McCanns demand action on missing Madeleine

3 November 2010
The Irish Examiner

Kate and Gerry McCann today said they have had enough of "fluffy worthless words", calling again for a full case review over their daughter Madeleine’s disappearance.

Exactly three-and-a-half years since Madeleine went missing, the couple said they want "action" and for "somebody to do something".

Today they launched a petition to lobby the UK and Portuguese governments for a joint or independent review of the case.

"Essentially for the last three-and-a-half years the authorities have not been doing anything proactive to help Madeleine," Mr McCann said.

"That is despite our best efforts to encourage them to do so.

"I don’t think it’s right that the onus should fall on us, the authorities really should be doing more."

His wife said: "I don’t want to be appeased and that’s what I feel we’re getting at the moment.

"We need action, I don’t need fluffy worthless words. We need somebody to do something.

"Madeleine is still missing, she’s a little girl, her abductor is still out there, so by not carrying on we are putting other children at risk. I think more needs to be done."

The couple, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have met with former home secretaries Alan Johnson and Jacqui Smith, as well as current Home Secretary Theresa May, to discuss the issue and to ask for a review of the case.

Mrs McCann said when they met Mr Johnson, who commissioned a "scoping exercise" by Ceop to see if a review would be helpful, they felt they were making progress, but now did not even know if the report had been read.

"There has not been a formal case review and I think for such a serious case like this, and with the profile of it and international aspects, that should be carried out," her husband said.

"The onus is on the UK and Portuguese authorities to sort that out.

"I think the best thing is for this case to be solved, and at the moment the authorities are not doing anything proactive to try and do that."

Madeleine was three when she went missing from her family’s holiday flat in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3 2007 as her parents dined with friends nearby.

Portuguese police launched a massive investigation with the support of British officers, but the inquiry was formally shelved in July 2008 without reaching any firm conclusions about her fate.

Private detectives employed by the McCanns are still investigating the case and as well as the petition, the couple are appealing for continued financial support for the official Find Madeleine fund – as it stands the fund will run out in spring 2011.

Mr and Mrs McCann said they had not given up hope and spoke of their frustration at a lack of help from the authorities.

"Children do get found years down the line," Mrs McCann said. "There’s no evidence that Madeleine is not out there alive.

"It’s just heartbreaking to think that nothing is getting done other than what we are having to do, other than our small team.

"Obviously a small team has limitations. If we had a review, if we had help from the authorities, the chances of finding Madeleine would be much greater I think.

"We deeply believe it will take us that step closer to finding Madeleine."

Mr McCann said fundraising was a secondary objective to urging people to help put pressure on the governments "to do what they should have done all along".

"In the interim we are carrying on, we’re interviewing witnesses, dealing with new information and continuing reviewing the information available to us," he said.

"But it’s important to emphasise we do not have all of the information, there’s information that went into the inquiry that was not made public when the file was disclosed and therefore it’s impossible for our team to review everything, we simply don’t have access to it.

"The team also doesn’t have any statutory authority, no one has to speak to them.

"That’s why we’re asking for the governments to organise an independent, thorough and hopefully transparent review."

Mrs McCann said the lifting of a ban on a book by former Portuguese police detective Goncalo Amaral, in which he alleges the little girl died and her parents faked her abduction, was "baffling".

Mr McCann said: "Anyone who tried to claim that Madeleine is dead without evidence, anyone who does that and essentially stops the search – their motive has to be questioned.

"We’re here trying to instigate the search in a meaningful way, it’s very clear he wants the search to stop."

But the couple said they could not give up and spoke of how their family was coping with the situation.

Mrs McCann said: "Sean and Amelie are great, they are doing really well, they seem to have taken everything on board and coped really well. Maybe that’s one of the attractions of youth really.

"We’re doing okay, we make the best of it. Life is not normal, I guess it’s a new kind of normal.

"A friend of mine said she heard a radio interview with a man who had been through a tragedy.

"He described the pain like a boulder, he said it’s not like the boulder gets any lighter, you just get stronger.

"I think that’s true, you adapt to the situation, you learn different coping mechanisms.

"It doesn’t mean the pain is any less, it doesn’t mean that the whole issue is any less important.

"We haven’t got our daughter, Sean and Amelie haven’t got their sister, our family isn’t complete.

"We can’t stop, it doesn’t matter how tired you are, we’re on this treadmill and we can’t stop trying to find Madeleine or at the very least find out what’s happened.

"That ordeal would be much more bearable if we had more assistance."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The Home Secretary has met Kate and Gerry McCann and is deeply sympathetic to their situation.

"The Government wants to ensure that everything feasible is being done to progress the search for Madeleine.

"The British authorities will maintain a dialogue with the Portuguese and continue to liaise with Madeleine’s family on any developments."

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