Madeleine – Portugal v Smithman

In October 2013, the Crimewatch special on Madeleine McCann and operation Grange was broadcast in the UK. A similar programme aired in Germany, with a third showing in Holland.

The programme was not broadcast on Portuguese TV. Sky News reported that they had been in touch with Operation Grange to ask why not, and they were told the reason was that Portugal does not have an equivalent of Crimewatch.

Since a major thrust of that programme was revealing Smithman as a person of interest, what is the status of enquiries within Portugal as to the identity of Smithman?

Gonçalo Amaral’s book, “A Verdade da Mentira” was published in 2008. It implies that Smithman is Gerry McCann. A TVI special based on the book also implies that Smithman is Gerry McCann. Of course, the Smith family e-fits had not by then entered the public domain. Further, the e-fits do not appear in the PJ Files, so it is reasonable to assume the PJ did not know of them at the time the case was shelved.

In Kate’s book “Madeleine”, published in 2011, various e-fits of people appear, together with a request for information of who they may be.

The e-fits of Smithman, which certainly existed prior to 2011, do not appear in Kate’s book. The description of Smithman does, but not the e-fits.

Findmadeleine.com has been updated to include the two Smithman e-fits on a page in English. Presumably this was done some time after the Crimewatch broadcast, but this point is not important here.

The Portuguese equivalent of the e-fits page does not, at this date, show the Smithman e-fits. Neither does the Spanish language equivalent or the German language equivalent.

Since the UK and Germany both got Crimewatch style programmes, the omission of the e-fits from the German language page is of minor importance. The lack of the Smithman e-fits on the Spanish page is troublesome. The lack of the Smithman e-fits on the Portuguese page is critical.

When Crimewarch aired in the UK, the same Smithman e-fits featured prominently in Portuguese media. Sources large and small included them, but the overall tale was of Crimewatch, and the fact that it had drawn an audience of 6.7 million.

I have not checked every source. There are lots of them, and quite a few do not keep archive footage. Of the many that I have seen, there is a critical omission – the potential need to rule Smithman out of the investigation, and a phone number or a connection to Operation Grange to use email.

Has such a need and such a connection ever been published in Portugal? The answer is it has.

In October 2013, The Sun made up posters based on the Crimewatch Smithman e-fits. These were in English and in Portuguese, with contact methods at the bottom. Dan Sales, a Sun reporter, then spent some time in Luz trying to get people interested in these.

Here is one in Luz where a lady, referred to as a shop assistant, is affixing the posters to her shop window. If you are really bored, this is located just in front (west) of Baptista and it is the nearest shop to the supermarket. Try Google streetview.

Sun maddie11_1829527a

Let me boil this one down for you. Crimewatch was not shown in Portugal. The media within Portugal who reported Crimewatch did not connect up the story to a phone number to call. The McCann site does not show the Smithman e-fits on its Portuguese page. The Sun got a few posters stuck up around Luz, but the rest of Portugal went untouched.

If you take a look at The Sun posters in the photo, the English is not an exact translation of the Portuguese, but that is not important. The English poster blares out ‘suspect’. The Portuguese poster blares out ‘suspeito’, which means ‘suspect’. As in, please step forward, new key suspect.

In Portugal, the major split is natives and ex-pats. The ex-pats find various ways to get UK TV. With the publicity in the build-up to Crimewatch, it is probable lots of ex-pats watched it on-line.

The phone lines were busy that October night. A little under 1,000 calls and emails were received. Smithman was given the same name by two people, one of whom was calling from Portugal.

Calling from Portugal suggests a Brit, watching Crimewatch, who knew Smithman. At least well enough to suggest a name. In the December 2014 list of witness interviews, there are two Brit names who possibly knew Tiago da Silva, a maintenance worker at the Ocean Club. Tiago da Silva resembles one of the two Smithman e-fits.

The other person who might be linked to Tiago da Silva is Silvia Batista, Head of Maintenance and Services at the Ocean Club. It is unlikely that she saw Crimewatch in Oct 2013, but her working relationship with Tiago may have been an extra reason to interview her as a witness in Dec 2014.

Why has Smithman not come forward?

A Tannerman description was released in Portugal on 25 May. The e-fit did not exist at that time, and I don’t know when it was first put into the public domain.

Tannerman never came forward, according to Scotland Yard. They supposedly tracked down all the people using the Ocean Club night crèche, and Tannerman became Crècheman.

The Smiths gave statements on 26 May. I have been informed that the Smithman description surfaced in an Irish regional newspaper, on 6 June, so even before it spread to wider publication it was a month after the event.

The release of the Smithman e-fits appears to have been the Crimewatch of Oct 2013, or some six and a half years later. Publication of these in Portuguese media was in Oct 2013, but seemingly without details of how to act on them. These e-fits do not appear on the Portuguese section of findmadeleine.com.

The sole effort linking the e-fits to contact numbers, within Portugal, AFAIK, is The Sun’s distribution in Portugal in Oct 2013, strictly limited to a minor effort in Luz and possibly in Faro. These posters identified Smithman as the new suspect in the Madeleine McCann case.

If he is Portuguese, ‘suspect’ Smithman is not going to step forward. If anyone else in Luz saw Smithman on 3 May, the chances are that they simply didn’t remember after six and a half years.

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