The McCanns – Scandal At Chaplins

The Madeleine McCann story has many rumours circulating around it. One is the Scandal At Chaplins.

In brief, the McCanns allegedly had a late night at Chaplins on Tuesday, 1st May, and this is far too far away for half-hour checks or baby monitors.

This rumour was/is still doing the rounds in Luz (5 months ago). I first heard about it from then someone who had recently heard about it, in the stories emerging when Scotland Yard was coming to dig up Luz in June 2014.

The Chaplins story surfaced early on, not later than 24 July 2007 in a user comment section of the Daily Express. It seems this user comment got deleted fairly rapidly and the whole thread was removed later when there was a McCann-story clean sweep.

The person who retained the comment for posterity did a bit of digging and added that Tuesday night was quiz night at Chaplins, and that after dining had ceased it acted more as a bar, with a happy hour when all drinks were half-price for an hour from 11:30pm to 00:30am the next morning.

Tuesday night 1st May was also the night of the crying incident, according to Pamela Fenn, who lived in the apartment directly above 5A. She gave a statement to the PJ that she heard a child crying in 5A from 10.30pm to 11.45pm. She also stated that from the sound it was by a child older than the twins, and that the crying stopped after she heard the patio door being opened by the parents when they returned.

The user comment in the Express mentioned Mrs Fenn (though it misspells her name) and the tale of crying from 10.30pm to 11:45pm.

Chaplins was (and still is) a restaurant just south of the church. As the crow flies, the distance is 350m to 5A, but a straight line route is not possible and in early May it was made longer because of major engineering works on two roads. 350m definitely rules out a baby monitor.

The minimum walking distance is 500m. At standard walking pace that is 5 minutes there, and 5 minutes back, so unless a proper rota, involving at least all 8 parents, was in place, the idea of half-hour checks is fanciful.

The media did not investigate this scandal and report on it. Instead the user comment got removed in a fairly timely manner.

So what is the evidence?

I believe that Pamela Fenn has since passed away and I am mindful of the various allegations made against conveniently dead people in the McCann case.

The mccannjpfiles has her statement on file. It was made on 20 Aug 2007, which is 3½ months later than Madeleine’s disappearance. However, the user comment in the Express was closer to the incident, being dated 24 Jul 2007, around 2½ months out, and the story could have been circulating earlier.

Mrs Fenn states that she did not see the parents return, but that she heard the patio doors open. Perhaps she meant she heard the parents as they went in the patio doors, but I find it hard to believe she could hear the patio doors open, particularly over the crying coming from 5A.

The PJ files have single reference to Chaplins, and it is not connected to this rumour. By sheer coincidence, Aoife Smith, of Smith sighting fame, said in her statement that Chaplins was one of several restaurants the Smiths frequented while in Luz. None of the Smith statements mention being in (or not being in) Chaplins on 1st May. None mentions seeing the McCanns or other members of the Tapas group before the news broke.  {EDIT  I misspelled Aoife’s name in the original.  It has now been corrected.}

A rumour that Mrs Fenn complained to the Ocean Club and an employee of the Club somehow managed to track the McCanns to Chaplins is not supported by the files. Mrs Fenn made no mention of informing the Ocean Club. Not a single employee refers to a crying incident or of tracking the McCanns to Chaplins. Phone records show contact could not have been made by phone.

No-one in Chaplins that night has given a statement. That is, the waiters, the other diners, the quiz master, those participating in the quiz and those participating in the happy hour are all silent on what would be a major revelation.

You can check through all relevant statements for yourself. I have checked on barmen at the Tapas Bar, waiters at the Tapas Restaurant and chefs/kitchen staff in the Tapas Restaurant. None mentions the Tapas 9 being absent on the evening of 1st May. Three mention the group being present on 1st May, although as no-one was asked specifically about the 1st May, and the evidence is weak, of the form “they dined at the Tapas Restaurant everyevening from Sunday on”. has the booking forms for the holiday period. On 1st May at total of 28 people had reservations at the Tapas Restaurant. All of these are noted as Mark Warner clients. This implies they were entitled to a 3 course meal, plus certain ‘free’ drinks. The meals and drinks had been factored into the booking price, so ‘free’ is not quite correct. One of the waiter statements said the allowance was around one bottle of wine per person.

The booking form notes 1 Sangria (presumably a bottle or jug) as a quiz show prize, plus 6 bottles of white wine and 10 of red, was the total consumption for everyone on a Mark Warner trip (the 28 people, not just the Tapas 9).

It would be surprising to find the 4 people booked in at 8pm were not there when the McCann group arrived around 8:30. I would also be surprised if the 7 individuals booked in at 7:30 had departed within an hour.

Nejoua Chekaya gave two statements, each of which says much the same. She ran a quiz in the Tapas area that night, she was invited by Gerry McCann to join the table, and she discussed banalities with them from around 9:30pm to 9:50pm.

If the McCann group was heading for another quiz starting at 10pm in Chaplins they were cutting it fine.

Gerry’s phone records do not provide evidence one way or other. Kate’s suggest that she was back in 5A as she made or received 6 texts or calls in around 15 minutes from 10:16pm to 10:27pm, after a gap with no activity during the dinner period. I cannot see why she would go to Chaplins for a quiz and then be active on her phone.

This phone timing, of course, edges right up to when Mrs Fenn says the crying started, which does not fit if Kate and Gerry were already back.

The crying episode fits much better with the night of 2nd May when the Tapas group stayed out later for an after dinner drink. If so, Mrs Fenn was 1 night off when she gave her statement some 3½ months after the event.

If you search on Madeleine McCann and Chaplins, you will get plenty of hits. Most of these originate from before the PJ files were released and are chock full of errors resulting from media reports. Nejouya Chekaya was not the quiz mistress at Chaplins, she was an aerobics instructor in the Ocean Club who ran the quiz in the Tapas area. Blood was not found in the children’s bedroom, or outside the front of the apartment (the car park side). Blood and brain matter was not found on the steps from the patio to the garden gate. The list of errors runs on and on.

Since the media scrupulously avoided the Chaplins story and no hard evidence exists to support any of the variations, I’m writing this tale off as a scandalous rumour.


8 thoughts on “The McCanns – Scandal At Chaplins

  1. Hi Elca,

    There is a lot of information which could potentially be important in your post- but I’d say the least interesting is the ‘Chaplin’s’ theory. I’d never heard of it, but it was clearly a non-starter for about 50 reasons off the top of my head. I’m going to be slightly critical, not of you, but rather of your sources for this, because, unless I’m imagining it, I can see them coming through in what you write.

    For example, the root of above conspiracy is a comment on the ‘Express’ website (God help us)… but you say it was made to disappear, which implies in this context that the all-powerful government agencies/secret societies who are working non-stop inexplicably for the McCanns have had it ‘whooshed’, to coin their phrase. I say they, and you’ll probably know they kind of internet personality I’m talking about. That might not have been your implication, but it is invariably theirs. More likely by half, the moderators on the ‘Express’ did not want what you rightly define as a scandalous rumour leading to endless speculation in an on-going case.

    Second example, and again I could be wrong… but the lass’s Christian name is Aoife… not ‘Aiofe’. It’s a good Irish girl’s name, and I don’t expect you to know of it, or necessarily how to spell it… but there is one rather prominent gentleman (online, at least) who lost his marbles, and put his house up to pay for a case he brought against the McCanns for child neglect very early on, which he subsequently lost, and then went even more mental… so he’s been a mentalist with an axe to grind online for 7 and a half years… and on the odd occasion I’ve read any of the nonsense he spouts, I’ve noticed he continually mentions one ‘Aiofe Smith’… If that fellow is your source for anything, check, re-check and check again for luck for yourself. He’s a lunatic. All IMHO (disclaimer)!

    That said, I agree with your conclusion about the rumour, but the rumour probably needed the least investigation of several elements you mention within this piece.

    All from memory (if you want any sources, ask me and I’ll dig them up)… yes, Mrs. Fenn passed away a few years back… 2010, IIRC… around then, anyway. Before the files came out she tried to deny having made a statement, and told the press that she heard nothing and it was all speculation… she wished to be left alone, and who can blame her?

    But make a statement she did. And it was a very important one…. will have to continue this later. She was a key witness, no doubt.

    • Hi again,

      At the moment, I’m trying to cut through some of the more popular theories that are rife in Luz, and Chaplins happens to be one of them.

      Oddly enough, no one in the town wants to talk about Madeleine whilst absolutely everyone has a view, whether it is based in fact or not, and most of the time it very definitely is not based in fact. Scandal is easy. Rumours are cheap.

      As for Aoife, put that down as a blooper solely due to me. I have her in the PJ files as Aoife. I hope I referred to her as Aoife in the Smith sighting posts, and when I stuck the I before the O it is simply because I am not familiar with the name. As far as I had found out about her name when I checked some months ago, the correct pronunciation is “ee-fay” (and if I got that wrong that is because I am working with Wiki) and the meaning is “beautiful” or if you want to stretch it a little “light”.

      Aoife, the “light” in the town of “light”.

      Oh boy, would I like to sit down with her for 5 minutes and just see if she can remember just a tiny bit more about where the person she saw on 3rd May was heading. Because I’m now looking at Gonçalo Amaral’s book, his body concealment places, his body disposal places, and that includes the (ludicrous) idea of the beach.


      • Sorry, a few letters missing in that hastily written post today… should have read over it before posting.

        I just want to highlight a few points from your post.

        Could Mrs. Fenn have been wrong by a night? Possibly… but she remembered watching Newsnight or what have you- she had it timed to the minute, and she also phoned a friend, if I’m not mistaken, to discuss the situation.

        She’s an excellent witness, simply because of her location, and her nature- she also has no reason to fabricate, as far as I can see.

        What her statement does tell us is that there is no way the McCanns and their T7 were making half-hourly checks every night. That’s the crux of it- I mentioned it before… say you have crying on the Tuesday for an hour and 45, and then the child asked the parents where they were on the Wednesday… if they’re not confused incidents, you have two nights when children cried unattended.

        You also have reports which you can look into that a couple comforted the children on one of those occasions.

        Now, you have two scenarios as possibilities- 1) parents felt guilty about their negligence (which they did at least to some extent, as KM mentioned MBM’s question to one of the women… perhaps looking for reassurance, as they were all in it together) and decided to perform half-hourly checks that one night because of that question, or 2) they check far less frequently than that, if at all, and fabricated the time-lime… which is almost unimaginable, and would have severely compromised any investigation. Sadly I do think that is a possibility.

        Could they have been checking the kids regularly during dinner, and not so much when having drinks after? Doesn’t seem all that likely…

        So on Tuesday there was the quiz with the voluptuous instructress. Gerry invited her to the table- there was some speculation that caused a tiff… just that. Speculation. Then there’s also the speculation (you’re not the 1st to suggest Fenn got her days wrong) that if Fenn were wrong, then you have Kate back in the flat (they didn’t bring phones to dinner), possibly in a rage, a rake of phone activity, and after that a child crying for her father for 1 hour and 45 minutes… perhaps with Kate present. So goes the conspiracy theory.

        And then whom was Kate in contact with? And why did she and Gerry wipe some/most of their phones before handing them over?

        There are lots of questions, and some a bit worrying, to say the least. Think there are explanations… but, I do think perhaps there are some things being kept back… not necessarily what the conspiracy theorists would gather from the above… but some things nonetheless.


  2. Hi Elça,

    Glad you put the cedilla in, as I’m not sure how to do one on this computer! Aoife, light, beauty… very good. I’d say it were pronounced more ‘ee-fah’. A bit like you, I really only relatively recently got interested in this case. When I looked into the Smith sighting, which must surely remain the most important to this day, I found this:

    Read into it what you will. I’d assume Grange has been in contact with the family, and even re-interviewed them? But if they did, they kept it very quiet.

    When I became interested in the case, I approached it as dispassionately as I could- tried to be as objective as possible, and that meant entertaining all hypotheses. Months down the line, and having been swept up in the endless possibilities, I can say I find some scenarios more likely by far, but frankly I still do not know what happened. I do not give any credence to the conspiracies involving the parents, and simultaneously I find them perhaps the most unlucky people on this planet, and for myriad reasons.

    But just take sightings on the night, 2115-2200… Tanner’s suspect, now ruled out, just happened to be carrying his daughter in the cold night air in her PJs with no shoes or coat back from a crèche (can’t do circumflex either)… although seemingly heading the wrong way. One must trust SY, as the found him and ruled him out, as announced last October. But if that’s the case, how unlucky was it to have one rather lax father carrying a baby girl in pink PJs around at that very moment, to be seen by Tanner and to become suspect and red herring #1?

    Now, move on to Smith… [think I need to start a blog at this stage too!] He could be another innocent member of the public. Or he could be the kidnapper. Nobody has ruled him out, so as it stands he’s now suspect #1 as far as sightings go. His e-fit was drawn up by a P.I. team… (two e-fits, actually), who interviewed the Smiths. Now, it all goes wrong when Mr. Smith sees Gerry McCann carrying one of the twins off the aeroplane when they returned to England in September ’07, minus their eldest. Smith claims it twigged with him when he saw how GM held the child, which was the same way as the man they had seen as witnesses.

    Now, step forward young scientist Aoife above to confirm, and please be aware, I’m no expert on minding kids… but how many ways are there of carrying a toddler? Not all that many… Tanner’s suspect being a very odd and unfortunate exception. And then more unluckily, if you believe that this suspect was not GM… the e-fits look very like him. Very like him indeed. He contacts Gardaí, and word gets out.

    So, and this bit troubles me, if I’m honest- the McCanns terminate the services of the company that did the Smith e-fits, and demand they bury them and not release them to the public, apparently with threat of legal action. I think you must bear in mind the pressure they had been under as ‘arguidos’, and they still had ‘Tannerman’ as the prime suspect. But I think if it mean exploring another avenue, in that situation, I might have taken the suspicion on the chin- the press were already hounding them, so what’s the big difference? GM could have said ‘no, Mr. Smith is mistaken, it was not me… I was at the OC… but can anyone help us… have you seen this man?’. It a whole other avenue to investigate, and it turns out, of all the sightings, that is still the most important. Yet, it was buried in the archives, and only presented to the public (as if it were new evidence, I might add) on CWUK last October.

    So, how unlucky then are the McCanns?… ‘Tannerman’ being such a perfect herring, and ‘Smithman’ bearing such a resemblance to GM that MS claims he’s 80% sure it was him? And that causing perhaps the evidence not to be presented to the public? If it turns out that ‘Smithman’ was the kidnapper… he got a good 7 and a half year head-start on the cops thanks to those circumstances… so, I’d call that both a poor choice and a massive amount of misfortune. And that’s only a tiny piece of the bad luck which has befallen them.

    • Hi,

      I suspect that the McCanns are guilty of something. It is simply difficult to stack up the evidence that would prove, IN A COURT OF LAW, what they might be guilty of.

      Please re-watch CWUK of Autumn on YouTube and try the following. Redwood dismisses the McCanns as suspects. Redwood dismisses Jane Tanner’s sighting as the suspect. Therefore, by definition, everything else is up for grabs. Whether that happens to be the Smith sighting, or the charity collectors, or the ugly people observing 5A. After a lot of toing and froing on the Internet, I re-watched and came to idea that it was simply a systematic check on every lead they could muster (OK the McCann’s and Jane Tanner apart). In short, a fishing expedition.

      As for why Martin Smith might get Gerry as the man he saw that night, it is extremely simple human nature If you want a GCSE in psychology in 2014, this is a question you have to answer correctly.

      If Madeleine did not wander off of her own volition, then 5A is a crime scene. All that needs to be worked out is which kind of crime scene. There lies the problem.

      • Oh, I don’t need to re-watch it, CWUK last October… like much of the investigation since: very broad brush. At that stage they had not a clue. When they dug up Luz, you’d think they were onto something solid… but again: hadn’t a clue. Cover all possibilities… Now they say they have leads… a million suspects publicly… I hope they have an idea. DNA… curtains… who knows?

        Otherwise, I reckon you and I could solve this between us… they should have given us the ten million… even split… we’d have nailed it.

      • BTW, we’ve probably come to different conclusions about what we suspect happened. Whatever happened was a human tragedy.

        It’s a difficult one… if she had wandered, which I’d find the least likely, I’d still consider that a scene of a crime, because no parent should have left children unsupervised. They know that, of course.

        If I were to lay cards on the table, I’d say the McCanns were lax and possibly even untruthful in their statements regarding the timeline. That’s pure speculation…. but it seems a distinct possibility. That’s as far as I’d go against them.

        I could be completely wrong, but judging humans as I know them, there is no way they were involved in any kind of cover-up. It would make no logical sense. I’d push all my chips in on that.

        Thanks for the blog… it’s nice to see some reasoned opinion about.

      • I don’t have an end view about what happened. I have read umpty sources who have concluded who-dun-it and then pick and choose the evidence to support their case, much as a prosecutor would.

        I have a variety of potential solutions, each with a greater or lesser degree of probability. To make progress, I need to remain open-minded and evaluate the available information in some detail, and that is why I am going forward at such a snail’s pace.

        Thanks for the pointer at the Dispatches programme. Luckily it is on-line and I think some of it may prove relevant.

        I am avoiding judging the McCanns on a human basis as that would draw me into the pro-McCann camp or the anti-McCann camp and I prefer to remain independent of both. Calling me pro-Madeleine would be more accurate.

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