The cops could be out of telly Life On Mars

The cops could be out of telly Life On Mars
Exclusive The search for Madeleine Day 136
The Sunday Mirror
16 September 2007
Lori Campbell and Simon Wright

McCann pals slam Portuguese Hire car was used by 15 others DNA could be from the twins Gerry sister blasts press leaks

ADVISERS to Kate and Gerry McCann have blasted the chaotic investigation into their daughter's disappearance as "a cross between Life On Mars and The Sweeney."

Lawyers and friends of the couple say the Portuguese police case against them is so full of holes they are unlikely to be charged with Madeleine's death.

And one close friend told the Sunday Mirror: "The case is based on such flimsy evidence, it is as if Gene Hunt from Life On Mars is leading the investigation helped by Jack Regan from The Sweeney."

Today the Sunday Mirror can reveal how:

The Renault Scenic car at the centre of the investigation was used by up to 15 people, making any DNA evidence unsafe.

Police failed to interview key people close to the McCanns, including an adviser who kept a diary of events.

The officer who fingerprinted Kate and Gerry hours after Madeleine vanished blundered, and had to take the prints again the next day.

Lawyers now believe Kate and Gerry may never appear in a Portuguese court - and will argue that if they do they will not get a fair trial.

The friend added: "What is happening is an absolute disgrace. There is not a jot of evidence to convict Kate or Gerry. We are told one day the DNA evidence is 100 per cent Madeleine's and then the next day that it is not.

"We are told there are Madeleine's body fluids in the car - but they could belong to the twins, Sean and Amelie.

"What they are left with is speculation, innuendo and implication. It is a deeply flawed process.

"Kate and her lawyer have repeatedly asked the Portuguese to reveal what evidence they have got, but they won't."

The case against Kate and Gerry apparently centres on traces of DNA found in the silver Renault Scenic car - which was rented by them 25 days after Madeleine went missing on May 3.

But as many as 15 people used the car before police finally took it away to have it searched by sniffer dogs and take forensic samples.

One search even took place in a public car park rather than a sealed area.

The McCanns used the car to pick up visiting friends and relatives from Faro airport 80km from Praia da Luz every few days.

It was also driven by Kate's cousin Michael Wright, another relative and one of their advisers.

A friend said: "How can this car, used by so many people for so long, contain any key forensic evidence?

"The people who travelled in it went from the apartment where the McCanns were staying. Madeleine's DNA could easily have been transferred to the car."

Police believe the McCanns had a sinister motive for hiring the car - to move Madeleine's body after they had already buried it once. The timing of the rental on May 28, two days before they flew to Italy to visit the Pope, led to lurid speculation in the Portuguese press.

But we can reveal it was rented for them on that day so they could drive to nearby Lagos to buy suitable clothes to meet the Pope.

A friend said: "Kate and Gerry searched Praia da Luz in vain for modest clothes. It was suggested they go to Lagos to shop and someone from their holiday firm Mark Warner arranged the car for them."

The friend added: "How can they possibly say the vehicle was involved when it was under 24-hour watch? It was parked in the open driveway outside Kate and Gerry's apartment.

"It was so visible it might as well have had a neon sign on it."

Police have seized a copy of Kate's personal diary, started five days after Madeleine went missing, claiming it proves she was a stressed-out mum struggling to cope with her overactive children.

But they have failed to interview key people who spent hours with the McCanns at the time when they are claimed to have covered up their daughter's death and moved her body. Clarence Mitchell, the first media advisor sent to help the McCanns by the Foreign Office on May 21, is baffled that he has never been questioned.

He told a friend: "Why haven't police asked me for my diaries and monitored my email traffic? I spent every day with the McCanns, from 8am to late in the evening.

"I travelled many times in the hire car they are said to have used to dispose of Madeleine. I even sat in the seat they claim to have taken her DNA from. It is incomprehensible I have not even been approached."

The only time Portuguese police showed interest in talking to Mr Mitchell was when he told them of a psychic who claimed to have information on Madeleine's disappearance. They even went to the trouble of tracking the psychic down and taking a statement.

Lawyers believe police have made Kate the main suspect because she is emotionally weaker than Gerry and they can force her into making a confession.

They are accusing her of killing Madeleine with a dose of sedatives meant for herself to help her sleep. But we can reveal Kate has not resorted to any pills to help her cope since Madeleine went missing.

A friend said: "If Kate is not on Valium now, with all the strain she is under, why on Earth would she have been on anything while on holiday?

"Kate and Gerry would not, did not and could not have given their children sleeping pills or sedatives. To suggest otherwise is complete nonsense." The close friend also dismissed rumours Kate was suffering from depression in the months before Madeleine disappeared.

The friend said: "That is another slur. She is a strong, resolute person - and is even coping now."

One of the biggest police blunders was made by the first fingerprint expert to investigate the McCann's holiday apartment.

He took Kate and Gerry's fingerprints, but when the samples arrived at the lab they were so poor they could not be read and had to be redone.

The McCann's friend said: "How can they be presenting a case based on forensic evidence when they can't even take fingerprints properly?"

The McCanns are angry that they are learning supposed allegations against them from Portuguese newspapers which are quoting "police sources." Gerry's sister Philomena said yesterday: "The secrecy laws seem to apply to Gerry and Kate, but not to the Portuguese police.

"Where are all these leaks coming from? Gerry can't talk about anything because if he does he could face two years in jail."

The McCanns' team believe Portuguese police have a history of trying to cover up abductions in their country and throwing the spotlight of suspicion on the parents.

One element being worked on by their defence team is that they cannot be given a fair trial in Portugal because they have been persecuted by the Press there.

A friend said: "It is inconceivable they can be tried in Portugal and that it will be fair. And that is the first thing their legal team would say.

"They are being tried and convicted every day with stories in the Portuguese Press." Kate and Gerry have received no formal approach to return to Portugal yet.

Speaking in the couple's home village of Rothley, Leics, family spokeswoman Natalie Orringe said: "They won't be returning unless requested to do so - but the pressure on the family is very intense."

Yesterday two of Kate McCann's childhood friends - Linda McQueen, 45, and Nicky Gill, 39 - defended the beleaguered couple.

Asked if she had ever doubted Kate's innocence, Linda said: "No, not at all.

"They are the most loving, caring, family-oriented couple you could ever meet."

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