As my colleague Klara Lethbridge and I made our way through to departures at East Midlands airport after our 4.10am check-in there were just a couple of the national papers out as it was so early. The Mirror and Express both featured Madeleine on their front pages and talked about the police investigation going from crisis to crisis. We arrived in Faro at 9.10 and jumped in a taxi for the hour-long journey to the Mark Warner complex in Praia Da Luz where the McCanns had stayed. We hadn’t told them we were journalists, and I was worried we might get thrown out as soon as we arrived. We made sure all the equipment was hidden under the beach towels in our hand luggage.
Today I’d arranged for us to go to the church in Praia where Gerry and Kate McCann prayed. We were going to the morning service and then I’d got an interview with Father Haynes Hubbard. He gave us a fascinating insight into how the community was affected in the week after Madeleine disappeared. I’d phoned Dominic Herbert – who has been covering the story for the News of the World – before arriving in Portugal. He’d given me a list of journalists and told me where they hung out. He’d had to go off on another job so we made our way round to the hotel to see if anyone would talk to us. They were easy to spot – they were sitting around the bar with their laptops out and newspapers sprawled around. We got a frosty reception at first; they were a bit wary of us as a TV crew had been in recently and stitched them up. Luckily we had a couple of mutual friends between us and I got a great interview with Sunday Mirror photo journalist Alban Donohoe.
Today I went to the tapas bar on the Mark Warner complex to see for myself the distance from the restaurant to the McCann’s apartment. There were three interesting aspects to it that I wasn’t aware of before. The first was that you can’t get to the apartment directly from the tapas bar – you have to walk out through reception and up the street. The second thing was that behind the wall separating the apartment from the tapas/pool area is an alleyway. The third is that to get to the front entrance you have to go through a car park. I paced it out and it took me 95 steps.
Today we drove about 40 miles to Albufiera to interview Cathy Landau, a journalist resident in Portugal. She’s also the mother of two and says the case has changed the way many mothers guard their kids now. She says they used to feel safe leaving them in the car while nipping into the bakers or to pay for petrol at a service station, but not any more. Cathy – one of the first journalists on the scene the morning after Madeleine went missing – also gave us an insight into the police investigation and their reputation.
We got lucky and tracked down a lawyer in Praia Da Luz who talked us through the judicial secrecy laws, the status of arguidos and how the case has created a triangle of emotion involving the McCanns, the media and the police. He was very analytical and criticised the media speculation and police ineptitude.
As I made my way round to the Baptista supermarket just yards from the McCann’s holiday flat I spotted two national newspaper journalists staking out the apartment. It turned out they were expecting the new head of the investigation, Paulo Rebelo, to put in an appearance and see the crime scene for himself. Today the papers were full of claims that Gerry is not Madeleine’s real father and he responded with a statement denying the claims. I decided to hang around the tapas bar and watch the apartment from the rear in case there was police activity. I filed a voice piece back to the newsroom in Leicester on the latest line about Gerry being Maddy’s real dad.
Today was our last day and we were busy filming for online audience for most of the day. We were more open about having our equipment out now as it was our last day, and filmed around the apartment, the supermarket and Robert Murat’s villa. We also got footage of the few faded posters of Madeleine still up in shops, restaurants and the noticeboard at the church.