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Monday, 7 October 2013

Open letter re: Proposed Crimewatch programme 14 October 2013 - Madeleine McCann



Mr Gavin Chappelle, Production Co-ordinator and

Mr Joe Mather, Series Editor,

BBC Crimewatch Programme

BBC Broadcasting House

Portland Place



Also for the attention of presenters Kirsty Young, Matthew Amroliwala and Martin Bayfield

And by email to:


Dear Mr Chappelle and Mr Mather

re: Proposed Crimewatch programme 14 October 2013 - Madeleine McCann

I am writing with a number of concerns about the above proposed programme, which has been widely trailed by the BBC itself and by many media in the past few days.

I understand that there is to be a ‘live’ interview with the McCanns and that a reconstruction of events, presumably of part of Thursday 3 May 2007, the day Madeleine was reported missing, will be shown.

The BBC has said that it will be showing a reconstruction of Madeleine’s ‘abduction’.

The alleged ‘reconstruction’ is reported in various media as taking place ‘abroad’ or in Spain but not in Portugal. If reported correctly, it will certainly not, therefore, be taking place in Praia da Luz, the place where Madeleine went missing.

I have very serious concerns about whether this programme should be transmitted at all, having regard to the issues set out below.

The duties of the BBC and Crimewatch

The BBC charter requires that it must be truthful and accurate and, where appropriate, must provide 'balanced' coverage of any issue. Moreover, OFCOM has the power to investigate complaints that any programme breaches similarly-worded OFCOM guidelines.

‘Crimewatch’ has a formidable reputation. That is based on setting before the viewing public accurate information about a crime, and asking for the public’s help in identifying the perpetrators. These principles must apply just as rigorously to the highly controversial case of the reported disappearance of Madeleine.

Given the highly controversial, sensitive and high profile nature of this case, I must assume that the research done by Crimewatch into the background for any reconstruction and interview of the McCanns has been exceptionally thorough and meticulous. You will be aware that there are thousands of pages of witness statements, experts’ reports, forensic reports, photographs, videos and other material which has been made public on DVDs by the Portuguese Police as long ago as August 2008, all of which have been translated into English and which have been read and analysed in great detail by numerous internet websites, blogs and forums. You will no doubt for example have read all the relevant information on the McCannFiles blog (, an unusually comprehensive and vast library of factual material about the case.

Was Madeleine McCann abducted?

Given the claim by the BBC in its advance publicity for your proposed programme that Madeleine McCann was ‘abducted’, the very first question that the producers and editors of any Crimewatch programme have to answer is whether or not it is established as a fact that she was abducted.

I assume, therefore, that you must have considered all of the following facts:

1. The detailed investigation report by Inspector Tavares de Almedia dated 10 September, and publicly available on the internet, which gives numerous clear reasons for concluding that Madeleine died in the McCanns’ holiday apartment and that they and/or others hid her body

2. The contents of the book ‘The Truth Of The Lie’, written by Dr Goncalo Amaral, which as you will be well aware is currently the subject of the final trial in the-long running libel action the McCanns brought against Dr Amaral

3. The fact that the content of Dr Amaral’s book has been repeatedly shown to be entirely consistent with the contents of the police files released to the general public in 2008 (indeed this fact has been repeatedly emphasised during the first six days of this trial)

4. The fact that the concluding report signed off by the regional Attorney-General in July 2008, whilst archiving the investigation and deciding there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone, made it plain that the Portuguese judicial authorities by no means established as a fact the McCanns’ claim that Madeleine had been abducted

5. Moreover the possibility that Madeleine had died in her parents’ apartment and her body hidden was explicitly acknowledged in the very same report.

If you have carefully considered the above facts, I am at a loss to understand how the BBC can proceed with this programme at all, and refer to ‘the abduction’ of Madeleine. Notwithstanding the fact that the DNA of blood and body fluid samples taken from the McCanns’ flat and hired car could not be proved to have come

from Madeleine (though the Forensic Science Service certainly also said they could have done, the alerts of two sniffer dogs belonging to top police dog handler Martin Grime cannot be ignored in considering whether or not Madeleine was abducted. The McCanns for example have never been able to explain the presence of the dogs’ alerts to the past presence of a human corpse in four locations in the McCanns’ flat, on three items of their clothing, in the hired car and other locations associated with them. Dr Gerald McCann has claimed that sniffer dogs are ‘incredibly unreliable’ despite the fact their reliability is becoming ever greater and their use in ever more fields of detection, drugs, explosives, medicine and other disciplines is growing rapidly.

The BBC cannot consider making a programme telling the viewers that Madeleine was ‘abducted’ without informing viewers of the contrary evidence. If they did , it would be a wholly dishonest programme.

Furthermore, legitimate complaint could be made to the disciplinary body of the National Union of Journalists if any member of the NUJ had contributed to a dishonest programme which ignored or set aside relevant facts. Sections 1 to 4 and 9 of the NUJ Code of Conduct appear to apply to the possible circumstances of this proposed broadcast.

The history of reconstructions or attempted reconstructions

In the Portuguese criminal justice system, reconstructions of events surrounding a murder or disappearance or other crime are used to test the validity of the witnesses’ statements. The actual persons involved in such events are the witnesses themselves. They will be invited to the scene of the crime. Such reconstructions are commonly video-recorded for the benefit of the criminal investigation. This is especially true where there are obvious contradictions between the witnesses’ statement, as is manifestly the case regarding Madeleine’s disappearance. Your researchers must be fully aware of these. They have been extensively catalogued and analysed (a) in the interim report of Tavares de Almeida (b) in the Attorney-General’s final report (c) in Dr Goncalo Amaral’s book and (d) on numerous Madeleine McCann information and discussions sites on the internet.

This type of ‘reconstruction’ is very different from a ‘Crimewatch’-style televised reconstruction.

Dr Amaral wanted to do such a reconstruction as it was clear from the first week of the investigation that there were significant inconsistencies in the witnesses’ statements. As he explains in his book, he decided not to carry one out because of the intense media spotlight he and his team were under.

A reconstruction of some of the events of 3 May 2007 were shown on the BBC’s Panorama programme on 19 November 2007.

A second attempt by the Portuguese police to hold a reconstruction occurred in the spring of 2008. The McCanns and their friends all declined to take part, giving a variety of reasons for not doing so. Dr Gerald McCann specifically said at the time that he saw no purpose in such a reconstruction as the police would not be showing the reconstruction on TV. He said he wanted a ‘Crimewatch-style’ reconstruction. Therefore the proposed Portuguese police reconstruction could not proceed.

The Channel 4 reconstruction, 2009

In May 2009, Channel 4 screened a reconstruction made by Mentorn Media. This was heavily criticised by many on a number of grounds, including these:

(1) It featured the description of a possible abductor by Jane Tanner, despite numerous indications that her alleged ‘sighting’ was fabricated (see below)

(2) It attempted to link an alleged sighting of a man carrying a child by Irishman, Martin Smith, at around 10.00pm in a different part of Praia da Luz, with Jane Tanner’s claimed ‘sighting’ at 9.15pm. The unlikelihood of any abductor walking around the village for 45 minutes or more carrying a child is so obvious as to hardly require mention

(3) It attempted to suggest that the man allegedly seen by Jane Tanner and the man allegedly seen by Martin Smith were one and the same, despite Jane Tanner describing the man as having ‘long, black hair’ whilst the man described by Martin Smith had ‘short, brown hair’

(4) Three witnesses, namely Jane Tanner, Jeremy Wilkins and Dr Gerald McCann gave significantly contradictory statements about the very moment when Jane Tanner claimed to have seen the abductor at 9.15pm. These were contemptuously dismissed on the TV reconstruction by the McCanns’ then chief private investigator, ex-Detective Inspector Dave Edgar, as ‘inevitable inconsistencies’. Any serious detective would have probed the contradictions, which should have been fully aired on the programme

(5) The man shown in the documentary as carrying a child away from near the McCanns’ apartment did not look the same as Jane Tanner’s description. In any case, of course, Jane Tanner admitted to not seeing his face.

Severe doubts about the credibility of Jane Tanner

The reasons for discounting the evidence of Jane Tanner are many but include:

a) changes in her accounts, such as changing the direction in which the person she claimed to have seen was walking

b) her recollection of details about the abductor and the child improving with time, such as ‘recollecting’ on a second interview precise details of the pattern of the pyjamas of the girl being carried (in line with what she already knew about Madeleine’s pyjamas)

c) rambling and over-elaborate descriptions of the abductor and what he was wearing, both when interviewed by the Portuguese police and later when re-interviewed by Leicestershire Police

d) her positive identification on 13 May 2007 of Robert Murat as the person she’d seen carrying a child away from near the McCanns’ apartment - only for her to change her mind about this months later

e) her willingness to claim that the person she claimed to have seen looked like a moustachioed man seen by a Mrs Gail Cooper, despite the fact that Jane Tanner admitted never having seen the man’s face on 3 May

f) the fact that at a press conference in August 2009, the McCanns’ chief investigator, Dave Edgar, said that Jane tanner might have been mistaken and seen a woman carrying a child, not a man

g) the fact that her story was so vague and inconsistent that the Portuguese police dismissed it as a fabrication from very early on in their investigation.

Other facts that the BBC need to take into account if they are to proceed with this broadcast

If the above matters are not considered by the BBC to be sufficient reason for not proceeding with their Crimewatch programme, I invite you to consider the following additional points:

1. The thread of criminality running through the McCann Team’s investigators. If the BBC has researched the background material to this case correctly before even considering to screen this reconstruction, then you will be aware that the McCanns’ first preferred detectives, the Spanish firm Metodo 3, has a long record of criminal conduct. Two of Metodo 3’s investigators who worked very closely with the head of the McCann Team’s private investigators, Cheshire businessman Brian Kennedy, have served time in prison. Antonio Giminez Raso spent four years in prison on remand due to his association with a 27-criminal gang of drug-dealers who were convicted of serious criminal charges in a Barcelona court last year. Julian Peribanez who also worked very closely with Brian Kennedy has spent much of this year after his arrest for illegally taping the conversations of Spanish politicians, an offence he has now admitted and for which he is awaiting sentence. The McCanns also employed Kevin Halligen, who charged the McCann Team £500,000 plus expenses yet, as exposed in a 2009 article in the Evening Standard and elsewhere, spent most of the time he was employed by them on high living in London, Oxfordshire and the U.S.with his girlfriend Shirin Trachiotis, and was arrested in 2009 on serious fraud charges in the U.S. which he eventually admitted. He spent a total of four years in Belmarsh and another top security prison in the U.S. None of these investigators had any experience in locating missing children but most had expertise in such areas as money laundering and fraud.

These private detectives have together with the McCann Team produced a bewildering variety of so-called ‘suspects’ and ‘person of interest’, 21 in total so far, two of them women, a fact which also undermines the credibility of the McCann Team’s private investigators.

Should the BBC in its proposed broadcast continue to promote the clsaim that Madeleine McCann was abducted, you must take full account of this record and indeed many other matters of real concern about the McCanns’ private investigations, which again your researchers must know.

2. Dr Kate McCann’s refusal to answer any one of 48 questions put to her on interview by the Portuguese police on 7 September 2007.

3. The refusal of the McCanns and their friends (in 2008) to attend an official police reconstruction.

4. The numerous contradictionsin the witnesses’ evidence about the events of 3 May 2007.

This is a vast subject. Again, no doubt your researchers, together of course with D.C.I. Andy Redwood and his team, are aware of the following contradictions and changes of story etc. These contradictions would need to be resolved if possible before any realistic re-construction could possibly take place. If you proceed with a reconstruction, you will be faced with the problem of which version of events you will be presenting to viewers. In my view, the only honest way for the BBC to proceed would be to present the viewer with all the contradictions, letting the viewer see for her/himself what they are, and allowing the viewer to draw her/his own conclusions. Among the main contradictions are the following:

(a) Three different versions about a claimed ‘high tea’ that Madeleine is said to have had with her parents and crèche staff at about 5.30pm

(b) Two entirely different versions (Dr Kate McCann and Dr David Payne) of an alleged visit by Dr Payne to the McCanns’ apartment, when he claims to have seen all three children alive

(c) Three different accounts (Dr Gerald McCann, Jane Tanner and Jeremy Wilkins (whose partner, Bridget O’Donnell we understand has worked for Crimewatch before) about events at around 9.15pm on 3 May, the time when Jane Tanner claims she saw a man carrying a child

(d) Whether or not the curtains of the children’s room in the apartment were wide open (Dr Kate McCann’s first version) or closed (Dr Kate McCann’s later version)

(e) Whether you will be showing the shutters smashed, broken, and jemmied open (the McCanns’ first versions) or completely undamaged(reality - and subsequently admitted as such by the McCanns’ spokesman, Clarence Mitchell)

(f) Whether you will be showing Dr Gerald McCann entering through the ‘front door using his key’ (Dr McCann’s first police statement), or ‘going in through the unlocked patio door’(Dr Gerald McCann’s second police statement)

(g) Whether you will be showing Madeleine tucked up in bed because it was a cold night (Dr Kate McCann’s version - the cold also being testified to by the rest of the McCanns’ friends and indeed by weather records ) - or lying on top of the covers because it was so hot (Dr Gerald McCann’s version).

5. The extremely limited ‘window of opportunity’ for any claimed abductor to have removed Madeleine from the apartment. On the basis of statements made by Dr Gerald McCann, Jane Tanner and Jeremy Wilkins, with very precise timing included within them (Dr McCann for example says he left the apartment at 9.10pm, and Jane Tanner says she saw a man carrying a child in the area at 9.15pm) the time available for the abductor to remove Madeleine is somewhere between 1 minute 20 seconds and three minutes. During this time, the McCann Team suggest that an intruder could have entered the apartment (either via an open patio door or by having a key to the front door, sedated three children, selected one of them, picked her up, turner her round so that her feet are now to the right, open the curtains, window and shutters as some kind of ‘red herring’ (see ‘red herring’ statement made by Dr Kate McCann) and then exit, all of this being accomplished without being seen or heard by anyone except Jane Tanner and without leaving any forensic trace. (The suggestion that Madeleine and the twins were sedated is a repeated theme of the McCanns and their team over the past six years).

6. The only fingerprints on the window found by police being those of Dr Kate McCann, strongly suggesting that she opened the window in order to promote the abduction scenario.

7. In the very unlikely event that Madeleine is still alive and is being held by the abductor or others, has BBC Crimewatch assessed the risk that its programme could lead to Madeleine being harmed by the person who now has her?

A useful summary of the many contradictions, changes of story and other inconsistencies amongst the witness statements in this case can be read on this e-book by Michael McLean at: or

Yours sincerely


su said...

This is a brilliant written document and what a good idea.
Crimewatch you will have no excuse if you go ahead with the lie propaganda.
You then become acomplices.

Lisa Edington said...

WOW! Excellent letter, I just hope you get a reply from them! (doubt it though) Would you also mind if I share this on our page as we want as many people as possible to view it? (
Thank you very much, I am most impressed with this x

lesly said...

A really excellent piece that we should ensure reaches as many people as possible. I know that I will.

Well said.

lilyflower said...

As someone who initially felt sorry for the McCann's, but read up a lot and came to the same conclusion that they had something to do with it. I believe that it was an accidental death that they covered up. I still do not understand why they haven't been prosecuted for neglect.

It makes my blood boil that this programme is going ahead.

Any woman who can write that line on page 129 of her book, needs looking at. She's totally detatched and sick. And saying in another interview that she could forgive the person who did this, and felt sorry for them.

This TV show should not be going ahead! It's not balanced at all.

N said...

It's a brilliant expose, detailed and comprehensive.Congratulations.

Seeker said...

Excellent. I would add my signature to this letter.

THA said...

You people really have too much time on your hands. Get a life.

susan mccabe said...

I cannot comprehend why journalists in the press and at the BBC are all wearing blinkers and dancing to their (McCanns) tune?! Doesn't take CSI to read the facts and conclude they were lying! Why not ask them to explain for the first time in 6years the farcical version of events they and their friends/accomplices came up with? They have literally got away with murder - to pitch their nonsense via Crimewatch is vile.

Kieran Buchanan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leslie Lim said...

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