Why is the whole question of libel and defamation so central to the McCann affair four years on?
there is aproven pattern of Kate and Gerry McCann restricting and distorting the information flow to the UK public until the Portuguese shelved the case in the summer of 2008.
Since then the comments of the Portuguese Attorney-General which accompanied the archiving have been used by the parents to continue the denial of information process by the threat of libel actions against the overground media.
It is this that underlies – and justifies – the constant internet attempts to inform the public of material that they were actively prevented from hearing at the time.
Because the parents immediately supplied their version of the disappearance to the British public via proxies and mouthpieces. (1)
They then established a media team to present managed & restricted news about the affair.(2)
They deliberately misled the UK public about the course of that enquiry, concealing the fact that they were under investigation by Portuguese police. (3)
They deliberately falsified the record of their pre-arguido interviews, instructing proxies to report to the UK media a supposed deal offered by the police. (4)
Afterwards they instructed their UK lawyers to give personal assurances to UK tabloid editors that there was no case against them and hence no defence to libel claims. (5)
Those assurances were based on their own assertions, not the evidence, and had no legal basis. (6)
The resulting media silence about the case against them was matched by television programmes giving air time, once again, to their story. (7)
And when the case files were finally released they put forward selected extracts giving a false impression of what the investigation revealed there.(8)
The intention and net effect of these measures was to enlist the support of the British public in their favour via a one-sided presentation of the case. After September 11 2007 that support had a legal significance regarding the preparation and execution of a European Arrest Warrant. (9)
Thus the alleged defamation of the couple by people like Mr Bennett is not primarily a matter of personal views or vendettas but an attempt, however fumbling, to help provide information to the public arena that has been deliberately hidden or misrepresented at the instigation of the parents.
Finally, in the only cases which have come to court so far, the various proceedings against Amaral and others in Portugal, the judicial findings to date have:
Brought significant information into the public arena confirming the truth of a number of the suppressed claims of the Portuguese police and refuting (not rebutting) the claims of the parents.(10)
Those confirmations and refutations offer suggestive evidence as to the likely veracity of other claims made by the parents.(11)
And have so far officially favoured the interpretation of the Portuguese case put forward by Goncalo Amaral which is in direct opposition to their version.(12)
And, most importantly, have only been available to the British public because the media reporting of court proceedings is protected against libel. (13)
So that, on the very first occasion since May 3 2007 when free reporting of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann to the British public took place, the picture that emerged – a factual courtroom picture – was in close accordance with the supposedly wild claims of the critics and not in agreement with the information provided under the media restrictions enabled and enforced by Kate & Gerry McCann.(14)
That is what prompts the continuing attempt to provide the full information to the public who were cheated of it, whether via the internet or the courts.
Notes & References
That’s it. Many internet readers apparently want their pieces short and snappy, just like the tabloids, which means leaving out all that tedious stuff called evidence. That’s great for the anonymous snappiness fans who want the “anti” equivalent of a tabloid piece, nice and easy to read and preferably entertaining. I wish those people would read elsewhere for their fun.It’s the evidence that matters in a question of life and death and people’s futures, not the bloody entertainment. Here it is.
It is slightly unfortunate that the references I gave in my piece yesterday resulted in much attention to just one of them,The Deal That Never Was.
This meant that the rest of the piece concerning the solid evidence supporting my argument that the McCanns have distorted and rationed the truth has been left to wither.
Blacksmith produces violin and soapbox
Some preliminary points which, I’m afraid, need repetition.
I have no opinion or theory or belief as to what happened to the child on May 2007;
I have no wish for the McCanns to be “brought to justice” for anything they might be alleged to have done that night;
I believe Kate McCann needs help and support, not punishment;
I do not feel that they got away with neglecting their children;
I do not campaign for the child Madeleine any more than I involve myself in the fate of all the other children who disappeared or died somewhere on earth that night – any child’s uncertain fate, to paraphrase John Donne, diminishes me, for we are part of the same whole.
But that is not why I write about the affair.
The reasons are summarised in yesterday’s piece. My own interests are in the continuing struggle to protect free speech against its many enemies and, in particular, the constant attempts to manipulate public opinion via the media, whether by politicians, media owners and journalists or the professional liars and lobbyists of the PR business.
Anyone with those interests at heart had to accept the challenge thrown down by Kate & Gerry McCann when they brought – unasked – their one sided version of events to the British public and then used the very funds provided by that public to employ specialists in misinformation and the law to build a truth-rationing machine without precedent in the UK.
Robert Murat, the third arguido, never assaulted the public in this way. It is for that reason that I respected his privacy and have never even looked at the case files regarding his supposed actions: they do not concern me.
The actions of the McCanns do.
Inventions ’r’ us
Next, the claims of “invention”, made by both critics and supporters of the McCann family.
This is not the first time that people have simply missed what is laid out before them – the knowns, as I boringly call them, not the unknowns.
In the past I’ve spent considerable unpaid time pointing out that Jane Tanner, in her rogatory interview with the Leicester police, neither confirmed nor denied identifying Robert Murat, for very good reasons of her own, even though she was offered the chance to do so.
The evidence is there but still people, preoccupied with prior theories, miss what is staring them in the face.
Kate McCann, who reads the Bureau, knows very well the significance of that evasion both for Tanner and herself, which is why she has spent pages 134 to 136 of her book Madeleine attempting to bolster her friend’s version of the surveillance van episode.
Then, a few weeks ago, I was described as a liar and fantasist, again by both critics and supporters of the family, for stating as a fact that Kate McCann had described in Madeleine how her husband had seriously considered sneaking his family into a car and fleeing across Portugal’s border to Spain as fugitives immediately after the pair were made arguidos.
But there it is on page 254.
How extraordinary for people to claim to be experts on a case, fail to read the most important primary source to have emerged about it since The Truth of the Lie – and then make accusations of lies and invention based on their own lazy ignorance.
What happened on the internet to thoughtfulness and good manners? Certainly I speculated that Gibraltar might have been their eventual destination – for obvious reasons of jurisdiction – but that is not what the accusations were about.
And now we have the latest example of failure to read followed by abuse. I wrote yesterday that “They deliberately falsified the record of their pre-arguido interviews, instructing proxies to report to the UK media a supposed deal offered by the police.” And as evidence for my assertion I cited in footnote (4):
“(4) Madeleine, p246, “the green light” instruction.
The subsequent proxy claims,perhaps the biggest media headlines in the whole case, were relayed by Philomena McCann and others on September 7 onwards, reports with direct attribution still available on internet press records, see EMM News Observer for examples.
In clear breach, once again, of the Portuguese secrecy rules when it suited them. The claim of a deal was specific: KM to confess to killing the child accidentally leading to short sentence to avoid the much more serious murder charge.
The claim was totally false and has now been rescinded in Madeleine p243 by KM herself, primarily, no doubt, because there was an independent (the lawyer Abreu’s assistant) witness to the supposedly offered deal. ”
Birth of a legend
The sweet voice of truth
So let us turn to the chain of evidence, boring and unexciting no doubt but necessary to turn assertions into factual statements.
Page 246 contains the following passage:
“Friday 7 September. After a measly two hours sleep we got up and braced ourselves for the day ahead. I remained calm. For a good couple of hours we were on the phone, calling family and friends to make them aware of the situation and to give them the green light to voice their outrage and despair if they wanted to.”
Despite the usual dishonest nature of the prose the meaning of this passage is quite unambiguous.
Kate McCann, in clear breach of the secrecy requirements which she and her husband constantly claimed prevented them from speaking as freely as they would like, was passing on a version of her September 6 interviews and consultations and giving her family the green light to make that version known to the world’s media.
(That, of course, is exactly what she did during the night of May 3/4 regarding the disappearance of the child and the shutters nonsense but we will leave that aside.)
The media were contacted and the version was passed on.
And there it is during the next twenty four hours, for example, in the London Evening Standard, a favourite leak spot for the McCanns and their team:
‘"Madeleine's aunt, Philomena McCann, says today the police "offered to do a deal if she confessed to accidentally killing Madeleine".
She said: "They tried to get her to confess to having accidentally killed Madeleine by offering her a deal through her lawyer - 'if you say you killed Madeleine by accident and then hid her and disposed of the body, then we can guarantee you a two-year jail sentence or even less'".’
In the Daily Mail:
“Mrs McCann's lawyer told her that police would offer her a two-year sentence if she pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of her daughter.”
And in the Guardian and Sky news:
‘Philomena McCann, Mr McCann's sister, said the police claims were "ludicrous". "They are suggesting that Kate was somehow responsible for accidentally killing Madeleine and kept the body and then got rid of it. I have never heard anything so absolutely ludicrous in my life," she told Sky News.’
And in the Telegraph,under the heading, Madeleine McCann's family accuse police:
‘“The McCanns were both named as "arguidos", or formal suspects, on Friday after two days of police interviews during which Mrs McCann was offered a "deal" of a suspended prison sentence if she admitted to "accidentally" killing her daughter and told police where the body was.”’
It should be clear, I think, that the claim was specific. The deal revolved around Kate McCann admitting that she had killed the child accidentally. And the implication was also clear: that if she didn’t so confess to killing the childunder these circumstances then the possibility of a more serious charge – killing the child intentionally, i.e murder – might result.
To rescind: verb. To make void; repeal or annul.
Finally we turn to Kate’s book, page 243. Where is the above claim? It is not there.
“Carlos announced what the police had proposed. If we, or rather I, admitted that Madeleine had died in an accident in the apartment , and confessed to having hidden and disposed of her body , the sentence I’d receive would be much more lenient: only two years, he said, as opposed to what I’d be looking at if I ended up being charged with homicide.”
I ask again: where is the claim that Kate McCann was asked to admit to killing her child accidentally?
It has been rescinded.
To cut from the laborious evidential chain for a moment, the nub of the matter was expressed by a sharp-minded forum member who can read this morning:
“The important part of the issue is what Kate writes about her lawyer's advice [in the book JB] which included no mention of Kate killing Madeleine. What Kate wants the public to believe he meant is irrelevant.”
The claim stands and, as I wrote in an addendum to footnote (4) yesterday, the lawyers who read this blog know exactly what the significance of the change is.
So much for the evidence.
This bit has nothing to do with yesterday’s post and today’s elaboration
Of course I have my own opinion on why Kate McCann misled the public and is now misleading them again and exactly what did happen that night, based on what I am told the interviewing officers reported to Amaral.
But that is just opinion, fun to read, no doubt, but based on so far unconfirmed sources. I was writing about fact.
But for those who are actually interested in the techniques used by Kate McCann and her advisors in telling her story I recommend a close reading of the paragraph following the one quoted above and page 240 in which she supposedly describes the police interviews.
As for the latter you have to read it very carefully to see that Gerry McCann was also in discussion with the police that night and equally carefully to note that Kate McCann was questioned in detail about events after the supposed consultation between police and lawyer containing the “offered deal.” She doesn’t have much to say about that period, does she?
And the former is a classic, beginning “Pardon? I really wasn’t sure if I could possibly have heard him correctly?” The entire paragraph is meant to suggest that all the rhetoric – “my incredulity turned to rage”, “how dare they suggest I lie” “how dare they expect me to live with such a charge against my name” – consists of her responses to Abreu’s “offer” , after which “he insisted” that she needed to think about it.
Nope. Read it again, folks. Nowhere does Kate McCann state that she addressed these words to her lawyer or that they were part of a conversation between them.
That is because they weren’t. I repeat, read it again.
Meanwhile the accusations I made against the McCanns yesterday stand.