Not for nothing did the Express devote so much coverage – much of it invented to such a degree that the paper ended up not merely being taken to the cleaners, but forced to publish a front page apology – to the Madeleine McCann story. Because little children, especially those who go missing in countries where they speak foreign, sell papers. This is universally understood by the Fourth Estate.
And that is why the Super Soaraway Currant Bun has returned to the story, and on the flimsiest of excuses. “Maddie: Hunt for 6 Brit cleaners”, proclaims today’s headline, explaining “Cops’ new lead”. Readers are told that as many as eight Britons may have been engaged cleaning hotels and apartments in the resort of Praia de Luz on the western Algarve.
Moreover, they may – but only may – have used a white van. In case the average Sun reader has difficulty grasping this concept, a photo of a white van is helpfully included. But they may also not have used a white van, and there may not have been eight of them. And in any case they were not cleaning the apartment complex where the McCanns stayed.
So it’s a bit of a lame stab on which to hang the “Exclusive” tag. And no-one seems to have engaged brain before churning this out: the Police may have been asking about this group, but the idea that they would be hard to trace does not hold water. Average wages are lower in Portugal than the UK, so most likely they were living out there already – and probably still are.
Also likely is that we’re looking at a group of pensioners making a little extra money because lower exchange rates mean they have to. And the story, like so many recent Maddie moments, has not been run past the McCanns first. We can tell because there is no mention on the official Find Madeleine website. The main news there is that Kate McCann is running this year’s London Marathon.
Perhaps the real reason the Sun is dredging up anything Maddie related it can find is to keep its readership from looking at what the McCanns are also majoring in right now, and that is speaking in support of the Hacked Off campaign, on whose site Gerry McCann’s latest statement has been published today.
“We gave evidence to the inquiry so that some lasting good might come out of a horrendous experience. We want our politicians to protect us, to stand up for the ordinary victims instead of siding with the wealthy and powerful. On Monday, it comes down to a binary choice: the newspaper barons or the people they abused in search of profit. Leveson or more of the same. It is as simple as that”.
It is, indeed, as simple as that. Stop telling us to “look over there”, Murdoch hacks.