Just a minute...

A MINUTE'S silence to remember missing Madeleine McCann and pray for her safe return will be held at noon today. An anonymous email has swept through Portugal calling for the "minute of hope". Yesterday there were plans to extend the silence to Britain. The email reads: "Madeleine, Monday 12 o'clock - a national one minute's silence to raise consciousness about the disappearance. Pass on the message."
If we spent a minute in silence for every missing/dead child we know of we'd have to keep schtum for at least 60 solid weeks just to remember the children of Iraq.

This whole saga has got completely, obscenely out of proportion. It's become another Diana moment. But why hasn't any newspaper or columnist written what every law enforcement officer in the world knows. After 24 hours the chances of recovering a stranger-abducted child alive is well under 10%. After a week it is virtually non-existent. It does happen, in very rare cases, and nobody could blame the McCanns for clinging to any vestige of hope that their daughter will be returned to them safely, but looking at this case dispassionately suggests that outcome is unlikely.

The facts of the case indicate that this was not some opportunistic abduction by a passing childless couple. There is little chance that Madeleine is being cared for in some Gypsy encampment somewhere. This is very different from what happened in the Ben Needham case.

Whoever took this young girl knew perfectly well that her parents were out. It was almost certainly someone living or staying in the area and that person is likely to have abducted this poor girl for one reason. If that is the case (and I hope I'm proved wrong about this) she is likely to have been dead within 48 hours of being taken.