UPDATE - 09-09-17
McCanns - The Gloves are Off
I have for the past few months gone easy on the McCanns, because, well, I felt sorry for them. Pretty much everything they ever planned has gone belly up, nothing more so than their failure to be awarded £1.25m compensation from the former detective who searched for their daughter. Today's announcement that they have filed an appeal with the ECHR changes the dynamic, my sympathy, I now see was misguided, the gloves are off.
Sun reporter Nick Pisa, describes Goncalo Amaral in his sensational headline as 'shameless ex police chief'. Shameless Nick? Shameless for doing his job, searching for the missing child? Shameless for defending his name and reputation? Shameless for refusing to give Gerry and Kate all the earnings from his book, the proceeds of the forced sale of his family home and all his future earnings? Ten years down the line, the officers of Operation Grange may find themselves in a similar position, should they say the child is dead 'without evidence'. Would they too be shameless if they failed to pay extortionate sums demanded by the parents for their 'pain and suffering'? British libel laws are far more stringent, as the McCann supporters keep pointing out. In Lisbon they only asked for £250k each (and they are 5, as Isabel Duarte pointed out), Goncalo only had to find £1.25m to get them off his back.
I think it is shameless that reporter Nick Pisa should write such a nasty vindictive piece about a former detective without doing any research, or worse, deliberately and cruelly smearing an innocent man as part of a murky agenda or filthy lucre.
But what curdled the milk in my cornflakes, was the McCanns' stomach churning order of priorities. They are parents of a child who is missing, and who they believe is still alive, and the Scotland Yard search they pleaded for, is coming to an end. Turn the clock back a couple of years and imagine the police saying to Kerry Needham* 'we're giving up on the search for Ben', and her replying, 'oh, that's OK, I'm busy suing a Greek detective anyway'.
This renewed attack on Goncalo Amaral isn't good for anybody. The McCanns know they haven't got a hope in hell of a victory in Europe, and neither do they have the funds for such an expensive waste of time. Or do they? Have they had an injection of cash fro an interested party? I'm just throwing that in there, I don't think they have. Nor is it to put off that massive, still as yet undisclosed, legal bill in Portugal? From what I have read, an appeal to the ECHR, doesn't put off payments owed by a Supreme Court ruling. Ergo, they still have to pay that bill now anyway. (If any legal eagles know different, please let me know).
This is spite, there is no other way to dress it up, and it should send a chill through everyone who still believes the McCanns' priority is their missing daughter. All the grounds for their original claim are now moot, they have been overtaken by events and revelations. It is clear no officers in Operation Grange believe Madeleine is alive - they are on a watching brief, not out looking. Are they going to sue each of them?
Right now my sympathy is with Goncalo Amaral, will they ever leave him in peace? Having the McCanns on your back must be like stalker Bennett times ten. Placing a personal vendetta above the fate of your child is f*cked up, whatever way you look at it. The McCanns accept, without protest, the closing of the Scotland Yard investigation, their only real hope of finding their daughter, yet they are prepared to embark on another bitter legal battle.
My sympathy also lies with the family of Goncalo Amaral, because these announcements are usually accompanied by a nasty smear campaign, as we today with the shameless Nick Pisa in the Sun. My sympathies are also with the McCann clan, the young ones and the non complicit, at least. Living with 'legal proceedings' is hell on earth, it turned me into a morose, babbling, semi alcoholic, my family won't speak of it. Quite rightly, [shudders at memory].
Proving a point really isn't all that. And there is nothing worse than living with someone with a self righteous point to make. It eats them alive, it eats you alive, and it dominates everyone's lives in ways you can't even see until you come out at the other end - if you do. I am trying to describe what a destructive, emotional minefield, the McCanns have opted to take their family through. Again.
I'm always astounded, and more than a little impressed, at the way in which Gerry and Kate, or the collective brains of Team McCann, can make bad news sound like good news. How can anyone, in their right mind, be grateful for having their agony extended?
One of the articles I read regarding Scotland Yard's latest request for funding states they need just enough to keep three or four detectives on a watching brief. How can that possibly be a satisfactory answer for parents of a missing child? Gerry and Kate believe their daughter is alive and findable, and have already said they will continue their 'Search' when Operation Grange ends. That's a pretty defeatist attitude and it's an assumption that OG will end without their daughter or her abductor being found.
I'm not entirely sure of the source for 'watching brief', but to me it doesn't suggest anything pro-active. It suggests 3 or 4 detectives waiting for something - a direction from a higher power maybe, and that higher power is the Portuguese Judiciary who will ultimately be responsible for prosecuting or not prosecuting. Why keep 3 or 4 detectives on watching brief, if the crime or crimes do not involve British citizens?
Scotland Yard have been working with their Portuguese counterparts for a year it seems, doing what, who knows. If the case were international there are agencies for that, and there are no signs that the investigation has ever gone out of PDL.
I think you would now have to be as blind as a bat, to believe Operation Grange are looking for a Portuguese abductor from 2000 miles away. The idea that they are constantly finding new leads 10 years on, is equally absurd, it makes the investigation sound haphazard and unfocussed, how did they miss them at the beginning?
The McCann camp bizarrely, take the further extension as proof that the Police do not agree with Goncalo Amaral's theory. I'm not sure how they reached that conclusion, but if that's the thinking we are going with, they haven't proved an abduction either.
I suspect the end is in sight. Politically, it is madness to keep a small group of detectives on a watching brief - there are plenty of real time crimes they could be dealing with. Awaiting technical results could mean anything, from the technicalities of arresting over a 100 people, to the latest techniques for extracting DNA. If this is the far reaching crime that many of us believe it to be, then the logistics of how it will end, must be proving a nightmare.
Using an anecdote to explain, I once worked (as a temp) for a dodgy firm of solicitors in offices just off the Strand, WC2, and I wasn't really surprised when the office was raided by the police, while simultaneous raids were taking place in their offices all over the world. All the offices were raided at the same time so they couldn't tip each other off.
I would say this is a technique used by police the world over in cases where there are multiple defendants and of course this case becomes more complicated because there are two nations involved, two teams of detectivs who have been working together for a year. This watching brief suggests a tiger waiting to pounce, I suspect the real perpetrators must be very worried indeed.
*Apologies to Kerry, I have used her as an example, because I have never doubted her.