Friday, 15 January 2016


‘madeleine’ Chapter 11:

At the beginning of June, Gerry had a call from the director of communications at the Foreign Office. There was concern in the government, he said, that Clarence was ‘becoming the story’. I am not quite sure what he meant by this. Clarence was certainly a visible presence and perhaps his open, affable style prevented him from being quite as anonymous as the Foreign Office would have liked. unquote


Kate And Gerry Mccann's Spokesperson Coming To Dubai IIR Middle East
10 June 2009
The brains behind the high profile Find Madeleine campaign, Clarence Mitchell, will be sharing his experiences first hand at IIR Middle East's annual PR Congress this November. [..] Mitchell, a former BBC journalist and head of media monitoring for the Cabinet Office resigned from the civil service in September 2007 to handle the intense international press interest in the case of Madeleine, who vanished while on holiday with her family in Portugal.

'Find Madeleine' PR guru to visit Dubai Campaign Middle East
10 June 2009
The self-proclaimed PR guru who represented the parents of missing British girl Madeleine McCann during the investigation into her disappearance is visiting Dubai to give a talk on crisis management.

From Media Week Middle East (page 19):
Clarence Mitchell, official spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann, tells a Dubai audience how he used PR to battle with the press during the search for their missing daughter.
15 November 2009

[..] Mitchell, a former BBC journalist of 20 years, quit his role as director of media monitoring at the British government's Central Office of Information in September 2007, to handle the McCanns' PR full time.

He was quick to point out to delegates that, "There is no evidence to suggest Madeleine is dead, and until the family know that for sure then we will continue to look for her". [..]
It wasn't long before Mitchell had to call upon his PR skills to help shape the stories that were published about Maddie. "A few months later I needed to get positive messages out into the media and rebuff the lies. We had to challenge the preconceptions - this was done privately with editors. We had to establish our own narrative and key messages," he said. [..]

Another challenge he is faced with is releasing fresh information to the media at the right time: "For the first anniversary we had to offer the press something decent to keep the interest going so we did Panorama and Hello!. For the second anniversary Oprah had been chasing us for some time so we worked with her. [The broadcast was televised in 144 countries.] I have 120 interview bids on the table for Kate and Gerry, from their local paper in Leicestershire to Larry King. We have also worked with Al Jazeera because we feel there's a chance Madeleine could be in the north of Africa."

Dr Martin Roberts 12 January 2011 LIES, DAMNED LIES AND STATISTICS

Peter Levy: “So the belief is that she is… she is alive and being looked after, and probably still in Portugal?”

Clarence Mitchell: “As… as Kate and Gerry have always said, until they have the answer as to what has happened and until they are presented with incontrovertible proof that she has been harmed, they will continue to believe – just as logically, without any evidence to the contrary – that she could still just as easily be alive.” Surely someone with professional credentials sufficient to have seen him seconded to the Foreign Office should realise that ‘belief’ and ‘logic’ are not stable mates. Clarence Mitchell probably does realise that. Just as probably he, as well as the McCanns, is banking on the rest of us not doing so.
Leveson inquiry:  Witness statement of Nick Fagge (source: witness statement of Nick Fagge journalist Associated Newspapers).

15. I believe the ‘family friend’ to which I refer was Clarence Mitchell. He would often give a public statement and would also give an ‘off  the record’ statement which he said could be attributed to a ‘family friend’. He did this to avoid being seen to be openly criticizing Portuguese officials.
The Power Point Presentation (this is a selection of the images shown. For full PP see McCannfiles).

 The multiplatformcommsenvironment, no idea what the first line means and we already know all about the core mystery. Those damn shutters for a start. A debate about responsibility is not necessary, it is illegal, both in the UK and in Portugal, to leave minors alone.Leaving three children under the age of four alone is  a legal matter of parental neglect.

Most interesting is the entry on forum debates - so how exactly did Clarence manage libel in the blogosphere?  Tal Qual incidentally, if I recall correctly, was the first magazine which the McCanns considered suing for libel. This did not happen - it appears Tal Qual was stony broke.

Don’t  quite know how rapid balancing of the message works but sounds good. Challenging preconceptions, key messages and right at the bottom, focus on finding Madeleine.
Yes, we know. Carry on…btw. shouldn't that item have been top of the agenda?

 From the Vanity Fair Interview – September 2007, published January 2008: Lately, word has leaked out that the McCanns feel abandoned even by Gordon Brown, once their close ally. Their spokesman doesn’t quite deny this. “That was one of our backers who said it. We would never be that impolitic,” he says. “But 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.” 
The government liaison didn't really go so well it seems.

Speaking on behalf of campaign and Fund. To provide strategic comms advice in context of wider investigative campaign?  Would that be the picture of the creepy man with dental problems which featured so prominently on the Power Point constructed by the McCanns themselves? The last point is not clear - investigative messages to be conveyed to whom? 

Managing the practicalities: The anniversaries are important.  The 24/7 phone line is no doubt essential to provide an unending list of sightings. There is no information on how or if these have ever been followed up.  If  ‘spike days’  accounted for  more than 300 calls, then on average - in a month, we may expect about   5000 calls a month. So what happened to that information? 

Were  the McCanns paid for these interviews?  If some 120 of these were being ‘nurtured’  - was that because the fee had not yet been agreed? The Oprah Winfrey interview was reputed to have netted the McCanns at least  a million pounds.
Anniversaries - two so far, this presentation was given in 2009. The publicity mentioned above, I gather, is to be repeated for Christmas so in effect two anniversaries a year.
Hourly liaison with all those named would surely be impossible – it’s not clear what CM means to communicate here.

Latest developments:   this time with Clarence holding a picture of a woman who featured in one of the more romantic stories given to the press. At least it was a change from the creepy, spotty paedos.

The most interesting information is at the end:
Retained agency in Portugal to enhance engagement with opinion formers and PT commentariat.

Some relevant information:

Correio da Manha published an article on 2nd of June 2012 about the firm Setestrelas and their retainer services pertaining to Ongoing (a firm in need of positive publicity). The article stated that Setestrelas  was retained on a monthly basis by Ongoing who paid them around ten thousand euros. In one of the reports Setesetrelas  was found to advance as an objective the elimination of negative comments from the first page of comments of a given site. Presumably by adding enough  positive comments to push the negative entries  off the first page.

And from: Editorial Intelligence

Here's how Julia Hobsbawm's describes her company on the Editorial Intelligence website:
"Editorial Intelligence opens a door to a vital and growing world of print and online comment and opinion. What the 'Commentariat' says affects and influences the direction of public opinion and policy alike and with it, corporate reputation ...
e.i was established to create a definitive portal to the Commentariatthe word coined by us to describe the world of comment and opinion which has increasing influence, not only on “the debate” but the shape and direction of policy, legislation and public opinion." unquote


  1. It's been said before, very strange that the Director of Media Monitoring for Government is sent to Portugal to act as Press Liaison officer for the McCanns as part of Consular Support. Also interesting that Gerry's blog began on the very same day that he met Clarence Mitchell.

  2. Public Relations Congress and they can't even punctuate 'It's' correctly!

    1. Finally found it! From the man himself - of course.

      The text on the slides is beyond a joke. I rather like the 'Christmas 09 likely to repeat.'
      Like a dodgy spam sandwich no doubt.

  3. Don't forget Sheree Dodd, sent over soon after 3/5 by F.O. Documents regarding her stay and the reason for her return/recall would be of interest.
    Iirc she isn't mentioned in Kate's book. It was rumoured she didn't believe the McCanns and that it was one of the reasons she returned to the UK, or was recalled. One instance where an FOI would be useful perhaps.

    1. Clarence's function as head of the MMU was 'to control what comes out in the media'. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Both he AND his primary role were exported to Portugal.

    2. He's always struck me as the perfect example of the Peter Principle - and thus getting 'promoted' sideways or upwards at the earliest opportunity.

    3. According to Kate Alex Woolfall advised them hire their own Family Spokesman as he was there to represent Mark Warner. The FO sent Sheree but only for a week as she was a consultant - not employed by the Govt. She arrived in PDL on 15th and Clarence on 22nd. Sheree left on 28th suggesting Clarence needed quite the handover.

    4. Thanks for all that information. Will check the book again, as she was mentioned, apparently ironing Gerry's shirts. Hopefully the handover period wasn't spent teaching Clarence the niceties of ironing.
      Didn't take long for the F.O. to demand Clarence's return, he'd barely been on the job for two or three weeks. Officially that is.

  4. Adding this re Tal Qual: from Wiki:
    The McCanns announced on 31 August that they were suing the Portuguese tabloid Tal & Qual for libel. The newspaper reported that the "police believe" that the McCanns killed Madeleine, suggesting she may have died in an accident or from a drugs overdose.[53] The McCanns' lawyer, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, said the couple's image had been "dragged through the dirt" by "character-assassinating, tabloid-style" news reports, adding that the press "has engaged in a horrific exercise in scandal-mongering, replete with rumours and lurid sell more TV time and newspaper space to advertisers". The police stressed that the McCanns were not suspects.[54]

    Tal & Qual stood by the story. The journalist who wrote the article, Catarina Vaz Guerreiro, said "I can't reveal my source, but I have complete trust in them. I strongly believe that the person that gave us this information is telling the truth."[55] The paper ceased publication after 28 September 2007, because of a drop in circulation.