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    A first class piece about the hater trolls in the Telegraph - No one has the right to take away a parent's hope

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    Sykes

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    A first class piece about the hater trolls in the Telegraph - No one has the right to take away a parent's hope

    Post  Sykes on Sat May 02, 2015 12:17 pm

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/madeleinemccann/11576515/No-one-has-the-right-to-take-away-a-parents-hope.html
    In an exclusive extract from the updated edition of their book Looking for Madeleine, award-winning investigative journalists Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan report on the current developments in the Madeleine McCann case

    By Anthony Summers, and Robynn Swan7:05AM BST 02 May 2015

    Last August, a group of 10 “concerned citizens” wrote to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, alerting him to “an appalling campaign of abuse directed at the parents and wider family of Madeleine McCann”.

    None of the authors of the letter was related to or even knew Kate and Gerry McCann. It was, rather, they said, the behaviour of an army of online “haters” in recent months that decided them to turn to law enforcement. The abuses against the McCanns had “raged for over seven years now, but have lately become worse”.

    As the McCanns this weekend mark the eighth anniversary of the disappearance of their three-year-old daughter from the family’s holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal, the daily attacks from trolls on line continue. Yet the police yesterday ruled out taking any action. In a reply to the “concerned citizens”, Roger Bannister, the Assistant Chief Constable of the Leicestershire force – asked by Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe to look into the issues they had raised – wrote that, on the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the evidence submitted of the abuse the McCanns had faced that had been “did not reach the evidential threshold for a successful prosecution”.

    Earlier this week, though, there had been more encouraging news for the McCanns when a Portuguese court ruled - after six years - that Goncalo Amaral, the detective who initially led the Portuguese investigation into Madeleine’s disappearance had libelled the couple. It ordered him to pay them £440,000 in damages. In his best-selling book, The Truth of the Lie, translated into six languages, Amaral suggested that Madeleine died in the family’s holiday apartment, and that her parents were in some way responsible for her death.

    n a statement released on Friday, Kate McCann reiterated the couple’s committment to finding their daughter. ‘‘I’m more driven than ever to continue the search for Madeleine and to help other families who face the pain of a child being missing,’’ she said at the launch of a charity bike ride to raise funds for Missing People.

    The hating of the McCanns began early. Cruel, anonymous letters started to arrive soon after Madeleine went missing. One correspondent claimed to know that the three-year-old was being tortured and that her parents were responsible, another that she was dead and buried. Back home in Leicestershire without their daughter that first Christmas, the McCanns received a card that read: “You ******* thieving bastards. Your brat is dead because of your drunken arrogance . . . If you have any shame you would accept full responsibility for your daughter’s disappearance . . . You are scum.” The couple have also received death threats.

    There is, of course, absolutely no evidence at all to support the drip feed of allegations on the Internet about the McCanns’ guilt. And research for our book Looking for Madeleine found nothing to contradict the official line.

    In the years since the disappearance of Madeleine, the rise and rise of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter has allowed many out-and-out foes of the couple to continue to pour out their poison. They can connect more easily than ever before with like-minded individuals, often anonymously, and this is outpacing law enforcement’s ability to police it.

    Most troubling are the posts that have threatened violence against them. “Friends” in one Facebook exchange “jokingly” suggested the fate they wished upon the McCanns. Friend One suggested someone should “shoot the ****ers”. Friend Two, a female, declared that “these 2 should burn in hell”. Friend Three said he would “supply the petrol . . .” Friend Four, who claimed elsewhere that he attended gym classes with Kate and Gerry, babbled about being able to dig out “a box of Swan Vesta” matches.

    Twitter posts also come from people who say they live near the McCanns. One suggested she would “nip round” to their house where they live with their ten year old twins with “handcuffs . . . pass the twins to a loving family and then lynch ’em!!” There was also: “I’m in the mood for some waterboarding, who’s first K or G?”

    The trolling reached a crisis point in July last year when an anti-McCann Facebook page posted a photograph of the McCanns’ Sean and Amelie, at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

    In their September letter to the Met, one of the ‘‘concerned citizens’’ wrote: “It will only take one mentally unstable person to act out on the fantasies of assaulting the McCanns or contacting their twins, or one pathetic soul seeking praise and affirmation. I personally cannot have it on my conscience that I didn’t at least try to bring these activities to the attention of the police . . . No family should live in permanent fear.”

    It was a month after the complaint had been submitted to the Met, Sky News correspondent Martin Brunt conducted a doorstep interview with the woman who – under the username @sweepyface – had authored many anti- McCann postings on Twitter. She was not named in his report, but acknowledged having posted the messages, and insisted that she was “entitled” to do so.

    Following the broadcast, @sweepyface was quickly identified as 63-year-old Brenda Leyland, a divorced mother of two sons, who lived within 15 miles of the McCanns’ home. It was reported that she had sent more than 4000 tweets since 2010, almost all of them about the McCanns. On October 4, two days after the footage featuring her had run, Leyland was found dead in a room at a hotel on the outskirts of Leicester. At the inquest, one of her sons said his mother had a background of mental illness and had “always struggled with depression”. Her Twitter record for the final weeks of her life indicates that she had sent some 600 tweets, most of them barbs aimed at the McCanns and their defenders, whom she characterised as “shills” – stooges – or “***tards”. She was amused, too, by the fantasy that people who supported the McCanns might “do a Jonestown” and commit mass suicide.

    Nine days before her death, Leyland tweeted: “I ‘hate’ cruelty, liars, those who profit from an others [sic] tragedy, ergo my ‘hate for Kate and Gerry’ is justified . . . ‘hate’ [is] a powerful emotion, it is a compliment to Maddie that we ‘hate’ her parents who betrayed her.”

    The advice of the DPP and the decision by Leicestershire police not to pursue action agains those who persecute the McCanns online will, no doubt, lead to renewed abuse. In the meantime, the McCanns must soldier on, their focus as ever the search for Madeleine. Over the past 12 months, Scotland Yard has announced “operational activity’’ in Portugal”, digging in and around Praia da Luz. A number of witnesses have been questioned.

    There has been a development in one significant area. The Met had said previously that it was studying 18 incidents in the vicinity of Praia da Luz in which an intruder had broken into properties housing British families between 2002 and 2010 – well after Madeleine’s disappearance. That number has now risen and police are analysing as many as 28 episodes.

    “The offences are not all the same,” a source told us. “Some involve not little children but teenagers or young women . . . But there are similarities. We’re seeing a sort of consistent theme. Perhaps there is a burglar, a thief, who’s also got a weakness for this sort of thing. We don’t know. We’re not saying all these offences are definitely linked, but there’s potential here.

    “If we dig down into those incidents and find out who’s responsible, if we find that a single person is responsible for a number, if not all, of the events . . . Who knows, that same person may have been responsible for Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.”

    Forensic evidence - a fingerprint or DNA lying forgotten in a police exhibit store in the Algarve - remians the best hope of a conclusion to this case.

    This week, a senior source on the Scotland Yard investigation carefully said, “no comment” when pressed as to whether there is possible progress on the forensic front. Carefully, too, he has said there is still progress and that the case is “solvable”.

    And we believe the McCanns are right to hope. The head of the US-based International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Ernie Allen, regards their tenacity as “admirable” and “inspiring”. As he once told another grieving parent, “there are many scenarios under which your child could still be alive…We keep finding abducted children who have been missing for years.”

    In South Africa in February, a child was found alive and well – having been abducted as a baby and been missing for seventeen years. She is now reunited with her parents. “No one has the right,” said Allen, “ to take away a parent’s hope.

    Looking For Madeleine by Anthony Summers is published by Headline priced £9.99. To order your copy call 0844 871 1514 or visit books.telegraph.co.uk

    Let's hope that pressure is brought on Leicestershire police to rethink their bizarre decision. And that it doesn't turn out that they decided not to prosecute because they couldn't be bothered with the hassle they would then get from haters, in their turn.

    Oh, and that Leyland's death didn't play a part in their indefensible decision.


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    Sykes

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    Re: A first class piece about the hater trolls in the Telegraph - No one has the right to take away a parent's hope

    Post  Sykes on Sat May 02, 2015 2:01 pm

    From Myths with thanks.
    tigerloaf » Sat May 02, 2015 12:54 pm
    catkins wrote:
    Well they can't say that they weren't warned..... if one of the threats becomes real...

    Absolutely marvellous article from qualified and experienced researchers and writers.

    If anyone can genuinely find a single flaw in that article I will be amazed as there are none. It is entirely factual.

    If there is, God forbid, some actual action from one of the moronic freaks who have become so embroiled in this hate campaign against the McCanns (led by people such as Tony Bennett, Liz Taylor, Joana Morais, Pat Brown, Linda/Rosalind/Rosalinda Hutton etc.) then the Police and CPS cannot say they were not warned. At least those who have contacted the Police about the freakish harassment of the McCann family over the last 8 years will have tried to prevent it. The Police and the CPS will not be able to say the same.

    The Police and CPS have, I hope, fully explained their refusal to act to those who wrote to them. If they have not, then such an explanation should be provided. It may be that the law needs to be refocused. There is no question, for example, that there are people conspiring to harass the McCanns (albeit indirectly) through the Internet. If the Police or CPS are saying this cannot be dealt with then perhaps they should be indicating this and attempting to persuade the politicians that they need greater powers to deal with it.

    If the problem is simply lack of resources to identify and prosecute the culprits then that is shameful.


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