Stephen Pritchard, the redoubtable reader’s editor at the Observer, has published what amounts to a retraction of last week’s story on Danie Krugel’s “evidence” in the Maddie McCann case. Kudos to Stephen and to the Observer for this – it’s nice to see a paper admitting it got it wrong.
It is, however, still disturbing that a newspaper would assign reporters to a case which is likely to hinge on DNA evidence who clearly have little understanding of the science of DNA. Perhaps that’s down to the horrendous state of science teaching in the UK – but I would expect, even under deadline pressure, a journalist to seek a second expert source on any claim like this rather than rush for the story and get it so badly wrong.
However, Stephen’s claim that the internet had “appeared to led credibility to his claims” doesn’t hold all that much water. Top search result on Google for “Danie Krugel”, both last week and this, is a blog post from Moonflake entitled “Midweek Cuckoo: Danie Krugel” – hardly a post to inspire confidence in Mr Krugel’s credibility.
In fact, there’s almost nothing on Google’s first couple of pages which lends any credibility to Krugel, except for straightforward reports of the programme “Fingerprint of Fate” which was made about him (and comprehensively debunked afterwards).
The big exception is a web site, Danie Krugel Facts, which provides only positive spin on Danie’s involvement in the McCann case and his other involvement in missing persons cases. The domain, incidentally, is registered to a PO Box in South Africa and judging by the page source design appears to have been done by CenterWeb, a company based in Bloemfontein – the city where Danie Krugel works, as head of security at Central University. I’d certainly love to know who’s paid for that site.
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