Since Madeleine disappeared, at least five former British policemen – three of them, high ranking officers - played an important role in the regular bashing or Portuguese police, through the British Media. By coincidence, some of them work for or have connections with TV channels or consultancy companies specialized in handling media cases.
One the most violent critics of Portuguese Police, former CID detective Mark Williams-Thomas, is also the owner and managing-director of WT Associates, a company that offers, among many other services, media handling and advice for high profile cases and “design or review organisations media crisis policy”. Since the first week, when Martin Brunt took him to Praia da Luz, he criticised the inept and incompetent Portuguese police. After we filled a complaint with Ofcom and emailed Sky News editor, asking him if the TV channel knew about the business connections of the crime expert that has been a regular voice against Portuguese Police in Sky News, Mr. Mark Williams disappeared from the screen.
But other former policemen, including at least three ex-Scotland Yard commanders, played an important role in building up of the idea that Portuguese Police arrived hours after they were called, didn't sealed off the apartment, didn't take fingerprints, didn't questioned other guest of the resort, and wasn't able to get disposable clothing to their forensic experts – they used the same clothing in different crime scenes or just used no protective clothing at all.
Portugal, safe place for paedophiles
Mike Hames, the ex-commander who set up Scotland Yard's paedophilia unit, author of ‘The Dirty Squad’ and also a media consultant on child abuse, paedophilia, murder and high profile abduction cases, was Martin Brunt's choice to replace Mark Williams-Thomas, when the Sky News Crime Correspondent made a special report about Madeleine's case, last Sunday. But as early as five days after Madeleine disappeared, The Sun found that Portugal was a safe place for paedophiles: “But a Sun investigation has revealed the Med hot-spot does have a history of child sex offences — many by Brit perverts who fled there, believing they’d be more free to carry out their vile activities.”
Mr Mike Hames was quoted, in the same story, as saying that “Portuguese police should have circulated the sketch they have of a suspect” and he “feared the worst” for Madeleine’s safety, criticising the fact that Portuguese Police didn't made public a sketch of any suspect: “If you have a sketch by a witness, it should be shared with the public. Nine times out of ten it is the public who can solve this. I don’t see the logic of this. It seems to me to be a bit of shambles”.
The most senior of those ex-cops was also the author of an opinion column, on the Mirror, with the a violent attack against the Portuguese Police. Dai Davies, a senior associate of Kingfell Global Crisis, Director and Lead Consultant of Selectamark Consultancy, was responsible for the security of the Royal family and palaces, leading a force of 450 police officers, with an annual budget of £26 million for more than 15 years.
The McCann, innocent people
On a opinion column published on the Mirror, on September 23 (“Police here have given up looking for poor Maddie”), Mr. Dai Davies wrote: “I spent a week in Praia da Luz where Madeleine went missing, "walking the shop floor" as I call it, going over the available evidence and unearthing some startling new information about the case. And in what will surely be another hammer-blow to the McCanns' hopes of finding their little daughter, I've discovered from lengthy talks with my barrister contact that Portuguese investigators have unofficially abandoned the hunt for Madeleine's alleged abductor.”
Showing that he is a strong believer in the innocence of the McCann, Mr. Dai Davies left an advise to PJ detectives: “The police now need to halt their campaign to pin this awful crime on two innocent people and bring in new officers for a complete overhaul with fresh eyes.”
“Mr Davies, a former divisional commander in West London, with child protection experience, has “deliberately” not met with the McCanns”, while at Praia da Luz, according to the Daily Post, “but regularly speaks to their new spokesman Clarence Mitchell.
Flying Squad “reporter”
Ex-Flying Squad Commander John O’Connor is a former British Policeman that came to Praia da Luz to report for several TV Channels. On September 17, the web page of Crimesharetv has the following message: “CSTV is proud to report that the Commander has been to Portugal investigating Madeleine's disappearance and you can catch his daily media reports on GMTV, Sky News and the BBC.” John O'Connor was a policeman for 30 years and he ran “the Flying Squad at New Scotland Yard dealing with all armed robberies in London until retiring with the rank of Commander”, according to Crimesharetv. The page has a link to an interview of John O'Connor with Sky News.
Mr O'Connor gave an interview, on May 17, to The Resident, an English newspaper that introduced him as “a former Scotland Yard commander who is working with the Portuguese authorities investigating Madeleine’s disappearance”. Mr. John O’Connor praised the quality of Portuguese detectives, but stated that “looking in remote places is ineffective.” “Despite this, O’Connor spoke of the high quality detective work in Portugal and believes that they will solve this case. He spoke of the competency and professionalism of the Portuguese police, dismissing any accusations they have faced.”
Later, in the Sky News interview, he told more or less the same: Portuguese cops are nice guys, but they are looking in the wrong places...
Desmond Thomas, former deputy head of Hampshire CID, came forward, around the middle of September, when his expertise was needed. “So far no evidence has emerged in public to suggest that the missing four-year-old is even dead, he told the Daily Star and other British Media. “I think the Portuguese police are struggling. From what we know thus far, if I was bringing the charges I would be nervous about it being successful. In the McCann case, police have no body and no weapon – so it is going to be very difficult.”
The most tenacious and persistent
Mark Williams-Thomas, ex-CID offcier and managing-director of WT Associates was, with no doubt, the former British policeman that produced the largest amount of attaccks against Portuguese Police, with the help of Sky News and Martin Brunt:
“Mr Williams-Thomas believes that because of the huge doubts over the convictions, whoever abducted Joana is more than likely to be behind Madeleine's disappearance. Joana vanished in Figueira (...) He said he could not understand why the police are pursuing their "ludicrous" investigation into the McCanns, when such a strong line of inquiry remains open.”
“For much of the time we have heard or seen little police action (...) Whatever the outcome of this inquiry, the Portuguese legal system is in urgent need of review.”
“But crime expert Mark Williams-Thomas said "that apartment should have been sealed off and a thorough forensic examination taken place in the days and weeks after she went missing.” He added that he had been on the scene in Praia da Luz in the week after the abduction and noticed many flaws in the way the search was being carried out. The former police detective said shutters should have been taken away, a fingertip search of the area carried out and interviews done with people who had been using the local shop.”
“The inner cordon was very close to the apartment, within 30 yards. I would have put the inner cordon 100 yards away. There are limitations to that because there's a shop nearby and there are apartments so some of the cordon might be less than that. But it should have been at least 50 yards (...) I didn't see any house-to-house inquiries being done which is vital because, again, they are the people living and staying in these apartments.”
But at this stage it will be important for them to take stock and even ask for an external review. They need to take experts from outside the investigation, possibly from Britain or America, to undertake the review. This isn't about apportioning blame or criticism in relation to the investigation. It's about looking at possible lines of inquiry with a fresh pair of eyes. In a British investigation this would normally take place at 28 days, with an external force or another body reviewing the investigation.
Former police detective Mark Williams-Thomas told Sky News Online this week that Portuguese police had made errors in the investigation.
Paulo Reis & Duarte Levy