Madeleine – Did the BBC bend the truth?

Around 3 Feb 2018, Village Magazine published an article by Gemma O’Doherty, entitled “Maddie: Did the BBC bend the truth?”

Photographic copies of the article quickly surfaced on the Internet. These included the photos used to illustrate the article, plus all of the text (in non-searchable files).

The following is a transcript of the text (no photos), which makes it searchable. This is for research purposes only.


Maddie: Did the BBC bend the truth?

On the night Madeleine McCann disappeared, an Irish tourist saw a man with a child matching her description near the McCann apartment. His testimony could prove vital to the world’s most famous missing person case, especially since the man he saw that night has never come forward.

On a cold night in May 2007, Martin Smith and his family were walking home after an evening out in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz. A retired businessman from Drogheda, Co. Louth, he co-owned an apartment there and was a regular visitor to the Algarve town.

The crowds of summer had yet to arrive and the normally bustling streets of the old quarter lay quiet. It was approaching 10pm when some members of the family of nine were suddenly struck by the sight of a man walking quickly towards them holding a small child uncomfortably in his arms.


The BBC have told Village that they got it wrong about the Smith sighting but have failed to explain how they made such a fundamental error.


As he passed close by them on the narrow street, the child appeared to be in a deep sleep, her head placed over his shoulder and arms suspended down her body.

She was blonde, aged around four and wearing pyjamas. Despite the chill in the air, her feet were bare. Martin and his daughter Aoife noted that her skin was very white. The man carrying the girl was middle-aged and more formally dressed than the average tourist, in beige trousers and a dark blazer-like top.

A member of Martin’s family made a comment towards him that the child was sleeping, but he did not respond or make eye contact, keeping his head down as he hurriedly headed in the direction of the coast.

At the time, Martin did not recognise the sighting had the potential to change the course of the world’s most high-profile missing person case.

The following morning, he got a text from his daughter in Ireland to tell him the a three-year-old girl had gone missing in the resort. The approximate time frame and location he had witnessed the child appeared to match.

By now, the mystery of what happened to Madeleine McCann was beginning to grip the world. Martin brought his mind back to the evening before and wondered if the child he saw could have been her. The girl certainly matched Madeleine’s description and the sighting had taken place at Rua da Escola Primaria, just 500 yards from the McCanns’ apartment. In time, Martin would become convinced he was correct.

Over a decade has passed since Madeleine McCann went missing on May 3, 2007 yet the case of the British three-year-old remains mired in more questions than answers. The main-stream media, who have by and large backed Kate and Gerry’s version of events with the support of several A-list celebrities and politicians, appear to have lost interest in a story they once could not get enough of.

The very opposite is true on social media. The internet swirls with allegations and theories that the McCann story is littered with holes and does not stack up. Countless videos have been posted on YouTube by armchair detectives challenging the parents’ seemingly at times bizarre behaviour, in particular their reactions in certain interviews when the finger of blame shifts towards them.

Some are compelling to watch and have highlighted what appear to be discrepancies and confusion in certain accounts given by the McCanns and some of their friends about what happened in the period before and after Madeleine disappeared.


For some reason, the man the Smiths saw that night has yet to come forward and eliminate himself from the Inquiry and remains unidentified.


Gerry McCann, a consultant cardiologist from Scotland, and his Liverpool wife Kate, a GP and anaesthetist, said they had put their daughter and two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie to bed at around 7pm, had drinks together for almost an hour and then left the children alone to go to a tapas bar 50 yards from their apartment. There they met 7 friends with whom they were on holiday. They told police that they and their friends checked on the children every half-hour.

Gerry says that he went to the apartment at 9.05pm and all the children were sleeping soundly. He said Madeleine was lying on her left-hand side in exactly the same position she was in when they had left her.

At 9.25pm, his friend, Dr Matthew Oldfield told police he went to check on the McCann children. He said afterwards he could not be certain that he saw Madeleine on that check. Kate McCann said she went back to the apartment at around 10pm, entering through the patio doors that they had left unlocked. She said she noticed that the door of the children’s bedroom was “completely open” and that the window was also open and the shutters raised. She said she scoured the apartment, then left the twins asleep in their beds before running back to her friends in the tapas bar and claiming Madeleine had been taken. At 10.41pm, her disappearance from Apartment 5A of the Ocean Club resort was reported to police by hotel staff.

Overnight the story made headlines around the world. Several days after Madeleine disappeared, the Smith family flew back home, but the sighting remained in the back of Martin’s mind. He discussed it with his wife Mary, son Peter and daughter Aoife who were with him that night.

When they tallied the time and the location, and the fact that the man they had seen had come from the direction of the Ocean Club complex where the McCanns were staying, they were convinced it could have been Madeleine they had seen.

They decided to inform investigating police, and at the end of May 2007, Martin, Aoife and Peter flew back out to Portugal to make statements. They gave similar accounts of the man they had witnessed: average build, short brown hair, beige trousers; and the child: blonde, around four, and wearing pyjamas.

As the summer passed, the mystery of what happened to Madeleine McCann continued to perplex the world but life returned to normal for the Smiths. Then one Sunday evening in September, it came back to haunt Martin again. He was sitting at home watching TV when a report came on the ‘BBC News at Ten’ about the

*** Photo of Gerry walking down the airplane stairs, carrying Sean.

McCanns’ return to Britain. As he watched Gerry coming down the steps of the plane, carrying his two-year-old son in his arms, Martin was gripped by what he had just seen and described the experience as watching “an action replay” in his mind.

He was instantly brought back to the night of May 3 in Praia da Luz. Something about the way Gerry was holding the child in his arms and the way he put his head down seemed shockingly similar to the man he had seen in Portugal the night went missing. He said it hit him like a “bolt from the blue”. He watched the clip again in different news channels reinforcing is belief that he was not mistaken.

During this period, Martin had difficulty sleeping and felt sick with anxiety. He contacted the Garda and informed the of what had happened.

He told them he was 60-80% sure the man he saw carrying the child that night was Gerry McCann. His wife Mary felt the same way.

Irish officers found him credible. A local garda who interviewed him described him as a genuine, decent man who did not wish to court the press or seek publicity.

But while Martin’s evidence seemed compelling, independent and without motivation, much to his frustration, it was not given the attention it seemed to deserve.

Almost a year after he made his initial statement to the police, he was approached by private detectives working for the McCanns and asked to make e-fits (electronic facial identification images), of the man he had seen in the night Madeleine disappeared.

The McCanns say they gave these pictures to the police at the time but chose not to publicise them. Instead they remained focused on another sighting by their friend Jane Tanner, one of the so-called Tapas Seven group of friends who had been on holiday with the couple and who dined with them the evening Madeleine disappeared.


Former Scotland Yard murder detective Colin Sutton says: “Looking at the background to the whole case again, inconvenient suggestions like the Smith sightings have been dismissed on a number of occasions. When someone comes forward like that, it must be taken very seriously. It wasn’t just a throwaway phone call. It was something quite specific.”


She claimed to have seen a man carrying a child away from their apartment complex at around 9.20pm but in the opposite direction to the man allegedly seen by the Smiths.

However, more than six years later, in 2013, the Metropolitan police announced that a British tourist had come forward to say he could have been the man she had seen as he carried his daughter home from the Ocean Club late night creche.

The Tanner sighting was about to be dismissed. The Met would switch their attention to the man seen by the Smiths. The e-fit images were finally released and the then chief investigating officer Andy Redwood said the timeline leading up to Madeleine’s disappearance was being rewritten, especially the 90 minutes between 8.30pm, when the McCanns left their children to go to the restaurant and 10pm, when they discovered their daughter missing.

A reward of £20,000 was offered to anyone who could assist with the investigation. But the the story of the Smith sighting took another bizarre twist as allegations emerged in the media that the family had retracted their statements. The public were being told that this potentially critical development was just another red herring.

The BBC even went as far as to make this claim. In a ‘Panorama’ programme broadcast in May 2017 to mark the tenth anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance, presenter Richard Bilton told viewers that the Smiths had changed their mind about seeing Gerry McCann and now believed they had seen someone else.

In recent weeks, I have spoken to Martin Smith at his home in Drogheda. He told me he continues to stand by everything he said to the police in 2007. At no point did he withdraw his statement or change his mind about the sighting.

He is frustrated by media claims that he now says he was mistaken; and remains “60-80%” convinced that the man he saw that night was Gerry McCann.

After the BBC programme was broadcast, Martin contacted ‘Panorama’ and informed them of their inaccuracy. But the broadcaster failed to correct the public record despite its public-service remit. Last month, I asked the BBC why they had wrongly suggested the Smith sighting had been withdrawn and if they were willing to correct their error at this late stage.

I received a reply acknowledging they had indeed broadcast an inaccuracy. They agreed to update the ‘Panorama’ programme on their iPlayer to reflect the correction. They say the mistake was made in good faith but they have failed to explain how they came to make such a fundamental mistake and why they did not check if their story about the Smiths was correct before they aired the programme.

Former Scotland Yard murder detective Colin Sutton is one of a number of experienced officers who believe the Smith sighting is one of the most important pieces of evidence available to the investigation.

According to media reports, Sutton had been tipped to head up the new probe by British police in 2010. He claims he received a call shortly after these reports from a high-ranking friend in the Met who warned him not to take on the job as he would not be happy being told what he could and could not look at.

Several aspects of the new investigation perplex him including the apparent decision by Operation Grange not to question Gerry and Kate McCann or their friends again.

Looking at the background to the whole case again, inconvenient suggestions like the Smith sightings, have been dismissed on a number of occasions”, he says:

When someone comes forward like that, it must be taken very seriously. It wasn’t just a throwaway phone call. It was something quite specific. The fact that Mr Smith’s memory was triggered by Gerry McCann carrying the child down the steps of the plane is quite relevant because I think that is how the mind works. It is a trigger I would take quite seriously.

I can see no reason why Martin Smith would make up these claims. He has nothing to gain from doing so.”


To date, Operation Grange, which now consists of four detectives from a peak of 31, has cost the British public more than £11m making it one of the most expensive police investigations in history.


Madeleine – Magnificent Six – Anne Guedes

The final person in my Magnificent Six is Anne Guedes. Anne has published certain elements of personal information, and I know nothing about her that she has not already made public.

Anne’s primary language is French. She teaches French at a university in Lisbon.

She appeared on L’Heure du Crime on French radio for a special around the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Oddly, though this interesting, I cannot think of a significant connection between Madeleine and France, though I could be mistaken. It is reported that Anne’s blog received an increase in traffic after this programme.

Anne also speaks Portuguese and English, and these capabilities are interesting. She is located in Lisbon, which means she has better access to Portuguese TV and to Portuguese newspapers than I have. She was also on site to provide transcripts of the McCanns v Amaral trial, plus some photos.

Anne’s blog is at It is in a mix of French and English. For those who do not have schoolchild French, Google will do enough to get the meaning through.

I have not worked out what got Anne interested in the Madeleine case, but if the truth be told, the only one of the Magnificent Six where I actually know the trigger event is me.

As far as I can tell, Anne holds quite different views to myself about the case, but that is not an issue from my point of view. I can learn much from people with different views to my own.

I don’t know when Anne arrived in Portugal, but I expect her to be much better plugged into Portuguese culture than I am. 5 years in Luz gets you ex-pat culture, and only a little more. Now we have neighbours who live Portuguese-style and only speak Portuguese, so I am going to have to get my language skills up several notches this year. I am working on it.

Madeleine – Magnificent Six – G-Unit

The next member of my Magnificent Six goes by the username G-Unit.

I believe that G-Unit is mono-lingual, or at least does not speak Portuguese, with English as the primary language.

G-Unit describes herself as female, which makes it a bit easier for me as I can now use the pronoun ‘she’.

An interesting personal characteristic of G-Unit is that she was adopted at an early age, and consequently she has a better insight into first childhood memories than I have. The Madeleine McCann case is not identical in this respect, as Madeleine has been the subject of relentless publicity for the last 11 years or so. But it does give an insight into what one remembers, and what triggers the recall of earliest memories.

However, the main characteristics of G-Unit are that she is meticulous in her research, and careful with her choice of English. In other words, she provides high quality information about Madeleine’s disappearance.

I have no idea if G-Unit subscribes to a particular theory regarding Madeleine, or is completely open minded about what happened. It would therefore be interesting to sit with her over a cup of coffee and have an off-the-record discussion about beliefs.

Just like me, G-Unit can be found on Miscarriage of Justice on the Madeleine sub-forum.

Madeleine – the magnificent six – Heri

Heriberto Janosch González is next on my list of six people I consider to have more expertise than most in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

I have met Heri, and I consider him to be an affable man, easy to spend time in his company. This does not mean I agree with his views on the case. But where his views differed from mine, we were able to get on amicably, and explore alternative theories. I learned quite a lot about the disappearance in a very short time from Heri, so I am grateful.

Heri has recently told me that he has given up on the Madeleine McCann case. He has reduced his blog to just a summary page, at This is a shame, because his blog contained a vast amount of useful information.

It would appear that within a few months my Magnificent Six has dropped to just 4 active members. Though I have been on the case since only mid-2014, I have already seen a number of stalwarts fall by the wayside. Often, information disappears with such a departure, and unless you have a site copy, you are somewhat stuffed.

I am nowhere near to giving up on Madeleine’s disappearance, but if I reach that stage, this blog will be left intact to float off into the mists of time.

Heri’s blog still contains both a phone number and an email address. I will not copy those in case Heri chooses to remove them from his page in future.

When we met, Heri was living in Madrid. He spoke in English that was not fluent, but it was a lot better than my night school Spanish, so we conversed in 95% English and 5% Spanish.

One final point on Heri. I outlined just one potential theory to him, quite different to Heri’s. By that time, I had given up on sending information to Operation Grange, due to the persistent lack of response. Heri urged me to send this quite different theory to Operation Grange. Eventually I did. As usual, I got no response. But in the run-up to the 10th anniversary, I got a communication from Heri that Panorama wanted to talk to me. That talk took place, and one chunk of the Panorama 10th anniversary special appears to be based around my theory. I presume the conduit was Heri, as he was interviewed on that programme.

Madeleine – magnificent six – SIL

Please allow me to introduce myself.

The bit about me that seems to intrigue people the most is whether I am male or female. Personally, I cannot see why this makes one iota of difference. I have now met, in person, 5 journalists and a further two of the magnificent 6, and all of them can recognise me, name me, and tell you my gender. These are non-important points, because they don’t change anything.

My blog name, Elça Craig, has already been identified as a joke based on the island of Ailsa Craig, in the Firth of Clyde. The island is close to Turnberry golf course, and it is famous as the world’s best source of curling stones. It happens to be ‘close’ to where I grew up, and I love the sea.

What are the important points about me?

I happen to have two degrees from two top quality UK universities. All that means is I have got a brain and I can use it.

I happen to have retired, so I have time to spare on my interests. If you have read my blog, you should have worked out that in December 2017, I was constructing a boule pitch for my beloved, in our back garden. And I was digging a vegetable patch for our 7-year-old grandson, because I wanted him to have a memorable Christmas for his first year in Portelas.

After family, I very much like cooking, then Formula 1, then football. Everton v Manchester United is coming up soon. After that lot has been squeezed in, there is time for the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

And by pure fluke we washed up in Luz. Before we did, I had no interest in the Madeleine McCann tale. After we did, I had no choice, because 49 stories out of 50 about Luz revolve around Madeleine.

A soupçon of brain, a splash of spare time, living in Maddieville. It’s a simple recipe.

You should have worked out by now that if I have dug the boule pitch, dug the vegetable patch, enjoy F1 and football, that I am male.

Does it make a difference? I have started today on my 2018 herb garden, because I like cooking good food. I have been working for some time on the 2018 F1 calendar, because for each race I want to lay in a representative local drink (typically beer), together with some local hand food – no plates, knives or forks permitted. I enjoy cooking. A drink, a snack, and F1. My idea of a good recipe.

In 2018, our family has a succession of significant birthdays. A ‘when I get older, losing my hair’. A 70th, two quick-fire 40ths, and a late season 21st. Then there is 11 Nov 2018, and we live on the farm of the poppy. Plus little things like the football and the F1.

Much to do. Much to do.

By the way, I was asked by an Algarve reporter, roughly 3 months ago, if I still do Luz Tours. I do. The person I was with was on one at the time. It had nothing to do with the reporter.

ATP – 11 Dec 17 – pie lady, Hearts, Madeleine McCann

Due to Christmas pressures, my blog is running behind. The news today comes from 17 Dec 2017, not 10 Dec 17.


The words for ‘the day before’ is ‘a véspera de’. So ‘a véspera de Natal’ is Christmas Eve.

Feliz Natal!


There is no recipe today. We have discovered a local lady (English) who bakes pies, so we laid in one lamb pie, one Cornish pasty, one sausage roll, one apple and red berry crumble, and one pecan pie.

So far the star of the show has been the sausage roll. Getting sausage rolls that taste authentically English here has been a challenge, and this one was a giant, big enough for two people and very tasty.


On 17 Dec 2017, Tynecastle was the venue for the big Scottish clash in football – Hearts v Celtic. Because Celtic entered the game with an amazing track record of being unbeaten in 69 games of domestic football, things looked tough for Hearts. It became obvious the home team had not read the script when Hearts player 16-year-old Harry Cochrane scored the opening goal. Hearts went on to win 4-0, bringing Celtic’s record achievement a halt.

Here’s Harry Cochrane.

My real reason for picking football in this post is that a world-class Brazilian player called Kaka has decided to retire at the age of 35, and indirectly he relates to the disappearance of Madeline McCann.

On 2 May 2007, Manchester United travelled to the San Siro stadium in Italy to face AC Milan. It was the decider to see which team would progress to the final of the UEFA Champions League. It pitted Kaka of AC Milan against Wayne Rooney of Manchester United.

Kaka scored, AC Milan went to the final and won it, and Kaka added another medal to his bulging bag of trophies.

There had been another mega-game the night before, between Liverpool and Chelsea. It is probable that hostelries such as Kelly’s were busy on 1 May and 2 May for these games involving English teams.

Then on 3 May 2007, the football involved 3 Spanish teams and 1 German team, in the ‘junior’ UEFA competition. This non-English mix probably explains why Kelly’s was so quiet on 3 May 2007. And it probably helps to explain a pattern behind the 74,104 phone calls and texts into and out of Luz from 2 May 2007 to 4 May 2007.

Coming up in Dec 2017

What is coming up on ShiningInLuz in December 2017?

There is actually a backlog of articles on Madeleine McCann, so I will chomp through some of those.

However, as the festive season is approaching, and the Portuguese do love a good festive season, I will also be churning out articles about All Things Portugal (ATP) – topical items that are not appearing in the UK press.

I have had only one Christmas in authentic Portugal, about 5 years ago – the rest were spent in ex-pat enclaves, where the residents followed traditionally British patterns. That is happening in our home in Portelas. Gift shopping has already been done. Gift wrapping has started. I have no doubt the British Christmas tree will soon appear, and I expect Christmas lunch will be entirely to rote.

The Portuguese also love their festive season, and it seems to last to the end of January, at least.

I don’t have the stamina for that. All Things Portugal will start on 1 Dec 2017 and last until 31 Dec 2017.

Here is a taster. The Portuguese budget for next year has now been approved. The large number of political parties involved in the approval process make Portuguese politics appear to be a dog’s dinner. But the photo used to illustrate this decision piqued my interest. So here it is.

There are 2 cities in Portugal that still have active tram lines – Lisbon and Porto. This tram is in Lisbon, but I don’t know whereabouts.

Normal tram cars are yellow. This red one is a tourist tram car operated by Yellow Bus. You pay a small fee and get a guided tour round historic Lisbon. Most of the normal tram cars are small, in order to get them through the tighter parts of Lisbon. And up and down the hillier routes. The standard small trams have been remodeled to upgrade them, so they only look vaguely like the red tourist trams. And there is also a much sleeker articulated tram, but it only works on one route, which is flat.

That is the end of the ATP taster. I am working on getting my hands on an authentic Portuguese Christmas tree, and if that goes to plan, I will be baking it on 1 Dec 2017. Don’t worry, if that fails I have a Plan B. You too can have an easy-to-bake Portuguese Christmas tree!

It’s going to be festive on ShiningInLuz over Christmas, Portuguese style. Come and join the fun!