Some things are now settled
The case is now moving, in jerky steps, towards its climax and it’s time to start looking beyond the next couple of months.
When it emerged in February that the McCanns wanted out of the libel case it was clear that something crucial had occurred and things would never be the same again. Amaral’s book was a lethal challenge: either you fight and refute me or you are tacitly accepting what I claim and the public will slowly but surely accept it.
They had to sue. And to try and settle four years later, whatever the reasons, was tantamount to surrender, to accepting the irrefutability of Amaral’s case. The astonishingly weak Lisbon evidence so far, together with the appeal court judgement, has confirmed that irrefutability. Scotland Yard's official statements indicate that the central claim – that "the search" was damaged by the actions of others including Mr Amaral – now appears in a very different light: the private "search", it transpires, was based almost completely on erroneous eye-witness evidence and killing it off earlier would have been a public service. The likelihood is that Amaral will now win, either soon or at appeal.
In June we discovered just how far the quite separate track of the Yard investigation had progressed when it emerged that the UK Crown Prosecution Service had been in discussions about the case in Portugal. As the Bureau then wrote, you don’t send senior CPS people to discuss “persons of interest” or possible “suspects”: those are matters for the investigators. UK prosecutors deal with prosecutions. Clearly there was a prosecutable case against someone that was being appraised.
The Bureau said the evidence suggested who those subjects must be. The Yard denied it. We withdrew the claim and closed the Bureau in the light of the denial.
The days of “keeping the case in the public eye” or “campaigning for the conclusion of the interrupted investigation” are, as far as I'm concerned, over, both because of those 100 000 hits a day on Nigel Moore's database and because of the progress of the investigation.
There is no need to try and convince the public about the McCann case anymore since, after six years, they are now finding out for themselves. And there is no need to keep pointing out the significant evidence since the police themselves are now starting to do so. It is a matter of unimportance whether people agree with this blog and the writer’s views or not: debate has been overtaken by facts.
Looking back, perhaps I and others should have seen the longer-term implications of pointing the finger at the only known subjects of investigation and the CPS so quickly: it did the investigation no good. On reflection it is clear that had the Yard not explicitly denied the Bureau claims then a mad witch-hunt like that of September 2007 might have followed, helping nobody and raising the question of whether a fair trial could ever take place. That’s why we’re happy to accept the statements of Scotland Yard, defer to their expertise and say a little less about certain things than we used to. My apologies to Mr Redwood and his team for the more colourful criticisms.
In the light of events the Bureau is expected to re-open in the relatively near future.