'Monsterman' - how Kate and Gerry McCann manufactured another suspect

By Tony Bennett, Secretary of the Madeleine Foundation

On Sunday 13 January 2008, Brian Kennedy visited Albert Schuurmans of the Roscoe Foundation in Portugal.

On 16 January 2008, three days after Brian Kennedy’s interview with Albert Schuurmans of the Roscoe Foundation, Dr Gerald McCann emailed Superintendent Stuart Prior of Leicestershire Police with a PowerPoint presentation (folio 3966), with the briefest of covering notes saying: ‘As discussed’.

Just one hour later Superintendent Prior forwarded the package to Ricardo Paiva of the Portuguese Police, asking for instructions and stating, among other things: “The PowerPoint attached (Folio 3968) was completed by the McCanns, but the statements were all taken by the U.K. police. Miss Tanner’s description was taken from the press and from the summary of her statement. There is some urgency around this as we need to decide prior to the Gail Cooper artist’s impression appearing in the U.K. press. How are you going to deal with the possible press issues? What are you planning around Mr Kennedy and the private investigation firm?”

He concludes: “I will need to get back to the McCanns as he has asked to be updated. How would Paulo [Mr Rebelo] want this conducted and what information I am to provide to them? They are very excited about this potential lead”.

By this time, there was an ultra-friendly relationship between Stuart Prior and Dr Gerald McCann. It was ‘Stu’ and ‘Gerry’. Despite being one of three ‘arguidos’ suspected of active involvement in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, Dr McCann is able to discuss his ‘Powerpoint’ presentation with Stuart Prior and get him to forward it on to the Portuguese police within minutes. Prior was clearly aware that the McCann Team wanted to do a major press blitz as soon as possible on this new sketch, and was anxious to help them. “I will need to get back to the McCanns”, wrote Prior, in much the same way as he might have written: “I will need to get back to my Chief Constable”.

The McCanns and their formidable team were directing the entire course of the investigation at this point, aided by Stuart Prior’s deferential relationship to the McCanns.

By this time, Leicestershire Police had already, months previously, made the unprecedented decision to link their website to the McCanns’ fund-raising website, which in turn directed any members of the public who might have information not to Leicestershire Police, nor to the Portuguese Police, but to the McCanns’ own very dubious private investigators, Metodo 3, whose controversial boss, Francisco Marco, had made the bold but false claim in December that he knew where Madeleine was, his men were closing in on her, and she would be home before Christmas.

Dr McCann’s ‘Powerpoint’ slides attempted to highlight the alleged similarity between Jane Tanner’s ‘bundleman’ and the ‘Monster Man/George Harrison man’ of Gail Cooper.

Dr Gerald McCann wrote:

Tanner spent a full day with Melissa Little, a qualified Police Sketch Artist since 1986, to compile this likeness of the suspect. Melissa met Gail Cooper in a separate session. After spending hours with both witnesses, Melissa Little states: “There are many similarities between Miss Tanner’s man and Gail’s. Tanner believes that there is an 80% likelihood that this is the same man she saw carrying away the child, believed to be Madeleine”.

Dr McCann was in effect telling the police: “Forget about Tanner saying it was Murat that she’d seen. It wasn’t. Tanner now says the man looks something like these three sketches”.

On 17 January 2008 (the very next day), Detective Constable 4168 of the Leicestershire Police interviewed Gail Cooper and e-mailed the Operational Task Force. He noted at the time that Mrs Cooper was trying to explain why theNews of the World had added to and embellished her police statements, by saying “It never crossed my mind” that they would do so. The Officer also reported that she “mentioned a man called Brian Kennedy who was working for the McCanns and...had sent an artist down to do a sketch of the man she saw at the villa” (Police files: Folio 4005).

On 18 January 2008, Superintendent Stuart Prior emailed Ricardo Paiva about the Gail Cooper statement:

“As discussed, I have given Gerry a brief update just saying that the other descriptions are different to the artist’s impressions completed by Gail and identified by Jane [Tanner].That the witnesses appeared genuine which indicates a number of charity collectors in the area prior to Madeleine being taken.

“We have not spoken to Jane at all and will not share our files with anybody, except yourselves, unless you request this from us. It appears there were at least three charity collectors if not more in the area in the weeks before Madeleine being taken. I am told that the artist’s impression by Gail Cooper is likely to hit the press over the weekend and I will update you on the effects of this next week, although we are not involved in this in any way at all”.

Prior notes that the artist’s impression ‘is likely to hit the press over the weekend’. He knew, we can be sure, exactly when Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns’ public relations chief, would be calling the press for his now-famous presentation, ‘Crimewatch’-style, of ‘Monster Man’ to the British press. This was a planned media event by the McCann Team to highlight Melissa Little’s sketches. Leicestershire Police were acting like pawns on a chess board.

Later, Prior referred to an email from Michael Graham of the Leicestershire Police who reported: “I [Mick Graham] have spoken to Charlotte Pennington this morning and she has no additional information to give…She has been spoken to by a Private Investigator (Noel Hogan) working on behalf of Metodo 3. Charlotte assures me that she has only relayed to him the same information that she has already given to the Portuguese Police and to me (as per email dated 7 August 2007)”.

On Sunday 20 January 2008, the News of the World published a long article on Mrs Cooper’s alleged sighting and printed the full facial and 'striding'out' sketches of ‘Monster Man’. On 21 January 2008, Clarence Mitchell, the McCann’s spokesman, held a press conference releasing details of ‘Monster Man’.

The News of the World concluded: “The sketch by qualified police artist Melissa Little bears an uncanny resemblance to an earlier picture, based on Miss Tanner's story”. This is unsurprising given that both sketches had been made - using considerable artistic licence - by the same artist, Melissa Little, who was paid for by Brian Kennedy to assist the McCanns.

Given the obvious differences between Murat and either ‘Monster Man’ or ‘bundleman’, why, we must ask, did Tanner not at this stage immediately correct what, by now, must have been quite obvious to her - namely that she had misidentified Murat from the police van, back on 14 May the previous year?

Tanner said that on 3 May she saw a swarthy, olive-skinned bloke in mustard chinos, about 5' 7" to 5' 9", carrying away Madeleine. She said on the record that she did not see his face.

Just 10 days alter she saw Robert Murat pass by a police van she was secreted in. She adamantly told the police: 'That's the man I saw 10 days ago, I can tell by the way he is walking'.

Yet by January 2008 she is again chatting all day long to Melissa Little, presumably being paid by Brian Kennedy and the McCann Fund, and claiming that 'Monster Man' looked like the bloke she'd seen on 3 May. How could she possibly tell if she never saw his face on 3 May.

Jane Tanner may have seen a bloke on 3 May. She may really have thought 10 days later that the man she saw was Robert Murat. She may have genuinely thought that when Melissa Little drew her artist's sketch of 'Monster Man', based on Gail Cooper's description, that this really did look like the bloke she'd seen on 3 May (well, '80% similarity', says Tanner.

Alternatively, she could be lying throughout.