Monday, 28 February 2011

Greece Lightning

Article by Deuce. 

In the book, Truth of the Lie, Amaral makes a comment which compares the Gaspar statement with other information, which serves to raise suspicion about a member of the Tapas group, through his use of words to interpret what was said by a witness and the addition of pure hearsay.

Firstly, Goncalo talks about the Gaspar statement itself. Actually he talks about a section from the statement and interprets a specific piece of information which manipulates the truth effectively to point fingers at a member of the Tapas group of friends. Something the Leicester police were no doubt aware of as a risk and therefore had declared their intention to protect innocent people and witnesses through their regulation that this information was not be revealed until the crime had been solved.

Katherina Gasper wondered if two friends she was observing were talking about Madeleine when they were making adult gestures. She did not hear them mention any names, she just wondered, assumed who they were talking about. Yet Amaral twists what the statement says.

Amaral . “She hears the latter ask if she - probably Madeleine - did "that".

The actual statement says.

K. Gaspar. “I was sitting between Dave and Gerry whom I believe were both talking about Madeleine.”

Katherina believed they were talking about Madeleine. That is not the same as knowing as fact that they were talking about Madeleine and certainly not, as Amaral interprets it, Probably talking about Madeleine. Probably means the same as most likely. Why would an investigator charged with finding the truth, take a witness statement and tell readers of his book that the witness meant her assumption of who was being discussed was probable?  He then goes on to make a further link to add value to his probability.

“This witness statement from the couple, S.G. and K.G., is taken by the English police on May 16th, thirteen days after Madeleine's disappearance. That information, very important for the progress of the investigation, was never sent to the Portuguese police. When the Portuguese investigators learn about similar events that allegedly took place during a holiday in Greece - without, however, obtaining reliable witness statements, they tell the English police, who, even at this point, refrain from revealing what they know on the subject.”

Do you see what Goncalo did? He used information learned by Portuguese investigators, but not from a reliable witness statement.  He heard gossip about an issue that allegedly took place on a holiday in Greece and there is no information in the files about this gossip. So isn't Goncalo actually gossiping himself?

Then further along in the same chapter, Goncalo ends the subject with.

“It is difficult to seriously doubt these witnesses.”

He said ‘witnesses’! There is only one witness statement in question. The other unreliable sources which produced gossipers has pluralised his official witness. Even so, if he was just talking about the official witness and her assumption, being 'difficult to doubt an assumption' doesn't really make sense, unless Amaral meant he has no reason to doubt Katherina made an assumption. However, it seems with the addition of hearsay and his use of the word 'probable' to interpret Katherina's own words, I believe Goncalo was manipulating; painting a picture that Madeleine WAS being discussed and raising a suspicion of paedophilia as 'probable'. His statement that it is 'difficult to seriously doubt these witnesses' reveals Amarals real agenda.

Installing such propaganda to add value to an assumption, add value to a witness statement with cheap hearsay, can strike unfounded suspicion upon an innocent individual forever. I have no doubt common sense will prevail and most intelligent people will see through this use of misinformation.

Lightning only needs to strike once. Perhaps Goncalo is relying on that Greece Lightning to manipulate opinion and suspicion?

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Can we trust these files?

Article by Honestbroker.

There is a tale to tell from the enclosed correspondance, in the files, between Goncalo Amaral and the Portguese Forensic laboratory. Or at least, that's how it's presented. But closer analyis suggests a different story and raises some intriguing discrepancies.

Amaral sent a pair of duplicate pyjamas, pristine and unworn, to the forensic laboratory. Why he did that is an intriguing question in itself, and perhaps, one deserving of an article in its own right. But my focus, here, is very different.

Here is Amaral's letter, dated 5th of June, when he was, indeed, coordinator of the case:

To: Police Scientific Laboratory

5th June 2007

Subject: Sending of Pyjamas

The present inquiry investigates the disappearance of Madeleine McCann on 3rd May 2007. I am herewith delivering to the Police Scientific Laboratory a pair of girl?s pyjamas.

The Pyjamas are from Marks and Spencers, size 2 to 3 years -97 cm.

The pyjamas are composed of two pieces: camisole type without buttons and half sleeves, pink with designs, letters and tracing in white with (small) floral patterns, the right pyjama bottom leg has a design (smaller size) which is identical to that of the camisole.

The pyjamas being sent are 'equal' in make, model, size, colours and designs as well as presumably the texture, to those the little girl was wearing at the time of her disappearance. The article sent serves for eventual comparisons with fibres collected by the competent officers of the Police Scientific Lab, within the scope of the current investigation.

With compliments


The Coordinator of the Criminal Investigation

Goncalo Amaral

Here is the response:

Processos Vol VII Page 1723 to 1725 07_VOLUME_VI1a_Page_1723

To: The Coordinator of the Criminal Investigation

Date: 2007/03/15 (sic)

Ref: NUIPC 201/07 GALGS

Your communication: 2007/06/05

Ref n? 15971 Reg Correspondence 6429/07

Subject: Information

With reference to the abovementioned letter and in compliance with the despatch, we request you to provide us with information with regard to what should be done with the material sent, given that in this Scientific Police Laboratory there are no fibres that have been collected within the scope of the investigation mentioned above.

With compliments.

PP The Director of the SPL
Armando Santos
(Haed of Sector) 07 Processos Vol VII Page 172407_VOLUME_VI1a_Page_1724

The first thing to note is the date. 15 March 2007, some six weeks before the McCanns arrived in Portgual. The translator, not me, added 'sic' after the date, to indicate that he/she had registered the error and copied, literally, what was written.

So, is this a straightforward typing error by the laboratory? Closer analysis suggests it might not be. Notice that the letter is addressed to the [i]coordinator of the criminal investigation[/i], but that the person is not named. In the text of the original Portuguese document, from which the translation is derived, and which can be enlarged to readable form if clicked on, the name of the addressee is given -- not Goncalo Amaral and neither his successor Paulo Rebelo, but Joao Carlos, an inspector in the Madeleine investigation, but never the coordinator.

Notice something else, too. The reply makes no reference to 'pyjamas' -- only 'material'.
The anomolies don't stop there. Here is Amaral's response to the reply from the Portuguese Forensic Institute:

To: Scientific Police Laboratory

Date: 5th June 2007

Subject: Sending of Pyjamas

The present inquiry investigates the disappearance of Madeleine McCann on 3rd May 2007 from P da L.

By means of this note I am sending a set of child?s pyjamas to the Scientific Police Laboratory.

The pyjamas are of Marks $ Spencers make and size 2/3 years, 97 cm.

The pyjamas are composed of two pieces, a camisole without buttons and half length sleeves, pink in colour with designs and letters and white trousers with floral motifs (small), on the right leg there is a design (smaller size) that is the same as the design on the camisole.

The pyjamas being sent are ?equal? in make, model, size, colours and designs and presumably texture, as those the girl was wearing at the moment of her disappearance.

The article sent serves for eventual comparison with ?fibres? collected during the competent examinations carried out by staff from the SPL, within this inquiry.


G. Amaral

(Note: there is handwriting over the text which I can?t fully make out).

This reply is word-for-word the same as Amaral's original letter, except for the last sentences of each letter, which are ever so slightly different. And Amaral's 'reply' has the same date as his first letter. Presumably they are two different letters from Amaral, because each has a different reference number within the file.

The reference number of the first letter is 07 Processos Vol VII Page 1713. The second is 07 Processos Vol vVII Page 1724.

Is the 'reply' to Amaral from the Institute, actually, from an altogether different case? We'll probably never know.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Disturbing parallels.

By Vee8

I came upon this article while tidying up the files on my computer last night. I vaguely remember saving this link, but have long since forgotten it, until now. It is both astounding and yet disturbing that the parallels between the two cases are so profound. Slapdash and shoddy gathering of forensic evidence, leading to defective conclusions, a so called ‘Expert witness’ who turned out to be anything but, a dubious element within the police force running a whispering campaign. And a willing accomplice in a press all too willing to print any salacious gossip and pass it off as fact without bothering, or worrying about checking sources, in order to sell copies. It’s all there. That Lindsey suffered so tragic an event in her life was bad enough: To suffer such a miscarriage of justice in it’s wake is totally deplorable. And yet there are those who would seek the same appalling injustice on Kate McCann. Have these people learned nothing? I can do no better than to reproduce the article in full. I suggest those who wish ill on the McCanns take careful heed, and read it in full. Then perhaps they can take the trouble to explain how a similar injustice would help Madeleine.


Last updated at 23:27 15 September 2007

This is a difficult time of year for me, bringing the kind of anniversary that any parent would dread.

It is just over 27 years since my baby daughter, Azaria, was snatched by a dingo - a wild dog - and carried away into the darkness of the Australian outback forever. The unusual circumstances, and the frenzied speculation that followed, made it one of the most notorious cases of a missing child the world has known, and it ended in the greatest miscarriage of justice Australia has ever seen.

Damned by police hostility, "forensic" discoveries and an increasingly hysterical public, I was jailed for murdering my own daughter, despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. It is a state of affairs that Kate and Gerry McCann will recognise only too well. And, as they reluctantly refocus their lives from the search for Madeleine to the case for their defence, I can say with some confidence that they have good reason to be worried.

For the parallels with my own case, while not exact, are inescapable.

Once again we have newspapers and TV stations obsessed by a single story. I can see the same public-longing for a neat solution to a tragedy. There are detectives under huge pressure. And at the heart of it, there is a woman who has failed to play the emotive, feminine role scripted for her in this terrible soap opera. The rush to judgment seems irresistible; but if I have learned anything it is this: that, from our position in front of the TV screens or outspread newspapers, we ordinary members of the public do not - and cannot - know the truth of what occurred that May night in Praia da Luz.

It was August 1980 when I took that fateful August camping holiday at Ayers Rock in the Northern Territory with my then husband Michael, our two boys, Aidan, six, Reagan, four, and, the latest addition to our family, Azaria, aged just nine-and-a-half weeks. We were staying at the public campsite, in the shadow of the mountain. The simple, crucial facts are as follows. Azaria and Reagan were inside the tent asleep and I was outside, preparing food for Aidan. Three people heard Azaria cry. When I went to check, I saw a dingo emerge from the tent and disappear. I saw that Azaria was gone.

"How did it feel?" It is a question I have faced repeatedly, as you might imagine, and now, with the McCanns taking up airtime even here in Australia, I am being asked it once again. Anyone who has actually been through the loss of a child would know that it is a question not worth asking - because there is no answer that others could understand. There are no words I could use. It is indescribable.

Like the McCanns, I was accused of behaving irresponsibly. How could I leave my children - even momentarily - in a tent that was not zipped up? This, after all, was the outback. Yet we had been told it was safe at Ayers Rock, even though we later learned that there had been attacks around that time.

The result was the worst judgment call of my life.

I have little doubt that the McCanns feel the same way, even though the distance between their restaurant table and Madeleine's bed was shorter than the length of my back yard at home. What happened subsequently to destroy my life was nothing to do with a "judgment call", however, and everything to do with the circumstances that now threaten to drag down Kate and Gerry.

I understand the spectre of forensic evidence looms large for them. It was key to putting me behind bars in October 1982, and it is this aspect of my case that must be particularly alarming for the McCanns. They have been told there is "body fluid" and "DNA" in their rented car. I was told there was a lot of my child's blood in our car.
But in my case, at least, these findings were far from forensic. The "tests" had been incompetent. Rigorous analyses conducted later showed the "blood" to be no more than copper dust, spilt milkshake and a sound-deadening chemical that was over-sprayed from the wheel arch of the car. The most they found was a small patch of "nose excreta" with some blood attached. In other words, somebody had picked their nose and wiped it on the car seat.

In another strange echo, the McCanns' fate appears to be in the hands of scientists from England - just as mine was. When they flew to Darwin, to give evidence, their contribution proved both incompetent and fatal. One man claimed there was a small female handprint in blood on my baby's growsuit. That was just the dust and not even a handprint. The other man was the so called dingo expert from London who, it emerged, had never ever set eyes on a dingo.

Even when forensics are abused, people have a tendency to go along with it.

And by the time they find out that you were innocent all along, your reputation is ruined. I was spat at and abused in the street. I was continually followed by the media. For years, I was the most reviled woman in Australia. Looking back, perhaps the clearest comparison of all with the plight of the McCanns is the atmosphere of speculation and the terrible appetite for quick answers. There comes a point where the public is so worked up, it wants solutions even though there aren't any; the next instalment, when there isn't one.

There is only one truly solid fact out in the open, and that is that Madeleine has gone missing. Too many of our ideas about investigations come from TV programmes and novels. Within an hour of watching, viewers have seen all the forensic evidence and solved the crime. Better still, we have been led to feel we know the answer from early on. Real life is not like that. Sometimes, as in my case, it can take years of hard work to establish the truth for all to see. In the long run it cost us £2.3million in a country where you are supposedly innocent before being proved guilty.

Do I blame the media? It is hard to make a blanket judgment. A great many lies were printed. There were certainly cases where pictures of me were manipulated to make them look more sinister. But there were some journalists who behaved honourably and helped to clear my name.

The same cannot be said of some officers in the Northern Territory police force. Like Kate McCann, I was told, "if you just admit you did it, you can go home". I had the full interview treatment. In fact, I know the police started the rumour we were guilty in the first place. We can trace it back. The police don't normally use CB radio when they want to talk to each other. But they did that day. Within hours the rumours were all over the country. From what I have seen, it looks as if something similar may be happening once again.

There is a further disturbing aspect of these cases, which is a question of looks and temperament. I lost out on both counts. My face is severe in repose. I didn't look friendly. When I showed my emotions, it was edited out so the public thought me hard. Later I tried to hide my emotions because of the media pressure and the criticism. Some people think that Kate, too, is "not behaving right". People don't like it when a person is strong and does not show signs of hysteria. They say to themselves: "I'd break down if that were me, therefore she must be guilty." But these people are both doctors. If your GP was the hysterical type, would you want to go to see her? If you have ever had people hissing and booing you while you walk in front of the cameras, you too might try to keep your thoughts to yourself. You can't win. If you cry, you're being overdramatic. If you don't cry, you're a hard-faced bitch.

I want to make it clear that I do not know the McCanns and I do not know whether they are innocent or guilty. I am certain, however, that they do not deserve this level of vilification. It is as if we have run over the hour allotted for the "show" and the viewers are saying, "Where's the answer?" We're looking at it as if it were reality TV. Yet these people have to live their lives moment by painful moment. When the public atmosphere is like this, questions of justice or truth start to take second place.

I believe that the roots of our anxiety are deep. In particular, we need to feel that we can keep our children safe and to acknowledge to ourselves that we can't is to open ourselves to feelings of terror. But we must not get sucked in. None of us knows the truth because we weren't there. Nobody should be speculating. Nobody even knows if little Madeleine is dead. There is a trade in children, after all.

The huge shame of what's happening now is that if the police blame the parents, the public will stop looking for her. I have advised a number of families over the years and have been asked if I would consider helping the McCanns. My answer is that I would talk to anybody if I thought it would help. But in saying that, the only things that truly help are to say, "Hang in there" and to give them a hug. We must each carry our own cross, hard as it may be.

I am particularly concerned at suggestions that, such is the stress of the investigation, the McCanns might end up separated from their twins. But my own experience says this is the opposite of what should happen. My surviving children have come through it all now and I am convinced that the thing holding them together was having their parents around. They are involved. Even small children know what's going on. When we were at court and the children were looked after by my parents, seven-year-old Aidan would come in and turn on the TV himself, saying: "It's news time. I need to know what they're saying about Mummy." For the sanity of the McCanns and their twins, they ought to be together.

I had been in jail for more than three years when, in 1986, there was finally a breakthrough. The missing item of Azaria's clothing, a jacket, was found while police were looking for a missing British tourist. The following year, thanks to pressure from a local reporter, I was released from jail and - in an unprecedented move - a Royal Commission was established. The forensic tests were done again, correctly. After 14 months of hearings, Michael and I were cleared. We had to go back to court again to be formally exonerated, and yet again for compensation. Even today, no one has officially apologised.

Almost three decades on, I have a good life, even if it is very different from the one I might have expected. For a long while I was unemployable because of the publicity, as was my new husband, Rick. So, together, we now buy and renovate properties to earn a living. My children are well and in the coming months both Aidan, now 34, and my daughter Kahlia, born three years after Azaria died, are getting married. I'm in the middle of the preparations as I write. I think I am much the same person I was, although perhaps I have more empathy than in the past.

I am convinced that we cannot make judgments about other people without walking in their shoes - with the same painful corns and irritating stones.

I never forget. It can never be truly over. The emptiness never diminishes. Azaria would be 27 now, I wonder what she might have been like, how her laugh would be, what woman she might have become.

I pray that Kate and Gerry McCann might still be spared this sadness.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Blacksmith, Polemic and Debate

By Honestbroker.

Properly used, there is a place for polemic in debate, but it is not,
itself, debate; and improperly used, polemic can be a black art of
spreading propaganda or even disinformation. There are few more
prolific practitioners of polemic as a black art than Blacksmith, as
his latest offering on The Blacksmith Bureau indicates.

Polemic is the making of a controversial and provocative undefended statement, intended to stir antagonism or strong contrary reaction. In proper
debate, that is perfectly acceptable, provided that, when a statement
of polemic is challenged, the person who made it then defends it with
properly reasoned argument. In that sense, polemic can be a valuable
tool for prompting debate. Blacksmith seldom does debate, mainly
because he tends not to put himself in a position where he can be
directly challenged.

Worse, Blacksmith makes statements of polemic, then embellishes and
asserts them without supporting evidence as if they were solid and
irrefutable fact. He does it time and time again, and the frightening
thing is that in this way, unsupported statements can assume the status
of ‘fact’. Examples from his ironically titled article The Bigger the Fib are legion. A handful will suffice to make the point.


Of course nobody ever attempts to deal with or rebut the facts
mentioned in our last post - the irrefutable police, prosecutor’s and
court evidence (not old newspaper cuttings) that shows what constant
liars the McCanns are and how, therefore, accepting their unsupported
testimony of abduction is akin to accepting milord Taylor’s
parliamentary expenses claims.

Well, let’s see. We have the Almeida interim report. In that, there
is (interestingly) no reference to jemmied or forced shutters
(suggesting that the McCanns never proffered such an explanation to the
police). There are falsehoods such as that Kate’s father told the
press the Mccanns used sedatives with the children, that there is no
independent corroboration of checks on the children by the party
throughout the days leading up to Madeleine’s abduction, or that the
sniffer dogs have a 100% record of accuracy in use in Britain. And
while the McCanns’ plea that the twins be tested for the presence of
drugs after suspicion officially fell on them is dismissed by Almeida
as bogus because (he says) it was by then too late, there is no
reference to the fact that they first enquired of the PJ about possible
drug use in the abduction just 48 hours after it happened.

Prosecutor evidence? That, presumably, is a reference to Menezes’
comment appearing, ostensibly, as a witness in support of Amaral
against the injunction on his book that they were unconvinced of the
truth of claims about checks. Well, it’s true that Almeida was
unconvinced. But Menezes also spectacularly torpedoed Amaral’s case by
expressing the personal view that it was 50-50 whether Madeleine is
alive or dead. Of course, he made that statement in court.

The McCanns had not initiated the media coverage in any way. There
was not a word from Dr McCann about who had contacted any of them or
fed them the tales which had overnight turned the case from a mystery
in a distant corner of Europe to a soap-opera drama of baddies and
goodies. Not a word. The first he knew of the media was when he came
back from giving his (untrue, according to Menezes) police statement on
the afternoon of May 4.

Now Blacksmith has long had a beef about the McCanns courting
publicity. He is fond of quoting the tragic circumstances of a family
in Australia. To my knowledge, he has never stated which family and I
think it’s fair to ask why. But his point is that this family, unlike
the McCanns, eschewed publicity. That (Blacksmith believes) is the
correct way to go. From details Blacksmith has given about this family
in Australia, other sleuths (not me) have tracked down the (indeed)
tragic case of Nick Waterlow and his family as the one Blacksmith,
possibly, refers to:

If that’s right, then we have a possible answer to why Blacksmith has
never identified them. Nick Waterlow and his daughter were both
murdered. The murderer was convicted and is a member of the family.
The contrast with Madeleine’s abduction could scarcely be more stark.
Where the family of the late Nick Waterlow wanted (wants) time and
space to grieve and come to terms the double shock of horrific murders
and the knowledge of the murderer being one of their number, the
McCanns have no clue of the fate of their daughter and want her back.
That’s why they court publicity, wholly compatible with resenting (and
striking back against) lies and falsehood.

As to publicity generated by the McCanns, I assume Blacksmith doesn’t
include canards about ‘100% DNA match with Madeleine from the boot of
the car’; or fabricated newspaper headlines such as ‘find Madeleine’s
body and prove we killed her’. Those, and much else written besides,
particularly in the Portuguese press, but also the UK, were not the
responsibility of Kate and Gerry at all. But just like Kerry Needham
two decades before, whose son Ben disappeared on the Greek island of
Kos, the McCanns have sought publicity that might be useful in finding
Madeleine. In the immediate aftermath of Ben’s disappearance, there
were nearly 300 reported sightings, all generated through publicity,
and the Needhams also hired a private detective.

There are many more examples. But one more will do:

The police in Portugal know they [the McCanns] were lying, Leicester
police, as is clear from the traps laid with the assistance of Bob
Small in the rogatory interviews, know that they were lying, the
aforementioned prosecutor knows they were lying, even the poor little
Bureau knows, from the evidence, they were lying: the investigative
task therefore, uncompleted and as yet incapable of completion, is
simply: find out why.

What is ‘clear’ about Bob Small’s part in events in Praia da Luz? Is
Blacksmith privy to information denied the rest of us? No report of
Bob Small’s appears in the official file, and all reference to him is
anecdotal from the statements of other witnesses, particularly Jane

Citing Mark Harrison is certainly no use. He worked to a brief handed
him by the PJ, and much of his work tended to rule out Amaral’s
hypothesis of Gerry’s alleged part in Madeleine’s disappearance. What
else? I’ve literally no clue. I take it Blacksmith has not been
suckered in by Amaral’s farcical description of Prior’s supposed
acquiescence in Amaral’s misinterpretation of the forensic results. I
hope not.

Indeed, what evidence is there of Murat v Tanner, triumphantly
trumpeted with glee by Blacksmith himself just a few months back? That
seems an odd thing to be triumphal about because, in the normal course
of events, statements made in good faith to police are treated in
confidence and are not, themselves, the subject of legal proceedings,
even if they turn out to be wrong or misleading. But then Blacksmith
probably ‘knows’ that JT acted maliciously. There is, apparently, no
end to Blacksmith’s seemingly supernatural powers of perception.

Blacksmith doesn’t get it all wrong. Those shocked at his comments
about Tony Bennett will doubtless be more deeply shocked (and where
have they been if they didn’t already know?) to learn that he has long
had Mr Bennett sized up much the same way as most pros. And in his
scathing and lucid denunciations of anti hype around wikileaks or
supposed Establishment cover-ups for the McCanns, Blacksmith could
almost be a pro. Yet he subscribes to, and even spawns,
ridiculous, vindictive and spiteful canards that even the most naive of
souls could refute, simply with a little basic research.

There’s the paradox of the man.

By Honestbroker.