The nitty gritty.
The Strange Case of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and the McCanns
. . . 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 (Joana Morais) 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. Full article