I HAVE steered clear of making any comment on the tragic case of Madeleine McCann, the little girl who disappeared in Portugal in May.
Now it seems as if the Portuguese police are winding down their investigation. They believe Madeleine is dead and her parents are still named as suspects. This is a terrible allegation, whether it be right or wrong.
The private detectives employed by Kate and Gerry McCann continue to make spurious revelations that do no good except muddy the water.
This is a story that, in the early stages, remained in the headlines due to the publicity campaign waged by the McCanns. In recent months, public sympathy has ebbed.
But whatever happened that night in May, I keep going back to basics.
Nine people, all young professionals, dined together in a tapas bar the night Maddie went missing. The bar was 75 yards away from the apartment where Maddie was sleeping and obscured from direct line of sight by a high wall.
Members of the group regularly went to check on their children. One of them – another doctor – said he checked on his daughter throughout the evening because she had a stomach upset.
The questions that keep nagging me are: Who leaves a sick child? And who leaves toddlers on their own without a babysitter 75 yards away and out of sight?
I fervently hope the private detectives find Maddie alive and well, although I doubt it. I fervently hope that Kate and Gerry McCann are cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, because the alternative is too awful to contemplate.
Even if they are, they will regret for ever leaving a beautiful little girl alone in an apartment while they went out with friends.