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    

'Madeleine' Media Opinions*

Opinion articles on 'Madeleine'

Next chapter in the search for Madeleine, 07 May 2011
Next chapter in the search for Madeleine Irish Times

The McCanns, illustration by Peter Hanan

Illustration by Peter Hanan
Saturday, May 7, 2011

PROFILE: KATE AND GERRY McCANN: For four years the deeply private parents of Madeleine McCann have exposed themselves to the media to keep the search for their daughter in the public eye, writes KATHY SHERIDAN . Now they're publishing a book about it

FEW ISSUES FLUSH out more self-righteous bile than other people's parenting. For critics of Kate and Gerry McCann the loss of a daughter was never sufficient punishment for a bad parenting decision. They have had to shoulder accusations of neglect and murder, in screaming headlines, across several countries. Message boards call for them to be lynched.

"If the McCanns were from Norris Green [a troubled Liverpool housing estate] and their child had gone missing while they were playing bingo, they would be national hate figures," commented one poster this week on a report of a Mass in the city to mark the fourth anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance.

The McCanns' error was to leave their small children sleeping in an unlocked ground-floor apartment while they dined with seven friends at a tapas bar about 120m away, in the Portuguese resort town of Praia da Luz. They left the apartments unlocked for fear of fire, they later explained; they chose not to use the babysitting service because they didn't want to leave their children with strangers. Members of the party were to take turns checking on all the children at 30-minute intervals. The catastrophic outcome was the disappearance of Madeleine from her bed. She was a few days short of her fourth birthday.

For the traditional media "Maddy" was circulation gold. For the pseudonymous bloggers and message-board posters, her parents became a magnet for poisonous, malicious speculation. The case became "a sort of blogging Viagra", as one journalist put it in a remark related by Roy Greenslade of the Guardian. Every new reference to the McCanns triggered a surge of casual savagery online, fuelled by the traditional media’s gleeful splashes of unsubstantiated leaks.

The least of the accusations was that the McCanns had escaped censure for child neglect because they were white, middle-class and attractive.

The worst, wildest accusation was that Kate had killed her daughter and Gerry had helped to cover it up. Always entangled among them were baseless allegations that he was not the natural father, that she was on medication, that the children had been sedated, that the couple's relentless campaigning was all about the money.

Kate McCann's problem from the start was that she failed to fit the role of grieving mother. Too controlled, too fit, too good looking, too middle-class, too attached to "parading herself before the world", clutching her missing daughter's favourite toy.

The online supersleuths believed they had her measure early on: "It was Kate McCann NEVER appearing in any pictures for weeks after Madeleine went missing without Cuddle Cat being superglued to her hand that made me start to suspect that everything they did was totally false and stage managed. One face for the cameras and another one behind closed doors," commented one of the most printable posters.

McCann's stoicism, natural reserve and grimly maintained jogging routine merely inflamed delicate tabloid sensibilities. Her unwillingness to break into choking sobs for the cameras or to claw the earth in remorse for her admitted parenting mistakes supposedly proved she wasn't a natural mother. Leaks from inside the investigation claimed that her controlled public appearance, and even her carefully applied make-up, indicated a "cold and manipulative" personality. Right from the beginning, it was said, the Portuguese police suspected her because their wives were telling them she looked too controlled, didn't weep enough.

She told her mother, Susan Healy, "If I weighed another two stone, had a bigger bosom and looked more maternal, people would be more sympathetic."

There are sound precedents for her theory. In the so-called dingo baby case in Australia, in 1980, Lindy Chamberlain was adjudged too "cold" by jury and media and convicted of murdering her baby, serving many years in prison before fresh evidence led to her vindication.

Gerry McCann explained that he and his wife had been advised that self-control might have most effect on a putative kidnapper tuning in to their many television pleas. His wife gave self-flagellating interviews, admitting their mistakes and revealing that their three much-loved babies were the result of IVF treatment. The British and Portuguese news media had found their own circulation Viagra, the gift that kept on giving: photogenic, affluent, professional folk; strikingly pretty, blond missing child; controversial parenting decisions; sunny foreign resort; suggestion of lurking paedophiles; questionable police investigation; deepening hostility between the two sides; and a resultant poisonous trickle of leaks.

PETER HILL, THE now retired Daily Express editor, presided over stories that suggested the couple were complicit in their daughter's disappearance. For those libels and defamatory reports in the group’s other titles, Express Newspapers had to pay the McCanns £550,000 (plus £375,000 to the Tapas Seven, who announced they would be giving the money to the Find Madeleine fund). He now regrets it, "of course", he told Greenslade.

So why did it happen? "It was a huge story, and every adult in the country had an opinion on it. I admit it helped to sell the paper. There were many factors involved, such as the way Maddy's parents sought publicity in an unprecedented way. All the way through our principal focus was on 'what's happened to Maddy?' The Portuguese police and British legal sources were leaking stories that implied the McCanns were guilty in some way. We were not to know that the Portuguese police were ineffectual and, in some cases, corrupt."

They (and their lawyers) deemed these stories fit to print anyway, inflicting collateral damage on innocent lives, but paid a price for it. The bloggers and posters pursue their agenda with impunity, never pausing to wonder why, if they had killed their child, the McCanns worked tirelessly to keep the case alive.

In an interview to mark the first anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance Gerry McCann felt obliged to remind people that they were real people: "We are not characters in a soap opera or a fiction."

He returned to work as a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester about six months after the tragedy, often cycling the eight kilometres to work. His wife, who never returned to her position as a GP, jogs around the country lanes of Rothley, the Leicestershire village where they live, after getting the children off to school; then she returns to their new-build house, in a quiet cul de sac, to work on the campaign to find their daughter. Though not a shrine, Madeleine's bedroom remains largely untouched, awaiting her return, according to the Daily Telegraph.

THE COUPLE ARE caught in a desperate dilemma: give up the search, and spare themselves the torture of the alleged sightings, the con men, the rumours, the malice and the abuse, or continue to ride the media tiger in the hope that it will flush out Madeleine's whereabouts.

Their relentless, costly Leaving No Stone Unturned campaign, ensuring that the public continues to be alert for the little girl, has been distinguished by its quasi-corporate professionalism. Staffing has included a campaign manager and a media manager, plus teams of full-time private investigators (currently led by two British former policemen). Services include a 24-hour multilingual call centre, travel packs for people going away on holiday, posters and multilingual prayer cards with photographs and contact details.

Clarence Mitchell, a former BBC journalist, resigned from his job with the British government's media-monitoring unit to become spokesman, his salary paid by a Cheshire businessman, Brian Kennedy. High-profile names such as Richard Branson have also donated generously; Branson gave £100,000 towards their legal costs.

Another fund supporter, JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, is believed to have introduced Kate McCann to her agent, Christopher Little, when Kate McCann's forthcoming book was proposed. The account of their ordeal, which Kate wrote herself, and is to be published next Thursday, Madeleine's eighth birthday, is expected to be hard-hitting, particularly about the Portuguese police.

In it she will also relive the first days after Madeleine's disappearance and chart the media storms in the following months, when the couple became suspects. The legal firm Carter-Ruck has combed through the manuscript for possible libels.

Kate McCann, a deeply private woman, undertook to write the book with a heavy heart, and only because the campaign fund needs the £1 million she hopes it will raise. Although she has become notably more confident in her dealings with the press, marketing plans do not include public book signings, for fear of verbal or even physical abuse.

IN MANY WAYS, however, the tide is against them. Although Kate McCann is reported to have made several secret trips back to Praia da Luz, where she stays with an Anglican priest and his wife, and finds strength there, local businesspeople are desperate to shake off the dark legacy. Unsurprisingly, there is a marked reluctance in the town to discuss the story, reports the Daily Telegraph. The once ubiquitous photographs of the little girl around the little church of Our Lady of Light are gone.

Apartment 5a of the Ocean Club complex, from which Madeleine disappeared, has remained unoccupied and was put on the market two years ago at £50,000 below the market price, but it hasn’t received a single inquiry. Instead it has become a ghoulish attraction for tourists who want their photographs taken outside. The infamous tapas bar is now a pizzeria and no longer opens in the evenings.

Four years on Kate McCann is sustained by her devout Catholic faith: "I know the truth and God knows the truth and nothing else matters." Gerry McCann has said that his own faith has deepened since Madeleine's disappearance, and the family attend Sunday Mass together. In an interview on BBC Radio Kate said that she includes in her prayers the police and investigators and other children who are missing or have been exploited, but also "the people who have taken Madeleine, the people who know what's happened to Madeleine and the people around and related to the person who’s taken Madeleine".

Curriculum vitae

Who are they?
A Leicestershire cardiologist and GP whose daughter Madeleine vanished in Portugal while they ate in a nearby tapas bar in 2007.

Why are they in the news?
 Kate McCann's book, Madeleine , will be published on Thursday, the child's eighth birthday.

What makes them so different?
White, good looking professionals; controversial parenting decisions.

Hmm. Anything else?
A relentless, multimillion euro global campaign to keep the investigation alive.

Kate McCann accuses Algarve police of sex abuse cover up, 07 May 2011
Kate McCann accuses Algarve police of sex abuse cover up The Telegraph

Kate McCann has accused Portuguese police of covering up a series of child sex abuse cases before her daughter Madeleine was abducted.

Robert Mendick

By Robert Mendick 9:30PM BST 07 May 2011

The claim is made in a new book Madeleine, in which Mrs McCann writes honestly about her torment in the four years since her daughter went missing from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal.

In the forthcoming book, Mrs McCann writes of her fear that her daughter was kidnapped by a paedophile and admits that she was at one time consumed by the mental image of her eldest child being 'defiled' by her abductor.

Mrs McCann and her husband Gerry, both of them doctors from Rothley in Leicestershire, were first warned of an alarming number of cases in the Algarve by Bill Henderson, the British consul in the region. He told the McCanns shortly after the abduction that there had been "several cases of men getting into bed with children". When police made public their files on the case in the summer of 2008, Mrs McCann discovered five cases of British children being sexually abused in their beds while on holiday and while their parents slept in another room.

The incidents are said to have occurred within a one-hour drive of Praia da Luz in the three years before Madeleine, then aged three, went missing on May 3rd 2007. She believes the Portuguese police failed to investigate any possible links between the cases and the disappearance of Madeleine.

"It broke my heart to read the terrible accounts of these devastated parents and the experiences of their poor children," writes Mrs mcCann, adding: "What these cases do demonstrate, however, is that British tourists in holiday accommodation were being targeted... It is so hard not to scream from the rooftops about how these crimes appear to have been brushed under the carpet."

Mrs McCann, 43, says she was consumed by the fear her child was being abused in the days after she went missing. She writes: "When she was first stolen, paedophiles were all we could think about, and it ate away at us. The idea of a monster like this touching my daughter, stroking her, defiling her perfect little body, just killed me over and over again....

"I would lie in bed, hating the person who had done this to us – the person who had taken away our little girl and terrified her. I hated him. I wanted to kill him."

In an interview published yesterday in The Sun newspaper to coincide with the book's publication on May 12th - on what would be Madeleine's 8th birthday - the McCanns talked candidly of how their own relationship had suffered in the aftermath of the kidnapping. Mr McCann, 42, who has gone back to work as a heart consultant at a teaching hospital, told the sun: "There were times when I thought she would never get back to being the woman I love.

"Early on I could understand why something like this destroys relationships. It's been so hard to keep your own head above water at times. Now we're more or less on an even keel."

Mrs McCann said: "I didn't know if I would ever get back to the person I was. I was conscious about the effect this had on Gerry. He needed me to be together and I just couldn't get myself there."

The book was written by Mrs McCann, who has never returned to work as a GP, in about nine months and is expected to raise £1 million for the fund established by the couple to find their child. The sum will pay for private detectives to continue their search for about another two years. She hopes it will also trigger further information for their detectives to follow up as it inevitably garners publicity around the world.

Even before publication, the book tops the Amazon best-seller list based on pre-orders. In Madeleine, Mrs McCann tells of the couple's guilt at leaving Madeleine and their twins Sean and Amelie unattended in their apartment while they ate supper with friends about 100 yards away.

In the most detailed account of what happened on the night the child went missing, Mrs McCann tells of how she frantically searched for the child on discovering Madeleine was no longer asleep in her bed. She writes of the panic that took hold and how her 'heart lurched' on discovering a window in the child's bedroom was opened. She ran out of the apartment in the direction of the table where her husband and friends were eating and began screaming: "Madeleine's gone. Someone's taken her."

Mrs McCann also admits to turning 'amateur detective' during a return visit to the resort, getting a friend to re-enact the sighting of a man seen carrying a child, believed to be madeleine, as he walked away from the apartment on the night the little girl vanished.

She reveals she has had three similar dreams of getting her daughter back. "She says there, I'm holding her, I'm so happy. And then I wake up. And of course she's not there. The pain is crippling," she admitted.

Pillorying the McCanns is the vilest sport of all, 08 May 2011
Pillorying the McCanns is the vilest sport of all The Observer

Kate McCann is not publishing a book to find fame, she's raising funds to continue the search for her daughter

Barbara Ellen

By Barbara Ellen
Sunday 8 May 2011

My stomach lurched when I saw that Kate McCann had written a book about her daughter's disappearance, entitled Madeleine and serialised in the Sun. Not because I thought she shouldn't have written it but because I could sense them coming – "them" being the professional haters, the abusive, gloating chorus, who have denounced, castigated and accused the McCanns, online and off, ever since that night in May 2007 when Madeleine McCann disappeared from Praia da Luz, Portugal. If Kate McCann's book was coming out, so surely would they?

At the time of writing, there was only the first Sun extract to look at. It featured the night Madeleine went missing and Kate's recurring visions of Madeleine being tortured and murdered by paedophiles, the latter so all-consuming, Kate writes, that she wanted "to rip her own skin off".

All proceeds from the book will go towards finding Madeleine, which seems logical. How else are the McCanns supposed to raise money for their international campaign – holding a few car boot sales? Clearly the McCanns have made peace with the fact that the last thing they want to think about is the thing people are most likely to pay to hear, see or read about. I'd imagine producing that book was pure torment, but it had to be done. Why then the roar of hostility and censure that accompanies pretty much every move the McCanns make?

It is high time the McCann haters pushed off. I am all for free speech but they've had their say and, raking through innumerable online "wailing walls", most of what they've said is repetitive rubbish. Here are some examples: "The McCanns shouldn't have left their children alone while they ate in a restaurant 100 yards away." Obviously, and the McCanns have expressed regret over their mistake many times.

"A chavvy single mother who'd let her kid be abducted wouldn't have had all this sympathy." In truth, public and media alike tied themselves into PC knots not to appear "prejudiced" towards Karen Matthews when Shannon went "missing". In the end, it was one of Matthews's "chavvy" mates who had the guts to confront her about her lies.

"There is firm evidence that the McCanns killed Madeleine and then concealed the body." No, there isn't. Don't the people who spout such nonsense have anything better to do, such as musing on grassy knolls or looking for Elvis in the supermarket? Hey, Bin Laden may still be alive – get your conspiracy-hungry teeth into that!

Then there is the mindset that the McCanns are "asking for it" because they keep placing themselves in the public eye – as if they have a choice. They don't exactly seem the types to want to appear in newspapers or on television. One can't imagine them having fun with Ant and Dec, or rustling up a double-baked souffle on MasterChef. Now, though, they are stuck in the zone of "reluctant celebrity", forced to keep hankering for attention.

This is the McCanns' special circle of hell – they are off the current news agenda but for them the story isn't over. They are not natural exhibitionists but circumstances dictate that they must keep coming out and "performing". Superficial generational differences aside, they remind me of Winnie Johnson, now terminally ill but still cropping up in the media, begging Ian Brady to tell her where her son, Keith Bennett, is buried on the moors. If anyone feels sympathy for Mrs Johnson, they should feel the same for the McCanns.

No one could deny that, in the past four years, the McCanns have been judged thoroughly. With this book, there is an opportunity for this mood, this element, to pass and for the haters to back off. It seems clear that, far from self-justifying, or attention-seeking, this book is what it has always been about for the McCanns – a practical solution to fundraising.

Kate McCann's haunting account makes me rue the day I doubted them, 09 May 2011
Kate McCann's haunting account makes me rue the day I doubted them Daily Mail

Last updated at 8:01 AM on 9th May 2011

Tiptoeing into her holiday apartment to check on her three sleeping children, a young mother immediately senses something isn't quite right. Strangely, the bedroom door, which she had left only slightly ajar after reading them stories and kissing them goodnight, is now wide open.

And when she tries to return it to its original position it suddenly slams shut — seemingly blown by a draught from the window, whose wooden shutters, she knew, had been tightly closed.

With a mother's thoughtfulness, she resists the urge to turn on the light for fear of waking her children: two-year-old twins and a beautiful pixie of a daughter who will celebrate her fourth birthday in nine days' time. Instead she peers through the darkness, trying to discern them slumbering beneath the covers.

For a few seconds time seems to freeze. And then, realising the oldest girl's bed is empty, her heart lurches, and she dashes frantically around the apartment, checking every cupboard and wardrobe.

Told for the first time in harrowing, moment-by-moment detail, this is Kate McCann's first-hand account of how she discovered that her daughter, Madeleine, had been snatched away from her.

In her 384-page memoir, serialised in The Sunday Times, which is sure to top the best-sellers list when it is published this Thursday – Madeleine's eighth birthday – Kate describes the maelstrom of emotions that overcame her ('nausea, terror, disbelief, fear, icy fear, dear God, no') as she was confronted with every parent's ultimate nightmare.

The personally-penned book, which took her nine months to complete, and was written both as a catharsis and to fund the campaign to find Madeleine, answers many of the questions which have helped make this the most perplexing and darkly compelling missing child case of modern times.

Former GP Kate, now 43, reveals how losing their daughter drove her to the brink of suicide and came close to breaking up her marriage to cardiologist Gerry McCann.

Distressed by the vicious and highly personal vendetta against them – which continues to poison the internet – she also explains why the couple have sometimes tested public sympathy with their apparently aloof and unemotional demeanour.

It wasn't indifference, as some cruelly interpreted, but shock, she said. 'It's quite frightening when I see myself in those early days. To me I look incredibly fragile and confused and lost.

'When I look back at the appeal I did to the abductor, I look as though I'm not connecting. That day, I remember we were concerned we weren't crying. We felt detached from it all and because of that we were worried; would the appeal be so effective?’

Privately, she says, she was – and sometimes still is – 'consumed' by overwhelming guilt and anguish.

By day, she would replay hideous images of Madeleine's broken body 'lying cold and mottled on a big, grey stone slab'; or in the hands of some twisted sex fiend.

'The idea of some monster like this, touching my daughter, stroking her, defiling her perfect little body, just killed me over and over again,' she writes.

'It didn't make any difference that this might not be the explanation for Madeleine's abduction (and please God it isn't). The fact that it was a possibility was enough to prevent me from shutting it out.'

An entry from her diary during those early days reads: 'Crying in bed again. The thought of Madeleine's fear and pain tears me apart. The thought of paedophiles makes me want to rip my skin off.'

At night, her torment comes by way of vividly lifelike recurring dreams. Kate has three, and they are broadly the same. Madeleine is still alive, and so tangible her mother can 'smell her, feel her snuggling into me, like she always did'.

Then she wakes up, and the daughter she and Gerry strove so hard to conceive after months of IVF treatment is no longer in her arms. It is as if she has been ripped away from her all over again.

Though her 42-year-old husband was able to resume a semblance of normality much sooner than his wife, his outwardly tough exterior is deceptive, she suggests.

One day, watching his daughter's favourite Dr Who episode with the twins, she found him silently dissolving into tears.

Reading Kate's haunting account, it is impossible to feel anything but the deepest empathy. In all but the sickest of minds, it will dispel any scintilla of doubt about their involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.

Having started investigating the case soon after she vanished from that ground-floor flat in Praia da Luz, on May 3, 2007, and – to my lasting regret – voicing early suspicions that they might be somehow implicated, I just wish the McCanns had felt able to show this very human face much sooner.

Drawn from Kate's diaries, it is the little details and 'what if's that make it so heart-rendingly human; and so authentic that even the most cynical Portuguese detective will surely no longer doubt its veracity.

Fate began to take its course on New Year's Day, 2007, when their friends Fiona and David Payne said they were planning a week's break at a resort on the Algarve, with two other families, and invited them along.

Four months later, on Saturday, April 28, the McCanns boarded a Portugal-bound plane, and despite tripping on the aircraft steps and cutting her shin, Madeleine was filled with excitement.

Arriving in the chilly, half-deserted out-of-season resort, she pleaded with her mother to join her in the freezing pool, and Kate, who dislikes the cold, simply couldn't refuse.

With a veranda overlooking the resort's garden and tennis courts, the apartment was not only 'lovely' but seemed perfectly secure.

British police later told the couple that its location, on the ground-floor corner of a five-storey block accessible from both the front and side, and partly hidden by trees, made it an ideal target for a child abductor.

However, it was only 18 months later, when the Portuguese authorities formally shelved the inquiry and opened the case file, that Kate and Gerry discovered the chilling gamble they had unwittingly taken by holidaying in such a vulnerable location on the Algarve.

Logged in the papers were five reports where British parents had complained that their children had been sexually molested in their beds as they slept and three more where the intruder had been disturbed before he could assault his would-be victims – again, young Britons on holiday.

Not one of these cases had been mentioned to the McCanns, and Kate says there was 'a familiar thread' – that none appeared to have been taken seriously, either by the Portuguese police or the tour operators concerned.

Of course, this raises extremely serious questions. Was a serial child predator on the loose at the time, and was this covered up for fear of damaging the tourist industry?

If so, this makes the police's determination to focus their inquiries on the McCanns, and make them official suspects, even more inexcusable. The pattern for the holiday was set on their first day. Most mornings and afternoons, the children joined in activities at the toddler and mini clubs whilst the adults sunbathed or played tennis.

But they were all together for a couple of hours at lunch and tea-time, and Kate and Gerry would have fun with Madeleine and the twins in the play area before putting them to bed.

As the resort complex's main restaurant was located about half a mile away, the nine adults in the group decided to dine together every night at the poolside tapas bar, just 30 to 45 seconds' walk from the apartments.

It meant they could easily take turns to nip back to check on the children every half an hour, and wouldn't need to disturb their sleep patterns by taking them out late, or rely on strangers to babysit them.

It was only later, again whilst combing through the police files, that Kate discovered an unintended, though glaring flaw, that could have left the children exposed.

Since the tapas bar had only 15 places, the group had block-booked their reservation for the week. But this request was written in a staff message book left on the reception desk beside the pool.

'This book was by definition accessible to staff, and albeit unintentionally, probably to guests and visitors, too. To my horror I saw that, no doubt in all innocence, the receptionist had added that we wanted to be close to our apartments as we were leaving our children alone there and checking on them intermittently.'

Her final few minutes with Madeleine are forever etched in her memory.

Madeleine, in her Marks & Spencer Eeyore pyjamas, nuzzling her toy Cuddle Cat beneath a 'princess' blanket ... Madeleine asking, and being permitted, to wear her mother's engagement ring for a few moments before she settled down to sleep.

Was the kidnapper already hiding in the apartment when, having ordered dinner, Gerry returned to make the first check, at 9.05pm? It now seems appallingly possible, for the door to the children’s bedroom was open much wider than they had left it.

Glancing into the room, however, their father was reassured. Madeleine was lying on her side, exactly as they had left her.

'He paused for a couple of seconds to look at her and thought to himself, she's so beautiful,' recalls Kate.

Then he pulled the door back to its original position and, after using the bathroom, he returned to the dinner party.If only his suspicions had been aroused by the open door and he had scoured the apartment. If only they had followed their hearts and stayed in that night.

If only ... if only. Doubtless this poor, wretched couple will forever torture themselves with the what-might-have-been.

One only hopes the many questions raised in Kate's book will prick the conscience of the Portuguese authorities and prompt them to review the woeful police investigation.

I hope that the royalties from it will keep the McCanns' private investigators in business long enough to turn up a crucial lead.

And I hope, though not with too much expectation, that it will finally silence those internet ghouls who seek to exacerbate their agony by casting blame and making vicious attacks on their character.

The McCanns were just two decent, loving parents enjoying a family holiday – and, after reading Kate in her own, excruciatingly raw words, I am certainly sorry that I ever thought otherwise.

Kate McCann: why didn't they believe her?, 09 May 2011
Kate McCann: why didn't they believe her? The Telegraph

The disappearance of her daughter drove the doctor and mother-of-three to the brink of suicide, she says. Cassandra Jardine reports.

Cassandra Jardine

By Cassandra Jardine
8:12PM BST 09 May2011

So far there has been only one public recantation. A tabloid journalist wrote yesterday that he "rues the day" he rubbished the McCanns' version of the disappearance of their daughter, Madeleine, four years ago. Many others might follow suit having read Kate McCann's account of events, which will be published this Thursday, to mark Madeleine's eighth birthday.

From advance extracts of her book, Madeleine, she emerges not as the hatchet-faced blonde who generated so many vicious blogs, comments and column-inches, but as an ordinary woman who reacted to catastrophe by appearing tight-lipped and dry-eyed. That didn't mean she wasn't feeling everything any woman would feel after she checked the holiday apartment in Praia de Luz, in Portugal, at 10pm on Friday, May 3, 2007. In her children's room, she found the two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, sleeping soundly but in three year-old Madeleine's bed, only Cuddle Cat was to be found. Seeing the patio windows open, a succession of emotions raced through her brain: "Nausea, terror, disbelief, fear. Icy fear. Dear God, no! Please, no!"

In the days, weeks and years that followed, she tells us that she was prey to such despair that, at times, she contemplated suicide by swimming out to sea. Oblivion would have been preferable to imagining what a paedophile might be doing to her daughter, the guilt that tormented her and those terrible mornings when, having dreamt of being reunited with Madeleine, she awoke to harsh reality.

Many of us would prefer not to revisit this painful story again, especially since there is no resolution to one of the great mysteries of our time. Four years ago, we gorged on every detail of the Tapas Seven, the man seen carrying a child in a blanket, and the DNA testing of the car that the McCanns hired for their Algarve holiday. It was a latter-day Grimms' fairy story, one that stirred up every parent's fears because we have all taken tiny risks, whether it be leaving children in the car while dashing to the cashpoint or nipping to the loo when they are playing in water.

Accidents are always foreseeable, but only with hindsight, and most don't happen. As I wrote then, having visited the crime scene in Praia de Luz, I too would have left my children asleep in the McCanns' apartment, which was visible (though not entirely) from the resort restaurant. I might not even have checked them as often as the diligent tapas diners, who returned to the rooms every 15 minutes.

Others disagreed vociferously. Men and women have accused Kate, a part-time GP, of being a bad mother and worse, while Gerry, her cardiologist husband, has had a relatively easy ride. Her critics may chiefly wish to reassure themselves that such bad luck could never befall them, but their venom suggests a lingering prejudice against working mothers, especially those who dress neatly, express themselves crisply, go to church and jog in order to keep up some semblance of normality amid emotional chaos.

Had Kate not been pretty, middle-class and educated, she might have received more sympathy – like, say, Karen Matthews, mother of Shannon, who wept fetchingly for the cameras the following year, although her daughter had not in fact been abducted, only hidden for mercenary reasons. Loaded magazine was one of her few supporters when, crassly, it put the bereft mother on a most-fanciable list. That angel face encouraged the fanciful to think that she must be a devil in disguise, guilty if not of murder then of negligence, just like Lindy Chamberlain, whose child disappeared in the Australian outback 27 years previously. Chamberlain served four years in prison before the child's clothes were found in a dingo's lair.

Kate was made an arguida – chief suspect – by the Portuguese police, who could not amass enough evidence for a charge. But her book doesn't have the plaintive tone of a woman seeking to exonerate herself. She chose to write, it seems, not so much to silence those who still call her a wicked woman, but to raise money for the campaign to find Madeleine. With no police force actively pursuing the case, the McCanns want to continue to employ private investigators.

The book should add considerably to the £130,000 left in the kitty. Despite the fine-tooth comb applied to the evidence four years ago by the press, if not the police, fascinating new details emerge from her account. One that made me shudder was that the nine adults in the McCanns' party block-booked the restaurant near their apartments because it was so close to their sleeping children. Very sensible. But anyone looking for an unattended child could have known this, because a thoughtless member of staff wrote down both the booking, and the reason for it, on a desk at the pool reception, where it could have been easily observed by a paedophile on the lookout for unattended children.

"Who's thinking about child abductions in a sleepy, out-of-town tourist resort?" asked Gerry McCann, expressing the common view among parents that places stuffed full of other parents with small children are supremely secure. Chillingly, the McCanns learnt after the abduction that not only are such resorts an obvious target for paedophiles, but also that parents should have been warned to be vigilant. In 2008, when the Portuguese police officially stopped pursuing the case, their files revealed that in the three years preceding Madeleine's disappearance, three intruders had been disturbed in children's bedrooms within an hour's drive of Praia de Luz and five children had been abused in their beds while on holiday in the Algarve. Evidence had not been collected, let alone collated or publicised.

Among the known paedophiles who could have been in the area are a British couple, Charles O'Neill, 48, and William Lauchlan, 34, both of whom are now in prison for murder in Britain. In May 2007, they were living in Spain, and possibly Portugal, on false passports. The previous year, they were posing as cleaners in a holiday villa complex in Gran Canaria when a child, Yeremi Vargas, went missing. Another possible suspect is Martin Ney, 40, who last month was arrested for the murder of Dennis Klein, a nine-year-old who vanished on a school trip in Germany in 2001. Ney resembles the photofit of the man seen carrying a child by one of the Tapas Seven, shortly before Madeleine’s bed was found empty.

One day, perhaps, the McCanns will have their answer. They are determined not to give up. Carrying on the fight may be a key reason why they have remained together when differing approaches to shock and grief often drive a wedge between parents. James Bulger's parents parted soon after he was murdered by children in 1993. So too did those of Sarah Payne, who was abducted by Roy Whiting in Sussex in 2000. Kate is not the first woman to have found her husband's preference for working all hours to shut out the pain "almost offensive".

The McCanns have two other children, who have been both a solace and a binding influence. But the thought that saved them from despair was that if Madeleine were found, she would wish to come back to a happy home, not one fractured by grief. It is possible that, like Jaycee Dugard or Natascha Kampusch, the girl in the red dress with the unusual eye will one day reappear.

If so, she will find that her mother and father have behaved in a dignified manner – which is more than can be said of some of their critics.

Pity Kate McCann as she endures her life sentence, 10 May 2011
Pity Kate McCann as she endures her life sentence Herald Scotland

Colette Douglas Home

Published on 10 May 2011

Madeleine McCann will be eight years old this week – if she is still alive.

Her birthday coincides with the publication of her mother Kate's book, Madeleine.

The mother who sat dry-eyed and frozen in front of the world's media in Praia de Luz has found her voice.

It is the story of Madeleine's life from IVF conception to the night she was stolen. If she ever gets to read it she will discover how loved she was; how loved she still is.

I have never doubted Kate and Gerry McCann, but many did. Some do still. The foundation stone of British justice: innocent until proven guilty was pushed to one side in a rush to judge and condemn them. At times it was close to a lynch mob.

For that to happen at any time is monstrous. For it to follow in the wake of every parent's worst nightmare was vicious; unforgivable. The couple had left their three young children untended to eat in a restaurant which was a 35 to 40-second walk from their holiday apartment. For some that made them culpable.

Others watched as Kate walked through those early days, earrings in place, blonde, catwalk thin and camera friendly. They thought she was cold as ice and functioning normally.

Those were the things that made me trust her.

We live in a voyeuristic age where television reality shows urge unsuspecting participants to let it all hang out. Cameras are invited into the doctor's surgery and the labour room. Cookery contests and song contests happen in a vale of tears. Hugs and kisses abound.

But the easy, cheap emotion stirred up by contestants and viewers is a universe away from real, penetrating fear and grief. Trauma traumatises. I have little experience of it, but enough to know that you can't predict how you will react. Nor can you expect another person to respond the same way you do. I have behaved as if nothing has happened in the immediate wake of bereavement or serious accident, only to go to pieces weeks later when I did something simple like break a cup.

I believed Kate and Gerry because if they had been acting their grief, they'd have made a more convincing job of it. She would have wept and pleaded and the viewing public would have clutched her to its bosom.

Instead her good looks and middle-class "have-it-all' lifestyle triggered a sour response. She received scant pity when the all-too-real abduction turned into a surreal accusation that she’d been involved.

Now, in this book, Kate has finally articulated what losing Madeleine was like. She has been able to put words to her feelings – to the on-going pain of loss, the guilt and the unanswered questions about what has happened to her child. Her words are very convincing.

In her diary, a month after the abduction, she wrote: "Crying in bed again … can't help it … The thought of Madeleine's fear and pain tears me apart. The thought of paedophiles makes me want to rip my skin off."

She describes what anyone who has known deep emotional pain will tell you: that the brain can only let it in in tiny bursts. Otherwise you would go mad.

The McCanns have never been able to allow themselves even that release because they have two other children to care for. I don't know how they have managed to come through.

Kate tells how on that night, four years ago, she cuddled Madeleine, letting her try on her engagement ring, as she read a story about Mog the cat. By the time she and Gerry left for dinner at 8.30pm, all three children were asleep; Madeleine tucked up in her princess blanket with her favourite cuddle cat. The mere fact that she had a "princess" blanket tells us how she was treasured.

We know what happened then: the door at the wrong angle when Gerry checked, but the children were fine. All was quiet when a friend listened but didn't look half an hour later.

When Kate checked at 10pm, the children's bedroom door was wide open. "I walked over and gently began to pull it to. Suddenly it slammed shut, as if caught by a draught."

She opened the door again and saw Madeleine's bed empty. After staring at it in the dark, instinctively not turning on the light for fear of waking the children, she did what every mother would do and checked her and Gerry’s bed, thinking the little girl had climbed into it.

She writes: "On the discovery of another empty bed the first wave of panic hit me. As I ran back into the children's room the closed curtains flew up in a gust of wind. My heart lurched as I saw that, behind them, the window was wide open and the shutters on the outside were raised all the way up.

"Nausea, terror, disbelief, fear. Icy fear. Dear God, no! Please no!'" Then, irrationally, she scoured the apartment looking in the wardrobe and kitchen cupboards before hurtling back to Gerry and their friends screaming, "Madeleine's gone! Someone's taken her!"

With the universe gone from under their feet, the McCanns called the police then had to wait until 1am before investigating officers arrived. By then Gerry knew that a man was seen carrying a child at 9.15pm.

What they later discovered was that five British children holidaying in the Algarve had been sexually abused while their parents slept. Three others had reported intruders in their rooms.

Had they but known ...

The last four years have been as tough as you might expect for Kate. Imagine being her. Imagine knowing that no police force is any longer looking for Madeleine. Only the Find Madeleine campaign is actively looking for her. Kate’s book will raise funds for it, keep Madeleine's face in public consciousness and one day act as a factual record for the twins; maybe even for Madeleine. Who knows?

Kate's story is heart-rending. To go to your child's bed and find it empty is every mother's nightmare. It reaches into the ancient part of the brain where bogey men and demons prowl – and tells you they're real. They're real and they have your helpless child.

Her critics should remember that four young mothers went out to dinner in Praia da Luz. Only one is serving a life sentence.

Madeleine McCann's Parents: The Real Royal Couple?, 10 May 2011
Madeleine McCann's Parents: The Real Royal Couple? The Philly Post

Four years after a British girl disappeared, there are more questions than answers

Chris Freind
10 May 2011

April was a busy time for the Royal Couple.

Preparations had been underway for months to deal with all the publicity that was sure to come. Facebook pages were established, marketing pieces created, a book written and carefully scripted interviews arranged, as publicists and advisors worked round-the-clock for the famous British duo. No detail was too small when planning such a momentous event, as the global media once again turned its focus on two of Great Britain's most...interesting people.

Most amazing, all of this was accomplished despite the distractions caused by the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

May 3rd marked the fourth anniversary of the disappearance of then-3-year-old Madeleine McCann, who disappeared from a resort in southern Portugal because her parents chose to leave her — and her two younger twin siblings — alone in an unlocked room while they ate and drank the night away with friends.

But when you're Gerry and Kate McCann, you take a backseat to no one, and certainly no wedding is going to upstage your "anniversary." And so, in typical McCann fashion, they put on another strong display of offense in the ongoing "search" — not so much for their missing daughter, but for self-promoting headlines.

Who can blame them? Playing defense is no fun, doesn't raise money nor generate publicity. And best of all, blaming everyone but themselves for an eminently preventable tragedy allows the McCanns to ignore reality about a poor little girl's horrible fate.


For the folks needing a refresher, you read it right. The McCanns, both physicians from Rothley, Leicestershire, in England, left their three children — with a COMBINED age of seven — alone, night after night, in their ground-floor resort apartment. Despite ample financial resources, they chose not to bring a nanny and refused to utilize the resort's babysitting services.

Instead, they deemed it safer for the children to go it on their own, entrusting Madeleine to get her siblings and herself to safety in the event of a fire — hence the alleged reason for the unlocked door. Hey, I'm all for self-reliance, but, she was 3!

The story perpetuated by the McCanns is that Madeleine was kidnapped, despite virtually no evidence to support that claim. But the tragic nature of a girl gone missing gained international attention, and the search was on. Well, at least by the people who were actually out there looking for Madeleine.

Gerry and Kate took a different approach. Rather than get bogged down in the grunt work of looking for their daughter in places she might actually be, the parents decided that becoming international globetrotting celebrities was a lot more fun. Putting blood, sweat and tears into finding a missing child is tough, but hanging out with celebs and dignitaries is, well, cool!

So they arranged a private audience with the Pope, traveled to the United States to meet with America's top leaders, kept web diaries about Gerry's daily jogs, and threw lavish affairs. Of course, if Madeleine really had been kidnapped, she wouldn't be in America, at black-tie events or in the Vatican.

If only they had thought to turn the "Find Madeleine" campaign into a money-maker! Oh wait, they did. To the tune of millions. And the result? To this day, many more questions than answers.

Despite being named suspects by the Portuguese police based on evidence that raised eyebrows — inconsistencies in G and K's stories; elite dogs, trained to identify death, providing positive responses in Madeleine's room; reports of Madeleine's blood found in the trunk of a car the McCanns' rented 25 days AFTER she disappeared; more blood discovered behind a sofa in the apartment, to name just a few — the case was eventually suspended without any arrest. And for that, we can thank the British government that exerted enormous pressure on the Portuguese.

With the complicity of the British media, everyone but the parents was blamed for Madeleine's disappearance. The Portuguese detectives bumbled the investigation, the resort's security was too lax, leads weren't followed up in a timely fashion. And as numerous publications discovered, anyone who dared question the McCanns' role were slapped with libel lawsuits by England's most powerful barristers. And don't forget the lead Portuguese investigator who was legally banned from giving interviews and publishing his book courtesy of Team McCann (those rulings were subsequently overturned) and was sued for millions in "damages."

Kate's book on the affair, (in which rumors spread that she was assisted by world-famous Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling) will be released this week. In it, she blamed the resort restaurant for making a note in their reservation book that the McCanns wanted a table within sight of the room, since the children would be alone.

"[The reservation] book was by definition accessible to all staff and, albeit unintentionally, probably to guests and visitors, too...To my horror, I saw that, no doubt in all innocence, the receptionist had added that we wanted to eat close to our apartments as we were leaving our young children alone there and checking on them intermittently."

Nice try, Kate. But somehow, you forgot to mention the "horror" your daughter must have felt after being abandoned by her parents night after night, left alone in an unfamiliar environment in a foreign nation. And you also conveniently left out the fact that you couldn't see the apartment from your table anyway, due to the six-foot wall obstructing the view. Translation: the tapas were more important than your three children, two of whom, interestingly enough, weren't "kidnapped."

So we're supposed to believe that a child kidnapper just happened to be dining at the resort's restaurant that night, on the off-chance some British couple's child-care arrangements (or lack thereof) would be recorded in the restaurant's reservation book? Which, by the way, is usually kept behind a desk, not in public view.

Either that, or someone on the kitchen staff, waiting in the wings for one of the McCanns to return from allegedly "checking" on the children. Maybe that's why the tapas were so late in being served!

Frankly, I'm surprised that Osama bin Laden snatching Madeleine wasn't in the book as a potential theory. Or that evil Voldemort from Harry Potter wasn't somehow responsible.

Which brings us back to Rowling.

After hundreds of articles stating that Rowling was helping Kate write the book, the family spokesman finally got around to stating that Rowling did not, in fact, have ANY role in the book.

As with most things McCann, the facts here are loose and the truth sketchy. But as they say, "Any publicity is good publicity!" And Team McCann rolls on, garnering headlines and raking in the dough.


Perhaps most ironic is Kate's stated reason for the book:

"My simple, to give an account of the truth."

Rowling's help or not, discovering the real story behind the disappearance of little Madeleine McCann will take more than wizards and magic. Too bad we don't have one of Harry Potter's Remembralls, though, which fans will recall is the clear orb containing smoke that turns red when detecting that the user has forgotten something.

In Gerry and Kate McCann's case, I'm betting the Remembrall would be glowing red-hot, since it seems they have forgotten the only thing that can help Maddie.

The real truth.

Christina Patterson: Kate McCann is in media purgatory, 11 May 2011
Christina Patterson: Kate McCann is in media purgatory The Independent

She has held fast to the belief in the media as the path to a kind of heaven. For this, she has come near to selling her soul

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

In the past few weeks, we've had earthquakes, and got bored with them, and tsunamis, and got bored with them, and revolutions, and got bored with them, and wars, and got bored with them, and elections, which bored us before we even started. We've had a wedding, which delighted us and then began to bore us, and we've had an execution, which delighted us and then began to bore us, until the authorities issued video footage to keep us going. And now, four years after she became almost as famous as another Kate, we have Kate McCann.

Four years on, the details of that terrible night come flooding back, like a language once learnt, and then forgotten. It was the Ocean Club. It was Praia da Luz. It was an apartment near a swimming pool and a tapas bar. It was 10pm when Kate McCann discovered that the bed where her three-year-old daughter had been curled up, with a princess blanket and her Cuddle Cat, was empty. For us, it was the beginning of one of the biggest stories ever to hit the news stands. For her, it was the beginning of a nightmare which may never go.

When Kate McCann went down on her knees, and begged God to protect her daughter, and phoned her priest, and phoned her best friend, and begged her to get her family to pray, too, she can't have guessed what would follow. She can't have guessed that the police, who she was trusting to find her daughter, would soon be telling her that her daughter was dead. Or that they would be bullying her to confess that she had killed her.

Can anyone forget the moment when the Portuguese police announced that dogs sniffing the McCanns' hire car had found the "smell of death"? Can anyone forget the word "arguido"? A word which meant that this woman, who walked along a beach clutching her daughter's Cuddle Cat, and who begged the world to help her find her, was a murderer, and a liar, and a fraud.

Can anyone forget the moment the media turned? The moment men and women who went home to kiss their children goodnight, started writing that they had known all along that there was something suspicious about this woman who seemed so calm, and who refused to cry for the cameras? And how pity suddenly turned to hate?

For Kate McCann, being abused by people she'd never met, and being bullied by policemen who could barely be bothered to leave their desks, and being portrayed by great swathes of the world's media as a bad mother, and by big chunks of it as a killer, must have been like being skinned alive.

But all of this fades next to the agony of losing a child.

No one who hasn't been to check on a child, and found that she has disappeared, and not known if she was still alive, and not known if she was being abused, or raped, can imagine what Kate McCann went through and what she still goes through every day. But now we can have a glimpse, if we want to.

Kate McCann's book, Madeleine, is published tomorrow. She wrote it because she wanted to "set down" for her children "a complete record of what happened in Portugal, so that, when they are ready, the facts will be there for them to read". And because she wanted "the truth to be told" to the world. "The press," she said, in an extract published over the weekend, "has published a mountain of stories, often without knowing, and perhaps without caring, whether or not there was any substance to them, causing great distress to our family and, more important, hindering the search for Madeleine".

For Kate McCann, it is, and will always be, about Madeleine. Proceeds from the book, which is already a bestseller on Amazon, will go towards the search. Which, it's clear, will never stop. For her, a front page of The Sun taken up by the words "I couldn't make love to Gerry", and topped by the words "Maddie, by her mum", in deliberate contravention of her stated desire, from the beginning of her ordeal, that journalists could at least respect her daughter by using her full name, is a price worth paying if it helps with the search. So are accounts, extracted in yesterday's Sun, of how she nearly lost her faith.

"There have," she says, "been many times when I've felt God has deserted me, or that He has let Madeleine down... I've shouted out loud and on occasion I've hit things... I do not blame God for Madeleine's abduction. The abductor is responsible for that. What I do wrestle with, though, is the inexplicable fact that despite so many prayers, almost total global awareness and a vast amount of hard work, we still do not have an answer. My aunt quotes a saying: 'Pray as if everything depends on God. Work as if everything depends on you', and I truly believe this is what we've done."

It's hard to read those words without wanting to weep. There can't be a human being on this planet who thinks Kate and Gerry McCann haven't tried hard enough to get their daughter back. There can't be many who think that this quest, launched on that May night in Portugal four years ago, and which will, apparently, continue for the rest of their lives, or until their daughter, or her body, is found, isn't also a curse.

Kate McCann is on a pilgrimage which is also a kind of purgatory. It's like a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela where, in hope of greater blessings, and maybe miracles, you shuffle on bruised and bloodied knees. You live in hope, even when you think the hope might kill you, and even when, as she confesses in her book, you sometimes think you might kill yourself. There was a time when you could only do so much. You could pray, and fast, and weep, and wail, and shuffle on knees and whip yourself with chains. But that was before the blessing, and curse, and god, and devil, and heaven and hell, we call the media.

Kate McCann knows all about the media as hell. She knows how this ravening beast, with its 24-hour appetite, and need for fresh meat, even when there isn't any, can chew you up, and spew you up. If she didn't before, she certainly does now. But she has also held fast to the belief in the media as the path to salvation, and the path to a kind of heaven. And for the possibility of this path to heaven, she has come near to selling her soul.

No one who hasn't been through what she has been through can blame her for the choice she has made. Most people would walk on their knees through broken glass, and many would write about their sex life in the pages of Britain's sleaziest red-top, to get a missing child back. Many write about their sex life, or talk about it on TV, when they don't have anything to get back. They do it because they don't think the media is a pathway to anything. They think it is heaven. Until it turns into hell.

This is a heaven and hell of our choosing. We can choose to feed the beast, by demanding more detail, and more detail, and buying the papers which think that gossip is the same as news, and fiction is the same as fact, or we can choose not to. We can choose to forget that writing, and reporting, and commenting, is meant to be about truth.

Kate McCann's book won't get her daughter back. If it brought her any catharsis to write it, then I'm glad she did. But now that she has, I hope, I really hope, that she can keep away from the god and devil that feeds her hope, and set her soul, and the memory of her beautiful daughter, free.

I'm in awe of the McCanns' enduring marriage, 11 May 2011
I'm in awe of the McCanns' enduring marriage Daily Mail

By Sandra Parsons
Last updated at 8:09 AM on 11th May 2011

There are at least three occasions when my daughter could have died and it would have been my fault.

There was the time I left her, aged 15 months, for a few seconds in the garden and she cannoned into a tall,  precariously balanced glass planter, which smashed to smithereens.

There was the moment a year later when I turned my back to unload the boot and she toddled into the path of an oncoming car whose driver, by some miracle, managed to brake in time.

And the terrible afternoon in a  swimming pool when I let her, aged five, go into the deep end to enjoy a wave machine and didn’t realise for a good ten seconds that she was drowning.

And so my overwhelming thought about Kate McCann has always been: there but for the grace of God go I.

Tomorrow sees the publication of the McCanns' book to raise funds to continue the search for their daughter.

It's a powerful and deeply upsetting account of the anguish Kate and her husband Gerry have endured since that terrible night in May 2007 when they discovered that Madeleine, then four, had been abducted from their holiday villa.

I've found it impossible to read the extracts without weeping. It's not just her description of imagining what unspeakable things Madeleine might be going through — 'I wanted to rip my skin off' — that's so heart-wrenching, but all the other little details, too.

Like jumping into the freezing pool as soon as they arrived at the Mark Warner complex in Praia da Luz, because Madeleine so desperately wanted to go swimming.

Or Kate's pride as she admired her  little girl walking around in the holiday outfit she'd bought her, a peach smock top from Gap and white Broderie Anglaise shorts from Monsoon — 'a small extravagance, perhaps, but I'd pictured how lovely she would look in them and I'd been right'.

And her subsequent horror as, with sickening hindsight, she realised that Madeleine's abductor might have been watching, too.

For at least two years after Madeleine was stolen, Kate's overwhelming guilt prevented her from taking the smallest pleasure in anything at all, because she felt any moment when she wasn't focusing on her daughter was a betrayal.

She couldn't read a book or watch TV, let alone go out for a meal: 'I couldn't even sit down unless it was for a purpose, to eat or to work at the computer. How could I take pleasure in anything without my daughter?'

It's well known that marriages so often crumble when a child is abducted or murdered. Kate McCann writes with great honesty of how, for a long time after Madeleine's abduction, she didn't want to make love to her husband.

This is not remotely surprising — but what's astonishing is that they've not only recovered their love life, but that their marriage has survived.

My guess is that this is at least in part due to her husband's very masculine form of strength.

She recounts how, the night before Madeleine disappeared, she slept in the same room as the children because she was hurt by the abrupt manner in which Gerry ('not a touchy-feely guy') had ended their evening out by suddenly announcing he was off to bed: 'The other guys in the group were all attentive "new men" compared with Gerry.'

A 'new man', however, probably wouldn't have had Gerry's uncompromising attitude after Madeleine was abducted. Indeed, a 'new man' might soon have crumbled under the pitiless strain — an option that was never on the agenda of this alpha-male consultant cardiologist.

Today, Kate recognises that it is thanks to his cool logic and ability to compartmentalise that they got a campaign up and running. He has almost always been there to comfort her: 'He knows or fears that if he allows himself to be sucked into my despair, he might be brought crashing down, too.'

Kate's book blazes with the sheer, visceral force of her love for her daughter. All mothers understand this instinct, but most of us will never have to invoke its power in the way Kate McCann has had to.

Tomorrow will be Madeleine's eighth birthday. I don't suppose her mother will ever forgive herself. But the rest of us should, and I can think of no one more deserving of our prayers.

Will Batchelor: HAVE you been devouring the serialisation of Kate McCann's book, Madeleine, this week?, 11 May 2011
Will Batchelor: HAVE you been devouring the serialisation of Kate McCann's book, Madeleine Liverpool Daily Post

by Our Correspondent
May 11 2011

HAVE you been devouring the serialisation of Kate McCann's book, Madeleine, this week?

Which part did you enjoy the most: was it the graphic description of the moment she realised Madeleine was missing, or the hideous aftermath? Did you prefer reading about Mrs McCann's suicidal thoughts or the nightmares in which she sees Madeleine abused?

Perhaps you zoned in on the revelations of marital strain between Kate and her husband, Gerry, and their dwindling sex life? I bet you always had a feeling they were not as unified as they made out in public, didn't you? No flies on you, eh?

Or maybe you just liked seeing some new photographs? Well, the old ones had been knocking around for a while. You deserved another peek in the family album.

Before I write any more, let me make one thing clear: I make no criticism of Kate McCann for writing this book, which goes on sale tomorrow. Firstly, she has done so to fund the ongoing hunt for Madeleine. Any loving parent would do the same. Secondly, it may well be that the process of writing her thoughts has been therapeutic. If so, who would deny her that small comfort?

I am, however, baffled why anybody would want to read this heart-rending story in such detail. It cannot be for knowledge, because we already know the material facts: a sweet girl was snatched from a decent, loving family, and remains missing.

We also know the aftermath. It is written on the McCanns' faces. They are suffering the cruellest fate imaginable, with no end in sight.

What more do you need to know? And why?

This ongoing fascination with the McCanns is a form of grief pornography. This hunger to know exactly how they suffer behind closed doors, or to peek like voyeurs at their apparently idyllic life before May 12, 2007, is warped.

If you have ordered this book, or plan to buy it, feel free to email and tell me why. I would love to know.

But if you say it is solely to show support for the McCanns, and not to satisfy your own thirst for more detail on this personal tragedy, I would be interested to know why you do not simply contribute directly to the fund.

Because we read for pleasure, do we not? Even if we cry our hearts out while doing so, with utter sympathy for those involved, that is still a pleasure of sorts, and not so different from watching a weepy (fictional) movie.

Madeleine McCann is still missing, her parents still tormented. Even if you believe your intentions to be noble, this is no time for pleasure.

Kate McCann and the ferocity of maternal love, 11 May 2011
Kate McCann and the ferocity of maternal love The Telegraph

Allison Pearson pays tribute to the bravery of Madeleine's parents; wonders about Alan Sugar's latest crop of Apprentices - and despairs at her children's attitude to revision.

Purgatory: Kate McCann holding her missing daughter, Madeleine's favourite toy, Cuddle Cat.  Photo: JOHN TAYLOR
Purgatory: Kate McCann holding her missing daughter, Madeleine's favourite toy, Cuddle Cat.

By Allison Pearson
8:37PM BST 11 May 2011

Madeleine McCann would have celebrated her eighth birthday today. Her parents last saw their daughter in Portugal on Thursday May 3, 2007. Four years is a long time to walk on mechanical feet, to be angry with the God you trusted, to feel that music, your husband's touch, even the warmth of the sun on your face, are pleasures you don't deserve because your child is gone.

Now Kate McCann has written a memoir about her experience called, simply, Madeleine. Although the book will hit the bestseller lists today, I bet many of us will feel we can resist the urge to rush out and buy it. Don't we know the grim facts of the abduction better than our own family history? Kate returning to the holiday apartment after tapas with friends and sensing something isn't right. The door to the children's bedroom, which she knew she'd left ajar, is wide open. She finds her firstborn's bed empty. Just a few seconds were left of the blessedly ordinary life the McCanns had made for their three babies, born after IVF. Kate checked the room thoroughly – and then realised. "Nausea, terror, disbelief, fear, icy fear, dear God." Life without Madeleine had begun.

Anguish without end does not make for easy reading. I guess that is one reason why British newspapers, during that feverish spring, began to look for other angles on the little girl's disappearance. It was the perfect story – photogenic mother, beautiful little girl snatched by bogeyman, every parent's worst nightmare – but it was going nowhere. There was a media feeding frenzy and there was no food. So the tabloid beast devoured the McCanns.

Gerry and Kate were too paralysed with loss to realise that, in the post-Diana age, you had to cry on camera to prove that you had feelings. I can still remember how shocked I was when one journalist friend told me that certain male editors had decided that Gerry McCann was a cold fish who obviously had something to do with his daughter's disappearance. Madeleine's daddy was the cardiac specialist without a heart. Kate's dignity and neat appearance, her failure to follow some preordained script of maternal distress, meant that she too was regarded as "suspicious".

I actually laughed with disbelief at that. Who could look at the McCanns' gaunt, stricken faces and see two murderers so cunning they had stashed their three-year-old's body in the boot of a car they hadn't even hired yet?

When the calamitously useless Portuguese police declared the two doctors arguido – suspects – British reporters should have rallied round and dug up the fact there had been five previous incidents of paedophiles on the Algarve climbing into bed with holidaying children. They could have pointed out there wasn't a shred of evidence to implicate the heartbroken couple. But the witch-hunt was in full spate.

Kate McCann's "crime" – a lapse for which she would receive a life sentence – was to have left her children sleeping while having dinner 100 metres away, returning to their apartment every half-hour. According to vitriolic online comments, she was a selfish bitch who had it coming.

Is it that human beings come to hate what we fear most? The McCanns were just like us, holidaying like us, doing their best for their kids like us, jumping into the freezing swimming pool with Madeleine the minute they arrived at the hotel because she couldn't wait to get in. Just like us. But the family found themselves in a horror film with no final credits to release them from the dark, and it was too much to bear. So they had to be demonised, so we could be distanced from the pain. There, there, don’t worry; see, they're really not like us at all.

I must admit I approached the book, Madeleine, with a heavy sense of duty. I needn't have worried. Kate has done her daughter proud. This remarkable woman has experienced her own personal Calvary – she has both suffered and been despised in her suffering – yet she has found the strength to write down the truth so that her children will have "a complete record of what happened so that, when they are ready, the facts will be there for them to read".

When the Portuguese detective was pressing Kate to confess to her daughter's murder and offering her a "light" two-year sentence, all she could think was that if she and Gerry were charged, they would stop searching for Madeleine. The book is an attempt to keep that search going for as long as it takes.

I am sure the parents of Milly Dowler, the bright 13-year-old girl who, like Madeleine, was "kidnapped in the blink of an eye", will find much to empathise with in these pages. Kate is particularly good on how a mother and father grieve differently. She admits she sometimes resented Gerry for being able to get on with his work while she was still transfixed by the idea of Madeleine's fear and pain. "The thought of paedophiles makes me want to rip my skin off."

Unlike the McCanns, Robert and Sally Dowler had their daughter's body returned to them. This week, Levi Bellfield is on trial for Milly's murder. Madeleine's kidnapper is still out there so her parents can go on hoping, which is both a blessing and a curse.

"I cannot, and will not, allow this evil person to destroy anything else in our life," writes Kate McCann. She has fought to recover her faith and now believes that, wherever Madeleine is, she is with God. If her mind "ever starts to wander down dark alleys", she focuses on her husband "and the three beautiful children we have created together".

One of those children will not be there for her birthday today, but her mother will never give up on her. This testament to the ferocity of maternal love tells us so.

The search for Madeleine McCann Continues, 11 May 2011
The search for Madeleine McCann Continues iVillage

Our straight talking Lancashire lass takes a sideways look at the daily news.

Sian Claire Owen

From Sian Claire Owen on 11 May 2011

Remember that awful day in 2007 when news broke of the abduction of Madeleine McCann from her holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal?

The images of a beautiful little girl with shining blonde hair and sparkling big blue eyes are forever burned into our retinas, as is the harrowing footage of Gerry and Kate McCann in the immediate aftermath looking shell shocked and overwhelmed with grief.

It seemed as though the world was united with their outpourings of sympathy for the McCann family. Then things turned ugly (if you could possibly get anything more ugly than having to deal with the disappearance of your precious daughter).

After a bungled investigation, Kate and Gerry were named by the Portuguese police as official suspects. Although this was dropped in 2008 it sparked a wave of vitriol from much of the UK press. The public sympathy rapidly turned into a tsunami of hateful spite and self-righteous bouts of condemnation towards the couple. It was their fault, they were terrible parents, they are awful people, call social services!

Believe it or not there exists a sub-culture of people who devote all their spare time 'proving' that the McCanns are involved in a massive cover up, and either killed their daughter or found her dead and disposed of her body. This conspiracy theory is on a par with 'Elvis lives', 'Man DIDN’T land on the moon' and 'The Royals are actually alien lizards'.

And now that Gerry and Kate McCann have released their new book 'Madeleine', these McCann haters have crawled out from beneath the nasty stones from which they live and are once more busy spewing bile and peddling their nasty rumours under the pretence of 'wanting justice for Maddy'.

"They used donations to pay for their mortgage!" was the cry. "There's a super-injunction involved with their case so we can't report on what really happened!", and "They're selling their story to fund their lavish lifestyle!"

And, inexplicably, some people actually take notice. Just scan the reader comments on any online news article covering the McCanns and you'll see what I mean.

It's well documented that this book wasn't published so they could cash in on their unbelievable tragedy, but to raise money for their continued efforts to find their little girl.

And who wouldn't do the same? I couldn't even begin to imagine the sheer hell that the McCanns have been through over the past four years. But I know that I'd move heaven and earth to try to get my child back to safety, even knowing deep down that there is little chance she is still alive.

Look at any picture of Kate McCann and you do not see a happy woman. You see someone who is lost, who is stretched to the limit by anxiety. Her face is taut and strained, and her eyes with their dark shadows are dulled with grief. It’s painful to see, and painfully obvious that this is a family in turmoil and will be for the rest of their lives.

I won't be buying the book, but it doesn't offend me and I can see why they're doing it. I think the McCann haters should get a life and lay off.

Madeleine McCann Book Won't Bring Back Missing Girl, 12 May 2011
Madeleine McCann Book Won't Bring Back Missing Girl The Stir

Posted by Jeanne Sager
May 12, 2011 at 10:36 AM

Every time the name Madeleine McCann resurfaces in the news, I feel an overwhelming need to roll my eyes. It's unfair, I know. Maddie, as she was known, was just a little girl, just 3 1/2 years old, when she went missing from a Portugal hotel room four years ago. Today she would have been 8 years old, and by rights should be home with her parents Gerry and Kate McCann in their Liverpool home with balloons and cake and a pretty dress.

But it isn't Madeleine herself who frustrates me. It's Gerry and Kate, the parents who today are releasing a book, simply titled Madeleine, and supposedly written with help of none other than Harry Potter's real mum, J.K. Rowling. Proceeds will be put into the coffers of Madeleine's Fund, to help pay for an independent search for the missing child.

Put like that, it sounds impossible that any self-respecting mother, nay, any human wouldn't want to buy a copy just to help. What kind of monster refuses to help a child? I guess this monster.

Because this isn't about hurting for Madeleine. With my own daughter's birthday party coming up quickly, wrapped up in finding the right pinata and designing a cake that will wow, I was hit harder today by the news that it was her birthday than I was by any facet of this story. There. That's the rub.

I think about Madeleine McCann. But I can't seem to think about her parents. It's almost embarrassing to admit the hollow feeling in my chest, but here goes. My first thought in these types of cases is usually of the parents, of how hard it must be for them at this time. Since becoming a parent, it's been amplified. I think of them as me; I clutch my daughter to my chest and ponder how I could function were the unthinkable to happen. It's a coping mechanism of sorts, really. I don't want to think of her in pain, so I think of myself instead. I distance my child from the story.

And yet, with the McCanns, I find myself thinking only of the child. When their daughter disappeared, they were the prime suspects. There have always been things that didn't add up -- including rumors that their daughter's blood was found in a car the couple rented weeks AFTER the girl went missing. Again, I'm being unfair. The McCanns were never arrested, and police have technically cleared them on the case, although it remains unsolved.

But I still judge them. They left their children alone in a hotel room -- their almost 4-year-old and twin 2-year-olds -- so they could go have a good time. They were wealthy, obviously wealthy enough to enjoy a trip to Portugal from their home in the United Kingdom, and they didn't hire a nanny to come along or even a hotel babysitter for the night. I thought I'd come to terms with that, felt they'd suffered enough for their mistakes. Then I read that the book includes Kate complaining that the resort, Praia da Luz, is to blame, noting:
When I was combing through the Portuguese police files ... I discovered that the receptionist's note requesting our block booking was written in a staff message book, which sat on a desk at the pool reception for most of the day. To my horror, I saw that, no doubt in all innocence, the receptionist had added that we wanted to eat close to our apartments as we were leaving our young children alone there and checking on them intermittently. This book was by definition accessible to all staff and, albeit unintentionally, probably to guests and visitors, too.
So it's still someone else's fault? It couldn't simply be that she shouldn't have been eating out of her "apartments," leaving three small children unattended? It's that attitude that makes me look at the cover of this book and think, "Eh, no, I won't be buying it." Because four years on, this search isn't about Madeleine at all. It's about Gerry and Kate McCann making themselves feel better. And I don't think I can help them with that.

Would you give money to this couple? Do you feel sympathetic toward them?

A Tale of Two Nightmares, 13 May 2011
A Tale of Two Nightmares Daily Mail

Jan Moir

By Jan Moir
Last updated at 11:10 AM on 13th May 2011

In her new book, Madeleine, Kate McCann writes of the online vitriol she has suffered since the disappearance of her daughter. In her personal catalogue of agonies, this is hardly the most piercing affront, but interesting in the light of events this week.

In Mrs McCann's experience, the internet provides individuals with a 'largely unregulated opportunity to set up websites and forums and blogs where they can share their bile and hate with other faceless, anonymous low-lifes, all locked away in their bedrooms'.

At first, the online accusations that she had murdered her own daughter upset Mrs McCann tremendously. Then she learned to ignore them. Ultimately, she began to pity these maladjusted nobodies and monomaniacs dishing out their reams of deranged malice under a cloak of anonymity. She is right. In the end, it’s only the babble of loons, ricocheting around cyberspace like astral junk. It may be wicked, but none of it matters a jot.

Yet how sad that the McCanns' ordeal should be besmirched by the casual cruelty of so many online.

Forgive me, but I didn’t feel quite so sympathetic when Jemima Khan complained about her treatment on the social networking site Twitter this week. Despite being an ardent tweeter herself, Jemima was horrified when some fellow internet users spread false rumours that she was having an affair with Jeremy Clarkson.

'I'm trapped in a nightmare!' she complained. Yet I think we would all agree there is a very big difference between her online nightmare and that of poor Kate McCann.

A Maddie miracle, 13 May 2011
A Maddie miracle Daily Mail

Amanda Platell

By Amanda Platell
Last updated at 11:44 PM on 13th May 2011

For all of us who winced when we read Kate McCann say that after Maddie disappeared, she felt too guilty to take any pleasure in life (including making love to her husband), and for all of us who wondered why she was putting herself through the agony of writing a book about her ordeal, we now have the answer. The announcement of a government-backed review into the case of the child who went missing on a family holiday in Portugal.

Kate wrote her book, Madeleine, for one reason only — to try to make the Government open an inquiry into her daughter's abduction. I can only admire her courage and pray her dearest wish is answered, that Maddie is found safe.

Kate McCann believes in miracles, why can't we?

Errors & Omissions: It's imagination that makes others' exceptional experiences real to us, 14 May 2011
Errors & Omissions: It's imagination that makes others' exceptional experiences real to us The Independent

By Guy Keleny
Saturday, 14 May 2011

On Wednesday Christina Patterson observed on the new book by the mother of Madeleine McCann: "No one who hasn't been to check on a child and found that she has disappeared, and not known if she was still alive, and not known if she was being abused, or raped, can imagine what Kate McCann went through and what she still goes through every day. But now we can have a glimpse, if we want to."

That is a common rhetorical device: "No one who hasn't . . . can imagine . . ." It sets out to dramatise the extremity of the experience – this was so terrible that you, the reader, cannot possibly imagine it. Well, we cannot know the quality of an experience we have never had, but we can easily imagine it. If we couldn't, there would be no drama, literature or movies. Indeed, the piece was largely an attempt – a successful one – to make Mrs McCann's ordeal vivid to the reader's imagination.

You may say that a rhetorical device does not have to be literally true. But neither does it have to be clean contrary to fact. And this one is usually easy to fix: just write "know" instead of "imagine".

Letters: The Madeleine McCann case, 14 May 2011
Letters: The Madeleine McCann case The Independent

Madeleine: leave it be

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Am I alone in being dismayed that Scotland Yard is being drawn into the Madeleine McCann case?

In my view, when British citizens go abroad they have to accept that bad things sometimes happen and should not expect the British authorities, presumably at UK taxpayers' expense, to intervene, except on strictly consular matters.

The overwhelming probability is that we shall never know what happened in this case, and, however distressed the parents may be, matters should be left as they are.

Rodney Taylor
Barton-Le-Clay, Bedfordshire

The article by Christina Patterson, "Kate McCann is in media purgatory" (11 May), has done nobody any good.

To put the matter in perspective, consider if two nurses had been in charge of the three McCann infants, and they had gone off together at the same time to have a meal and a drink.

Would Kate McCann have thought the child had had justice, and the proper steps had been taken to protect such infants from such risk in future, if the nurses' sole punishment had been the remorse over their actions? Of course not. And would Patterson have written a sympathetic article about them, bewailing the way they had been questioned by the police, or reported in the media? Of course not.

Tony Pointon

We should have nothing but admiration for the McCanns, 14 May 2011
We should have nothing but admiration for the McCanns Daily Mirror

Kate and Gerry McCann

by Fiona Phillips

THANKFULLY I've only had to face up to the enormity of possibly losing a child once.

It happened over six years ago when my youngest son was two and toddled off in my local Woolworths while I was searching for a birthday present for his friend.

In the five minutes he was missing, the animal in me took over, my guts somersaulted, my heart pounded, I flew wildly around hysterically asking everyone if they'd seen "a little blond boy", my mind flooding with dark images of him being dragged away and screaming "Mummy".

I got the security guards to close the doors, shouted at them in ­frustration because they didn't respond immediately and battled to swallow the overwhelming urge to scream and cry.

We found him smiling at his ­reflection in the photo booth. He's nine today, Madeleine McCann would have been eight two days ago.

For Kate and Gerry McCann those images, the guilt, that desperation to be reunited with their child goes on and on.

Having met the McCanns, at fundraising dinners where no one feels like eating or drinking because of the emotion in the room, and having interviewed them, I know their broken spirits are only tenuously held up by the determination to find their cherished child.

Kate's voice, rendered paper thin by the stored-up emotion in her throat, belies the fact that when I've seen them it is she who comes across as the stronger of the couple – the fierce protection a mother feels for her child driving her on when the temptation to give in to the guilt, the grief, the imaginings must have ­crippled her at times.

Gerry, whose male instinct was to protect and provide for his family while all around him was falling apart, carries the look of a haunted man, his matter-of-fact demeanour, when I've spoken to him, masking the emotion he dare not let go, his grip on life only strengthened by, as he's often said, "looking forward, focusing on the positives".

And yet, despite their pain, the torture of the knowledge they were out when Madeleine was taken, the smears and vitriol (some of which I've had the displeasure of receiving) go on, with some accusing the McCanns of being a "media machine".

On Thursday, Kate, interviewed on Radio 4's Woman's Hour, said: "I'd love nothing more than not to have to be doing these things today. Anyone who's intelligent, who's a parent will understand we're doing this for Madeleine."

It's just as well they are, as no one else is. The fact an eight year-old girl has been missing for four years and for much of that time no one but her parents, and the detectives paid for by their dwindling charity funds, has looked for her is a scandal.

A terrible crime has been committed and no one is being hunted. The Prime Minister has finally answered the McCann's plea for an independent review of the case by announcing the Metropolitan Police will review the case.

Staggeringly, a pooling of information gathered by Portuguese and British detectives has never been done. Now, hopefully, it will take place.

In the meantime, Kate and Gerry's battle is driven on by their unshakeable belief Madeleine is still alive.

As Kate said on Thursday: "I feel that she's out there. I truly believe she's out there."

I truly hope she is.

Madeleine McCann hell hits us all, 14 May 2011
Madeleine McCann hell hits us all Daily Mirror

Tony Parsons header

Tony Parsons

KATE McCann refuses to let us forget her daughter. Good for her.

Her book Madeleine is published this week, on the very day that Madeleine should have been at home celebrating her eighth birthday.

I have an eight-year-old daughter myself but I don't pretend to ­understand the hell that Kate McCann has inhabited during the four years since her daughter was abducted.

Yet like many parents, I know the sickening feeling of losing sight of a small child. I know that it is impossible to be a good, wise and perfect parent 24 hours a day. I know we all make mistakes.

For most of us, the missing child is swiftly found. But we never forget what we thought when our child was missing. For the McCanns, the nightmare became their reality.

They made a mistake. They thought their children were sleeping safely in their room. They were catastrophically wrong. But I can understand how a mother and father could get something like that wrong.

What I will never understand is the negative publicity the McCanns receive. They made a mistake. They lost a child. They want her back. Their story grips our imagination because we know, in our hearts, that the McCanns could be any of us.

Madeleine McCann: A tragic tale with still no end in sight, 14 May 2011
Madeleine McCann: A tragic tale with still no end in sight Daily Express

Richard and Judy

By Richard and Judy
Saturday May 14,2011

PRETTY Praia da Luz was, long before it became indelibly associated with poor, vanished Madeleine McCann, a friendly, rather anonymous family holiday hideaway on the Algarve.

We discovered it way back in 1994 when we and our children spent a supremely happy Easter week there.

The early April sunshine was north-African warm, the little beach with its Atlantic breakers inviting and the sleepy resort village itself seemed the securest of places to dawdle for a few days with its child-friendly restaurants and shops.

In fact we so fell in love with the place that we returned many times, usually at Easter but sometimes for our main summer break.

If you had asked us to recommend a safe place for a family with young children to holiday, "Praia da Luz!" would have been our joint, unhesitating answer, long after our own kids had outgrown its simple charms.

Then Madeleine was abducted and Praia da Luz was cursed. Vague plans for us all to go back on a sentimental journey, the children now grown up, were quietly dropped.

It seemed... well, indecent, somehow. Wrong to seek pleasure, however innocent, in a place where something so horrible had happened to a family who in many ways reminded us of ourselves as we were more than a decade ago.

But such feelings and superstitions faded, as they do and probably should, and two weeks ago our long-deferred family reunion in Praia da Luz began.

But within days of our arrival Madeleine McCann's sweet face had reappeared on the front pages of every British newspaper on sale there (like baked beans, tea bags and Marmite, the daily UK papers are available on almost every street in this Brit-friendly village).

We quickly realised why – her mother's anguished account of the abduction and its terrible aftermath was being reported to coincide with the publication of her harrowing memoirs.

Kate and Gerry McCann were long since cleared of the Portuguese authorities' absurd allegation that they killed Madeleine.

Kate's account of her spirited performance under interrogation is a rare, heart-lifting episode in a desperate story.

Even in the depths of a real-life nightmare she says her "Scouse spirit" refused to quail before the bullying policeman opposite her. "F****** tosser! F****** tosser!" she repeatedly muttered under her breath as asinine question followed asinine question. (Indeed as we drove around the area last week it was hard to regard the local cops with anything other than contempt).

But if internet chatter is any guide there are still those who sullenly refuse to forgive Kate and Gerry: baleful voices – usually anonymous – who seek to judge and punish them for what happened to Madeleine.

This usually takes the form of disgusting comments about their fateful decision to eat dinner in a tapas bar at the Ocean Club resort where they were staying, while Madeleine and her twin siblings slept a few yards away in the family's (partly visible) apartment across a small courtyard.

Much of the castigation is simply too crude, sadistic and ill-informed to repeat here. But the gist of it usually runs along the lines of: "They should have known better. I'm a parent and I would never have done that. They deserve to suffer."

Well, setting aside the extraordinary wish to endorse the agony of a couple who must endure what the McCanns endure day in, day out, we can only say this.

Last week we visited the Ocean Club and saw for ourselves the spatial relationship between apartment and restaurant.

It struck us both equally forcibly that the McCanns – and their friends, who had also tucked up their little ones in bed before they ate – were in effect dining in the equivalent of a back garden while everyone's children slept in the house.

It must have felt as simple and as safe to them as that – before catastrophe and unrelenting hindsight would torture the McCanns and hand a howling mob of internet persecutors the chance to relish the twin delights of moral judgment and smug rectitude.

We happened to meet the McCanns on Thursday at ITV's Daybreak studios and told them that we agreed about the deceptive proximity of apartment and dining area.

But parenting is a horribly inexact science. Mistakes litter the entire experience. Mostly with luck and a following wind we get away with our misjudgments or rather our children do.

God knows we made enough errors ourselves. A toddling Chloe nearly fell through a hotel balcony's railings when we turned our unsuspecting backs for a moment.

One of us (OK, it was me, Richard) dropped Jack not once but twice when he was six months old.

And yes, when our youngest were small we settled them to sleep in a family-friendly hotel bedroom before slipping downstairs for a quick supper.

We popped up to check on them every few minutes just like the McCanns simply to confirm they were peacefully asleep.

Did it even cross our minds that an intruder might break into our room and carry them off? Of course not.

Kate McCann has written a searingly honest book to raise funds to search for Madeleine or at least discover the truth of what happened to her on that awful May night four years ago.

Whether or not people choose to buy it they should at least have the decency to wish her success and some comfort in her suffering, and not seek to add to it.

Those who prefer to wallow in a gloating, vicious schadenfreude should be ashamed of themselves.

But they won't be. Why? Because they don't have an insightful bone in their bodies.

Review: Madeleine by Kate McCann, 15 May 2011
Review: Madeleine by Kate McCann Sunday Express
By James Murray
Sunday May 15,2011

LATE McCann's absorbing yet disturbing account of her daughter Madeleine's disappearance has perhaps affected David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May, who last week announced a Metropolitan Police investigation into the case.

As each page slowly unravels the most heartbreaking of crimes, the abduction of a child, the reader finds themself being led further into a dark tunnel from which there is no escape.


Few people on the planet can be unfamiliar with the basic facts of the story but Kate's simple but effective telling of the story from a mother's perspective adds a necessary new dimension.


The passing of four years and endless hours of reflection and angst have given her the time and space needed to write a book she must have dreaded to write.


On discovering Madeleine missing from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, she found herself overwhelmed by fear, helplessness and frustration. She banged her fists on the metal verandah, trying to expel the intolerable pain inside her.


In the ensuing chaos her husband Gerry ran around the resort from pillar to post searching for his daughter in the cool night air. Gerry asked her to stay at the apartment in case Madeleine wandered back.


At about 11pm a woman appeared on a nearby balcony and inquired of Kate: "Can someone tell me what all the noise is about?" Kate told the woman that her daughter had been stolen from her bed to which the woman responded: "Oh, I see" as though, Kate writes, she had been told a can of beans had fallen off a kitchen shelf.


This vivid recall and attention to detail is what gives the book the reality and depth which can come only from someone whose mind is seared by the second-by-second breakdown of catastrophic events.


This book draws you into the despair of the moment and, while upsetting, it also fulfils its purpose of providing an intensely personal account for which she makes no apology. The passing of time has given Kate a mature perspective on the dreadful events. Followers of the story will be familiar with pictures of Kate holding Maddie's cuddle cat toy, found on Madeleine's bed.


Seasoned British detectives were amazed that she was allowed to keep the toy because of the forensic information it may have yielded, namely a scrap of DNA which could identify the abductor.


In her book Kate recognises the foolishness of the decision by Portuguese police officers and says she should not have been allowed to take anything from the children's bedroom.


It was just one error among a whole multitude of missed opportunities which could have led to a different outcome.


Kate also clarifies where she stands in relation to the friends who accompanied them on the holiday. Jane Tanner saw a man carrying a child in his arms near the apartment around the time Madeleine went missing but Kate was not initially made aware of this fact and harbours no resentment over the incident.


"I have never felt any anger or disappointment whatsoever towards Jane," she writes.


So familiar have we come to the images of sorrowful Kate and tense-looking Gerry that we cannot easily contemplate the joys and happiness in their marriage.


Snaps from the family album showing their smiling faces bear testimony to what life was like before Praia da Luz. Their love for Madeleine is clearly evident in never before seen shots which also show the mischievous exuberance of the youngster.


While the pictures offer some relief in the book as they present the image of a normal family, once you become immersed again in the prose they somehow make the story even more tragic. The reader yearns for the family to be reunited.


Only the coldest-hearted of people will not be moved by this book, and hopefully it will succeed in providing the vital breakthrough needed. Madeleine is not only an impressive and well-written chronicle of a terrible crime, it is a must-read because someone out there knows something.


Bantam, Ł20


Verdict: 4/5

McCanns show courage in dealing with disappearance of Madeleine, 15 May 2011
McCanns show courage in dealing with disappearance of Madeleine Sunday Mirror

Kate and Gerry McCann

by Fiona McIntosh

There isn't a parent in the country who hasn't felt sick to the core reading extracts from Kate McCann's new book Madeleine, released on what would have been her daughter's eighth birthday.

One hideous ­mistake on holiday has led to a life of unbearable ­anguish and almost wrecked her marriage.

Every day the ­couple are eaten up with guilt about the night they left their three ­children alone in a Portuguese holiday resort, while they dined nearby with friends.

At one point Kate writes her despair was so intense she "had an overwhelming urge to swim out across the ocean... as hard and as fast as I could, to swim and swim until I was so far out and so exhausted, I could just allow the water to pull me under and relieve me of this ­torment."

You could imagine how a mother would feel in her ­situation, wanting to punish ­herself in the worst possible way. In the end it was only her love for her family that stopped her. Four years after the tragedy, Kate is ­determined Madeleine's disappearance will not "destroy everything we have".

I admire her courage and wish her all the luck in the world.

Kate's Pain is Born of Guilt, 15 May 2011
Kate's Pain is Born of Guilt News of the World

Carole Malone
15 May 2011

I want to say at the outset that I don't know how Kate and Gerry McCann have coped these last four years.

I cannot imagine the agony of losing a child and living with the nightmare of what might be happening to her if she's still alive.

And while I understand why they will spend the rest of their lives searching every corner of the globe for their missing little girl, I have to admit I've felt horribly uncomfortable reading some of the extracts from Kate's book this week.

Why did we need to know that she and Gerry couldn't make love? Why was the fact she felt guilty at the thought of having sex with her husband relevant?

Yes, it's a side effect of the tragedy. But it's not one they needed to share.

People stop having sex for reasons much less important than the abduction of a child - yet they don't feel the need to broadcast it.

And had any journalist dared to broach the subject of the McCann's sex life - for exactly the same reasons as they claim to have revealed it - they'd quite rightly have been hauled before the Press Complaints Commission.

I'm sorry, I don't want to read about this couple's sexual difficulties in the same book as I'm reading about the hell Madeleine might be suffering at the hands of some paedophile.

It's just not relevant.

And if anything was going to be responsible for breaking up their marriage, it's the guilt of their failure to protect her (justified or not) - NOT the lack of sex in their marriage. And while I understand it's a big love that won't ever let these two stop looking for Madeleine, what's clear from these extracts is that what continues to drive them is an even bigger guilt.

Guilt at having left their children alone in a holiday apartment while they were out eating and drinking with friends. Guilt that they, two well-paid doctors, didn't fork out £10 for a babysitter.

Guilt that they ignored Madeleine's distress the night before she was taken and when she pleaded with Kate: "Why didn't you come when Sean and I cried last night?"

It's guilt the two of them will have to live with every day for the rest of their lives.

And I pity them for that. Because a parent's primary function is to protect their child, to keep him/her from harm. And the McCanns will always be devastated they failed to do that.

They will also be tormented by the guilt of feeling that by going out every night and leaving their kids alone they put their own pleasure above the safety of those kids. They will hate themselves for having been lulled into a false sense of security, somehow believing because they were in a different country and because it was sunny, warm and FELT safe - it actually was.

And, of course they've had to deal with their mistake being writ large and being judged publicly by other parents who are still screaming: "We'd never have done that." And it's true. Many would not.

I know the McCanns wrote this book to fund the continuing search for Madeleine but I think one of the more upsetting reasons is that they're Catholics and as such, feel the need to punish themselves.

And just as their failings as parents have been made public, I believe Kate McCann believes her penance must be equally as public. As must her pain, because it's been denied by so many people who still blame her and Gerry for Madeleine's abduction.

What I do know about the McCanns is what they did in leaving Madeleine alone wasn't done out of a lack of love. It was done out of a false sense of security.

And, yes, it was a mistake.

And while I read every extract from the book - and wept - I hated reading it because it felt like self-flagellation. It was a book written by a woman who needs to publicly punish herself yet needs to explain why she did what she did.

And while David Cameron should be commended for ordering the Metropolitan Police to review the evidence in Maddie's case, I'm not sure it will do any good, as it wasn't the Met who messed up the investigation in the first place.

And do these two tormented people really need to add false hope to the burden they already carry?

How have Madeleine McCann's parents been treated?, 15 May 2011
How have Madeleine McCann's parents been treated? BBC News Magazine

Kate and Gerry McCann

15 May 2011 Last updated at 03:33

This week was Madeleine McCann's eighth birthday and her mother, Kate McCann, released a book about the missing child. Commentators have reflected on how the McCanns have been treated by the press over the last four years.

In the Telegraph Allison Pearson recalls the "vitriolic" online comments about Kate McCann, which accused her of selfishness and said she "had it coming".

"Kate McCann's 'crime' - a lapse for which she would receive a life sentence - was to have left her children sleeping while having dinner 100 metres away, returning to their apartment every half-hour," Pearson says.

"It was a latter-day Grimm's fairy story", says Cassandra Jardine in the Telegraph referring to parents' fears about "tiny risks" taken by many people from "leaving children in the car while dashing to the cash point" to "nipping to the loo when they are playing in water".

Jardine goes on to say the seeming lack of sympathy has less to do with the circumstances and more to do with Kate McCann's identity. "Had Kate not been pretty, middle-class and educated, she might have received more sympathy - like, say, Karen Matthews, mother of Shannon, who wept fetchingly for the cameras the following year, although her daughter had not in fact been abducted, only hidden for mercenary reasons."

Jardin says Loaded magazine was one of Mrs McCann's few supporters when "crassly, it put the bereft mother on a most-fanciable list".

Ravening beast

The Independent's Christina Patterson has other reasons why the finger of blame pointed towards the parents. The columnist argues the treatment of Mrs McCann is indicative of an industry that demands new details, even when there aren't any.

She calls the press a ravening beast with a 24-hour appetite that can "chew you up, and spew you up".

The McCanns' sex life make the headlines this week

Patterson thinks the McCanns' willingness to cooperate is fuelled by their belief in the power of the media. But Patterson worries Mrs McCann "has come near to selling her soul".

But she goes on to defend Mrs McCann as "no-one who hasn't been through what she has been through can blame her for the choice she has made".

One choice was to engage with "Britain's sleaziest red-top, to get a missing child back".

Two days before the release of the book, The Sun's front page said "I couldn't make love to Gerry" - a detail pulled out of an extract of Mrs McCann's book.

Whatever it takes?

A different reaction to the private life revelations comes from Sandra Parsons at the Daily Mail. She is in awe of the McCanns. It's not their willingness to share their private life that impresses her, but that they haven't split up.

Mrs McCann recounts in the book that the night before Madeleine disappeared she slept in the children's room because she was hurt by her husband's "abrupt" manner. Parsons supposes that Gerry McCann's uncompromising attitude after Madeleine was abducted and his resolve may have not been matched by another man.

The writer defends what could be construed as cynical use of the media and an unemotional appearance. For Parsons, Mr McCann's "cool logic and ability to compartmentalise" allowed the couple to run their campaign to find Madeleine.

Similarly, Allison Pearson commends "ferocious" maternal love demonstrated in Mrs McCann's book.

The McCanns want to reopen the investigation which saw an international search for Madeleine

Away from the personal revelations, the book also calls for a comprehensive review of the case. The Sun backs the "moving" open letter delivered to the prime minister.

Sky news suggests some leads to the new investigation could follow. The first is a team of UK detectives to go to Portugal and "pore over" the police files. It suggests a "crucial exercise" would be to do the mobile phone cell-site analysis that wasn't done. It also suggests follow-up reports of previous intruders into the holiday homes of other Brits.

For those who argue Mrs McCann will do whatever it takes to find her daughter, the evidence seems clear: a few personal revelations later, the McCann family have got press support for the new investigations and David Cameron has promised that the home secretary will be in touch to set out the "new action" involving the Met Police. No mean feat considering it is four years after Madeleine went missing.

A family's never-ending ordeal, 15 May 2011
A family's never-ending ordeal The Australian

Kate and Gerry McCann answer questions at the launch of Kate's new book about the disappearance of her daughter Madeleine, 3, in 2007

Caroline Overington
May 16, 2011 12:00AM [May 15, 2011 15:00 PM BST]

THE book is called, simply, "Madeleine". The cover shows the face of a girl who was three years old when she went missing, and who would now be eight.

Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, were on holiday at the Ocean Club in Portugal with Madeleine, and their twin toddlers Sean and Amelie.

On May 3, 2007, a few days before Madeleine would have turned four, her parents went out for dinner - tapas - with a group of friends at the resort's restaurant.

One of the group went to check on the children every 15 minutes or so.

The last time Kate McCann checked, at 8pm, the window to the children's room had been opened. On the little bed, something Madeleine would never have left behind: battered, friendly Cuddle Cat.

As Kate McCann says in the book: "Nausea. Terror, disbelief, fear, icy fear, dear God. Life without Madeleine had begun."

The four years that have passed since then have, of course, been agonising. Madeleine is still missing. She has turned four, and five, six and seven, and last Thursday, she would have been eight.

On Easter Sunday, Kate McCann calculated that she had spent more time without her daughter than with her. All of this is more than most parents could bear, and yet the McCanns have borne it, and much more besides.

For many years, they were suspects in the case, not only officially, at least according to bumbling Portuguese police, but in the court of public opinion, too. They were castigated for leaving their children alone at night, in a foreign country, while they went out for dinner.

They endured the arguments about class: had the McCanns been working-class, or unemployed, out drinking not wine but cheap mixed spirits, eating not tapas but KFC, when they'd left their children behind, wouldn't they have been accused of child neglect, instead of becoming objects of sympathy?

Would a couple less photogenic, with a child less adorable, have got the same attention from the media?

Awful things have been said - anonymously, online - about whether Kate, in particular, was truly grieving.

Maybe she had in fact murdered her little girl, stuffed her body somewhere, gone out to dine on a variety of different olives in a tapas bar with British friends, and later taken Madeleine's corpse and left it out to rot.

Those with any doubts must read Madeleine. Kate wrote the book for three important reasons: first, to raise money for the search for Madeleine (the McCanns' private investigation is the only investigation, since Portuguese police long ago gave up).

Second, to raise awareness that Madeleine is still missing. Or, as Kate said at a London press conference to launch the book last week, "as with every action we have taken over the last four years, it ultimately boils down to whether what we are doing could help us find Madeleine. When the answer to that is yes, or even possibly, our family can cope with anything".

The book will also provide the McCanns' other children with a "complete record of what happened so that, when they are ready, the facts will be there for them to read".

The book is not, therefore, designed to sway public opinion about the McCanns, but it does, and already has.

Its power is in raw emotion Kate has poured in to the pages.

"Some images are etched for all time on my brain," she writes. "Madeleine that lunchtime (the afternoon before she disappeared) is one of them. She was wearing an outfit I'd bought especially for her holiday: a peach-coloured smock top from Gap and some white broderie anglaise shorts from Monsoon.

"A small extravagance, perhaps, but I'd pictured how lovely she would look in them and I'd been right.

"She was striding ahead of me, swinging her bare arms to and fro. I remember thinking I should have brought a cardigan for her, although she seemed oblivious of the temperature, just happy and carefree.

"I was following her with my eyes admiring her. I wonder now, the nausea rising in my throat, if someone else was doing the same."

There's Kate's memory of Madeleine on the morning before she disappeared, piping up at breakfast: "Why didn't you come when Sean and I cried last night?"

"We were puzzled," Kate writes. Did she mean when they were having their bath? We asked her. Or just after they'd gone to bed?

"Madeleine didn't answer or elaborate. Instead she moved on to some other subject that had popped into her head, apparently unconcerned.

"If something had happened to make her cry, it was pretty unlikely that she wouldn't tell us about it. Gerry and I were disconcerted. Could Madeleine and Sean have woken up while we were at dinner?

"So haunted have I been since by Madeleine's words that morning that I've continued to blame myself for not sitting down and making completely certain there was no more information that I could draw out of her.

"Why hadn't this rung any alarm bells with me? How did I manage to conclude, subconsciously or otherwise, that if she had woken it was simply a rare aberration with a benign cause: a bad dream perhaps?

"In the infrequent moments when I am kinder to myself, I can acknowledge, if only temporarily, that there was absolutely nothing to give me any reason for suspicion and that we can all be clever after the event.

"But it is my belief there was somebody either in, or trying to get in, the children's bedroom that night, and that is what disturbed them. The only other unexplained detail I remember from that morning was a large, brown stain I noticed on Madeleine's pink Eeyore pyjama top. It looked like a tea stain.

"At the time I just assumed it was a drink spillage that had escaped our attention, and that might well be all it was."

And then, of course, the morning after Madeleine disappeared.

"We went up and down roads we'd never seen before, having barely left the Ocean Club complex all week.

"We jumped over walls and raked through undergrowth. We looked in ditches and holes.

I remember opening a dumpster and saying to myself, 'Please God, don't let her be in here'.

"The most striking and horrific thing was that we were completely alone. Nobody else, it seemed, was out looking for Madeleine.

"I was told 'Everything that can be done is being done.' It was a line we were to hear many more times in the next 24 hours. How hollow it seems now.

"It was about 10am by the time a couple of PJ officers turned up to take us and our friends to the police station in Portimao.

"Basic and shabby, it didn't seem conducive to efficiency and order. I was appalled by the treatment we received. Officers walked past us as if we weren't there. In the control room, officers in jeans and T-shirts smoked and engaged in what sounded more like light-hearted banter than serious discussion. I know one shouldn't judge people (or perhaps places either) on appearances, but it all made me immensely nervous. Nobody asked how we were doing, whether we were OK. Our child had been stolen and I felt as if I didn't exist."

Kate writes also of the moment when the McCanns returned to the apartment, after that interview with police, "the frustration and anger were reaching boiling point. I felt like a caged, demented animal. This was torture of the cruellest kind. Finally, I erupted. I began to scream, swear and lash out.

"I kicked an extra bed that had been brought into the apartment and smashed the end right off it.

"Then came the inevitable tears. Prostrate on the floor, sobbing like a baby, I felt utterly defeated and broken. I had not slept in over 42 hours. I was exhausted and my whole body was racked with pain."

EVERY parent has a story of losing a child, even momentarily. Likewise, every parent can recount a time when they put their own children at risk, either by popping outside to get something out of the boot of the car, or to go into a petrol station and pay for petrol or to nip to the shops, by taking an eye off them momentarily to answer the telephone or get something from a neighbour.

Much of what has been written since Kate McCann's book came last week is by parents admitting as much: Sandra Parsons, in London's Daily Mail, for example, remembered "the time I turned my back to unload the boot and she toddled into the path of an oncoming car whose driver, by some miracle, managed to brake in time".

Others wrote of nipping to the shop to grab something when baby was asleep upstairs or, as Parsons put it: "My overwhelming thought about Kate McCann has always been: there but for the grace of God go I."

Go any of us.

The McCanns spoke at the press conference of their frustration with official efforts to find Madeleine.

Gerry said: "We've met three separate home secretaries, and we're still not sure what the government has actually done."

Kate added: "When you're in a position such as the prime minister, you have a responsibility. If you're not willing to work for a child, you have to ask: who are you working for?"

Less than a day later, British Prime Minister David Cameron wrote to the McCanns, saying: "Your ordeal is every parent's worst nightmare and my heart goes out to you both.

"I simply cannot imagine the pain you must have experienced over these four agonising years, and the strength and determination you have shown throughout is remarkable. I have asked the Home Secretary to look into what more the government could do to help find Madeleine."

So the investigation is officially active again.

Not only that, British newspapers have responded to the publication of the book in the way that British newspapers do - each is trying to get a fresh angle (from the Daily Mirror today: the apartment at Ocean Club 5A, where Madeleine disappeared from, will, from this northern summer, be let to tourists, for the first time since the abduction.)

And so the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is again news around the world - which is, also, obviously, precisely what the McCanns need, as they stand firm for Madeleine, fighting for her still.

Living through every parent's nightmare, 20 May 2011
Living through every parent's nightmare Irish Times

Haunted by the past: Kate McCann at a press conference for the launch of Madeleine: Our Daughter's Disappearance and the Continuing Search for Her last week, on her daughter's eighth birthday.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

MEMOIR : Madeleine: Our Daughter's Disappearance and the Continuing Search for Her By Kate McCann Bantam Press, 392pp. £14.99

EVERYONE SAYS THAT Kate McCann has got very thin. "She looks gaunt," a woman said to me after her appearance last week on The Late Late Show, with her husband, Gerry. It is four years since their daughter, Madeleine, disappeared while they were on holiday in Portugal. The McCanns are now so saturated in public attention that their faces – well, Madeleine and Kate McCann's faces; Gerry McCann is less distinctive – are etched on to our brains. And in that time our various obsessions about the adult McCanns have remained remarkably constant.

"Reports of my weight loss were greatly exaggerated," Kate McCann writes of the period immediately after Madeleine's disappearance. "In the first week I did lose about 4½ pounds, which I could ill afford, and which it took me months to regain, but nowhere near the stone removed from me by some of the press. I have always been thin. It's the way I'm made."

This is in several ways a terrible book. At its heart is a child who is missing and quite possibly dead. It is written by a desperate mother and was published on what is to be hoped was Madeleine's eighth birthday, lest she be forgotten. It recalls the media circus sparked by the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in May 2007, from which no one emerged very well except, bizarrely, Clement Freud.

At the start the McCanns seem to have believed in the media. Even when they were too traumatised to be interviewed they were watching the big guns assembling: "Sky had three anchors in Praia da Luz. The BBC sent out Huw Edwards. ITV dispatched Sir Trevor McDonald, who did a one-hour special from the village."

To read this book is a strange experience. On the one hand you feel that you have, literally, seen it all before. The writing is dull, and injections of information about, for example, how the McCanns' sex life had to be revived after their daughter's disappearance do nobody any favours. "I have wondered," writes McCann, "whether we haven't already given too much of ourselves and our family to the world."

But the hell the book describes is so grim – the missing child, the peculiar police, the circling cameras, the crystals, the hoaxes, the cranks, the psychics, the private planes, the visit to the pope, the flowers and the teddies left by well-wishers – that you feel that you must respect it. "To suddenly become the focus of such attention – fiercely acute, and yet at the same time disconnected, impersonal, as if we were some rare species in a zoo," writes McCann, "was bewildering."

Every decade has its celebrated case, the terrifying case, that becomes a public spectacle. Madeleine McCann is ours. And eventually the accusatory stares turned on the McCanns themselves. (They later won £550,000 in damages from Express Newspapers.)

The McCanns were criticised for leaving the children unattended in the apartment, with the patio doors unlocked, although they explained that they checked the children every 30 minutes and were having dinner nearby. Kate McCann, besides being horribly guilty about this, observes the criticism coolly. "I have come to understand that some of these critics have been acting out of self-preservation. Holding us culpable in some way makes them feel their own children are safer."

Kate Healy is an only child and an achiever. She works hard and is determined, "a finisher", as she says herself. The first weekend after Madeleine's disappearance she felt "a burning desire" to run up Rocha Negra, a nearby mountain. In the coming weeks she and Gerry did run up it. While running she would say a decade of the rosary. Her religious faith is one of the few unusual things about her, and their shared background, of working-class Irish Catholicism in Britain, was one of the things that united the McCanns – combined with the fact that Gerry, unsurprisingly, obviously fancied Kate Healy like crazy. The hymn On Eagle's Wings was played at their wedding.

One gets the impression that Kate McCann was always a very good girl. Clement Freud, who had a house in Praia da Luz, gave her her first taste of brandy at this time. He had sent them a letter saying he was ashamed of the media's intrusion into their lives and asking them for a meal. He cooked for them and, with his mordant wit, was one of the few people able to cheer them up in those terrible weeks.

You feel that McCann is a woman who has always followed the rules. In her relationship with the press her beauty was an asset, but her reserve was not appreciated. She was willing to show her wounds in the marketplace, if it got her daughter more publicity, but she refused to collapse in public.

The day before she vanished Madeleine said to her mother at breakfast: "Why didn't you come when Sean and I cried last night?" Kate McCann is now convinced that an intruder had been in the apartment the night before. The three McCann children were left in the apartment with the patio doors unlocked for five nights in a row. This is a hard fact for the McCanns to live with, although the length of their ordeal now places them beyond criticism.

Kate McCann acknowledges that from the start, along with the inadequate Portuguese police investigation and the vicious rumours, people have rushed to help them. The businessman Philip Green lent them his plane so they could visit the pope. The British foreign office sent a former journalist, now an official media handler, to help them deal with the press. David Beckham appealed for Madeleine's return. And now, on publication of this book, the British prime minister, David Cameron, has written that the McCanns' ordeal is "every parent's nightmare", responding to Kate McCann's open letter to him, printed in the Sun.

This is the unifying power of nightmare but also of sentimentality and of standing knee deep in cuddly toys. The missing child is the stuff of horror stories and of fairy tales. But most children who are abducted are hardly missed, and few people go looking for them. For now the tabloids are once more the McCanns' friends. On the book's publication Cameron instructed his home secretary, amid some controversy, to let officers from the Metropolitan Police review the case. No one would begrudge the McCanns this, but in Britain it has been pointed out that not all parents of missing children get that support.

As for Madeleine , it manages to be at once very sad and pretty monotonous. McCann is not the person to do justice in book form to the tragedy and the mystery here, even though they are her own. It is difficult to see why anyone would buy it for anything but charitable reasons: all royalties go to Madeleine's Fund, to continue the search for her.

Ann Marie Hourihane is an Irish Times columnist

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Did Kate McCann read my Letter to her?, 21 May 2011
Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Did Kate McCann read my Letter to her? The Daily Profiler

'Madeleine' by Kate McCann

By Pat Brown
Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kate McCann has a new book out, Madeleine, an incredible self-serving propaganda piece which leads me to believe she must have read my letter (below from October 4, 2007). But, as can happen to people who may have a narcissistic personality disorder, they just don't know when to SHUT UP. For, in the book, Kate's explanations further lead me to doubt the McCanns' claims of innocence in the disappearance of their daughter. One simple example is the most peculiar speculation of Kate that all her children may have been drugged by Madeleine's 'abductor' both the night she went missing and the previous night. First of all, Kate, this would serve no purpose to the 'abductor' except to waste time and it would be difficult to accomplish. You must know that. So the only rational reason you are claiming the children might have been drugged would be to explain away the fact that, indeed, if it ever is proven they were, you have covered that issue by explaining you were concerned about the children's lethargy and someone else is responsible. However, the only ones likely to have given the children drugs would be you and Gerry.

Any good lawyer will tell you to SHUT UP, but, no, you keep talking, Kate, and we thank you for it.


Yes, Kate,

It isn’t your breast size or weight that is causing your problems. It is you and your narcissist evaluation of the situation and your PR team’s equally stupid assessment of the situation that is making you look so bad in the public eye.

I am a criminal profiler with years of experience dealing with parents of murder victims and missing relatives. Your behavior and the behavior of your husband fall far outside or the norm for grieving parents. Now, this may be because you are just terribly narcisstic folks who had nothing to do with your child going missing (outside of neglecting your children and putting your needs to party before their needs for comfort and safety, a narcissistic behavior if I have ever seen one). You and Gerry may simply be so narcissistic you have no understanding of how other people view your behaviors and your PR team may share your narcissism so that no one on your team has a clue to normal human behavior.

But, SHUT UP! Every time you open your mouths you do more damage to yourselves. You seem guiltier by the day. Your attempt at “damage control” is so obvious and so very much a day late and a dollar short, everything you do or say seems a cover up and a transparent attempt at proving your innocence.

Let me make clear what I think is weird about what you say and do:

You choose words about Madeleine’s disappearance which make it appear you know there is no abductor and that Madeleine is dead.

Both you and Gerry state your only guilt in the matter is not being their when Madeleine “was taken.” This statement makes no sense for abduction as Madeleine could not be taken if either of you were with Maddie when an abductor would have shown up. It makes more sense in the context that Maddie died while you were not in the apartment.

Your statements and attitude about Madeleine being alive do not square with parents who really believe their daughter is in the hands of a pedophile or pedophiles who are brutally raping and torturing her daily.

Your attempts at “finding” Madeleine do not represent the manner most parents would choose if they were actively searching for a live child but appear more to be the actions of parents trying to prove after the fact of a child’s death that they “cared” (not care) about her.

Your behaviors of “keeping a normal routine” and “keeping up one’s appearance” is admirable, but extremely bizarre. I don’t know any other parents of missing children who can appear so together and cheery. When my daughter cooked our kittens by accident in the dryer, I cancelled Christmas.

Gerry’s blog creeps people out. It is too upbeat. Terrified and distraught parents of missing children are rarely able to jog and play tennis and go to park with their other kids and have a fun time. Over a long period of time, maybe, but this is usually years after the nightmare begins. Some parents never recover from the trauma and it is common for marriages to fail and the brothers and sisters to feel their parents went absent after their sibling went missing.

Your ability to sleep at night after the first five days, Kate, is beyond belief. It is the behavior of one who already knows the answer and even then, is quite a narcissistic trait. If you believed your daughter was being raped as you lay in bed at night, sleep would be very hard to come by. I guess you finally realize this and your mother is saying that NOW you can’t sleep and Madeleine comes to visit you in the night. What changed, Kate?

Your PR team coming up with an answer to every accusation, answers that are ludicrous in themselves, makes you seem awfully defensive, and, if there is no way you or Gerry had anything to do with Maddie’s disappearance, you have nothing to defend. Furthermore, if all you care about is finding Maddie, you shouldn’t be wasting your time on such silliness. After all, as Gerry said, Maddie is the only important thing, right?

So, SHUT UP, Kate. SHUT UP, GERRY. Fire your PR team as they are totally worthless. If both of you really are innocent and your think Maddie is alive, return to Portugal. Start searching for real (and it took six months to set up a hotline?). Cooperate with the police. Take the polygraphs as you have zero to hide and, with competent polygraph examiners, the questions are so simple you can’t screw them up. I will even give you the four questions that should be asked:

“Did Madeleine die while you were present?”
“Did you return to the apartment and find Madeleine dying or dead?”
“Did you move Madeleine’s body at any time?”
“Did your spouse move Madeleine’s body at any time?"

These are simple questions. The answer to all of them should be “No.” There is no ambiguity in these questions (unlike a question such as “Do you feel responsible for the disappearance of Madeleine?” which you could if you acknowledge leaving her without an adult caretaker is irresponsible; an affirmative answer to such a question would be useless to the detectives as it could falsely indicate that you had something to do with Maddie going missing when you are only feeling guilty over leaving her unattended. Also, an affirmative answer could mean you simply do not feel responsible for what happened to Maddie no matter what happened to her as a total narcissist might).

The above four questions are simple and unambiguous and even a narcissist can’t misconstrue the meaning of the questions. The answers will be a simple “Yes” or “No.” Have the polygraph session videotaped so the police will be unable to do any underhanded scare tactics or interrogation that might distort the results of the tests.

Quite frankly, Kate, you and Gerry had everything going for you as parents of a missing child if you hadn’t left your children unattended night after night to go out partying. THIS is what made people dislike you. It was to your advantage that you are both relatively attractive people because IF you had big breasts and a porky physique and were not well-heeled professionals, you would have become suspects right off the bat and you would have not had the incredible monetary support you have been blessed with nor all those kindly letters. You would have been viewed as just a pair of slobs who probably abused their children as well as neglected them and you wouldn’t have gotten the phenomenal amount of publicity worldwide concerning Maddie’s disappearance. Other parents have gone public, run campaigns, and had web sites, but your fortune with publicity and support has been unprecedented. And, you complain, Kate, that people are treating you badly because you are fit! It was being fit and professional and well-off that got you so much attention. It was you and Gerry’s fitness as parents and your peculiar behaviors that got you the negative attention.

I have a final suggestion. Ask the PJ if I can come analyze the case. My organization will send me pro bono. As a criminal profiler I can analyze the actual evidence to advise the investigators as to the best investigate strategy. I have no problem determining this crime as an abduction and finding the creep that took Madeleine if the evidence points that way. I don’t have to like you and Gerry as people to view the evidence in an objective and professional manner. No one should be convicted of a crime simply because of personality and because people don’t like the individual’s personality. Solid physical and circumstantial evidence must exist to the point where there is no question as to who committed the crime. I would work very diligently to assist the PJ with the evidence and the facts and do a thorough crime scene analysis that would move the case forward.

Furthermore, if you and Gerry get charged in Madeleine’s disappearance and must truly defend yourselves, my services are available to you and your lawyers. I will be more than happy to analyze the evidence and, if you are innocent, do all I can to serve in your defense.

Good luck, Kate. May the truth be brought to light soon and you and Gerry get the justice you deserve in the case of your missing daughter.

All the best,

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

Note: Some people have misinterpreted sarcasm as seriousness in some of my wording in the post. My reference to Kate having written the book "because she read my letter" is just a general nod to her reason for writing this book; to do damage control and "clear up" the questions people have asked about them and the things they have said about them. I am not actually saying that letter specifically was the reason for her book. Also, my offer to come profile the case, while something I would be happy to do, was more in jest than a serious request to be brought in. Obviously, Kate and Gerry are unlikely to be calling me anytime soon.

The harrowing of Kate McCann, 22 May 2011
The harrowing of Kate McCann The Irish Independent

Kate misses her chance to set the record straight in a book that adds little to an extensive canon, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

By Eilis O'Hanlon
Sunday May 22 2011


Kate McCann

Bantam Press, €22.99

Why Kate? From the moment that their daughter vanished from a rented holiday apartment in Portugal's Praia da Luz resort, it was Gerry McCann who provided the public face of the campaign to bring Madeleine home. He was the one who dealt with reporters, set up websites, wrote a regular blog updating the search. If anyone was going to write a book about that time, it was surely Gerry who would've been expected to do it.

But it was always Kate who fascinated observers. Mothers are expected to behave in certain ways and Madeleine's didn't seem to be playing her role properly. She was criticised for being too cold, for not showing her emotions more. The public can be cruel juries. They want their pound of flesh. Four years on, with the fate of Madeleine still unknown, Kate has now stepped forward to tell her own story -- though her motive for doing so remains typically obstinate.

She may have kept a journal throughout the search, so that the couple's twins, Sean and Amelie -- and Madeleine too, if and when she returned to the family -- would know what happened during those terrible days, but the only reason it is being released to a wider audience now is to fund the continuing search for a missing child. "We are now the only people looking for her," as Kate notes poignantly, and that takes money. Whether it makes for much of a book is the difficulty.

It's hard to review this book with any objectivity, especially when it is such an extraordinarily controlled piece of writing. In many ways, the book suffers from the same shortcomings which led to Kate being vilified so horribly in certain quarters. She's clearly an intensely private person, for whom opening up does not come easily. Too often, there is a sense in these pages of holding back. There are some highly intimate details, for example about how she needed therapy to overcome her "revulsion" at sex after the abduction, and she writes with piercing intensity of her feelings of guilt, but it is as though these passing details are masking what is otherwise a psychological absence at the heart of the book.

After an initial preamble about her life before the holiday, the book settles down into a pedestrian chronological account of the public events that followed, peppered with asides about how she felt at certain moments.

The Tapas Nine are shadowy figures throughout; we never really get a sense of who they are. Goncalo Amaral, the Portuguese police chief who became such a thorn in the couple's side, is a peripheral presence. The night Madeleine went missing -- on which everything hinges -- is dealt with in just a few pages. The exact state of the room, and the comings and goings of the various characters in the tale, remains frustratingly vague.

This was Kate's best chance to set the record straight, but the book adds little to an already extensive canon. Time and again, her response to allegations against them is simply to reiterate what they said in statements at the time. It certainly won't change anyone's mind. Supporters of the couple will focus on the passages describing her harrowing grief and sense of guilt. Those who are suspicious will find further fuel in the dismissive and perfunctory way in which Kate answers some of the most serious allegations laid against the couple. When specially trained cadaver dogs, for example, detect the scent of death in the family's apartment, Kate is quick to highlight the unreliability of sniffer dogs. It makes absolute sense insofar as they know they didn't do anything to harm their beloved daughter.

But as a parent, surely you'd be terrified by what the dogs sensed? The fact that a strong indication of death had been found at the scene immediately raises the likelihood that something terrible happened to your daughter in that room; but Kate and Gerry are almost militant in their belief that their daughter is not dead. "Madeleine is alive until someone proves otherwise," she still insists. Maybe that's the only way you can carry on -- Kate does admit to having terrible visions intermittently of her daughter being abused and killed -- but the response still feels unsatisfactory

Perhaps that's just repeating the original error of wanting more from Kate McCann than she is willing or able to give. All too often she writes like a spectator to events, not a participant. Therapeutically, that may be a common reaction in people who have undergone traumatic experiences, but it makes for a weirdly detached and uninvolving book. It's almost as if Madeleine isn't the only one who went missing that night, but Kate as well.

- Eilis O'Hanlon

BOOK REVIEW: Madeleine by Kate McCann, 27 May 2011
BOOK REVIEW: Madeleine by Kate McCann Algarve Resident

Madeleine by Kate McCann is now available. Photo: SUPPLIED.

Updated: 27-May-2011

There can't be many people who don't have an opinion about Kate and Gerry McCann.

The British couple, both doctors, were thrust into the public eye when their three-year-old daughter Madeleine disappeared from their holiday apartment in Praia de Luz in May 2007.

Four years on, they are no closer to finding her or establishing what happened to her.

Although short of startling revelations, Madeleine is a brutally honest and engrossing account of their search for answers - and their treatment at the hands of the disbelieving Portuguese police.

It is an impressive and well-written chronicle of a terrible incident, a must-read if for no other reason than someone out there knows something.

It is essentially a deeply emotional tale, detailing how what Kate describes as initial poor judgement (leaving the three children alone in an apartment with unlocked patio doors) led to shattered lives and unimaginable pain and suffering for all concerned.

It is an honest book, clearly written from the heart.

It did, on occasion, leave me with the impression that Kate was over-justifying the couple's actions.

But this initial cynicism disappeared when it became apparent that this was a reaction to having been challenged about every little thought and deed by the police and the world's media.

They have been forced to question themselves and justify everything.

As to what happened on that fateful night, there is no doubt in Kate's mind that Madeleine, a much-wanted child, was abducted from the apartment.

This is the thread that runs through the book - Madeleine was snatched. End of story - no argument.

This belief, bolstered by deep religious faith, has ensured that their search is an all-consuming and on-going crusade for the whole family.

Kate McCann has constantly questioned how they behaved on THAT evening and what they could have done differently. And so has every other amateur detective and observer.

In the end, people will believe what they think.

We all make lapses of judgement - usually with no major consequences.

Kate and Gerry McCann's lapse has left them with bitter and lifelong regrets.

And a missing daughter.

Madeleine By Kate McCann, 02 June 2011
Madeleine By Kate McCann New Statesman

Headlines, hate mail and Kate McCann.

Kate McCannn

Reviewed by Julie Myerson
02 June 2011

A very public agony

One May afternoon in 2007 in Praia da Luz, Portugal, barely 48 hours before their daughter Madeleine disappeared, Kate and Gerry McCann took their three young children down to the beach. It began to rain, and the children were grumpy, but the promise of an ice cream worked its magic.

Kate and the kids sat on a bench as Gerry went over to the shop, about 25 feet away. When he called to Kate to come and give him a hand with the five ice creams, she was "momentarily torn. Would the children be OK on the bench while I nipped over? I hurried across, watching them all the time."

Life as a parent, as anyone with children knows, is crammed with such split-second judgements and (sometimes) misjudgements, so when the McCanns' story hit the press just a couple of days after that afternoon ice cream, parents all over the world caught their breath, recognising the situation. Would we have chosen to eat dinner while our children slept, unguarded, a matter of yards away? Some of us would, some of us wouldn't, but I doubt there is a parent on this earth who hasn't negotiated with their child's safety in similar ways at one time or another.

Kate McCann says her main motive in writing Madeleine was to "give an account of the truth". Given how much false information has been circulated about the family, this impulse to exert a little control excites my full sympathy. One night, exhausted and sad, she switched on the TV for light relief, only to see a picture of her daughter with the headline "She's dead" as the following day's newspapers were previewed. The McCanns often felt that they were kept in the dark by the police, so, for all she knew, a body could have been found - but time and again, she and Gerry were forced to pick their battles, to shrug off the lorryloads of critical comment, because anything that impeded the search for their daughter had to be ignored.

Much of the comment certainly has been negative. Even now, I am not sure I understand how the McCanns came to be considered as arguidos (named suspects). Although I imagine that the Portuguese police would offer a different version of some of the events described here, no UK official believed that the McCanns were in any way responsible for their daughter's disappearance. That didn't stop the headlines and the hate mail, however, so it seems both understandable that Kate should want to take this opportunity to set the record straight and fair that she should do so.

Yet the book clearly has another reason for existing: Kate wrote it because she knew that there was a market for it. The search for Mad­eleine can continue only if there is money, and all royalties go to the fund set up in her name. With no evidence that their daughter is dead, the McCanns are determined to go on looking. Meanwhile, it's a particularly gruesome limbo they are condemned to inhabit. Kate depicts it here with chilling precision.

Before tragedy struck, this was an ordinary family. Kate tells of her happy Catholic childhood in Liverpool, where her grandad had been "chief clerk for a firm importing nuts and dried fruits". She recalls midnight feasts of pickled onion crisps and dancing to Seventies disco hits. Then came Gerry, youngest in a "boisterous" family of five, growing up in a one-bedroom tenement in Govan. Both he and Kate did well at school and went on to study medicine, she at Dundee and he at Glasgow - which is where, as junior doctors, they met.

These were clearly hard-working and driven young people. Even so, their early married years were tough. There was the hard graft of moving between jobs as he trained in cardiology. She specialised as an anaesthetist, but, wanting more sociable hours, eventually opted to be a GP. Then there was the trying - and failing - to conceive a child. I was startled to read that all three McCann children were IVF babies. Mad­eleine, their first, arrived after many attempts. "Suddenly," Kate writes, "your world revolves around this little bundle, and you don't mind in the slightest."

Madeleine is crammed with clichés of this kind, but I confess that, far from bothering me, they drew me in. Kate McCann is not a writer and makes no claims to be one - the power of her book lies in its straightforward, chatty ordinariness. It is hard, too, not to admire its complete lack of self-pity, bolstered by the McCanns' uncomplicated though sorely tested religious faith. The agony lies in the small, casual detail.

Take how, when friends first suggested a spring holiday in the Algarve, Kate wasn't keen. It seemed like a lot of effort, with three children who were so small - all that equipment to lug around. But, not wanting to spoil things, she came round to the idea. "It was the first in a series of apparently minor decisions I'd give anything to change now."

Another factor was how and where they put their children down to sleep at the resort. The McCanns' apartment was on a corner with easy access from the street. It is now considered likely that someone was keeping an eye on their comings and goings. And it wasn't until a whole year later, when finally they were given access to the police files, that Kate discovered that anyone checking the book at reception would have seen a note stating that the McCann party wished to eat in the tapas restaurant every night because they were leaving young children alone in the apartments and needed to be able to check on them easily.

The story of how Madeleine went missing need not be repeated here, but the book gives us what the press never could: a sense of the misery of that first night and those that followed. The slow breaking of dawn, followed by the sickening job of telling the news to relatives in the UK. Kate's inability to stop banging and bruising her fists on the metal railings of the veranda, "trying to expel the intolerable pain inside me". Gerry breaking down and "roaring like a bull".

The McCanns were soon, and wisely, given access to a trauma specialist, who immediately reassured the couple that they seemed like model parents. "I cannot overstate how much such kind reassurance meant to us at that moment," Kate writes. He explained to them the importance of taking control little by little, "starting with tiny actions as simple as making ourselves a cup of tea".

In fact, kindness and forgiveness - being gentle with yourself in the face of unrelenting shock - is the core, though perhaps unwitting, theme of Kate McCann's book. Her husband was able to shut off his pain for hours at a time in order to deal with the world - something that she admits she occasionally resented. With touching self-awareness, she describes how she could not do the same. She was unable to settle to anything that did not relate directly to finding Madeleine: "I could not even sit down unless it was for a purpose, to eat or to work at the computer."

She conjures a heartbreaking image of the bereft mother, condemned to pace up and down eternally, sniffing for her young. It was two years before she could listen to music or watch television, or allow herself to take pleasure in anything at all without feeling that she was letting her daughter down.

Hugging friends whom she hadn't seen since before Madeleine disappeared, she would find she could "hardly bear to let go", because she knew that the moment she stepped back and saw their faces, she would be reminded of "days spent together with Madeleine". She also says candidly that her sex life with Gerry suffered and that she finally took "a cognitive approach" to getting it back on track.

Years later, even beginning to feel more normal brings its own problems. She worries about what people will think if they see her speaking crossly to her other children in public. Or that, if "people saw me smile or laugh, they'd think it inappropriate". She has a fear that if anyone spots her shopping in Marks & Spencer, they will frown on her "for not going somewhere cheaper like Aldi and putting the pennies saved into Madeleine's fund".

If Kate McCann doesn't feel she deserves to be forgiven, it is striking nevertheless that this is a boldly empathetic and forgiving book. She writes without bitterness about the people whose correspondence goes straight into the "nutty box".

As doctors, she and Gerry have some professional experience of dealing with mental illness, and are not surprised that their tragedy attracts such attention - "within days of Madeleine's disappearance, several people with major psychiatric problems made their way over to Praia da Luz". And although the trauma specialist had warned them that they would lose some good friends (and they did), she is grateful for the "quiet majority". Astonishingly, perhaps, she still believes that "most human beings are inherently good".

Even though I am sure there is a readership for Madeleine, many others will feel free to discuss and comment on the book without having read it. I would urge them to be as kind and non-judgemental as Kate McCann has been. Although she and Gerry come across as remarkably strong - clearly their love for their two remaining children, together with the search for Madeleine, has kept them going - I don't think anyone should underestimate how vulnerable they are.

To endure tragedy of this sort, followed by relentless press attention, leaves you raw, your skin feeling stripped right off. One night almost a year after they lost Madeleine, the couple woke in the night in Leicester to find the whole room shaking. "With the occasional death threat turning up in our morning mail, it is perhaps not surprising that our first instinct was to think we were being attacked."

Thankfully the "attack" turned out to be an earth tremor. You hope for the McCanns' sake that, whether or not they ever discover what happened to their daughter, the agonising rawness - like the tremor - will eventually subside to nothing.

Kate McCann
Bantam Press, 400pp, £20

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files


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