Why the Home Office is taking so long to answer 12 simple FOI questions about Madeleine McCann - by the Home Office
From: Lister Ian (IMS)
Subject: RE: Home Office FoI request CR14428 PLUS FOUR MORE FOI QUESTIONS and COMPLAINT
To: "ANTHONY BENNETT"
Date: Tuesday, 22 June, 2010, 14:03
Dear Mr. Bennett,
Thank you for your email of the 17th June 2010 about your ongoing request under the Freedom of Information Act that we received on the 22nd March 2010, in which you asked the twelve questions which you have detailed below.
I would like to apologise again for the amount of time it has taken to provide a substantive answer to your request. I appreciate that the fact that your request is still ongoing might appear to indicate that we are deliberately delaying our response to you or that we are trying to obfuscate the matter. I would like to reassure you that this is not the case.
The questions that you have asked relate to an investigation into the disappearance of a missing child; an investigation that is still ongoing within the UK at this time, as I am sure you are aware. Whilst your questions ask for the release of simple facts, as you put it, we must be extremely careful that our answers to those questions and the release of any information that we may or may not hold, does not prejudice this investigation, any relations between UK and Portuguese authorities or would be otherwise prejudicial to the effect conduct of public affairs.
I acknowledge that this matter is of significant interest to a large number of people and that there is great deal of ongoing speculation about the stage of investigation. As you have said, there is huge public interest in ascertaining what happen to Madeleine McCann. However, the ‘public interest’ that we consider in conjunction with the Freedom of Information Act, is not the same as what might be of interest to public, or what they might find interesting. In carrying out a Public Interest Test we consider the greater good or benefit to the community as a whole if the information is released or not. The ‘right to know’ that is provided by the FoI Act must be balanced against the need to enable effective government and to serve the best interests of the public.
Furthermore, the FoI Act is ‘applicant blind’. This means that we cannot, and do not, ask about the motives of anyone who asks for information. In providing a response to one person, we are expressing a willingness to provide the same response to anyone, including those who might, in some circumstances, represent a threat to the UK. In this instance, we must also consider whether or not our answers to your questions could be used by some members of the public to prejudice the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
We have to balance, on one hand, the inherent public interest in the Home Office being open and accountable whilst, on the other hand, how the public interest would be served by us providing answers that could prejudice these investigations or be otherwise detrimental to the work of the police, the government and the McCann family in their efforts to locate Madeleine. Would it be in the best interest of the public for the Home Office to be seen as releasing information that might prejudice the investigation? Probably not. Would it be in the public interest for the Home Office to release information that could potentially jeopardise relationships between the United Kingdom and policing authorities with which cooperate around the world? Would these authorities be willing to work with us in the future if we released information that potentially prejudices an ongoing investigation? The answer to both is no. Would it be in the public interest to release information that could help Madeleine’s captor evade detection and arrest? Most certainly not.
These are some of the considerations we are currently considering. Simply because the questions are direct and would only require simple answers, does not mean that potential prejudicial effects of providing those answers would not be far reaching. Whilst we do not doubt that, as a concerned member of the public, you are interested in ascertaining what information the Home Office holds on this matter, we must consider the possibility that some individuals may use this information to their advantage and not for the benefit of the community as a whole.
I would therefore like to apologise once again for the time it is taking us to provide you a response to your questions. Please be assured that this is because the subject matter is extremely sensitive and not because we are trying to obfuscate the matter or be deliberately awkward. Please also be assured that I am aware that we have exceeded the twenty working day deadline provided under s.10(1) of the Act and that, despite legitimately extending this deadline under s.10(3) of the Act, we have also exceed the forty working day guideline provided by the Information Commission. The Home Office does aim to provide a prompt response to all FoI requests but, in some cases, where the information is particularly sensitive, we do need to take some extra time to make sure we have considered all the aspects relevant to that case.
In regards to the four new questions which you have asked us to consider, these will need to be treated as a separate request. This is because a valid FoI request under s.8 of the FoI Act only concerns information that was held at the time a request was received. Because your new questions concern information that might have been recorded since your original request was received, we will need to consider it separately. In light of this, I would be grateful if you can confirm that you would like us to answer these questions separately.
Thank you again for your interest in the Home Office and for your patience in this matter. If you have any more questions about the handling of your request, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will be happy to help.
Information Access Consultant
Information Access Team
Tel: 020 7035 6065
Comments from a forum:
"Very interesting, so it is still an ongoing investigation in the UK? So why are the McCanns asking for the case to be re-opened, and having meetings with Alan Johnson? Surely if the UK is still investigating, and they must have the co-operation of the Portuguese police why all the hoo ha about noone looking for Madeleine?? Confusing or what?? The papers should have a copy of this letter and ask the question, why are the McCanns saying no police force is looking for Madeleine, and they have to employ their own private detectives."
"I am sure this will upset some people who wanted to believe there was no ongoing investigation going on so it is good to see this confirmed here."
Tony Bennett's response to the Home Office can be seen here.
30 Scots sex beasts on the run abroad News of the World (Scottish)
COPS ADMITS WHEREABOUTS OF MANY ARE UNKNOWN
By Jacqueline McGhie
Cops admit the whereabouts of many of the pervs - including paedophiles and rapists - are "unknown".
Yet all of them have been convicted of sex crimes here.
And last night the shocking figures were BLASTED by campaigning mum Margaret Ann Cummings, 33.
Speaking almost six years after her eight-year-old son Mark was murdered by evil Stuart Leggate, 34, she asked: "Why should 30 sex offenders, who committed crimes in Scotland be free to go where they please? They are dangerous and manipulative men.
"It is hard enough to track the monsters who live here, never mind when they have scattered abroad."
News of the sickos' exodus comes after it emerged last week that a killer paedophile was in Portugal in 2007 when three-year-old tot Madeleine McCann was snatched.
Twisted Charles O'Neil, 47, has refused to meet detectives working for Maddie's parents Kate and Gerry McCann.
Another Scots beast on the run after refusing to meet with official detectives who were working on his daughter's case. The McCanns refused to answer police questions or take part in a police reconstruction choosing, instead, to get out of
Related: The Gaspar's Statements
“One night, when all the adults, that is, from those couples I have mentioned above, were all sitting around on a patio outside the house where we were all staying. We had been eating and drinking ‘Berbers’.
I was sitting between Gerry and Dave and I think both were talking about Madeleine. I can’t remember the conversation in its entirety, but they seemed to be discussing a particular scenario. I remember Dave saying to Gerry something about ‘she’, meaning Madeleine, ‘would do this’.
“While he mentioned the word ‘this’, Dave was doing the action of sucking one of his fingers, pushing it in and out of his mouth, while with his other hand he was doing a circle around his nipple, with a circular movement around his clothes. This was done in a provocative way. There seemed to be an explicit insinuation about what he was saying and doing. I remember being shocked by that. I always felt it was something very weird and that it was not something anyone should say or do. I looked at Gerry, and also at Dave, to gauge their reactions.
“I looked around as if saying: “Did someone else hear that, or was it just me?”.
read full statements here: http://thegaspersstatement.blogspot.com/
Conference members discussed a number of topics.
A very detailed presentation was given by a visitor who had prepared a paper dealing with a number of aspects concerning the DNA samples analysed by various laboratories.
He also dealt with the work of cadaver dogs in detail, pointing out that Eddie was specifically trained and used to find the scent of a cadaver, not blood. Keela was there to find the blood, and of course did so in the very same location where Eddie alerted strongly to the odour of a corpse.
A further presentation examined the astonishing fact that not a trace of Madeleine McCann’s DNA could be found anywhere in Apartment 5A, nor on her hairbrush, toothbrush, clothes etc. This necessitated the police to go hunting for some of Madeleine’s DNA weeks later in Rothley, where they found a stain on a pillow case which matched a sample of blood provided, though the precise source of that blood sample has not been disclosed by the Portuguese police. The absence of Madeleine’s DNA in Praia da Luz was a fact which called for very close attention and the meeting discussed a number of alternative explanations.
We hope with the author’s permission to publish these articles in due course.
The recent rebuttal by ‘Chinagirl’ of our leaflet on Goncalo Amaral was discussed and we agreed to provide a response on behalf of The Foundation.
The role of Brian Kennedy in supporting the McCanns was much discussed, including an examination of his activity in the so-called ‘Kennedy triangle’ of (a) Wilmslow, (b) Knutsford and (c) Swettenham, near Crewe. These are, respectively, the locations of (a) his Latium Empire, (b) the secluded house in a leafy Knutsford suburb which is the official headquarters of the McCann private investigation operation, and (c) his family home at Swettenham Hall. His role in interfering with witnesses was discussed, including claims made in an Evening Standard article last year that this interference had been so serious that some witnesses were frightened into not making statements to the police. It was the opinion of some at the meeting that since this involved the search for a British missing girl and that he may have actively prevented witnesses from giving relevant facts to the police, it may be a criminal matter and should be reported as such by British police for them to investigate.
Local newspaper cuttings were viewed which clearly showed that Brian Kennedy had been involved in setting up an operation to help the McCanns long before his involvement was first publicly admitted on 16 September 2007. Prior to then, of course, he had appointed his in-house lawyer Edward Smethurst as ‘the McCanns’ co-ordinating lawyer’.
New material about former Detective Chief Inspector Dave Edgar was discussed, and as he has had such a prominent role in the past 12 months in the Madeleine McCann saga, we thought we should add a feature article about him to our website as soon as possible.
His activities have included the now notorious claims that he was ‘convinced’ that Madeleine was being held in a ‘prison lair’ in the ‘lawless hills’ around Praia da Luz and that the Victoria Beckham-lookalike from Australia was a ‘strong lead’. This despite the fact that the information about this woman had come from a British banker who had been drinking in various Barcelona bars until 2am, when he met her, and that it had taken him over two years of ‘agonising’ before going, of course, straight to the McCann investigation team with his ‘information’ instead of to official police sources. A course of action of which Leicestershire Constabulary would no doubt approve since their website encourages the public to contact Dave Edgar and not the official police.
A leaflet distribution of the Goncalo Amaral leaflet took place on Saturday evening in nearby shopping centres, with many leaflets handed in to the owners and staff of restaurants, pubs and fast food outlets.
One young assistant at a Co-op shop was given a leaflet and asked to pass it to his manager. When we returned 10 minutes later to stock up on drinks for the evening, he was seen carefully reading page 3 of the leaflet on the till counter.
After leaving one pub, one of our leafleters was chased down the street by a pub drinker. Clearly a McCann-sceptic and not a McCann-believer, he asked for, and was given, a dozen extra leaflets to hand out to his mates.
Around 300 leaflets were distributed during the evening, and many more taken away by conference guests to hand out in their local areas.
The identity of ‘muratfan’ was discussed, together with the additional query as to whether the Ian West of Norwich identified as ‘muratfan’ was also the Ian West, photographer, also based in Norwich, who until October last year had a website. Shortly after there was speculation last September about whether these were one and the same, Ian West the photographer posted his last-ever message, the following month (October) on ‘Twitter’.
His intriguing message read simply:
‘everything is changing’
P.S. If Ian West the photographer can substantiate that he is not the ‘muratfan’ Ian West, I’ll be happy to acknowledge that and also withdraw this posting.
By Tony Bennett
"We reproduce this exchange of correspondence by permission of the ex-police officer who wrote to Ms Lazzeri of 'The Sun', as it sheds light on the ignorance of some leading journalists in the McCann case, notably, in this instance, her obvious blunder about the shutters. The Madeleine Foundation does not accuse the McCanns of lying".
Sent: 25 May 2010 17:37
To: Antonella Lazzeri
Subject: Article today, Tues 25 May
Dear Ms Lazzeri,
Do you get paid to write this sort of thing?
Quite apart from the overall nonsense value of it, you have included in it at least three pairs of contradictory statements.
And you are also clearly not familiar with the course of the investigation over the last few years.
It is very sad to see professional journalists trotting out this nonsense and making easier for the McCanns, who clearly DO know what happened to Madeleine that night, to get away with what they have done. You are diverting the attention of the public from the facts in the case.
Unless you are paid a lot of money, you should feel ashamed.
Subject: RE: Article today, Tues 25 May
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 11:18:46 +0100
Considering your previous profession I find your comments very strange. The McCanns had NOTHING to do with their daughter's abduction. For God's sake leave them alone and no I don't get paid extra for writing about them.
Sent: 15 June 2010 12:01
To: Lazzeri, Antonella
Subject: RE: Article today, Tues 25 May
Thank you for your reply.
The issue is whether Madeleine was abducted at all.
There is simply NO evidence of abduction. Merely for Mrs McCann to say she "knew at once" is not sufficient.
They lied about the broken shutters and the open window.
They lied about cuddle-cat being on a high shelf, they lied about the half hourly checks, they have lied repeatedly and continuously, but no journalist has ever seen fit to tackle them or the rest of the Tapas7 about the obvious contradictions in their stories.
Obviously journalists now dare not seek the truth, for fear of a writ from Carter-Ruck. Which for the freedom of the British press is even more sad than the accidental death of a small girl in her parent's apartment in Portugal.
The GMC left Dr Harold Shipman alone for a long time.
The police left the Wests alone for many years.
The Catholic Church left paedophile priests alone for generations.
I am afraid I do not find that remark reassuring from someone in your profession.
Subject: RE: Article today, Tues 25 May
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2010 12:09:35 +0100
They never said cuddle cat was on a high shelf, they always said it was on the bed where it had been when Madeleine was there, it is not said in any of their interviews that the cat had been moved. That was a mistake made by a journalist which was then picked up and copied - this is my point a lot of misinformation has been put around through mistakes.
I don't know what you mean about the shutters and lying - the shutter was broken, two men from the resort came and fixed them the day before Madeleine went, if you look at the police files you will see their names and a copy of the maintenance report. As for the open window, Kate said it was open I don't know why you think she was lying. As for the half hourly visits, they have been verified by the police through witnesses at the Tapas Bar. As for the Tapas 7 - there may be slight differences between them, that would be expected, I would find it more suspicious if they all tallied completely.
I don't know if you recently saw a TV series in which eye witness reports were tested, the differences between what people saw and then recalled was amazing.
There is absolutely no evidence that Madeleine came to any harm in the flat, Britain's foremost criminologist who I interviewed said it was completely impossible for so many people to have covered up Madeleine's death and lied about the abduction and to have kept it up for so long.
I feel very sorry for the McCanns to have lost a child is terrible, to then have such horrible, vile things put about them on the internet is just not human. As for myself, I am not paid by them, or Clarence Mitchell or anyone else apart from my newspaper.
Thank you for your reply. I do not wish to divert you from your next assignment, and you may wish to let this drop. However,
Even if the shutters were repaired the previous day, as you insist, it follows that they were clearly NOT ‘jemmied open’ on the night in question, as the McCanns originally reported.
Please remember that it was only when the falsehood of that claim was laid bare the following morning, by the police and the forensic scientists, that they came up with the story of having left the patio doors unlocked. A story which for most people is actually even less convincing.
Do you routinely, on holiday, leave your room or apartment unlocked with your passports, money, credit cards, mobile phone, jewellery, lap top computers, camera, video, plane tickets or check in details, sports equipment, and assorted extremely young children inside ?
I know the answer. You do not.
And nor did they. Even though they now have to insist that they did exactly that for six nights in a row.
And if the patio doors had been left unlocked, why do the McCanns and their Tapas friends also get confused as to whether they entered by the front door or the patio doors when they did the alleged 30 minute checks. It is not difficult to remember which door you went in. To get in by the front door they would have needed a key, which would have had to be have been handed over to the person making the next alleged check.
You say there is no evidence that Madeleine came to harm in the flat. The dogs marked for both blood and cadaverine, not only there, but in other places suggestive of concealment and subsequent disposal of a body. The McCann's, and Clarence Mitchell’s, excuses for the findings of the dogs are just risible.
Sorry, but speaking as an ex-cop it just doesn’t hang together. Which is why I retain an interest. The reports from the private detectives 'convinced ' that she is being held in a "hellish lair" within 10 miles, and / or that she was spirited away to Australia in a luxury yacht by a Victoria Beckham lookalike in Barcelona are sadly beyond comedy and only serve to emphasise how desperate they have become to prevent people asking the simple questions.
I have no idea what the truth is.
All I know is that it is evident that they have not told the whole truth about what happened.
I know you have other assignments, and will not be offended if you wish to bring this correspondence to an end.
Posted on our forum and also on Missing Madeleine forum
Related: Journalism in the Age of McCann
GONCALO AMARAL DAY, plus an 'Awareness Day', plus a new leaflet, plus a new booklet, plus a new website, plus a House of Commons lobby
The Goncalo Amaral Support Project
We write to bring to your notice our new campaign, titled ‘The Goncalo Amaral Support Project’, or G.A.S.P. for short. The campaign includes the establishment of a national Goncalo Amaral Day, and awareness day in support of Mr Amaral, leaflets, a new website, and even a new booklet about him.
Why is G.A.S.P. needed?
Before giving you the details, why are we setting up a new campaign on behalf of Mr Amaral? Our reasons include:
· The fact that without his book, A Verdade da Mentira (‘The Truth About A Lie’) there is much important information surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann that otherwise we would not know
· The enormous and sustained pressure that has been put on him by the following legal events
a) his prosecution and wrongful conviction (currently the subject of an appeal) for allegedly filing a false report in a criminal matter. He had earlier been accused of conspiring to torture Leonor Cipriano into making a false confession, but that charge was thrown out
b) the McCanns successfully banning his book from sale in Portugal and, after the book had been openly sold for a year, suing Mr Amaral for alleged libel, claiming £1 million
c) a further threatened prosecution of him for allegedly forcing a false confession out of Leandro da Silva, Leonor Cipriano’s partner
d) serious and unaccountable delays in arranging hearings in each of the above cases, causing Mr Amaral significant extra expense
e) a serious and continuing delay in arranging a hearing of his appeal against conviction
· The fact that Madeleine McCann is a British girl. He has
sacrificed his career in order to try to bring the world the
truth about what really happened to Madeleine McCann. We in
Britain should appreciate his efforts to bring justice for a
British girl and support him in his efforts against the
determined campaign of his opponents in Britain and Portugal
to silence him.
Goncalo Amaral Day
We have decided to declare 3 October each year as ‘Goncalo Amaral Day’, in honour of a man who has put the pursuit of truth above his personal and career interests. We have chosen 3 October because this was the day in 2007 when the powers-that-be in Portugal removed him, for reasons that are yet to be made fully clear, from his role as the senior investigating officer into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. It also happens to be his birthday.
We hope this will become recognised here and elsewhere as a day when we can pay tribute to and support Mr Amaral in any way that we can. This year we plan a lobby of Parliament in support of Mr Amaral at around that date and we also hope to hold a fund-raising event, possibly in Birmingham, on Saturday 2 October.
Goncalo Amaral Awareness Day
We have declared Saturday 17 July ‘Goncalo Amaral Awareness Day’. We have produced a new leaflet in support of Mr Amaral (see below) and we would like your help please in distributing as many of these as you can, on that day, or during the week before.
You may be willing to distribute just 5, or maybe as many as 500. The leaflets are FREE, just tell us how many you can realistically distribute. We would recommend that you stand in your local town centre and hand them out to passers-by. Alternatively, distributing them to local shops and businesses, either before or after normal business hours, is a good way of spreading the message.
If you’re unable to do that, could you distribute a few via family and friends, or perhaps place a few in public reception areas? We’ll make an announcement at the time about how many leaflets are being distributed, and in what towns. If you cannot get out and about, you could share the leaflet electronically via e-mail, blogs, Twitter etc.
Goncalo Amaral Leaflet: “Your Questions Answered About Goncalo Amaral”
We can send you copies of the leaflet by post, or we can send it by e-mail as a Word Document. We’ll be placing a copy on our website (www.madeleinefoundation.org.uk) shortly.
Goncalo Amaral Website
We already have a dummy website in support of Mr Amaral in an advance state of preparation. If you’d like to have a look at it in its draft stage, please ask us.
Goncalo Amaral Booklet
We are currently writing a booklet about Mr Amaral which is our tribute to the work of Goncalo Amaral. It will include a short biography (there is already one on our website), explain his actions in the Madeleine McCann case, and describe the severe opposition he has faced ever since he pulled in the McCanns for questioning on 7 September and made them suspects. If you have any ideas for what should go into the booklet or would like your personal message of support for him included, please contact us. We plan to give out a complimentary copy of the booklet to all those who support our Goncalo Amaral initiatives: our leafleting, our fund-raising lunch, and our proposed lobby of Parliament.
Financial Support for Goncalo Amaral
Possibly the most important way of supporting Mr Amaral is financially. There is a PayPal website where donations can be made to Mr Amaral, run by his friend Paulo Sargento, here is the link:
We plan fund-raising initiatives ourselves and will forward the proceeds directly to Mr Amaral. We began our donations to him with a payment to him of 578.35 euros (£500) earlier this month.
If you have any other practical ideas on how we in Britain could best support Mr Amaral in all his trials, please contact us. He has fought for justice and truth on behalf of a British girl, while others seem to have been more concerned with covering up the truth. Let us support him as he bears the consequences of his decision to share with us all his information on the Madeleine McCann investigation.
Thanks for reading this.
The Committee of The Madeleine Foundation
Well, you can't say fairer than that Kate - after all it was you who didn't bother to search for your own daughter the night she went 'missing' because it was "too dark"; you didn't answer the 48 questions put to you by the police; you refused to co-operate with the official police reconstruction.
Yep, you did nothing. A great mistake.
'PACT with STARS' a collection of signed celebrity art
And here's some more balloons done by other celebrities, who didn't leave their children alone to get famous. http://shop.ebay.co.uk/pact_auction/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=&_trksid=p4340
In fact, most parents who leave their kids alone while they go to the pub face ten years in jail whilst the McCanns face a lifetime of fundraising and celebrity status.
A woman has been arrested on suspicion of child neglect after a two-year-old boy drowned in a garden pond while parents enjoyed night at the pub.
Evidence of Maddie's death in McCanns holiday apartment and hire car, while her parents continue to pretend she was abducted so they can enjoy celebrity status
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