PORTUGAL NEWSWATCH. Reflections on current affairs in Portugal by journalist and author Len Port.

•February 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment















Thursday, February 6, 2014

Yet more Madeleine misinformation




Churning out the news without a care


The recent flurry of fictitious reports about the Madeleine McCann case is another example of how far quality journalism has been replaced by the latest form of ‘churnalism.’


A story is concocted by a reporter and published on the website of a major newspaper or TV network. Within hours, it has been copied, rewritten or translated without anyone bothering to check for accuracy. If it is sensational enough, the story is then regurgitated around the world.


The media have long been able to share important information from established news agencies and other reliable sources. The rot set in with the upsurge some years ago of propaganda and slanted press releases put out by PR people. The Internet has dramatically speeded and simplified shoddy, second-hand reporting.


Churnalism has now reached unprecedented levels with media organisations shamelessly copying one another online. As a result, a profusion of misinformation is spewed out daily.


Last week’s excitement over the Madeleine McCann case was based on the fact that four Scotland Yard detectives flew to the Algarve to meet with Polícia Judiciária counterparts. The visit followed a letter of request sent by the British Crown Prosecution Service to the Portuguese equivalent.


Officials in both countries refused to comment on the contents of the letter or the reason for the visit. This did not stop the British tabloids from improvising. They spoke of “a dramatic breakthrough” and claimed that the arrest of three burglars was “imminent.”


Kate and Gerry McCann were said to be “on tenderhooks” and being “kept fully informed” about the latest developments.



These “exclusive” assertions in the Daily Mirror were picked up and used not only by competing tabloids, but by ‘quality’ papers such as the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph.


Portuguese papers did not jump on the bandwagon, but the revelation of a ‘breakthrough’ spun around the world and found its way into the Sydney Morning Herald, the Times of India, the Huffington Post and the Daily Beast to name but a few online services.


The Epoch Times, which prides itself on being published in 21 languages in 35 countries across five continents, was running the same “imminent arrest” yarn on the same day ITV mercifully set the record straight with the headline: “No imminent plans to make any arrests in Madeleine McCann case.”


ITV described the meeting between British and Portuguese detectives as “a routine part of the investigation to establish what happened to Madeleine McCann.”


USA Today quoted the British investigative reporter and former detective Mark Williams-Thomas as saying, “this isn’t a major breakthrough” and “burglars don’t abduct children.”


By then the media damage had been done. As the Sunday Mirror columnist Carole Malone put it: “How devastating this must all be for Kate and Gerry McCann – another flurry of headlines, more promises of suspects and arrests… and then nothing. Again!”


The copy and paste style of churnalism practised nowadays is akin to plagiarism, but who cares? For example, a retired British police superintendent with a keen interest in the McCann case spotted that several paragraphs in a Daily Mirror story on 28 December had been copied almost word-for-word, without quoting or crediting the source, from a story that had appeared in the Daily Mail on 15 October. He brought this to the attention of both papers and the Press Complaints Commission. They expressed little interest.


Journalistic analysts put the growth in churnalism down to a combination of things, including increased competition, reduced revenues and inadequate staff with insufficient time to verify and properly develop stories.


It is likely to get ever more frantic. We have already moved on from last week’s “imminent arrests” to this week’s tabloid revelation that “detectives are probing a Portuguese gypsy site just 15 minutes away from where Madeleine was snatched.”


Well, maybe, but for starters the place the foreign media are talking about is not a gypsy site at all. 

One thing is certain though: the media will continue to churn out this sort of rubbish as long as there are people who want to read it.



•February 4, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The apologists are truly stupid to believe their heroes are to evade justice – only those who believe the loony tune headlines are taken in by Mitchels’ spin. We have it clearly understood. There is a misconception that enough evidence exists to put an end to this – all SY has to do is detain two people (at the least for breaking the law in Portugal, that is, leaving three children alone without supervision) – but there are a great many offshoots to the process and far more than two people to be held to account. Of course SY and the PJ have a large number of people, potential witnesses (the T9 are ‘ruled out’ – because their witness statements, if one would describe them as such, have been already given: and we know Redwood disbelieves them as evidenced by his ‘new’ timeline) to interview or re-interview in Portugal – that is what is meant by the term ‘gathering evidence’. That is exactly what is happening. Perhaps a brick-layer was having a pint at a nearby club and may have ‘seen something’ – then naturally a detective would be keen to interview him and, as we have come to expect, there would be a widely inaccurate spin put on it by Mitchel and we would wake up to screaming headlines ‘Detectives to Arrest Ricky the Brickie! Exclusive!’ by The Mirror. For Heaven’s sake. As said before the only newspaper headline to pay any attention to, when it comes, is ‘Suspect Arrested’ – end of. The last headline Excusive Screamer by the Mirror ‘SY Fly to Portugal to Make Arrests!’ was a lie – although SY have not sued the newspaper – and why not? Because it suits SY to have such misinformation put out because it adds to the smokescreen of their real intention. Bloody good. (I’m actually LOOKING FORWARD to the next comic headline, to be honest). And what of the ‘Libel Trial’? It was won by Goncalo when the ban on his book was overturned by the Portuguese Supreme Court, so this trial is nothing to do with libel. It is brought by the McCanns to screw money out of Dr.Amaral because – deep breath – the ‘vile’ book caused them distress, hurt and stopped people searching for Maddie. Nothing AT ALL to do with ‘Libel’. The parents of Madeleine McCann are still ‘arguidos’ (a term used by the Portuguese police meaning ‘persons of interest’ for the purpose of further questioning), a status that has never been lifted by the PJ. Only two days after the status was imposed the parents did what is known in police jargon as ‘doing a runner’, not exactly a declaration of innocence, and escaped on easyJet back to the protection of Blighty giving the police in Portugal no option but to shelve (not CLOSE) the investigative process. So began a massive spendfest. The UK taxpayers agreeing to have millions and millions of pounds of their money spent on getting to the truth of what actually happened to this child, an unprecedented move and never before afforded to the parents of any other missing child in the history of the UK. Added to which the parents’ own Plc gathering millions more from kind people under the guise of ‘donating to a charitable cause to search for Madeliene’ – and mostly used by these parents to set up a tremendously powerful legal shield for themselves, pay for fraudulent investigators,to sue anyone who questioned their claim of abduction (of which there remains, after almost 7 years, no evidence of proof to substantiate it) and, oh, not forgetting the payment of the mortgage on their house, etc. All that money, now said to total more than ten million pounds – and we are still no closer to knowing the truth. Or are we? I believe one should dismiss the competency of Scotland Yard at one’s peril: the eyes of the world are watching how The Yard handles this: its integrity and reputation depends upon a logical conclusion to this massively expensive investigation. JS.

McCanns, SY and the Three Burglars.

•January 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

On November 5th last year the world-famous Lisbon Libel Trial, in which the McCann parents hope to sue the Potuguese ex-police officer Dr. Goncalo Amaral (who was the co-ordinator of the investigation into the unexplained disappearance of the child Madeleine McCann from an unlocked holiday apartment in Pria De Luz where she was left alone with her siblings, both aged 2, in May 2007) was scheduled to re-convene. Dr. Amaral wrote a book, ‘The Truth of the Lie’ (banned in the UK) based upon the conclusions reached by his investigative team.

The book, it should be explained briefly, explained how the claim made by the parents of the child, that she had been ‘abducted’, had no evidence to back it up and that, indeed, there were many indications that she had died – from a fatal accident – in the apartment.

Hardly surprising, therefore, that the parents wanted his book suppressed. They succeeded in having it banned shortly after publication. That was not the end of the matter, however, and the ban was overturned some months later. (The book is now available world wide except for the UK, where it remains, inexplicably, unavailable for the public to read)

Censorship is an ugly concept in what is claimed to be a free and democratic society. Hence the interest of the LHRO in this case.

And so, back to the first sentence, November 5th, last year. The date the Libel Trial resumed. The day before this, both the ‘Daily Mirror’ and ‘The Star’ UK tabloids announced the ‘EXCLUSIVE’ news that the ‘abductor’ of the child Madeleine McCann had been identified! The ‘Snatcher’ was named as a former employee of the Ocean Resort in PDL who had been sacked and therefore bore a grudge. He had a minor police record from some years previously for petty theft but that was about it – although this was enough to pin the ‘abduction’ of the child on him. Unfortunately he was not available for questioning or interview because he’d had the bad grace to die in a tractor accident in the meanwhile. A ridiculous story. But coming on the eve of the Libel Trial many saw it as an attempt to divert attention away from the trial in the country where the book is banned, the UK, and, one might go so far as to say, influence it.

The trial went ahead. It can be said it proceeded disasterously for the parents. Their witnesses at the trial were systematically ridiculed, their stories torn apart under cross-examination – and so it went on until the trial was postponed and a date given for the closing statements. It is due to re-convene tomorrow, on January 7, 2014.

Two days ago (surprise, surprise) to coincide with this the UK tabloid ‘The Daily Mail’ put up a front page leader declaring Scotland Yard, via the analysis of thousands of phone records, texts/calls etc., that were made on the night the child disappeared – had identified a three-man gang of burglars who were operating that week in PDL – no names given – and who were now the prime suspects for the ‘abduction’ of the 4 year-old (well, only less than a week away from her 4th Birthday) little girl. The parents must be so relieved. A photo taken of them at a football match the same day showed them smiling with delight. But – as with the ‘Snatcher’ who was identified as the ‘abductor’ back in November who died in a tractor accident – what actual credence can we give to this new revelation? Is it yet another attempt to prime us for the findings of the Lisbon Trial? To be used in the event that the parents actually lose in their attempt to squeeze £1,000,000 from Dr. Amaral? To be able to say afterwards – ‘The Trial was a travesty! The parents are victims yet again!’

The only victim in this whole case is the little girl who, as Dr. Amaral puts it, “Has no voice.”

But let’s say ‘The Daily Mail’ (and SY) have got it right and madeleine McCann was ‘abducted’ by these three burglars…

THE THREE BURGLARS would have had to:

Have drugged three sleeping toddlers before making off with one of them.

Have known exactly what dose of a drug to administer safely. (Safely?)

Have thoroughly cleaned and sanitized the apartment during the burglary.

Have had to spray cadaver odour in and around the room. On belongings, the childs’ soft toy, the Mothers’ clothing, etc.

Leave all items of immediate value behind.

Perform all this in the dark.

To have used traceable mobile ‘phones to communicate with each other.

And to come back at a later date to contaminate the parents’ hire car with cadaver odour and blood traces.

The burglars would be expert hypnotists to be able to:

Get the father to state he used the front door to enter the apartment – and then, a week later, to suddenly remember he came in through the patio doors.

Get the mother to stay indoors – rather than help search for her missing child.

Get the parents to ignore police advice not to advertise the childs’ eye-fleck.

Get the parents to not co-operate with the police.

Get the mother to flatly refuse to answer the police questions.

Get all nine Tapas friends to conspire to construct a false account of events resulting in an inaccurate timeline.

Get the parents to quickly set up a Company designed to accumulate finance for a long-term ‘Search’ for their daughter who, at that time, could have been found within hours.

Somehow they would have had to get the jemmied window shutters to self-heal.

We all remember the father saying, when he looked in on his children he, in retrospect, thought  the ‘abductor’ could have been hiding behind the door. Dr. Amaral demonstrated how that would have been imposible. But – for three people behind the door..? No.

Scotland Yard will be so familiar with all this information – do they really believe three burglars were responsible for all this?

Tomorrow the closing arguments in the Libel Trial will take place. It must be hoped that, at the very least, a decision will be made that will allow all the facts, freely available to the rest of the world, to be made available to the people of the UK. To continue with the censorship is abhorrent. There is no ‘hatred’ towards the parents in this case. The concern is for the child. It is to be hoped that as each day draws to its close we are one step nearer finding the truth and getting some justice, at last, for a little girl who has no voice.

Grateful thanks to all the guys on Facebook, in especial ‘Madeleine McCann : Unite for Justice’ and ‘Team Madeleine – Examining the Evidence.

A Happy New Year to all.








Kate McCann, what really happened to Madeleine?

•November 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Kate McCann, what really happened to Madeleine?.

Mccann Condensed Volume 1 LISBON TRIAL DAYS 3-4

•September 24, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Mccann Condensed Volume 1.

McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial – Day One

•September 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial – Day One.

McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial – Day Two

•September 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

McCanns v. Gonçalo Amaral: Libel Trial – Day Two.