Is this the best way to help Maddie?

Is this the best way to help Maddie?
26 July 2008
Daily Mail
Amanda Platell


...Few who saw Kate and Gerry McCann's press conference can fail to have been deeply moved as they responded to the news they had been cleared as suspects in their daughter Madeleine's disappearance.

With a face like stone to hide a breaking heart, Gerry sat clutching his wife's hand under the table. 'It has been devastating to witness the detrimental effect being named as suspects has had on the search for Madeleine,' Kate said.

But there was more than sorrow behind those tear-filled eyes. For the first time since their daughter went missing, there was bitterness, too.

'It is hard to describe how utterly despairing it was to be portrayed as suspects,' she said.

One can understand her anger at being falsely named as 'arguidos', but surely this should have been the end of that part of their torment. Finally they have been exonerated, and at last they are free to pursue their search.

Instead, the McCanns seem set on revenge. Revenge against the Portuguese police who launched the biggest missing child investigation in its history. Revenge against the former head of the investigation, Goncalo Amaral, over his book about Madeleine, even though he has already been sacked, discredited and disgraced.

And revenge against the media -- yes, the same media that with the help of hired PRs they used ruthlessly, relentlessly and understandably to try to keep their daughter's face in the public eye. How sad.

Their PR Clarence Mitchell insists: 'The only thing they care about now is finding Madeleine.'

So surely this is the time to go up a gear in that quest and not allow themselves to become bogged down in lengthy compensation cases.

How does that help to find Madeleine?

Little wonder so many ordinary people -- the very ones they rely on in the search for their daughter -- are asking if this quest for retribution is in Madeleine's best interests.

It wasn't just their precious daughter that was missing at Monday's press conference, but also any reference to their own behaviour on that dreadful night when they went out wining and dining and left their beloved children untended in an unlocked holiday flat.

My own view has always been that the McCanns deserve the greatest sympathy for their loss, but the public increasingly is not so understanding.

If the couple were now to spend as much time campaigning against the dangers of parents leaving children alone as they are apparently spending trying to seek financial recompense, then the nightmare of Madeleine's disappearance might have one positive legacy...

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