Andrew Allison

Madeleine McCann

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Unless you have not read a newspaper, checked a news website, watched television news, or heard the radio news, you will have heard about Madeleine McCann. The image of this little girl has been printed and broadcast all over the world. Naturally, I like everyone else hope for the safe return of Maddie to her parents. I am not a parent and cannot really imagine what they are going through. There are, however, some points on this story I wish to make.

The media are obsessed with this story. All the news channels have their reporters there on the scene and perhaps I am being cynical, but it always seems to be a female reporter, just to add – perhaps – the female/motherly angle. Although I welcome any positive news, any new development in the case, there hardly ever seems to be any. The news station anchor will go live to their reporter, who , most of the time informs us that there hasn’t been any new developments. Instead they will show endless pictures of Maddie’s parents going off to church each day. They will show their tears and sorrow. This is manipulation. I know the parents are distraught. Which parent wouldn’t be? Do we have to see this endlessly, 24 hours a day? The media are constantly badgering the police for information. The police will give out any new developments – if they can and if it will not hamper the case – as and when the need arises.

Isn’t this the way it should be reported on the news bulletins?

Portuguese police are continuing to search for the abductors of the little girl, Madeleine McCann. The police in a news conference said they have no new leads, however they are continuing to question three British people and are looking for two other suspects. Meanwhile, Madeleine’s parents attended Mass today at the local church, where prayers were said for her safe return.

This is all that needs to be said. Nothing more. Instead, as I said earlier, we are fed a diet of non-news and images of a distraught mother and father. When Sky News, for example, go live to Portugal, if there aren’t any new developments, I simply switch off. The time I will watch, is when Maddie is safely in the arms of her parents. Now that will be a good news story and something the whole world will want to see. However, if there aren’t any new developments in – say – the next week, we all know the news channels will be off somewhere else, taking advantage of grief and pain elsewhere in the world.

Finally, and perhaps even more controversial, isn’t this a lesson that you should look after your children more carefully? Yes the McCanns went to check on them at regular intervals, but this isn’t really good enough. With children as young as this, you should be there or have someone you know and trust there, to look after them. If one good thing does come out of this sad case, perhaps it is that other parents will not make the same mistake as the McCanns.

  1. Andrew

    From your blurb, you sound more like a libertarian to me than a conservative.

  2. Andrew,

    You are not the first person to express concern that the McCann’s left their children in the hotel room whilst they went for a meal. Out of interest, do you have any children of your own? I have a feeling that most people who don’t have children think that to leave children like this is shocking, but that most that do are a little more pragmatic and would admit to having done so.
    I still bring my 4-year old daughter into the cubicle with me when I have a poo in a public toilet. Should I do that when she is 6? 8? 10? You just can’t strap them to your side 24/7 – you’d go mad.

  3. andrew already said he doesn’t have kids. Well I have, and I agree with him. You can’t strap the children 24/7 at your side, but you certainly can’t leave them unattended at that age. Besides, there are nannies for hire on site, so it’s not as if there were no alternatives.

    When my family was on holiday with our 2plus toddler, we only dined out once with him in tow, and had room service or packed picnic lunches for the rest of the meals. Did we go mad? No, we enjoyed having our toddler around with us. THat’s the point of being a family right?

    And even though we were in the same room all the time, it only took a minute for my toddler to wander out to the balcony and to try and climb over the railing!! I was just a few steps away and caught him just in time. Imagine if I had left him alone in the room.

    I feel sorry for the McCanns, but worse for the little girl. It’s a parent’s duty to keep their children safe, the buck ends there.

    I do wonder though if it’s a cultural thing. I am Asian and we are very child-centered over here – my parents would find the idea of sacred couple-time or me-time ridiculous and frankly, childish. Children are welcomed in restaurants at any time of the day, and it’s not unusual for children to linger at family gatherings until 11pm. If a child needs to sleep or nap, the host would be more than happy to offer a bed for the child to rest in; or if the parents leave earlier to put the child to bed, that’s fine as well. Bedtimes are flexible for weekends and special occasions – children will make it up with an extra long nap or an earlier bedtime the next day by themselves.

    In fact I’m spoken to some foreigners living here, and they commented that it’s much easier to have children and to raise them here in the early years than back home because children are welcomed everywhere.

  4. oh to add on, I used to be a journalist, and what Andrew said about newsbreak is not wrong. However there are a few ways to judge the newsworthiness of an event – how much public interest is there (lots and lots!), and whether there are any new developments (hardly).

    But there is only so much interest because the McCanns are the “golden family” that has fallen from grace. THe circumstances (family-friendly upmarket resort), their family background (they are educated and comfortable! they should have known better! etc), the fact that Madeleine has been born with a silver spoon in her mouth and SHOULD have grown up with every advantage on her side if not for such a cruel twist in fate…and now, the emotional roller-coaster for the family and every bystander as they debate over the parents’ actions, what could have happened to madeleine, if it would have a happy ending and so on. It’s a very gripping human interest story.

    If it has happened to a lower-income family or migrant family, the news coverage would have been – sadly – minimal. I doubt anyone would have come forward to offer millions of pound in reward money.

  5. I have been blogging for around six months now, although I have written a few articles that have been published. I must say though this has been the most difficult subject to comment on.

    In reply to the first anon. comment, you do not leave three children under the age of four by themselves. Of course you cannot strap them to you 24/7, but you know I am not talking about that. My parents are surprised at the McCann’s leaving their young children in such a way. I also spoke to friends who have children and they all agreed with me. Someone at the office – who is a mother – commented on Friday morning when the news came on, ‘Don’t leave your kids alone!’ It was said in such a matter of fact way, as to be stating the obvious.

    Thank you to the second anon. commentator. I agree entirely with you and I thank you for supporting my views.

    wild lalang: I know whenever there is massive public interest the news channels will milk it for all its worth. I do agree with you. I also agree with your further analysis. There seems to be something about a pretty, little blonde girl. Mix that with her middle class background, rather than someone from a council estate, and you have the perfect news story. The sober truth is that many children go missing every day around the world, but the media is not interested in them. I simply feel we need to get things in to perspective and let the Portuguese police get on with their job.

    I have Sky News on at the moment and they are showing an interview with Maddie’s grandparents. Her grandad can barely hold back his emotions and the interviewer has just said how beautiful Maddie is and implied that is the reason everyone is intereted in this story. I rest my case.

  6. Dear Sir,

    You forgot to mention the racist and insulting coverage British media has been doing. Portuguese police – and Portuguese people!! – has been portrayed as “clowns” and mentally retarded people bi the British media. Let me give you some examples:
    The Telegraph
    “Gerry and Kate McCann had every reason to trust […] that the Portuguese police would do everything to help bring her back to safety. Yet with the best will in the world, it is becoming obvious that this has not happened. Even if one factors in cultural differences and the inexplicable burden of the Portuguese secrecy of justice law, which prohibits even the parents of the missing being given details of evidence collected, it is clear that the police operation has been flawed and flat-footed from the start.[…] At a belated and chaotic press conference on Monday, the police were, if anything, belligerent instead of supportive, with an uncomfortable whisper of southern Mediterranean machismo sweeping through their statements and body language. “We are not magicians,” said Olegario Sousa, the officer leading the investigation. No, senhor, but perhaps you are clowns instead.” [….]
    May 9, 2007
    […] And here comes Dep Supt Alan Ladley, the man who caught Sarah Payne’s killer, Roy Whiting. Ladley says that “basic coppering” might have found Madeleine’s abductor by now. […] Madeline McCann is missing and we are led to believe it would have been better for mum and dad and Madeleine McCann had she been taken in Britain, preferably on Ladley’s patch. […]
    May 7, 2007
    “[..] Experts have put together an artist’s impression of a “suspect” but have not publicly revealed details. It is believed however, that the image shows only the rear view of a man – the back of his head and hair more than the features.[…]–may-be-british-&method=full&objectid=19059947&siteid=106484-name_page.html
    Daily Mail
    Revealed: The police e-fit of Madeleine’s abductor that’s ‘nothing more than an egg with a side parting’
    “This bizarre sketch [image published] captures why the police investigation into the abduction of Madeleine McCann has been so savagely condemned. […] Simon Russell […]said the sketch was so simple it was easy for him to recreate, and it is Mr Russell’s drawing that is used here. He described it as looking like “an egg with a side parting”.
    The Telegraph
    “[…] Staff at hotels, restaurants and bars in Praia da Luz where the McCanns are staying, and nearby towns, have been shown at least six different sketches of suspects. One depicted a white, tanned man aged between 30 and 35, with dark medium length floppy hair. Others have shown a bald suspect, the back of a man’s head and the silhouette of a man. Simon Russell, […] was visited by officers who showed him a computer-generated image which looked like “an egg with hair”. The picture had been created by the Judiciary Police, who are leading the investigation, four days previously.. […] May 10 – 2007

    In my own comments, at my web page [Gazeta Digital – – I wrote that “Hitler didn’t managed to conquer Great Britain during the II World War, but some nazis took control over a few newspapers, until today” […] Accepting this story [“Police e-fit of Madeleine’s abductor that’s nothing more than an egg with a side parting”] as truthful, genuine and authentic, and publishing it, shows how strong is the influence of Alfred Rosenberg [nazi’s main ideologue] ideas among journalists and editors of the Daily Mail and The Telegraph. Indeed, Portuguese police officer have been portrayed in the British media as members of a inferior race or “clowns” […] Also, British journalists, reporting from Algarve, behave as if they were following a National Geographic expedition to study the not-so-long-ago-cannibal tribes in the deep jungles of New-Guinea.[…]
    Best Regards,
    Paulo Reis
    Journalist (Press Card nº 734)

  7. Paulo: I agree entirely with you. That is why I said the media are constantly badgering the police for information. The police will give out any new developments – if they can and if it will not hamper the case – as and when the need arises. I’m sorry if I did not make that clearer.

    I know the police in your country are doing everything they can. You are not retarded, clowns or anything else certain parts of the British media are trying to paint you. As news in a case like this will always be slow, there is a tendancy in the media to create news and try to aportion blame. Some of the reporting by British journalists has been disgusting and I sincerely hope those involved will apologise.

  8. Ofcourse we are being manipulated by the media! This is a blond-haired, green eyed little girl. Had this been a black, asian or muslim child, the story would be killed off after a day. It is horrible what happened to Madeleine, and I hope she is returned safe and sound, but let’s not pretend. These are highly educated people who should have known better, and are paying a high price for it now. If they were working class or chavs, the media would have crucified them for leaving the child alone. Lastly, it is also sad to see that the Portuguese police force is portrayed in the media as a bunch of retards. In this day and age of CSI and forensic detective work, we seem to forget that not every police force is equipped with the latest gadgets and techniques. Does that make them inferior to Western European policing? According to some UK media, it does.

  9. Andrew,
    Thank you for your views. I agree with you and with Paulo wholeheartedly.
    I thought I was missing something in this “blame-it-on-someone” (preferably someone else!)media frenzy and I tried hard not to judge. However, I am angry with the McCanns. Perhaps it’s extreme BUT I have 4 kids (1 set of twins among them), which are not “glued” to my side, I am white, middle-class, middle-aged and educated.

  10. Much is said about the parents failure here. The question we should all be asking is what kind of person steals children from their beds? It’s the perpetrators of this crime we should be attacking not the parents.

  11. This family are very proactive about getting this in the media spotlight. They are fortunate that in this jaded world the media is interested. If your child was abducted you would want to do the same…you would want the whole world to be on the lookout! Its mean to be pointing fingers at the parents. Who cares about the price of their house their jobs etc. Nobody deserves to have their child taken and it can happen anytime. Its rather cynical to be going on about the “class” of this family and being manipultated by the media. Too many children are abducted and this highlights the need to crack down on the people who do this.

  12. I totally agree with you anonymous.

    “This family are very proactive about getting this in the media spotlight. They are fortunate that in this jaded world the media is interested. If your child was abducted you would want to do the same”…exactly my thoughts too.
    If the people did not want to read it..the newspapers would not print it…as simple as that.
    Tired of people dashing these poor parents..we all know what was done. And the Portuguese police SHOULD be criticized for wasting valuable time the first 24 hours.They did not take the parents serious, and that may have cost this gorgeous child… her life…sad but true.


  13. i am not a parent as yet but will be in 6 months time ! i for one would not leave my child alone at that age but i am sure the mc canns regret leaving her and are now having to learn from their mistake!yes its all over the media but why shudnt it be ! this little girl is ‘alone’ in the world somewhere without her mummy and daddy!And whats more in a foreign country where she doesnt know anyone, now i know at that age alone i would be scared to death without my mum and dad!So all we can do is wait and see if she is ok.and what the heck is posting these messages about it going to do coz it sure as heck not going to bring her home now is it ? lets just hope maddie returns to her parents safe and sound! and stop going on about things like it being all over the news all day everyday! like so wat ! shes a helpless little girl she wont be able to fight the people or person she is with she just has to go along with it all ! and all people can do it rant and rave about ‘she shouldnt have been left on her own’! yes well so what ! i’m sure now the parents have realised that !

  14. Hello Andrew and other bloggers,

    Something about this case really angered me. Not the OTT intrusive, media coverage nor the crass xenophobia towards the portuguese police; not even the fact that the key suspect seems to be known as ‘the Russian’. No.

    I was gob-smacked when I read that Madeleine’s aunt was given an audience with Gordon Brown. It upsets me that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the country who, on a day-to-day basis, are affected directly and negatively by the policy of people like Gordon Brown but would NEVER be given the opportunity to discuss said policy one-on-one with the people who have made it. How can Gordon Brown help this? If it was Brown’s idea, then it was very cynical; if it was the McCann’s idea, inappropriate.

  15. So many cynical comments on this page!This poor little girl is still missing! So get off your high horses and stop bleating on about how the parents are to blame, you self righteous lot. Save your criticism for the monster that kidnapped her and the Portuguese Police who are proving to be totally useless!Madeleine and her family deserve all the media attention and are working hard to keep the media involved, it has nothing to do with them being white,affluent,pretty,blonde! It has everything to do with the fact that they are in a foreign country and are not getting the help from the police that they have a right to expect. I believe this is the reason why people feel the need to support this family. All this media attention is a good thing not only for Madeleine but for all children that go missing.Its about time that the people in power in all countries addressed this issue.Child snatchers/peadophiles should be locked away for life with all their ‘human rights’ taken away from them because they are NOT human and dont deserve to be part of the human race.To all you people that are getting fed up with hearing about it I suggest you get back to burying your head in the sand and leave the rest of us that care very deeply about this matter to carry on listening out for news, the longer it stays in the limelight the better,as I said, not just for Madeleine but for all the other children that are missing. This monster needs to be caught,God knows how many children he has snatched in the past! Lets hear more criticism for the monsters that harm children and for the people that allow them to walk our streets instead of directing it at the victims.

  16. Thankyou to the previous poster…well said.
    I am amazed at the vitriol I have read on the internet and it gives a horrible insight into some sector of British mentality! Somehow there is a preoccupation with a lot of people feeling hard done by. They should visit the third world country I live in and see real poverty and injustice!

    To the person moaning about Gordon Brown having met the Aunt …you enjoy the privilege of living in a democratic country and have the right to vote for who you want and therefore if there are hundreds of thousands of people negatively affected by Gordon Brown’s policies can exercise that right and can be heard! What do you have going on thats more important than an abducted child that you would like to discuss with him one-on- one?

    Apparently Gordon Brown had some influence indirectly or directly in the police releasing the information about this new person who was sighted on the night Madeleine was taken. The family are doing everything they can and you say this is inappropriate! That makes me gob-smaked!!!

  17. Listen to all of you… how can you judge… have any of you lost a child? Death is one thing abduction is another… Unless you are in that circumstance don’t judge and I for one am interested in knowing what is happening!!!!
    Pray that she is found…

    only that kid because SHES WHITE
    there are lots of different races that go missing .
    but when a white girl goes missing the media goes wild.

  19. Who in the name of Christ wrote that load of crap about non 24/7 care. You’re a parent. They’re your responisibilty from the day they are born.

    These people didn’t deserve the holiday not to mind the responsibilty and gift of a child. These people make me sick, no sympathy for the devil, the ignorance and arrogance of it all. I feel sorry for the poor little girl and the twins left with parents like that.

    Well done to the author for such a brave essay.

  20. Everybody is missing the point. The point isn’t that Madeleine’s parents screwed up by leaving their children alone. Madeleine is a victim of a child predator. Someone could have been in the living room watching television and the abductor would still have gone in through that bedroom window and walked out with her wrapped in a blanket. Her parents could have been in their own bedroom sleeping and the abductor would still have gone in through that bedroom window and walked out with her wrapped in a blanket.

    So the point is……it happened because there are animals that prey on our children and that is what needs to be stopped. Children have become a profitable commodity and part of a highly secured, protected and secrete organization making billions of dollars. It is a sick, sick situation and if you notice even the media won’t dwell on it, even the authorities are mute about it. And when people who do know something about it come out and try to say something they mysteriously die.

    Do a little research. The truth is out there.

    My name is Llana Combs and you can look for my obituary in the paper soon.

  21. It is interesting, the great lengths these very educated parents are going to after the fact, but the gross lack thereof to prevent it from happening in the first place….

  22. Thanks for article!

  23. Thanks for interesting article.

  24. Glad to read articles like this. Thanks to author!

  25. yeah, sooooo many kids go missing everyday in the uk and elsewhere. im sick of hearing about this one in particular… what about all the other parents and relatives?

  26. .ok.
    to the last comment that was left..if your so sick of hearing about maddy, then stop reading about her. stop going onto sites that are talking about her? why bother commenting something so horrible if your giong to say something nasty and not supportive?. if it was your kid.. ur sister.. cousin.. niece… grandaughter.. would you get sick of people talking about her and trying to find her? i think not.. so please would people just think before you speak?.
    Andrew i think your doing a really good job with your blogs about my cousin. and i understand that everyone has their own point of views on things..and that they have the right to.. but please everyone just think.. before you say things 😦

  27. Could all of the supporters of the McCann Family please join with me and support the family spiritually in its time of crisis by sending them a Family “Blessing from God” certificate from the website
    The McCanns will gain great strength and comfort when they receive one of these tasteful Blessing from God complete with your personal best wishes.

    Reverend Thomas

  28. English is not my native language, so I’m sorry if I make some mistakes. I have to say that although I’m not conservative, but view this world from a feminist perspective, I agree to many things said on this website. I have to admit that I expected many people here to say “how can a mother leave her child alone?”, forgetting the father, which has happened so often. The mother’s halo is still way too present in this world. But I don’t see this attitude here. And yes, parents shouldn’t leave their children alone in the way the McCanns did. If one of the children is four years old and the others are even younger, how can you expect your children to sleep? Though I’ve no children on my own, there’re many kids in my family and from experience I know: if one child wakes up, the others will do, too. The Portugese Police accused Maddie’s parents of giving their children sleeping pills. Nobody should draw premature conclusions, but if they did so, they have gone too far in their search for fun and entertainment. Sleeping pills, especially if taken frequently, are addictive and very dangerous for children; and as doctors, the McCanns should’ve known that. Well, maybe the accusation of feeding their children with Valium or whatsoever is wrong, too. Anyway, why couldn’t they book a holiday in a resort with a babysitter who is available 24/7? They are not poor and could have certainly afforded it. As for the news coverage, it might be rather harmful than beneficial. The Portugese Police now suspects the parents of killing Maddie. I don’t want to say what I think about this suspicion, however, it can be dangerous to humiliate the Police of a country by showing all over again their lack of success. Eventually the Police may feel forced to come up with a suspect…
    Various lifes have been destroyed by pressure from the media on the Police and legal system of a country to be finally successful. All over the world police stations try to solve cases, and often they’re not successful, although they had the priviledge of working without media surveillance and public criticism. Of course, I feel sorry for the McCann’s and Madeleine. But I don’t think that all the media attention is something positive and hell, yeah, don’t leave your kids alone in a holiday resort!

  29. You people are sad! Yea this case is heart breaking and yea we hope the little girl is found..but please don’t be naive or ignorant enough not to see the trends in WHO is covered in missing child/young adult cases. Attractiveness, race, class, and compelling drama all count in generating interest both on the part of the media and public. People who say this isn’t a big deal don’t realize how sick and depraved this obsession is with pretty white girls. Jon Benet is STILL being covered..people collect her’s sick. Not only does it dehumanize the other missing children who do not look like her but it creates a morbid fascination and for some a fetish for these types of “victims”. It needs to stop. Either diversify the coverage of missing persons or don’t cover it all!

    To the people who say “don’t watch it then”, you can’t get away from it. It’s ON EVERY channel and on the front page of every newspaper. Many of us would LOVE to stop watching if the media wasn’t bombarding us with these images and stories.

  30. It isn’t just that she was a pretty, blond little girl, although you are all correct who say that if she were a poor black child this would not be getting coverage. But the reason this is a huge story is because the parents decided to turn it into a media circus. They solicited donations to the tune of more than 2 million dollars through a begging website, tv coverage and even yes, in blogs. They decided to involve the most famous and influential including the pope (like he can help – now that we know some of the evidence from the police, it’s likely that was when they moved the body in the car).

    Now they are using the money to help improve their image. But meanwhile, an early interview with Kate reveals what we had heard – how difficult Madeline was. She says in the interview how she had to carry her around, how she would cry and scream for hours on end. And with two twins as well, perhaps this was too much for her. She knew about drugs and most likely oversedated her that night (as she cried for a long time, calling out for daddy on the Tuesday before they left the door open when they went drinking).

    If you read up on the details of that night, you can understand why the police named them as suspects. I hope this does not go the way of Jon Benet Ramsey.

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