Sunday 4 December 2016

Eilis O'Hanlon: The sad rise of cyber courts full of Twittering bullies

Normal decency does not apply for the social-media snipers who targeted the McCanns

Published 29/04/2012 | 05:00

It wasn't so long ago that a Panorama documentary on Madeleine's disappearance would have brought the anti-McCann lobby out in force. Instead the Kate and Gerry-baiters were relatively quiet all week, having perhaps found another grieving family to torment in the meantime, or another conspiracy theory with which to fill their time.

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Or it could simply be that they're flummoxed by the latest developments in the case. As Panorama reported last week in the run-up to the fifth anniversary of the little girl's disappearance from a holiday complex in Praia da Luz, not only has a year-long Metropolitan Police investigation come down firmly on the theory that Madeleine was abducted by a stranger, it also claims to have good reason to believe she is still alive, even releasing an artist's digital impression of how she might look today, as she approaches her ninth birthday.

This wasn't the narrative which those convinced that the McCanns had something to do with their daughter's disappearance -- the ones who still post videos on YouTube full of cod psychological analyses of the couple's body language to a sinister musical accompaniment, or who leave messages on Twitter peppered with vile, unsubstantiated allegations -- had geared themselves up to expect. For now, no doubt, they remain bunkered in, regrouping, planning the next attack.

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