Madeleine clues hidden for 5 years
The new prime suspect was first singled out by detectives in 2008. Their findings were suppressed. Insight reports
The Sunday Times Insight team Published: 27 October 2013
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Madeleine disappeared from the Praia da Luz resort in May 2007Madeleine disappeared from the Praia da Luz resort in May 2007 (Adrian Sheratt)
THE critical new evidence at the centre of Scotland Yard’s search for Madeleine McCann was kept secret for five years after it was presented to her parents by ex-MI5 investigators.
The evidence was in fact taken from an intelligence report produced for Gerry and Kate McCann by a firm of former spies in 2008.
It contained crucial E-Fits of a man seen carrying a child on the night of Madeleine’s disappearance, which have only this month become public after he was identified as the prime suspect by Scotland Yard.
A team of hand-picked former MI5 agents had been hired by the McCanns to chase a much-needed breakthrough in the search for their missing daughter Madeleine.
10 months after the three-year-old had disappeared from the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz, and the McCanns were beginning to despair over the handling of the local police investigation. They were relying on the new team to bring fresh hope.
But within months the relationship had soured. A report produced by the investigators was deemed “hypercritical” of the McCanns and their friends, and the authors were threatened with legal action if it was made public. Its contents remained secret until Scotland Yard detectives conducting a fresh review of the case contacted the authors and asked for a copy.
They found that it contained new evidence about a key suspect seen carrying a child away from the McCanns’ holiday apartment on the night Madeleine disappeared.
This sighting is now considered the main lead in the investigation and E-Fits of the suspect, taken from the report, were the centrepiece of a Crimewatch appeal that attracted more than 2,400 calls from the public this month.
One of the investigators whose work was sidelined said last week he was “utterly stunned” when he watched the programme and saw the evidence his team had passed to the McCanns five years ago presented as a breakthrough.
The team of investigators from the security firm Oakley International were hired by the McCanns’ Find Madeleine fund, which bankrolled private investigations into the girl’s disappearance. They were led by Henri Exton, MI5’s former undercover operations chief.
Their report, seen by The Sunday Times, focused on a sighting by an Irish family of a man carrying a child at about 10pm on May 3, 2007, when Madeleine went missing.
An earlier sighting by one of the McCanns’ friends was dismissed as less credible after “serious inconsistencies” were found in her evidence. The report also raised questions about “anomalies” in the statements given by the McCanns and their friends.
Exton confirmed last week that the fund had silenced his investigators for years after they handed over their controversial findings. He said: “A letter came from their lawyers binding us to the confidentiality of the report.”
He claimed the legal threat had prevented him from handing over the report to Scotland Yard’s fresh investigation, until detectives had obtained written permission from the fund.
A source close to the fund said the report was considered “hypercritical of the people involved” and “would have been completely distracting” if it became public.
Kate and Gerry McCann: now officially not suspects, say the Portuguese authorities Kate and Gerry McCann: now officially not suspects, say the Portuguese authorities (Adrian Sheratt) Oakley’s six-month investigation included placing undercover agents inside the Ocean Club where the family stayed, lie detector tests, covert surveillance and a forensic re-examination of all existing evidence.
It was immediately clear that two sightings of vital importance had been reported to the police. Two men were seen carrying children near the apartments between 9pm, when Madeleine was last seen by Gerry, and 10pm, when Kate discovered her missing.
The first man was seen at 9.15pm by Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCanns, who had been dining with them at the tapas bar in the resort. She saw a man carrying a girl just yards from the apartment as she went to check on her children.
The second sighting was by Martin Smith and his family from Ireland, who saw a man carrying a child near the apartment just before 10pm.
The earlier Tanner sighting had always been treated as the most significant, but the Oakley team controversially poured cold water on her account.
Instead, they focused on the Smith sighting, travelling to Ireland to interview the family and produce E-Fits of the man they saw. Their report said the Smiths were “helpful and sincere” and concluded: “The Smith sighting is credible evidence of a sighting of Maddie and more credible than Jane Tanner’s sighting”. The evidence had been “neglected for too long” and an “overemphasis placed on Tanner”.
The new focus shifted the believed time line of the abduction back by 45 minutes.
The pictures of a man who may have taken Madeleine were drawn up in 2008The pictures of a man who may have taken Madeleine were drawn up in 2008 (Adrian Sheratt) The report, delivered to the McCanns in November 2008, recommended that the revised time line should be the basis for future investigations and that the Smith E-Fits should be released without delay.
The potential abductor seen by the Smiths is now the prime suspect in Scotland Yard’s investigation, after detectives established that the man seen earlier by Tanner was almost certainly a father carrying his child home from a nearby night creche. The Smith E-Fits were the centrepiece of the Crimewatch appeal.
One of the Oakley investigators said last week: “I was absolutely stunned when I watched the programme . . . It most certainly wasn’t a new time line and it certainly isn’t a new revelation. It is absolute nonsense to suggest either of those things . . . And those E-Fits you saw on Crimewatch are ours,” he said.
The detailed images of the face of the man seen by the Smith family were never released by the McCanns. But an artist’s impression of the man seen earlier by Tanner was widely promoted, even though the face had to be left blank because she had only seen him fleetingly and from a distance.
Various others images of lone men spotted hanging around the resort at other times were also released.
Nor were the Smith E-Fits included in Kate McCann’s 2011 book, Madeleine, which contained a whole section on eight “key sightings” and identified those of the Smiths and Tanner as most “crucial”. Descriptions of all seven other sightings were accompanied by an E-Fit or artist’s impression. The Smiths’ were the only exception. So why was such a “crucial” piece of evidence kept under lock and key?
The relationship between the fund and Oakley was already souring by the time the report was submitted — and its findings could only have made matters worse.
As well as questioning parts of the McCanns’ evidence, it contained sensitive information about Madeleine’s sleeping patterns and raised the highly sensitive possibility that she could have died in an accident after leaving the apartment herself from one of two unsecured doors.
There was also an uncomfortable complication with Smith’s account. He had originally told the police that he had “recognised something” about the way Gerry McCann carried one of his children which reminded him of the man he had seen in Praia da Luz.
Smith has since stressed that he does not believe the man he saw was Gerry, and Scotland Yard do not consider this a possibility. Last week the McCanns were told officially by the Portuguese authorities that they are not suspects.
The McCanns were also understandably wary of Oakley after allegations that the chairman, Kevin Halligen, failed to pass on money paid by the fund to Exton’s team. Halligen denies this. He was later convicted of fraud in an unrelated case in the US.
The McCann fund source said the Oakley report was passed on to new private investigators after the contract ended, but that the firm’s work was considered “contaminated” by the financial dispute.
He said the fund wanted to continue to pursue information about the man seen by Tanner, and it would have been too expensive to investigate both sightings in full — so the Smith E-Fits were not publicised. It was also considered necessary to threaten legal action against the authors.
“[The report] was hypercritical of the people involved . . . It just wouldn’t be conducive to the investigation to have that report publicly declared because . . . the newspapers would have been all over it. And it would have been completely distracting,” said the source.
A statement released by the Find Madeleine fund said that “all information privately gathered during the search for Madeleine has been fully acted upon where necessary” and had been passed to Scotland Yard.
It continued: “Throughout the investigation, the Find Madeleine fund’s sole priority has been, and remains, to find Madeleine and bring her home as swiftly as possible.”
Insight: Heidi Blake and Jonathan Calvert
Well, well, well kate and gerry, what a palaver.
First the libel trial which you tried to end by offering to do a deal with Dr.Amaral.
Why would you do that, given you claimed he libelled you and hindered the search to find your Daughter Madeleine Beth McCann.
This is unheard of, plaintiffs offering to do a deal with the defendant to end their case.
Why would you do that i asked myself?
Firstly you waited a year before you issued a libel suit, why wait so long especially given he was not only libelling you but also hindering the search?
Does libel get worse over time or was it perhaps you had your eyes on the possible money you could get if you waited a while to see how the book went?
Ah yes, the book, the one you claimed libelled you and hindered the search and people would stop looking if they thought Madeleine was dead.
Except it didn't stop people searching, as sightings were still dribbling in, even the ones your fund or pi's paid for.
People were still looking despite the book, a book which was written in Portuguese and not available in the UK despite what your witnesses claimed.
Happily for you and sadly for us and Dr. Amaral, though you won the first round and had his book confiscated and all sorts of restrictions imposed to stop the facts coming out.
Happily for us and Dr. Amaral and sadly for you, you lost the subsequent appeals.
The judges said, quite rightly, he had freedom of speech and an entitlement to write his opinion be it on the case or the best way to have a bacon butty.
You were stuck, since the book you tried to ban was based on and used the facts from the actual police files plus his years of experience as a cop.
This was a man who knew his job, knew all the tricks and mostly knew when someone was pulling a fast one and blocking the case and him.
He knew he could accomplish nothing more whilst he stayed a cop, politics and dark dealings hindered and blocked him, he thus made a hard decision for himself, his family and for Madeleine.
Perhaps at this point you thought you were home free, the meddlesome cop was gone, you had contacts and money and a fearsome law firm, good old Carter-Ruck.
Threats to sue shut most people and media up.
Suing shut the rest up.
Some came to an out of court settlement which you spun as if you had won in court (nice touch standing on the steps of the Old Bailey there tapas 7, well 6 in reality)
He was down but not out, he bided his time and wrote a book, and, when the case was shelved as he and we knew it would be, he released it and the documentary.
You had shut down the media you couldn't shut down the net.
The book was translated by Portuguese friends for us, the public to read and at no cost to us except their time, whilst you spent allegedly £100,000 on translations
( BTW I and many others would like to see transparent accounts please which you promised us)
Heck if our translations are so far off as your supporters claim, we would love to see your translated files to see where we messed up, except that isn't going to happen is it?If our translated files were wrong you would have been shouting it from the roof tops and gloating.
You knew the facts in the files painted you in a bad light.
Whilst you were arguidos, much as you complained, you knew you were safe due to judicial secrecy.
You couldn't talk to the public but your family and friends could and did including dear clarrie.
With the facts in the files now translated and made public you were stuck you had to counterattack so you came up with the mockumentary and the bewk.
It was a delightful mockumentary despite the fact the actress who played you, kate, was cut as her story was unbelievable, you can thank gerry for that tidbit.
The supposed reconstruction was anything but, and hey, you even managed to briefly mention the Smith sighting even though he was morphed into bundleman.
What we saw was not a reconstruction it was a happy family peep show.
Look how well we are doing without Madeleine.
The public saw this and laughed, the bewk did slightly better but kate, dear kate, you really are leakier than a colander.
Describing your daughter's torn perfect genitals was for what reason?
Shock value? remember the bewk was written for your remaining children to read.
I am sure they will be as shocked as we were when they reach page 129.
Was it a leaked marble?
Something you remember seeing?
It would after all fit in with your vision of a grey mottled body lying on a cold slab, a true reflection of a several days old corpse decomposing.
What would the twins make of all this, after all you can't stop them from reading books or surfing the net or listening to friends or watching TV, especially once they hit 18 and become adults.
You can only control what they hear for so long, and even now they come home asking awkward questions.
The marbles were leaking out.
We have you wanting to press a button, you talking about a murder in Portugal instead of an abduction.
Gerry talking about no evidence she is dead or that you played a part in her death!
Not disappearance then?
You set strict requirements on your pi's and gagged them knowing they couldn't drop you in it
You demanded people phone your hot line with info and send in photos, claiming someone had the missing piece of the puzzle when you kate had 48 puzzle pieces and refused to do a reconstruction via your faithful chums.
By the way how are they doing?
Do you still trust them to stay quiet, especially now?
You courted and feted the media and then cried foul when the media bit back, even to perjuring yourself in the Leveson enquiry.
Perjury carries a life sentence did you know that?
When the case was shelved you could have spoken up and demanded it be kept open yet you didn't?
Why was that?
A shelved case meant no active searching, no active investigation apart from your pi's, and we know how good they were.
You demanded a review not a reopening.
It sounded good to the public and media, the desperate parents trying to find their daughter, forever searching.
Except you never actually searched in the first place unless of course you count the beach walks, the jogging ( 19 Min's to the top of the hill, wow you must have worked hard that day) the world tours to countries where she hadn't been seen, meeting the Pope( did you get absolved? you can only be absolved if you confess)
Then something happens, SY do a review.
You felt safe a review would do nothing plus it saved you making a call or posting a letter offering to answer those 48 questions or do a reconstruction with your chums. all talk and no action.
The yard say they were going to reopen the case, the public thought great.
I bet you and gerry were not happy.
What had they found that could cause then to start investigating?
It had to be something they had found, it turned out to be bundleman, or rather not bundleman and the Smith sighting.
Perhaps you didn't think your PI's would hand over all their files after all you sat on info for 5 yrs and had gagging clauses, however if the court orders it, it must be handed over.
For years you had talked about a crime watch type show, televised and following your information, knowing the PJ would say no thus you could blame them.
I wonder what was said when you found out there would be a crime watch special?
You couldn't refuse point blank as even clarrie would have trouble spinning that and even your most ardent supporters would go huh?
You set out restrictions to make it hard as possible.
No filming in Portugal as it would upset the PJ, except the PJ wanted you there doing one so you had to think of another excuse.
It would be too painful, add a few tears and bingo.
No worries said the police we'll film it in Spain and use actors, although why would it be too painful 6 yrs after the fact but not too painful for your mockumentary all those years back.
They said we will do the reconstruction and you can have a pre-recorded interview and then we'll do a bit of chit chat.
No worries, you have done all this before it'll be a doddle.
The police though like any good force weren't telling you everything.
We all know how they love to stage pressers with persons of interest to see what they say and how they act (the philpotts, tracie andrews etc)
They caught you by surprise.
Bundleman is gone and along with it gerry's alibi and to top it all those pesky e-fits you sat on for 5 yrs were up front and centre and everyone and their dog said oh look it's gerry.
This is why you looked so dreadful kate, you were terrified, you knew what us bloggers and commentators were saying.
Could we be right?
We were indeed.
What now kate and gerry?
The cat is out the bag so to speak.
You know you will be asked those 48 questions and do a proper reconstruction.
The PJ reopened the case due to new and compelling evidence.
You will be made arguidos either because as soon as the case was reopened it was automatically reapplied, or because you request it or because the police impose it so you can refuse to answer and co-operate without going to jail.
In the UK you can say no comment till the cows come home without fear of penalty.
All this whilst the libel trial is ongoing.
You know you will lose.
It is a given since it is now clear you actively hindered the search for your own daughter, whilst Goncalo did all he could to find her and get justice for her.
How will you pay your legal fees and compensation since you can't use the fund (all those people who donated will not be happy)
What about all the other fees?
What about your backers who donated believing your story only to find out you lied.
They could sue for return of their money and that's a lot of money.
Plus, you can face charges of obtaining money by deception, fraud wire fraud in America and they don't take that lightly (darn that dollar paypal button) plus, we then have charges in the UK of perverting the course of justice, obstruction of justice, perjury,etc and that's before we even look at charges in relation to Madeleine.
You know the homicide, filing a false police report and concealing a corpse, heck the UK police could charge you since she was a British citizen.
Then you will lose your kids, your medical licences, your house to pay your bills since no one is going to back you financially.
Your family may or may not eventually forgive you, the same with your children.
You will be a social pariah.
No more high flying contacts, no big parties.
You will be hated not only for what you did to Madeleine, even if it was an accident, but what you did to your remaining children, the children of your friends, your family, the public.
Everything you worked so hard for, everything you wanted will become ashes.
It will all be over.
Right now the only way you can make amends to Madeleine, Sean and Amelie, yourself, your family and friends is to come clean and speak the truth.
IVF is hard on a woman both physically and emotionally, 3 children in such a short period of time is a lot, we know you found it hard to cope, anyone would.
Emotions run high with all those hormones up to harvesting and conception and then during pregnancy only to suddenly stop,.
Accidents happen, people do things on the spur of them moment when they snap.
The courts and the public understand this.
Many have gone through the same thing, we see it in the news, it happens.
In such cases the the courts and the public are forgiving, even family and friends forgive when they know the truth.
Just like you tell your kids to tell the truth and that you still love them, now is the time to tell the truth.
You will feel so much better for it once it is out, just like you did as a child yourself.
You knew that your family still loved you even when you told a lie or did something naughty.
Punishment then forgiveness and finally moving on with life.
You are scared right now, scared of the unknown, what will happen.
If you tell the truth it will never be as bad as you think.
Let's make this the start of a new day.
Make your children proud of you that you did what you tell them to do and tell the truth,.
If you can't do it alone take a trusted friend or family member.
Once you say those first few words, this is what happened, this is what we did, then you can grieve for your little girl and start the process of healing.