Below is a letter sent by Tony Bennett of the Madeleine Foundation to Bates, Wells and Braithwaite, the solicitors for the McCanns regarding the fake contact details on the official Find Madeleine website.
Should anyone wish to contact them with information then they will find nothing works - except the Paypal donation button.
The Madeleine Foundation
Combating child neglect
66 Chippingfield HARLOW
Tel: 01279 635789
Bates Wells & Braithwaite Monday 11 May 2009
2-6 Cannon Street
Attn: Ms Rosamund McCarthy, Solicitor to Dr Gerald McCann and Dr Kate McCann. Sent by e-mail and hard copy
re: Find Madeleine website: Ineffective link for members of the public wishing to supply information to the McCanns’ private investigators
We write to you as Solicitors for the Find Madeleine Trust. You will be aware that we have corresponded with you before, raising many issues about the operation of the Trust.
It has come to our attention that, until the last few days, the website http://www.findmadeleine.com has been configured in such a way that it appears to have prevented the gathering of intelligence from members of the public about the possible whereabouts of Madeleine McCann. The configuration directly threatens two of the major objectives of Madeleine's fund, namely: 1) "To secure the safe return to her family of Madeleine McCann" and 2) "To procure that Madeleine's abduction is thoroughly investigated”. If there was any major fault in that configuration, it must therefore be treated very seriously.
It appears that similar configurations have also been identified on the 'sister' websites to http://www.findmadeleine.com - namely, http://www.bringmadeleinehome.com and http://www.procuremadeleine.com.pt.
At the time of writing, whilst we are aware that some changes have been made to the website recently, the errors are still present on http://www.bringmadeleinehome.com. Any mis-configurations will be documented through publicly accessible internet archives.
Dealing mainly with the http://www.findmadeleine.com site, it appears from reports we have received from several technical experts that major corrective work took place on the website on 2 and 3 May. However, it is still far from certain that the Find Madeleine website can in fact receive anonymous information.
It is clear from the technical experts who have been in touch with us that people wishing to provide new and vital clues who clicked on the very prominent link labelled "firstname.lastname@example.org" (which is presented at the top of each page on the http://www.findmadeleine.com website) will have, in fact, sent an email to an address "email@example.com".
Enquiries by a number of people have concluded that the e-mail addresses associated with the domain madeleine.com are in no way connected to the McCanns, the Fund or any of their agents and consequently any information sent to those addresses will have, effectively, disappeared into a ‘black hole’, at least so far as the investigation is concerned.
In addition to the e-mail configuration error, there has also been a question mark about the integrity of the anonymous information submission form on the 'contact_us' page. It appears that the Captcha device (the collection of partially scrambled letters that is used to verify that a human, rather than a computer, has submitted the information) was not operating correctly. This would be very likely to prevent potentially useful information reaching you. In any case, any confusion that might deter the offering of genuine information is surely unacceptable.
In addition, .the bringmadeleinehome site still has a form that does not work and a ‘fake’ Captcha anti-spam device. The two addresses, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, return error messages that the address is unresolvable. That means those addresses do not exist. If you were a person who really did have information, and you didn't want to go to the police, you would get a message back, telling you your e-mail has been rejected. That is bound to deter potential informants.
At present, the two main sites run by the Find Madeleine Fund seem to capture string information from their forms, but there continues to be no verification or error handling at all on this form. It's perfectly possible to send them a completely blank form. You get no error message telling you that you haven't filled in a field correctly. That suggests that despite recent changes made to the website, the
‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ address remains, in essence, a fake.
The McCanns and their chief public relations spokesman Mr Clarence Mitchell have repeatedly stressed that one, single communication, from an anonymous source or otherwise, could be all that is needed to secure the safe return of Madeleine to her parents. It follows therefore that since people were invited by the McCanns to send potentially useful information via this link, that link needs to be 100% reliable.
In case you are in any doubt that the configuration of your website has indeed been unable to accept anonymous information, here are comments we have received about your website from a range of technical experts:
· I tried leaving some information, but nothing happened, I was just told to input the code. It shows that it is fixed/a picture and NOT a self-refreshing code
· A message should be sent to Leicestershire Police that there is no longer a reason for them to link to the page as it is not possible to supply anonymous information
· I cannot believe that it is simple incompetence, surely if someone constructs a web page the very first thing they do is try it out?
· I remain convinced that this is an important discovery, not just a minor cockup in the web site code
· I have just checked both the British and the Portugese websites and they both look similar. They have an input command for the captcha text but not for the message window so they are both not set up for sending a message back
· This is unforgivable. A website promoted on all their posters, and across the media as being where new information can be left doesn't work...unforgivable.
· http://www.madeleine.com is registered to a guy called James Marciano in New Jersey
· here is the MX record for http://www.madeleine.com:
fenzi are based in California and my guess is that the domain name itself is 'parked' pending a good cash offer. So the title of this thread is 100% correct: ‘Contact us’…IS A FAKE. Let me spell it out. Clicking on the email link email@example.com in the pink banner at the top right of the page will NOT send critical information to the McCanns. It will create an email that will go to some web development agency in California.
In summary, even if, since the work done on your website on 2 and 3 May, the website is able now to receive such information, it is clear that there has been a wholesale failure of the previous mis-configuration to allow useful information to be received and that this has possibly persisted for many months.
If there is even a possibility that any single clue from a member of the public has been lost, what action does the Fund propose to take to ensure that that information is finally captured? Given the scale and significance of this failure, we suggest that the McCanns or their chief P.R. spokesman should appear on television to acknowledge the mistake and appeal for information to be re-submitted.
Accountability for the choice of all service providers used by the Fund for helping to find the whereabouts of Madeleine McCann lies with the Fund Directors and yourselves as the Solicitors advising them. Having observed the high calibre of litigation and extradition lawyers engaged by the fund, an outside observer might view the Fund’s choice of web-designer to be disproportionately inexperienced, if it is the web-designer's inability, carelessness or negligence that is responsible for the mis-configuration.
We await hearing what action you propose to take.
Discussion at the 3 arguidos: Contact us - a fake!