by: Pedro Emanuel Santos
He launched a foundation practically on his own and says that he doesn’t lack the will to discover the whole truth about Maddie’s death. Anthony Bennett won’t rest until he doesn’t seat Gerry and Kate on the defendant’s bench. Gonçalo Amaral was his inspiration
His name is Anthony Bennett, he is British, aged 61, a lawyer of profession, and since last October he has launched a veritable crusade against the parents of Madeleine McCann. His purpose is, as he himself admits without reservations, to manage to collect enough evidence for the Justice of his country to open a process against the McCanns, holding them responsible over the death of their daughter.
Anthony Bennett’s “showcase” is the Madeleine Foundation, of which he is the main face. And one of its main inspirations is former Polícia Judiciária inspector Gonçalo Amaral – as 24Horas reported in yesterday’s edition. “We share the point of view that is expressed in his book [‘The Truth of the Lie’] that the McCanns were responsible for Madeleine’s death and that, with the help of friends, they concealed her body”, the Foundation refers in the opening page of their internet site. “We want to take them to court”, Bennett confirms in statements to our newspaper.
Anthony Bennett launched the Foundation in October. He swiftly mobilised several people who share his cause, and he even found the time to launch a book with his theories. But the resources are scarce and so are his travelling companions.
“We have approximately 20 associates, most of them British, who pay a fee of 10 pounds [11 euros] and who may, if they so desire, offer donations up to 600 pounds [662 euros]”, Bennett describes to 24Horas. “We also accept money from non-members, but not over 20 pounds [22 euros] per person”.
The present budget, according to his most recent calculations, is of approximately 200 euros. “This is easily explained: we spent almost everything that we had in printing the book”, he justifies.
He was connected to politics
Anthony Bennett is a known person in Great Britain. He has been participating in public life for over 30 years and he has had relevant political connections.
He started out by being a candidate in several legislative elections as an independent in the lists of the Labour Party (centre left positioned). But he slowly drifted away from Labour, towards the right. He even ended up becoming one of the main faces of UKIP, a right-wing party that is clearly anti European and populist.
In 2004, he ventured out to found a political force, Veritas, and he is one of the most active voices against immigration on British soil. And he didn’t hide the fact that one of his main inspirations was Ian Anderson, the leader of the National Front, a party that declares itself as the extreme right wing and with xenophobic positions.
Nevertheless, Anthony Bennett says that politics is part of the past: “I abandoned it in 2005 and I haven’t had any intervention since”.
Despite accusing the McCanns of “being close to the Labour Party”, Bennett asserts that he is not moved by ideological motives. “What I’m interested in is in finding the truth. Nothing else”, he swears.
Anonymous email left clear message
He was threatened with death
An email put a prize on Anthony Bennett’s head. The police was alerted but have yet to find those responsible. The lawyer has his own suspicions…
The early days at the Madeleine Foundation weren’t easy. Anthony Bennett was even seriously threatened, confronted with an anonymous email that left him frightened.
“This time you went too far. We know where you live and within two weeks there will be blood at your door and fallen people on your doorstep. You will be very lucky if you manage to survive”. Thus read the electronic message that was dictated to us over the phone by Bennett himself, received in late October.
“I’m convinced that it was sent by fervent supporters of the McCann couple. I just don’t know exactly by whom”, the British lawyer told 24Horas.
The case was immediately presented to the police authorities, that haven’t managed to discover who sent the email yet. But from the outset, the authorities warned Bennett to be careful: “They even offered me protection, which I refused because I didn’t deem it necessary”.
Another measure that was taken by the police was the interception of all phone calls that were made to the Foundation and to the mobile phones of its main members. The intention is to immediately detect anyone who calls to scare Anthony Bennett and the collaborators – which hasn’t happened until now. “They placed the phones under surveillance in order to prevent a possible incident”, Anthony Bennett specified.
Despite the initial confusion, Bennett says that recently he has been living “tranquil times”. And that he hopes not to have to repeat such an agonising experience. “I confess that I was somewhat afraid”, he says.
For the attention of the government
The Madeleine Foundation has its offices in Harlow, Essex. But it is through its internet site that most of its initiatives are developed and its main goals are publicised. For example, an online petition that is directed at prime minister Gordon Brown, counting with 556 signatures at the moment, requesting a law that criminalises anyone who leaves children under the age of 12 alone at home.
Polemic. Anthony Bennett was one of the main instigators of a curious campaign that was carried out in Great Britain in 2001. He was the face of the British who opposed the adoption of the metric system on Her Majesty’s soil. In order to make their discontent very clear, he went as far as pulling out some road signs. His enthusiasm came at a cost, and he was condemned in court over public disturbances, condemned six times over and forced to deliver communitarian services.
McCanns irritated when they hear about Bennett
“We don’t want to give that gentleman any exposure”
The main target of Anthony Bennett and of his foundation is the McCann couple. The friction began at an early stage, as soon as the lawyer’s intention to gather enough evidence in order for Gerry and Kate to be sued for neglecting their children while on holidays in Portugal, in May 2007, was known.
Bennett himself acknowledges that he was contacted by persons close to the McCanns in October, when the Foundation was made public on the internet. “The family’s spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, threatened to sue me because he understood that I might induce those who want to give their donation to the campaigns that search for Madeleine, into error. And he said that he would watch our activities. We have already sent their lawyers a letter clarifying that we do not want any misunderstandings, but we haven’t received a reply until now”, Anthony Bennett tells 24Horas.
Threats that went no further than that, at least not until now. Clarence Mitchell himself confirms to our newspaper that he spoke with Bennett and that he told him about his displeasure. “If he insists on acting in the manner in which he has acted until now, it’s likely that he will become the target of a lawsuit from us. Let’s see what happens from now on”, Mitchell advanced.
Gerry and Kate’s spokesman prefers not to make any further comment on the activities of the Madeleine Foundation and of its main mentor, directing any further information towards Maddie’s parents’ lawyer. “It is only him who can say anything further about the matter. Me and the McCanns, we don’t want to give this gentleman’s activities any further exposure”, he said.
Throughout the day, yesterday, 24Horas tried to contact Adam Tudor, who has an office in London, several times. Until the time at which this edition was closed, we failed to obtain any reply to our solicitations for a contact.
Alert. Clarence Mitchell, the McCann family’s spokesman, asserted to 24Horas that he is on top of everything that is being done by the Madeleine Foundation.
“We’re ready for action”, he warned.
Cooperation. Gonçalo Amaral recognizes that he was already contacted by Anthony Bennett. “We spoke several times through the internet. This is a friendly cooperation, he hasn’t paid me and I don’t wish to be paid”, the former Judiciária inspector told 24Horas.
Silence. Gerry and Kate McCann haven’t said a word yet to comment on the Madeleine Foundation. All their public positions on the subject are publicly assumed by their all-time spokesman, Clarence Mitchell.
source: 24Horas, 09.01.2009