Matthew Freud ‘in UK on night McCann disappeared’

Matthew Freud said his father, Clement Freud, was in the UK on the night Madeleine McCann vanished in Portugal, and that his father was then 83.

He said the McCann detectives had not asked the family about their father, who has been accused of abusing two girls between the late 1940s and the 1970s.

Freud had a villa in Praia da Luz, Portugal, the resort where the three-year-old went missing in 2007. The McCanns are said to be “horrified” that Freud was a paedophile.

Sylvia Woosley, who first met Freud when she was 10 and later went to live with him when her mother’s marriage broke down, claims, in an ITV Exposure documentary, that he molested her over several years.

A second woman, who wants to remain anonymous, alleged that the Liberal politician also abused her when she was a child and raped her when she was 18.

Freud befriended Gerry and Kate McCann, the parents of Madeleine, after she disappeared.

The celebrated broadcaster and former MP, who died in 2009, had a villa in the Algarve resort where Madeleine disappeared nine years ago.

In a statement released in response to the programme, his widow said: “This is a very sad day for me. I was married to Clement for 58 years and loved him dearly. I am shocked, deeply saddened, and profoundly sorry for what has happened to these women. I sincerely hope they will now have some peace.”

ITV said two of Freud’s children had viewed the documentary, before it was broadcast, on their mother’s behalf.

In the programme, Ms Woosley, now in her late 70s, said: “I just want to clear things up before I die ... I want to die clean.

“Having been so hard on myself, trying to destroy myself so many times, you can’t bury the truth forever. It needs to be heard.

“I don’t want to take this to my tomb. I would like to just return to the child I was before I was molested physically, before I was introduced to that side of life too early.”

She told the programme she first met Freud, known as Clay, when he was 24 and working at the Martinez hotel in Cannes, in the late 1940s. She was 10 and her family was living in the south of France.

Ms Woosley claims Freud kissed her on the mouth during a bus trip. She said: “I was disgusted and helpless. I just didn’t react in any way, because I couldn’t. I didn’t know what to do.”

From the age of 14, when she lived with Freud and his wife, in London for five years, she claims he frequently molested her, even “playfully” touching her breast in front of his wife, although she believes Mrs Freud had no knowledge of the abuse. Later, when she was in her 40s, Ms Woosley said she confronted Freud at the House of Commons and asked why he had abused her. She said he replied: “Because I loved you. You were a very sensual little girl.”

The second woman said she first met Freud in 1971, at her family home, when she was a “lonely, neglected and socially isolated” 11-year-old. Then a celebrity, he would call her on the phone and tell her she was special and intelligent, and he was treated as a surrogate father by her parents, she said.

Two years later, after he was elected an MP, he would take her on trips to Parliament and his home, and would kiss her on the mouth and hug her.

She said: “I felt sick, but grateful at the same time. Frightened and unable to move or react in any way.”

When she was 14, she claims Freud asked her and another friend of the same age: “Would you like to get naked and have some fun?”

Four years later, in 1978, when she was 18, the woman claims he came over to her parents’ flat and raped her.

She told the broadcaster: “I live in constant terror that I’ll be found out, exposed. I’ve already suffered across nearly 40 years. It’s not simply to be labelled as depression or mental illness — this is disempowerment, self-destructiveness and grief. This is what real suffering looks like.”

A celebrated food, sport, and comment print journalist, Freud also enjoyed a long career as a television and radio personality.

He wore “so many hats” that he was hard to pin down, Kate McCann noted, recalling the time she and her husband were invited to Freud’s for lunch, in Portugal, shortly after Madeleine went missing.

He was “incredibly warm, funny and instantly likeable”, and cheered the couple up with his “lugubrious wit”, she wrote in her book on her daughter’s disappearance.


Lifestyle

Their paths first crossed in the classroom 13 years ago for childhood sweethearts Emma Murphy and Kevin Leahy.Wedding of the Week: Lessons in love started in the classroom for childhood sweethearts

“This podcast features something never previously heard — anywhere, from anyone — the confession tape of an Irish serial killer.'Podcast Corner: Chilling story of an Irish serial killer

Children’s creativity is inspiring, says Helen O’Callaghan.Inspiring creativity: Kids on call for climate essay

Paul McVeigh is hoping to crowdfund a new anthology, writes Marjorie BrennanWhy Paul McVeigh is providing an outlet for working-class voices

More From The Irish Examiner