The situation in the Algarve with missing three year old Madeleine McCann remains horrific. It's now been eight days since she disappeared, and no-one can truly begin to understand the pain her parents must be going through. But to leave them completely blameless for her disappearance would be incredibly naïve.
Who, after all, leaves a child of that age alone in a hotel room, sleeping or otherwise? Perhaps it might be easier to accept if we were talking about relatively uneducated people here, but we're not. Mr and Mrs McCann, both medical professionals, are presumably well-educated. They should have the common sense to appreciate that as parents they have a responsibility to care for their children, and that that means either paying a babysitter (they were available at the hotel and, let's face it, the McCann's aren't short of a few bob) or foregoing their meal if that's the only other option.
Of course I have sympathy for the family - no decent person wouldn't. And maybe what I'm about to say is slightly harsh. But I'm firmly of the view that if this had happened in the UK, the parents would be guilty of neglect and ought to be prosecuted accordingly.
Perhaps we're wrong to talk about this while the search for Madeleine is ongoing. Perhaps the media's attention should focus on helping the police investigation rather than making criticisms. Perhaps that's the case. But this needs to be said.