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Editorial: Still keeping an eye out

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Editorial: Still keeping an eye out

Post  Annabel on Mon 7 Jan - 6:12


Editorial: Still keeping an eye out

Last updated 05:00 05/01/2013

OPINION: For the stormtossed parents of Madeleine McCann the Queenstown false alarm must be bittersweet.

Once again, a sighting proved not to be the British couple's daughter, missing since an ill-starred holiday in Portugal in 2007.

Yet another letdown for a couple who have already suffered extravagantly. That's one way to look at it.

But there must also be a careworn hope. More than five years after her disappearance, the loss of their child still cries out to strangers on the other side of the world. People still remember. They still care.

Only commendation should come the way of the Queenstown retailer who contacted police and the Find Madeleine hotline after noticing a young girl in the store had the same, uncommon, eye blemish that usefully distinguishes her from so many conventionally beautiful children. The colobona is like a tiny hour-hand descending from her right iris about where the 7 would be on a clock face.

The particular hope in this case was soon extinguished. Police found the child and have pronounced themselves absolutely certain it was not Madeleine. It is not, even, the first time she has been mistaken for her.

Nor is it the first time the alarm has been raised in southern New Zealand. In December 2007, a CCTV video taken from The Warehouse in south Dunedin showed a lookalike and, in the case, it took more than two years before the girl was identified.

Given the rarity of the condition it may be tiresome if not distressing for the children who resemble Madeleine, and for their parents, to have people sometimes stop and peer and wonder. But who's to say stop looking?

Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry, aren't alone in the belief that their daughter, who would now be nearly 10, may still be alive. Scotland Yard has urged the Portuguese judiciary to reopen the case.

One of the most nauseating defences - which is saying something - at the Leveson inquiry into British press conduct came from Richard Desmond, the owner of four national newspapers. His company paid the McCanns more than NZ$1 million in damages in 2008 for a series of articles in the Daily Express and Daily Star, based on what the papers later acknowledged was "no evidence whatsoever", that they had killed their daughter.

Desmond, prince of a man that he is, told the inquiry that the McCanns had been happy with the stories accusing them of her death because, see, it kept the case on the front page. The McCanns themselves begged to differ and through a spokesman suggested that Desmond must be living in "a parallel universe". More like a sulphurous, subterranean one.

The southern New Zealand sightings join a raft of others spanning into Africa and Asia that have come to naught. Long may they continue until the day one brings a resolution, be it happy or sorrowful. And it may, yet, be happy. You don't abandon hope, particularly when that little eye blemish, once committed to memory, means it's easy enough to be watchful.

What is more, somewhere out there is a kidnapper, or worse, who is most likely still living with the sense that the whole goddamned world just isn't letting this rest. If that message keeps catching up to him, with maybe-Madeleine sightings from places as far away as New Zealand, well good. Be sure your sins will find you out.
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