I was trying to write a chapter of my book the other day and I noticed something odd. An article that the Telegraph regularly refreshes when there is any significant development in the Madeleine McCann case has become stuck in April 2016. Has there been nothing new since then?
I scratched my head to try to think of developments since then. From memory, the last major news was in October 2015, when Operation Grange was downsized from 29 to 4. After that, all I can recall is froth.
The main stories were exceedingly small. Operation Grange was to get final funding until … implying that Operation Grange would cease in its entirety. Then Operation Grange got a further 6 months funding in October, to last to April 2017. That was reported in October and recycled this month.
Out of the files came an antique story about a Belgian paedophile ring placing an order for a little girl, complete with a Raymond Hewlett wrapper. And an allegation that Hewlett’s son was under observation. Oddly this story made clear there was nothing to implicate the son in any wrongdoing, yet the observation was allegedly to check if the paedophile ring was in contact with him.
There was a frisson of excitement about this blog when The Mirror ran a lurid and error strewn piece about Luz tours in October 2016. It rattled through a few tabloids but it appears to have died a death, though it is clear once something enters the media files, it remains there forever, so perhaps the odd mention will resurface from time to time.
The other piece of froth which bubbled up was Antonella Lazerri’s piece in The Sun linking the McCanns to Sir Clement Freud. This followed shortly after a TV documentary alleging Freud had molested teenage girls, but had taken liberties with some under the age of consent, thus permitting the use of the term paedophile. The link to the McCanns was a meal they had together in Luz, and later a drink together.
This was snowballed into a link to the so-called ‘Plough and Paedo’, despite the fact the date of that issue was 2005. And it was made to look like Sir Clement and Robert Murat were drinking buddies there. The pub was linked to the Pig’s Head in Burgau. And The Sun made it look like Murat and Freud were drinking buddies there, which they were not.
It is currently being reported that the The Sun and The Mail have printed apologies to Robert Murat, making clear there was no connection to Sir Clement Freud. And that at least some of the articles alleging such a link have been removed from the Internet.
There have been other stories throwing in the name of Madeleine McCann, such as one in early December. A young woman sleeping rough in Rome speaking only in English. Could she be Madeleine? The fact that she was years too old and did not have Madeleine’s coloboma did not deter the media speculation.
Then there was the tale about the Podesta brothers each fitting one of the two Smithman e-fits. Fortunately, all the mainstream media did with this was to point out how a ludicrous and obviously false story could propagate across the Internet.
All in all, regarding the Madeleine McCann story, 2016 has been a year of froth. Presumably, until the PJ Files were released there was a similar excess of froth over substance.
Not that it is relevant, but our Christmas froth has just been delivered. 4 x each of three types of Stefan’s ale. Half of that will be shipped out again as a Christmas present for someone who has helped us a lot this year.
Personally, I have laid in a bottle of Port, and I intend having a 5cl glass of that on each of the 12 days of Christmas. ‘Tis the season to be jolly!