The revelation has been made by Bridget
O'Donnell, a former BBC Crimewatch producer
who got to know the McCanns at the Mark
Warner resort in Praia da Luz, Portugal. She
has now told her story for the first time.
always believed that Kate and Gerry McCann
are innocent," Miss O'Donnell wrote in an
article published by The Guardian.
On the night of May 3, while walking their
baby son to sleep, her partner Jes Wilkins
bumped into a "relaxed and friendly" Mr
McCann who had just checked on his children.
"They talked about daughters, fathers,
families," Miss O'Donnell wrote.
"They discussed the babysitting dilemmas at
the resort and Gerry said that he and Kate
would have stayed in too, if they had not
been on holiday with a group."
Every night, the McCanns and their friends -
whom Miss O'Donnell dubbed "The Doctors" -
booked a large table at the Tapas restaurant
at the Mark Warner resort.
"One man was the joker," she recalled. "He
had a loud Glaswegian accent. He was Gerry
before Madeleine went missing, Miss
O'Donnell and her partner - also a
television producer - were placed at a table
next to "The Doctors". Mr McCann invited
them to join the group.
discussed the children," Miss O'Donnell
wrote. "He told us they were leaving theirs
sleeping in the apartments. While they
chatted on, I ruminated on the pros and cons
babysitters at the resort were expensive and
booked long in advance, while a group baby
sitting service at the kiddie club meant
that the children had to be put to sleep
twice - both there and then back at their
(the McCanns), in a way, for not being
paranoid parents, but I decided that out
apartment was too far off even to
contemplate (leaving their children)," Miss
McDonnell wrote. "Our baby was too young and
I would worry about them waking up."
Nevertheless, the producer said she was glad
her family did not get the McCanns'
apartment. "It was on a corner by the road
and people could see in. They were exposed."
day, after her partner played tennis with Mr
McCann, Miss O'Donnell observed the couple.
"Kate was calm, still, quietly beautiful;
Gerry was confident, proud, silly, strong."
days later, after the events of that night,
"the physical transformation of these two
human beings was sickening" as she saw the
McCanns at the pool.
back and shoulders, her hands, her mouth had
reshaped themselves in to the angular
manifestation of a silent scream... Gerry
was upright, his lips now drawn into a thin,
Friday, locals and holidaymakers had started
circulating photocopied pictures of
Madeleine. "We didn't see any police," Miss
uniformed Portuguese policeman and a
translator - whom she later found out was
Robert Murat, named by the Polícia Judiciara
as an arguido or suspect in the case - later
questioned Miss O'Donnell and her partner in
translator had a squint and sweated
slightly," she described Mr Murat. "He was
breathless, perhaps a little excited. He
reminded me of a boy in my class at school
who was bullied."
answered a few questions and gave their
details, which the policeman took down on
"the back of a bit of paper", Miss McDonnell
wrote. "No notebook."
pointed to the photocopied picture of
Madeleine on the table. 'Is this your
daughter'' he asked. 'Er, no,' we said.
'That's the girl you are meant to be
sank for the McCanns."
the McCanns were named suspects along with
Mr Murat, Miss O'Donnell still believed they
were no drug-fuelled 'swingers' on our
holiday; instead, there was a bunch of
ordinary parents wearing Berghaus and
worrying about sleep patterns. Secure in our
banality, none of us imagined we were being
made a disastrous decision; Madeleine was
vulnerable and was chosen. But in the face
of such desperate audacity, it could have
been any one of us.
I stroke my daughter's hair, or feel her
butterfly lips on my cheek, I do so in the
knowledge of what night have been.
heart goes out to them, Gerry and Kate, the
couple who we remember from our Portuguese
holiday. They had a beautiful daughter,
Madeleine, who played and danced with ours
at the kiddie club. That's who we remember