Inside Out – Madeleine Foundation – Full Transcript and Video
MARIE ASHBY – PRESENTER Hello – tonight Inside Out is at Rothley in Leicestershire to ask who are the Madeleine Foundation? The missing three year old’s parents say they just add to their anguish.
KATE MCCANN There’s a certain group out there who, this is their job really, is to pick on a vulnerable family. And I am sure after us they’ll move onto another family.
MARIE ASHBY – PRESENTER And the villagers digging their own broadband network.
MALE VILLAGER This village will be transformed from a location that has broadband that’s not fit for purpose, in fact not available, to be literally the fastest village for broadband in the country.
MARIE ASHBY – PRESENTER They’ve been described as the club for sickos who distribute vile leaflets. Their members insist they’re only trying to discover out what happened to Madeleine McCann. But the parents of the missing youngster say the so-called Madeleine Foundation is hindering the search for their daughter and adding to their anguish. Simon Hare has been investigating.
SIMON HARE Well its a Saturday afternoon and most people are busy enjoying their weekend. But somewhere here in Nottingham a group of people have got together to discuss the Madeleine McCann case. Hello, Simon… Secrecy surrounds what’s billed as the annual conference of the self-appointed Madeleine Foundation. They’ve said I can attend but I have to wait for news of the location. I’m told to make my way to a hotel with conference facilities but this just proves to be a meeting place. I’m then taken to the real venue, a room in this village hall at Nuttall. A member takes some photos including one of me. Chairman, Grenville Green, from Nottingham is also happy to be pictured and the organisation’s secretary and co-founder, Tony Bennett, is keen to promote his new book made up of selected extracts from the case files. There were nineteen people at the meeting and I was told that they’d come from all over the country and one couple had even come from northern Francel They didn’t want cameras to come in but they did allow me to sit there and take notes. They discussed many aspects of the McCann case and they also sold me a copy of their new book. But at the moment I still don’t feel that I’m any nearer to understanding exactly what the Madeleine Foundation is about.
BBC PRESENTER Well among those reporters is Simon Hare from East Midlands Today. He joins us now from Portugal.
SIMON HARE But I do know something about the Madeleine McCann case.
Good evening and yes…
I was part of the East Midlands Today team that covered the events in Portugal. I interviewed the McCanns in Praia da Luz.
KATE MCCANN It really does give you great strength, really to see everybody in the villages, you know, giving us all their support and love and everything.
SIMON HARE And three months later I was in Portimao when they were made official suspects.
SIMON HARE IN PORTIMAO The crowd of onlookers, hundreds of people have turned out, many booed Kate McCann as she arrived here…
A development, largely thanks to this man. The Portuguese detective, Goncalo Amaral.
GONCALO AMARAL POrtuguese comments
SIMON HARE But he was taken off the case and in 2008 the McCanns had their suspect status removed.
KATE MCCANN We welcome the news today although it is no cause for celebration.
SIMON HARE And won libel damages for some of the lurid press coverage they’d received. A year later, front page news of a different kind, thanks to the Madeleine Foundation.
FEMALE TV PRESENTER People living in Madeleine McCann’s home village say that they are sickened that they’re now being targeted by a campaign to re-open the case against her parents.
MALE TV PRESENTER A group claiming to want ‘Justice for Madeleine’ says it believes she wasn’t abducted. Its been sending hundreds of leaflets around the area calling for support.
SIMON HARE It delivered 150 leaflets to homes in the McCann’s own neighbourhood repeating the now discredited Amaral theory that Madeleine had died in her parent’s holiday apartment and they had covered it up.
FEMALE TV PRESENTER And the people in Rothley who spoke to us today say they’re horrified.
LOCAL MALE Its absolutely repugnant, I think personally.
LOCAL FEMALE 1 I just think its sad and sick that people have got nothing else better to do with their time.
SIMON HARE I would meet all of the four people who delivered the leaflets that day, among them Debbie Butler, the Foundation’s former chairman and co-founder who appeared on the BBC to justify their actions.
DEBBIE BUTLER Its a nationwide campaign. We need to put the leaflets into as many doors as possible…
SIMON HARE She’s since fallen out with Tony Bennett and is no longer a member of the Foundation but she agreed to meet me near her home in Kent.
DEBBIE BUTLER Mr. Bennett decided that we would go into that area. I’d never been there. He’d been there before. I found out he had been there before. Erm, he knew where we were going. I drove. We had Grenville Green with us and Helene Davies, his wife. We visited the farm that Kate had taken the children to and had some lunch there. Mr. Bennett leafletted there alone and instructed me to go and leaflet in the immediate area where the McCanns live. Erm, which I did with Helene. And then he told me that I must leaflet their road which I did. I was doing it with Helene but Helene’s legs just went to jelly and she wouldn’t do it so I did. I didn’t leaflet their own home at all.
SIMON HARE Tony Bennett denies he told Debbie Butler what to do that day. BUt both were subsequently pursued by the McCann’s lawyers and in November last year, Mr. Bennett assured the High Court that he wouldn’t distribute any more of the leaflets or he could lose fifty thousand pounds and even go to prison for contempt of court.
(Video of leaflet distribution.)
TONY BENNETT About the Madeleine McCann case.
SIMON HARE But by this summer, Tony Bennett was distributing a new leaflet.
He’s come to Bristol for what’s billed as Goncalo Amaral Awareness Day. He’s accompanied by another Foundation member who’s a little camera shy (Camera follows the person around a lamp post unsuccessfully attempting to get a picture.) Are you hiding? Right, I’m going round this side of the pillar. I’m going round this side.
LEAFLET RECIPIENT 1 There’s some evil people…
TONY BENNETT There are some evil people
LEAFLET RECIPIENT 1 …thoroughly evil and I don’t know what to say. I think she’s just been stolen.
LEAFLET RECIPIENT 2 There’s a conspiracy theory about everything though isn’t there?
TONY BENNETT True, true, about many things, yeah yeah, yeah. Yeah there is.
People think that we are representing the McCanns in some way.
SIMON HARE Does that worry you?
TONY BENNETT Err, not really no. Because its the chance to explain to people, erm, what we’re about and that there is a big mystery at the heart of this case.
WOMAN ON STREET I wouldn’t dare say on record what I thought because I’d be sued.
TONY BENNETT The NSPCC say that, erm, you should never ever leave children of that age on their own even for thirty seconds…
MALE ON STREET No matter where you are… The only place you’re safe… (difficult to understand this man – open to correction here)
WOMAN ON STREET I think nobody had the right to take her anyway.
TONY BENNETT Yeah, that’s right.
People will no doubt have been reading the leaflets as they pass round the town. Not one person has come back to complain at all and say this is outrageous.
SIMON HARE But in the afternoon, there are a number of hostile reactions.
FEMALE TEENAGER It just seems a bit hard to start a whole campaign against it when
if she is abducted they’re clearly struggling, dealing with the grief already.
TONY BENNETT The question is if. If she was abducted.
2ND FEMALE TEENAGER And you don’t find what you’re doing at all disrespectful?
TONY BENNETT Erm, you could call it disrespectful…
2ND FEMALE TEENAGER I’m not going to read it because I think its a little bit sick and very disrespectful so…
TONY BENNETT That’s OK. OK.
MALE TEENAGER I think its a bit distasteful.
FEMALE ON STREET I have a two year old daughter, so you know, if I had lost my daughter like that woman has, I wouldn’t want to think that someone was out saying that in the street.
SIMON HARE A few days later after hundreds of copies have been handed out he agrees to the McCann’s lawyers demand not to distribute this latest leaflet.
SIMON HARE They didn’t want to talk to us about Tony Bennett’s campaign but on the third anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance Gerry and Kate McCann seemed to allude to the Foundation.
LORRAINE KELLY You know even to this day there are people who are convinced that you had something to do with it. How on earth do you deal with that?
KATE MCCANN Well, I think, I mean I think its changed. Certainly we don’t get the same level of criticism that we did and even then to be fair it was the minority really. I think most people even if, you know, they don’t agree with, you know, what we did, they wouldn’t feel it rightor fair to add to our suffering. But having said that, I mean I think there’sjust a small minority now and you know there’s a certain group out there who this is their job really, is to pick on avulnerable family, and I am sure after usthey’ll move on to another family.
SIMON HARE I think she meant you!
TONY BENNETT I didn’t hear that. I don’t know whether she meant us or not, but, erm, we are focused on this particular case. Erm, I…, my focus is on the truth. The focus of other members of the Madeleine Foundation is exactly the same. I haven’t got any history of pursuing individuals.
SIMON HARE Tony Bennett previously tried and failed to bring a private prosecution against the McCanns for child neglect.
In 2006 he attempted to mount a private prosecution of Michael Barrymore in relation to the night Stewart Lubbock died at the TV entertainer’s home. Another high profile case at the centre of a media frenzy.
Tony Bennett first came to prominence by taking direct action over the metrification of signs.
TONY BENNETT The majority of people don’t want to see kilometres and metres on their road signs.
SIMON HARE A cause which won a lot of support.
VOICE ON VIDEO A little bit higher as if you’re… There you go.
SIMON HARE He then began removing road signs to campaign for the re-introduction of old county boundaries.
TONY BENNETT I think the majority of the public would like to see these signs, “Welcome to Lancashire”, on the correct county border.
SIMON HARE Unlike some of his Madeleine Foundation colleagues, he appears to like the cameras and notoriety. Last year he could be clearly seen, sat behind Gerry McCann as he gave evidence to a Parliamentary Sub Committee on the Press and Privacy. Tony Bennett later posted on the internet,
TONY BENNETT It was to send out a quiet message. We are looking over his shoulder checking out what he and his team are saying, watching them.
GERRY MCCANN I think for me its about responsibility and reporting truth and not making innuendo and speculation appear as fact.
FEMALE MP’S VOICE I wonder how some of them can live with themselves.
TONY BENNETT If it is certain that she was abducted then we are adding to their anguish.
SIMON HARE Does that not bother you, I mean you are a father, you’re a grandfather?
TONY BENNETT Erm. I am persuaded that there are still questions to be answered, and err, err, as I say, I have to be careful what I say, but I do question their version of events and whether in fact Madeleine was abducted, as do many other people.
SIMON HARE But you don’t know what happened, I don’t know.
TONY BENNETT No I don’t.
SIMON HARE Only those responsible truly know what happened.
TONY BENNETT I agree, I agree..so we don’t know what happened, so why can’t we say, err, why can’t we..? After all, if I’m making bad points, if we’re making bad points on our website they can be challenged, and refuted easily can’t they?
SIMON HARE The internet is awash with forums and message boards about Madeleine. Some of these sites have seen threats of violence made towards the McCann’s and their family home here at Rothley. Inside Out understands that the police have become involved in the past. People who post on these forums describe themselves as pro and anti McCann. Those connected to the Madeleine Foundation have also been subjected to threats.
DEBBIE BUTLER Half past twelve one night my phone rang and err, I was told I’d be stabbed in front of my son straight through my heart. I phoned the police. Erm, I’ve had other threats.
SIMON HARE The Madeleine Foundation has come to London. They are delivering more letters to both the Portuguese and British Governments.
TONY BENNETT (to police officer) So what happens? We knock on the door and somebody comes and receives it? OK, yeah.
SIMON HARE The latest leaflet that they had agreed to stop distributing has made a comeback.
TONY BENNETT Well we’ve had a rethink on that and we see no reason why we shouldn’t distribute it. We weren’t threatened with any libel action or anything like that. We took the decision three months ago not to distribute it but we’ve reconsidered and see no reason why we shouldn’t distribute it, especially on Goncalo Amaral’s birthday!
SIMON HARE But in July, the McCann’s lawyers, Carter Ruck, had threatened to take Tony Bennett back to the High Court. Their letter felt that the former solicitor had failed to grasp how libel laws work. And it said they would also pursue any other of the members of the Foundation who delivered the leaflets. (???)… the two remaining Rothely leafleters, didn’t go to London. Grenville Green and his wife Helene Davis-Green have stepped down from the Foundation committee after she was described by the Sun as a sicko who distributes vile leaflets.
HELENE DAVIS-GREEN (talking of mushrooms) Most people will avoid these because some of them are poisonous…
SIMON HARE She was back in the public eye as she stood as a UKIP candidate in the General election.
HELENE DAVIS-GREEN Apparently throwing out the odd insult isn’t breaking their code of conduct.
SIMON HARE It’s an example of free speech that her husband doesn’t like. At the beginning of the year Grenville Green went to Portugal to attend a Court hearing about Goncalo Amaral’s controversial book.
GRENVILLE GREEN Why am I here? It’s freedom of speech isn’t it? If someone has a difference of opinion to someone else, you shouldn’t have lots of money to close you down, and shut you up and make you quiet, if you’ve got a difference of opinion. This is why I’m here. Its freedom of speech, freedom of expression.
SIMON HARE (to Goncalo Amaral) Is your book hurting the McCanns, sir?
GONCALO AMARAL (disputed speech – possibly PT or ENG.)
GRENVILLE GREEN This man is a folk hero, a sort of a modern-day Robin Hood, if you like. It’s like a David and Goliath fight. If something is right you know it’s right. If something is wrong, you know it is wrong.
TONY BENNETT There are always going to be those who entirely believe the McCann’s account and regard me as evil and perverted for what I am doing. On the other hand there are those who have got legitimate questions and fully support what we are doing.
SIMON HARE Earlier this month the McCanns launched an online petition calling for the investigation into their daughter’s disappearance to be independently reviewed.
GERRY MCCANN There is absolutely no evidence that Madeleine has been seriously harmed so without that, we’ve got to believe that we can still find her. It’s difficult we know that, and that’s why we are asking for help and we need the assistance. And the authorities need to do more.
SIMON HARE Last week the McCanns revealed they are now writing their own book. In a statement on their website, Kate McCann said, “My reason for writing is simple, to give an account of the truth”. Just like that GMTV interview I can’t help but feel that that was partly aimed at the Madeleine Foundation.