Five weeks after my book, Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann went up on Amazon, it vanished. I didn't receive word from Amazon that they were going to take it off the market nor did I receive word that they had taken it off the market. I learned of its disappearance from someone who went to buy it. I sent Amazon an email and receivde a vague response from someone without a last name (isn't that always the way they do it these days?) who told me the book had been removed from sale for "legal conflicts." I asked for clarification of said legal conflicts and I received this email:
We have received a notice of defamation from Carter-Ruck Solicitors that says the content of Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann (UPDATED) B0055WYVCQ, contains defamatory statements regarding their clients, Gerry and Kat McCann.
Because we have no method of determining whether the content supplied to us is defamatory, we have removed the title from sale and will not reinstate it unless we receive confirmation from both parties that this matter has been resolved.
Carter-Ruck can be reached at:
6 St Andrew Street
London EC4A 3AE
T 020 7353 5005
Oh, I see, Robert with-no-last-name. Amazon was threatened by the McCanns' legal team and Amazon preferred to drop my book rather than face a lawsuit for selling possibly libelous material. Now, I know a lot of people have become very angry about this, that anyone can just send a threat to Amazon about another person's book and without a shred of proof, the bookseller pulls if off the market. It does seem rather unfair; the McCanns do not have any paperwork proving my work is libelous nor are there any court actions against me and, simply at their word, my book is axed.
But, there is the rub, actually. Amazon is a business and they do not by law have to sell anything they don't want to sell for whatever reason (garbage, pornography, libelous material, etc.). Of course, their customers can show their wrath over their choice to not include a book in their store by taking their business elsewhere (which some have done due to the removal of my book) or by giving them a lot of heat in the media.
To be fair to Amazon, I will say, there is a new problem with self-published books. There is no protective layer between the author and the bookseller as there has traditionally been with an actual mainstream publisher. When I sold The Profiler: My Life Hunting Serial Killers and Psychopaths to Hyperion Voice, their lawyers went over every detail with a fine tooth comb and I had to send in all of my files to back each and every case in the book, in spite of the fact I used pseudonyms for everyone. By the time Amazon stocked the book in their online store, they knew the publisher had done its job and if anyone would then be sued it would be Hyperion and me. But, with my self-published book, they have no idea if what the McCanns say is true or not and, if it turns out the McCanns are correct, they might end up in a court themselves. As business people going up against one of the biggest libel attorney practices in the world, Carter-Ruck, they simply thought cutting me loose and getting a bit of bad press and angry emails was the lesser of two evils.
My book is now at Barnes and Noble and Smashwords (50% of royalties earned to go to the Madeleine Search Fund for Praia da Luz, Huelva, and Rothley) among a few other online venues. It will be interesting to see if these outfits also cave to any threat by the McCanns and their solicitors. In the end, the issue remains between the McCanns and Pat Brown and a court of law should either party wish to go there as to whether the Profile of the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann is libelous or their claims that my book is libelous are libelous!
My opinion? My book includes the facts of the case from the police files and the words from Kate's book, Madeleine, and the words of the McCanns from their radio and television interviews. From these facts, I lead readers through the various possibilities of what these facts might tell us and what hypotheses we might develop. In the end, I offer the most plausible theory I have derived from the known public facts. Clearly, it is not a theory the McCanns like and a theory they do not want people to read. I find it rather fascinating that they went to Amazon and had the book removed; this behavior in itself is very suspicious to many people. They believe the McCanns do not want my theory to be considered, that there is something in it that makes them very nervous, and there is more to their getting my book banned at Amazon than not liking stuff someone said about them because it wasn't complimentary. If I am just a nutter and my theory is rubbish, they should have rolled their eyes and laughed it off.
Now, I am sure we will see comments here that will say, "Aw, come on, Pat, the reason the McCanns don't want your crap book out there is because it is libelous, you accused them of murder or of covering up a crime, and you based your 'theory' on tabloid information." I will counter by saying no where in the book do I accuse the McCanns of a crime - other than leaving their three tiny children unattended and defenseless - and my theory is not based on the tabloids. Since my theory is an opinion to which I am entitled and because my opinion is based on facts (I am not making some outlandish off-the-wall accusations I took from psychics or Internet gossip) and because the McCanns are very public figures, I see nothing in this book that is libelous and, therefore, I have no problem sharing my profiling theory with the world.
If the McCanns are innocent of covering up a crime (following an accidental death), they should view my theory as a reasonable opinion as to what could have happened, but, simply know that, regardless of the strange happenings that would have led to such a hypothesis, this is simply not what occurred. The fact that there is no proof of an abduction - and this is a fact - does not mean an abduction could not have taken place. But, because there is no proof of an abduction , the McCanns should well understand why they might be considered persons-of-interest in the disappearance of the daughter, Madeleine. They should also recognize that their commission of child neglect also might make them persons-of-interest. In other words, rather than sue and threaten everyone with a theory that they, the McCanns, might be involved in the disappearance of their child, a more normal response would be to simply understand why someone might think that way and deal with it
Even better, the McCanns could return to Portugal and clear up the matter. Kate could answer the questions she refused to answer as an Arguido, they could do the reconstruction, and they could take polygraphs. If they pass the polygraphs, the answers make sense, and the reconstruction clears up what actually happened on May 3, they could stop all the speculation about themselves. But, as long as they refuse to cooperate with the Policia Judiciaria in Portugal, they have no one but themselves to blame for alternative theories to the abduction theory they would like us all to accept.
More to come on this matter! Tune in Sunday, July 31, at 8 pm est on Websleuths Radio, Wednesday, August 3 at 12 midnight est on The Jim Bohanon Show, and August 4 at 9 pm est on The Levi Page Show.
Criminal Profiler Pat Brown