Sunday, 8 June 2008

British Foreign Office helped the McCann to go back home

Between September 7 and 10, last year, Kate McCann was fighting for her life, according to The News of the World, because Portuguese authorities were trying to frame her. "They want me to lie - I'm being framed”, Kate told the Sunday Mirror. The reason, she explained, was the fact that Polícia Judiciária was “running out of budget for this investigation and want it to end". Another reason, she said, was that Portuguese Police “don't want a murder in Portugal and all the publicity about them not having paedophile laws here, so they're blaming us."

But at the same time, Gerry McCann admitted that he was already informed by his lawyers that PJ “may have cobbled together enough to charge them.” Even being "absolutely confident' there was no evidence to link him and Kate with any suspicion of murder” of their daughter, Gerry admitted the “latest twist of events”, during the first weeks of September, “had left him with 'anxieties". According to the September 9 edition of The News of The World, “the McCann now fear the cops may be about to arrest and charge them. Gerry told us: 'Our lawyer said the weight of it is that, under the Portuguese legal system, they've got enough to move forward against us."

The father of Madeleine McCann considered also the possibility that “sooner or later, there'll be a formal process whereby we can rebut things in court. Then it will all come out. Gerry explained that the McCann were “negotiating with the police” in order “to be allowed to go home to the UK”, after being named as “arguidos”, or formal suspects in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

As those negotiations were going on, the “Foreign Office was 'firing on all cylinders' in its efforts to help the McCann”, as the Telegraph wrote on September 10. And the agreement that allowed Gerry and Kate to go back to the UK was reached through direct contacts between the British Foreign Office, the Portuguese Justice and Foreign Office ministers and PJ, with the help of John Buck, UK Ambassador in Portugal at the time. Justine McGuiness and David Hughes, members of the McCann team of advisers, played also an important role in those contacts.

A source from PJ explained that if the couple had attempted to leave Portugal before the questioning that took place between 7 and 8 of September, the Public Prosecutor's Office had instructed PJ inspectors to stop them and was ready to name them as "arguidos" and impose more severe restrictions on their movements. The Portuguese authorities accepted a “gentlemen's agreement”, after the Foreign Office guaranteed that the couple would return to Portugal, whenever the Public Prosecutor's Office requested their presence.

The sudden change of attitude from the McCann, trying to go back to UK after promising that they would never leave without Madeleine, happened two months after a special British police team came to Praia da Luz, with Eddie and Keela, dogs trained to detect the smell of blood and dead bodies. But one month before being named “arguidos”, the PJ spokesman, Olegário de Sousa, had already revealed, on a interview with BBC, on August 10, that police was following a new line of inquiry which included the possibility of Madeleine being dead.

Duarte Levy & Paulo Reis

Version Française