After a long wait, the decision from the Appeal Court of Lisbon on the appeal filed by all defendants in what we have called the McCann v Amaral Damages trial has come out.
Unsurprisingly, the decision was in favour of the defendants. Unanimously in favour of them. Overwhelming in favour of them. Totally in favour of them.
The last sentence of the sentence sums it all. Concise and precise: “Costs, in both instances, by the AA., appealed”, The AA. are the Authors/Plaintiffs, the McCanns.
If when in our post “Surreal” (in which we analysed the sentence from the 1st Instance Court) we considered the fact that Mr Amaral had been sentenced to pay a ridiculous amount to the McCanns as a defeat – note, we emphasized then it was a defeat and not the defeat – then now we will have to consider this for what it is, a landslide victory.
At this moment we think a word of gratitude should be said to Leanne Baulch for setting up the GoFund through which we helped support Mr Amaral’s legal fees in this victorious battle.
We remind readers that this GoFund helped us show in our post “Fraud” how really fraudulent the McCann’s Fraudulent fund, also known as the Find Madeleine fund, is.
2. The finish line
We have been asked privately more than once if this decision means that the nightmare for Mr Amaral is over.
No, it isn’t but we would say that if one was to compare his ordeal to a marathon, then he’s now entered the stadium and is running around the track waving to the crowd standing in ovation.
But he hasn’t crossed the finish line yet. He’s still running. Yes, his 2 nearest opponents, by the name of Kate and Gerry are about 15 miles behind and crying with cramp in both legs but the fact is that Mr Amaral hasn’t crossed that line yet.
The finish line are the words “transitado em julgado” (transited in judgement). Between him and them is the appeal to the Supreme Justice Court by the McCann team which we think will be submitted.
3. The McCann appeal
We think the McCann legal team cannot accept defeat, it must be imposed and if there’s still a step to be taken, however innocuous and useless, then it will be taken even if only as we’ve just said, to keep face.
However, having read the Appeal Court’s sentence, we foresee that the Supreme Justice Court will not see any grounds to accept it.
We say this based on the following 2 things:
First, because there are now 2 legal decisions on this particular matter of fact and law, at Appeal Court level, in which both determined that the McCann’s right to a good name and reputation under the presumption of innocence comes second to Mr Amaral’s right to freedom of speech. To appeal based on the conflict of these rights is really calling the Appeal court stupid and stubborn.
Second, because the only pending issue, which was brought up by the 1st Instance Court judge in her sentence, on whether Mr Amaral could not have written the book due to alleged professional limitations of secrecy and reserve, was completely clarified in this sentence:
“Nonetheless, in the appealed decision it was understood that, having the now 1st appellant, Gonçalo Amaral, up until 2/10/2007, been the coordinator of the criminal investigation, related with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, he would be, even after his retirement, in 1/7/2008, subject to the duties of secrecy and reserve, imposed by the regulations of the employees working in the PJ.
And, on such terms, despite the personal reasons invoked in the introductory note of the book, in a situation of conflict with the rights of a good name and reputation of the appealed, he wouldn’t be enjoying, taking into account the results of the investigation, of ample and total freedom of expression – being, as such, his conduct illicit, for the effects of the Artº 484º of the C. Civil (Civil Code).
Of the above, in respect to it, was said, it clearly is inferred that the argumentation cannot be accepted.
In effect, and independently of the reasons invoked by the appellant for the publication, it would be hardly understood that an employee, furthermore retired, would maintain the alluded duties of secrecy and reserve, being limited in his right to have an opinion, relative to facts already made public by the judiciary authority and amply debated (and, in a great measure, by the initiative of the participants themselves) in the media, national and foreign.”
We beg forgiveness for the convoluted language used above but Portuguese legalese is quite a task to translate but we tried to keep it as close to the original as possible.
for forgiveness First, it was an issue brought up by the judge and not by the McCann legal team, so for them to use it would be unbecoming and then this court by saying that it is “hardly understood” to even consider the idea that Mr Amaral could not write the book, leaves very little space – we would even say none – for any sort of contest against what it has ruled.
So it has now been very clearly legally determined that in the cases of the book and documentary Mr Amaral’s right to speak absolutely supersedes the McCann’s right to a good name and reputation from the presumption of innocence and that there’s no professional limitation for Mr Amaral to use all his abilities to speak.
As we’re not seeing any other valid argument to be used in the appeal, we’re not seeing the Supreme Justice Court even accept it for analysis. That doesn’t mean there wont be one. We think there will be, just to save face, even knowing beforehand it will be refused.
4. Replacement of judge
The only other possible argument – note we are excluding it immediately from the valid ones – would be to challenge the nomination of a judge because she had already taken part in the collective of judges who took the decision to overturn the Cautionary Action that had banned Mr Amaral’s book.
We must say upfront that if they filed the appeal based on this argument it would mean that the McCann legal team would be treading very, very dangerous ground. A path they should really think better before walking it.
It would be saying that an Appeal Court judge was unable to judge for herself her own incapacity to judge in this instance or, even worse, that she kept silent when knowing there was a conflict of interest.
This is a very serious accusation to make. Defaming a judge gets one into prison in Portugal, and very swiftly so.
A conflict of interests only exists when there’s a personal relationship between the judge and anyone representing any of the parties under judgement.
A judge is the first one to know if there is a conflict of interest. Implying that the judge didn’t realise there was one is defaming her by calling her incompetent to hold the position she holds, and implying that she tried to get it past her colleagues without them noticing is calling her dishonest, a worse defamation.
It would also seriously put in check the capability of the Appeal Court itself in being able to nominate judges.
Besides, the whole idea is preposterous. If that was possible, a whole team of judges would have to be necessary to judge a reoffending criminal. As if a burglar could not be sent to prison twice by the same judge.
As there are unfortunately many reoffending criminals around in every country, no nation could keep up with the number of judges needed to fulfil such a requirement. Ridiculous.
Also, one appeals to a court, not to a judge. There’s a judge who decides whether the appeal has grounds to be accepted or not and if it is then all happens inside the court. Court, not courtroom. The appeal is sent to a collective of judges for decision. The judges are drawn up by a raffle system to obey the Principle of the Natural Judge. Basically, the parties only get to know who the judges are when they get to read their names in the sentence.
Honestly, we find it very strange for Isabel Duarte ever saying that and we believe what happened was she was probably noting that in both decisions there was the same judge and the whole issue got blown out of proportion to the point of having the McCanns absurdly requesting the replacement of one of the Appeal Court judges.
If she said it, then we must say that she does disappoint us. We do not empathise with the woman but we do not underestimate her professional capabilities.
It took as long as it took because the system is slow by nature and this court is undermanned. In September, as we have said before, we were told then that the decision would only come out in April and it turned out that our source was absolutely correct. The reason given then? Court is undermanned.
To sum up, if the Supreme Justice Court refuses to accept, as we expect it will, then nothing else will stand between Mr Amaral and the sentence transiting in judgement.
Then his marathon will be finished.
Whether he decides to start another is totally up to him. It seems he’s made up his mind about that. But then it will be his decision which we encourage and support.
5. Libel v Damages
In our post “No longer libel, so stop calling it libel” we explained why the trial had nothing to with libel as nowhere did the McCanns say Mr Amaral lied.
They drew the line by saying he couldn’t say what he said, not because it was false but because he should take into account the presumption of innocence.
And because he allegedly did not take that into account, they said they felt their name and reputation had been damaged.
Libel in Portugal is a crime, judged in a criminal court. The McCann v Amaral trial took place in a civil one.
A few days after our post, Mr Amaral gave us full reason, it wasn’t about libel but about damages.
If up to now it was frustrating to see the use of the word libel, as of the 19th it became amusing because now the word is linked to the fact that it is no longer considered libel to say that Maddie is dead, to say that her parents faked her abduction and to say that they helped dispose of her body.
By linking the word libel to the McCann defeat, as the MSM is doing, it achieves just that.
Maybe it’s on purpose. Just saying.
6. A very important witness
The sentence is divided in 4 parts:
- #1, The appeals, one by Mr Amaral (it has 29 bullet points) and the other by Guera & Paz together with Valentim de Carvalho (it has 40 bullet points). The McCanns are only mentioned in a sentence saying they stated they wanted the sentence to be upheld;
- #2. Proven facts in 1st Instance court (83 proven facts);
- #3. Analysis;
- #4. Decision.
We would say that this sentence both in form and content was what we were expecting from the 1st Instance Court a year ago and didn’t get.
An introduction with what each side claimed, what were the proven facts, a short analysis and a decision.
Of this decision, all we can say is that we couldn’t agree more.
Of the analysis, we have already shown in the current post that we are again in full agreement.
Of the proven facts, we did an analysis on them in our post “To haste or not to haste”.
Of the appeals, the only surprise came in finding out the importance that Mr Amaral’s legal team gave to 3 witnesses, and to one in particular, Michael Wright, to prove that Mr Amaral did not cause any special kind of damage to the McCanns with his book and documentary:
“To be noted that, under the terms of the same norm [art. 483º of the Civil Code], besides the illicitness, which is not verified, to sustain the civil indemnity request, it would also be necessary proof of effect [nexo de causalidade] between the defendant’s behaviour and the damages, worthy of notice, suffered by the authors, which, if we pay attention to the responses given to articles 11 and 16 of the instructory base, as well as the respective motivation, is completely set aside.
It should, furthermore, be taken into account that the statements contained in these articles appear to be more like conclusions and not as facts to be taken into an instructory base.
Conclusions which, in any way, are grounded in any factuality, both the contained in that base as in that basis as in what was poured in the pleadings of the authors.
In case, however, by absurdity, they are considered as such (damages of alleged fact, worthy of protection and in some way caused by the book and by the DVD) what is contained in the articles 13º to 15º of the instructory base – nothing else was given as proven as damages – it should be said that they aren’t true.
To assess this falsehood, and in the measure the now appellant understands how infirmed such “facts” are, it will be enough the re-appreciation of the recorded proof, being, the statement of the witness Michael Terrence Wright, the statement of the witness Alan Robert Pike and the statement of the witness Angus Keith McBride.
Statements that show that, even before the publication of the book and the documentary in question, publicly circulated, with the knowledge of the authors, namely in the internet, theories and theses identical to the defendant’s one.
As such, being truthful the sentiments given as proven in the matter of fact now in question, be they of rage, despair, anguish, ill-being or worry, namely as to what the children may come to think, the truth is that the reasons for them already existed before any intervention from the defendant, now appellant.
The same can be said about in respect to the insomnia and lack of appetite.
The court should take into account that the deponents are all close witnesses to the authors (family member, psychologist and lawyer) and that, notably, in their statements, end up always trying to devaluate the theses prior the book and documentary and, naturally, overvalue the impact of these in the spirit of the authors.
Especially in relation to the witness Michael Terence Wright, who was in charge of accompanying the authors, after the disappearance of the minor Madeleine Beth McCann, in the dissemination of campaigns and monitoring some sites and information spread via Internet.
Witness that, when in the summary and critical analysis of the main statements from witnesses, was discredited by the court (and correctly so) by accompanying himself with handwritten notes where appeared in order, in an almost perfect chronological sequence, the topics of the answers to the questions that were made to him in the final hearing.
But whose statement, in this court, when he accepts, evidently against his will, that already before the book and the documentary there circulated adverse theses to the McCann couple – against the defendant/appellant – should, on the contrary, be especially be taken into account.”
Again we apologise for the convoluted legalese.
Of the 29 bullet points, as can be seen, 12 are dedicated to Michael Wright. How grateful must Mr Amaral be that the McCann team decided to call this gentleman to the stand!
What Michael Wright said in court can be read in our McCann v Amaral Lisbon Trial blog.
7. The Emperor and his tailors
We know many have come here today with their heart filled with hope that things are coming to an end soon.
The bad news is that we can’t tell anyone that. We don’t have a crystal ball and we’re not inside the head of those deciding.
But the good news is that for the exact same reasons we can’t state the contrary.
As we have said in our post “The importance of King Richard” it all depends on him and only him, whoever he is.
We are certain that if he could, he would sweep the issue under the carpet but the elephant is too big for that as we have seen.
The Establishment has pretended up to now that the big thing beneath the rug with tusks and a trunk sticking out is just a minor lump on the floor beneath it. It fools no one but until it’s officially said that the Emperor is naked, his non-existing clothes will be the most fashionable ones in the Kingdom.
And that particular story has much use in this case, as it wasn’t the child saying the Emperor had no clothes that made people see that he was walking around without them.
The Emperor knew then as everyone did that he had no clothes on.
Words heard cannot be unheard, we know that, but this story boils down to that single minute in which the Emperor, the King Richard of this story, had to make up his mind: ignore the child and continue the farce or own up to it.
He knew that if he pretended not to have heard the child and have her silenced the consequence would be the awkwardness seen in every face he would look at afterwards and this would go on for the rest of his life as he would have to continue the pretence of being clothed when he and all looking at him saw and knew him naked. And that would be the way he would be remembered in history books.
The other option would be to face the embarrassment and vent his fury on those he would say had fooled him.
We all know he opted for the latter but we do tend to overlook the existence of the first.
If for some reason the tailors had some sort of real crunching power over the Emperor, would he have any other option but the first one?
In the Maddie affair, it’s evident that the tailors have that sort of very significant power over the Emperor.
He has told the tailors they are forcing him to face the crowd naked and they have made him go out that way anyway.
As we have seen over the years many a child has spoken out but their voices were either ignored or smothered.
We think that in the Maddie case the only way the Emperor can decide against his tailors is for him to find leverage that will enable him to do that.
Only one child’s voice, however candid, will not be sufficient. Not even the voices of all children. They are minors and can be ignored.
It requires collective laughter from the entire crowd, from both child and adult alike.
We are the children of that crowd, the MSM the adults. That’s the reality, whether one likes it or not.
The good news is that in the Maddie affair, the adults are now starting to laugh with us.
8. The making of a crowd
Humanity is made up of cowards imagining themselves to be heroes. Before the reader thinks we’re criticising anyone, we’re not, we’re acknowledging the instinct of self-preservation. We all do what we can to protect ourselves and those we are responsible for, and that includes excluding unnecessary risks.
Now that the dawn of truth in the Maddie case is rising, we will see many a plant that was hidden in the soil in self-protection, to start to bloom. “Adult” and “children” alike. Do not criticise them, welcome them instead.
They are the ones, together with us, who will make up the chorus that will give the Emperor the necessary leverage to face the tailors and end this farce.
And the good thing is that we have been watching that many such flowers are starting to bloom.
We have already mentioned how the MSM has been using the word libel. How it’s showing that to call the McCann bluff is no longer considered libellous – it was never libellous, only the Establishment having made sure we all felt the fear associated with it.
No pejorative adjectives used against Mr Amaral. If it wasn’t the use by some tabloids of the word cop instead of detective, we would say the MSM is indeed joining the chorus. If one considers that cop is the appropriate word in the tabloid vocabulary used to say detective, then one could even say the entire MSM has joined.
Even the Star, the only – yes, the only – paper to side with the McCanns in the summer of 2011, has put a very compromising headline for the McCanns: “Maddie: cop wins right to accuse parents”. The main headline of its front page.
Women have won the right to be treated equally. Gays have won the right not to be discriminated. Black people of the US and of South Africa won the right to be an integral part of their societies.
People who win rights are the one who hold reason. Especially when they are resilient in fighting for them.
And isn’t the verb to accuse really a strong one to use? And even more so when preceded by righteousness.
All media, both serious and otherwise, reported the story. Even outside Portugal and the UK. The message is the same: McCanns sued Mr Amaral and came back empty handed.
A public and notorious humiliation.
The perception the general public now has is that it was confirmed Mr Amaral was telling the truth and the McCanns are lying. The public feels Mr Amaral was vindicated. If popularity were shares in a stock market, the McCann ones would be very difficult to get rid of. Even for free. Even if one paid for someone to take them.
The pressure on the UK is simply enormous. The Emperor without clothes in the childrens story faced less pressure when he stood as he came to this world before the crowd.
9. Banning in 21st Century UK
But the most significant thing that happened as a reaction to the sentence was the Mirror’s article in which the McCanns threaten to sue anyone caught selling Mr Amaral’s book in the UK.
Suddenly the UK has become Nazi Germany when books were burned. And it has become a state like North Korea in which what is true outside its borders is only true if first is true inside them.
And if the truth is not true inside them then it must be persecuted and those helping it spread be severely and exemplarily punished.
But at least in Nazi Germany and in North Korea these rules were set by the state.
In 21st Century UK they are set by a couple of doctors from Rothley.
And the entire UK – as far as we know it is still so – kneels before them.
In 21st Century UK, little Bogeyman Jr is cautioned when he goes to bed by his parents, Mr and Mrs Bogeyman, that they will call the McCanns if he doesn’t behave well.
One wonders if they are going to sue Katie Hopkins because of her tweet: “The words you can't seem to say @BBCNews are 'The Truth of the Lie.' Back on shelves soon”?
They have to if they meant their threat.
Katie Hopkins is giving explicitly more publicity to the book then any bookstore by putting it on its shelves. She now has 636,000 followers. That’s 636,000 people who have asked to read it.
One must add many more who don’t follow her but read her.
Many of whom, both followers and non-followers, who don’t follow the Maddie case were just informed what the title of the book was. And a picture of its cover.
McCanns must sue Hopkins otherwise their threat is only filled with hot air.
We would really be curious to see if the UK Justice System would pretend to ignore the decision taken by its Portuguese counterpart and how it would react when it would be brought in as evidence.
10. The forbidden fruit
People seem to be misreading this threat. Yes, they really have to be very desperate to pull such a similar stunt. As always we ask our readers to please look a little further than what is placed in front of them.
What are the 2 main characteristics of this piece of news? It’s obnoxious and ridiculous.
Unusually obnoxious and unusually ridiculous. Way too much of both to be just them.
The reason, in our opinion, is to make people go search for the book. The forbidden fruit effect. Is it forbidden? Then one just needs to have it, doesn’t one?
Take for example one of the many Katie Hopkins’ followers who are not familiar with the case. She says the title and the obnoxious couple threatens to sue anyone selling it. What is the natural reaction but to go search it online.
In fact, one of the best ways to boost sales of a book in this world connected online is to be able to get it banned.
Will the McCanns also sue Luisa Zissman for wanting to read Mr Amaral’s book: “I really want to read the book "Truth of the lie" by Gonzalo Amaral re the Madeline McCann case. Where can I get English copy”?
They should as Luisa Zissman has 575,000 followers.
Please note the same spelling mistake in Mr Amaral’s name as the one made by the Mirror. Was it from Katie Hopkins that Luisa got the name of the book right and from the Mirror the want to read it?
11. The rising of the voices
So the crowd, in our opinion, is leaving little space for King Richard to decide against it. The leverage he has against the tailors is gaining an unstoppable momentum.
Then voices like those of Craig Murray start to appear.
As he says: “I have a confession to make. Back in 2014 I posted that I was going to write something further on the subject of the McCanns. In the end I did not, because I was surprised by the strong emotional reaction I received, from a number of decent people, who were enraged that I might be prepared to write something not to the McCanns’ advantage. But I regret being so pusillanimous, particularly as so much discussion has been suppressed by the extremely aggressive stance taken on threats of libel action on this story. So in the full knowledge that some decent people will be outraged, here it is.”
Other passages from the same post “The Strange Case of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and the McCanns” in Mr Murray’s blog:
“Which leads me on to the question of why they received such exceptional treatment from British authorities, directed straight from No. 10, to the extent that Blair and Brown eventually gave them a PR representative? I used at one stage to be Resident Clerk in the FCO, a now abolished post effectively of night duty officer. I can tell you from horrible personal experience that the FCO deals with gut-wrenching cases of lost or dead children abroad frequently. I spent one of the most terrible three hours of my life, through to a cold dawn, on the phone with a hysterical bereaved mother desperate to explore any avenue that might give a possibility that the boy who had just drowned in Brazil was misidentified as her son. On average, I am afraid such tragedies get substantially less than 1% of the public resources that were devoted to the McCanns.
I am going to come straight out with this. British diplomatic staff were under direct instruction to support the McCanns far beyond the usual and to put pressure on the Portuguese authorities over the case. I have direct information that more than one of those diplomatic staff found the McCanns less than convincing and their stories inconsistent. Embassy staff were perturbed to be ordered that British authorities were to be present at every contact between the McCanns and Portuguese police.
This again is absolutely not the norm. On a daily basis more British citizens have contact with foreign authorities than the total staff of the FCO. It would be simply impossible to give that level of support to everybody. Plus, against jingoistic presumption, a great many Brits who have contact with foreign police are actually criminals.
The British Ambassador in Portugal, John Buck, had been my direct boss in the FCO. he was Deputy Head of Southern European Department when I was Head of Cyprus Section. He and his staff were concerned by contradictions in the McCann’s story. The Embassy warned, in writing, that being perceived as too close to the McCanns might not prove wise. They demanded the instruction from London be reconfirmed. It was.
I know of people’s misgivings because I was told directly. But material was also leaked to a Belgian newspaper confirming what I have said. It was published by the Express, but like so much other material which is not supportive of the McCanns, it got taken down. Fortunately that last link preserved it. It also shows that the FCO continues to refuse Freedom of Information requests for the material on the interesting grounds that it might damage relations with Portugal.”
Mr Murray has a reputation for integrity. He left an ambassadorial post on a point of principle.
Like most who only know of the case from what they have read – not necessarily believed – in the press Craig Murray believes in neglect. We doubt he's read all the files in detail or studied blogs.
He's commenting from his knowledge of diplomatic procedures and is earnestly noting the extraordinary behaviour in this case. And the comments on this post in his blog are interesting. Not all believe neglect.
Can there be more evident signs that all points to the clarification of this case.
Archiving Operation Grange, which we would now call it the Tailors’ Option under the context of this post, is a possibility we have always recognised, but it would be a recognition by the Emperor that he’s unable to face them even before a laughing crowd ridiculing him.
Now, and not wanting to get into politics here, it would seem to us that between some Panama papers and a Brexit referendum, “solving” the Maddie case would just be the popularity massage – without exercise swings – that the doctor ordered. Just saying.
What the days after will be will depend only on King Richard, or Emperor Richard to mix up stories. We, on our part, think he has now more than enough leverage.