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Official McCann Updates, Mar-Dec 2009
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Contact/Links

Charlotte Pennington

Charlotte Pennington

A closer look at Ocean Club nanny Charlotte Pennington, who claims to be a key witness to many of the events surrounding Madeleine's disappearance.
 
Note that the articles on this page were written prior to the release of the PJ files and based on newspaper reports and Ms Pennington's appearance on The Dispatches documentary.
 
We now have the opportunity to compare that information with the actual witness statement given to the PJ on 07 May 2007.

 
Charlotte Pennington - Witness Statement
 
Witness statement
Charlotte Elizabeth Anne Pennington
Date/Time: 2007/05/07 14H30
Childcare Worker
Irish Citizen
Translator Robert Murat

• Has been in Portugal since April 28th, the day upon which she began working for the Ocean Club tourist Complex in Luz, Lagos, and where she is employed as a child educator. Her work contract was completed in the U.K. with MarkWarner;
• The witness clarifies that between the 19th of April and the 04th of May 2007 she worked with a group of children staying in the aforementioned complex between the ages of 4 months and one year of age (the Baby Club);
• The witness further clarifies that the BabyClub group was divided in three sub-groups, with each group composed of two babies, so that each group had a different infant educator allocated to it;
• With relation to the facts of the investigation, the witness states that in the course of her work, she came across Madeleine McCann many times, explaining that, even though she [Madeleine] did not belong to her [Pennington's] group, this was normal, as the physical space where the children groups are located is contiguous;
• The witness clarifies that Madeleine was registered with the 'MiniClub', a group with children between 3 and 4 years of age. The principal space where the children from MiniClub and BabyClub are situated is in the same building as the Ocean Club complex reception and this is why the witness had personal contact with the identified child. However, she clarifies that it was normal during "siesta"-- understood to be between the hours of 09H00 and 10H30 and 14H30 and 15H00, at the exact time that children are brought into the crèche by their parents—when the children under her guard are asleep, that she would participate with the children and the activities in the MiniClub;
• Witness states that on two different days, Sunday, 29th of April 2007, and on Thursday, 03rd of May 2007, she had direct contact with Madeleine McCann, telling her stories and speaking with her.
• Witness states that as she was an intelligent child, timid at first contact, and who later felt more comfortable, was a child who conversed normally for her age, and was of a calm demeanour. She adds that it was usual for Madeleine to be called "Maddy", as this is how she [Madeleine] presented herself to the witness;
• On the 3rd of May 2007, around 22H15, the witness was working during "dinner hour", together with her colleagues Jackie and Amy, when an unknown woman came to them indicating that she was a tourist lodged at the complex and asked them if they had heard about a disappearance of a child, whose name she referred to as "Maggie" or "Maddy";
• The witness also clarified that the crèche in the complex also offers complementary services allowing parents to leave their children with baby sitters during dinner-time, between the hours of 19H15 and 23H00;
• She advised the aforementioned individual that no one had told them of the disappearance, who she believed by the name given, was Madeleine, also for the reason that Amy contacted via telephone her supervisor, Lyndsay, who informed her that Madeleine had indeed disappeared;
• After this situation, they began the "search procedure for a missing child" which consists of an organised search involving different areas of the complex in question;
• The witness states that she participated in the searches, together with her colleague—Amy, searching various areas of the Ocean Club establishment. She also states that she searched the patio area of the residence where Madeleine stayed with her parents and siblings, and during which, she encountered many individuals inside the apartment but was not able to tell if they were complex employees or friends of the couple. She did not enter the residence in question;
• She participated in the searches until 01H30 on the 4th of May, 2007, when she returned to her residence;
• During the search, she noticed, together with her colleagues from the Ocean Club, that other people participated in the searches (tourists, and proprietors from the complex in question);
• She was not aware of the time but believes it was around midnight when she noticed that the local authorities (police) were present and assessing the situation;
• States that the searches carried out by the Ocean Club elements terminated at around 04H00 the next morning, 04 of May, 2007, with negative results;
• States that she did not maintain contact with the minor in question, Madeleine McCann, but only to the extent that she was a child educator, as she was located together where the missing child was being watched in the crèche. She is unaware of Madeleine's habits and that of her parents, not having perceived any odd situation related to the child or any other during her work period in Portugal;
• The witness also states that Madeleine was normally left by her parents around 09H15 in the crèche, as her parents left the twins beforehand in the Toddler Club;
• Is not aware of any situation that seemed odd/strange related, directly, or indirectly to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Nothing more to declare.

Historical articles/reports

 
Kate McCann DID scream 'They've taken her' claims new nanny witness, 25 September 2007
 
Kate McCann DID scream 'They've taken her' claims new nanny witness Daily Mail
 
By DAN NEWLING
Last updated at 16:41pm on 25th September 2007
 
The first eyewitness account of the frantic moments after Madeleine McCann disappeared can be revealed today.
 
Nanny Charlotte Pennington confirms that Kate McCann did scream: "They've taken her, they've taken her!"
 
The mother's precise words have become a pivotal issue in the case, with Portuguese police questioning why she would automatically assume Maddie had been abducted.
 
Mrs McCann's family have countered this by insisting they recall her shouting: "Madeleine's gone."
 
Miss Pennington, however, one of the first people to set foot in the couple's apartment after the disappearance, says she heard the mother use both phrases.
 
The 20-year-old Briton, who tended children for the Mark Warner holiday complex in Praia da Luz, firmly believes the McCanns are innocent.
 
Speaking publicly for the first time yesterday, she described Mrs McCann in the aftermath as "a broken woman" who was shuddering and unable to move.
 
"We are trained to comfort people in this type of situation but she was just inconsolable," she said.
 
Miss Pennington is considered a vital witness by Portuguese detectives with whom she spent more than four-and-a-half hours giving a statement.
 
She also claims British expat Robert Murat, the first suspect in the case, was in the area of the Ocean Club complex that night. He has repeatedly denied that he was there.
 
Talking from her mother's home in Leatherhead, Surrey, yesterday she told the Daily Mail: "I was in the apartment less than five minutes after they found that Madeleine had gone.
 
"When we were coming out we saw Kate and she was screaming: 'They've taken her, they've taken her!'
 
"I was standing right in front of her outside the apartment's back door, in the alleyway. I was very close to her. It might not have been the first thing she said. But she definitely said it.
 
"I was one of three Mark Warner staff who saw her shouting it. They have all given statements to the Portuguese police saying that."
 
The "they've taken her" version of events was first given in the Portuguese press two days after Madeleine disappeared on May 3.
 
It remained unchallenged until last Thursday when a source close to the McCann family claimed Kate had actually shouted: 'Madeleine's gone!'
 
Miss Pennington flew out to start work at Praia da Luz on April 28 - the same day that the McCanns arrived. She had worked for Mark Warner on two previous occasions.
 
She was employed as a nanny in the Ocean Club resort's Baby Club, looking after children aged four to 12 months.
 
However, she also came into close contact with Madeleine, her two-year-old sister and brother Amelie and Sean, and their parents, both doctors aged 39.
 
She dismissed claims that the McCanns were not seen for six hours leading up to the disappearance.
 
She said: "I was helping give the children high tea. The twins were there and Madeleine and both parents.
 
"It was supposed to finish at 5.30pm but because they were a big group and really social, it didn't finish until about 6pm. There was nothing out of the ordinary at all."
 
After tea Miss Pennington went to work at the resort's evening creche, in which parents could leave their children while they went out for supper.
 
Just before 10pm the last mother arrived to collect her child from the creche and mentioned that she had just bumped into a man, who had been shouting a name.
 
"She didn't get the name, but she said it sounded something like 'Abbey, Gabby or Maddie'. We automatically went into lost-child procedure. In these situations, the first thing we do is investigate the scene.
 
"We knew that one of the other nanny's charges was called Maddie. We told the head of department what had happened and she took us straight to the apartment.
 
"There were no children in the room. The twins had been taken out already, I think by one of the McCanns' friends.
 
"When we were coming out we saw Kate and she was screaming: 'They've taken her. They've taken her!'
 
Asked if it was the only thing she said, Miss Pennington answered: "It might not have been the first thing she said. But she definitely said it. She also repeated Madeleine's name and said: 'She's gone, she's gone'.
 
"I couldn't really believe what I was seeing - she was just so distraught. She was screaming out and tears were running down her face.
 
"Everyone else was running around trying to help.
 
"Kate and her friend, who was looking after her, were the only ones who weren't out looking for Madeleine."
 
While Gerry McCann leapt into action and began frantically searching the resort, she said his wife remained outside the apartment, shuddering with tears and unable to move.
 
Asked why she thought Mrs McCann might have shouted "They've taken her", Miss Pennington said:
 
"I'm not really sure. But maybe she saw some people looking at Madeleine earlier that day, and she immediately thought that they must have taken her."
 
The nanny was one of three staff who steered Mrs McCann to the nearby reception area, where they asked her to describe what Madeleine was wearing.
 
But she remained so hysterical that she could hardly communicate.
 
"We get missing children all the time, and I have seen plenty of hysterical mothers. But none of them were like Kate."
 
She confirmed reports from the McCanns' friends that Murat was at the scene.
 
"He was outside the lobby just before we started on our big search," she said.
 
"He was adamant that he wasn't there. But he was. He was there in the road, he was just looking. It was about 10.30. He was just watching.
 
"I didn't know his name then. But the next day he was our interpreter and I met him then. He didn't take part in the searches, but he was there."
 
Murat has insisted that he was at his home nearby throughout the evening of Madeleine's disappearance. Portuguese sources have claimed that he will soon be told that he is no longer a suspect.
 
Miss Pennington explained that she spent the rest of the evening searching for Madeleine, before finally going to bed at 4am.
 
The following afternoon she was one of the first people to give witness statements to the Portuguese police.
 
Since then, she said, she has spoken to a Portuguese detective once and to two British detectives.
 
*
 
It is worth noting that this interview with Charlotte Pennington appeared just three days after a number of newspapers ran reports about a 'missing 7 hours' time period leading up to Madeleine's disappearance - a period when it was alleged that no independent witness had seen Madeleine.
 
Metodo 3 had already been hired by the McCanns at this point and this may well have been their first contribution to the case: Offering Charlotte Pennington to the Daily Mail, for an exclusive interview, that would dispel the 'missing 7 hours' reports.
 
Of course, Pennington subsequently cast doubt on this story, on the Dispatches programme aired on Channel 4 on 18 October 2007, when she admitted that the last time she had seen the McCanns, together as a family, was at lunchtime on 03 May 2007.
 
On the very day the Dispatches programme was aired, for which the McCanns would almost certainly have had a pre-screening, the Daily Mail reveals - exclusively - that Gerry had asked David Payne to pop by the apartment and check on Kate.
 
The 'source' told the Mail, "David Payne saw Madeleine at around 6.30pm. He popped in because Gerry wanted to make sure Kate was OK. Gerry was playing tennis and David said he was going past. I expect it was said (by Gerry) as: 'If you are heading back that way, stick your head in and see if Kate is all right'.
 
The 'missing 7 hours' that Pennington had just blown a huge hole in was instantly filled in again!

 
The suspicious boatman - Daily Mail 14 October 2007 (link)
 
Portuguese police to probe 'Madeleine dumped at sea' claim Daily Mail (article no longer available online)
 
Last updated at 14:48pm on 14th October 2007
 
Portuguese police are becoming increasingly convinced that Madeleine McCann's body was dumped at sea.

Detectives are believed to be keen to re-interview a British nanny who claims she saw a mystery boatman kicking at something in the middle of the night two days after Madeleine McCann disappeared.

Former Mark Warner nanny Charlotte Pennington said she spotted the man in a small dinghy just off the Praia da Luz seafront. She claims he was kicking at an object stored in the boat's hull.

When she moved closer to investigate, the man - whose name she has given to Portuguese and British police - stooped out of sight then hurriedly rowed away.

Portuguese police are taking the sightings seriously and Miss Pennington, 20, and are looking to interview her once again.

She was working in the Ocean Club's creche on May 3, the night Madeleine disappeared. She is the only person to have given a full, public description of the events of that evening.

She told police how she heard Kate McCann scream: "They've taken her" on the night of May 3, when Madeleine vanished, and that she saw the first official suspect Robert Murat standing outside the Ocean Club that night.

Miss Pennington said the man was wearing a reflective yellow jacket with a hood but she could not make out his face.

One police source today described the sighting as 'credible'.

Miss Pennington said: "I'm pleased they are taking this seriously as it means they aren't just looking at the McCanns as suspects."

Miss Pennington's account potentially tallies with repeated suggestions that Madeleine was smuggled out of the Algarve on board a boat, or that her body was dumped at sea.

It also tallies with a second report today claiming new evidence proves that Madeleine was alive when she was taken from her bed.

Police have been told Kate McCann knew instantly her daughter had been snatched because the bedclothes were in exactly the same position, raised above the mattress as if they were still lying over the little girl.

Friends of the McCanns believe this prove she was taken and did not just wander off, which would have ruffled the bedclothes.

*

The Daily Mail has a tendency to re-write and overwrite its articles. The article reproduced above was a re-write of a previous article that was published on 27 September 2007. A section of the original article was removed from the subsequent re-write and is reproduced here:

'Former Mark Warner nanny Charlotte Pennington said she spotted the man in a small dinghy just off the Praia da Luz seafront at 11.30pm. She claims he was kicking at an object stored in the boat's hull.

When she moved closer to investigate, the man - whose name she has given to Portuguese and British police - stooped out of sight then hurriedly rowed away.

Portuguese police are taking the sightings seriously and Miss Pennington, 20, has twice spoken to Leicestershire detectives about her evidence.

Yesterday Miss Pennington said the man was wearing a reflective yellow jacket with a hood but she could not make out his face.

However the following day she was shocked to see a man - whom she had come to know over the preceding week - wearing exactly the same distinctive jacket as the man in the boat.'

 
Pennington speaks on the Dispatches documentary, 18 October 2007
 
Charlotte Pennington is shown in three separate clips talking about the events of 03 May 2007:
 
Transcription 1:
 
'They were a very social group and they seemed all to be really respectful, nice, loving parents. Madeleine, I found out to be quite bright... errm, quite shy... errm, very sweet, very beautiful girl.
 
On May the third, it was just Madeleine I was reading a story to. I later saw them around lunchtime. That's the last time I saw them together as a family.'
 
Transcription 2:
 
'I was working that night at something called 'Drop-in Creche'. We had one child left and... errm, the mother came in, picked up the child and just mentioned 'Hang on a minute, I've just seen a guy who's run past me, who seemed really distressed and I recognised him as being a guest at Mark Warner, but he was shouting out something like 'Maddie' or 'Abbey' or 'Gabby'.'
 
Transcription 3:
 
'I went straight to the apartment. I sort of walked in, did a quick scan around and been told 'No, no. She's not here, she's not here'.
 
Kate McCann was outside and she was very distressed. She was saying things like 'They've taken her' and 'She's gone' and, you know, 'Where is she? Where is she?'
 
She was crying and there were tears down her face and it was absolutely heartbreaking to see.'

 
I saw Murat at Maddie flat, 03 December 2007
 
I saw Murat at Maddie flat The Sun
 
From VERONICA LORRAINE and NEIL SYSON in Praia da Luz
Published: 03 Dec 2007
 
A nanny at the holiday complex where Madeleine McCann vanished claims she saw suspect Robert Murat there on the fateful night, it emerged yesterday.
 
Charlotte Pennington, 20, is one of three witnesses who could blow apart the oddball's alibi that he was home with his mum.
 
They have told private detectives hired by Maddie's parents they saw a man just like Murat walking on the road outside the McCann apartment on the night she disappeared.
 
Charlotte — a childminder at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz, Portugal — challenged expat Murat, 34, the next day. He denied being near the scene. Charlotte said he clammed up when she tried to grill him further.
 
Days later she and five fellow nannies saw Murat again in a supermarket. He was talking to a mystery man who bore an uncanny likeness to a sketch of a suspect cops were seeking.
 
Charlotte is said to have told private investigators from Spain's Metodo 3 agency the man was "between 27 and 35, with medium build, very dark eyes and a Portuguese or Spanish look".
 
The other two witnesses, both tourists, gave detailed, independent statements. A Portuguese newspaper said: "The mystery man was seen by the babysitters in Faro airport on May 13 when they returned to England. As soon as she arrived in the UK, Charlotte reported it to cops, who passed the information to the Policia judiciaria."
 
Murat has always maintained that when Maddie, four, disappeared on May 3, he was at home with his mother Jenny, 71.
 
Charlotte said she saw him near the McCanns' holiday flat at around midnight. Yesterday it was claimed police used Murat as a translator — giving him access to the crime scene — as he was a long-time informant.
 
Towel
 
The hunt for Maddie — whose 39-year-old parents Kate and Gerry have also been named suspects by Portuguese detectives — has centred on a disused barn near Praia da Luz where a blood-specked towel was found.
 
The samples have proved too tiny to match to Maddie’s DNA.
 
But fibres on the towel allegedly strongly match samples from the boot of a car rented by Kate and Gerry after Maddie vanished.
 
Police are also said to be investigating a mobile phone call between Gerry and a pal 38 days after the disappearance.
 
Dr Russell O'Brien, 36, was with the McCanns, of Rothley, Leics, the night Maddie went missing.
 
Gerry told cops the call was made within four kilometres of his holiday apartment.
 
Phone records show the pair were 25km apart.

 
The sighting of Cooper's 'Creepyman' with Robert Murat
 

Charlotte Pennington, a nanny at the Ocean Club holiday complex where the McCanns were staying, told police last May she saw Murat chatting to "a man aged around 27 to 35, average height, very dark eyes and of Portuguese or Spanish appearance".

She told detectives she saw expat Murat, who lives with his mother near to holiday complex, talking to the man outside the Baptista supermarket in Praia da Luz.

Daily Mail 21 January 2008

Nanny Charlotte Pennington's description of a person she saw with Mr Murat also matches the man shown in the artist's impression.

 
And Charlotte Pennington, a nanny at the McCanns' holiday complex, says a suspicious man she saw in Praia da Luz was "similar" to the drawing.
 

 
A closer look at Charlotte Pennington
 
A closer look at Charlotte Pennington
 
Nigel Moore
31 January 2008
 
Charlotte Pennington, who was employed as a nanny at the Mark Warner Ocean Club at the time of Madeleine's disappearance, would appear to be blessed with an uncanny knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
 
Although, from Kate and Gerry McCanns' perspective, it could be said that the opposite is true. As if by magic, Pennington appears with a 'sighting' at just the right time to support the McCanns' theories on what happened that fateful night of May 3rd.
 
The fact that she claims to have worked as a fairy since the age of 14 may go some way to explaining her remarkable abilities.
 
So, what did she see?
 
She says was there with Madeleine at the kid's club on 03 May 2007, the day of Maddie's disappearance. Thus providing herself as an 'independent' witness to the fact that Madeleine was still alive on 03 May 2007.
 
She was there, inside the McCanns' apartment, within five minutes of the alarm being raised, and claims to have witnessed both Kate McCanns' emotional state and the words spoken. Thus supporting the belief that this was the time of the abduction and that Kate could not have acted that amount of grief.
 
She was there to see Robert Murat hanging around the Ocean Club. Thus supporting the McCanns', particularly Kate's, desire to imply that Murat was involved in some way. It was reported, on 27 January 2008, that they believe he may have acted as a 'look-out' for a gang of paedophiles.
 
She was there to see Robert Murat speaking with a suspicious looking man, the following day at the local supermarket, who now appears to match the description and artist's impression produced for Gail Cooper's 'Creepyman'. Thus further connecting Murat with an 'abduction'.
 
And, finally, she was there to see a suspicious man kicking something in a boat, 2 days after Madeleine's disappearance. Thus supporting one of the McCanns' theories that the abductor escaped by water - probably to Morocco.
 
But do Charlotte Pennington's crucial testimonies stand up to scrutiny? Unfortunately, like a great deal of this case, they are riddled with inconsistencies. 
 
Pennington, who also works as a part-time actress - having briefly played the part of Libby Bailey in the New Zealand soap 'Shortland Street' - would be familiar with the need to arrive on cue.
 
But then, as we all know, sometimes actors get their lines wrong...
 
Time with Madeleine on 03 May 2007
 
The Daily Mail published details of an interview with Miss Pennington on 25 September 2007, in which she dismissed claims that the McCanns were not seen for six hours leading up to Madeleine's disappearance.

She said: "I was helping give the children high tea. The twins were there and Madeleine and both parents.

"It was supposed to finish at 5.30pm but because they were a big group and really social, it didn't finish until about 6pm. There was nothing out of the ordinary at all."

However, speaking on the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary 'Searching For Madeleine', aired on 18 October 2007, she says:

"On May the third, it was just Madeleine I was reading a story to. I later saw them around lunchtime. That's the last time I saw them together as a family."

So, which is true? Did she last see Madeleine and the McCanns at 6.00pm or at lunchtime? And why the discrepancy?

The Daily Mail report of 14 October 2007, reporting on Madeleine's movements at the kid's club, only mentions nanny Catriona Baker being with her that day. The report states that Maddie was placed in a small group of children between the ages of 3 and 5 years with Miss Baker.

Charlotte Pennington was employed as a nanny in the Ocean Club resort's Baby Club, looking after children aged four to 12 months. So, why would she have been looking after Madeleine, who was not a member of her Baby Club, and reading her a story that particular day?

Pennington describes how she heard of Madeleine's disappearance from a woman who had come to collect her child from the evening creche, where she was working. The woman had recounted to her how she had just bumped into a man who had been shouting a name.

Pennington continues: "She didn't get the name, but she said it sounded something like 'Abbey, Gabby or Maddie'. We automatically went into lost-child procedure. In these situations, the first thing we do is investigate the scene.

"We knew that one of the other nanny's charges was called Maddie. We told the head of department what had happened and she took us straight to the apartment.''

Here Miss Pennington clearly states that Madeleine was 'one of the other nanny's charges', referring to Catriona Baker. Yet she says in her two previous statements that she was with Madeleine that day. If that was true, why didn't she automatically make the connection that this was 'Maddie', the girl she had read a story to that very day and had been with until 6.00pm when the McCanns arrived to collect her and the twins?

In the Dispatches documentary, Pennington says: ''They were a very social group and they seemed all to be really respectful, nice, loving parents. Madeleine, I found out to be, quite bright... errm, quite shy... errm, very sweet, very beautiful girl.''

The statement suggests an intimate knowledge of the McCanns and, more specifically, Madeleine. Yet, it appears, Pennington was unable to connect the names 'Abbey, Gabby or Maddie' to herself and Madeleine.

This would seem to imply that Pennington never actually had charge of Madeleine on any day and, therefore, did not know her at all, apart from her name being connected to the charge of another nanny.

So where does her intimate knowledge of Madeleine's personality come from?

And why is she making strong implications that Madeleine was in her charge when she clearly wasn't?  

The moments after Madeleine disappeared
 
Talking from her mother's home in Leatherhead, Surrey, she told the Daily Mail: "I was in the apartment less than five minutes after they found that Madeleine had gone. When we were coming out we saw Kate and she was screaming: 'They've taken her, they've taken her!'

"I was standing right in front of her outside the apartment's back door, in the alleyway. I was very close to her. It might not have been the first thing she said. But she definitely said it. I was one of three Mark Warner staff who saw her shouting it. They have all given statements to the Portuguese police saying that."

In terms of the timeline, this is a very interesting quote. She says she was in the McCanns apartment ''less than five minutes after they found that Madeleine had gone''.

She said previously that the woman who came to collect her child from the evening creche, from whom she first found out a child was missing, arrived just before 10.00pm.

So, by the time the woman reached the creche, according to Pennington's account, a chain of events had already taken place:

Kate had discovered Madeleine missing; she had searched the apartment herself; she had run to the tapas restaurant to raise the alarm with Gerry and their friends and she had returned to the apartment and waited for it to be thoroughly searched by Gerry and their friends. 

There would then have been a passage of time before the man, presumably Gerry, had gone out into the streets shouting out Maddie's name (which incidentally, the McCanns have insisted they never called her - it was always 'Madeleine').

And then, finally, there would have been a pasage of time for the woman to arrive at the creche, collect her child and then tell the staff what she had heard outside.

That whole process would surely have taken longer than five minutes to complete, and finish, before 10.00pm. Pennington's statement suggests the alarm was actually raised sometime well before 10:00pm, but this would then have major repercussions on the McCanns stated timeline. Indeed, it would make the raising of the alarm at 9:30pm, as was stated in some early reports, seem much more likely. 

Pennington's account of entering and leaving the apartment is also confusing in relation to her position and Kate's. She says at first that ''When we were coming out (of the apartment) we saw Kate and she was screaming 'They've taken her'.'' This seems odd because it appears to imply that Kate was outside the apartment - possibly just outside the patio doors. But why was Kate outside the apartment screaming 'They've taken her' when everyone else was inside?

Pennington continues: ''I was standing right in front of her outside the apartment's back door, in the alleyway. I was very close to her. It might not have been the first thing she said. But she definitely said it. I was one of three Mark Warner staff who saw her shouting it.''

So where was Pennington when Kate was screaming? Was she just coming out of the apartment and presumably beside Kate or was she standing in the alleyway with three other members of the Mark Warner staff?

Pennington's account on the Dispatches documentary does not make it any clearer. She says: ''I went straight round to the apartment. I sort of walked in, did a quick scan around and been told 'No, no, she's not here, she's not here'.

''Kate McCann was outside and she was very distressed. She was saying things like 'They've taken her' and 'She's gone' and 'Where is she? Where is she?'.''

One wonders, by this time, to whom Kate was talking, or screaming.

And for who's benefit.

But there is one more crucial sentence from Miss Pennington that poses a huge and shocking question mark over our understanding of the events of that evening.

She says: "There were no children in the room. The twins had been taken out already, I think by one of the McCanns' friends.''

Remember, Pennington ''was in the apartment less than five minutes after they found that Madeleine had gone.''

So where were the twins?

By 10:50pm, we know the twins were back in their cots as the first local GNR police officers attending the scene remarked on how strange it was that the twins did not wake during all the commotion and screaming.

So, it begs the question: Why were the twins not there when Pennington arrived in the apartment?

If Pennington's statement is correct, then it leaves three possible scenarios:

1) The twins were moved out of the apartment, in the immediate aftermath of Madeleine's disappearance, and then returned to their cots later. If so, why were they removed? And where did they go and who moved them?

2) The twins were moved prior to Kate's alarm call, perhaps because they wanted to clean the bedroom and were then returned to the McCanns' apartment before the GNR arrived? If this were true, where did they go and who moved them?

3) The twins were never put to bed in the McCanns' apartment that night. They either regularly slept elsewhere on the holiday or they slept elsewhere on that particular night and were transferred back before the GNR arrived. But why would they be sleeping elsewhere? And again, where did they go and who moved them? 

If the twins were not in the apartment, this would certainly explain Kate's decision to run back to the tapas restaurant, apparently abandoning the twins alone in the unlocked apartment. 

However, if Pennington's statement is correct, and we are to believe the twins were moved in this way, then it would now seem even more extraordinary that the twins did not wake.

And the implication of that appears to be obvious. 

Sighting of Robert Murat 

Miss Pennington's Daily Mail interview confirms reports from the McCanns' friends that Murat was at the scene. "He was outside the lobby just before we started on our big search," she said.

"He was adamant that he wasn't there. But he was. He was there in the road, he was just looking. It was about 10.30. He was just watching.

"I didn't know his name then. But the next day he was our interpreter and I met him then. He didn't take part in the searches, but he was there."

It is difficult to understand how Pennington can so clearly identify Robert Murat - a man she admits she did not know previously - in a chaotic scene where, by all accounts, there were people all over the place. A 'big search' implies there were lots of people there and this was night time, under street lamps that do not appear to be very powerful.

Can she really be sure this was Murat and not David Payne? The Payne's reportedly left their two children in the kid's club, with Madeleine and the twins, under the charge of Catriona Baker. So, it is quite likely that Pennington had never met David Payne previously either.

The Sun further confuses the account when it reports: 'Charlotte said she saw him (Murat) near the McCanns’ holiday flat at around midnight. Yesterday it was claimed police used Murat as a translator — giving him access to the crime scene — as he was a long-time informant.'

This account, which does not come with a direct quote, does, however, appear to be sourced directly from Miss Pennington. Yet, it clearly contradicts her previous statement that she saw Murat at 10:30pm, in the street outside the lobby, just before they were about to launch their 'big search'.

So, where did Pennington see Murat? Outside the McCanns apartment at midnight or outside the lobby at 10:30pm?

The two diverse accounts surely cast a major doubt over Pennington's testimony.

Murat, the suspicious looking man and 'Creepyman'

A few days after Madeleine's disappearance, Charlotte Pennington reported seeing Robert Murat chatting to a man outside the Baptista supermarket in Praia da Luz.

Initially, the sighting was used to further imply that Robert Murat was involved in some way. It was suggested that this man fitted the description given by Jane Tanner of a man she allegedly saw walking 'urgently' away from the McCanns' apartment on the night of 03 May 2007.

On 20 January 2007, the McCanns' released an artist's impression of a man Gail Cooper allegedly saw acting in a 'creepy' way during the weeks before the McCanns arrived in Praia da Luz. Suddenly, Pennington's 'sighting' was dug up, brushed off and represented to the public as a crucial piece of crucial, long-lost information. 

In the space of 24 hours, the man who Murat was chatting to had suddenly been transformed from Jane Tanner's 'abductor' into Gail Cooper's 'Creepyman'.  

Firstly, the Daily Mail reports that: 'Charlotte Pennington, a nanny at the Ocean Club holiday complex where the McCanns were staying, told police last May she saw Murat chatting to "a man aged around 27 to 35, average height, very dark eyes and of Portuguese or Spanish appearance".

She told detectives she saw expat Murat, who lives with his mother near to holiday complex, talking to the man outside the Baptista supermarket in Praia da Luz.'

The following day, the Daily Mail makes a stronger connection when it reports that: 'Nanny Charlotte Pennington's description of a person she saw with Mr Murat also matches the man shown in the artist's impression.'

Later, The Sun, appearing to run a direct quote from Pennington, pushes the connection further, when it reports: 'And Charlotte Pennington, a nanny at the McCanns' holiday complex, says a suspicious man she saw in Praia da Luz was "similar" to the drawing.'

So, in what way is Pennington's sighting ''similar'' to the description and artist's impression of Gail Cooper's 'Creepyman'?

Pennington describes a man ''between 27 and 35, with medium build, very dark eyes and a Portuguese or Spanish look''.

Cooper, in describing 'Creepyman', says: "This man was very unpleasant and creepy. I'd put his age at 38 to 45. He was very scruffy and had a 70s-style black Mexican moustache. He wasn't Portuguese—I think he was North African, either Tunisian or Moroccan."  

So, in what possible way could these two men possibly be described as ''similar''?

From the two descriptions, they have absolutely nothing in common whatsoever.

Yet newspapers, or perhaps more pertinently Metodo 3, seem intent on connecting the two. Newspapers will run with it because it's a good angle and will sell papers, Metodo 3 because that is what they are being paid by the McCanns to do. They have an agenda.

And that agenda is to propagate the abduction theory to the exclusion of all others.  

The sighting of the boatman

Two days after Madeleine's disappearance, Miss Pennington claims to have seen a mystery boatman kicking at something in the middle of the night.

Pennington said she spotted the man in a small dinghy, just off the Praia da Luz seafront, kicking at an object stored in the boat's hull.

The Daily Mail continues: 'When she moved closer to investigate, the man - whose name she has given to Portuguese and British police - stooped out of sight then hurriedly rowed away. Miss Pennington said the man was wearing a reflective yellow jacket with a hood but she could not make out his face.'

So, what are the concerns here?

Firstly, the report says Pennington spotted the man in a 'small dinghy'. However, the very next sentence describes a 'boat' which was apparently big enough to store a reasonable size object in its hull.

Secondly, one wonders why a person, who it is implied may have had Madeleine stored alive, or dead, in a box in his dinghy/boat, would choose to wear a bright yellow, reflective fisherman's jacket.

Thirdly, the sighting took place 'in the middle of the night' when the seafront is pitch black. Those people searching for Madeleine, on the night of 03 May 2007, have described how they could only see as far as their torches shone and it was actually quite a frightening experience.

So, how could Pennington see anything, let alone a man apparently some distance away that she had to move closer to try and see.

And what was Pennington doing in the middle of the night, in the pitch black on the seafront? Did she have a torch?

Fourthly, Pennington admits she did not see the man's face and that he stooped down and quickly rowed away. So, how could she possibly know who he was, in order to give his name to the police?

The first published reports of the sighting claimed that Pennington was shocked to see the man again the next day, still wearing his bright yellow, reflective fisherman's jacket. She claims that she recognised the man as someone 'whom she had come to know over the preceding week'. But how? How can she recognise and name a man just from a jacket, seen from distance, in the pitch dark?

It should be remembered that Praia da Luz is a small fishing village and the sight of a fisherman's jacket, in such a setting, would surely not be unusual. In fact, it would be a surprise if it wasn't commonplace.

 
Where was Charlotte Pennington?, 30 June 2008
 
Where was Charlotte Pennington?
 
Nigel Moore
Monday 30 June 2008
 
The question: 'Where was Charlotte Pennington when Madeleine was reported missing?' would appear to be one of the few questions surrounding the case that can boast a straightforward answer.
 
In a case that has become characterised by the frustratingly unsatisfactory quotes of unnamed friends and sources, Ms Pennington has afforded us the rare luxury of being able to listen to her own words from her own mouth - at least until the Dispatches documentary 'Searching for Madeleine' was removed from YouTube and Channel 4's own 4oD service.
 
On that documentary, Ms Pennington recounted the following story: "I was working that night at something called 'Drop-in Creche'. We had one child left and... errm, the mother came in, picked up the child and just mentioned 'Hang on a minute, I've just seen a guy who's run past me, who seemed really distressed and I recognised him as being a guest at Mark Warner, but he was shouting out something like 'Maddie' or 'Abbey' or 'Gabby'."
 
She then continues: "I went straight to the apartment. I sort of walked in, did a quick scan around and been told 'No, no. She's not here, she's not here'.
 
"Kate McCann was outside and she was very distressed. She was saying things like 'They've taken her' and 'She's gone' and, you know, 'Where is she? Where is she?'
 
"She was crying and there were tears down her face and it was absolutely heartbreaking to see."
 
So, in Ms Pennington's own words, her movements would appear to be crystal clear and unequicocal. End of story.
 
Yet, in Danny Collins recently released book 'Vanished' a completely different picture is painted. We are used to reading slight variations of stories connected to the case, to the point where double-vision is a regular occurence, but we are less used to somebodies movements being directly and confidently contradicted in print.
 
So what does Mr Collins say about Ms Pennington's movements and what is the significance of them, if true?
 
Mr Collins states that rather than being in the communal 'Drop-in creche', Ms Pennington was actually babysitting in a 'nearby apartment' and was brought to the McCanns' apartment by the sound of Kate McCanns' screams from the balcony of apartment 5A.
 
He claims that Ms Pennington was the first person at the scene and that she told police that Kate 'clutched at her' and 'sobbed in panic as she tried to answer the young childminder's questions'. 
 
Whilst Ms Pennington does indeed describe the frenzied state of Kate McCann, she does not mention the undoubted importance and significance of being the first person to arrive at the scene.
 
However, if Ms Pennington's own account is true then it would have been impossible for her to have been the first person at the scene as the incident she describes clearly indicates that the alarm had been raised some time before she was made aware of it.
 
She does state in the Daily Mail article of 25 September 2007 that "I was in the apartment less than five minutes after they found that Madeleine had gone".
 
However, that would seem unlikely given the fact that after Kate had reportedly discovered Madeleine missing she would have had to inform the rest of the group by returning to the Tapas bar; allowed time for a further search of the apartment by Gerry and their friends; allowed time to consider what to do; allowed time for Gerry to decide to go out onto the streets and then do it; allowed time for the woman to hear him and later report what she had heard to Pennington and then time for Pennington to ascertain which apartment was involved, gather herself and then actually reach the apartment. It would seem unlikely that that whole process would have taken 'less than five minutes'.
 
In the same article, Ms Pennington further describes how: "We knew that one of the other nanny's charges was called Maddie. We told the head of department what had happened and she took us straight to the apartment.
 
"There were no children in the room. The twins had been taken out already, I think by one of the McCanns' friends."
 
Leaving aside discussion around the distrubing suggestion that the twins were not in the apartment at that time (Where were they and why and how did they return by the time the GNR arrived?), Ms Pennington states that she attended the McCanns apartment with her head of department - yet again clearly suggesting that she wasn't the first person on the scene.
 
So, who to believe? Ms Pennington herself or the words of a Spanish-based veteran investigative journalist? Faced with such a choice the natural inclination would surely be to side with the individual who was actually there and witnessed it. Yet, the level of detail in Collins text suggests his knowledge extends beyond that of a blindfold, a stick and a piñata.
 
Mr Collins also has something very significant to say about the occupation of the apartments by the McCanns and the Tapas Seven.
 
Mr Collins states that the McCanns were in apartment 5A, as we all know, but that Jane Tanner and Russell O'Brien were next door in apartment 5B. This appears to directly contradict Clarence Mitchell's statement that Rachael Oldfield was next door on the evening that Madeleine is alleged to have been left crying, unattended. 
 
What Mr Mitchell actually said was: "Equally, one of the friends, Rachael Oldfield, was in the apartment next door in a bedroom adjacent to the wall where Madeleine was in her bedroom and she heard no crying at all all night."
 
The natural assumption from Mr Mitchell's statement is that Rachael Oldfield was 'in the apartment next door' because that was her apartment. After all, what would she be doing in somebody elses bedroom, on her own, whilst all the other members of the holidaying party were out enjoying themselves? All night.
 
Of course, making assumptions is a dangerous thing to do. But it does seem peculiar that Mr Mitchell has specifically identified Rachael Oldfield - why not simply say that the Oldfield's were next door and heard nothing? If she heard nothing all night, then she must have been there all night. If so, where was her husband?
 
If Mrs Oldfield was alone, it would suggest she was alone for a reason. After all, we have been told, first hand by Kate, that they were operating a system. She said: "We all knew what we had to do, what we would do and.. you know, it worked as a system we had going and it just seemed totally right somehow".
 
Could it be that Mrs Oldfield was babysitting? That the 'system' involved one member of the group babysitting all the children? There is, it must be stated, no evidence to suggest this is the case but, at one point, there were curious reports of all the children sharing the McCanns' apartment on the night of 3rd May. But was this true or just another flight of fancy?
 
Mr Collins states that Mark Warner only rented out the ground floor apartments and that the holidaying group were all based on that floor, contradicting previous reports that the Payne's were located on the floor above. Collins says that the Payne's were 'further down the walkway' and that the Oldfield's were based the furthest away from the McCanns' apartment.
 
So what significance does this have to the whereabouts of Charlotte Pennington on that evening? Possibly, a great deal.
 
Mr Collins tells us that Ms Pennington was babysitting in a 'nearby apartment' when she heard the screams of Kate McCann. He tells us that Mark Warner only rented the ground floor apartments and so, therefore, we are compelled to ask: Was Ms Pennington babysitting for one of the Tapas group and, if so, which one?
 
If we are to believe reports, the Payne's were the only couple to own and use a working baby-monitoring device, so would therefore have had no need of a babysitter. The Oldfield's were the furthest away from the McCanns apartment and it would therefore seem very unlikely that Ms Pennington could have heard the screams of Kate, if she was babysitting inside the Oldfield's apartment.
 
So, that just leaves the apartment of Tanner and O'Brien, next door to the McCanns, where Kate's screams would have been easily heard.
 
Yet, if Collins is correct in the statements he has committed to print, then two questions immediately spring to mind: Why was Pennington employed as a babysitter, when the group had a communal checking 'system' that supposedly 'worked'? And if Pennington was babysitting the children of Tanner and O'Brien, then why was Russell O'Brien reportedly absent from the group until just before 10:00pm?
 
Of course, the possibility that there was another family occupying an apartment in the middle of the Tapas groups apartments must be considered. However, it is very curious that if there were such an apartment, and such a family, then why have they never been identified, mentioned or even remotely hinted at?
 
The fog that surrounds the mystery continues to show no signs of lifting.

 
The actress - imdb site (link)
 

Overview

Trivia:

She is the youngest daughter of Collette Pennington (now Whiton) and sister of Owain Pennington... more
Alternate Names:
Charlotte Whiton

Filmography

Actress:
  1. "Shortland Street" .... Libby Bailey (1997) (19 episodes, 1996-1997)
        - Episode dated 12 February 1997 (1997) TV episode .... Libby Bailey (1997)
        -
    Episode dated 11 February 1997 (1997) TV episode .... Libby Bailey (1997)
        -
    Episode dated 10 February 1997 (1997) TV episode .... Libby Bailey (1997)
        -
    Episode dated 15 November 1996 (1996) TV episode .... Libby Bailey (1997)
        -
    Episode dated 14 November 1996 (1996) TV episode .... Libby Bailey (1997)
          (
    14 more)
  2. "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" .... Sister (1 episode, 1996)
        - Mercenary (1996) TV episode .... Sister

Additional Details

Other Works:
(2004) She acts in productions at the Howick Little Theatre and is currently starring in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie there. She was a contestant in the recent Miss Howick competition and was awarded with a prize for the best speech. more
Genres:
Drama more
STARmeter: ?
^ 89% since last week why?

 
Charlotte Pennington - A fairy since the age of 14
 
In October 2006, Charlotte Pennington registered with nanny-agency.com. The link to their site no longer appears to work but, at the time, they described themselves as:
 
'The best online aupair and nanny search service, work and jobs with 1000's of nannies and nanny jobs. Save on traditional nanny agency fees. We also have Mother's Help, Nurses, Governess' & Housekeepers.'
 
Miss Pennington's rambling advert ran as follows:
 
'i had caught the acting bug and had drama cursing through my veins. my mother, collette, picked up on this and started taking me along to her rehearsals and shows. the theatre became an absolute haven for me. the evocative allure of the stage pulling me closer and closer as i watched every flicker of emotion pass through the actors faces, the costumes, the make-up, the people. i just knew that this is it, my raison d’etre. around the year 2000 my mother remarried, to a man called stuart wighton(whom i now think of as dad, and deciding to be known as charlotte wighton, rather than charlotte pennington) and i propelled head first into the serious world of drama that i had not yet experienced. from the year 2000 to the year 2004 i had played over 16 lead roles of which included my all time favourite role, juliet from none other than romeo and juliet and anne boleyn from anne of a thousand days. i also competed 3 times a year over a course of 5 years and was fortunate enough to have done extremely well and my passion for the stage was able to be seen. my long term goal is to go to drama school which i will do once i have accumulated the fees. while all of the above was going on i did of course have school, friends and jobs. at school i took drama ( of course) but also history, photography, media studies, pe, english, history of art , travel and tourism and human biology all of which i loved. and maths, which i did not. my jobs consisted of nannying, clerical work, promotions work, acting and modelling and being a fairy. i’ve worked as a fairy since i was 14. it all started when i walked into a shop called the enchanted forest and the owner said i looked like a fairy and would i like to work there. would i ever?! it was a perfect fit, my love for performing plus my love for children combined with the added bonus of glitter. working there meant a hectic, erratic, sporadic and completely opposite to the 9-5 cliché. it was full on with handling different duties; fairying, catering, booking, accounts and retail.but it was all done in a fairy costume and with a smile. but exam time rolled around and i had to temporarily hang up my wings. after the exams i had an idea that i could run my own fairy business, which is exactly what i did. cultivating a network for my parties was a lot of fun (reminded me of a sort-of clean cut disney mafia) i was intrigued one day when i saw the shop where i had my 7th birthday party, the fairy shop was still around so i went inside and had a case of déjà vu, not only did it look the same, granted a tad smaller, the owner mentioned i looked like a fairy and would i like a job? by now you are probably conjuring up some elfin creature complete with pixie ears but i can assure you this is not the case. i think perhaps i have always given off this vibe as children all over and in any place have the urge to smile and wave at me, which i don’t mind one little bit! so, i ended working for the fairy shop as well as having my sideline business all the while attending the nanny centre and getting my nanny certificates and training. now i am hoping for another chapter of my life to begin so . i hope i have let you in a little bit of my world and that you understand more of the sort of person i am.'
 
It would be interesting to know how many parents were prepared to leave their children in Miss Pennington's care after reading that.
 
Perhaps that is why she ended up working at the Mark Warner Ocean Club.