Murat agrees to Madeleine dig.


Chris Spivey / Stephen Birch / Rapport


I have now had a chance to again speak with Stephen Birch, the South African businessman who believes that Madeleine McCann’s body is buried under the drive of former prime suspect in the case, Robert Murat.

Stephen was contacted early last week by Correio da Manhã,  by far Portugal’s biggest selling newspaper to inform him that Robert Murat had agreed in principal to Stephen excavating his rear drive.

The newspaper has for the past year or so been applying pressure on the Portuguese government to force them to investigate Stephens claims.

However, I must stress that Stephen has maintained all along that Murat is innocent of any involvement in Madeleine’s death and burial.

You can read how Stephen came to this logical conclusion by clicking  HERE 

Previously, Murat had flatly refused permission for anyone to dig in the area Stephen had earmarked as Madeleine’s burial spot.

Indeed, Stephen – who has been scathing of the Portuguese and British authorities – as it stands at the moment, does in fact face arrest for illegally entering the Murat property if he returns to Portugal .

However, the timing of Murat’s change of heart must surely be significant what with the McCann libel trial against former Portuguese Detective Goncalo Amaral in full swing.

Indeed, the fact that Amaral always believed that Murat – a part time police interpreter – was innocent played a big part in how the McCann’s came to be now looking to relieve Amaral’s book publisher of a cool one Million pound in libel damages.

So, after my conversation with Stephen yesterday evening in which I asked him how negotiations with Robert Murat were progressing, he issued me with the following exclusive information:

Quote we need to negotiate various things.

  1. Robert Murat wants money for the dig – we need to agree on price. 
  2. Secondly we need to finalize an upfront agreement in which he is prohibited from taking legal action against me for previously trespassing. 
  3. We need to incorporate a clause in the agreement preventing him from bringing a damages action against me, if Maddie is not there. 
  4. Next Robert needs to undertake that no one has disturbed the driveway in the last 14 months.
  5. We also need to agree on jurisdiction for the document. I am not fighting any legal wars in Portugal- I want SA jurisdiction for the agreement – we also need a nominated arbitration clause with an agreed nominated arbitrator for any disputes. 
  6. We would also need access to such things as water and electricity  and issues like security during the excavation would need to be finalized…Its going to be chaos with Portuguese police, media and locals wanting to access the site.

It does however have to be said, that it is a sad indictment of the human race when the only way to investigate the only possible burial site of a missing 3 year old little girl – assuming that she died in the McCann’s holiday apartment – is by way of a media circus with vast amounts of money changing hands.

Never the less, if that is what it takes to get the job done, then so be it.

Stephen has also kindly translated into English the article that Rapport, a South African national newspaper published last weekend in regard to this recent development.

However, before you read it Stephen has asked me to clarify his position on the reward money mentioned at the end of the article.

Now, whilst Stephen admitted to me fairly early on into our first ever conversation that his original motive for tracking down Madeleine had been the reward money, he was at pains to assure me that the financial incentive had long ago ceased to matter.

Indeed, not withstanding the fact that Stephen has spent over £40,000 of his own money during the course of his investigation, he told me that Rapport never so much as mentioned the reward money whilst conducting the interview  for the article.

He was therefore extremely disappointed to see that the newspaper had brought the subject up on publication.

The following is a direct copy and paste of what Stephen said to me in our conversation:

Chris I just want closure. Was upset reporter referred to reward. Cannot accept reward for a dead child. It’s immoral.

And what’s more, after speaking to Stephen on a weekly basis covering an array of different subjects over the past 6 months or so, I believe him to be telling the truth.


Owner agrees that SA Man can dig on his property to find body of missing girl.

Since Madeleine (Maddie) disappeared six years ago, various leads worldwide have been followed up to try and find her.

Now 14 months after Stephen Birch (48) believes he found her grave, the Cape Town businessman will be given the opportunity to solve the mystery.

Birch believes the British girl, who was three years old, is buried 130 meters from where she went missing in the coastal town of Praia da Luz.

The Portuguese daily newspaper Correio da Manha has for the past eight months tried several times, to obtain permission from Robert Murat to ascertain if Maddie is buried in his property as alleged by Birch.

Murat was initially the police’s main suspect, but no evidence could be found that could link him to Maddie’s disappearance. Later he won a civil claim amounting to millions of Euro’s against the media.

Correio da Manha let Birch know this past week that Murat had agreed to the excavation and negotiations with his lawyer. Murat apparently wants several thousand Euros for any damage that may be caused.

Rapport newspaper reported in June last year that Birch claimed he illegally entered the property of Murat’s aged mother in Praia da Luz on the Algarve region.

Birch apparently took scans of the ground in the property. He states that the scans show an object like a child or animal on a secluded portion of the property. Photo’s in Birch’s possession show that police never did excavations in that section at the time.

Birch has continued with an online campaign since making the allegations. It is aimed at the British and Portuguese government, and Maddie’s parents, in the hope that his findings will be investigated.

 Kate McCann, Maddie’s mother then on a British TV program asked sarcastically: ”Who is Stephen Birch actually?”

“He is not a reliable source” she said.

In reaction to her statement Birch said,” If it was your child and there was a chance that she was buried there, would you not do everything possible to ensure that the findings are not true. Unless of course you have something to hide and you want nobody near the place.

The McCann’s originally said Maddie disappeared when she was left alone in the holiday flat, while they were eating in a nearby restaurant.

The parents are currently involved in a civil litigation matter in Portugal with the country’s original head of police Gonsalo Amaral. Amaral wrote a book in 2008 called “The Truth of the lie” in which he states the parents accidentally killed the child, and buried her body. Birch believes that the civil case has now contributed to Murat wanting to allow him to excavate. He is worried that the remains will be removed, but says luckily he has scans photos’ and a video of where Maddie is buried.

If he is right, the Capetonian businessman will become internationally famous, and will possibly receive millions of pounds as a reward.