Friday, 2 October 2015

OVERVIEW OF THE TOUR AND TRIPS HOME


START:
Between the 4th and the 9th of May 2007 the troops available to the McCanns were:


11 members of family and friends
Craigh Mayhew, MW operations director.
The Consul and Pro Consul
The British Ambassador
Alan Pike – trauma psychologist and assistant
Alex Woolfall, PR Head of crisis management
3 Leicester Police Officers
2 Criminal Behaviour Experts from CEOP
Sheree Dodd from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Phonecall from Cherie Blair, and one from Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett.

The above are just the advance troops although Sheree Dodd soon returned to London amid reports that she did not accept the McCanns’claim that Madeleine had been abducted.

In any case, experts in various fields who would not normally have been involved in such a case and certainly not that early in the proceedings. Consular assistance is normal, Mark Warner getting their PR expert in is understandable, but only if he was working to promote Mark Warner and not the McCanns. For why would the victims of a crime need PR?
A trauma unit is par for the course these days so that is not out of the ordinary.

So right from the start we have two Foreign Office officials working for the McCanns, these people do not act on their own, they are instructed by the Foreign Office. Who do not in general send out the troops in such numbers without being told to do so - and such commands come from 'above' so to speak.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS:

20th May: Gerry returns to the UK , he appears not to have seen any family, gets photographed in Rothley amongst yellow ribbons.

22nd May: Gerry returns with Clarence Mitchell – lent to him by the F.O.

24th May Last photo released to the world’s Press.

24th May – the day Missing People launched  with ‘A New Yellow Ribbon  Symbol ‘ a large scale projection on Marble Arch.

24th May – The McCanns  make a pilgrimage to Fatima. The  DT reports:  ‘The McCanns are launching a series of trips across Europe to help widen the search [..] the couple, both devout Catholics, started their ‘mission’yesterday in Fatima. ‘

Recap:

Missing Persons – changed to Missing People on May 24th. The event is alleged to have been instigated at the behest of the European Commission, spearheaded by former EC Vice-President and self-appointed ‘Guardian Angel of Children’, Franco Frattini. The event was attended by John McCann. 

Franco Frattini wanted Blair for European Council President  as he  repeated in a speech some two years later. http://archivio.siciliainformazioni.com/now-italy/italy-backs-blair-for-eu-president-frattini-says-he-has-the-stature-and-charisma-for-the-job/

Although Gerry returned to Rothley to ‘trawl through four years of family albums' – to select new pictures of her he comes back with a picture allegedly taken on the day she disappeared – the pool picture.
He also comes back with  the head of the Media Monitoring Unit, who controls what comes out in the news – a job description given to us by the man himself: Clarence Mitchell.

One may conclude: Foreign Office and possibly soon to be ex-PM Blair seem somewhat involved, so too is the European Commission who are promoting Missing People and their yellow ribbons.


There is a strong connection to the yellow ribbons in Rothley two days earlier in my opinion. The usual public response is an avalanche of teddy bears,  dolls, flowers and messages. Not yellow ribbons. So how did the good people of Rothley have such an uncanny feel for what was to come? 

We don’t know where Gerry was, apart from Rothley, during that trip. However, he found Clarence and came back with the news that they would start a European ‘mission’. 


ROME:

Clarence  started at the top: God’s  representative on earth.
Kate’s Diary: 27th May:  Clarence spoke to us about a possible visit to the Vatican. Rome is already preparing itself.’
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O├žonnor, the RC Archbishop of Westminster, had been instrumental in organising the visit. (this suggests government connection)


SKY reports that  the Pope has been kept up to date on the search for the 4 yr old.(note: not the Pope who has expressed an interest but the already emerging top level which the McCanns at that time occupied.)


29th May: The McCanns leave in Sir Philip Green’s private jet for Rome.

30th – audience with the Pope

30th – asked a question by a Swedish journalist he is told by Gerry: ‘We have no immediate plans to go to Sweden and we hope and pray that this will be over before we get to Scandinavia.’
(for two people who want the widest possible awareness it seems that Scandinavia wasn't on the list - this may be because the itinerary was not planned by the McCanns but e.g. the Foreign Office?)

 MADRID:

1ST June – McCanns have a busy day in Madrid taken up with government- and non-government agencies [..] various TV interviews and a press conference.

It is at this point that the intention of becoming a representative of far more than one child is apparent:

Steven Kingstone:  (voice over) ‘here they appealed for help from the public and action from the Spanish authorities.’

Gerry McCann: I would like some reassurance, in Spain, that there has been some proactive, errm investigation regarding Madeleine’s disappearance and I think it is at least worth exploring the possibility that Madeleine’s disappearance should not be considered in isolation.’

Steve Kingstone: As the couple see it, that means cross-referencing this inquiry with other missing children cases throughout Spain and Portugal. [..] This afternoon the McCanns met Spain’s interior minister to discuss a broader approach to child abduction.

Gerry knows the political jargon by now but not where he stands in the pecking order - it is not his place to demand reassurance from the Spanish government that they are investigating this case 'properly'. Demanding proactive investigation is a bit rich coming from that source I feel..

BERLIN AND AMSTERDAM:

The McCanns flew into Berlin  in a private Hawker jet, lent to them by the owner.

They met British ambassador Sir Peter Torry and the Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit.

This didn’t go so well:

Gerry’’s Blog: 6th June 2007:
[..] There has also been a little bit of criticism in the German press about the amount of media coverage [..] I was still surprised by the question as to whether Kate and I may be involved in Madeleine’s abduction!

[..] We had to delay our flight to Amsterdam because of some information received by the police [..] it turned out to be nothing of interest. Unquote
(A man had phoned the PJ saying he was the abductor but he would only speak to the parents themselves. Nothing of interest then.)

The BBC reports on the 6th June that: 'the parents  of Madeleine McCann have said their trip around Europe to raise awareness of their missing daughter is their way of taking positive action.'  Unquote

Once in Amsterdam there were no government ministers to meet, no presidents of charities or any such dignitaries. Not even the Mayor of Amsterdam. Just journalists, who didn’t ask the right questions.  So more or less 0 points for that visit. Although after the scheduled meetings Gerry caught up with  “a friend of mine who was attending a medical conference in Amsterdam”. (This was most probably Matthew Oldfield  - interesting since they barely knew each other before the PdL holiday – but perhaps useful.)

MOROCCO: 

Surprisingly, no jet for Morocco, but an ancient pre-war plane. (One wonders if the luxury part of the European Tour had already been down-scaled rather than that the luxury jet had  engine trouble.)


They arrive with posters printed in Arabic and these same posters are presumably the ones which the Moroccan schoolchildren had  to hold up for the photographs.


The Portuguese  journalist Paulo Reis reports:
[..] the English couple was accompanied by a very British gentleman who is presented to us as a British diplomat from the Foreign Office. John Kayne accompanies the English couple on his journey for two weeks.

The McCanns meet with the Directors of various children’s charities and Kate tells us that ‘for these meetings to take place permission must have been granted by the King himself’. A little later she mentions a ‘palace-sponsored child welfare watchdog’.  Still – that’s as close as they got to the King. As an extra they are received by the minister of Islamic Affairs, this meeting is arranged by his daughter, who is their translator.

If we look at the overall results it all started very well in Rome, in Madrid other children were added to the mission but both Berlin and Amsterdam were rather disappointing. There was no mention of the British Ambassador in Amsterdam and there are few details of the meeting with the Mayor of Berlin.

In both cases the press conferences proved to be a minefield. Neither of the McCanns came over well and in Amsterdam advice was given to Gerry by Clarence whilst holding up a pair of pyjamas to hide their conversation. Journalists tend to notice such things.

Morocco too, seems even more of a disappointment. Virtually nothing in the way of government officials, the usual news conference where this time they are flanked by a translator and Clarence.

More to the point – we are told that an official from the Foreign Office has accompanied the McCanns for two weeks. That’s just about right, starting with Rome on the 29th of May to the 12th of June. So that means the F.O. had their minder in place.

BUT:

‘madeleine’Chapter 11:

At the beginning of June, Gerry had a call from the director of communications at the Foreign Office… [..] whatever the case, it was suggested to Gerry that we should use Madeleine’s Fund to employ someone to replace Clarence once our campaign visits were complete. Unquote

So from the above we see: government participation and no doubt at all, connections made so that the McCanns could meet dignitaries and preferably government officials. After the Pope's blessing the expectations may have been high, but in fact it went downhill from there fairly fast, resulting in the Foreign Office recalling Clarence and presumably all other liaison with foreign powers to arrange visits for the McCanns ceased at that time.
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It seems that by the middle of June things started to go quiet:

17th June: Kate’s Diary:
'Cherie Blair phoned to find out how we were.[..] I also had the chance to speak to Tony who told me that we weren’t to hesitate to ask him if there was something he could do to help.’

19th June Gerry is in the UK,  loses his wallet with the credit cards the Home Office have assured the PJ he doesn’t have, visits (according to Clarence Mitchell) the F.O.  and returns to PdL only to find a drunk in the road who needs help.

There are no photographs from this entire trip, so no journalists lying in wait in Gatwick or elsewhere. It does not appear that he has taken up Blair’s kind offer of help given just two days earlier.  

12th July – 14th July -Things are looking a bit better on the next trip when Gerry is honoured by the Police Federation but this junket is arranged entirely by The Sun, who sponsors the award. The Sun even suggests giving the McCanns an award (for what I am not clear) but Kate writes in her book that they didn’t feel worthy of such honours.

Gerry visits CEOP – but that is not a government institution as such – it was at the time a Ltd. Co. with government funding. 

Gerry does meet with the Press Complaints Commission’s president. He visits Sir Christopher Meyer at his home in London where Sir Christopher gives him the bad news that the PCC doesn’t do money for bad publicity.

Somewhere along the line the McCanns have paid Bell Pottinger half a million pounds to keep Madeleine on the front page for a year. Possibly during this period when the media were losing interest.

22nd July – 26th July  Gerry is in the US. But once again, not meeting top people, but congressmen and an Attorney-General. He seems to have spent nearly two days at the  US missing children centre. 

Gerry’s blog 25th July:
[..] visit to the White House to meet with the First Lady’s deputy Chief of Staff Sarah Armstrong. This visit was facilitated by Lady Catherine Meyer, founder of the British charity PACT.  Unquote

Again some name-dropping (Pope and G 8 summit had already had a pat on the back) cunningly  phrased but in effect he met the deputy of the Chief of Staff  of the wife of the President and had a lightning tour of the public areas of the White House.

Gerry managed to  mention the G8 summit in a TV interview and gives the impression they had taken note of the plight of the McCanns. He mentions a discussion with the Attorney General to advance legislation, but it that's all.  He basically only spoke to the president of ICMEC  and a few notables and he got into the White House because an ex-ambassador’s wife pulled a few strings.
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This set of journeys together does give some indication where the government definitely did interfere (e.g. Home Office, credit cards, records) and helped (F.O. supplying a minder for the Eurotour, lending Clarrie, making connections with dignitaries to be visited) but on the whole they weren’t wholeheartedly behind the McCanns and their help was withdrawn at the earliest opportunity. That is help in promoting the McCanns, - under Brown the manipulation went on, but by that time it was more   of  a damage limitation exercise. Most of Brown's interference occurred after they became arguidos.

It seems  obvious is that  the press were  losing interest by mid June  and at the same time  the Foreign Office had suggested that if the McCanns wanted media liaison they could pay for it themselves.

The charities stand out in this collection of  players, principally Missing People  – the yellow ribbons in Rothley, the relaunch on the same date that the McCanns announced their European Tour.
Which may well have been arranged with the F.O.  during that visit which also produced the pool photo. 

Blair was about to step down as PM and desperately keen to become European President. That may have been one factor in the unprecedented help given. Cherie Blair was a director of  PACT, a charity which paid the directors more than the total income at one time but had always had European ambitions as evidenced by her interference regarding the Human Rights Act. 
EU wanted  to set up  a complete DNA database of all EU citizens, still does as far as I know.  An abducted photogenic toddler might have been just the catalyst the politicians needed.  

But only by early June was political help being withdrawn, so it took a month for the doubts about the abduction  to reach those with the power to take decisions  - still Blair.  Brown didn't take over until the end of June.  Perhaps Whitehall  finally understood the importance of those shutters or perhaps they'd finally looked at the very files they refused to send to the Police Judiciare: MBM's health records and  the  McCann's credit card records.

And by  September Gordon Brown was not so easily brought into line -  gone were the days when Gerry would phone Brown and leave a message to phone him back asap.   From then on it seems he doesn't even want to speak to them, the glory days didn't last long. 

From the Vanity Fair Interview, September 2007 published in February issue 2008:


........ they now feel deserted by the Prime Minister.
In the interview, Clarence Mitchell, the McCann’s spokesman, said: “...it is true that we have requested a meeting with the prime minister to show him the strength of our case, to explain Kate and Gerry’s innocence - and yet all we’ve been offered is a medium-level-consular meeting, which we rejected.”
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This link is well worth a read:
'MAD COW' LEGISLATION'  02 November 2009

By Dr Martin Roberts

Finding of Fact

•  14. FCO told the Commissioner that a family member had made clear to FCO staff that all comments made by that individual to FCO had been made in strict confidence and were not intended for disclosure to third parties. FCO did not approach the family member again during the Commissioner's investigation but told the Commissioner that they were confident the individual would not appreciate being contacted regarding disclosure of the relevant personal information, a position the Commissioner accepted.

unquote