Rising hysteria following the crushing defeat suffered by the parents of Madeleine McCann in the Supreme Court last month has been ratcheted up even further this weekend with news that the couple are now on the attack.
According to a report in today’s Correio da Manhã, the couple consider the court has been “frivolous” in upholding last year’s decision, on appeal, to free former PJ coordinator Gonçalo Amaral from paying any damages for his thesis on their daughter’s disappearance: the best-selling book “Maddie: The Truth of the Lie”.
The basis of the so-called frivolity, says CM, is the reference the panel of judges made to the couple not having been considered “innocent” in the affair (click here).
The particular clause under attack is the one referring to the Public Ministry’s decision to drop the McCann’s ‘arguido’ (official suspect) status on the basis it had not been able to “obtain sufficient proof of the practice of crimes”, claims the paper.
But huge question marks remain over which body the McCanns are actually complaining to, and how an annulment of a decision from the highest court in the land could be obtained.
For the time being, CM’s story is just a small paragraph in the “latest news” stories on its Saturday back page.
In the UK, the Daily Mail has picked it up, without adding anything new.
Stretching the story out to nine paragraphs, the top-selling tabloid addresses a lot of its ‘gaps’: the “huge legal bill” that the couple will be facing now that Amaral does not have to pay them the €500,000 set by an earlier court, the “nightmare prospect of being sued by Amaral” for damages he has suffered over the eight years of litigation, and of course, the “devastating put down” said to have sparked this “fresh challenge”: that they had a hand in the affair – something they have always denied.
If this was the only story to have followed the Supreme Court’s decision, it could be argued that this was ‘the next logical step’. But stories have been hitting the UK media almost daily since January 31 (when the judges’ decision was first published) – and Correio da Manhã has had its moments, too, where it claimed the McCanns have been making ‘thousands of euros’ by “selling their pain” in the form of media interviews.
Added to the latest media circus comes a new policy by UK tabloids to seemingly allow all readers’ comments, without screening.
Bystanders have been astounded by the venom unleashed online, with the Sun particularly allowing the kind of commentary that in the past it condemned as coming from ‘vile trolls’.
“Suddenly, anything goes”, a UK media source told us.
Even more bizarre have been stories alluding to the McCann’s having ‘banned’ their Portuguese lawyer Isabel Duarte from talking to the press (another account from the Daily Mail/ Tracey Kandohla, a reporter who writes about the Madeleine mystery for the Sun and the Mirror and is believed to be a friend of Kate McCann).
Kandohla explains that Duarte had been “carefully considering reaction” on behalf of the couple, since the Supreme Court put down, but has now been warned by the couple: “Don’t say anything!”
This has thrown up the contents of a BBC Panorama programme, screened years ago, when Duarte told reporter Richard Bilton that she felt “alone” and that many of her friends refused to talk to her about the case, as “everyone believes that I am defending a father and mother that have killed their daughter and got rid of the corpse” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=979aGU6Ezkk).
Considering this is a story previously protected by top-flight lawyers – who have used the threat of legal action to silence dissenting voices – and further shielded by a high-profile press spokesman, publicity since the Supreme Court ruling appears to have gone haywire.