Saturday, 28 January 2012

The McCann Writ...

I've just been going over parts of the McCann writ against Goncalo Amaral during a quiet moment, and you have to wonder if it's really just another version of the truth.  If their behaviour and appearance are anything to go by, their claims are beyond bizarre.

In the 36 page writ, the McCanns describe Sr Amaral as a 'self-obsessed, manipulative money-grabber with no morals.'  Isn't that libellous in itself?..  Just aswell he's countersuing them... in the fairness of things.

They also say accusations left them "totally destroyed" and caused them "irreparable" damage.  The McCanns give a harrowing insight into the day-to-day life in their household as they struggle to cope without Madeleine!

The writ outlines how the couple both suffer from "permanent anxiety, insomnia, lack of appetite, irritability and an indefinable fear". It also says Kate McCann is "steeped in a deep and serious depression".

Amsterdam 2011

What they are demanding...

£430,000 damages for Madeleine which will be used to continue the search for her.

£215,000 for each parent for the emotional distress the book has caused them.  They say they suffer 'permanent anxiety, insomnia, lack of appetite, irritability and an indefinable fear'.  The writ also says Kate McCann is 'steeped in a deep and serious depression'.

£86,000 for each of their twins Sean and Amelie, who could hear any allegations when they are at school.

I wonder how they came to such figures?  To equate that they, as neglectful parents are worth the same amount as their innocent child comes as no surprise though.

Goncalo Amaral's book and documentary, The Truth of the Lie, were based on the official investigation files (as verified in court by three separate judges)... any legal certificates or documentation required from the file will require the reopening of the same.  Let's hope this is positive news and the case can be reopened.

Marinho Pinto to Testify...

The chairman of the lawyer´s association Marinho Pinto will testify for the couple McCann against Gonçalo Amaral, in the civil process that Madeleine´s parents moved against the former coordinator of the directorate of PJ in Portimao, Correio da Manhã has learned.
Marinho Pinto offered himself to testify in person, against the former coordinator at the trial that was scheduled to start next week but was postponed by the judge who granted the request of the McCanns to be heard several English witnesses through video conference.

Marinho Pinto was the author of the Expresso article which highlighted the trial of Leonor Cipriano and revealed the so called photographs of abuse.  In an unprecedented move, Pinto constituted himself as assistente in the process, which allowed him not to testify or reveal his source of the photos.

In 2010, Marcos Correia publicly supported Pinto in his run for post of Chairman of the Lawyers Order.  And also in 2010, Pinto supported Isabel Duarte.  What familiar faces can we look forward to attending the Amaral v Correia/ACED trial in February, I wonder.

Pinto's daughter, Barbara worked for McCann lawyer Rogerio Alves. Alves, if you recall opposed the reopening of the enquiry after Wikileaks revealed a telegram between British and US ambassadors, discussing that the British police had presented the evidence that had led to the McCanns being made arguidos.

Getting confused by all these names and lawyers?  Well they're all there, and more... in that big can of worms.

Onto the 'several witnesses'... we can speculate all we want but I doubt it will be anyone mentioned in the police files or from Scotland Yard - not whilst their investigative review is active.

Could they be...

Work colleagues

The McCanns' family and friends are well accustomed to making video appearances.  The McCann children are also mentioned on the writ - maybe the twins will be next to appear for that extra added oooooomph. Respect for the childrens' privacy in a closed court?  Va va voom...

Perhaps we'll have witnesses similar to those from the Leveson enquiry. Witnesses who stated under oath that their articles came from Portuguese contacts within the police.  Or maybe CEOP have discovered just why Jim Gamble made the unprecedented move of having operatives on the ground in Praia de Luz within 2 days.  CEOP was set up in 2006 to help find and convict paedophiles... When the Government took over in 2010, Jim Gamble resigned taking this little nugget of mystery with him.

The McCanns postponed the case... one has to wonder just why they are stalling at this late date.  And just how strong was their case without these additional witnesses.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Facebook for Ben 2012... Help Find Ben.

Please help Kerry and the search for Ben by joining the Facebook for Ben day on 14th February 2012.  Following the amazing response of the Tweet 4 Ben day on Twitter, this is another great way to raise awareness and I have to commend Kerry and her group, they're doing an absolutely fantastic job.

The online campaigns by Kerry Needham and the McCanns are like chalk and cheese.  I can't make the comparison between Ben Needham and Madeleine McCann because... well, in many ways there is no comparison.

Kerry campaigns for the search for her son.  The McCanns campaign for money.

Please join and share with your friends, in this case I do believe Ben is 'findable' and deserves to be reunited with his Mum.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Concordia - Condolences

I would like to express my sincerest condolences to all those who have lost family members and friends on the Costa Cordonia. Whilst the survivors have suffered unimaginable terror, hope remains that those still missing will be found quickly.

Costa Cruises were quick to lay blame solely on the rogue master of the ship - suggesting that he'd taken a bad decision by steering the vessel many nautical miles off course, sailing too close to the island and abandoning ship.  Something which was "unauthorised, unapproved and unknown to Costa".

However, Lloyd's Lists tracking information shows that in August 2011 the Cordonia sailed even closer to the island of Giglio to mark the night of the Shooting Stars Festival, without incident.  The route deviation was apparently authorised by Costa Cruises.

Italian Costa Cruises have surprisingly chosen Clarence Mitchell as their official spokesperson which, depending on his role, may pose a problem considering the many differing nationalities of passengers.  Unless Mr Mitchell happens to be multi-lingual.  

I am not defending the captain in any shape or form - after seeing and hearing the news over the last few days, I am appalled.  However, with headlines such as 'Captain 'fell' into lifeboat', in depth detail and the coastguard recording freely and quickly available to the media, it could be construed that Mr Mitchell is already on the job... and not simply in his capacity as spokesperson?  Deja vu?  Mr Mitchell said "...there is a criminal investigation going on and we're not going to say anything that's going to compromise that or the captain's case."  Too late - Costa Cruises had already publicly washed their hands of the captain, and laid the blame firmly on his shoulders.

Clearly he is representing Costa Cruises alone and not the captain.

Is there a case for corporate manslaughter?  I'm not sure if even Michael Clayton could 'fix' this one, although I know who I'd rather be seeing on the news...

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Dwindling Fund...

After publication of the latest accounts, it appears that the McCanns have frittered away millions of pounds from their private company. Funds are down to £125,000, sapped up like water in a hungry sponge. It may read that way on paper, however are the media failing to report the monies earned from Kate McCann's version of the truth - the book, Madeleine.  Sitting nicely in the bank... gathering interest and destined to show in next years accounts?

And what if it was dwindling?  I'm sure with relative ease, the McCanns could save a mint by losing the lawyers, PR companies and come up with some novel way to search for their daughter like normal people would do.  They like to raise awareness but how about selling some of their own assets, remortgaging their home or even doing a mammoth car booty.  Even buying their strawberries from Rothley Market would be advisable compared to M&S prices.

That's if they really need all that money.  The McCanns and the press project a feeling of guilt onto the general public if they fail to donate. They aren't entitled to other people's money to keep their own company afloat.  How do you think Kerry Needham has survived over the last two decades?

Anyway, how about something really simple during those long weekends and school holidays.  Borrow a camper van, tour those lawless villages and get knocking on some doors.  Simple, beautiful country and lovely weather.  They could even take the bikes.  You never know (ahem) Madeleine might answer the door...  errr, I'm sorry... the McCanns don't do personal search, do they?  They prefer to leave the dirty work to other people. And dirty it is... whatever situation Madeleine finds herself and wherever her head rests right now is solely down to them.

Really all of that doesn't matter, because a further £3.5m has been thrown in the McCanns direction in the shape of the Metropolitan Police "investigative review".  So right now, there are law enforcement agencies investigating and searching for Madeleine.  No need for fund raising, begging or petitioning.  It would also be wholly irresponsible and a complete waste of money to still be employing Dave Edgar whilst the review is ongoing.  This effectively makes him and his salary redundant. What a saving!

The fund is now foundation.  Yes, after five years even good marketing ploys need rebranded.  What next?... Madeleine's name?

**Foundation... bad move to rename in this manner - the lowest of the low and something which is below ground.

Back to basics, with foundations based on child neglect.

**Not to be confused with Tony Bennett's Madeleine Foundation... and I'm sure both parties would agree.  Imagine the forthcoming confusion.......

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Boozy Tapas Nights...

Apart from the French book* news, it's been a pretty quiet week, so I've been having a look the witness statements from the investigation over on the Maddie Case Files.  I came across the statement of Ricardo Alexandre da Luz Oliveira, the waiter assigned to the Tapas group table most nights.

Now I'm certainly not naive, but I think after 4+ years you tend to become a bit forgetful of certain things.  Thanks to the night of 3rd May and the timeline that's been forced upon us, you tend to drift towards that hour and a half in the restaurant, with possibly anxious parents, away from their children, gobbling down their food.

However, they weren't anxious and neither were they there for an hour and a half.

Restaurants tend to have two or three sittings per night, especially if in demand. And the Tapas Bar was in demand.  This group took up seating for nine for the whole evening, every evening causing holidaymakers like the McKenzie family to be refused a table, forcing them to get takeaway to eat in the apartment. Thankfully, Mr McKenzie had the common sense to wait in the apartment with his child whilst his wife collected their food from the very same restaurant.  Yes, as well as offering a free creche service to diners, the Tapas Bar also provided takeaway.

Some holidaymakers were fortunate enough to book a table... the Carpenters dined with their children, the Wilkins dined whilst their children were looked after in the restaurant's free creche... the Tapas group must've thought they were utter fools, dining with their children?...

We know that the McCanns enjoyed that bottle of Montana Sauvignon Blanc before leaving the apartment and according to Ricardo the group were in no rush to eat, waiting on all members to arrive before ordering.  Before they all arrived, some would have cocktails.  On seating, 4 bottles of wine would be placed on the table and during the meal, another 4 would be depositied which would be completely consumed.  Ricardo remembers serving Almond Bitters to all and after three courses, the group would stay at their table until after 11pm and be at the bar until it closed at midnight.  This group were normally the last to leave.

Drink, drink, drink and the last to leave when the place closed!  Sounds like an absolutely spanking piss up and really good fun, doesn't it?  It would be if there weren't children and babies involved.

Gerry McCann says that all this was within the realms of responsible parenting.  I say it is absolutely not.  Parenting is a responsibility for life, there is no escape. This whole group tried to.  Apparently.


You can view the witness statements from the official Portuguese police investigation on the Maddie Case Files.

*Belle Famille by Arthur Dreyfus is the tale of little Madec Macand, and a story which has eery similarities to the missing Madeleleine case.  Should make an interesting read and hopefully translated extracts will be provided by Anna Andress when available.  At the moment, available to buy on Amazon France.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The Remit of Operation Grange

Operation Grange

On 12 May 2011 the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) announced that, at the request of the Home Secretary, it had agreed to bring its particular expertise to the Madeleine McCann case.

The then Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, considered the request and took the decision that on balance it was the right thing to do. This was subject to funding being made available by the Home Office, as this case is beyond the MPS's jurisdiction.

The Portuguese authorities retain the lead.

While the MPS will not provide a running commentary on its involvement, known as Operation Grange, it is felt appropriate to make the remit available to the public and it is available in the related publications.

Taken from the Metropolitan Police website

Below is the remit of Operation Grange, which is available to the public and can be downloaded from the Metropolitan Police website.

There is some speculation over the word 'abduction'.  I'm not going spin or mess about with the phrase... it just seems to be a sloppy oversight and perhaps something which should be corrected on the original public remit.  All other references to Madeleine's disappearance are just that... a disappearance.  It would be a travesty for this child if the police followed the blinkered approach of abduction and nothing else. Something I find very hard to believe they would do.

What I do find interesting is that the remit refers to not just a review of the case but an "investigative review".

Whilst ordinarily a review has no investigative remit whatsoever - the scale and extent of this enquiry cannot permit for such an approach.  It will take too long to progress to any action stage if activity is given wholly and solely to a review process.

This can only be good news for Madeleine... not only is the case being reviewed but appears to be being investigated with a timescale. And with the Portuguese police retaining the lead, hopefully our Boys in Blue will find that missing piece of the jigsaw that will allow the official case to be reopened.

Everyone seems to be whistle blowing these days... if you have any information that could help the investigative review, please contact the Met -

Major Investigation Team 5
Homicide and Serious Crime Command
Belgravia Police station 
202-206 Buckingham Palace Rd 
London SW1W 9SX

Trials and Tribulations...

Liars and fantasists... there have been a fair few over the years. So many that one could be tempted to write a bewk about them... Or has that already been done?

Here's another one...

Leonor Cipriano, accused of an incestuous relationship with her brother, murdering her 8 year old daughter, Joana and disposing of her body by feeding her to the pigs. Absolutely barbaric. Alongside her lover/brother, she was found guilty and sentenced to 16 years in prison. She later claimed she was tortured into confessing, but police said Cipriano tried to commit suicide by throwing herself off a staircase.

The trial commenced... 5 officers stood accused of torture. As co-ordinator of the PJ in Faro at that time, Goncalo Amaral was also made arguido.

Although the judges considered that Cipriano had been beaten, it could not be established by whom. We all know that child rapists and murderers do not fare well in prison, and I can imagine a long line of prisoners vying for their own piece of Cipriano pie.

With no witnesses to the alleged torture acts, the final ruling ended up being based on the reports from forensic experts, which were not founded on a physical examination of Cipriano, but rather on photographs that had been published years earlier by Expresso, and whose authenticity is still questioned.

Three inspectors, Leonel Marques, Pereira Cristovao and Paulo Marques Bom, were all acquitted and cleared of torture.

Senor Amaral was cleared of a charge of failing to report a crime but found guilty of perjury because he upheld, under oath the version that he had been given by his subordinates, that Cipriano had been injured when she tried to commit suicide.  This was considered to be a false testimony because the facts that Sr Amaral testified to, could not be proved.  His defence was that he could not have given another version of the facts because this was what the inspectors who witnessed the episode, reported to him.

António Nunes Cardoso's report merely described the manner in which Cipriano fell on the stairs. Upon considering that she had been beaten by someone, this automatically removed the value of Cardoso's report.  He was found guilty of falsifying documents and given a two-and-a-half year suspended jail sentence.

The jurors and the collective of judges at the Court of Faro considered that Cipriano's deposition had "no credibility". According to judge Henrique Pavão, she changed her version several times and lightly accused persons of aggressing her, based on a list of names that she carried into the court room. "She lied about the identification of the aggressors and she lied about other crucial aspects," the judge mentioned.

Concerning the photographs that were taken of Leonor, which were included in the process, the collective considered that they were "of weak quality" and that therefore, "it was not possible to conclude safely about what really happened".

Which leads us onto the recent news that Cipriano's lawyer, Marcos Aragão Correia and Pedro Antonio, president of ACED will be tried in early February for the alleged defamation of Goncalo Amaral. At issue is a document dated 8th April 2008 and entitled “Report on Torture Leonor Cipriano”. The section below appears to be the offending passage...

"At the request of prosecutors, Leonor Cipriano tried to identify the inspectors that tortured her. In her mind, she was transported to Evora in 2006 to try to recognize some of the torturers from the six inspectors. Unfortunately, given the lapse of time, and with a bag over her head many times when attacked, and the possibility of not being on-site recognition of all offenders, Leonor was only able to say with absolute certainty, Gonçalo Amaral, the then coordinator of the DIC of Portimão, was present during interrogation, watching the torture with ease, because every time she uncovered her eyes and was beaten, he was there, walking from one side to another, without ever attempting to stop the torture carried out by his subordinates."
Marcos Aragão Correia

Senor Amaral is suing each arguido for 3000. A rather low sum, you may say... however we all know that taking such action in Portugal is all about writing the wrongs and not for monetary gain. Perhaps the reason that the McCanns never sued the Portuguese press, yet settled out of court with the British media for later printing the very same newspaper reports.  Remind me just who the money-grubbers are...