Panorama Transcript: The Mystery of Madeleine McCann
NB: THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS TYPED FROM A TRANSCRIPTION UNIT RECORDING AND NOT COPIED FROM AN ORIGINAL SCRIPT: BECAUSE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF MIS-HEARING AND THE DIFFICULTY, IN SOME CASES OF IDENTIFYING INDIVIDUAL SPEAKERS, THE BBC CANNOT VOUCH FOR ITS ACCURACY.
The Mystery of Madeleine McCann
Reporter: Richard Bilton
RECORDED FROM TRANSMISSION: BBC ONE
JEREMY VINE: Hello, I'm Jeremy Vine and this is Panorama. Madeleine McCann. The unseen footage of her parents as the tied of public opinion was about to turn.
KATE: It's not like there's a .... about it, is there, like what to do when your daughter gets abducted.
GERRY: It's still hard to think it's us, it's actually happened to us.
VINE: And the friend who tried to warn them.
JON CORNER: I said to them that I think there's a possibility that Madeleine may not be the story eventually, that you may be the story.
VINE: But where will that story end? The police now say they don't expect the long-awaited DNA results to be decisive, but they're not ready to clear the McCaans and want to speak to witnesses again. Tonight one of them describes to us the moment she believes Madeleine was taken.
JANE TANNER: I just saw somebody walking across the top of the road so I was a reasonable distance away from them, and that person was carrying a child.
VINE: It's the story that's transfixed most of us but which has largely been told through leaks, spin and innuendo, partly because of the Portuguese justice system. But tonight Panorama talks to people with first hand accounts of what happened that night including a first interview with the woman who says she saw Madeleine being abducted. It comes at a key moment in the investigation with the police now under pressure to justify the cloud of suspicion over the McCaans. Richard Bilton reports.
RICHARD BILTON: From anguish:
KATE: Please continue to pray for Madeleine, she's lovely.
BILTON: To a form of celebrity.
GERRY: There was the one that we did in conjunction with J.K. Norman for the distribution.
BILTON: Then doubt and finally suspects.
It has just been today declared that we've?...
BILTON: Their story has been the same from day one - their daughter was abducted. But they were forced to leave Portugal without her and had to protest their innocence. GERRY: Despite their being so much we wish to say, but we are unable to do so, except to say this: we have played no part in the disappearance of our lovely daughter Madeleine.
Speaking in August
It's funny, we were having such a good time today see. We were with our friends and their kids and I think because there was a group of us you're into each other, do you know what I mean, you're kind of.. your interacting with each other, whereas maybe if it had just been me and Gerry and the kids, you know, you'd probably spend a bit more time looking round, you know.
BILTON: This is the McCaans at home being filmed by a friend in August. So far this footage has remained private. This is the first time it's been seen.
KATE: I mean we're home. We're knew to this, it's awful, and it's horrible for anyone to have to go through, and we're just doing what we think is best and we don't know. We don't know if what we're doing is right, you know.
During the making of this film somebody said to me that the McCaans are either monsters or martyrs. As it stands, I can't tell you what happened to Madeleine McCann on that night. No one seems to be able to do that. But what I can do, with new information, new interviews, with new pictures that have never been seen before, and were filmed by the McCaans friends, is to give you the fullest and clearest account yet of the mystery of Madeleine McCann and why her parents seem unable to shake off the suspicion that they were somehow involved.
Association of Police Investigators
We have uncooperative witnesses who don't collaborate. The McCaans and the friends, the people who were there who clearly aren't collaborating with the investigation.
BILTON: April of this year the McCaans, along with a group of friends who all have pre-school children, decide to go for an early break in the sun. They come here, to the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, Portuguese Algarve. Kate McCann calls home. The holiday is going well.
Kate McCann's mother
It was good. She said it was cold. She said the weather was cold and they were quite surprised because they hadn't taken a lot of warm clothing. And so she was surprised about that. But I think the day I was speaking to her it had improved a bit, and I think she said that they were going down to the beach.
BILTON: The week long holiday is coming to a close. Day 6: it's Thursday, May 3rd. We've produced this model of the Ocean Club to clearly show the key areas and where people were. The tennis courts and pool area, the Tapas Bar and here apartment 5A where by 5.30 in the evening the McCaans say the children have been picked up from, their kids' clubs and they were all back together. At 6 Gerry McCann has his third tennis lesson of the day so he leaves the flat. He says as a family they talked about bringing the children back out to play in the area by the courts. At 6.30 Gerry McCann asks a friend, David Payne, to pop in on Kate to see if the children are coming down. He goes to the flat, he says all is well, but the children are too tired and are already in their pyjamas. At 7, lesson over, Gerry McCann goes back to the apartment. He says he reads the children a story and all three are asleep by 7.30. The couple say they have a glass of wine before at half past eight they leave for the tapas restaurant, it's on the complex about 70 metres away. They'd eaten here every night of their holiday with their friends. They can't see the front or the side of the apartment but they can see part of the back, though even that view is partially obscured by bushes.
GERRY: We ate in the open air bit of the tapas and when we went in there was I think one or two other couples.
KATE: And then it was just us, you know, and it wasn't late, you know, it was half eight we were there.
GERRY: One couple we played tennis with and we chatted to them, and then some of the friends started arriving and they left shortly after that. And I think at that point we might have been the only table.
BILTON: Now what follows is the crucial part of the story. The police have told Panorama that the timeline, the chronology of the events of the night of May 3rd, are still at the heart of this investigation. They say that there are many inconsistencies in what the group who were having dinner with the McCaans the so-called 'tapas night' have said in their witness statements. This is what the McCaans say happened that night.
There's a party of nine. It's coming towards the end of their holiday and most people are drinking. All the couples have children in the apartments. They say they took turns to check up on them.
KATE: We all knew what we had to do, what we would do and.. you know, it worked as a system we had going and it just seemed totally right somehow.
BILTON: Gerry McCann says he went at just after 9 to check on his children. He says that their bedroom door was more open than usual so he goes in. Gerry McCann has told Panorama he remembers looking down at Madeleine. He spent a moment thinking how beautiful she looked and how lucky he was. He says this was the last time he saw his daughter. He closes the bedroom door and leaves through these unlocked patio doors. A stair gate since removed is shut, this gate is on the latch not locked. Returning to the tapas bar he meets Jeremy Wilkins who he'd played tennis with that afternoon. He crosses the road to talk to him.
Speaking in August
I bumped into one guy I played tennis with in the street when I'd gone in to check, and that was the first time I think of any of the nights that I'd been going up and down that I saw anyone else really - five, six nights, and it was incredibly quiet.
BILTON: They spoke for a few minutes. At this time around 9.15 Jane Tanner thinks about checking on her children.
Friend of the McCaans
I think the starters were about to arrive so I thought oh, I'll go and do a check in sort of 20 minutes or so before last check. So I thought I'll go and do a check before the food arrives. So I just walked out of the restaurant, up the hill, I passed Gerry who was talking to one of his tennis friends at the time. And then after I'd past Gerry, at the top of the road I just saw somebody walking across the top of the road I just saw somebody walking across the top of the road so I was a reasonable distance away from them, and that person was carrying a child.
BILTON: You say "a person." Male or female?
JANE: Oh a male, a male.
BILTON: And just describe that individual to us.
JANE: He was about probably 5'8 tall, he was taller than me but not 6' and so between those two. He was wearing quite a lot of clothes and that's one thing in hindsight again I think was quite odd because tourists when they're abroad, Brits abroad would always have cropped trousers or shorts or something, and he had a sort of a big heavy jacket and trousers on, and hair.. the one thing that I remember a lot is the hair. He did seem to have quite a lot of dark, reasonably-long-to-the-neck hair.
BILTON: Describe exactly what he's carrying, what you can see.
JANE: Well I could see.. I could tell it was a child, and I could see the feet and... feet and the bottom of the pyjamas, and I just thought that child's not got any shoes on because you could see the feet, and it was quite a cold night in Portugal in May it's not actually that warm, and I'd got a big jumper on, and I can remember thinking oh that parent is not a particularly good parent, they've not wrapped them up.
BILTON: And could you tell if it was a boy or a girl?
JANE: Only because the pyjamas had a pinky aspect to them so you presume a girl. It was actually quite cold.
BILTON: From your sketch he appears to be carrying the child in a sort of unusual way.
JANE: Yeah, he was carrying sort of across the body like that. I suppose in hindsight you'd probably think somebody would carry them more against the shoulder.
BILTON: And I have to ask you this. Are you absolutely sure of what you saw? It was a long time ago and it was only for a brief period?
JANE: Brief period but at the time I knew what I'd seen. I gave that information to the police and because of the pyjamas I'm absolutely convinced that is what I saw.
BILTON: According to the McCann timeline, at about 9.30 Matt Oldfield is the next to check on the children. Remember Gerry McCann says he had closed the bedroom door, but Matt Oldfield says he finds it open. He doesn't go in the room, he sees the twins but can't see Madeleine's bed. Because there's no noise he assumes everything is okay. At about 10 it's Kate McCann's turn to check on the children. The bedroom door is still open. As she closes it she feels a draft and knows something is wrong. A shutter on the side of the apartment they couldn't see from the tapas bar is open. Madeleine is missing. Kate McCann says she searches the flat three times before raising the alarm. Jane Tanner says that by this time she is already back in her apartment.
JANE: I went out to the front door of our apartment and then I saw Rachael came and said: "Oh Madeleine's gone!" So that was the first that I heard about it. And then I saw Kate and Fiona running around shouting 'Madeleine' and Kate said to me: "Jane, Madeleine's gone! Madeleine's gone!" and that was the first that I heard.
BILTON: What time was it about?
JANE: I'm not sure, it'd be ten'ish, around ten'ish.
BILTON: And now all of a sudden what you've seen...
JANE: Yeah, as soon as Rachael said to me: "Madeleine's gone" this person sort of came into my head. I hadn't given it a second thought up to that point but then this person sort of... I suddenly thought oh, well that person was a bit odd. Suddenly Madeleine is not there and I've seen somebody that made me think oh, that maybe was a bit odd. It just seems too much of a coincidence.
BILTON: The McCaans say they asked Matt Oldfield to call the police at 10.15 from the Ocean Club front desk. When the police don't appear, they say someone from the group goes back to the front desk to see what's happening. The police say the first call they received was about 10.40. In the chaos it's clear there is some confusion about the exactly times. Remember Portugal and Britain are on the same time.
I have spoken to someone who was staying very close to flat 5A on the night of May 3rd. She says the first that she was aware of a missing child was 10.30 and she's sure of that because she says the BBC 10 o'clock news had just finished. She says that she heard Kate McCann sobbing, repeating over and over again: "We've let her down." She also says that she heard the first Portuguese policeman arrive and he said: "She must have walked out because there's no sign of a break in."
Initially the flat isn't treated as a crime scene and police would later be criticised for not sealing it off.
Speaking in August
There had been quite a few people in the apartment but not into the bedroom, that was limited to myself, Kate, I think two of our friends, the two GNR officers and I think a translator. I was certainly saying to people: "Stay out of the room." There was no sealing off of the room and should we?
Children's bedroom, Apartment 5A
The twins were still sleeping in their cots. So... you'd be trying to leave it as undisturbed as possible, and they slept very soundly until we moved them out of the cots into their own apartment which does make me wonder about whether there was any substances used to keep them asleep.
BILTON: The police didn't follow this up with tests. Meanwhile late on May 3rd the McCanns begin calling home.
Kate McCann's mother
I think it would be about half eleven - and I'm guessing now, I might be wrong - there was a phone call and it was Gerry on the phone, and he said it's a disaster. It's a disaster. And he was quite hysterical.
Gerry McCann's sister
He's absolutely uncontrollable. He's howling and screaming down the phone: "They've taken her, she's gone."
Gerry McCann's brother
He was walking the streets of Praia da Luz at half past three. I think most of the search party had disbanded by then and he was still crying his eyes out.
BILTON: What was Kate like, what sort of state was she in?
SUSAN: She was distressed, obviously. She just asked me if I had the telephone number of Father Paul Seddon. Paul Seddon is a friend of theirs who is a Catholic priest who actually married Gerry and Kate and baptised Madeleine, and for some reason at that stage Kate needed to make contact with Paul. She needed I suppose the strength that comes from having faith.
JOHN: They texted a couple of times just.. you know.. pray for us. Pray for Madeleine.
BILTON: By dawn a major search of the whole resort is underway. These officers are from the GNR, the uniformed Portuguese police but it's the investigation branch, the Polícia Judiciária, or PJ's, who are now in charge of the hunt for Madeleine McCann.
We would again like to appeal for any information, however small, that may lead to the safe return of Madeleine.
BILTON: First appeals are made, but what we didn't know at the time was that some Portuguese detectives are already telling Portuguese journalists that they don't believe the McCann story.
JOSE MANUEL OLIVEIRA
Crime reporter, 'Diario de Noticias'
Information started circulating from sources connected to the Portuguese police that the story was full of holes from the side of the McCanns and their friends. Indeed within two days of Madeleine disappearing, this crime correspondent was filing this piece in the Portuguese Daily: Diario of the Noticias: "Headline: a badly told story." We started to receive information according to which the police suspected the theory they had apprehensions, didn't believe the theory that she had been kidnapped. To conclude, the police started to suspect the parents from the word go.
BILTON: But that breakdown in trust worked both ways. The McCaans quickly grew impatient at the police response.
KATE: It seemed bloody slow at the time, you know, and I don't know, I mean again you've got to put it into perspective, you know, it's a quiet, sleepy place, certainly at that time of year, there's no local police, you know, so they had to come from the nearest town. The local police came out. You've got to remember we had the language barrier as well.
BILTON: Against the police advice the wider McCann family turned to the media. But within days Kate and Gerry McCann found themselves being judged by the media.
KATE: Madeleine is a beautiful, bright, funny and caring little girl. She is so special. Please, please do not hurt her. Please don't scare her. Please tell us where to find her.
BILTON: It was reported that police suspicions were fuelled by the couple's behaviour, that in these early appearances Kate McCann seemed too cold, too controlled.
KATE: We need our Madeleine, Sean and Emily need Madeleine and Madeleine needs us.
Editor, 24 Horas'
They are criticised for having displayed a cold and calculating attitude throughout this process. You can see already after the kidnapping Kate McCann appeared on a veranda in front of the journalists crying purposefully.
And we interpreted this as a performance for the media, and this made us feel some sort of discomfort.
KATE: Please give our little girl back. "Por favor, devolva a nossa menina."
JOHN McCANN: They were getting advice. If you're too tearful you're gonna have the emotional impact but you're not going to get the message over. And yes what comes out of their mouths sounds measured, controlled, and.. you know, a nice tempo. They don't speak like that normally. That is a false situation, okay, and they had to work damned hard to get to that place. Because the number of tears before that were shed before they went out there, because I saw that. I was backstage there.
BILTON: But it's in this atmosphere that a former PJ detective goes on Portuguese television and without any corroboration accuses the McCaans of being swingers.
JOSE BARRA da COSTA
Former Policia Judiciaria
There are people who guarantee that this is a couple who practice 'swinging' - i.e. sexual relationships between couples and then changing partners, and that this practice would allow in this type of...
BILTON: When you say: "there are people who say..." I'm assuming you are quoting....
DA COSTA: People who know obviously. I cannot reveal the source here because I would lose it.
BILTON: The Portuguese police publicly disowned the allegation, also denied by the McCanns. But such stories are damaging. Then within weeks at a press conference in Germany, this question to the McCanns?
How do you deal with the fact that more and more people seem to be pointing the figure at you saying the way you behave is not the way people would normally behave if their child was abducted and they seem to imply that you might have something to do with it.
KATE: To be honest I don't actually think that. It's a case.. I think that's a very small minority of people that are criticising us. You know, we are very responsible parents and we love our children so much, and I think it's only a very few people that are actually criticising us.
BILTON: That question seemed extreme at the time, but there was more and more focus on Kate and Gerry McCann. But one film crew was welcome. The resulting footage wasn't offered to Panorama but the McCanns agreed to release it to us when word of its existence leaked out.
How do you know the McCanns?
JON CORNER Independent Film Producer I know them through my wife, Michelle, who was Kate's longest friend. I mean they met each other back in primary school and stayed lifelong mates.
BILTON: John Corner is a film producer, he's also godfather to the McCann twins. The McCanns say, because he's a friend, he's invited to make a film for the launch of the YouTube channel for missing children and on August 1st he arrives on the Algarve.
CORNER: It was very low key, very relaxed and very quickly got used to us hanging around and...
BILTON: He filmed the McCanns for a week. The family have just moved to their new base, a villa on the outskirts of Luc.
CORNER: You can see the twins just playing and you can see it's a normal house, you've got toys and stuff on the floor. What's quite poignant about it is you see a father sitting on his own, in his bedroom, in a foreign country desperately looking for his daughter and seeing that quite upset me.
Speaking in August
Looking at these, both in isolation I don't think too bad, but when you see videos or the pictures that I haven't seen for a while, the calling ones I think I've become a bit desensitised to but the ones that haven't been used as much are much more difficult to look at, and particularly video.
BILTON: When Jon Corner arrives at the villa Kate tells him about Gerry taking his sister and brother-in-law to the airport.
Speaking in August
Gerry took them, yeah, he was a bit crumbly I think. I think he was alright he got up and said: "I'm gonna go now" and then he lost it. And I got a text from Trish and it said: "Nearly choked on my full English because of that Tiny Tears husband of yours" you know, (laugh) but yeah.
BILTON: Is he big brother or little brother?
KATE: Little brother. Yeah, Gerry's the youngest, yeah.
BILTON: He's the youngest isn't he? Because the media see Gerry as this kind of emotionless warrior and he's not really, is he?
KATE: No he's not. I mean it's really harsh to say that because I mean... Gerry, he's always been a very focused person, he's enthusiastic, he's focused and he's incredibly positive which is great for me to be honest, and he's obviously he's speaking in public, not dealing with media but speaking in public, so he's able to go on and do that, and throw himself into it, and I think that's what people see and you know, people say oh how can he do that? Or how can you stand there and do that when your daughter has been taken and everything. And I mean I've been like that before, you know, when there's been other cases of kids that have been taken or killed or whatever and you think to yourself how does anyone cope with that? How could you get through another day? And then you throw it back to yourself and think how did I get up this morning? How did I get a shower? How did I get my breakfast? And something obviously gets you through it - apart from the first few days which you have total physical shutdown but something gets you through it, do you know what I mean, and I think I'm fully in that situation, you just can't say. You know, he has his lows as well, you know, for sure, and in fact probably Gerry's lowest points were often on a Saturday because we had like a family day, we'd just say right we'll try and put the work on hold as much as you can, and we'll do something with it, with the twins and then he often found that the hardest because we were on family time without Madeleine, you know, it just didn't seem right.
BILTON: Because you're their friend, people might treat these pictures with some scepticism, what difference do you think it made that you were their friend? Were you for example guiding them off camera?
JON CORNER: Not at all, no I was never guiding them off camera. And then it's not that kind of relationship with Kate and Gerry. I just let the cameras run and we burnt a lot of tape, just left the cameras run.
BILTON: There'll be plenty of people who won't buy that. This was their friend filming what they wanted seen, but their supporters would say they weren't then suspects, and if they were hiding an extraordinary secret, is it likely the couple would invite a camera team, however friendly, into their lives?
CORNER: I said to them that I think there's a possibility that Madeleine may not be the story eventually, that you may be the story.
BILTON: What did they say?
CORNER: They were quite distressed by that.
BILTON: It had not occurred to them before?
CORNER: Well it's difficult for me as a friend to be negative and to impart a sense of negativity.
BILTON: He was right to sense a change. On the day filming was due to start the police arrive at the McCann villa. As they pictures show, they would return.
CORNER: They took most of their clothing, they were taking even the wet clothes out of the washing machine. I was aware that the cuddlecat was boxed up and we were asked to leave the villa.
BILTON: The crew?
BILTON: So they searched the whole villa?
BILTON: So what, as all this is going on, what do Kate and Gerry make of this?
CORNER: Well this is the bizarre thing Richard because the police said to Kate and Gerry: "Yeah, we're going to be coming along, we want to do some forensics." And Kate and Gerry were massively optimistic about this. You've got to remember if your daughter is missing and the police phone you and say: "We want to do some forensics, that's a straw that you hang onto. That's a moment for optimism.
BILTON: That's because the McCanns say this was a time when they were pushing for more urgency in the investigation. The Portuguese had rejected their request for the FBI to come in, but they did bring in a British forensic team with sniffer dogs. Kate McCann talks to Jon Corner as all this is going on.
KATE: We're just doing absolutely everything we can do, you know, to help find Madeleine, and the last thing we're wanting to look back and think we could have done more.
BILTON: But they've taken clothing away, they've taken a diary away, they've taken cuddlecat away. Were they not thinking things have changed here?
CORNER: No, I was. I was thinking this seems really all a bit late in the day to me.
BILTON: Let me take you back to what it was like then. I was here in Praia da Luz for BBC News. Like the rest of the media I was reporting on the 100 days since Madeleine McCann had disappeared, but things were changing. Forensic teams had found what were thought to be specs of blood in the McCann apartment. Both sniffer dogs had reportedly reacted to the scent of death in the McCann hired car and on Kate McCann's clothing. People were starting to think what had previously seemed unthinkable. And faced with all of this the McCanns agreed to talk to me.
BILTON: Part of this inquiry is now shifting from a possible abduction to an investigation that might involve a death or murder. Were you aware of those sorts of issues?
GERRY: We're not naïve but on numerous occasions the Portuguese police have assured us that they were looking for Madeleine alive and not Madeleine being murdered, and I don't know of any information that's changed that. Kate and I strongly believe that Madeleine was alive when she was taken from the apartment. Obviously what we don't know is what happened to her afterwards, who has taken her and what the motive is, and we're best not to think that out.
KATE: And as Gerry's just said, even last week when we met with the police they said: "We are looking for a living child" and they've said that a lot so...
BILTON: What I know now but didn't know then that that was precisely the time when the McCanns first experienced a more aggressive attitude from the Portuguese police. At an informal briefing two detectives turned on Kate McCann. She was on her own. Gerry McCann wasn't with her, but her version of events was openly questioned.
Former McCann spokesperson
I do know afterwards she was incredibly upset and that was the start of a very difficult period and.. you know, I really felt for them actually because they went through a very tough time.
BILTON: And by now the forensic work is shaping the case. The police doubts are more serious. On Thursday 6th September Kate McCann is dropped off in Portimão, she's been called in for questioning, her sister-in-law Trish goes to support her. Justine McGuinness, the McCann publicity manager at the time is also there.
JUSTINE McGUINNESS: I have to say I was incredibly impressed because she just held her head high and walked into the police station and just kept on going, and a lot of people wouldn't have been able to have coped going through a media mob.
BILTON: As Kate McCann sits down in the interview room she recognises one of the detectives.
Kate McCann's mother
They'd had a meal with this guy, with his family, and the children have played together, and she talked to me about this particular police officer as being as if he was a friend, and she felt quite comforted by having this guy who spoke English as well, and he was in the interview and he didn't make eye contact with Kate at all.
BILTON: Kate McCann is at the station for 13 hours, but from inside she and Trish text out updates. Even at this point the message is being controlled.
McGUINNESS: We were a bit naughty because we did have messages coming out of the police station which we weren't supposed to...
BILTON: How did that work.. what, the text messages?
BILTON: And were the texts saying? Talk us through.
McGUINNESS: Sort of updates from things that were happening.
[Video: public statement to press]
I'd like to read a statement on Kate's arrival at the police station....
Knowing everybody had copy to write, had the 10 o'clock news like you did, or whatever, various different deadlines that they had. I felt that it was important just to manage people's expectations.
BILTON: She finally gets out at 1 o'clock in the morning. A lawyer tells family and friends what has been put to her by the police.
[Video: lawyer's public statement]
Kate has been listened to as a witness. The investigation will continue. Like everybody knows, because of the system of justice we can't say anymore.
McGUINNESS: I mean there was an allegation put to Kate that she'd been involved in harming her daughter, I mean a dreadful allegation to be put to any mother.
BILTON: At 3 in the morning after Kate McCann has returned to her villa, her lawyer arrives with what seems to be a deal. Plead guilty to manslaughter and escape with only 2 years in gaol. As he explains the offer, Philomena McCann is on the phone to her sister Trish.
Gerry McCann's sister
Trisha hangs out with a mobile and there I am listening to Kate screaming at the lawyer: "No! No!" and just the emotion and the disgust, her tone, everything that was being conveyed, I mean what she was saying and the anger, you could feel it.
BILTON: This was a turning point, a dramatic 48 hours. First they're named as official suspects.
[Video: Official statement to press and public]
Kate and Gerry McCann have both been today declared arguidos with no bail conditions..
BILTON: Then they decide the time has come to leave Praia da Luz to go home without Madeleine. Few are putting up yellow ribbons now. It's a case that divides people. Those who think that somehow the McCanns are involved and those who don't, including a small number of wealthy supporters who appoint a legal coordinator.
McCann legal co-ordinator
It was quite clear when Kate and Gerry came back to the UK that they were subject to an open season of abuse from the media. They'd obviously gone through the tragedy of having their daughter taken in very unfortunate circumstances, and to make matters infinitely worse, were now subject to a trial by media.
BILTON: So what exactly is the case against the McCanns? Well some of it tenuous to put it mildly and hard to disentangle from wild press speculation. It was widely reported, for example, that the body was shifted in the back of this vehicle, the Renault Scenic the McCanns hired 25 days after Madeleine disappeared. The story goes that they drove the car to Huelva in Spain on the 3rd August where they disposed of the body. According to the McCanns, these pictures show the only trip they made to Huelva.
CORNER: It's bizarre, truly bizarre. I mean we use it as a base for the crew.
BILTON: So that, effectively, is evidence, isn't it, because that is the trip to Spain when, if reports are to be believed, in the back of that vehicle is the body of Madeleine McCann.
Independent Film Producer
In the back of that vehicle there's a lot of posters of Madeleine and me and my cameraman. It's quite sickening really, you know, the speculation around what was a genuine trip out to Spain to try and raise public awareness about Madeleine. This is a couple who are desperately looking for their missing daughter. The thought of them having Madeleine in the car is just obscene.
BILTON: We are told the police do remain interested in this car. One source says it's a mystery why the vehicle does so many miles when Kate and Gerry McCann have left it behind on trips across Europe. There is a new man in charge of the case. They say everything is being reassessed. The speculation and police leaks do seem much reduced. We've had access to a third briefing from a source close to the top of the Polícia Judiciária. He tells us that two very different scenarios are now being tested, one that Madeleine was abducted as her parents believe, or that she died in apartment 5A as the result of an accident and that her death was covered up, and that second theory asks serious questions of the McCanns and their friends. So let's have a closer look at some of those police suspicions. Now a senior detective has told us that the friends are everything, that there are inconsistencies in their statements, that they might be hiding something. Specifically, the police thought seems to be that with the statements as they stand, that night seems so busy it's hard to see a predatory paedophile taking the risk. Officially the PJ can't talk about this case, but close to the investigation is a PJ detective who also heads the organisation representing Portuguese detectives.
Association of Police Investigators
What happened that night in the dinner, at the end of the dinner in the tapas bar and everything that happened that night, what was said between those people, it leaves us somewhat perplexed in the way, as I've been saying, since the beginning, that not all their statements match up exactly with each other. There are some things where between what one says and what the other says, they don't match up with each other.
Friend of the McCanns
Well if you ask nine people about events of the night you're probably going to get nine slightly different stories, and you're not clock watching, you're not... you know, we were having a meal, you're not...
BILTON: Jane Tanner is the only one of the group of friends who has agreed to speak to us. She denies recent reports that both she and her partner want to change their witness statements.
I heard that you've not yet spoken to the media before and yet you've been much discussed. Why have you chosen to speak now?
JANE: Well, I've not spoken because the Portuguese police told us not to talk about the case at all, and.. you know, from day one we've done everything we can to help them with the investigation. I think maybe I'm talking now because I'm being called a liar and a fantasist and all this, and I know what I saw and I think it's important that people know what I saw because I believe Madeleine was abducted.
BILTON: One reason why the police may doubt the consistency and the honesty of some of the witnesses relates to the first man to be declared arguido, Robert Murat. In July here at Portimão PJ headquarters Robert Murat came face to face with these three people: Russell O'Brien, Rachael Oldfield and Fiona Payne, all part of the McCann holiday group. Invited to read out their statements one by one, they all said they'd seen Robert Murat in and around the Ocean Club on the night Madeleine disappeared. He denied it then and he denies it now.
Robert Murat's aunt
Robert is sticking to his guns, he was not there on that night, there was not a shred of evidence against him being there on that night, so.. you know, that question definitely needs to be answered, why are they putting a finger at Robert.
BILTON: He's been told not to speak to the media but he wants his views to be heard. As I interviewed his mother and aunt he sat in on the interview.
What do you think Jenny?
Robert Murat's mother
I just don't understand why they're lying. On May 3rd I'd been out taking the dogs out which I do every single night of my life, and I got home about 8 o'clock and Robert was already there and he was in all the evening.
BILTON: How are you so sure?
JENNY: Because we were sitting in the kitchen talking the whole evening.
BILTON: And you would have known if Robert had gone out?
JENNY: Yes, I definitely would have known if he'd gone out.
BILTON: Robert Murat was questioned for three days and he remains an arguido. Our access to police briefings points to another area of concern, Kate McCann's journal.
Kate McCann's mother
Kate was very distressed, obviously. Every evening people were having to kind of hold it together, you know, because as bed time came, it was another day gone and they didn't have Madeleine back, and so she needed support at that time of the night and I think it was during that time that Philomena suggested: "Kate, why don't you start to keep a journal and then when Madeleine comes back you can let Madeleine read it."
CARLOS ANJOS: Kate McCann's diary will be as important to the investigation as is all the small evidence that has been found throughout the whole course of investigation, not more, not less. By combining all of the evidence we will be able to reconstruct what happened that moment that evening.
BILTON: There were newspaper claims that Kate McCann had described Madeleine as hyperactive, but we can almost certainly dismiss these, even the Portuguese attorney general says that those claims are untrue. Nonetheless we have been told by detectives that the journal remains of interest. Now, point 3 for the police - the DNA. As it stands, the full DNA evidence that is being assessed in Birmingham is still not back in Portugal. We understand evidence has been recovered from the underside of the carpet lining in the boot of that Scenic. Fluid and hair from a corpse, not necessarily human, and a separate DNA sample that's a partial match from Madeleine and comes from a primary source. Our senior Portuguese contact has said the partial results that have been sent are inconclusive and that he doesn't expect the full set will ever be enough on its own to bring a case, a view shared by those familiar with the investigation.
CARLOS: What did come to Portugal were not conclusive results but rather served to be indicative. Also the results from some of the tests were still missing and these are once again not conclusive results but rather indicative. To be able to say with certainty that Maddy was there, or that this DNA was Maddy's the test results would have to be 99% positive. If they are not 99% certain, they can be viewed as indicative but not conclusive, and if it is not conclusive the police or the courts should not make any statements at the moment because they could be wrong.
BILTON: The McCanns' legal team has told us the results of its own tests on the car conducted by experts which reveal, they say, nothing incriminating. Our police sources say they have other evidence which the media knows nothing about, but much of what the police have said and have leaked only points to suspicion about the abduction theory. So the police say they have no alternative but to continue to investigate the chronology of the events of the night of May 3rd.
Well let's have a look at the timeline again. The police say there are inconsistencies in the McCann party's version of events. So does the alternative theory that some, or all, were involved hold any more water?
Remember, the McCanns say they picked up their children from the kids' clubs and returned with them to their apartment. At 6 Gerry McCann left for a tennis lesson. Kate McCann stayed indoors with the children, and it's claimed that David Payne looked in at 6.30 and confirmed they were okay. Gerry McCann finished tennis and joined them from 7 to 8.30. If they were solely responsible for something that happened in that flat that would leave them little more than an hour to clear up and move Madeleine's body. Now what if something happened when Gerry McCann came back to the flat at just after 9pm to check on the children as he said he did? Well that would leave him with even less time. Now what if there was a third person involved? If that's true, and some detectives think it might be, then it gets more complicated because this person would be able to move the body any time up until 10 o'clock when we know the alarm was raised. Those are the theories but the reality is we would have to accept that Kate and Gerry McCann, having just been involved in the death of their daughter, then got ready for a night out, were first at the table and then had a meal with friends as if nothing had happened.
As late as last week a senior officer was still saying that it's possible the McCanns could have masked their feelings when they were at that meal.
SUSAN HEALY: If Madeleine had an accident in Kate's presence, Kate is a doctor for goodness sake, they were on holiday with doctors, the first thing she would have done would have been to have sought help for Madeleine, you know, it's absolutely ridiculous to think that Kate would do anything else.
BILTON: In the footage provided to us by Jon Corner he revisits the apartment, for some of the time accompanied off camera by Gerry McCann. He tests how easy it would have been for an abductor to get in and out with Madeleine.
CORNER: Okay, we're sitting at the table, we're sitting at the very table and we can still see the apartment quite clearly. We've got a good line of sight.
Speaking in August
We were looking at the back of the apartment and maybe the weak spots were at the front, and it's very... you know, a corner flat with trees overlooking it, somebody could be hiding there or watching, out of view.
CORNER: So you can see Gerry coming out the gate, and over here you can see them sitting in the tapas bar.
Speaking in August
They've been watching us over a matter of days, I'm sure, you know, they know.. you know, they must have known that Gerry had just been into the apartment and then.... you're right, there was only a small window of opportunity but.. you know..
BILTON: Let's go back to that moment. At about quarter past nine Gerry McCann says he'd just left the flat. He's still in the street talking to a friend when Jane Tanner walks past him on the other side of the road up the hill and sees what she now believes to be Madeleine, so at most a window of five minutes for someone to get in. The alternative view which Gerry McCann says was put to him by the police is that the abductor was already in the flat hiding when Gerry McCann did his check.
Jon Corner and Camera Operator speaking
Just even standing here now I think it's quite creepy because you could just be standing here just chilling out couldn't you, just...
And he could have been down there.
Do you reckon? So how long would it take you to get across there? 20 seconds?
20 seconds, 10, 15. Open the window, in out, you could be all done in under a minute.
GERRY: There was a window of opportunity and that's the regret that we'll always have, the window of opportunity to snatch a child, and I've no doubt that Madeleine was targeted and that makes us sick to the core to think that somebody was watching us and our daughter and had targeted her, and I think the true word is a predator.
CORNER: So this is the front door of the apartment and of course you're straight onto the street, see you're straight over the wall onto the street, or straight out there onto the street.
BILTON: Painfully for some, the more the couple disclose about how insecure the flat was, the less wise their decision appears to leave the children unattended.
SUSAN HEALY: Well I have to say that I'm surprised that Kate and Gerry left their children at all and I've thought about it a lot because they're such caring parents and I think - why?
GERRY: Clearly at the time we felt what we were doing was quite responsible. If we were going to be down and further away or round the corner we would never have left the kids, and with hindsight... everything with hindsight is all taken in the context of your child being abducted and if we could turn back the clock and that, it would be.. you know, we would just rewind as fast as we could completely.
KATE: I mean there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not kind of thinking to myself why did I think that was okay, you know, was I wrong in thinking that was okay? And I mean all I can say to myself is I know how much I love my children, I know I'm a responsible parent and I know that, and I've just got to keep saying that to myself really, you know.
BILTON: One possibility, and it's no more than that, is that police suspect some of the group of friends may have exaggerated the extent of their checks to make them and the McCanns appear more responsible. If true, if could have inadvertently raised suspicions of something much worse.
Association of Police Investigators
They said that every half an hour they would go and look in on the children and all of them, we found in everybody's statement, some questions that suggest that actually they didn't go and see the children.
KATE: It's not about us, you know, we were bobbing back and forwards several times and I wanted to see the kids so.. you know, it's not about us. You know, I think that the problem is it's a predator basically who's been watching us, which gives you the shivers anyway, and broken into the apartment and taken Madeleine out of her bed.
BILTON: So 200 days on, where is the search for Madeleine McCann now? Well the two camps are preparing for the next stage. Though we have been briefed by the Portuguese police they can't speak on television about their view of this case. It's the same for the McCanns, but they have a substantial team working with them, and in the last week they have authorised co-operation with this programme. Briefings, that interview with Jane Tanner, a chance to push their view that Kate and Gerry McCann are innocent.
McCann legal co-ordinator
Part of the reason why we're here disclosing evidence to you today as opposed to keeping our powder dry is a recognition that there were two strands to this case, part of it is the criminal case, but part of it is the media speculation and the media perception, and we see it as incumbent upon us to portray the truth to the media and in particular to try and expunge any ill-founded theories about Gerry and Kate's involvement so that the media attention can focus back onto the abduction and therefore onto the fact that we have a missing little girl out there.
BILTON: The police say they are keeping an open mind about this, but will ask to re-interview the McCanns' friends again. The delay, we're told, is down to bureaucracy.
ANJOS: Let's say it's important for all the people who were at the Ocean Club in the group, the friends of the McCanns, including the McCanns, to tell us exactly everything that happened, everything they remember.
We've got nothing to hide, we just said what happened and I don't understand how they can say that doesn't add up because.. you know, we've just said what happened on the night.
BILTON: That has been widely reported now but also throughout this idea that you want to go back and change your story.
JANE: It's just complete lies. I mean I don't know where these stories come from. We've never been in contact with the police to say we want to change our stories.
BILTON: So you said you're prepared to answer questions.
BILTON: In some ways would you like to?
JANE: I'd love to, yeah, I think.. you know, I actively want to be re-interviewed. If there is a feeling that what we're saying is wrong, you know, be interviewed.. you know, and we can clarify that it's not wrong, you know, we're not making things up, it's just what happened.
BILTON: Have you been asked to return to be questioned?
BILTON: Would you be prepared to?
JANE: Yes. Yeah of course we would. Yeah, and I mean if it helps to find Madeleine, be interviewed tomorrow, you know, we're obviously key witnesses.
BILTON: The McCann camp say they continue to co-operate with the police but they're doing more than that. If there is to be a breakthrough it may well come through this office, the M3 Detective Agency in Barcelona, it runs this phone number of sightings and information from the public. As part of the McCanns co-operation with this film, they've revealed to us what they believe is a new lead.
Director General, Metodo 3
Maddy was alive two days after the kidnapping. Madeleine was in a car and she was given to another person inside Portugal. We have the description of the woman and the man involved.
BILTON: We have seen no proof that this is a genuine development but they're confident of this evidence and say it's been passed to the Portuguese police.
MARCO: I'm not saying well maybe - no, no, no. We are very, very close to find the kidnapper.
BILTON: Do you beat yourself up on this? Is it something you play with in your head or...?
JANE: I do and initially I did more but I just have to think.. you know, there's no... it's the least thing you'd ever think in a million years that.. you know, a child is going to be abducted in a safe family resort. As I said before, Gerry was standing outside the apartment so I thought Madeleine had just been checked so there was absolutely no reason why I would think it was odd. You know, there was no reason why I would think it was Madeleine being taken at that point.
BILTON: More than six months on and there is still only one real fact and that is Madeleine McCann disappeared on the night of May 3rd 2007 and has not been seen since. Now potentially the month ahead is crucial. Barring any other developments the forensic evidence may force the police here in Portugal to decide once and for all if the McCanns are to face any charges. If they do, then they will have the chance to clear their name. If they don't, then Kate and Gerry McCann could face the rest of their life without their daughter but with the suspicion that they were involved in her disappearance.
Coming soon on Panorama, the Battle for Basra Palace, the unheard story of Britain's deadly struggle for Southern Iraq and the legacy we leave behind.