Update 12Feb14: We will be breaking for the half-term holidays this week. We, will be back next week if there aren’t any surprises. Happy Valentine's day to all!
This post is a follow-up of our “Carman” post of last week.
There is no collective noun to describe tycoons, so we came up with our own – a triumph.
Stephen Winyard, owner of Stobo Castle health spa in Scotland and resident of Monaco, was the first tycoon to be named as a financial supporter of the McCanns. By May 10th 2007, Mr Winyard was reported to have made the offer of a million pound reward for information leading to the return of Madeleine. The offer was made earlier in the week through The Times.
Nothing more was written about Mr Winyard until December 2007, by which time, a triumph of tycoons had materialised, including John Geraghty. Mr Winyard is the answer to the questions we posed about the tests on the car stored in Mr Geraghty’s garage. It was Mr Winyard who paid for the tests and who spoke about the results of the report refuting the claims made by the Portuguese police.
We are informed that it was Gerry McCann who had requested financial help from Mr Winyard in September and that Mr Winyard had “broken cover” to highlight the findings of the report, by Home Office - approved forensic scientists.
The Scotsman article of December 8 2007 by Michael Howie “Scots tycoon attacks 'scurrilous allegations' as he comes out as McCanns' secret funder” gives us all the details:
“ONE of Scotland's most wealthy businessmen can today be revealed as the mystery donor helping fund the fight to clear the names of Madeleine McCann's parents.
Stephen Winyard, who owns the luxury Stobo Castle spa in Peebleshire, has spoken publicly for the first time since pledging £100,000 to help meet the escalating legal costs of Gerry and Kate McCann.
In an exclusive interview with The Scotsman, Mr Winyard revealed he has already paid for DNA tests carried out on the Renault Scenic hire car used by the McCanns nearly four weeks after Madeleine's disappearance.
The 58-year-old father-of-three has remained in the shadows since offering a £1million reward for four-year-old Madeleine's return in May. But he said he could no longer remain silent as "scurrilous allegations" continue to be directed towards Mr and Mrs McCann.
He said he wanted to highlight the results of the tests on DNA recovered from the car, and on hair samples from Kate McCann and Madeleine's brother and sister.
Portuguese police believe that DNA recovered from the boot of the car suggest Madeleine's body was carried inside the vehicle.
Meanwhile, Portuguese newspapers have alleged that hair samples from Kate and Gerry McCann's children show the couple sedated the two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, and Madeleine on the night she disappeared.
Mr Winyard stated that the findings of their own tests, by Home Office-approved forensic scientists, refuted these claims.
"The reason I am breaking cover is to highlight the findings of that report," he said. "The conclusion of the report was that no DNA was found that in any way implicated Gerry and Kate in Madeleine's disappearance.
"The further test that was commissioned, basically a hair drug test, also refuted the fairly scurrilous accusation that the twins were sedated or that Kate took sedatives herself."
Mr Winyard, who splits his time between Stobo Castle and his home in Monaco, was approached by Gerry McCann for financial help in September.
The businessman agreed to offer an initial sum of £100,000 - a figure matched by Virgin tycoon Sir Richard Branson.
Double-glazing magnate Brian Kennedy is also donating money to help the McCanns clear their name.
Mr Winyard said the three were sharing the costs between them. "I think the McCanns are entitled to the best legal defence they can muster to refute these scurrilous allegations.
"I remain absolutely confident there is totally insufficient evidence to link them to Madeleine's disappearance and I'm absolutely confident that in the fullness of time they will be fully exonerated," he said.
Mr Winyard "simply could not stand by and watch" as the couple endured the worst possible hell. "I think you have to be a parent to fully understand, to some degree, what they're going through, to understand their loss," he said.
Mr Winyard, who has met Gerry twice and Kate once, said the couple "deeply resented" the allegations made against them in the Portuguese press.
"Their main concern is to get their suspect status lifted so that the search for Madeleine can continue.
"Some of the reporting in the British press has been less than fair. The blanket coverage of every aspect of their lives, the littlest things that they do, creates, I think, the impression in people's minds that they are somehow responsible for what happened to Madeleine."
"This is all to do with getting the focus back on finding Madeleine. Both Gerry and Kate have been through an absolute nightmare over the last seven months and they're facing some very difficult weeks with Christmas coming up."
Mr Winyard criticised the lack of public support offered to the McCanns by the Prime Minister. Gordon Brown initially spoke to the McCanns several times on the phone. But since they were declared suspects by the Portugese authorities, lines of communication had come to a halt.
"This government was elected to look after its citizens," said Mr Winyard, "and it's fair to say it's a fundamental principle of our legal system that everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
"With that in mind, I would really strongly urge that Gordon Brown, who has previously been really supportive, accede to our request for a meeting at ministerial level."
He acknowledged that the McCanns' decision to leave their children in their apartment at Praia da Luz while they dined had "divided opinion".
"It is something the McCanns will have to live with," he said.
A Downing Street spokesman said: "We do not comment on ongoing cases."”
Brian Kennedy, double glazing tycoon and Virgin tycoon Richard Branson had agreed to share the costs, specifically for the best legal defence for the McCanns. In the Telegraph article by Fiona Govan of November 20 2007, “McCann team tests car for traces of Madeleine” Kennedy confirmed tests had taken place: “We did our own tests on the hire car and found no traces of Madeleine.”
We can only assume that these tests were the ones said to have been done by those “scientists, wearing protective white suits and using the latest techniques and equipment, dismantled the car in the double garage of a Pounds 1 million villa owned by a friend of the McCanns-wealthy British tycoon John Geraghty, 68” as stated in the News Of The World article of September 30 2007 by Dominic Herbert “Undercover Brits’ secret tests on car”.
Geraghty, who up to last week everyone thought had connections with Leicester, which he didn’t, and who up to then everyone also thought was a completely different man physically:
Presumably, Branson as a financial contributor was also aware of the findings, but as Geraghty was not referred to as one of the financial donors, was he also informed of the report’s findings?
There is no reference to these tests in the PJ files and no further mention of them after December 2007.
In conclusion, we still don’t know:
Which Home Office - approved scientists conducted and reported on the tests.
Who, apart from Mr Winyard, Kennedy and probably Branson, were informed of the results.
Whether these results were sent to any police force.
Why results supposedly favourable to the McCanns were never referred to by the McCanns or their immediate circle and were not forwarded to the PJ at the time, or the FSS in Birmingham.
Acknowledgement: We would like to acknowledge Crimeshots through which we found the Scotsman article quoted in current post.