Thursday, 27 January 2011

Confirmation of skulduggery in low places

I’m going to start this piece slightly on the back foot. Actually, that is a metaphor borrowed from one of my favourite sports, cricket, and not particularly accurately applied in the borrowed sense of ‘to be on the defensive’. In cricket, some of the most thrilling attacking shots in the game are actually played by batsmen off the back foot, while defensive strokes are most commonly played off the front foot. But enough of cricket.

In my earlier piece about withheld documentation, I speculated that policy true for Leicestershire police would be likely true for UK police as a whole. From a fresh source I’m now able to confirm that I am right. But first, that note of reservation and slight correction. I suggested in my last piece that the English language version of Mark Harrison’s report might have been withheld. That seemed a reasonable inference as the document acknowledges the poster Cushty as translator and also gives thanks to Skeptical (for reasons unspecified, but I assumed, translation). However, running parallel with the main text to the right is sub-text to the left in very small font size, that can be expanded simply by clicking on it, and that seems, at least in part, to be Harrison’s original, English-Language report taken direct from the file, reading word-for-word the same as the text to the right. So quite what is original and what (if anything) is translated, I’m not too sure, but I think we can be sure both that the version of the report on Gerrymccannsblog is true and faithful to Harrison’s original and that at least some of Harrison’s report in English is on the DVD.

Portuguese lawyers Morais Leitao, Galvao Teles and Soares da Silva wrote a long and detailed letter to the criminal instruction court of Portimao, detailing what, of work by UK police should be released or withheld, and explaining the rationale.

It is made abundantly plain that information about sex offenders, or information alluding to suspicions of illegal sexual activity should be withheld. That is clear-cut, I think. The Gaspar statements ought never to have seen the light of day. It was made a condition of divulging such information to the Portuguese authorities that confidentiality be respected.

The letter acknowledges the importance of swift and easy lines of communication between Britain and Portugal to the investigation to facilitate and enable a smooth and effective operating procedure by officers on the ground in Portugal investigating the case. But it warns that should confidentiality be breached, that would have grave implications for future cooperation between police forces of the two nations in future investigations. That is because much of the intelligence shared consisted in unproven theories or hypotheses that, released into the public domain, might tend to lower reputations or impugn individuals. The theory that Madeleine might have been murdered is surely a prime example, but scarcely the only one. Also, it seems that there is a UK procedure whereby information shared between police forces (even in the UK) is first tested to gauge the possible impact of sharing it should the information get in to the public domain. These procedures were waived for the Madeleine enquiry, again, in the interests of expediency, on the strict understanding that confidentiality was maintained.

The organization for which Mark Harrison works, the National Policing Improvement Agency, is mentioned specifically by name. It is the repository of specialist techniques in crime detection, some of which were made available to the Portuguese police, and the divulging into the public domain of which could give an advantage and a head start to criminals in ways of avoiding apprehension or thwarting crime-detection strategies. The information is classified as UK confidential A raft of legal acts (UK and European) are cited as central to the principles underpinning the operation of UK policing, and central also to the understanding between the two nations in investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Here are short extracts from the letter:

It should be noted that the divulgation of the above-mentioned elements would most probably affect legal and international police cooperation in the future within the domain of complex criminal investigations, therefore putting into question the execution of Portuguese Justice.

If ... in other words, ... the transmission of information by the requesting entities had not pre-supposed respective confidentiality, this information would never have been transmitted to the Portuguese authorities, as according to what was stated previously this information would be subject to confidentiality covered by UK Rights and Law.

It should also be said that the divulgation of information from the process files that refers to personal data of individuals and who were in no way indicated in the current inquiry would also be an attack on the most elemental rights of personality and even on physical integrity.

...and who were in no way indicted in the current enquiry .... Think Mr and Mrs Gaspar in particular!

I think that speaks for itself.

As a precaution, I filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act asking whether there are regional differences in policies among the UK police for the release of information into the public domain about the Madeleine investigation. This was my reply:

Dear xxxx,
I am writing with reference to your request for information regarding the public release of information about Madeleine McCann, dated 17th January 2011, made under section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act.

You asked for the following information:

‘…are there, in fact, regional differences in criteria within the UK police for the release of information about the Madeleine enquiry into the public domain?’ I am writing to advise you I have established that the information you requested is not held by the NPIA.

The NPIA are not aware of any regional differences in criteria for the UK police forces to release information about the Madeleine McCann investigation into the public domain. Each police force and public authority are responsible for their own obligations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the final decision to release information. However, the Leicestershire police force have produced a publication schedule for the documentation produced during the McCann investigation. Please see link,

This would attract the Section 22 exemption of the FOIA, where information is intended for future publication, and has been used by the NPIA before regarding information requested regarding the Madeleine McCann investigation. The services of Mark Harrison were requested by the Portuguese Authorities by means of a Judicial Letter of Request. The resulting report, in respect of the search activity, was released by them into the public domain on 21 July 2008 as part of a comprehensive document providing details of the Portuguese investigation.

I gave the link provided above in my earlier piece. It makes plain that, in the long term, there was always an intention that rogatory interviews be released, but not until after the full circumstances of Madeleine’s disappearance are known, culprit(s) convicted and a suitable time for appeals has elapsed. Information in that link amplifies what is in the link which is the primary source of this piece (and given at the foot of this article).

My foi reply, in one sense, may not seem very helpful. But in another sense, it confirms that the NPIA are not aware of any regional differences and the point is made that publication (of the whole DVD, including Mark Harrison’s report) was a decision of the Portuguese authorities alone.

It seemed evident all along that an anti mantra of blind hate amounted to something like: ‘justice waiting to be done’ (the Mccanns remaining at liberty); ‘miscarriage of justice’ (someone other than the McCanns being apprehended for crime(s) against Madeleine) ‘justice’ (the McCanns being charged for the crimes of another or others against their daughter). The mantra has been pursued with relentless, blind fanaticism. Proper considerations (such as revelation of confidential tools of crime prevention provided by the National Policing Improvement Agency) were usurped by obsessional preoccupation with non-existent, manufactured non-issues (such as Gerry’s possession of CEOP manuals, described as ‘top secret’, but actually freely available on the net).

Still, lasting stain of disgrace though that all leaves on those responsible, the worst is worse. Fundamental principles of national, European and international law have been trampled over rough-shod jeopardising, and probably wrecking, any hope of cooperation between nations (perhaps not just Britain and Portugal) in investigating crime again.

I hope the dunderheads feel proud of themselves. In the meantime, criminals the world over will be rubbing their hands with glee.

By Honestbroker

Friday, 21 January 2011


By Vee8


How many times have we heard the line, “If they hadn’t have left the kids alone, it would never have happened?” It is the be all and end all for many of the McCann’s sterner internet critics, as if that somehow ends the discussion right there and then. That comment is often followed by "We go on holiday as a family, and stay together as a family.” “They dumped the kids in the crèche all day while they went of and enjoyed themselves.” We must presume that these people’s children, given a choice, would rather stay close to the old crusties than join one of the myriad of kids clubs that almost every family resort offers. From my own experience, when on holiday in similar resorts, it is not so much a case of ‘Dumping’ the kids in these crèches/clubs, but trying to stop them from joining in the fun with the other kids! And what, prey tell, could be wrong with that?

The fact is, even now, I am still occasionally stunned by the level and degree of venom their story continues to excite among a, thankfully, small minority of the general public.

The want of compassion among these few is shocking; the desire to punish the parents shaming. Personally, as I have stated elsewhere, I and the other blog authors here do not agree with what the parents did. The McCanns did leave their three children unattended for fifteen/twenty minutes at a time while they and their friends had dinner. Their behaviour carried risks for the children, one of the worst of which was realised. But we all agree their actions were based on naivety, a holiday induced feel-good factor, not criminal neglect.

We also agree that the price this couple has paid, and continue to pay to this day, is beyond anything we ourselves could possibly imagine. The suffering they have endured negates any necessity for reprimand. Does even their sternest judge imagine they are not their own greatest critics; that they aren't consumed daily and hourly by regret and remorse?

We, the authors, have been highly critical of the Portuguese police, and their investigation into Madeleine’s abduction. Indeed Portugal’s attorney-general made a statement in which he said the McCanns were named as suspects in the absence of any evidence. According to the McCann’s accusers, however, our real motivation is to support middle-class doctors against working-class police officers. The McCanns put their pleasure before their children, they say. If they were working class, and lived on a housing estate, the British police would have been waiting for them on the tarmac and falling over themselves to prosecute. The McCanns should be prosecuted for neglect, is their battle cry.

Nowhere is there any condemnation of the abductor.

You might have thought the fact that Kate and Gerry McCann are doctors would stand them in some regard, since they spend their lives trying to help others. Sadly, you would be wrong. We ourselves thought the clear evidence from family photographs that Madeleine was a happy, well-cared-for child would demonstrate that leaving her unsupervised was out of the ordinary, rather than the norm. But that position does not allow for jealousy and resentment.

So who else would you see charged with neglect? If the McCanns are to stand in the dock, who should stand beside them? We can start with their friends, the so-called ‘Tapas 7’ all of whom were part of the routine of regular checkups, and any one of which could have been the unfortunate target of the abductor that night. Then what about all the other couples who have stayed at that or any family-friendly holiday village where they felt safe enough to leave the children unattended while they ate? The Mark Warner staff are on record as saying that the actions the McCanns carried out were commonplace, not the exception. What about all those families over the years, and that includes my own parents, who have stayed at Butlins, and left their children to the mercy of a radio equipped chalet maid? (Baby crying, chalet 223!) What about people who eat in the garden on hot summer evenings while their children sleep in the house? What about parents who sleep indoors, maybe one night a year, while their kids sleep in a tent?

There are some parents who pride themselves on their devotion but who would send their youngest to the park in the charge of their 12-year-old. There are many others who let their eight-year-old get the bus home from school. We the authors would not think of doing such things personally, but I'm sure there are some things that we have done that those parents, perhaps even among ourselves, that might be regarded as wrong.

When we leave the maternity ward of our local hospital, there is no nurse, no midwife handing out the manual on how to bring up our newborn child. We have to learn, from the school of life, by our mistakes, for we all make mistakes. Sometimes we can be too strict, other times too lax. We push them too hard, or take too little interest. We get grumpy and irritable if we don’t get enough rest. Then we walk into their bedrooms when they're asleep, looking so small and so innocent, and we feel so bad inside for our failures of the day that we determine to do better tomorrow. We learn to deal with our mistakes because we also know, without doubt, that we love our children.

So tell us this, do we want to see the courts filled with caring parents who made a mistake? Court is for the truly negligent and downright abusive. Parents, and we use that term loosely, like those of baby ‘P’ who died of the most horrific injuries. Or Khyra Ishaq, callously starved to death in her bedroom while her mother ate well downstairs. How then, can all these critics, who clamour to be recognised as ‘The voice of Madeleine’ honestly expect anyone to take them seriously when they demand that Kate and Gerry be charged with the neglect of one little girl, a child who’s parents clearly never caused her a single days neglect or abuse in her life?

The McCann’s made a dreadful mistake, and are guilty of a terrible lapse of judgement. They did something stupid. But God forbid the government of this country ever made doing something stupid a crime. If they did, then the whole of the Isle of Wight would need to be turned into one vast open air prison, because each and every one of us would be guilty as charged.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Those archived files – what was released and what was withheld?

By Honestbroker.

I don’t know whether the estimable pro McCann poster Sans Souci plays bridge. I don’t, personally, but I gather part of the skill of the game is in knowing when to stay your hand, or to play it, for best advantage. Virtually, (and metaphorically), Sans recently demonstrated this art to perfection on an anti board he regularly (and bravely) visits.

It all began with a sharp dispute over the meaning of the Gaspar statements (incidentally, not the central theme of this piece). Sans innocuously floated a polite request that, to settle arguments, posters might be allowed to see the original, English language, versions of their statements. The initial response was one of chipper confidence that that would be quite possible, as certain of the admin on that board hold the DVD of the case files. But in stages, confidence gave way to puzzlement, then anger, then denial, as the realization gradually dawned that, actually, they didn’t have the original English Language copies on DVD. Amid mayhem, a thread was moved to a part of the board not for general view and the claim made that the thread itself had been lost, while other threads were locked or moved and responses to questions became steadily more terse. It was at this point that Sans revealed his hand. He had never doubted that they wouldn’t be able to produce the original for a startlingly obvious reason: the statement had been translated in the first place, which would scarcely have been necessary had the original been available, and which brings us to the theme of this piece.

Why were the Gaspar statements ever released? In 2009 Leicestershire police released details of its strategy in putting information about the British side of the investigation into the public domain. That document is stored on the site gerrymccannsblog (nothing to do with Gerry):

If you scroll down a bit, you’ll come to various boxes with comments in boxes to the right about what, and under what circumstances, information will be released into the public domain. In the first section, among other categories, is interviews, which may be released after those responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance have been apprehended, convicted and after time for appeals to be heard has elapsed. We are (now) very far from that point. The Gaspar statements were made on English soil to Leicestershire police by English-speaking British citizens – and in accordance with the express wishes of Leicestershire police, ought never to have been released, either in English or Portuguese form. So why were they?

The mystery deepens. Stuart Prior is a policeman with Leicestershire Police force, and the officer who flew over to Faro to break the ‘bad’ news to Gocalo Amaral and his fellow officers that there was no incriminating forensic evidence against the McCanns. On the gerrymccannsblog (which carries by far the most extensive documentation of information from the police files anywhere on the net) you’ll find only anecdotal references to Stuart Prior (references in emails or witness statements, for example). There is nothing documented with his name attached. We are (for once!) obliged to Amaral for telling us in his book that Prior told the Portuguese police (PJ) the forensic results were not incriminating. That is precisely in accord with the insistence of Leicestershire police that the direction or strategy of the investigation (at least on their side) should not be revealed. Yet the work of Mark Harrison is very extensively recorded on the GerryMcCannsblog site.

Here, we need to be cautious. Mark Harrison is not a policeman with the Leicestershire force and, indeed, represents an organization that supports front line policing. But he describes himself as an official with the British Police who represents the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA). He was interviewed by Leicestershire police in a rogatory interview.

Here is his interview:

Notice, again, that this statement has been translated. And his report, extensively detailing his own investigations and explorations of theories, is also translated. Now, Mark Harrison will, of course, have compiled his report on Portuguese soil. But unless he is fluent in Portuguese (which he might be, I don’t know) he will have written his reports in English, meaning that they, like the Gaspar statements, will have been written in English, translated to Portuguese for the files, then re-translated back to English for Gerrymccannsblog, suggesting that the original English Language version produced by Harrison has, again, been withheld. And it seems exceedingly unlikely that what is operational working policy for Leicestershire police would be any different for UK police generally. So why is Harrison’s work extensively documented, but Prior’s, not at all?

Is part of the answer to be found in Truth of the lie? According to Amaral’s distorted interpretation of Harrison’s report, Harrison ‘confirmed their (Amaral and his fellow senior officers’) worst fears’, that Madeleine was very probably dead and died inside the apartment. In a book, now banned following action against it by the McCanns and the firm of libel solicitors Carter Ruck, one of Amaral’s principal aficionados, Tony Bennett, even said that Harrison recommended the PJ should proceed on the ‘working assumption’ that Madeleine died in apartment 5a. Indeed, if you cast a casual and superficial eye over that report, you might come away with that impression. But be warned. Read it properly and you’ll form a very different view. Harrison was handed his brief by the PJ and worked according to it. He effectively ruled out concealment of a body on the beach, and recommended that dogs be brought in to test the theory that Madeleine might be dead, not because that theory had already been confirmed. Indeed, as the files make plain, forensic analysis of indications by the dogs annulled the hypothesis that evidence might indicate Madeleine was dead. Had Harrison anticipated those results the way Amaral and Bennett both suggest, that would have been scandalous, and he never did. This, from the file and from Harrison’s report, makes plain that Harrison had no personal view on what might have happened to Madeleine:

This report considers solely the possibility that Madeleine McCann has been murdered and her body is concealed within the areas previously searched by Police in Zone 1 around Praia Da Luz. Other scenarios or possibilities may on request be considered and be subject of a further report

But the contrary is what Amaral wants the world to believe and, strangely, Harrison’s work emerged with the released files.

Meanwhile, Amaral confidently span a version of events in his book that he won Prior over to his own (deeply flawed) misunderstanding of the forensic result, including the aspersion against the British Forensic Science Service that they bottled out of facing up to (Amaral’s) ‘reality’ that Madeleine might have been carried dead in the Renault Scenic. Prior, apparently, rang the FSS to berate them on the subject of the PJ’s powers of arrest!

What is Prior’s version of Amaral’s extraordinary depiction of this sequence of events? Simply, we’ll never know because, well, Prior’s work is not documented in the released files … I guess Amaral was always confident that it wouldn’t be.

By Honestbroker.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Cadaver scent, proof of death or the walking dead?.

Goncalo Amaral hung his hat on a thesis that could only make sense if there were positive forensic results from the dog alerts. The issue of these alerts have resulted in some people believing that the scent being alerted to automatically means that decomposing matter from a dead person, or persons, has been found. To believe that alerting to the scent, for which the dog has been trained, means finding a decomposing body when there is very minute quantities of alerting substance, is very foolish indeed, especially when that belief is being considered as proof positive. Without a complimenting physical find beyond the dog alerts, the question of what the dogs found opens up the possibility that the scent alerted to, could be sourced from the blood lost by a live human being as well as scent contamination from a number of sources that could undermine any value in validity as conclusive evidence pointing specifically to a suspected dead human under investigation. The matter found has only one possible avenue of interpretation to indicate what the scent is, that of forensic testing. In this case we know that the forensic results could not show any confirmation that Madeleine was found in the DNA and could not determine the source of the cadaver scent.

Eddie the EVRD (Enhanced Victim Recovery Dog), cadaver dog, alerted to the scent of which he is trained to find. Let’s look at the possible sources of that scent, knowing that the results do not confirm the source being Madeleine, it is important to explore what the source of the scent could be, considering the absence of conclusive proof of the known missing person in the chemical brew, being dead or alive.

Eddie was trained using pig meat in the UK as the use of decomposing human beings is not accepted in the UK as yet to train these dogs. However, Eddie did undergo training in the USA using decomposing human beings. The olfactory system of a dog is considered hundreds of times stronger than the sense of smell for a human being. Yet it is not fully understood what components of a decomposing human body are sensed by an alerting dog, to give an alert to cadaver scent. On further investigation I have made some interesting findings regarding volatile cadaver chemical components which are found in living human beings.

Dried blood from a living human.

Martin Grime, Eddie and Keela's trainer and handler, confirms in his rogatory interview, on the subject specifically about the Cadaver Dog, that Eddie can alert to dried blood from a living person.

"The dog EVRD (Eddie the Cadaver dog) is trained using whole and disintegrated material, blood, bone tissue, teeth, etc. and decomposed cross-contaminants. The dog will recognize all or parts of a human cadaver. He is not trained for 'live' human odours; no trained dog will recognize the smell of 'fresh blood'. They find, however, and give the alert for dried blood from a live human being."

Cadaverine from a living human.

Cadaverine is the decarboxylation product of the amino acid lysine. However, this diamine is not purely associated with putrefaction. It is also produced in small quantities by living beings. It is partially responsible for the distinctive odours of urine and semen. Elevated levels of cadaverine have been found in the urine of some patients with defects in lysine metabolism.

Putrescence from a living human.

Putrescine (sometimes spelled putrescin) is a foul-smelling organic chemical compound NH2(CH2)4NH2 (1,4-diaminobutane or butanediamine) that is related to cadaverine; both are produced by the breakdown of amino acids in living and dead organisms and both are toxic in large doses. The two compounds are largely responsible for the foul odour of putrefying flesh, but also contribute to the odour of such processes as bad breath and bacterial vaginosis. They are also found in semen and some microalgae, together with related molecules like spermine and spermidine. 

Bad breath, malodor and periodontal disease

Several tests were done by scientists to determine the association of Cadaverine and Putrecine in humans with complaints resulting in bad breath.

Researchers Goldberg, Kozlovsky, and Rosenberg designed a study to evaluate the contribution of diamines (especially cadaverine and putrescine) to bad breath. They studied 52 people, most of whom complained of bad breath. The researchers measured:
  • the VSC with a portable sulfide monitor, 
  • mouth odor via organoleptic means,
  • plaque index,
  • gingival index, 
  • probing depths, 
  • BANA test results, and
  • levels of cadaverine and putrescine in the saliva.
Results of the study included:
 Cadaverine scores were associated with odour judge organoleptic scores, plaque index scores, and gingival index scores. Cadaverine levels were also relative to the BANA scores and mean probing depth. Cadaverine levels were not associated with VSC levels.
 Putrescine levels were not significantly related to the malodor and periodontal measurements, but were related to cadaverine levels.
 In a second experiment, they compared saliva from a patient with periodontal disease to saliva from a patient who had healthy gingiva. The sample from the periodontitis patient had higher cadaverine levels. Putrescine levels in both samples were similar.
The results of this study showed cadaverine levels are associated with malodor and periodontal disease, while putrescine's role is still somewhat unknown. 

I don’t purport to be an expert in forensic science, but I have become an expert in researching the subject and the relation to cadaver dogs, specifically in the situation the case of missing Madeleine has presented us. I have spoken to experts and researched scientific data, have listened to those who believe cadaver dog alerts must only mean death alerts and have questioned myself.

My conclusion is that with such low amounts of matter available to view as evidence, forensic science had to interperate what the dogs alerted to. That interpretation showed that the alerts could not determine information for use as proof of a death, contamination from dead bodies or of Madeleine’s death. In fact, the alerts can be innocently explained away with the inclusive factor that the scent could very well be from saliva, dried blood and other bodily fluids from living humans. The EVRD dog is not trained to detect live humans, but the inconclusive result, from the forensic scientists, is proof that there is hope for Madeleine being found alive and that there is hope one day Goncalo Amaral will decide to face the fact that he built his 'house of cards' thesis upon only one card.

By Deuce

Friday, 7 January 2011

Are stereotypes unjustified?

By Honestbroker.

This article is a response to a letter by Dr Martin Roberts to the editor on, but addressed, personally, to Gerry, that we feel too venomous and vituperative to warrant a direct link to on this blog. But if anyone has the stomach (and the curiosity) to go looking, the original is to be found on this link:

In the main, yes. Stereotypes are unjustified. But not all of them. For example, a stereotype, I think, true of most women is that they don’t make false allegations of rape against men; though of course, stereotypes, like rules, have exceptions.

A stereotype about another sort of person, extensively prevalent in almost every country throughout the globe, is that those in one group simply cannot bring themselves to believe that the worst might have happened to another category of person, particularly when the fate of a person in this other category is unknown. The group I am, of course, referring to is parents and, specifically their own, children.

The parents of the murdered young woman Joanne Yeates did not travel from their home in Southampton to Bristol to partake in the searches for her (even though, at the point she was reported missing, there was hope she might still be alive) and with good reason. It doesn’t need a great leap of imagination to understand that the one thing no parent wants to find is the body of his or her own child. And the reason is obvious. Parents, in the main, (with exceptions) love their own children. And love is the cause of that blind spot (if blind spot is what you want to call it),
The normal, human and humane reaction of outsiders who observe the torment gone through by parents separated from their child in circumstances where the fate of the child is unknown is to sympathize with their anguish and above all, respect their perspective, even if that perspective is slightly skewed by that powerful emotion of love felt by all decent parents towards their children. We might, ourselves, have a slightly different perspective from that of parents in such a position, but we would simply not dream of sharing it with them; still less of seeking to impose it upon them, perhaps fairly certain that, in their stead, we would feel and react exactly the same way.

Hence it is that Kate and Gerry refuse to countenance the worst that might be true for Madeleine, preferring instead to stick, with steadfast resolution and hope, shared still by Kerry Needham about her own son, Ben, who went missing on a Greek island nearly two decades before, that Madeleine might be still out there somewhere, alive and well and waiting to be found.

Such a perspective is conspicuously missing in this latest offering from Dr Martin Roberts. Dr Roberts appears to suggest in his own, clumsy and circumlocutory way (replete with non-sequitur about the materialistic expectations of children at Christmas and the inability of their parents to meet them) that Kate and Gerry, in their letter, are too self-absorbed and heedless of the plight of their daughter. But this, from the McCanns’ letter, lays that to rest, I think:

We would like to thank all our supporters for 'staying at our side' in spite of the injustices that we continue to be subjected to. Madeleine is the person who suffers most from all of this injustice. It is this fact alone which causes us the most distress. It is absolutely heart-breaking.

Dr. Roberts makes another astonishing claim, too – that a senior detective who coordinates an investigation into a person, particularly as young as Madeleine when she was (most probably) abducted, is actually not responsible for finding her. Even if (hypothetically) parents of a missing child around Madeleine’s age were guilty of murder most foul, the prime responsibility of the person leading the enquiry would be to find the corpse. One of the leaks from Portugal published by Express newspaper (and which no doubt contributed to the McCanns’ successful libel action against it) was Find Maddie or the McCanns will escape. That says it all, really. Yet Dr Roberts seems to think Kate and Gerry’s reference in their letter to Dr Amaral’s responsibility of finding their daughter “libellous”. Why?

But there’s something else. Where does Dr Roberts get the idea from that the letter (and the forthcoming book) was written for the couple by a third party? I’m not aware of anything in the public domain indicating such. Is he privy to information denied the rest of us? I somehow doubt that. Yet the assumption is explicitly made as if irrefutable fact that a ghost-writer has penned what appears in the couple’s own name. In the letter, we have this condescending reference, suggesting a certain superiority of his own when it comes to matters such as punctuation, grammar and grammatical construction

A good editor, in my experience, will do more than simply correct aberrant punctuation. They will also question apparent statements of fact, for the very obvious and sensible reason that they might not be facts after all. Entombed within the following paragraph (concerned again with the author's own experience of 'suffering' and 'injustice') is one such.

We might agree with Dr Roberts about checking for facts. But perhaps he considers the McCanns not up to writing of the standard exhibited in their letter? In his piece Pearl Harbour he was complimentary of Vee’s literary abilities. But what of Dr Roberts’ own abilities? They are not exempt from criticism, as this example from his letter indicates:

What, under other circumstances (to coin another of your wife's turns of phrase),...

Simply, you can’t coin someone else’s turn of phrase (in this instance, apparently, Kate’s). You can only borrow it. To coin a turn of phrase is to invent one for yourself. Such a lapse isn’t the first.. In his piece Pearl Harbour Dr Roberts used initials without ever stating what they stood for.

Another couple of points worthy of note. Dr Roberts gets confused (but doesn’t allow confusion to deter him from levelling accusation with forthright vigour) about the re-opening of the case. In fact the good Doctor’s point about the McCann's legal representative not wanting the case reopened is not just inaccurate but deliberately misleading. He says there are conditions. There are, but none imposed by the McCanns or their lawyers. It is a requirement of the Portuguese judicial system that there must be new leads for the police to follow before the case can be re-opened. In context, the lawyer was saying that the case should be reopened if new evidence comes to light, but that there is NO POINT in pushing for such an action based on a vague, inexact and uncorroborated statement on the Wikileaks website, as there was no new evidence forthcoming.

That is why the McCanns’ petition asks for a review of the case in a bid to establish new leads, as formally required.

Similar blithe ignorance and pachydermatous absence of concern for finer feelings are demonstrated by Dr Roberts about the sight of open shutters and window and pulled-back bedclothes that greeted Kate’s horrified eyes on the occasion of that fateful check when she discovered Madeleine missing. Simply, Kate saw the bedclothes stripped back, the window open and Madeleine missing. What thoughts ran through her mind in those seconds of blind panic no one, including and perhaps especially, Kate, can truly imagine, remember or describe. Still, according to Dr Roberts, it’s all Jane Tanner’s fault for not stopping the abductor when she saw him. After all, we can all recognise an abduction taking place when we see one.

Is it a stereotype too far to suggest that self-professed academics with pretensions to grandeur tend to be fakes?

By Honestbroker.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Reckless disregard for truth and outright lies

The distinction, while subtle, is there. Both are disreputable, the second more so than the first..
A commitment to truth and upholding truth is demonstrated by a willingness to hold your hands up and admit it if you get something wrong, then to correct the error. Its opposite is wholesale abandonment of any pretence that accuracy or truth matters, particularly in pursuit of the goal of impugning your opponents by any means, fair or foul.

On 9th December Joana Morais published this on her blog:

You can see, it is a claim that the Mccanns’ lawyer, Isabel Duarte, was forced to return copies of a book, hitherto the subject of a banning order, written by Goncalo Amaral, Truth of the lie, despite a firm pledge that she would retain possession of them until the outcome of the next appeal against the overturning of the injunction. Soon afterwards, Nigel Moore of mccannfiles fame posted the same story on his blog, as well as announcing the ‘news’ in a rolling banner headline running across the top of his site that Isabel Duarte had returned the books. The banner, at least, still rolls on TheMccanfiles site.

We might, perhaps, be (comparatively) charitable and say that, initially, Morais just didn’t check her sources as thoroughly as she might have. Perhaps, in doing so, we are being unduly charitable? Whether or not that’s so, what, at best, began as reckless disregard for the truth has turned into an outright lie. It’s difficult to suppose that Moore has any excuses, either. He surely must read Morais’ blog? And as a quote from Mark Twain on themccannfiles tells us, those who tell the truth don’t have to remember what they say. On the other hand, those who don’t care about the truth neither care if they are caught out in lies. They just brazenly heap lie upon lie, perhaps vaguely hoping that others will forget what lies they have told, but not being much troubled if others don’t.

Morais’ latest article on her blog has the following addendum.

The Appeals Court agreed with Gonçalo Amaral, and that was a “beautiful moment” that was used to plan the future. “The books remain illegally with their keeper, the McCanns’ lawyer, and I doubt that they still exist. Now, it is up to Guerra e Paz to ensure that the Appeals Court’s decision concerning the book ‘Maddie – The Truth of the Lie’ is fulfilled.” All in all, “over 120 000 copies have been sold”, and the book was translated for France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. 

There! There the lie that Isabel Duarte was forced to return the books to the publisher refuted by Amaral himself, while Morais still carries the original article on her blog, and Moore persists with the banner headline proclaiming the lie. But notice something worse. The original lie (that Ms Duarte had been forced to return the books, contrary to her own, solemn pledge that she wouldn’t, at least yet!) has not merely been refuted; it has been contradicted by the new lie replacing it, that Ms Duarte has actually destroyed the books. Clearly, if she had destroyed them, then she could never have returned them in the first place.

So perhaps Morais is relying on an interval of nearly a month, and several articles in between to distract her readers away from the lie in the article she published on 9th combined with the hope that they simply focus on the new lie (that Ms Duarte has destroyed copies of the book in her possession).

There can be little doubt that this new aspersion is a lie and a canard, because at the outset, when the McCanns applied for the injunction, they asked the judges to authorize the destruction of copies of the book, and the judges refused. So if Ms Duarte had destroyed copies of the book, she would be in direct contempt of court. She is too experienced a lawyer to fall down an obvious pothole of that sort.

And if Portuguese civil law mirrors its criminal, then neither is Ms Duarte in contempt of any court ruling in declining to return the book to the publisher. Dr Amaral does not, technically, have a criminal conviction arising from his role in covering for colleagues who beat a ‘confession’ out of Leonor Cipriano because, by the Napoleonic Code, any criminal conviction is set aside until the last appeal is lost, and Amaral has appealed. Probably, something similar pertains in civil law. The McCanns won the original injunction against [i]Truth of the lie[/i] and the injunction stays in place until the outcome of the final appeal. So Ms Duarte’s continued possession of the book is quite legal and constitutional.

In the meantime, both Morais and Moore would do well to ponder the words of wisdom of Mark Twain.

By Honest Broker