Saturday

20/3/09-TV1: Maddie: 60 reasons for 'not being' kidnapped

By Tony Bennett

THE FULL INTERVIEW, WHICH WAS CARRIED OUT BY E-MAIL:

1 - When did Maddie's disappearance first interest you and why?

REPLY: Right from the word 'go', I thought there was something strange about the case. For a start, within the first few days I heard three different versions of how often the McCanns and their friends were checking their children whilst wining and dining - every hour, every half-hour, every 15 minutes.

Further, I couldn't understand how any couple could leave three children aged under four alone whilst having fun with friends 100 metres way. There are so many risks for children of leaving them alone like this.

Then I found it puzzling that having lost one child, they were quite happy to leave their twins in the nursery all day while they spent the day campaigning and arranging press calls and photo opportunities. Surely, I thought, if you had lost one precious child, you would stick like glue to the two children you had left?

Their body language definitely provided another clue for me. Like many others, I could see no real signs of distress. Their television appearances seemed 'staged'. The whole business of jet-setting off to see the Pope and visit the White House seemed to me to be more about public relations than searching for Madeleine.

When we began to hear of cadaver dogs scenting a corpse in the McCanns' apartment and their hired car, and the possibility of blood found in these locations being Madeleine's, I began to take a serious interest in the case.

After the McCanns were made arguidos, and we heard reports of Dr Kate McCann refusing to answer the questions the police put to her, I became increasingly doubtful that this was a case of abduction, as we were being urged to believe. I then began to research the case much more thoroughly.

There appeared to be a great deal of evidence that Madeleine had died and the parents had hidden the body. It was no surprise to me when Goncalo Amaral, the original senior detective in the case, stated publicly his view that Madeleine McCann had died in the McCanns' apartment, probably as the result of an accident.

2 - You tried to prosecute the McCann couple in the United Kingdom and failed. Do you believe one day they will face a trial?

REPLY: As the Portuguese judicial authorities and prosecutor have announced, the investigation into Madeleine's 'disappearance' or death will only continue if they receive new evidence. I personally think that one day that new evidence will appear, sufficient to make it clear what really happened to Madeleine McCann. But it may be a long time coming.

3 - If this happened in the UK do you think the parents would be accused? And if they were a foreign couple in the UK?

REPLY: I think there was a robust, thorough investigation into this case before Goncalo Amaral was removed from the investigation on 2 October 2007, the same as there would have been in the U.K., whether the couple were British or foreign.

I believe the removal of Snr Amaral from the investigation was political, with the British government playing a role in his removal, as he outlines in his book 'A Verdada de Mentira'. My researches suggest that after Amaral was removed, the investigation lost momentum; it was no longer pursued with the same vigour.

4 - Why did you decide to write this book?

REPLY: There were so many lines of evidence that pointed away from Madeleine having been abducted. I found they were being discussed on the internet, but not in British newspapers and media, who seemed to be afraid to criticise the McCanns at all - after they, their friends and Robert Murat collected some 2 million euros in libel damages. I wanted my fellow citizens here in the U.K. to know just how weak the evidence for abduction really is.

5 - What do you expect to achieve giving the MPs the booklet?

REPLY: A British girl aged three has disappeared without trace, and may be presumed dead. No-one has been charged in connection with her disappearance, so the case has not come before a court. If such circumstances occurred in the U.K., we would by now have had a Coroner's Inquest into her disappearance. That is, a special form of judicial enquiry where all relevant witnesses give evidence about what happened.

I believe such an enquiry - in Portugal - would provide the very best way of getting to the truth about Madeleine McCann's disappearance. Our letter asks MPs to demand that our Foreign Secretary seek the co-operation of the Portuguese authorities to hold such a special judicial enquiry into when, why and how she 'disappeared'.

6 - Are you still waiting for an inquest? Do you think it will be possible?

REPLY: I remain hopeful that an inquest will be held in Portugal. I think it is what Madeleine herself is entitled to. Whatever happened to Madeleine was a terrible tragedy. We need to learn the right lessons from it, and if no-one is going to be charged, the holding of a judicial inquiry similar to the Coroner's Inquest in the U.K. would be the best way of learning those lessons.

7 - Do you think Portuguese police failed because they didn't treat the McCanns as suspects in the first days? (They were never under surveillance).

REPLY: I do not know how early the Portuguese police suspected the McCanns of involvement in Madeleine's disappearance. In the introduction to my book, I point out that in nearly every case where a very young child is reported as having been kidnapped from inside their home, it turns out later that the child is dead, due to the neglect, negligence or deliberate act of a family member. Faced with those statistics, any police force anywhere in the world confronted with a claim that an infant has been stolen from inside a house must begin by suspecting the parents of involvement.

8 - Do you think it was a mistake sending the material recovered from the apartment to a British laboratory?

REPLY: Not necessarily. If Portugal didn't have the resources itself, it was right to ask the U.K. police to help, for example by bringing in the highly trained sniffer dogs and using the resources of the British forensics laboratories. It might however have been better to have sent the low copy DNA samples to the Forensic Institute in Rijswijk in the Netherlands, who are world famous for low copy DNA analyses.

There are serious questions now being raised about whether the Forensic Science Service (FSS), which is wholly government owned, were persuaded by the government to modify their forensic findings. The FSS's reputation and credibilty has been seriously damaged in recent years. If it could ever be demonstrated that government influence was successfully brought to bear in this case, the FSS's fragile credibilty would surely be destroyed forever.

9 - You've sent a petition to the government asking for a change in the law. You call it Madeleine's Law. What does it mean? Have you had any answer about it?

REPLY: We believe that one of the main lessons from the Madeleine McCann case is: "Never leave young children on their own" - and that is what we call 'Madeleine's Law'. We started a petition on the Prime Minister's website to make it a criminal offence in the U.K. to leave children under 12 on their own, without reasonable excuse.

We gained 740 signatures. The government by law must reply to any petition which gains 200 or more signatures. We are waiting for their response. Too many young children in the U.K. are left in the house on their own, vulnerable to many risks. We need to tackle this growing problem.

10 - Have you read the book of the Portuguese investigator Gonçalo Amaral?

REPLY: I have read a summary of it on the internet.

11- How is it possible, for two doctors, even possibly being connected to the governing party in Parliament, to have so much power? You believe the UK government had influence in the investigation. In what way?

REPLY: That is a big subject, which I discuss in my book. We know on the record, for example, that in May 2007, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown spoke to the McCanns many times and leaned on the Portuguese police to issue a description of an abductor based solely on the claims of one of the McCanns' frineds to have seen an abductor.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer is supposed to help look after the British economy. Why was he taking such a close personal interest in the case?

We also regard it as highly significant that within days of Madeleine McCann disappearing, the government sent the head of its Media Monitoring Unit, Mr Clarence Mitchell, to oversee the McCanns' public relations. Mitchell himself once boasted: "I was a special adviser to Tony Blair and the Head of the government's Media Monitoring Unit. Forty people work there, and their function is to control whatcomes out in the media".

If this was just about looking for an abducted young girl, why was it necessary to send out, almost immediately, the person who headed the government's propaganda machine? And why did Gordon Brown, then Prime Minister, make a special visit to Leicestershire Police just three days after the McCanns were made arguido and arguida?

12 - Do you think the McCann's will present charge against you because of the booklet?

REPLY: I suppose it's a possiblity. But back on 27 October, I wrote to the McCanns, to three of their sets of lawyers, and to Mr Mitchell, outlining the proposed contents of my book. I offered to change anything in the book if they could demonstrate to me that any statement I made in the book was untrue. Up to now, none of them have replied.

13 - You run a website called Madeleine Foundation. You ask people for contribution to help in the mission of finding the truth. Can you tell how much you collected so far and how it was spent?

REPLY: No problem.

Income so far:

Subscriptions £330

Donations £1,335

Booklet Sales £4,180

TOTAL INCOME: £5,845

Expenses so far:

Website fees £230

Printing of booklets £3,065

Postage and stationery £1,845

Leaflet about Mr Mitchell £180

TOTAL EXPENSES: £5,320

Our current balance is £525, which we have earmarked for publishing a second edition of our booklet.

=========

ENDS

P.S. Three members of 3As helped me with the draft of these replies and I would like to publicly thank them for their valuable help

_________________
The truth is eternal. A lie lasts only until the truth is discovered.
A Verdada de Mentira = The Truth about a Lie
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Source: 20/3/09-TV1: Maddie: 60 reasons for 'not being' kidnapped
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