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Monday, 2 May 2016

Reasons why the public need a report on Operation Grange: The letter handed in to Prime Minister, David Cameron, on 29 April 2016 in support of the petition

Tel: 01279 635789                                                       66 Chippingfield

e-mail:                                HARLOW


                                                                                        CM17 0DH

                                                                                     Friday 29 April 2016

Rt Hon David Cameron MP

Prime Minster

10 Downing Street




Dear Mr Cameron

re: Petition on the Prime Minister’s website to order the Home Secretary to publish a report on the Madeleine McCann Enquiry [Operation Grange]

First of all thank you for continuing the previous practice of allowing people to submit petitions via the Downing Street Petition site, and also for facilitating my being able to deliver the petition results in person to you today.

The petition attracted 3,111 signatures. Its preamble states: Enquiries by British (and Portuguese) police forces have cost around £15 million in 8 years. The public is now entitled to a full report on how that has been spent. The report should cover the role of the government, the security services & UK police forces”.

I appreciate that only those petitions that attract 10,000 or more signatories are entitled to a government reply. I am also aware that the police do not normally issue reports on their investigations.  However, in view of (a) the totally unprecedented media coverage the Madeleine McCann case has had for the past nine years, (b) the degree of concern that has regularly been expressed in many quarters about the way this operation was initially set up, (c) the way it has since been conducted, (d) the length of time of the operation – 5 years, and (e) its cost, estimated at around  £14 million so far, I trust you will feel able, on this occasion, to respond to the concerns expressed by many thousands of people - and of course the 3,111 who have signed the petition.  

The highly unusual way the initial review was set up, the reasons for it, the very unusual remit, and the later setting-up of what amounted to an active police investigation on foreign soil are all factors that make this police investigation unprecedented.

Added to that, many of the public have repeatedly expressed why this particular missing child case has been singled out, why it has taken so long with no apparent prospect of success, and its £14 million cost. That cost, moreover, excludes the costs of: (1) the Portuguese Police operation, (2) the Leicestershire Police investigation, and (3) the controversial private investigations carried out by the McCanns, their benefactor, Cheshire-based businessman Brian Kennedy, and the Directors of the Find Madeleine Fund.

I now set out some of the main areas of concern on which, we suggest, the public is entitled to persuasive and honest answers:     

A.   The setting up of the initial Review, 12 May 2011

For two years, the McCanns had been unsuccessfully lobbying two successive Home Secretaries (Alan Johnson, and then Theresa May) to secure a Review. Then Kate McCann decided to publish a book on 11 May 2011, which the Sun newspaper began serialising three weeks beforehand. On 11 May, the Sun published a letter from the McCanns, direct to yourself, appealing for you to order a Review. The very next day you did order a Review.

Subsequently it emerged from credible sources ‘close to No. 10’, and widely publicised on the BBC and other news networks, that you had been badgered into setting up the Review by Rebekah Brooks, the Chief Executive Officer of News International, which owns the Sun. There were credible reports that she had threatened you with ‘a week of bad headlines about Theresa May’ if you did not accede to her request.

These issues were publicly aired by Lord Leveson at the lengthy public enquiry  held into press regulation. Rebekah Brooks was asked a direct question by Lord Leveson as to whether she had ‘threatened’ the Prime Minister in order for the McCanns to secure the Review they had been seeking. She said ‘No’. Lord Leveson then asked her ‘What word would you use, then?’ She smiled, winked and said ‘Persuaded’. It is clear therefore that, whatever words were spoken to you by Rebekah Brooks, she persuaded you to completely reverse decisions made by successive Home Secretaries over the past two years who, in their political and professional judgment, did not agree that there was a persuasive case for a review.

Any report to the public should investigate what Rebekah Brooks did say to you that caused you to order this Review.

Further, it was announced on the very same day (12 May) that the Home Secretary had agreed to establish a Review and had appointed Sir Paul Stephenson, then head of the Metropolitan Police (Met), to set it up. It is unlikely that all of that was done during the 24 hours between the Sun publishing the McCanns’ letter and your announcement of a Review. Any public report should explain how and when your decision was arrived at and whether, in fact, the McCanns’ letter in the Sun was a pre-planned move to enable you to announce the Review the following day.

B.   The appointment of Detective Superintendent (DCS) Hamish Campbell as the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) and the person who would decide the remit of the Review                          

A decision was taken, presumably by the then Head of the Met, Sir Paul Stephenson, to appoint DCS Hamish Campbell as the SIO in the case. He decided the remit of any review or investigation, which has proved controversial.

As any internet search reveals, DCS Campbell is best known for his actions in the case of the prosecution of an innocent man, Barry George/Bulsara, for the cold-blooded murder of TV presenter, Jill Dando, a murder that remains  unsolved to this day. He was the Investigating Officer. On evidence which he helped to assemble, Barry George/Bulsara was wrongly convicted of Jill Dando’s murder and served eight years in jail for a crime he did not commit. At the subsequent Court of Appeal hearing which led to the release of George/Bulsara, the judges suggested that there were strong indications that a trace of firearms residue which matched the known murder weapon of Jill Dando may have been deliberately planted in George/Bulsara’s coat pocket.

Another question which should be fully explained in any public report about Operation Grange is why an officer with such a poor record of criminal investigation and judgment should have been entrusted with this sensitive, high profile and complex investigation.

C.   The conduct of Operation Grange: the chief suspects

There is widespread bafflement as to the conduct of Operation Grange.

One crucial aspect is their identification of the chief suspect allegedly responsible for abducting Madeleine McCann.   

Until a BBC Crimewatch McCann Special transmitted on 14 October 2013, the chief suspect had been a man carrying a child said to have been seen by the McCanns’ ‘Tapas 7’ friend, Jane Tanner, at exactly 9.15pm on Thursday 3 May, about 45 minutes before Madeleine was reported missing. As Gerry McCann had given evidence that he had checked on his child between 9.05pm and 9.10pm that evening, it was assumed that this abductor must have snatched Madeleine immediately after Gerry McCann left the apartment to return to the Tapas restaurant.

Surprisingly, however, the McCann Team did not release an artist’s sketch of the man that Jane Tanner said she had seen until nearly six months later. This unidentified man remained the chief suspect when Operation Grange began their work in May 2011 and he continued to be featured on the Met Police and the McCanns’ websites for a further two-and-a-half years. This was despite the clear findings of the Portuguese Police enquiry that no reliance could be placed on Jane Tanner’s evidence. 

DCI Redwood on the Crimewatch programme in October 2013 claimed to have ‘found’ this man, but gave a highly improbable account of how he came forward and what he had been doing that night. DCI Redwood, Operation Grange’s Investigating Officer, told the 6.7-million Crimewatch audience that the Met now thought this man had been taking his daughter home from a night crèche at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz.                

There were several unlikely features of DCI Redwood’s account, namely:

1.   The man had waited for well over six years before approaching the police to say he now thought he might, after all, have been the man seen by Jane Tanner that night

2.   He had been walking past the McCanns’ apartment at exactly the same time as the man Jane Tanner said she had seen a man

3.   He was said by DCI Redwood to have been wearing clothes that week ‘uncannily similar’ to those described by Jane Tanner

4.   He was also carrying a young girl

5.   He was also said to have been carrying her in exactly the same way as described by Jane Tanner.

The viewing public were asked to believe that this man had only just come forward after six years and that, co-incidentally, he had no buggy with in which to carry the child, her mother was not with him, and he had no blanket or other covering to cover the child on a cold and windy night in Portugal – the temperature being only 13C at the time. In addition to all these improbable coincidences, if the man had indeed been walking in the same direction as the man seen by Jane Tanner, a map showed that he had clearly followed a mysteriously circuitous route from the night crèche to have been walking in that place in that direction.

The strange production of this man by DCI Redwood, six years and five months after Madeleine was reported missing, raised many questions and needs a full explanation.

If that was bizarre, then just as bizarre was the new chief suspect unveiled by DCI Redwood on the same programme, namely a man said to have been seen by several members of an Irish family at around 10.00pm on Thursday 3 May 2007, the very time that the McCanns were raising the alarm.

During the programme, DCI Redwood said that this man was ‘the centre of our focus’ – the new chief suspect. He also unveiled two quite different-looking e-fits and told the Crimewatch audience: ‘This is the man we are now looking for’.

It was obvious to those who have a working knowledge of the case that there were major problems about the reliability of both the alleged ‘sighting’ and the accompanying e-fits.

Here is a summary of the main issues about the alleged ‘sighting’ and the two different e-fits:

(1)  No member of the Irish family contacted the police about their claimed sighting until 13 days later

(2)  When they did so, it was the day after news came in that Robert Murat had been arrested. The father of the family had met Mr Murat on a number of previous occasions

(3)  The family have given at least four contradictory reasons for why they delayed reporting their sighting

(4)  The descriptions they gave of the person they said they saw matched in almost every respect the description given by the McCanns’ friend, Jane Tanner. Thus all three descriptions – Jane Tanner’s, the Irish family’s, and that of the ‘man from the crèche’ given out by DCI Redwood on the Crimewatch programme - are of an identical-looking man.

As the Met Police have now claimed that this sighting was that of a man carrying his children home from the night crèche, whose description matched that of Jane Tanner, this then raises the question of whether the 10.00pm sighting by the Irish family was either (A) of the ‘man from the crèche’, still carrying his child home (unlikely in the extreme) or (B) of another man altogether – but who looked very much like him, and also carrying a young blonde girl in pyjamas with no covering on her to protect her from the cold

(5)  When interviewed on 26 May 2007 in Portugal, all three members of the Irish family said that they would ‘never be able to recognise him if we saw him again’

(6)  The e-fits that were shown on the BBC Crimewatch programme were produced by Henri Exton, the former Head of Covert Intelligence at MI5. He had been employed by the McCanns’ leading private investigator at the time. Kevin Halligen. Later, between 2009 and 2013, Halligen spent over four years in jail for committing a major, £1 million-plus fraud. No date has been given for when he drew up these e-fits, but from public statements made by the McCanns, it appear that he and Exton were employed for around four months between April and August 2008. It is reasonable to assume therefore that these e-fist were drawn up during those four months

(7)  The claim that members of the Irish family were able to draw up not one, but two e-fits – of faces that looked quite different - 11 months or longer after their original sighting of him, seems unlikely in the extreme. All three Smiths who gave evidence in person to the Portuguese Police admitted that

a)    they had only managed to see the man for a few seconds at the very most

b)   it was dark at the time

c)    the street lighting, in their own words, was ‘weak’, and

d)   they were unable to get a clear view of his face because his face was ‘turned down’ and allegedly partly hidden by the child he was carrying

(8)  As can be seen, the two e-fits produced on Crimewatch by the Met Police look like quite different men. There is a big difference in the overall shape of the face, the size of the chin, length of the nose, hairstyle and so on. It is unusual, to say the very last, for any police force to produce two separate and quite different-looking images of a suspect that they really want to find

(9)  In addition to all the above reasons for questioning this claimed ‘sighting’, as a result of an article in the Sunday Times on 27 October 2013, we are now much better informed about the history of these e-fits. The Met Police said nothing about their history on BBC Crimewatch, despite knowing fine well what their history was.

But following the Sunday Times article, we now know:

a)    the e-fits were drawn up between April and August 2008

b)   they were shown to the McCanns by Henri Exton some time during this period 

c)    the McCanns are on record as stating that they showed these e-fits to both the Portuguese Police and the Leicestershire Police ‘by’ October 2009. They have not been willing to give the actual dates they were disclosed to each police force

d)   according to the McCanns, neither police force considered that it was worth informing the public about these e-fits

e)    soon after Operation Grange was set up in May 2011, the McCanns showed these e-fits to Operation Grange

f)     Operation Grange did not act to show these e-fits to the public until the BBC Crimewatch programme of 14 October 2013.

Thus it was a minimum of 5 years and 2 months, possibly up to 5 years and 6 months, before these e-fits were shown to the public.

These very strange issues concerning the ‘sightings’ of three men all allegedly fitting the same description - and the precise circumstances of the history of the e-fits - cry out for the police to explain their conduct.                                                                                                    

D.  The conduct of Operation Grange: the BBC Crimewatch programme of 14 October 2013

I have already made reference to the Crimewatch programme.

The BBC admitted that it spent over 6 months and £1 million on the preparations for the programme.  The Met Police must have spent a similar amount. It received huge promotion by the BBC and the mainstream press, such that audience figures suggest it was watched by 6.7 million people - a Crimewatch record.


During the programme, a purported reconstruction of the events of 3 May was shown to viewers. However, it was not faithful to the reported events of that evening. A host of material facts about that day that were made public in August 2008 when the Portuguese Police released full details of their  investigation  on a DVD. But nay of them were omitted from the Met/BBC reconstruction. This is highly unusual because normally a Crimewatch programne will disclose all leading material facts. For example, contradictory accounts of events and changes of story by some of the main witnesses were not featured in the programme. Thus the viewers did not get a balanced picture of events that day. That has led to concerns expressed by many that the programme was much more about public perception than about seeking relevant information from viewers - the normal purpose of Crimewatch.

That impression was underlined by the fact that the two e-fits were shown to a British audience but not to any audience in Portugal, where the actual alleged sighting happened. There must also be a major question mark about whether two different e-fits of a man allegedly seen six years and five months before the programme was transmitted were ever likely to bring in any new information. The Met Police’s response to a Freedom of Information question I submitted at the end of last year revealed that, two years further on, this ‘mystery man’ had still not been identified. And of course forensic enquiries conducted in the McCanns’ apartment revealed no forensic traces of any abductor.

E.   The conduct of Operation Grange: reliance on the unreliable evidence provided by the McCanns’ own investigation team

Early on in the life of Operation Grange, the Investigating Officer, DCI Andy Redwood, claimed that a major advantage of his investigation was that it ‘brought together’ evidence from three separate investigations, or ‘strands’: those of the Portuguese Police, Leicestershire Police, and the McCanns’ own investigation team.

This raised a major issue of what reliance could be placed on any ‘evidence’ from the McCanns’ own investigation team, given that all the following facts have emerged during the past nine years:

1)   The initial detective team they appointed, Barcelona-based Metodo 3, was highly controversial, with a chequered history including its directors having been arrested in a major telephone tapping scandal

2)   Its Director, Francisco Marco, issued a stream of lies during December 2007, claiming, inter alia, that:

a)    They knew Madeleine was alive

b)   They knew where she was being held

c)    They were closing in on the kidnappers, and

d)   Madeleine would be ‘home for Christmas’.

Despite these very blatant untruths, the Directors of the Find Madeleine Fund continued to employ them for many months, according to some reports up to March 2009.

3)   In February 2008, one of Metodo 3’s top investigators on the Madeleine McCann investigation was remanded in custody - and spent four years in prison - on serious charges of theft of cocaine and corruption charges (before being employed by the McCann, he had been a Detective Inspector on the Catalonia Regional Drugs Squad. He had been close to a 27-strong gang of career criminals and drugs dealers who were described by the judge hearing the case as ‘exceptionally violent’.

4)   Furthermore, in 2012, several staff of Metodo 3 who worked for the McCanns were arrested and charged with illegal telephone tapping, charges which they admitted.

5)   Moreover, in 2014, two former Metodo 3 investigators, Julian Peribanez and Antonio Tamarit, wrote a book; ‘La Cortina de Humo’ - The Smokescreen - which demonstrated how Metodo 3’s boss, Francisco Marco, who headed the McCann Team’s private investigations in 2007 and in 2008, had comprehensively lied about the numbers of people he had on his investigation team, and what they were really employed to do.  I have attached a translation of the relevant chapter for your information.        

6)   Kevin Halligen, employed as the lead McCann Team investigator from April to late August 2008, was also remanded in custody on fraud charges in October 2009 and spent four years in jail, having been found guilty of a £1 million fraud. According to a lengthy and well-researched article by Mark Hollingsworth in the Evening Standard in August 2009, Halligen did little or no practical work of value in the hunt for Madeleine but instead squandered most of the £560,000 he was paid by the McCann Team on ‘living the high life’ in luxury hotels in the U.S., Italy and the U.K. with his then girlfriend, Shirin Trachiotis. After being on the run, wanted for fraud, he was eventually located in the £700-a-night Bank Hotel, Oxford, where he and his girlfriend were holed up.

7)   The McCann Team, later, in 2009, employed two former British detectives, ex DI Dave Edgar and ex DetSgt Arthur Cowley, as their lead investigators. In August that year, Dave Edgar and the McCanns’ PR spokesman fronted a major press conference where they announced that:

a)    a British banker, who had been drinking for several hours in the bars around the port of Barcelona, had ‘agonised’ for two years but had now come forward with information that, three nights after Madeleine had been reported missing, he had been approached on Barcelona dockside at 2.00am by a young woman who said: “Have you got my new daughter?” 

b)   the young woman was said to ‘look like Victoria Beckham’ and have an Australian accident

c)    Madeleine may have been brought by boat from Praia da Luz, Portugal,  to Barcelona between 3 and 6 May 2007, and that

d)   Madeleine may have been with the woman on a large yacht that had sailed to Australia the next day.

This press conference received huge coverage in the British TV and print media.

However, a lengthy report by Tom Worden, Martin Delgado and Andrew Chapman in the Mail on Sunday on 15 August 2009 drew attention to multiple problems with the entire basis of story, which was much-hyped in the British mainstream media. Here are some extracts from the Mail’s report, which was headed: 

"Why did Madeleine McCann detectives ask so few questions?":

“Private detectives leading the hunt for Madeleine McCann faced questions last night after a Mail on Sunday investigation revealed apparent shortcomings in chasing a 'strong lead'. The detectives failed to make even rudimentary inquiries before announcing a 'significant’ development in the worldwide search for the six-year-old.’

“At a Press conference in London, lead investigator David Edgar appealed for help in finding a 'bit of a Victoria Beckham lookalike'…Mr Edgar, 52, told the 50 journalists from several countries: ‘It's a strong lead. Madeleine could have been in Barcelona by this point. The fact the conversation took place near the marina could be significant’.

“The Mail on Sunday, however, has established that members of Mr Edgar's team who had visited Barcelona:

·         Failed to speak to anyone working at the seafood restaurant near where the agitated woman was seen at 2am.

·         Failed to ask the port authority about movement of boats around the time Madeleine disappeared.

·         Failed to ask if the mystery woman had been filmed on CCTV.

·         Knew nothing about the arrival of an Australian luxury yacht just after Madeleine vanished until told by British journalists, who gave them the captain's mobile phone number.

·         Failed to interview anyone at a nearby dockside bar where, according to Mr Edgar, the mystery woman was later seen drinking.

·         Failed to ask British diplomats in Spain for advice before or during the visit.

“Also, Spanish police could not confirm that they had been contacted by the British investigators. Last night Mr Edgar said: 'We are not above criticism and I take responsibility for any shortcomings. If somebody has not done what they should have done, that's my job to deal with that’.”

“The Mail on Sunday's inquiry by a Spanish-speaking reporter in Barcelona last week has exposed worrying gaps in the British detectives' strategy, including failure to question several people who might have vital information. Barcelona port director Joan Guitart said: 'Nobody has been here asking questions about Madeleine or this Australian woman. This is the first I have heard about any possible link to the port’. A source at the British Embassy in Madrid said: 'The detectives did not inform us or the consulate in Barcelona that they were coming to Spain, nor request any assistance in their investigation’. A Barcelona-based private detective with more than 20 years' experience of missing persons cases said: 'I cannot understand why the Madeleine detectives would have released this story and e-fit to the public without first making their own investigation in the port. It beggars belief that they did not even speak to the owner of the restaurant or the port authorities’.”

Understandably, there were many who suggested that this story had been manufactured simply in order to provide another opportunity for another set of headlines about Madeleine and was never a realistic lead. It raised stil more legitimate questions about the activities of the McCann Team’s private investigators.

F.   The conduct of Operation Grange: contradictory statements and actions about what happened to Madeleine

Operation Grange’s conduct of this case has been marked by a number of both obtuse and baffling statements and actions about what has happened to Madeleine.

Early on, in a TV interview in 2012, DCI Redwood offered the comment that “Madeleine may be alive…or she may be dead”.

In 2014, Operation Grange mounted a huge operation to search either two or three (both were stated) waste ground sites in Praia da Luz. The search was deliberately conducted in the full glare of publicity, with camera teams from many countries covering the search. There were British police officers with pickaxes, augers and forensic bags combing the ground, whilst a phalanx of Portuguese Police officers looked on and guarded the site. It was clear that - despite the Portuguese Police having thoroughly searched these sites many years ago – Operation Grange were looking for forensic evidence of a dead body. 

In addition, Operation Grange officers searched the village from a Portuguese military helicopter, a top-of-the-range Mark III Alouette. The Portuguese Police issued a statement that the British police would have to meet the costs of hiring the helicopter, guarding the site, and also the expense of acting as ‘Rogatory Interviewers’ and translators of interviews with no fewer than 11 suspects who were summoned for interviews under caution in 2014.

Soon after these events, DCI Redwood was quoted as saying that ‘Madeleine may have been dead before she left the apartment’. This obtuse and baffling statement could have meant a number of things, but most people assumed that DCI Redwood was inferring that the abductor murdered Madeleine in the apartment, carried her out, and hid her body somewhere.

Redwood had already committed himself on BBC Crimewatch to saying that a man seen by the Irish family was (and still is) his chief suspect.  Thus, taking all his statements together, it became clear that his hypothesis was that a man had killed and removed Madeleine from her apartment and was still carrying her dead body through the streets of Praia da Luz about half a mile away, several minutes later, heading towards the beach. 

However, despite all the above, the new Senior Investigating Officer in the case, Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie, called a hasty press conference on Monday 18 April this year in which he was reported, in all the following day’s mainstream newspapers (Tuesday 19 April) as saying that Operation Grange was now pursing ‘reasonable lines of enquiry’ which suggested that Madeleine ‘may still be alive’.

It was only later that day that the reason for this sudden proclamation that Madeleine may be alive became clear. On the morning of that very day, it became public that Dr Goncalo Amaral, the original investigation co-ordinator in the case, had succeeded in obtaining a unanimous verdict of three Portuguese Court of Appeal judges who upheld his appeal and over-turned a lower court verdict that his book, ‘The Truth About A Lie’, was libellous. The Appeal Court ruled that it was not libellous and said that under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – ‘Freedom of Expression’ – he was perfectly entitled to publish his conclusions on the case. The Court also ruled that the McCanns would have to pay the entire costs of their seven-year legal fight against Dr Amaral, amounting to an estimated £500,000.  

The question arises as to whether the Met Police press conference last Monday (18 April) helped in any way to further the Met Police’s investigation. Manifestly it did not. The only reasonable inference to be drawn by the Met Police’s conduct is that the press conference was arranged, once again, to influence public perception, and to counteract what they knew in advance would be adverse publicity the following day when the Portuguese Court of Appeal verdict in the case of McCanns v Amaral became known.   

G.  The conduct of Operation Grange – A procession of statements and leaks about very unlikely suspects

Entirely contrary to normal police practice, Scotland Yard have repeatedly made statements about improbable suspects. In addition, there were ‘leaks’ of even more improbable suspects, which news media claimed were sourced from Scotland Yard but never denied. Just to list some of these illustrate the extraordinary procession of unlikely suspects:

·         ‘We have 38 persons of interest, 12 of whom are British’

·         ‘A burglar in the McCanns’ apartment who was disturbed when Madeleine woke up – a burglary gone wrong’

·         ‘A tractor-driver from  the Cape Verde Islands who is now dead’

·         ‘A man from the Ocean Club who had a spare set of keys’

·         ‘A man who smelt of rubbish bins who was trying to access the apartments of British families’    

·         ‘Six British men seen driving a white van’

·         ‘It may have been one of 650 registered sex offenders whose records we are checking’

·         ‘We will be interviewing 11 suspects under caution and asking them 254 prepared written questions, including ‘Did you kill Madeleine McCann?’

Quite apart from this plethora of unlikely suspects, in some cases the identifying of possible suspects in this highly irregular fashion could have altered any person responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance and caused him/her to ‘go to ground’. That is irresponsible police conduct and once again cries out for a rational explanation.          

H.  The conduct of Operation Grange: The visit of Alison Saunders, now the Director of Prosecutions, to Portugal in 2013 

On 21 June 2013, the Guardian (along with other newspapers) reported that:

Alison Saunders, the Senior Crown Prosecutor for London, and her colleague Jenny Hopkins, Head of the Complex Casework Unit, discussed new leads in the inquiry with their Portuguese counterparts…

“The Met began a review into the case - funded by the Home Office - after Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, appealed to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, for help. The Portuguese investigation was closed in 2008 and there have been repeated discussions between the British and Portuguese authorities with a view to reopening the inquiry. So far the Portuguese have refused to do so, saying concrete new evidence would be required…”

It is far from clear what the high profile visit of these two top CPS officers achieved, if anything. There has been no prosecution of anybody. Any report on  Operation Grange should be able to explain in clear terms what was the purpose of sending these two high-ranking CPS officers to Portugal.

I.     The conduct of Operation Grange: The obsessive re-publication of endless statistics

One of the features of Operation Grange over the past five years has been the repetitive procession of statistics about the amount of work they have carried out. The latest such occasion was in October 2015 when they announced the following statistics:

·         The inquiry took 1,338 statements

·         The inquiry collected 1,027 exhibits

·         Officers investigated more than 60 persons of interest.

·         A total of 650 sex offenders were considered

·         Reports of 8,685 potential sightings of Madeleine around the world were followed up

·         7,154 actions were raised

·         560 lines of inquiry were identified, and

·         More than 30 requests were made to countries across the world asking for work to be undertaken on behalf of the Met.

In addition to the above list, Operation Grange has also informed us previously that they:

·         Searched the mobile ’phone records of over 11,000 mobile ’phone users across 30 countries

·         Travelled to Portugal over 30 times

·         Interviewed 11 named suspects under caution, and

·         Served several ‘Rogatory Requests’ on the Portuguese Police.

On the face of it, that looks like a very comprehensive and thorough piece of work. Yet, so far as can be ascertained, all of this prodigious level of activity has not brought us one jot nearer finding out what really happened to Madeleine McCann.

According to the files released in July 2008 by the Portuguese Police, there was no forensic trace of an abductor having been in the McCanns’ apartment. A finger-print was found on the window of the apartment, but it was that of Kate McCann. No-one heard or saw the abduction taking place. The person thought to have been the abductor turns out, so DCI Redwood told 6.7 million people on Crimewatch, to have been a man using the night creche on the night Madeleine was reported missing, who hadn’t bothered for six years to tell any police force that he might have been the person seen by Jane Tanner.

The only other evidence of Madeleine being abducted, apart from the McCanns’ evidence, is that of the controversial alleged sighting by an Irish family at 10.00pm that night. The Met Police admitted in answer to a Freedom of Information request in 2015 - eight years after this alleged sighting - that they had still not identified this man.

The question arises as to whether the massive amount of money, time and effort (5 years and around £14 million to date) was in the remotest degree proportional to the vast amount of effort expended. Any Home Office report should inform the public on what basis the Review and then the formal Investigation was ever thought to have a reasonable prospect of success in finding out what happened to Madeleine.

Nine years on, do we know who took her? - No. Do we know where she has been taken? – No. So what exactly, in real terms, has been achieved by Operation Grange? Can we please be told? The taxpayer has funded this.                      

J.   The conduct of Operation Grange – Other matters

Certain other matters ought to be covered in any report for the public on Operation Grange.

One is the frequently-made claim that the Operation Grange team were working ‘in close collaboration’ with their opposite numbers in Portugal. This has been flatly contradicted in many well-sourced newspaper reports in the U.K. and Portugal. One of these spoke of ‘open warfare’ between the two police forces. There has never been an tangible evidence of any ongoing Portuguese Police investigation after the case was shelved in July 2008. All the indications are that the British presence in Portugal was barely tolerated, at best, by the relevant Portuguese authorities.        

The team’s justification for, reportedly, staying at some of Portugal’s top 5-star and 4-star hotels is another matter on which many members of the public require an explanation.

In addition, the Met Police allowed frequent press reports to appear promising ‘imminent arrests’. These were not denied by Operation Grange. Yet there have never been any arrests. Why did the Met allow these excitable stories to be published without any correction? – as it appears they were all untrue.       

K.  Questions about the involvement of the British government and the security services in the Madeleine McCann case        

The petition preamble asked that any Home Office report “should cover the role of the government, the security services & UK police forces”.


Many people have, understandably, questioned the enormous scale of government and security service involvement in this case. A convincing answer has not yet been forthcoming. Amongst the unusual amount of such involvement have been the following issues:

·         Which government and other agencies formed part of the secret government task group convened under the leadership of  Matt Baggott, then Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police force, on 8 May 2007, just five days after Madeleine was reported missing. A Freedom of Information request seeking information about which agencies and persons were represented on that committee was refused. Why was that? What is so secretive about the identities of those persons employed at the taxpayer’s expense to help find out what really happened to Madeleine McCanns?

·         Why was an unusually high level of ambassadorial and consular assistance given to the McCanns from the very first day, wholly disproportionate to that given in any other similar ‘missing child’ case?

·         Why, within days of Madeleine being reported missing, did the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, send the Director of his 40-strong Media Monitoring Unit at the Central Office of Information, to act as a full-time Public Relations Office for the McCanns, a role he is still required to perform today?

·         Why was Special Branch involved, e.g. to convey the McCanns to their home after they returned to England having just been declared formal suspects in the case? Kate McCann wrote on page 259 of her book, ‘madeleine’: 0“A Special Branch Officer drove us to Rothley”. What was the full extent of Special Branch’s involvement, and why was it necessary?

·         There are several references in the case to MI5 being involved in the case. Again, why were they involved, and to what extent?

·         In particular, MI5 staff confronted one potentially very significant witness in the case, namely Mr Martin Grime, the top British sniffer dog handler, whose two dogs, Eddie and Keela, alerted to ‘cadaver scent contaminant’, blood and body fluids in 17 locations associated with the McCanns in Praia da Luz. On his return from his mission with his dogs in Portugal in August 2007, Martin Grime reported to Dr Amaral, the investigation co-ordinator, that on his return to England, he had been stopped and questioned by two MI5 officers at Faro Airport. Credible sources since then suggest that Martin  Grime was prevailed on by the two MI5 officers to ‘tone down’ his evidence when submitting his final report. [I note here that the McCanns (a) deny that the dogs alerted to cadaver scent contaminant, body fluids and blood, (b) maintain that without corroborative forensic evidence Mr Grime’s report cannot be used as evidence in a court of law, and (c) note that the DNA evidence, whilst revealing that the blood and body fluids could have come from Madeleine, did not amount to proof that they did].      

·         The three ‘private detectives’ who worked for the McCanns under the umbrella of ‘Oakley International’ in 2008 – Kevin Halligen, Henri Exton and Tim Craig-Harvey – all had significant and recent experience working closely with the government and/or the security services. Halligen, who was jailed for four years from 2009 to 2013, had worked closely with the Ministry of Defence on lithium batteries. Henri Exton had been the former Head of Covert Intelligence for MI5. Tim Craig-Harvey also had connections with the security services. Was the government, and the secret committee set up under the chairmanship of the Chief Constable of Leicestershire, Matt Baggott, on 8 May 2007, aware of or involved in their appointment?

·         The government is closely linked to the risk and security assessment company, Control Risks Group, which was dispatched to Praia da Luz in the days immediately following Madeleine being reported missing. Was the government involved in sending Control Risks Group and, whether they were or not, did the government help to fund the involvement of Control Risks Group?

·         Gerry McCann spoke of several personal calls he made to the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. Later, Gordon Brown was reported to have leaned heavily on the Portuguese Police to release a description of a man allegedly seen by the McCanns’ friend, Jane Tanner, at 9.15pm pm on 3 May 2007 (whom Operation Grange has subsequently identified as an innocent man whose child was at the night creche that evening). Gordon Brown, as Prime Minster from June 2007, subsequently personally discussed the Madeleine McCann case with Portuguese President Jose Socrates (now on remand in custody facing serious corruption charges) on at least two occasions. There was also evidence that Gordon Brown was regularly in touch with the Portuguese government demanding the sacking of the Madeleine McCann investigation co-ordinator, Goncalo Amaral, and was told beforehand that, on 2 October 2007, he would indeed be removed from his post. Any report should fully explain the great extent of his personal involvement in this matter.

Many people want answers to these and other questions.

Colleagues and I have in the past have called, and still do, for a full public enquiry to be held, with the power to summon witnesses, into all aspects of the investigations into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Nevertheless, this petition confines itself to a need for a report to the public on the performance of Operation Grange and related matters.      

I and the other 3,110 people who have signed the petition trust that you will be able to order the Home Office to prepare a full report on the work of Operation Grange and the involvement of the government, the security services and various British police forces, over a period of nearly nine years, during which time there has apparently been little or no progress towards understanding what really happened to her.

Yours sincerely

Anthony Bennett                                      


APPENDIX: ‘THE SMOKESCREEN’ by Julian Peribanez and Antonio Tamarit

(August 2014, ISBN 978-84-941649-8-9) - CHAPTER 13:  THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ‘LOS CAGOTS’: OUR WORK FOR METODO 3 - Translation commissioned by the Madeleine Foundation, February 2016


Tel: 01279 635789                                                       66 Chippingfield

e-mail:                                HARLOW


                                                                                        CM17 0DH

                                                                         Friday 29 April 2016 (2nd letter)

Rt Hon David Cameron MP

Prime Minster

10 Downing Street




Dear Mr Cameron

re: Petition on the Prime Minister’s website to order the Home Secretary to publish a report on the Madeleine McCann Enquiry [Operation Grange] - ADDENDUM

I am submitting this Addendum to my letter in view of the extraordinary and ridiculous statements made, apparently on the record, by Operation Grange officers about what they think really happened to Madeleine McCann.

I will first set out the claims made by Operation Grange officers in three newspapers this week, the Star, the Sun and the Daily Mail.


The Star

·         Maddie McCann 'snatched in botched break-in' Cops sure they know what happened to girl

·         Brit police are convinced they know what happened to Madeleine McCann – and believe they spoke to her attacker

·         That theory is that the tot was snatched after disturbing burglars who had been targeting the Portuguese holiday block where she was staying

·         Police believe three suspects they have been pursuing hold the key to the nine-year mystery

·         The trio have already been declared arguidos – or suspects – and were interviewed at least twice.

·         This remaining lead is thought to be key

·         They are linked by a series of phone calls they made to each other near the McCanns’ apartment around the time she vanished

·         The suspects are Jose Carlos da Silva, 30, who used to drive guests to their apartments at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz from where Madeleine vanished, drifter Ricardo Rodrigues, 24, and drug addict Paulo Ribeiro, 53.

Sun and Daily Mail

·         Madeleine McCann 'was kidnapped during a botched burglary by a gang of thieves who British police have already quizzed' but are blocked from questioning again

·         Madeleine McCann was snatched by a group of thieves, it has been claimed

·         Police believe she disturbed them as they robbed her holiday apartment

·         This is thought to be the final line of inquiry being considered by the Met

·         Madeleine McCann was kidnapped by a group of thieves because she woke up while they robbed her family's holiday apartment, it has been claimed

·         It is believed to centre on a group of thieves which included a 16-year-old teenager and a man who worked at the Mark Warner resort in Portugal when she disappeared in 2007.

·         Phone calls raise questions about the group's actions on the night of the three-year-old's disappearance

·         It's claimed they have been identified as suspects by British police, but officers are being blocked from accessing them by Portuguese cops who say no new evidence has been brought forward

·         An officer told the paper: 'It has dogged the investigation all the way through and it's happening again. If we can't question the three suspects again the trail goes cold and the case will be shelved'

·         When they were previously interviewed, the men admitted theft from apartments at the complex but denied any involvement in the youngster's disappearance.

In my first letter to you, in Section G, I referred to one of the criticisms of Operation Grange being its ‘procession of unlikely suspects’ which had been  paraded by Operation Grange at regular intervals in the British press.

One only has to give very brief thought to this latest bizarre claim by Operation Grange to see the extreme improbability of their claims. These are some of the most obvious problems with their tale:

(1)  Why would a team of three burglars raid that particular apartment, with the McCann and their friends regularly checking it?

(2)  Why did no-one else see or hear this team of burglars raiding the apartment and carrying away a child who – if she woke up and ‘disturbed’ the burglars – was presumably awake, struggling and probably screaming?

(3)  Does Scotland Yard have any forensic evidence whatsoever from the McCanns’ apartment linking any of these three men to their alleged presence in that apartment that night? – No forensic evidence of an intruder has ever been found

(4)  Did these alleged burglars actually steal anything from the apartment? The McCanns said nothing was missing from their apartment apart from Madeleine 

(5)  Why on earth would any burglar, raiding an apartment which was in the dark, carry away a three-year-old child who woke up, instead of just making haste and making off?

(6)  Does the description of any of the three men match the man who was DCI Andy Redwood’s chief suspect – and ‘the centre of our focus’ - on the BBC Crimewatch McCann Special transmitted on 14 October 2013?

(7)  What other evidence is there of the alleged activity of these three men on the night in question, apart from their making ’phone calls to each other?

(8)  Is it seriously claimed by Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, other senior officers of the Met, and the entire Operation Grange team, that the Portuguese Police have been furnished by Operation Grange with overwhelming evidence of the guilt of these three Portuguese men’s guilt, and yet have failed to bring charges against them?  Is it not far, far more likely that the Portuguese Police can see this for what it really is - an utterly pathetic bogus claim and boast by Scotland Yard that they have ‘found’ those responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance - and are seeking, as they have done throughout, to blame the Portuguese authorities     for the failure to identify the person or persons really responsible.

You are the proud Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Can you honestly be associated with, and satisfied with, this outcome of an investigation which you personally set up, at Rebekah Brooks’ request, and has taken five years and cost around £14 million – to end up with this farcical claim by Operation Grange?

Yours sincerely

Anthony Bennett