Thursday, August 4, 2011

The exoneration question – one

The Blacksmith Bureau
Wednesday, 3 August 2011


It’s magic: the Attorney-General commanding the McCanns to depart

We all know that the McCanns’ libel lawyers attempted unsuccessfully to use the statement of the unfortunate Portuguese Attorney-General about the McCanns as a judicial finding rather than the mere opinion of a law officer. And we know of the constant attempts by the couple’s supporters to use this opinion as an “exoneration”, by which they actually mean exculpation.

There is a certain sadness in the way that the opinion is brandished at every opportunity by those who are unable to confront the reality of the Madeleine McCann affair, but then what choice do they have? Since May 3 2007 not a single piece of evidence has emerged to support the claims of Gerry and Kate McCann that their daughter was abducted, nothing forensic, not a sighting, not a ransom demand, not even the possibility of a lead. Nada.

The movement has, of course, been all the other way. As the primary sources have gradually emerged so the abduction claim has looked more and more senseless and, indeed, absurd.

When two witnesses make a claim that is unsupported by any evidence except their own testimony then the first, most basic and ultimately decisive question has to be posed: how reliable are they? Do they give an impression of being truthful people? Can their word be depended on? Well, we’ve seen their performance over the past four years and there is no need to repeat the evidence which grows greater each time one of the pair speaks out. To summarise: the Portuguese prosecutor stated in open court in 2010 that the parents were not truthful witnesses; they had, he said, lied. They fail the veracity test.

And then, moving beyond the parents, we have their friends. It is an understatement to say that their actions have demonstrated a determination not to assist the police inquiry in any way: leaving Praia da Luz as soon as they could, loudly asserting that they would help the Portuguese whenever asked, meeting the parents secretly in late 2007 to discuss their evidence (as Clarence Mitchell so unwisely confirmed) and answering Rebelo’s final, and very human, appeal for their help in tracing the child with childish and transparent excuses and refusals.

tapas again

The group offering to tell all they know, May 4 2007

When they were finally questioned in spring 2008 the Leicester police, courteous and non-adversarial in their enquiries, time and again offered them the chance to be frank in their answers and show that they wished to help the search for the child. At the same time those apparently friendly officers, extremely well briefed on events in Portugal, compared their replies with the facts in their possession.

At every turn those of the seven whose Portuguese statements had suggested evasion or untruth failed the test of co-operation when offered the chance. David Payne demonstrated by his answers that his visit to apartment 5A, supposedly the last time Madeleine was seen alive by anyone except her parents, could never have taken place in the way he claimed; O’ Brien, faced with difficult questions about the troublesome “timelines” he’d written down when he was meant to be searching for the child on the night of May 3, asserted that he’d completely forgotten their existence(!)Jane Tanner, having given a passable defence of her original sighting, then destroyed her credibility by attempting to dodge questions about what happened in the notorious surveillance van (something that she has clearly discussed with Kate McCann, who endeavoured to boost her version of the van incident three years later in her wretched book). And the wriggling when they were asked if they were willing to return for a reconstruction of events – with the honourable exception of Dianne Webster – was simply laughable.


The van? What van?

If there was one message that the Portuguese police officers watching this performance received, it was that the group had no intention of helping the investigation and were already using lawyers to fight any attempt to make them return to Portugal. Without that co-operation the enquiry had nowhere to go. Just as, without their participation, the Scotland Yard review has literally nowhere to go.


I really, really want to help find Madeleine…but…

One needs to step back and take a deep breath here. Whatever the excuses and evasions that six of the seven came out with – that they didn’t trust the PJ, that a reconstruction might falsely incriminate their friends the McCanns and so on – they were demonstrating,as the parents had demonstrated before them, that they they didn’t want to know. But if they were as innocent of collusion as they claimed how could they possibly have been at risk if they had helped? Were they suggesting that the PJ might frame all nine of them? Really? And even if their dislike of the PJ could ever be justified was it too much to ask that they hold their noses and co-operate in the hope that it might do some good for the child that all of them had known?

Naturally the supporters of the parents have nothing of significance to say about these matters. They cannot deny the sworn statement of the prosecutor confirming their status as liars; they cannot deny the written record concerning the seven’s evasions and non-co-operation: it’s simply there. Stuck as they are in summer 2007, their views formed for them by the media, without a single piece of information since then to support their weird beliefs, they simply lash out like the media that fooled them. Lenin called such people “useful idiots”.

Grime the dog handler gets it in the neck, as one would expect, a money-loving hustler who fibs about his qualifications. The dogs themselves cop it too although, despite the abuse, McCann supporters rather love them because, unlike the factual, and damning, evidence above, the dog stuff can be argued about in circles for ever. Amaral is a crook and a monster who beats up suspects and intimidates people – as if that could make any difference to what happened on May 3.Leaving aside that Amaral hardly appears in Kate McCann’s version of events do these people have any idea of how investigations run? If they’d come out of their time-capsules and watched the dodgy Scotland Yard copper Andy Hayman defending himself before the Commons committee the other day they’d have heard his strongest defence against accusations of somehow having corrupted the phone hacking enquiry. “What could I have done?” he asked, “if I wanted to corrupt the case tell me how I’d have done it?”

Hayman knew what he was talking about: unlike in the movies, the Mail, and the minds of McCann sleepwalkers, no one policeman has the power to bend an investigation his way – there are too many other people involved. But no, Amaral/Moriarty did it all. Again, the time warp plays its role: events since 2010 don’t seem to have happened – no Lisbon court case finally destroying the McCann story that Amaral was a lone rogue cop; no appeal court verdict devaluing the prosecutor’s “exoneration” – parroted by the Attorney-General – as a mere interpretation; no foreign office cables confirming the British role in making the McCanns the chief suspects; no admissions by Kate McCann that her husband wanted to confess to disposing of Madeleine’s body; nor that he felt the game was up to such an extent that he wanted to bundle the kids into a hire car and flee across the border – to Spain, she says, though it might have been Gibraltar; and no acknowledgement that Gerry McCann told his wife and his lawyer that he was changing his mind about confessing not because he was innocent but because the police evidence was too weak to convict him – “they’ve got nothing!”

It’s all one way, isn’t it? Against which we have what on the other side? Well, a helpful Attorney-General said nice things and…and…and…well, everyone who doesn’t believe the McCanns is a hater. Or mad. Oh, and whatever you say there was no motive, means or opportunity, so there. And anyway…they were exonerated.

To which we will return.

Posted by john blacksmith at 17:12