‘We welcome the announcement from the Portuguese Attorney General today, although it is no cause for celebration. It is hard to describe how utterly despairing it was to be named ‘arguidos’ and subsequently portrayed in the media as suspects in our own daughter’s abduction- and worse. It has been equally devastating to witness the detrimental effect this status has had on the search for Madeleine.
We look forward to scrutinising the police files to see what has ACTUALLY been done and, more importantly, what can still be done, as we leave no stone unturned in the search for Madeleine. We would once again urge anyone with relevant information to come forward and call our helpline on +44 845 838 4699 or send information to email@example.com
Finally we would like to thank everyone who has supported us and stayed with us during this particularly difficult period. We assure you we will NEVER give up on Madeleine.
We have recently managed to have a break visiting family. Sean and Amelie have had a brilliant time and it has been great for me to spend so much time with them. Although this has been a relaxing break, it has been incredibly difficult for Kate and me to have been on holiday without Madeleine- it is all too apparent what is missing.
We were very pleased to learn today that the written declaration calling for the introduction of an EU wide Amber alert system has been successful. More than half of the 786 Members of the European Parliament (MEP?s) were required to sign the declaration for it to be adopted as a full resolution of the European Parliament and as of today 417 had signed. This is a small step in the right direction and a lot of work will be needed to get National Amber alert systems implemented. The idea already has the support of the European Commission and this additional political impetus should speed up the implementation process.
We would like to thank Edward McMillan-Scott and the other 4 sponsors of the declaration, all those MEP?s who signed the declaration and all the members of the public who lobbied their MEP?s.
There has been a lot of speculation in the press over the last 10 days that the investigation in to Madeleine?s disappearance has closed. We have not heard anything officially other than we know the files are with the prosecutor and the period of secrecy has been extended to 14th August. Our independent investigation continues and we urge people going on holiday to remain vigilant and consider taking one of our posters with them- downloadable from the how to help section of the website.
Kate and I had a flying visit to Strasbourg yesterday to the European Parliament.
The visit was organised by one of the written declaration sponsors, Edward McMillan-Scott who is a Vice-President of the parliament.
It was hectic schedule but well worth effort. We met with the other sponsors, many MEP’s who have signed the declaration and many who did not realise that there was a declaration on the introduction of an EU wide Amber alert. As we stated when we launched the declaration in Brussels last month- the alert is not our idea. It already has the support of the European commission and they and other groups such as Missing Children Europe, PACT and Missing People have done a huge amount of work previously. Our hope is that getting the declaration formally adopted by the parliament will speed up the implementation of alerts throughout the EU member staets and facilitate cross-border cooperation. Many of the MEP’s who have not signed said they will and a lot of those who have already signed said they will lobby their National and fellow group MEP’s to sign.
Today we heard that 283 have now signed the declaration compared to 211 on Monday. We are hopeful that the additional 110 signatures required will be achieved by the next sitting of parliament on the 7-10th July. It would be a great shame if the declaration failed because of a combination of ignorance and apathy.
First of all apologies for the long gap since my last blog. We are still very busy and the last 2 weeks all four of us have been laid low with a viral illness.
Our investigative team have been very busy working through all the information which has been coming in through the new hotline number and the e-mail addresses ‘ see investigation page. A lot of this information is undoubtedly relevant to the investigation and every piece of information will be followed up- a very time consuming process ‘ so please be patient with us! We are planning a facility to allow the upload of pictures of people who were in the Algarve leading up to Madeleine’s abduction. In the interim pictures can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
The campaign for a Europe wide Amber alert continues. There is approximately one month left to get the majority of MEP’s to sign the written declaration. Edward McMillan- Scott has told us that so far there are 211 signatures therefore we need another 182. Thank you to everyone who has written to MEP’s. Some of the responses that have been sent display a complete lack of understanding in what we hope to achieve. For example some have said they will not sign because such a system is already in place with the 116 000 hotline number. Firstly this number for missing children is only operational in one out of 27 European countries (Greece) so far. Secondly the number does not mean an Amber alert will be issued for an abducted child as no such system exists- hence the written declaration. Thirdly we are looking for cross border cooperation between member states when a child is abducted. Hopefully with more lobbying, we can get the declaration accepted.
We are continually looking to improve the website. Over the next few weeks you should notice some changes. We are planning to have new messages on the home page from Kate and myself. The blog may change to a findmadeleine update, there will be new pages displaying the posters in full and further details of local fundraising events. With the holiday season approaching, we would be really grateful if people would once again download Madeleine posters from the website (available in many different languages in how to help/downloads section) and take them with them for distribution and display. 1 in 6 children are recovered after someone has recognised them from a poster!
Finally, we would like to say thank you to everyone for their continued help and kindness, the many letters, messages of support and prayers. It is reassuring and uplifting that Madeleine is in so many people’s thoughts and prayers even at this stage.
It has been another busy week. We have been inundated with mail that we are working through. Kate and I would like to thank everyone who has helped and supported us over the last twelve months. It is the support we have received from family, friends, and the overwhelming response of the general public that has sustained us. Special thanks to everyone who has contributed to Madeleine’s Fund, which has allowed us to continue the independent investigation to find Madeleine.
Following our renewed appeal there has been a tremendous response to both the call line (+44 (0)845 838 4699) and the e-mail addresses (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org). Hundreds of calls and e-mails have been received and each and every bit of information will be assessed and followed up. We would encourage anyone who might have information to contact us in confidence. We would like to hear from everyone who was staying at the Ocean Club at the time of Madeleine’s abduction or from anyone who may have experienced a similar incident in the Iberia peninsula.
Tomorrow is Madeleine’s fifth birthday. It will be one of the hardest days of the last 375. We will be marking it privately and quietly. We will do everything to try and ensure Madeleine does not spend another birthday separated from her family.
It is a year to the day since Madeleine was abducted. A heinous crime that had the potential to destroy the strongest of families. Without doubt it has been the longest year of our lives, yet it does not seem like a year since we last saw Madeleine. She is still a large part of Sean and Amelie’s life and this gives some comfort to Kate and me.
The research we have done this year has encouraged us to believe that there is a very good chance Madeleine is alive. Ernie Allen, president of NCMEC for the last 25 years, has reiterated that and the fact there are a number of scenarios in which Madeleine could be alive and well. We just need to find her.
The documentary we made on an EU wide Amber alert and the last year was screened in the UK on Wednesday night, in Spain on Thursday and last night in Portugal. We have spent most of the last 3 days promoting our new hotline number +4 845 838 4699 (calls are charged at local rate) and our e-mail addresses for information: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org .
We have always said we will leave no stone unturned in the search for Madeleine. To do that we need to know what has and has not been done- unfortunately we know very little about the investigation to date. This is why we are appealing to everyone who may have come forward previously to do so again. Every piece of information is important to us. We are also appealing to people who may not have come forward for whatever reason to do so. We are only interested in finding Madeleine and will guarantee confidentiality and anonymity if requested. We are also families asking with children to think if something similar may have happened to them. It is unlikely this is the first time that the abductor has struck.
Today we will be attending one of the many services to pray for Madeleine and other missing children. We would like to thank everyone, of all faiths, who has prayed for Madeleine over the last year. The Helping to find Madeleine group have also organised a ‘lighting the way home for Madeleine’ event where, they will release lanterns in Rothley around the time she went missing. Others will light a candle and we greatly appreciate the support and symbolic gestures.
Our visit to the European Parliament on Thursday (10th) was the culmination of several months work. Kate and I presented a written declaration (see news and support) to the parliament asking for the introduction of an EU wide missing child alert system based on the US AMBER alert system. The AMBER system has been incredibly successful in rescuing abducted children. France has adopted a similar system in the last 2 years, which has been activated 5 times with all children being recovered alive.
An EU wide AMBER type system has widespread support. The EU commission presented draft guidance (written in conjunction with Missing Children Europe) on the introduction of such a system. In Lisbon in October last year the proposal got the informal support of the 27 member states home office/justice ministers.
We presented the declaration to MEP’s, answered questions and then held a press conference- our first public speech since returning from Portugal. For the declaration to be taken up we need 51% of (the 785) MEP’s to sign the declaration in the next 3 months. We would urge everyone to lobby their MEP’s to sign the declaration.
The day went extremely well although we were naturally asked questions about the Portuguese investigation, which are very difficult to answer for us, as we have had no direct dialogue with the Portuguese police. We were dismayed to learn that excerpts from our early witness statements were leaked to a Spanish TV station. These were taken out of context and there can be no doubts were designed to undermine our credibility. One has to question why these were leaked on the day when the media attention was huge and who benefits from such a leak? One thing for certain is that it does not help to find Madeleine. We would certainly welcome an independent inquiry as to where the leaking of such sensitive information, contrary to judicial secrecy laws, has come from
Kate and I arrived back from Washington yesterday. We went primarily to visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and to learn more about the implementation of their national AMBER alert system (child rescue alert). The whole experience was very positive. The staff at NCMEC is the most experienced in dealing with missing and abducted children anywhere in the world.
The AMBER alert system should be used in the most serious child abduction cases (usually by strangers, when the child is considered at risk of serious harm) to recover the child as quickly as possible. The alert is based on the realisation that galvanising the local community can play a huge role in finding missing children. Last year alone 68 children, and almost 400 in total since its? implementation, were recovered safely as a direct result of the AMBER alert. In 16 cases the abductor released the child safely when hearing the AMBER alert. We strongly feel that Europe should have a similar integrated child rescue alert.
Our visit to Washington and meetings with other relevant European organisations will be shown on a documentary to be screened by ITV on the 30 April. The programme will focus on the campaign to introduce a European version of the AMBER alert. There will of course be massive media interest in Madeleine’s disappearance at this time, if she remains missing, and we hope that the programme is shown in most European countries and further afield.
During our Washington visit we were also very encouraged to hear that, in NCMEC’s experience, the younger the child at the time of abduction the less likely that child will be seriously harmed. Such information makes us believe even more fervently, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that Madeleine can be found safe and well
I think everyone must have heard the news today that Express Newspapers have published front page apologies to Kate and me and agreed damages of £550,000 which will be paid in to Madeleines Fund. It gives us no joy that we had to take such action- we would rather have not had to put up with such distasteful, grotesque and blatantly untruthful coverage. Nevertheless we hope todays events will act as a springboard in advancing the search for Madeleine. The money will be used to aid the investigation.
To read our full statement, please see the News and Press Releases in the News and Support section.
1st version Date and day Gerry used Day 314: 12/03/2008
Kate and I heard the totally heart-warming news today that Shannon Matthews has been recovered safely. We are delighted for her family and hope and pray that Shannon has not suffered too much during the last 24 days.
Although the circumstances may be different, finding Shannon alive does give Kate and me renewed optimism. I am reminded of Ernie Allen’s ( the presidentof NCMEC) words: ‘until you know who has taken Madeleine and why, you cannot give up hope’. We do not know who has taken Madeleine or why, and there is certainly no indication that Madeleine has been seriously harmed. Of course we will not give up hope. Someone somewhere knows where Madeleine is.