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Kate McCann: 'If I weighed another two stone, had a bigger bosom and looked more maternal, people would be more sympathetic'

HOMEPAGE NEWS REPORTS INDEX NEWS OCTOBER 2007
Original Source:  ECHO: TUESDAY 16 OCTOBER 2007
Oct 16 2007 by Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo
 
In an EXCLUSIVE interview, the grandparents of Madeleine McCann tell Paddy Shennan of the terrible toll on their family as their daughter remains a suspect in the toddlers disappearance
 

KATE McCanns parents today hit out at the 'scurrilous rubbish' being printed about their daughter ' and said she feels she is being persecuted because of her appearance.

'She said last night 'If I weighed another two stone, had a bigger bosom and looked more maternal, people would be more sympathetic',' Madeleines grandmother, Susan Healy, told the ECHO today.

'I think its terrible that she's having to think like that.

'She does feel persecuted, not by the general public who have been extremely supportive, but by some sections of the media, and I just feel its important I let people know she is not this person who is in control all the time.

'Kate is a very sensitive, caring person and one of the most maternal people I know ' she puts me to shame. Her life revolves around her children but now she's got to the point where she feels she is being persecuted, in her mind, if her twins, Sean and Amelie, cry in public ' its absolutely crazy.'

She adds: 'All this stuff is going on inside my poor daughter whos not done anything wrong. She and Gerry went to a restaurant which was just metres away from their apartment and part of the holiday complex ' it was a terrible mistake but they did it out of naivety.'

Although Susan and Brian Healy still cling to the hope that their four-year-old granddaughter will be found alive, they dread their worst nightmares coming true amid reports that police in Portugal are trawling a reservoir.

In a wide-ranging, often emotional and tear-filled interview, the couple, who live in Allerton, also reveal that a meeting of family and friends is taking place in Formby today to discuss the next stage of the campaign to keep the search for Madeleine in the public eye.

Its now 166 days since Madeleine was last seen alive and Susan and Brian admit that the enormous strain is telling on all the family.

Kates health and well-being has given particular cause for concern, and her mum reveals: 'She and Gerry do have counselling ' Kate saw a counsellor at the end of last week. Its the same person they saw in Portugal and I know it does help them.

'But I think they continually go back to the feeling that they cant afford to go to pieces because they have to keep trying to get their daughter back ' that overrides everything else they are feeling.'

Susan cannot say how, or if, any of the family will cope if there remains no news ' or the worst possible news arrives. But she stresses: 'Anyone would crack eventually. Its like having a perfect family and seeing it torn to shreds.'

There have been concerns about Kates appearance and apparent weight loss, and her mum says: 'She's always had that kind of build and has never carried any weight. But she does look very traumatised. It must be unbearable for her to think about the possibility of never seeing Madeleine again, or that its going to be another six months before she sees her again.'

Regarding reports that police are focusing on a reservoir around 15 miles from Praia da Luz, Susan says: 'It is scary and if it really is going on, I'll be holding my breath.'

But the couple are hoping that the appointment of Paulo Rebelo, Portugal's second most senior police officer, to lead the investigation in place of the much-criticised Goncalo Amaral, will give fresh impetus to the hunt.

And Susan says: 'We've no idea when Kate and Gerry may have their suspect status lifted, but we hope it will be soon. Until it is, they are not allowed to defend themselves in public ' and that is dreadful.

'They need to be exonerated as soon as possible and there are people who will then need to apologise to them ' but whether that happens in the real world, I don't know.'

Susan says she has had difficulty sleeping, while Brian reveals: 'Anger keeps me going, so I'm doing pretty well because there has been a lot to be angry about.'

But despite all the agony and anguish, Susan says: 'We need people to realise that nothing has changed since day one. Madeleine is still missing and the police haven't found anything to indicate she isn't alive, so we have got to go on looking.

'Kate and Gerry are as innocent as you or I, or anyone reading this. The perpetrator or perpetrators are still out there. We still pray that someone will open a door and say 'Here she is ' its all been a terrible mistake'.

'In my heart of hearts I still feel we will get Madeleine back, although I naturally get scared when I hear about the police carrying out searches.'

Brian adds: 'I've heard nothing yet to convince me that Madeleine isn't alive and I am clinging onto the hope that we will get her back.'

But he and Susan are realistic enough to accept that some people are not only convinced that their granddaughter is dead, but that Madeleines own parents were responsible.

Susan says: 'Strangers are still coming up to us and saying 'We dont believe a word of what we're reading, you know' ' that happens again and again and its important for us to hear that.

'I also know that if you throw enough muck at people, some of it can stick. But you've got to credit people with having the intelligence to work out that there has been a lot of scurrilous rubbish written.'

Each new claim or accusation aired in the tabloids ' the majority emanating from Portugal ' appears more outrageous than the last. They include:

'Gerry McCann isn't Madeleine's real dad'.

'Its total rubbish,' says Susan. 'We just don't know where this sort of thing comes from. It would be simple for Kate and Gerry to go to the clinic where they had the IVF and prove this is a lie but I think they feel it would be demeaning, while it would also put the clinic under enormous media pressure.'

'Kate and Gerry drugged Madeleine ' and their twins, Sean and Amelie ' with sedatives.'

'They don't like taking tablets themselves and the only thing they have ever given their children, if they were teething or had a temperature, is Calpol. They didn't give them anything that night.'

'Seven children were sleeping in Kate and Gerry's apartment on the night Madeleine went missing.'

Susan says: 'Again, it's nonsense and I don't know where this has come from ' or why it's only now it's been suggested.'

Although not backed up by any hard evidence, stories first printed in Portuguese newspapers ' which include quotes from alleged 'sources' ' are picked up by the British press and then dissected on the internet.

Susan says: 'I don't go onto the internet, but I know some people will get pleasure from picking up on, and discussing, the negative side of things ' however, it's hard enough for us to read that people are convinced Madeleine is dead.'

She adds: 'There are obviously different types of people in the world, but I think the good outweigh the bad.'

While Brian reveals: 'When we have been with Kate and Gerry in Leicestershire, I have opened the boxes of mail. There would be hundreds and hundreds of items and while there would be the occasional crank letter, 99.5% of them would be from well-wishers.'

Such support has been worth its weight in gold, but still the nightmare which began on the evening of Thursday May 3 continues . . .

When will it end'

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