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Paddy Shennan’s TV Review: Panorama – Madeleine: The Last Hope? (BBC1)

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Re: Paddy Shennan’s TV Review: Panorama – Madeleine: The Last Hope? (BBC1)

Post by christabel on Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:40 am


Paddy Shennan’s TV Review: Panorama – Madeleine: The Last Hope? (BBC1)

by Paddy Shennan, Liverpool Echo
Apr 28 2012

FIVE years on and still, it seems, there are plenty of people in Portugal – not least among them the police – who just don’t get it (Panorama – Madeleine: The Last Hope? BBC1, Wednesday).

At the top of this list, of course, is Gonçalo Amaral, the thoroughly discredited former head of the Department of Criminal Investigation in Portimão.

For six hapless and hopeless months, Amaral was in charge of the calamitous cock-up of an investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance.

He did at least have the decency to tell reporter Richard Bilton: “It’s a fact that our investigation had its faults and lost a lot of time – lots of time – and a lot of things didn’t get followed up and I am just as much to blame for that as anyone else.

About time, too, many might say.

But then Bilton reminded viewers that Amaral had told his story in a TV documentary and a best-selling book – and revealed that he had “made at least £300,000”.

Was he comfortable cashing in on a little girl’s disappearance and a case he failed to solve? “When I left the police force it was to write a book to clear my name; defend myself from what the British journalists and some Portuguese journalists were saying, accusing me of incompetence and other, worse, things.”


Yeah, right.

The abject failure of his handling of the case was laid bare here – including the Robert Murat red herring and the naming of Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry, as suspects.

Recalling the 19 hours of questioning he faced from police, Murat told Bilton: “I had five people rushing into the room, standing behind me. It felt very, very Life On Mars. It felt very pressured.”

Perhaps the most depressing words of this Panorama special were uttered by Isabel Duarte, a civil lawyer acting for the McCanns, who are suing Amaral for libel and damaging the hunt for their daughter.

She said: “I feel alone because I don’t feel support . . . I have friends who don’t want to talk to me about the case; because everyone believes in Gonçalo Amaral.”

Refreshingly, though, Antonio Marinho Pinto, chair of the Order of Portuguese Lawyers, said: “I’m convinced the McCann case will feature in Portuguese judicial history as a bad example – what a criminal investigation should not be.”

Five years on, despite all the ineptitude, there is still hope – not least thanks to the British police team currently following up fresh leads.

Let’s pray that its investigation has a happy ending.
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