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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:15 am 
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Para Mim Tanto Faz Blog (Portugal)

(Translated by Astro)

English investigation of Sócrates coincided with the height of the McCann case and the negotiations of the Lisbon Treaty

Frederico Duarte Carvalho

The questioning of Charles Smith by English investigators took place eight days after the meeting of José Sócrates with Gordon Brown, during which the Lisbon Treaty and the McCann case were discussed

The English rogatory letter from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), which mentions the alleged meetings between José Sócrates and the heads of Freeport and of Smith&Pedro, reveals that the questioning of English witness Charles Smith, in England, on the 17th of July 2007, coincided with the height of the McCann case investigation in Portugal and the negotiations around the Lisbon Treaty. The Freeport case had been an issue that had been mentioned in the Portuguese press during the campaign for the anticipated election in February 2005. Weekly newspaper “Independente” published the first news in its edition on the 11th of February 2005 under the title “PJ investigates Sócrates’ decision”, alluding to the March 2002 licensing process of the outlet in Alcochete.


The weekly would return to the subject one week later, on the 18th of February, under the title “Undeniable”, showing the copy of an alleged internal document with PJ suspects that contained José Sócrates’ name.


Nevertheless, the case didn’t hurt the image of the then candidate to prime minister who, two days later, conquered the first absolute majority for the party that had been founded by Mário Soares, in 1973, in Germany.

According to the English letter that has now been made public, it has become known that a DVD in which the English intermediary, Charles Smith, confessed to giving money to the Minister of the Environment in 2002, José Sócrates, and which the prosecutor Cândida Almeida confessed during an interview to RTP that she didn’t even want to hear it – because she doesn’t consider it to be legal evidence – was recorded on the 3rd of March 2006, approximately one year after the story was made public in Portugal. On that date, just three days remained until Cavaco Silva took up his post as President of the Republic and the ambience between Belém [president’s official residence] and S. Bento [prime minister’s official residence] didn’t foresee major disagreements. The DVD was recorded without Charles Smith’s knowledge, but according to the dates that are mentioned in the SFO’s letter, he was only formally questioned in London on the 17th of July 2007, that is to say, two years after the first news in “O Independente” and one year after the DVD was recorded.

Despite Charles Smith’s apparent denials, it is evident that the English investigation cabinet – which depends directly from the British prime minister – thought that it could concentrate its energies on an investigation about the then Portuguese prime minister. And this is where the political-juridical attention becomes complicated.

On the 17th of July 2007, the relationship between Portugal and England was anything except peaceful. The Portuguese and the English presses shared a common interest: the case of the disappearance of the English girl from Praia da Luz, Madeleine McCann, which dragged on since the 3rd of May. Gordon Brown had replaced prime minister Tony Blair on the 27th of June, and eight days before the interrogation of Charles Smith at the SFO’s headquarters, on the 9th of July, José Sócrates met Gordon Brown in London at the British prime minister’s official residence, number 10 Downing Street.


The conversation between them broached the subject of the European Union’s Portuguese presidency – which started on the 1st of July – and the signing of the Lisbon Treaty, our presidency’s major goal. For Sócrates, it was important to secure Brown’s signature, but for the latter it was equally important to solve the Madeleine McCann case which, it is recalled, counted on the personal and institutional support of the new British prime minister who had even made an important press advisor, Clarence Mitchell, available to accompany the McCann couple in the Algarve.

It is unknown until what point Gordon Brown was informed by his SFO – or even by Her Majesty’s secret services – about the suspicions that hung over our prime minister. And one can only speculate about to which degree such information may or may not have been used as “currency” in the political and judicial negotiations between Portugal and England. What is a fact is that two weeks after the questioning of Charles Smith by the SFO, the McCanns’ life in Portugal became more difficult: the dogs that were sent from England detected traces of blood in the apartment in Praia da Luz where Madeleine McCann had disappeared from, as well as cadaver odour on the little girl’s mother’s clothes. The McCanns would end up being declared arguidos in early September 2007, and abandoned Portugal on the 9th of September.

When it seemed like the judicial investigation in Portugal against the English couple would lead to a formal accusation, suddenly, on the 2nd of October 2007, case coordinator Gonçalo Amaral is removed. The removal of the man who had always suspected the involvement of the McCann couple in their daughter’s disappearance, happened on the same day that Gordon Brown announced to Sócrates that he accepted to sign the Lisbon Treaty.


Concerning the coincidence of his dismissal and the acceptance by Grodon Brown to sign the Lisbon Treaty, Gonçalo Amaral wrote, in his book “The Truth of The Lie”: “Deep down, it was the outcome of a defamation campaign in the Madeleine case, that had been orchestrated and developed by British media, almost from the moment that the investigation started. The strategy was simple, one attacks the investigation, questioning its officers while simultaneously painting Portugal as a third world country, with an outdated judicial and police system, due to its near medieval methods. From the United Kingdom, other news arrived. The British prime minister had phoned Prior Stuart, the head of Leicestershire police, asking whether or not he could confirm the dismissal of the investigation’s operational coordinator. We don’t know why the English prime minister would show such interest in a humble Portuguese civil servant. Nor do we wish to believe what was being said in the background of the Lisbon Treaty about the need to confirm the dismissal of the investigation’s operational coordinator before there was the will to sign said treaty. Rumour, surely, and nothing more.”

On the 19th of October, days after the removal of Gonçalo Amaral – which in practical terms “killed” the investigation of the McCanns – Sócrates celebrated the final agreement for the signing of the Lisbon Treaty with the main European leaders (it would be formally signed on the 13th of December). The celebration with Gordon Brown was notorious, while the Portuguese Public Ministry had revealed its docility towards English citizens and the PJ had accepted to throw itself on the sword.

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