Monday, January 3, 2011

I refuse to believe the McCanns are guilty

Last updated at 17:58 12 September 2007

The past few days of Kate McCann's life may have rewritten the definition of hell.

Imagine coming home for the first time since your four-year-old daughter disappeared and walking into her bedroom to find her toys, her clothes, all her things exactly as she left them, maybe never to be touched by her again.

And then try to imagine, on top of such unspeakable sorrow, that there are people out there who believe that you killed your child, and that for four months you have simply been acting the part of a heartbroken mother.
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Gerry and Kate McCann Gerry and Kate McCann insist they had 'nothing' to do with the disappearance of their daughter
As if that weren't bad enough, the police and social services have just held a meeting to discuss the future of your two-year-old twins in the light of allegations against you and your husband.

Sean and Amelie McCann taken into care?

My stomach actually churned at the thought that Kate might lose the babies who have given her a reason to get out of bed and generally pretend to go on living since she and Gerry lost Madeleine.

It's such a grotesque idea. But over the past few days, the McCann story has gathered momentum so quickly that nothing seems shocking or impossible any more.

Imagine how thrilled those literally clueless Portuguese cops were to be handed some inconclusive DNA evidence they could talk up to scapegoat the British visitors who had become such a pain in the backside.
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Gerry and Kate McCann with children Police and social services are discussing taking Sean and Amelie McCann into care
Overnight, Gerry and Kate found themselves trapped in a nightmare straight out of Franz Kafka. A world where lack of hard evidence is taken as proof of guilt and innocent explanations are twisted to fit our darkest suspicions.

During an 11-hour interrogation, Kate's Bible, for heaven's sake, was used as proof against her because one passage about a sick child was crumpled.

Since when in the Western world are devout Christians considered suspicious for reading the Bible?

Now Kate and Gerry have been named as official suspects, it suddenly feels as if it's open season on the doctors from Leicestershire.

Kate McCann Kate McCann leaving the police station in Portugal after an 11 hour interrogation
Even those of us who have believed in the couple all along, and prayed for Madeleine's safe return, may have experienced an uncomfortable sliver of doubt.

"I always thought they were too good to be true," is a common view.

Gerry is described as controlling and unemotional. As for Kate, she attracts suspicion for the sin of being nicely turned out. I actually heard one man complain that she wore a different, clean T- shirt every day and matching earrings.

In this post-Diana age, people want proof of grief. They don't want dignity or faith or an attempt to keep up appearances, even if you are collapsing inside.

Trained to deal with trauma, doctors can seem more detached than the rest of us. That professional self-control may also have counted against the McCanns.

So in the absence of definite proof - as opposed to rumours and allegations from unnamed sources - let's set aside the sensational headlines and expert theories about DNA strands.

Look at Kate McCann. Notice the checked trousers that fitted her four months ago flapping on her emaciated frame. Watch her head lean with infinite tenderness into her baby daughter's face.

Gerry and Kate McCann Kate's weight loss under the stress and worry is clear from the checked trousers that hang from her tiny frame as Gerry reads a statement to the press
Observe her spasm of anguish at the airport when Gerry, breaking down in outraged tears himself, said: "We have played no part in the disappearance of our lovely daughter, Madeleine."

Can anyone really believe that woman killed the child she went through two gruelling years of IVF to conceive?

That she then hid the small body and strolled down with her husband to enjoy dinner with friends?

That Gerry and Kate, devoted parents by all accounts, loaded Madeleine's decaying body into the boot of a hire car four weeks later while they were busy courting the international media to help find their child?

Can you credit it? Of course not. The allegation is not just revolting. It is surreal.

Whatever you may think about the error they made in leaving their children alone that night, these people are not Fred and Rose West.

The deed the McCanns are accused of would have required such black, cold-hearted evil that I refuse to believe they are guilty unless overwhelming evidence is uncovered.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told the BBC she had full confidence in the Madeleine investigation.

Well, you're on your own, honey.

The British Government should be expressing disquiet to the Portuguese about the sorry excuse for an inquiry into Madeleine's disappearance - and the subsequent outrageous attempt to bully Kate into a quick confession.

Debate is already turning to whether the McCanns, as they fight to clear their names, should be able to dip into the £1 million Madeleine Fund to pay for legal help.

My answer, unhesitatingly, is yes. That money was given by the public to try to secure Madeleine's safe return.

I fervently believe her kidnapper is still at large, and just imagine what sick pleasure he must be taking as the Portuguese police try to stitch up the little girl's parents.

What hope of justice can there be for Madeleine if the only line of inquiry is into her beloved mother and father?

Now, more than ever, the McCanns desperately need our support, not our cynicism.

It is time to call off the witch hunt for the simple reason there is no witch, only a heartbroken mother who wants her child back.

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