Lord Justice Leveson ends the year By Blacksmith
He did so by reminding us, once again, that the Madeleine McCann Affair is a psychological phenomenon as much as a legal one.
2011, remember, was when we got the words out of the couple’s own mouths and were able to come to a final conclusion, not just a view, on their veracity. That veracity is the foundation of the abduction claim and the year saw it demolished.
- The repeated claims by Gerry McCann in his 2007 “blog” that he and his wife were not suspected of involvement by the Portuguese police in the disappearance were demonstrated as proven lies, as the date evidence of the police interviews in Madeleine now shows.
- Kate McCann herself admitted in Madeleine that they had lied (page 206) to the media about the police investigation and attempted to change the untruthful story that she had illegally leaked to the media (Lori Campbell) about a supposed deal offer by the Portuguese police.
- The Lisbon court statement by the prosecutor Menezes in January 2010 in which he asserted that the group of nine, which included the parents, “had not told the truth” about the circumstances of their checking.
- The materially misleading evidence under oath to the Leveson inquiry given by Gerry McCann as to the origins of the “media pack” in Praia da Luz and his relationship with the Press Complaints Commission.
All this evidence derives from irrefutable sources, not the deniable newspaper garbage and forum myths of the past five years. It won’t be challenged by McCann supporters because it is unchallengeable.The blogs were direct communications to the public from Gerry McCann via his site, not the media; Madeleine, of course, is on-the-record primary source material which she attests (Page 1) to be the truth; Menezes’s statement, unlike his unsworn material in the case summary, is on-oath judicial record; Gerry McCann’s statements, also on oath, are now in the public arena.
It all amounts to this: we did not tell the truth to the police about the circumstances of the evening of May 3 2007; we lied to the public about our role in the police investigation of summer 2007; when tested under oath at the Leveson inquiry our version of events was found, once again, to be untruthful. We are also the source of the abduction claim. A pretty Cretan Liar paradox for Scotland Yard!
Here come de judge
There is no reason for Leveson to know much about this. And none at all for him to be suspicious of the pair. But Leveson wasn’t just sympathetic to Kate and Gerry McCann: he went out of his way to make a demonstration of his emotional solidarity with the parents, addressing them as he might address two terminally ill grandchildren. Later, by word and deed (impatient tossing of his head, that repulsive lower-lipped sneer) he contemptuously dismissed as “tittle-tattle” evidence of the reports reaching the UK about the progress of the police investigation. The witness he patronised and scorned so loftily, the manifestly decent and reliable —for a journalist— David Pilditch, made it quite clear that his reports had accurately reflected police thinking at the time and had been run by Clarence Mitchell (busy briefing the press against the police daily at the time, according to Pilditch) in advance of submission.
Leveson was having none of it, turning away in another now-familiar contemptuous gesture, that of the rude and grumpy stage husband sniffing and then rejecting his wife’s smelly and unpleasant meal. In fact this was perhaps the only time when he almost lost control of the tribunal since an agitated counsel for the celebrities was at once on his feet, anxious to refute Pilditch’s statement that the case papers confirmed his claims.
The judge, confronted by David Sherborne and the disturbingly thick sheaf of McCann provided questions under his arm, was stuck, clearly seeing the possibility of a derailment and a mini-McCann trial within an inquiry. He became embroiled in debate before, finally, allowing Sherborne to make a statement but not examine the witness nor produce his evidence —the worst of both worlds. It was an unseemly incident but who was to blame other than Leveson himself? He had derailed matters by ostentatiously demonstrating his emotions — obviously derived from prima facie superficial knowledge gained outside the court, not from the proceedings— rather than sticking to the proceedings themselves.
Judges know very well the importance of their own attitudes and body language, both because they are schooled and warned about them on appointment to the judiciary and because they have witnessed —and deliberately exploited— their impact in open court. There is all the difference in the world between a Lord Justice Sneerson in a criminal case stating “the witness is clearly telling the truth” and using the same words with a raised eyebrow and a crooked smile—both of which, of course, pass clean under the transcript radar and can never be appealed. Leveson knows it yet, unlike counsel for the inquiry Day,who was sympathetic, courteous but largely neutral to the pair, he couldn’t resist making a demonstration of his feelings. From the bench about an open case!
So why did he do it?
Why? Well, there are plenty of interpretations. Starting with the possibility that, underneath the fierce intellect, lurks a self-important and at times rather noxious—watch that pendulous lip!— little bully with his own certainties and without much knowledge of the real world beyond the confines of his court. Like most judges in fact.
And then at the other end, of course, sigh, wilt, yawn, we have the Department of Easy Answers conspiracy version: Leveson is being over-nice to the McCanns as part of the protective screen provided by the Establishment.
As we said at the beginning, we lean towards the psychological answer and the one that has always been the greatest ally of the parents: decent people, not the operators who surround the McCanns like flies on vomit, but the mainly decent, mainly pretty intelligent people in the public who don’t study the case in detail share a common, if only half-conscious, attitude to the case: its unthinkability.
To study the case rather than skim the headlines is to be drawn in to murky and uncomfortable waters. The possibility of infanticide, even—horribile dictu— within a group, runs so perilously close to our western taboos that most people not only do not wish to contemplate it but refuse even to consider its contemplation, partly because to do so would be a betrayal of our normal sympathy for a stricken pair brought close to us by the media.
Discussing it makes them, as many of us have witnessed, acutely uncomfortable, even physically so —just like the judge in fact. Once the evidence in such taboo-touching cases is laid out in its full horror within courtroom walls then people will accept it, often with a shudder. But unless there is cast-iron evidence of guilt we think most people, like Lord Justice Leveson, simply find its contemplation revolting.
Us and Them
Unlike S.Amaral and some others perhaps, we haven’t the slightest doubt that Leveson, despite his absurd performance, would preside fairly over any trial of the McCanns. Given our own view of the case—and this is the essential gulf between us and the hidden-handers—we worry not about judges and other “thems” but about juries, i.e. us. In the confines of the jury room people like us will still want that “cast-iron evidence of guilt” before facing the possibly unthinkable: it wasn’t there in 2007, as the prosecutors knew, and it isn’t there now.
Short of the cast iron making a hefty appearance we can see only one possible threat to this complex public reaction, what we might call the drip, drip, drip effect. All-or-nothing, the unthinkable, suits the McCanns. Yet the slow accumulation over time of evidence not of the unthinkable but of a vastly lower level of dishonesty, such as significant and persistent lying, which the Bureau attempts to publicise, or the assiduous repetition of mere accident which S.Amaral cleverly conveys, could gradually feed its way into public attitudes. And thence even to the jury room. Who knows, if Scotland Yard or some other force turn up light aluminium, rather than iron, one day such attempts might tip the balance.
The lawyers for the McCanns know this perfectly well which is why their main aim in the UK is always to prevent the drip, drip, drip, getting to a wider audience than that of the net and us net nutters. It began with “expunging”, remember?
Pass it on
As always the Bureau is glad to help: we did not tell the truth to the police about the circumstances of the evening of May 3 2007; we lied to the public about our role in the police investigation of summer 2007; when tested under oath at the Leveson inquiry our version of events was found, once again, to be untruthful.
We are also the source of the abduction claim.
Happy New Year.
THE MCCANNS HAVE GOT AWAY WITH TOO MUCH FOR FAR TOO LONG SIGN THE PETITION FOR A FULL PUBLIC INQUIRY