They went on holiday to a resort where there were free babysitting services provided by the management. Yet they left a baby and a toddler alone in an apartment so that they could go out to dinner with their friends.
I am very sceptical about their story that someone went back to the flat every half hour to check on the children. It's patently ridiculous, and even if they did it is a pointless thing to do. Half an hour is quite long enough for a child to wake up, feel distressed, feel lonely or injure itself.
When I was on holiday with my children, we always took them with us in the evening, or stayed in. We took them in slings, or in pushchairs - one of those lightweight folding buggies went with us everywhere. Mediterranean culture is very child-centred and there is nothing unusual about babies and toddlers going along with you to a restaurant. If they fall asleep, that's fine too. It goes without saying that you don't leave them alone.
If you want a night out without them, you get a baby-sitter. In fact I never left my children with strangers. Only my mother or a trusted older family friend was ever good enough.
As soon as they realized that Madeleine had disappeared, the McCanns went to the press and announced that she had been "taken". They were histrionic and sought attention, presenting themselves as victims rather than as lousy parents. It seems to me far more likely that Madeleine, who was clearly not a happy child to judge from what her mother wrote about her in the previous months, woke up and escaped from the apartment. The door was probably not locked. If it was, she could have climbed out of a window or fallen out. If she got out safely, she could have wandered in the dark until she fell into the sea, or been run over by a driver who then concealed the evidence.
Sensible people never leave such small children, aged two and three, alone in the house. It's not illegal because it is just such a stupid thing to do. But in today's society commonsense is rare and getting rarer. That is why I think we should introduce parenting classes in schools. Replace the current nonsense that children are taught about "gender" and "sexuality" with firm teaching about marriage, family, and parental responsibilities. Of course it would be great if TV, internet and cinema promoted those values too - but that's dreaming.
Danny Boyle 19 APRIL 2016 • 7:39AM
Madeleine McCann could still be found alive after almost a decade, detectives believe, despite the drastic scaling back of the police investigation into her disappearance.The three-year-old girl went missing from a holiday apartment while on a family holiday in Portugal in May 2007, just days before her fourth birthday.
The hunt for her has continued ever since and, despite efforts by police in the Algarve and a British investigation launched in 2011, no progress has been made in finding her.
Last year, the Metropolitan Police investigation was scaled down from almost 30 officers to just four.
“There is always a possibility that we will find Madeleine and we hope that we will find her alive”
Det Ch Supt Mick Duthie
However, the head of Scotland Yard's homicide squad has insisted there is "always a possibility" Madeleine will be discovered safe, as he justified the ongoing operation.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie insisted that the probe is "ongoing" and officers hope to find her alive.
Mr Duthie, who leads Scotland Yard's Homicide and Major Crime Command, told the Evening Standard: "There is ongoing work. There is always a possibility that we will find Madeleine and we hope that we will find her alive.
"That's what we want and that's what the family and the public want and that is why the Home Office continue to fund it. There is work that needs to be done still."
Earlier this month, the Home Office granted the investigation, called Operation Grange, £95,000 to cover another six months of the inquiry.
Mr Duthie told the newspaper that the team will go to the Home Office and ask for more money if they have not finished their inquiries within six months.
He said: "There is a missing girl and if she has been murdered and if we think we have got justifiable and reasonable lines of inquiry to pursue then they should be dealt with."
Video: In 90 seconds, the Madeleine McCann suspects
In February, Madeleine's mother told how she believes her daughter is still in the Algarve because her kidnapper did not take her "a million miles" from their holiday apartment.
There have been thousands of alleged "sightings" of Madeleine worldwide amid theories that she could have been taken out of Portugal to be sold to a childless couple or criminal gang.
However, her mother has said she believes Madeleine most likely never left the country and that the holiday resort is the place where she "feels closest" to her.
Kate McCann believes her daughter Madeleine was not taken far from Praia da Luz in May 2007 CREDIT: PA
Mrs McCann, of Rothley, Leicestershire, vowed she and her husband Gerry would "never give up" hope of finding their daughter after she vanished shortly before her fourth birthday in May 2007.
The 47-year-old, who is an ambassador for charity Missing People, said her research had led her to believe abducted children were not usually taken far from the scene.
"That's where she last was and I don't think she's been taken a million miles from there", Mrs McCann told The Sun.
"I've always said Praia da Luz is the place where I feel closest to her. It's all only speculation, but we've learned that's usually the case."
A Scotland Yard detective works with a sniffer dog at an area in Praia da Luz CREDIT:REUTERS
Operation Grange, which was launched in 2011, will continue but has had the number of full time officers working on the case reduced from 29 to just four.
Detectives have taken 1,338 statements and collected 1,027 exhibits, but a Scotland Yard spokesman previously said: “While there remain lines of inquiry to follow, the vast majority of the work by Operation Grange has been completed.”
During Operation Grange, detectives from the Met regularly travelled to the Algarve to liaise with their Portuguese counterparts and undertook a number of exploratory digs in the Praia da Luz area.
Photo fit images of suspects that might have been hanging around the Algarve around the time Madeleine disappeared
Police said they had also investigated more than 60 persons of interest.
A total of 650 sex offenders have also been considered as well as reports of 8,685 potential sightings of Madeleine around the world.
In 2013, detectives working on Operation Grange announced they were looking into possible links between Madeleine’s disappearance and bogus charity collectors who were knocking on doors in Praia da Luz at the time.
They issued a series of photo-fit images of suspects they said may have been hanging around the Algarve around the time Madeleine disappeared.