Extracts from the full interview given by Gerry and Kate McCann in Lisbon on Wednesday, September 23.
By CHRIS GRAEME
How has your return to Portugal for the first time, Kate, since you left the country, made you feel?
Kate: I must say that I felt pretty apprehensive about coming back although there has always been a strong tug here because this was the last place that I saw Madeleine.
What do you hope to achieve in this visit?
We were here to see our legal counsel and advisors, although we cannot go into any legal or technical aspects of the case. For me it has been good thing to do coming back here and I see it as positive, although we have no plans to return to Praia da Luz for the moment, although I must say I never really wanted to leave there because I feel that a little part of Madeleine is there for us.
The second reason for our visit is to see what options there is to further the search for Madeleine and since this is where she disappeared, Portugal is a good place to be and we hope that our visit and the information we receive good lead to a turning point in the search for Madeleine.
Gerry: We really decided to come here and give a press conference, although we had not planned one, as well because so many people had asked us for one.
Kate: I’ve wanted to come back to Portugal for a long time, it’s positive and an important day for us, and an important day for Madeleine and the search for Madeleine. We want to try and further the search for her. We just want to find Madeleine and I believe that this is a good place to be. I think it might prove a turning point in the search, of course emotionally it doesn’t have quite the same impact as going back to Praia da Luz, but I believe it is a good thing to do.
Kate: We really want to just improve the search rather than reopen the case, we just want to find Madeleine and whether that involves reopening the search or not, it doesn’t matter, we just want to improve the search.
We want to ask as many people as possible to help us and we want people to believe that Madeline is alive because there is a very good chance she is alive, I’m sure you’ll be aware of the recent case of J.C Degard in America, who was found after 18 years, I just think it is so vital and fair for Madeleine that we don’t give up on her, that we look for her and try and find her, and I’d like to help encourage people to help us and help Madeleine, to give her a chance because she can’t find her way back to us.”
Gerry: I think the most important thing to say is that everything has been presented to the prosecuting service and judiciary and they, having reviewed all the evidence have said that there is no evidence that Madeleine is dead, and that there is no evidence implicating us in her death and that is the main message that we feel had to come out after the files were published, and from our perspective the most important thing is that Madeleine probably still is alive and is out there, we’re asking people to help us to continue the search and help us look for her.
We have a small team of private investigators led by a senior ex policeman and they have been through all the information and any information that has been sent through to our Find Madeleine website or the helpline number, obviously there have been hundreds of thousands of pieces of information which continue to be worked through and I’d like to emphasise that our Senior Investigator, David Edgar, when it comes to the point when there is information that needs to be acted upon by the police, that information is passed to the authorities, and we want to work with the authorities and continue the search and in relation to the file we would love to discover evidence that would reopen the file but the search is continuing whether the file is open or not. Madeleine is an innocent little girl who is still missing.”
We and our team are based in England to follow up information whenever we can, and that info will be passed on to the appropriate authorities, if and when jurisdiction is needed.
Our team has been working full time on this for about a year, obviously working with the authorities if and when appropriate.
How long are you going to be here in Portugal and what are your expectations?
Gerry: This is very much a flying visit, a working visit and we came to meet our lawyers and advisors and really we wanted to come and explore a strategy for how we can maximise the search and maximise the outcome of getting information which could be relevant.
Kate: Our main worry is all these people believing Madeleine is dead and we know there is no evidence to suggest that, obviously if people believe that she is not alive then people will stop looking for her, and also there maybe some people who have information and may not realise that it is linked to Madeleine’s abduction or they may think, oh, well, people think she’s dead so I won’t volunteer that information. I think it’s Madeleine’s right that we don’t give up on her, I think it is Madeline’s right that we keep looking for her, and today she is six and she’s still missing, like the JC Case there have been many cases like that, children have been discovered years down the line, and you can’t give up on them, I think it’s awful if people give up on a little child.
Gerry: “We feel and felt that the majority of the population in Portugal believed in the contents of the Amaral book and therefore we had to take action against that and I think its important that two judicial processes have agreed that there is no evidence and that is very important to us.
“I think the Madeleine Foundation is irrelevant, it’s not an important organisation in any shape or form and the publicity given to this is quite irrelevant.
What do you think about Mr. Gonçalo Amaral going to the UK?
Kate: I feel the same, I don’t really want to dwell on things like that because Madeleine is more important, now we need to think about her and her being alive and think about how we can find her, and we’re not going to stop, if it was your child, if it was your little girl, you’d do everything that you could to find her, and I’m sure that you can probably appreciate that, there’s lots of things out there that are just a distraction, for me Madeleine is important and it’s important that she doesn’t get forgotten.
Gerry: There’s lots of new information, and we will only go public when we need people to come forward or there is additional information but that is a decision that Kate and I don’t make, it’s one made by David Edgar and often made in discussion with the police and other authorities so let’s be clear that the investigation is working quietly behind the scenes, obviously there has not been any major breakthrough to take us forward but we are continuing to work through things quietly and we just keep going.”
“We very much see this as a first visit, this is the third time I have been back and the first time for Kate.
Kate: You might remember that I didn’t actually want to leave Praia da Luz, and I think the circumstances really made it impossible for us to stay, but I have had an urge to go back to be honest the whole time, because it was there that was the last time I saw Mad and held Madeleine, and in some ways there is a pull, a sense of Madeleine being there, I’ve also got some very good friends there, I don’t have any plans in my head of when and what I will do there but yes, I will return at some point to Praia da Luz.
Obviously there are things to weigh up and coming back here I was a little scared, it would be nice to go back to Praia da Luz and feel a little bit closer, as you can appreciate it is actually very difficult to find some peace and calm, I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it (meaning returning back to Praia da Luz.)
Given the choice we wouldn’t have any lawyers or campaign team, we wouldn’t be in that situation but at the end of the day Madeline is still missing and we need to find her, and if we need help then we’ve got to ask for help, and we’ve also got a lot of people helping us because they want to help, and we are lucky from that point of view.
Gerry: I think that we should Make the point that many people have been helping us and for free, and we are prepared to spend every penny in the fund if needs be, because the objectives of the fund are clear, it’s to find Madeleine and support us in that goal. I’d like to remind everyone that any libel damages awarded were paid into the fund and we chose to pay it in there, and it’s the most important thing in the world to us, finding Madeleine.
I know that you don’t want to talk about legal aspects but meeting with the lawyers is to reach where, what is your target? To reopen the file?
Gerry: Really the legal process is ongoing and obviously we are getting updates on that, and the next stage is to continue the search and look at what we can do and the aspects around that, and that is an absolute priority, but if people are clearly being libellous and damaging us or the search then we can’t just stand by if it is truly damaging the search, because finding Madeleine is the single most important thing.
Kate: Our main objective is to find Madeleine, the libel aspect is just one aspect of it, and to improve the search and reduce the hindering of it I guess.
Gerry: Clearly if there are enquiries that need to be done in Portugal then we will do our best and use whatever means we can and if that requires PJ (Portuguese Police) involvement then the evidence will be presented to them to decide if it can help them with their enquiries, that’s the way it has worked for the past 18 months and …. (Cuts off)
Kate: it is hard to describe how painful the past 29 months has been, (sighs and looks down sadly repeatedly) um…..um…..
Gerry: I think most parents would be able to feel the pain that we have had, it’s not as raw as it was in those early days and weeks, we are adapting to life without Madeleine, but obviously we don’t want to continue that process, we are fortunate in the fantastic support that we have had from family and friends, well-wishers, people that have donated to the fund and those that have helped the search, both media and otherwise, we are very fortunate to have our other children who are …..give us a great deal of enjoyment, and I think that is important to emphasis as well, Sean and Amelie are growing up and are at school and need protecting as well, but they have made life an awful lot more bearable for us…..
Kate: They too have the right for a good search and for their older sister to be back at home, they speak about Madeleine all the time, every day, she is part of their and our lives and they have mentioned her every day especially since they have been off school in the past two weeks, (starts to stifle back the tears) if you take away the first few days and weeks then you start to function, and normality kicks in and that is positive because if you weren’t able to function Sean and Amelie wouldn’t be getting looked after and Madeleine wouldn’t be getting the search that she is getting even though it’s down to us, but you know we have been really well supported by family and friends, Madeleine hasn’t got that, each day we get through, each week that we get through, I’m thinking how is Magdalene, you know, she’s six, but we’ve just got to keep going, and it has been very harrowing and very draining, and it’s been a long time to just keep going and keep going, but there is no choice, she needs us to find her and bring her home.
I cry for Madeleine every day……….
(On the question of Foreign Office upgrading the alert for tourists in Portugal due to crime)
Well I don’t really know about that, obviously Madeleine case has been very high profile, children get abducted all over the world, its impossible to compare any statistics and I’m certainly not aware of any of them,
If you could say something to Gonçalo Amaral what would you say to him?
Gerry: We’re definitely not here to talk about him.