KATE McCann’s request to see a priest on the night of her daughter Madeleine’s disappearance was used as evidence against her, it has been revealed.

The devout Roman Catholic claims she came under suspicion because of the belief that people in Portugal ‘only called for a priest when they wanted their sins to be forgiven.’

The flimsy dossier against the McCann’s also included British sniffer dog evidence indicating the presence of blood and human remains in the apartment, later dismissed following forensic tests.

The revelation comes as British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered the reopening of files relating to the McCann case following a direct appeal from her parents.

The Met Police have been ordered to conduct a full review of all evidence in a bid to shed new light on the case.

Meanwhile, an image of the girl’s abductor could finally be revealed thanks to high-tech profiling computers.

A Met Police case review team will run descriptions of potential suspects through facial identification software in a bid to produce the most accurate new e-fit.


  1. OK ill make a door comment as everyone seam’s to be a little fixated on it. Do they (the parent’s) leave there doors unlocked at home in the area they know there neighbough’s? Because the fire excuse holds weather you are locked inside a burning building as well as outside. Yes ultimately if it was someone persistent they would have broken in even if door was locked but that would have A) lead to more chance of whiteness seeing B) given the potential of more evidence and DNA C) been the obvious thing to do weather kids were in the room’s or not as I assume they had clothes and personal items in there they wouldn’t want stolen.

  2. Hi Alan – Yes, I think the possibility is that the McCanns would leave their door unlocked at home when they are in the garden, which has been stated by them, would be the same distance away from the children as they were in Praia da Luz. Although with ‘creatures’ such as Tony Bennett & Co skulking around every bush I doubt they would now!! And as far as your other comments are concerned, I think it would be a very ‘thick’ abductor to break the door down and leave so much evidence. No, I feel that the McCanns were watched throughout their holiday, possibly by someone on the Ocean Club staff, who knew their movements for the three evenings they left their children, and found out that they were leaving the resort soon, so decided to take Madeleine on that night.

  3. Hi jean..You’d be suprised how much a door can tell you and how Un-clever people are when they have to break in in many cases.Sorry i think you missed my point when i mentioned there home i was making the point they know there neighbough’s so in theory should feel safer there and i think most people leave there doors unlocked when in there garden. But noone in there rite mind would do that in a strange land with unknowns in my opinion to use your fraze “I think it would be a very ‘thick’” (pulls on blind fold, closes eyes ducks for cover) sorry.

  4. As I have said before I agree with you that they should never have left the door unlocked, but it was the ineptitude of the Portuguese police who didn’t seal off the apartment etc, that I blame for the lack of evidence. Although we don’t know what the Met will find, hopefully something important, which the Keystone Kops missed!!

  5. Oh I think you’re heading up the wrong crooked lane… The McCanns may lock their doors at home because they know about the local crimes that occur… are apprised of them…In the Algarve crime was kept hush and minimized so visitors are under the false illusion of utter safety. Makes for better profits from holiday guests…That’s why people pay so much to go on holiday, right? If I didn’t care about crime then I can buy a great cheap holiday in Somalia. Most places divulge crime but holiday destinations. That said the Algarve suffers crime but still no where near the crime level in most areas. and btw…not all peoples feel so fearful as to lock doors…most of Canada does not…ever.

  6. OT but obviously indirectly related…I read yesterday that Jaycee Dugard’s kidnappers used a stun gun on her 20 years ago. Who would ever believe that a middle aged couple in Nevada would ambush a girl at a bus stop within view of her step father and even stun gun her to carry out their depraved plans? I believe the monster had pegged her days earlier and tried once or twice to get her before succeeding.

    I think the majority of us cannot fathom the extent of planning and the tools used by these predators.

  7. Because the door of the 5A had no signs of being forced (or damaged) I believe that someone used a spare key, or made a copy of the key to enter at the 5A.

    I still wonder, even today, the possibility of being granted the 5A, with the purpose of making much more easier the abduction.

  8. I’m just reading this older post, but want to comment. Really, many people are right because nobody knows what happened yet. I have to defend the police, however, because it is common practice (here in the US) to never release police reports from an ongoing investigation. Otherwise, how could the police hold back certain details, which is very common to weed out the quacks. It would just seriously compromise the investigation to make it public. Also, I would think any cops who didn’t question a suspect would be negligent. Cops obtain confessions all the time. The purpose of arguido status, as I understand it, is due to the fact if the police question somebody as a witness and they make an incriminating statement, it cannot be used against them later in a trial. So they have to make them suspects, which then affords the suspect the right to remain silent. The whole thing is similar to reading a suspect their Miranda warnings in the US.

    As to the McCanns being made suspects, I actually think they should have been treated as such at the outset, just based on the circumstances at the time. I almost think the police catered to the McCanns which did everyone a disfavor, including the McCanns who can’t clear their names no matter how hard they try now. It is common for the most likely suspects, which statistically are the parents of the missing to child, to be eliminated, often via polygraph right at the outset. But they must be eliminated and in this case, that is hard because of their behavior, etc.

    Honestly, I agree that it is nearly impossible to imagine these people harming their own child, but maybe there’s a bit of truth to all of it. Maybe Madeleine was gone, but they were scared to death because they left her alone, so they started trying to bolster evidence. According to the police reports, which I have actually read, Kate’s prints were the only ones on the window she said was open, but no other person corroborated that and they would have been right outside the window after the abduction. So maybe she did open it to deflect any blame from herself.

    As to Kate refusing to answer the questions… Smart lawyer, smart client. They are in a foreign country, and the sole purpose of the questions were to elicit incriminating statements, of course. In fact, often a suspect will incriminate herself just by contradicting the slightest statements. Everything is under the microscope so everything can be dissected… Never good for a suspect.

    Finally, while I still find it incredulous, after reading everything, it is hard for me to proclaim the McCanns’ innocence. I actually believe wholeheartedly in sniffer dogs, and believe me, unless you’ve seen them, you cannot even imagine it. As a prosecutor, I had the opportunity to work with an arson dog. There was no mistaking it when the dog hit on the accelerant and testing proved the dog right. In this case, while the DNA testing was not conclusive, it did hit on the majority of markers matching Madeleine’s. Plus, the sample from the trunk, which the cadaver dog hit on, as well as the blood dog, so it wasn’t debris from “nappies,” was a 50% match to Gerry, so it was one of his kids. What people may not realize is you have to have a large enough sample in order to have a full match. These were samples so small that they took the carpet and sent it in, rather than lifting the blood. But what I keep getting stuck on, as much as I want to believe in the McCanns, is the fact that a partial match, which was actually there when both dogs hit on it (in other words, the dogs were definitely right b/c they hit on actual samples), is too much for me to turn a blind eye. If I were prosecuting this case, I might just go forward with the dog evidence (again, the dogs hit on actual microscopic samples) and the inconsistencies in the stories. Also important is the fact that the Irish guy gave a story the day after and then later felt he recognized Gerry. Again, just too many coincidences to ignore. That Irish guy was generally upset when he saw Gerry, according to the report of his local police, not the PJ. I would probably charge the McCanns with child abuse resulting in death. It’s the same as driving drunk and killing your child. They just took too big of a risk leaving those kids at a public resort. I would have much more sympathy if they were at home and went across the street to the neighbors. At least then you have the justification that your neighborhood is safe, etc. In this case, there is just no excuse. It’s hard for me to believe they either harmed the child or covered up an accident, but wouldn’t you do the same? Again, you’re in a foreign country, you leave your child alone, which was negligent in and of itself, and while unattended your kid falls and breaks her neck. You’re a doctor, so there is no need to call one to try to save her. You try and can’t. Who wouldn’t try to cover it up so that you could still parent the two kids you’ve got left? I might try. But we will all never know. I can tell you this…having read those police reports, a full review may not go so well for the McCanns. To say there is “no” evidence against them is naive. There is enough to give pause, and that is never good for the parents when, again, they are statistically usually to blame when a child is harmed or missing. And have you all seen the volumes of investigation files? These officers were in no way sitting on their bottoms suspecting the McCanns. They were doing good old fashioned police work without one thing to work with.

    So those are my two cents. I’ll be curious to see what happens with this review, if it is indeed going to happen.

  9. That was very well presented and fair Lisa, thank you. I too feel that there are just too many unanswered questions. I feel that the dogs’ evidence of the blood and cadaver in the apartment and the sample in the car (hired 3? weeks after the disapearence)were not a ‘heads up’ to follow up the possibility that Madeliene died in the apartment. Mrs Mccann stated that the cadaver was as a result of her working with 6 dead bodies the previous week; but how did the cadaver then get on to the childs”cuddle cat’? Did she take the toy to work and place in on a dead body? There was no sign of a break in, so why was this idea forced on us? If the doors were unlocked then why did the ‘intruder’ ‘break in’?Were the doors open or locked?Why did Mrs McCann wash the curtains behind the sofa in a holiday apartment? Why would none of the Tapas 7 agree to a reconstruction? There are so many unanswered questions that I hope Scotland Yard will review the case with an open mind. Unfortunately due to the unusual way the McCanns took control of their daughters’ disappearence rather than trusting that the police were experts with qualified training,I felt bewildered. Surely you ‘have’ to cooperate with the police? The McCanns seems to be in contempt of the very people who were trying to help them.Usually the parents cooperate fully with a police investigation to maximise the outcome of finding their child. In this case the parents contacted Sky news before the police;Kate refused to answer all questions except one; all refused to do a reconstruction; left their twin children alone immediately ater finding Madeleine gone; hired a publicity firm and conducted themselves in a manner that seemed alien to most people. Too many unanswered questions for me.I hope we will now get some clarity and find little Madeleine, hopefully alive.

  10. Carol and Lisa – Please read this.

    Last updated at 18:57 16 September 2007
    According to his friends, Chief Inspector Goncalo Amaral of the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria, co-leader of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from the Mark Warner Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, is a dedicated and capable detective, determined to do whatever it takes to find her ? or those responsible for murdering her.
    As a foreign reporter in Portugal, it is difficult to form a view. Thanks to the country’s stringent judicial secrecy laws, Amaral is officially forbidden from talking to the media.
    I confronted the sweaty, corpulent figure in an ill-fitting jacket twice last Friday: the first time at 10am, as he sat slurping coffee and cakes at the Kalahary cafe in Portimao with his colleague, Chief Inspector Guillermino Encarnacao; the second just before 3pm, when the two men made their way from a restaurant to a waiting black Mercedes, in which they were driven 400 yards to meet officials at the courthouse.
    The reaction was the same both times: “No speak! No speak!” was all Amaral would say, making a swatting motion as though batting away an insect.
    But Amaral’s official silence is not the only difference between him and his counterparts in Britain.
    In the UK, it is unlikely he would be leading the McCann inquiry at all.
    Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry may never be charged with anything, despite their present status as arguidos, or official suspects, and by the end of last week, apparently well-placed sources were admitting that any case against them is circumstantial and weak.
    Amaral, however, is in a similar position. He, too, is an arguido, facing possible trial on a serious criminal charge arising from a murder case brought to court in 2004, the last occasion a little girl vanished in the Algarve.
    The Mail on Sunday can today reveal new details of this case, the subject of a draconian judicial order that has stopped most sources who know about the case from talking to the Portuguese Press.
    According to the order, documents about the case have been restricted to a handful of officials, while the next stage of the process ? a hearing at which Amaral and four fellow officers may be asked formal questions ? will be conducted in secret.
    It is believed that this is set for next month.
    Three of Amaral’s senior PJ colleagues have been made suspects for the torture of the missing girl’s mother, Leonor Cipriano, who has been convicted of killing her daughter Joana, aged eight, and jailed for 16 years.
    As for Amaral, the claim against him is “omisado de denuncia” ? that he tried to hide the evidence of the alleged torture or, in other words, attempted a cover-up. He is said to deny it strenuously.
    In internet blogs and newspaper columns, Amaral’s supporters have claimed that the Cipriano case is built on lies ? a vicious smear against a decent detective trying to do his job.
    It has, they say, “no connection” to the Madeleine McCann inquiry.
    Experienced lawyers in Portimao, the town 12 miles from Praia da Luz where Amaral is PJ chief, disagree.
    The case against the detectives began as a complaint lodged by Cipriano’s lawyer, they pointed out, but has now been adopted by the public prosecutor.
    “In order to bring formal charges, the public prosecutor has to believe there is a strong case,” said Oliveira Trindad, who has practised law in the area for more than ten years.
    “That means that after assessing all the evidence, he thinks that if the case goes to trial, a conviction is more likely than not.”
    That decision is likely to be made well before the McCann case is closed.
    There are, to be sure, many differences between Leonor Cipriano and Kate McCann.
    But there are also similarities, starting with the fact that although the bodies of their daughters have not been found, Amaral and his PJ colleagues have long been convinced that both girls are dead.
    No one would suggest that in the course of the marathon interrogations that preceded their departure from Portugal last weekend, Kate or Gerry McCann were the victims of physical violence.
    But at times it seemed they were also being subjected to torment, albeit of a different, psychological kind.
    It, too, say Portimao’s criminal defence lawyers, may have been inspired by PJ officers desperate to achieve the end they sought with Cipriano ? a confession.
    It isn’t hard to locate the source of some of the McCanns’ current difficulties: Hugo Beaty’s bar.
    There, amid the burnt orange concrete of the Estrela apartment complex, a five-minute walk from the Ocean Club, most of the seats along the shady terrace and more inside will be taken all day by reporters with laptops, authors of a daily verbal torrent that has come to seem unstoppable.
    After Kate and Gerry’s abrupt return to Leicestershire last Sunday, almost nothing happened in the McCann case last week.
    The only verified fact is that after considering a ten-volume PJ dossier about Madeleine’s disappearance on May 3, Pedro Miguel dos Anjos Frias, a junior judge in Portimao, decided to grant certain requests made by the prosecutor, Joao Cunha de Magalhaes.
    Every news outlet covering the story ? a waterfront that now extends across the whole of Europe to the major American TV networks and even, unbelievably, a paper in war-torn Somalia ? has stated that these requests were for warrants to seize items including Kate McCann’s private diary, Gerry’s computer and (though this seems slightly less certain) Madeleine’s beloved cuddle cat.
    There is, however, nothing approaching official confirmation of these claims.
    Like everything else about the case, the details of the prosecutor’s approach to the judge are covered, supposedly, by the judicial secrecy laws, under which the penalty ? in theory ? for making unauthorised disclosures is two years in prison.
    Thus it is that like almost everything else being broadcast and published beyond Portugal’s borders about the hunt for Madeleine, the claim that the police want to read Kate’s diary has reached its audience via Hugo Beaty’s bar.
    Every day there starts the same way shortly after it opens at 9am, with an informal briefing to the foreign Press by a locally resident British woman who normally makes a meagre living acting as an occasional interpreter ? for the Policia Judiciaria.
    Every morning, the woman ? who asked me not to publish her name ? goes through the Portuguese tabloids and translates their ever-more febrile articles.
    Every afternoon, the foreigners ? almost none of whom can speak more than the most basic Portuguese, nor claim a single, genuine source inside the police investigation ? recycle the tales for consumers abroad.
    By the end of last week, some of the assertions made by the Portuguese had become part of a settled consensus.
    For example, it was reported from Berlin to Baltimore that the police had already made a photocopy of Kate’s diary ? which, if true, would mean they had broken the law ? and merely wanted to obtain the judge’s approval to use it as evidence.
    The reason they are so keen on it, it was alleged, is that it suggests she found her children “hyperactive” and difficult to handle, while railing at her husband’s allegedly dilatory, hands-off approach.
    The claims about the diary’s contents were first published on Thursday by Jose Manuel Ribeiro, crime correspondent for the Lisbon daily Diario de Noticias.
    By chance I ran into him that same afternoon, outside the apartment where Madeleine disappeared.
    I congratulated him on his scoop, but he shook his head, disconsolate. Already, he complained, it was turning to dust.
    Ribeiro said he had been given the story by an impeccable inside source, but already officials in Lisbon were denying it, and the source himself could no longer assure him it was true.
    “Why is bad information getting out to the public?” he asked. “Because we’re being given it.”
    Somehow, however, the denials that had made Ribeiro so angry did not get through to the foreigners.
    If the questionable leak had been planted for a purpose ? to increase the pressure on the hapless McCanns ? it may well have succeeded.
    And, in the foreign public’s mind, the germinating notion that Kate might have killed her daughter because she could not handle her had been nurtured by a further dollop of manure.
    A similar, apparently sanctioned but inaccurate leak had already gone around the world to still more devastating effect.
    Early on Monday evening, TV channels began to report that British forensic scientists had made a “100 per cent” DNA match to Madeleine from “biological material” ? said to be hair and “bodily fluids” ? recovered from the Renault Scenic that the McCanns did not hire until 25 days after she vanished, suggesting that they had hidden her body on May 3 and moved it weeks after her death.
    With no time for reporters to make checks before their deadlines, the story spread like foot and mouth to almost every British front page the next morning.
    It was only in the ensuing days that it began, spectacularly, to unravel.
    The match was not 100 per cent after all, it transpired, but 80 per cent or less ? a level that, according to Professor Alec Jeffries, DNA matching’s inventor, might mean that the material had not come from Madeleine at all, but another member of her family.
    Even if it had, other experts said, it would prove very little.
    Among readers who followed the forensic details, the case against the McCanns had been seen to suffer damage.
    But others were left with a clear impression ? that the PJ now believed they had real evidence that the McCanns must have been responsible for Madeleine’s (still unconfirmed) death.
    As for those who still harboured doubts, more rococo “revelations” were being published widely by the end of the week, such as the claim that having bundled Madeleine’s body into the car, the McCanns drove it to the marina in nearby Lagos.
    There they are said to have hired a boat, swore its owner into their conspiracy, then sailed into the Atlantic, into which they tipped their child, weighted down with rocks.
    Could such stories really be part of a conscious PJ strategy? Some lawyers around the Portimao courthouse believe that they could.
    “Portuguese journalists aren’t just making this stuff up,” said Oliveira Trindad.
    “They are getting it from the police, of course, and the justice officers, the people working for the prosecutors. It’s obvious that some information is coming from the PJ.”
    Some of it, he added, appears to be accurate ? so making it that much easier for the same sources to seed disinformation.
    Another Portimao lawyer, who asked not to be named, claimed the PJ was fighting a “propaganda war” with the McCanns.
    “It is the fault of the British Press,” he said.
    “They were the ones who started saying, ‘You’re no good, you’re no good.’
    “If you say a lie like that many times, so many people believe it. You cannot blame the PJ for wanting to hit back.”
    But there might be another reason.
    “Some people think journalists pay their PJ sources,” the second lawyer said, citing a case where an officer from Lisbon is facing criminal charges after being caught red-handed copying secret documents about a fraud case, allegedly for private profit.
    “But they also have an interest in the case and its coverage.”
    With the forensic evidence apparently confused and contradictory, “it seems the main goal of the PJ now is to get a confession. It’s like in the films, ‘Aha, we have a confession, let’s take them to court.’
    “It’s normal to want a confession when they don’t have much else.”
    Intense interrogation of the McCanns has so far failed. But perhaps, the lawyer implied, using the media might be another way of applying the third degree.
    “I want to believe that the Portuguese police do everything the right way,” said Joao Grade, the lawyer for Leonor Cipriano.
    “But sometimes, if they really think someone is guilty, as they did with Leonor, they may find other ways to get what they want. It’s only human.
    “When they believe someone has killed a child, it’s normal that they will apply pressure.
    “In the McCann case, it seems that the police have what they consider half-proofs.
    “But it’s not airtight, it doesn’t interlock, so maybe they need more.”
    As he spoke, I found myself recalling British miscarriages of justice: cases such as the Birmingham Six, wrongly convicted of IRA pub bombings that killed 21, where the police, under tremendous pressure to “get a result”, built dishonest but convincing prosecutions based around confessions.
    Could the same thing be happening to the McCanns? The pressure on the police is certainly intense.
    The loss of a child evokes horror everywhere. On the Algarve, however, the need to solve the case ? and, perhaps, not to leave the fear that Madeleine was killed or abducted by an unknown paedophile ? has other roots as well.
    “The Algarve is a family destination, and situations like this are not agreeable to anyone,” said Elderico Viegas, the regional tourism authority president.
    “Our reputation for safety is one of our most important values ? especially with the British, who make up our biggest market.”
    And Algarve tourism, worth about £2.8billion a year and growing rapidly, is, Viegas said, the single biggest component of the entire Portuguese economy.
    The police had, he added, mishandled the media, giving rise to damaging speculation.
    “But for me, the details are not important. What’s important is the economy. I was born and brought up here and I can’t remember the last time a tourist was murdered.” So far, he added, visitor numbers this year are up.
    Central to many British miscarriages of justice was a shared, deeply ingrained belief among police and prosecutors that their suspects “had” to be guilty.
    With the Birmingham Six, it was founded on botched forensic tests that “told” investigators that the men had been handling the explosive nitroglycerine ? false positives that arose because they had been playing with cards coated in the harmless chemical nitrocellulose.
    In Praia da Luz, there are signs of a similar mindset at work, derived from equally tendentious “evidence”.
    For example, said a local source who knows several of the PJ inquiry team, from an early stage detectives laid great weight on Kate McCann’s apparent composure when she appeared in public.
    One of the strangest aspects of Portuguese coverage of the case has been frequent recourse to media psychologists, who have made all manner of deductions about her personality and state of mind by “analysing” her TV image, claiming that the absence of tears and presence of carefully applied make-up indicates a “cold”, “manipulative” or even “psychopathic” personality.
    In other words, someone capable of reacting instantly to the death of her daughter, whether deliberate or accidental, by deciding that she had to hide the body and conceal what had happened, and able to persuade her husband and perhaps other “accomplices” to go along with her plot.
    Disturbingly, said the local source, such analysis has not been confined to the media.
    “Pretty early on, they had forensic psychologists in, studying hours of video footage, drawing extremely unfavourable conclusions about Kate’s personality,” she said.
    “You could say she’s been damned by her stiff upper lip.”
    There have been reported claims that Kate McCann had “confessed” to killing Madeleine to a local Catholic priest.
    But the Rev Hubbard Haynes, the Anglican vicar who lives in Praia da Luz and got closer to the McCanns than anyone during their months in Portugal, refuted them with controlled fury.
    A young, passionate Canadian, who took up his post a week after Madeleine’s disappearance, he said: “When I mention Maddie, Gerry and Kate in my own prayers, I find myself weeping.
    “I have gone out into the fields and looked in the hedgerows, begging God for some sign that will help us find her, and I have wept because He has not given it to us yet.
    “All I can say is that my tears are as nothing to the tears I have seen shed by Kate and Gerry.
    “They may not have cried for the cameras, but to say they do not weep in private is facile and offensive.
    “The man and woman I have known for the past four months are a couple whose lives have become unbearably empty because their little girl was missing.
    “I do not recognise those people in recent media reports, and I find the idea that they had anything to do with her disappearance just inconceivable.
    “There is great evil in this world, and someone has taken this child.”
    Other aspects of the emerging mindset against the McCanns seemed equally questionable.
    Several Portuguese lawyers and journalists, along with a uniformed police officer from the National Republican Guard I spoke to outside the Ocean Club apartment, told me solemnly not only that the McCanns and their friends were “swingers” who had taken their holiday together to indulge in group sex (an assertion made repeatedly by the Portuguese Press), but that “everyone knows” that its tolerance of orgies is the Mark Warner Ocean Club resort’s main selling point.
    One afternoon I decided to test this proposition, approaching two holiday reps there, dressed in their red Mark Warner sweatshirts. “Er, is this a good place for swingers, then?” I asked.
    They looked at me in total bafflement. “Swingers?” one replied.
    “Look around you, sir. Most of our guests are retired, or families with children.”
    Another assertion published several times last week is that, on the night that Madeleine disappeared, the McCanns phoned Sky TV before contacting the police ? another claim echoed by the uniformed cop.
    Outside the Portimao courthouse, I asked Sky’s reporter Ashish Joshi if he thought this might be true.
    He rolled his eyes wearily. “It’s just nonsense,” he said.
    “The first anyone at Sky knew about Maddy was when the story appeared on the Press Association wire.
    “I was asked about this just yesterday by a Portuguese reporter. I told him it was crap. And this morning, his paper printed it.”
    I passed this on to the Republican Guard officer, but he was unmoved.
    His unit, he said, had handled the case in its early stages, and from the start he and his colleagues had been convinced there was something fishy about the McCanns.
    “My partner was there on the night of May 3,” he said, “and I can tell you, that apartment was full of people, Kate was screaming ? and yet her twins didn’t wake up.
    “How do you explain that? They must have been drugged. Nobody on the force believed their story about a kidnap for a moment.
    “That little girl is dead, for sure. Soon you will see the truth.”
    Why the need for such bizarre allegations? The answer, I believe, is that there is a massive hole at the heart of the emerging PJ theory.
    When Madeleine disappeared the McCanns did not have a car.
    The Ocean Club is in the middle of a busy resort, and the notion that somehow the McCanns found a way to conceal her without transport, and then went to dinner with their friends as if nothing were amiss is beyond credibility.
    One Portuguese journalist suggested to me that they might have hidden her on a scrubby headland a few minutes’ walk away.
    But as I found when I attempted to go for a run there, at night it is inhabited by feral dogs, whose barking would have made the digging of some putative shallow grave impossible.
    The PJ enjoys a high reputation in Portugal.
    “They are ranked among the top five police forces in the world,” attorney Trindad said, albeit admitting he did not know the source of this curious international ranking.
    Most PJ officers are graduates, and would-be entrants face severe competition, with a battery of psychometric, physical and academic tests before they can even be considered for the PJ training school.
    The force’s Press office likes to compare the PJ to the American FBI: “We are an elite,” spokeswoman Ana Mouro said.
    But beneath the veneer, as the case of Leonor Cipriano suggests, the reality can look less impressive.
    “She is nothing like Kate McCann,” her lawyer Joao Grade said.
    “She is very poor, with maybe only three years of schooling, and her children have several fathers.
    “She did not get to meet the Pope and she did not have the support of Sky and the BBC.
    “But I tell you this: if Kate had been treated like Leonor, she would have done what Leonor did ? ended by saying, ‘OK, OK, I’m guilty, and this is how I did it.'”
    The special judicial order ? imposed on top of the usual Portuguese secrecy ? means not only that Grade is prevented from disclosing virtually anything about the Cipriano case, but that pre-trial hearings of the charges against the detectives, due as soon as next month, will be held in camera.
    The Mail on Sunday has established crucial alleged details from other legal sources in Portimao.
    After Joana disappeared in September 2004, Leonor was arrested by the PJ in Portimao on October 14 at 8am.
    Held there and in the city of Faro without access to a lawyer, she was interrogated without sleep for 22 hours.
    Then, after a two-hour respite, she was interrogated again until 7am on October 16.
    By this time, as photos published by the Portuguese media make clear, her face was a mass of bruises.
    According to Grade: “Not just her face but her whole body was black and blue.”
    The police said she “tried to commit suicide” by throwing herself down stairs.
    If the alleged torture was to force a confession, it succeeded ? only for Leonor to withdraw it when she finally saw her lawyer the next day.
    The supporters of the accused police have claimed that the officers must be innocent because Cipriano could not pick out her alleged attackers in an identity parade.
    However, according to the sources in Portimao, this is because they are not alleged to have beaten her themselves, but to have brought in paid thugs.
    In any event, she was convicted and sentenced to 21 years.
    Last June, this was reduced on appeal to 16 ? though one of the five appeal court judges issued a dissenting opinion, stating that he was convinced she had been assaulted in custody and was innocent.
    If the criminal case against the PJ officers does lead to convictions, Grade said, she will appeal again. He has also lodged a case in the European Court of Human Rights.
    Strangely enough, Chief Inspector Goncalo Amaral is not the only link between the Cipriano and McCann cases. Another of the senior officers who is now an arguido is the recently retired Chief Inspector Paulo Pereira Cristovao.
    He is one of the McCanns’ principal scourges ? not as a detective, but in his new capacity as a columnist for Diario de Noticias, among the most active of Portuguese newspapers in its pursuit of stories about Madeleine derived from leaks.
    “There is another link between the Cipriano and McCann cases,” a Portimao lawyer claimed.
    “You know, it’s like if Manchester United lose a big game: next week the pressure they have to win is very big.
    “The PJ are beginning to worry that now they might lose the Cipriano case.
    “If that happens, they have to win with the McCanns.”
    Of course, there is yet another connection.
    If Leonor Cipriano did not kill Joana, the chances of discovering the truth ? or indeed her body ? are now remote.
    And as the McCanns have stated repeatedly, if they are innocent, the enormous effort being poured into trying to blame them is effort diverted from the search for a missing four-year-old girl, and the person or persons who abducted her.
    That is a thought so grim that it almost makes one wish that the mindset so evident around Praia da Luz had a real foundation.
    My fear is that it has as much solidity as the sandcastles on the beach.
    • David Rose has been investigating miscarriages of justice for 25 years and has written several books on the subject.

  11. Jean – TREMENDOUS job you did in presenting your details & views.
    In Summary: only God knows for sure,
    at least for now! As is their history, Scotland Yard will do a full Public Inquiry at UK Taxpayers’ expense..
    about 20-30 years from now.

  12. Hi Best of Spain – I sincerely hope that you are not being sarcastic in your comments? These are not my views, but the evidence as seen by David Rose, although I believe completely in what he has written. Since the article was written Amaral has been convicted and given a suspended sentence in the Cipriano case, and by all accounts, hopefully, will be convicted again in regard to the McCanns. I also hope that Scotland Yard, together with the assistance of some dedicated officers from Portugal, find something that will lead to the discovery of Madeleine, no matter what the cost. I am a UK tax payer and I agree wholeheartedly that this inquiry should continue until the whereabouts of Madeleine are discovered. Unfortunately, it has been nearly five long years before a proper investigation has taken place. If the PJ (Ameral) had done their job properly in the first place on the night of 3 May 2007 Madeleine would most probably have been found, but Amaral was intent on finding her parents guilty, and not finding the child. He was trying to take the easy option as he had previously!!

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