On 14/12/14 the Sunday Express ran an exclusive on Madeleine McCann.
The newspaper reported that the Portuguese effort, via Ana Paula Rito, is following up a line that Madeleine was snatched by a Brazilian couple. (Ana Paula Rito is a PJ Inspector in Portimão.)
Even by this stage you should be getting wary. If the report is exclusive, it means the Express has got a source inside the Portuguese investigation team, while Portuguese media does not.
I checked Joana Morais, who is pretty hot at flagging up developments on Madeleine McCann in Portuguese sources, and at the moment she has nothing.
Is it a scoop?
The report says the British owner of a DVD rental shop near to apartment 5A was shutting up his shop at 10:45 pm on 3rd May. That is 45 minutes after Madeline disappeared, searches were under way, and this shop was in central Luz, close to the incident scene.
The man saw a car being driven by a woman on the road in front of his shop. The woman was repeatedly looking over her shoulder at the rear seat area. The shop owner could not see into the rear of the car.
The report does not clarify how the following is known, but the driver is identified as a Brazilian woman of about 25. Her partner was a Brazilian man who was working in Lagos marina, and the pair lived on a yacht there.
The couple allegedly expressed a strong desire to have a child when they were in the Algarve in May 2007.
Their yacht left Lagos marina and they have never been seen since.
The sighting in Luz is known because the shop owner gave a statement to Portuguese police.
Is it a scoop?
The red car was seen 45 minutes after Madeleine disappeared, nearly on the doorstep of 5A. That car could have been in Lagos, with Madeleine on board, and the yacht out into the Atlantic in 45 minutes.
Given that extensive details of the woman and her partner are known, identifying them by name should be easy, so tracking them should be equally easy.
All ship movements in and out of the Algarve in a period before 3rd May and after were checked. The horrendously long lists are included in the PJ files.
The only references to Brazil in the PJ files are to supposed sightings in Brazil, not to Brazilians in the Algarve.
The red car the woman was driving has not been traced. Perhaps it was borrowed, and the owner was not aware it was used in a crime.
The DVD rental shop was located in the Commercial Centre, and the Commercial Centre was located in Rua Helena Nascimento Baptista. The municipal improvement works of 2007, on 3rd May, were taking place at two locations, one of which was Rua Helena Nascimento Baptista. They been started there in April 2007 and were coming to an end.
While the actual site of the works on that night were to the south of the Commercial Centre and on the pavement rather than the road, satellite images of the time indicate that the surface of Rua Helena Nascimento Baptista remained dug up until June. On two different dates in May and June, there is no real surface and no vehicles on the Rua.
If heading south, as it should have been as the street is one-way, the car was going the wrong way for Lagos, and it had taken a really weird route from apartment 5A.
Finally, there is no such statement in the PJ files.
If events prove me wrong I shall be happy to apologise for this post. However, I have decided I needed a folder called Red Herrings, and the Sunday Express report has been filed there.