Madeleine McCann: revisiting an unsettling case (Part I)

16 mins read
Madeleine McCann

No missing child has ever generated as much interest by the public and as much controversy in the way an investigation was carried out, we look in this article at how Madeleine McCann’s disappearance raises serious and legitimate questions.

It all started when a group of friends flew together for a short holiday to Praia Da Luz, a small resort town in Portugal, becoming known as the ‘Tapas 9’ (in reference to the food they were having the evening of the disappearance).

A strange sequence of events

At 10 P.M on the 3rd of May 2007, Madeleine’s mother Kate walks to the family’s flat from the restaurant where they were having dinner and realises their daughter has gone missing, the Tapas 9 were dining merely 50 meters away, and had left their children unattended. According to the group of friends, a rota system was put in place so that the parents would check on the children in 20-30 minutes intervals. By 7 A.M on the 4th of May 2007, the British press is already alerted and the world’s TV channels send entire crews to this quiet Portuguese village. The same day Clarence Mitchell (a Tony Blair associate) is already in Portugal and becomes the parents’ spokesperson the same day.

At this point, the lead investigator is Goncalo Amaral, who doubted from the start the parents’ flawed version of events. We will come back to this character later, but what needs to be noted is that the parents, sued at the E.U level this investigator for publishing a book which casted doubt on the parent’s version of events. They have since lost the lawsuit.

A lead investigator under political pressure

According to lead investigator Goncalo Amaral, the Portuguese police was pressured by the British into not investigating this case adequately.

The investigator in his book recalls how he came to uncover a first inconsistency in the case. Before going missing, one of the McCann’s friends, David Payne, had visited Kate whilst she was at the flat and her husband away playing tennis, only a few hours before dinner; according to Kate McCann (the mother), David Payne had only popped in for 30 seconds, but when interrogated, David Payne stated that he had stayed 30 minutes. A considerable difference that Goncalo Amaral could not make sense of.

In another inconsistency, the parents had said that being only 50 meters away, they could see the kids. When further investigated, Goncalo Amaral had found out that it was impossible to see anything from where they were having dinner. This was interpreted by the investigators as the parents trying to eliminate liability as they could be prosecuted for child neglect, knowing that they had left their children unattended in a foreign country whilst wining and dining with their friends.

Goncalo Amaral also found that it was a little strange that following the discovery of Madeleine’s disappearance, Kate McCann proceeded to leave the two remaining children unattended again with the window still wide open.

The lead investigator also questioned the account of Jane Tanner, another friend of the McCanns. She had stated that whilst coming back from checking on the children, she had seen a man carrying a child, but hadn’t seen Gerry McCann who was meters away from where she saw the man.

Jane Tanner’s sighting also contradicted the other sighting by the Smith family, far away from the apartment complex and only 30 minutes later, where they too saw a man carrying a child and walking towards the beach.

Jane Tanner had stated that Maddie went missing at around 9.20 P.M, which leads one to believe that the window would have been wide open onwards, however this wasn’t the case, when Matthew (one of the friends) visited the McCann’s flat to check on the kids at 9.30, he did not see any open window.

By the 30th of May, the media circus reached global proportions, the Pope, J.K Rowling, Christiano Ronaldo, Mourinho, Wayne Rooney, Richard Brandon, to name a few, have all either showed their support publicly or met the parents in person.

Dogs don’t lie

As the investigation “progressed”, backup is sent from Britain in the form of two dogs named Eddie and Keela. Eddie is a police dog able to detect the smell of cadavers and Keela’s specialty is the smell of blood. Between the two dogs, 200 cases have been resolved. An impressive track record that did not prevent the parents from attempting to dismiss their reliability upon their findings.

The dogs were taken to all the friends’ rented flats (known as the ‘Tapas 9′), as well as the McCanns’ flat.

At the McCanns’ flat, the dogs became increasingly excited, started barking at two locations they deemed of interest: Eddie, the cadaver dog, pointed out the bedroom’s closet as a place of interest as well as behind the living room’s sofa. For Keela, the blood-detecting dog, it was also behind the sofa where blood was detected. According to the lead investigator at the time, this opened the possibility that a freak accident might have occurred at that specific location. A freak accident the parents would obviously try to cover up considering it was the norm during the group of friends’ holiday to leave the children unattended.

Eddie and Keela’s reaction to the McCann’s car

Another place of interest was the parents’ rental car, a car they had rented 23 days after the accident. The dogs were left in a car park with a number of cars, parked at equal distances and amongst which was the McCann’s Renault Scenic. Three minutes into the video, the dogs clearly point out the Renault Scenic as the only place of interest, they bark and try to attract the investigator’s attention to particular spots:

  • Eddie, the cadaver dog, pointed out the car key and the car’s trunk as places where a cadaver has been in contact with.
  • Keela, the blood dog, pointed to a spot within the car’s trunk too. Investigators will find a tiny sample of blood which they send to Birmingham for DNA tests.
  • More importantly, Eddie also pointed out Maddie’s soft toy and the mother’s clothes as having been in contact with cadaver odour.

Before the Forensic Science Service in Birmingham released the test results, the British newspaper ‘The Times’ had already announced that the results did not match, a fake story which seriously hindered the credibility of the paper at the time.

The Forensic Science Service proceeded to deny The Times’ claim that the DNA did not match, instead stating that 17 out of 19 alleles did match Maddie McCann’s DNA, however due to the high standards expected from DNA analysis and the tiny size of the sample they could not conclusively state that it was Maddie’s blood.

The parents on their side cooked up an explanation that is far from being convincing, according to Kate McCann, the cadaver odour would have been transferred to the items because of her job as a doctor and the fact that back in England she would have been in contact with cadavers at the hospital where she worked. As for the blood in the car’s trunk? the parents claimed it was probably a result of groceries shopping.

A neighbour of the McCann’s shared a worrying fact about the McCanns’ car, a jurist whose witness testimony was not taken into consideration by the investigators and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, declared that the parents were leaving the car’s trunk open, day and night, for no particular reason “I drive down this street every day to turn my car around at that end (pointing to the villa) and every time that I passed the house, and I looked at the car, the car had the trunk wide open, day or night. I often passed at night, and always verified it. It was a fact, I reported it and that was it“. The neighbour was heard again by the judicial police, but her deposition was considered to be irrelevant.

During the whole investigation, Kate McCann refused to answer questions, even those that an innocent person should have no issues with answering truthfully, if anything those are questions that would help in the progress of the investigation.

Upon leaving Portugal, Martin Smith (the man who saw an unidentified person carrying a child 30 minutes after the disappearance), recognised Gerry McCann’s stance whilst carrying his son and walking down the aircraft’s stairs, in images broadcasted live across the U.K, he had recognised Gerry McCann’s walk and way of carrying a child as the exact same as the man he saw in Portugal. Martin Smith went as far as going to the police and submitting a formal statement. Clarence Mitchell, a close associate of Gordon Brown and the self-proclaimed know-it-all spokesperson of the McCann’s promptly dismissed Martin Smith’s testimony.

Goncalo Amaral is adamant that the British press tried to silence the investigation, a form of media omerta was put in place by the British prime minister, it was fine to talk about the McCanns but under no circumstances can someone question their ‘abduction’ theory. Those who tried were immediately vilified by the media. Brenda Leyland was the first casualty of this vilification, trolls had harassed her for questioning the McCanns’ version of events, to the point where she decided to take her own life.

To demonstrate how much this investigation was hijacked by influential figures, Gordon Brown himself called the McCanns and the Portuguese prime minister. How can an investigation be impartial and independent when politicians and the media alike, take the parents’ side from the first minutes of the investigation?

The media’s role

From the get-go everyone knew this would be a sort of trial by media, and it worked to the favour of the McCanns. The parents created a limited company under the name ‘Madeleine’s fund: leaving no stone unturned‘; within a month, the McCanns had become a brand, interviewed across the world on a regular basis. Kate McCann went on to write a book which became a bestseller and made millions as a result. As a limited company and not a charity, it’s much easier to pay yourself dividends, you do not have to be as transparent. If the parents really wanted to use the funds collected efficiently and transparently, it would have been more appropriate to register as a charity. As a limited company, you are entitled to more privacy, which means no one can really check on how the funds are being used. Perhaps the £12 million were used to produce the Netflix documentary hence why the investigation didn’t produce anything.

£12 million later, the investigation hasn’t progressed by an inch

Thousands of children go missing every year in Britain, most return within 24 hours, others are found sexually abused or dead, but none have been granted as much as 1% of the attention given to this little white girl whose parents are close to the British ruling class. In Britain, being of the upper class and white certainly grants you extra rights, although not officially, it is a common truth that most people are aware of.

And this is probably what has happened in this case. The British government did not want to see Britain’s image tainted abroad, so within hours they sent out to Portugal the best propagandists they could find on short notice within their ranks to defend a white upper-class couple, a propaganda machine of epic levels thus unfolded with the British media insulting and harassing anyone who dares question the parents’ version of events. Soon after the disappearance, the British Embassy had a special counsel assigned to the McCanns, with a duty of protecting the McCanns from the Portuguese investigation at any cost and as if ordered from someone very high up the Tory hierarchy.

Part II can be found here.


  1. Great article until the Tory Hierarchy was mentioned , when it was New Labour who protected the McCanns actually and they were in Government until 2010 !
    Closet Paedophiles exsist in all partys !

  2. A good article. A lot of truth in what you say, many people are mystified as to why they have received such privileged treatment.

    In May 2007, Clarence Mitchell was Head of Media Monitoring for the Labour Government. Though he became involved with the McCanns in May 2007 he remained in his official government post until resigning in September 2007 to become full-time spokesman for the McCanns, who had just returned to the UK having being named official suspects (arguidos) in Portugal.

    Incredibly, the first report of Madeleine’s disappearance was in The Daily Telegraph at 12.01am on 4th May.

    The McCanns sued Amaral for damages in the Portuguese courts, eventually losing their case in the Supreme Court in 2017. The Supreme Court ruled that they had not been cleared in the investigation. Having lost in Portugal’s highest court, their last resort was to lodge a complaint (2017) in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR case will not involve Amaral, but rather the McCanns v The State of Portugal, and has yet to be heard but could still be thrown out if it fails to meet the criteria. (Unfortunately, cases can also be heard and ruled on in secret without anyone knowing the outcome)

    Jane Tanner stated in her testimony that she saw Gerry McCann, Jeremy Wilkins (a holidaymaker McCann was talking to), and also a man carrying a child. But McCann and Wilkins both claim they did not see Tanner passing by, nor did they see a man carrying a child, though they were all just a few feet from each other.

    Kate McCann did answer one question. Q49: Are you aware that in not answering the questions you are jeopardizing the investigation which seeks to discover what happened to your daughter? She answered, ‘Yes, if that’s what the investigation thinks’.

  3. A very interesting article about Madeleine McCann. I wonder why a parent would try to conceal a “freak accident”, if it was truly an accident.

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