Madeleine McCann

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Tributes to Madeleine McCann in her hometown of Rothley on 17 May 2017.
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Madeleine "Maddie" McCann (born 12 May 2003) 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, since then, her story has received a disproportionate amount of coverage in the British media, especially considering how many other children have gone missing since then. For many years, The Daily Express used to alternate her with Princess Diana on front page features. The story essentially preyed on the fears of many parents with small children and is what is known in British journalistic circles as a "womb trembler".

Although the McCanns were initially delighted with the widespread coverage, it soon turned sour, and they became vilified for abandoning their children in the holiday home while going out to a restaurant with friends. The bad press coverage about Maddie resulted in expensive libel payouts and various desperate conspiracy theories connected with Pizzagate and other pedophile rings. A number of psychics and woo-merchants have also used her disappearance to hawk their wares or get some publicity.

Photographs of Madeleine McCann were to be seen all over the UK at one point. She was a fairly non-descript looking little white girl, with blonde hair. Her main distinguishing feature was an unusual blemish in one of her eyes.[2] On the slim chance that poor Maddie is still alive, she would no longer look much like any of those pictures - her eighteenth birthday was in 2021. The only real chance to identify her would be her eye.

Baseless Speculation[edit]

Various theories have been advanced as to Maddie's disappearance in the absence of almost anything in the way of 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' poor and callous decision to leave three children under five in a hotel room alone for hours on end.[3] 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]

Maddie has been "spotted" around the world from time to time. One of the more convincing leads, a blonde child in an Amazigh village in Morocco turned out to be someone else. (Yes, a few native Africans are actually blonde...) She also popped up in England, France and every other country. As the years go by, it is increasingly unlikely anyone could recognise a living Madelaine McCann, except perhaps if she a) resembles her mother or b) someone can get close enough to see her eye blemish. It is also unlikely a living (and now adult) Maddie would remember much of her life before the age of four or even her name.

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.[4]

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

Another figure who takes an interest in Madelaine theories is Rich D. Hall (not to be confused with the British based American comedian Rich Hall). Hall mixes Maddie and her family up with all kinds of things, from David Icke type ideas, to the US government, to the Royal Family. And despite the McCanns being a boring suburban middle class family of modest Irish Catholic origins (which are ten a penny in Northern England), many pundits like Hall have tried to link them to all kinds of bloodlines and high-ranking relatives.

Woo[edit]

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".[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8]

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".[9]

References[edit]

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