Madeleine – Panorama special 3 May 2017

Reporter Richard Bilton, who has covered the Madeleine McCann case for 10 years, presented a BBC Panorama special on 3 May 2017 entitled ‘Madeleine McCann 10 Years On’.

Mr Bilton obtained an interview with Pedro do Carmo, Deputy Director, Polícia Judiciária. He said it is still a missing child case. Plus the PJ wanted to learn what to do if it is repeated.

The Lisbon court case of the McCanns v Gonçalo Amaral was covered briefly.

The programme added various scenes of Luz that are impossible to get from the ground. If you check the credits at the end, you will see the drone camera operator was Andy Webb.

The documentary covered the basics of the case – 9 adults eating at the Tapas restaurant, 8 children in block 5, Kate alerting around 10pm that Madeleine was missing.

There was a previously unseen interview with Gonçalo Amaral from 2012, in which it was claimed there was nothing to support an abduction.

The programme said the Portuguese police found inconsistencies in the time-line, and thought the McCanns had acted oddly by bringing in the media.

The dog deployments were next, presumably to move on to an interview of Kate and Gerry McCann by Sandra Felgueiras. This was the one where Gerry said cadaver dogs are unreliable.

Had the Portuguese settled on their theory before final DNA results were available? Panorama did not pick up the order of things from Kate’s book ‘madeleine’. The McCanns let it be known they were soon leaving Portugal. The PJ chose to interview them before their announced leaving date. The incomplete results still required that the McCanns were made arguidos.

The Smith family gave statements that they saw a man carrying a child several hundred metres from the Ocean Club at around 10pm on 3 May. Gerry would be implicated in the sighting, but he had an alibi of being at the Tapas Restaurant at that time.

In 2008 the case was archived, and the McCanns were no longer arguidos.

Robert Murat gave his opinion on events of that time. Was his mother being followed by private investigators? Was Mr Bilton asked to spy on his colleagues with respect to Mr Murat?

The BBC documentary moved to the report by Jim Gamble, then head of CEOP. It recommended a review. The report appeared to languish until May 2011, when The Sun serialised Kate McCann’s book ‘madeleine’.

Operation Grange was started. The documentary moved to ‘the British story’.

There were burglaries in Luz, that allegedly the local operators kept quiet to protect trade. Heriberto Janosch González told of 3 recent burglaries in block 4 and block 5. In a video, he demonstrated how to raise the shutter an open the window from outside.

3 men were potentially involved in a burglary that night. José Carlos da Silva, a driver at the Ocean Cub. Ricardo Rodrigues, aged 16 in 2017. And Paulo Ribeiro. These were allegedly connected by phone messages and texts. These were 3 Portuguese people on a phone to each other in Luz, and the phone traffic was normal. José Carlos da Silva declined to be interviewed. Ricardo Rodrigues could not be contacted. Paulo Ribeiro was interviewed and he denied involvement in a burglary. He said he had been identified from a drawing or e-fit.

Presumably that was from Crimewatch Oct 2013. If so it is puzzling as to how Sr Ribeiro was identified, as that Crimewatch programme did not air on any Portuguese channel, though those e-fits were shown in Portuguese media.

Judging by the Panorama interview, Sr Ribeiro does not appear to be the kind of person who could keep a major secret for 10 years.

I think I may have had a very brief encounter with Sr Ribeiro about a year ago, though I had no idea at the time that it was him.

Scotland Yard announced these 3 men were no longer persons of interest in April 2017.

Panorama moved on to another man, Vitor dos Santos. He had given a fairly long statement in 2007. He confirmed he had been interviewed by British police, and that must have been in Dec 2014. He said the questions were much the same as in 2007 e.g. about the logistics of the holiday complex. Sr dos Santos had been laid off by the Ocean Club and now made a living taking tourists on boat trips near Lagos.

It seems Operation Grange has a further lead to pursue but Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley would not be drawn on what it was. That left the recent press speculation that it might be about a woman seen near apartment 5A acting suspiciously on 3 May 2007.

I was in contact with the Panorama team to explain some information. However, that was shortly before the programme aired, when the documentary must have been nearly fully completed. So I have no reason to believe anything was altered as a result of our exchange.

Madeleine – Luz Tour #6

Luz Tour #6 took place on 1st May and 2nd May 2017, just before the 10th anniversary. It was with a UK press member, Michael Havis. I was somewhat apprehensive, given that I had already been flame-grilled by a UK tabloid that had never spoken to me in any way, shape, or form. Things went better this time round, and I consider I received a much more balanced evaluation.

We met up at a hotel in the west of Luz, had a chat for a few minutes, then headed into Luz on foot.

Our first stop was at Rua das Flores. I wanted to show why it made sense for the McCanns to haul rubbish out of their rental villa by car, hence the stinky boot story. The bins are at the entrance/exit to the urbanisation, not easy to get to on foot, but chuck a plastic bag full of rubbish in the boot and everything makes perfect sense. Including a stinky boot.

Off we headed down Rua 25 de Abril to look at the place where Operation Grange dug up the mound. Visitors seem surprised by the size of it. The key details pass them by. It is an integral part of the Luz one-way system. There were two nearby restaurants which opened in 2007, though whether they managed it by May 2007, I don’t know.

Critical point #1 is the statement of Kirsty Louise Maryan. She was up a hill in Luz with two other nannies in the early hours of 4 May 2007 when they encountered Barrington Godfrey Norton, who was sleeping rough in a Ford Escort van. The only place I know of in Luz up a hill where people park camper vans overnight is this mound. I don’t have confirmation from any of the 4 people involved in this encounter that it happened on the mound. It is simply the only place that fits.

We walked through much of central Luz and arrived at the Ocean Club. I was becoming very tired. I took Mr Havis part of the way along the short route between the Tapas reception area and the Ocean Club night crèche. Along the way we saw that the adults-only swimming pool had no water in it. The next day we would find that the indoor pool was also empty of water. Basically, the Ocean Club is dead.

Near the adults-only pool, the short route goes up half a dozen steps, then it goes down a large number on the other side, and I didn’t want to do that, so we parted and Mr Havis continued exploring on his own. It seems he ended up on the sea front for a meal.

He liked the café enough that we met up there at lunchtime the next day, and it was packed. The visitors included large Portuguese groups, presumably down from Lisbon, extending the Labour Day holiday.

On the sea-front promenade on the way to the café, I had been accosted by a charity collector. This brings my encounters with charity collectors in Luz to 6. 4 of these have been calls to my residence, and each of these I would consider suspect. The other 2 have been in busy public areas of Luz, and both of these I consider genuine. Mr Havis was relieved to hear I considered the promenade charity collector to be genuine, as he had made a donation on his journey to the café.

I explained the story about the alleged tunnels and O Pouço to Mr Havis, so he asked if we could have a look, and we did. Then it was back to the front for the renovated Paraíso, where the Tapas 7 went on 3 May 2007, the market stalls where Gerry bought sunglasses on the McCanns trip to the beach, and up Rua Praia da Luz.

This street has at least two components in the Madeleine story.

John Ballinger apparently lives on this street. I knew that previously, but what I didn’t know before was that he appeared on the Sky 10th anniversary special. He explained to roadworks that were open on the night of 3 May, and from his photos, he appears to be the source for a picture in the press. Mr Ballinger said he had reported the roadworks to the police, which implies at that time he was of the opinion it was a missing child who woke and wandered, rather than an abduction.

The other feature on Rua Praia da Luz is the Duke of Holland restaurant/bar. It was taken over and has since closed down, but in 2007 it was run by June and Paul Wright. When the news was made public on 3 May, one of the pair immediately joined the search for Madeleine, while the other closed the Duke later, then got involved in the search. After this they were checked re whether Robert Murat was around apartment 5A that evening, as they knew Mr Murat and could recognise him. Despite returning to the vicinity of 5A several times during searches, Mr Murat had not been seen.

At the top of the beach road we turned left on Rua Direita and headed SW. This also has a number of items of interest on it.

First, the roadworks in the files were being done on this street.

Then there is the Luz Sporting Club. This is one of two places in Luz I suspect Sr Euclides Monteiro may well have been on that evening. His widow has said he was at home in Portelas (about 15 minutes drive from Luz) on 3 May 2007, composing a poem on his computer. I suspect he was in Luz, with friends, watching the big game. There were lots of places in Luz to watch the football that night, but only two where the predominant language was likely to be Portuguese and where the predominant culture was likely to be Portuguese. So Mr Havers took a photo of the club for his stock.

The we went to the Ocean Club reception. Things have changed somewhat with Madeleine’s kids club no longer there, and the indoor swimming pool in disuse.

I didn’t fancy the large flight of steps on the short route used by the McCanns, so we opted for a slightly longer route that is set up for wheelchair users, hence there are no stairs. This is probably the way the nannies moved the children from the kids club to the Tapas zone because it avoids a steep flight of stairs and it is ideally suited to Sammy Snake, the preferred way of getting the kids to walk together.

As it so happens, this goes between Fiji Palms block and Casa Liliana. Fiji Palms was the location of the Carpenter family. Casa Liliana was the home of Robert Murat and his mother Jenny. This is the approximate point at which Stephen Carpenter and Robert Murat met on the morning of 4 May, when Mr Murat learned what was going on, and he went to block 5 to offer his services as an interpreter.

We then headed to the Tapas reception, using the same semi-circular route taken by the Carpenters when they left the Tapas zone on 3 May.

Mr Havis was being pressed by his editor to file at least one story by his editor while he was still in Luz, so he wanted a photo to go with it. This is the one he picked.

After 2 days of Luz Tour #6, I was very tired physically. Mr Havis was going to head back to his hotel, apparently to converse with a colleague. I had just enough gas in the tank to walk home. We did not discuss what either of us would be doing on the 10th anniversary.

I have no idea how Mr Havis spent most of his day on 3 May 2017. I decided that I only had the capacity left for a stab at one trip into Luz, so I picked the 10th anniversary ceremony at St Vincent.

There I bumped into a contact from AFP from Luz Tour #5. He was back down after another 3 hour trip from Lisbon, so he has more stamina than I have.

As it happens, I took the extremely grainy photo of Mr Havis with Reverend Haynes Hubbard that appeared in the UK press.

And yes, I missed the chance to introduce myself to Mr Martin Brunt of Sky TV. He, and the Sky team, looked like they were working their socks off.

Madeleine – Xmas day 8 – Baptista

I meant to go down into Luz today to get a couple of shots of the café outside Baptista supermarket, as Baptista pops up in quite a few people’s revelations here and there. Robert Murat, Sergey Malinka, Barrington Godfrey Norton and Kate and Gerry McCann, oh and Jenny Murat. In 2007 it was the only supermarket in Luz though there were two or three convenience stores. And the Baptista café was a place to have a cup of coffee with a pastry or a bifana, and have a friendly chat or conduct a little business.

Unfortunately, after an extended spell of glorious weather in December 2016, it turned a bit overcast in Luz today and I could not have captured a photograph that approximated to early May 2007. It’s a fair trek to there and back to get something that shows an al fresco café with few customers, so I decided to give it a miss.

What I have got instead is some scans relating to the inside of Baptista. These were published in a magazine in Sep 2015 and they are paid-for advertising, so the Baptista you are going to see may well be quite different inside to that seen by the McCanns.

Ever since we heaved up in Luz there has been a little Baptista in the Commercial Centre. It sells fish, freshly baked bread and pastries and after-dinner sweets. Back in 2007, that location was where the video rental shop that features in the ‘Brazilian couple’ story was located. I don’t know whether there was a fresh fish counter in big Baptista in 2007.

The McCanns very quickly worked out that the walk from apartment 5A to the Millennium, complete with two twins aged 2 years and 3 months, and Madeleine aged nearly 4, minus a buggy for the twins, was too much like hard work. I have walked that walk. I can state that in the same circumstances, I would not have being using the Millennium, and there is a further statement in the PJ Files that supports this.

Thus, Baptista became the source of breakfast and lunch for the McCanns, with the Tapas zone providing high tea for the children and the Tapas Restaurant providing dinner for the Tapas 9. All of this, if you understand the layout of Luz, makes perfect sense. Baptista was perhaps 60m down Rua Martins from apartment 5A. Somewhat of a doddle.

To whet your appetite, here is the first scan I have of a magazine feature on Baptista. This is not unusual or special. Baptista commonly carries out this type of advertising.

baptista-1-sep-15

Baptista is posh or upmarket supermarket. The nearest thing I can think of in the UK is Waitrose. In Baptista, goods are normally more expensive than in most supermarkets, but in Luz, money is not in short supply. Both well-off Portuguese and ex-pats patronise it.

The supermarket has had the sense to stock a range of imported goods beloved of foreigners, and makes a healthy profit from them. A tin of Heinz baked beans is around €3.50, and you get British bread, British sausages and Kellogg’s Frosties. Home from home. The sort of place where the McCanns could get the type of food that the kids were comfortable with and would eat.

If I have scanned this copy properly, you should be able to read Baptista’s description of Baptista. Here is the first page of the advert. As you can see, it is the wine aisle. I have no idea whether the New Zealand wine chosen by the McCanns is on sale regularly.

baptista-2

Here you see the next health challenge in Baptista’s – the charcutaria. This is stuffed with delicious treats, but is has two dangers. The first is that much of the meat here is processed, and I eat that only sparingly. The second is that it is stuffed with a wide variety of different cheeses, all tasty but very fattening.

baptista-3

My favourite counters are the Talho (butcher) and the fish counter in little Baptista. The butcher’s counter in Baptista sells high quality meat, though the range is a bit restricted. I am looking forward to Portelas, as it has a talho of high renown, and the range is more extensive, such as rabbit and goat. Perhaps I can even lay my hands on a haunch of venison.

I believe there was a dedicated talho active in Luz in 2007 in LuzTur, now closed. To the best of my knowledge, the person who now has the talho concession in Baptista’s also runs LookSteak, a restaurant beside Kelly’s. LookSteak did not exist in 2007.

I also like fish. This is something that dates back to when I was young, and a treat on a Friday night was cod and chips from the local chippie, complete of course with very fattening batter.

If the weather is not too bad later today, since it is now day 9, I hope to get out and show you some ‘waste ground’ and ‘anomalies’ in best Operation Grange style. It sounds boring, but it goes to the heart of Operation Grange.

Madeleine v froth

I was trying to write a chapter of my book the other day and I noticed something odd. An article that the Telegraph regularly refreshes when there is any significant development in the Madeleine McCann case has become stuck in April 2016. Has there been nothing new since then?

I scratched my head to try to think of developments since then. From memory, the last major news was in October 2015, when Operation Grange was downsized from 29 to 4. After that, all I can recall is froth.

The main stories were exceedingly small. Operation Grange was to get final funding until … implying that Operation Grange would cease in its entirety. Then Operation Grange got a further 6 months funding in October, to last to April 2017. That was reported in October and recycled this month.

Out of the files came an antique story about a Belgian paedophile ring placing an order for a little girl, complete with a Raymond Hewlett wrapper. And an allegation that Hewlett’s son was under observation. Oddly this story made clear there was nothing to implicate the son in any wrongdoing, yet the observation was allegedly to check if the paedophile ring was in contact with him.

There was a frisson of excitement about this blog when The Mirror ran a lurid and error strewn piece about Luz tours in October 2016. It rattled through a few tabloids but it appears to have died a death, though it is clear once something enters the media files, it remains there forever, so perhaps the odd mention will resurface from time to time.

The other piece of froth which bubbled up was Antonella Lazerri’s piece in The Sun linking the McCanns to Sir Clement Freud. This followed shortly after a TV documentary alleging Freud had molested teenage girls, but had taken liberties with some under the age of consent, thus permitting the use of the term paedophile. The link to the McCanns was a meal they had together in Luz, and later a drink together.

This was snowballed into a link to the so-called ‘Plough and Paedo’, despite the fact the date of that issue was 2005. And it was made to look like Sir Clement and Robert Murat were drinking buddies there. The pub was linked to the Pig’s Head in Burgau. And The Sun made it look like Murat and Freud were drinking buddies there, which they were not.

It is currently being reported that the The Sun and The Mail have printed apologies to Robert Murat, making clear there was no connection to Sir Clement Freud. And that at least some of the articles alleging such a link have been removed from the Internet.

There have been other stories throwing in the name of Madeleine McCann, such as one in early December. A young woman sleeping rough in Rome speaking only in English. Could she be Madeleine? The fact that she was years too old and did not have Madeleine’s coloboma did not deter the media speculation.

Then there was the tale about the Podesta brothers each fitting one of the two Smithman e-fits. Fortunately, all the mainstream media did with this was to point out how a ludicrous and obviously false story could propagate across the Internet.

All in all, regarding the Madeleine McCann story, 2016 has been a year of froth. Presumably, until the PJ Files were released there was a similar excess of froth over substance.

Not that it is relevant, but our Christmas froth has just been delivered. 4 x each of three types of Stefan’s ale. Half of that will be shipped out again as a Christmas present for someone who has helped us a lot this year.

Personally, I have laid in a bottle of Port, and I intend having a 5cl glass of that on each of the 12 days of Christmas. ‘Tis the season to be jolly!

Madeleine v CMoMM #1

I found out a short time ago that I have been banned from CMoMM (the Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann) aka the Jill Havern forum.

Around the start of October 2016, I received an email from the site administrator saying my account had been deactivated. It gave no reason why. At the time, I attributed it to the fact that I had not signed in to CMoMM for something like two months.

However, this was posted today (26 Oct 2016), at 7.50am by Mr Tony Bennett “The organiser of the ‘sick ghoul tours’ was former member here ‘Elsa Craig’ whom I identified long ago as a pro-McCann. He was banned from the forum …”

So now I learned it was not account deactivation, but an actual ban. I know Mr Bennett reads this blog because of the number of quotes or entire articles he picks up from here and posts at CMoMM.

Therefore I can inform Mr Bennett, that, thinking my account as Elça Craig had timed out due to inactivity, I did indeed rejoin recently as ShiningInLuz. You might as well deactivate that one as well, as it is clear I am not permitted to make a positive contribution to CMoMM, and in that situation, read-only will do me just fine.

It would appear any input I make to CMoMM will need to be by reserving the right to reply on my blog, just as I am doing now.

Mr Bennett’s post links to another discussion of me and the Luz tours, and as per normal it contains some errors and speculation, so here is my first attempt to deploy this method.

As far as I can tell, the original Mirror story ‘broke’ on CMoMM on 2nd Oct 2016 at 12:45pm, by Verdi, who correctly identified that I was a member of CMoMM.

Mr Bennett then replied “More than once I have publicly stated on CMoMM that he is an open McCann-supporter who makes absolutely no bones about his pro-McCann stance and was chosen by the UK Justice Forum owner John Lamberton as one of his Moderators precisely because he is a McCann-supporter (as he himself also is).”

There are two errors in this. I am not a McCann-supporter (let alone an open McCann-supporter who makes no bones about it). And I was not chosen by John Lamberton, let alone chosen precisely because of my alleged views on the McCann case. The members of the UK Justice Forum were allowed a free vote to elect a new moderator, preferably pro-McCann to rebalance the moderating team. Another moderator was elected at the same time, one who is clearly pro-McCann. A major objection to my own election was that certain forum members perceive me as being anti-McCann. I am not aware of any UK Justice Forum member who perceives me as being pro-McCann, other than Mr Bennett.

Mr Bennett continued “His connections to the circle of people around Robert Murat and the McCanns may be a lot stronger than people realise.” I have no connections whatsoever to the McCanns. In fact, I have failed in multiple attempts to communicate with them. I have never met Mr Murat, and if I have ever met one of his circle, I am completely unaware of it.

Mr Bennett also stated “He has until now adopted a female persona.” The truth is I have scrupulously avoided adopting either a male gender or a female gender. All of my posts here, and on the UK Justice Forum, and on CMoMM, have been constructed to be gender-free. The Mirror correctly pointed out that I prefer to remain anonymous, as my focus is on progressing the investigation of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. I am not the story, The story is Madeleine.

Verdi then attributed a quote to Gerry McCann. “”One good thing to come out of all this is that there is so much in the press, nobody knows what is true and what isn’t.” I have my doubts that this quote is accurate, but I don’t have the time to look up the truth of this right now.

Mr Bennett then demonstrates that he is a scrupulous reader of both the UK Justice Forum and my blog. First he posts an offer John Lamberton made to me, the right to reply on his forum to the Mirror article. I declined at that particular time, to get first bite of that cherry on my blog. The entire Luz tours story was later split off into a thread devoted to the topic, and it contains quite a bit of information not available elsewhere. If you visit the UK Justice Forum, the thread is as plain as your nose.

From my blog, Mr Bennett selected an obscure reference to Sergei Malinka. I have never met or communicated with Mr Malinka. A while back, upon learning that Mr Malinka was still in the area and was now working in property, I managed to find on the Internet some material about his estate agency. That is the closest I personally have got to Mr Malinka. Once posted on my blog, Mr Bennett promptly lifted it and re-posted it on CMoMM. So Mr Bennett is as close to Mr Malinka as I am.

Mr Bennett continues “Unsurprisingly, ‘Elca’s blog defends both Robert Murat and Sergei Malinka at every opportunity.” Mr Bennett, how the CMoMM is run is a matter for the forum owner. The laws in Portugal re right to a good name are considerably tougher that those of the UK. So my preferred approach is to be a stickler for accuracy. I cannot malign people with no evidence to back up my assertions. I have no evidence whatsoever against either Robert Murat or Sergei Malinka.

MayMuse chipped in with the following “What a rather odd exchange, almost as odd as the article.

Elca Craig should be ashamed of his/herself as this does not help Madeleine’s cause, it is making a mockery IMO. “ When the Mirror publishes utter tripe I reserve the right to set the story straight. A number of tabloids copying this article made fundamental, and I do mean fundamental, errors in their ‘journalism’. I happen to think the truth helps Madeleine’s cause.

Verdi’s next comment was “Elca/Olga ‘shining in Luz’ Craig is a journalist of sorts is s/he not? The Sunday Mirror – ‘the intelligent tabloid’ tracking a blog such as that? Pull the other one – there are fairies at the bottom of my garden..”

I am not Olga Craig and I have never met him or her, nor communicated with him or her. Elça Craig simply happens to be a double joke that I explain to visitors, but I do not wish to explain on-line. It is a fake, just as if someone gets hold of the email I use to register for forums etc. that too is a fake. And I have never worked in journalism. Never.

Is the Mirror tracking my blog? I am 100% certain of it. The Mirror correctly stated that I do not charge for tours, a rather important fact, and one that appears only on my blog. There are other pieces of information that appear only on my blog. Every “quote” attributed to me is a copy and paste job from my blog. I have never been in communication with anyone from the Mirror. My blog has undoubtedly been used as a source.

I am surprised that this surprises Verdi. I know for a fact that Mr Bennett reads my blog. See the earlier quotes. There are several members of the UK Justice Forum who read my blog. Textusa definitely reads my blog. Why shouldn’t the tabloid press use my blog as a cheap source of story fodder, given that they so clearly have?

Tony Bennett copied and pasted my response (sorry, my long rant) to the Mirror article. “I stated earlier (as I have done before here) that Elca Craig is basically a pro-McCann who believes that Madeleine was abducted. He is also convinced that the Smith sighting is crucial and states that ‘it happened,’ despite all the evidence to the contrary on CMOMM. He adds a dig at Goncalo Amaral. I’ve highlighted these relevant parts of ‘Elca’s article in red:”

As I stated earlier, I am not pro-McCann irrespective of Mr Bennett’s views on the matter. Equally, we will have to disagree as to whether the Smith sighting took place or not. I would suppose the ‘dig at Amaral’ is a reference to the body-in-cremated-coffin. That was actually a dig at Selby and Cardy for mixing it in with the article to make it look like I took people inside the church to see the gruesomeness of the coffin scene. I have never been inside the church.

Verdi linked to an April 2008 Telegraph article about bus-loads of visitors coming in to gawp. The people I have interacted with are extremely knowledgeable about the case, and there is no gawping involved. The tours are one visitor and me i.e. two people. And I repeat, I have nothing at all to do with Olga Craig.

Aquila pondered “Oh Lordy, Lordy, do you think Elca Craig (the male/female) has met up with TaninaR, who dropped onto this forum to show a few photographs of herself and sibling as children semi-naked on the beach of PdL in the 70’s, was invited for coffee and a ghoul tour and went off to sell ponies to the elite? Or do you think this is absolute balderdash?”

I have never met TaninaR. My offer to meet up with this person had nothing to do with the Madeleine McCann case. I was interested in the development of Luz over the last 50 years or so.

Verdi’s next input was “What a windbag – why not sue the Mirror and have done with.” followed by “even if I couldn’t afford to sue (where is Carter Ruck when needed most) I would at least demand an apology from the Mirror.” May I ask Verdi over what you think the Mirror can be sued? Incorrect factual content? Or perhaps salacious reporting? And do you really think I stand a snowball’s chance in Hades of getting an apology?

It will be interesting to see if Mr Bennett copies and pastes this reply into the relevant thread on CMoMM. To be fair to CMoMM, the timing appears to be that the Mirror article appeared roughly 24hrs before I got banned. Therefore I assume CMoMM chose not to be associated with someone organising the Luz Tours, rather than a simple (mistaken) perception that I am pro-McCann. Perhaps Mr Bennett will have the decency to clarify this.

This leaves just one important point, which is my stance on the case. I am not a McCann supporter. I am not a McCann critic. I simply would like to see justice for Madeleine. I am pro-Madeleine.

Madeleine – Freud, Luz, Robert Murat

Having looked at Freud’s MO and Freud’s personality, it is time to turn to the issue of what these had to do, if anything with the Madeleine McCann case.

In no particular order, the following questions arise. What did Freud see in Luz that attracted him here in his years of decline? What connection did Freud have to Robert Murat? Was Freud a regular in any Luz pub, whether the Pig’s Head, the Plough and Harrow or any other? Most important of all, what was Freud’s interest in the McCanns?

Why was Freud attracted to Luz? The attraction in his years of decline, after he sold Casa da Colina to Philip and Andrew Wright in 2002, is possibly easier to explain. After having established a familiarity with the area, returning to a known haven has an element of sense about it.

An unknown is when Freud first bought Casa da Colina and how he came to alight on Luz.

His interests and pastimes seem to be a poor fit with the area. The picture painted of his earlier life is one of mixing with those aspiring to the upper class in society. Despite the plethora of luxury villas in the area, if Luz has an upper class set, it is well hidden. A more apt description is ‘sleepy’. This happens to apply to the local restaurants and bars. Despite the number of both, it is hard to think of any that could be described as up-market. Perhaps there are some further afield on the Algarve. I simply don’t think of Luz as some Portuguese equivalent of Cannes.

Then there are Freud’s interests, noted as boules and golf. These are both social games, but Freud is depicted as getting more distant with age. Golf is an odd one. His daughter, Emma Freud, wrote a year after Freud had died that he was considerably overweight and had health problems. The nearest golf course to Luz is Boa Vista, which only a few hundred metres above Casa da Colina. However, there is no short route between the two. The course was designed in 2001 and opened in January 2002. Freud may or may not have become a member after he sold his villa, but he certainly did not come here because of a non-existent golf course.

The neighbours are quoted as saying that Freud was a quiet person who kept himself to himself. It certainly does not seem that Freud was a lavish entertainer. But bear in mind that the two McCann visits were not picked up by the media at the time. They entered public knowledge when Kate’s book “Madeleine” was published. We pick up certain information about who is visiting which villa around us, but it is not like a Neighbourhood Watch, and I can’t see why Casa da Colina would be different. His colleagues said that Freud was getting more distant as he got older, tending to eat by himself rather than joining them for lunch.

Sir Clement Freud was a racing pundit up to the time of his death. He supposedly died whilst writing his weekly article for the Racing Post, and with £2,000 of winnings in his pocket. http://portugalresident.com/algarve-to-be-key-in-portugal%E2%80%99s-multi-million-network-of-horseracing-stadiums This Algarve Resident article shows the state of play with horse racing and betting in Portugal in August 2015, and the summary is that there isn’t any.

Freud was still clashing wits on Just A Minute until he died, suggesting that while his body was getting feeble, he still had his wits about him. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYBGQ8Dh9NY In one of the episodes towards the end, Freud deploys what is reputed to be a standard tactic of his i.e. waiting until the minute was nearly up before interrupting, to enable him to be speaking as the whistle goes and so win the round.

Freud may not have mixed much with his neighbours on the Algarve, but he seems more integrated into London society. He had sent out invitations to an 85th birthday party and delayed heart surgery heart surgery that was urgent in order to make the party work, a decision that did not run his way as he died of a heart attack shortly before his birthday.

There is a snippet here that may be relevant. “Sir Clement was a familiar face in Luz when staying at his holiday villa: He frequently took walks on the beach, and was untroubled by people who recognised him.” http://portugalresident.com/former-british-mp-and-mccann-friend-exposed-as-a-pedophile How Natasha Donn managed to dig up this morsel for the Portugal Resident is beyond me, since no one is being quoted as a source.

However, it may be that it explains Freud’s interest in the area – just a sleepy backwater, lots of sun, and no one pestering him.

Moving on to Robert Murat, the issue arises as to whether he and Freud knew each other, and whether they drank together. Although the story in the Sun by Antonella Lazzeri has them on nodding terms at both the Plough and Harrow in Luz and the Pig’s Head in Burgau, the landlord of the Pig’s Head, Robert Hurst has come up with a quite different version of events. He has stated that Freud visited the Pig’s Head once some 20 years ago, that Murat visited it once around 8 years ago, and the people who were on nodding terms were Robert Hurst and Robert Murat.

Turning to the Plough and Harrow, as that closed years ago, it would take the previous owners, staff who worked there at the time, or patrons from that era, to make any connection to either Freud or Murat. You can make your own judgement as to whether someone like Freud was involved with DJ Shifty, the son of the then owners. Personally, I would need to see or hear something a bit more substantial than the Sun article.

That takes us to the McCanns. This post is already long enough, so I will reserve the McCanns for next time out.

Madeleine – Freud’s character

What were Sir Clement Freud’s personal characteristics and how do they relate to meeting the McCanns and any alleged acquaintance with Robert Murat?

Freud’s Wikipedia entry at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clement_Freud is long on detail about events in his life, but rather short on his personal characteristics. There are some exceptions though.

“”During the war Freud joined the Royal Ulster Rifles and served in the ranks. He acted as an aide to Field Marshal Montgomery. He worked at the Nuremberg Trials and in 1947 was commissioned as an officer.” The London Gazette supplement of 10 June 1947 says Sergeant Clement Freud of the Royal Ulster Rifles was given an immediate emergency commission to 2nd Lieutenant.

Freud had left school aged 16 (1940) and trained as a comis chef at the Dorchester before joining the army. (I have seen an alternative variant that states he trained in the Dorchester after the war.) ITV’s Exposure says Freud was a manager at the Martinez hotel in Cannes in 1948. Precisely what ‘manager’ means is unclear. A jump from comis chef to overall manager of a prestigious hotel is rather a large one.

Wikipedia goes on to state this about his election as an MP. “His autobiography, Freud Ego, recalls his election win, and shortly after, when asked by his wife June, “Why aren’t you looking happier?”, he wrote “It suddenly occurred to me that after nine years of fame I now had something solid about which to be famous… and cheered up no end.” So despite having celebrity fame and fortune, Freud wished to have an exterior image of gravitas.

Freud’s funeral in 2009 “was attended by a host of personalities from the media and entertainment industry” “as well as several representatives from Westminster”. That appears to be a hallmark of Freud’s life – connections to the glitterati and to the powerful.

A number of snippets from other sources are also interesting.

According to the Independent “In 2009, when it could safely be seen as affectionate, Stephen Fry spoke of Clement Freud’s raffishness, his “air of disreputability”, of how he was “a real Soho figure – he knew all the girls of easy virtue, he knew the pimps, the racetrack tipsters”.”

Gyles Brandreth wrote the following in the Telegraph at the time of Exposure. “It was, indeed, just Clement. And we kept company with him because he was a colleague and undeniably clever and entertaining. He had also been a popular and, from all I have heard, a conscientious, committed and effective constituency MP.” And “Derek Nimmo was a gregarious and engaging man. Peter Jones was droll and delightful. Kenneth Williams was brilliant, complicated and kind-hearted. They were all part of the team. Clement Freud was the odd one out. He seemed happy to be the outsider. He openly disparaged other players (me included, I’ve no doubt) … “

I have lost track of one tit-bit. It concerned an occasion when a group of celebrities met up with Freud for a social outing. Unfortunately, the teller of this tale is a writer, which does not help when trying to find the article again! The gist was simple. The writer was convinced that though he knew little about Freud, he would be in the company of others who knew more, and so could learn from them. He was surprised to find they all professed to know little about Freud the person.

The penultimate part of this character portrait comes from Freud’s daughter, Emma, and was written for the Guardian in 2010, a year after Freud died. “Is it possible to have a good death? If it is, my father’s death was good. He was 84, and hated being old. He was many stone overweight, his legs hurt constantly, he was slow and lame, and things were going on in the waterworks area, with which I refused to engage. For the last 10 years of his life, he was actively waiting for his death.”

And “when he was told by a doctor in February 2009 that he needed a triple heart bypass, he took the news calmly. As he’d planned a birthday party for himself on 24 April, he asked for the procedure to be delayed until after he’d turned 85. The party invitation said: “7.30 for 8pm – though it may be wise to keep an eye on the obituary columns.” Freud died before the party could take place and was cremated on what would have been his 85th birthday.

To finish off, here is another insight from Gyles Brandreth. “As the years went by, I continued to see Clement, sometimes around Westminster, more regularly recording episodes of Just A Minute. In front of the microphone, his wit appeared undimmed, but, before and after the show, in the green room, or at the hotel, I noticed he kept less company with us. He often ate alone. We were uncomfortable with him and he was uncomfortable with us. I always thought he was an odd one. I believe we all did. It seems it was darker and sadder than we realised.”

Make up your own mind as to a thumbnail portrait of the personal characteristics of Freud around 2007. The following is my personal opinion.

  • He was reaching the stage of checking out from life. One article records his interests as boules and golf, but I doubt he was fit enough for golf, while boules is a social game and Freud appeared to be getting very picky as to with whom he socialised. This could explain why neighbours in Luz said he kept himself to himself.
  • He seems to have had an exterior image and an interior reality, and he was quite adept in the main at keeping the two separate. Though it does appear that at least some of the interior was known to others, beyond his wife.
  • He seems to have had connections to the glitterati and to the powerful, and exercised these to his advantage.
  • He was dismissive of those who seemed to fall foul of his expectations and capability.
  • He seems to have craved an image of gravitas, as opposed to mere celebrity status.
  • He appears to have been someone who largely thought the rules of society applied to others, not to himself.

Despite his undoubted wit and intellectual capability, I doubt that I would have been able to get on with him had I met him in real life. That happens to be my personal opinion. However, please note what Gyles Brandreth wrote about Freud’s application as an MP. Then consider the positions Freud occupied in his career. It strikes me that he had a talent that went beyond being connected to the glitterati and to the powerful.