on the first anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance. 'They feel that if, God forbid, Madeleine is not found, that will be a fitting legacy for her,' says Mitchell.

The McCanns' first spokesman

Within hours of the news of Madeleine's disappearance, Alex Woolfall of the London-based PR agency Bell Pottinger was asked by Mark Warner to fly to Praia da Luz as part of a 'crisis' team to help her traumatised parents deal with the media.

'People forget there was quite a lot of hope at the time and we figured that if we got photos out someone would call up and say: "Yes, I've just spotted her."'

Woolfall says he feels the way the media behaved was 'unique and extraordinary - and I put that down to the fact that so many of the journalists out there were doing the story as parents first, and journalists second. It was: there, but for the grace of God, go we.'

With the approach of the anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance, he says, he has inevitably found himself reflecting on her parents' agony. 'This year a very good friend of mine has had a baby, and I've watched him grow over the last 12 months. And he's become an individual rather than a baby now.

'And I just cannot imagine what it would be like to have a child and bring up a child and then to have that child taken from you. I just feel deeply, deeply sad for Kate and Gerry. I don't think anyone can really imagine what is like to go out on holiday with three children and to come back with two.'

Robert Murat

'A year in hell' is how friends of Murat describe the experience of the Briton, raised in Portugal, who had been helping the police with translations for the case and suddenly found himself declared a formal suspect barely a week after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

In the intervening months, he, his mother and other relatives in Praia da Luz and the nearby beach village of Brugão have had to come to terms with police questioning. Murat's mother Jenny, 72, says that she, her son and others in the family have tried to stay positive and have kept a daily diary of their ordeal in an effort to help them to cope.

Now, with the police having returned Robert's possessions and agreed to his going to England, she says they are holding out hope that he may soon be released from arguido status. 'When all is said and done,' she said, 'that is still what matters - the fate of this poor little girl.'

The private investigators

Metodo 3 is a Barcelona-based agency that built its reputation on corporate fraud investigations before the McCanns engaged it on a six-month contract last year to follow up reported sightings of the missing girl throughout Europe and in Morocco.

But with its managing director, Francisco Marco Fernández, making increasingly upbeat remarks about the prospects for a breakthrough on finding Madeleine - most controversially, a statement late last year that 'God willing, we hope she will be home by Christmas' - the agency has now agreed that all comments should go through the McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell.

Metodo 3 remains on a monthly retainer of £8,000, Mitchell says. 'The agency are very good on the ground. They're very passionate and committed to the search for Madeleine.' In fact, he told The Observer, the family's hope is that the Portuguese police will ultimately close their investigation and pass on all the relevant papers to Metodo 3 to reinvigorate the search.

The family friend

Jane Tanner has been haunted by the thought that she could have prevented Madeleine's disappearance. Tanner, 38, was among the seven friends with the McCann parents at the restaurant on the night in question. She had gone back to check on her own children and is certain she saw a man carrying a pyjama-clad child nearby.

Generally, Tanner has avoided making public remarks but, in a recent BBC Panorama, she said: It's important that people know what I saw, because I believe Madeleine was abducted.'

The resort that was rocked one night in May, 11 April 2008
The resort that was rocked one night in May Guardian  
When Madeleine McCann went missing on May 3 2007, a Portuguese village became the focus of worldwide attention
Angela Balakrishnan
Friday April 11 2008
Praia da Luz – originally a tiny fishing village – has attracted British tourists for the past few decades but, before Madeleine McCann went missing, the destination was one of the best-kept secrets on the Algarve.
The Ocean Club was one of several collections of tourist accommodation in the holiday town, which is located just a couple of kilometres west of the larger town of Lagos, about an hour's drive from Faro airport. Owned by the holiday company, Mark Warner, the club comprises villa-style apartments, set around a series of private areas that include a swimming pool, tennis courts and restaurant.
Kate and Gerry McCann, and their three children, stayed in an apartment that overlooked a private complex. The terms of their holiday were simple – half-board, breakfast and evening meal, all for about £1,500.
They had been given a reduction when the Leicester-based couple discovered that, unlike most Mark Warner resorts, the Ocean Club did not offer a baby-listening service.
The McCanns and their friends – now dubbed by the press as the "tapas seven" – asked for apartments close together so they were all assigned to block five.
The Paynes were on the floor above the McCanns in the only apartment with a functioning baby monitor.
Russell O'Brien and Jane Tanner had brought a monitor with them, but it didn't get a good signal at the tapas restaurant 50 yards away where the group gathered on May 3.
In the usual style of Mark Warner, the Ocean Club is not a gated, enclosed resort, but a sprawling complex open to the village of Luz and scattered over such a wide distance that minibuses are used to ferry holidaymakers around.
Many holidaymakers felt that, although the resort was open to the village, it was still safe and secure.
In early May, it was still very quiet, more than a month before the holiday season gets into full swing. Gerry McCann has said he never saw a soul, except once, on the last night, on his evening checks going back and forth between the restaurant and the apartment – a walk of about a minute.
As the McCanns endlessly repeated afterwards, if they had thought it was wrong or even risky, they would never have left their children.
This article is a virtual word-for-word 'steal' from the article by David James Smith, entitled 'Kate and Gerry McCann: Beyond the smears', published by Timesonline on 16 December 2007.
Smith's article reads:
'The terms of the holiday were half-board, breakfast and evening meal, and the McCanns paid about £1,500. There had been some reduction when they had discovered that, unlike most Mark Warner resorts, the Ocean Club did not offer a baby-listening service. Instead, the group had asked for apartments close together, so they were all assigned to Block 5. The Paynes were on the floor above, the only couple with a functioning baby monitor. Russell O’Brien and Jane Tanner had brought a monitor too, but theirs wasn’t getting much of a signal from the Tapas restaurant 50 yards away.
The Ocean Club was not a gated, enclosed resort in the usual style of Mark Warner, but a sprawling complex open to the village of Luz and scattered over such a wide distance that shuttle buses were used.

Even though the resort was open to the village, it felt safe and secure, and in early May it was still very quiet. Gerry never saw a soul, except once, on the last night, on his evening checks, going back and forth between Tapas and the apartment, an even-paced walk of just under a minute.

As the McCanns endlessly repeated afterwards, if they had thought it was wrong or even risky, they would never have left their children.'

'Be very careful, Kate...', 11 April 2008
Be very careful, Kate... Daily Mail  
Amanda Platell
11th April 2008
"Mummy, why didn't you come when we were crying last night?"

Those were Madeleine McCann's haunting words on the day she vanished, as revealed in a newly leaked Portuguese police report.

Their friends believe it is part of a smear campaign to discredit the couple, who have been campaigning for an "abduction alert system" to be implemented in Europe.

Their media spokesman talks menacingly of a furious counter-attack, saying 'the gloves are off' in the PR war.

My hearts go out to them, but I urge Kate and Gerry to be very, very careful.

The leaked statement may have been insensitive. But it has served to remind us all that at the core of Maddie's disappearance is the cruel truth that the McCanns left their three young children alone in an apartment in a foreign country while they went out to dinner with their friends.

It is hardly the kind of parenting you might expect from a couple who now set themselves up as children's ambassadors. I have always defended the McCanns' right to fight to the ends of the earth to find Maddie.

Their campaign on behalf of all abducted children is proof only of their determination that some good should come from their terrble suffering.

But laying claim to the moral high ground while they are still official suspects in Portugal was always going to make them vulnerable to attack.

The only comfort for the couple is that Maddie's words have placed their own lost child exactly where they want her to be - back in the media spotlight.

McCanns must not return to Portugal, 12 April 2008
McCanns must not return to Portugal Daily Express (No online link) 
Richard Madeley
12th April 2008
Sources cose to Kate and Gerry McCann have indicated they are most unlikely to comply with a request that they return to Praia de Luz.

Police there want them to take part in a large-scale re-enactment of the minutes and hours following Madeleine's disappearance. The couple are quite right to turn down this invitation.

The whole thing has the authentic smell of a trap. What can such a re-enactment possibly achieve nearly a year on from that dreadful night? Nothing. The trail went cold months ago thanks to the idiotic blundering of Praia de Luz's finest.

No. The Poruguese police want Kate and Gerry back in their jurisdiction for their own private reasons.

The couple remain official suspects but could never to extradited back to Portugal: there isn't a scintilla of evidence against them. This new proposal is, to my suspicious and cynical eye, an attempt to lure the couple back there, along with the friends who were with them the night Madeleine vanished, so they can be re-arrested.

The police could pounce on the tiniest discrepancy in what anyone said and blow it up out of all proportion.

And now as I write this, come reports of a new smear on the couple from Portuguese police.

I rest my case.

'Crying Shame' - Carole Malone, 13 April 2008
Crying Shame News of the World  
Carole Malone
13 April 2008
I DON'T want to make Kate and Gerry McCann's pain worse than it already is. But they chose to make public their fury about leaked documents in which they told police Madeleine had said the day before she was snatched: "Mummy, why didn't you come to us when we were crying?"

So I feel entitled to say, just as publicly, what right do they have to be upset if it's the TRUTH? Friends reckon the leaking of the documents was a move by Portuguese police to smear the McCanns and sabotage their visit to the European parliament, where they made an appeal for a Europe-wide alert system for abducted children.

I'm sorry but however much sympathy I have for the McCanns, the fact remains that they repeatedly left their three kids alone in an unlocked apartment on that holiday, while they went out to dinner with friends.

And they did that even after Madeleine had told them she'd woken up alone and crying— AND after they'd promised to keep a closer eye on her.

No alert system in the world could have prevented what happened to Madeleine.

Only Kate and Gerry could.

Brits love to torture a 'bad mother' - Melanie Reid, 14 April 2008
Brits love to torture a 'bad mother' Timesonline  
In a long media career, the persecution of Kate McCann is the cruellest thing I have seen
Melanie Reid
April 14, 2008
How many centuries of accumulated spite and misogyny, I wonder, went into the latest twist in the Madeleine McCann saga. Did the British television presenters feel the remotest twinge of conscience as they sensationally reported - second-hand via a Spanish television station - the leaks from the Portuguese police portraying Kate McCann in the worst possible light, as a mother who had left her children to cry?
And did Britain's tabloid editors, themselves presumably sons of mothers and husbands to the mothers of their own children, flinch even a jot as they ordered the devastating headlines "Mummy, why didn't you come when we cried?" to be unfurled on their front pages alongside the face of the missing little girl?
I have seen, lived with and been party to many different kinds of sadism in a long media career, but I honestly think that this latest outbreak of malice towards Kate McCann is just about the cruellest thing I have witnessed.
Many serious writers have deliberately avoided discussing the case of Madeleine. Not because it is not serious, but because there was no enlightenment we could bring; nothing remotely we could add to the frenzy of distress, loss and bewilderment.
I have avoided reading or watching most of the coverage. It was too harrowing; the couple's grief too visceral to bear; and I could not stand the treatment they received from the macho, out-of-their-depth Portuguese police. For many of us, it was enough, briefly, to contemplate the horror of losing our own child. Anything more was prurience and soap opera.
But somehow we have passed a watershed. With this latest betrayal, picking deep at Kate McCann's emotional scars, we have regressed to the level of the medieval peasants reaching for the ducking stool. Although women suspected of being witches, I sometimes grimly think, received a fairer fate in their slow drowning than do modern women accused of being bad mothers, who are tortured to the point of mental disintegration.
And so it is time to speak out in defence of Kate McCann, a woman whom I have never met, but someone who is being sacrificed to society's tyrannical views about a mother's role.
Even in the enormity of her suffering it seems Kate McCann must be punished for failing to live up to idealised, romanticised - and wholly unrealistic - maternal standards. Her child cried the night before she disappeared. It is of no relevance to Madeleine's apparent abduction, but what a glorious stick with which to beat her already guilt-ridden mother.
Why do we do perpetuate this immense cruelty upon women? There is no justice in it. Kate McCann is just the latest in a long line of high-profile victims of the prevailing fatwa - that all mothers must be perfect, self-sacrificing angels. From Kate McCann to Louise Campbell (the mother of Molly/ Misbah, the Scots girl who fled to be with her father in Pakistan), to Britney Spears to Anne Robinson to Frances Shand Kydd, nobody loves to torture a perceived bad mother or a bolter like the British do.
Any sign of weakness, any suggestion of being "unfit", any hint that a mother is compromising her child by seeking small freedoms or equality, and the judgment of society is absolute.
Behind the famous names lurk an estimated 100,000 ordinary women who are separated from their children for various reasons - everything from abduction to the mundanity of being the main earner in divorce. They must simply hide their pain, die a kind of psychological death for their loss and exist in the shadows. Some, like Paula Clennell, one of the five women murdered in Ipswich, simply give up all hope when they lose custody of their children. Their problems are too huge; the hole in their hearts too big to heal.
The taboo surrounding bad motherhood has always struck me as tantamount to pulling wings off butterflies. Vulnerable women, already heartbroken by their loss, must then face devastating social stigma. If women are honest, they admit the maternal paragon does not exist outside Catholic mythology. We all fail, and frequently. But women, terrified of being stigmatised, are often not honest.
You will find out why the media torture Kate McCann if you read the online blogs: it is because there is an audience desperate, as far as I can see, to join in any kind of attack on a bad mother. Everywhere I looked I found a harshness and a pitilessness - from both sexes - towards Kate McCann.
Women sanctimoniously pressed their own claims to maternal sainthood: "My sons are teenagers and I still don't leave them alone." They were also horribly vindictive: "Sorry Kate, but you have only yourself to blame." They even, outrageously, cited God: "You can never replace the time lost with your children which God has blessed you with."
On the Daily Mail site, women criticised Kate McCann for being photographed smiling. "If I lost my child I don't think I would ever smile again," they declared pompously.
The Daily Mirror website spoke for itself: "Sadly, due to persistent and serious abuses, we will no longer be hosting discussions regarding Madeleine McCann. We do not take this action lightly... but the level of debate on the Maddy forums has gone way beyond what we consider acceptable, with several recent incidents of extremely abusive postings, both against fellow users and the McCanns."
A society, then, riddled with prejudice, which knows precisely how to attack women where they are most vulnerable, and thereby control them. I would like to reassure Kate McCann that she is not alone, but rather a member of a growing army of mothers who share her pain and her pariah status.
In a dark, lonely corner of purgatory, behind the sign "Maternal Failures Only", there are a surprising number of her fellows who offer her only understanding, love and support. And this is a purgatory, she will come to learn, that traps only mild sinners, the undeserving and the desperately unlucky.

Compassion fatigue, 21 April 2008
Compassion fatigue Hastings Observer  
By Julia Taylor
Published Date: 21 April 2008
Almost a year ago, when Madeleine McCann went missing, I was genuinely saddened by her disappearance.
But now I'm not.
That sounds heartless doesn't it? I don't mean it to, because nothing should detract from the fact that a child went missing, and had it been my child, or someone I knew, I would still be heartbroken 12 months later.

When I studied the sociology of news at university (I know, I could have been finding a cure for cancer, but unfortunately my brain was geared to more Mickey Mouse matters), a phrase that was bandied about was "compassion fatigue".

Briefly, this is what happens when the national media cover an event to such an extent as to saturate the news with it, until the point where the average person is so bored by the coverage of it that they become apathetic.

I think it came to a head for me when I was working in Essex, and several bored housewives decided they would mark the 100th day since Madeleine went missing with the release of 100 balloons on a school playing field.

I think my first question was, well, why?

And the chief bored housewife organiser did not have an answer.

Okay she did. Her answer was: "To raise awareness."

This was at a point where, even three months after her disappearance, she was still in the press. Awareness? In Braintree? Why?

It was sad then, and it still is now, but I can't bring myself to feel any grief for one particular missing child.

I guess I'm partly to blame for covering these unnecessary awareness-raising events, when it's got to a point now where a family's grief should remain private.

I think the time has come now when the whole issue should be (excuse the turn of phrase) put to bed.
The full article contains 306 words and appears in n/a newspaper.
Last Updated: 21 April 2008 6:47 AM

Stop the carnival - Richard Littlejohn, 24 April 2008
Stop the carnival Daily Mail
Richard Littlejohn
23:00pm 24th April 2008
This column has pretty much steered clear of the Madeleine McCann story. The fact is, no one knows what happened to her - except those who took her or covered up her disappearance.

But she's been gone a year and we must fear the worst.

I've always been uneasy about the media carnival, but figured if that's what got her parents through the night, what business was it of mine.

However, one year on, there's something distasteful about the continuing round of claim and counter- claim, blame and counter-blame.

Gerry and Kate McCann should be left alone with their demons, with our sympathy, and not live out their guilt in public any longer. The police and the private detectives should be left to get on with their job.

The Tapas Seven, the McCanns' PR man, the professional ghouls should all keep their theories to themselves.

It's time Team Maddie was wound up.

Stop shifting the blame, Kate - Jon Gaunt, 25 April 2008
Stop shifting the blame, Kate The Sun
Jon Gaunt - Sun columnist
Published: Today 
IS it just me or are the McCanns getting on your nerves too?
I have enormous sympathy for them losing a child but I am getting fed up of them blaming everyone else for their misfortune.
I heard about the McCanns’ latest trip around Europe while on holiday and although I think the amber alert system is a good idea, when I need tips on childcare from the McCanns I’ll ask.
Now, in a new TV documentary, Kate says that she wanted a baby monitor but the resort didn’t have one. So instead she, Gerry and the Tapas Seven made the bizarre decision to eat out every night and leave three young children home alone.
I’m sorry, in any language that’s child neglect. So instead of touring Europe proposing amber alert systems, I would like them to clearly just send out one message to all parents: NEVER EVER MAKE OUR MISTAKE AND LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN ALONE IN A STRANGE HOTEL ROOM.
And, by the way, I’m not being heartless, just honest.
I am also fed up to the back teeth of the smears and counter smears from both camps, so why don’t the McCanns and the Tapas Seven just shut up, get on the plane, return to Portugal and do the police reconstruction?
At the same time, why don’t the Portuguese plods stop spinning and start analysing and either charge them formally or remove their official suspect status?
It’s nearly a year since little Madeleine went missing and the focus needs to return to her, not the other characters in this sorry saga.

Mixed message from McCanns, 04 May 2008
Mixed message from McCanns Sunday Sun
May 4 2008 by Phil Cullen, Sunday Sun
ON the one hand, Kate and Gerry McCann want no stone unturned in the hunt for Madeleine.
And on the other, they are reluctant to return to Portugal for a reconstruction.
One the one hand, they court publicity.
And on the other, they get huffy when journalists don’t follow the McCann agenda.

Watching the TV interviews last week on the anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance I was struck by how many awkward questions they faced.

They included the leaked witness statement where Kate admitted Madeleine had asked why she was left to cry.

The fact remains they did have "something to do" with Madeleine's disappearance.

By that, I mean leaving her and her siblings alone that night.

And therefore contributing to a sequence of events which resulted in tragedy.

All right-minded people will hope their daughter is found.

But her parents are doing themselves no favours with the contradictory messages they send out.

A sad year, 04 May 2008
A sad year Sunday Mirror
Anna Smith
A year on and still the agony goes on for Kate and Gerry McCann. Of course they have to move on with their lives. But let's not forget that Madeleine may be out there somewhere. And she needs us to keep her in our thoughts.

Avoid an Algarve outrage, 10 May 2008

Avoid an Algarve outrage Daily Express (No online link)

Judy Finnegan
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I have no idea if Eamon and Antoinette McGucklin, while holidaying in Vilamoura in the Algarve, really did drink themselves into such a stupor that their three young children had to be taken to a refuge centre over night, or if, as they claim, their drinks had been tampered with. I do know that the Portuguese press trumpets this kind of story at its peril.
Obviously still smarting at the completely botched inquiry into Madeleine McCann’s disappearance it can’t resist crowing at yet another British family whom it accuses of behaving irresponsibly and neglecting their children. The McGucklins are, according to those who know them, extremely attentive parents who would never put their children at risk.
Who knows the truth? But this new allegation of parental neglect must surely damage the Algarve’s reputation as a tourist resort still further. If I had young children I would not holiday there for all the tea in China. There is something I don’t like in their attitude to British families. I’d stay well clear.

'Holiday mode' is child neglect, 10 May 2008

'Holiday mode' is child neglect The Sun

Lorraine Kelly
Saturday, May 10, 2008
WHY do many parents leave their common sense behind as soon as they step on the plane and go off on holiday?
It starts on the flight.
We have all suffered the shrieking, wailing, red-faced toddler whose distressed crying makes your ears bleed while the gormless parents bounce them up and down and smile at one another instead of giving the poor little sod a dummy or a bottle to suck to relieve the pressure on their little ears.
But it's when they arrive at the holiday destination that things turn from irritating to downright irresponsible.
Parents who would not leave their children in the front garden to play on their own happily dump them in the hotel room or villa while they go for a meal. The poor McCanns will never forgive themselves for their tragic error of judgment which led to the disappearance of Maddie.
They thought there was nothing wrong in leaving her and their twins in that holiday apartment. But I am sure they would never in a million years have gone out for a meal with friends back home in Rothley and left their three children by themselves.
What about the Irish bank chief and his wife who had their children taken into protective custody when on holiday in the Algarve?
Eamon McGuckin was said to be so drunk that he collapsed and fell through a sofa, while his wife Antoinette threw up in their hotel reception area.
Staff claimed they had been drinking to excess. Their children, aged six, two and one, were distressed and hotel staff called in the authorities.
The couple fled back home to Northern Ireland with their kids rather than appear in front of a family court in Faro, Portugal, and are now claiming that their drinks were spiked.
Whatever the truth, hotel staff, holiday reps and holiday camp entertainers increasingly find themselves having to look after distraught kids while their parents go on the lash.
They seem to go into some sort of odd 'holiday mode' where they stop being vigilant and responsible. Mostly they are lucky and get away with it.
But being a parent isn’t a job you can switch on and off. You have to be there for your children 24/7.
Surely going on a family holiday is all about spending as much time as possible together. If parents do want a bit of a break, most resorts offer babysitters. Or if they go in a group, parents can take turns looking after the little ones.
Without becoming paranoid and wrapping your children in cotton wool, you have to be aware they can be in MORE danger on holiday than at home. Child molesters haunt holiday camps, theme parks and family resorts. You need to be on your guard.
Parents have to remind themselves about what they would do if they were in their own house. They WOULDN’T leave their children home alone without a babysitter, and they WOULDN’T get so stinking drunk they vomit and black out.
If they don’t conduct themselves like that at home, what makes this behaviour in any way acceptable for the two weeks a year they go on holiday?

What is it with the McCanns?, 16 May 2008

What is it with the McCanns? The Sun


Jon Gaunt

Published: 16 May 2008 


WHAT is it with the McCanns? They say they will do anything to help find Maddie but are still dragging their feet over returning to Portugal for a reconstruction of the fateful night when they left Maddie and her twin siblings home alone.


Sources close to them say they have "serious reservations".


Why? What serious reservations?


Their spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, asks: "What is the value?"


So now this ex-BBC reporter, Government spin doctor and PR man is suddenly Columbo or Morse, is he?


I'm sorry, but let's remember they are still prime suspects and if the Portuguese plods want them in Portugal they should be there — reservations or not.

Hello! magazine, the McCanns and me, 20 May 2008
Hello! magazine, the McCanns and me Telegraph
Daniel Hannan 
20 May 2008
For the first time in my life, I’m in the pages of Hello! magazine. And not in a good way. The paper is campaigning alongside the McCanns in favour of an Amber Alert scheme for missing children. In the current issue, it lists 14 villainous British MEPs who haven’t signed the written declaration in support of the policy. I am among the monsters.
Regular readers may find this puzzling. After all, I do support the Amber Alert initiaive. As I wrote here last month, "it is perfectly reasonable to seek to co-ordinate such a scheme at European level. If the EU stuck to cross-border issues of this kind, no one would have a problem with it."
Why, then, am I listed? Because, on principle, I don't sign written declarations. I have blogged often before about the invidious nature of declamatory legislation. But written declarations aren't even legislation: they are simply declamatory. Even if every single MEP should sign one, the only consequence would be that the Commission would be obliged to consider the idea. In this case, though, the Commission is already considering the idea.
Anyway, my own preference is for the scheme to be inter-governmental. The involvement of the self-serving and inefficient Commission bureaucracy has ruined more than one good initiative in the past. I would much rather have the Amber Alert run enthusiastically by national media than regulated by some inefficient EU agency.
But that isn't really the point of this blog. My real beef is with the moral blackmail involved. At least one of the non-signatories, who has some experience in this area, argues that an Amber Alert scheme is misguided, and that the broadcasting of an abducted child's name can put that child at risk. On balance, I don’t agree with him: evidence suggests that an early media blitz can prompt the abductor to release his victim and, in at least one case, an alert prompted the child herself to ring the hotline. But good and sincere people can disagree with me.
I am reminded of the filthy tabloid campaign that followed the Dunblane massacre. Those MPs who did not vote for a complete ban on handguns were attacked as if they somehow didn't care about the murdered children. Never mind that such a ban would have made no difference. Never mind that the Cullen Report came out against a total prohibition. Cool arguments were drowned out by "I care more than you do" posturing. One of the worst offenders was Tony Blair who, in a nauseating speech to the Labour conference, said: "Some Tories accuse us of being emotional. Well, if they had been in that gym, if they had met those parents, sitting in those tiny chairs where once their children sat, they'd have been emotional, too". It was at that moment that I began to get a full measure of the man.
I don't blame Hello! The desire to protect children is encoded deep in our DNA, and we can't help becoming emotional when the subject comes up. But legislation is not a mechanism to vent our feelings. It is there — or at least, it ought to be there — to provide proportionate remedies to identified problems. I happen to agree with the magazine. But it should have the decency to accept the motives of those who don't.
Posted by Daniel Hannan on 20 May 2008 at 18:52

McCann re-make is vital, 29 May 2008

McCann re-make is vital The Sun (No online link, appears in paper version only)


Kelvin MacKenzie (Editor of the Sun 1981-1994)

Open letter to McCanns, 30 May 2008

Open letter to McCanns The Sun (No online link, appears in paper version only)


Jon Gaunt

Trying to kid?, 01 June 2008

Trying to kid? The News of the World (No online link, appears in paper version only)


Carole Malone

McCann police are guilty of cruelty, 02 June 2008

McCann police are guilty of cruelty Daily Mirror


Tony Parsons

The Body of Evidence Tells the Story, 04 June 2008
The Body of Evidence Tells the Story Women In Crime Ink

Madeleine McCann

by Vanessa Leggett
Crime Writer/Lecturer
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
We have all seen this face. The image is of little Madeleine McCann, the British toddler who disappeared while on a family vacation a year ago last month. What we haven't seen, and, in all likelihood, never will, is the body of Madeleine McCann.
Without a body, I doubt we will ever know for sure why she disappeared without a trace the night of May 3, 2007. I believe an autopsy of Madeleine's body could tell us exactly what happened. And that is why, I propose, her body had to be concealed at all costs, including a family's usual need to hold a funeral to memorialize the life of a loved one who has passed.
Let me state right off that I do not think that Madeleine's parents intentionally caused the death of their child. If they're guilty of anything, I believe it is of placing too much trust in what some charge were unorthodox methods of parenting. More on this shortly.

Gerry and Kate McCann

I should also make clear that I have not followed this case as well as I'm guessing most of our readers have, so I might very well have some of my facts wrong. (Readers, I'm counting on you to set me straight in the comments section to this post.) Further, "my theory" might be nothing new. I hadn't given any serious thought to this case until last week, when Portuguese police announced they are considering filing neglect charges against Kate and Gerry McCann (pictured right) in relation to Madeleine's disappearance.
Childcare: Careless Death, Careful Cover-up
I never believed that the little girl's parents meant to cause Madeleine's death. From my passing understanding of facts that have emerged over the past year, I formed the opinion that Madeleine's death was a case of simple negligence by parents who should have hired a sitter.
The parameters of the current investigation are considerably broader than child neglect. According to a recent ruling released by the Evora Supreme Court of Justice in Portimao, the McCanns will be investigated for abduction, homicide, exposure or abandonment of a child, and concealment of a corpse.
In response to the court's pronouncement, the McCanns, through a spokesman, "vigorously denied neglecting Madeleine, but were pleased abduction was being investigated."
This remark did not surprise me. From the beginning, the McCanns have claimed their daughter was abducted. Any energy and expense in that direction would be eagerly embraced by them. Personally, I believe the McCanns have led the public on a global goose chase. The natural question is Why?
To Sleep, Perchance to Die
Which leads to my theory of the case, a conclusion that hinges on early reports that, to my knowledge, have not been proved or disproved. But they are allegations that, if true, could explain what happened to Madeleine. I believe that the McCanns—both doctors—drugged their children. The specific allegations are that Madeleine died from an overdose of sleeping pills her parents had given her before they met adult friends for dinner, only 50 to 100 yards from where their kids were sleeping.
On the whole, the McCanns were probably excellent parents. It's not outside the realm of possibility that they were over-protective parents who, to safeguard against potential abuses, would rather give their children sleeping pills than entrust their care to anyone but themselves. If the kids were asleep, they might have (erroneously) reasoned, no sitter would be necessary, especially when Mom and Dad were close enough to check on them, as appears to have been the case that fateful night.
Still, it seems to me that even if the McCanns had checked on their children, unless the doctor-parents took vital signs each time they popped in, it might not have been apparent that their child had stopped breathing. We see what we want to see. If they did in fact drug their children, they surely thought they were administering safe dosages. I don't believe they would have had any reason, or, after x glasses of wine with dinner, inclination to closely examine their children. That is, perhaps, until it was time to kiss them goodnight at whatever hour the parents returned from their engagement.
If Madeleine's death was in fact caused by accidental overdose, the most likely scenario is that the McCanns did not know Madeleine was dead until they returned from dinner to retire for the night. As overwhelming and gut-wrenching as finding a dead child would be to most parents, as much as time might have stood still, those parents would have had to do some quick thinking to avoid further catastropheto their family.
Given their medical backgrounds, the McCanns would had to have feared that in a case of drug overdose, toxicology testing would reveal substances in their daughter's system. If the couple wasn't able to produce a babysitter (who could have served as the scapegoat for drugging their daughter), then consequences were certain: Kate and Gerry McCann would at the very least be charged with child neglect for abandoning their children as well as child endangerment and whatever other charges could arise from giving a child drugs.
That this revelation would irreparably damage their reputations as parents would have been bad enough. What put them over the edge, I think, was the threat to their livelihood. If exposed for giving their child drugs that led to her death, the Mcanns risked the revocation of their medical licenses.
Even if they admitted they drugged Madeleine and convinced everyone that their daughter's death was a tragic accident, they would be held to a higher standard of care than average parents. Pharmacological babysitting might have worked for them without complication in the past. But, as physicians, they should have known the risks inherent in administering drugs to a child.
If they could no longer practice medicine, they might have thought, then how could they support their other children? And what if criminal convictions led to jail time? The McCanns currently face a sentence of up to ten years if found guilty of child neglect. They would have risked that and, quite likely, additional time for other charges a year ago. Their 18-month-old twins could have been orphaned during their most critical years of development.
Kate and Gerry McCann could not reverse what happened to Madeleine. But upon finding her dead, they could still make choices they felt were in the best interest of their surviving children.
If She Dies Before She Wakes . . .
As horrific and incomprehensible as it might seem to anyone not in that same circumstance at that moment, the only way to avoid further tragedy, in their minds, was to make sure the body was never found.
Without a body, no toxicology. Without toxicology reports indicating the presence of drugs, no charges. I believe the McCanns quickly made the decision to conceal their child's body, in a place known only to the parents. A private burial for family.
A body is not necessary to prove neglect. But to prove that the child was drugged, police would need considerably more evidence than what has been made public. An admission from either parent is not likely.
Even an admission won't cinch a case of criminally negligent homicide. I'm thinking of another disappearance in which drugs might have played a role in a death that I'm inclined to think was accidental.

Jon Gaunt comment, 06 June 2008

Comment The Sun (No online link, appears in paper version only)


Jon Gaunt

Amanda Platell comment, 06 June 2008

Comment Daily Mail


Amanda Platell

Extract: Truth about Maddie McCann, 07 June 2008

Extract: Truth about Maddie McCann Daily Telegraph Australia


By Danny Collins

Poll shows 81% of parents are now more concerned about security on holidays following the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, 26 June 2008
Family security while on holidays-a big concern for parents 
By Tara Cosgrove, Editor
10:24, 26 June 2008
I have just written in my blog about the results of our survey over the last month which shows that 81% of parents are now more concerned about security on holidays following the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. This is a huge majority and if anyone has any thoughts or comments themselves feel free to post here.
Editors Blog
81% of parents are more concerned with security on holidays after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann
We carried out a survey here on the website between the 21st of May 2008 and the 21st of June 2008 to see if parents were more concerned about the safety of their children while on holidays now a year after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. An overwhelming majority of 81% of parents said that they were more concerned. Clearly this has led parents to rethink their approach to child safety and security on holidays. The disappearance of Madeline McCann was a terrible tragedy and no parent can even begin to think about it without thinking what if it happened to us. Parents are likely to be more cautious now about childcare and child minding decisions that they make while on holidays. They are likely to ask more questions about security and qualifications which is a very positive thing and if anything positive can come from such a tragedy this is it. Holidays are often in unfamiliar surroundings with language barriers and different customs however they are when we are most relaxed and in the past parents may not have considered potential dangers. It is very easy to let down your guard while on holidays as they are all about relaxing and fun. A responsible approach and some simple commonsense safety precautions mean both you and the children can have a great holiday. 

Security and safety is clearly now a real issue for parents. Tour operators and accommodation providers should be conscious of this and do what is possible to allay those concerns and provide appropriate back up and facilities. Spending family time together in a secure environment is likely to be more important for parents now and shared family activities that everyone can enjoy together during both the day and the evening are a good way to achieve this. Having good approved and checked babysitting facilities or supervised evening activities while parents have a  meal  is a also good idea. Some hotels have taken this on board and have pyjama parties or movie nights for the kids and it is likely that the hotels and tour operators who do react to parents concerns are going to see a better take up.

Simple precautions should be more than enough but if you are in any doubt or feel uneasy do not take a risk. Talking to your children to make them aware of what they should do if they get lost or even trying to get them to memorise your mobile number or have it written on a wristband at a big busy event are simple but effective things you can do without being too dramatic. This should also be at the forefront of the minds of event organisers and tour operators.

There are services such as those provided by to help families in the event of an emergency whether it relates to missing documents, medical issues or a missing child. The basic package is free and they provide help, advice and accessories to help keep children safe on holiday, both at home and abroad. This allows you store key personal and travel information that may be needed in a hurry. You can upload a close-up photo of each family member, record any medical conditions or medication and enter all your contact details (both mobile numbers and contacts of where you are staying).  In the event of an accident or incident, the family can have access to the service and be able to create a missing poster within minutes. This poster can be automatically translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German and then be made available over the Internet or sent via email to any appropriate person or organization. I know this sounds extreme as abductions are rare but children are  prone to wandering off and it may well be worth the effort for ease of mind. Have a look at some of our top tips for safety and security on the main website and have a happy and a safe holiday.

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files


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