Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tapas Seven member attacks Madeleine police for 'outrageous' media smears

Last updated at 17:07 24 April 2008

A friend of Kate and Gerry McCann, who was with them the night their daughter Madeleine disappeared, has launched a furious attack on the Portuguese police.
Rachael Oldfield, a member of Tapas Seven, accused detectives of 'outrageous' leaks of case information to the media.
She said officers were guilty of 'double standards' for insisting the group obey strict secrecy laws.
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Tapas Seven: (Clockwise from top left) Fiona Payne, Jane Tanner, Russell O' Brien and Rachael Oldfield, who has accused the PJ of 'outrageous' leaks to the media
She told the BBC: 'They leaked information and these rumours that have flown around for the past year - it is outrageous. We have all felt very angry about it.
'We were asked to comply with the Portuguese judicial secrecy laws (under) which we were made to understand that we could face two years in prison for speaking out.
'So, as a group, we have not said anything from day one. There have been all these rumours flying around and leaks from sources close to the PJ (Policia Judiciaria), which we haven't been able to refute.
'We would have loved to have spoken out really and just put the record straight, but believed that the investigation would be the best way of finding Madeleine if we co-operated with the police and complied by their rules and regulations.'
Her comments were made in the documentary Searching for Madeleine, which is due to be broadcast tonight on Radio 4.
Meanwhile, Mr McCann said they have so little contact with Portuguese detectives they can't be sure if police are still looking for Madeleine.
Speaking on the programme, he said: "I think it's safe to say we're getting very little information.
"We haven't had any communication in terms of what's been done in the investigation."
Asked by interviewer Steve Kingstone whether he is convinced the police are still trying to find his daughter, Mr McCann replied: "I don't know because we don't have that information.
"Obviously we'd like to know. We'd like to know why the files are still secret almost a year on with a change in the penal code.
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McCanns Leaks: Kate and Gerry McCann with a picture of their missing daughter Madeleine. The couple have already accused the Portuguese police of 'blatant' attempts to smear them
"We would like to know what is being done to find Madeleine.
"We'd like to know who has been eliminated from the inquiry and on what grounds and what leads are still being followed.
"We've always said we want to leave no stone unturned and to do that, we need to know which stones have already been overturned."
Madeleine went missing from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3 last year.
Although the McCanns remain arguidos - suspects - in their daughter's disappearance, they deny any wrongdoing.
Mrs Oldfield said: 'Anyone with an ounce of common sense would be able to see they couldn't have done it.
'I was there on the night - it was agonising. There was just no way that they were involved in anything to do with Madeleine's disappearance.'
Earlier this month, the McCanns accused Portuguese police of a 'blatant' attempt to smear them after transcripts from police interviews with the couple were leaked through journalist Nacho Abad, of Spanish television programme Ana Rosa Quintana.
On the day the couple, from Rothley, Leicestershire, were in Brussels to launch a bid for a Europe-wide missing-child alert system, it emerged that Madeleine had asked her mother the night before she disappeared: "Mum, why didn't you come when we were crying last night?".

Missing: Madeleine McCann disappeared from her parents' holiday apartment last May
Kate McCann told police of the conversation in her first interview after her daughter went missing.

She added: "Gerry and I talked about it for several minutes and decided to watch over the children more carefully at night."
On May 2, Mrs Oldfield was in the next-door flat - on the other side of Madeleine's wall - all evening and heard no crying.
The Tapas Seven - Mrs Oldfield and her husband Matthew, Jane Tanner, her partner Dr Russell O'Brien, David Payne, his wife Fiona, and her mother Dianne Webster - took it in turns to make regular, 20-minute checks on the children during the night.
After the leak, the McCanns urged the Portuguese Justice Ministry to launch an internal investigation into the disclosures.
At the time, the family's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry have been subjected to leaks and smears from day one and I'm afraid this has all the hallmarks of yet another poor attempt to influence the headlines on the very day that they are seeking to achieve some good in Europe."
His comments prompted an angry response from Portuguese police who said the claims were "baseless".
A spokesman for the PJ said: "The Policia Judiciaria regrets the baseless intervention of the spokesman above all at a moment when significant moves were being made in the investigation."
From within Portugal, the police are coming under pressure to make public the case files which, under judicial secrecy laws, currently remain closed.
Antonio Marinho e Pinto, President of the Portuguese Order of Lawyers, told the BBC: "There are strong reasons to fear that judicial secrecy is being used... to conceal the fact that the police have gone down a blind alley and don't have a way out."

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