Echoing public opinion in the UK that the portugese police are on the wrong scent, globe-trotting celebrity billionaire Richard Branson has said that he’ll donate £100,000 to defend Gerry and Kate McCann if they should end up in court accused of being involved in the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine.
Reuters reported Branson’s pledge, which had followed news that the money donated by the public to help find the girl – more than one million pounds – would not be used to pay the McCanns’ legal bills. And they’ve already hired lawyers both in Portugal and here in the UK. Branson hopes that other wealthy individuals will make similar pledges. This is a reflection of the fact that the vast majority of people in the UK believe the police in Portugal should never have declared the McCanns as”official suspects”.
Gerry and Kate McCann
The press really do need to ease up on their coverage of Madeleine’s parents. Kate and Gerry McCann did invite massive publicity, in the hope that it would help find the four-year old girl – but the way it blew up in their face is most undeserved.
I remember hearing on the radio, not long after the police’s announcement, that seven years ago a portugese mother was jailed after her child went missing – and the same detective who led the case against her is now in charge of the hunt for Maleleine. This all helps create suspicion that the portugese police, having messed up at the start of the case by not treating it as an abduction, and with no leads to follow, will use the McCanns as scapegoats.
I do not share the portugese police’s suspicions. I take the McCanns at face value – as the frantic parents of a missing child. I’ve seen their televised appeals. They can’t be faking those emotions, surely.
But I’m also concerned at the news that they’ve hired a British lawyer. That suggests to me that, if the portugese police want to talk to them again, the McCanns won’t return to Portugal of their own free will – that they are planning to fight any extradition attempt.
They’re innocent, of course – wouldn’t they want to take the opportunity to prove, once and for all, that they are not involved in this horrific crime?
But I’m no expert, I’m just an interested observer. And I share my observations here, with anyone who wants to know. I’ll always tell the truth about what I think of the Madeleine McCann case.
Let’s keep hoping she’ll come home soon.
UPDATE: Tue 18 Sept 11:36AM
The portugese police do want to interview the McCanns again. Apparently they went to a Portugese Court to try and get the couple ordered back to Portugal. But the judge refused, saying that the case is “too flimsy”.
Of course, the case will remain flimsy, if the police can’t gather any more evidence. And they obviously think that reinterviewing the McCanns is the way to get that evidence.