In the UK today, Metropolitan Police chief Sir Bernard Hogan Howe has confirmed the multi-million pound investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann from an Algarve holiday resort eight years ago must continue – no matter what his union, or indeed anyone else thinks.
Talking to Tom Pettifor of the Daily Mirror, Sir Bernard “reacted angrily to concerns raised by the Police Federation about the millions devoted to the case”.
“It’s not for them to decide which investigation we carry out. It’s my decision,” he told the Mirror. “This investigation is funded by the government and the only thing that will decide whether or not it continues are the chances of success in finding that girl.”
John Tully, chairman of the Met’s police federation, showed in March that rank-and-file police think otherwise. He declared there were “rumblings of discontent” over the manpower and money ploughed into the Madeleine investigation and that it was “time to refocus” and channel resources into “keeping London safe”.
But as Sir Bernard insists that the Met must continue with the hunt that has purportedly cost over £10 million so far, Britons denounced as “trolls” are channelling money hand-over-fist to the cause of the former Portuguese policeman sued by missing Madeleine’s parents for the message in his book the Truth of the Lie.
Gonçalo Amaral has announced that he is appealing against the decision that leaves him owing a whopping €600,000 in combined damages and interest payments – but it is no secret that the case has left him financially hamstrung. Thus the rallying of support, both here and in the UK is a life-raft.
Coordinated by a group of friends who have sole use of the money for legal defence costs only, it has quite literally kept him going.
“The best proof … is that he has come this far,” one of the fund ‘managers’ told us today. “He wouldn’t have otherwise.”
With the “gofundme” appeal started by Leanne Baulch, a young single mother from Birmingham, getting donations from an average of 70 people a day – and nudging ever-closer to its £25,000 target – Amaral has spoken to Nova Gente magazine about the case that “destroyed his career, his family and his health”, saying “my life is gone. I am only alive due to my heart”.
He reveals not only that he will be counter-suing the McCann parents, their “group of friends” and “other people and entities” “in good time” but that, as far as he is concerned, the couple “practised a crime” and were “primarily responsible for their daughter’s disappearance” by leaving their children alone “for more than five nights”.
It is an extraordinary interview published in full on the “Projecto Justiça Gonçalo Amaral” website set up by one of the friends who has fought tirelessly since 2009 for Amaral’s right to freedom of expression.
She told us how she is buoyed now by the “incredible response” coming every day from British people who have been described by the UK’s Sun newspaper as “sick trolls”.
The Resident has been following the fund and, as we suggested last week, the comments appearing on it do not seem to fit the profile of trolls in any way at all.
Indeed one was so poignant it has spurred Amaral supporters to send it to over 50 British newspapers and media professionals to highlight how strong feelings in the UK are about this eternal “mystery”.
Penned by a donor who gave her name as Paula Seddon, it ran as follows: “Kate and Gerry, you damaged the lives of my children when they were small as they thought someone was going to get into their bedroom windows as their catholic school told them your jack-a-nory story and asked them to pray. We had sleepless nights for years and a security routine to check doors and windows before sleep. Their anxiety and distress caused by your lies. I donated £5 back then to the school fund for you as at the time I thought you were genuine human beings. I cuddled and calmed them as I believed the fiction too. I would like to withdraw that money and give to a truth teller. The truth will be told. You cannot hide behind pity statements by calling people trolls and haters. People are waking up and realising your story is full of holes and had the real story broke back then, my children would not have been scared or scarred by your lies.”
But the day after the message was sent, the UK press ran only with the story that insists the search for missing Madeleine must continue.
Meantime, Amaral’s interview with Nova Gente is being copied, tweeted and sent around the world.
As he tells journalist Alexandra Ferreira, he wrote the book that the McCann couple took him to court over as a “way to reply to the humiliation and the offences” that he has been “targeted with”.
“Deep down that was it. They say we are incompetent, they say we are a third world police force, drunkards, fat, lazy, etc., and the PJ police does not set out to defend us. Therefore I turned to writing, reporting the investigation that had been carried out, so people could draw their own conclusions.”
Asked what remains “unexplained in this case”, he said: “I don’t answer that question. Faced with what was said by the couple after the verdict was known, that they feel stronger, I just feel like saying that only vampires become stronger with their victims’ blood. Like Zeca Afonso sang: ‘They eat everything…’”