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

Rachel Charles, Madeleine McCann and British Xenophobia

The McCanns Propaganda

Clarence Mitchell talks almost every day in a TV channel or newspaper about what happened infringing the Secrecy Laws, the McCann's on the polemical BBC Panorama documentary talked and violated the secrecy Laws under their arguido status, Jane Tanner talked and she also broke the secrecy laws.

They spinned stories in the media as facts as if they were police, like when they decided to hunt a George Harrison look a like in Portugal. They hired a dubious detectives agency, Metódo3 that wherever they went it was certain that we could expect a new sighting, meanwhile one of their detectives was arrested on cocaine trafficking.

A few days after the girl mysterious disappearance they were jogging, taking their twins to the crèche, calling the media, posing for photographs with the remaining kids, hiring top extradition lawyers, hiring as a defence lawyer the former president of the Portuguese Bar, setting an online shop, setting a non-charitable fund, paying their mortgages, demanding political interference, making silent pacts with their Tapas friends, visiting the pope, going to Fátima....

Up to now this parents have seeked for every media opportunity to play the roles of the innocent, victimized parents fighting with the horrible, swarthy, third-world Portuguese Police.

After Clarence Mitchell latest angry outburst on Sky News: The Gloves are off! Regarding a leak the McCanns adopted a more menacing stance: Now we won’t return to Portugal. "The couple are demanding a full internal investigation from the Portuguese Ministry of Justice into whether the detail was deliberately passed to a Spanish journalist to "smear" them on the day they launched a campaign for a new child alert system in Brussels.

Their local MP Stephen Dorrell said he would raise the matter with the Foreign Office. It is understood the McCanns' Portuguese lawyers will be protesting to the relevant authorities there.

Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell called for the Portuguese government itself to "get a grip" of the leaks."

Portugal and its institutions, namely the Public Ministry and the PJ, are not servants of Mr.Mitchell or the McCanns, and Portugal does not negotiate with arguidos in a criminal investigation, and much less obey their orders. Portuguese Police officers do not apologise to the McCann’s for doing their job.

In the first week of the events the McCann Family and the British Media explored the imperialistic xenophobia latent in Great Britain and were supported by offensive editorial guidelines and which allowed the likes of Tony Parsons, UKIP MEP Roger Knapman, Piers Merchant, Lori Campbell, Timothy Dutton QC, Simon Heffer to switch the case of a missing child into a diplomatic, political and press war.

The press hostilities were the first to take place, as the following articles will explain.

Facts

. In November 1990, death of a British girl of nine years Rachel Charles, the body was found by popular people (voluntaries), three days after her disappearance. She was killed with a nylon cord by strangulation in Vale Navio near Albufeira. In 1992 the Portuguese Court condemn the British citizen Michael Cook, 39 years old, to 19 years in prison for qualified homicide

. In January 2002 a British baby was abandoned in the Faro Airport, in July 2003 he was adopted by a young Portuguese couple

. In May 2007 a British girl was left alone with her siblings in an unlocked room, at night and mysteriously disappeared.


Rachel Charles


It was the first case of kidnapping with a ransom request registered in the Algarve. In November of 1990 the Country woke up shocked with the news that Rachel Charles, a ten-year-old English girl who lived in Albufeira with her mother and her stepfather, had been abducted. Two days after having disappeared, Carol Charles, mother of the child, received a phone call of a man who was speaking English and who was demanding 51 million escudos (254.386 Euros) for Rachel's devolution. The girl was found dead days later. She had been strangled and abandoned in a pine tree plantation.

The Judicial Police investigated the case during several weeks and announced the detention of Michael Cook in the beginning of January. It was a friend of the family, who used the fact that the young girl to allure her into his car. The car was seen by the gardener of the family and his testimony was essential for the discovery of the murder and sentence.

Michael Cook, who had participated in the searches of the child, was condemned to 19 years of prison by qualified murder in January of 1992, sentence confirmed later by a second court after an appeal to justice.

Robert Spink, deputy of the Chamber of the Commons of the British Parliament, came out defending Cook, stating that the acting of the Portuguese authorities in this case had been very careless - pointed to several faults in the process, questioning the validity of the proofs used against Michael Cook. Robert Spink remembers a case that left him “very uncomfortable ": recalling the incident, "I was convinced that he was guilty, but I had an obligation to ensure that Michael Cook would have a fair trial", said Robert Spink. [read Spink's detailed account on the House of Commons further bellow where he defends a murder and a paedophile ]

When he was freed, Robert Spink wrote a letter to the British authorities to give account of this event and the return of Michael to the United Kingdom. After this letter, Michael Cook was placed in a list of sexual aggressors of children and he was since then under monitoring of the English policy.

* The above text and Spink's notes come from Correio da Manhã

The general British Media insidiously insinuate the Portuguese Police are Incompetent and Corrupted, and Play the Us versus Them Card:

Daily Mail: 17 years since last abduction on the Algarve, and again the victim was British
Last updated at 08:12am on 10th May 2007

The last child to be snatched on the Algarve was also a British girl.

Nine-year-old Rachel Charles was enticed into a car in November 1990 near Albufeira, 20 miles from where Madeleine vanished. Her body was found three days later beneath a pile of pine needles on a lonely beachside track. She had been strangled, but not sexually assaulted.

A British mechanic, Michael Cook from Southend, was jailed for 19 years for her murder after a Portuguese judge dismissed his defence that he only confessed after a severe beating by police.
Rachel was last seen alive when she was dropped off by a school bus outside her home in Albufeira. She was approached by a man in a red car with British-style number plates, climbed in and vanished. A day later, a mystery Englishman phoned the time-share complex where she lived and made a £300,000 ransom demand. Her stepfather, Ray Charles, speculated she may have been mistaken for a wealthy businessman's daughter who lived next door. Cook, then 38, who lived and worked in the Algarve, was imprisoned by three judges who ruled: "He knew he was squeezing the life out of her as he pulled the rope round her neck. The court finds it was a crime of sexual perversion." But the case was mired in claims of police incompetence and corruption.

Daily Mail: 'Madeleine would be better served by UK justice,' says Britain's top barrister
Last updated at 16:29pm on 10th December 2007
Britain's top barrister today attacked the Portuguese legal system over its handling of the Madeleine McCann case.

Bar Council chairman Timothy Dutton QC suggested in a speech in London that "British justice would have been more effective in discovering the truth about her disappearance.

He said this was because UK police and lawyers would have used a "methodical approach" to establish facts and would "carefully test" evidence before reaching conclusions.

Although Mr Dutton declined to single out specific problems with the Portuguese investigation, his words will be seen as a direct criticism of police and lawyers in the Algarve.

"I was heartened to hear public demands for good old British justice during the recent press coverage of the disturbing Madeleine McCann case," Mr Dutton said.

"What was being sought was the methodical approach. This would have provided a well-adjudicated process under which evidence is carefully tested and the issues presented to an impartial jury."

His comments follow complaints from the McCanns' supporters about the handling of the investigation. Clueless: Madeleine McCann's case has been badly handled by Portuguese, says Dutton.

Telegraph: Don't go to Portugal for your holiday
By Simon Heffer
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 05/01/2008

I think it is time that the British people showed yet more solidarity with Gerry and Kate McCann, who have been named by the Portuguese police as the main suspects in the presumed murder of their daughter. If the McCanns killed Madeleine, then I am Barack Obama. The utterly useless Portuguese police have nowhere else to go, because their initial bungling of the investigation has robbed them of vital clues. It is deeply unpleasant of them to try to scapegoat the child's grieving parents to try to concoct for themselves an impression of competence.Portugal has revealed itself to be little more than a banana republic through the handling of this case. Whether you have small children or not, you would be mad even to think of having a holiday there.

Daily Mail: Madeleine: The damning case against the police by Britain's top investigative reporter
By DAVID ROSE - More by this author » Last updated at 01:33am on 21st April 2008

Almost a year after Madeleine McCann disappeared from apartment 5A at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, signs on the ground in Portugal of the search for her or her body have become difficult to detect.

The posters and fliers bearing her photo are almost all gone.

All last week in Luz, I saw the police just once - two uniformed officers in a green 4x4, parked opposite the fateful flat from which she vanished during the evening of May 3. The vehicle's doors were open and the two men peered at me listlessly while I made a few notes, before going back to their business: listening to a radio talk show.

The apartment gate was padlocked, but in the little paved front yard, a purple hibiscus and some dusty geraniums were coming into bloom. The Algarve spring is finally coming.

"It's a new season," said a British woman who works in a local restaurant.

"It's tragic they haven't found Maddie. But the time has come to move on."

Of course, moving on is one thing Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry, cannot do.

They remain arguidos, official suspects, - as does Robert Murat, a British expat living in Praia da Luz who has strenuously protested his innocence - still supposedly being investigated on the grounds that they may have caused her death or disappearance.

"Intellectually, they have grasped what has happened," said Gerry's elder brother, John. "Emotionally, they have learnt, to an extent, to cope: one's psychology adapts.

"But they haven't really come to terms with it. There are times when they can seem cheerful, but then the devastation bursts through. Madeleine's disappearance is a cataclysm that is horrendous for them, and horrendous for all of us close to them."

"It's an intense, full-on existence for both of them," said the McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell. "Gerry is back at work [as a cardiologist] full-time, but when he gets home the campaign to find Madeleine is like having a second job.

"Kate is determined to make family life for the twins, Sean and Amelie, as normal as possible.

"They celebrated their third birthdays in the way you'd expect - though since Madeleine went, they haven't celebrated anything else: Kate's recent 40th passed without being marked.

"But the truth is, it can't be normal. The whole situation dominates every aspect of their lives."

Last week, amid a bitter, public row between Mitchell and the Policia Judiciaria (PJ) over the leaking of Kate and Gerry's original interview statements to a Spanish television station, it became clear that the long-vexed relationship between the family and Portuguese detectives is close to breakdown.

Mitchell's insistence that the leak did not come from the McCanns sounds more than plausible: the statements' emergence overshadowed Kate and Gerry's visit to Brussels to call for a Europe-wide "amber alert" system to aid the hunt for other missing children.

Instead of their campaign, news coverage was dominated by the statements with the agonising detail that on the morning of the day she vanished, Madeleine asked Kate why she had not come to comfort her and the twins when they cried for her the previous night.

As on the evening of May 3, Kate and Gerry had been having dinner with their friends in the Ocean Club's tapas restaurant - in partial sight of apartment 5A.

However, the Portuguese police detectives' union, which has been a semi-official conduit for detectives' opinions about the McCanns for months, responded to Mitchell's demand for an inquiry to discover whether the leak had come from the PJ by calling him a "Machiavellian liar".

According to the union, the McCanns leaked the statements - with the sole aim of damaging the Policia Judiciaria.

Last autumn, after the McCanns were first made arguidos and sections of both the Portuguese and British Press were filled with untrue stories about them, apparently from police sources, relations with the PJ hit a low.

In October, after the first Madeleine investigation leader, Chief Inspector Goncalo Amaral, was fired from the case for telling a Portuguese reporter the British police were 'shielding" the McCanns, their trust in the PJ improved.

"For a while, the leaks and smears stopped," Mitchell said. Amaral, meanwhile, was last month committed for trial for alleged perjury arising from his conduct in another, earlier case of a disappearing child.

However, now the relationship is back at rock bottom. "The Portuguese justice minister needs to get a grip on his police force," Mitchell told The Mail on Sunday.

"We are confident those statements came from someone in the police chain. It's not just disappointing that after nearly a year, there is no sign of Madeleine: it's an absolute tragedy."

If the PJ had been "doing its job properly", Mitchell continued, the McCanns would never have felt compelled to engage the Barcelona private investigation agency Metodo 3, on which the Find Madeleine campaign has already spent £200,000. "Not a penny would have been spent on the private investigators," he said.

To Mitchell, the recent PJ visit to Britain to reinterview the McCanns' seven friends who were dining with them on the evening of May 3 was a diversion from what should be the inquiry's main thrust, finding Maddie:

"All of them put their case forcefully, saying nothing had changed from when they made statements first time around. The re-interviews suggest the PJ has nothing substantive to go on."

Mitchell said the PJ's performance meant the time had come for an "international inquiry" into their handling of the Madeleine case. "What we want is not just an investigation of this latest leak, but a much wider inquiry into their conduct.

"It's the sort of thing that could be done peer to peer - maybe by officers from Europol, someone senior from Scotland Yard, or the FBI. It's not about blame, but learning the necessary lessons."

It is an extraordinary demand, born of exasperation, which is certain to be resisted in Portugal. Yet an examination by The Mail on Sunday of the PJ's record --not only in its failure to find Madeleine, but in the previous two Algarve cases where children have disappeared or been murdered - suggests it may well be justified.

"You have to remember: until 1974 Portugal was a dictatorship," said a veteran Algarve journalist, who asked not to be named. "That was the climate in which the PJ was created. Their methods were pretty rough."

Brutal treatment of suspects was routine. One expatriate British woman told me how a friend of her mother had been arrested in the late Eighties on suspicion of breaking and entering a house - only to be savagely beaten in custody.

"she was bruised all over her body. Of course, the police said they hadn't done anything, and were never called to account," the woman said.

"This is Heartbeat country," another expat said. "People talk to the police, and so often they think they know who's guilty, but can't prove it. So they make an arrest and turn up the pressure in the hope of getting a confession."

In the Portuguese criminal justice system, confessions are still regarded as they were in the days of the Inquisition - as the "queen of proofs". British police, it has to be said, sometimes used to operate in a similar way.

But it has its drawbacks, as shown by the succession of miscarriages of justice based on false confessions, such as the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six IRA cases.

The abduction of a child by a stranger is, mercifully, a rare event: in Britain, there have been about seven cases a year since records were first kept in 1970. But it poses daunting challenges to investigators.

"In these circumstances, having close contacts in the community may be of limited help," said Mark Williams-Thomas, a former Surrey police detective and an expert in paedophile crime. "You need to progress scientifically. Above all, you must preserve the scene and every scrap of physical evidence."

It has been widely reported that in the hours and days after Madeleine went missing, the PJ failed to do this, reacting sluggishly to her disappearanceand allowing apartment 5A to become contaminated. It was not the first time the PJ has made such mistakes.

Thirty miles east of Praia da Luz lies the resort of Albufeira, where a collection of clifftop villas known as Val Novio was once a thriving development, favoured by British expats.

Now largely abandoned, it was there, on November 19, 1990, that Rachel Charles, aged nine, went missing.

Neil McKay, a Bafta-winning TV scriptwriter who has specialised in factual dramas about crime, was on holiday nearby with his father at the time. "We were sitting in a bar having a beer one evening," he recalled.

"This English guy came in, saying a little girl had disappeared two days earlier but the police were refusing to mount a proper search. He said her family wanted every British tourist or expat to meet on the beach at seven next morning to try to find her.

"so we went. There must have been more than 200 of us. Tragically, it didn't take long to find her body, hidden among some pines."

Len Port, now an Algarve publisher who covered the case for The Portugal News, said: "The police search was highly inefficient, as, frankly, was everything else about the case. The way the police handled it was desperately amateurish - and ultimately, a travesty of justice."

Just as they would later do with the McCanns, the PJ soon hit on a suspect who knew the victim and her family. But according to Port, who attended his trial, it had "no real evidence. It was an unjust trial".

The defendant was Michael Cook, a British expat businessman who had taken part in the search, and in 1992 he was convicted and sentenced to 19 years. Having protested his innocence, he was released in 2002. Last week, he told of his ordeal for the first time.

"This has ruined my life," he said. "I still carry the scars from the six times I was stabbed in prison; as for the times I had the s*** kicked out of me, I long ago lost count."

Following Cook's conviction, his then-Labour MP, Bob Spink, became involved in his campaign. In a Commons debate in 1992, he said: "The only hard evidence linking Cook to the murder was bogus" - a claim by an elderly gardener that he had seen Cook bundling Rachel into his car.

However, Spink said, the police had hidden the fact that tyre tracks left by Rachel's abductor "were of an entirely different type" from those that would have been made by Cook's vehicle.

The PJ, Spink told the Commons, claimed Cook confessed - something he has always denied - and that they had tortured him: "Cook appeared in court, with black eyes and a missing tooth, and he was deeply bruised.

"It is claimed that Cook was hung from an upstairs window by his feet, that his feet were beaten until he could not stand, that he was tied to a chair and beaten, that he was deprived of sleep and that a revolver was forced into his mouth and the trigger pulled in a mock execution."

The PJ also claimed Cook had a record as a paedophile, Spink went on. This, too, was "entirely bogus'. The trial judge had asked a PJ witness how he knew this: "The officer replied that someone, unnamed, had told him. The judge accepted that so-called 'evidence' as clear and unequivocal."

It emerged at the trial that while there was no forensic link between Rachel or her clothes and Cook's car, blood had been found under her fingernails - presumably that of her attacker. But when Cook's lawyers tried to obtain it to test it for DNA, they were told the samples had been "lost".

Cook told The Mail on Sunday: "I was with the PJ four days and they gave me no food nor let me go to the lavatory - I literally s*** myself and p****d myself. I was in that state when they first brought me to court.

"What I learnt about Portugal is that once convicted, you never get the chance to get it reversed, because they destroyed the evidence."

Spink, who is still MP for Castle Point, Essex, said yesterday that as the Madeleine case had unfolded, he had become increasingly concerned by the "disturbing parallels' between the way the PJ had dealt with Maddie and the murder of Rachel Charles.

"In both cases, there was incompetence at the outset. And then, having become convinced they had the right suspects, the police seem to have ignored other avenues of investigation - especially the possibility that both were abducted by a stranger."

After the death of Rachel Charles, it was not for a further 14 years that another girl went missing on the Algarve.

On September 12, 2004, Joana Cipriano, aged ten, failed to return to her home in Figueira, near Praia da Luz, from a shopping trip. The parallels with the McCann case are again disturbingly close.

Like the McCanns, Joana's mother Leonor mounted a campaign for her daughter's return. And like them, she and her brother Joao became arguidos. As with the McCann investigation from May until October last year, the man in charge of the hunt for Joana was Chief Inspector Amaral.

According to the Portuguese Press, one factor that influenced his desire to make the McCanns arguidos was Kate's supposedly "cold" demeanour in dealing with police and on television.

In fact, as the photo published on Section 2's Page 1 today makes clear, the first known image taken of Kate on the morning after Madeleine's disappearance, she was distraught.

With Leonor and Joao Cipriano, a similar cod psychology was evident. "Amaral said he made them suspects because when Leonor was on television, she was wearing black, and speaking of her daughter in the past tense," said Sara Rosado, Joao's lawyer.

"But the camera only showed the top part of her body. In fact, she was wearing red trousers.

"The reason why she was speaking of Joana in the past tense was that she was being asked questions in the past tense. For example, the interviewer asked, 'How did your daughter do at school?' And Leonor answered, 'She was bright, she was doing very well.'"

There was a further parallel with the McCann case - leaks, apparently from police sources, to the media. One of the most damaging, Rosado said, was the suggestion that human blood, probably Joana's, had been found in the Ciprianos' fridge.

It was only when Leonor and Joao went on trial for murder that it emerged that this had never been DNA-matched to Joana and might even have come from some meat.

The Cipriano case, which ended in 2005 with Joao and Leonor being sentenced to 21 years, made Portuguese legal history: it was the first murder trial where, as with Madeleine, no body was found.

According to Rosado, the direct evidence was weak - "all they had against Joao was a witness who said he saw him going up the street carrying a plastic bag . . . the prosecution said that inside was part of Joana's dismembered body."

However, Joao and Leonor both made confessions, which they later tried to retract.

The Mail on Sunday has obtained a copy of the formal indictment against Amaral, and his subordinates, the PJ inspectors Paulo Pereira Cristovao, Leonel Marques, Paulo Marques Bom and Antonio Cardoso.

On March 26, all five men were committed to jury trial by Joaquim da Cruz, an investigating judge. It is expected later this year.

The indictment, the result of an investigation triggered by a complaint filed by Leonor's lawyer in 2004, alleges that having been questionedfor 48 hours, she confessed only as the result of a brutal assault.

The indictment states: "They threw her to the ground, kicked her and hit her with a cardboard tube. They put a plastic bag over her head, made her kneel on glass ashtrays . .. The accused believed that by causing her intense suffering, they would force her to tell them how she killed her child and where she put the body". This she finally did.

The police, it says, later took her to a clinic where her injuries were recorded. But the PJ officers claimed she had sustained them by throwing herself down the stairs, in an apparent suicide attempt.

Amaral faces charges of negligence and falso testimunho - perjury --under Article 360 of the Portuguese penal code, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.

Cardoso is accused of fabricating a document. Marques, Bom and Cristovao are charged with torture, for which the maximum penalty is five years.

In Britain, it seems unlikely that officers facing charges of this kind would still be on duty, but last week Amaral was at work in the PJ office in Faro. Through his lawyer, Antonio Cabrita, he refused to discuss either the Joana or Madeleine cases.

As for Cristovao, he left the PJ after the Joana case to become a writer. Last year, as a columnist for Diario de Noticias, he became a prolific commentator on the Madeleine inquiry, writing a series of articles apparently derived in part from conversations with his former colleagues.

Last month, with the publication of his book The Star Of Madeleine, currently the Algarve's No3 bestseller, he has mounted a robust defence of the PJ in general and Amaral in particular.

"In the PJ's opinion, everything written about Amaral in the British Press had one purpose - to get him taken off the case," Cristovao's book says.

"He was a piece of meat on the barbecue of the British media, which accused him of drinking too much, dressing badly, having a prominent belly and spending too much time at lunch.

"He was too much the normal Portuguese policeman ... when what the British wanted was the British way of doing things."

The book, much of it composed of a fictional dialogue between two fictional PJ officers, Francisco and Joao, recycles some of the cruellest smears against the McCanns, such as the claim that Gerry did not get sufficiently involved in the children's routines. Such information, it claims, gave the police "an idea how the family functioned".

It also contains details that can have come only from inside the investigation: as a view of PJ thinking, it may well be as authentic an account as has yet been given.

If so, its conclusions are shocking, among them the view that Madeleine is dead and that if her parents did not kill her physically, they did so by their public campaign to find her.

"The publicity given to her face was her death warrant - that's if she really left that apartment still alive," he writes.

Cristovao refused to meet me, saying that too many British journalists were "racist".

But I managed to ask him whether he was not worried that the McCanns might sue him for libel, pointing out that they had been awarded £550,000 against four newspapers last month. "I'm expecting that," he replied. "I've no fear. It will be a big joy."

Visitor numbers on the Algarve are down this year, especially from Britain: since November, said Elderico Viegas, president of the region's tourist board, the fall has been about 12 per cent - not because of Madeleine, but because of the pound's fall in value against the euro.

"I don't think Maddie has anything to do with it," he said. "And that's my view as someone who has worked in tourism for the past 40 years."

At the same time, Viegas admits that the case has done little for Portugal's image.

"I do think it has been mishandled, especially in terms of the way the police and other authorities dealt with the media. Everyone here would like this problem solved, for there to be an answer."

Meanwhile, in Leicestershire, Cristovao's claims notwithstanding, Kate and Gerry McCann get through their days with their hope and belief that in the absence of any evidence of her death, Madeleine is still alive.

"Gerry copes by being active," Clarence Mitchell said, "throwing himself into his work and the campaign."

Kate, he said, was more vulnerable. 'she takes the twins to nursery, and much of her time is then taken up with campaigning, too - dealing with emails; meetings with children's groups and supporters.

"But she does have her ups and downs. It might be a particular media report, or some new claim by the PJ that gets to her, and it can take some time to pick herself up."

The twins, Mitchell added, knew what had happened, and sometimes they "called" Madeleine on their toy telephones. "Nothing is hidden from them, and the house is full of pictures of Madeleine."

John McCann said he usually found himself thinking about Madeleine on first waking up. "You do your best to live a normal life, but in the end, you can't. And I'm her uncle. One can only imagine what it's like for Gerry and Kate."

I asked him how Kate and Gerry dealt with the error for which they have paid so heavily.

"Of course they can't help but go over last May in their minds. But in the end, you can't change what happened. What you can do, and what they have been trying to do ever since, is to change the future: literally to keep turning over stones until Madeleine is found.

"Kate and Gerry don't talk about their emotions much. Maybe it's their Scots-Irish and Liverpudlian backgrounds: stoicism is part of our upbringing.

"I don't mean the stoicism where you're ready to accept any old s*** but the stoicism where you try to deal with a problem and get on with it - that dogged determination.

"That's what Kate and Gerry have, and their ability to stay focused and try to help other families who may face a similar plight in future is inspiring."


More examples of biased and racist news since the 4th of May 2007 can be found in the British (printed and broadcasted) media


Telegraph: Have police failed Madeleine?
By Neil Tweedie and Richard Edwards in Praia da Luz
Last Updated: 11:37pm BST 12/05/2007

Have the Portuguese police failed the McCann family? In the critical early stages, the answer appears to have been yes.

Local police responded within 10 minutes of being called to the McCann family apartment, run by the British holiday company Mark Warner. Sean and Amelie were still in the bedroom. But they assumed Madeleine had simply woken up and wandered off.

The first few hours following any crime are critical, and in abduction cases in particular, but the local police in Praia da Luz do not intitially appear to have considered kidnapping as the likely cause of the British girl's disappearance.

The apartment itself is in the middle of a busy area populated by families on holiday, and there was no precedent for such a scenario - the last time the Algarve witnessed such a kidnapping was in 1990 when nine-year-old Rachel Charles was abducted from a resort near Albufeira. A family friend, Michael Cook, was later convicted of her abduction and murder.(...)

Robert Spink defends the unthinkable a Murderer and a Paedophile! Why?

Debate from the House of Commons, 9 June 1992

Mr. Michael Cook

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.-- [Mr. Boswell.]

12.23 am

Dr. Robert Spink (Castle Point) : Rachel, a 9-year-old girl, was murdered by strangulation in a car on the Algarve in Portugal in November 1990. Michael Cook, a friend of Rachel's family, was convicted of the murder in February this year and sentenced to 19 years' imprisonment. He was tried by three local judges without a jury. The House will hear that the conviction is unsafe.

I must start with every possible word of sympathy for Rachel and her family. I see that my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel (Sir M. Marshall) is here because of his concern for his constituent, the victim's mother.

There can be no greater evil than such a crime. I would not defend in any way a child murderer, but I will defend my constituent's right to a fair trial. My responsibility and my job tonight is to highlight the possibility that my constituent may be the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice. Some say that Cook is innocent ; some say that the police investigation was inadequate. Some say that the trial verdict was so lacking supporting evidence as to be incredible. Some say that Cook has been tortured and mistreated. Those are not questions which the House can or should decide. In truth, I do not know whether Cook is innocent or guilty. What I do know is that many questions are raised by the case which have the most serious implications, not only for Michael Cook, but for all British subjects travelling abroad.

Let us review some of the evidence. There was, understandably, immense local pressure to clear up this horrible crime. An unsolved child murder would frighten away tourists. An elderly Portuguese gardener said that he saw the murderer and the murder car. He said that the car was red with foreign plates. Cook had such a car. It was alleged that Cook's car tyre marks were found where the body was discovered, and on that prime tyre mark evidence Cook was arrested. It was claimed by the police that Cook had a child-molesting record and that he had confessed to the crime : they had their man. The public furore and the subsequent relief at Cook's arrest were surpassed only by the total outrage against him.

Let us examine the initial key facts. After nine months in gaol, Cook got two good lawyers and it was quickly discovered that the prime--indeed the only--hard evidence linking Cook to the murder was bogus. The tyre marks were of an entirely different type from those of Cook's car. It is also claimed that Cook's car does not have the ground clearance needed for the area where Rachel was found. Similarly, no confession was ever presented at the trial. It had been claimed by police that two officers heard the confession. One remembered it clearly ; the second denied all recollection of it. One would not expect to forget such a thing easily.

Cook appeared in court, with black eyes and a missing tooth, and he was deeply bruised. It is claimed that Cook was hung from an upstairs window by his feet, that his feet were beaten until he could not stand, that he was tied to a chair and beaten, that he was deprived of sleep, and that a revolver was forced into his mouth and the trigger pulled in a mock execution. Cook's lawyers were said to be pushing for the release of a television video report which allegedly showed police beating Cook. Those lawyers were involved in a tragic accident involving a front tyre blow-out which, incidentally, it is claimed has never been properly investigated by the police. In that untimely accident, Dr. da Silva was killed and Dr. Coelho was severely injured.

What of the final piece of the early evidence--Cook's record as a child molester? It too is quite bogus. At the trial, the police tried to rescue some credibility on the point. An officer said that Cook had been seen abusing a child a few weeks before Rachel's murder. One might wonder why that was not mentioned at the time. Nevertheless, the judge asked the officer how he knew that. The officer replied that someone, unnamed, had told him. The judge accepted that so-called "evidence" as clear and unequivocal. I must inform the House that I know of no evidence that Cook has ever posed any threat to children.

I do know of evidence suggesting that Cook is safe and trustworthy with children. I am not aware of any conspiracy and I make no allegations. However, it must be said that Cook was a good target to be "fitted up". He has a minor criminal record and he was working unregistered on the Algarve in the motor trade. Indeed, he may have hung himself as his initial account to the police of his movements could have been inconsistent because he thought that he was being questioned about a petty crime.

Let me return to the old gardener--there is always an old gardener in such tales. He changed his story at least twice ; his memory, it seems, was greatly assisted by the police. The car was indeed red and foreign, he said ; but so was Rachel's stepfather's car, and many others in the area. He also saw Cook talking to Rachel. Cook was, he said, wearing sunglasses, although it would have been almost dark at the time.

The gardener had no difficulty, however, in picking out Cook from an identification parade--at least, not after the police had specifically pointed Cook out to him, asking, "Is that the man?" Not that that was necessary ; Cook was a white, 5-ft-tall, slightly built Englishman, while the rest of the parade consisted of burly, dark, Portuguese policemen who were obviously of Mediterranean origin. Hon. Members may be horrified to learn that, much earlier than that parade--indeed, the day after the body was found--Cook was shown to the gardener by the local police, and the gardener said that Cook was not the man whom he had seen on the fateful day in question. He changed his story. Clearly, the police case needed boosting, so the most incredible thing happened : a reconstruction of the crime was forced on Cook.

The police said that, in the reconstruction, Cook had shown them the exact positions in which they had found Rachel's school bag and shoes. They said that those items had been thrown by Cook from a fast-moving car over many kilometres on a country road down which he can seldom have been before, some weeks after the alleged event. Even the police blushed when they told that one in court.

Let me now review the harrowing scene of the crime. Again, I sincerely apologise to the victim's family, but this has to be done. A pathologist stated that Rachel struggled furiously for her life in the front passenger seat of a car ; it took four to eight minutes to kill her by strangulation. Rachel naturally fought hard, and had the blood of her murderer under her fingernails.

No sophisticated DNA or type matching of the samples was ever presented to court. No evidence was ever presented even to show the simple blood group of the murderer. Such basic blood-group evidence could not have proved that Cook was the murderer, but it could most assuredly have proved his innocence. Hon. Members may feel very uncomfortable about the fact that that evidence was lost, and we should ask why it was lost--or, worse, why it was not used. What, then, of the other forensic evidence? We can all imagine the horrific struggle--that frantic four or eight minutes. Surely the car would exhibit many clues ; law experts feel that that must be so. Incredibly, however, not a single link was found between Cook's car and Rachel, or her clothes. The Sunday Times stated :

"Not a single hair, fibre, bloodstain or sign of damage was found in Cook's car. And Police did not find it unusual that Cook had not cleaned the entire car in an effort to erase prints ... When the body was found, no forensic search was made of the area and no tests were carried out on a bloodstain seen under a fingernail. The body was cremated within days and without extensive forensic examination."

Therefore, the defence was denied the possibility of conducting the necessary independent tests. Is not that beyond belief?

Let me now turn to the pathologist's evidence, starting with the astonishing point that the report was tampered with. It has lost--for ever, it seems--its important front page, which gave, among other information, the time of death. The pathologist, apparently, is now unavailable.

The Sunday Times reported :

"Such post mortem work that was done was minimal".

However, a pathologist hired by the defence who examined Rachel's organs said that she might have been killed 24 or 30 hours before her body was discovered, which apparently indicates that she may have been held alive by her murderer for up to two days. She was discovered four days after she disappeared. Cook was first in police hands the day after she disappeared.

That brings us to the alibi evidence and suggests that Cook had the best possible alibi--he was in very close contact with or in the custody of the police, but the judges dismissed that, the pathologist's evidence. Moreover, there was the condition of Rachel and her clothes when found. They were clean and dry. That is consistent with the defence pathologist's findings. The weather had been dry the day Rachel was found, but the previous days had been wet, thus suggesting that Rachel had been dumped only the day she was found.

That evidence was also disallowed by the judges. They chose, as they can under Portuguese law, to refuse to hear some evidence. In a trivial case, that may have been justified, but, in the circumstances, hon. Members may feel that that was an extraordinary piece of selectivity. What is even more remarkable, though, is that the person who found Rachel's body was never called to give evidence, and therefore his evidence was denied to the defence.

Additional alibi evidence comes from Cook's workmates, who saw him a maximum of 10 minutes after he was said to be seen by the man on the horse at the place of the body. The times were precise and checked, but the distance of the two sightings put them a minimum of 12 minutes apart, with no allowance for any other activity at all. That would have been impossible to achieve. That evidence was also rejected. According to the pathologist, Rachel was strangled with a nylon rope. A nylon rope, a jumper matching the one Rachel was wearing and a blanket which was covered with pine needles, as was Rachel's body, were all seen in a car, but not Cook's car. They were seen in Rachel's stepfather's red foreign car. The police did not investigate or use that evidence.

The stepfather certainly had a violent nature at times. Rachel's mother was said by a neighbour sometimes to flee to her home for sanctuary with the neigbour and to stay there with her overnight out of fear of her stepfather's violence. Several people say that they saw scratch marks on the side of the stepfather's face and his arm the day after Rachel disappeared. Some have pointed a finger at the stepfather, but the House cannot and must not assume anything--that would be quite wrong. In a further twist, the stepfather died tragically precisely one year to the day after Rachel was killed, the third death in this story. Therefore, his confession cannot be tested. I raise those points not to incriminate in any way Rachel's stepfather but only to illustrate, as is my clear duty, the late evening shadow of doubt which is cast over the conviction of my constituent.

I now refer briefly to the trial and verdict. We have seen that there was no jury and that the three judges were local. They were inexperienced in trying such an unusual case. In Portugal, judges are able to dictate entirely what evidence they will admit and what they will refuse even to hear. With so much evidence lost, destroyed or refused by the judges, Cook's trial was fatally flawed.

The basis of the judges' verdict was made clear in their summing-up. There was a total lack of hard forensic evidence, but sadly there was no lack of hearsay. For instance, members of the Portuguese Institute of Fingerprints told the court the judges said "with conviction", that Cook's way of life and his friendship with Rachel's family indicated that he was the murderer. Sadly, those fingerprints experts produced no fingerprint evidence.

The judges implied that no motive whatsoever was found, and Cook was not accused of any particular motive. There was no sexual interference of any kind with Rachel. In Portuguese law, first-degree murder requires a motive and premeditation, I understand. They seemed curiously absent. The judges said nothing of substance that I can find in the translation of their summary, except that, as Cook knew the family, he must be the murderer. I turn, briefly, to the appeal. The hearing may not take place until June 1993. That delay, would be intolerable. The appeal cannot question the evidence produced at the trial. That evidence, such as it is, with all its flaws, is considered to be irrefutable. For instance, the police evidence that Cook was a child molester cannot be questioned. Yet we know that it should be.

In the appeal lawyers may question only the admissibility of the evidence under Portuguese law. That raises yet a further grave misgiving because incredibly Cook and his lawyers are not allowed to attend the appeal. Those in the House who believe that justice should be seen to be done may be staggered by that revelation. As my predecessor Sir Bernard Braine wrote :

"There is little likelihood that even by the Appeal justice will be done".

Presumably the matter can be argued in the European Court later. Meanwhile, I have three objectives for the debate. First, I wish to bring pressure on the Portuguese authorities about the possible miscarriage of justice and to allow the earliest possible appeal consistent with a fair and safe hearing. Secondly, I wish to prevent any torture or mistreatment of Cook and to signal to all nations that human rights must be upheld. Thirdly, I wish to thank the Foreign Office for its help and advice so far, which has been professional and appropriate--no blame can lie with it--and I ask the Minister to provide a monthly written report from the British consular staff on Cook's physical and mental condition. In addition to those three things, I seek a general review of the help which consular staff give to British citizens arrested abroad.

In summary, there are substantial grounds to believe that a miscarriage of justice may have occurred. First, the conduct of the police investigation is in question. Secondly, the conduct of the trial and the basis of the verdict are in question. Thirdly, I place full trust in the Portuguese justice system to ensure that the appeal is fair. Fourthly, there are grounds to question the physical and mental treatment of Cook. Fifthly, the European Court and the European human rights body may eventually need to intervene if the appeal cannot answer the many questions raised. But I trust that that will not be necessary.

I understand that Cook is considering starting a hunger strike. That would hamper my efforts and I most strongly urge him not to do so, particularly in his poor physical condition. We are told that he is prematurely grey. His bodyweight is down to seven stones. He is skeletal. He has three ulcers. His remaining teeth are rotted. He is withdrawn and paranoid. As a child murderer he has suffered many attacks in prison. He bears two knife scars and many burns scars to prove it. He is alone in a foreign gaol, unable to speak the language. He needs our help. But I stress again that we cannot judge the case from our position here.

I sincerely thank the Minister for his advice and support so far, which is also much appreciated by the family. All British citizens must know that, when their back is against the wall and all seems lost and they feel that the world has deserted them, there is a place--this honourable House--where their basic human rights will be upheld and that there are men and women who will fight for their rights, including their right to a fair trial. My fight does not end here tonight. Here, indeed, it begins.

12.43 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mark Lennox-Boyd) : The House will be grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Dr. Spink) for bringing this important case to its attention. I note the presence of my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel (Sir M. Marshall), who represents his constituent, the mother of Rachel Charles. I should like to outline the action taken by Her Majesty's Government on behalf of Michael Cook and his family since his arrest. On 5 December 1990 the British consulate in Portimao was informed that Michael Cook had been arrested the previous day for the murder of Rachel Charles. The consulate was told that he had confessed and would be taken before a judge on6 December to be formally charged. The Portimao consul visited him on 6 December. On that occasion he said that he was being well treated and had no complaints. A Portuguese police officer was present throughout that meeting.

On 10 December the Portimao consul had a private meeting with Michael Cook. On that occasion Mr. Cook said that he had been beaten twice : once when detained for questioning on 22 November and subsequently after his arrest on 4 December. He said that he had confessed under duress. He claimed to have been beaten on the chest and feet ; this, he said, explained why there were no signs of ill treatment.

On the following day, at the consul's insistence, Michael Cook was asked by the prison staff whether he wished to see a doctor so that a formal complaint about his mistreatment could be made. He declined to do so. Also on 11 December the British consul in Lisbon told Mr. Cook's Portuguese lawyer that the embassy would make a formal complaint if Mr. Cook wished. The offer was not taken up either by the lawyer or by Mr. Cook during subsequent visits by the Portimao consul. Thus, no medical examination to substantiate the allegations or otherwise took place.

From 11 December 1990 to 30 January 1992 when his trial began, Michael Cook was visited seven more times by consular officials. He complained once, in February 1991, of having been threatened verbally by other inmates, but said that the threats had ceased. Twice he complained of suffering from mental stress and three times from ulcer problems. The British consul on those occasions sought and received assurances from the prison governor that Mr. Cook would receive the necessary treatment.

The consuls from Lisbon and Portimao attended the first day of Michael Cook's trial, and the Portimao consul attended the last day, 7 February 1992.

On 19 February Michael Cook's brother, Colin Cook, rang the embassy in Lisbon to say that he had heard that Michael Cook had been stabbed in prison in Faro. The embassy immediately made inquiries. It was assured that Michael Cook had not been stabbed, although he had been involved in an argument over cigarettes with another prisoner. The following day the vice- consul from Lisbon visited Mr. Cook. Although physically all right, he was understandably extremely upset over the trial verdict. The prison governor gave assurances for Mr. Cook's safety. On 4 March 1992, Michael Cook was transferred to Coimbra high security prison, about 110 miles north of Lisbon. During that month, the consul and vice-consul drew the attention of officials at the Portuguese Ministry ofForeign Affairs to the great degree of British ministerial, official and public concern about Michael Cook's case. On 8 March The Sunday Times published an article reporting that Mr. Cook had been ill treated at the hands of other prisoners. The pro-consul in Lisbon looked into those allegations without delay. He contacted the prison governor on 10 March to register the embassy's concern for Michael Cook's safety and welfare. He was assured that there was no evidence of ill -treatment. Later that day, the vice-consul spoke to Mr. Cook by telephone. Mr. Cook said that one inmate--not a cellmate--had uttered a verbal threat, but that he had not been physically attacked. He mentioned that he was suffering from a stomach ulcer and had dental problems. In response to this, the vice-consul said that the embassy would write to the prison governor about these problems. A letter was sent on 13 March.

On 6 April Coimbra prison confirmed to the embassy that Michael Cook had been given a full-time job in the prison car paint workshop. It also confirmed that he had seen a doctor about his ulcer and had been put on a special diet. He had also seen a dentist.

On 16 April, the consul visited Michael Cook for two hours in a private room. Mr. Cook confirmed that he had gained some weight as a result of his special diet, and did not wish to have any matter raised with the prison authorities.

Michael Cook recently told his parents that he had been taken to see a psychiatrist. He was under the impression that the prison was trying to have him committed to a mental home, which would make it even more difficult for him to prove his innocence. Coimbra prison has told the consul that Michael Cook did not in fact see a psychiatrist. He was taken to see a specialist about his stomach ulcer. Unfortunately, it appears that the prison mistakenly translated "specialist" for "psychiatrist" when talking to Mr. Cook. The consul will visit Mr. Cook again on19 June.

I have described the full support given by the consuls in Portimao and Lisbon. Prisoners Abroad, an admirable organisation run by our former colleague in the House, Keith Best, has been in regular contact with Michael Cook and is giving him full support. I know that Michael Cook, his family and others believe that there has been a miscarriage of justice. I can well understand their concern, but, whatever we may think, it would be wrong for me to express an opinion on the conduct of the trial while an appeal is pending. If the lawyers believe that the case has not been dealt with in accordance with Portuguese law, it is their responsibility to take appropriate steps. Portuguese law provides for this and, indeed, the lawyers have submitted an appeal on Michael Cook's behalf. They have told the British embassy that the Portuguese supreme court has accepted the appeal and that, in their view, the appeal process is proceeding satisfactorily.

On 19 February Colin Cook complained to the British consul in Lisbon that the trial violated article 6 of the European convention on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. On examination, he agreed that the European convention can be brought into play only when all local remedies have been exhausted. We are keeping in close touch with Mr. Cook's lawyers and the Portuguese authorities. We are asking them to do what they can to ensure that Michael Cook's appeal is heard by the supreme court with the minimum delay. Our ambassador in Lisbon wrote to the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 3 June to press this point, and I will be in touch with my hon. Friend as soon as I have a reply.

I fully appreciate my hon. Friend's concern about this case, but I hope that he will understand from what I have said that we cannot intervene until the Portuguese legal process has taken its course. Until then we shall, through our consular officials, continue to visit Mr. Cook regularly and to offer him and his family all the support that we properly can. I shall continue to keep my hon. Friend fully informed.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at ten minutes to One o'clock.





3 comments:

  1. Boa tarde,Joana.É mais uma vez um pedido de esclarecimento.O comentário que se segue foi colocado na última notícia da GazetaDigital.Fui à tradução do Google mas desisti,pela pressa de perceber:
    *****************
    " Doughnut said...
    Come on Paulo. I support your sentiments completely but was this blog really worth publishing? It plays right into their hands. You sound like you are on the defensive and emotional. The more emotionally we respond to their tricks the less objective we become. And the less objective we become the less real insight we have. Part of their strategy is to wear people down. They are in this for the duration. They are in no rush. Having well balanced journalists like yourself resort to heckling and griping will only serve to discredit your work. They want people like you to blow a fuse. They've been baiting eveyone for months. The more vitriol they have coming at them, the more they can say it's a hate-campaign against the McCanns.

    23 April 2008 10:37
    ******************************
    É um amigo que o aconselha publicamente?
    É um amigo que o critica publicamente?
    É um amigo que também o quer derrubar?

    Na minha opinião,mesmo não conhecendo o Paulo pode-se-lhe enviar o mesmo por e-mail.
    Daí que eu ache que não é amigo.

    Só necessito do seu (pequeno mas perceptível)esclarecimento,caso este seja um dos "darlings" que melgam...?

    Obrigada,
    MCR

    ReplyDelete
  2. The abduction of a child by a stranger is, mercifully, a rare event: in Britain,

    ¡GRANDE MENTIRA! Gran Bretaña es uno de los países de Europa donde más casos de pederastia y crímenes contra los niños se dan.

    ReplyDelete
  3. brits are xenofobic by definition, but they do not discriminate against Portuguese. They simply hate everyone else, only to hide their poor, grey, hypocrit miserable life of frustration and envy.

    ReplyDelete

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