Gonçalo Amaral admits that investigators protected the McCanns

See The McCann Files archive:  Gonçalo Amaral - The Interviews (July '08)

Gonçalo Amaral admits that investigators protected the McCanns
27 July 2008
Jornal de Notícias
Marisa Rodrigues
Thanks to Joana Morais for translation

For the first time since he began to talk publicly about the case of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, Gonçalo Amaral, the co-coordinator of the investigation, analyses his own responsibilities in the outcome of the case and in the conduct of all the work of the Judiciary Police.

Of the pressures and constraints that they were anticipating, more than feeling, of the virtually unlimited autonomy in the carrying out of the diligences and even in the mistakes that he himself now assumes to have committed, particularly the group of investigators initial decision to show precaution with everything that concerned Kate and Gerry McCann. For fear of the reaction of public opinion. Today, he would not agree with decisions that he helped the group of investigators to take. In the book " Maddie, The Truth of The Lie " he does not say everything that he knows. A second book is not out of question.

Jornal de Notícias: Who has pressured the Judiciary Police (PJ) so that it could not advance with diligences?

Gonçalo Amaral
The pressures were immediately felt in the morning following the disappearance of the girl. The British consul in the Algarve went to the Judiciary Police to find out about the investigation, which is not abnormal. Shortly afterwards, it was the turn of the ambassador to go there. It is not a normal proceeding with all the English subjects. At least, I had never assisted a similar situation.

But were you prevented from advancing with the diligences that had been planned?

To me no one told me "do not do it". If that had happened the "broth would pour over" [Portuguese idiomatic expression meaning it would be over the top]. There my participation in that investigation would have ended. But we felt constrained.

In what way?

Notice. Soon after the visit of the ambassador, an announcement goes out referring the thesis of abduction.

Was it the ambassador who pressurised the PJ?

It was not that what I said. The pressure was felt in the team of investigators. When, in the heart of the group, if it was discussed the realisation of a determined diligence there was always someone who would say "Oh, oh, we have to be careful".


I am not going say names. If in the book I was careful to never give names, I am not going to do that now. It is one of those things that are kept. But in the group there were seven, eight, ten persons taking part, between co-ordinators, directors. When the question of the necessity of doing a determined diligence was raised, everything was discussed, namely, which was the importance, the objective that was wanted to accomplish and what were the consequences. And when there were issues that needed us to come even closer to the couple and the group of friends, one was careful for them not to be considered suspects so soon at that time, to prevent them from being accused in the public opinion, faced with the existing media pressure.

Are you saying that the PJ itself decided to protect them. Why so many precautions? It's natural to have suspects in a criminal investigation.

Because, at that time we would have been crucified by public opinion.

You were afraid of the media pressure?

No. We felt it was necessary to treat them with 'tweezers'. I recognise what we were mistaken.

If you believed in the accidental death thesis and in the parents involvement what was the reason for you not to insist that determined diligences were done?

At the time when the arguments against were suggested they were considered valid for the whole group. It was the group itself that said "let us not go there".

If you didn't agree why didn't you close the door? It was your image, while co-ordinator, that was in question.

Those were not times for rebellions. I always worked in group. If the arguments were valid, one had to respect them.

Even without agreeing with them?

At the time I agreed because I considered them to be valid. Perhaps now, at a distance, I do not agree.

What remained to be done?

Too much. The first version of the rogatory letter, which was changed after my expulsion on 2 October, had several steps that were simply struck out. It was requested that the British dogs be used to search the house of the McCanns in Leicester and also those of their friends and that they smelled their clothes. It also asked to verify the existence of a chart on the refrigerator of the girl's parents, which showed that she had problems with sleep and used to rise several times at night. The chart is referred to by an English police officer. New interviews with the arguidos were proposed but were never done. The charter was amended by the prosecutors.

With what goal?

Probably the steps were not considered important after my removal.

You said that with another prosecutor perhaps the outcome of the investigation would have been different. If there had been another National Director, not Alípio Ribeiro, recently criticised by Almeida Rodrigues, would the investigation have been conducted differently?

I do not know, but probably not. The National Directorate is only one and has a very specific understanding and procedures, regardless of whom addressed.

Who chose the laboratory from Birmingham to examine the remains?

The PJ decided that the remains had to be analysed by an English laboratory. Given the campaign that already existed at the time against the PJ. At that time, we had to be fully aware that if the results tested positive, in Portugal, there would be a strong reaction against the competence and capacity of our laboratories. We did so to show confidence in British laboratories. The choice of Birmingham was made by the English police.

It was a strategy? Or was there fear that the samples had not been well received and that they had been contaminated?

It was strategy. We had confidence in the strength of the traces and the competence of our technicians. It was all collected with the utmost care. During the collection, the Portuguese had the technical care to contact the English technicians and follow the information given to them by phone. In particular the remains collected on the tile of the room, so that nothing collapsed on the question of evidence from the collection to the handling and packaging.

But the procedures are not universal? Or did you want to safeguard your position in case of failure?

They are universal. But we wanted to follow to the letter the procedures of the English police because the remains were to be sent to an English laboratory.

Were you not confident in the Portuguese technicians?

I had and still have absolute confidence. But we wanted someone who the British police would also agree with what they were doing to that later, no one could see that the remains were poorly collected.

It was a kind of defence before the attack?

That's more or less it.

The line is that you advocate accidental death in the apartment with the involvement of parents. But the book raises suspicions about David Payne. It seems a contradiction.

Nobody can say that the two have no relationship until they are investigated. I have suspicions about this gentleman or against anyone. Only I can see that there are situations that were unclear. There is a testimony from a couple of British doctors who say that in September 2005, when holidaying with the McCanns in Majorca and other couples, they became aware of behaviours that are not normal for them and that they related to this gentleman. The couple went to British police as soon as they saw them on television and the evidence only came to Portugal on 26 October. They say they saw Payne put a finger in his mouth, and move it in and out, whilst rubbing his nipple with the other hand. And speaking of what Madeleine would do, next to the father, Gerry. These testimonials from doctors, as credible as the McCanns, should have had another treatment by the police.

And what did the PJ do when they finally received this information?

Nothing. Not even included in the letter of any investigation related to this episode.

David Payne, in your opinion, may have something to do with the disappearance of Madeleine?

I do not know why it was not investigated properly as it should, in my opinion, have been. He was the last to see Madeleine alive after 17.30 hours, when she left the nursery. Gerry was playing tennis and asked him to look in on Kate and the kids. Gerry replies that he was in the apartment and she (Madeleine) was there. He returned 30 minutes later. Kate says it was 30 seconds. Something that does not fit together.

In the book you say that he was recognised by a social worker. What did you intend by reporting this episode?

Only that people realised that it is one more situation that was not investigated. The following morning to the disappearance, a social worker of English nationality in the Algarve offers to help, but she was almost ill-treated (offended) by the couple, apparently by indication of this man [David Payne]. This man is recognised by the social worker as already having passed in a process, in an investigation, without her being able at the time to tell if it was in the quality (status) of a witness or as in another processual figure [means a judicial status like arguido or suspect]. If he has or not some relation with the death, I do not know. But these are situations that could not have passed in clear (without being investigated), as they were. They should have been checked.

How did Robert Murat become a translator for the accused?

There were many difficulties in finding translators. We needed him because many had to listen to many people. It was the GNR who suggested the name of Robert Murat because he spoke fluent Portuguese and English. He was known by the military to have helped informally in some translations. He was now accused by a number of factors combined. There is a testimony of Jane Tanner that recognises him from the view of his back and assures that this is the man who she saw that night passing with a child.

But Jane Taner was a credible witness?

Never was. But there were other things. Phone calls from anonymous people who came to mention it as a possible abduction.

These anonymous phone calls took place before or after being recognised by Jane Tanner?

I do not know need, but it was certainly before he was made arguido. Either way, nothing has been found that links Robert Murat in this case.

Recently you said that there is much you know and have not written. Is there something that has been purposely left out?

It is logical that yes.

What and for what purpose?

I cannot disclose it.

It leaves room for a second book, for example?

Maybe. Let's see.


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