'Team McCann' recruits FACEBOOK !
The Leveson inquiry has thrown up some pretty harrowing tales. The ongoing inquiry, set up to examine the culture, practices and ethics of the British press following the News International phone hacking scandal has been pretty revelationary.
It has highlighted the extraordinary lengths that some journalists have resorted to in pursuit of that valuable ‘scoop’; that front page headline or ground-breaking story.
As a journalist myself, I would have been somewhat more comfortable had the underhand methods of procuring information employed being used to expose something for the greater GOOD, e.g.: the actions of corrupt Politicians, the behaviour of privileged corporate bodies or multi-national businesses or even the outrageous practises of criminals causing widespread injustice.
Alas, the purpose of these dubious, highly illegal and frenzied activities perpetrated by the Tabloids and their servants or agents involved was for one reason and one reason only.
Scandal. Often SEX, but always salacious gossip.
Also appearing at the enquiry was the former landlord of Joanna Yeates, CHRIS JEFFERIES, who explained how, amongst other things, he had been falsely accused of being friends with a convicted paedophile and being a sexual pervert. These allegations, (along with others), were printed in a NUMBER of Tabloid journals; allegations that were described by Robert Jay QC as being "tenuous, indeed fatuous".
Despite the proceedings highlighting some pretty despicable practices amongst the Media one could be forgiven for thinking that the Leveson Inquiry is, and WILL be, nothing but a WHITEWASH at BEST, and what one Political writer described as “Muddying the waters”, at worst.
My own observation is that the fact that Lord Justice Leveson HIMSELF is known for attending Soirées and parties at the home of Mathew Freud, husband to Elizabeth Murdoch who is the daughter to erm......RUPERT Murdoch...... kind of compromises any claim to his total impartiality in the ongoing matters.
But if it’s muddy waters you want, then you couldn’t really obscure or cloud the issue any greater than by inviting KATE & GERRY MCCANN to give evidence to the inquiry.
Unlike Chris Jefferies, whose character assassination was built on no more than the fact that he appeared somewhat eccentric and looked a little odd, the MAJORITY of the Press reports derogating the McCann’s were related to actual incidents which, ostensibly, could be substantiated.
I have highlighted previously some of the ghastly published assertions relating to the McCann’s and their friends, seemingly based on pure fiction, at which Kate and Gerry are justified in expressing outrage.
However, a LOT of the coverage relating to them and to the Police investigation into their missing daughter can NOT be consigned to what Gerry described as
“front page tabloid headlines.........of stories which appear to have no factual basis, or are exaggerated or distorted”
For instance, the now infamous Specialist Victim Recovery Dogs, Eddie and Keela DID signal that they had found Cadaverine and other materials in the McCann’s apartment, on some of their personal possessions and in a vehicle.
Furthermore, the materials and samples SOURCED by these dogs WAS submitted to the Birmingham FSS Forensic Science laboratories where they do appear to have initially intimated a match to Madeleine McCann’s’ DNA.
Given that these dogs have successfully made contributions to HUNDREDS of serious crimes across many of the Constabularies in the UK, it would be somewhat churlish to suggest that they had spectacularly and, (more importantly), UNPRECEDENTEDLY got it wrong on this occasion, surely?
And of course, ultimately Kate and Gerry WERE made Arguidos by the Portuguese Police, suspected of being involved in the disappearance of their daughter. The initial report in September 2007 by Tavares de Almeida, then Chief Inspector, concluded, (amongst other things), that:
Madeleine McCann died in the Holiday apartment on 3rd May 2007.
A staged HOAX abduction took place.
The McCann’s were involved in the concealment of the corpse of their daughter.
Quite how the McCann’s thought the Press were going to report on these matters remains unanswered, not least because no-one at the Inquiry asked them.
I DO believe that the McCann’s had good reason to be aggrieved by SOME of the reporting surrounding the case, an example being where stories suggesting that they had SOLD Madeleine were published; clearly contrived rubbish for which not one shred of evidence, to my knowledge, exists.
HOWEVER, given the Press and Media’s subsequent, slavish and sycophantic reporting over the subsequent 4 years or more is seemingly designed to mould the public consciousness into believing that Madeleine WAS actually abducted, (an act for which not only is there NOT a single shred of evidence, moreover, that information which purports to be evidence is clearly contrived), then their appearance at the Leveson Inquiry must surely rank as one of the most extreme all time examples of biting the hand that feeds.
I have commented elsewhere on the ridiculous unbending willingness of both the Press and Broadcast Media to propagate, WITHOUT QUESTION, the frequent, unsubstantiated and often bizarre Press Releases made by the McCann’s fragrant PR Mogul, Clarence Mitchell.
The many gathered hacks at the inquiry must surely have felt a sense of astonishment at some of the McCann’s criticisms for them, and must also have secretly wished that Robert Jay QC had reminded the Golden Couple of the following:-
That since 2007, the Press has published MILLIONS of column inches relating to dubious exploits, adventures and escapades undertaken by METODO 3, the originally favoured ‘Ace Detectives’ employed by the McCann’s, (funded by the vast sums of money donated or raised by the public).
Dutiful reports and stories were published about these Spanish super sleuths “closing in” on a secret farm in the drug addled and lawless Mountains of MOROCCO, where Madeleine was presumably being held captive; then off to SAUDI ARABIA in pursuit of Millionaire Arab Paedophiles who had reportedly “kidnapped” the little girl “to order”. Alas, before they can unpack their cases they’re OFF again, this time to investigate the LATEST sighting, in Medjugorje, BOSNIA.
Of course, the hapless METODO agency has since been shown to be a rather charlatan organisation, (not the ONLY instance of the McCann’s employing a fraudulent ‘Detective Agency’, but I digress).
It didn’t stop the Tabloids and the Broadcasters from subsequently covering tales from a multitudinous array of destinations as ‘Team McCann’ followed “leads” from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, The United States and Australia.
Clarence Mitchell must surely go down as the first and only PR mogul ever to hold his very own POLICE Press Conference, complete with pleas for information, a stern looking ‘pseudo-cop’ and photo-fit descriptions. Of course, there were no actual police present. Not least, presumably, because there wasn’t a single iota of evidence to substantiate either the information, photo-fits or apparent witness testimony being offered.
It didn’t stop the Press and TV from slavishly reporting this ‘mock’ Police conference, however, giving very valuable impetus and substance to the abduction theory.
I’m pretty certain that the now beleaguered and battered Press would have liked Leveson’s QC to have reminded the McCann’s of that devotion, in their defence.
Alas, he didn’t. Nor did he appear to have time to remind the McCann’s of the innumerable OTHER page leads, reaffirming the “abduction” angle, that followed with alarming regularity:-
MORE photo-fits and descriptions of dubious characters as apparently ‘seen’ by even more dubious “witnesses”. Tales of shadowy figures, lurking in the undergrowth, hiding under stairwells, seen shinning up drain-pipes or spying through apartment windows.
Not to mention the scores of known, convicted paedophiles that the ‘McCann Detectives’ were anxious to interview on the evidential basis that they might have been within a thousand miles of Portugal on the day in question. Even those that are DEAD are not safe from exposure or suspicion, one being suspected of possibly having made a “deathbed confession”.
Yet MORE characters and witnesses, some professing knowledge and vital information and clues or evidence relating to Maddie’s “abductor” continue to be paraded and published as important “leads” or “links”.
ALL of these sightings, witnesses, leads, links, photo-fits, descriptions and pieces of information have one, unequivocal linking factor in common:-
Absolutely NONE stand up to scrutiny, evidentially; they have not the slightest tangible iota or shred of credibility to support them, or to make them bona fide, other than the fact that Clarence Mitchell or a “spokesman for the McCann’s” is quoted as saying that they are “following the development with interest”.
Of course, it begs the same old question as to WHY the Press and Media would, without question, slavishly publish and broadcast these stories without either verifying or substantiating any of them.
A question LEVESON and his QC certainly weren’t prepared to either ask, or ANSWER.
Of course, there must also have been MORE than one person at the inquiry who smiled wryly at Gerry’s statement:-
“I don’t have a problem with somebody purporting a theory, writing fiction, or making suggestions”.
Not least because the McCann’s, their supporters and contributors have spent, (or provided services amounting to), at LEAST a MILLION pounds Sterling in seeking to oppress and suppress ANYONE who dares to deviate from the abduction theory/story.
Goncalo Amaral, the one time lead detective for the Policia Judiciaria in the McCann case was brought to the brink of financial, physical and emotional RUIN by litigation brought by the McCann’s seeking to BAN his book based on the Police Investigation into Madeleine McCann. Even though that ban has since been OVERTURNED, the books seized by the McCann’s and their agents have NOT been returned to Amaral.
As I write this, SKY News have recently reported that the McCann’s are FURTHER suing Senor Amaral for “at least” £1m Sterling for “Libel and breech of their human rights”.
The News Channel describes Amaral as having:-
“made a fortune selling a book and TV documentary claiming the young British girl is dead - and wrongly claiming her parents staged a cover-up”.
They also reiterate the McCann’s assertion that he is a
“Self-obsessed, manipulative money-grabber with no morals”.
However, one has to turn from the mainstream Press and look to the INTERNET in order to really evaluate the seemingly unlimited capability of the McCann’s in attempting to control and influence the minds of the General PUBLIC when it comes to discussing their missing Daughter.
Ever since Madeleine McCann went missing in the summer of 2007 there have been those that have doubted that she was abducted. Some individuals did so for no other reason than that they took a dislike to the McCann’s or because they believed, as is so often the case in such apparent child abductions, a family member is complicit in their disappearance.
Others, however, keeping an eye on developing information coming from the Portuguese Media and other European news reports, simply doubted the McCann’s testimonies.
I have previously written about the Daily MIRROR hosting what was to become the LARGEST online discussion Forum relating to Madeleine McCann and her disappearance. It was subscribed to by MANY Thousands of people, globally.
When discussions turned to the possible meddling of the then Home Office Minister Jacqui Smith and Forum Members started to email the HOME Office about Portuguese assertions that Smith was procrastinating assisting them with their desires to interview the ‘Tapas members’, the Forum was SHUT DOWN!
Clarence Mitchell has since boasted in a meeting that he was complicit in closing it down.
Clarence Mitchell has since boasted in a meeting that he was complicit in closing it down.
I have also previously referred to the Online Store AMAZON, who sold a publication written by American Criminal Profiler Pat Brown “The Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann”.
This popular EBook was a basic review of the available evidence in the Police case combined with a theory proffered by Ms. Brown as to what might have happened to the little girl and her parent’s possible involvement in her disappearance.
Amazon, who have previously, proudly and righteously stated that:
"Amazon believes it is CENSORSHIP not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable............. we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions."
That was their response to a whole HOST of people, companies and Charitable organisations who had expressed complaints and disgust at Amazon’s insistence on selling what was effectively CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, a book entitled “The Pedophiles Guide to Love and Pleasure”.
However, it took ONE single, simple letter from the McCann’s favourite Legal Bully boys, Carter Ruck Solicitors, (“Britain’s Most FEARED firm of libel lawyers”....The Times), and “The Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann”, erm...disappeared!
Of course, since those earlier days, Forums and online discussion sites have been usurped by SOCIAL Media and other Network sites, where discussions and debates about the McCann case continue.
On FACEBOOK for instance, there are quite a lot of pages dedicated to the McCann case. Some are unquestionably sick, puerile and offensive; others are merely platforms for discussing all of the different aspects of the case, reviewing the known evidence etc, (rather like the old Mirror Forum).
A few weeks ago, bizarre things began to happen to MANY Facebook members who were subscribed to, or were part of, any page relating to discussions about Madeleine McCann. Their pages were infused with comments and ‘Statuses’, some abusive, from people whom they had never previously had any contact with or known.
More importantly, they were discovering that their OWN comments and statuses, (some of which were made in PRIVATE groups), were being published on a Facebook page known as the “Official Find Madeleine Campaign”, a page/site run on behalf of the McCann family and clearly annexed to the official Find Madeleine.com WEBSITE, their FUND-RAISING website.
Furthermore, (and to many, alarmingly), they found themselves ‘LIKING’ this official page and being publicly SHOWN to be liking it, (i.e. supporting it), even though many had never even previously VISITED the page and in fact DISAGREED with the page, given that it portrayed and supported views about the case that were very different from their own.
MANY of these people did NOT support the McCann’s in their fundraising efforts and some expressed concern that their details, comments, statuses and opinions had been made public on a Facebook page which they not only did NOT like or support, but which they did not agree with.
Some such individuals contacted the Administrators of this “Official Find Madeleine Campaign” an abridged example of which is here enclosed:
I am a member of a group on Facebook which has nothing to do with the “Official Find Madeleine Campaign” page. I have noticed that my posts, and those of my friends, are showing in the “Friends Activity” of the official page and should like to know why.
I did ask this question on your official page but it has clearly been deleted without the courtesy of a reply and you now appear to have removed the facility for me to comment further or make any post there now.
Please can you explain why posts made in an unrelated group can end up on your Facebook page?
This is the verbatim reply, which I have seen.
We know all about your activities and the content you are posting on Facebook.
You will get the courtesy of being told you are banned when you afford us the courtesy of not lying about Kate and Gerry online.
And just for your information, we can only see the hate you and your “friends” spew on Facebook via the page you all belong to. We don’t see your shares and ugly comments. And we sure don’t see your comments on our page. Thank goodness.
Have a good day!
The Find Madeleine Web Team.
Even though the “Official Find Madeleine Campaign” page posted this explanatory note:
"We are posting this again because our post from yesterday is further down in the comments. Welcome to those who came from unofficial pages. Because Madeleine is a child, Facebook made the suggestion to us to combine unofficial pages with our official page. This is to protect Madeleine from online abuse and her image being used without her parents permission. We have NOT harvested Email addresses nor gone on to individual pages and added people. There is no way for us to actually do that. Facebook did the merge of pages at our request. If you do not want to be a part of this page, please unlike the page (see image). We don't need to hear how you don't want to be a part of a lovely group of people who do care about getting Madeleine home. A huge thank you to those that continue to support us in our search for Madeleine. ~FM Webmaster"
I remained skeptical. The idea that FACEBOOK itself would either suggest, or comply with any request to ‘amalgamate’ people from a whole plethora of groups into ANOTHER group at that groups request, especially given the diverse and wide ranging differences of opinion, was incredible. Unbelievable and imponderable.
Such an act would amount to Censorship and control-freakery on an unprecedented level. It would represent the most singular, undemocratic instance of the stifling of free speech imaginable, not to mention an astonishing display of power and influence by those seeking to exert such censorship.
And after all, FACEBOOK, (like Amazon), was no stranger to controversy. It has faced many campaigns and complaints for its insisting on allowing pages to remain, on such subjects as RAPE jokes and pages that glorify and pay tribute to MURDERERS such as Raoul Moat, along with its general attitude in permitting comments and topics of pretty much ANY nature to go unchecked.
It certainly wasn’t going to be influenced or dictated to by the McCann’s and their agents.
To satisfy myself of the ridiculousness of the “Official Find Madeleine Campaign” assertions, and to avail myself with the TRUE facts relating to this whole affair, I contacted Facebook’s PRESS Office, via ‘Blue Rubicon’ the ‘Communications Consultancy’ that acts for Facebook.
I pointed out this apparent anomaly amongst differing Madeleine McCann groups and quoted the “Official Madeleine” page claims about the ‘amalgamation’. I asked them:-
Can you confirm that Facebook DID, in fact, receive such a request from this group to "merge" members or subscribers from other such groups, and/or that this was as a result of YOUR suggestion?
That being the case, can you direct me to the relevant section of your 'USER agreement' granting permission for such 'merges' to take place without the consent of the subscriber?
If you did NOT either suggest or actually effect the merge, can you explain how this group has managed to obtain apparent support from Facebook members who never wished to be associated with the site?
Are you in a position to offer OTHER instances of such merges having taken place amongst groups?
The reply, when it came, was shocking! This, (verbatim), from a Richard Appleton:-
· We merged a number of pages that purported to be official Madeleine McCann pages, at the request of the family
· We have done this previously for charitable causes – this is not a breach of precedent
· These pages were joined into the official Madeleine McCann page
· Unofficial pages that make no claim on being an official part of the Find Madeleine campaign remain separate
· These requests were carried out via our Page Operations team
“We merged a number of pages......................................at the request of the family”
So there you have it. Facebook DID amalgamate certain groups relating to Madeleine McCann and ‘annexed’ them to the “Official Find Madeleine Campaign” at THE REQUEST OF THE McCANNS.
I immediately responded to this email, pointing out that this action had amalgamated whole groups of people who did NOT support the McCann’s in their fundraising ventures, (nor did they share the common purpose of many of those who ARE genuine members of the “official” page), turning them, unwittingly and unwillingly, from being critical of the McCann’s, into SUPPORTERS!
I also asked FACEBOOK to comment on the fact that, far from being a “Charitable Cause”, the “Find Madeleine Fund” was, actually, a Limited COMPANY.
I further requested Facebook to provide details of the “previous” occasions where they had carried out such a merge.
To date, I have received no further replies.
To summarise: At the request of the McCann’s, the largest Social Networking Website in the World summarily and without warning, notification or otherwise “amalgamated” any pages relating to Madeleine McCann or her parents to the ONE, McCann controlled “Official” site, turning ALL, irrespective of what their opinions or feelings about the case are, into a SUPPORTER of the McCann’s, their ventures and their fundraising activities.
ADDITIONALLY, such a merge exposed those who do NOT share the aims and goals of the “Official” page to the vitriolic abuse, vilification and Cyber-bullying carried out by those purportedly acting on behalf of the McCann family.
It remains to be seen just how far ‘Team McCann’ are prepared to go in their efforts in influencing further the general public, and in silencing those who do not agree with them.
They have had the Press eating out of their hand for some considerable time now, who continue to publish whatever Press Releases are fed to them.
It is NOW clear that they are prepared to disseminate their views and mantras amongst the ONLINE information services also, targeting those that sell publications about them, forums that discuss them or sites that hold an opinion about them which does not correspond with the image that they have worked so hard in cultivating.
At least ONE online blogger is facing imprisonment and HUGE financial losses for doing no more than commenting on materials that are available to read elsewhere in the Portuguese Police files.
Clearly, when Gerry McCann stated:-
“I don’t have a problem with somebody purporting a theory, writing fiction, or making suggestions”, he omitted to add:-
“as long as it’s not about me and my wife....................
God bless, Madeleine McCann......................wherever you may be.....................