More like the police than the police - new tactics in hunt for Madeleine
IT HAD all the features of an official police press conference: a solemn appeal for sightings, delivered with detective-speak phrases such as "eliminating suspects in the investigation".
However, the man standing behind the lectern was not a senior policeman but a PR consultant hired by a family determined to find answers even if it means going it alone.
Eight months on from the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the private-investigation team sanctioned by her parents is increasingly employing the rhetoric and methodology of the police.
Yesterday, in what Kate and Gerry McCann hope will spark a breakthrough, the couple's official spokesman released, for the first time, an image of a suspect to the media and public.
The distribution of the artist's impression, created by Melissa Little, an FBI-accredited police artist hired by the McCann team, spoke volumes not only about the family's resolve, but their frustration with the official investigation.
The language of Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' public face, was unequivocal as he addressed the media from a lectern in a London hotel. "Who is he? Where is he? What, if any, is his connection to Madeleine's disappearance?" he said. "If he is innocent, we want him to come forward for his own sake so he can be ruled out. We believe this man could be linked to Madeleine's disappearance."
One former senior officer with Strathclyde Police suggested the family's approach was designed to keep public interest in the case buoyant, but said they may still have to rely on the resources of the police.
He said: "The language and the presentation that are being used imitate the police thanks to their PR people. They know that's a good way to catch the public's eye. It's an authoritative approach and it captures people's attention. I don't think there's any real policing expertise, though.
"I'd say it's highly unlikely they have anywhere near the resources of an active policing force. The parents don't know how to conduct an investigation and they're dependent on people they are hiring, who, in some cases, may not be best suited for the job. I think, as time goes on, it's unlikely they will find any new information on their own, outside of the chance someone will respond to this kind of public appeal."
In any case, it appears Mr Mitchell's tactics yesterday were borne largely out of dissatisfaction at the apparent impotency and silence of the Portuguese police, though he was careful not to cast aspersions: "We're not going to criticise the police in any form – they have got a difficult enough job. It seems drawings of this sort are not done as a matter of course in Portugal."
Nonetheless, the private investigation now appears to be regarded by the McCanns as their best hope of tracing their daughter. Having secured the image of the suspect, their team has now drawn up an action plan for how they want the investigation to proceed.
Firstly, they want a worldwide search, co-ordinated by a central phone number manned by their private-detective agency to identify and locate the man in the sketches. All information would be passed on to the Portuguese police.
Secondly, they want a full review of all police records and witness statements, including one taken from a 12-year-old girl who reported sightings of a strange man in the Portuguese resort in May last year.
Thirdly, Mr Mitchell called for complete cooperation between the Portuguese police, Interpol and the authorities in Spain, Morocco and Britain.
With tension between the McCanns and the Portuguese police still evident, the latter demand may not be straightforward. Worse still, they appear to be getting little return on the £50,000 a month being paid out to Metodo 3, the Barcelona-based private-detective agency.
'DISTURBING' MAN IS NEW SUSPECT
THE new suspect in the case of Madeleine McCann's disappearance was spotted by a holidaymaker three times walking around the complex where the four-year-old was last seen.
Mrs Cooper described seeing an olive-skinned man with collar-length scraggly hair acting suspiciously on a number of occasions.
On 20 April, Mrs Cooper said, she saw the man walking by himself in heavy rain on the deserted beach at Praia da Luz. Later the same afternoon, Mrs Cooper said she received a visit from the same man, whom she described as "disturbing".
Two days later, Mrs Cooper saw the same man hanging around a children's outing to the beach organised by the Mark Warner resort.
in New Scotsman 21.01.08
Mccann's Photo-Fit has No Connection with the Case : «Gail Cooper, who did the description that gave rise to the photo fit, returned to Portugal in an attempt of finding the individual who seemed suspect, reports the British press. “I returned because I want to help”, affirmed Gail. The English woman is going to try to help the Spanish agency of detectives Metodo 3, that was hired by the McCanns to find their daughter.»
Gail Copper In Praia Da Luz «She is meeting staff from the Metodo 3 detective agency helping to search for the little girl and will retrace his movements. Gail, from Newark, Notts, said yesterday: "I never thought this would happen. I hope it could be a breakthrough. There can't be anyone who doesn't feel what Kate and Gerry are going through and want to help.(...)Gail, who came forward after reading a story in the Mirror, added: "I thought police must have investigated and ruled it out, so I was amazed when Metodo 3 thought it could be so important."
New Sketch Of 'Creepy Madeleine Suspect' «The News of the World claims the detailed artist's impression was generated using information from the holidaymaker, who had been staying 600 yards from the McCanns in Praia da Luz. The associate editor of the News of the world, Gary Thompson, told Sky News: "The real significance is that the sketch has been shown to Jane Tanner, a member of the so-called Tapas Group. "You may remember she says she saw a man carrying a child. "We understand that Jane Tanner has confirmed the likeness."»
Portuguese police accuse McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell of 'lying through his teeth' « "Mr Mitchell wants to discredit the Policia Judiciaria and invent excuses so the McCanns do not come to Portugal to participate in the reconstruction of the night she disappeared. "He lies with as many teeth as he has in his mouth. Finally we know what side truth is on."»
Texan’s Million Dollar Challenge to father of Missing British Girl, Madeleine McCann «Tom Franks, who shares his time between Texas and L.A., said, “I will give the parents a million dollars if they can answer just one question. I will need to see evidence, either forensic evidence, witness evidence or strong circumstantial evidence that shows the man they want us to believe took their child probably did. If they publish compelling evidence that a man seen by a tourist before they arrived in Portugal, was "Madeleine‘s probable abductor," as they claim on their website, I will gladly give them a million dollars to help find that man.”»
The dismissal of Gail Cooper's «creepy suspect» from the Official Judiciary Police investigation report
«Now in an advanced phase of the investigation, pages 3965 to 4113, there arises, related to the private investigation developed by the McCann couple, and publicly announced by their spokesman, CLARENCE MITCHELL, the alleged existence of a suspect, which, supposedly, was undertaking a collection in Praia da Luz, at the time of the disappearance. A photo sketch was created of this individual by a witness – GAIL COOPER – who saw him, page 3979.
From the beginning and immediately, this was compared with the photo-fit from JANE TANNER, and despite hers not having a face, page 3977, she alleged they were the same person, with an approximately 80% certainty.
In order to assess the credibility of the description and of the drawing, it is important to highlight that the witness GAIL COOPER, was heard for the first time and in a very detailed fashion [emphasis in the report], by the British authorities (see page 3982), then affirming that she saw this person only one time [emphasis in the report], in a collection done at the door of the residence she was occupying during her holidays.
However, a few months later, in a new deposition, the same witness affirms that she saw this individual three times [emphasis in the report] (one of which he was watching, in a strange way, the children at the Paraíso Restaurant), during her stay in Luz, information which she did not supply at the time of her first deposition to the police in the UK.
With the publication of this portrait, a myriad notices about sightings of this individual arose, most from the UK, but also from Portugal (see pages 4130).
All of this information received due treatment and evaluation in regards to credibility, of which nothing has come until now, in spite of innumerable persons approached, supposedly of similar appearance with the “suspect.”»
Today new UK media spin and re-hash:
Sunday Express: Madeleine McCann Exclusive: No 1 Suspect is on video
THE prime suspect in the Madeleine McCann abduction was secretly filmed working at a market in Portugal.
Moving images were covertly shot of the man and shown to key witness Gail Cooper by an investigator [Francisco Marco from Spanish detective agency Metodo 3] working for Kate and Gerry McCann two years ago.
The man was filmed unloading what looked like linen from a clean white van at an “inland” travelling market.
Mrs Cooper, 53, today tells the Sunday Express the man captured on film was the same person she saw three times in Praia da Luz on the Algarve, just days before Madeleine was snatched.
Mrs Cooper is the key witness in the case because she had a tense 15-minute conversation with the suspect before Madeleine vanished from the Mark Warner Ocean Club in Luz on May 3, 2007.
Today, Mrs Cooper calls on the McCanns to put the sensational footage on their website findmadeleine.com so he can be traced by detectives.
“I believe the man I saw was the same person who abducted Madeleine McCann,” said Mrs Cooper, who was flown back to Luz last week by the Sunday Express in an attempt to unlock the mystery.
“More people need to see this footage to discover where he is.”
Mrs Cooper is the woman who created, with an FBI-trained police artist working for the McCanns, a haunting sketch of the man with a distinctive handlebar moustache and protruding front teeth.
That powerful image was used in high-profile press campaigns by the McCanns in an effort to locate him.
He bears an uncanny resemblance to the man the McCanns’ friend Jane Tanner saw carrying a small child in his arms and walking away from the holiday apartment on the night Madeleine vanished.
Mrs Cooper, from Newark, Notts, said in the summer of 2008 she was asked to look at footage of the suspect shot over several days in Portugal.
“He was unloading his market stall from a white van,” said Mrs Cooper.
"His hair was lighter and he had shaved off the moustache but to my mind it was the same man. For me the giveaway was his protruding teeth, which were exactly the same as the man I had met in Luz.
"I was shown the footage by a person working for the McCanns’ investigators who took notes of everything I said and then left but I haven’t heard anything since. I asked where the film was shot but he would only say it was shot ‘inland’ in Portugal.”
Last week the McCanns, from Rothley, Leics, appeared on GMTV calling for a review of all the evidence.
Heart specialist Mr McCann, 41, said: “I don’t think it’s right that, as parents, we have to drive the search.”
in Sunday Express 2.05.2010
I’ll never forget Maddie snatcher's dead eyes
GAIL COOPER will never forget the day she stared into the “dead eyes” of the man she believes abducted Madeleine McCann three years ago tomorrow.
“There was just nothing in his eyes, no soul, no life, nothing,” she said, drawing on a cigarette to calm her nerves as she relives the close encounter she had in Praia da Luz.
Home care coordinator Gail had hired a £2million villa in April 2007 to celebrate her 50th birthday with friends and family.
The party of 14 flew to Portugal on April 18 and Gail had a lovely first four days enjoying time with her two grandchildren in the villa’s pool and at the nearby beach.
As the villa slept only nine, two couples and a boy of two stayed in the nearby Mark Warner complex – directly above apartment 5A where the McCanns stayed the next week.
On April 20 the group went to the Paraiso cafe on the beach for lunch. As they enjoyed their meal it began to rain and they noticed a scruffy man standing on the beach getting drenched in the downpour.
They drove back to the villa, where the children played in the pool and the sun shone again.
Between 4 and 5pm there was a ring on the door at the villa, which is situated in a quiet street some 20 minutes walk from the beach.
To Gail’s astonishment it was the man she had seen a few hours earlier getting soaked on the beach. He was aged between 40 and 45 and about six feet tall with an olive complexion.
He appeared Mediterranean but not Portuguese and spoke fairly good English, and was clean shaven apart from his moustache.
He wore a heavy cotton khaki jacket and a green or blue t-shirt and khaki combat trousers. Around his waist was a black leather bum bag.
He told Gail that he was collecting money for an orphanage in the nearby village of Espiche.
Moving from foot to foot and waving what appeared to be ID documents, he said an English couple had been killed in a motorway smash nearby and their three children were being looked after at the orphanage.
“He was very pushy and intimidating,” said Gail. “He was waving his hands and came out with this story, which I didn’t believe, to get me to hand over some cash. He kept staring right at me, virtually imploring me to give money, but I wouldn’t.
“He spoke good English but it wasn’t really with a Portuguese accent. My grandchildren were in the pool and my husband had gone out and I just wanted him to go away.
“I’ve been to Portugal many times and I’ve never had anyone come to the door asking for money before. His clothing and hair still looked wet from the rain. The whole situation was odd and made me uncomfortable. After 10 minutes or so he suddenly stopped talking and just walked off.”
Gail believes the man may have followed the group from the beach and could have been looking over the villa wall at her grandchildren in the pool.
Two days later on April 22, Gail and the group saw the man again, standing near a group of children who were being taken to the beach by Mark Warner childminders.
She said: “At first it looked like he was with the children and I remember thinking maybe he was raising money for an orphanage. Then my daughter pointed out that the children weren’t orphans, they were from the Mark Warner complex.
“Although he was walking near the children it was clear that he wasn’t with them and I recall thinking that it all seemed a little bit odd. But I thought nothing much more of it and we carried on enjoying our holiday.”
After returning home and hearing of Madeleine’s abduction a week later, Gail contacted the police.
On May 21 she gave a statement to a detective from the Leicestershire force which was liaising with Portuguese officers.
In January 2008 she was contacted by the McCanns’ investigators and agreed to sit for 10 hours with an artist to create the first full facial image of the suspect. “I was happy to do anything I could to help,” she said.
In July she was shown film of the man working at a market and later an investigator working for the McCanns flew over to show her images of five men, none of whom she recognised.
“I have a very clear image in my mind of the man I saw and I think it will stay with me for the rest of my life,” she said. “At first I just thought he was a conman but now I believe he could be much more dangerous. I will never forget his dark, dead eyes and the way he threw his arms about in a very jerky way.
“He was very agitated at the front door of the villa and he looked quite disturbed when he was wandering around on the beach in the rain. The sooner he is found the better.”
Gail said her memories of what was a fantastic 50th birthday celebration have been marred by the kidnapping of Madeline.
Seldom a day passes when she doesn’t think of the mysterious man.
She said: “In the early days after hearing about the kidnapping, I just had this horrible empty feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“I couldn’t get the image of the man out of my head and I was racking my brains trying to remember everything he said and every detail about him.
“Had he followed the members of our group, including a boy of two, who was staying at the ocean club?
“I am left with a strong sense of frustration because this is still unresolved.”
in Sunday Express 02.05.2010
Full transcript by anotheroneforjustice
JAMES MURRAY The Sunday Express has brought Gail Cooper back to Praia da Luz to tell her story of her strange encounter with a man she believes went on to kidnap Madeleine McCann three years ago.
JAMES MURRAY Gail it was on April the 20th 2007, you were down here with members of your family.
GAIL COOPER That's right, yeah.
JAMES MURRAY It was raining.
GAIL COOPER Yes.
JAMES MURRAY You were having afternoon tea in that restaurant over there.
GAIL COOPER Yes, we were, yeah.
JAMES MURRAY Tell me what you saw then.
GAIL COOPER There was this guy, corner of our eye, crossing our vision, walking out towards the sea. Just stood, looking out across the beach. It was absolutely sheeting down with rain, really sheeting down. Then he just turned, headed off in that direction (***garbled three seconds***)
JAMES MURRAY And was he absolutely drenched?
GAIL COOPER Absolutely.
JAMES MURRAY Gail and her friends were staying at this luxury, two million pound villa twenty minutes walk away from the beach. It was in the afternoon and there was a knock at the door, three hours after they had left the beach.
GAIL COOPER We came back to the villa. Late afternoon my husband and son-in-law went out and grandchildren were in the pool. I was sat by the pool with my eldest daughter. Door bell rang. I answered the door thinking it was my husband had left his wallet behind as he tends to do. Opened the door to find a complete stranger there and he ran into a spiel about collecting for an orphanage in the next village and in Portugal he was only allowed to collect one day of the year which was April the 20th and it was the same day every year, which I doubted at the time because I always come out in April.
JAMES MURRAY Just a few minutes walk away from the apartment where they were staying other members of the group were staying at the Mark Warner complex.
GAIL COOPER Five members of our group were staying at the Ocean Club including a two year old boy. We called in at the apartment once to make arrangements for the evening and I must say whilst we were there we didn't see any sign of the man I'd seen at the villa.
JAMES MURRAY Two days after the first sightings the group went back to the beach. And this is the image, isn't it of the man that you saw twice on the beach here and once at your holiday villa?
GAIL COOPER That is right, yes.
JAMES MURRAY Just a few days before Madeleine disappeared. On the third sighting down at the beach the man seemed to be shadowing a group of children coming down to the beach from the Mark Warner complex. Again, he was acting oddly.
GAIL COOPER Its been three years since Madeleine went missing. There needs to be renewed police action to bring this case to a conclusion.