Tuesday, 17 May 2016
WHO WILL FUND THE BOOKBURNERS APPEAL?
In 2009/10, Goncalo Amaral's book, The Truth of the Lie, was removed from the bookshelves, seized from the printing press and stockpiled in a warehouse ready to be shredded or placed on a bonfire. It might just as well be a bonfire in a public square, because it would effectively be a warning to all detectives and authors, that the Law of the land will not tolerate their right to have an opinion. I know the urge to peep out the window and check we are indeed still in the 21st century, is irresistible, but bizarrely, tis true. As a writer and libertarian, I always find history's bonfires of the vanities the most disturbing and sinister when new 'regimes' take over. The banning and burning of books should have no place in this century.
And before we go castigating the old fashioned value system of the Portuguese Justice system, the Libel Laws in the UK are more antiquated than most. So antiquated in fact, that the media giants have been dancing to Kate and Gerry's tune for 9 years for fear of having to write them out another cheque.
Unfortunately, 'controlling the press', doesn't come cheap, Kate and Gerry have employed an army of specialist lawyers, PR Agencies and a small group of psychos/saddoes to patrol social media 24/7. It is difficult to estimate their monthly outgoings, other than, 'a lot'. As a former legal secretary I know that lawyers charge hundreds of pounds per hour, per letter written, per phone call made or received - phoning a sex line would be cheaper.
We have seen the phenomenal rate at which Kate and Gerry have got through the millions donated to them when Madeleine first went missing. They were spending like lottery winners, confident that their futures were secured. Sandra Felgueiras' interview with Kate and Gerry in Autumn 2009, when they were going broke, is revealing*. The very direct Sandra, lists all the Fund's payroll and outgoings and asks them how they could afford to pay for it all. 'It's not ideal' says Kate, but 'we can't stop'. Gerry scathingly mentions an auction at the twins school (have they no shame?), but they were planning much, much, bigger things for the future.
In those days, the McCanns had no qualms about asking the public for money. They sent out letters to their supporters and they created a campaign poster telling the public what their donations would be used for. £10 for a helpline for one hour, £50 for prayer cards, to be honest distaste makes it difficult to remember the details, but they were confident the public still believed they were searching for their daughter. They did not ask for cash shyly, they came straight out with it.
This time their cause is quite clearly themselves, and no-one cares. Even when they were hop, skipping and jumping for Missing People, they were hard pushed to get sponsors. And 'help us take the family home and all the assets and future earnings of the Detective who investigated us', just doesn't have the same popular ring as 'Help Search for Madeleine'.
If they truly believed they had been wronged by Goncalo Amaral, they would be complaining about the injustice of it all to anyone who would listen. They would be appealing to the Hacked Off lobby and similarly minded book burners for their support. They would be knocking on doors brazenly, as they did when they were in full fund raising mode, and they would take every opportunity to put forward their case. This time, there is no passion behind their pledge to carry on, no zest, no oomph, no banners declaring they are right, dead right, no 'victims of the Portuguese police' photographs of the couple appealing for public sympathy.
They have milked the public sympathy vote to its natural conclusion and then some. The tap's run dry. Whining about how hard done by you are for 9 years is not endearing. Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep, and you weep alone.
Unfortunately for Kate and Gerry, as their coffers run dry, their nemesis, Goncalo Amaral goes from strength to strength. Presumably, he now has access to the royalties from his book, but if his assets remain frozen, the public will happily fund him again. The recent 'honourable' troll article in the Daily Mail and all the other papers that picked it up, has opened floodgates. Not only would those who contributed to Goncal's legal fund, contribute again, so too will thousands more as the full extent of the McCanns' spiteful vendetta against the former detective becomes public knowledge. The tables have turned, the public are on Goncalo's side and they will happily fund him all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.
To take a case all the way to the ECHRs, you need a powerful lobby behind you. You need to prove that the way you have been treated has the potential to affect hundreds, if not thousands, in the future. A ruling by the ECHR will be used as a precedent in every future libel case throughout Europe. The three Appeal Court Judges could not have made it any plainer. Goncalo Amaral has a right to have an opinion, and a Court of Human Rights will not take that away from him.