Saturday, June 22, 2013

Madeleine and the UK prosecutors

Reports that top officials from the Crown Prosecution Service in London have had discussions in Lisbon with their Portuguese counterparts about the Madeleine McCann case have sparked yet more intrigue in a six-year saga brimming over with controversy and mystery.
In breaking the latest story, the London Evening Standard noted it was the first time that CPS lawyers had visited Portugal in connection with the Metropolitan Police’s £5 million review of the case and that it brought “new hope.”
First reports gave the impression that the CPS visit to Lisbon was very recent. In fact, Alison Saunders, the senior crown prosecutor for London, and her colleague Jenny Hopkins, head of the complex casework unit, visited in April.
 “The visit of Saunders and Hopkins, accompanied by Met investigators, is a significant development – and adds to speculation that the Met are about to begin a new investigation into the disappearance of the three-year-old in May 2007,” said the Guardian.
Amid conjecture over who might be included in the “people of interest” likely to be questioned in any fresh inquiry, both sides in the heated public debate over what may have happened to Madeleine have taken heart from the CPS involvement.
 The Sun declared that “Brit prosecutors have been to Portugal in the hunt for Madeleine McCann’s kidnapper — signalling fresh momentum in the bid to solve the mystery.”
The Independent said the prosecutors discussed “new leads.” The Daily Telegraph reported that the meeting was held to discuss “possible next steps.”
In fact, we do not know what was discussed in Lisbon, only that the CPS visit was conducted in total secrecy. And it should be remembered that in English law public prosecutors - the CPS - do not investigate crimes. That is the role of the police. The CPS decides on sufficiency of evidence and then decides whether it is in the public interest to prosecute.
With this in mind, a key question: Were the visitors testing the sufficiency of the Portuguese evidence on various points so as to be able to prosecute in the UK?
Another question: By announcing the visit to the press in recent days was the idea to tempt revealing words or actions by the person or persons responsible for Madeleine’s disappearance?
Having held the talks in April, the London prosecutors have perhaps had sufficient time to make a report and forward it for consideration to the British Home Secretary, Theresa May. It is for her to decide what the next step should be.
Speculation among newspaper readers and in online forums has been ratcheted up, but, much more importantly, there is fresh reason to hope that real progress towards justice in this case may now be on the way. 

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