Madeleine – Sky special – 2 May 2017

On 2 May 2017, Sky showed ‘Searching for Madeleine’, a special to mark the10th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. The presenter was Martin Brunt, who has followed the case for the 10 years since it began. The studio guest was Colin Sutton, an ex-DCI from Scotland Yard with experience of conducting major investigations.

The fist 10 minutes covered the basics. The holiday, the Tapas zone, the initial response to the incident by Portuguese police.

Sky News on 4 May 2007 ran with the story that a 3 year old British girl was missing on the Algarve. Pedro do Carmo, Deputy Director, Judicial Police, described the initial work as a rescue operation, looking for a child that was missing.

Here Sky hit its first wobbly. It says the apartment was let out twice before it was sealed off for a full forensic examination. The reality is different. The PJ from Portimão tried to collect forensic evidence in the very early hours of 4 May 2007. Irene Trovão, also a local forensic officer, was videoed checking the shutter of the children’s bedroom for fingerprints. And while Gerry and Kate McCann were giving their first witness statements, a forensics duo from Lisbon conducted the major forensic examination on the afternoon of 4 May 2007. The forensics had been done. There was no way to foresee the apartment should be sealed off until Eddie and Keela were deployed.

The centrepiece of the Sky programme was a Home Office report written by Jim Gamble, then head of CEOP, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

This documented the many organisations that were involved close to the beginning, and the difficulties this caused. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary at the time, questioned if Leicestershire Police had the wherewithal to handle this type of investigation. Mr Gamble was asked to consider if it was worth getting Scotland Yard involved. Mr Gamble suggested a scoping review to identify if opportunities had been missed, but officials appeared to be set against this.

Mr Gamble was shocked to find the parents had not been investigated first by the Portuguese police, in order to clear the ground for further enquiries. He went on to say the Portuguese response was inadequate, but he used a comparison in the UK that does not approximate to the situation in Luz in 2007. I will return to that in a future post.

Colin Sutton made the point that a snapshot of the incident area was not constructed, and more could have been done by UK police re interviewing British holidaymakers who had returned to the UK, and British workers in the ‘complex’.

My main criticism of the early effort is that apparently little was done to get door-to-door information in the immediate vicinity of apartment 5A.

Sky went on to cover leaks to the Portuguese press, concerning dog alerts and supposed DNA results. Mr Sutton pointed out that dog alerts are not evidence.

The events around the McCanns being made arguidos, flying home to the UK, and removal of arguido status upon archiving of the case was covered.

There appeared to be a 3-way split between the McCanns, the Portuguese police and the UK police. The CEOP report then makes an odd assertion. It alleges the McCanns had a significant amount of information from their private investigators, and this information had not been fully shared with either the Portuguese police or the UK police. I cannot see how Mr Gamble could reach such a conclusion. Perhaps it is explained in the CEOP report, but I haven’t read that document.

Mark Rowley, Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police, explained there had been a discussion of the case in 2011 between the Prime Ministers of Portugal and the UK, and it was agreed that Scotland Yard would get involved.

The documentary then covered the remit. Colin Sutton explained that a fresh investigation should start right at the beginning. This echoes what was said by Jim Gamble. However, Operation Grange was to be restricted to abduction. AC Mark Rowley says parental involvement had been covered by the original Portuguese investigation. The recent Supreme Court decision made it clear this is not the case.

The Sky documentary moved on to the Jane Tanner sighting. Martin Brunt pointed out the obvious – namely if the man was coming from the Ocean Club night crèche, then he was going the wrong way. Jane Tanner’s rogatory statement pointed out this problem. If the night crèche closed at 11.30pm, It is actually more likely that at 9.15pm, the time of the Tanner sighting, he was heading towards the night crèche.

Scotland Yard presented two e-fits of a man carrying a child ‘towards the beach’. This of course was the Smith sighting at 10pm. Crimewatch 2013 did indeed state this man was heading towards the beach.

This suggests that Martin Brunt does not fully understand the Smith sighting. 12-year-old Aoife Smith’s statement does not fit with ‘towards the beach’. Should Mr Brunt ever return to Luz, I will be happy to show him why Aoife Smith’s statement strongly suggests ‘towards the beach’ is wrong. And why that man is likely to be Portuguese and innocent. Plus why that man is unlikely to come forward. And what needs to be done to get him to identify himself.

The documentary covered Operation Grange’s look at charity collectors. There is an easy test for this. The bogus ones do door-to-door, and disappear rapidly if they make some cash. The genuine ones go to the main thoroughfares and work there for hours on end.

Then Sky covered a burglary gone wrong. Whilst Operation Grange evaluated this as viable, Portuguese police did not think it likely.

The documentary moved to mobile phone data. The CEOP report says there was lots of it, but it was badly handled by Portuguese investigators. It had not been fully analysed, and the Portuguese should accept UK help. This sounds to me to be very over-simplistic, but I cannot be certain as I have not read the CEOP report.

Then the documentary moved to its weakest point, what can be extracted from that phone data. Nothing Colin Sutton said on this has much relevance to Luz on 3 May 2007.

As is normal, there were 3 cellphone operators in Luz – Optimus, TMN and Vodafone. Roughly speaking, each operator cuts Luz into a western half and an eastern half, and that is as much as you get. Was the cellphone active in Luz that night, and if so, was it in the west of Luz or the east.

Take for example Kate McCann. Her phone was active that night on Optimus antenna Luz 2. That antenna covers the east of Luz, and apartment 5A is indeed in the east of Luz. But the whole of the Ocean Club is in the eastern half of Luz, as is the majority of the commercial establishments e.g. the Mirage. I cannot tell from phone data if Kate was in or around 5A when her phone was active. The phone data is very rough.

Further, DCI Andy Redwood has said that a major obstacle to phone data analysis was PAYG phones.

4 people were made arguidos in July 2014, but have now been informed they are no longer persons of interest.

The new Portuguese investigation focussed on a series of sex attacks in the Algarve. It would appear most were on older children, but one was on a child aged 3. Euclides Monteiro, an ex-waiter at the Ocean Club, was identified by the Portuguese investigation as a suspect for the sex attacks. DNA tests ruled out Mr Monteiro. He had been killed in a tractor accident in 2009.

The Sky documentary examined the woke and wandered theory. Local ex-pat Mr John Ballinger provided some photos of the road works in Luz around that time. There was no examination as to why Kate McCann’s description of apartment 5A that night is a poor fit with woke and wandered.

Mr Brunt pointed out that there is no evidence to prove Madeleine came to any harm, so she may still be alive.

Have lessons been learned from the disappearance of Madeleine McCann? Jim Gamble and Alan Johnson think not.

The documentary covered some of the Internet abuse directed at Kate and Gerry. Two police investigations found no evidence of their involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance. The Sky investigation also found no such evidence.

It concluded that the mystery of what happened to Madeleine McCann remains just that. A mystery.

AC Mark Rowley said there is a significant line of enquiry that remains to be pursued, but would not divulge what it was.

On the armchair experts forum that I prefer, the general view was that little was learned from this Sky special. However, that is not the correct view to take, in my opinion. This programme was not aimed at a handful of amateur detectives. It was targeting the greater British public. And for those, I suspect the key point that was delivered was that roughly £12 million down the line, the investigation is fatally flawed because, despite what DCI Andy Redwood said, it did not start by going back to the very beginning.


28 thoughts on “Madeleine – Sky special – 2 May 2017

  1. Fair comment. What’s your favourite forum? Miscarriage of Justice? What’s your handle over there- read something from a Luz, but don’t think it’s you.

    The information the McCanns were privy to from their own investigators I think referred to the Smithman event, but perhaps there is more. For the life of me, I still can’t work out why they suppressed that information. That’s the most suspicious aspect of the case regarding the McCanns, IMHO, and I have tried to see it from their point of view, but simply cannot understand the reasoning.

    As I pointed out, ‘towards the sea’ isn’t from the statements, but from the first ever print story about the Smiths, and is in direct quotation marks from Smith in a local newspaper. It’s online. Think I linked you to it before.

    Completely agree about the idiocy of handicapping a cold case investigation by refusing to allow for every scenario. That was the first mistake the Portuguese police made- quickly ascertain the probable culpability of the parents and their friends in a sensitive a manner as possible, and rule them in, or in this case, out. It wasn’t done, and then they were accused, what, 4 months down the line, when it’s already difficult to prove anything. That’s completely typical of these kinds of cases- i.e. involving a missing child, and remaining unsolved or unsolvable.

    I think I told you before, I would have started with a major re-examination of the McCanns’ statements, and those of the T7, because I strongly suspect the truth has been altered therein. I think I know how and why, but the implications for the investigation would be huge.

    If it were done with sensitivity, it need not be that upsetting. But the priority is solving the case. Sutton comes across even less sympathetic to the McCanns in the print interviews he gave- but I don’t believe he considers them guilty of anything, it’s just the logical fallacy of restricting an investigation because of politics or the desire not to make the parents suffer any more than they already have gets his goat.

    • Are you ‘Luz’ on MoJ? Or do you go by SIL?

      What did AC Rowley say, and if he said it, why do I need to look for micro-expressions and blinking? I’m not playing him at poker. What did he SAY?

      • Answer is he said sod all. What I took from Rowley was a large degree of defensiveness and stupidity. I thought the one journalist that pushed him on the main question I’d have been asking him, and have been asking you, exposed same.

        Namely: ‘how can you justify spending 6 years and how many millions now pursuing a line of inquiry that hypothesised burglars abducted the child?’

        He claim it was incredibly logical, but would comment no further. In short, the man is an idiot. The wheeled him out after the Manchester bombing, and he made a tit of himself there too. WHERE do they find these people?

        This is the same Met. that 3 million in 1992, so however many in today’s money, setting up an elaborate honey trap to stitch up an innocent man for a murder in London, while the actual monster continued his crimes around the city.

      • I’m SIL on MoJ.

        Luz was an entirely different person, who is suspected of defacing Madeleine posters years before we made it to Portugal.

        As far as I am concerned, AC Rowley said OG was using the Portuguese archiving report as the basis for ruling out the McCanns and the T7. The Supreme Court said otherwise.

  2. “Mr Gamble was shocked to find the parents had not been investigated first, in order to clear the ground for further enquiries.”
    Where does he say that, SIL ? He only says that he first was suspicious of Gerald MC because of his coldness, quite an unexpected remark, not to say ludicrous, isn’t it ?
    Do you now someone in PdL who vaguely looks like Gerald McCann ?
    Perhaps the disappearance of MMC should stop being unfairly called “a mystery”, at least for another decade, because it could be solved, it’s just a matter of political decision. Colin Sutton thinks so, Francisco Moita Flores thinks so, the jurist Andre Ventura thinks so. Hence if it remains a mystery, it is perhaps because beliefs always reassure whereas reality often disturbs.

      • You’re right, I beg your pardon ! But still it is amazing that Gamble doesn’t apply to himself such a reasonable attitude, isn’t it ? Why should he absolve the MCs on the basis of his own belief, whereas the PJ should grill them in spite of their having been the victims of a crual loss.

    • Colin Sutton thinks what- that the case could be solved were it not for a political decision? He never said anything of the kind, Anne. What he said was political pressures hampered a proper investigation. That’s true. It does not follow that he thinks the McCanns guilty. And everyone else you mention have political and economic reasons not to want to see the case solved, and to cast suspicion in the direction of the McCanns.

      Only Sutton is impartial. He mentioned Gerry being stand-offish, which he said he initially found suspicious, but upon getting to know his personality and mannerisms, he realised that was his was of dealing with the nightmare he is living. Sutton’s comments referred to why he refused the investigation, but in no way suggest he is a conspiracy theorist.

      • Hi AnneGuedas and elcacraig

        There could of course be a few men in PDL who “vaguely” look(ed) like Gerry McCann of whom a few may have also a daughter, who they carried around at the same time as the Smiths were out walking.

        However, nobody in PDL has so far come forward to confirm this, let alone the suspicious man himself. So if the Smiths aren’t lying, and I see no reason as to why they should, the mysterious man in question is very likely to be Gerry McCann.

        Taking all the witnesses’ statements in the PJ files into consideration, who have something to say about the time for Kate McCann’s alert, it’s just as much indicating that it happened around 22H15/20 as 22H00, which suggests that Gerry McCann could have been present among his friends, when Kate alerted, but yet he could have been the man, that the Smiths saw around 21H55.
        Finally, I also wish to remind everybody about the e-fit (sketch)of “the smithsman”, which the McCanns, for incomprehensible reasons, kept secret from the general public for 5(FIVE) years, till it appeared on Crime watch in 2013.

      • I agree with SIL, the e-fits are useless… they look like everyone and nobody. They don’t even look like one another. Tenner says they probably look a bit like you and all, Bjoooornie.

  3. There is no reason why a man should have come forward in Luz, and good reason why he should not.

    The e-fits have next to no value whatsoever. That OG chose to publish them smacks of pure desperation.

    Crimewatch Oct 2013 was simply a general trawl through everything.

    • I think a confusion is made between Jim Gamble and Colin Sutton, as the former never mentioned GMC. The latter thinks that this case could and should be reviewed in a proper, ie open way, and not a restricted one. In Portugal some people do think the same. Hence it depends on a political decision. Now the issue is no more to rescue MMC (if she’s alive, within a couple of years she will be able to come back on her own), but to free the MC family from a shadow of doubt (as feared by the prosecutors) that will be unbearable for their children.
      Nobody has any malevolent interest to cast suspicion on the these people ! I’m obviously keeping apart all those who adore to accuse them of neglect.

    • What good reason would have a man for not coming forward ? Who would better understand the grief of having lost a child than the parent of a child of the same age ?

      The e-fits have only one interest, they were concealed for many years without explanation (if they were pure rubbish, why were they exposed after such a long time ?). Join this to the fact that Smithman only appeared 2 years after the disappearance (in the so-called “reconstruction”), whereas its existence was first attested in the media in June 2007, and you have food for thought.

      • If you have links to June 2007 articles, I would be most interested in them.

        You should know better than I why Smithman has not come forward.

        1. He was ‘heading to the beach’. Except he wasn’t.

        2. He was not publicised within Portugal at the time. Please correct me if I am wrong.

        3. Tannerman was the ‘chief suspect’ for years.

        3. Crimewatch Oct 2013. The e-fits were released. Smithman was announced, within Portugal, as the new ‘chief suspect’. I never heard anyone in Portugal say that DCI Andy Redwood had stressed he might be entirely innocent, just that he was Scotland Yard’s chief suspect.

        4. In the unlikely event that some poor beggar remembers the night and recognises himself, what is he supposed to do? Come forward, stick his head in the noose and hope he can get back out again? Try walking in the shoes of the 4 men made arguidos in July 2014. Did any of them have anything other than a hellish time? And all of them no longer persons of interest.

        If Smithman is guilty, he has no reason to come forward. If Smithman is innocent, he has no reason to come forward.

  4. Hi there I know this about the sky piece but do you intend doing a blog on the Panaroma piece,on that the reporter talks of three suspects and names them ,yet we are told that there were four suspects who was the fourth one?

    • I am working on the Panorama piece right now.

      The 4 people made arguidos in 2014 are

      Ricardo Rodrigues, aged 16 at the time.

      Jose Carlos da Silva, a driver at the Ocean Club at the time.

      Paulo Ribeiro, who was interviewed on Panorama. I believe I met him a year ago, but I had no idea then who he was.

      Sergey Malinka, the person whose Audi got fire-bombed on 25th April Street. We have had distant dealings with him.

      All 4 have been told they are no longer persons of interest.

      • I think Malinka did get a mention. Panorama didn’t seek him for interview, though.

        I’d be very interested to hear what SIL has to say on the latest Panorama documentary. The extra suspect interested me greatly. It with reference to something we discussed before- namely the list of employees, their previous convictions and a tick/cross/dash/? beside their names.

        They blurred out what was written beside a certain chap’s name, but you and I know what that is. Could you comment on that, in a judicious manner? I’d like your very best translation of the terms, and what you think they indicate, if you please.

        Very glad you weren’t ‘Luz’, BTW.

  5. I know nothing better than you. Actually I might guess more than you do 😉
    Smithman wasn’t a local, residents would have wondered whether the X or Y couple having a 3/4 medium blond, loving pink wasn’t Smithman. This couldn’t happen with Tannerman, whose child only exhibited legs.
    Not a monster, like Toothy or Spotty.
    A normal chap.
    On which basis can you affirm that “he wasn’t heading to the beach” ?
    The PJ made a reconstitution, a sort of, with the 3 Smith. In day time. The media saw it.
    The MCs had Tannerman as idée fixe, but it is understandable, he was their only evidence for the abduction thesis. The PJ never believed in Tannerman. There is a reason for that, though it is never ever mentioned (it’s in the PJ Files if you look at the first description of the sighting).
    The curious point is that only an Irish newspaper mentioned Smithman in the beginning of June. The UK media kept silent. Even in August, when another Irish newspaper mentioned Smithman, the UK media, hungry of news like dragons, did neglect Smithman. But there were news and news, some acceptable, others not.
    Scroll down, June 6, Drogheda Independent.

    • ‘To the beach.’ Aoife Smith’s statement is not consistent with ‘to the beach’. It is consistent with heading down Travessa da Escadinhas.

      Whether that happened or not, I cannot be sure.

      Thank you for the link. I wonder if there was local gossip in Drogheda about the Smiths if they were not ‘officially’ talking to the media in June.

  6. In what way Aoife S’ statement is consistent with as Escadinhas ? Would you chose that Travessa if you were carrying a child who doesn’t cling to you, hence whose weight dis-balances you ?

    • Aoife saw one of two things.

      A man heading to the beach, whom she would have seen in front of her, to her right, in profile, if not actually from behind his head.

      Instead, she looked to her left and saw a man approaching full-face on, though she could not remember his features.

      Come down to Luz. You need to be here to understand it all. You can role-play Aoife. I will mimic Smithman.

      This is a play that requires at least 2 actors.

      • May I remind you that Smithman deviated towards his right in order to pass on Peter S’ and wife’s left side, as they were getting up on the right side of Escola Primaria ? This is how he happened to pass close to Martin and Mary. Then he crossed but even Aoife couldn’t make out whether Smithman intended the escadinhas or the east direction. Can you imagine his boiling mind ? 9 persons to remember him ! This is why I think he chose the dark 25 de Abril.
        Here my guess is obvious, the child was Madeleine. Whoever was Smithman and whatever his intentions, they were not for the sake of that kid.
        Smithman appears to have been a very ordinary man. Nevertheless thanks to Aoife we know a very small detail that distinguished him from many, many men, on that fateful night.

  7. There was media everywhere in PDL, thus it is impossible that the PJ arrived in PDL with the 3 Ss and a photographer without the media gathering and spotting. They might have been informed that RM was the target (as he very likely was the reason why the Ss were called back to PDL). Once Smithman wasn’t RM, the sighting lost interest for the police and… the media.

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