Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Miriam Hyman Collateral Damage?

Another extremely thoughtful and well argued piece from the inimitable Martin Roberts.

Miriam Hyman Collateral Damage?

By Dr Martin Roberts
19 August 2015

Death and the maiden

The story of Miriam Hyman’s death on the morning of Thursday July 7, 2005 is reminiscent of the John Ford movie ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’, insofar as the genuine executioner is not the one the audience are led to believe did the deed.

Miriam is understood to have been one of thirteen victims of the explosion aboard a no. 30 bus in London’s Tavistock square that occurred at 9.47 a.m. on the morning in question. Her parents realised she was missing and unaccounted for later that day and, in the course of their distress, proceeded to give interviews to the media, who reported as follows:
(John Hyman): "She certainly wasn't injured on the Underground because I spoke to her and at that time she was with a crowd of people evacuated from trains on the pavement outside King's Cross station. The only other possibility, apart from a road accident, is if she was on the bus that was blown up. The reason we think that is unlikely is because it wouldn't make sense for her to take that route. And I was speaking to her about that time and her office ‘phoned her at about 10 a.m., which was about 10 minutes after the explosion to say 'don't come in'. We think maybe she has gone into shock. Her mobile is off. She could have walked away from her handbag in shock. I think she's still in the Greater London area because when I checked yesterday afternoon her car was still in the local station car park." (The Independent, 10 July 2005).
The article continues:
"We would be gibbering wrecks if it weren't for those two ‘phone calls which give us a lot of hope.”
Likewise the International Herald Tribune (11 July 2005) reported:
‘John Hyman, whose 32-year-old daughter, Miriam, is missing, knows a few things for certain: She was not wounded when she left the Underground. She was not on the bus because the bus exploded at about the time he was on the ‘phone with her. Soon after, she called her workplace, and was told not to bother to come in. That was at 10 a.m., after the attacks, he said.

‘"I don't see how she could have got into the bus that exploded," he said. "And the route makes no sense, whether she's going to work or home." Her cellphone goes unanswered. Hyman's friends have papered the town with her image and raced to hospitals.’Miriam’s mother Mavis was quoted to similar effect by the Jewish Journal of 14 July:

‘Other Jewish families face an agonizing wait. Miriam Hyman, 32, a freelance photo editor, called her father, John, from King’s Cross Station at 9:45 a.m. Thursday to say she was all right. That was the last anyone has heard from her. After a fruitless search of London’s hospitals, “we are just waiting,” Hyman’s mother, Mavis, told JTA. ‘She ‘phoned work to say she was going to be late, she was still obviously determined to get in. I think she didn’t understand the seriousness of what was going on.’

‘Something Jewish’ picked up on corroboration given to the Sun Newspaper earlier by Miriam’s sister Esther. They (SJ) posted (11 July 2005):

‘Speaking to the Sun newspaper, her sister Esther said: "Something is stopping her answering the ‘phone or contacting us. It’s so scary because my dad spoke to her as soon as he heard about the bombs. She told him she was sitting on the pavement outside King’s Cross after her train had been evacuated at the station. We have heard nothing since and are frantic.”’

Matters arising

The first detail to bring attention to here is this observation on the part of John Hyman:
“The only other possibility, apart from a road accident, is if she was on the bus that was blown up. The reason we think that is unlikely is because it wouldn't make sense for her to take that route. And I was speaking to her about that time.”

Discounting any road accident (there were none involving pedestrian fatalities that day), Miriam was thought unlikely to have caught the doomed no. 30 bus anywhere near Euston Station for two reasons. First, her intended destination lay in the opposite direction, and second, she had only just concluded a ‘phone conversation with her father while outside King’s Cross (the bus had already left from Euston approximately half-a-mile away).

Things get more puzzling from here on in.
Esther Hyman: “It’s so scary because my dad spoke to her as soon as he heard about the bombs.”
Implying that Miriam’s anxious father rang to speak to her, as one might reasonably expect.

The Jewish Journal, however, would have it that: ‘Miriam Hyman, 32, a freelance photo editor, called her father, John, from King’s Cross Station at 9:45 a.m. Thursday to say she was all right. From her mother Mavis we learn “That was the last anyone has heard from her.”

Not, perhaps, a significant contradiction, but then there are others, which, given a common family origin for the story, are perplexing.

John Hyman (quoted in the Independent):
“And I was speaking to her about that time and her office ‘phoned her at about 10 a.m., which was about 10 minutes after the explosion to say 'don't come in.'”
Whereas the Herald Tribune’s report of Miriam’s conversation with her father proceeds:
‘soon after, she called her workplace, and was told not to bother to come in. That was at 10 a.m., after the attacks, he said.’
This was apparently echoed by Miriam’s mother in the Jewish Journal:

“Hyman’s mother, Mavis, told JTA.  
‘She ‘phoned work to say she was going to be late, she was still obviously determined to get in.”
Again, the directionality of the call might be considered of less importance than the fact of its occurrence. However, the one speaks to the other, metaphorically as well as literally, particularly in light of John Hyman’s remark:
"We would be gibbering wrecks if it weren't for those two ‘phone calls which give us a lot of hope.”
Irrespective of who dialled whom, once John Hyman’s conversation with his daughter was concluded and Miriam went on to speak to her colleague(s) at work (at 10.00 a.m. or thereabouts), how did either John or Mavis Hyman come to learn of that all-too-significant second call, given Esther’s statement that they had had no word of Miriam since the initial (9.45 a.m.) conversation (“She told him she was sitting on the pavement outside King’s Cross…..We have heard nothing since and are frantic.”’)?

‘“We are just waiting,” Hyman’s mother, Mavis, told JTA.’

That remark was published on 14 July, by which time, according to journalists Becky Barrow and Amy Iggulden (“Families receive the news that destroys all hope”), the Hymans had already been advised (13 July) of their daughter’s death (The Telegraph, 14 July 2005). In point of fact they knew by the 11th, as reported by the Jewish Chronicle Online (29.4.2010) and by Esther Hyman personally in an on-line video posted by the Guardian (6.5.2011) wherein she states: “So, we waited until the Monday and our family liaison officer came here and explained to my parents that ‘Mim’ had been identified by her dental records.”

All of which makes the appearance of Mavis Hyman’s ‘we are waiting‘ statement in the Jewish Journal afterwards rather difficult to understand.

The question as to how any of Miriam Hyman’s relatives could have been appraised of any subsequent cell ‘phone call of hers, whether to or from her place of work, remains unresolved however. It is a ‘phone call of the utmost significance, and not just because any such conversation at 10.00 a.m. that morning would rule Miriam out completely as having been a passenger aboard the devastated no. 30 bus.

In actual fact, the significance attaching to the ‘phone call between Miriam Hyman and her office does not reside in the ‘phone call per se, but in her work‘s location – Canary Wharf.

Trouble in the East-end 

Mid-morning on 7 July saw a solitary Radio Five broadcast recounting news of a shooting carried out by security services at Canary Wharf. The announcement was never repeated, although various news outlets worldwide carried the story.

Miriam Hyman has been accepted as dead since July 7, 2005. As far as her father was concerned, at least initially, “the only other possibility, apart from a road accident, is if she was on the bus that was blown up.“

There were only five fatal incidents in London that day – no reported suicides, no road traffic accidents of the ‘person in collision with a road vehicle’ variety; nothing except the four bombs detonated on London Transport and an unspecified shooting at Canary Wharf, Miriam Hyman’s declared destination.

The first three events can be discounted on the grounds that Miriam was safely evacuated from King’s Cross after they had occurred.

That leaves only two feasible explanations for Miriam’s death that Thursday:

Either she died aboard a bus which, according to her own father’s account, she could not have caught, or she was shot at Canary Wharf.

There are no other possibilities.

And now we may begin to appreciate the true significance of Miriam’s telephone dialogue(s) that morning.

The first, at 9.45 a.m., compromises the idea that she may have boarded the no. 30 bus. Rachael Bletchly of the Mirror (4 July, 2015) remains convinced however:
“Ten years ago on Tuesday, the 31-year-old picture researcher rang dad John to say that she had been evacuated from King’s Cross tube station in London and not to worry as she would get a bus to work.”
Given her declared determination to get to work, there was no reason, in principle, why she should not have done so eventually, at least in time to meet a lunchtime appointment she is also understood to have made. Nevertheless, since she has been declared dead as of the Thursday morning we know she could not have arrived, either at her office desk or for lunch.

Not only must we ask ourselves how the Hymans might have known about their daughter’s second crucial ‘phone call that morning (which did not involve either of them), but we should also question what purpose it may have served as far as they were concerned, given Miriam’s earlier personal assurance that she was safe and well.

The key detail of the alleged conversation is that Miriam was advised not to continue on to work (at Canary Wharf). The Hymans (and anyone else) might then reasonably suppose, at least initially, that if she didn’t arrive at her office that day it was because she had been told not to bother.

(This state of affairs is a dark and subtle reflection of the McCanns’ various references to their daughter’s en passant remarks, whereby they manage indirectly to suggest that she was alive when she made them).

Nick Kollerstrom (author of Terror on the Tube) has researched the events of 7/7 in considerable depth and posted the following comment on an internet forum discussing the case:
“From King’s Cross, one gets to Canary Wharf by bus travelling Eastbound, by taking the 30 bus half way then changing. There is no way you would walk back to Euston, which is in the opposite direction, to get the no. 30 bus, which by the way left Euston station before she rang her Father at 09.45 – when she said she was at King’s Cross. So, one must agree with what the Father was quoted as saying, about his daughter’s fate. When I spoke to him (today, a second time) he denied having said this, and said he had been misreported.

“Speaking to her father, on the ‘phone, he confirmed that she had rung him at 09.45, however he denied that she had rung her place of work at ten o’clock. He is convinced she was dead by then.”
That makes three people (John, Mavis and Esther Hyman) all separately misreported by at least three different media outlets.

So what, exactly, has John Hyman retracted? His doubts about Miriam’s having boarded the no. 30 bus, obviously, as well as his daughter’s conversation with colleague(s) at Canary Wharf, about which he couldn’t have known in the first place – except he did. That was prior to his acceptance of the ‘official line’, which then made the office ‘phone call story (as an explanation for Miriam’s non-arrival at work) redundant. The bus bomb was ultimately considered to have taken care of that.

One cannot but feel sympathy for any truly grieving parent, and I have no wish to impugn the Hyman family. However, in the light of what appear to be something other than trivial contradictions on their part, together with the lack of any categorical confirmation by them of exactly what they knew and when they knew it, there are genuine grounds for suspecting their daughter Miriam did not fall victim to a bomb at Tavistock Square, but to a bullet at Canary Wharf, and that her 10.00 a.m. ‘phone call to work was a ‘storyline’, fed to the Hymans, so as to defer further inquiry until such time as a more appropriate location for their daughter’s demise could be decided upon. Either that, or (heaven forfend) it was a storyline constructed by the Hymans.


Nick Kollerstrom again:
‘On 10th July 2005 the Observer reported that “Police have put a tracking device on Miriam’s ‘phone so that if it is activated they will be able to find her.”‘
Whereabouts in relation to Miriam’s body was her ‘cell phone eventually found? It was clearly functional after the bombings that morning or the Police couldn’t have downloaded a tracker ‘app’ onto it; something there would scarcely have been any call for beforehand. The answer – it was never reported as having been found. That is not to say of course that it was never actually found.

Miriam’s mother Mavis is Indian, born in Kolkata. Miriam was therefore of mixed race (Jewish-Asian), and exhibited traits of each. Being an artist/picture editor, and based professionally at Canary Wharf, might she perhaps have been carrying a camera, a lap-top computer bag or portfolio case, and did these various characteristics conspire to appear suspicious when viewed through a telescopic gun-sight?

Answers to these several questions are provided by the Jewish Chronicle Online (29 April, 2010) in commenting upon the belated inquest into the many deaths, five years previously, on 7/7. Albeit lengthy, the following passage from the Jewish Chronicle is richly informative:
“The family of Miriam Hyman, who died in the 7/7 terror attack, was forced to wait four days to be officially told of her death, even though identification documents were found on her body.

“In the High Court this week, lawyers acting for the Hyman family and that of Israeli Anat Rosenberg, who was also killed by the Tavistock Square bus bomb in July 2005, urged the coroner to resume the inquests and investigate whether the security services failed to act upon information known about the bombers before the attack.

“The hearing heard that many families had suffered long delays in being informed of the deaths. One had to wait 11 days.

“Counsel Janine Sheff told the court that relatives of Ms Hyman, a 32-year-old picture researcher from Hampstead Garden Suburb, had to wait "four agonising days" to be told she was among the 52 victims.

“Ms Sheff said: "She was found with her bag strapped to her, with numerous documents with her ID on her."

“She added that the parents of Ms Hyman were unable to travel to London and search hospitals, instead relying on her friends, who were told the police had no information.

“Ms Sheff said: "So troubled were they from the lack of information from the police - who said they had to live with that lack of knowledge - that they sought a [bomb] survivor to help them understand what happened."

“Ms Hyman's mother, Mavis, said: "Those four days of no news were unquestionably the most horrendous of my life. Nobody had any suggestion as to what had happened. Her family and friends couldn't just sit still and we spoke to the media and survivors to try to get any information we could.

"The police were not helpful and gave us little information. We would have appreciated knowing about the identification found."

Note how "She was found with her bag strapped to her, with numerous documents with her ID on her."

Whether taken in or out of context, this is an altogether extraordinary turn of phrase, no doubt originating with the person(s) who actually ‘found’ Miriam in the first place.

Miriam is not described as having ‘a bag over her shoulder’ nor, however unlikely, ‘wearing a rucksack or back-pack.’ Instead her bag is ‘strapped to her’, conjuring up images elsewhere of an explosive waistcoat. To which we are invited to add ‘numerous documents with her ID.’ Well it was London, so I suppose even a pedestrian might be expected carry one or two means of identification – but numerous examples?

All we have to do here is bring forward the conventional wisdom of the day (that suicide bombers were wont to deposit evidence of their identity at the scene of their martydom, as Mohammed Sidique Khan is posthumously accused of having done at two locations on the London Underground, despite being credited with only one bomb) and we have the Blair government blueprint for a long-haired, dark-skinned terrorist.

And yet there was no mobile ‘phone, nor any information of immediate interest to the parents for four whole days?

Miriam may well have been found with ‘her bag strapped to her body,’ but where exactly was her body at the time?

It gets murkier.

Distortions in Space-Time

This from Esther Addley of the Guardian (6.5.2011):
“At around 9.45am one sunny morning in July 2005, John Hyman took a call from his daughter Miriam. There had been some sort of problem at King's Cross, she said, and she had been evacuated from the tube. She was fine, though, and he wasn't to worry. Her father suggested she find a coffee shop and wait until things calmed down.

“In the hours and days that followed the terrorist attacks on London, the Hyman family clung to that phone call like a lifebuoy, desperately telling themselves the call had come after 9.49am, the moment when 18-year-old Hasib Hussain blew himself up on the upper deck of a number 30 bus to Hackney.

“Four days later, after touring the capital's hospitals, putting up posters and making appeals via the media, they were at last told by a police family liaison officer that Miriam had been identified by her dental records. She had been sitting directly in front of Hussain at the moment of explosion, and was blown from the bus and on to the pavement, where she died very shortly afterwards.”
We ought here to interpolate another statement by Esther Hyman, again recorded within the Guardian video of the same date, which specifies even more precisely the location of Miriam’s corpse, an observation shortly to assume particular significance:

“She was thrown from the bus onto the pavement directly outside the entrance of the BMA building.”

Notice how this Guardian article allocates Miriam two additional minutes in which to catch the no. 30 bus, how the police somehow knew whose dental records to track down (presumably from the ID they were decidedly reluctant to reveal to the parents), and exactly where this lady was sitting in relation to other passengers on board the bus. (Reported at the inquest to have had an inboard seat, she is nevertheless catapulted onto the nearside pavement).

It doesn’t end there. The Guardian continues:
“The Hyman family made an even more striking discovery. They had been contacted, two years after the bombings, by Clive Featherstone, who had been working in Tavistock Square when the bomb went off, and who had held Miriam's hand in her final moments. "At first we didn't get back in touch with him … [But] since then we've become very close with him."

“It was only during the inquest process that they discovered the existence of another man, a passer-by called Richard Collins, who had gone to Miriam's side after Featherstone had been told to move along by a policeman. Initially they thought he must have been mistaken and confused Miriam with another victim, but no. "Richard told us afterwards: 'I would have felt a bit silly if it had turned out not to be Miriam, as I actually had her initials tattooed on my chest.' It's his only tattoo but it turned out that he had been so moved that he had this indelible mark put on himself. We find that exceptional."*
The Hymans thought at first that Richard Collins had been mistaken, yet he had sufficient confidence in his identification of their daughter as to have her initials tattooed on his chest afterwards. Thus confirmation of Miriam Hyman’s last moments becomes a pre-requisite for validation of Collins’ tattoo! We are not told the basis for Clive Featherstone’s identification of her.

Featherstone and Collins’ displayed their separate acts of sympathy toward the same young lady, whom counsel at the inquest would make every effort to identify as Miriam Hyman. There were however several dark-skinned female victims aboard the no. 30 bus, two of whom are known to have taken their last breaths at the roadside. Neetu Jain was 37 years old and originally from Delhi. Gladys Wundowa was black. Both are said to have been occupying nearside window seats.

In March 2006 Michelle Du-Feu, a doctor, described having treated a middle-aged Middle-Eastern or Asian-looking woman lying on the road at the rear of the bus. At the Inquest in January 2011 she said that when shown a photograph of Miriam Hyman a year earlier she had become confused, “because things obviously weren’t how I had remembered them.“

Despite attempts by lead counsel Hugo Keith to get Dr Du-Feu to admit she had treated Miriam Hyman, she did not do so. Ms. Gallagher, counsel for the Hyman family acknowledged that Dr. Du-Feu was thus “not so sure” to have treated and seen Miriam.

A Dr Michael David Peters, who was also invited to testify at the Inquest, said that when he came out from the BMA building he saw a torso:
“There was a sort of mass of sort of tissue, red, about one metre by a metre there. And then, on the other side, to the left as I was looking from the square in, there was a body of, I think, a black woman who was wearing a dress. The body seemed to be swollen, motionless, and I presumed she was dead.“ 
Although Hugo Keith once again tried to convince Dr. Peters that he may actually have seen Miriam Hyman, Peters insisted the woman he saw was black.

Hence two critically injured females were immediately attended in the road (or on the pavement), one of them Asian. Yet neither was identifiable as Miriam Hyman. According to ‘the Mirror’ (20.1.2011) Clive Featherstone described at the Inquest how Miriam “kind of moved to try and lift herself up or towards me” as he knelt beside her. However, the first thing Dr Peters noticed on exiting the BMA building was a torso. If this were Miriam’s body, which, according to her sister Esther, had landed in that very entrance, then she would have been killed instantaneously and there could have been no attempted movement whatsoever.

When asked about an earlier statement he had made concerning the absence of Miriam’s left leg, Richard Collins replied:
From the knee down, halfway across the knee down”. Loss of the lower half of one lower limb does not represent a ‘torso’.
Unless, therefore, an additional female body is known to have been lying in the immediate vicinity, then there are few grounds for believing Miriam was ever there, especially given the death also of Shahara Islam, another Asian female on board the no. 30 bus, positioned originally, it is supposed, among the group of seats directly across the aisle from the exploding bomb.

The eyes have it

Bearing in mind that Featherstone and Collins each claimed to have comforted the same individual, it is worth recording their respective observations regarding her facial appearance, especially as they were complete strangers to each other.

First Featherstone:
“I noticed that she had these little polystyrene balls in her eyes, which apparently later I heard was from the padding of the seats.”
And now Collins:
“Looking at my witness statement, I recalled that her eyes were green, if that is the case. So obviously, I was looking in her eyes, but I don't recall any polystyrene balls.”
Miriam Hyman’s eyes were unquestionably hazel brown, as one might expect of a lady of Asian extraction. Extraordinarily however, the eyes of 20 year old Shahara Islam, herself a victim from the rear of the upper deck, were considerably paler, and might easily have been taken for green. (See: HuffPo (Or below Ed)

Both Featherstone and Collins comforted the same badly injured, green-eyed lady, not an incomplete corpse. That lady was clearly not Miriam Hyman, and Richard Collins’ subsequent tattoo does not make it so. The inquest account of the state in which Miriam was found does not include mention of where, nor does it lead one to suppose that her body was other than intact, despite Esther Hyman’s announcement of her sister’s last known whereabouts in death, and what that would necessarily imply.

As further informs us:
“According to the Daily Star, inquests were opened on 13 July 2005 into the deaths of Miriam Hyman and others. No family members, however, were invited to attend the hearing which was held at St Pancras coroner’s court. It has not been explained why no family members were invited to attend. Dr. Reid then adjourned the inquests until after the end of police investigations.“
Miriam Hyman is said, conventionally almost, to have died aboard a no. 30 bus, in a misguided attempt to reach her place of work at Canary Wharf. Her name is after all included on a wall plaque placed in memory of the Tavistock Square victims. It is a bus she could not have caught, unless of course one subscribes to the Times Group account of 28 December 2005, which renders the father‘s contention false from start to finish:
“Miriam Hyman, 32, a freelance picture researcher was travelling to work, but was told by her agency not to bother coming in. Amid the chaos, she was evacuated from the Tube train she was travelling on at King's Cross. She walked to Tavistock Square, from where she rang her parents to let them know she was alright. She then alighted the doomed number 30 bus.”
John Hyman’s story is indeed questionable, especially the part where he describes a later ‘phone call he could have known nothing about unless informed of it by someone else. Miriam could have walked to Tavistock Square, where, according to the Times, she actually got off the ‘doomed no. 30’ bus, rather than on it.

Such verbal carelessness however hardly inspires confidence in the content of the report, or the belief that John Hyman’s own twice confirmed account was significantly incorrect.

That being the case there is only one place Miriam Hyman could have died that morning, and it would not have been as the result of any random act of terrorism.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has publicly lamented the deaths of British soldiers sent to fight in Iraq, as well as the many hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children, who also perished as a direct result of the West’s unprovoked ‘War on Terror‘. It is tempting to speculate that his dogmatic refusal to authorize a public inquiry into the London bombings of 7/7 stemmed, at least in part, from his being unprepared to countenance the revelation of an innocent British citizen, a Londoner, being shot dead on the streets of their own capital, and by a member of their own security services. The state-sanctioned murder of Jean Charles de Menezes a fortnight later proved difficult enough to handle - and he wasn’t even British.

Dr Martin Roberts

Blair attends 7/7 memorial, full of contrition no doubt.

* Not as much as I find it unbelievable. Ed

Saturday, August 15, 2015

McCanns Are Lying

First things first. A tip of the hat to the blog Amaral Can Speak, from whom I nicked this post in its entirety. Reposted here because articles such shouldn't disappear down the cyber-hole.

The Article That Team McCann Didn't Want You To Read
Saturday, 20 March 2010

This article appeared, very briefly, in the UK Daily Express in September 2007. It was very quickly removed, and all traces of it erased from the DE Website. Fortunately, a saved copy has since been discovered.

Just why is this article so "dangerous"?

24th September
Madeleine McCann
Monday September 24,2007
By David Pilditch and Martin Evans in Praia da Luz

Portuguese police believe Gerry and Kate McCann are using friends to hide their role in killing Madeleine.The Daily Express can reveal that their seven holiday friends may now be named as suspects as police believe they are hiding the truth about Madeleine’s death.The dramatic move comes as it was reported that former chief suspect Robert Murat is to be told he will not face charges over the four-year-old’s disappearance. Ruling him out of the four-month investigation will leave Kate and Gerry McCann as the sole suspects.

Last night police sources said the decision could have a devastating impact on the McCanns’ defence. In an astonishing twist, British expat Murat could be used as a key prosecution witness against the McCanns. Almost the entire police case against Murat was built on evidence from the couple’s holiday friends.

Investigators believe the McCanns “cooked up a story” that Madeleine had been kidnapped to throw them off the trail and enlisted members of their party to provide them with an alibi. They also believe the group tried to turn the focus of the investigation towards Murat.

Yesterday it was revealed that police are questioning new witnesses who cast doubts over the evidence of members of the holiday group.The McCanns and their friends told how they took turns to check on their children every 30 minutes as they ate at a tapas restaurant on May 3, the night Madeleine vanished.

But one Portuguese newspaper reported that employees at the restaurant insisted that only Dr Russell O’Brien, 36, and hospital consultant Matthew Oldfield, 37, left the dinner table that evening. Another witness has come forward to refute the testimony of a third friend Jane Tanner, 36, who told police she saw a man carrying a child rushing from the Ocean Club complex at around 9.15pm on May 3.

Yesterday it was reported in Portugal that a new witness, an unnamed Irishman, told police he was in the same spot as Miss Tanner at the same time and saw no one. He is the second independent witness to dispute her story and police sources said they viewed Miss Tanner’s evidence as “unreliable” because of inconsistencies. Officers are concerned that she apparently changed her version of the sighting.She originally claimed she saw the suspect rushing towards the Baptista supermarket in Praia da Luz. She told police the child was wrapped in a blanket. A second independent witness reported seeing a similar man with a child in a blanket near the town’s church heading towards the beach. The route he took matches the alleged trail of death discovered by British sniffer dogs who detected the scent of a corpse. But Miss Tanner has now told detectives that the man was heading in a different direction – towards Murat’s home. Police regard her account as one of a series given by the McCanns and their friends to convince them that Madeleine had been kidnapped.

Officers believe former hospital anaesthetist Kate, 39, killed her daughter by accidentally giving her an overdose of sleeping pills. They are working on the theory that consultant cardiologist Gerry, also 39, helped to dispose of Madeleine’s body. Police are awaiting results of toxicology tests carried out on bodily fluids with an 88 per cent match to Madeleine’s DNA found in the boot of a hire car the couple rented 25 days after she went missing.

Dr O’Brien, along with Mr Oldfield’s wife Rachael, 36, and another friend Dr Fiona Payne, 34, said they saw Murat near the McCanns’ apartment on May 3 and their claim appeared to shatter Murat’s alibi.Detectives interrogated the McCanns at police headquarters in Portimao 17 days ago over the discrepancies. The couple were told separately later that day they were being named as suspects or arguidos.

Last night another member of the McCanns’ holiday party was reported to have stepped into the mystery. The move came after it was revealed that police in Portugal were focusing their investigation on a “lost seven hours” on the day Madeleine disappeared.Now Dr Payne’s husband – medical researcher David, 41 – has claimed he saw Madeleine being put to bed when he visited the McCann flat at 7pm. Before his new testimony, police sources admitted they could not confirm the whereabouts of Kate and Madeleine after 1.29pm that day. Kate’s movements were said to be unaccounted for until she sat down to have dinner with Gerry and their friends at around 8.40pm.

But the McCanns believe Mr Payne’s testimony will be crucial in proving their innocence. That would leave just an hour and a half in which they were supposed to have killed their daughter and disposed of her body. But last night a source in Portugal said police were viewing alibis provided by the McCanns’ friends with suspicion. They are convinced that some or all of them may have known what happened to Madeleine and may have helped to cover up her death. The source said police had not ruled out the possibility of naming them all as suspects – and they could face being charged as accessories.

The source said: “It has long been considered a number of people may have been involved in this unfortunate case.”In Portugal yesterday it was revealed that detectives have seized a British police manual from the McCanns. Officers believe the book could be used as a key piece of evidence in building a case against them.A Portuguese police source said: “It is certainly not the sort of reading material you would expect a couple to take on a relaxing family holiday".