Lorraine Kelly – Now this Saturday will mark seven years since Madeleine McCann went missing while on a holiday in Portugal and from that moment her parents, Kate and Gerry, have campaigned tirelessly for their daughter’s safe return. First let’s remind ourselves of their story.
Video voiceover by LK
This is the final photograph of Madeleine. Hours later she disappeared from her family’s holiday apartment in Portugal while her parents and their friends ate at a nearby restaurant. Her mum and dad began a desperate search for Madeleine with appeals across Europe and a visit to the Pope in Rome. Three months later they were faced with yet more turmoil when they were named as official suspects. There were dozens of reported sightings of Madeleine but a year after her disappearance the Portuguese Inquiry was officially shelved. Kate and Gerry were eventually cleared in July 2008. Employing private investigators and raising money through charity events, their search for Madeleine has never stopped. In 2011 they appealed directly to Prime Minister, David Cameron and within 24 hours he announced funding for a Police Investigative Review Team. In the last six months the investigation has taken a positive turn. Last month new evidence came to light prompting over 500 calls from the public. A potential suspect seen wearing a burgundy top has been linked to the investigation.
LK – Well Gerry and Kate McCann join me now. Thank you for coming in. I can’t believe that it’s seven years. What’s the latest, what do we know, what’s the latest in the investigation?
Gerry McCann – Well I think, er, the progress with, er, the Met Investigative Review has been, er, really quite impressive and, erm, one of the things we were asking for was for all of the information to be reviewed. We’ve had updates on Crimewatch and fresh appeals and literally, erm, the senior detectives told us that hundreds of people have come forward and what they’ve identified now is that there have been a whole series of crimes against young children, British families in the Algarve, er, by people breaking into the apartments and, er, you know they’re potentially linked. Erm and that’s really important information obviously, so we’d really like to thank all those people who came forward. We know that for the families that could be really difficult, err for children who have been traumatised, and many of these cases are going back years so we would really like to thank them but, it’s really building up a picture of what was going on in and around Praia da Luz, erm, and immediately proceeding and after Madeleine being taken so we’re really encouraged by it.
LK – But we’re seven years on, you know we’re seven years on and you’re talking about people coming forward and very, very tough circumstances and that’s hard for you to imagine that anything like that may have happened to your wee girl, that’s the thing. It’s kind of, it’s a difficult one isn’t it.
GM – Yeah, I mean obviously you know, Lorraine, that when Madeleine was first taken that was the only thing we could think about and that was the hardest by far, erm, but there are different scenarios and we’ve seen a whole load of cases of children being recovered after a long time being abducted and held and obviously Madeleine was very young so, erm…
Kate McCann – Of course we don’t know that any of these cases are linked to each other or to Madeleine but I think its common sense really like you, something like that stands out, it needs to be investigated
LK – So, so very hard.
GM – I think, I mean for me the key thing is even though it’s seven years on there is lots and lots of things that still need investigated and lines of enquiry that need followed and I suppose, while we know that there’s lines of enquiries that haven’t been bottomed out then we just want to get on with it and get it done and you know it doesn’t matter so much how long it takes, we’ve just got to get it done.
LK – Where do you two get your strength though, to keep going because it is remarkable.
GM – I get mine from Kate obviously.
LK – Do you both, do you get it from one another?
KM – I think from each other, from our children, from our family and friends, you know.
GM – And the support… We’ve had unbelievable support, erm, not just those who are close to us but public support’s been amazing.
KM – And that’s ongoing you know, which as you say, seven years down the line is quite incredible.
LK – Because, when you think about it, this time seven years ago you were on holiday. It was a normal family holiday, and is it tough to remember a time before Madeleine was taken, is it difficult to, to remember those days you know when things were so very different?
KM – Oh even last week, you know just say for example Twenty Seventh of April, I was thinking, this time seven years ago, you know, everything was as great as it could ever be, you know it’s …
GM – I think for us it.., our life is defined by pre and post the abduction, erm, unfortunately erm, leading up to Portugal having had three very young children and had a.., you know, a tough two or three years, just full on and working etcetera and we are just coming through that and we were… I wouldn’t say that… but life seemed good, really good, Erm, and it’s different now because Sean and Amelie are nine, erm, they’re really good kids, really happy and they bring us tremendous amount of joy, erm, so its very much we were a family of five and now we’re functioning as a family of four
KM – I think the hard thing though and maybe people will think its seven years down the line I guess you… and we have adapted, but still weeks and months rolling by is still incredibly significant for us. So whether Madeleine had been found, you know, after a week, after six months, you know, whether it’s you know seven years and one week, that is better than ten years or whatever so it’s really significant. So for us we want the progress that’s been made by the Met to continue I guess on the ground in Portugal. You know, I guess in truth we’d like them to work as a.., you know, together as a joint….
LK – That would have been good if that had happened from the start.
KM – You know we want, ideally a joint investigation team so the work can be streamlined, Bureaucracy is reduced and, er, progress can be made much quicker because time rolling on for us is still painful and living in a limbo of not knowing is horrible for all our family.
LK – Because she is still very, very much part of your life. She’s very much part of the twins’ life. You know they, presumably they talk about their big sister and you, you know you all talk about her and you, you keep her there as part of your family.
GM – Yeah, no, completely. Erm, er, I think it does get harder as time goes on but very much so, you know, surrounded by photographs, they know that we’re here today and they usually know that the police are investigating, erm, so we keep them as informed as we can.
LK – And also you two do an awful lot of work as well, a lot of running. A lot of running and a lot of fundraising for missing people and does that help you in some way, is that a positive thing for you to do?
KM – Oh it is. I mean I’m sure everybody can understand whenever something terrible happens you want to believe that some good can come out of it, and I believe obviously since Madeleine was taken, you know, the.., the charities work, erm, and all other families who have missing children.., there has been some benefit because of the publicity and the awareness and if we can help in some way with that, that has to be some good that’s come out it.
GM – Yeah, you’ve got to, I think, try and channel it and we’ve had a huge amount of publicity around Madeleine and trying to channel that into effective change and obviously there’s the revamped child rescue alert which Kate’s been involved with promoting, erm, and other things, obviously throughout Europe and trying to get a more.., a more homogenous response to child abduction across the European Union, particularly when the.., we’ve got open borders. It’s really important that there’s cooperation between police forces and it’s a bit like coming back to what we’re trying to facilitate at the minute between the Met and the Portuguese police. Normally you only get cooperation for very serious crimes, drug trafficking things but child abduction is a serious crime and, erm, we really want that those types of strategies that would be used to counter terrorism and drug trafficking etcetera are put in for human trafficking and other crimes against children.
LK – Do you think there will ever be a time where you just think to yourselves “Do you know what, we’ve done enough, we can’t do anymore and, and give up?” Do you think that would ever happen?
KM – Oh no, and I don’t think any parents would really, because if we haven’t found Madeleine or we haven’t found what’s happened then we haven’t done enough, there’s still work to be done. I mean obviously our workload has been reduced or changed, you know, hugely since the, er, the Met came on board, and that’s certainly made our lives a lot easier and great progress has been made to date.
LK – That’s good. Thank you both. Thank you both very much indeed.
KM – Thank you.
LK – I wish you all the very best, I really do and I know that Saturday.., Saturday will be tough for you, Saturday will be tough. Thank you.
KM – Thank you.