Madeleine – 10th – the congregation emerges

The times on my camera are about 8 minutes ahead of the church clock. This the scene around 9.40pm, with the media now waiting for the congregation to emerge from St Vincent.

There are still late night passers-by heading south, perhaps to one of the restaurants or perhaps just going for a stroll on a pleasant evening.

I got intercepted by one gentleman from Sweden who was curious about the activity. And a German couple who said they were in Luz on the night Madeleine disappeared. Because I don’t look like media, people are generally happy to chat to me for a few minutes. The flavour was along the lines of why so much was being done for one child when there are many other missing children.

If you look at the lighting, you can see more sources than there are at the Jane Tanner sighting. However, Jane’s man-carrying-child was very close to a (sodium) street light. The street lights here are sodium, backed by fluorescent light from two shop fronts, the media cameras and a near-full moon. On 3 May 2007, the near-full moon had not risen, but on 3 May 2017 it was well up in a clear sky.

Make your own judgement about which colours can be picked out and which colours can’t.

The shop in the background with a green stripe over the window and a large plus sign on its front wall is a chemist. Back in 2007, it was an Ali Super convenience store. There is footage of that store in the background as the McCanns arrived at the church to attend an evening mass. The store remained open until 10.30pm.

If the Crimewatch special of Oct 2013 is to be believed, the man seen by the Smiths around 10pm headed in this direction i.e. roughly in the direction of the church.

If the Panorama special of May 2017 is to be believed, the dig in central Luz by Operation Grange in June 2014 relates to 3 men considered as possible burglars. These 3 men were 3 of the 4 made arguidos in July 2014, but all 4 have been informed they are no longer persons of interest.

Neither Crimewatch nor Panorama seems to have twigged the importance of Aoife Smith’s testimony.

It would be an interesting Freedom Of Information request to find out precisely how much the Operation Grange digs in Luz cost.

The church clock is showing 9.40pm, and the congregation has started to emerge, complete with candles inside little glass bowls. I was a little bit bemused as to why there was little attention being paid to these people. The best photo I have seen of them was taken by reporter Michael Havis, inside St Vincent. He told me the congregation numbered about 20 and they went near to east end altar, while the media, also around 20 in number, sat at the west end, near the door you see.

It dawned on me why the media was paying limited attention to the candle-light procession. They were queuing up for an interview with the Anglican minister, Reverend Haynes Hubbard. Presumably these had been agreed in advance i.e. that the minister would come out at the end of the service and talk to the media.

Madeleine v the double buggy

In the Crimewatch of Oct 2013, the reconstruction shows the McCanns, all played by actors and actresses, in an early trip around the Ocean Club soon after arriving in Luz. ‘Gerry’ is pushing a double buggy containing the ‘twins’, ‘Kate’ is walking in front with an inflated pool ring (which appears to be adult sized) and ‘Madeleine’ is romping out ahead.

I cannot get a clear photo of the Crimewatch double buggy as ‘Kate’ is always obscuring it. This is the best I can do.

20131013-crimewatch-double-buggy

The double buggy is one of the numerous errors in Crimewatch. The McCanns did not take any kind of a buggy with them.

From Kate’s book ‘madeleine’, about their first afternoon/evening in Luz

Afterwards we strolled over to the Millennium restaurant for dinner. … The restaurant turned out to be nearly half a mile away from our base – a bit too far, really, certainly for a gaggle of weary toddlers. As we were only going to be away for a week, we’d decided not to bring Sean and Amelie’s double buggy with us, preferring to travel light. … So there were many stops and negotiations about whose turn it was to be carried by whom.”

Their family beach trip was on Tuesday, 1 May 2007.

In the afternoon Gerry and I decided to take the children down to the beach. … We borrowed a double buggy from Mark Warner to make the walk easier for Sean and Amelie.”

Since Crimewatch didn’t think the double buggy was important, I have no reason to think that they would have checked on the make or model of the double buggy used by the McCanns in the UK.

The double buggy in Crimewatch appears to me to be a relatively lightweight one, though it is hard to tell. By comparison, the McCanns’ UK double buggy looks to be a substantial beast. Here it is in Oct 2007.

20071017-katemccann-double-buggy

Without any sort of buggy capacity, the walk from apartment 5A to and from the Millennium would indeed be a mighty effort. Simply carrying the twins is not the complete answer, due to traffic flow. While Baptista was open (8.30am to 8pm), Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva beside 5A is an important entry to and exit from the supermarket. Jenny Murat describes a near miss as she was returning from buying some bread close to the shop’s closing time.

The fact that Rua Direita is one way (west to east) also affects traffic flow on the major part of the route between apartment 5A and the Millennium. Traffic coming from Lagos on the M537 is forced to turn north at the entry junction to Luz, in order to avoid Rua Direita. Then a 90° curve at the Mirage puts this stream of traffic smack-dab on the McCann route along Rua do Ramalhete.  Here is the McCann journey.

5a-to-millennium

Nearly all of the traffic coming from Lagos gets shunted onto this road. That includes the Lagos to Burgau bus route. (The Burgau to Lagos route is able to travel along Rua Direita.)

From the time that the buses start or Baptista opens to the time that both shut down the route requires control over young children. Assuming Gerry carried one of the twins and Kate carried one of the others, it still required a hand free to make sure Madeleine stayed on the pavement.

According to Vitor dos Santos, the Head of Accommodation at the Ocean Club, who booked-in the Tapas 9 –

For dinner the guests could choose between two options, the Tapas and the Millennium and although the meals are identical, the clients choose the restaurant according to its proximity to their accommodation.

In this case in concrete, the rational choice for dinner would be the Tapas restaurant as it is 100 metres distance from the apartment, whilst the Millennium is situated 600 metres away.”

The diagram above measures the distance from 5A to the Millennium. Senhor dos Santos makes it 600 metres. I make it 650m, which is just above what Senhor dos Santos thinks and a little below what Kate says.

I don’t think a small difference is significant. With or without a buggy, apartment 5A to the Millennium is not a pleasant route nor is it an easy trek. I have been informed by a reliable source that the other 3 families in the T9 group brought buggies. I don’t know what they all did for breakfast. But in the evening they preferred the Tapas restaurant over the Millennium.

And so Madeleine, and all the other children of the T9, would be spending their evenings in block 5 whilst the parents dined nearby.

Madeleine v The Telegraph Ep. 2

The Telegraph story has evolved. It now asks if ‘the police’ are closer to knowing the truth when once it simply asked if ‘we’ are closer to knowing the truth.

Here is the full text of the Telegraph article as published in April 2016 and retrieved today, 21 Jan 2017.

Madeleine McCann latest: are police any closer to knowing the truth?

By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter

29 April 2016 • 9:41am

In the nine years since Madeleine McCann went missing from a holiday apartment in Portugal, myriad theories about what happened to her have taken root, but only one fact remains uncontested: that she was reported missing at 10.14pm on the evening of Thursday, May 3, 2007.

It was at that point, when police were called, that the clock started ticking on the biggest missing persons investigation for decades, a search which remains very much active to this day.

Facts, the hard currency of any police investigation, have proved almost uniquely elusive; every sighting, every timing and every witness statement has been disputed in the years that have elapsed since.

Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann quickly came under suspicion by Portuguese police, a development that the couple are certain meant vital clues were missed in the first hours and days after Madeleine’s disappearance.

Every possible theory has been explored since then: that Madeleine was abducted by a paedophile; that she was killed during a bungled burglary and her body dumped; that she was abducted by traffickers and sold to a childless couple; that she wandered out of the apartment and died in a tragic accident, and many more besides.

To date, however, not one shred of proof of what happened to Madeleine has been unearthed. The question of what happened to Madeleine would become not only a personal tragedy for the McCann family, but a national obsession in the UK and in Portugal.

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, was on the penultimate day of her family holiday on the day she vanished. She had spent part of the day playing by the swimming pool in the Ocean Club resort, where the last known picture of her was taken at 2.29pm.

Reports of when she was last seen alive by independent witnesses vary, but she was still alive at around 6pm, when she and her parents went into their apartment at 5A Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva, where Madeleine and her two-year-old twin brother and sister were readied for bed.

The McCanns told police they put the children to bed at around 7pm, and that all three were asleep by 8.30pm, when they went for dinner at a tapas bar 50 yards across the pool from their apartment. There they met seven friends with whom they were on holiday.

The McCanns say checks were made on their children every half-hour, sometimes by other members of the party, comprising Dr Russell O’Brien and Jane Tanner, from Exeter, Dr Matthew and Rachael Oldfield, from London, and David and Fiona Payne, from Leicester, together with Mrs Payne’s mother Dianne Webster. Mrs Webster, however, reportedly told police that each couple was responsible for checking their own children.

Gerry McCann went to the apartment at 9.05pm, when all the children were sleeping soundly and Madeleine was still in her bed, he says.

The police in Portugal, however, have never accepted the McCanns’ evidence as undisputed. They initially regarded the McCanns as suspects, and believed the McCanns could have killed Madeleine any time after the last independent sighting of her at 6pm.

A timeline of that evening shows that Dr Matthew Oldfield went into apartment 5A at 9.30pm, and noticed that Madeleine’s room seemed lighter than the others, as if the shutters had been partially opened. He could not be certain whether Madeleine was there.

Kate McCann was next to check on the children, at 10pm. She ran back to the restaurant moments later, saying Madeleine was missing. The McCanns and their friends made a quick search of the resort, but after finding no sign of Madeleine the police were called at 10.14pm.

The McCanns told police they had put Madeleine to bed with her pink comfort blanket and favourite soft toy, Cuddle Cat, and was wearing short-sleeved Marks & Spencer Eeyore pyjamas.

Crucially, however, the apartment was not initially treated as a crime scene, meaning around 20 people went in and out before it was sealed off, contaminating potential evidence. Roadblocks were not put in place until 10am the next day, border guards were not informed for hours and Interpol did not put out a global missing persons alert for five days.

It meant that the most crucial time of any missing persons investigation – the first 24 hours – was largely squandered, and police have been trying to catch up ever since. Yet potentially key sightings and artists’ impressions of suspects were kept from the public for years.

Mary and Martin Smith, from Ireland, told police they saw a man carrying a child matching Madeleine’s description at around 10pm on Rua da Escola Primaria, 500 yards from the McCanns’ apartment. He was heading towards the beach, did not look like a tourist and did not seem comfortable carrying the child, they said.

Their evidence was compelling, but it was only in October 2013 that two e-fit images of the man, compiled by police from descriptions given by Mr and Mrs Smith, were released by Scotland Yard to coincide with a BBC Crimewatch reconstruction of Madeleine’s disappearance. He remains a suspect.

There were also blind alleys. Jane Tanner, one of the tapas diners, told police that when she left the restaurant at 9.15pm to check on her own daughter, she saw a man carrying a small child, wearing pink pyjamas, in his arms.

For years afterwards, the mystery man would be a key suspect, if not the prime suspect, but in October 2013 the Metropolitan Police announced that a British holidaymaker who had been taking his daughter back to his apartment after picking her up from an evening crèche, had been identified as the man Miss Tanner had seen and ruled out of the inquiry.

The first person to become an “arguido”, or official suspect, was Robert Murat, a local property consultant, whose home was searched 12 days after the disappearance. He was formally cleared of suspicion in 2008 and won £600,000 in libel damages from 11 British newspapers.

The Portuguese Police, however, were suspicious of the McCanns from the beginning, partly due to a clash of cultures. They could not believe that parents would leave their children unattended, and did not approve of the McCanns’ use of the media to raise the profile of the case, in a country where secrecy is the hallmark of all police investigations.

The arrival of two British sniffer dogs in Portugal in July 2007 only hardened that belief. One dog was trained to sniff out traces of human blood, the other was trained to sniff out the scent of dead bodies. Both dogs were taken to several locations connected to the investigation, and gave alerts only in apartment 5A. Later, the cadaver dog gave an alert inside a Renault car, hired by the McCanns 24 days after Madeleine went missing.

DNA tests on samples taken from the car proved inconclusive, but the Portuguese police wrongly told journalists they were a “100 per cent match” for Madeleine.

The Portuguese police came up with the theory that Madeleine had been killed by her parents by accident, possibly by being given an overdose of a sedative to make her sleep, that they had hidden the body, faked her abduction and then used the hire car weeks later to move her body to a burial location.

In early September 2007, according to Kate McCann, she was told by the Portuguese police that if she admitted that Madeleine had died in the apartment and she had hidden her body she might only serve a two-year sentence and Gerry McCann would not be charged at all. On September 7 the couple were both made arguidos.

Goncalo Amaral, the chief inspector who had been in charge of the case, resigned in 2008 to write a book alleging that Madeleine had died in an accident in the apartment and the McCanns had faked the abduction. The McCanns sued him for libel, and won: Amaral was ordered to pay them £394,000 in damages, but in April 2016 that decision was overturned by an appeal court.

In July 2008 the Portuguese attorney general announced that the McCanns were no longer suspects and the investigation was closed. The McCanns hired private investigators to carry on the search, but it was not until May 2011 that Theresa May, the Home Secretary, announced that Scotland Yard would review the evidence in the case, which had until then been the responsibility of Leicestershire Police, working with the Portuguese authorities.

In July 2013 Operation Grange, the review of the available evidence, became a full-blown criminal inquiry, and Scotland Yard said it was concentrating on a “criminal act by a stranger”.

The Yard announced it was looking into possible links between Madeleine’s disappearance and bogus charity collectors who were knocking on doors in Praia da Luz at the time. Between 3.30pm and 5.30pm on the day in question there were four separate sightings of men who said they were collecting money for an orphanage. British detectives believe men whose photofits they released in 2013 may have been engaged in reconnaissance for a pre-planned abduction or for burglaries, in keeping with the theory that Madeleine may have been killed by a burglar she disturbed.

telegraph-april-2016-e-fit-x-4

E-fits of men seen acting suspiciously near the apartment on the night Madeleine went missing

Scotland Yard also said in 2013 it was eager to trace a blond-haired man who had been seen loitering in the area on April 30 and May 2, looking at apartment 1A. He was described as “ugly” with a spotty complexion and a large nose. Two blond-haired men were seen on the balcony of the empty apartment 5C, two doors from 5A, at 2.30pm on the day of the disappearance. Blond men were seen again near 5A at 4pm and 6pm that day, and at 11pm that night. Following the appeal on Crimewatch, the Portuguese police re-opened their own investigation.

Scotland Yard officers travelled to Portugal in 2014 to interview four suspects and carried out searches of the area around the apartment using ground-penetrating radar. One of the men who was interviewed has since been eliminated from the inquiry, but the other three men remain arguidos.

The British officers questioned them on suspicion of being part of a burglary gang that panicked after killing Madeleine during a bungled break-in. They all protested their innocence and were released without charge.

Another suspect was Euclides Monteiro, a convicted burglar with a drug habit, who had been sacked from the Ocean Club in 2006. Mobile phone tracking showed he had been in the area on the night of the disappearance, and police believe he may have been burgling apartments there to fund his drug addiction. He died in a tractor accident in 2009.

In March 2014 Scotland Yard announced that a lone intruder sexually assaulted five girls aged between seven and 10 in the Algarve between 2004 and 2006. The man, who has never been caught, was said to have a “very, very unhealthy interest” in young white girls.

The four incidents, one of which involved two girls, were among 12 in which men had entered holiday accommodation in the area, including two incidents in Praia da Luz. The force also said it was looking at 38 “people of interest” and were researching the backgrounds of 530 known sex offenders, including 59 regarded as high interest.

In December 2014 Det Chief Insp Andy Redwood, the man who had led Operation Grange, retired and was replaced on Dec 22 by DCI Nicola Wall, who travelled to Portugal the same month to conduct further inquiries.

DCI Wall and her team interviewed seven suspects and four witnesses, but have not released any information about what they discovered, insisting they will not provide a “running commentary” on the case.

In September 2015 the Met announced that it was scaling back the Operation Grange investigation team from 29 officers to four. With the cost of the inquiry topping £10 million, the force said it was following “a small number of focused lines of inquiry”.

It added that the “vast majority” of the work of Operation Grange had been completed. In total officers had reviewed more than 40,000 documents, took 1,338 statements and collected 1,027 exhibits.

The Met said 60 “persons of interest” had been investigated, 650 sex offenders considered and 8,685 potential sightings investigated.

Then, in April 2016, came an announcement by the Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe that his officers had boiled down the evidence to “one final lead”.

Having failed to substantiate other theories, police are reportedly left with one of the original theories – that Madeleine was killed during a botched burglary.

The Met wants to re-interview three suspects who were placed at the scene through analysis of their mobile phones: Jose Carlos da Silva, 30, who used to drive guests to their apartments at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz, Ricardo Rodrigues, 24, and Paulo Ribeiro, 53.

They have previously admitted petty theft from apartments at the complex but denied any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.

Kate and Gerry McCann remain convinced their daughter is alive and that they will one day be reunited. The hunt to find her continues.

Madeleine v The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/16/madeleine-mccann-latest-are-police-any-closer-to-knowing-the-tru/

This an article by Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter, and is currently dated 29 April 2016. It is like a pinned piece or a sticky. It gets updated when there is any significant development in the Madeleine McCann case. As it has not been updated since April, it is reasonable to assume there hasn’t been a major development for months.

From memory, that is correct. Operation Grange had already been downsized to 4 officers and DCI Nicola Wall had returned to multi-investigation work as per her role before being appointed to lead the Madeleine McCann case.

telegraph-april-2016

There have been minor scraps of news since then. These include Operation Grange pursuing a single line of enquiry (Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe), or a small number of lines of enquiry (Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie), and further funding for 6 months to April 2017. These are hardly major stories requiring an update to the Telegraph report.

I know that a version of this article pre-dates April 2016, and I believe by a considerable amount. Unfortunately, the format of the article’s URL, with a date embedded in it, makes it difficult to trace previous variants of this report. I do have a version dating back to 5 Sep 2014, but I believe the origin to be much older. However, I also know that one piece of information was published in The Telegraph in 2007, in an article by Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter, and the same misinformation is in the TimesOnline, dated 9 Sep 2007.

My working assumption of how these types of articles are maintained is based on seeing a similar pattern across several newspapers. I don’t know whether TV and radio stations operate in a similar manner though BBC news articles seem to evolve in this manner.

There is presumably a file or files on the Madeleine case in each organisation, and some of these files contain stock text and stock photos. When there is something newsworthy, the first port of call is one of these filed reports, which is then tweaked to include the new development.

This means new news can be reported very quickly, with little effort, so it is efficient re time and cost. However, once an error enters the base story, it has a tendency to get recycled and republished time and time again. It takes a considerable degree of effort and extensive expertise to debug such errors.

I want to look at the Telegraph article to see how many errors can be identified, and establish if these are significant. I haven’t tried this yet so I cannot say at the moment whether there will be a few errors or many, but I already know it is not zero.

I am not being critical of Gordon Rayner or The Telegraph. The Crimewatch programme of Oct 2013 has been picked apart by at least one person with considerable experience of the Madeleine McCann case, and errors identified, so this attribute applies to documentary makers and Operation Grange alike. And I know I have made some errors on my blog in my time.

I have seen the tabloids recycle errors and it normally leaves me unmoved. I don’t use the tabloids as a source of information.

One can reasonably expect better quality newspapers to have a higher standard of reporting, but what will we find in reality? Find out after the break!

Madeleine – Paul McCartney

am gradually building up a timeline that surrounds the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Most timelines cover 5.30pm to 10pm on 3 May 2007. Operation Grange in Crimewatch 2013 stretched it bit further with incidents a few weeks before and shortly after.

I want stretch it to decades before, because I believe the development of Luz, and of the Ocean Club is critical to understanding what happened to Madeleine, so please stick with me.

Way back in late 1968, Paul McCartney flew in to Faro airport, to visit Hunter Davis in Luz. He was accompanied by Linda Eastman, who would go on to become Linda McCartney. Hunter Davies had written an official biography of the Beatles and had stayed in touch with the band thereafter. Davies was renting accommodation in Luz, and late one night around New Year of 1968-1969 McCartney turned up out of the blue, needing money to pay for a taxi due to a mix-up at Faro airport.

Davies covered this story and others in his autobiography, Memoirs From The Outside Looking In. My interest really lay in his description of the development of Luz and the Ocean Club, which affects the design and the security of the complex.

Davies also says that the area was basically undeveloped at the time. The turning point seems to have been the opening of Faro airport just a few years prior to McCartney’s visit. Presumably this opened the Algarve up as a tourist destination. The trip from Faro to Luz was much more arduous than it is today, or the way Davies describes it, much more quaint and interesting. The children played a game of counting the donkeys and carts on the journey.

Davies further says the first complex to be built in Luz was the Luz Bay Club, also known as the Hotel Luz Bay. It started shortly after the time of McCartney’s visit but at the time there were no holiday homes in Luz to mention.

The design of the Luz Bay Club seems to be similar in principle to the Ocean Club. There is a communal area for sunbathing, swimming and playing, with its own restaurant, and a lot of tennis courts. That area is fenced off, and one needs to enter it via 24hr reception. However, the properties themselves seem to be outside this area, and public access is possible as it uses the streets of Luz. The location is a bit quieter than the Ocean Club, in terms of traffic, though the front is along one of the designated routes to the beach.

I don’t know whether the locks are operated by a manual key or by a swipe key card. From the date of the build, I would guess a manual key. I think Heri may know because I believe he stayed there on his visit in May 2016.

The Luz Bay Club seems to be a prototype for the Ocean Club. The differences are I would rate the Luz Bay Club as more upmarket, while the Ocean Club is larger and more spread-eagled over the streets of Luz.

The Ocean Club was developed in 1982 by a trio of entrepreneurs. By that time, the infrastructure of Luz was extended and consequently the Ocean Club fits into more busy roads and encompasses three almost separate areas of Luz. And instead of the low-rise of the Luz Bay Club, it has blocks designed to pack more apartments into the space available.

The date of the design, and the spread of the Ocean Club, lead to certain security features. First, the locks are manual. There was no technology in 1982 to permit computer-controlled locks over this spread. And the business model was that the properties were sold to investors, meaning they are private. Customers could then enter into an arrangement with the Ocean Club to manage them, or they could choose not to. Basically, Portugal does not allow CCTV is public spaces, so the design and the business model of the Ocean Club mean CCTV is out for most of the areas. Exceptions are the Tapas area and the Millennium zone, both of which are fenced off, so private, and CCTV could be installed there.

Returning to the Hunter Davies book and the visit of Paul McCartney, there is one photo in circulation of Luz in 1968.

luz-1968-paul-mccartney-hunter-davies

Hunter is on the left. His wife Margaret is on the right. In the centre is Linda Eastman and Paul McCartney.

The article written about this says Hunter took 8mm film while Linda took still photos. So there may be more historic material of this rattling around in an attic somewhere.

I cannot identify the precise location for this photo. It is not a Luz I recognise. But then, this whole story is about how Luz was transformed.

As for Paul McCartney, his look is very distinctive. This photo was taken shortly after the release of ‘Hey Jude’. That song is allegedly a reference to Julian (Jules) Lennon, written by McCartney following the split of John Lennon and Jules’ mother. The Luz photo was taken shortly before the release of ‘Get Back’. This is reputed to be a McCartney song about Yoko Ono. The odd thing about the cover of the single ‘Get Back’ is it depicts McCartney as clean-shaven, so goodness knows when it was taken.

The sequence is #1 ‘Hey Jude’. #2 the visit of Paul McCartney and Linda Eastman to Luz. #4 the release of ‘Get Back’. Squeezing in at #3 was the Beatles rooftop session, where McCartney was the same hairy-faced person he was in Luz. You can find the rooftop session all over the Internet, but this is ‘Get Back’, a supposed dig by Paul McCartney at Yoko Ono.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgXRc0cNf4g

mccartney-rooftop-get-back

The second link is John Lennon with ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, which appears to be a clear tribute to Yoko.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCtzkaL2t_Y 

lennon-rooftop-dont-let-me-down

The Beatles were in the process of disintegrating.  Luz was in the process of coming together.

Madeleine – Smithman e-fit technology

I thought I had written on the problems with the Smithman e-fits before, but I cannot find the relevant post. My apologies if this duplicates something earlier.

I wanted to see if the software used to construct the two Smithman e-fits could be identified, given that the quality of the two photos is quite dissimilar. I was hoping from that to get a bit more insight in the methods used by the private investigators to build these. As it turns out, I needn’t have bothered, as the real story lies elsewhere.

Here are the two Smithman e-fits.

Smithman e-fits

Note one is high quality while the other is rough. It is unlikely that both were constructed by the same operator using the same software, though not impossible, as one potential step is enhancing the e-fit using some sort of graphics package.

The e-fits were produced sometime during the employment of Oakley International, according to Henri Exton, who worked on the case at that time. This employment started in March 2008 and ended in September 2008, with the final report, including the e-fits being handed over in November 2008.

So what software was available at the time? In the UK, the packages used by the police were E-FIT and PRO-fit. In the US, they were FACES, Identikit 2000, ComPhotofit, CRIMES, Compusketch, CD-FIT, E-FIT, and Facekit. That is quite a lot of choice, The source that identified these mentioned that it had an example of the results of each of these, but unfortunately it did not. And on my travels I found the names of other packages in use at the time.

The academics were keen to know how effective these tools were and the best methods of deploying them, and it turns out it is far from easy. The following was all known in 2007.

First the operator has to be conversant with the software itself and alternatives it provides.

Second, the operator should know that trying to get a verbal description of facial features is a poor way to go about it. Apparently we process faces as a whole, not as individual parts. So a better method is to start off with a general face, then gradually evolve it until it looks sufficiently accurate.

Third, the operator should know that we tend to recognise faces more from the top half than the bottom half. Oddly, it seems hair style is the most important feature.

Fourth, the operator should know we process faces differently if they are familiar or unfamiliar. This could well be an issue after the blanket media coverage of Gerry McCann’s image.

Fifth, the operator should understand the interaction techniques known as Cognitive Interviews, Context Reinstatement and Conversational Management. Let’s skip these.

I am assuming that as the people in Oakley International were UK-based, one of the two systems used by UK police was deployed. The higher quality e-fit looks like the output from E-FIT, while the lower quality one looks like it came from an earlier version of the same software. Of course, Oakley International could have sub-contracted this work to someone who was familiar with one of the other packages.

Whether Oakley International or a sub-contractor had the relevant capability to produce the e-fits claimed by Henri Exton is a matter of conjecture, but it turns out not to matter.

In December 2007, an article appeared in the journal Ergonomics. The authors said the efficacy of e-fits had been widely studied in the UK, and they ran a study to compare package E-FIT (used in both the UK and the US) against other packages used in the US. The relevant finding is the concluding sentence of their abstract. “The results support previous findings that modern systems do not produce identifiable composites.”

This, in my opinion, is a fairly damning indictment of 2007 capability. Please note, UK universities have continually developed much better software since then, but that is of limited relevance to the Madeleine McCann case.

The other thing that came across re 2007/2008 studies was the methods used. To give but one example, a study was done as follows. Volunteers were given a photo of someone they had not seen before, an unfamiliar face. The photo was high quality and well lit. They were allowed to study it for one minute (60 seconds). Four hours later, they participated in attempting to construct an e-fit of the face in the photo. Typical success rates were 15 to 20%.

Contrast this process with the reality of the Smith sighting. The Smiths did not get 60 seconds to study anyone’s face. The lighting was not of a quality to enable e-fit construction. They did not compile the e-fit 4 hours later but some 11 to 17 months later.

The Smiths are not to blame for taking part in an e-fit construction. They were hardly to know that all the science said it was a total waste of time, and the results would be useful only if lady luck shone on the process.

Henri Exton and Oakley International should have known a bit more about a tool they were using. Perhaps they were relying on the expertise of those who produced the software, the training, and the knowledge that e-fits were in common use in the UK and US.

The situation with Operation Grange and DCI Andy Redwood is a little more puzzling. Surely by October 2013 they would have known about some of the issues surrounding those two e-fits? One assumes they had the full Oakley International file, can date the construction of the e-fits, know what software was used to produce them and have some idea of the process used.

I believe DCI Andy Redwood visited Martin Smith a couple of time before Crimewatch 2013, and I wonder if e-fit construction was part of the agenda.

I have just chunked my way through a 26 page thread on the UK Justice Forum, where a key question was when did Operation Grange get the e-fits, and why did Operation Grange wait 2 years until October 2013 before releasing them for Crimewatch? Part of the answer may be they were hoping something more promising would turn up, but by Crimewatch even a very low-grade source was considered to be worth a roll of the dice.

Madeleine v the Mirror

The article in the Mirror dated 01 Oct 16, written by Alan Selby and Phil Cardy, neatly sums up what is going on in the Madeleine McCann case in UK media, and what is going wrong.

The headline screams it all. “Ghoulish Madeleine McCann tour takes tourists where missing tot stayed and cops dug for body”

From this headline, you can be safe in assuming that there is so little going on in the case that the media are scraping the bottom of the barrel for Madeleine-related stories.

Shall we now have a look at the article itself to see what is going wrong?

Tourists are being offered a ghoulish sightseeing tour of the town where Madeleine McCann was kidnapped.

The sick trips take visitors to the apartment where the missing three-year-old was last seen alive and the tapas restaurant where her parents were dining when she vanished.

The twisted organiser also takes his clients to nearby wasteland which police dug up in searches in Praia da Luz in Portugal’s Algarve.

The ghouls are then invited to speculate on the involvement of Madeleine’s doctor parents Kate and Gerry.”

The article has only just started, and already the errors are creeping in.

I have never been inside the Tapas area, so obviously I have never taken a visitor to the restaurant.

The ‘wasteland’ so beloved of the UK press is actually undeveloped land complete, I understand, with planning permission and so is extremely valuable. My first visitor went to this plot and found out why Operation Grange got it so wrong in digging it up. Selby and Cardy are obviously as ignorant now of the reasons for this as Operation Grange was at the time. It goes further than this as the Mirror duo clearly don’t know the true importance of the mound to the case.

Visitors can choose to discuss the involvement of Kate and Gerry, or not, as they wish. Just as they can choose to discuss, or not, the many other people involved in the case. That, by the way, includes the UK media, and how journalists like Selby and Cardy make money out of filling up column inches with another story about Madeleine McCann.

Back to the article. “Last night the couple were said to be distressed by the latest outrageous twist in the story.”

Notice the key phrase “were said to be” i.e. we are expected to take Selby and Cardy’s word for it. The crucial element here is simple. I have attempted to contact the McCanns on several occasions, with the aim of demonstrating to them just how much valuable information they are sitting on, presumably unaware that they have much of value that would advance the search for Madeleine McCann. This happens to include the Smith sighting, where I believe the McCanns are ideally placed to obtain information that I cannot. To date, I have not had a response from the McCanns or from a McCann representative, so if Selby and Cardy really did manage to get my blog onto the McCann radar, it is a step forward.

To the McCanns, or any of their representatives, I repeat an offer I have made previously. If you choose to engage in an information exchange with me, there is much significant progress to be made. This progress will NOT be made by Operation Grange (who lack an understanding of Luz), nor will it be made by a further team of private investigators, nor will it be made by UK or Portuguese media. I am happy to DEMONSTRATE examples of this to show what is being missed. I am further happy to give primacy to the McCanns in deciding how and when such newly discovered information should be deployed.

Once more, back to the article. “And the tours, dubbed the “Luz Challenge”, have triggered disgust among other Brits in Praia.

Yesterday one astonished expat who lives in the area said: “This is in appalling taste. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it.”

This roughly says it all. Selby and Cardy now claim to have a source in Luz, but said fellow has never heard of me or heard of tours which have been running since March. That tells you how good Selby and Cardy’s sources aren’t. By the way, if Selby or Cardy is still reading my blog, kindly stop calling the place Praia. Two journalists should know that praia simply means beach. The place is not called Praia, it is called Luz, Lagos. The Lagos tacked on the end is to locate this Luz in the district of Lagos, as opposed to Luz, Tavira, which is in the eastern end of the Algarve, in the region of Tavira. If you are going to be sloppy, at least make the same mistake that most journalists make and call it Praia da Luz (which is wrong, but generally accepted).

The gruesome tours are being offered on the internet by a British grandfather in his 60s who has become obsessed with the case since emigrating to Praia da Luz.

He says he lives in “Maddieville” and is offering his version of “Mission Impossible” to work out what happened to Madeleine.”

We did not emigrate to Praia da Luz. An early part of my blog makes it clear that within the family no-one had any interest in Madeleine McCann as none of us followed the story in 2007. Oddly, not a single one of us twigged the connection to Madeleine McCann, otherwise we would have probably gone elsewhere.

As to calling Luz “Maddieville”, when Operation Grange decided to fly over Luz in a helicopter in June 2014, followed by sealing off the centre and establishing a circus to entertain the media, then Maddieville became an appropriate term. Mr Selby and Mr Cardy, you are making money off the back of Madeleine McCann each time you write another sensationalist article about her. Do you consider yourselves to be serious investigative journalists? Or is it just that you don’t care?

The Mirror article continues “Our source said: “The guide is obsessed with Maddie. He’s written thousands of words about the case and pored over maps, photographs and police transcripts.

We don’t know why he is so hung up on it.””

If your source knows so much about me, why has your source only just become aware of the tours? Does your source exist? Why have we not met each other in Luz before now?

The tour takes in this block of flats, where Maddie was last seen”. This, Selby and Cardy, is a mistake I have seen before, so quite possibly this is a stock item used by the Mirror. The last time I saw this mistake I simply shrugged it off, so I cannot name and shame the two journalists responsible for that article. But I can name and shame Alan Selby and Phil Cardy for this one. It illustrates perfectly the lack of research you have put in and the fodder you have churned out. Madeleine was in block 5, in apartment 5A, as everyone knows. You have chosen to show a photo of block 6, describing it as “where Maddie was last seen.” As far as I know, Madeleine was never inside block 6.

If this IS simply an ongoing Mirror error, you two need to get off your backsides and get this part pulled, before some other duo repeats the mistake.

As a matter of interest, does either of you know what is significant about block 6 in relation to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann?

Then, in an offensive comment, the sicko says: “You have to come up with a way in which the McCanns, for whatever reason, disposed of Madeleine’s body, and the body was not found in searches.”

In a reference to the officer in charge of the original search, the tour guide says: “Gonçalo Amaral struggled, and in my opinion failed, to come up with an explanation.”

This is pathetically cheap journalism. Throw in the word “offensive” throw in the word “sicko” and what you have is sensationalist claptrap.

Are you aware of public opinion in Portugal? Because I am. I have therefore phrased this issue in a manner which makes it clear that a highly experienced police officer has failed to come up with a reasonable explanation. Therefore anyone who is anti-McCann, and based on my contacts within Portugal, that appears to be just about everyone, is asked not “do they think the McCanns did it” but rather “if they maintain the McCanns did it, precisely how did the McCanns do it.”

That is, of course, completely in contradiction to your implication that the tour aim is to work out how the McCanns did it.

Just as a point of clarification, I remember sitting in the Paraíso for lunch one day. It happened to be roughly where the Tapas 7 congregated following their beach outing on 3 May 2007. A table two down from us was occupied by two couples, obviously British tourists. One of the men said in a loud voice “well, all you have to do is look around to see how easy it would be to hide a body in this type of rough land”. It is a common misconception.

On with the words of Selby and Cardy. “The guide lists several places that his clients will be taken to. They start at Apartment 5A at the Ocean Club Hotel where the tot vanished.”

Oh dear. I don’t have clients, as no-one is paying a single cent for any tour. There isn’t an Ocean Club Hotel. The Ocean Club is a collection of apartments and villas, not a hotel. Do tours start at Apartment 5A? No, they start wherever my visitor wants them to start.

Tour 1 started at a hotel in the north of Luz. Have you Mirror chaps any idea of the relevance of City Sol or Quinta dos Figos? I doubt it very much.

Tour 2 started at a hotel much beloved of the media when they choose to descend on us en-mass. As it so happened, they were choosing to leave us alone that time, so the main activity was to sample some dinner selected from the hotel’s menu.

Tour 3 started at a large but decrepit villa on the eastern outskirts of Burgau. I wonder if you are aware the relevance of Burgau in the Madeleine case?

Tour 4 will start from a smallish, well kept Portuguese home in the centre of Burgau. It is possible there may a visit to one of the local hostelries.

From there they go a few hundred yards to the tapas restaurant where her parents were eating with friends – although the guide says a meal will not be possible as the place has closed. Then they visit the spot near the apartment where the McCanns’ friend Jane Tanner saw a mystery man carrying a child, though police later ruled out the sighting.”

The distance from the garden gate of 5A to the entrance of the Tapas area is important, because it factors into how long each parental check took. It is 20.5 metres, or about 23 yards, nothing like your few hundred yards.

You are aware that the man spotted by Tanner was walking across the junction of Rua Agostinho da Silva and Rua Martins? And that the junction is in front of apartment 5A? And that those using the car park of block 5 to do their parental checks passed this junction on the way there and on the way back? Why would a visitor to 5A not simply do the Tanner sighting as they went round this junction, on their way to the Tapas zone?

Unless you have kept up to date with the case, you will probably not be aware that a Freedom of Information request was answered by Scotland Yard in December 2015. Part of the response stated that Tannerman was still a person of interest to Operation Grange, so he had not been ruled out at that date.

Back to Selby and Cardy. “They will also take in the scene of the sighting by Martin Smith, a retired businessman, who said he saw a man carrying a child in the direction of the beach.” The tour does take in the Smith sighting, if the visitor wishes to do so. It happens to be an important sighting and much can be gained from examining the location in which it took place. You two, however, are showing your ignorance again. Martin Smith did not say the man headed to the beach. His statement says that he does not know where the man went after they passed. And if you check Aoife Smith’s statement, she never mentions the beach either. Judging by DCI Andy Redwood in the Crimewatch episode of Oct 2013, he was also labouring under this “to the beach” misapprehension.

Other places in the tour are the areas where police carried out searches two years ago.

The first is scrubland to the south-west of the McCann apartment, around the size of three football pitches and surrounded by villas and apartments. The two other sites are on the other side of Praia da Luz on either side of the road out of town.”

I repeat, all tours are customised to what the visitor wants the see. The area of land in the centre of Luz has been visited once, to point out some salient facts that Operation Grange missed, and it looks as if you are ignorant of these points. As to the two areas to the east of Luz, I have never visited those in my life, and no-one has requested these areas to be included in any tour.

Another ghoulish spot on the tour is the Our Lady of the Light church in the centre of Luz.” How many errors can you stuff into a single report? No one has ever requested to see Nossa Senhora da Luz, and I have never been inside the church in my life. I am, however, respectful of both the Catholic and the Anglican communities that share the the church, while it would appear that Selby and Cardy are willing to spread malicious gossip about this place of worship.

Police searched there and a nearby cemetery with rumours circulating that Madeleine was put into someone else’s coffin to be cremated.” Unless you have a cite from the PJ Files or another reputable source, this again is cheap sensationalism. I have never heard of a police search of Nossa Senhora da Luz. It certainly was NOT searched by Operation Grange. I have never heard of a search of Luz cemetery. But the question is, do you two ever read back what you write before you publish it? Why would anyone search a cemetery looking for a body that had been cremated? Do you understand the difference between burial and cremation?

From there the guide said he would start looking at all the red herrings and conspiracy theories which had sprung up around the case.

These include the rumour Madeleine could have been been hidden on the nearby beach or under rocks.”

I couldn’t possibly tackle all the idiotic theories or idiotic groups that surround the Madeleine McCann case. The beach one certainly dates back to June 2014, when the UK media announced that Operation Grange was to dig the beach. That dig never occurred.

He is clearly unaware or not bothered by the disgust his warped pastime is causing.

Several street signs have been sprayed with the message “Stop McCann Circus” in response to all the negative publicity the picturesque Algarve town receives.

Critics said the sightseeing tour is in appalling taste.”

The manner is which this is written implies I had something to do with graffiti that appeared in Luz. I had nothing whatsoever to do with it, so I resent the implication.

By the way, Luz isn’t picturesque, a word you would never use to describe the place if you had actually visited. And that point is pertinent, because the construction date and manner of the Ocean Club reflect upon the security systems in the complex and in apartment 5A, so please try to get it right.

Having got that out of the way, let’s tackle the disgust my “warped pastime” is causing. In your article, you have not identified a single person who has come forward to make such a comment, merely unnamed sources. Turning to the idea of warped concepts, who raised the notion that Madeleine went into someone else’s coffin and was cremated? That would be Alan Selby and Phil Cardy writing for the Mirror. Who is getting paid for writing this appalling tripe? That would be Alan Selby and Phil Cardy from the Mirror.

If you were serious journalists you would investigate the case properly, but instead you choose to regurgitate sensationalist material.

““I prefer to remain anonymous, in the background, a non-character in the case.

That means my musings are more likely to be judged on merit alone.

Hopefully, that in turn maximises the chance of working out what happened to Madeleine McCann.”

Anyone can read my blog and make up their own mind as to whether I am putting myself before Madeleine or whether Madeleine is the priority. Those who know me well will also know that I publish on one of the more popular forums devoted to finding out what happened to her. Between my blog and that forum, a considerable amount of progress has been made. That progress would increase if these findings were read by the McCanns, serious UK media reporters, and Operation Grange.

Explaining the twisted thinking that produced the tour, the man says: “My first thought was simple.

I just could not make a ghouls tour of Luz fly. Then the idea began to intrigue me.

How does one make a ghouls’ tour of Luz actually work?

The solution is cheap and cheerful. It comes out of the best penny dreadfuls in Victorian era. You do not bother about the truth. Or the facts. You simply go for the thrill value.”

He continues: “I suppose, at a push, with all the red herrings around, I could develop a ghouls’ tour with at least 20 points on the map.

There must be at least ten more red herrings in the Madeleine story, surely.

The difficulty is my brain is not into red herring stories and my heart is not into this line of action.

And you, Alan Selby and Phil Cardy, have produced the modern day equivalent of the Victorian penny dreadful by not bothering about the facts but simply going for sensationalist thrill value. Whereas the line I have bolded quite clearly shows that while a ghouls tour is possible, I do not do ghouls tours. For example, a ghouls tour would definitely incorporate a visit to Nossa Senhora da Luz to retell the Mirror nonsense about the cremated body, whereas the church has never featured in any tour and I have never been inside it.

While this deluded man amuses himself with his outrageous “game” the British investigation into the disappearance codenamed Operation Grange has cost at least £12million.”

This the the standard end to a Madeleine McCann story. Throw in the cost of Operation Grange. As it so happens, I have sent Operation Grange several pieces of intelligence regarding the case. I have no idea whether these were found useful or not.

In Portugal, Correio da Manha has run with an equivalent story to the Mirror’s, but in Portuguese. I shall be looking at that to see if it gives me an entry point to the Portuguese media.

In the UK media, Alan Selby and Phil Cardy have squandered an opportunity to advance the understanding of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and instead have taken Mirror money to write a lurid story based on Madeleine’s disappearance. Congratulations guys, you are number two and number three on my list of journalists I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole.