I was listening to Jeremy Vine’s lunchtime programme on Radio 2 yesterday while I was driving to Exeter and back to get my car MoT’d. It’s a sort of phone-in debate programme which tends to attract comment from what one might term ‘Middle England’ or, if being a little crueller, the ‘Daily Mail Brigade’.
So they were discussing the Leveson enquiry (is there anybody left in the UK not absolutely bored to tears by the damn thing) as pertaining to Kate & Gerry McCann, Madeleine’s parents, who were giving evidence at it yesterday.
I could not BELIEVE the amount of vitriol and criticism, indeed almost hatred, some of the British public have for this couple. Some of the things being said about them just stunned me. Many people seemed to be of the opinion that they deserved everything that had happened to them.
Now, I am not the world’s most compassionate or empathetic person by any stretch of anybody’s imagination – indeed, when there is criticism to be doled out, I think it’s fair to say that I’m often at the front of the queue.
Also, I know for an absolute fact that I wouldn’t have left my child the way they left theirs. I know this because I was in the exact same situation on holiday in Kefalonia when William was three, with identical distances involved between the restaurant and the apartment. We considered it, and I just didn’t feel comfortable with leaving him – mostly because what if he woke up two minutes after I’d checked on him, and was left frightened and alone for another 15 or 20 minutes until we checked again? Just couldn’t do it.
The McCanns, for whatever reason, decided they could do it. And did.
And paid the ultimate price.
They were having a quiet meal in a small restaurant within the resort with friends (all of whom had also chosen to leave their children unattended). They were not out clubbing until the middle of the night on the other side of town knocking back shots of tequila.
Does that make it right? No, not really.
But you only have to look at Kate McCann’s face to see the suffering she has endured – she has aged 20 years in the last four. There is no question in my mind that she and Gerry loved and nurtured all their children just as any other normal parent does.
Yes, they made a gross misjudgment, but my God, have they not paid enough for it? Every minute of every day that couple must regret that decision with every fibre of their beings. And every day for their rest of their lives, they have to live with the fact that they will most likely NEVER know what became of their daughter.
And I think that’s the worst punishment anybody could be forced to endure. I don’t know how they keep going.
So come on, British public, walk for a moment in their shoes and find a little compassion in your hearts for these people. They’ve been punished enough.