In a recent comment, my most regular commentator (Loops) made an extremely valid point, one that I would like to explore and explain.
Essentially, the comment boils down to whether I can achieve more with public files than Scotland Yard can achieve with the public files, the private investigator files, the intelligence they have gained from appeals such as Crimewatch, the intelligence they have gathered from interviews in Portugal, and much more besides.
The short answer is I believe I can. Of course, it is now essential to justify this bold assertion.
The root of the problem is what I will describe as the Luz stand-off (aka the Algarve stand-off aka the Portugal stand-off). SY is working in Portugal according to Portuguese laws and simultaneously is trying to keep the good will of the Portuguese legal authorities. Without the help of legal authorities here, they are fighting with at least one hand tied behind their back, and probably with their legs hobbled together.
In order to ensure the goodwill of the authorities, thereby ensuring continued co-operation from the same, they have to accept a constraint placed upon them by Portuguese laws.
They cannot engage directly with the citizens of Portugal.
This is one heck of a handicap.
If Smithman happens to be Portuguese AND has nothing to do with the case, the chances of SY eliminating him from enquiries, whilst NOT engaging with the citizens of Portugal, is possibly a definition of zero.
It was pointed out recently on the MiscarriageOfJustice forum, that while a Crimewatch appeal was broadcast in a number of countries (the list is something like the UK, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands), a request by Portuguese TV broadcasters to air an equivalent in Portugal was refused.
Allegedly the BBC turned the idea down, but that is neither here nor there. The point is simple. No equivalent was run in Portugal, the country in which Madeleine McCann disappeared.
I can point to numerous other instances of Scotland Yard being limited in the way that an investigation in the UK would not. I don’t think I need to bang on about this. This is the reality of the situation. There is a distinct gap between Scotland Yard and the people of Portugal in general, the people of the Algarve in general, and the people of Luz in particular.
Let me return to Smithman. I may be wrong as I cannot claim to be well plugged-in to Portuguese media. However, to the best of my knowledge there is very little awareness within Portugal that information on Smithman is being sought by SY.
In summary, I believe there is a key information source that SY is not able to tap in to.
Now Loops (the commentator in question) raised a pertinent point. Considering phone data, did I think I could squeeze information from the public records that SY, with access to public and private records, could not?
The short answer is no and yes, so let me address the no part first,
SY should have much more data than I have, plus they should have better insight into how to analyse such data. Or do they?
I assume that each of the 3 mobile operators of the time – Optimus, TMN and Vodaphone – not only supplied call data but also information about geographical location of masts. If so, SY will not benefit from anything I trawl up, and they are streets ahead of anything I can do.
But notice that nasty word assume. The PJ files are fairly hit-or-miss, so whether the information collected at the time included geographical location of masts is up for grabs. I know of enough errors to suggest the PJ were simply going by mast names, not by precise geographical co-ordinates.
So let me work on the assumption that the files did not contain precise geographical locations. In that case, if I was in SY doing an analysis on call data in the region, one of the first things I would do is request that each of the 3 operators – Optimus, TMN and Vodaphone – provided this information, so I could match the files up properly. Perhaps someone did, and perhaps someone did not – I don’t know.
Let’s continue with the assumption that SY has much more phone data than I have, and that SY also has precise geographical locations. Do they need me at all?
What I have that SY does not have is a good understanding of how Luz, the area immediately around Luz, and the Algarve in general, works. This means that there now exists a way to close the gap, the stand-off between the citizens here and SY in London. It is a way of getting to tap into the local community that is otherwise denied to SY.
So, in brief, whilst remaining strictly in accordance with Portuguese laws, I can do something that SY cannot. I can open up a conduit between the locality and Operation Grange.
Does this matter? Is SY interested?
My method of operation is to drill down through a particular topic. When I think I have extracted all that I can extract, if the result is relevant to OG, I email SY the information.
Does SY take what I am saying into account? Does SY discard it because I am not supplying first-person evidence of the night in question? Does it get lost in SY’s long list of nutter amateur enthusiasts?
To tell you the truth, I don’t know and I don’t care. I can only do what I do at my end – I cannot control the SY end.
One of two outcomes will prevail in the Madeleine McCann case. One is that it will be resolved, whether by SY, by an informant, by a confession or whatever. The other is that the case will not be resolved, and it will be shelved again.
I am not predicting which outcome will happen. I would simply prefer that the outcome arrives sooner, rather than later, hence my efforts to make this happen quicker.
I would like to wrap up with the ‘yes’ answer to the question. Can I do more with less information? Given the amount of local intelligence available to me, currently not available to SY, I can make a decent job of it.
I have learned a great deal of information from other bloggers and forums. I would be astonished if SY has the time to monitor and evaluate these sources, or the contextual intelligence to make an informed decision.
I am therefore returning to the public domain key parts of the puzzle, just as I have gleaned information from people unconnected to the PJ files.
I can’t solve the Madeleine case. I can move it forward. SY may or may not take note. However, the difference with me is I am entitled, by law, to put this information into the public domain, allowing other analysts to use it.
The stand-off between Scotland Yard and the citizens of Portugal is being diminished.
The understanding of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is being progressed.
My heartfelt thanks to Loops for cattle-prodding me on this concept. It made me think a lot harder about the idea.