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Desperate: Kate McCann

Saturday June 9,2007

By David Piditch and Matt Drake in Praia da Luz

POLICE in Portugal were at the centre of a new row today after members of kidnap victim Madeleine McCann’s family were manhandled by armed officers as they tried to put up “missing” posters.

Madeleine’s aunt, Philomena McCann, said she and a cousin  were escorted from Lisbon airport by gun-toting police.

“They just don’t want to admit a child was snatched in their country,” she said.

Madelein’s mother, Kate McCann,  had asked them to put up the posters.

                                             "Why do you not trust Maddy's parents?"
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Aunt Philomena said: “Kate was really distraught when she got to the airport and there were no posters of Madeleine.


“I couldn’t believe what happened when we got there. I was given permission to put the posters up by a woman on the information desk. But straight away we were swooped on by two armed police officers.

“We thought it was a misunderstanding and tried to explain but they would not listen. My relative  was bodily manhandled by them.

“I contacted the director of the airport, Dr Francisco Severino. He said we couldn’t put the posters up but told us if we went away and sent him a fax, he would consider it.

“We lost a valuable opportunity to get our message to thousands of air travellers who come through the
terminal. It seemed clear they didn’t want the negativity affecting tourism.

“Surely if people think the police and the authorities are doing everything they can to find Madeleine, other families visiting Portugal would feel more secure.”

The country’s tourist board also refused posters of Madeleine.

British government officials are putting pressure on the Portuguese to change their policy. It is believed that Portuguese officials refuse to put up posters, found at passport control at UK airports, because they fear that bad publicity will damage their tourism trade.

The row erupted as it was revealed that Portuguese police were investigating reports that four-year-old Madeleine had been snatched to order by a paedophile ring based in Spain.

They want to question a French citizen who is a convicted paedophile and was said to have been hired by two other people to abduct Madeleine.

And yesterday, Madeleine’s abduction was linked to South America for the first time. A phone call by a man claiming to know where Madeleine was being held came from a mobile phone registered in Argentina, it was revealed.

The “credible” call was considered so potentially significant that Madeleine’s parents halted their search of Europe to help police.

British police were trying yesterday to make contact with the mystery caller who phoned Spanish police on Wednesday.

The call was made on a pay-as-you go phone, believed to have been bought in Argentina. A police source said: “Attempts to re-establish contact are continuing.”

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11.06.07, 11:44am

"What kind of people are the brits that dine without their children? Specially in their holidays?!"

The answer to your question (above) rbsmr77 is...


• Posted by: petefergieReport Comment

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10.06.07, 4:04pm

Can I freely put a poster in Gatwick or Heathrow airports?? I dont think so. Such as in Great-Britain in Portugal rules also apply ! Rules that had not been fulfilled.

On the other hand in Lisbon airport security is made 80% by a private security company And those security officers not even have weapons...
So the news is incorrect!? Or just bad intentions from the Mccann's family?I think the Mccann family clearly want to unload their frustationsin the portuguese police because they made a mistake in leaving the childrens alone! What kind of people are the brits that dine without their children? Specially in their holidays?!

Please, dont missed understand me! All foreigners are welcomed in Portugal. But, please, dont abuse our hospitality!

• Posted by: rbsmr77Report Comment

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10.06.07, 4:03pm

While apparently seeking world sympathy if not approval on their desperate mission, the McCann's do not show reciprocal respect for the countries they visit. Leave alone Portugal! Slappping up posters hither and thither in contradiction to local regulations about such is hardly the way to win cooperation. Here in the States posting anything is illegal without express permission. I am sure that is true of other countries and especially in their airports. Certainly posters of a "snatched" child would not be welcome in countries where tourism is the major income. And why should they be? All things being considered, the Portuguese did their best to recover this little girl, and they took a lot of flak whilst doing so, particularly from the British media. The latter would do well to publicize the worldwide menace of pedophilia and child trafficking to assuage their perverted desires. This is a horrific problem. Men all over the world eagerly seek videos of child molestation even unto death! Men! Travelling to Asia and other foreign places to indulge their perversion. Men from all walks of life - doctors, dentists, judges, politicians, this is not the exclusive domain of the tacky. It is frightening that "respectable" men spend their vacations sexually abusing children. THIS IS THE SECOND STORY BEHIND THE MCCANN TRAGEDY. The media needs to get the message across that these groups are growing in number and are on the prowl everywhere for another child to "perform" in their movies. When are parents everywhere going to wake up? That's MY question. This is not a figment of my imagination. Information is readily available on the Internet on child trafficking and predators seeking children on popular sites. It really should be required reading for parents and especially those who travel to foreign resorts with their children who cannot be counted on to stay put at any given time, whether on a beach, in a restaurant, or in their beds in an hotel room!! It is futile to point an accusing finger at Portugal over the "Missing Posters," the fact that Madeleine has gone missing in that country, and their handling of the matter. Get real! Children are being snatched everywhere, here in the States, on the Costa Brava, on the streets of Britain. It's a fact that a boy was snatched on the same beach in the same resort 11 years ago. He was walking just 20 ft. behind his parents. Children have since disappeared in Britain and it has been widely reported. What is it going to take for parents to realize that things are no longer they way they used to be? Children disappearing on the way to school, going to a public restroom unsupervised, but left alone in an unlocked room in an hotel while the parents joined a large group (Mrs. McCann's admission) to wine and dine? Have parents everywhere got their collective heads buried in the sand? Pardon the pun. Pointing a finger at the McCann's over this tragedy, and the Portuguese regarding the posters, etc., is a bit like slamming the stable door shut after the horse has taken a hike.

This is an avenue for 'YOUR COMMENT." Therefore, it might be a good idea to read the comments of others and refrain from labelling them accusatory and finger pointing and lacking in sympathy for the McCann's sensibilities at this awful time. The McCann's would do well to stop capitalizing on the enormous sympathy they have garnered and stop whining!!!! Please!

• Posted by: RothaymereReport Comment

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10.06.07, 11:37am

Well at last, thank you Muldoon for a very sensible, constructive and eloquenty worded article. However, I do not think that money, stature or ones station in life is necessarily relevent in this particular child abduction case,
indeed it is my belief that the story of Maddy's disappearancce just happened to attract the attention of world wide media, and yes, the family are white British, and yes both parents happen to be doctors, and yes, what lovely front page pictures of such a lovely little angel with cute 'imp' like features to capture the worldwide public attention and immagination. One has to give the McCanns credit for capitalizing on the publicity generated by this excessive media coverage and although the McCanns behaviour may appear to some, I was going to say unseemly but perhaps the description 'shrewd' may be a more apt.
I understand in todays news that both parents have agreed to curtail their activities to give themselves time to grieve and recuperate from what must have been a very exhausting few weeks! And finally, the somewhat controversial question which seems to occupy some peoples minds, were Maddy's parents criminally negligent or just irresponsible to the point of being downright stupid? I believe the answer to that question is the latter and both of Maddy's parents have over and over again publically acknowledged that fact. They are now without any shadow of doubt paying the price for their huge mistake and will continue doing so for the rest of their lives. Is it then fair at such times to be continually pointing an accusing finger?

• Posted by: alroyReport Comment

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10.06.07, 10:42am

We all know Gordon Brown phoned McCann, was it just a phone call? or did it involve a "handshake" also! ....we shall never know....

• Posted by: petefergieReport Comment

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10.06.07, 12:41am

You would have to have a heart of stone to condemn the McCanns for whatever has happened to Madeleine. Kate's pale, strained face, the way she holds on to her daughter's cuddle-cat as a totem against the news she fears the most, makes it impossible to do anything but sympathise with her pain, and thank God your own children are safe beside you.

No doubt the McCanns will regret for the rest of their lives their decision to leave their young family alone in their apartment, without smug, never-put-a-foot-wrong parents giving them a verbal kicking. The rest of us, the well-meaning but often inadequate majority, shrink from passing judgment not just because it seems unkind, but also in case our words become hostages to fortune.

And yet, there's something in the way middle-class commentators have reacted to this story that makes it difficult to remain silent. It's one thing to say "we all make mistakes", but when a few go so far as to insinuate leaving children alone in an apartment while you have dinner is something "we all do", then it's impossible to let it go unchallenged.

It's a fact of life that big stories such as child abductions and serial killings take on a significance beyond the personal. They lay our prejudices bare; show us up for the hypocrites we so often are. And so it has proved with the McCann case. We all know that white, middle-class children who go missing attract more attention than poor, black ones. But rarely has the bias in the media response to a crime been so glaringly obvious.

In the first few days after Madeleine went missing, it was reported that the McCann children were well looked after. They were tucked up in bed asleep; the apartment was locked to stop them wandering off; they were being checked every half hour or so. Hard-working couples need time to recharge their batteries before taking on the duties of childcare again.

It all seems quite reasonable when you put it like that. But what if the McCanns had been check-out workers rather than doctors; what if they had been on a Haven camping holiday rather than at an upmarket complex in the Algarve; and what if they had been eating fish and chips rather than tapas? Would leaving three children under four unsupervised have been seen as quite so uncontroversial?

As for the notion that this is a risk everyone takes from time to time, it's offensive and misleading. As last week wore on, some newspapers used the McCanns' decision to do just that to illustrate how complex and subjective good parenting is. They included it in a list of "dilemmas", such as "Would you leave sleeping children in a locked car outside a shop while you popped in to get milk?", as if it were likely to cause heated debate at playgroups.

Well, I know some parents who bring food and drink back to their self-catering apartment to eat on holiday, some who tuck their babies up in their buggies and let them sleep beside them at restaurants and some who hire a childminder for the night, but none who choose to leave their toddlers alone while they dine out.

I am not a particularly protective parent: I let my kids walk to the park on their own before many of their peers. But I wouldn't even consider leaving children of that age to fend for themselves. Not, admittedly, because I would worry about them being abducted, but because of all the other risks; that they might vomit and choke to death; that they might wander round looking for electrical appliances to play with; or that they might just wake up scared and want their mum and dad.

The best thing about going to Latin countries is that there is no conflict between having a family and eating out. Children aren't just tolerated in restaurants, they are feted. No one expects the under-fives to sit up straight and eat with a knife and fork. If one of them decides to slide under the table, or to run off and look at a spider's web mid-mouthful, eyebrows will not be raised. No wonder the Portuguese seem bemused. It's a very British attitude to expect to bundle your children off to bed before dinner.

I don't believe the McCanns should be prosecuted for what they did. They are already enduring a punishment far greater than their actions merit. Nor should we ask the family to dwell on a bad decision that cannot be reversed. Far better for them to focus on the police investigation; on getting Madeleine back.

But the rest of us should try to prevent our sympathy for the couple tipping over into an acceptance that they reflect some cultural norm. Just because they seem like clean-cut, productive, genuine people; just because we hope against hope they get their daughter back, does not mean they weren't in the wrong.

• Posted by: MULDOONReport Comment

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