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

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2009:  March key Events - Days (668-698) *

All the important events from March 2009

January (243-273)
February (274-302)
February (640-667)
March (303-333)
March (668-698)
April (334-363)
April (699-728)
May (1-28)
May (364-394)
May (729-759)
June (29-58)
June (395-424)
June (760-Date)
July (59-89)
July (425-455)
August (90-120)
August (456-486)
September (121-150)
September (487-516)
October (151-181)
October (517-547)
November (182-211)
November (548-577)
December (212-242)
December (578-608)
Madeleine McCann fund PR sues The People for libel, 05 March 2009
Madeleine McCann fund PR sues The People for libel Press Gazette
By Sarah Limbrick 
05 March 2009
Public relations expert Justine McGuinness, who acted for Kate and Gerry McCann's Find Madeleine Fund, is suing Mirror Group Newspapers for libel damages.
McGuinness, who spent three months working as a communications strategist for the fund, is suing over a story in The People in October 2007 which she said was defamatory.
The front page story, headed: "Woman who cost Maddie fund £51k" was also published on the paper's website.
In her writ, McGuinness said the story suggested she had deliberately ripped off the Find Madeleine Fund by overcharging the McCanns for expenses to which she was not entitled and inflating her overtime.
She said the story claimed that, because of this, she was immediately forced to quit by the fund, although she had persuaded the McCanns to conceal this as the true reason for the end of her employment.
McGuinness, who runs Pineapple Consultants, said the story seriously injured her reputation and caused her considerable hurt, distress and embarrassment.
She said the allegations struck at the heart of her personal and professional reputation, casting serious doubt on her honesty and integrity, and were deeply offensive to her as they accused her of "cheating" a worthwhile and high profile charity.
The writ claimed that, as a result of the story, the allegations were repeated in other media, and on the internet.
McGuinness said although she had written a letter of complaint to the paper, The People had refused to apologise or provide any correction, which has increased the injury to her feelings.
Now McGuinness is seeking damages and aggravated damages for libel and an injunction banning repetition of the original allegations about her.

Woman who cost Maddie fund £51k, 07 October 2007
Woman who cost Maddie fund £51k The People
EXCLUSIVE MISSING MADDIE: McCANNS' FURY AT PR'S HUGE BILL £350-a-day press expert charged £20k for over time, booze and meals Family's outrage over drain on fund to find missing Maddie
By Jeff Pickett
7 October 2007
Anguished Gerry McCann sensationally split from the expert masterminding the worldwide hunt for his missing daughter Madeleine after she put in a whopping £20,000 overtime and expenses bill.
Press and PR chief Justine McGuinness charged Gerry and wife Kate £51,000 for 89 days' work.
Her basic fee was £350 a day, making a total of £31,000.
And the rest was made up in overtime payments and expenses - including bar and restaurant bills.
Gerry, 39, lost his rag when he was told the Find Madeleine fund would have to foot the bill.
And McGuinness, 37, parted company with the family after a showdown with Gerry.
A source close to the family said last night: "Everyone at the fund was happy with the way Justine handled herself and the PR. She did a brilliant job.
"But there was a debate over her overtime and expenses bill which came as a surprise to Gerry. He hit the roof.
"He couldn't believe Justine's expenses and overtime were as high as £20,000 for the time she'd been in Portugal.
"She claimed overtime for nights when she had been out drinking and eating with journalists and other people over there.
"Justine was well paid by the fund on a day rate but claimed overtime too along with expenses.
"The family expected her day fee to cover EVERYTHING.
"Then the extra bills came in on top of this and there was a great deal of surprise within the fund."
The source went on: "The fund's managers were completely taken aback when she lodged the claim and immediately phoned Gerry.
"He then spoke to her about it. As part of the agreement to part company he said he would not publicise details of the rift. Kate and Gerry put out a statement thanking her for all her work on the campaign.
"But Gerry was livid because her expenses drained the fighting fund of a chunk of money intended to help find Madeleine."
McGuinness - who stood as a Lib Dem candidate at the 2005 General Election - was headhunted in June to help the McCanns' crusade to find four-year-old Maddie.
She was picked because of her political background.
And she acted as a spokeswoman and organiser of events to keep the campaign in the news.
Her efforts included getting celebrity backers such as England soccer idol David Beckham and Manchester United's Portuguese maestro Cristiano Ronaldo.
She also organised interviews and photocalls with the couple.
McGuinness advised Gerry and GP Kate, 39, on their audience with the Pope.
And she encouraged cardiologist Gerry to go to Washington in July to learn about the latest techniques for tracing missing kids.
But some critics warned she was making the campaign too much of a slick PR operation. And there were new concerns when when Portuguese police made Kate an official suspect.
The source said: "The McCanns hired a campaigns expert rather than someone to defend their reputations if things went awry.
"Once the Portuguese started pointing the finger at Kate things had to change."
McGuinness disputes the amounts involved. Last night she defended the payments and said: "I parted on good terms with Kate and Gerry and I regard them as my friends.
"They made it very clear to me that they were happy with the work I did." She added: "I sincerely hope Madeleine is found and I wish the McCanns well."
McGuinness quit on September 15 and was replaced by ex-Cabinet Office aide Clarence Mitchell, 46.
Foreign Office chiefs had sent Mitchell to Portugal to advise the McCanns after Maddie vanished from a room she was sharing with two-year-old brother Sean and his twin sister Amelie in the resort of Praia da Luz in May.
But the McCann family was split over his switch to join the Find Madeleine campaign.
The source told The People: "Gerry was the only one who wanted Clarence.
"He was determined to get him after building a strong relationship with him in Portugal. But nobody else wanted him because he had given Kate and Gerry - what some of the family thought of as - questionable advice.
"Clarence advised Kate to take the twins swimming and get pictured in her bathing suit shortly after the search for Madeleine had captured the media's attention. Kate was horrified by the suggestion - but Gerry wanted to go along with Clarence's advice.
"It was only when other family members told Gerry it was the wrong thing to do he backed down.
"The feeling was it sent the wrong message if Kate was pictured lounging by the side of the pool when she is distraught about Madeleine's disappearance." The source added: "Finding Madeleine is Kate and Gerry's No1 priority.
"The Portuguese police investigation has left them numb and they know valuable time's been lost.
"Kate is distraught and spends most of her time sitting in Madeleine's room.
"If it wasn't for Sean and Amelie she would have broken down long ago."

Former spokesperson for the McCanns is suing "The People" for libel, 05 March 2009
Justine McGuinness
Former spokesperson for the McCanns is suing "The People" for libel Duarte Levy Wordpress
By Duarte Levy 
March 5, 2009 - 3:56 PM
Justine McGuinness, the former spokesperson and public relations adviser for the McCann's is suing the British tabloid "The People" for libel. McGuinness, who spent several months working alongside Kate and Gerry McCann, accused the tabloid of having seriously damaged her reputation by publishing an article in October 2007 suggesting that the couple's spokesperson had overcharged the Madeleine Fund.
The article, entitled "Woman who cost Maddie fund £51k" (*), suggested that Justine McGuinness had been relieved of her duties due to a reimbursement request for excessive expenses, as well as the inference that she had persuaded the couple to hide the true reason for her dismissal.
Considering that the article was a slur on her honesty and integrity, Justine McGuiness, who was appreciated by British journalists in Praia da Luz for her availability, confirmed that she had written a letter to the tabloid. The paper refused to offer any excuses or a retraction.
The role of "The People" in the McCann affair
It is not the first time since the beginning of the McCann affair that the tabloid has published articles attacking the image or credibility of those who are not (or are no longer) assisting the McCann's and those close to them. The weekly has attacked the work of the Portuguese authorities, in particular the PJ and Gonçalo Amaral, the former head of the investigation. Last August, James Millbank bylined an article doubting the existence of 24 photos taken on the night of 3 May by tourists at the Tapas Bar.
James Millbank never explained why he doubted their existence, but, unsurprisingly, the couple's solicitors used the article (word for word) to threaten the authors (myself included) of the article revealing their existence and, as "arranged", James Millbank obtained his transfer, a few months later, to the Daily Mail.

Robert Murat speaks at the Cambridge University's Union Society, 05 March 2009

Robert Murat

For press reports and photos of Murat's appearance click here

Gerry McCann gives evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport committee at the House of Commons, 10 March 2009

McCann says the media was initially willing to help

For transcript, press reports and videos of Gerry's appearance click here

Flowers for Kate, 22 March 2009
Flowers for Kate The People
By Tracey Kandohla
22 March 2009
Brave Kate McCann faces new heartache this morning as she wakes up to her second Mother's Day without daughter Madeleine.
But GP Kate is also set to get a boost - thanks to her three-year-old twins Sean and Amelie. They are expected to hand her daffodils at their local Roman Catholic church during a service for missing children.
Maddie (below) was just three when she vanished from a Portuguese holiday flat 22 months ago. But Kate, 40, and hubby Gerry refuse to give up hope she is still alive.
A fellow worshipper in Rothley, Leics, said: "It's going to be a tough day for Kate but hopefully the twins will help." Kate and Gerry, 40, have drawn strength from the church in their torment.
Spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Their faith's been of great help."
Heart specialist Gerry returned to Portugal in January for the first time in 16 months in a bid to improve strained relations with local cops looking for Maddie.

English Supreme Court released Portuguese citizen from life sentence, 27 March 2009
English Supreme Court released Portuguese citizen from life sentence Duarte Levy Wordpress and 24horas

Nico Bento

By Duarte Levy
27 March 2009
Thanks to Astro for translation
Portuguese immigrant Amilton Nicolas Bento (Nico), who initially had been condemned to life in prison over the death of his former Polish girlfriend, Kamila Garstka, was set free yesterday after the British Supreme Court of Justice, in London, invalidated the initial trial.
Nico Bento, as he is known to his friends, had been condemned to life in July 2007, based on the work of the same lab that was used in the Maddie case, and the video footage from security cameras that showed Kamila walking alone towards a lake in the city of Bedford, 90 kilometres north of London, where her body would be found.
The Portuguese citizen, aged 29, always claimed his innocence, but a false American expert, Casey Cottle, who had been recommended by the Forensic Science Service (FSS) stated during the trial that on the video images where Kamila could be seen, there was also a purse that the immigrant found in his home and delivered to the police.
Laboratory had already failed in the Maddie case analyses
Mistake led Portuguese citizen to life in prison
The case of Portuguese immigrant Amilton Nicolas Bento (Nico) is not unique in England, a country where the central lab that the police uses, the Forensic Science Service (FSS), apart from numerous known mistakes, is far from being independent, as the results known in the Maddie case can attest.
In both cases – Maddie and Nico – the results that have been presented in court or to the police were inconclusive, not allowing to determine anything whatsoever. In Nico's case, the autopsy that was performed on Kamila's cadaver didn’t enable the investigators to state the real cause of death, merely concluding that there were no signs of violence.
In the Maddie case, things were different. Surpassing all deadlines that are considered as normal to perform DNA tests – as the head of a laboratory that is totally independent from the Portuguese or British authorities could confirm to 24horas - the FSS wrote an initial report that would never be delivered to the Polícia Judiciária and in which, among other factors, the number of alleles was more than sufficient to indicate that the little girl could have suffered an accident or an aggression. These results, which were communicated to the authorities in an unofficial manner, would end up being denied by another report – which was delivered to the PJ – where the supposedly "largest laboratory in Europe" deemed all results inconclusive.
The inconclusive results and the methods that were used, which do not always match the results that were sent into our country, are yet to be clarified.

CCTV image of Kamila
CCTV image of Kamila

In the case of the Portuguese immigrant, who was condemned based on the statements of a false American expert that was introduced by the FSS, the alleged experts spent, according to the report, more than 80 hours perfecting and analysing the shades of the victim's coat on the video images, in order to conclude that a decoloured area of the image could be the strap of the purse that the Portuguese man found in his home. A reconstitution that was carried out on location in December 2008, this time using an independent laboratory and no manipulation of the images, would end up questioning the work of the English authorities, which spent around 300.000 euros in the inquiry, a large part of that sum having been used to pay for the expert work performed on the video images.
Hard to believe but true
After being arrested by the police, accused of a robbery that was committed more than 300kms away from his home, Raymond Easton would end up receiving compensation after the tremendous mistake that was committed by the FSS in their analyses of the crime scene evidence could be proved in court.
Suffering with Parkinsons, Easton couldn't walk, wash or dress himself without the help of his family, but that didn't prevent the police from arresting him based on DNA evidence that pointed at him "without any doubt" as being the author of a robbery that had taken place in a flat.
The FSS compared the result of its analyses with the database that the laboratory runs, where Easton was referenced after a case of domestic violence, and stated that the case was solved, given the fact that, according to its report, the tests' error margin was of 1 in 37 million.
Despite being at home when the robbery took place, physically very diminished and in the company of his daughter, Easton was jailed until he was presented to court, where due to a second analysis that was demanded by his lawyer, the FSS admitted to the DNA tests' error.

Only 3% of public trust journalists, 31 March 2009
Only 3% of public trust journalists Guardian
Roy Greenslade
Tuesday 31 March 2009 17.46 BST
Here's a sobering, if not entirely surprising, poll finding. Journalists are among the least trusted professionals in Britain. According to a survey conducted for the Bar Standards Board, we are down there with bankers, estate agents and politicians.
The survey results, which you will find here, show that only 3% of the 2,044 adults who were polled trusted journalists. Bankers managed a 2% rating while estate agents and politicians were trusted by only 1%.
By contrast, lawyers held the trust of 24% and accountants polled 14%. The fact that the online poll was done at the behest of lawyers is probably irrelevant, since it was carried out by reputable market research companies, KRC Research / YouGov.
Perhaps the most significant finding is that 57% of those polled do not trust any of the five professions. As Ruth Deech, chairman of the Bar Standards Board, told The Times: "Lack of public trust in the professions is clearly a substantial issue. While legal professionals do not fare too badly, their net trust rating of 24% is at best underwhelming."
Not as underwhelming as the score for journalists, however. Though this is not too different from findings in similar polls, it is still depressing.
Why, I wonder, is the public so disenchanted with journalists?

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files


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