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.

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Madeleine – Freud – Why the McCanns?

What is is that Sir Clement Freud saw in the Madeleine McCann case that made him invite the McCanns to his holiday rental villa not once, but twice, in 2007?

The starting off point is where these visits were reported. As far as I know these visits were never reported other than in Kate’s book “Madeleine”. There was nothing reported in the media at the time. It would appear that Freud did not blab about these visits. There is ‘nothing’ in the PJ Files. And Gerry McCann’s blog of the time is reputed to be absent of any mention of meeting Freud in Casa da Colina.

So the first question that has to be asked is simple. Other than Kate McCann’s book, is there any evidence of these visits?

Without even digging into the case, the answer has to go heavily in favour of a yes. To write the relevant parts of her book, Kate had to know that Sir Clement was a visitor to Luz, and that he was in Luz on the dates she mentioned. Plus she would have needed to know about the people owning the villa from 2002, Philip and Andrew Wright. Otherwise her statements would have been shredded by now, which they haven’t.

The next port of call has to be the PJ Files. There is no reason for me to think that the notes supposedly written by Sir Clement Freud would have found their way into the files, but phone communications to and from the Tapas 9 were being monitored and analysed, so it is reasonable to make a first assumption that something should surface here.

The bit you need is the Luz phone records, and the particular set is the Vodafone records, which are detailed at http://www.mccannpjfiles.co.uk/PJ/PHONE_LISTINGS.htm These are the records for the 3 Vodafone numbers known about by the PJ, and Gerry McCann was on Vodafone.

I have not hacked through all of these records, but there were 5 calls from Gerry’s mobile to the number of Casa da Colina land-line. Gerry’s mobile was 7786986188. The land-line for Casa da Colina was 282789879, under the name of Philip Wright.

The first 3 calls are 3 July 2007 at 21:19, lasting 3:31; 4 July 2007 at 10:01 lasting 1:07; 4 July 2007 at 12:46 lasting 1min 55secs. These appear to fit well with an invitation by Freud to visit him for a meal at Casa da Colina for a meal, when 5 adults and the twins are stated as having participated.

The last two are 2 Sep 2007 at 15:42, lasting 1:45; 3 Sep 2007 at 16:51, lasting just 59 seconds. These are a relatively poor match for a visit that is supposed to have occurred on the day both Kate and Gerry were made arguidos – 7 Sep 2007.

According to Vodafone, these telephone records were sent to the PJ on 14 Dec 2007. This was months after Kate and Gerry McCann had been made arguidos, and they had long since departed Portugal for the UK.

There was also no reason to suspect at the time that Casa da Colina or Sir Clement Freud were involved in anything. The first connection to Sir Clement appeared in Kate’s book Madeleine around the 4th anniversary in 2011, roughly 2 years after Freud died, and that does not appear to have been recognised as potentially significant until Vicky Haynes read the book some 2 years later, or about 4 years after Sir Clement Freud passed away.

So it has all been very late in the day, though it appears Vicky Haynes raised her concerns with Operation Grange, and the UK police have checked out what was going on at the relevant dates with the current owners of Casa da Colina. There is nothing on the horizon that seems suspect, at least as far as the media are concerned at this moment.

So what was Freud up to in inviting the McCanns twice to his holiday home?

Option 1. He was simply being benign. It was nothing more than simply extending a hand to a couple in trouble. This may be correct, but Freud was getting more reclusive with age, and 5 strangers plus the twins seems a bit of a leap.

Option 2. He was trying to find out what was going on in the case. He did seem to be interested in this aspect, but was that in any way unusual in Luz in 2007?

Option 3. It was simply a frisson of excitement. Even at his age, he was still plugged into the celebrities, whether that was horse-racing, popular game shows like Just A Minute, or one of the biggest circuses in history, the McCanns in Luz.

Option 3 sounds the most likely to me, but there is a major problem. Why didn’t this come out in Freud’s lifetime? Why didn’t Freud or the McCanns relate this while Freud was alive? I have not scrutinised what has been kept of Gerry McCann’s blog, but surely these two visits were worthy of a comment or two? It is claimed that Gerry’s blog had nothing.

Option 4. Paedophiles. Since Sir Clement Freud had sold Casa da Colina in 2002, anyone trying the paedophile idea has to stretch it to the ridiculous. This would require that Casa da Colina, under present ownership, was implicated in paedophile activities in 2007 at a time that Sir Clement Freud was in the UK. For me, that one goes straight into the rubbish bin.

The alternative version of option 4 is that Sir Clement Freud was plugged into some paedophile ring in Luz, either in 2007 or much earlier. To date, I have seen zero to support this.

Therefore, my choice is option 3, that Freud got a bit of an insider view, and a vicarious thrill. He seemed to be a person who thought that normal social conventions did not apply to him. But of course I cannot prove this, and you are free to make up your own mind.

Madeleine – 3 phone operators

The 3 phone operators in Luz in May 2007 were Optimus, TMN and Vodafone.

The Tapas 9 phone operators were as follows

David Payne 7748 Vodafone UK

Dianne Webster 7790 Orange

Fiona Payne no mobile 2-4 May

Jane Tanner 7808 Telefonica UK

Gerry McCann 7786 Vodafone UK

Kate McCann 7903 EE ltd (TM)

Matthew Oldfield 7771 Vodafone UK

Rachael Oldfield 7771 Vodafone UK

Russell O’Brien 7713 Telefonica UK

So far so good, but this is where the going gets tough. Trying to match up Optimus and TMN with Orange, Telefonica UK, and EE ltd is proving puzzling.

Telefonica is Spanish, and does not in 2015 trade in Portugal, so there must have been a deal in place to run through one of the 3 operators in Portugal, but which one or ones?

At this point in time, we can reasonably assume that a Vodapfone UK mobile would go through the Vodafone, so at least we start with 4 of the 8 people.

We also know that when the caller and the person called are both within Luz and the call goes through two operators, we see double reporting of a single call, once each by the two operators.

Gerry makes 2 calls to Kate on 3 May 2007, and both of these turn up twice in the records. So Kate is not on the same operator as Gerry i.e. she is not going through Vodafone. This is confirmed on 4 May 2007 when David Payne, on Vodafone, is in contact with Kate, not on Vodafone, and the call gets double reported.

Inspector Paulo Dias says that Optimus contacts are marked in orange (the colour) while TMN contacts are in blue. I cannot find anything that states what colour is used for Vodafone.

I also have the problem that I don’t see how one can tell which network a 3rd party is using. I can tell that Gerry is on Vodafone, but when he connects to 2 English numbers he has in common with Kate, which colour is appropriate? Should it be the Vodafone colour that he is on? Should it be Kate’s orange or blue (even assuming I can work out which she is on?)

For the moment, here is a slightly updated graphic of the shared 3rd parties. To match the apparent heaviness of the lines, I have used orange, a lightish blue, and a dark green for Vodafone.

Shared numbers 2