Pat Brown versus Richard Hall on Madeleine McCann: Which One is Ignoring the Evidence?
by Philip Gunton, 1 March 2016
On 22 February this year,U.S. criminal profiler, Pat Brown, published an article on her ‘PatBrownProfiling’ website, titled: “From Theory to Profile: How Agenda Creates Nonevidence-based Conclusions”.
It was about the reported disappearance of Madeleine McCann. It was a response to a documentary film by Richard D. Hall titled: “When Madeleine Died?” In that film, Hall - who earlier, in August 2014, nailed his colours to the mast by suggesting that Madeleine’s abduction was a hoax, and that Madeleine had died in her parents’ holiday apartment - put forward the apparently bizarre notion that Madeleine was probably dead by the Monday of that week.
Brown’s article is an attack both on Hall’s conclusion, and on his method.
Both Brown and Hall share the unusual and potentially libelous belief that the McCanns (and others) did not tell the truth about what really happened to Madeleine. Both say she died in the McCanns’ apartment. Both do so for similar reasons. Both believe that two cadaver dogs from Britain, trained by a leading professional dog handler, Martin Grime, alerted to the odours left by Madeleine’s corpse, and her blood, at various locations in the McCanns’ apartment, on their clothes and in their hired car.
Both adduce as additional evidence a plethora of contradictions and changes of story by the McCanns and their friends. Both point to the appalling choice by the McCanns and their advisers of disreputable private detectives to search for Madeleine. Both draw attention to Kate McCann’s point-blank refusal to answer 48 questions by the Portuguese police. Both note how the McCanns were immediately surrounded by a protective shield of lawyers, public relations advisers, and members of U.K. government security service personnel.
The original Portuguese investigation co-ordinator, Dr Goncalo Amaral, also came to the conclusion that Madeleine had died in her parents’ apartment. Moreover, he was fairly specific about the time of Madeleine’s death. He looked at evidence that Madeleine attended a so-called ‘high tea’ at the Tapas restaurant, which is said to have taken place between 4.45pm and about 6.00pm on Thursday 3 May, hours before Madeleine was reported missing.
Brown follows that conclusion, and for a similar reason; she, like Dr Amaral, believes that Madeleine’s crèche nanny, Catriona Baker, was telling the truth about that ‘high tea’.
But Hall does not agree. He has put forward a series of reasons which, to him, suggest that Madeleine may already have been dead by Monday or even of the Sunday evening of that week.
In a crucial passage of her article, Brown writes this:
“The evidence points to the evening of May 3, 2007. A number of people stated they saw Madeleine up until that Thursday evening, she was placed in the creche daily for babysitting while the parents enjoyed their freedom on holiday, there are photos of Madeleine in Praia da Luz by herself and with family”.
She adds: “The next time you see a documentary purporting to prove a particular theory, make sure the filmmaker actually provides evidence supporting his theory…Pay attention to whether the filmmaker ignores evidence, manipulates evidence, or creates evidence…”
She continues: “[Hall’s] film is a profile based on theory, not on the evidence. I am not happy with the content…it is intended to convince the audience that the theory being presented is the only one that makes sense, that it is logical, and that there is evidence to support the theory..."Evidence" is either misconstrued, ignored, or created…One must suspend a good deal of logic altogether. The evidence does not support Hall's theory of When Madeleine died?; his agenda has created a theory and the theory then created a profile and the evidence [has been] manipulated or ignored in order to create a belief that this theory has merit. Evidence should make the theory; the theory should not make 'the evidence'."
These are serious charges…‘manipulating evidence’. Brown’s attack on Hall is clear. She suggests that his film is an improbable theory based on no evidence at all.
This article examines whether she is right.
It should also be noted that Brown in her article rounds on those who claim that Madeleine’s death might be connected in some way to a child abuse ‘ring’ needing a top-level government-organised cover-up. So far as I am aware, Hall has not said in any of his three Madeleine films, or his lecture tours, that he thinks Madeleine’s death is connected to such a ‘ring’.
Therefore, so far as Hall’s films are concerned, her criticism cannot be directed at Hall, but must be directed at others.
Similarly, she refers to some who say that Madeleine was sexually abused before she died. Again, so far as I am aware, Hall has never said this in any of his films. It is therefore incorrect of her to bring these particular allegations – which others, but not Hall, have made, into her critique of Hall’s films. Hall has been entirely silent so far about how she might have died.
She also implies – twice - that Hall says both that Madeleine (a) died at some other time and (b) ‘under far more horrific circumstances’. In fact, Hall says (a), but he does not say (b). Once again, Brown is wrong and has misled her readers. Hall says nothing whatsoever about ‘more horrific circumstances’.
I will deal essentially, then, with the claim that Pat’s theory - Madeleine dying sometime after 6pm the night she was reported missing – has more evidence to support it than Hall’s theory that she died on Sunday or Monday.
A little bit must first be said about the respective track records of Brown and Hall.
Brown is a nationally-known figure in the U.S. She styles herself as a criminal profiler and has trained in criminology. She has written books on the subject. She writes a prolific blog. She has appeared on U.S TV numerous times, giving her opinion on serious crimes. She has a high profile and a respected track record.
Moreover, when she heard about the Madeleine McCann case, she called it a hoax very early on, even within weeks of the initial reports. Her experience told her that something was deeply wrong about the parents’ story and their reactions to her disappearance. She later released an e-book about the case on Amazon, only for the McCanns’ lawyers to threaten Amazon with libel proceedings unless she withdrew it, forcing Brown to sell it on less popular sites.
Not only that, but she actually visited Portugal, admittedly only after she had planned to attend a court hearing in the marathon McCanns –v- Amaral libel trial, which was subsequently adjourned before she was due to travel. She met Goncalo Amaral, and she also did some original research in Praia da Luz together with an ex-pat former British police officer in the region who had taken a great deal of interest in the case.
Against that track record, Hall can offer a degree in Electrical Engineering, and a track record in what can conveniently be summarised as ‘conspiracy theories’. He has a longstanding interest in the subject of UFO’s. He has made controversial films about events such as the 9/11 atrocity in the U.S., the 7/7 bombings in London, and the recent killing of the British soldier, Lee Rigby. Comments made in the last of these films led to action being taken against him by the broadcasting authorities.
It is not a promising background for one who wants to pronounce on a high profile, complex and controversial case of alleged child abduction. He did, however, pay a week-long visit to Praia da Luz as part of his research on the case. And quite plainly, he has researched the case in detail.
It is possible for an experienced criminal profiler to get something wrong once in a while. It is possible for someone whose trade is perceived as a ‘conspiracy theorist’ to get some things right. Let us not forget that even the much-maligned conspiracy theorist David Icke was making clear allegations that Jimmy Savile was a serial paedophile 20 years or more before Savile was eventually exposed, after his death.
Yet, despite their very different histories and backgrounds, Brown and Hall share a common belief that Madeleine died in her parents’ holiday apartment and that there has indeed been a deliberate, sustained attempt to cover up that fact.
It must also be said that Hall did not begin to make any comment about the Madeleine McCann case until sometime in 2011. When he did venture to suggest that the McCanns’ story may not be true, some of his audience reacted adversely. It wasn’t until 2013 that he began to research the subject seriously. And then, as he puts it, he realised how the mainstream media had simply not told the public a whole host of facts which suggested that Madeleine had died in her parents’ care and he began to claim that there had been an organised cover-up of the truth about Madeleine’s reported disappearance.
So, with those points in mind, let’s start by reviewing the reasons Brown gives in her article for preferring the time of Madeleine’s death at after 6pm on Thursday 3 May. These may be summarised as follows, using her own words:
1) A number of people say they saw Madeleine up until and including the Thursday she was reported missing…Hall has ignored all reports and evidence of Maddie being alive until May 3rd
2) Madeleine was placed in the creche daily for babysitting
3) There are photos of Madeleine in Praia da Luz by herself and with family
4) It appears that all was well until the evening of May 3, 2007 and then all hell broke loose
5) The evidence from the dogs’ alerts is that Madeleine fell behind the sofa and died there
6) [Hall suggests that there was] a cover-up and body disposal team [which] rushed into town to help the McCanns deal with this and stage an abduction – but surely they would hardly decide to wait until Thursday to stage an abduction and then stage it so badly that it doesn't even look like an abduction and prepare everyone so badly that the Tapas group couldn't even keep their stories straight...this is believing that a skilled ‘clean-up’ crew chose the most amateur plan of action possible. Couldn't this top level team even open a window, add a few tool marks, make a footprint or two, and muff up the room a bit? How about planting some fake hair or phony fingerprints?
7) They would have had to have the McCanns parade around Praia da Luz for four days minus one child, pretending a dead child is alive or parading around a fake Madeleine, and dismally staging an abduction scene
8) Nannies would have to be coerced into lying
9) Creche paperwork would have to be forged
10) In discussing the Last Photo, he produces expert evidence that it was not photoshopped, but Hall oddly alludes to the possibility that the ‘Tennis Balls’ photo was photoshopped...couldn't he get the experts to analyse that photo as well?
11) One of the rules of getting away with murder is the less people know about the crime, the better. The theory of an
earlier death date and a bigger organisation behind the cover-up requires so many people to know the truth and lie to the police and media that it would be impossible for the truth not to have come out.
12) Ignoring the behaviours of the Tapas members on May 3rd.
It is worth noting, however, that despite her evident disdain for improbable ‘conspiracy theories’, she does concede - as indeed she must - that: “There is evidence that there is some quite unusual level of political support for the McCanns and a huge amount of media, money and resources used in this case of a missing child that far surpasses any in probably the entire history of mankind.
Hall tackled that subject in a major way in Part 4 of his first Madeleine film, ‘The True Story of Madeleine McCann’, and he did indeed hint at something possibly illegal or immoral that was being hidden by a high-level government cover-up, with which the McCanns must somehow be connected.
At least he tried to explain what Brown herself admits was (and very much still is, nine years on) a “quite unusual level of political support”, but I have never seen her try to explain this anywhere in her writings.
But let’s now get down to examining Brown’s catalogue of ‘faults’ with Hall’s film and his theory of an early death.
Brown’s Point 1 was that Hall had ‘ignored’ the evidence that many people had seen Madeleine alive up to and including 3 May. That is a manifestly false charge. Whether you agree with Hall’s eventual conclusions or not, one simply cannot claim that he ‘ignored’ this evidence.
Very much the reverse. On the contrary, he first painstakingly took us back from the moment the alarm was raised – about 10pm on May 3 - through every claimed sighting that day. Matthew Oldfield’s’ check at 9.35pm, Gerry McCann’s check at 9.05pm, David Payne seeing the children the McCanns’ flat at 6.30pm, the sighting at the Paraiso beach restaurant, the high tea at 5pm to 6pm, Madeleine in the background of a photo taken by Stemcor Director Philip Edmonds – all these were examined in a great amount of detail. Not ignored. He then spent about 45 minute undermining events earlier in the week: the claim that Mrs Fenn heard Madeleine crying, the magazine article claiming that the Boyds’ boy Louie had been playing football with Madeleine for an hour, and so on.
If he didn’t demolish these ‘sightings’, he most certainly raised major doubts about them. And finally he dealt with around a dozen very vague statements, mostly by Ocean Club staff, who claimed to have seen Maddie sometime that week. Making use of a major piece of research by Lizzy Taylor (‘HideHo’), published in late 2015, in which she analysed every such ‘sighting’ and found that none of them provided clear-cut evidence of Madeleine being alive, Hall reached the same conclusion. He shared with Lizzy Taylor her suggestion that a statement by a cleaning lady, who saw all five members of the McCanns walking from their apartment to a friend’s apartment, was the last time there was reliable independent evidence that Madeleine was seen alive.
So Brown’s Point 1 is invalid. What about her Point 2 – that Madeleine was placed in the crèche (in the daytime)? Again, Hall has not ignored that apparent evidence. How, then, did he explain the crèche records, and the evidence of the creche nanny, Catriona Baker, that Madeleine was in her group all week? He did so by revealing in his film several very important contradictions in Catriona Baker’s evidence. Now, some may believe that Catriona Baker was a wholly honest witness and that somehow all the various contradictions in her evidence can be explained without too much difficulty.
But, once again, Hall has made his claim based on a considerable amount of evidence in his film. It cannot be said that he has ‘ignored’ it.
So, on to Brown’s Point 3 – namely, her claim that “There are photos of Madeleine in Praia da Luz by herself and with family”. This is a very glib comment by Brown and suggests that she may not have studied the nature of the photographic evidence of Madeleine’s presence in Praia da Luz that week.
There are only five photographs of Madeleine that week. Three, as Hall explains, were clearly taken on the first day of the holiday - Saturday. Hall has explained in the film, his evidence that the ‘Last Photo’ may have been taken on the Sunday, not the Thursday. It is a serious allegation to make. His justification appears to be twofold: (1) that the weather conditions on the two days (warm and sunny on Sunday, cloudy and cooler the rest of the week), coupled with how Gerry, Madeleine and Amelie are dressed in the photo, and (2) the unaccountable 3-week delay in publishing the photo.
That leaves only one other photo, the ‘Tennis Balls’ photo. There are claims that two different people took this photograph. It is said to have been taken on two separate days. Hall makes the tentative suggestion that it could be photoshopped, and gives his reasons, though he does not produce any expert evidence to back up his claim.
So, in summary, only four photos definitely taken on the holiday, three on the Saturday and one quite possibly on the Sunday, and one ‘maybe’ – the ‘Tennis balls’ photo.
Where are all the others that week? This does not seem to bother Brown in the slightest. It would be good to hear if she has a clear and convincing explanation as to why we don’t have them.
Brown’s Point 4 – that it “appears that all was well until the evening of May 3, 2007 and then all hell broke loose”, seems to amount to saying this: that this holiday was entirely normal for McCanns and their Tapas 7 friends, until sometime after 6pm on Thursday 3 May, when Madeleine had a terrible, fatal accident in her parents’ flat, and that by about 8.30pm to 8.45pm, the whole group could sit down calmly for dinner in the Tapas bar, chatting to others like the Carpenters, and the waiters, having between them arranged (before then) to get rid of Madeleine’s body.
Brown adds that the abduction hoax was so botched that it must have been done in a terrific hurry. She bases her theory, along with Goncalo Amaral, on the assumption that all concerned told the truth about Madeleine and the twins having ‘high tea’ with some crèche nannies between 4.45pm and 6.00pm that afternoon.
It is hard, from all of Brown’s writings, to determine whether she has thought this scenario through. According to her theory, sometime after 6pm Madeleine had an ‘accident’ so severe that she died. She says, like Amaral, that she probably ‘fell off the sofa’. I am not sure how likely it is that a fall from a sofa could kill a child. I suggest it is very unlikely.
But if this did happen after 6pm, what happened to her body? It wasn’t there when the police called at just after 11pm. It is doubtful, under this scenario, if it could still have been in the apartment after the McCanns and their friends went down to dinner at about 8.30pm. So, in the space of little more than two hours, did the McCanns:
(a) tend to Madeleine
(b) tend to the Twins and make sure that they got peaceably to sleep
(c) get over the shock and compose themselves
(d) share the news with their friends
(e) swiftly get rid of their daughter’s body in a hiding place where nobody could find it
(f) arrange a ‘cover story’ of checking the children at regular intervals
(g) clean the apartment and remove any traces of any accident befalling Madeleine
(h) arrange the abduction scene in the childrens' bedroom
(i) open the shutters and window
(j) get themselves cleaned up and dressed for an evening out and after all of that,
(k) calmly sit down with their friends for dinner as if nothing had happened?
This appears to be Brown’s theory, except that she has in the past given credence to the claims of the Smith family, from Ireland, that they saw someone – at about 10.00pm that evening - who looked very much like Gerry McCann carrying his dead daughter through the streets of Praia da Luz.
Now the time the alarm was raised by the McCanns and their friends was also around 10.00pm. We must ask: how credible is it that Gerry McCann would take the huge risk of carrying his dead daughter for about half a mile through the streets of Praia da Luz at the very same time as the alarm was being raised? Moreover, where at that time of night could he possibly have found a place to hide the body, and then return calmly to the Ocean Club and his apartment as if nothing had happened?
Moreover, how was it that only the Smiths saw him – but no-one else reported seeing him, either on the way to hide his daughter’s body, or on the way back?
If, however, on Brown’s scenario of a death after 6pm, Madeleine’s body had already been moved from the apartment before they all went down for dinner, that then raises a further problem in relation to the evidence of the two cadaver dogs.
Normally, a body has to lie in a place for at least two hours before dogs can, months later, detect the past presence of a corpse in that place. If Madeleine’s death took place after 6pm, and her body was removed before the McCanns went down to dinner at 8.30pm, that barely leaves two hours before cadaver scent contaminant would have enough time to linger for a cadaver dog to detect its presence three months later.
Brown’s fifth point against Hall’s film is that: “The evidence from the dogs’ alerts is that Madeleine fell behind the sofa and died there”. As far as I am aware, Hall does not contradict that possibility, so Brown’s point is irrelevant. However, Brown should have been more precise in her statement.
She can certainly say: “The evidence is that Madeleine’s dead body had lain below the window for at least two hours or so”. But no-one knows where the sofa was when Madeleine was lying dead there. Moreover, no-one can be as dogmatic, as Brown is, and state: “The evidence is that Madeleine fell behind the sofa”. That, as Brown must recognise, is only one of many other possibilities.
Brown’s Point 6 is a point of some substance. In terms, she suggests that the abduction hoax was so badly carried out that it cannot possibly have been planned three or four days in advance. She also suggests that a crack-team of cover-up experts would have thought of things like ‘adding a few tool marks…fake footprints, fake hair and phony fingerprints’. It is a reasonable point to make.
I have already explained above the improbability of a group of nine being faced with a death of one of their children after 6pm, and then sitting down calmly two hours later with arrangements already having been made to dispose of Madeleine’s body. If, as both Brown and Hall accept, Madeleine died in the McCanns’ apartment, then surely we must look at the arguments that her death happened earlier than that.
It is not as if Hall hasn’t given his reasons. He has. The absence of undisputed confirmed sightings of Madeleine by independent witnesses. The sudden change of the McCanns taking breakfast and lunch in their own apartment after Sunday. Evidence that the ‘Last Photo’ was taken on Sunday, not Thursday. The absence of photos of Madeleine that week. Stories, evidently false, trying to ‘prove’ that Madeleine was alive until Thursday, like the untrue article by the Boyds in First magazine. The absence of Madeleine’s DNA in the apartment. Hall covers these and other issues. Perhaps Brown could return with another article, carefully considering, point by point, the evidence that Hall has presented in his film for an earlier death?
Brown’s Point 7 is to ridicule any idea that the McCanns could either ‘parade around Praia da Luz for four days minus one child, pretending a dead child is alive’, or ‘parading around a fake Madeleine’.
Once again, this is a point that Hall does address in his film. Indeed, he specifically mentions that the McCanns may have arranged things so that they never appeared in public together with the twins. Hall mentioned:
a) taking breakfast in the apartment
b) taking lunch in their own apartment, whilst the rest of the group ate together at the Paynes’ and
c) using different doors when exiting or arriving back at the apartment.
d) Making excuses for Madeleine being absent from a group trip to the beach.
He also explained how, as the sole crèche nanny for Madeleine, Catriona Baker would have been in a very good position to pretend that Madeleine had been attending the crèche, when she wasn’t. He gave instances of contradictions in Catriona Baker’s evidence.
He did not suggest in his film that the McCanns ‘paraded around a fake Madeleine’, so that is another false charge levelled against Hall by Brown.
POINTS 8 AND 9
We can conveniently take Brown’s Points 8 and 9 together. She says that Hall is wrong because “Nannies would have to be coerced into lying [and] creche paperwork would have to be forged”. Hall’s answer is that it needed only the co-operation of Catriona Baker, as the sole nanny of Madeleine’s ‘Lobsters’ group, to agree to allow Madeleine to appear in the daily crèche register. No other nanny needed to be involved. No other crèche records had to be falsified.
It is admittedly a serious accusation to suggest that Catriona Baker could have done that. In support of his accusation, Hall produced indications, but not amounting to strict proof, that Catriona Baker and the McCanns may have known each other before that holiday.
I addressed Brown’s Point 10 above. Yes, ideally Hall could have got an expert opinion on the ‘Tennis Balls’ photo to back up his tentative claim that it may have been photoshopped.
I will deal with Brown’s Point 12 before examining her Point 11. Point 12 is: “Hall ignored the behaviours of the Tapas members on May 3rd”. It is by no means clear what she means by this. Hall has said quite a lot in his films about the conduct of the Tapas 7 that day. Until she makes it clear what alleged behaviours Hall has ignored on that day, it is impossible to answer her charge.
So, finally, to Brown’s Point 11, which is this: “The fewer people who know about a crime, the better…an earlier death requires ‘a big organisation’ behind any cover-up, requiring so many people to know the truth, and lie to the police and media. “That it would be impossible for the truth not to have come out”. This point is often made, and it is a very valid point. Hall does not explicitly address this on any of his films.
If one follows the logic of Brown’s theory of a death after 6pm on 3rd May, which is identical to that of Goncalo Amaral, then probably the only people who would know about her death would be the McCanns and their Tapas 7 friends.
If for a moment we look at Hall’s theory, which is shared by an increasing number of McCann researchers, who might have been involved in any cover-up?
Here are some considerations.
First, Hall mentions in his film the striking information that a subsidiary, Resonate, of the massive PR firm Bell Pottinger, was for some reason sent to Praia da Luz in the days before top people from Bell Pottinger descended on Praia da Luz the very day after Madeleine was reported missing. This fact was mentioned in a leading PR magazine, which also reported that the Managing Director and a colleague stayed on when the top men from Bell Pottinger arrived. These two personnel from Resonate, so the magazine reported, actively helped with liaison with the British ambassador and the British and Portuguese police. It was very helpful for them to be actually there on the ground the moment the alarm was raised about Madeleine.
Who called them in for that week, and why?
Second, for those who suspect that Robert Murat might have been actively involved in any cover-up of Madeleine’s death, how do we explain him apparently getting out of bed at nearly 2.00am on Monday 30 April to book a flight to Portugal the following morning at 7.00am? Did someone from Praia da Luz summon him from England to provide urgent assistance? The reason for his dash to Portugal has never been explained. When he was interviewed by the Portuguese police and made a suspect, he gave a demonstrably false account of his movements in the three days he was there before Madeleine was reported missing. Why? And, for that matter, why - when Gerry McCann was asked, very early on, ‘Do you already know Robert Murat?’ – did he reply: “I am not going to comment on that”, instead of simply answering ‘No’?
A third indication comes from the statement of Nuno Lourenco, which Hall covered in his second major Madeleine film. He showed how a Polish visitor, Wojcheich Krokowski, was deliberately ‘fitted up’ by Lourenco as a possible suspect for Madeleine’s abduction. This must have been planned in conjunction with others. Moreover, coming back to Murat again, Krokowski was a holidaymaker that same week in the Sol e Mar apartments, run by a company connected to Murat, and hairs of the same haplotype as Murat were also found in Krokowski’s Sol e Mar apartment. Krokowski and his wife also ate many meals at the Burgau beach bar, owned and managed by Murat’s aunt and uncle, Sally and Ralph Eveleigh.
A fourth indication is the rapid deployment of the Head of Risk for PT firm Bell Pottinger, Alex Woolfall, who was dispatched to Praia da Luz on the very day after Madeleine was reported missing. Why was he there in Praia da Luz on Friday 4 May? What was so urgent? – Madeleine could have been discovered alive even as he was on the plane to Portugal.
Woolfall’s and Bell Pottinger‘s clients were Mark Warner, who organised this holiday at the Ocean Club. Why did Bell Pottinger need to send over their top man to Praia da Luz. Was the disappearance of Madeleine McCann connected in some way with goings-on during that holiday? The question must be asked.
And what did Alex Woolfall do when he got there? As we saw carefully explained in Hall’s film, he spent time sorting through the SD cards of Gerry McCann’s camera, and may be others, deleting them here, cropping them there, and so on.
And a fifth indication of those who might have been involved in any cover-up actually comes from Brown’s words herself.
Earlier, as I noted above, she wrote:
“There is evidence that there is some quite unusual level of political support for the McCanns and a huge amount of media, money and resources used in this case of a missing child that far surpasses any in probably the entire history of mankind”.
Hall, by looking in detail at the evidence, has addressed this point and provided explanations for it in his three films. Brown has not.
One hopes that Brown will return soon to the subject of this very deep mystery, and try to answer, in detail, the mass of evidence that Hall has taken the trouble to set out in his films.