Richard D Hall
Gerry and Kate McCann, speaking to the press on 4 May 2007, the day after she went missingMelanie Maps/AFP

It is hard to measure how pervasive suspicions against Kate and Gerry McCann have become on the 10th anniversary of their daughter's disappearance.

YouGov is unlikely to produce a poll showing how many Britons think the couple hoaxed Madeleine's abduction on 3 May 2007 – and then had MI5 help hide the body.

What can be said for certain is that the volume of conspiracy theories, insinuations and false allegations made against the McCanns has ramped up as the landmark approaches.

"We are bracing ourselves for the next couple of weeks," Kate said, in an official statement to mark the occasion.

"It's likely to be stressful and painful and more so given the rehashing of old 'stories', misinformation, half-truths and downright lies which will be doing the rounds in the newspapers, social media and 'special edition' TV programmes," she added.

At the centre of spurious allegations made against the McCanns is former police chief Goncalo Amaral, who initially led the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance in Praia da Luz, Portugal, ten years ago.

The detective was taken off the case after squabbles with British police, who criticised the Portuguese response during the crucial hours just after Madeleine vanished.

In 2008 Amaral released a book, The Truth of the Lie, in which he claims Madeleine died in the family's holiday apartment and that Kate and Gerry faked her abduction to cover up her death, which may have been the result of neglect or sedatives intended to help her sleep.

Goncalo Amaral
Portugal's former top investigator Goncalo Amaral pose with his book entitled "Maddie: The Truth about the Lie" about the disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann during a presentation in LisbonHugo Correia/Reuters

The McCanns have never been charged for the disappearance of their daughter nor are they formal suspects in either of the open police investigations in Portugal and the UK.

They initially had Amaral's book banned with a libel action but in February of this year, after a verdict from Portugal's highest court, it returned to the shelves. The court ruled that Amaral's right to freedom of expression outweighed the McCanns' right to reputation.

The outspoken ex-policeman has become the poster boy for a growing number of conspiracy theorists who believe the McCanns have misled the world about their daughter's fate.

"The less said about Goncalo Amaral the better," Gerry McCann recently told The Sun.

It was no surprise when the Portuguese man featured in a highly publicised Australian documentary that aired on 23 April – just 10 days before the 10th anniversary. The show promised a fresh lead in the Madeleine mystery.

In the end, the documentary advanced a number of theories about what may have happened to Madeleine but the stand-out performance came from Amaral, who developed his theory about the McCanns' involvement in a cover-up to include roles for MI5 and former prime minister Gordon Brown.

"They are hyping it for all it's worth and it's not worth anything," the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said.

"If the Australian TV show contains any credible, fresh lines of inquiry they should, of course, have been given immediately to the police," he added.

Richard D Hall
Three-year old British girl Madeleine McCann who went missing at the Ocean club apartment hotel in Praia de Luz in Lagos on 3 May 2007AFP/Getty Images

The alleged MI5/Gordon Brown connection will not surprise anyone that has spent 15 minutes trawling through the labyrinth of forums and social media groups purportedly dedicated to uncovering the truth about Madeleine's disappearance.

Almost any theory is credible to members of these digital communities except for the possibility that Madeleine was abducted by a stranger and that she has still not been found.

It is difficult to navigate the slew of Madeleine conspiracy forums without coming across references or direct hyperlinks to the films of Richard D Hall.

Hall's films, of which there are over 10 hours, are regarded online as the most authoritative account of the claims against the McCanns.

Hall suggests that Kate and Gerry McCann may have covered up her death and that Madeleine may have been created as a result of a government clone experiment.

IBTimes UK recently attended a lecture by Hall in which he promoted his films and elaborated on his theories regarding the Maddie case. In an intro clip played to the audience before he took to the stage, he noted that public attitudes were increasingly turning against the McCanns.

Richard D Hall
Richard D Hall, a conspiracy theorist, produced over seven hours of Madeleine McCann filmsYouTube/MaximumTruthseeker

"In the Madeleine McCann case – where there is a huge establishment lie in my opinion being told about it – the public really aren't buying it now and there has been a bit of a sea change in that one issue," he said.

Hall is a fierce critic and self-styled antithesis of the traditional print and broadcast, or mainstream, media – which he regards as being largely under the control of the government.

However, major outlets are increasingly willing to give space to the anti-establishment, anti-Kate and Gerry narrative that he advances.

For example, the recent controversial Australian documentary went out on Channel Seven, the highest rated network in the country. And Amaral's explosive MI5/Gordon Brown claims were picked up and reported, with attribution, by The Sun and Mail Online, among other leading British news sites.

In the past week, many British media outlets have inhabited the paradoxical territory of reporting Kate McCann's hope that "those reporting on the 'story' over the next couple of weeks will have a conscience" while simultaneously publishing stories that give supreme prominence to accusations against her and her husband.

Spokesman Mitchell recently summed up the family's dilemma when confronted with a surge of accusatory stories surfacing across various media.

"If we denied anything it gave the media a story because we denied it so half the time we ignored stuff and didn't give it credibility by commenting on it," he said.

"So that appears in a paper on Monday in Portugal and it's wrong (factually incorrect), and then it reappears in the Daily Mail on the Tuesday, and then on the Wednesday the mainstream Portuguese papers would rerun the story from the established, illustrious Daily Mail.

"It was a spin cycle of lunacy. Even now people come up to me and say things that are completely untrue, but they've read it on Facebook and seen it on Twitter so it must be true," he added.

Richard D Hall
Kate and Gerry McCann in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal on 7 May 2007Melanie Maps/AFP

Kate and Gerry McCann have attempted to mark the 10th anniversary of their daughter's disappearance with a renewed effort to find her, bringing Scotland Yard into their campaign.

If she is alive, Madeleine will now be 13. Her parents have vowed never to give up searching for the little blonde girl who disappeared in a flash on the evening of 3 May 2007 and sparked the biggest missing person search in history.

But the couple have also learned to live with being under suspicion – subject to accusations brewed in dark corners of the internet, occasionally simmering over into the global media.

Accusations which, however unfounded, have got louder and louder as the years go on.


Update: The original story said Richard D Hall's films ran for seven hours. In fact, there are over 10 hours.