MARK SAINSBURY They are the parents who simply won’t let go. For Kate and Gerry McCann the nightmare began four years ago. On a family holiday in Portugal they made a decision they will regret for the rest of their lives. They left their children in their apartment while they ate dinner just a few metres away. They checked them regularly but later that evening the horrifying discovery. Little Madeleine, nearly four, was missing. Not a sign, not a clue. In the ensuing investigation the couple, both doctors, found themselves listed as suspects. The Portuguese investigation came up with nothing, but for the last four years Kate and Gerry McCann have done everything they can to keep Madeleine’s case in the public eye. Now Kate has written a very frank, very raw book simply titled, “Madeleine”. Kate and Gerry McCann join me now live from our London studio. Look tell us this happened overnight your time, this development with the British Prime Minister. What hope does that give you?
GERRY MCCANN Well, its definitely a positive step, Mark. The Prime Minister has intervened and he’s committed the Metropolitan Police to review all of the files that they have available to them. So we are pleased because this is one of our, err, major concerns is that no-one in law enforcement has been looking for Madeleine and there’s a huge amount of information there and it hasn’t been looked over with a fine tooth comb. So from our point of view we were calling on the government to do more and this morning in UK we are more reassured now that our Government are pulling the stops out and trying to aid the search for Madeleine. That has been lacking in the last two and a half years.
MARK SAINSBURY Because, Kate, in your book you are scathing about the Portuguese investigators. They did you and Madeleine a disservice?
KATE MCCANN Well certainly what happened in August, September 2007, Mark, erm, I just found very hard to accept really and the hardest thing for us was knowing that nobody was looking for Madeleine at that point. If the police were concentrating on us then they weren’t looking for our daughter and the person who took her and, erm, that’s what upset me the most.
MARK SAINSBURY The police did concentrate on you. Can I ask you both, to be accused of the involvement in your own child’s disappearance, there can’t be anything worse for a parent?
GERRY MCCANN Well I think the worse thing for us was Madeleine’s abduction. That really was the most terrifying experience, I think, a parent can experience. The point where things became awful was when lies and misinformation and smears were given to the media portraying that Madeleine was dead and there was evidence to incriminate us which is just completely unacceptable and I have to say at that point, at the end of August, beginning of September 2007 I did think our whole family could be destroyed and thankfully with the support we’ve had from friends, family, the general public, from around the world. We’ve got good friends in New Zealand as well. That’s managed to get us through it.
MARK SAINSBURY Kate, in the book you talk about the fact that at the time that it happened, you appeared and you admit this, you appeared cold and detached. Do you think that added to the suspicions people had that you were involved?
KATE MCCANN Possibly, I mean I think I’ve learnt a lot about human nature over the last four years and how people, and myself included pre-2007, are ready to judge people by the way they look. You know, who’s to say how a mother should react when a child’s abducted. What you see on camera, Mark, is very different to what goes on behind closed doors and I know how much I was suffering, how much Gerry was suffering and all that was witnessed by our friends and family.
MARK SALISBURY You know……
KATE MCCANN There were times when we, sorry. I was just going to say, there were times when we were obviously in public and doing appeals for Madeleine. And we knew at that point we had a job to do. We had to do that for Madeleine and it was really important that we delivered that message. So sometimes you just have to reel yourself in and do it for your child and then you know inevitably the emotion comes after.
MARK SAINSBURY The blame game and the fingerpointing continues. I mean, even on our website when you were coming on people are writing in and they asked a question you must have been asked a million times, how could you have left your child alone in an apartment?
GERRY MCCANN Well the most important thing is that we didn’t even perceive any risks there, Mark. We’re very responsible parents and we felt incredibly safe. And I don’t know if you know Praia da Luz well but it really is a very family orientated resort. It was off season. It was very quiet and there was nothing to make us feel suspicious and I’ve said this before for us it was a bit like, we were so close, it was a bit like dining in your garden and going back to check the children weren’t crying. And I think that the difficulty we’ve had with this is, we’ve expressed our remorse and of course the guilt that we feel about this but the key thing is the person responsible for the crime is still at large and at the minute they’re faceless and blameless and what we need to do is find Madeleine and bring those responsible for her abduction to justice.
KATE MCCANN If we could turn the clock back, Mark, and change that decision obviously we would, you know. Obviously, we would you know. But all we can do now is absolutely everything in our power to find Madeleine and you know, I do believe we’ve done that.
MARK SAINSBURY You both believe that Madeleine is still alive?
GERRY MCCANN Certainly as parents what we are certain about is that there’s no evidence that Madeleine has come to physical harm and I’m sure every parent can understand that you’re not going to accept that your child’s dead without concrete proof and the other thing that has come into the public consciousness is these high profile cases where children have been taken and kept for many years. And the experience from the United States is that the younger the child the more likely they’ve been taken to be kept. So there are a lot of logical reasons for us to believe that Madeleine’s still alive and I think everyone can understand that we can’t give up even though at times the search and everything that we do and Kate writing the book. It is exhausting.
MARK SAINSBURY Kate, I mean someone like Jaycee Dugard when she is found, how do you react when you see that story?
KATE MCCANN I was actually in Liverpool, at my mum and dads at the time when the news broke and my initial reaction as I heard the story was how tragic basically that her childhood had been taken away from her and, you know, her family had been without her for so long, you know. Eighteen years is just, you know, I can’t think about it, you know, but I couldn’t think four years ago, you know, when Madeleine was taken. But as the story unfolded, I thought well this is positive because, you know, if you ask Jaycee or her family are you happy about, of course they are joyous that they’ve found her and they can rebuild the future for her and for all the family. So it was definitely a positive and I think it also demonstrated I think to the general public that children can disappear off the radar for long periods of time and turn up after being in a situation which nobody would have believed, you know. I think we’re all too ready to right off people that go missing and cases like this demonstrate that we just can’t give up. We need to keep looking.
MARK SAINSBURY What is remarkable and you talk about this in your book is that your relationship survived. Because in just about every case where something as traumatic as this has happened, the marriage has not survived.
KATE MCCANN I mean thats right. I mean we’re lucky because I think we had a very strong base to our relationship beforehand and as Gerry’s mentioned we’ve had incredible support and you can’t underestimate that. The reason why I spoke about it in my book is I want my book to be real and as honest as possible and it would be unrealistic, you know, not to talk about things which obviously are a direct result of, you know, something as tragic as this. It inevitably impacts on all aspects of your life and that includes our marriage, our relationship as well.
MARK SAINSBURY Gerry, Kate talked about you reacted to it in different ways and that in some ways you were able to get back on with life ostensibly a little bit earlier. Does that cause strain between you?
GERRY MCCANN It did. I think our immediate reactions were the same. It was just that I. Something kicked in in me much quicker within days. In fact even on the first night when I did the appeal there was something saying to me, ‘We need to be doing something. Trying to take control.” Because when your child’s taken from you you feel completely and utterly helpless. And I suppose it was almost therapeutic for me when we started the campaign proper. I thought I was doing something that would help the search and that helped me recover. And along the lines we’ve recovered a long way and you can see now we’re more or less at the same place but there were times when I thought would Kate ever get back to, you know, near normal. And that was hard and, but I think good communication is really really important and we had a lot of help from a counsellor who was brilliant, who specialises in crisis psychology essentially and it had an amazing effect on both of us. I can’t speak highly enough of the benefit of it actually.
MARK SAINSBURY You both had strong Christian beliefs. I mean you were even comforted by the Pope. Does it make you doubt your belief in God?
KATE MCCANN There’ve certainly been times, Mark, in the last four years when I’ve doubted God and I’ve got angry and I think 2008 was probably my most wobbly period I guess. You know, I’ve said in my book, you know I’ve never blamed God for what has happened to Madeleine. You know, the abductor is responsible for that but it just seemed there was an awful lot of injustice that seemed to be dumped at our door really in the last four years. And I think it got to a point where I just didn’t think I could handle any more and I couldn’t understand why one family had to suffer so much. And it was those times really that I kind of found myself saying to God, you know, “What is going on? I mean if you’re there surely you wouldn’t allow this to happen?” You know I think that’s understandable really. But I’m still hanging in there and my faith’s still there. You know, we’ve been surrounded by so much goodness, I mean I can’t speak enough about it, to be honest, its really shown that the majority, the vast majority of the human race are just really good and kind people.
MARK SAINSBURY There’s still the other lot of
GERRY MCCANN There’s been so many people
MARK SAINSBURY I was going, sorry I was going to say, Gerry there are the other ones though. Do people ever just come up to you and accuse you to your face?
GERRY MCCANN That’s never happened, I have to say ever. And the vast majority of people are incredibly supportive. Even when we were made arguido. Even when the headlines were at their worst and when we first came back to the UK we were getting hundreds of letters a day that were supportive and only a few that were nasty and that’s continued and I think what we have to be absolutely clear about is the number of people who are on the internet who conduct hate campaigns are very small and I would like to see those people have their lives scrutinised the way that ours has been.
KATE MCCANN You know, Mark, the nasty people are really in the minority and these are the people that hide behind the computer screens and send the anonymous letters. As Gerry said we’d like to know who these people are really.
MARK SAINSBURY Your lives have to carry on. You have two other beautiful children. Is it? How do you carry on, how do you make life normal for them when you’re still grieving for Maddie?
KATE MCCANN I mean I think our life has normalised now. I mean its a different norm I guess. I mean Gerry’s obviously full time at work in the hospital. My job essentially has changed. I mean I haven’t gone back to medicine. I’m working full time really on the campaign to find Madeleine and the last nine months I’ve been writing my book and its probably the hardest job I’ve done to be honest in my life. But for Sean and Amelie they’re like other children. They go to school, they go to birthday parties, swimming lessons. You know we have family time together (GM Yeah) And they’ve learnt to accept. You know children are very resilient and this is their normal life. They know that their big sister is missing. They know that she’s been taken and that’s wrong but they know that we’re trying really hard along with lots of the general public to try and find her.
MARK SAINSBURY Look I know
GERRY MCCANN I think that is really important that Sean and Amelie’s life is normal. They’re incredibly happy children. They give us tremendous joy as well.
MARK SAINSBURY Look I know the proceeds, the proceeds from this book, you are putting into continuing the work, continuing the search for Maddie. This is going to carry on. Before we go do you have a, if anyone is watching, by any coincidence can do anything. What do you want them to do?
GERRY MCCANN I think the thing we would like people to do is visit our website at findmadeleine.com. On there are images of Madeleine, age progression images and we would like you to distribute them to your contacts, put them on your social media pages, join in our find Madeleine Facebook page and just keep that awareness of Madeleine being missing out there because we have no idea where she is and we don’t know who it is thats going to see her and recognise her. So that would help the search.
MARK SAINSBURY Gerry and Kate McCann look we wish you well in the search for Maddie and thank you so much for joining us here on Close Up tonight.