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.

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 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 Luz graffiti 1

On 7 May 2009, Channel 4 aired a documentary entitled ‘Madeleine was here’. It is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhACS6ck-Dw in 5 parts.

I wanted to do a trio of stories about graffiti in Luz relating to the case, and this documentary showed Gerry entering Luz and passing a Madeleine billboard that had been defaced with white paint.

Here is a photo from the Scottish Sun, from mid-April 2009.

advertising-hoarding-apr-2009

I wondered if this was the advertising hoarding immediately to the east of Luz, so I did a quick check in Google Streetview. It wasn’t. The details don’t match. I was looking for a billboard with four double legs and a telephone pole beside it, plus a wire mesh fence and an odd wooden part on the right hand side.

I thought that would be easy to find but I simply could not nail it. There are several billboards on the Luz to Lagos old road, just none that match. So I tried hunting along to entrance to Luz from the north near Espiche. That drew another blank. I tried the Luz to Burgau route, and came up with nothing.

I pondered if the fact that I was using the current StreetView, dated July 2014, was the issue. According to the Portugal Resident, Gerry McCann had visited Luz on 4 Apr 2009, to be joined by Jane Tanner and Matthew Oldfield. Kate McCann could not face the trip. The trio from the Tapas 9 were there to give advice to actors about the reconstruction of the evening., for the documentary.

So I decided to crank StreetView back its earliest setting of Aug 2009. As that was just 5 months after Gerry’s visit, I was now confident I would locate the billboard, but once more I came up empty handed. I could not see how this could be possible.

I remembered seeing it in the documentary as Gerry was driven past it, so I re-watched ‘Madeleine was here’. The billboard was definitely located on the Lagos-Luz old road, east of Luz. The scene is in part 3 of the YouTube link.

I simply could not fathom what was going wrong, so I decided to try to locate it a different way. I noted some of the distinctive features showing up shortly before Gerry was driven past, and finally, I found the location.

Here is a photo of what the billboard site looked like in Aug 2009.

advertising-hoarding-aug-2009

The mystery was solved. Everything appearing in the documentary matches the Aug 2009 photo, but the billboard is gone. It is an ex-billboard.

The following photo is from July 14, and it had not reappeared.

advertising-hoarding-jul-2014

The site is just under 1,500 metres ( nearly a mile) from the Ocean Club 24 hour reception, nearly at the Valverde camp site. I doubt anybody walked that distance from Luz with a can of paint in order to deface the poster, so another solution is required.

I would characterise the vandalism as high on anger, low on intelligence, and low on an understanding of how the media works.

The defaced billboard was always going to get column inches in the UK press, and Clarence Mitchell added his comments about poor taste. “Where is the humanity in daubing the posters with paint?” Luz was always going to be on the end of a beating.

I have seen it suggested that it might have been done by the youth of Luz. I don’t actually know who did it, but I would be surprised if that was the answer. Like graffiti artists everywhere, the youths of Luz take a bit of pride in their art, and probably seem themselves as the next Banksy.

The person carrying out this piece of vandalism is probably not Portuguese. The number on the poster is 800 814 028. It is still up on the Portuguese part of the Find Madeleine website. I happens to a freephone number. 800 is the prefix for freephone numbers in Portugal. If the vandal was trying to prevent calls to the Find Madeleine effort, the part of the phone number to obscure would have been some or all of the last 6 digits. It suggests the miscreant was not au fait with the Portuguese telephone system.

According to a Telegraph report dated 26 Mar 2009 “Around 10,000 leaflets are being handed out and posted through letterboxes in Praia da Luz and the nearby towns of Lagos and Burgau. The Algarve campaign is being backed by billboards, posters and advertising on local buses.” And “Several posters featuring the youngster’s face have been torn down in Praia da Luz.”

Precisely what this campaign was intended to achieve, other than anger the locals, is a bit of a mystery. I would class it as being low on PR nous. The leaflets seem to be small versions of the large billboard that was defaced.

Is there any particular reason why the locals might be angry? The Scottish Sun had this information in April 2009. “Emotions are especially high at the Ocean Club complex from where she disappeared, where 21 employees have been sacked due to a downturn in trade.

The first line in the letters of dismissal blamed negative publicity caused by Maddie vanishing. Some workers heckled dad Gerry McCann, 40, during his recent surprise visit to film a reconstruction of events. Others are said to be considering legal action against the family for loss of income.

A middle-aged barmaid at the development’s empty tapas bar — which should be bustling with British tourists during the Easter holidays — revealed she is among those being let go on May 9.”

9 May 2009, two days after ‘Madeleine was here’ would air on TV. I wonder how popular it was with those who would soon lose their jobs?

The Scottish Sun continued “Even Ocean Club staff who avoided redundancy fear their jobs will go at the end of the summer. The management company has allegedly warned it may be forced to pull out of the resort if business does not improve.”

Things were very definitely not Shining In Luz.

I’d like to finish off with a final photo. It is the interior of O Atlantico, a Portuguese restaurant to the south of the church.

20070610-atlantico

If you look at the front window you can see an example of what the locals were doing to promote the search for Madeleine. Mind you, that was in June 2007, before the tide had turned.

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.

Madeleine – the McCanns did it – Luz tour #2

If the McCanns did ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ was, all they had to do was get past Luz. I have heard visitors while I was eating breakfast on the decking of the Paraíso restaurant (which is currently undergoing a total overhaul) look around and remark that it is easy to see from the rough terrain that hiding a body here would be easy.

If you can visit Luz, please get in touch with me, because I would like you to show you the reality. I think of this as the ‘Luz Challenge’. Our version of Mission Impossible. Your task is simple. 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 the subsequent searches.

The McCanns had 5 days to solve this puzzle, assuming there was intent to do so when they arrived at Faro airport.

Or if they had no intent, they are left with a much tougher task. How does one dispose of a body the size and weight of Madeleine, in a foreign country, after whatever incident might have happened, between 5:30pm and 10pm on one single night, the 3rd of May 2007?

Gerry had played golf in Portugal before. Kate had never previously visited the country. The pair had been on holidays with a similar background. In my first post on this, I made it clear that the couple did not seem to ‘explore’ Luz, though there is evidence of jogging that was outside the Ocean Club (by Kate at least).

So let me remind you of the ‘Luz Challenge’. Within the first week of arrival in Luz, you have to come up with a body disposal method that is going to defeat the subsequent checks and searches. It can be done, but I am predicting that you will not succeed.

Bearing this in mind, I now need to turn to the places of interest in Luz assuming the McCanns did ‘it’.

This obviously starts off with block 5 for apartment 5A, and quickly spreads to the Tapas Restaurant, and from there it goes crazy.

Jane Tanner’s sighting has to be factored in. That’s not too much effort as it is very, very close to block 5.

Then there is the Smith sighting. Now the area has to be expanded to the Dolphin and Kelly’s. For me, this is beginning to look like a rather general tour of Luz. Can I find any evidence that the McCanns were in this part of Luz? Nope.

What else? A visit to Baptista supermarket. As dull as that sounds, it can actually be a bit of fun. Trust me, I’m your friend.

There has to be a look at the rubbish system in Luz. This bit is boring, but it has to be done. You need to see how the system works, because that explains why the McCanns didn’t use it.

The route, or routes, to the Ocean Club 24 hour reception from apartment 5A require a quick view. If Madeleine spent morning and afternoon in the Mini Club there, surely this is important. By the way, you also need to get your head around the general subject of child entertainment in Luz, and the difficulty of making sure that young children have something interesting to do throughout the day in a 7-day holiday in Luz.

Then there is the trip to the beach. I am far from convinced that the route is important, as per a Textusa theorem. However, if you think it is, recreating this route is simple, so you can judge for yourself.

What is possibly more important about the trip to the beach is the ‘encounter’ with a street singer on the sea front and the market stalls where sunglasses are sold. You can do both. Not the original street singer, but Luz still has a busker.

Staying at the beach, we have Kate’s jog along the beach, whilst CCTV shows the Tapas 9 (minus Kate and Gerry) enjoying the Paraíso restaurant on the beach itself. Things have changed in the Paraíso. The owner from that time has died, so it has been passed on to new hands. It has recently been demolished. It is currently being reconstructed in an enlarged format, much to the chagrin of some locals, so you can no longer see the original layout, with the exception of that CCTV clip.

As of today, the Paraíso is still at the bare bones stage. The foundation is in and the ribs have been stuck up, but that is it. My visitor #1 is due in early March, and I cannot see the whole of the Paraíso going back up in that time. That is a bit of a shame, because it had or has some outstanding qualities. Never mind, this simply means it is a nut that needs to be cracked in a different way. I am used to cracking nuts when a different way is required.

The last area of interest is where Kate jogged. I don’t really mean the beach, although if you want a leisurely stroll along the beach combined with a look to see what can be found in some rock pools, then fair enough. Can I bring my grandchild along, because he loves this sort of stuff?

Kate’s main jog on record was to the east of Luz, out along the old road to Lagos. That has also changed. In Madeleine’s day, the junction with the N125 (the main road) was a traffic light system, but now that has been changed to a roundabout. More importantly, the restaurant near the camping site where the second radio call was put through to the GNR, the first response team, was Vale Verde. Again, the place has changed hands in the interim. Currently, it is run by people doing a Brazilian buffet for lunch. I am not a fan of a buffet, but this one has a good reputation, and it is on the route used by Kate for her jog. Two birds for one stone. Oh, and Operation Grange hauled up in it for lunch one day when they were digging up Luz in 2014. Three birds for one stone.

Now, your mission, if you decide to accept it, is very simple. The McCanns did not get a guided tour of the key locations in Luz, but you can get a complete head start if you wish. After that, you have 5 days to work out how to dispose of a body the size of Madeleine, minus transport, and minus a digging tool (usually called a spade). This is the Luz Challenge.

It can be done. However, my prediction is that you cannot come up with any reasonable theorem as to how the ‘McCanns done it’. Gonçalo Amaral struggled, and in my opinion failed, to come up with an explanation of how the ‘McCanns done it’. He had something like 25 years of experience policing Portugal and the Algarve, and he failed to come up with a solution to a one-word question. How?

How? How do you dispose of a child’s body when all you have is foot power, and no experience of Luz.

Would you like to see if you can overcome the Luz Challenge?

Madeleine – Luz tour – the McCanns did it #1

Anyone starting a tour of Luz with an open mind would include the possibility that the McCanns did it, whatever ‘it’ is.

This requires a bit of slicing and dicing to cover the possibilities of what ‘it’ might have been. The first major fork is looking at whether ‘it’ is disposing of a body, or whether ‘it’ is concealing a body successfully despite an extensive search, retrieving the body at a much later date, and then successfully disposing of the body.

Please bear in mind I am not saying any of this happened. I am simply considering the logistics of such acts, and where a visitor to Luz would need to go to understand the territory.

The second major slice and dice is considering whether this was an act planned in advance, or whether it was hastily required on 3 May due to unforeseen circumstances.

Personally, when I go away on holiday, I like to do a bit of research first, to see what there is of interest in the area, and then we normally hire a car so that we can mix a bit of exploring in with a bit of relaxing.

There is no evidence that the McCanns did much research beyond reading the Ocean Club brochure. In my opinion, the brochure portrays the Ocean Club as Luz, which is not true, and implies that facilities like Baptista supermarket and the post office are somehow connected to the Ocean Club, which they are not. Other commercial facilities in the area, such as the Chinese and other restaurants, the many bars and alternative play areas for children do not get a mention. The church, Nossa Senhora da Luz, does not feature. The Roman fish plant on the sea front is ignored. There is no mention of the cinema.

There is minimal evidence of intent, by the McCanns, to explore let alone actual exploring. Personally on such a holiday, I would have taken a double buggy for the twins if I thought anything off the Ocean Club complex was to be visited. Of course, with two adults and three young children in tow, the amount of luggage space already taken up by clothes and supplies may have made transporting a double buggy unattractive.

Kate’s book “Madeleine” makes it a single trip to the beach with the three children. There was no intent to visit Lagos, say for the marina, or Lagos zoo, which our grandchild of Madeleine’s age thinks is a wonderful day out.

Putting the children in their respective clubs each morning and each afternoon further constrained any opportunity to explore. After Madeleine disappeared, Gerry had to ask if there was a church in Luz, so it looks as if the McCanns had not visited the central area around the church. Nowadays, there is a small shop opposite the church selling ice-cream in 12 different flavours. I have no idea whether it existed back then. But it is a delightful pleasure to get a child an ice cream there, then walk downhill past the Fortaleza to the square below, which has seats and a stunning panoramic sea view.

The McCanns appear to have gone to Luz with the mind set of the Ocean Club firmly fixed. There was the opportunity to learn and play tennis, and food was to come from the Ocean Club.

After they tried the trek to the Millennium, they ruled it out as a place for breakfast. That particular walk, of around 650m, is relatively flat and so it is fairly easy for an adult. However, most of it runs along a 2-way traffic artery, which although it is 2-way, is an integral part of Luz’s one way system, so it is usually busy until late at night. For two adults with 3 young children and no buggy, I would classify that journey as difficult to very difficult and unpleasant. So the Millennium got dropped for breakfast, which is logical, and Baptista was used instead. That is not a major change, as Baptista would have been the place to buy lunch items, so tacking on breakfast food was hardly onerous.

That the group decided to book the Tapas restaurant each night from Sunday on is a bigger change. At 650m away, use of the Millennium would have meant the child-checking routines implemented would have been impossible. Either the children would have to be taken along, with the barrier of that difficult 650m walk for the McCann family. Or the children would have to be taken down to the Ocean Club night crèche, a walk of 300m (short way, unlit) or 350m (long way, lit, but with another main road.) It’s a load of hassle versus easy.

I have not reconstructed the Tapas Restaurant menu. It seemed to have a fair range, but it looks like it was using relatively repetitive cooking methods. Even though the dinner and wine was included in the price, personally I would have passed on the Tapas Restaurant for one night just to have something different.

Luz had an Indian restaurant just south of Baptista. (It has since closed, but two others have opened up.) There were small and large Portuguese restaurants nearby. There was a simple Italian restaurant nearby, complete with activities for small children. There were a number of English restaurants close to block 5. There were two Chinese restaurants slightly further away, now closed. The other Chinese, the one still open and near the Smithman sighting, has a large tank of Koi carp that little kids love to press their noses against and gaze at the fish.

None of these restaurants was close enough, in my opinion, to make feasible the baby checking system used by the Tapas 9, and none has any view of block 5 whatsoever.

Most owners who rent out properties here provide an information pack on the facilities, both of the apartment or villa, and of the features of Luz, including restaurant types, locations and phone numbers.

With 4 different apartments being rented by the Tapas 9, it is odds on one or more of them had such a pack. It is highly likely that this information was available to the adults in the group. It could be they were ignorant of this information. It is more probable that such information had been seen, but a collective choice was made to take the easy route and put the children to bed in block 5, then go to the Tapas Restaurant nearby.

Luz has another guide feature. There are several organisations who provide free maps, distributed from dispensers outside shops etc. These come in 6 or 8 ‘slices’ of the Algarve, with a complete collection mapping commercial organisations along the whole of the Algarve. The slice for this locality covers Luz, Espiche (the village to the north of Luz), Lagos, and Almádena and Burgau (to the north-west and west of Luz respectively).

It is normal to include one or more of these maps in the information pack to renters. If not, you see them widely on the streets of Luz. The maps are paid for by adverts for the bars, restaurants etc. featuring on the map.

I have yet to see one of these free maps that does not use the church, Nossa Senhora of Luz, as a feature point (without an advert of course). Anyone who had browsed one would have known where the church was, and indeed have a map to get to it.

The picture I have so far is that Kate and Gerry were relatively uninterested in Luz, and seldom ventured outside the Ocean Club complex (or Baptista) though there a couple of notable exceptions.

There is no evidence of car rental, a car loan, a friend with a car, the use of a taxi or the use of the local bus, at least until Madeleine’s disappearance So one challenge any ‘McCanns did it’ theorem faces is in the first stage, when disposal or concealment has to be on foot.

The time available for such an act starts at the time when Madeleine and the twins were signed out of high tea at the Tapas area. I am excluding conspiracy theories that involve other parents at high tea, the child minders looking after the children, and Tapas staff serving the children. There are other places where you can get more information on such conspiracy theories, and you’re probably aware of them already. So my clock starts ticking around 5:30pm.

I am not going into the David Payne visit, when it occurred and how long it lasted. It is possible to construct a simple conspiracy theorem that explains this. Since it makes little difference in a ‘McCanns done it’ theorem, I will leave the clock starting at 5:30pm.

I now have to layer on the challenge of Baptista supermarket. Mrs Jenny Murat indicated that she popped into Baptista for bread, shortly before it closed at 8pm. The Wayback Machine confirms that closing time was 8pm. Due to the traffic system of Luz, Rua Dr Martins, the road that runs down the hill from apartment 5A to the rear of Baptista, is busy until the supermarket closes, then it becomes quieter. So it is necessary to add the customers of Baptista coming and going, and staff leaving after the supermarket was closed.

Of course, there is also the consideration of customers of the Tapas restaurant that night, coming and going at various times, whether to eat in or to get a take-away. I haven’t checked the Tapas staff start times to see if these are before of after 5:30pm.

Into the mix I am putting the lighting conditions. I don’t know what time sunset was that evening, but I’m not sure it has much relevance. On one 3rd May I stood outside 5A around 9:15pm to consider the Tannerman sighting (and later I had a look at the Smithman sighting). The key thing about 9:15pm was that my eyesight was changing from daylight vision (colour) to to night vision (black and white). Colours were washed out and distorted by the yellow glow of the sodium street lights.

I have no comment to make on the colours reported by Jane Tanner. She is a fair bit younger than me, so her eyesight should be better.

Instead, I am making the point that anyone walking in Luz with a package the size and weight of Madeleine was taking a real risk in being spotted in lighting sufficient to permit a clear description.

My clock stops ticking at the time Kate McCann raised the alarm, at 10pm or shortly thereafter.

Whatever was done, if done by the McCanns, had either finished or the first stage had been carried out by then.

So the window of opportunity in the ‘McCanns did it’ appears to 5:30pm to 10pm. The logistics are made very daunting by multiple factors. Based on evidence, the McCanns were largely ignorant of Luz outside of the Ocean Club. They were restricted by movement on foot. Between the Tapas Restaurant and Baptista Supermarket, actual traffic or potential traffic, and movement on foot made a disposal from apartment 5A highly risky. From then until the light faded, the risk was reduced but still high. From the time the light faded to 10pm, the risk was significantly lower, but for most of that time the McCanns were in the Tapas restaurant.

All in all, the logistics of the ‘McCanns did it’ are looking to make this theorem well-nigh impossible. As it happens, it can be done, but it is extremely unlikely.

I need to cover the exceptions to the idea that the McCanns were in almost complete ignorance of Luz outside the Ocean Club.

The trip to the beach with the three children, using a double buggy borrowed from the Ocean Club, was via a route I did not know existed until the route was explained. Take your pick as to whether the McCanns somehow already knew about this, or whether they simply asked Ocean Club staff how to do it. They seem to have taken a different route back, and if so, they had a basic understanding of some of Luz outside of the Ocean Club.

On p49 of Kate’s book “Madeleine”, she wrote “there would be a rare chance for Gerry and me to spend time together playing tennis, going for a run or just relaxing”. Without actually checking, I cannot remember a reference to Gerry running in the PJ files.

On p66 of Kate’s book she wrote that on the afternoon of 3 May she “opted to go for a run along the beach, where I spotted the rest of our holiday group”.

On the esplanade in Luz there is a sign that explains what the sea water is tested for re quality, and what the results were. On every reading I have seen the results were much, much better than the standard required, so I tend to get annoyed when people who have not visited refer to sewage pipes draining into the sea. The pipes that drain into the sea are rainwater drains, not sewage.

On the same sign it lists the length of the beach of the Light. That’s praia da Luz to you, with a lower-case p, not a capital P. Luz comes from the church, Nossa Senhora da Luz (Our Lady of the Light), not from the beach of the Light (praia da Luz).

The length of the beach is listed as just over 300m on the testing sign. In the Imperial system, standard walking speed is taken as 4mph. If you convert this to metric, it comes out roughly as 100m per minute. So if the beach is 300m long and standard walking speed is 100m per minute, it should take around 3 minutes to walk it.

Of course, most people dawdle, frolic, and sometimes go as far as chatting to one another, even to strangers. Kate wasn’t walking or dawdling, she was jogging. Unless she did laps of the beach, she did some jogging elsewhere in Luz.

Luz is compact, though hilly. Both the downhill bit and the uphill bit are quite challenging, though well within the capacity of Kate’s jogging ability.

In Matthew Oldfield’s rogatory statement, he says he went jogging with Kate on Wednesday lunchtime, and found it hard to keep up with her. He says they ran until the route met up with the junction of the main road (which is the N125), and the distance was 3 or 4 miles each way.

There are two routes from apartment 5A to the N125. One is up Rua Primeiro de Maio to the junction near Espiche. That is up a steep hill out of Luz, but it is only about 1,200 metres, far short of a mile. So that route can be ruled out. The other route is east along the old road out of Luz towards Lagos, in the valley below Boa Vista golf course. At around 3,000m, this is still more like two miles than three or four. However, it is by far the best match for their jog.

The route is basically flat, and I would class it as unpleasant. It is the very old road that ran between Lagos – Luz – Burgau. As such, it is 2-way, narrow, and in far from pristine condition. It is still busy as it is the shortest route from Luz to Lagos. So, flat but lots of traffic on a narrow 2-way road.

Matthew also indicates, somewhat vaguely, that Kate might have gone running on other days, without indicating where or how often.

In summary, Kate’s running and the trip to the beach appear to be the only instances of the McCanns exploring outside of the Ocean Club complex.

If this is correct, the McCanns were basically ignorant about Luz.