The Strange Case of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and the McCanns 459

I have a confession to make. Back in 2014 I posted that I was going to write something further on the subject of the McCanns. In the end I did not, because I was surprised by the strong emotional reaction I received, from a number of decent people, who were enraged that I might be prepared to write something not to the McCanns’ advantage. But I regret being so pusillanimous, particularly as so much discussion has been suppressed by the extremely aggressive stance taken on threats of libel action on this story.

So in the full knowledge that some decent people will be outraged, here it is.

This week there have been two more developments. The Home Office has announced that it will fund still further the police investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance, on which £10 million has already been spent. Plus the appeals court in Lisbon has overturned the libel verdict against the Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral, who led the case and formed his own firm convictions at to what happened. The 500,000 euro libel award to the McCanns is now cancelled.

None of these sums of money would matter in the least, and practically nobody would grudge any expense, to have Madeleine McCann alive, safe and happy. There can be nothing worse for a parent than the loss of a child, whatever the circumstances. If the McCanns genuinely do not know what happened, that must be agonising beyond belief. My grandparents had a nineteen year old son, an uncle I never knew, missing in action in World War 2 and the pain never left them, even when his fate was resolved.

And yet, and yet… It is because our children are so precious to us that we treat them as such. I recall an incident on Jamie’s first birthday, which we spent in a hotel in Italy. I was in the room with Jamie. My then wife had gone out to the car. The birthday cake was delivered to reception and had to be paid for. Jamie was fast asleep. I dashed out of the hotel room, down two flights of steps to reception, literally threw the money at them and ran back up the stairs. I was away under two minutes but have never experienced such adrenalin, nor would wish to again. An overwhelming instinct had kicked in telling me I had done wrong in leaving the baby unattended, even so briefly.

I find the McCanns’ behaviour indefensible. There appears to be a disconnect in the public mind in the UK which prevents people from realising just how far the McCanns were from their children. This is a useful graphic just to see the layout, (do not worry about the other info on it).


The McCanns could not actually see their apartment from the tapas bar due to the wall around the pool. To get back there, they had to use the gate and walk around that wall, which made it a 75 yard hike. And the apartment had double doors onto the street on the opposite side of the block from that facing the pool.

I do not see how anybody understanding this geography can consider that it was normal parenting for the McCanns to leave two one year olds and a three year old, alone in the apartment in these circumstances – for hours, and repeatedly several days running. It is something I would absolutely never dream of doing with my own children. If nothing else, had any of the children been crying and in distress – and the chances of that with three tiny children are pretty high – there was no way they could hear them.

The claimed abduction is not the only thing that could have happened. Cholic. Vomiting. Sore nappies. Coughing. Choking. Bad dreams. Overheating. All kinds of thing can distress children. So far as I can judge, it is not that I am weird in my own views, rather it is absolutely accepted in British society that you do not leave 1 year olds without care of an adult. Why are the McCanns an exception?

Which leads me on to the question of why they received such exceptional treatment from British authorities, directed straight from No. 10, to the extent that Blair and Brown eventually gave them a PR representative? I used at one stage to be Resident Clerk in the FCO, a now abolished post effectively of night duty officer. I can tell you from horrible personal experience that the FCO deals with gut-wrenching cases of lost or dead children abroad frequently. I spent one of the most terrible three hours of my life, through to a cold dawn, on the phone with a hysterical bereaved mother desperate to explore any avenue that might give a possibility that the boy who had just drowned in Brazil was misidentified as her son. On average, I am afraid such tragedies get substantially less than 1% of the public resources that were devoted to the McCanns.

I am going to come straight out with this. British diplomatic staff were under direct instruction to support the McCanns far beyond the usual and to put pressure on the Portuguese authorities over the case. I have direct information that more than one of those diplomatic staff found the McCanns less than convincing and their stories inconsistent. Embassy staff were perturbed to be ordered that British authorities were to be present at every contact between the McCanns and Portuguese police.

This again is absolutely not the norm. On a daily basis more British citizens have contact with foreign authorities than the total staff of the FCO. It would be simply impossible to give that level of support to everybody. Plus, against jingoistic presumption, a great many Brits who have contact with foreign police are actually criminals.

The British Ambassador in Portugal, John Buck, had been my direct boss in the FCO. he was Deputy Head of Southern European Department when I was Head of Cyprus Section. He and his staff were concerned by contradictions in the McCann’s story. The Embassy warned, in writing, that being perceived as too close to the McCanns might not prove wise. They demanded the instruction from London be reconfirmed. It was.

I know of people’s misgivings because I was told directly. But material was also leaked to a Belgian newspaper confirming what I have said. It was published by the Express, but like so much other material which is not supportive of the McCanns, it got taken down. Fortunately that last link preserved it. It also shows that the FCO continues to refuse Freedom of Information requests for the material on the interesting grounds that it might damage relations with Portugal.

For the avoidance of doubt, I do not believe there was a high level paedophile ring involved. I make no such argument. Nor do I claim to know what happened to Madeleine McCann. But I do believe that the McCanns were less than exemplary parents. I believe that New Labour’s No.10 saw, in typical Blair fashion, a highly photogenic tragedy which there might be popularity in appearing to work on.

And I believe there is a genuine danger that the high profile support from the top of the British government might have put some psychological pressure on the Portuguese investigators and prosecuting officers in their determinations.

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459 thoughts on “The Strange Case of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and the McCanns

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  • Miriam

    I agree with your view 100%, but I have always had 2 unanswered questions and no theory of my own;

    1) IF the McCans knew more about what happened, why has the government assisted them so much, why are they so special?
    2) Why 10 years and 11 million pounds later would one keep up the facade? How could you keep it up for so long without the tiniest of slip ups or why would one keep the pretence up for so long when you could just slip out of the spotlight and live peacefully, undisturbed.

    • Scott Kilgour

      1. As Craig said, they are a photogenic and successful couple, blessed with education and class.
      2. Agree with you on the 2nd question.

      • Joy

        Scott, they are certainly not photogenic. She looks like a simpering wreck and he looks smarmy, snide and arrogant. The belief in their own self importance is unbelievable. They may have education but they certainly do not have class. No amount of money can buy that.

        • Patricia Dynes

          I know this is late in the day but I just came across your post and agree with everything you said.
          I have lived in Spain for 16 years and knew about the case at the time. Recently, I came across a group of documenteries by Richard D Hall who laid out the results of his research on youtube.
          I was shocked by the massive coverup and protection of these disgraceful parents, the McCanns who were filmed laughing two days after their daughter was missing.
          Are the people in the UK not sick and tired of their lies?

    • Danuta

      2) they have to keep up appearance. Life never was to be the same anyway. What she craved was finding acceptance of as many people as possible, which would mirror the story back giving her approval of what happened, sense of closure, security, normality. Somehow it went out of control with media. They cannot slip out of spotlight anymore. To preserve sense of normality, peace of mind, they have to fight critics now. What is the point to argue over an honour or else and waste your precious time should it be used looking for your child? The child you believe is still alive. But if not. Then such argument may seem to be the only way to fight for your sanity and if won reserve a peaceful undisturbed future.

  • Cheryl west

    As a parent b grandparent I completely agree anybody else wud hav had other children removed from thier care they’ve blatantly nor told the truth let’s hope one of them has the compassion to be honest at sum point

    • Sally Cowen

      wasnt the list shown as evidence that the police believed the children werent neglected/left alone. Always there was an adult looking after the children, possibly in the one room. Only the last night was changed to make it look like they had neglected Madds. No neglect story = no abductor.

  • James Dickenson

    “Peter Hyatt is a highly respected expert in statement analysis. When we speak, the process involves deciding which tense to use, which words to select and what order to put them in. This happens in a fraction of a second. If somebody is constructing sentences from their experiential memory, the process follows particular patterns, which can be identified. If a person is fabricating when they speak, the cognitive process of choosing words is interrupted, because the mind must censor and insert artificial information in a very short time period. Language of somebody who is fabricating is therefore different and can be identified. Peter has analysed an interview that Kate and Gerry McCann gave in 2011 and both Kate and Gerry it appears show signs of deception. Peter determines from their language what he believes to be what it is they are concealing. The conclusions are shocking.”

  • James Dykes

    Terrific article Craig….I still can’t quite get over the videos for the cadaver dogs…keep writing

  • Siobhan

    Again a system that is paid for by the British subjects decides to play god. If this is true and another spin doctor process it once again shows utter contempt for what is right and just for the vulnerable in our society i.e Madeleine in this case… it would be wonderful for all like you who were privy to this information to show the public complete transparency to the British public and the world. Our leaders have made a mockery of our justice system and humiliated themselves and the British public.. Well done for speaking out!

  • John Lownsborough

    Yes, well said Craig. There are so many unanswered questions in this case. Irregularities will appear in any investigation however, political interference certainly took its toll on Amaral and his team with one distraction after another.
    I think the Portuguese Police did a fine job and Amaral’s “Truth of the lie” is justifiably accurate as a precis of the investigation. In relation to the forensics, I was appalled at the coverage given to the Portuguese Service who for some reason, were required to share the various samples taken with the British Forensic Science Service. The FSS in the UK said the results of the DNA tests were inconclusive. The scientists in Portugal, as I understand it, did not agree. The talk of a “bungled” investigation is terrible.
    I’m not cherry picking points here, there’s too many to choose from and despite investigation and re-investigation I doubt we’ll ever know the truth.

  • david

    Right from the very start of the case I could not believe as a parent who have taken there small children abroad meany times, that they left their so small children alone &
    over such a long distance Normal parents would not leave there children while they were in the garden of there own home with out checking them constantly I think this was a criminal act of neglect and although I CRY for the child I would have had the English courts investigate the act of neglect No matter where it happened as the child was an English ward of court while abroad under the protection of the terms of her own passport I try not to be to bitter to the macanns as they have to carry their act of neglect to the grave But I have no little sympathy also MY ONE WISH IS THAT THE LITTLE GIRL IS ALIVE & HAPPY

  • Truth Seeker

    The McCanns are not the ones being protected in my opinion. Someone high up in government or such like is. They are however along for the ride. Along with their friends. Madeleine died in that apartment, this is fairly obvious given that the dogs (Eddie and Keela) both alerted to the past presence of a corpse behind the sofa and in the boot of the car that was hired by the McCanns 23 days after the alleged abduction. Cadaver was also alerted to in the wardrobe of the apartment, on clothing belonging to Kate and a child’s tshirt, on the soft toy (cuddle cat) and in a flower bed. Every one of these locations and items are unique to the McCanns.
    The police statements are riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies. Even the photo given to the police to help identify Madeleine was about a year old. A child can change dramatically in the space of a year. Why therefore give the police an old photo? Why did the McCanns not search for their missing daughter? There’s a lot about this that makes no sense. Poor Madeleine. God Bless. RIP

  • Christine Standing

    Thank you for this clear outline of your understanding of the case. As you say, “some decent people will be outraged”; yet others like myself will be encouraged that a shaft of light has appeared that endorses their own thinking on the matter.

  • Maidhc Ó Cathail

    It is indeed, as you put it, a very strange case. What makes it even stranger is the immediate and keen interest shown in the case by various British intelligence agencies such as M15. The following documentary not only explores this intriguing question but also wonders why a series of shady private investigators hired by the McCanns specialized not in child abductions but in money-laundering and fraud, while the mainstream media eagerly promoted every improbable new (mis-)”lead” touted by these dubious “investigators”…

    • Stebyr

      Two points concern me. Why was the priest recalled to Rome and why did the McCanns meet with the Pope? Are the two connected.

  • John Hurley

    It is abundantly clear that the Mccanns have received unbelievable preferential treatment & protection from their actions since Madeline disappeared. Your article reinforces some form of conspiracy. Gerry Mccann has stated that leaving the children alone was no different to having dinner in your garden while your children slept indoors. This is lunacy & I struggle to understand why the definition of commonsense is allowed to be reinterpreted by the Mccanns to suit their totally indefensible actions that fateful night. The loss of Madeline Mccann is one part of the equation, the major part was the inaction & the actions of Gerry & Kate Mccann since that night in May 2003. They are excellent manipulators but it would appear that they have powerful background support, the kind you find when you belong to some higher order!

    • Theo

      It is clearly illegal to leave a child alone when it could be a risk, as it clearly was. Therefore why have they never been prosecuted ? They are both Doctors, in fact there were several doctors in their party and they all did it. Why and how are they immune to any action ?

  • Kellie Kabza

    Absolutely disgraceful the way the McCanns have received above & beyond anyone else….. poor Kerry Needham springs to mind. This circus has gone on long enough!!

  • Frank Robert Scivier

    Anyone who has read the report by former Portuguese Police Chief Gonçalo Amaral as well as the article written by retired lawyer Tony Bennett cannot possibly believe that the McCann parents Kate & Jerry have not been involved in a cover-up of their daughter Madeleine’s death with a fake abduction claim. The reasons for the cover up are obvious. Their negligence may have resulted in them being struck off by General Medical Council & any custodial sentence may also have resulted in them losing custody of their twin children, so they had an awful lot to lose. All of their strange behaviour could, perhaps, have been disregarded if the two British-trained cadaver dogs did not heavily point to their guilt. Human beings lie but dogs definitely DO NOT!!!. Despite the very strong evidence from the cadaver dogs, various people including their government-supplied spokesperson Clarence Mitchell, have claimed the dogs evidence cannot be relied upon. This, of course, is NONSENSE. It is those who suggest such a thing who cannot be relied upon!. There is not a shadow of doubt in my mind that a cover-up has taken place but my question to you Mr. Murray is this. Why in the face of such overwhelming evidence of their guilt, have the McCanns had such colossal help from the government & the press who have been so reluctant to print the truth about the cover-up. I would assume the press have been quieted under orders from the government but I would be very interested to hear your opinion as to why the McCanns were singled out to get such support from the highest levels right from the word go 10 years ago, & are still getting it from a new government headed by Theresa May. WHY?.

  • anonymous

    try searching the documentary the things they dont want you to know “the photogame”(youtube)
    then search all photos of madeleine
    then search the american photographer with a daughter a madeleine lookalike known to the mccanns
    then search the 2 tv producers with a daughter a madeleine lookalike who incidently produced crime watch.(they were in p/d/l)
    then search lord winston.the medical problems that could arise with ivf children
    search the weinbergers who work at portodown and were in g4 p/d/l
    search kates book about the pain madeleine was in(refer to lord winston re above)
    a theory of a ivf mess up.kate had ivf did the other 2 families.odd we have madeleine uk,maddy in america and the other girl all lookalikes

    • Helen Byrne

      You my friend,I believe are “spot on” multiples twins and triplets and even 6 or more in common I think with IVF pregnancy.Dear God words fail…..

  • Andrew Baxter

    In my eyes I think they have drugged there children with sleeping tablets that have been self subscribed and poorly girl has had bad reaction to the tablets and died. It’s the only obvious explanation to the matter due to investigation that would be carried out and findings where the tablets come from they wouldn’t have want this to come out and it’s only explanation why the other children didn’t wake. Also I’ve noticed on Gerry face on every photo there is no remorse which I find hard to believe for any parent who loves their children. If people were going to take the kids to sell they would have taken all of them not just one.

  • Margaret

    Good article but one quibble. In May 2007 the twins were 2 years and 3 months and not one year old. Still unacceptable to leave them alone though!

  • Peter Davies

    But did the McCanns really neglect their children or was this something that they had claimed to back up their claim that Madeleine was abducted on the evening of May 3rd 2007? How could they possibly claim that Madeleine had been abducted if they were in the apartment? They had to say this to add credibility to their claims. Many of us, following 10 years of detailed research now strongly believe that Madeleine died in the apartment on the afternoon or evening of April 29th 2007 and that witnesses may have been planted to convince us that Madeleine was alive after that point. There is in fact, no credible, verifiable and independent evidence that Madeleine was seen after lunchtime on April 29th.

  • Leslie

    Something smells fishy. Probably the red herring. The abduction story set up by Jerry who phoned family to alert the media, before the police arrived on the scene, so that the breaking story the next day was of an abduction. The evidence suggests that Maddie or someone with very similar DNA died in the apartment but the evidence was not strong enough to get a conviction. Shame they didn’t send in at least one other dog team to verify the locations of blood and cadaver odour or re do the tests. The McCannes destroyed and withheld evidence, refused a lie detector, washed clothes etc.
    As far as I can tell the McCanns have not been cleared but the case has been shelved in the hope that further evidence coming to light. What the McCannes have succeeded in doing, in ruining the career and the personal life of the detective who was leading the case is just terrible.

  • Barry

    Whilst it’s obvious why the concentration is on the McCanns, we shouldn’t forget they were not the only ones who left their children alone; other members of the “Tapas” group were equally guilty regarding their own children; which brings me to what I found to be confusing stories regarding the periodic checking arrangements. In this context it’s interesting that the new tranche of funding has allegedly been granted so that in conjunction with translation of statements made to the judicaria, Scotland Yard will be re-interviewing the tapas group though I don’t know whether it will reveal whether there were more than the well publicised list.

  • Dave

    Perhaps the Foreign Office had seen what amarals team had done in a similar case.Amaral was sentenced to 12 months suspended for covering up the torture of a suspect …..the mother of a missing child.

    • MBC

      Where did you get this information from? The so-called torture of a suspect was a mother, who sexually molested her own 6 year old daughter with his relative – nephew, i think – and then cut her up and diposed her body. The so-called torture was given to the nasty peace of crap women in the prison by inmates, not by Goncalo Amaral.

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