The News of the World has been criticised for its slowness and ineptitude in solving the case of Madeleine McCann, who has now been missing for 256 days. The newspaper, which has been officially investigating the case since its beginnings, has recently been unable to offer any new evidence, despite front-page headlines.
The criticisms, from Madeleine McCann's family and friends, will do much to support the belief that the newspaper lacks the forensic and investigative skills needed to solve such a case. "We expect our newspapers to find out what has happened," said the McCann family, "and we expect their largely factless insinuations, rumour and speculation about any sordid half-truths they can find to move this case forward."
Maddy's parents, who were named as official suspects or "swingers" by the paper, were unavailable for comment. "It's all very well offering a reward for finding Maddy," said their solicitor, "but the paper should be finding anyone, not even someone who is responsible, and destroying their character so any trial is hopelessly prejudiced, collapses, and vigilantes can come in and finish them off for good."
Last night, a spokesman for the Portuguese police said that they were carrying out their own investigation but were happy if the British people continued to put their faith in a newspaper that was "escrito pelos filhos e pelas filhas dos porcos e lido por aqueles com a inteligência do manure".