Wednesday, 23 December 2015


Starting with  PR:

(McCann Family

We helped the McCann family deal with the media storm which surrounded them on their return from Portugal in September 2007. From scratch, we created a comprehensive media handling package within six hours which enabled us to handle 850 media calls in the first week. By giving journalists positive stories to report, coverage turned from hostility to the McCanns to sympathy about their ordeal. This campaign won the crisis communication category at the 2008 CIPR awards.)


‘Hanover calls time on McCanns’ November 21, 2007 by Hannah Marriott

Hanover Communications has stopped working with the McCann family. The agency said the move ‘reflects a decrease in international press interest’ following the six-month anniversary of Madeleine McCann’s disappearance.

Hanover, headed by MD Charles Lewington, was hired to run a UK press office two months ago (20 September 2007).
All media enquiries are now going through the family’s spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, a former BBC journalist.

Mitchell was temporarily appointed spokesman to the McCanns by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in May (PRWeek, 24 May 2007). Sheree Dodd and Justine McGuiness have also worked temporarily in the position.

Mitchell later quit his government position to lead the McCanns’ comms on a permanent basis.

Mitchell said: ‘Without the support of Hanover we simply would not have been able to cope with the level of international press interest.’

Ten hours after being driven away from the police station in Portimao, Gerry and his family are boarding Easyjet flight EZY6552  [..]  Although no formal bail conditions are imposed, the right to leave is set upon the condition that they return to Portugal for further questioning if necessary. 

Hinting that they may not be true to their word, is the decision to retain the services of Michael Caplan Q.C [..] specializes in international law and represented the former  Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet when Spain tried to extradite him from the UK in 1999.

[..] On September 13th, a source close to the family is quoted saying: ‘We need to rectify the PR and the fightback needs to start and it needs to start now.’ The Guardian reveals that Phil Hall, the former editor of the News of the World, is on amongst a number of high-profile figures consulted by the McCanns, ‘with a view to managing the global interest in their case.’Hanover Communications – [..] begins handling calls.


The Daily Mirror for September 14th leads on 'KATE & GERRY... their story!', betwixt photographs of a seven-year old Kate at her first Holy Communion, and a bright-eyed Gerry in his football kit, former captain of Napier City Rovers FC. Gushing tributes are elicited from an impressively large array of family and friends: '... a beautiful, lovely, sensitive person' is how Dr Paul McIntyre describes Kate, one of the more restrained contributions. A former Napier City teammate calls Gerry 'a really nice bloke' who made 'a huge impression on the team.' When Madeleine was born, 'she was close to the perfect child... We have never seen Kate and Gerry as happy as they were that day.' (The last from 'friend Alan Grieves.') The September 17th edition leads on a smiling Kate McCann, and the headline: 'WE'LL BLOW THE POLICE CASE OUT OF THE WATER', one of several articles derogating the Portuguese investigation and casting doubt on the FSS results. In the Daily Mail, Alison Pearson describes as 'not just revolting... [but] surreal' the notion that Kate could have been responsible for Madeleine's death; to Dominic Lawson in The Independent, she is a victim of 'a peculiar kind of emotional tyranny... who has denied the mob its vicarious pleasure.' Jane Moore, columnist for The Sun, condemned the 'smoke and mirror tactics' of the Portuguese police, described as 'chronically inefficient' and 'under horrendous pressure to deliver' by the Mirror's Brian Reade.



I would also recommend For further insights in the methods of the press.

 Despite all the above efforts we now find the Drs. McCann at the Leveson inquiry complaining about the press : (all quotes below are copied from the transcripts)

Just  to note the fact that the McCanns were both sworn in:

2. Mr. Jay: The next witnesses are Dr. and Dr. McCann, please.

3. Dr. Gerald Patrick McCann and Dr. Kate Marie McCann (sworn)

Mr. Jay: ‘I know each of you would like your counsel to ask a few preliminary questions. Before he does so formally, can I invite you to confirm the contents of your respective witness statements.  You, Dr. Geral d McCann, there’s a statement dated 30 October and there’s a statement of truth at the end of it, it that correct?

Mr. McCann: ‘It is’.

Mr. Jay: And then Dr. Kate McCann, a far more recent statement referring to your husband’s statement and again with a statement of truth dated 22 November; is that right?

Mrs. McCann: ‘That’s right.’

Questions to Mr. McCann:

Q:  You tell us in your witness statement that a photograph was made immediately available, provided to the broadcast media and to the press, and was as it were, displayed everywhere. Is that correct?

A: There’s two elements to that. The first element was what we were doing on the night and obviously we had digital cameras and we were trying to get photographs printed of Madeleine from the holiday.

Q: Yes

A: To give to the police, but secondly, a very good friend of ours who we spoke to in the early hours of 4 May took upon himself to issue photographs of Madeleine to all the major media outlets in the UK.  unquote

Between  02.53 and 06.59 on the 4th of May some 25 calls are logged to and from Jon Corner,  the good friend who ‘took  it upon himself to issue photographs of Madeleine to all the major media outlets’.  One may surely expect  that  the decision taken to alert all the news channels was discussed during these calls, which incidentally, were all made to and from Kate’s mobile.

It is also a fact that only one camera was mentioned in earlier statements and  not a single holiday photograph of Madeleine – if they existed at all -  was used, instead a picture of Madeleine as a toddler aged little more than two years old was handed to the Policia Judiciare.

(See for questions regarding holiday photos The First Photo and the Socratic questioning of the Last Photo).

Q:  You deal with two further matters, perhaps less serious than this, because what you’ve told us of course is a plain breach of the code, that we may come to in due course.
There was a photograph of you, Dr. Gerald McCann, on the golf course, which obviously is a private place, and then the distortion of photographs of you, Dr. Kate McCann, to present, o doubt, a certain image. Often coupled with the adjectives ‘frail’ or ‘fragile’, which you’ve told us about. In terms of the effect on you, you described it and of course it will be obvious to us, but looking more broadly, the effect on the continuing investigation, which after all is your primary focus then,  as it is now, are you able to quantify that for us and describe it?

Mr. McCann:

A: Well, I think from – reputational aspects aside, the distress that was caused to us was the clear message that was going out nationally throughout Europe and internationally was that there was  very strong  evidence that our daughter was dead and that we were somehow implicated in her disappearance, and we knew that if people believed that, then there couldn’t be a meaningful search, and it was incredible. And any aspects of campaigning for a search with what happened to us and how it was portrayed  in the media meant we were completely hamstrung in our ability to counter anything.

Mrs. McCann:

These were desperate times. You know, we were having to try and find our daughter ourselves.  We needed all the help we could get, and we were faced with – I know we’ll come on to headlines, but ‘Corpse in the car’, I don’t know how many times I read ‘Body fluids in the car’, And it gets repeated that often, it becomes fact. There were no body fluids.

This needs very little comment other than to point out that the blood dog, which had a record of 100% correct alerts in all cases in which she had been deployed, alerted to blood. The body fluids found were so degenerated that it was not possible to determine whether it was blood or another bodily fluid. Quite simple. There were body fluids in the car, Mrs. M.

From: PJ files - 17- Processo 17 Pages 4592 to 4649

In that sense, forensic examinations were performed in the areas and on the objects that were marked and signalled by the blood dog[..], that is to say that cellular material was collected, which was nevertheless not identified as belonging to a specific person, and it was not even possible to establish said material's quality (namely if it could be blood or another type of bodily fluid).

Q:  You tell us in your statement a series of steps which were taken to try and abate this flood. Can I try and summarise it in this  way?  First of all, a meeting is organized with the editors of the major UK tabloid newspapers. That’s in September 2007, when a clear  message was put out to them, and you tell us that had a transient effect. It’s paragraph 53 of your witness statement.

A: (Mr.McCann) Sure. I think there’s two elements. Within the first week of being back, we had appointed solicitors, Kingsley Napley,  and Angus McBride,  who is one of the solicitors who represented us at that time, he thought it was very important that he would – we should try and modify the content of the press articles, and he went with Justine McGuinness, who was campaign manager at that point, and met with all the editors from the major newspapers and emphasized to them that it was his strong belief that there was no evidence to support what they were reporting. But it seemed to have very little effect.

In fact I think Kingsley Napley then pressurized Leicestershire police to write to the broadcasters and editors and there’s a letter from Matt Baggott, who was Chief Constable at that time, urging restraint and saying there was very inaccurate reporting.

We organized another round of meetings with Angus and Clarence, who then came back to work for us later on in September 2007, and that was followed up with another leter from the Chief Constable, I think on 17 October. 

I do feel that calling  Kingsley Napley solicitors is a little misleading.Seeing that a senior partner -  a Q.C  who had managed to keep  an erstwhile dictator from being extradited to Spain, Michael Caplan, had been retained by the McCanns.  It is also of interest to know that the Portuguese lawyer employed by the McCanns is not a specialist in civil litigation but rather in criminal process, and the McCanns retained his services a mere week before they were made arguidos.


  1. They met the Portuguese lawyer Carlos Pinto de Abreu in Lisbon on 21/08/07 and again on 28/08/07. Kate refers to him as a Human rights lawyer but also as a criminal lawyer though he also advises them to sue Tal e Qual. Carlos represented them both during the arguida/agruido process but it seems Kate wasn't entirely happy with him because from 20th September he only represented Gerry and Rogerio Alves represented Kate.

  2. Thank you. One aims for veracity and perfection which can only be achieved by corrections and help from others.
    There is a photograph where de Abreu is behind Kate, coming out of the police station, I believe. The expression on his face is priceless.
    I believe they didn't sue Tal e Qual because it went bankrupt, their first attempt to sue the press?

  3. Yes, it seems Alves was a better fit for Kate because of his influence over Portuguese media - suggests again that Kate needed more defending? Tel a Qual action suggests libel action was only about money.