Monday, 6 December 2010

A reply to Dr Roberts, Pt 1.

By Vee8

A few days ago, as of this time of writing, it became known to the authors of this blog that a prominent contributer to one of the anti-Madeleine blogs, a poster by the name of Dr Martin Roberts, thought our own work here was worthy of comment. It is a long piece, and rather than copy it out in full here, we will provide our readers with a link.

The piece is entitled ‘Pearl Harbour’ and is a short scroll down the page. We would like to pass comments individually. Since it was my piece, ‘A Tale of Two Bookies’ that attracted the good doctor’s attention, I would like to respond first.

Well, my first thoughts are that I am genuinely and sincerely flattered! That my humble scribblings are considered well written enough to be thought of as somehow a professional PR exercise is, to me at least, high praise! But, Dr Roberts, I must I’m afraid, disapoint you. I am no professional writer. In fact, though I left school with five O-levels, they were science and technical based. I failed dismally my English language O-level, and never even botherd to take English Literature. No, I am but a simple grease monkey, a helecopter technician by trade. I have never met the McCanns, and have not been appointed, hired or paid by them in any way, though, naturally, the stock answer to that is ‘Well he would say that, wouldn’t he?!’ My interest in this case is simple. I saw, right at the beginning, lies, half truths and deliberate misinformation about the McCanns being spread around on the press websites. Something inside me bade me to enter this fray, like some sort of medieval knight in shining armour, or maybe one of the gallant few in 1940, turning back the black hordes of Hitler’s Luftwaffe. I’ve been stuck here ever since.

Now, back to your rather well written post, and it is clear you are not the usual anti-Madeleine, in as much as you come across as a far more inteligent type. However, you flatter to decieve. There are some gaping holes in your arguments, and I must take issue with you.

I am disinclined to read everything there also. That is my prerogative.

Indeed, you are free to read or discard anything you wish. But, as we make clear on our homepage, our intention is to challenge that which Amaral puts forward as the incontravertable truth, as is held by others on the net, not least of which is one Tony Bennett. We do this, not by using speculation or innuendo, as is often the case on the anti-Madeleine sites, but by using Amaral’s own words, from his book or from interviews, and comparing them with the files. The same files he claims to have based his book on. As the judge who reciently overturned Amaral’s book ban pointed out; it is in the public domain, he can hardly complain if the public then scrutinise his works, and take him to task for it.

Let's then take a closer look at some of the arguments advanced by Vee8.
"We have reason to believe that Amaral stated that a portion, (I think I remember reading the figure of 10%) of his profits will go to children's charities. A noble gesture, if true. The McCanns, on the other hand, make it very clear that ALL the profits from THEIR book will go to the fund that is financing the search for their missing daughter."

Leaving aside the vague 'reason to believe', we have Amaral ostensibly donating a mere 10% of his royalties to charitable causes, whereas the McCanns will donate all of their profits to the fund. But the fund, as we know, is not a charity. So the truth to be understood (rather than that portrayed) is: Amaral's charitable giving 10%. McCanns' charitable giving 0%.

Now then, where did I ever say the McCanns fund was a charity? My point was to compare intentions and integrety, not rewrite some sort of parable based on the widow’s mite. Amaral is perfectly entitled to do with his money as he wishes. But who, with any sort of concience, would happily profit from the suffering of a family, the suffering of which they themselves have contributed to? I would have thought that at the very least, he would have made some public gesture to a charitable concern, but, as I said, it’s his choice. The McCanns made it clear that they would not personally profit from their book, and despite all the scurrilous writings on various forums, so far not one shred of actual evidence has emerged to prove they have ‘Cashed in’ on Madeleine’s abduction in any way.

What this offers us, first and foremost, is confirmation that the metric underlying the McCanns' libel action against Gonçalo Amaral is his profits, not their suffering.

Quite wrong, and an obvious assumption based on the common anti-Madeleine notion that the McCanns are motivated by greed. They are claiming, perfectly reasonably, the profits from his libelous book, and not a penny more. Besides, you cannot take or win a libel case without proving suffering of some sort. Claiming they are motivated purely on his profits implies some sort of case to do with loss of earnings, something closer to copyright infringment, and not libel.

Let us also be completely, rather than partially transparent. The McCanns do not publish accounts in order to salve their consciences. The 'Fund' is a public limited company. As such it is legally obliged to publish its accounts

Quite right. But again you miss my point. The commonly held view by the anti-Madeleines is that the fund is a scam, a fraud. Not very wise, then, to publish the full account of every penny that comes and goes, is it? Agreed also that Amaral is under no such obligation, but if he DID make a promise to make a charitable donation, then why have we not heard of it? As I made clear, if he has, I have not heard of it yet.

What we have here is a McCann PR vehicle. Its establishment immediately post the appeal decision could be taken as an expression of the couple's fear that Amaral's book will indeed appear in the U.K. Why so?

Why so? Because they fear the damage it would do to their search. Simple as. As for the PR vehicle, well, as I said at the beginning, I am truly flattered.

It has previously been suggested elsewhere that Amaral could not, in any case, publish A Verdade da Mentira in the U.K., for fear of infringeing U.K. libel laws, any version to be put before an English speaking audience would be thoroughly vetted and edited to leave not so much as a hint of libel.

As it sits, there is no way it would be published in this country. But if it were edited to remove all the libelous connotations, what would it leave? The title on the front page and the ISBN number on the back? Not much else in between I would guess.

What Gonçalo Amaral, Fact of the Fiction represents is a pre-emptive strike against a moving target. Likewise, the best the McCanns can do in the face of an impending literary assault, is attempt somehow to discredit the author in advance.

And that, Dr Roberts, is exactly how I percieve your article about my piece. This blog is now being widely read. Very widely indeed. Not just by the Pro’s and the anti’s, who, lets face it, all together don’t amount to a total of a few hundred people, but by a large number of the wider public, a number growing at a rate that is surprising even we authors of the blog.

To finish,

I do not propose to cross swords with these people, who may hold whatever opinions they wish of Gonçalo Amaral.

It is very hard to separate emotions, opinions and facts when dealing with this case. People have their opinions of the McCanns, we have ours of Amaral. But though we sometimes let our emotions colour our opinions, what we are in fact doing with our blog is raise awareness of the clear and blatant contradictions between what Amaral says in his book and elsewhere, and what is actually written in the files. Many times they are at a distinct divergence, and our opinions cannot then alter the writen facts.

Amaral is not some sacred cow, a revered saint or an all knowing sage who is not to be questioned. He is a man, a human, with human failings. In their hour of need, when the McCanns called on him, he was found to be wanting.