Sunday, 21 October 2007

Run, Gordon, run...

On September 8, we wrote a story – “The circus has came to town” - explaining the strategy to be followed in order to convince British public opinion that Gerry and Kate McCann were framed by Portuguese police. In the same story, we alerted for the interference of other kind of “organizations”, already in action, in Portugal: “Most of these activities have been conducted by retired British citizens, some of the long time residents in Portugal. Other group was 'recruited' among the already large locally born British community. These collaborators have an important skill, which is the capacity of speaking the local language, but their lack of experience means a higher risk and they have been used just in low-level operations.”

This part of a wider strategy – the so-called “field operations” - was latter confirmed when the McCann revealed they hired Control Risk Group in May. Details of that strategy were given to us by sources in London that, due to their position, know what is going on and – most important of all – why. But they don't agree with what they consider a Government “sponsored” interference on a police case, with no other purpose than protect the interests of a specific group.

Other sources, in the British Media, also gave us details about how that strategy would develop: undermining the credibility of Portuguese Police, attacking one of the leading detectives using the Joana Cipriano's case and, as a final blow, the Casa Pia case: “The lethal weapon, to be used when conditions are proper, is a 'secret': a large, well organized and professionally manipulated amount of information about the Casa Pia case. Organizers believe this data will be very efficient in the difficult task of convincing British public opinion that incompetence, corruption and complicity, also on high levels of the Portuguese society, are the explanation for what happened to Gerry and Kate McCann.”

Why UK is a haven for paedophiles

Until now, results have been mixed, for the powerful group of supporters behind the McCann couple. Public opinion, in UK, isn't exactly on the McCann side. Questions are starting to be asked about the level of involvement of the British Government, following Mr. Gordon Brown strange attitude of making public, last week, that he would include a police case in the agenda of his meeting with the Portuguese Prime-Minister, during a European Union summit.

Criminal Coordinator Gonçalo Amaral was removed from the investigation, but his replacement wasn't who the McCann supporters expected. Yesterday, Daily Mail, a newspaper that has been spearheading the campaign against Portugal and Portuguese police, was given the “green light” to use the above referred “lethal weapon”.

The story - “Why Portugal is a haven for paedophiles - the disturbing backcloth to the Madeleine case” - is a poor job of manipulation of information about the Casa Pia case. It uses fake information, like putting Paulo Rebelo, who replaced Gonçalo Amaral in Madelein's case – as the man who “oversaw Operation Predator - raids on more than 70 suspected paedophiles, whose computers were searched last week for images of Madeleine or other evidence of criminal sexual acts.”

In other classical manoeuvre of manipulation, it refers that, in Casa Pia Case, “Paulo Pedroso, a government minister, was arrested and quizzed about 15 cases of child sexual abuse.” But Daily Mail forgets to mention that the case against Paulo Pedroso was dismissed, for lack of evidence. The newspaper also forgets to mention that investigation of Casa Pia is finished and the trial has been going on, since more that one year, due to the number of defendants and the fact that there are more than 500 witnesses to be called.

The Daily Mail story accuses a all country and it's population of allowing “paedophile networks” - that “have become endemic in Portugal” - to roam freely and considers that “the culture in which such a serious child abuse network was allowed to operate is the same culture that pervades the whole of Portugal.”

Following the same line, similar accusations could be made against UK, using the Waterhouse case: “The Waterhouse Report into the wide scale abuse that took place in residential homes in Wales was released in February 2000. It spoke of systematic abuse, a climate of violence and a culture of secrecy that existed for more than two decades. But for most people involved in the welfare of the young, the report did not go nearly far enough. It confined itself to what went on in particular children's homes in Wales over a confined period. It did not look at the plight of children in residential homes and in foster families all over the UK. It did not question the whole structure of care.” The results of Operation Ore could also allow anyone to classify UK as a haven for paedophiles, where the sex offenders registration couldn’t stop child abusers to find new jobs on schools...

The fact that the story from Daily Mail is so badly “build” shows how desperate McCann supporters are, as they don't see any evidence that PJ is willing to drop the main line of inquiry, which considers the parents as formal suspects in the disappearance of Madeleine.

Police cooperation

Also curious is the fact that Mr. Gordon Brown decided to mention a specific detail we was willing to raise, with Portuguese Prime-Minister: the cooperation between Portuguese and British Police in Madeleine's investigation. There has been several small incidents, since the first British police liaison team came to Algarve. The decision of Portuguese police to stop regular meetings with the McCann couple was taken after detectives realized that Kate and Gerry had previous knowledge of the subjects to be raised during those meetings. Such a knowledge would be possible only if information given by PJ to their British counterparts was being made available to the McCann.

Portuguese police made clear they knew that at least one of the British officers from the liaison team had contacts - with people close to the McCann – that were not considered proper, for someone in that position. The level of cooperation from Leicestershire police is another detail that has raised some questions from Polícia Judiciária and took Mr. Paulo Rebelo to make a direct contact with Scotland Yard.

The McCann legal team has made contacts, in Portugal, to hire a PR company, as they understood that a close contact with Portuguese Media was fundamental, at this stage. But there is no tradition, in Portugal, of Public Relations companies acting in the criminal area and at least one of the leading Portuguese PR companies refused an offer for a contract. Other contacts were more successful, when several former Portuguese policemen were asked, by the McCann team, to help them have a close look at how the investigation was developing.

Opposite versions

The Portuguese Prime-Minister Press Office denied that the question of Madeleine's investigation was ever referred, during a meeting with Gordon Brown. “The only subjects raised during the meeting between Gordon Brown and José Sócrates were related to the EU summit. All the rest is pure speculation”, according to the same source. A spokesman for Mr. Gordon Brown denied this and told British Media that “Mr Brown said he and Jose Socrates had a ''brief discussion'' about Madeleine during an EU summit in Lisbon. The spokesman said: ''They agreed what matters was that there should be the closest possible co-operation between the Portuguese and British police.''

The fact that both Prime-Ministers Press Offices couldn't find a common version about Madeleine's case is a clear evidence of the deep differences in the way they look at it. Mr. José Sócrates has made clear, before, that this is “just a police case” and not a political one.” In a interview with the Spanish daily “El País”, the Portuguese Prime-Minister launched a staunch attack against members of British Government, saying that “(Portuguese) Police did the best they could do find the child” and remembered that “it's a duty of all politicians not to contribute to boost a 'soap opera script.” It seems that Mr. Gordon Brown has another opinion.

Duarte Levy (Londres) and Paulo Reis (Lisbon)

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