The Cracked Mirror was written in 2009. It is not a blog but a study and perhaps deserved a different website – but Blogger was free and available so here it appeared. It has never been amended since publication and since the Blogger format is unfriendly to narrative structure – the beginning being found at the end and vice versa – readers may have had difficulty in finding their bearings. There appears to be a continuing demand for the work so the running order has now been been corrected and the narrative can be read as the author intended.
It is based on two primary sources which became available at that time. The first was the DVD released in summer 2008 containing virtually all the case evidence: many thousands of pages of documentation in facsimile, interim assessments, correspondence with other forces and a final report on the case by the PJ (the Portuguese criminal investigation force) submitted to the Attorney-General's department, summarising and cross-referencing this mass of material.
This summary, in turn, formed the skeleton of the prosecutors' own final report and recommendations, which led to the release of the three arguidos and the archiving, or shelving, of the investigation. To avoid confusion readers should note that in writings on the case the DVD material is normally referred to as the case files, or simply the files. The AG department's summary is known, naturally enough, as the archiving summary or final report – but researchers should note the distinction between this document and the PJ report of similar length and content.
The bulk of the material is, of course, in Portuguese. Volunteers from that country have, over the years, translated and made available to the public via the internet most of the key documents. Controversialists have pointed to gaps and ambiguities in the translated material as evidence of bad faith by the translators. In fact the gaps mostly arise from the variable formatting of the DVD: some material could easily be copied and pasted for machine translation which, used as a basis for a final version, could greatly speed up the task. Much could not, hence the late appearance of some sections.
Portuguese is not a difficult language and literate readers who wish to assess the reliability of the translations can use Net translator sites and common sense to evaluate any particular passages quite easily. The translations remain a remarkable tribute to unpaid volunteer effort.
The second primary source used in The Cracked Mirror is the collection of transcripts of interviews of the McCanns' holiday friends (the "Tapas 7") by Leicester police in spring 2008. Unlike the DVD the transcripts were never officially released to the public but emerged anonymously from Portugal and were circulated to interested parties via email and the Net. With such a dubious provenance students of the case might feel cautious about trusting the texts but they have been evaluated at length, by the author among others, and there is no possible doubt as to their authenticity. They are normally referred to as the "rogatory interviews", after the international treaty protocol for interviewing foreign witnesses known as the Letters Rogatory process. The transcripts can be found on a number of websites.
These two sources finally provided proper research material rather than the exceptionally unreliable media stories and leaks which had been the sole source of information until then. They work well together, since the thousands of pages of exhaustingly dry evidence in the DVD are complemented and brought to life by the words of the seven holidaymakers.
While the other material in The Cracked Mirror has not been source-noted the sources will be found without difficulty via the Net and, in particular, that Aladdin's Cave, the McCann Files. Media reports are only used here as verbatim records of what people said at a given time, not as evidence of what they were actually up to – and then only when they are quoted directly and with their names given. Full verifiability, in other words.
After some consideration no alterations have been made to the text. The only significant primary material to emerge since 2009 is Kate McCann's Madeleine, an extraordinary document but not one which throws any further light on the subject matter here. Since the Tapas 7 have declined to add to their Leicester depositions and since the Portuguese have refused to re-open the case, the material on which the Cracked Mirror is based remains both the last official word on the investigation and the last (and only) description of events by the McCanns' fellow holidaymakers. So the original material, any errors included, remains: readers already familiar with the case can assess for themselves how well it has stood the test of time.
Where is the Cracked Mirror coming from? The answer is the PJ investigation itself, which ended with a series of questions in its final report that remain unresolved to this day. The text here adds to and enlarges upon those questions, particularly in the light of the rogatory interviews and the comparison they offer with the police statements by the group to be found in the case files. It should be noted that the Portuguese police, having been informed that the seven were not willing to return to their country to clarify their previous evidence and activities, decided not to analyse the Leicester interviews in detail.
So the Cracked Mirror, like the original investigation, like the PJ report, is filled with questions, not answers. Much has been written about the 2007 investigation, most of it, unfortunately, worthless. To understand it properly the reader should forget media comment and concentrate on the two issues that lay at its core.
The investigating officers and analysts found the evidence of the nine unconvincing virtually from the start, though the McCanns took great care to prevent this being known in the UK, publicly maintaining that they were not under suspicion before mid-August. In fact by May 10, when the first round of statements had been checked, the investigators were accusing a number of the group of outright lying. One of them, Mathew Oldfield, was heard crying hysterically in the interview room that day when aggressively questioned about his extraordinary "hear no evil, see no evil" visit to apartment 5A on the evening of May3, although he made no mention of this in his Leicester interview . In court and under oath in the matter of McCanns v. Amaral in 2009 officers described the group's version of events as a childish "fairy story" which nobody with an ounce of critical judgement could take seriously.
But this in turn meant that the theory of abduction itself was in trouble: the group lacked veracity, according to the police, yet it was the group who provided the evidence of abduction, notably in the statements of Kate McCann and Jane Tanner. The task of the investigators, therefore, lay in establishing the reliability of these witnesses and simultaneously searching for positive evidence of the abduction beyond the nine's claims.
The subsequent story of the investigation is, despite all the glare and uproar, essentially simple: it was impossible to establish the veracity (by supporting evidence, reconstruction, CCTV, statement analysis and telecommunication links) of the group; and it was impossible to find independent (CCTV, forensic science material, eye-witnesses) evidence to confirm the abduction theory.
There have been claims that the focus on the parents and their friends led to the neglect of other lines of inquiry and the PJ itself has been willing to accept such a possibility. Is there any evidence demonstrating the reality of such a supposition? In other words has evidence emerged to show that the group were the victims of misunderstanding and that their veracity has now been demonstrated? And has the passage of years turned up evidence showing that an abduction probably occurred?
The answer to both questions is an objective and categorical no. At no time have the seven friends co-operated in exercises to confirm the truth of their accounts, despite the specific warnings of the Attorney-General's department that failure to do so would mean that the innocence of the parents would never be demonstrated. For the parents themselves the picture is even bleaker. The record since the investigation was shelved shows conclusive evidence of deception and untruth. In Madeleine, for example, Kate McCann described deceiving journalists – and hence the British public – about the true level of police activity against them and it is now clear that her husband did the same in his so-called "blogs".
Unimpeachable documentary evidence also demonstrates that the parents claimed to be observing the legal ban on discussion of case evidence in Portugal while breaching it on a regular and widespread basis in their own interests. Nor were such deceptions confined to the crisis of 2007: Gerry McCann gave numerous press conferences explaining in detail why he had returned to Portugal in 2009 but Madeleine reveals that these were all fictitious, a measure of the care the couple can take to disguise their motivation when they feel it is necessary. Finally, in an official statement from a source independent of the investigation team, José de Magalhaes e Menezes, co-author of the archiving summary said under oath in McCanns v. Amaral that the group "had not told the truth" in their accounts of the evening of May 3. The police, therefore, were correct in their doubts about the group's veracity.
It is reasonable to suppose that if the PJ had failed to pursue other leads or lines of inquiry through their supposed "obsession" with the holiday group, rather than the absence of any such evidence, then subsequent inquiries without that narrow focus should turn up some sign at least of what these missed leads might be. The various private investigations paid for by the McCanns using the case files as a starting point have produced many headlines and zero results; two years and £4.5 million of the Scotland Yard review have produced a number of encouraging statements and zero results. So the 2007/8 police position that there was no evidence of abduction beyond the claims of the group remains valid.
To look at the case through the eyes of the investigators is not to impute guilt. The archiving summary ends, after all, with the unassailable statement that there is no evidence of the commission of any crime by the McCanns and, as we know, abductions do happen: when something with a very low probability does occur then suspicion can easily attach itself to innocent people. Unfortunately, innocence rarely means "free of character flaws" in the way beloved of film and drama; all human beings are flawed and few of us can be certain that, when our lives are put under a harsh spotlight by the police, our history and personalities will immediately demonstrate how innocent we are. False accusations in themselves can have a devastating effect, leaving us distressed, confused and unsure whether sticking to the truth will actually help – after all it failed to protect us from the false accusation in the first place – or whether we should avail ourselves of tactical silence, or even flight. Accusations under a foreign and unfamiliar jurisdiction, of course, make everything much more terrifying.
The Portuguese have made it clear that they will only re-open the case if important new evidence is uncovered. Their refusal to do so at present indicates that Scotland Yard has not provided any. Robert Murat, the third of the arguidos, has now called for others to return to Portugal for a re-enactment which, he says, might provide it. The parents have not backed his call and the other seven, as usual, have said nothing. All nine remain trapped in the limbo of uncertainty – undemonstrated innocence – which the archiving summary, the last act of the investigation, both warned them of and condemned them to. For them, as for the child, there is no escape.