Many people who have an interest in the McCann case knew that tweets, posts & personal information about anonymous posters on facebook & twitter was being collected in a systematic an organised way. The people doing the collecting & collating made no secret of what they were doing. There was also little doubt that at some point at least some of the information gathered, along with tweets & FB posts deemed to be "hateful" or "threatening" would end up in the hands of the police. Though many seemed to think it would only be used to name and shame on FB or Twitter as had been done by both sides many times before.
The Book by Summers and Swan
This book came as much more of a surprise at least to me. Books of this sort often do come as something of a surprise so there is nothing very unusual about that. The authors did make some effort earlier in the year to contact a few so called "anti" McCann who post on forums, FB & twitter for comment. I have little idea what was said to these people, but it is clear that they did not widely publicise the fact that they had been contacted or that there was a book being written. Thus the book came to most peoples attention towards that end of August only when the pre-publication promotion began. There were notable exceptions to this surprised reaction to the books publication. Some, perhaps most, of the pro McCann lobby seemed to be expecting the announcement and showed little or no surprise. They also seemed to have a good idea that the book would be supportive of the McCann's abduction story.
It seems obvious to me now that the books main aims were twofold:
1. To promote the idea that there was real evidence that an abductor, or at least several people who could have been abductors, were at large in Praia da Luz in spring 2007. While at the same time dismissing, out of hand & with hardly any valid argument or discussion, all evidence that might incriminate the McCanns.
2. To make the readers aware of the online activity by people who question the abduction theory and think that the McCanns were involved in some way in their daughters disappearance. Such people were labelled as "haters"and many details given, often about the worst among them, in an effort to discredit all who post or tweet.
Of these it is possible that the main objective was the second. All the other information about the case was already in the public domain. There was very little if anything new in terms of facts, and certainly no new ideas or leads. However the so called "hate campaign", which is not a campaign at all, has not been widely reported. Only a few isolated incidents such as the silly London marathon "anyone got a gun?" post on facebook have been reported. It seems quite possible that the book was written, at least in part, with the intention of spreading the message that the McCanns were the subject of a "hate campaign" to as wide an audience as possible. Of course the seemingly very low book sales mean this objective wasn't achieved.
We now know, through a freedom of information request, that the authors tried to coordinate the publication of the book with the end of the Operation Grange investigation. The police refused a request for information about the end of Operation Grange
The Times lawsuit.
This was announced at the beginning of August 2014. The offending article had appeared in October 2013 soon after the CrimeWatch program. The Times had published an apology/correction soon after the original article was published. I don't know exactly when the lawsuit was filed, but it appears to have been in July or August with the resulting out of court settlement being made soon after the Summers and Swan book was published.
The Damages Trial
The trial in Portugal in which the McCanns are seeking damages from Goncalo Amaral and others had been hearing evidence in June and was due to conclude with the Judges verdict in September.
Are these coincidences?
The book publication, lawsuit settlement and dossier all occur within a few weeks of each other.
The book publication, lawsuit and dossier all occur soon after Operation Grange completes digs and interviews in Portugal.
The book, lawsuit and dossier all occur at the same time as the judge in the damages trial was due to give a verdict.
Which of the explanations below seems more likely?
1. It is possible that the book publisher thought Sept 11th was a good time to release the book entirely independently & without knowledge of the dossier or the lawsuit. Perhaps thinking that the trial verdict would be at that time and chose not to postpone when it became known the trial verdict would be delayed.
2. It is possible that the McCanns & their lawyers decided to sue The Times entirely independently & without having any influence over the book publication date or the dossier release. The long delay between the offending article and the lawsuit being due to?......I'm sure there must be a reason,but I can't think of one.
3. It is possible that those who compiled the dossier handed it to..... well we aren't sure who they handed it to, but never mind.....without having any influence over the book publication date or the timing of the lawsuit settlement. Presumably the dossier just happened to be completed at the beginning of September.
4. It is possible that the McCanns or people acting on their behalf could have exercised control over the timing of all three of these events in an effort to get maximum impact at the same time that a verdict was due in the damages trial in Portugal.
While I was writing the above Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe spoke in an interview and said that the the dossier was handed to the police by the McCanns. He may have made a mistake about this, but if he is correct it supports the suggestion that the McCanns might have coordinated these events.