Before that the only reason for the Cracked Mirror was to provide the public - for the first and only time as far as I know - with some idea of what the people involved in the affair were really like.
Kate & Gerry McCann have never been able to give frank and open descriptions of what happened on the night of May 3. As the Bureau posts showed, time after time they have told significant untruths while using a screen of public relations techniques and personnel to protect themselves from direct interrogation.
The nearest the pair came to real questioning - and it wasn't very near, either - was in police headquarters in Portimao between May 4 and May 10. It is a matter of public and judicial record, as attested in court in Lisbon during the gagging hearings by the prosecutor in charge of the case, that the McCanns lied during those interrogations.
That is the only reason I became interested in the case: not because I'm a crime story freak - far from it - nor because I thought the parents were criminals or monsters. Within weeks of reading reports of the disappearance of the child it was clear to me and others, as it later became clear to the prosecutor who wrote the 2008 report that the McCanns claim "cleared them", that they were not telling the truth. The question, which has never been answered, is why were they not telling the truth? What possible reason or justification could there be for the parents of the missing child to lie to the police?
Obsessionally trying to find the answer to that question led me into the shadowy, wild and ultimately repulsive world of the Madeleine McCann affair. Shadowy first, last and always because of Gerald McCann's naive and self-destructive obsession with melodramatic intrigue and secrecy rather than openness: nearly all the darkness stems from that one source.
It is not true to say that such darkness derives from a criminal act which suddenly drew a rather colourless hospital cardiologist into a film-noir nightmare of the most terrifying kind. On that front, indeed, there is only silence: no kidnapper has ever contacted him, no abductor has enmeshed him in Hollywood horrors, no malefactor at all has ever surfaced or even left traces, let alone played games with Dr McCann. Colourless on the surface he might be but all the noir - the ex-SAS men, the dodgy private investigators, the chancers and hustlers, the bizarre and fantastic "suspects" named by Gerry McCann's own employees, the absurd and pompous "operational reasons", the inflated hopes and crushing media-fed letdowns - have come directly from Dr McCann and his way of handling a grievous family disappearance.
The wildness of this world derives, of course, from the enormous financial bonanza which the case provided for so many deeply undeserving people - the Crisis PR crowd, the newspaper proprietors, the pompous and ill-informed feature writers and journalists and many, many others.
Even for cynics such as myself it was an eye-opener on the modern world, this commodification of a three year old child, a child quite manifestly much more valuable missing and almost certainly dead than alive and at home. We've gradually grown used to the ways of the media and publishing worlds in which the freakier or the more bizarrely wicked the subject - two headed infants, sex slaves in the cellar, drug-induced octuplets - the greater the dividend, especially when suitably embellished with nauseating sentimentality.
But this one did me in: it was like watching jackals fighting to grab a bite out of the child's corpse and carry it away for it to be retrieved and auctioned off. What a product! A better writer than me once said that the ultimate merchandise was God's Own Medicine, Good Old Smack, heroin. Why, you didn't sell the product to the user - you sold the user to the product! William Burroughs should have been around to watch Product Maddie make literally tens of millions of pounds for those who provided bite after bite.
Bite after bite: it was one of Bill Gates's people who said that the glory of selling information is that when you've sold it you've still got it and can sell it again. And again. Just like Product Maddie. Kelvin Mackenzie, ex-editor of the Sun, said it was "the story of the century" and found it quite natural that newspapers were putting on tens of thousands of readers every time they brought back a slavering, new mouthful: the public wanted to know more and it was the media's job to give them more. But more of what in return for the ackers? Facts? Accuracy?
Most of the media libelled the McCanns around the time they were made arguidos, when they thought it was safe to do so. But not once did they penetrate the defences which the McCanns had erected so skilfully - and so expensively - around themselves in order to get the pair to speak freely; instead they betrayed the public by enacting the charade of "interviews" in which the agenda was laid down by the parents and their advisors.
It was this willingness of the media to be used which led to the third element. For with that media betrayal people turned to the internet for information. Ah, the wonders of blogs, websites and forums!
Something worrying happens to people at a screen. Harmless schoolmasters download images by the thousand of babies being fucked; others, again apparently normal away from the screen, glory in deceit, pretending to be someone half their age and of a different gender until they meet and score with a fourteen year old or simply gain some weird buzz from creating a false identity; still others obsessively google for the composition of poisons or the ingredients of bombs or the perfect murder. And others scream, shout and above all pose on forums. Facts could be discovered, yes, but in a matrix of deception and constant petty strife.Having left that world to smell fresh, clean air at the end of February I do not wish to re-visit it.
To conclude: I do not regard the McCanns as killers or conspiritors in the disposal of Madeleine McCann. I have no theory whatever as to who did what on May 3. All I have ever wanted is to find out why the McCanns, as the prosecutor said, lied to the police and pass that information on to the public. I eventually became convinced that the only chance of doing so was if Goncalo Amaral faced the pair in an English libel court and all three were cross-examined under oath. To that end I volunteered to work with and support Amaral despite significant differences of approach that arose between he and his team and myself.
We failed. The gagging hearings went the other way. The prospects of a defended English libel trial faded. Rather than disagree with that brave man's approach - Amaral is the one who has staked everything, not me - or with that of his support team I decided there was nothing more I could, or wanted, to do. It was over.
As always, here's to truth."