Appearances can be deceptive, Part One
The twin problem at the heart of the Madeleine McCann affair remains: almost everyone who investigates or studies the case in detail is troubled by the parents’ attitude to the truth. Yet, given their innocence of involvement in the disappearance of the child, what possible motive could they have for lying?
The parents are the only two people who saw, and bore witness to, the unmistakable evidence of intrusion into their apartment— the disturbed shutters which no three year old would have been capable of lifting from inside. Accept their word and abduction must have occurred.
Why don’t they believe us?
But from the beginning of the investigation the parents’ words failed to convince. The first officers on the scene, while not suspicious of the pair, were unable to share the self-evident certainty of an abduction that the parents, sometimes impatiently, sometimes hysterically, pressed on them. Both the written statements of the parents and their friends and the printed timeline which they offered to the police, a document in which weird and disturbing exactitude about the nine adults’ own movements was combined with a void about the child herself, created a sense of unease amongst the investigators. While the parents, as befitted their special role, were not immediately challenged, we now know that as early as May 10 the police had switched from suspicion to active disbelief of the group version of events, for Gerry McCann overheard Oldfield’s sobs in the face of shouted claims that he was lying. more
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Appearances can be deceptive, Part Two
It’s a family affair
And so to the Leveson inquiry, which the McCanns, not having been hacked, have invited themselves into. It is primarily a show business affair and one’s main impression is that, with the exception of the Dowlers and their like, and leaving the McCanns aside for the moment, both sides are equally repulsive and deserve each other. Both are locked into a continuing private game: once the inquiry is finished, perhaps even before the comical denunciations are complete, the symbiotic relationships will resume, for showbiz can’t exist without cheap media to promote it, and the more down-market the celebrity the more down- market the promotional means required.
Perhaps another paper may close, some hackers will go to jail and the dredge end of the market will see abuses tightened up regarding the Dowlers and others. But the real action in the media crisis involves transparency between media groups and governments, the so-called “back door or front door at number 10?” question, and its resolution will involve serious negotiations between serious players—not the question of the “persecution” by the paparazzi of paunchy showbiz figures stumbling out of nightclubs at four in the morning, with coke still sticking to their nostrils.
What a gallery, what a procession of dreadful, gungy celebrities have been parading before the lawyers and the “lay assessors” alongside: Big breasts, big hair, big claims, big ego—and that was just Steve Coogan. more