Original Source: MAIL:
17 DECEMBER 2007
By REBECCA CAMBER Last updated at 00:10am on
17th December 2007
The first suspect in the Madeleine McCann case sat in on police interviews with
some of the Tapas Nine, it emerged last night.
Robert Murat, 34 - who later became an arguido or official suspect - was
allowed to act as a translator for police during crucial questioning of Kate
and Gerry McCann's holiday friends.
It meant that he had an extraordinary insight into the investigation during the
vital early days after May 3 when Madeleine, then aged three, disappeared from
the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz.
Friends of the McCanns reacted with disbelief and anger to the news.
There were also fears that Mr Murat could have influenced the police's
understanding of the statements of the Tapas Nine.
Rachael Oldfield, 36, who was dining with the couple on the night Madeleine vanished from her apartment at the Ocean Club
complex, revealed yesterday how she spoke to police through Mr Murat.
Last night, Mr Murat's lawyer, Francisco Pagarete,
confirmed that his client also helped police during the interview of Dianne
Webster, the mother of Fiona Payne, who was at the Ocean Club's tapas
restaurant with the McCanns that night.
He denied Mr Murat had helped in any other interviews of the group.
It has already emerged that another holidaymaker, Bridget O'Donnell, the
partner of a key witness, spoke to detectives with the aid of the expat estate
Ocean Club nanny Charlotte Pennington, who said she was convinced she had seen
Mr Murat outside the Mark Warner complex on May 3, also spoke to police via the
translator. At the time, police had not been alerted to any suspicions about
British-born Mr Murat, who was named as an arguido on May 14.
He has always denied any involvement in the child's disappearance and claims he
spent the evening at home with his 71-year-old mother.
His lawyer said: "My client did not preside over police interviews of
multiple witnesses. The only interview of which he translated was that of
But last night one of the McCanns' friends: "It beggars belief. It's absolutely
outrageous that someone who a few days later is
declared an arguido was aware of much of what initial witnesses said."
The revelation came as a waiter at the Ocean Club cast fresh doubt over Kate
McCann's account of the night Madeleine disappeared.
Yesterday, the respected Portuguese newspaper Diario
de Noticias reported that detectives consider the
eyewitness account a "trump card", critical to pining down supposed
contradictions in the accounts of the Tapas Nine.
The waiter, who has not been identified, was first on the scene moments after
Mrs McCann found she was missing at 10pm on May 3.
His evidence is said to be so vital that police have re-interviewed him for the
third time in recent days.
The waiter claims that the parents and their holiday friends, the Tapas Nine,
did not check on their children every 30 minutes.
Contrary to what Mrs McCann told police, he said that she did scream, "they've taken her, they've taken her" when she learnt
Madeleine was missing.
The waiter said that instead of running back to the tapas bar, Mrs McCann
raised the alarm from the balcony of their holiday apartment.
But friends claim the 39-year-old GP raised the alarm when she ran back to the
restaurant on May 3 and shouted "Madeleine's gone, Madeleine's gone".
The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "This is all lies. Kate has
consistently and categorically denied that she said that on the veranda.
Whoever this guy is and if he is saying this, he is either making it up or he