The Carvi Seafood Restaurant Scandal

Fish Feed Fiasco

I was motivated to return to this issue after reading the Mirror article published this week entitled:  "Revealed: How shamed cop made a fortune spouting lies about Madeleine McCann's parents

Quoting the article:
"...[Goncalo] Amaral, 52, led the investigation until October 2007 when he was removed for claiming British police were only helping with leads provided by the McCanns.
During his stint heading the inquiry, the Sunday Mirror caught him enjoying regular boozy ­lunches, one of which lasted more than three hours."
It seemed a good time to return to 2007, when the boozy lunches story first emerged. Perhaps, at long last, we may finally uncover the truth of its origin.


The following news articles published in the British press were based on alleged observations made at the 'Carvi', a seafood restaurant in Portimão, Portugal.

The anonymous 'fellow diner' referred to in the articles is extremely important!

He or she has been (and continues to be) used by the British media to manipulate public opinion regarding the Portuguese police.

It therefore seems important to understand whether this person was a member of the media itself, or simply a 'concerned citizen' who happened to speak to reporters.


The foreshadowing of what was to become the Carvi Seafood Scandal was a single line in the Daily Telegraph on May 26, 2007.

Reporter Fiona Govan wrote the following:
"Rarely observed at the scene of Madeleine's abduction or available for comment, those leading the investigation have frequently been spotted lunching at the Carvi seafood restaurant in Portimão."

And this, my friends was where it all began!


The next article about the emerging scandal was written by Press Association reporter Caroline Gammell on June 7, 2007. It was a bit more detailed and was the first introduction to the individual known as a *fellow diner*.

According to Gammell:
...In Portimao...a diner at fish restaurant Carvi said he recognised the police officials...

...A fellow diner at the Carvi restaurant allegedly saw what looked like a bottle of wine and a bottle of whisky at the table where the Portuguese police officers sat for about two hours.

The diner said that about 2 pm the officers asked for the TV news to be switched on and that the officers watched the news.

As we've learned from the Leveson Inquiry, the McCanns or their official spokespersons were contacted prior to the publication of all articles.

It appears to be true regarding Carvi Seafood Scandal as family members are quoted in all the subsequent articles.

Gammell includes a quote from Gerry McCann (dropped by most other articles on the day):
...In Berlin, the McCanns said they had initially been frustrated by parts of the investigation but went on to praise efforts of Portuguese officers.

Mr McCann said: 'We have no doubts of the desire of the Portuguese police to find Madeleine. 'We have witnessed their efforts first hand and they are working harder than Kate and I.''...

Gammell's article quotes Gerry's sister Philomena McCann:
'If it were detectives from Scotland Yard there would be absolute uproar.

'But we have to let them to get on with their work because that's all we have to rely on.

'It is a different country and we have to accept the way that they do things and that it is a different culture where they have lunches and siestas but we hope the work is made up at other times.'


On the very next day, June 8, 2007, the story sprouted wings, took off flying and has never landed.

As was discussed during the Leveson hearing, many newspapers will use an article supplied by one of the news services (in this case, possibly the Press Association report) as a base upon which the newspaper's own reporter can build an article different enough to allow their byline.

On June 8, 2007, the Evening Standard introduced its readers to the Carvi Seafood Scandal.

Reporter Ed Harris wrote:
...In Portimao, a town near where the four-year-old was snatched on 3 May, a diner at fish restaurant Carvi said he recognised the police officials from TV.

'They asked for the Portuguese TV news to be switched on Madeleine's parents had given a press conference in Berlin and they came on the screen.'

The diner said they had what looked like a bottle of white wine and whisky on the table...

Harris, like Gammell, included Gerry McCann's quote:

...The McCanns praised the officers. Mr McCann said: 'They are working harder than Kate and I.'...


SAME DAY (June 8, 2007):

The Daily Star appears to have been the first news agency to use the term "bender" regarding the Carvi Seafood Scandal and the disgraceful manner in which the Portuguese police were behaving that day, but it was far from the last time it has been used over the last 5 years.

In the Star's version of the Carvi Seafood Scandal, the Portuguese police go on a bender, crack jokes during a boozy lunch and laugh as they knock back wine and whisky while the TV broadcasts video of the McCanns in Berlin.
...Insp Goncalo Amaral - sat slumped in a chair staring at a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky.
Chief Insp Olegario Sousa burst into a fit of laughter when fellow diners warned British journalists would be shocked.


SAME DAY (June 8, 2007):

Lucy Hagen handled the Sun's version of the Carvi Seafood Scandal:

Hagen wrote that the detectives were boozing while Maddie's ANGUISHED parents were in Berlin and that *fellow diner* said that one of the detectives was slumped in his chair.

Interestingly, Hagen reported that the fellow diner was taken to a police station, held for four hours and had his camera confiscated.

It would be extremely helpful if this alleged arrest could be verified and if it could be determined whether the diner was a vacationer, journalist or press photographer.
The cop leading the Maddie hunt was blasted yesterday after he and two colleagues spent two hours boozing - at lunchtime. Chief inspector Olegario Sousa downed wine and whisky with fellow Portuguese officers as a restaurant TV screened Maddie's anguished parents at a Berlin press conference.

A British snapper was ARRESTED after he spotted Wednesday's long lunch in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, where Maddie vanished. He was held at a police station for four hours and had his camera confiscated. An onlooker told how Sousa - who has appeared on TV fronting the inquiry - relaxed with officers including detective Goncalo Amaral. The witness said: "When I left, one was still slumped in his chair."

Asked whether it was acceptable for cops to drink wine and whisky at lunch, Sousa insisted yesterday: "It is my free time. What does it have to do with you what I drink or what I eat? "I drink what I want to drink when I can drink. Have you seen anyone drunk? Have you seen any action deterred by that?"

The missing girl's aunt Philomena said: "If it were detectives from Scotland Yard there would be absolute uproar."


SAME DAY (June 8, 2007):

The Times report was written by reporters David Brown and Thomas Caton

They wrote:
...not only had the senior Portuguese officers been seen frequently going out for lunch at the Carvi restaurant, but they REGULARLY took two hour lunches at the Carvi Seafood restaurant.

Further details were given regarding the *fellow diner*'s observations:

The party shared a bottle of white wine and there was what appeared to be a bottle of whisky on the table during the lunch, which lasted almost two hours.

The *fellow diner* said: "Someone on another table seemed to know them and joked about them having two-hour lunches and knocking back Johnnie Walker Black (Label)."

NEXT DAY (June 9, 2007):
The Daily Mail published an article that detailed the 'boozy lunches' and the alleged arrest of a photographer:

...Portuguese police were forced to defend their reputation amid allegations that they were enjoying boozy lunches while the search for Madeleine continued...

...Senior police officers...were seen laughing and joking as images of the missing four-year-old and her desperate parents appeared on a restaurant TV screen...They laughed and cracked jokes as they enjoyed a meal washed down with wine and whisky - as footage of the couple played in the background. Afterwards, they left a table littered with empty glasses - and went back to work...

...In Portimao,...a diner at fish restaurant Carvi said he recognised the police officials. "I knew who they were because Mr Sousa has been all over the TV and in the papers," he said. The diner watched as officers enjoyed the lunch, which took place a short walk from the police station...

...Then - in what looked like becoming the first arrest in this case after nearly five weeks, a photographer trying to take a picture of them emerging from the restaurant was detained, held for four hours, fingerprinted, interviewed, and had his camera confiscated. He has now been formally named as an 'Arguido' - the same status as the chief suspect in Madeleine's disappearance, Robert Murat...

...On Tuesday, two groups went to two separate restaurants. The bigger party did not begin to leave for an hour and three-quarters. The smaller party had a 50-euro meal of fish and wine and shared jokes between what appeared to be discussion about police business...

...On Wednesday, the party included senior figures from police headquarters at Portimao... One of them was Ch Insp Olegario Sousa... Another was Goncalo Amaral... At 12.50pm the two men strolled across a sun-drenched square to Carvi restaurant... Inside, they formed a table of four with two other officers. The diner said: 'They asked for the Portuguese TV news to be switched on and sat at the table watching it. It must have been about 2pm. Madeleine's parents had given a press conference in Berlin and they came on the screen.'...

... The diner added: 'The police were laughing and joking among themselves while it was on. They seemed to be sharing some sort of joke. Whatever it was, I thought that laughing like that in public was in really poor taste...

...'They had a bottle of chilled wine with the meal but they had a bottle of whisky on the table after the main course as well. I was pretty shocked to see they were drinking whisky at lunchtime. The bottle was passing between them for about half an hour. 'Someone on another table seemed to know them and joked about them having two-hour lunches and knocking back Johnnie Walker Black. He said they would get themselves in the papers.

...'I got the impression they went there regularly - they were very friendly with the waiter. I don't know what time they came in but I was there for a good 90 minutes and when I left, one of them was still slumped back in his chair in the corner with the whisky bottle in front of him. He was a big sweaty guy and he was sagging into the chair. The table was littered with empty glasses. 'There was some sort of commotion and I heard someone shout out. They swore and said something about the 'Paparazzi Ingles' (English Paparazzi) hiding behind the door.'...


An individual dining at the Carvi Restaurant observed Portuguese police officers having lunch and recognised them as members of the team working on the Madeleine McCann investigation.

The 'fellow diner' claimed to have witnessed four detectives sharing a bottle of wine and what "looked like" a bottle of whisky.

The' fellow diner' was interviewed by reporters working for a number of British papers or those reporters borrowed material from one another's stories or a news service.

Philomena McCann was contacted and responded.

Kate McCann's mother, Susan Healy was contacted and responded.

Olegario Sousa was contacted and basically told the media that what the investigators did on their own time was none of their business.

A person was arrested by the Portuguese police.

The arrested person's camera was confiscated.

The arrested person was made an 'arguido'.

There have been no further details made public about the alleged arrest.

  • One must wonder - was the fellow diner simply a tourist who happened to take photos of the officers?

  • Was the fellow diner a journalist or a press photographer?

  • If the fellow diner was simply a tourist, what right did the Portuguese police have to confiscate the camera?

  • If the fellow diner was a journalist or press photographer, was this entire 'boozy lunch' story developed simply to discredit the Portuguese police as rumors were circulating that the focus of the investigation moving away from abduction?

Whatever the truth might be about the Carvi Seafood Scandal, it has provided 5 years of fodder to those attempting to portray the Portuguese as incompetent bunglers, boozers and Keystone Kops.

All one has to do is read articles published over the last three years to see how this one incident, blown out of all proportion, enabled the reputation of the Portuguese investigators working diligently to find the truth about Madeleine's fate to be destroyed by the British press.

You may find the following list interesting: Goncalo Amaral - Boozer

Statements in the official Portuguese police files indicate the McCanns and their friends claim to have left all of their eight children (ages 3 and under) unattended in their holiday apartments to have dinner and wine nightly at the Tapas Restaurant. Reports vary regarding the number of bottles of wine consumed.

Puzzles and mysteries at the very heart of the investigation

The Times, 10 Sept 2007
How much alcohol did the McCanns and their friends drink on the evening Madeleine disappeared?

Kate and Gerry McCann and their friends are reported to have told detectives they shared four bottles of wine, with another two barely touched before Madeleine was discovered missing.

However, it is claimed detectives have recovered a bill showing they downed eight bottles of red wine and six white during the afternoon and evening.

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