Rush of UK “Maddie” stories precedes British PM’s visit to Portugal tomorrow

Quite what is behind the sudden rush of Maddie stories in the UK media this week is unclear, but one aspect is certain, the buzz has come as UK prime minister David Cameron heads back to Portugal, for a meeting with Passos Coelho in São Bento tomorrow.

Billed officially as a conversation to discuss European affairs of mutual interest, it had barely been announced last week than mainstream media in UK launched into this new Maddie frenzy.
Suggesting the €15 million Operation Grange probe into the toddler’s disappearance was due to be shelved after four fruitless years (click here), it then lurched into protestations that this could not be further from the truth and on to new “shock horrors” today, alleging that Grange detectives “spent £200 a night at 5-star hotels” on their fact-finding visits to Portugal.

The bulk of the stories seem to have been coming from the pro-Tory Sun, though they have been followed up, almost in synchronisation, by rival tabloids the Mirror and Daily Mail.

On the basis that there is no smoke without fire, Portuguese media has joined the fray, with national tabloid Correio da Manha reminding readers that it was David Cameron who “responded to a direct appeal from the parents of Madeleine McCann” to set up the hugely expensive Grange inquiry in the first place.

With a spokesman for the McCann parents reportedly saying Kate and Gerry accept Grange “could not last forever” but will continue searching for their daughter, whatever happens, it is difficult to understand where all this renewed media excitement is leading.

Certainly, the Portuguese inquiry – run out of Porto – shows no signs of closure, with national director of the PJ Pedro do Carmo telling the Resident last week that the investigation remains “dynamic” and that the unit is still working closely with British counterparts.

Thus eyes are on tomorrow, when Cameron, under fire over Britain’s stand against fleeing migrants, is due in Lisbon for those talks of “mutual interest”.

UPDATE: As this story went up, a small announcement on the Projecto Justiça Gonçalo Amaral blogsite gives another clue to the sudden media razzmatazz. Could it have been to hide the announcement that Gonçalo Amaral’s appeal against the record amount of damages awarded against him in the civil case taken out by the McCanns has finally been accepted by Lisbon’s Appellate Court?

The low-key announcement simply thanks “everyone who has made a contribution”.

As the news went out, the gofundme appeal – set up by a British single mother to raise money for Amaral’s legal costs – has raised £38,205 (almost €52,500), with multiple people apparently contributing on a regular basis.

The latest contributor, Peter Mac, has just posted: “The mystery of the sudden flurry of stupid “Grange is / is not going to be wound down” stories in the tabloids is exposed. News about the Appeal going ahead has been neatly kept out of any of the British press”.

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