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.