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    

2007: December Key Events - Days (212-242) *

The vacuum of real news is filled with sightings and reports from Metodo3, usually involving Robert Murat. Their promise to return Madeleine by Christmas fails to materialise. The McCanns issue a Christmas appeal.

All the key events from December, with video and pictures
July 2007 (Days 59-89)
August 2007 (Days 90-120)
September 2007 (Days 121-150)
October 2007 (Days 151-181)
November 2007 (Days 182-211)
December 2007 (Days 212-242)
January 2008 (Days 243-273)
February 2008 (Days 274-302)
March 2008 (Days 303-333)
April 2008 (Days 334-363)
May 2008 (Days 364-394)
June 2008 (Days 395-424)
July 2008 (Days 425-455)
August 2008 (Days 456-486)
September 2008 (Days 487-516) 
October 2008 (Days 517-547)
November 2008 (Days 548-Date)
Saturday 01 December 2007
It is revealed that Portuguese police are investigating a mobile phone call from Russell O'Brien to Gerry McCann that was made on 10 June 2007. A team of telephone surveillance officers highlighted the call as it is understood to have contained key words that aroused police suspicions.
Investigators are concentrating on the exact whereabouts of Dr O'Brien when the call was made. It is understood Gerry McCann told detectives the call was made within a 4km radius of Praia da Luz but technicians working on the mobile phone network have dismissed this after examining records. It is believed the call took place 28km from Praia da Luz.
It also emerged that each member of the Tapas Nine were placed under surveillance after British communications experts arrived in the resort at the end of May. Mobile phone records, which leave a trail even when switched off, are believed to have been checked against statements made by guests and staff at the Ocean Club complex.
The results of these tests are believed to have been handed to the Portuguese prosecutors last week.
There is further press speculation about the 'Exeter connection', based around the fact that, just prior to May 3rd, Robert Murat spent 10 days at his sister's home in Exeter. Her house is less than a mile from the house where Jane Tanner and Russell O'Brien live. Tanner and O'Brien are neighbours of James and Charlotte Gorrod, who were also in Praia da Luz, at the same time as the Tapas Nine.  

Sunday 02 December 2007
It is reported that Portuguese police are investigating a disused barn in the south-east of Praia da Luz following the discovery of a blood stained towel which police believe may turn out to be Madeleine's blood.
Fibres on the towel allegedly match fibres from the Renault Scenic hire car the McCanns' hired 25 days after Madeleine's disappearance.
It is understood Portuguese detectives discussed the breakthrough when they met British police and a Crown Prosecution Service official last week at a police station in Leicester.
The fresh information is believed to have come from mobile phone surveillance police who tracked a signal to the remote and deserted barn. There they found a towel with an Aztec design, which revealed three sites of blood deposits on the edge of the towel. Tests showed there was 'moderate' support to suggest the blood deposits matched Madeleine's blood.
The results were not conclusive and are not regarded as being strong enough to be presented as evidence in a court case. However, close analysis of the towel revealed fibres which were not made of the towel material. The fibre fragments were microscopically examined against fibres found in the boot of the McCanns' Renault Scenic hire car.
Portuguese police sources say there was 'strong support' that the fibres found on the towel matched fibres found from the boot of the car. 

Monday 03 December 2007
It is reported that Portuguese police have asked the FSS to carry out further tests on forensic samples collected from the McCanns' apartment and hire car.

A source from Portugal's National Institute of Legal Medicine said: "The tests the Policia Judiciaria are waiting for are on traces of blood and hairs. The samples are so small that it is very unlikely a DNA link will be found. The tests being carried out are very complex. We're talking about procedures that require special care, because there has to be a 'consensus'. The truth is that hasn't happened."

In a rare public pronouncement on the case, Guilhermino Encarnacao, head of the PJ in the Algarve, said: "There's nothing new that enables us to move the case one way or another. The results provide no surprises."

Tuesday 04 December 2007
Reports suggest that scientists have found just 17 cells on samples taken from the boot lining of the McCanns' Renault Scenic hire car. However, this report is not even attributed to a 'source' so it's reliability remains in question.
Independent forensic expert Dr Ronald Denny said: "It is not a hopeless task. If they have 17 cells then they can carry it off very effectively in Birmingham, one of the leading labs in the world. It is a minute sample, something which 20 years ago, or even ten years ago, could not have been worked on. But improving DNA techniques mean detectives can re-open old cases. A cell is negligible – you can just about see it under a microscope. It’s a sample someone would leave behind with the touch of a finger. But when placed with certain biochemicals a small amount of DNA grows to a size that can be analysed.”
Kate and Gerry insist they are willing to return to Portugal if detectives want to interview them there. Portuguese officers plan to come to Britain again next week to ask new questions of the McCanns and their holiday friends - the Tapas Nine who were at a restaurant when Madeleine vanished on May 3. But some or all of the group may then be asked to go back to Praia da Luz to take place in "face-to-face" meetings or identity parades, say police sources.
Wednesday 05 December 2007

Three Policia Judiciaria detectives are expected to leave for the UK in the next few days. They will not interview the Tapas Nine themselves but will be present while British detectives ask questions. It is thought the questions will focus on apparent inconsistencies in the various statements given by the McCanns and their friends about the night Madeleine vanished.

But if the interviews do not yield results, some or all of the group will be asked to return to the Algarve, a Portuguese newspaper claims.

Thursday 06 December 2007
Kate and Gerry will find out within 48 hours if the British Government will let them face a new grilling over their daughter’s disappearance.
The prosecutor in charge of the case was last night set to send a letter asking for formal permission to re-interview them and their holiday dinner pals - the so-called Tapas Seven - to the Home Office. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, 44, will then decide whether or not to allow the further questioning to take place.
Detectives believe the secret to Madeleine’s fate lies within the group and are relying on the new interviews to crack the case. They hope the Home Secretary will immediately give the go ahead to the fresh round of interrogations.
But police in Portugal have long been suspicious about British Government involvement in the investigation and fear further political interference.

Friday 07 December 2007
It is reported that Portuguese detectives could conclude their inquiry as soon as January 3. Lawyer, Francisco Pagarete, said a public prosecutor would decide early in the New Year whether to charge his client, Robert Murat, or Kate and Gerry McCann.
Under Portuguese law, at that point the evidence-gathering process will end and the prosecutor will either formally accuse one or more of the three, or shelve the case, he said.
Mr Pagarete predicted this was most likely to happen on January 3, exactly eight months after Madeleine disappeared. The other possible date is January 14, eight months to the day after Mr Murat was named the first arguido in the child's disappearance, he said.
Mr Pagarete said: "On that day we will know what is going to be the public prosecutor's choice. He either accuses according to the evidence they have already gathered, or according to the same evidence he files the case against my client."
He went on: "It is the end of the inquiry for all of the defendants - the inquiry has to finish at the same time for everyone. At that time we will see all the decisions for all the defendants. I'm certain it will be either the 3rd or the 14th."
The lawyer said he believed it was "not possible" for Algarve-based prosecutor Jose Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses to request additional time to gather evidence. "I think there is no legal way to go around the situation and say we need more time," he said.
Mr Pagarete said Mr Murat was "not afraid of the result of the inquiry" because there was "nothing against" him.
Tycoon Stephen Winyard, who donated 100,000 to help Kate and Gerry McCann clear their names, criticises the Prime Minister for failing to publicly support the couple.
Winyard, who is worth about 30 million and has also offered a 1m reward for the four-year-old's return, said Gordon Brown should have defended the couple after Portuguese police made them "arguidos" - or suspects in the case - three months ago.

The Monaco-based businessman urged Brown to hold a "ministerial level" meeting with Kate and Gerry, both 39, who have faced a barrage of allegations since their return to the UK after Madeleine's disappearance from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz 220 days ago.

Saturday 08 December 2007
On a day of little news, Kirsty Maryan, 19, who has been described by the McCann family's private investigators as a key witness in the case, is seen posing in a nurse's uniform and stockings and suspenders.
In a series of photos, posted on the social networking website Facebook, nannies from the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz are seen in provocative and sometimes lurid poses. Most disturbingly, one of the nannies, Emma Wilding, 22, is snapped exposing her bottom while wearing one of the yellow wristbands sold to raise funds for the Find Madeleine campaign.
The girls' antics were described last night by a friend of the McCann family as "insensitive" and "inappropriate".

Sunday 09 December 2007
It is reported that police questioning of the McCanns and their group of friends could be delayed until after Christmas. Portuguese detectives are ready to fly to the UK and have prepared letters with questions the couple and their seven holiday friends must answer. It had been thought the interviews by British police with Portuguese officers sitting in could begin this week.
But the questions must be approved by the Portuguese public prosecutor, who will spend a week considering possible changes.
They will then go to the investigating judge for authorisation before being translated.
Finally, the questions must be approved by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

Monday 10 December 2007
It is revealed that the McCanns and other members of the tapas group have met for the first time since May 3rd. This was actually reported as an 'exclusive' in November, by Spanish TV station Antena3 but has only just been picked up by the British press.
It is said the 'Tapas Nine' had a highly emotional and "deeply sad" reunion at a hotel near Kate and Gerry's home in Rothley, Leicestershire. It is believed to have taken place on Saturday 17 November, the week after news broke that two members of the tapas group wanted to change their statements.
A source close to the McCanns said the meeting was kept secret because of the huge interest it would have generated. "It was a show of solidarity under police claims that one or two had wanted to change their stories," said a source.
The McCanns are said to have used the reunion to, in part at least, "talk tactics" in the search for Madeleine.

Tuesday 11 December 2007
It is reported that police are probing the secret summit between the McCanns and their 'tapas group' friends at a hotel near their home. 
The McCanns described the meeting as "highly emotional". But police are reported to be probing whether the group had used it as a chance to get their stories straight. If they suspect a conspiracy to obstruct justice, the group of friends could each face up to two years in jail.

Under English law such a meeting between the McCanns, who are both suspects, and their key witness friends would be banned during a criminal investigation.

The details of last month's meeting emerged as the prosecutor sent a letter to the Home Office asking for permission to re-interview the McCanns and their friends.
The McCanns will be particularly disappointed at reports that Jose Manuel Pacheco, the Roman Catholic priest who befriended them, has ordered every trace of the Madeleine appeal removed from his church of Our Lady of the Light.
The tiny white-washed building became a focal point of the Find Madeleine campaign, and was later searched by police looking for the body. But Friends of Fr Pacheco said he could no longer bear to discuss the case.
"Even when his friends broach the subject he immediately changes it," said one. He says it is an extremely unpleasant situation and the McCann family only ever brought him problems. He even told one friend they ruined his life. There are two completely different Pachecos, the one before the McCanns and this shell of a man after the McCanns. He is a nervous wreck."

Wednesday 12 December 2007
The mother of Robert Murat today launched a scathing attack on the girl's parents. Jenny Murat claimed her family was being punished simply because Kate and Gerry McCann left their daughter alone in their holiday apartment.

In an interview today, Mrs Murat, 71, also accused the private detective agency hired by the McCanns of allegedly bribing witnesses into changing their stories.

Mrs Murat also said friends of the McCanns, who claim to have seen Mr Murat outside the apartment on the night Madeleine vanished seven months ago, were lying. Her allegations have all been vehemently denied.

She said the Metodo 3 agency had hired detectives to follow her for a week. "Metodo were getting people to change their statements; following everybody everywhere. They were certainly following me."

It is also claimed today that British diplomats were ordered to "avoid offering support" to Robert Murat.

The Foreign Office sent a memo to staff with the instruction three days after the 34-year-old was named a formal suspect in the case, it was said. The treatment expat Murat received contrasts starkly with the support Gerry and Kate McCann were offered by the British authorities, Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported.

Murat's lawyer Francisco Pagarete said: "He feels he has been abandoned by his own government. This extremely serious order confirms the lack of support which the family has felt since the beginning."

El Mundo claims a Foreign Office document, dated May 17, justified the order because of "the specific nature of the case" and because British diplomats "were already helping Madeleine McCann's parents."

The paper reported: "An internal document, sent by the Foreign Office of the United Kingdom, orders British diplomats 'to avoid offering support' to Robert Murat, one of the suspects in the Maddie case, unless charges are presented against him."

Thursday 13 December 2007
The backlash against Madeleine McCann's parents gathered pace as the mayor of Praia da Luz described the unresolved case as 'a stain' on his community. Manuel Domingues Borba, a former policeman, said Kate and Gerry McCann were "guilty at least" of abandoning their daughter.
Mr Domingues Borba, 70, said: "For the parents to have left Maddie who was not yet four years old, with her twin brother and sister who were barely two -just babies - all alone in a foreign country. They left their children sleeping alone in the resort. I, personally, would never leave my children sleeping alone and go to dinner in a foreign country.
I consider the parents guilty of negligence at the very least. There was a total abuse of trust and extreme negligence. The parents are arguidos for a reason. If they are suspects it's because there are suspicions upon them. They are guilty of at least abandonment - in the least."

Friday 14 December 2007
The Guardian publishes an article by Bridget O'Donnell, the partner of Jeremy Wilkins, in which she talks about the events leading up to, and after, Madeleine's disappearance.
Kate and Gerry McCann would be behind bars by now if they were Portuguese, says the host of the country’s version of Crimewatch. Hernani Carvalho said the couple had been given "scandalously privileged treatment" over the disappearance of daughter Madeleine.
Mr Carvalho, who fronts Portugal’s top TV crime show, added: "If they were Portuguese they would be in jail by now. There are lots of people up in arms with the scandalously privileged treatment that was given to the McCanns. Any Portuguese couple in these circumstances would have been jailed a long time ago."
The TV host believes that the McCanns should have been put in custody while the investigation continues and that they are guilty of leaving their children alone at the very least.

Saturday 15 December 2007

It is reported that Kate and Gerry McCann are preparing for a quiet family Christmas for the sake of their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie. The family are yet to decide where they will spend their first Christmas without Madeleine.

Clarence Mitchell told the Leicester Mercury they were hoping to make the most of a "difficult" situation, and make this year as normal as possible for the twins.

He said: "Christmas will be a private time for Kate and Gerry and they will spend it with relatives somewhere in the UK. They have not yet decided if they will be staying in Rothley or not, but will be with their family. It will clearly be difficult for them without Madeleine, but they are very aware that Sean and Amelie are entitled to a normal family Christmas. They are also grateful for everybody remembering them at this time of year."

He spoke after detectives working for the family in Portugal were reported as saying they wanted the missing four-year-old found and back with her family by Christmas Day. Francisco Marco - director general of Metodo 3, the detective agency which has been employed by the family to find Madeleine - was quoted yesterday as saying they were closing in on the four-year-old's abductor and preparing to hand over "evidence" to police.

Mr Marco was also said to have told the Spanish newspaper Metro that Madeleine, who was snatched from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve in May, might not have left Portugal. He said: "God willing, I hope she will be back with her parents before Christmas."

Asked if Mr Marco had spoken out of turn, Mr Mitchell said: "We retain confidence in them. They are doing a good job and we are pleased they are confident they will find her. The sooner she comes home, the better. Metodo 3 is continuing to follow leads. Information is still coming in all the time."

Mr Mitchell also said the family was aware of media reports suggesting the Portuguese police still intended to talk to the family about their daughter's disappearance, but had not been formally notified of any plan to do so.

He said: "We've heard nothing from the Portuguese end as to whether the police are coming over here. We would not expect that to happen before Christmas. We are not expecting anything of real importance in the run-up to Christmas, unless of course Metodo 3 comes good and finds her. We are well aware of what the papers are saying but we have heard nothing official from the Portuguese police. If it does happen, no-one has anything to hide and they will happily tell the police what they want to hear over timings and anything else they are not sure about."

Sunday 16 December 2007
The Times runs an article by David James Smith, which gives details of the events of May 3rd.
The Sunday Express reports that the FBI has been asked to examine CCTV footage of three men acting suspiciously near the Algarve apartment that Madeleine McCann disappeared from. The night before she vanished, two men were seen acting nervously near the complex and on the evening she went, the same men were seen with a third man. One of the men captured on camera on both nights bears a strong resemblance to a man with long, dark hair seen carrying a child, as reported by the McCanns’ friend Jane Tanner.

They also reveal that sniffer dogs taken to a disused barn 30 miles from Praia da Luz have shown strong interest in two sites. One is what appears to be a 14ft mineshaft opening to an underground cavity, and the other is where earth has been disturbed, possibly covering a shallow grave.

It is reported that detectives have asked for specialist imaging equipment to be brought in and are planning to excavate the shaft.

Monday 17 December 2007

It is alleged that Robert Murat was present as official translator when Portuguese detectives quizzed Rachael Oldfield and Dianne Webster, two of the friends who dined with Kate and Gerry McCann on the night Madeleine vanished. Just days later British expat Murat was made an arguido or official suspect.

Sources say Murat translated for Mrs Oldfield, 36, when she was questioned at Portimao police station. His lawyer Francisco Pagarete yesterday denied this - but admitted Murat had translated for Mrs Webster in police interviews. He added: "He helped the police translate for one person only. That was the elderly lady from the group. He was not involved any more."

Murat has repeatedly denied being outside the McCanns' apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, the night Madeleine disappeared. He says he was at home - a claim his mother supports. But three of the seven friends who were in the tapas bar with Kate and Gerry McCann say they saw him. Mrs Oldfield, Russell O'Brien and Fiona Payne were all flown out to Portugal by police in the summer for a face-to-face meeting with Murat, in which they accused him of lying.

However, Mrs Webster, the mum of Fiona Payne, has told police she did not see Murat.

The key witness in the case is reported to have gone into hiding after fleeing Portugal. Police have sworn the waiter to secrecy over his vital testimony and know where he is. But friends say he is terrified his identity is about to be revealed and that he will come under pressure from rival factions in the case. He is scared of British and Portuguese government influence in the probe. Friends claim he is also wary of the team of private eyes hired by Kate and Gerry McCann to help find their daughter.

The tapas bar waiter – described by police as their “trump card” – has given what detectives believe is the most reliable account of what happened the night the four-year-old vanished. They have questioned him three times, most recently last week. Officers say his story can prove Madeleine’s parents are lying over her disappearance. Many of the 100 questions officers want to ask the McCanns and their holiday friends – the so-called Tapas Nine – are thought to be based on his information.

But, according to former colleagues at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz, the knowledge he is playing such a vital role in the case that has gripped the world has horrified him. One said: "He does not want to be involved in any of this. He was just a restaurant worker. His only problem was remembering food orders. He’s terrified."

Tuesday 18 December 2007
Portuguese police are sending new forensic material in the Madeleine McCann case to British scientists, it was revealed today. The previously untested evidence is believed to come from the holiday apartment where she was last seen. The move indicates that police in Portugal are maintaining their case that Madeleine died in the flat on the night of 3 May and that Kate and Gerry remain prime suspects.

It is believed that the latest tests are designed to bolster the original forensic results from the apartment, which are believed to have found traces of Madeleine's blood. Experts from the Forensic Science laboratory in Birmingham will also conduct separate tests to establish where DNA already found in the McCanns' apartment came from. To do this, further samples from the dozens of people who were in the apartment either before or after the girl disappeared are being sent to the laboratory.

It is revealed that Kate and Gerry McCann will not face new police interviews until after Christmas. Detectives have delayed asking for the fresh interrogations until after the festive period, meaning the couple will be able to spend the time with their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie. Portuguese police will make formal requests for the McCanns and the other members of the so-called Tapas Nine to be re-interviewed some time after December 27.

Wednesday 19 December 2007
It is reported that thousands of Portuguese telephone records have been seized and detectives are trawling through the paperwork looking for unusual patterns of calls around the time she vanished. Head of the inquiry Paulo Rebelo ordered the check across Praia da Luz, Burgau and Lagos - a region which has a population of 27,000.
Detectives have begun the process of contacting up to 1,000 locals whose records or mobile signals show they were in Praia da Luz on the night of May 3. Officers are particularly interested in the time between 9.30pm and 10pm, when they believe Madeleine disappeared.

Thursday 20 December 2007

Clarence Mitchell reveals that Kate and Gerry have been inundated with hundreds of Christmas gifts for Madeleine from all over the world. He says: "Kate and Gerry are immensely touched by the continued support and sympathy. And particularly at this time of year as they face their hardest Christmas, the messages of support have been of immense comfort."

Earlier this month Kate and Gerry, both 39, revealed the twins had made a heart-rending Christmas wish. The couple said: "They have asked if Santa will be bringing Madeleine home, which just about broke our hearts."

It is also revealed that Gerry McCann has begun working directly with hospital patients as he prepares to return to full-time hours. The consultant cardiologist will resume working full-time in January after completing two months of part-time work at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital.
Madeleine McCanns family cancel Christmas Telegraph
By Kate Day and agencies
Last Updated: 1:39am GMT 20/12/07
Madeleine McCann’s family will not be celebrating Christmas this year but her grandmother still has a present waiting for the missing four-year-old.
Eileen McCann, 67, said she will leave a big pink teddy bear with a white heart on Madeleine's bed, as she has done with similar gifts in recent years, and will be praying that her granddaughter returns home soon to receive it.
Mrs McCann told Hello! magazine: "Our big family Christmases were so special. This was my time of year with my family. But I won’t celebrate this year. I don’t feel like it."
She added: "I pick out clothes and put money in a little envelope for each of them. This year I did the same for Maddie. I’d never leave her out. As long as they don’t find her body, I’ll never give up hope."
Madeleine’s parents, Gerry and Kate, are determined to give their two-year-old twins, Amelie and Sean, as normal a Christmas as possible at the family home in Rothley, Leicestershire.
Kate’s mother, Susan Healy, 61, and husband Brian, 67, told the magazine they were also dreading Christmas. Mrs Healy said: "I don’t know what we’ll do. It's the most difficult period since she disappeared. Kate is really struggling. She doesn't want it to be Christmas, but we have to do something for the twins."
It was revealed yesterday that Portuguese police are sending DNA samples to the UK from the apartment in the resort of Praia da Luz where Madeleine disappeared on May 3.
The development follows claims by Jose Manuel Anes, the former head of the Portuguese police laboratory, that it is possible that no one will be tried over Madeleine’s disappearance because of mistakes made in the early days of the investigation. 

Friday 21 December 2007
Kate and Gerry McCann today sent an anguished public message to their daughter Madeleine telling her: "Our only Christmas wish is for you to be back with us again". In a worldwide Christmas appeal recorded at their home in Rothley, the couple told the 4 year old: "Be brave sweetheart".
The video which is being made available to all broadcasters worldwide at midnight tonight, also includes clips of Madeleine filmed last Christmas which have not been seen publicly before. Sitting in front of the Christmas tree with his wife, Gerry McCann speaks of how this will be "the hardest Christmas imaginable".

The couple each discuss the possibility that someone knows what happened to their daughter and they make a direct appeal to such a person to end their "despair and anguish" at Christmas. Kate then speaks directly to Madeleine in the hope that she is watching, passing on her parents' love and that of her twin siblings.
"This special time of year is all about families coming together witih love and peace", Mr McCann says in the 3 minute, 18 second video. "Clearly for us and the rest of our family it's going to be the hardest Christmas imaginable without Madeleine here. Since Madeleine was taken from us on May 3, someone knows what happened to her and may well know where she is now. That person has it within their power to show us the compassion to end this terrible ordeal for us.
Kate then says; "If that person is you, we understand that you may be staying silent because of fear for yourself or through misguided loyalty to other people. But you must understand that you hold the key to ending all this despair and anguish, for both us and Madeleine".
Then in a direct message to her daughter, she says, "Madeleine, it's mummy and daddy here. Just know how much we love you, Madeleine. We all miss you so much. Sean and Amelie talk about you all the time every day. We're doing all we can, Madeleine, to find you and there are so many good and very kind people helping us. Be brave, sweetheart. Our only Christmas wish is for you to be back with us again and we're hoping and praying that that will happen. Love you, Madeleine".

Saturday 22 December 2007

Legal sources claim that Kate and Gerry McCann may have to apply to the European Court of Human Rights to clear their names. The couple believe they are likely to remain official suspects for many years, making it difficult for them to begin rebuilding their lives.

It is believed that the Portuguese authorities will not lift the McCanns’ “arguido” status in the coming months, which raises the prospect of a protracted legal battle through the Portuguese courts, which could eventually end in the human rights court.

Lawyers representing Kate and Gerry, will attempt to clear their names officially in the New Year. But should that fail, they are prepared for a lengthy and bitter legal battle.

Sunday 23 December 2007
It is revealed that police want to trace a blue tennis bag allegedly taken from Kate and Gerry McCann's apartment on the night Madeleine went missing. Detectives think the hold-all could have been used to carry Madeleine as she was taken away, or even to transport the three-year-old's body. It belonged to the girl's father but has not been seen since the night of May 3, according to a Sky News documentary due to be broadcast on Christmas Eve.

Expert Tony Rogers, who reviews unsolved cases for British police and worked on the Soham investigation, said: "If it's a bag of a size that could be used to take a child away from the flat, that would be of great interest to the investigating officer." But McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell flatly denied that Mr McCann had lost a bag during the family's holiday. He said: "As far as Kate and Gerry are concerned, there is no missing tennis bag. They came back from holiday with everything except of course, tragically, Madeleine."

Mr McCann told friends yesterday that he did not take any tennis equipment to Praia da Luz, and did not own a blue tennis bag. But Sky News stood by its story, which it said came from sources who had travelled to the resort after Madeleine's disappearance.

Portuguese newspaper Diaria de Noticas reports that the Policiaria Judiciaria have been searching for months for a blue tennis bag, with sufficient size to carry a small child, which belonged to Gerry McCann. The story, advanced by Sky News, adds that Gerry McCann assured PJ investigators at the time that the bag had been "stolen". 

It is also reported that British police gave Portuguese detectives the details of 52 UK sex offenders with links to the Algarve. It is alleged that one of them is still to be eliminated as a suspect. The information was supplied by the Child Exploitation and On-line Protection Centre, whose specialist staff arrived in Portugal within days of Madeleine's disappearance.

In response to questions about the use of Low Copy Number DNA, which resulted in the collapse of the Omagh trial last week, Clarence Mitchell said: "Officially we have never been told that Low Copy Number analysis has been used. Everyone talks about it but we have never officially been informed by the police that this particular sort of DNA testing has been used."

Monday 24 December 2007
Sky TV airs Martin Brunt's documentary 'The Mystery of Madeleine McCann' in which he reviews the case and reveals details of the missing sports bag, as reported yesterday.

Tuesday 25 December 2007
Kate and Gerry spend their first Christmas without Madeleine in Skipton with Kate McCanns' cousin, Anne-Marie Wright and her husband Michael. Michael Wright can be seen delivering a statement on behalf of the McCanns on the Sky News Videos page here and was also listed as the co-driver of the hired Renault Scenic.
Kate McCanns' aunt, Janet Kennedy, says their family motto of leaving no stone unturned has changed. "Rather than leaving no stone unturned, it is that we never, never give up hope," she said. "Eight months on we have become even more determined and resolute and it (the message) becomes that we never, never give up."

Wednesday 26 December 2007
The private detectives, Metodo 3, who failed to keep their promise to deliver Madeleine home by Christmas, announce that they have received 347 calls following the McCanns Christmas appeal.

Thursday 27 December 2007
Kate and Gerry McCann could face another six-month wait to learn why they were made suspects in their daughter's disappearance.

The Portuguese police files setting out the alleged evidence against them were due to be made public on January 3 but are now expected to be kept secret until at least April and possibly even July, sources said. The delay would come as a bitter disappointment to the couple, who have just endured their first Christmas without Madeleine and are desperate to clear their names.

Under normal Portuguese law the secrecy restrictions on the police files would be lifted after eight months to allow the suspects' lawyers to see the evidence against them. That deadline would expire on January 3, marking exactly eight months since Madeleine disappeared from her parents' holiday apartment in Praia da Luz. But police have not completed their investigation and are about to apply to Britain to ask for Mr and Mrs McCann and their friends to be re-interviewed.

The public prosecutor in the case is widely expected to ask for an extension on the deadline, as it would be potentially disastrous for the police case if the McCanns, both 39, were to learn the alleged evidence against them before they were re-questioned. Such a request is considered almost certain to be granted and would give police another three months to work in secret, with the possibility of another three-month extension if needed.
The last UK paedophile wanted for questioning by Portuguese police over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been cleared. British police had given their Portuguese counterparts a list of 52 British paedophiles who had links to Portugal. Detectives had already discounted the involvement of 51 of them but had not been able to track down the final one. However, the unnamed man has now been located, questioned and cleared of any involvement.

The paedophile was able to give an alibi for his whereabouts on May 3, the day Madeleine, now four, was snatched from her family's holiday apartment in Praia Da Luz. Portuguese newspaper Correio Da Manha reported: "All British paedophiles have been investigated and acquitted."

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate, said the discovery of the final man on the list showed that the police were doing their job.
Kate pins on badge of hope The Sun
By Charles Yates
Published: 27 Dec 2007
ANGUISHED Kate McCann returned to church yesterday – with a badge of hope bearing a picture of missing Madeleine pinned close to her heart.
Kate went back to historic St Stephen's Church in Skipton, North Yorks, just 24 hours after attending Christmas Day mass with husband Gerry and their two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie. The tormented mum – wearing jeans and quilted coat – was accompanied by a friend as the congregation joined her in praying for Madeleine’s safe return.
On her left lapel she wore a badge featuring Maddie's face and distinctive iris with the message: "Look into my eyes – help find Madeleine." Kate’s own eyes had a haunted look, the legacy of the nightmare that began during the McCanns' family holiday to Portugal seven months ago.
Parish priest Peter Dawber, who celebrated the Christmas mass, said: "Parishioners' hearts go out to the McCanns, especially at this time of year. There was a prayer for Madeleine, but the mass was a Christmas service. I knew from their cousin that there was a chance that they may attend church."
One worshipper said: "Every mother wants to cuddle her children at Christmas – it's heartbreaking that Kate has been denied that. The badge is a symbol of hope that could help focus new eyes on the hunt for Madeleine. Kate looked much more anguished than she did on Christmas Day. Perhaps not having the twins with her meant she could show her true emotions. It is heartbreaking to see a mum so anguished at this time of year."
The McCanns have been staying with cousin Anne Marie Wright, 43, in Skipton and have tried their best to enjoy a normal Christmas for the sake of Sean and Amelie.

Friday 28 December 2007
Two British holidaymakers have claimed that they saw Robert Murat loitering near the Ocean club complex on the night of Madeleine McCanns' disappearance. Sisters Jayne Jensen and Annie Wiltshire were in the Portugese resort when Maddie vanished in May - and have given an "extensive interview" to cops detailing their suspicions about suspect Robert Murat.
According to reports in the Portuguese press, the English sisters' suspicions were aroused when they saw Murat walk past them the day after the four-year-old disappeared. They had remembered seeing him by the Ocean Club apartment the night before, when a search for the vanished girl was launched just after 10pm.

The paper claims that as he passed them on May 4, they asked him for a drink and Jayne reported his behaviour as 'strange'. Murat, who was wearing a blue t-shirt and jeans, told them he needed to go home to change out of his clothes as he had been wearing them all day. But Jayne, 54, claimed she distinctly remembers him wearing a totally different outfit - 'a different shirt and gray trousers, just moments before.'

The sisters, who travelled out to Portugal on April 21, and were staying nearby, had passed on the information they had to Leicestershire police when they returned to the UK from holiday. But after several publicity appeals by Kate and Gerry, they decided to get in direct contact with the McCanns' Spanish detective agency Metodo 3.

The Telegraph reports a different version of events:

The women, both thought to be in their 50's from Aylesford in Kent, were on a two-week holiday in the Algarve at the same time as the McCanns and became friends through tennis. They were staying in an apartment nearby and on the day Madeleine disappeared, they say they saw two men in a neighbouring apartment acting suspiciously.

A source close to the investigation said: "The sisters saw two men wearing trunks, standing on a balcony, whom they had not seen before. They just felt that they looked odd, but didn’t do anything about it." Later that night, Madeleine vanished and the women helped with the search. The following morning, Mrs Jensen is said to have remembered seeing a man smoking a cigarette outside the McCanns’ apartment.

On the evening of May 4 - after Murat had volunteered as a police interpreter - the sisters were having a drink with a third friend discussing the case when he is said to have walked past.

"He doubled back and asked them if everything was alright," said the source. "They asked him for a drink and he joined them briefly. He was wearing a navy blue t-shirt and jeans and was very sweaty. He said he had to go for a shower because he had been in the same clothes all day, but Jayne claimed she had seen him in a striped shirt and trousers earlier."

Saturday 29 December 2007
Madeleine McCann suspect Robert Murat has denied further claims he was seen near the young girl's apartment on the night she vanished, a friend has said. Family friend Tuck Price suggested the women (as reported yesterday) must have mistaken him for somebody else, adding: "He wasn't there."
Mr Price said: "He (Mr Murat) says there is a possibility he could have done the translation for those people because he was working for the Policia Judiciaria (Portugal's CID) on that day. But eight months down the line he has no idea who they are. He welcomes them going to the police."

Sunday 30 December 2007
It is reported that Kate and Gerry McCann plan to return to Portugal to re-ignite interest in the case of their missing daughter Madeleine. They will meet with advisers early in the New Year to work out the best way forward. But first they want their status as official suspects lifted. The hunt for Maddie has virtually been dropped from news schedules in Portugal.

The McCanns will also relaunch the website designed to help find the four-year-old.

Robert Murat’s lawyer claims he will never be charged over Madeleine's disappearance despite becoming a suspect 11 days after she disappeared. Francisco Pagarette revealed that two Portuguese officers had given sworn statements Murat could not have been at the scene. A source said police believe they may have seen a member of staff at the Ocean Club who looked like Murat.

Pagarette said senior detectives assured him they trusted the two officers who said Murat could not have been there when Maddie was taken. The lawyer also claimed Murat was being targeted in a smear campaign. He said: "Robert will never have to prove he is innocent. We do not need to prove where Robert was that night. If they cannot find evidence there will be no trial."

Monday 31 December 2007
The Daily Mail runs an 'exclusive' with the two British women who claim to have seen two suspicious blond men standing on an apartment balcony.
Kate McCann is reported to be suspicious about Robert Murat's alibi for the night her daughter Madeleine vanished. It is said that she has confided to friends that she believes there are questions about the British expat that need to be answered.
A friend of Kate and her husband Gerry said: "Kate has always felt there are questions concerning Murat and a body of evidence contrary to what he is saying. Gerry doesn't know whether he is involved but Kate has always been suspicious."
Robert Murat vehemently denies any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance. His mother Jennifer, 71, has accused Metodo 3 of bribing witnesses to change their evidence.

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files


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