Karen Matthews v. Kate McCann: Imperfect comparisons

By Jeremy Young

I notice the conviction of Karen Matthews has once more thrown up the issue of the McCanns.

For instance Michael White in the Gdaiudrn plays the Oliver Curry card, which lies at the heart of 'L'iberal thinking, and uses a letter to the newspaper as the basis of his case:

"Could I suggest that all those many journalists who failed to see through the lies and evasions of Karen Matthews just pause and think that social workers responsible for child protection do have to make similar evaluations regularly in their work. We should support them more and condemn them less.
Richard Moore Bletchley, Buckinghamshire"

Which is a nice arguement in favour of social workers and will do much to swell the bosoms of social workers reading the letters page. But does rather miss the point.

It is not the job of journalists to see through the 'lies and evasions' of anyone, it is their duty to produce stories. Just as social workers do not make decisions, or indeed conduct interviews, on a daily basis according to the timescale of news programs and editors.

And it also misses that Kirklees council social workers appear to have made a decision to take two of Karen Matthews children off the at risk regiter before they recieved a report that stated that the family would require ongoing support and supervison - and it would seem that when they did recieve this report they then did not act to place the children back on the register, or to conduct monitoring and supervision.

Michael White takes his usual snooty tone:

"One outraged neighbour told reporters she had complained to council officials as often as three times in six years. Well, well, duty done."

obscuring the reality of dealing with the authorities for vast sections of the population, and the way in which that information is processed and ignored.

In fact the article is less about Karen Matthews and more about Michael White's obsession with attacking the 'right wing' media, and the coarsenss of celebrity culture as personified by Max Clifford - something of an irony given the Gaiurdan's latest offering of celebrity designed wrapping paper.

I am not saying I disagree with White entirely, not least about his point that:

"Why does it matter to me? It's not my problem. Actually, no: Karen Matthews is our problem, all of us."

which provoked the usual brainless response of 'not me gov' accompanied by ramblings about not taking benefits - and choosing to ignore the way in which the economy has been bent and twisted to make mortgages cheaper and money valueless, which is in a very real sense a form of benefits. And also ignoring the current hard line debate about scroungers and incapacity, which willfully ignores the parrallel debate about surgery opening hours and access to medical services, which in a very real sense lies at the heart of why so many people are on incapacity benefits, especially for reasons of mental health, and not on mortgage benefits.

But it is the comment that follows which undercuts White's arguement:

"Plenty of them deserve at least some of the mud thrown at them some of the time – but not as much as they get and not from a pack that can't tell a Karen Matthews from a Kate McCann."

Hold on there Michael. The reason Karen Matthews switched from being a distraught mother to an evil monster (though actually a lot of the coverage had already branded her so - well at the very least her and the people of Dewsbury were - and still are - portrayed as sub-human proto ancestors of the Oliver Curry's LSE fantasy of twisted humanity) was because Donovan blew the whistle on her after Shannon was found. And, at the risk of being sued, there is nothing to say that a similar thing might not happen if Madeliene McCann is found alive and well. And in fact to paint Kate McCann as the antithesis of Karen Matthews (certainly before the conclusion of the case) is to expose the very class prejudice Mr White mocks in his statement:

"Class is always relevant, but only in mitigation:"

Actually that reminds me - and I realise that I haven't mentioned the McCanns in ages - in part because there is nothing to really say since they silenced the press with libel actions, leaving the only 'news' about spurious sightings.

Which reminds me, am I the only one that finds it curious that the British police were not subjected to the same level of approbrium as their Portugese counterparts when it emerged that the forensic stuff which placed the McCanns in the frame was exposed as invalid. After all it would seem that it was the British police who where behind that whole avenue of investigtion?


I notice Gazeta Digital has a piece about the phone records released by the Portugese investigators. It's interesting, since this comparison between Matthews and the McCanns has been brought up, to to postulate what would have been reported if it was discovered that Karen Matthews had deleted phone records on the night of Shannon's disappearance.

It is also interesting to note, given the way in which so much of the media choose to villify the internet ghouls who questioned the demenour and body language of the McCanns, that time and again the police on last night's Panorama stated that they were supiscious of Karen Matthews because her bearing did not match that of a worried parent.

Not to mention that the detectives stated that they believed Shannon was dead, which was again somthing that was declared heresy and deeply offensive in the Madeleine McCann investigation.

But of course Post Hoc Rationalisation comes into play here.

Just as it does with Richard Moore of Bletchley - who I presume would be writing a different letter if it had turned out that Shannon Matthews had been kidnapped and murdered by a predatory peadophile.
Source: Jeremy Young

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