1.Everyone shall possess the right to freely express and publicise his thoughts in words, images or by any other means, as well as the right to inform others, inform himself and be informed without hindrance or discrimination 2.Exercise of the said rights shall not be hindered or limited by any type or form of censorship Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, Article 37.º

O alegado e-mail de Piers Merchant

Posted: Mon Nov 12, 2007 6:16 pm Post subject: Am I being threatened here? Letter from MP, replying to e.mail sent...

"Roger Knapman MEP has asked me to thank you for your email and to reply as he is currently travelling to Strasbourg.

First I should advise you, for your own good, to be very cautious about circulating potentially high libellous statements about Kate and Gerry McCann.

The law of defamation applies to email and the internet. Secondly your suggestion that the Prime Minister is involved in some sort of conspiracy involving a clandestine cover-up is absurd. It is a wild allegation with no evidence at all.

One of the first duties of the British government is to support its citizens abroad. It is therefore entirely correct that the government should do this in the case of Kate and Gerry McCann.

One of the elements of this supporty is to protect British citizens against the actions of foreign governments. The Portuguese police and judicial system is known to be suspect. Elements of the police are corrupt and indeed in this case the senior detective involved has been charged with corruption.

The Portuguese judicial system does not assume innocence before guilt in the way the British system does and operates an interrogatory process in which people are denounced as suspects without any proof. In this particular case the original police investigation was amateurish and flawed and to date nearly 10 different people have at one time or another been denounced as suspects.

It is important to realise that Portugal has no real history of citizen's rights and liberties or democracy. From the 1920s to the mid 1970's Portugal was ruled by a fascist dictatorship, first under Salazar and then Caetano. Political opposition was repressed and the police and judicial system was used to achieve this.

A stable multi-party democracy only came into existence in the late 1970's and is still very young. Many of the police were trained under fascism and the institutions still bear the impact of this long period of dictatorship. In all the circumstances it is entirely right that British citizens should be protected against an unreliable foreign system. In any event I think you can rest assured that the British police and intelligence services have long had a better grip on the facts of this case than the Portuguese police.

Best wishes
Piers Merchant
Assistant to Roger Knapman MEP"

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