GAZETA DIGITAL

2.7.07

Daily Express: Never allow truth or reality to kill a good story...

“Daily Express” deserves the honor to be part of Gazeta Digital "Top Ten British Gutter Press News and Journalists” for what may be the most biased, incompetent and low-quality coverage of Madeleine's abduction (*).

Here are some of the reasons why “Daily Express” deserves this distinction:

1) “MADELEINE: POLICE CHIEF QUIZZED OVER TORTURE OF MOTHER
Amaral is in charge of finding Madeleine McCann
Monday June 11,2007
By David Pilditch in Praia da Luz
A senior police officer investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been charged over a violent attack on the mother of another missing girl.
- First, it's “torture”. Than, just a “violent attack”. There is no difference between “torture” and “violent attack”?
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“Yesterday it was revealed that Goncalo Amaral is one of five officers formally accused of torturing a confession from Leonor Cipriano.”
- Not exactly. She never confessed the crime of killing her own daughter. His brother, with who she had an incestuous relationship (both were sentenced to 16 years in jail, for the killing of Joana...) said, in a letter sent from prison, that Leonor Cipriano has sold her daughter.
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“The investigation was surrounded in controversy. In echoes of Madeleine’s case, the hunt for Joana got off to a false start when police failed to seal off the house where she was last seen.” In the meantime, hundreds of police and friends of the family had trampled over the crime scene.
- False. Joana lived in the outskirts of a place near of Portimão (10 km from the city) that can't even be called a village – it's just five or six of roads, as can be seen in these maps. There aren't more than a few dozen friends and neighbours, in the surrounding area. Police who first arrived was GNR, the Portuguese rural police. The all “concelho” (a Portuguese administrative division) where Joana lived, Portimão, has an area of 183 square km and around 45 thousand inhabitants. All the Algarve disctrict has 1.847 GNR officers.
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“Mrs Cipriano alleged that she had been punched and kicked during the interview, which took place without the presence of a lawyer and without the public prosecutor’s knowledge. She lodged a formal complaint which was followed up by the public prosecutor’s office.”
- Partial information: David Pilditch just “forget” to mention that Mrs. Cipriano didn't recognized any of the CID officers that allegedly “tortured” her, on a Police line-up, where were the inspectors named by her as aggressors
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2) “WE KNOW MADDY MONSTER
Sunday May 6,2007
By Matt Drake and David Paul
KIDNAPPED toddler Madeleine McCann is in the clutches of a paedophile, Portuguese police said last night.
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“But despite the news of a prime suspect there was mounting criticism of the Portuguese police’s failure to respond quicker and more decisively when the youngster was first found to be missing at 10pm on Thursday.”

a) The first call to Police Precinct of GNR (Portuguese Rural Police) in Lagos, reporting a missing child was made at 10.50pm and a patrol was sent, arriving at Ocean Club 12/15 minutes later, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Costa Cabral, Head of Public Relations of GNR (email: cg.rep5@gnr.pt - Tel: (+351) 213 217 046).
b)“(...) AROUND 60 STAFF AND GUESTS at the complex had SEARCHED UNTIL 4.40PM (May 4) WHILE POLICE NOTIFIED BORDER POLICE, SPANISH POLICE AND AIRPORTS (...) There is A CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR HERE (1) in charge of the situation and AROUND 20 OFFICERS (..) Assisted by sniffer dogs, police, who started the search last night (2), were today continuing to comb the resort and the village. Detectives were also speaking to guests at the resort, asking if they had seen anyone acting suspiciously last night (..) Police helicopters flew over Praia de la Luz yesterday (3) as the hunt intensified for Madeleine McCann, who went missing from her bedroom in the apartment on Thursday night. Teams of officers used sniffer dogs to scour the resort, in the south-west of Portugal (..)
c) At one point yesterday morning (May 5) sniffer dogs were taken into the apartment where Madeleine had been sleeping (4) to pick up her scent before heading off around the Ocean Club complex and into the nearby village.
d) John O'Connor, former Scotland Yard Commander, told to “The Resident”, a English language published in Algarve, that there was a “high quality detective work in Portugal” and “dismissed any accusations” the Portuguese Police have faced. He said also that he does not believe that the police were too slow to put the borders on alert, and made a point very clear: “It is not possible to control the border such as the one between Portugal and Spain.”

(1) – Guardian Online, May 4, 2.30pm, by Mark Oliver and agencies;
(2) - Guardian Online, May 4, by Mark Oliver and agencies;
(3) - Guardian Online, May 5, by by Sandra Laville and Dale Fuchs;
Daily Express, May 6, by Matt Drake and David Paul;

- “The Resident”, May 17, by Ruth Sharpe (ruth@portugalresident.com);

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“Meanwhile, Gerry’s sister Philomena slammed Portuguese police for not doing enough to find Madeleine’s faster. Speaking from her home in Glasgow she said Gerry was furious with the way the inquiry was being handled. “My brother is at his wits’ end. They’ve just played it down from the minute he first approached them.
a) Later, Gerry McCann expressed a completely different opinion: We are “receiving as much information, from Portuguese Police, as will will receive, from British Police, had Madeleine disappeared in UK”;
b) “His wife Kate goes to check on them again at 10pm and finds the shutter slid up, the bedroom window open and Madeleine gone. They carry out their own quick search for Madeleine but find nothing and inform the police. Fellow holidaymakers, staff at the resort and police spend most of the night (May 3 to Mat 4) searching frantically (1);
c) “At that Berlin conference, Gerry McCann had made it clear he was confident police were doing all they could to find Madeleine. During a live broadcast that morning he had said: 'We have had no doubts about the desire of the police to find Madeleine. (2) We have witnessed their efforts first hand and they're working harder than Kate and I.”
d) “Madeleine's parents (...) also praised Portuguese police for (3) "their hard work and determination" during the investigation.
Daily Mail, June 28;
- Thisislondon.co.uk, June 7;
- ITV News, May 26;
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3) MADELEINE: NOW PSYCHICS ARE PROBED
Friday June 1,2007
By David Piditch and Matt Drake in Praia da Luz
Portuguese detectives struggling to solve the abduction of Madeleine McCann have resorted to investigating visions and “sightings” of the youngster reported by psychics.
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Officers in the Algarve have compiled two, three-inch thick dossiers containing e-mails and messages from clairvoyants who are convinced they know the location of the missing four-year-old girl.
a) “(...) detectives struggling to solve the abduction of Madeleine McCann” “probing” psychics. They also “resorted to investigating (2) visions and 'sightings' (...) reported by psychics.”
c) Mr Olegario, in this same story, is quoted as saying“ (...) he could not rule out the possibility that Madeleine’s captor will make contact through encrypted messages giving coded details about where to find the little girl” (3);
d) Not ruling out any possibility and analysing everything, before deciding what to investigate, are basic rules for any Police force, in a case like Madeleine's abduction;
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4) MADDY: NOW PORTUGUESE POLICE OBJECT TO 'MISSING' POSTERS
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.
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This is COMPLETELY FALSE. “We have been running an internal inquiry, since a few days, and until now there is no report of any incident involving members of McCann family, at all the three major airports in Portugal – Lisbon, Oporto and Faro” (1), Mr. Hipólito Cunha, Head of PSP (*) Press Office told today to Gazeta Digital. Philomena McCann, the aunt of Madeleine that is quoted by David Piditch and Matt Drake, is also quoted by Lusa, the Portuguese News Agency. She told Lusa that she and a cousin were placing the 'missing posters' after asking for authorization from the informations desk, “but they were stopped by two elements from a private security company”. (2) They told her that she need permission from the Airport management, before doing that. She made no mention about somebody being “manhandled” or “escorted from Lisbon airport by gun-toting police,” as David Piditch and Matt Drake wrote in the Daily Express.

(1) – Gazeta Digital, June 19;
(2) – Observatório do Algarve, May 9;
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5) DID KIDNAPPER SLIP OUT OF THE COUNTRY?
Monday May 7,2007
By David Pilditch
A 12-HOUR delay in alerting border police could have allowed kidnapped British three-year-old Madeleine McCann to have been taken out of Portugal.
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a) (...) AROUND 60 STAFF AND GUESTS at the complex had SEARCHED UNTIL 4.40PM (May 4) WHILE POLICE NOTIFIED BORDER POLICE (1), SPANISH POLICE AND AIRPORTS (...)

b) John O'Connor, former Scotland Yard Commander, told to “The Resident”, a English language published in Algarve, that "he does not believe that the police were too slow to put the borders on alert, and made a point very clear: 'It is not possible to control the border such as the one between Portugal and Spain.”

(1) – Guardian Online, May 4, 2.30pm, by Mark Oliver and agencies;

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6) COULD BRITISH POLICE HAVE HANDLED THE MCCANN CASE BETTER?
Sunday June 10,2007
A POTENTIAL witness in the Madeleine McCann mystery claims she has not been properly interviewed by police – even though she may have crucial information.
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“Norwegian Mari Pollard, 45, is “100 per cent certain” she saw the four-year-old at a garage in Marrakech, Morocco, on the morning of May 9, six days after she vanished in Portugal. She told the Sunday Express: “I contacted the police but no one has come to see me to take a statement. An Interpol officer rang me and asked for details and this is all I have heard. I’d go back to Morocco if it helps. I’m convinced it was her. I just wish I had done something. What do YOU think? Have the Portuguese police made a mess out of this case?”
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a) I sent a complaint to Press Commissions Complaints (1) (PCC) against Daily Mail, exactly for the same reasons and I will send, today, another complaint against Daily Express: the remarks of Mrs. Mari Olli Pollard about police not paying attention to her refer to Spanish Police. After several unsuccessful attempts to contact Spanish Police, MRS MARI OLLI CALLED BRITISH POLICE. It was BRITISH POLICE WHO INTERVIEWED HER AND HANDLED THIS CASE. She was CONTACTED BY KATY PETERS, FROM SCOTLAND YARD. She send a written statement to British Police, with all details of alleged sighting. British Police than passed the information to Portuguese Police, who contacted Mrs. Mari Olli several times and requested the help of Interpol, to ask Moroccan authorities to investigate the case.
– I won the case against Daily Mail. Assistant-Editor of Daily Mail, Charles A. Garside, wrote to PCC saying that Daily Mail has “drawn the error in to the attention of the Sub Editor concerned and have already corrected the headline”, which had, in his own words, “a potentially misleading point”. I accepted the explanation and considered the complaint resolved, in an amicable way (I have the link to the story, but now it's empty...)

7) MADELEINE: PARENTS LOST VITAL CLUES CLAIM POLICE
The police have turned on the McCanns
Monday June 18,2007
By Matt Drake
POLICE in Portugal searching for Madeleine McCann last night blamed her parents for destroying evidence that may have helped solve the case. Detectives said vital DNA samples were contaminated by the family during their frantic hunt to find the four-year-old on the night she vanished. The callous claim comes amid accusations that police in the Algarve bungled the 46 day investigation. In an attempt to deflect criticism, the officer leading the inquiry criticised the McCanns for searching their apartment in the first hour after Madeleine vanished.

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a) Only Mr. Martin Brunt, Sky News Crime Correspondent, wrote something more offensive and slanderous. It was also Sky News that made one of the worst manipulation of facts, reason why I complained to Ofcom. Madeleine family, dozens of other guests, and Ocean Club staff searched Madeleine inside the apartment and in the surrounding area, for almost one hour (50 minutes, to be exact). Only at 10h50pm, May 3, they called the Police precinct in Lagos. A police patrol arrived 12/15 minutes after the call. So, between 10h00pm until 10h50pm, Police was not in the crime scene – they were called only at 10h50pm, May 3. That is the reality, that is the truth. And it's truth also, that dozens of persons coming in and out from an apartment were a crime was committed, during more than one hour, DESTROYS ALMOST ALL FORENSIC EVIDENCE AVAILABLE.
b)The fact that things happened like this were clearly referred by Mr. John Hill, manager of Ocen Club, talking to Guardian and QUOTED IN A STORY PUBLISHED ON MAY 4, UPDATED AT 2h30PM : “Mr Hill said the police had been doing all they could. He said around 60 staff and guests at the complex had searched until 4.30am (May 4) while police notified border police, Spanish police and airports. "There is a criminal investigator here in charge of the situation and around 20 officers but unfortunately there is still no information," Mr Hill said. The spokesman said the apartment the family were staying in was surrounded by other apartments, all of which have "quite sophisticated" locks on the doors.”
c) The Guardian also wrote, quoting Mr. John Hill: “(...) "We are hoping that Madeline is found as soon as possible and safe and well." A Mark Warner spokesman said the Hotel did offer families a baby-sitting service, where parents can drop off their children for the night. There is a crèche above the hotel's reception which is open from 7pm to 11.30pm. "Those facilities were available but for whatever reason they were not being used," a Mark Warner spokesman said.
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8) HOLIDAY FLATS 'WERE NOT SEARCHED'
The McCanns at the Vatican yesterday
Thursday May 31,2007
By David Piditch and Matt Drake in Praia da Luz
PORTUGUESE police hunting for Madeleine McCann faced further criticism last night for allegedly failing to search empty apartments yards from where she was snatched.
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a) Guardian wrote: “Assisted by sniffer dogs, police, who started the search last night, were today continuing to comb the resort and the village. Detectives were also speaking to guests at the resort, asking if they had seen anyone acting suspiciously last night.” (May 4);
b) BBC: “(...) On Tuesday, Portuguese officers said they had quizzed 100 people and searched 500 apartments.” (May 10):
c) Thisislondon.co.uk: “(...) For the first time in five days, Chief Inspector Olegario Sousa offered some concrete information, disclosing that 500 apartments had been searched, as well as ten miles of fields and rivers. He said 100 foreign nationals had been interviewed.” (May 9)
d) Guardian: “(...) Five hundred apartments and an area nine miles around the resort of Praia da Luz on the Algarve, from where Madeleine disappeared, had been searched. Mr Sousa, clearly impatient, hit back at claims that the police operation was botched, saying: "We are doing everything we can." (May 9)

(*) - Note: A copy of this text will be sent to Press Commissions Complaints.

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