In part two of our interview with Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, the authors explain more about the background to their new book Looking for Madeleine, their thoughts on the police investigations so far, and what may now lie ahead in this extraordinary case.
How did you conduct your research? What was the process you followed?
First and foremost, we spent months doing what we have done on our previous eight books, reading all possible available documentation – in many cases a logistic challenge because of the Portuguese language factor. All of this was sorted and allocated and built into a vast chronology. Chronology, carefully assembled, is the key to investigation – whether by law enforcement or non-fiction authors.
When did you come to the conclusion that Kate and Gerry McCann played no part in covering up their daughter’s disappearance and that claims of this are unfounded?
Were we to have to put a date on this current view of ours, we would say it was at the stage a few months ago when – after all the months of analysing the available evidence and testimony – we were finalizing the manuscript.
Can your book be accurately considered as ‘the definitive account’ of this unsolved case?
Note that our publisher has said that the book is “the most definitive account possible.” Possible at this time. We hope and believe that it is exactly the case at this point, as of September 2014. Events yet to occur may change that and – as and when they do – we would hope to update our work.
Your book has been described as ‘a whitewash’ and ‘propaganda,’ and criticism has been levelled at the amount of ‘spin’ it received in the British media before publication? What is your reaction to this?
It is emphatically not a whitewash, whether or not those making the allegations choose to believe it or not. Should they look at the available evidence and testimony, and in turn how we report it in Looking for Madeleine, they will find such allegations untenable. We know of no articles about us or the book that could be called "spin.” There have been news stories based on the information in the book - that is reporting.
How would you sum up the way in which the investigations have been conducted over the past seven years?
A muddle of events and developments, poorly reported and – because of the lengthy lapse of time after the case was archived – critically interrupted. Hopefully, with both nations’ police forces for some time now engaged in systematic fresh work, lost ground may be retrieved.
How relevant is the Gamble report discussed on Sky TV shortly before publication of the book?
The report written by former Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre head Jim Gamble and his team has not been released. In an interview for our book, Gamble discussed it, we believe, more openly and at greater length than ever before, and this was justifiably newsworthy. The inclusion of this self-critique of British law enforcement’s role in the investigation, from a senior source, was welcome and long overdue. The first Portuguese investigation has been widely criticised, often exaggeratedly and in a way that seemed xenophobic. The new openness from the
Gamble may go some way to redressing the balance. Once it becomes ethically possible,
Portuguese law enforcement may perhaps offer similar up-to-date background.
Should that occur, we would be glad to report it in a new edition of Looking
for Madeleine. UK
How long do you expect the investigation to continue?
Rather than speak in terms of months or weeks, we hope the investigations by both Portuguese and British law enforcement will be allowed to continue until they have followed up on all the lines of inquiry they regard as necessary. We hope the climate of public opinion in both countries develops positively, in a way that favours true international cooperation. Unbiased, moderate media reporting could do much to make this possible.
Do you think the mystery will ever be solved?
A major breakthrough would be a forensic lead. Any trace, dead or alive, of Madeleine. The police never forget, though, that someone, somewhere, knows – or suspects they have knowledge – of what happened to Madeleine. Someone’s wife, someone’s brother or sister or friend. Someone who noticed something but has until now kept it to themselves. What cold case investigators always hope for is that some hitherto unknown witness or witnesses will come forward with the fragment of information that can break the case. It’s happened in the past, and could yet happen in the case of Madeleine.