NOT since Dr Crippen - long before the blizzard of 24/7
satellite media - will there have been a case like Madeleine
McCann's if the now official suspicions of the Portuguese
police turn out to have been well founded.
They have turned it into a circus, with daily appearances at
mass and the flight to the Vatican to kiss the hand of the
Pope, invoking celebrities, inducing millions of people
around the world to raise a fortune in a campaign fund and
turning their child into one of the iconic faces of our age.
So even Dante himself would find it difficult to describe
any circle of the inferno fit for Kate and Gerry McCann if
it all turns out to have been a lie.
I have been in and around the Ocean Club in the sleepy
Algarve village of Praia da Luz for more than 20 years and
it has been surreal enough watching its tiny cobbled streets
bristling with television crews broadcasting around the
world from a once little-known holiday idyll.
And now this.
On my Talk Sport radio shows I have been critical of the
McCanns from the start. Not least because I knew aspects of
their story could not be true.
Their supposed constant vigilance of their three toddlers
while they ate in a tapas bar and the children slept in an
unlocked apartment was not possible. The distance between
the two points was both greater and more convoluted than
In any case, the children's bedroom was on the OTHER side of
the apartment block and, though both doctors, neither parent
possessed X-ray vision.
I said that if a single mother had left her three kids in
the chalet at Butlins while she supped scampi and chips in
the boozer, she would have immediately been attacked as a
feral, feckless, unfit mother by the same media which was
painting the grieving McCanns as the very embodiment of
modern middle-class Britain.
For months I have watched that media poke ridicule at the
supposed bumbling Inspector Clouseaus of the Portuguese
police for their apparent leaden-footedness in the
Of course no Johnny Foreigner could be as good as our own
police, who brought us the Guildford Four and Birmingham
Now with this new development, the same media seems coiled
like a spring to turn on the McCanns as they previously did
on the other "suspect" Robert Murat.
Sensing they may have been made the biggest fools in
history, the Press tables can be seen turning, the plates
beginning to move.
Of course, the most xenophobic commentators say the science
which has led to the Mccanns being named as suspects is
inherently suspect due to the foreign hands through which it
has passed, oblivious to the fact that it came from British
If Madeleine's blood and other DNA evidence really has been
found in the boot of her parents' hire car, there are only a
few possible explanations. A previous renter of the car - it
was 25 days after the child went missing that the family
took possession of the vehicle - transported Madeleine in
its boot and she was bleeding at the time.
Or Madeleine's body was transported in the boot at least 25
days after she disappeared once the McCanns took possession
of the car.
In these circumstances the Portuguese police really would be
clots if they did not consider the girl's parents to be
Of course there could be other, some would say unlikely,
The DNA and blood evidence in the boot may not, after all,
be Madeleine's and the forensic scientists may be mistaken.
Theblood in the boot of the McCanns' hire car may be
somebody else's, in which case Goodfellas comes to the
Algarve and the family are the victims of the most grotesque
The DNA could have been planted in the boot of the McCanns'
car, presumably by the police.
The sort of thing which happened to Mr OJ Simpson.
The McCanns have either been the victims of a cataclysmic
historic injustice, almost unprecedented, or they have been
complicit in a scheme so duplicitous, so evil, so foul that
Shakespeare himself could not have written it.
Either way, the name McCann is now well and truly in the