Thursday, 29 January 2015

A Risky Gamble

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) was formed in April 2006, and was absorbed into the NCA on 7 October 2013 by the UK Crime and Courts Act 2013.  The predecessor to CEOP was the Paedophile Online Exploitation Team.

Until March 2010, this was headed by Jim Gamble - he who called for a "panic button" for the public to report suspected paedophiles, to be installed on the main profile page of every Facebook user,  thereby planting the suggestion that every single Facebook user is also, potentially, a paedophile.  And of course inviting millions of aggrieved teens, or even older, to treat them as flippers on a pinball machine.

The common word in both CEOP and it's predecessor is, of course, "online".

Mr Gamble, now so-called "self employed", keeps himself very busy online, particularly on Twitter.  Here is a small selection of his microblogs.

Mr Gamble has also been involved, with the McCann case, right from the start.  Even though there is zero suggestion that Madeleine has been involved in any nefarious online activity; and zero evidence that she has been abducted by paedophiles.

Yet Mr Gamble has thrown his entire person into the fray.  He has blocked every single person on Twitter who has even remotely questioned the McCanns' version of events, including many who have never even interacted with him.  He has publicly stated that persons with a contrary opinion should not be allowed to give broadcasts on the radio.  He very visibly applauded Sky's Martin Brunt for doorstepping one dissenter, on the very day that that lady's probable suicide was announced.  He is now actively attempting to prevent independent journalists from writing, or broadcasting, about the case.

One has to wonder why Mr Gamble is so passionate and involved over this one particular case, when there is absolutely no reason for himself or his former agency to become involved at all.

We must also ask how Dr Gerry McCann came into possession of several hard-backed CEOP internal manuals, as early as 2007; Mr Gamble tells us that "they can be downloaded by anyone from the Internet".  He seems unwilling, however, to provide any links, or explain how a digital download can suddenly transform itself into a hard-backed book.

Or how a former senior policeman has apparently, suddenly transformed into one of the "haters" and "trolls" that he claims to despise so much.

Monday, 26 January 2015

What A Difference A Day (or two) Makes

Reliable sources inform us that no reporters were present at the Judge's hearing in Lisbon last week.  It did not stop press agency Lusa from writing their "story", however.

"Kate and Gerry McCann win court ruling" - headline in the Daily Mail (and others), 22/01/15.  Clearly the reporter on this occasion must have been Mystic Meg, as the Judge's final ruling is not expected for some two months yet.

A couple of days later, several newspapers furiously backtracked, having discovered - no doubt to some embarrassment - that simply counting the words "proven" and "not proven" is not necessarily a reliable guide as to how this particular legal wind is blowing.

A number of amusing and colourful pie charts were produced by various parties, to help illustrate the Judge's findings, one of which (from the "Madeleine McCann Debate Group"), is reproduced below.

The purpose of a pie chart, of course, is to convey useful information in a visual format.  So for any persons who are incapable of counting the instances of the phrases "proven" and "not proven" in a given text, this would be an invaluable tool.  Perhaps Dr Gerry McCann could use this for one of his Powerpoint presentations.

In other news, the captain of the Costa Concordia - so professionally represented by one Clarence Mitchell, prospective parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion -is facing 26 years behind bars.

Maria Navarro accuses Francesco Schettino of never apologising and saving own life ‘without even getting shoes wet’.  Clarence does seem to attract them.

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Lady Vanishes

The video above, of the McCanns being interviewed by BBC East Midlands, has recently been removed from YouTube, with no explanation. So we have reproduced it here for you to judge the content for yourselves. Of course, this revealing video is not the only item to have disappeared from public record in recent months. This charming photograph was originally published in the online edition of the Daily Express, following the publication of Kate's book in Holland last June. But after less than 24 hours, it was removed and replaced with a stock photograph.

Why would this innocent picture suddenly be purged from the internet? We emailed the Daily Express to inquire, as the article (which referred to the picture) no longer made sense. The reply was astonishing, to say the very least.

Apparently the Express received a message from the couple's "press office", indicating that they did not wish photographs to appear in the press that made them look "too happy." An unnamed Daily Express reporter kindly put it in context.

"So often pictured as a sad, withdrawn figure, she and husband Gerry burst into laughter as they promoted her book about their lost daughter Madeleine."

Friday, 13 May 2011

A Book At Bedtime

Mrs Healy said: “Kate has to tell her story, even though it’s been the most terribly painful process over the last nine months. We just hope that something will come from the book. It’s something that may just force someone to come forward. It’s also an account for Madeleine and for the twins (six-year-old Sean and Amelie).” - Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Daily Post, May 2 2011

So one day, Kate anticipates that Madeleine may read the book. Hopefully she'll be skipping over page 129.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Biased BBC? You decide....

Below follows a transcript of BBC East Midlands current affairs programme, "Inside Out", first broadcast at 19:30 on 22 November 2010. It features an article on "The Madeleine Foundation"... or does it?

I will leave you to decide for yourselves - just how unbiased are the BBC?

(Many thanks to AnnaEsse of Missing Madeleine for the transcript.)

Opening words: Hello, tonight Inside Out is at Rothley in Leicestershire to ask, who are the Madeleine Foundation?

Voice over: The three year old’s parents say, they just add to their anguish.

Kate: There’s a certain group out there who...this is their job to pick on a vulnerable family and I’m sure after us they’ll move onto another family.

Voice over: They’ve been described as a club for Sickos to distribute vile leaflets. Their members insist they’re only trying to discover what happened to Madeleine McCann, but the parents of the missing youngster say the so-called Madeleine Foundation is hindering the search for their daughter and adding to their anguish. Simon Hare has been investigating.

Simon Hare: Well, it’s a Saturday afternoon and most people are busy enjoying their weekend, but somewhere here in Nottingham a group of people have got together to discuss the Madeleine McCann case.
(cuts into Simon answering mobile phone...Hello, Simon...)

Simon Hare (voice over) : Secrecy surrounds what’s been billed as the annual conference of the self appointed Madeleine Foundation. They said I can attend, but I have to wait for news of the location. I’m told to make my way to a hotel with conference facilities, but this proves to be just the meeting place. I’m then taken to the real venue .... a room in this village hall in Nuttall.

A member takes some photos, including one of me. Chairman Grenville Green from Nottingham is also happy to be pictured and the organisations’ secretary and co-founder, Tony Bennett, is keen to promote his new book made up of selected extracts from the case files.

There were 19 people at the meeting and I was told that they’d come from all over the country and that one couple had even come from Northern France. Er, they didn’t want cameras to come in, but they did allow me to sit there and take notes, they discussed many aspects of the McCann case and they also sold me a copy of their new book (“The Madeleine McCann Case Files – Volume 1”)

But at the moment I still don’t feel I’m any nearer to understanding exactly what the Madeleine Foundation is about.

Cuts into an old interview: Well among those reporters was Simon Hare for East Midlands Today, he’s with us now from Portugal...(fades out)

Simon Hare: But I do know something about the Madeleine McCann case. I was part of the East Midlands Today team that covered the events in Portugal. I interviewed the McCanns in Praia da Luz.

Cuts into old footage of Kate McCann: It really does give you great strength really to see everybody in the village, you know, giving us their support and love and everything.

Simon Hare: 3 months later I was in Portamao when they were made official suspects.

Cuts into footage of Simon Hare at Portamao: The crowd of onlookers, hundreds of people turned out, many booed Kate McCann as she arrived here. (fades out)

Simon Hare: A development largely thanks to this man (shows footage of Goncalo Amaral arriving at the courts) the Portuguese detective, Goncalo Amaral. But he was taken off the case and in 2008, the McCanns had their suspect status removed.

Cuts into film footage of Kate McCann: We welcome the news today although it’s no cause for celebration ...(fades out)

Simon Hare: And won libel damages from some of the more lurid press coverage they’d received.
A year later, front page news of a different kind, thanks to the Madeleine Foundation.

Cuts into footage: people living in Madeleine McCanns home village say that they are sickened that they’re now being targeted by a campaign to reopen a case against her parents.

Male: A group claiming to want justice for Madeleine says it believes she wasn’t abducted. It’s been sending hundreds of leaflets around the area calling for support.

Simon Hare: It delivered a 150 leaflets to the homes in the McCanns own neighbourhood, repeating the now discredited Amaral theory that Madeleine had died in her parents holiday apartment and they’d covered it up.

Cuts into a female journalist holding a leaflet: And the people here in Rothley who spoke to us today say they’re horrified.

Man in street: It’s absolutely repugnant I think personally.

Woman in street: I just think it’s sad and sick that people have got nothing else better to do with their time.
(Note, the documentary failed to interview those from Rothley who thought the leaflet was informative and joined the Madeleine Foundation after searching out more details.)

Simon Hare: I would meet all of the four people who delivered the leaflets that day. Among them, Debbie Butler the Foundations former Chairman and co-founder who appeared on the BBC to justify their actions.
Cut into footage of Debbie Butler: It’s a Nationwide campaign, we need to put the leaflet into as many doors as possible ...(fades out)

Simon Hare: She’s since fallen out with Tony Bennett and is no longer a member of the Foundation, but she agreed to meet me near her home in Kent.

Debbie Butler: Mr Bennett decided that we would go to that area. I’d never been there, he’d been there before, I found out that he had been there before, erm, he knew where we were going, I drove, we had Grenville Green with us and Helene Davies, his wife. We visited the farm that Kate had taken the children to and had some lunch there. Mr Bennett leafleted there alone and instructed me to go and leaflet in the immediate area where the McCanns live, erm, which I did with Helene and then he told me I must leaflet their road, which I did...I was doing it with Helene but Helene...Helene’s legs just went to jelly and she wouldn’t do it, so I did. I didn’t leaflet their own home at all.

Simon Hare: Tony Bennett denies he told Debbie Butler what to do that day but both were subsequently pursued by the McCanns lawyers and in the November last year, Mr Bennett assured the High Court he wouldn’t distribute any more of the leaflets or he could lose £50,000 and even go to prison for contempt of court.

Cuts into BBC footage of Tony Bennett setting up placards “What really happened to Madeleine McCann” and handing out leaflets to members of the public as they passed.

Interesting the background song to this clip “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care what the people may say about me...”

Simon Hare: But by this summer Tony Bennett was distributing a new leaflet. He’s come to Bristol to what’s billed as the Goncalo Amaral Awareness Day. He’s accompanied by another Madeleine Foundation member who’s a little camera shy.

Cuts into film footage of the member hiding behind a post. Simon joking tells her he’s going around this side of the pillar

Tony Bennett: People think we are representing the McCanns in some way....

Simon Hare: Doesn’t that worry you?

Tony Bennett: Erm, not really no because it’s a chance to explain to people erm what we’re about and that there is a big mystery at the heart of this.

Cuts into film clip of woman on the street: I wouldn’t dare say what I thought – Id’ be sued! (laughs)

Cuts into film clip an elderly couple

Tony Bennett: People will no doubt be reading that leaflet as they pass around the town. Not one person’s come back to me to complain at all and say this is outrageous

Simon Hare: But in the afternoon there are a number of hostile reactions

Cuts into film footage of a group of children (you’ll have to watch the video to get the gist of what the children are saying)

Cuts into film footage of a young male adult: I think it’s a bit disrespectful

Cuts into film footage of a woman on the street: I have a two year old daughter you know, if I’d, If I’d lost my daughter like that woman has I wouldn’t want to think someone was out saying that in the street.

Simon Hare: A few days later after hundreds of copies have been handed out, he (Tony Bennett) agrees to the McCanns lawyers’ demands not to distribute this latest leaflet.

They (the McCanns) didn’t want to talk to us about Tony Bennett’s campaign, but on the third anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance, Kate and Gerry McCann seemed to allude to the Foundation.

GMTV presenter: You know to this day there are people convinced you had something to do with it, how on earth do you deal with that?

Kate: Well, erm...well I think it’s changed erm, certainly we don’t get the same level of criticism that we did and even then to be fair it was the minority really, I think most people...even if, you know, they don’t agree with...with..., you know, what we did, then they wouldn’t feel it right or fair to add to our suffering.

Gerry begins to talk: I think...

Kate cuts in: But having said that I think it’s just a small minority now and you know there’s a certain group there how, this is their job really, is to pick on a vulnerable family and I’m sure after us they’ll move onto another family.

Cuts into BBC footage of Tony Bennett.

Simon Hare: I think she meant you

Tony Bennett: Er, I didn’t hear that. I don’t know whether she meant us or not but erm we are focused on this particular case, focused on the truth so are the members and supporters of the Madeleine Foundation exactly the same. I haven’t got any history of persuing any individuals

Simon Hare: Tony Bennett previously tried and failed to bring a private prosecution against the McCanns for child neglect.

In 2006 he attempted to mount a prosecution of Michael Barrymore in relation to the night Stuart Lubbock died at the TV entertainers’ home. Another high profile case at the centre of a media frenzy. Tony Bennett first came into prominence by taking direct action over the metrification of signs.

Tony Bennett: A lot of people don’t want to see metres and kilometres on our roadsigns

Simon Hare: A course which won a lot of support. He then began removing road signs to campaign for the introduction of old county boundaries

Tony Bennett: I think the majority of the public would like to see these signs ‘Welcome to Lancashire’ on the correct Lancashire boarder.

Simon Hare: Unlike some of his Madeleine Foundation colleagues, he appears to quite like the camera’s notoriety. Last year he could be clearly seen sat behind Gerry McCann as he gave evidence to a Parliamentary subcommittee on the Press and Privacy. Tony Bennett later posted on the internet:
“It was to send out a quiet message. We are looking over his shoulder, checking out what he and his team are saying. Watching.”

Tony Bennett: If it is certain she was abducted then we are (can’t work out what this word is) to their anguish

Simon Hare: And does, does that not bother you? I mean you’re a father, a grandfather.

Tony Bennett: Erm, I’m persuaded that there are still questions to be answered and, and er, as I say I’ve got to be careful what I say, but then I do question their version of events and whether in fact Madeleine was abducted as do many other people.

Simon Hare: but you don’t know what happened; I don’t know what happened...

Tony Bennett: No I don’t...

Simon Hare: And only those responsible truly know

Tony Bennett: I agree. I agree. We don’t know what happened so why can’t we say erm you know, why can’t we ... I mean after all if I’m making bad points, if we’re making points on our website er they can be challenged and refuted easily can’t they.

Simon Hare: The internet is awash with forums and message boards about Madeleine. Some of these sites have seen threats of violence made towards the McCanns and their family home here at Rothley. Inside Out understands that the police have become involved in the past. People who post on these forums describe themselves as ‘Pro’ and ‘Anti’ McCann. Those connected with the Madeleine Foundation have also been subject to threats.

Debbie Butler: Half past twelve one night my phone rang and er I was told I’d be stabbed in front of my son straight through my heart. I phoned the police...erm...I’ve had other threats

Cuts into footage of Tony Bennett with a Madeleine Foundation member walking through the streets.

Simon Hare: The Madeleine Foundation has come to London. They’re delivering more letters to both the Portuguese and British Governments.

Tony Bennett and three members stand outside 10 Downing Street for photos.

Tony Bennett: So what happens? We knock on the door and someone comes and receives it? Okay.

Simon Hare: The latest leaflet that they’d agreed to stop distributing has made a comeback.

Tony Bennett: Well we’ve had a rethink on that and we see no reason why we shouldn’t distribute it. We weren’t threatened with any libel action or anything like that. We erm, we took a decision three months ago not to distribute it but we’ve reconsidered and see no reason why shouldn’t distribute it, especially on Goncalo Amaral’s birthday.

Simon Hare: But in July the McCanns lawyers, Carter Ruck, had threatened to take Tony Bennett back to the High Court. They’re letter felt that the former solicitor had failed to grasp how libel laws work. And it said that they’d also pursue any other members of the Foundation who delivered the leaflets.

The two remaining Rothley leafleters didn’t go to London. Grenville Green and his wife Helene Davies-Green have stepped down from the Foundation Committee after she was described by the Sun as a ‘Sicko’ who distributes vile leaflets.

Cuts into BBC filming of Helene in the kitchen preparing wild mushrooms.

Simon Hare: She was back in the public eye when she stood as a UKIP candidate in the general election.

Helene Davies-Green: Apparently throwing out the odd insult isn’t breaking their code of conduct.
Cuts into film footage of Grenville Green in Portugal

Simon Hare: It’s an example of free speech that her husband doesn’t like. At the beginning of the year, Grenville Green went to Portugal to attend a court hearing about Goncalo Amaral’s controversial book (The Truth in the Lie)

Grenville Green talking to Sky cameras: Why am I here? It’s freedom of speech isn’t it. If someone has a difference of opinion to someone else er you shouldn’t have lots of money to close you down and shut you up and keep you quiet if you’ve got a difference of opinion, this is why we’re here. It’s freedom of speech; freedom of expression.

Film footage of Journalist asks Goncalo a question as he leaves the Portuguese courts: Is your book hurting the McCanns sir?

Goncalo speaks in Portuguese (presumably "pardon?")

Journalist repeats his question: Is your book hurting the McCanns?

Goncalo Amaral then says the words which have become a controversial subject of whether he swore or said something in his native tongue. Sky News correspondent, Martin Brunt, clears this mystery on his blog 'Life of Crime': “Fala com McCanns” which means “Ask the McCanns”.

Grenville Green: This man is a folk hero, a sort of modern day Robin Hood if you will. It’s like a David and Goliath fight. If something’s right, you know it’s right. If something’s wrong, you know it’s wrong.

Cuts into BBC filming of Tony Bennet: There are always going to be those who entirely believe the McCanns account and who regard me as evil and perverted for what I’m doing. On the other hand there are those who have got legitimate questions and fully support what we’re doing.

Cuts into film footage of McCanns posing for the cameras

Simon Hare: Earlier this month, the McCanns launched an online petition calling for an investigation into their daughter’s disappearance to be independently reviewed (Note: The McCanns have NOT requested an investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine; they merely want a review of the case.)

Cuts into video footage of Gerry and Kate McCann.

Gerry Mccann: there’s absolutely no evidence that Madeleine has been seriously harmed so without her we’ve got to believe we can still find her. Erm, it’s difficult, we know that and that’s why we’re asking for help, we need assistance and the authorities need to do more.

Cuts into film footage of Simon Hare: Last week the McCanns revealed that they are now writing their own book. In a statement on their website Kate McCann said “My reason for writing is simple, to give an account of the truth.” Just like that GMTV interview, I can’t help but feel that that was partly aimed at the Madeleine Foundation.

Now if this piece is really about the Madeleine Foundation, why does it include video clips of road signs, county boundaries and Michael Barrymore?

Why does it state that "Dr Amaral's theory" of accidental death and concealment of a corpse is "discredited", when in fact it is not the theory only of Dr Amaral but also of both the British and Portuguese police?

Why do most of the people interviewed first appear in a video clip from August 2009, when it could be argued that public feeling towards the McCanns was very different from what it is now?

Why did Simon Hare include the film of a member hiding behind a lamp post? If people don't want to appear in the film, surely that is their right?

But of course, this is the BBC East Midlands, and the facts can be changed for anyone. They even said so themselves.

Monday, 22 November 2010

The Phoney War

From the Daily Telegraph, 22 November 2010

Transworld, home to best-selling authors including Dan Brown and Frederick Forsyth, secured the rights to the couple's story after a bidding war. The McCann's are part-way through writing their account.

Mrs McCann said: "My reason for writing is simple - to give an account of the truth. Publishing this book has been a very difficult decision and is one that we have taken after much deliberation and with a very heavy heart.

"However, in the last few months, with the depletion of Madeleine's Fund, it is a decision that has virtually been taken out of our hands. Every penny we raise through its sales will be spent on our search for Madeleine. Nothing is more important to us than finding our little girl."

And from the Sunday Express, November 21.

The multi-millionaire Harry Potter writer suggested they use her literary agent Christopher Little who arranged a publishing deal with Transworld. JK Rowling has been giving the McCanns support since their daughter disappeared in Portugal in May 2007 aged three. The author contributed to a reward for finding Madeleine and in July 2007 she arranged for posters of Madeleine to be made available to book retailers around the world . Kate has already written 60,000 words, covering the period up to the couple’s heart-rending decision to return to Britain.

So which was it - a "bidding war" or an "arrangement"?

If you already ringfenced £20 from your budget for your own copy, come Ap
ril, you are in for a nice surprise. It has been discounted by £3 already and includes free delivery.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Smoke and Mirrors - or Smoke and Fire?

This blog is called the Gaspar Statements, based on the statements that Drs Katerina and Arul Savio Gaspar gave to Leicestershire Police. The statements concerned suspicions that the Gaspars had regarding David Payne, one of the McCann's Tapas friends. These statements can be read here.

Dr Katerina Gaspar, in particular, was concerned that the behaviour of David Payne and Gerry McCann, together, may have indicated some paedophile activity taking place on a previous holiday. Now let me state plainly here, that as yet, no concrete proof of such activity has been made available. Dr Gaspar's statement is merely an educated guess. That guess could, of course, be completely wrong.

The Gaspars did, however, feel strongly enough about what they had witnessed, to go to the extent of making a statement to Leicestershire Police. A statement which could have, potentially, have had a massive impact on the Portuguese investigations as to what really happened to Madeleine.

We must ask why, then, both statements were withheld by Leicestershire Constabulary until such time as Goncalo Amaral, Policia Judiciaria Co-ordinator for the Madeleine McCann case, was removed from the investigation. The reason for this was given as "inappropriate criticism of the English Police who were ostensibly assisting the Policia Judiciaria in the enquiry".

The Gaspar statements may have been something, they may have been nothing; but why did LP feel they had the right to withhold them from the PJ for over six months?

You may wish to consider this in light of the statement by David Payne, who arranged both the earlier holiday in Majorca, and the holiday in Praia da Luz. When asked by a Sol journalist, "Why won't Mrs McCann answer the 48 questions set?" David Payne's astonishing response was,

"Because we have a pact. This is our matter only. It is nobody else's business."

This is the same David Payne that together with his wife Fiona, and the other Tapas friends, refused to return to Portugal for a reconstrcution of the events of 3rd May 2007.

Ask yourself what "pact" could possibly be more important than assisting the search for your supposed friend's "abducted" child.