more details see at →McCannFiles
Extract: A brief background to the Rothley meeting
07 November: The Spanish newspaper El Mundo reports that lawyers for two of the Tapas 7 have contacted police indicating their clients are willing to be re-questioned to 'correct' details of their original statements. The origins of this report indicate it to be unreliable but it is picked up and reported in the UK press.
09 November: →Daily mail titels “Madeleine: Changes in evidence from Tapas Nine could 'dramatically change investigation'” Changes in the evidence of two of the so-called Tapas Nine could “dramatically change” the Madeleine McCann investigation, it was claimed yesterday. The pair who allegedly want to correct their version of events were named yesterday in a Portuguese newspaper as Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner. Miss Tanner has given a key account of seeing a man carrying a child away from the McCanns' apartment. Both her and Dr O'Brien deny that they have contacted police to change their statements. However, according to police sources the two who want to change details in their accounts of the night of May 3 were said to have asked that their names are kept secret to avoid pressure from those close to the McCanns. A police source said any change to the statements of the couple could alter the course of the six-month investigation. He said: “The investigation could be changed dramatically if the two witnesses decide to clarify what really happened that night.” Officers have analysed a series of alleged contradictions and inconsistencies in the statements of the Tapas Nine, the group who ate together on the night Madeleine disappeared. The new focus of the inquiry led to fears that four of the friends - Miss Tanner, Dr O'Brien, David Payne and Matthew Oldfield –could be named as official suspects. Police said the pair who wanted to change their accounts contacted detectives after learning they could be made arguidos. Miss Tanner told how she saw a man carry a child from the McCanns' apartment at about 9.15pm on the night Madeleine disappeared. But another witness, TV producer Jeremy Wilkins, told police he was outside the apartment at the same time and did not see anything. Her partner Dr O'Brien, 36, was away from the tapas bar for longest of any of the group. He said he left the table for 25 minutes to look after his daughter, who had been sick, but other witnesses say he could have been away for up to 45 minutes. Miss Tanner described claims that they were about to change their statements as “absolute rubbish”. Dr Payne, 41, of Leicester, and Dr Oldfield, 37, from Richmond, South-West London, have also denied that they want to change their accounts. McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell insisted it was not true that any of the group wanted to correct their statements. Kate and Gerry McCann could sue the Portuguese police for £1million for failing to find their daughter, it was claimed. Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said it was something the couple's legal team might consider if the inquiry is closed.
17 November: (date unconfirmed) The McCanns and the Tapas 7 hold a secret meeting at a hotel near their home. This is believed to be the Rothley Court Hotel; their preferred setting for interviews/photo opportunities.
Eventually child carer Catriona Baker attended the meeting too (18th April 2008 Rogatory): “I visited the family in their home at their invitation to see how they were getting along in November of 2007.”
19 November: The BBC Panorama documentary 'The Mystery of Madeleine McCann' is broadcast.
08 December: News of the secret meeting emerges. According to The Telegraph, the Tapas Nine had wanted to keep the meeting secret but details of it were leaked by a source close to the McCanns. The source admitted that it was an opportunity to discuss events amid reports that the group are to be re-interviewed by police, going on to add “It was a show of solidarity under police claims that one or two had wanted to change their stories.”
16 December: The Times publishes Kate and Gerry McCann: →Beyond the smears by David James Smith. The article reveals how a UK journalist was prepared to collaborate with Gerry McCann, at a time when he was still an arguido, and subject to the rules of judicial secrecy, in order to promulgate the latest 'official' McCann timeline. A timeline which may well have been under discussion at the Rothley meeting.
See also →Mirror, 'Tapas 9' in secret McCann meeting: “Kate and Gerry McCann secretly met the rest of the ”Tapas Nine“ amid reports Portuguese police are to re-interview them….Portuguese police were furious about the meeting. A source close to the investigation claimed it was “highly suspicious” that they had met up to “talk tactics”. Detectives are said to be awaiting formal clearance to come to Britain and question the nine again about alleged discrepancies in their statements. But the couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell denied that the nine had gathered to square their accounts before a police visit. He said the emotional reunion “a few weeks ago” at a hotel near the couple's home in Rothley, Leics “was just to discuss the overall situation. They weren't comparing notes or doing anything untoward. It was an operational meeting to discuss what might be coming up in the next few weeks. They are in touch all the time by phone and emails anyway but decided to meet face to face. They were together for a few hours and discussed the overall position. They wanted to see each other because they hadn't done so for some time.”…They are key witnesses who gave police crucial evidence supporting the couple's belief that Madeleine was kidnapped. Jane Tanner claims to have seen a man carrying a small child in pink pyjamas like Madeleine's away from the flat. Three have given statements claiming they saw Robert Murat, the first official suspect, outside the apartment - though he claimed he was at home with his mother. A friend of the couple claimed the meeting gave the lie to a rumour that some of the party had fallen out with the McCanns and were preparing to change their statements. The source said: “It was a show of solidarity under police claims that one or two had wanted to change their stories. That is not the case and the meeting showed that. It was a meeting to express support by the friends and just to see each other again. They hadn't all seen each other for months.”…A furious Portuguese police source said: “This meeting is highly suspicious. The McCanns left Portugal and flew home the moment they were made suspects and refused to answer many key questions about what had happened. Now, they and their friends are about to be re-interviewed and it is revealed they have met up in secret in a hotel. The McCanns are suspects and their friends are witnesses who could soon also have arguido (official suspect) status. They should not be meeting to discuss the case and certainly not the evidence.””
On 28 October 2007 the Mail published the following story:
McCanns 'are hiding a big secret', former police chief claims
Kate and Gerry McCann are hiding a “big secret” about the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine, according a former police chief claims. John Stalker, who headed a famous inquiry into whether suspected IRA men were killed by RUC officers, is suspicious of their silence. The former Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police told the Sunday Express:
“My gut instinct is that some big secret is probably being covered up. I have watched the investigation into the Madeleine McCann case drag out for six months. One thing above all worries me: Why have the McCanns and the seven other members of their group – the Tapas Nine – remained so silent? Unlike other high-profile cases I have worked on, not one of them has been prepared to break ranks or really come out and support each other. After all this time and pressure, I cannot believe that nobody wants to speak. I have a real suspicion that we are not being told the whole truth. There is something else there, some issue that members of the party are embarrassed about”
Until this time British tabloids often where very critical gainst the McCann's. This changed dramatically in the following months. The question remains, why?, as evidence never changed since and every open question the Tapas Group didn't like to answer remained unanswered too. The Rothley Meeting mid-November 2007 was a secret meeting. It came to public just through the then still investigative work of some British journalists.
From evidence we know that for sure at this time it was under supervision of “spokesman” Clarence Eden Mitchell. From evidence of Leicestershire Police we know (see Freedom of Information Act, 13. Feb. 2009), that the case was already covered under the term “National Security”. Besides the close link to Downing Tsr. No. 10 it is also obvious that Mitchell has to be suspected to be an MI5/MI6 Agent.
Shorthly before the meeting seemingly two of the Tapas-Group were close to surrender and confession. Now at the Rothley Meeting all the main witnesses who are aware of a cover-up were “invited” to Rothley, even at least one of the former child carer at the Ocean Club. Seemingly they will have been told that they have to obey National Security. That means that here all the witnesses were required, under threat of significant penalties, on their silence. The other part of the deal but seemingly was: In addition, obviously with the paid help by Carter-Ruck professionals, the whole group where guaranteed an individual Super-Injunction, which means, no British tabloid will be allowed to publish, investigate or interview anyone of them any more. The deal obviously was the status of Untouchables versus Silence.