Madeleine McCann

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Tributes to Madeleine McCann in her hometown of Rothley on 17 May 2017.
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Madeleine McCann is a British girl who disappeared from a holiday villa in Portugal on 3 May 2007, a few days before her fourth birthday.[1] Her disappearance remains unsolved and it is not known if she is dead or alive. However, she has become the subject of a variety of press coverage resulting in expensive libel payouts and various desperate conspiracy theories connected with Pizzagate and other imaginary pedophile rings. A number of psychics and woo-merchants have also used her disappearance to hawk their wares or get some publicity.

Vaguely plausible theories[edit]

Various theories have been advanced as to her disappearance in the absence of any evidence, including the suggestion that she was killed (either accidentally or deliberately) by her parents, based largely on how her mother wasn't distraught enough and due to the parents decision to leave three children under five in a hotel room alone.[2] The British press rushed in with wild accusations, leading to huge libel payouts to British-Portuguese property consultant Robert Murat and to the McCanns.[1]

Batshit crazy theories[edit]

McCann's disappearance has been linked by various far-right bloggers and twitterers to bizarre and improbable conspiracy theories, including to the Pizzagate meme which held that Hillary Clinton or her campaign manager John Podesta were involved in a pedophile ring. And clearly they must have kidnapped every missing girl in the world.

In 2016, people identified photofits of two persons of interest or potential witnesses in the McCann case as being John Podesta and his brother Tony. Snopes pointed out that although there might be a superficial resemblance other aspects of the descriptions did not match, such as the age of the individual depicted.[3]

Proponents includes Brittany Pettibone who tweeted a post linking the Podestas to Portugal at the time of McCann's disappearance.


Danie Krügel claims to have a magical machine which can predict where Madeleine is.

The McCanns complained to the police after one self-described psychic, Sally Kelly, told them she knew what happened to Madeleine but wouldn't spill unless they paid her money; the McCanns' representative described this as "extortion".[4]

The Daily Star, a British tabloid, has been using psychics to try and locate her. In May 2017, one psychic, D'Lynn Waldron, told them that Madeleine was alive and living with a rich family, and even produced a picture of what she would look like.[5] A few months later, another psychic, Margaret Carne, told the paper that Madeleine had been taken by a fat woman child trafficker and was still alive.[6]

In contrast, Derek Acorah has claimed that a spirit guide told him that she is dead but would soon be reincarnated into a new body.[7]

Psychic Sally Morgan has said "The thing with the McCann case, obviously I have some very good ideas about what happened but I’d never share them. I just can’t." Morgan added that she would not share them unless she was approached by the McCanns as she didn't want to "stick her nose in".[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 See the Wikipedia article on Disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
  2. Diary, Anne Enright, London Review of Books, Vol 29 No 19, 4 October 2007 (archived from January 30, 2010).
  3. Sketchy Connection, Snopes, 12 Dec 2016
  4. 'CRUEL HOAX' Madeleine McCann’s parents ‘targeted’ by psychic over claims she knows ‘the truth’ about missing girl’s whereabouts, Nick Pisa, The Sun, 14th October 2017
  5. ‘Maddie speaks to me’ Psychic says Madeleine McCann ALIVE and THIS is how to find her, David Trayner, Daily Star, 4 May 2017
  6. Madeleine McCann 'snatched by wobbly fat woman and is still alive', psychic claims, Jerry Lawton, Daily Star, 6 November 2017
  7. TV psychic Derek Acorah: 'Maddie is dead', Hannah Furness, The Daily Telegraph, 15 May 2012
  8. Psychic Sally Morgan: 'I've seen evil', Daily Post, 19 Oct 2017