1578 “Okay. The time is four twenty-three pm and that is on Thursday the tenth of April two thousand and eight. We are in an interview room at Leicestershire Police Force Headquarters. I am Detective Constable, one, five, seven, eight, Andrew GIERC from the Leicestershire Major Crime Unit. Could you give me your full name and date of birth please?”
Reply “Yeah, it’s Russell O’BRIEN, sorry, Russell James O’BRIEN, twenty-six, eleven, seventy”.
1578 “Thank you. This is the fourth interview of today Russell. I have one final question to put to you. Just to reiterate, you are here voluntary as a significant witness”.
1578 “To assist the Portuguese Authorities in their investigation of the disappearance of Madeleine McCANN on the third of May two thousand an seven”.
Reply “Uh hu”.
1578 “And the final question is whether or not you would be available to travel to Portugal between either the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth of April or the fifteenth and sixteenth of May two thousand and eight in order to re-enact the events that occurred between five thirty pm and eleven pm on Thursday the third of May two thousand and seven?”
Reply “Well as we discussed on the, on the video on Tuesday, you know, we, as a group, do want to do as much as possible to help the investigation. Erm, you know, we have been crying out for, to, to have this opportunity for a long, long time. Erm, the trouble is, that the whole, the whole concept, even today, seems a little bit, you know, too little too late, I think that’s how, how it’s best described. Erm, you know, this is not, this is not a, well, at least, well from the point of view of Kate and Gerry and the rest of us, this is not a, a, a child manslaughter case or a child murder case, this is a child abduction case. But with everything that happened last Summer, so much has been, has sort of been lost, we have been exposed to, erm, a vast amount of, erm, bad press, intrusion of our privacy, erm, huh, over a, over an incessant, what feels like an almost incessant period of time, that has been to, you know, great detriment of our, of our own personal wellbeing, and that is clearly most true for Kate and Gerry, but also, you know, true to a lesser extent for the rest of us. Erm, we, you know, we had hoped that obviously invest, you know, this part, you know, the fact that we were back here now was the start, is potentially the start of, you know, more close lines of communication between the PJ, Kate and Gerry and the rest of us and I think that, you know, we, we completely welcome that and we think that a lot of, a lot of the problems that have arisen have been because there has been no lines of communication and the Press have just been able to, you know, play while the cat’s away really and so we have, you know, we were very pleased that this has, this has finally happened. Erm, I’m also conscious that, you know, for, for, for Kate and Gerry’s sake in the future, you know, that, you know, dialogue between us and the PJ, you know, as a group and between them and the PJ has to be re-established. Erm, but it’s fair to say that we know from our experiences on the night, I mean, we were only, only we can know, we can’t, we can’t prove anything, but we know that Kate and Gerry did not harm Madeleine in any way and would have had no part in her, in her, erm, you know, in her disappearance and we can also say, individually, as well, that we, that we’ve had no part of it as well. Huh, but, nonetheless, the making of Kate and Gerry, erm, into aguidos, although the process had already started in sort of July and August, put the icing on the cake of what has felt like a, a public demolition and a, and a concerted attempt to destroy Kate and Gerry and, to a lesser extent, but it still felt just as acutely, acutely true, the rest of us and, whether it’s true or not, it feels that this has actually come from the Police initially, now this may have been the old regime and clearly there’s been, you know, changes in, in who was leading the investigation. But our feeling is that in many, well, and I agree with the rest of the group, that given the nature of how we are continually, erm, what’s the word, huh, promoted is not the right word, but portrayed in the, in the Portuguese Press and this includes, you know, the documents that are brought in that, even Press yesterday that still say Jane is lying, that still quote unattributable sources in the Police, both here and in Portugal, mean that we would, we would, in many respects, feel it would be absolutely mad to fly to Portugal, not just from the point of view some relatively minor concerns that, huh, you know, twelve months on a re-enactment with the people involved, you know, is, is unlikely to change evidentially the Case, but just because it will open us up to a massive tide of, of, of unwarranted abuse, both, perhaps even on the ground, but certainly in the Press and I think, you know, we, huh, we, individually, have to look to the, you know, to our own, you know, our own sort of family life and our own security and privacy and this feels like a sure fire away of, of, of blowing it all to smithereens, you know. Personally I don’t feel as anti the re-enactment of some of, as some of the rest of the group and that is despite having perhaps some of the most, you know, some of the worst Press out of the, out of the lot of us, you know, I’ve, you know, I’m the male who was away from the room for the longest, you know, I didn’t ask for bed sheets and a whole range of other sort of associations with Exeter and Robert MURAT, you know, there’s, you know, I’ve got a lot more in many respects to, to be worried about travelling to Portugal. But, but, erm, I think that, we, as a group, and Kate and Gerry in particular, need some signal from, from the other side of this wall to say look this is, you know, this is a, this is a, we look at the investigation. I mean, we know that, you know, as a group, that that there is no evidence to convict Kate and Gerry, there never will be, we know that there is no evidence to convict any of the rest of us and there never will be, I mean, we, we don’t, we have no fear of that because we know what we know, erm, but we do have a great deal of fear for the privacy of our families, erm, the ability to go to work without Spanish news crews pissing around outside, you know, outside your window and, and a whole range of other things that have really turned, you know, turned on a personal level, a perfect life. I had a perfect thirty-six years life and I have, you know, we have all had a shit year and I don’t, I don’t want it getting any worse, if anything, in the last couple of months it’s just slightly starting to get better. The British Press have been, you know, dealt a very heavy, you know, a very heavy blow and, you know, where it hurts, in their wallet, I mean, the only place which it will hurt and I think we are going to have to do the same to the Portuguese Press as well. Erm, but what we, huh, in my mind, to get, to get us out there happily and safely, we need some assurances and not more than, and more than what’s happened so far, you know, that, that this is looking at the investigation with open eyes. It’s felt like a, it’s felt like a one directional investigation, from a personal point of view, this was to nail it on Kate and Gerry or nail it one of us and that’s fine, that’s how it’s felt. I’m sure that is not the perception of all the Officers and the PJ and I’m sure that is, that is not the full picture, but that’s how it’s felt. Erm, you know, I’d like to say again that, you know, when we were out there the Officers that, that interviewed me, you know, everyone was perfectly professional, but the, the collective targets of the PJ appears to be Kate and Gerry with no other, with no other avenue. Huh, in terms of kind of a, you know, a conciliatory statement, I, I am very aware that when parties are at odds with each other, and in this, you know, I, I’m, it breaks my heart that this is the situation that we’re in, erm, is that we are, we are inevitably at odds with the PJ and the Portuguese Police. But when parties are at odds and they reach a, an impasse or a stalemate, which is where we are, and we know that, that no, no further action, or should we say no further legitimate action can be taken against any of us or Kate and Gerry in terms of Madeleine’s disappearance because there is no, we were are not involved, that Kate and Gerry need a way out for, you know, just for, for the pure humanity of it, erm, they cannot remain under the degree of pressure and uncertainty and suspicion that they are now, that is true to all, for all of us, you know, to a much, much lesser degree, I, I, I take that. And I am also conscious that the other side of this, the PJ have not had it easy either, you know, they’ve had a very high profile investigation where the International Press have given them a few, you know, bloodied noses along the way as well, and that’s, and that, and so there’s two, there’s two very, very wounded parties. We want to help out. I think if, and I know, Stuart’s explained, you know, the legal system over there is not the same as here and it’s not a question of okay we can just lift it, let’s prosecute and all of this, but there has to be some control and some robust control of the Portuguese Press from the PJ to say, you know, these people are not under any more suspicion than anyone else as a witness in an unsolved case is, you know. You know, in an unsolved case it’s, you know, the innocent will suffer, isn’t it, I mean, it’s, it’s obvious that we’re going to be under a degree of suspicion, we knew that from the start. But we cannot fly into, erm, a hornets nest in Portugal and have our lives literally turned into further episodes of some shitty soap opera, you know, Jane has been portrayed as some kind of soap opera villain over in the Portuguese Press and the article I brought in this morning just illustrates that, I’m under, you know, a great deal of suspicion according to, you know, you know, unattibuted sources within the PJ. All of these are an enormous burden that I could never have imagined in, in all of my, you know, worst dreams that I could, you know, I’m saying I here, but clearly it’s the group, and Kate and Gerry are a lot worse, but that I could find myself under and, you know, I know Jane feels exactly the same. But, if, in some, in some way it could be made so that, even if this was before aguido status was removed from Kate and Gerry, which inevitably in the fullness of time it will be because it’s just not going to go anywhere short of a, of a, you know, of planted evidence, I mean, I am not suggesting that’s what is going to happen, but, you know, that’s the only way that that things will go further, but if the PJ can somehow, you know, bring their own National Press to order, erm, then it will appear that we are not actually just putting our whole livelihoods and privacy, you know, at jeopardy, but at the moment it just feels like it’s asking someone to walk to a cliff and say ‘Do you want to take your chances on the fall’. Erm, it is not because we don’t want to co-operate, I mean, we have come here, you know, I’ve come here for a second day, we would bust our gut if we thought if anything it would do that would actually help Madeleine. And, to be honest, if there wasn’t this pressure I think we’d go and do the re-enactment anyway because we could see no harm from it, the problem at the moment is we can see, we can perceive, and I think it is there, there is genuine harm to our, to our private lives, to our working lives, to the, you know, to even to, you know, our children who are just going to be, you know, they’re kind of plastered over papers and they’re on internet sites and, you know, that, any, our kind of lives are pulled over by sort of sick individuals who have got nothing better to do. And I think we need to have the kind of mainstream Press treating this with the respect that it should do, this is a serious crime, evidence should not be soap opera, the British Press are just as bad, well have been just as bad as the Portuguese Press, but I don’t think we are going to see the same degree of, of, of wanton behaviour from them. But, you know, I know I’m going round in circles just like I did before, but we’d be idiots to go, erm, and on the flip side of that, if we don’t’ go I’m sure the Portuguese Press and maybe even the Police would use this as a rod for our backs as well, you know, ‘Oh they’re not cooperating’, that is not the intention, this is actually, this is actually at the level, you know, the, the unpleasantness of this last year is now at the level where we have to look to just maintaining, you know, some quality of life for us and our kids. Erm, I mean, that, from the outside that probably sounds, oh, you know, soft git, you know, grow up, you know, and maybe that’s, and that’s true, but I have no doubt that going there will, will create a complete whirlpool of, erm, of uncertainties, I can’t see it realistically finding Madeleine or, or us ascertaining any more detail than what our statements do as, as they, as they are now, and just at great, at great personal cost. And I hope the PJ don’t take our reluctance to do this, I hope they see it from a, as a point of view of another person rather than just a National Police Force, I hope they kind of don’t see this as a, as an opportunity to, to sort of harm Kate and Gerry any more, because I don’t think, in living memory, in Britain, two people have been more unnecessarily damaged after perhaps one of the most awful things happening to them. I mean, we have seen the best of, the best of nature and the worst of human nature in the last year, a wonderful amount of help and support when we were in Praia Da Luz at first, erm, but we have, we have witnessed the, the, you know, a really sick act and we’ve also witnessed the, the smarmy, the conceited and the opinionated kind of backlash as well. And, you know, for our own, our own families’ sake we have to, you know, we have to make sure that we are not put through a grinder. So, at the moment, I can’t, you know, as I say, if the situation relaxed even a little in terms of the kind of likely outcome, I mean, I don’t think realistically you could close the area off and keep the Press away, but if the, if there was some way of just, that this was treated with the respect it deserves, the Case was respected, you know, for the, you know, as an open case, an unsolved case and an ongoing one, erm, and I’d be there in a flash, and I think some of the other group might not even be there even if, even if there was something in place. But, at the moment it, phew, you know, the timing is poor, we’re sceptical that it would make a big difference at this late stage and I think, I think that’s true, I don’t think there’s any, any, I think that’s, that would be most peoples assumption a year on. Erm, I mean, it just seems that it would be almost reckless, at the personal level, given the articles that are written about us. That doesn’t, that is not, that is not an absolute no, it’s clearly, erm, the answer is I think we’d be mad to go now, it doesn’t mean we wouldn’t go at some stage. But with some management of the Press and maybe that needs to come from us, I mean, maybe, I mean, I’m seriously, seriously considering, well we’ve already looked into it in loose terms, taking the Portuguese Press to task over what they’ve written, but, you know, just like the PJ have had difficulties in International Law with us here, well that’s no, that’s no mean feat to achieve it. And, you know, we are not, we are not, you know, we are not people who have got, you know, certainly Jane and I aren’t somebody with disposable income to start, to try and fund international libel cases, but libelled we have been and many, many times. The only good thing about leaving the Press to do it is that they’re making a nice long bit of rope for their own neck. And there’s no doubt about it already that, that, you know, if the same thing applied in England, the papers, as soon as threatened, they just gave in, and I think that would happen in Portugal because there is no, there is no factual basis on, you know, a vast majority of some of the really nasty stuff they’ve written. And maybe that needs to come from us, maybe we need to have that in place, saying ‘You write this kind of shit about us and we’re going to, we’re going to hit you where it hurts financially’. We can’t expect morals out of the Press, we never could, erm, but if that attack was coming from us and the feeling that the, the Authorities in Portugal were prepared to back that up, then I would go back, but not before”.
Reply “Thanks very much. Sorry to waffle as usual”.
1578 “That’s fine. I think it just remains for myself Russell to, on behalf of the Portuguese Authorities, sincerely thank you for your efforts and time”.
Reply “Well thank you”.
1578 “And attendance this week”.
Reply “Well thanks to, you know, you and, and the visiting Portuguese as well for, you know, for coming over and doing this, it’s a big undertaking and a lot of time”.
1578 “Thank you”.
Reply “Okay. Thanks a lot”.
1578 “The time is four forty-two pm and this interview is ceasing”.