True Crime Analysis, Breakthroughs, Insights & Discussions Hosted by Bestselling Author Nick van der Leek

I’m confused: is the new £20 million Netflix Documentary on Madeleine McCann PRO-McCann or ANTI-McCann?

The McCanns swear they haven’t watched the 8-part series featuring 40 experts discussing the case of their daughter’s disappearance. And even though their arch-nemesis Goncalo Amaral appears in six of the eight episodes of the documentary, a man they have actively sued over the past eight years, and whom they currently owe  £750,000 in compensatory damages, the McCanns claim they haven’t watched it.

They wouldn’t want to hinder the investigation, see.

So despite a small stadium of experts, commentators, cops, detectives, reports – everyone really who was involved, they haven’t condescended to participate in the production, although the McCanns-over-the-years appear in every episode without exception, but the McCanns-as-they-are-now simply don’t appear in it. This is unlike senhor Amaral who does. We see Amaral as he was, and we seem him now, expressing his views in-the-now.

Fullscreen capture 20190320 235827Fullscreen capture 20190318 134148

But it seems senhor Amaral may be in some legal trouble. Because the documentary was made in the United Kingdom, it seems if Amaral has made more “false allegations” [in a similar vein to those that led to the £750,000 in compensatory damages claim mentioned above] then the McCanns lawyers will apparently have the road paved with gold to go after the former detective again.

On March 14th, 2019 the Express highlighted this possibility as well:

Madeleine McCann latest: Kate and Gerry ‘could sue policeman’ over TV documentary

A day earlier the Mirror was crowing about the same possibility.

Madeleine McCann Netflix documentary could trigger fresh legal action by parents

EXCLUSIVE Lawyers for Kate and Gerry McCann are said to be ‘closely watching’ what Goncalo Amaral will say on the upcoming show

On the same day the Guardian addressed speculation that the show had been “inexplicably” delayed because of “opposition from the missing child’s family”. I’m guessing what that means is the missing child in this semantic labyrinth is Madeleine McCann. Is that fair or is it excessively speculative? And then I’m guessing the missing child’s family [Madeleine’s family] are the McCanns, or is it other relatives who have been opposed?

I’m a true crime writer, full-time, and so it’s my job to figure out things like mindfuckery, word chess and smoke and mirrors. It’s my job to try to get a sense of clarity about what’s actually going on. I must admit to being a little muddled by this.

Is the Netflix documentary good for the McCanns or bad?

Is it good for Amaral, or not?

Since I’ve written a trilogy of books about this case, it’s probably worth making sure either way, isn’t it? So why don’t we? Let’s use something solid and tangible to address and try to answer this slippery question.

What we’ll do is look at the 40 experts interviewed by the makers of the documentary, and then try to get a sense if there is any bias, and where the bias falls.

We know that in a similar documentary series that has been associated with this one, that the Making A Murderer seasons while appearing investigative, neutral, factual and unbiased, actually deliberately seems to lead viewers to question the prosecution of Steven Avery [convicted of the murder of Teresa Halbach].

So one can say with some confidence that the Making A Murderer seasons are somewhat sympathetic to Avery. Some may say obviously and some may say subtly.

So what is the case with this documentary? Is there explicit or tacit support for one particular camp? Yes or no?

Below is a list of cast members appearing in the documentary, taken from the authoritative Internet Movie Database [IMDb].

  1. Gonçalo Amaral…6 episodes, 2019 [ANTI]
  2. Sandra Felgueiras Sandra Felgueiras…6 episodes, 2019 [NEUTRAL, however implicates Portuguesepolice as “dishonest”]Fullscreen capture 20190320 202821
  3. Justine McGuinness…5 episodes, 2019 [PRO, EMPLOYED AS PART OF MCCANN PR TEAM]Fullscreen capture 20190318 155140
  4. Haynes Hubbard…4 episodes, 2019 [PRO]
  5. Susan Hubbard…4 episodes, 2019 [PRO]Fullscreen capture 20190322 130026
  6. Robert Murat Robert Murat…4 episodes, 2019 [Suspect, thus indirectly PRO McCanns as innocent]
  7. Sergey Malinka Sergey Malinka…3 episodes, 2019 [Suspect, thus indirectly PRO McCanns as innocent]Fullscreen capture 20190324 173027Fullscreen capture 20190324 173046
  8. Paulo Pereira Cristovao…2 episodes, 2019 [Neutral arguably. Cristovao is both supportive of the Polícia Judiciária, but also a proponent that Madeleine was “snatched”]
  9. Brian Kennedy…2 episodes, 2019 [TEAM MCCANN]
  10. Patrick Kennedy…2 episodes, 2019 [TEAM MCANN]Fullscreen capture 20190324 174445
  11. Anthony Summers…2 episodes, 2019 [PRO – Support the theory that the McCanns are innocent and that Madeleine was abducted. Book forms premise for the whole series]Fullscreen capture 20190317 094109-001
  12. Robbyn Swan…2 episodes, 2019 [PRO – Support the theory that the McCanns are innocent and that Madeleine was abducted. Book forms premise for the whole series]Fullscreen capture 20190319 175124Fullscreen capture 20190317 181832
  13. Ernie Allen, president of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children,…1 episode, 2019 [PRO]
  14. Jorge Almeida…1 episode, 2019 [ANTI, testified against the McCanns in defamation trial in 2010]Fullscreen capture 20190327 235134Fullscreen capture 20190327 235139.jpgFullscreen capture 20190328 000241
  15. Rogério “there-is-no-evidence-that-she-is-dead” Alves…1 episode, 2019 [PRO, TEAM MCCANN, McCann’s lawyer]rogerioalves
  16. Nick Carter, editor of Leicester Mercury newspaper…1 episode, 2019 [PRO]
  17. Alexander David…1 episode, 2019 [Actor/Unknown]
  18. Jim Gamble…1 episode, 2019 [PRO]Fullscreen capture 20190325 235737
  19. Martin Grime…1 episode, 2019 [Neutral, but evidence allegedly indicated/implicated involvement of McCanns]Fullscreen capture 20190319 173713
  20. Phil Hall…1 episode, 2019 [PR Consultant employed by TEAM MCCANN, PRO]
  21. David Hughes…1 episode, 2019 [PR Consultant employed by TEAM MCCANN, PRO]Fullscreen capture 20190318 154924
  22. Melissa Little…1 episode, 2019[PRO. Forensic artist sympathetic to McCanns, sketched “Tannerman”]Fullscreen capture 20190326 000401
  23. Fernando Lupach….1 episode, 2019 [Actor/Unknown]]
  24. Kelvin Mackenzie….1 episode, 2019 [Former editor of The Sun. Indicated he did not believe McCanns were involved. PRO]Fullscreen capture 20190318 155721
  25. Lee Marlow…1 episode, 2019 [Employed at Leicester Mercury, PRO]Fullscreen capture 20190328 002251
  26. Marisa Matos….1 episode, 2019 [Actress, unknown]
  27. John McCann….1 episode, 2019 [PRO] Fullscreen capture 20190318 155655-001
  28. Philomena McCann…[PRO]
  29. Gerry McCann’s grandmother…[PRO]Fullscreen capture 20190317 021059
  30. Julian Peribañez….1 episode, 2019 [Detective employed by the McCanns, counterpart to Amaral, critical of Amatal, PRO]
  31. Pedro Saavedra…1 episode, 2019 [Actor, unknown]
  32. Jane Tanner…4 episodes, 2019 [PRO]Fullscreen capture 20190317 020701Fullscreen capture 20190320 233449
  33. Matthew Oldfield…2019 [PRO]
  34. Rachael  Oldfield…2019 [PRO]Fullscreen capture 20190325 232956
  35. David Payne…[PRO]
  36. Fiona Payne…[PRO]
  37. DCI  Phil Redwood…[PRO Abduction narrative]Fullscreen capture 20190326 000255
  38. Clarence Mitchell [PR representative for the McCanns, including currently, PRO]Fullscreen capture 20190323 074525
  39. Kate McCannMILES FOR MISSING PEOPLEFullscreen capture 20190317 181842
  40. Gerry McCann


– US Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

Fullscreen capture 20190323 074916

– Journalists/authors with an expressly contrary view such as Mark Saunokonoko

Of this list of 40 who all appear in the Netflix documentary, only two are explicitly anti-McCann – Amaral and Almeido. Both testified against the McCanns’ version of events in court. Grime, via the cadaver alerts, is implicitly a problem for the abduction narrative; and thus the documentary tries to debunk the efficacy of the blood evidence as insufficient/not evidence at all.

Three out of 40 represents 7.5% of the total cast making any kind of counter narrative to the PRO McCann narrative. This means more than 90% of those on this list, featured in the £20 million documentary, are PRO McCann including around 20 individuals employed directly by them as PR consultants, lawyers or investigators.


Former Merseyside detective Arthur Cowley and Dave Edgar who were also employed by them are not mentioned in the list, however they appear briefly at the end of episode 7 and were both PRO McCann. Jon Corner, who was also employed by the McCanns, is also not mentioned on the list and he was also PRO McCann. Lee Marlow, a PRO McCann reporter and one-time “Feature writer of the year” award winner, employed by the PRO McCann Leicester Mercury is also not included in the list. PRO McCann investigator Kevin Halligen, employed by the McCanns who featured in the documentary is also not included on the list above.

Fullscreen capture 20190318 154557

Clearly not all 40 names here are experts of any kind, some are actors or mere players, others are writers, members of the clergy or onlookers of some sort, to the McCann narrative. A substantial number appearing in the series are unquestionably supportive family members and supportive friends of the McCanns.

Statistically it may be interesting to calculate which cast members got proportionately the most airtime and which received the least. By contextualising in which episode [themed a particular way] more insights into the motives of the documentary will likely be revealed.

One doesn’t see Amaral’s lawyer, friends or family interviewed, and virtually none of the staff employed at the Ocean Club were interviewed either. This seems a strange and slippery oversight for a £20 million documentary that seemingly spared no expense to pay for experts in order to produce a credible and honest investigative effort.


  1. Ralph Oscar

    Wouldn’t suspects be anti-McCanns innocent, because if the McCanns are guilty, that lets them off the hook?

    Or are you saying their knowledge of their own culpability automatically exonerates the McCanns?

    • nickvdl

      Yes, but the key word is “indirectly”. They may not be making the case, but aren’t the filmmakers using them to do that?

      Let’s imagine you’re watching Making A Murderer. And an episode is all about John Smith who may have committed the crime, and why. Would you say that narrative or direction is PRO Steven Avery or ANTI Steven Avery? Does it help his case or hinder it to talk for the bulk of the series about a list of other suspects and other possibilities?

      Murat and Malinka are both associated in the mythos surrounding this case with being pedophiles or sexually deviant in some way [I am not expressing an opinion on whether this is true or false]. The documentary implies Madeleine was abducted by a pedophile or sex trafficker.
      I do believe that narrative is false [no abduction, no pedophiles, no sex trafficking, no life after disappearance], and thus directly or indirectly implicating anyone in an abduction for any reason seems to me to be false and misleading in itself.
      I don’t think there is “no evidence” that Madeleine is dead, I just think it’s technically insufficient and thus legally inadequate. But it’s one thing to say there is not enough evidence and another to say there is no evidence. Evidence that is not clear is also not the same as evidence of absence. What is true is that critical evidence is in dispute, and how the law works when that happens is that reasonable doubt favors or falls on the side of the accused party.

      But yes, to your point you would expect the suspects [Murat and Malinka] to be angry and indignant [both permanently lost their livelihoods as far as I know], and to say so, and to go beyond defending themselves to implicate someone else. The question is do they, and if they do, who? And if they don’t, what are they afraid of?

      • Ralph Oscar

        Thanks – I get it now.

  2. Sylvester

    So to answer your question – the Netflix docu-series is neither pro-McCann or anti-McCann. It’s pro- perpetuating the mystery of what happened to her. In that sense then it would be pro-McCann, since in presenting this piece in the way they did, which is a lukewarm watered down investigatory piece of entertainment masquerading as solid investigatory journalism (or is it – is the laugh on us?) or a quest for the truth, which is wasn’t, what actually happened to her remains a mystery to most people watching – and the McCanns can carry on with their version of what happened to her. Murat and Malinka probably are angry and indignant – and maybe they do implicate someone else – but if they do or have, Netflix isn’t going to put it on their docu-series because they are not in the business of imparting legitimate information. They are in the business of entertainment (and possibly persuasion for entertainment).

    • nickvdl

      In a response to this post, someone on twitter asked me to be emphatic recently. He said, yes or no, do you think the McCanns are guilty. I found that pretty disappointing. Within the confines of what one can say I try to be as explicit as one can be.
      In this post the question was whether the documentary is Pro or Anti McCann. I made a list of 40 names, 3 of which were explicitly or tacitly Anti. 30+ PRO McCann vs 3 ANTI McCann. Sorry I thought I made the point that the documentary is incredibly PRO McCann. I guess I need to simplify how I say things in future.

  3. Sylvester

    I always think things are not black and white and that the answers lie somewhere in between. But in the context of how you laid it out, 40 pro 3 anti then the answer would be yes, the documentary is pro McCann. It’s not you. There is more satisfaction for me in the question than in the answer. 🙂

  4. Sylvester

    I had also read another article where the McCann’s said they not only didn’t watch the Netflix piece, but they didn’t approve of it. If they didn’t watch it how would they know to not approve, and if it’s pro-them, why wouldn’t they approve. So I wanted to take that into account as well, as some of the mindfuckery you mentioned, which is evident on all fronts – the McCann’s, the documentary, and the apologists.

    • nickvdl

      By saying they don’t approve and may sue they stoke interest and speculation. It’s a possible ploy to stir and gain interest. I’ve also mentioned the imminent verdict from the European Court of Human Rights. That’s in play right now. Public sentiment matters to huge appeals cases. A lot of money is on the line based on whatever they rule. So one can see why this may be an influence campaign and if it is, where did the 20 million come from?

      • julinka1981

        Also if they “supported” the documentary-that would question the impartiality of Netflix series. In another words,they probably agreed with Netflix to spin the “we do not approve,as it would hinder the investigation” ,suited both sides-more interest for Netflix and more sympathy for McCanns as a result of watching series. Thank you for pointing out at PRO McCanns “experts” in this documentary,never rolled out eyes so much whilst listening their crappy expertise opinions 🙈. I was very excited about this series but it’s even more disappointing that £20 million was spent for insufficient and incomplete investigation, we haven’t learned anything new and we were all dying to hear Ocean club staff,Irish family and others.

        • nickvdl

          Murat does say in the documentary that he felt he was being “set-up”. So who was setting him up, and who gained by setting him up? He doesn’t say that in the documentary.

  5. Sylvester

    Twenty million. Where did it come from, and why do this piece at all. Waiting for a favorable verdict no doubt and needing to influence public opinion. So I’m guessing the 20 million came in part from the McCann machine, and sold to Netflix which will receive a part of the pie from viewership ratings, etc. Much like the CBS Special on JonBenet Ramsey which was strategically planned to air by the 20th anniversary of her death during sweep week or whatever it’s called. Dr. Phil got a piece of that particular pie too by doing a pre-emptive strike with his interview of Burke Ramsey. Murat could still sue – but the McCann’s will say they weren’t a part of this, etc. It is very difficult coming up against a machine. And the McCann’s machine is very much in place, with a board of directors and everything. Mick Jagger said a few years ago that they are no longer just a successful band from England. They are a corporation, and hundreds of people depend on them to tour – it’s their livelihood. They can’t stop touring even if they wanted to. The McCann’s can’t stop proving their innocence either and perpetrating their abduction scam.

    • nickvdl

      It’s also possible it was indirectly and in part government funded. Imagine how bad the British police are going to look if it turns out they’ve bungled the most expensive missing persons investigation in British history bar none. There will be a lot of very red faces.

  6. Sylvester


    I have to wonder when and how was it put to the Tapas 7 to band together [assuming they did] in defense of the McCann’s abduction theory. And not a single defector in all these years? It has to be something more than that they too left their children unattended at night. There’s the strange visit of one of the doctors who said he saw all three children healthy and in white, he said that repeatedly. And then Matt Oldfield’s checkup in between Gerry and Kate’s.

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