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    

2008: January Key Events - Days(243-273) *

All the key events from January 2008

News of the World teaser for release of artist's impression, 20 January 2008
News of the World teaser for release of artist's impression, 20 January 2008

(Days 1-28)
(Days 29-58)
(Days 59-89)
(Days 90-120)
(Days 121-150)
(Days 151-181)
(Days 182-211)
(Days 212-242) 
(Days 243-273)
(Days 274-302)
(Days 303-333)
(Days 334-363)
(Days 364-394)
(Days 395-424)
(Days 425-455)
(Days 456-486)
(Days 487-516)
(Days 517-Date)
(Days 548-Date)

Tuesday 01 
January 2008
Murat's lawyer denies arrest
Francisco Pagarete, the lawyer of Robert Murat, has denied the story published today on the news website, signed by Toby Serter, about his client having been arrested again by Portuguese police. "This is completely false", Mr. Pagarete said, accusing the McCanns of being behind the recent revelations of new witnesses that claim they saw Robert Murat near the Ocean Club the night Madeleine disappeared: "All of this is just evidence of how desperate the McCanns are", Mr. Pagarete said.

Wednesday 02 
January 2008

Murat to be cleared soon?

The Daily Express reports that Robert Murat could be cleared tomorrow, as the investigation reaches a crucial deadline, police files on the case are finally set to be released.

Last night Murat’s lawyer, Francisco Pagarette, claimed that detectives now believe he is innocent and are preparing to lift his arguido status tomorrow – exactly eight months after Madeleine vanished.

If they fail to clear him then, under Portuguese law, they must charge him or reveal what evidence they have against the 34-year-old father of one. Murat, who was declared an official suspect on May 14, is desperate to have the cloud of suspicion hanging over him removed, claiming his life has been destroyed by false allegations.

Mr Pagarette said: "After eight months that is the end of the inquiry, so a suspect must be accused or advised of the suspicions against them. The public prosecutor either accuses him or they don’t. And that is what I am hoping will happen."

He added: "We have not had any communication from the police since August. Obviously they have already cleared Robert, it is just a question of the deadline." Theoretically, Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry, the only other arguidos, should also be charged, released or told what evidence exists against them tomorrow.

But it is believed the prosecutor has already granted an extension allowing a further period of secrecy for the investigation because of the "special complexity" of the case. Detectives are also due to re-interview Kate and Gerry in Britain and do not wish to make any decision about their status until that process is complete.

Kate and Gerry go to panto

Meanwhile, Kate and Gerry McCann call in to see the Aladdin panto at the Southport Theatre in Southport, with twins, Sean and Amelie.

Staff at the show, which stars Syd Little and Lisa Riley, were told the family would be coming before the performance. They were told the couple and their children, who live in Rothley, Leicestershire, would be in the audience, but not to discuss it.

A behind-the-scenes source said the McCanns were there to watch one of the dancers from Formby, who is a relative .

Thursday 03 
January 2008
Gerry returns to work
Gerry McCann returns to full-time work today - exactly eight months after his daughter Madeleine disappeared.
The McCanns hopes of being cleared are crushed
Gerry and Kate McCanns' hope of being cleared over their daughter's disappearance appeared crushed today after they were reportedly named as prime suspects in a new police dossier. There had been hopes that the couple's status as official suspects could be lifted in coming days. But they may now remain under suspicion for years, after Portuguese detectives submitted an interim report to prosecutors.
Under new Portuguese laws - still largely untested - there had been a suggestion that files on the case could be made public today on the eight month anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance. The deadline prompted hopes the official suspects - or arguido - status could then be removed. But according to Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha, the Policia Judiciaria will hand over an interim report in which the McCanns remain at the centre of inquiries.
Correio da Manha added that the police report would contain a request to reinterview the McCanns and their friends - known as the Tapas Nine - in Britain in coming weeks. After those interviews the McCanns' lawyers are expected to apply for arguido status to be removed.
The McCanns hire a new detective
It emerged today the McCanns have hired a detective who investigated a 7/7 suicide bomber. Noel Hogan is conducting a "cold case" review. The former Met detective superintendent, who runs the agency Hogan International, in Farnham said: "I have been reinterviewing witnesses that were out in Portugal at the time." It is understood these include friends of the McCanns.
Irish family's Maddie quiz The Sun
From VERONICA LORRAINE in Praia da Luz
Published: 03 Jan 2008
PRIVATE detectives hunting for Madeleine McCann are to quiz an Irish family who may have been the last to see her alive.
Martin Smith, his wife and children told cops they saw a man carrying a little blonde girl in Praia da Luz on the night Maddie vanished.
Investigators from the Metodo 3 agency hired by Maddie's parents Gerry and Kate are preparing to travel to Ireland to interview them.
The family, from Drogheda, Co Louth, believe they saw the man taking the sleeping tot down to the beach at the Portuguese resort.
The Smiths were leaving Kelly's Bar — 400 metres from the McCanns' apartment — between 9.50 and 10pm on May 3 last year.
They flew home to Ireland the next day, but when the times of Maddie's abduction were revealed, the family remembered seeing a man, 5ft 7in to 5ft 9in tall and dressed in beige, carrying the child.
Significantly the description matches that given by Jane Tanner, 37, a friend of the McCanns.
Mr Smith, who has already spoken to Portuguese cops over the sighting, said yesterday: "I'd talk to anyone to move this investigation on. I think about Maddie every day."
He added: "I found the Portuguese cops not to be the most efficient bunch."
His wife Mary, 59, said: "We saw a man carrying a blonde child. It was just such a normal thing to see in a holiday resort — we didn't think anything of it at the time."
The Sun reported on Monday how Metodo 3 — which is costing the Find Madeleine Fund £300,000 — plan to blitz Morocco after several leads pointed to the country.

Friday 04 
January 2008
Policia Judiciaria continue trawl for evidence
Police in Portugal have begun a fresh trawl for evidence which could incriminate Gerry and Kate McCann. Among the items they are said to want to seize is their missing daughter Madeleine's Cuddle Cat toy, which was examined by forensic teams in the summer. They have also demanded Mrs McCann's diary. The requests suggest officers remain hopeful of bringing charges against the four-year-old's parents. Police already have photocopies of the diary but these would not be admissable in court.
Police make a formal request for British police to re-interview the seven friends who were on holiday with the McCanns when Madeleine disappeared. They submitted a catalogue of questions they want answered to the judge in Portugal overseeing the case. They also included the list of items they would like seized. Leaks have previously suggested these would include the diary kept by Kate.

Detectives took the diary and photocopied it, then leaked sections to the Portuguese media in which Mrs McCann allegedly wrote that her eldest daughter was hyperactive and said she could not cope. Officers used the excerpts to suggest the GP could have been sedating her children. Mrs McCann has always denied the claims.

Police were also said to want to seize clothes and other items - including the pink soft toy Cuddle Cat - on which trained sniffer dogs allegedly picked up the "scent of death". Detectives have long questioned why Mrs McCann was so attached to Cuddle Cat and why, if it was her last link with Madeleine, she allowed it to be washed. They have suggested the toy was cleaned to destroy any potential DNA evidence, such as blood. Mrs McCann said it had simply become too grubby. Other items sought by police are thought to include the couple's laptops and private correspondence, Mrs McCann's Bible, in which a passage related to the death of a child was marked, and their phone records.

The formal "letters of appeal" will now be sent from the court in Portimao to the Portuguese justice minister and then on to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith for her approval. Once granted police will contact the group to arrange interviews. Detectives in Portugal will then consider whether they need to reinterview the McCanns, of Rothley, Leicestershire, and whether they should be charged.

The spokesman for the McCanns, Clarence Mitchell, said: "Kate and Gerry, and their friends particularly, are very keen to talk to the Portuguese police again because they want to be able to clarify any inconsistencies to do with the timeline of events on May 3, or whenever the police put forward."

Irish tourist clears Robert Murat

An Irish tourist who saw someone carrying a child in a blanket on the night Madeleine McCann disappeared insists that the mystery man was not Robert Murat. Martin Smith, from Drogheda in Co Louth, was on holiday in Praia Da Luz with his family when they bumped into the man just before 10pm on May 3 last year.

The Smith family's suspicions were aroused because the man made no response when they asked if the barefoot child was asleep. "He just put his head down and averted his eyes, which is very unusual in a tourist town at such a quiet time of the year," said Mr Smith.

Initially the Smith family thought nothing more of the encounter - and even the next day when the story broke they still didn't make the connection. "We were home two weeks when my son rang me up and asked was he dreaming or did we meet a man carrying a child the night Madeleine was taken," said Mr Smith. "We all remembered the same recollection, and I felt we should report it to the police.

"We've all been beating ourselves up that we should have made the link sooner, if only we'd remembered the next day. But the Portuguese police said you see these things on holiday all the time."

The Smiths did contact the Portuguese police once they had returned to Ireland, but say they have had no contact with the officers investigating the case since May last year. "I rang the Portuguese police and they took a statement from me on the phone," said Mr Smith. They asked me to make a statement to the Gardai, which I did, and two days later Leicestershire police got on to us.

"My eldest son, Peter, my youngest daughter, Aoife, and I then flew to Luz to make a statement. They didn't seem to be the most efficient police you ever came across - and that was the last time we had any contact with the investigation. I don't know if this information will help the McCanns, but anything we can do to help try to solve it, we will.

"We were looking at all the commotion on Sky News and we really felt quite helpless. We had two grandchildren with us at the time and it had a terrible effect on them - they all wanted to sleep in the same room as us."

But Mr Smith is certain that the man he and his family saw that night was not Robert Murat, who is still officially an "arguido" in the Madeleine McCann investigation. "I told police it was definitely not him because the man wasn't as big as Murat - I think I would have recognised him because I'd met him several times previously. He was wearing beige trousers and a darker top. We all put him in his early 40s and I didn't think he was Portuguese."

Mr Smith's sighting is similar to the one reported by Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCann family. A spokesman for the McCanns said detectives from the Spanish agency hired to investigate the case are now hoping to speak to the Smiths. Retired Mr Smith, 58, does not wish to appear on camera in order to protect his family from media intrusion.

Saturday 05 
January 2008
Madeleine: New witness confronted man lurking near apartment days before she disappeared Daily Mail
Last updated at 16:11 07 January 2008 (first published 05 January 2008)
A father confronted a man lurking outside the McCanns' holiday apartment just days before Madeleine vanished, it was revealed yesterday.
British holiday-maker Paul Gordon told police he spotted the man outside the two-bedroom flat's patio doors while his own two children were sleeping inside.
Kate and Gerry McCann believe their daughter's abductor crept into the apartment through the same patio doors, which they left unlocked so they and their friends could check on their sleeping children during their now infamous dinner at a nearby tapas restaurant.
Mr Gordon, 34, contacted British police about his suspicions in May, as soon as he heard that Madeleine had gone missing. He and his family stayed in the apartment immediately before the McCanns.
He told how he confronted the man when he saw him outside the glass patio doors, which are at the back of the apartment, away from the front door and concealed from the main road by a high hedge.
The man claimed to be collecting money for an orphanage in the mountains and Mr Gordon told detectives he left him alone near the doors while he went to find money to give him.
In those few minutes the stranger could have studied the lay-out of the apartment and even checked on locks and security arrangements inside, police fear.
The private detectives hired by the McCanns, Metodo 3, have investigated a series of sightings of people hanging around the apartment, including a report of two people claiming to be Jehovah's Witnesses who tried to get inside, and now Mr Gordon's sighting of the suspicious charity collector.
Metodo 3 believe some of the people could have been 'spotters' who identified Madeleine as a potential victim for a paedophile network, then monitored her family's movements and struck when the McCanns, of Rothley, Leicestershire, left their three children alone to go and have dinner.
Mr Gordon was interviewed by Scotland Yard detectives and Metodo 3, and was asked if he believed the charity collector could have been trying to target his own children, aged one and two.
He said his family rented the Ocean Club flat in Praia da Luz for a fortnight last April, and left only hours before the McCanns arrived on April 28.
Mr Gordon, a sales executive for Scottish and Newcastle Breweries, yesterday refused to comment about his statement to the police.
Speaking outside his house in Fareham, Hampshire, he said: "I've given a statement and want it to remain private. I hope the information may help in the search for Madeleine."
McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell denied claims that Mr Gordon had warned Mr and Mrs McCann, both 39, about the sighting.
He said: "Mr Gordon has spoken to the police about his time in the apartment and our investigative team has also spoken with him.
"He said somebody came round to the apartment 5A asking for a charity donation and said it was suspicious. Gerry and Kate have never met Mr Gordon himself."
Mr Gordon is the latest in a series of witnesses who have come forward since Madeleine's disappearance to say they saw suspicious characters lurking around the apartment.
A baby-sitter told how she saw a man hiding in bushes outside the flat in late 2006, and a British nanny said she saw a man 'identical' to suspect Robert Murat trying to lift the shutters on the ground floor window of the apartment in December, while she was looking after a six-year-old boy inside.
Then last March, only six weeks before the McCanns arrived in Praia da Luz, British mother Karen Sixsmith said a woman who looked like Mr Murat's girlfriend Michaela Walczuch, 34, came to the door with a man, saying they were Jehovah's Witnesses.
Mrs Sixsmith, of Bowden, Cheshire, said the man seemed anxious to get inside the flat, where she was staying with her husband and young daughter, who is blonde with blue eyes, like Madeleine, and was so concerned she called police immediately.
Then an Ocean Club worker said he saw a British tourist "hiding" in a stairwell outside the apartment at 6pm on the night Madeleine vanished, just 12 metres from the flat.

Sunday 06 
January 2008

Murat given false alibi

It is revealed that a friend of suspect Robert Murat, 34, falsely told police the Brit expat was drunk in a cafe the night Madeleine vanished.

Murat insists he was at home with his mother Jenny, 71. A source told newspaper 24 Horas: "The friend guaranteed Murat was in a coffee shop about five kilometres from the Ocean Club. He said he left drunk."

Murat's lawyer Francisco Pagarete, said: "He tried to defend Robert and ended up prejudicing him. We can prove Murat was with his mother."

Monday 07 
January 2008

Claims that blood traces were definitely Madeleine's

It is claimed that blood traces discovered in Kate and Gerry McCann's hire car were from Madeleine. A Portuguese newspaper alleges that tests conducted at the FSS in Birmingham show conclusively that the blood is that of the four-year-old.

The Policia Judicaria apparently believe the tests back up the theory that the McCanns moved Madeleine after she died in their holiday appartment. A second blood sample reportedly found in their Praia da Luz holiday flat was also claimed to have come from Madeleine.

Daily newspaper Correio da Manha reported: "The definitive result of the tests recently sent from England leave no doubts for the Policia Judiciaria. The blood found in the McCanns’ car is that of Madeleine, as well as those samples detected in the flat rented by the English and where the child, then three years old, disappeared without trace.”

O'Brien and Tanner named as two who wanted to change story

Dr Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner are named as the two friends reported last year to have told police they wanted to change their account of that evening. Ms Tanner, 37, from Exeter, says she saw a mystery man carrying a child away from the flat at 9.15pm on the night Madeleine vanished. Police were said to believe Dr O'Brien, 36, wanted to change his statement to claim he also saw the man, newspaper 24 Horas reported.

But staff at the restaurant say Ms Tanner was at the table througout the meal and only left after Kate came running in shouting, "They've taken her", the newspaper reported. Dr O'Brien and Ms Tanner have denied contacting police to change their stories and sources close to the McCanns support that posistion.

Has Robert Murat been mistaken for David Payne? 

It is reported that witnesses who say they saw suspect Robert Murat outside Madeleine McCann’s apartment on the night she vanished may have named the wrong man. The 34-year-old ex-pat has always denied claims that he was just yards from the flat where the little girl was last seen – and now police believe he could be telling the truth.

Detectives think Murat could have been mistaken for one of the McCanns’ friends, 41-year-old medical researcher David Payne. And they say witnesses who claim to have seen Murat actually spotted Mr Payne out searching for the missing four-year-old. Mr Murat insists he never left his mum’s villa 150 yards away from the holiday flat in Praia da Luz, Portugal, that night. A source close to the investigation said: “The similarity between the two has rendered many witnesses’ accounts virtually worthless.”

But he added: "What is baffling is that Mr Payne’s own wife and two of his friends are among those who claim to have seen Mr Murat outside the McCanns’ apartment that night. Mrs Payne may not have known Mr Murat well but you’d think a wife would recognise her own husband."

Kate and Gerry McCann, both 39, the Paynes and five more of their friends on the ill-fated holiday in May are due to be re-interviewed by British detectives. The couple’s spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "We are confident the accounts of eyewitnesses ... were given in good faith. It is for the police to determine the value of identification evidence."

Payne and Murat profile

Robert Murat and David Payne


Walczuch suspect status denied
A claim that the lover of Robert Murat had herself been made a suspect in the case was denied today. Portuguese tabloid 24 Horas reported that Michaela Walczuch was named an arguida - or official suspect - in November and that her alibi is still being investigated by Portuguese detectives. But today Portuguese police officials denied the story and Mr Murat's lawyer Francisco Pagarete said only his client was an official suspect in the case. 

It had been claimed that Ms Walczuch, a 31-year-old German, gave evidence as a witness in November. However, the 24 Horas newspaper said that shortly after she began giving her statement her status was changed.

Mr Pagarete, who has spoken on behalf of Ms Walczuch, told 24 Horas: "In the eyes of public opinion, they both became arguidos in a crime they did not commit. Neither of them is free of suspicion, with all the material and psychological damage that a dramatic situation like this implies. Somebody will have to pay for this."

Mr Pagarete added that Mr Murat will sue the Portuguese and British authorities. Madeleine was three years old when she vanished.

Tuesday 08 
January 2008

Gail Cooper reports seeing 'creepy' man in Praia da Luz

A second British tourist has reported seeing a mystery man hanging around the McCanns' holiday flat just days before she vanished. Gail Cooper, 50, said she was confronted by the "creepy" stranger at her holiday villa in Portugal. He claimed he was collecting for an orphanage in the next village of Espiche.

She spotted him again two days later on Praia Da Luz beach. Gail, from Newark, Notts, said yesterday: "He was a horrible-looking man, really creepy, unkempt and dirty. He definitely wasn't Portuguese. He scared me."

Madeleine: The Movie

It is reported that Kate and Gerry McCann are in talks to turn the story of their missing daughter Madeleine into a movie. They are negotiating with one of the world’s largest talent and entertainment agencies, IMG, over the film in a deal which could be worth millions. The couple are also considering a book deal and selling interviews to television broadcasters with all proceeds going to the Madeleine Fund, the body set up to finance the search for the girl.

It is understood the enormous costs of funding the continued search for Madeleine is proving a strain on the fund. There are fears that the £1.2 million raised from public donations will soon run out. A source close to the McCanns said: "We would only get involved with something done sensitively and considerately." The team that made Touching The Void, an award-winning drama-documentary about the fight for survival of two British climbers lost on a mountain, are the most likely to be involved in the Maddy film project.

It will be discussed at a meeting of the fund's directors, including Gerry, tomorrow night at the McCanns' home in Rothley, Leicestershire. It is reported that the meeting tomorrow follows the resignation of key board members, including the fund's spokeswoman Esther McVey. 

Esther McVey resigns from the board of Madeleine's Fund

Mr Mitchell later confirmed reports that one of the directors of the fund, former GMTV presenter Esther McVey, had resigned from the board, but denied it was because of any rift with the McCanns. He said she wanted to concentrate on her role as a Conservative parliamentary candidate and was also about to start studying for a demanding MBA qualification.

"She has a lot of commitments and realised she could not devote the time she wanted to the fund," he said. "She felt the New Year would be a good time for the change, and spoke to Kate about her decision. Kate and Gerry were disappointed but they both understood her reasons. She is an old friend of Kate's and continues to support the fund."

Mr Mitchell said other directors might also want to "rotate" their position on the board, as it had created a lot more work than was originally anticipated in May.

Moves to interview the McCanns and their friends continue

It is later revealed that Portugal's public prosecutor Jose Magalhaes e Menezes is proceeding with legal moves to ask British police to interview Gerry and Kate McCann and the rest of the so-called Tapas Nine over their movements on the night of Madeleine McCann's disappearance. The news could suggest that detectives are ready to charge Mr and Mrs McCann.

A team of Policia Judicial investigators, lead by Paulo Rebelo, drafted a list of questions which were then revised and translated by the public prosecutor's office. They were approved by judge Pedro Frias, who is overseeing the investigation. The legal letters were sent on Monday afternoon by Mr Magalhaes e Menezes, the public prosecutor in Portimao, near Praia da Luz, through the EU body Eurojust.

British authorities will receive them by the end of the week and will then make preparations to interview the so-called Tapas Nine. Portuguese detectives will fly to the UK to sit in on the interviews, which will be carried out by officers from Leicestershire police.

Watch BBC News report on Madeleine film project

Wednesday 09 
January 2008
Madeleine's Fund running out of money?
It is reported that the search by Gerry and Kate McCann for their missing daughter may be grinding to a halt by the first anniversary of her disappearance because the Find Madeleine fund is running out of money. The fund, currently at £600,000, is spending £50,000 a month, mostly on the private detective agency Metodo 3.
By the end of March its directors expect it to have dwindled to £346,000 and they are aware that unless there is an injection of cash it will run dry by the summer. They recently spent £80,000 on a poster campaign in Spain and still owe Hanover International, a public relations company, money for work they did until November, when their involvement ended.
Clarence Mitchell, their official spokesman, said: "In theory by the summer the pot will run dry but we are taking steps to make sure that does not happen. Hopefully we would have found Madeleine by then." He said private donations from the public were still coming in, and the fund had been boosted by £100,000 following the Christmas appeal.

Thursday 10 
January 2008
Vanity Fair interview published
The McCanns' interview with Vanity Fair magazine is published. Link here
Metodo 3 facing the sack?
It emerges that the detective agency hired by the McCanns to locate their daughter is facing the sack. Metodo 3, which has cost Madeleine's Fund £50,000 a month since September, has so far failed to turn up any firm evidence of her whereabouts. Its director, Francisco Marco, has also angered the McCanns by boasting he knew where the four-year-old was.

With the agency's six-month contract running out in March, a McCann family source said: "We will carry on the search for Madeleine but not necessarily with Metodo 3. We are stuck with them to the end of the contracted period. "The question of whether it is renewed or not has still to be decided. They have faced not having their contract renewed ever since Francisco shot his mouth off. It was made clear what they were doing was foolish and unhelpful."

The fund's directors have not ruled out sacking the firm, which represents the not-for-profit company's single biggest expense.

Madeleine McCann lookalikes sought by agency

It is also revealed that Madeleine McCann lookalikes are being offered for hire by a talent agency at £600 an hour. The girls could play Madeleine in a film about her disappearance, according to Shona Juliet-Adams, the agency's owner. A spokesman for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry said the couple were deeply offended by the "scandalous" move.

Friday 11 
January 2008
Request to extend classification of case documents
Portuguese detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have asked the country's Attorney-General to keep the case documents classified beyond the usual time limit of eight months, officials said Friday.
Under Portuguese law, details of investigations are secret for the first eight months after police identify a formal suspect - a deadline that falls next week. However, police can ask for more time in exceptional cases. Official suspects, police and lawyers can be prosecuted if they discuss details of an open case in public while it is classified.
Portugal's national news agency Lusa, quoting an unidentified official at the Attorney-General's office, said police requested a three-month extension because of the "unusual complexity" of the case.

Saturday 12 
January 2008

Portuguese lawyer makes claims on Maddie's disappearance

Madeleine McCann was raped, murdered and her body dumped in a remote reservoir within 48 hours of her disappearance, a Portuguese lawyer has claimed. Marcos Correia said his information came from the underworld on May 6 - three days after she vanished. But he claims police failed to act because they believed her parents Kate and Gerry were involved.

The McCanns' private detective agency Metodo 3 is now investigating. Mr Correia fears a paedophile ring abducted Madeleine, four, and dumped her in the Barragem do Arade reservoir, near Silves, 40 miles from Praia da Luz where the family stayed.

He said: "The description I was given corresponds with the place perfectly." In October police combed the Reservoir da Brevura, 15 miles from Praia da Luz, for Madeleine. Metodo 3 is also probing a sighting in Silves on May 5 of a woman, said to look like suspect Robert Murat's girlfriend Michaela Walczuch, handing a child to a man. Mr Correia said police also told him they think Madeleine may have been switched from one car to another in Silves.

Daniel Groom questioned by police 

A British gardener and odd-job man has been questioned by police investigating Madeleine McCann’s disappearance after a tip-off named him as a suspect. An anonymous email sent to Portuguese detectives claimed that Daniel Groom was spotted lurking in an alley close to the McCanns’ apartment on the night Madeleine vanished. It said Groom bears a striking resemblance to the person seen carrying a child away from the Ocean Club holiday complex in Praia da Luz that night.

Groom, 30, does have access to the complex because of his gardening duties. But he told the Daily Express yesterday that he was being set up. Speaking at his home just outside Praia da Luz, Groom, originally from Horsham, West Sussex, said: "I think I am being framed. I am the victim of a smear campaign by someone with a grudge against me. I’m just a gardener and can easily account for my movements that day. I wasn’t anywhere near the Ocean Club complex."

Groom was questioned informally by two Portuguese detectives on Thursday. He said: "On Tuesday I was followed by two uniformed police as I drove from my home to meet friends for drinks. During the week two detectives had arrived in town and begun asking friends about my whereabouts. I rang them after they left a message with a friend. I met them in a car park in Praia da Luz. Their English wasn’t perfect and neither is my Portuguese so I brought along a mate who can speak both."

"They were two detectives from the Lisbon area, a good cop and a bad cop. One guy was quite small and smoked a cigar. The other guy was really fat, wore girly sunglasses and kept looking around him all the time. The small guy told me to take off my cap and sunglasses and took a photo of me."

Groom, who moved to Portugal 11 years ago, was questioned for about an hour. He was shown a copy of the email linking him to Madeleine’s disappearance on May 3 last year.

The message read:

'Is it a coincidence that this man started working as a gardener in the area and a child went missing? Maybe he walked through the car park at the front of the McCanns’ apartment and a little way down the dark alley between the two buildings where he could see and probably hear that the McCanns were there. After that maybe he listened at the window of the McCanns’ apartment for any sign that someone such as a babysitter was there. No television…nothing. Did this man initially see the McCanns and Madeleine whilst working on an empty apartment/villa and note that the children were left alone? Did he then come back to watch the McCanns when it was dark and not during daylight hours?'

Groom said he was shocked by the email. "I told the police it was all complete rubbish. After speaking in the car park we drove to the Ocean Club. The detectives pointed out a place where I was supposed to have been seen. Hand on my heart, I have never been in that back corridor. After a few minutes they said they thought it was all b******t. They said if they needed to talk to me again they would, but they thought they were barking up the wrong tree."

Sunday 13 
January 2008
McCanns return to Portugal Sunday Mirror

EXCLUSIVE Kate and Gerry set date in April for Algarve showdown They'll tell cops: show your evidence or clear us for good

By Lori Campbell 13/01/2008

Despairing Kate and Gerry McCann are planning to return to Portugal for a face-to-face showdown with police who think they killed their daughter Madeleine.

The pair, who are official suspects - arguidos in Portuguese - hope to call the bluff of detectives and demand to be cleared for good.

Their decision to return to Praia Da Luz after leaving the resort four months ago comes amid yet more agony for them as the case against them is expected to be EXTENDED for another three months tomorrow.

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said last night: "These unending delays are inhumane. Two parents who have been going through an unimaginable nightmare are being forced to wait another three months. It will be almost a year since their daughter went missing, and even then there could be yet another extension.

"Meanwhile the Portuguese police aren't even looking for Madeleine, and that is heart-breaking for Kate and Gerry."

A close friend said the the couple were likely to go back after their "D-Day" of April 11, when their three-month extension is up, and added: "They feel they've waited long enough with this cloud of suspicion hanging over them. They know their return would be very high-profile. They believe investigators do not have the evidence against them to bring charges, and their presence in Portugal would embarrass them. They've so far held off going back there, but they see it as their trump card."

The McCanns made the heartbreaking decision to go home to Rothley, Leicester, without their four-year-old daughter on September 9, fearing they would be framed by police.

Despite repeated calls from the McCanns' lawyers, detectives have since failed to reveal any concrete evidence against the couple - or even keep them informed of any new leads in the hunt for Madeleine.

The Portuguese judicial secrecy laws surrounding the investigation officially expire tomorrow - eight months after the first suspect, Robert Murat, was named. The McCanns had hoped for the case files to be opened so they could see the evidence against them and begin the process of clearing their names. But state prosecutor Jose Magalhaese Menezes on Friday took the unusual step of urging Judge Pedro Frias to grant a three-month extension.

He claims this case is "exceptionally complicated" and therefore requires more time. It means the couple face remaining as suspects until at least April 11, and are still barred from speaking publicly about the investigation. But they have vowed that if the case drags on again after that date, they will make the brave journey back to Portugal.

"It would come just weeks before the first anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance on May 3.

Our source said: "They see April 11 as their D-day. They have decided to give the police reasonable time to clear them, or at least open the case files so they can see the evidence against them."

The McCanns and the Tapas Seven - the friends who dined with them the night Madeleine disappeared - are still waiting for Portuguese detectives to fly back to the UK to interview them again. But we can reveal the process has almost ground to a halt because of bureaucracy.

The Policia Judiciaria in Portugal have only now submitted paperwork to Eurojust - an EU body set up to help judicial cooperation across countries - which has to approve the proposal and contact the Home Office in the UK.

And British Authorities then have to grant permission for UK police to interview the McCanns and the Tapas Seven with Portuguese officers present.

Mr Mitchell said: "It is impossible for a policeman to get on a plane and come over without a ridiculous amount of paperwork. All they want to do is go over so-called inconsistencies in the friends' statements. To our knowledge they have no forensic evidence against Kate and Gerry, and yet it is taking months and months."

Meanwhile family friend Jon Corner told last night how the couple's determination to find Madeleine has not wavered since the day she went missing.

He said: "I have known Kate and Gerry for many years, but I have never admired them as much as I do now. They have so much energy and drive to keep looking for Madeleine, and have as much urgency today as they did on May 3 to find her.

"Kate feels exactly the same now as she did on that night. Whenever I speak to her, she says 'Where is my daughter? What can we do to find her?' They refuse to sit around doing nothing but dwelling on their grief. They feel she is alive but the clock is ticking to find her.

"They are deeply frustrated because their suspect status means the police are only interested in building a case against them, however ludicrous it is, and are not putting any effort at all into looking for Madeleine."

Jon, who is a director of the Find Madeleine Fund, said the McCanns are also focused on getting a Europewide system in place to help prevent other children being abducted.

He said: "Madeleine was snatched by a calculated group of criminals, we are sure of that. We need to be calculated in finding her, and also in preventing this ever happening again. There is no joined-up system in Europe to protect children against paedophiles. If there is one ounce of goodness to come of Madeleine's disappearance, it would be for other children to be saved from the same fate."

Portuguese newspaper 24 Horas yesterday claimed that while Gerry has gone back to work as a heart specialist full-time, Kate is so distraught she barely leaves home.

But Jon, who is godfather to twins Sean and Amelie, said: "Kate is not falling apart. She is constantly in touch with the directors of the fund, trying to push things forward and think of new ideas that might help find Madeleine."

He also said the McCanns are frustrated by the failure of the Portuguese police to follow-up potential leads.

He said: "Our greatest fear is that the vital clue that would lead us to Madeleine is sat on a desk in a police station in Portugal gathering dust."

'The whole case has ground to a halt in confusion'

Monday 14 
January 2008
Image released showing Madeleine as she may look now
A haunting picture of Madeleine McCann as she might look today should be used in the hunt to find the four-year-old, a former police chief said yesterday. State-of-the-art "age advancement" digital techniques were used by an FBI expert to create the image, which shows how Madeleine might have changed over the eight months since she disappeared.

Former assistant chief constable John Stalker called for the picture to be used in the search to find the missing child. He told The People newspaper, which commissioned the image: "This shows the little girl we should now be looking for. My first thought when I saw the image was 'Who is this little stranger?' It was only after looking closer that I realised it was her - and that is why this image is needed so badly because many people could have walked straight past her."

New York Police Department forensic artist Stephen Mancusi who also advises the FBI, altered a photograph of Madeleine to show how she might look after eight months in the hands of an abductor.

How Madeleine may look now


Jenny Murat speaks out to the BBC
Jenny Murat, Robert Murat's mother, records an exclusive interview for the BBC in which she expresses anger that the family cannot get on with their lives.

Tuesday 15 
January 2008
Policia Judiciaria in contact with Eurojust
Portuguese police, seeking to re-interview the McCanns and their friends, are confirmed to be in contact with the British authorities via Eurojust. The Portuguese public prosecutor contacted Eurojust - the European Union's Judicial co-operation agency - at the start of January. Its spokesman, Joannes Thuy, said on Tuesday: "I can confirm that Eurojust was asked to be the go-between for the Portuguese and the UK authorities."

Eurojust, based in The Hague, Holland, was formed in 2002 and is made up of 27 prosecutors and judges, one from each of the EU's member states. Its role is to help European investigators and prosecutors exchange requests for information and assistance in cases of serious crime involving more than one country.
Portuguese TV plans 26-part series around Madeleine McCann
It is reported that TV chiefs in Portugal are planning to make a 26-episode series about Madeleine McCann. It has been written by policeman turned criminologist Francisco Moita Flores, who blames Kate and Gerry McCann for their daughter’s disappearance. Last night a friend of the McCanns said: “This is absolutely disgusting.

“Not only are the people behind this cashing in on a poor little girl’s disappearance, but it also looks like they are planning to point the finger at her heartbroken parents. Any TV channel who buys it will be paying blood money for it. People should remember Madeleine is a real little girl and not some character from a soap opera. Her parents have real feelings. They will support anything that helps find her – but not downmarket shows aimed at titillating entertainment.”

Wednesday 16 
January 2008
Spanish girl, Mari Luz Cortes, 5, goes missing from Huelva

It is reported that Metodo 3 are investigating the disappearance of a young Spanish girl, Mari Luz Cortes, 5, who vanished on Sunday in the Spanish border town of Huelva, 120 miles from Praia da Luz. Police officers have been scouring the area for the girl, and Portuguese detectives have also been carrying out searches on their side of the border.

Kate and Gerry's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said that there were "comparisons" between the disappearance of this girl and Madeleine but emphasised that it was too early to say if the two cases were linked. He said: "Our investigators, Metodo 3 are working very closely with the Spanish police in the first instance, and with the family to establish whether there are any links or similarities."

Martin Bell slams BBC coverage of the McCann case

Former BBC reporter Martin Bell today accused the corporation of wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money in their coverage of Madeleine McCann's disappearance. Mr Bell was particularly scathing of the BBC's decision to send presenter Huw Edwards to Portugal to anchor a news bulletin there and to pay for a helicopter to follow Kate and Gerry McCann's car as they drove home from East Midlands airport in September.

"I am calling it the death of news," he said. "It is the stupidification of the news agenda. It is pretty obvious television news has lost its way not just with the McCann case but that has been extreme."

Thursday 17 
January 2008
McCanns face long wait to see police files
Kate and Gerry McCann may have to wait another eight months to see secret police files outlining evidence against them. A judge has reportedly ruled the couple will not be able to see incriminating case papers until September at the earliest.

Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha reports that a highly-placed judicial source has told the paper: "The Madeleine McCann process will never become public before September 15 this year, a year after Portugal's new Penal Code came into force.

"The decision was taken by Pedro Frias on September 18 2007 who considered that the maintenance of judicial secrecy for a year was required by the rules that emerged from the judicial reform. The judge felt the deadlines only began to count from the start of the new code."

Fellow arguido, Robert Murat, would also be affected by the decision. There can be no appeal, according to the paper. A source said: "The judge's position is not unique but it is a controversial one."

Concern mounts over delay by British authorities

Concern is mounting in Portugal over the time British authorities are taking to respond to official requests to interview the McCanns' friends and seize the couple's personal items, including 39-year-old Kate's diary.

French website, SOS Madeleine McCann, claims that an internal source from the British Home Office confirmed yesterday that the letters of request from the Portuguese authorities, calling for the interrogation of several British citizens, including friends of the couple McCann, indeed arrived, but the Secretary of State for the Interior, Jacqui Smith, had decided not to grant them an immediate response.

However, the Home Office issued a statement later, in response to e-mails received from members of the Mirror Forum, which stated: "Please be advised, we have been asked by the Home Office to give their response to this thread, which follows:

“It is not our usual policy to comment on individual cases, however the Home Office has not received a formal request for Mutual Legal Assistance concerning the McCann investigation. It is not appropriate to comment further.”

Friday 18 
January 2008
Kate sends message to parents of missing Spanish girl
Kate McCann has sent an emotional message to the parents of a missing Spanish girl, telling them: "I feel your pain". Mrs McCann and her husband Gerry were "sickened" by the suspected abduction of five-year-old Mari Luz Cortes, their spokesman said, and yesterday offered to put her picture on appeal posters about their own daughter's disappearance in May last year. Kate, told ex-professional footballer dad Juan Jose Cortes and his shell-shocked wife Irene Suarez they were in her thoughts.

Mari Luz Cortes, five, disappeared as she went to buy crisps near her home in Huelva, south west Spain, around 5pm on Sunday. Juan, 34, now a builder, said today: "Kate McCann has been in touch to transmit her condolences. She knows what we're going through and I understand them now too."

A family friend added: "Knowing they have the support of Gerry and Kate has been comforting. They have been touched by the fact someone who is going through her own turmoil can find the strength to think of them in their moment of need."

Saturday 19 
January 2008
Joao Cipriano makes angry outburst
Convicted killer Joao Cipriano, 35, says Kate and Gerry McCann would have been 'tortured, charged and condemned' by now if they had been Portuguese suspects. He said if the couple were not foreigners in Portugal they would have been tortured into confessing and then jailed over their daughter Madeleine's disappearance.

He and his sister Leonor, 36, claim they were forced into confessing to a crime they did not commit – the murder of Leonor's daughter Joana, who went missing in 2004 - and have warned that the McCanns could be framed by the police.

They are serving 16-year prison sentences for the killing but insist they are innocent, and are taking their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Sunday 20 
January 2008
Sketches of Gail Cooper's 'creepy' prowler released

Two sketches are released by the McCanns based on the testimony of grandmother Gail Cooper, who had been staying just 500 yards from Gerry and Kate McCanns' holiday apartment. She told police how she came face to face with the "disturbing" man hanging around the resort three times. Based on her descriptions, an FBI-trained artist produced a likeness of the suspect whom, it is reported, British and Portuguese police and Interpol are now desperately trying to trace.

The McCanns' official spokesman Clarence Mitchell said it was vital to trace the man as soon as possible. At a press conference in London, he said: "Who is he? Where is he? What, if any, is his connection to Madeleine's disappearance? If he is innocent we want him to come forward for his own sake so he can be ruled out. We believe this man could be linked to Madeleine's disappearance. We need to find this man and find him quickly."

An FBI-trained forensic artist sketched Gail Cooper's description and a million posters of it are now being distributed around Portugal, Spain and North Africa.

The 'Creepy' Prowler

The 'Creepy' Prowler


Monday 21 
January 2008
Four witnesses are alleged to have seen Gail Cooper's 'creepy' prowler
It is reported that four key witnesses could have seen the man shown in a new sketch of a potential suspect. The four witnesses may have seen the unidentified man - first on the night the three-year-old went missing, then later with named suspect Robert Murat, and finally in Morocco.
Jane Tanner, said she was "80 per cent sure" he was the one depicted in the artist's impression.
Isabel Gonzalez, who said she saw Madeleine with a Berber woman in Morocco, said the sketch looked "very similar" to a man she saw immediately after the sighting.

Amanda Mills, 34, from Basildon, Essex, claimed to have spotted a man trying to break into a bedroom window at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz a week before Madeleine disappeared from the complex. She claims there are "strong similarities" between the man she saw and the new sketch.

Nanny Charlotte Pennington's description of a person she saw with Mr Murat also matches the man shown in the artist's impression.

However, Portuguese police have dismissed the sketch as having "no credibility". Officers have accused the McCanns of diverting attention away from themselves. Carlos Anjos, president of the Judicial Police Inspectors Union, said: "All sense has been completely lost."

Another police source said the picture was based on information "without any consistency", shows a man who could be one of "hundreds of people" and is "another diversionary manoeuvre".

Tuesday 22 
January 2008

Parents of Mari Luz Cortes consider hiring Metodo 3

It is reported that the parents of missing Spanish youngster Mari Luz Cortes want to hire Metodo 3. The five-year-old's family plan to hire the same detectives as hired by Kate and Gerry McCann if police fail to come up with clues to her whereabouts by the start of next week. The McCanns have offered to put pictures of Mari Luz's face alongside Madeleine's on posters in Spain, Portugal and north Africa.

Police have said they do not think there is any connection between the two - but Spanish detectives hunting the five-year-old have yet to come up with any firm leads.

Metodo 3 is not thought to have agreed to work exclusively for the McCanns. But any acceptance of other contracts is bound to raise questions about its ability to discover the Brit youngster when it is costing the Find Madeleine Fund hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Mari Luz's parents have not revealed how they plan to pay for Metodo 3's services. But they are thought to be searching for a wealthy donor to back their idea. An appeal fund set up shortly after their daughter went missing has just £300 in it.

Wednesday 23 
January 2008

DNA technology breakthrough

Revolutionary DNA technology which could catch thousands more criminals every year is finally set to be cleared for use by police.

DNAboost - which allows scientists to unravel mixed and previously unusable genetic samples - was hailed for its crime-fighting potential by former Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2006.

Experts believe the powerful software will identify up to 6,000 extra suspects annually, and could also help in cases such as that of missing Madeleine McCann - where forensic evidence appears to have been difficult to analyse.

However, despite impressive results from pilot schemes in Yorkshire, Humberside and Northumbria, police have been banned from using the tool for more than 12 months.

The long delay led detectives and scientists to complain that the technology was falling victim to a "turf war" over the National DNA Database.

The Forensic Science Service (FSS) - which developed DNAboost - was stripped of control over the bank of 3.5 million samples in December 2005, when it was made an independent Government-backed company.

A Home Office strategy board including representatives from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) and the Association of Police Authorities (Apa) now decides how the database can be used.

A spokeswoman for the department confirmed that the strategy board had delivered its recommendation, and the matter had been passed to the Attorney General for final sign-off.

A source close to the project said DNAboost was the "most validated DNA technology in history".

They said: "This is the biggest step forward in crime-fighting science for more than a decade, and it has taken far too long to get clearance. It looks like it's finally getting authorised, but we could have caught thousands of criminals while they have gone through these hoops."

Link to Daily Express report quoted above

Mirror Forum closed

The influential and informative Madeleine McCann forum on the Daily Mirror website is shut down without warning. A statement on the site says:

'Sadly, due to persistent and serious abuses, we will no longer be hosting discussions regarding Madeleine McCann on this website. We do not take this action lightly, believing this website should be a place for free and frank discussion across the broadest possible range of subjects. But the level of debate on the Maddy forums has gone way beyond what we consider acceptable, with several recent incidents of extremely abusive postings, both against fellow users and the McCanns. We will not tolerate this kind of behaviour from a small handful of malign voices and have taken the unprecedented decision to block all further discussion on the McCanns. We remind all users of our guidelines for, which can be found here: Any further abuse of the spirit of this decision will result in users being immediately banned from our website. is a family website. We want to encourage debate, even argument, across our forums. We are confident this decision will be understood and welcomed by the vast majority of our right-minded users.'

Thursday 24 
January 2008
LCN DNA technique questioned
Questions are raised again about the reliability of the Low Copy Number (LCN) method of DNA testing. LCN works by amplifying microscopic particles of DNA to larger samples which can then be analysed. It has been widely reported that the technique has been used on forensic samples gathered in the Madeleine McCann case.
Doubts over the technique were first raised after the acquital of Sean Hoey, in the Omagh bomb case, and heavy criticism of the technique from the judge. The Crown Prosecution Service initially suspended the use of LCN DNA after the Omagh judgment but has since reinstated the technique. A spokesman said: ''The CPS has not seen anything to suggest that any current problems exist with LCN. Accordingly, we conclude that LCN DNA analysis should remain available as potentially admissible evidence.''
Another Robert Murat lookalike emerges
Following on from the recently highlighted visual similarities between Robert Murat and David Payne, the Daily Mirror reports another uncanny lookalike of Murat who works just yards from the complex resort where Madeleine disappeared.

It is reported that British estate agent Angus Symington, 37, has almost identical hair, complexion, facial features, height and build and wears similar glasses. There is no suggestion he was involved in the abduction. But Murat thinks eight witnesses who say they saw him near the complex may have seen Angus instead. Murat, 34, is reported to have gasped at the stunning likeness when the Daily Mirror showed him Angus's photos yesterday.

He said: "I'm shocked and amazed. I've never seen this guy, yet the hairline, the could be me." His uncle Ralph Eveleigh added: "They're very similar."

Angus's firm is a few hundred yards away from Maddy's Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz, Portugal, and it sells flats in the same chain. Murat said suspicion should not fall on the estate agent and added: "People work. He has every reason to be at the Ocean Club. I wouldn't want what happened to me to happen to anyone else."

Yesterday, married Angus said he had left work and was at home with his family when Maddy, four, went missing on the night of May 3. He said: "I categorically was not around. I live 10 kilometres from here. It couldn't have been me."

Angus Symington and Robert Murat
Angus Symington and Robert Murat - Pic: Solarpix


Gail Cooper's 'Creepyman' is local pig farmer
The man in the new image released by Kate and Gerry McCann as a possible suspect in Madeleine's disappearance has been found and is a local pig farmer who has now been ruled out of the case.
The man, who has been named as Joaquim Jose Marques, was discovered living five miles from the holiday resort in the Algarve but police say he is not connected to the case. The discovery rules out reports that there was also an accomplice involved.
The farmer was originally contacted by Portugal's criminal investigation department 20 days after Madeleine vanished aged three. After the image was released this week, they got in touch with him again. He was interviewed yesterday by Portuguese police and was ruled out of the hunt for Madeleine McCann's abductor.
The dishevelled looking worker lives close to a village called Pedragosa, which is about five miles from the resort of Praia da Luz.

Joaquim Jose Marques/'Creepy' Prowler
Click to enlarge

Joaquim Jose Marques/'Creepyman'
Joaquim Jose Marques/'Creepyman'


The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, later said: "Our investigators have not been informed that the man we are seeking has been ruled out. We have no reason to believe he has been ruled out and our search for the man in our image is very much continuing.

"Our understanding is that the man reported to be linked to our image bears no resemblance. For instance, he has dreadlocks and Gail Cooper most definitely would have spotted those."

Friday 25 
January 2008
'Creepyman' revealed to be rapist
The pig farmer in the sketch of Madeleine McCann's alleged abductor has been identified as the man who raped a British tourist in the town where the three-year-old disappeared. Joaquim Jose Marques raped his teenage victim while an accomplice targeted her friend, the Portuguese daily newspaper Diario de Noticias reported today.

Marques, who has a daughter of Madeleine's age, was sentenced to five years in jail in 1996 after being found guilty of the 1995 attack in Praia da Luz.His unnamed accomplice was also convicted of rape, the paper added. The girls, both British and aged 17 and 18, were said to have been staying with a relative at the time. Dreadlocked Marques, nicknamed Quim Ze, was also a known gun-runner and drug trafficker, the paper claimed.

McCanns accused of wasting Madeleine's Fund money

Kate and Gerry McCann were accused today of wasting ''astonishing'' sums of money raised by public donations by looking for their missing daughter Madeleine in Morocco.

Private investigators, paid £50,000 a month to find the girl, have always maintained she is alive after being kidnapped to order by a paedophile gang and taken to north Africa. Barcelona-based agency Metodo 3 has invested huge sums in teams checking out reported sightings of Madeleine in the Rif mountains of northern Morocco and in Marrakech in the south. One theory is that the three-year-old was abducted and brought here after vanishing from the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz while on a family holiday on 3 May.

But an Evening Standard investigation shows this suggestion is almost certainly a myth fuelled by tourists who have mistaken blonde local girls in Rif for Madeleine. Blondes are quite common among the Berber population but rare enough for them to stand out among the darkhaired and dark-skinned majority.

Sources close to the McCanns conceded today that Metodo 3's investigations in north Africa were based purely on sightings but insisted each one had to be checked out. Meanwhile, the Madeleine Fund, set up to find the girl, is running out of the estimated £1 million raised from donations.

Mark Williams-Thomas, a former detective and managing director of child protection consultancy WT Associates, said: ''It is an astonishing amount of money that is being spent focusing on Morocco. There is a big difference between a sighting and information. Unless you have definite information that suggests she is in Morocco then it seems pointless. The likelihood of Madeleine being taken out of Portugal is very slim. I would be concentrating more on Portugal than anywhere else. To me, it holds the key.''

George Joffe, a professor at King's College London and an expert on north Africa, said: ''It strikes me as wishful thinking that Madeleine is in Morocco. The fact is, blonde, blue-eyed children in northern Morocco are not uncommon. It is not an indication they are stolen.''

Gerry goes to watch rugby

Gerry visits Edgeley Park, the home of Sale Sharks Rugby Club, to watch their evening match with Harlequins, in the company of Clarence Mitchell and Sale owner, and chief McCann financier, Brian Kennedy.

Sporting Life says: 'The Sharks' efforts drew rich applause from Gerry McCann, who sat alongside Sale owner Brian Kennedy in the directors' box. Kennedy, a millionaire businessman, has given McCann and his wife Kate financial support in their bid to find their daughter Madeleine who was last seen in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve, Portugal on May 3 last year - shortly before her fourth birthday.'

The Stockport Express, on 30 January 2008, reports the following:

Heartbreak dad Gerry McCann took time out from the frantic search for his missing daughter Madeleine to watch Sale Sharks beat Harlequins at Edgeley Park on Friday. Mr McCann and his legal adviser Clarence Mitchell were guests of Sharks’ millionaire owner Brian Kennedy.

Mr Kennedy, a previous owner of Stockport County, who sold the football club to the supporters’ trust, has been a staunch supporter of the McCann family’s campaign to find Madeleine. The youngster’s disappearance in Portugal last May, just days before her fourth birthday, sparked a worldwide hunt, and since then Gerry and his wife Kate have been at the centre of the media spotlight.

It has been widely reported that the McCann family’s spokesman Clarence Mitchell’s £75,000 salary, is being paid by Mr Kennedy and further help is being given by his lawyer Ed Smethurst.

Mr Kennedy told the Stockport Express yesterday: "Gerry McCann came out (to the match) for a couple of hours to help clear his mind. I wouldn’t want this to compromise our campaign to find Madeleine. I remain absolutely committed to the campaign to find Madeleine and my support goes on."

Gerry watches rugby at Edgeley Park

Saturday 26 
January 2008
McCanns in talks for £1million chat show deal
The parents of Madeleine McCann are in talks to strike a £1million deal with two of America's biggest chat show stars. Kate and Gerry McCann are at the centre of a bidding war between Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters.

Both celebrities are desperate to land an exclusive deal for the couple to talk about their missing daughter. If it goes ahead, it will be the largest publicly-known amount ever paid for a broadcast interview.
The McCanns, both 39, say they have been forced to consider the bids because their £1.2million Find Madeleine appeal fund is expected to run dry by June. But the move, expected to earn them £1million, will horrify those who have already accused them of cashing in since their daughter, then three, vanished from their holiday apartment in Portugal last May.

The couple's representatives have already met with producers to discuss turning the eight-month investigation into the disappearance into a film and could earn up to another £1million from selling the film and book rights. Earlier this month, they faced widespread criticism over their decision to give an interview to glossy society magazine Vanity Fair.

Last night, their spokesman Clarence Mitchell confirmed that representatives of Mr and Mrs McCann had held talks with producers from both shows, which attract huge audiences in the U.S. But he denied they were selling their story to the highest bidder and said money would not be the deciding factor. The couple will appear on the show which can best help to search for Madeleine, he insisted.

"We have been approached by representatives for both Oprah and Barbara," he added. "They want an exclusive interview with Kate and Gerry. We are discussing it but it doesn't mean we are definitely doing it. Nothing has been agreed." Mr Mitchell said the McCanns would only agree to a deal which would widen the search for their daughter.

The couple, both doctors, also want to campaign for a better Europe-wide alert system for missing children, based on an American model. But the prospect of them appearing on a chat show sofa while they remain official suspects in Madeleine's disappearance will enrage their critics.

A source close to the McCanns said their representatives had spoken most with Miss Walters' producers at ABC News. The friend said: "She is like royalty and has done every major interview, with the presidents and the biggest stars. Her people claim to have the biggest show in the States." Mr and Mrs McCann have until now always shunned offers from chat shows, saying they want to be perceived as ordinary parents, not as celebrities.

The successful bidder for their story could face disappointment about how much they could actually reveal on any chat show. As suspects, they are barred by strict Portuguese secrecy laws from discussing any aspect of the case itself, including the events of the night of May 3 when Madeleine vanished from their apartment in Praia da Luz on the Algrave.

But they have given a handful of interviews since being made suspects, in which they have discussed their feelings about that development and continued to appeal for their daughter's safe return.

McCanns try to 'play down' bidding war 

Sky News reports that Kate and Gerry McCann have been approached to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show and for an interview with American network ABC. The couple's spokesman confirmed that they had been approached by US TV executives.

It had been reported that missing Madeleine McCanns' parents were at the centre of a bidding war worth £1m between Winfrey and ABC star Barbara Walters. Both are said to want an exclusive interview with the couple. However, the McCanns and Winfrey's camp were quick to play down talk of a bidding war.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said they had been approached by both chat show programmes but said no money had been discussed. He also categorically ruled out any interview while Madeleine's parents remained arguidos - suspects - and distanced them from talk of any sort of price war between networks.

Sighting of Madeleine reported in Chile

Police said Friday they are checking a report of an alleged sighting in northern Chile of British girl Madeleine McCann, who disappeared in May last girl from the Portuguese sea resort of Praia da Luz. Police chief Segundo Leyton, head of the police unit specialized in the search of missing people, said the investigation was ordered after a man, who was not identified by name, reported seeing "a couple of foreigners" with a girl who looked like Madeleine in the city if Vicuna, 500 kilometers, (350 miles) north of Santiago. Leyton said the man, a refrigeration technician, told police that the man "looked very much like" a suspected kidnapper of Madeleine whose artist's sketch was released recently by the girl's parents.
McCanns discuss new documentary
It is reported that Kate and Gerry McCann are holding talks with broadcasters about a second TV documentary on their daughter's disappearance, a spokesman for the couple said on Saturday. The couple would request a ''donation'' to the Find Madeleine appeal fund in exchange for their involvement.
The McCanns hope the documentary will put pressure on European countries to adopt an alert system similar to one used in the United States to provide rapid notification to all states when a child goes missing. The AMBER system, standing for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, is named after Amber Hagerman, a Texas girl kidnapped and murdered in 1996.
The McCanns are unhappy that, when the youngster went missing just before her fourth birthday in the resort of Praia da Luz, Spanish border officials were not informed by their Portuguese counterparts until 12 hours later.
"We've talked to a few broadcasters and one or two are minded to look at it," the McCann's spokesman Clarence Mitchell told Reuters of the documentary proposal. "We're not selling Kate and Gerry, we're trying to produce something positive. If Madeleine were never found and if some sort of legacy for her was a system which would mean that no other family was ever in this terrible position again, then at least some good would have come out of this."

Mitchell confirmed the McCanns had been approached to do interviews with U.S. broadcasters Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters, but the couple's status as formal suspects in Portugal prohibited them from taking part.

Portuguese construction worker questioned

'gibfocus' reports that a Portuguese construction worker in Gibraltar was questioned by Royal Gibraltar Police on Thursday after he was reported to resemble the photofit of a man seen in the area of Praia da Luz before Madeleine McCann disappeared last year.

Local police have been in contact with Portuguese police according to local media reports.

The man was not arrested and was released on the same day.

Sunday 27 
January 2008
Another 'Creepyman-lookalike' revealed

'Creepyman'/Joaquim Agostinho
'Creepyman'/Joaquim Agostinho

Joaquim Agostinho/'Creepyman'
Joaquim Agostinho/'Creepyman'


A mystery loner who admits he bears an uncanny resemblance to an artist's drawing of a "creepy" suspect in the Maddie McCann kidnap hunt said : "It's not me in the picture."

But when eyewitness Gail Cooper, who helped create the sketches, saw the scruffy man's photo she gasped: "Oh my God, that's so like him. He's the spitting image of the man I saw three times at the resort where Madeleine vanished. It's deeply shocking to see my drawing come to life. His cold, emotionless eyes sent a chill right through me." The 50-year-old granny added: "I thought there'd be no doubt in my mind if I saw him again."

When the News of the World tracked down the mystery man in the photo, Joaquim Agostinho, 42, who lives a 90-minute drive from the resort, he said: "I did not kill Madeleine and I've never been to Praia da Luz. I cannot even drive. I accept that the drawing looks like me. All my friends have been laughing about it during the week saying how much it looks like me."

The Daily Mail later reports that detectives from Metodo 3 want to speak to Joaquim Agostinho "as a priority" after a witness, Gail Cooper, said he was identical to a man she saw in Praia da Luz. Mr Agostinho was spotted 90 miles away in the Algarve resort of Altura after two British tourists complained they had been followed by a prowler, who they said had also targeted children.

Mrs Cooper, 50, was shown a photograph of Mr Agostinho and said: "He's the spitting image of the man I saw three times at the resort where Madeleine vanished."

A source close to Metodo 3 said: "We are going to be talking to this man as a priority, to establish if he is the man in question, who Mrs Cooper saw. "We are moving our people to speak with this man as soon as possible."

Mr Agostinho has denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance. The former cockle-picker, 42, who now ekes out a living delivering newspapers, said: "I did not kill Madeleine and I've never been to Praia da Luz."

McCanns say Murat not kidnapper

Kate and Gerry McCann are certain original suspect Robert Murat is not the man who snatched their daughter Madeleine. But private detectives searching for the missing four-year-old still believe he may have acted as a “spotter” for a kidnap gang targeting the McCann family. The couple have now revealed how they never thought the expatriate was responsible. Despite doubts over his alibi, they have ruled out the 34-year-old after a major  probe in Praia da Luz.

A 10-strong squad of investigators mounted an undercover operation finding “strong” proof he was in the vicinity after Madeleine’s disappearance. Several witnesses gave statements to Spanish detectives from the Metodo 3 agency, claiming they had chatted with Murat after the alarm was raised by Kate at 10pm. The couple’s lawyers sent petitions to senior Portuguese police to re-interview him.

One theory is that Murat – going through an expensive divorce – may have been paid by a paedophile gang to select a child. A friend of the McCanns said last night: “Privately Kate and Gerry have always believed that Murat was not the man who took Madeleine. However, they do not think he should be cleared because there is enough evidence to suggest he could have been a spotter for a gang. Murat has told the police that he was not at the apartment on the night she went missing but lots of people saw him and he went round introducing himself saying, ‘Hi, I’m Robert’. He still has a lot of questions to answer.”

His lawyer Francisco Pagarette said: “Robert is very happy to hear what they think now but the fact is that it is ridiculous to suggest he helped anyone else take the child.” 

Sighting in Chile is not Madeleine

(translated from Spanish report)

The Chilean Jorge Marchant Martinez (51), grandfather of the American girl in Chile confused with the small Briton Madeleine McCann who disappeared in Portugal eight months ago, was sorry that the fact has produced false hopes for the parents of the child.

The presumed sighting of the girl, in the city of Vicuña, 500 km to the north of Santiago, had been communicated to the police by a person whose identity was not revealed and who indicated that the child was accompanied by two foreign adults.

Police sources indicated that the witness considered that the grandfather of the child, was "very similar to the person who appears in the press", in reference to a suspect whose likeness was published in various countries.

Nevertheless the police investigations determined that it was only a grandfather taking a stroll with two of his grandchildren. 

Monday 28 
January 2008
Alastair Campbell blasts media coverage of Madeleine McCann case

Alastair Campbell has lambasted the media's "culture of negativity", accusing newspaper and television outlets of sacrificing fairness and accuracy for speed and sensation. Campbell, Tony Blair's former director of communications, said there had been a "significant fall in basic standards" in journalism despite the growth of traditional media's output and the publishing explosion on the internet.

While the media easily became bored with stories, there were some that drowned out coverage of anything else, he added, citing the disappearance of Madeleine McCann last year.

"It quickly became a commodity in which most of the media got close to hysteria, and some have remained there," Campbell said today, delivering the Cudlipp lecture at the London College of Communication, in memory of the late Daily Mirror editor Hugh Cudlipp.

"It has been the worst example of recent times, on a par with coverage of Princess Diana, of some newspapers thinking the word Madeleine sells, and finding literally any old nonsense to keep her name in that selling position on the front. Mature, stable and fair it is not. Unfair and exploitative it is."

Metodo 3 to quiz 'Creepyman' lookalike

It is reported that detectives are to quiz a drifter who newspapers say looks uncannily like a mystery suspect in Maddie McCann’s disappearance. Joaquim Agostinho, 42, denies he is the creepy man depicted in a sketch issued by parents Kate and Gerry McCann. But Metodo 3, the Spanish private investigators hired by the McCanns, are taking the possibility seriously.

A source close to Metodo 3 said: ''We are going to be talking to this man as a priority, to establish if he is the one Mrs Cooper saw.'' When shown a photo of Agostinho, Gail, 50, of Newark, Notts, gasped: ''He’s the spitting image of the man I saw three times at the resort. It’s deeply shocking to see my drawing come to life.''

Unkempt Agostinho lives on disability benefit in Altura, 87 miles east of Praia da Luz. He said: ''People will claim the crazy guy is me — but I don’t even know where that Praia da Luz place is. I’ve never been there. I can’t even drive. I accept the drawing looks like me. But I did not kill Madeleine and the police haven’t spoken to me.'' 

Madeleine McCann: Oprah 'Bidding War' Is Played Down Sky News

9:22am UK, Monday January 28, 2008
Kate and Gerry McCann have been approached to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show and for an interview with American network ABC.
The couple's spokesman confirmed that they had been approached by US TV executives.
It had been reported that missing Madeleine McCanns' parents were at the centre of a bidding war worth £1m between Winfrey and ABC star Barbara Walters.
Both are said to want an exclusive interview with the couple.
However, the McCanns and Winfrey's camp were quick to play down talk of a bidding war.
The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said they had been approached by both chat show programmes but said no money had been discussed.
He also categorically ruled out any interview while Madeleine's parents remained arguidos - suspects - and distanced them from talk of any sort of price war between networks.
He said: "There is categorically no truth to the suggestion that any sort of bidding war is currently taking place between American networks or American programmes.
"Gerry and Kate will not be doing any sit-down interviews whilst they remain arguidos because of their legal position and this has been communicated clearly to any media, international or domestic, who are continuing to bid for interviews with them."
Mr Mitchell added: "Initial contact with both Oprah and ABC has taken place as it has with many other media outlets around the world but nothing has been agreed nor are we aware of any of these programmes being in any sort of competition with each other."
He said a bidding war "is not something we would encourage".
The McCanns are already thought to be considering whether to give the go-ahead to a film about their daughter, who went missing last May on a holiday in the Algarve in Portugal.
It has been confirmed that they were approached by entertainment company IMG but neither Gerry or Kate McCann attended the meeting.
Mr Mitchell said then that a film would be considered only if the McCanns believed it would help raise awareness of the case or if it could help fund the search for their daughter.
A spokeswoman for Harpo Productions, which produces the Oprah Winfrey show in the US, said: "While we've been in contact with the McCann family representatives, we are in no way involved in a bidding war.
"The Oprah Winfrey Show does not pay for news interviews."

Tuesday 29 
January 2008

Police say McCanns hindering investigation

Police in Portugal claim Kate and Gerry McCann are hindering the probe into missing Madeleine by releasing sketches of the possible kidnapper. Detectives say officers have checked out several sightings of the "creepy" stalker that came to nothing, wasting their time.

The latest, a builder in Gibraltar, was quizzed after a tip-off but ruled out. One detective said the drawings were too vague and could "identify dozens or hundreds of people". But McCann spokesman Clarence Mitchell hinted more sketches could be on the way "if we get any more information".

Donegal woman claims to have seen 'Creepyman'

A Donegal woman, who holidayed in Portugal last summer, says she saw the man believed to have abducted Maddie McCann. The woman, who did not want to be named, was struck by the haunting picture that has appeared in the international media over the past week. She says she recalls seeing a man matching the exact description while she was in the Club Alvorferias resort, in Alvor, close to Praia da Luz, where tot Maddie was snatched.

The woman has contacted the McCann family with the latest information. She said: “I e-mailed the Madeleine family helpline. I just wanted to give whatever information I had relating to what I had seen. I am not sure if it will be relevant or not but I suppose every bit helps.“

The woman was on holiday with another adult and two children at the Club Alvorferias Apartments, Alvor, during the week from July 28 to August 4 last year.
Portuguese police accuse Home Secretary Jacqui Smith of stalling the investigation
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was yesterday accused of stalling the Madeleine McCann investigation. Portuguese police said the nine-month case had reached "a stalemate" because the Home Office had failed to respond to a list of demands sent almost a month ago.
Investigators sent a formal letter of appeal to Whitehall on January 7, asking that the seven friends who dined with Kate and Gerry McCann on the night of May 3 should face fresh police interrogations. Three weeks have passed and the Home Office has yet to make any response to the letter, the Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha reported.

British police cannot carry out the interviews on behalf of their Portuguese counterparts until the request has been rubber-stamped by the Home Secretary. And Portuguese police claim they cannot progress with their investigation until the interrogations are carried out.

A source said the latest delay had stalled the entire case, adding: "It is very strange that we have heard nothing. There seems to be no sense of urgency on their part. But we cannot proceed until these interrogations have been carried out. It is a stalemate."

The police and the public prosecutor were notified three weeks ago that the letters had been delivered to the Home Office, the newspaper said. Chief Insp Paulo Rebelo and his police team spent four months preparing the formal legal documents, which set out the requests for the so-called Tapas Seven to be re-interviewed and a list of questions for them to face. The letter also listed a number of personal items the Portuguese police want seized from the McCanns, including Mrs McCann's diary, Mr McCann's personal laptop and possibly Madeleine's favourite Cuddle Cat toy.

Portuguese police want to be present when the Tapas Seven are questioned, and believe they have identified a series of contradictions and inconsistencies in their witness statements about the events of May 3. They are expected to call for the McCanns to face another round of interviews after their friends have been re-interrogated.

A Home Office spokesman refused to confirm if it had received the letters of appeal from the Portuguese police.

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "For some months now we have actively offered to assist this process, to get it underway as soon as possible. Kate and Gerry's friends are keen that it should happen soon and want any bureaucracy - whether it's in Portugal or England - to be cleared quickly. Any inconsistencies the police believe exist in their evidence can be cleared up very quickly and then we hope Kate and Gerry's names will be cleared. As far as we are concerned this cannot happen soon enough."

Wednesday 30 
January 2008
McCanns warn over libel action
Madeleine McCann's parents have not ruled out suing newspapers and websites that they believe have libelled them.

Kate and Gerry McCann have stopped reading the "tittle-tattle" written about them in the press - but their representatives are keeping an eye on any "rubbish" printed in the press they believe to be defamatory.

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell told the Leicester Mercury that the McCanns, of Rothley, had more important things to worry about as they continue the search for the missing four-year-old.
However, he said under libel laws they still had up to three years to bring potential cases before the civil courts.

Mitchell said, ''We have made it very clear that publications in Britain and Portugal are subject to the laws of libel and defamation, like everyone else, and our lawyers are watching all of this. We reserve the right to take legal action and have three years in which to do it."

McCanns dismiss talk of diversionary tactics

Clarence Mitchell responds to recent reports which said the Portuguese police were unhappy about the family issuing sketches of suspects independently, suggesting they could be a diversion to take suspicion away from the family.

Today, Mr Mitchell said: "I'm afraid we dismiss this criticism out of hand. There are one or two voices in Portugal who say things which get picked up by the press and magnified. Anyone who says we are doing diversionary tactics is wrong.''

LSE Event organised by POLIS

Clarence Mitchell, Justine McGuiness and various members of the media discuss 'The McCanns and the Media: Information or Entertainment'.

Listen to podcast here

Thursday 31 
January 2008
Key dossier is still in Lisbon

Officials in Portugal yesterday admitted they failed to send a key dossier in the Maddie McCann case to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. A “letter of appeal”, with a demand that a diary belonging to mum Kate be seized along with four-year-old Maddie’s cuddle cat, never left Portugal. The file has been expected by the Home Office for weeks. It lists more than 100 questions for the Tapas Seven who dined with Kate and husband Gerry on the night Maddie vanished.

Senior police officers in Portugal were positive it had been sent and accused British officials of dragging their heels. The Home Office went public to deny they had received the dossier. Sources in the Portuguese Attorney General’s office yesterday admitted the file is still with them in Lisbon.

McCanns 'not suspects in UK' according to Clarence Mitchell

British police do not consider Madeleine McCann's parents suspects in her disappearance, according to the couple's spokesman. Clarence Mitchell said officials, including child protection workers, had assured him in private briefings that they were treating the case as one of "rare stranger abduction".

Mr Mitchell was speaking last night as he launched an outspoken attack on the "appalling" standards of some media coverage of the disappearance of Kate and Gerry McCann's daughter in Portugal in May. Mr Mitchell, who acted as the couple's spokesman shortly after Madeleine went missing and reprised the role four-and-a-half months ago, said he was completely convinced of their innocence.

He told a packed theatre: "I have never once seen or heard anything from either of them to give me any cause for suspicion in any shape or form. I have also had briefings privately from the police and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre that also gave me complete reassurance that the authorities, in this country certainly, are treating this as a case of rare stranger abduction, as they call it."


Note: This is what Clarence Mitchell actually said:

'I've also had briefings privately from the police and CEOP, Child Exploitation Online Potection Centre', before I went out the first time, that also gave me complete reassurance that the authorities in this country, certainly, are treaing this as a case of rare stranger abduction - as they call it'.
- Notice these private briefings happened 'before I went out the first time' - Clarence is talking about briefings that happened in May 2007 when most people knew very little of what had actually happened.  

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files


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