Friday, 22 April 2016


‘Good morning everybody, I just flew in yesterday so if I sound a little spaced out at times I do apologize. ...I’m going to try and cover 9 years of  communications activity into about  20 - 25 minutes…’

Yesterday, you could at least have changed your shirt by now. All about presentation.  It’s also going to be more like 45 minutes. As for sounding spaced out, that’s fine, we’re used to it.

‘Why did the story catch fire?  Essentially it was an exceptional story in the exceptional multi-platform environment that we now all operate and work in on a daily basis. In effect Madeleine has in fact become the first missing child case to really take on the capacity and power of the internet and of the 24/7  news cycle that we’re all operating in. ... other case ... but Madeleine not only through her own family’s efforts in the first place became the situation that was able to utilise and capitalise that power that we all have sitting in front of us on the laptop, the PC or on our smartphone.
Why did we get the likes of Beckham coming  in to support us very early …’
Madeleine  is here associated with ‘the situation’ and this made it possible to utilize and capitalize the power of the internet. It sounds more like a commodity.
As for Beckham, he was co-opted before the 11th May, when he made his appeal. On the very day that Gerry spent an appreciable time at Portimaį¹¨ police station giving his second statement. As Clarence Mitchell wasn’t on the job until the 23rd of May, he wasn’t involved in the Beckham connection.
‘ .. there is no evidence to suggest she has come to physical harm, mental situation is a different matter..’
That is a most peculiar statement. Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence, as Madeleine was reported by her parents as having been abducted by paedophiles, the likelihood of her being harmed is pretty well 100%.  Mental situation would be no better in my opinion.
 ‘They could have had, if they’d been able to have a professional nanny service which wasn’t available at the time –‘
Now get this right. There was no listening service, which they knew. But there WAS a professional nanny  evening service and it was free. A lot of guests used it. It was there, really. Every evening. Free.
‘…nevertheless there were situations where information that was only in the official law enforcement domain began to emerge. Tal Y Qual is - was -  a free newspaper which was one of the first to make allegations against the parents about their alleged involvement.  
But what he is saying here is that information from the PJ  was leaked. NOT that it was inaccurate information. Tal Y Qual was the first newspaper the McCanns wanted to sue. However, it was  stony broke and  ceased trading not long after those headlines.
‘We had the Portuguese .... differences why on earth would these crazy Brits want to put their children to bed at 7.30 at night, they should be out with us at the table having wine till midnight. That’s just how it is, and a group of doctors and friends wanted to put their children to bed and they tried to eat off the site where it happened, the Holiday Inn, for some evenings early on in the holiday - the children were fractious so they decided to eat on site close to campus that was one of reasons why they were eating in the Tapas bar the night it happened and then they were mounting this checking system as I say. ‘
I have to help you here. There is no Holiday Inn in PdL. There was the Ocean Club. This little story doesn’t go well with the reason given in ‘madeleine’ – that the walk to the Millenium (part of the OC) restaurant, was long and dangerous. Ten minutes or so along a very busy road. According to Kate, the children were fine and so was Madeleine.
‘ can be issued a parking ticket and be an arguido - it just means you’re a person of interest in the police enquiry. But that very word arguido developed its own narrative around it and confirmed the prejudices of many [..} of course we have forum debate a multiplier of the wonderful world of the blogosphere, we all blog and I’m sure we’re looking at many, many bloggers here today, absolutely fine, blogging is in fact a fantastic innovation but in the wrong hands, with people who have a set of preconceived notions and prejudices it can be just as destructive as sitting in a mainstream newspaper, so we had to deal with that, the constant monitoring of that. There are still two or three anti McCann forums in existence this day but who still rail against the situation, they are all wrong I might add. ‘
Why exactly do you have to deal with blogs and forums if they give their opinion? Why the constant monitoring?  Most blogs don’t have anything like the readership of a mainstream newspaper, so you’d only need to monitor the ones that do have a larger readership than say The Sun.  I don’t know of  a single blog which does have millions of readers.

‘ And of course, at heart this was a coms campaign - it didn’t feel like it but it felt like daily fire-fighting and essentially I had to sit down with Kate and Gerry and say right, we’ve got to define our central theme here, we’ve got to define our com messages, our key messages, you will need to stick with them in the interviews that you’re doing, I will stick to them in the public communications I’m performing …’
So why did you and the Drs. McCann have to define ‘a central  theme’, define your key message, surely when you’ve lost your child it’s quite simple? We want her back and will do anything, anything at all would be good start. As for choosing the word ‘performing’  - interesting.
Jon Corner, godparent of Madeleine, in Liverpool he was already pumping out HD video material of M from previous birthday parties and events, even before the Portuguese authorities had confirmed that she was missing. There was so much material on Madeleine coming into the BBC newsroom, into the hub that brings in all the social media the user generated content as they like to call it, that the BBC actually had to tell the family to stop sending us the stuff - who is this girl, we don’t even know her and it was only later that morning that finally, grudgingly, confirmation came from Portugal that yes the police were looking at this and a British child had gone missing. So again it was the harnessing of the capacity we all have with access to the internet and the ability to download that became a very quick early factor in why the press established traction so quickly.
This is very interesting. Why should the BBC refuse material that came into the newsroom, because it is clear from the above that all this happened before the BBC sent out a news bulletin on the morning of the 4th of May. Yet Jon Corner had been ‘pumping out’ videos and photos. Now what is the point of that?  A few recent photographs would have done the trick. None of the family or friends have ever mentioned in their statements that the first thing they did was to send whatever they had on Madeleine to the BBC.
Adding that the PJ only confirmed ‘grudgingly’ seems to be part of the standard vilification of all things Portuguese which permeates this speech like raisins in a Dundee cake.
‘…and there were lots of thick (either Clarence has developed a lisp or he meant ‘sick’ ) pieces being written in London, errm which was also extra pressure because these would appear and suddenly news reporters would follow them up and then I would get demands for access to Kate and Gerry which had to be very carefully controlled as I say  at all times ...’
Yes, we can imagine.
‘….and the anniversary campaigns every year of course the media as we well know, runs on rails, doesn’t feel like it at times, but it does if there’s an anniversary in the diary in the forward planning diary thats the story again, it’s two years, three years, next years ten years if we get that far, so each time, rather than a problem for us it was an opportunity  to capitalise on it by creating something new something that would keep the story alive, but again, on investigative terms from our side, not just the soap opera aspect. ‘
That would be the unlikely or in some cases resurrected sightings of choice as some which are mentioned in the previous post?  We’ll get back to those anniversaries later.
‘…was they were just given this arguido status, which in reality meant that  if they wanted to they could have a lawyer present when the interviews were being done. Kate was at one point advised, having done four interviews, where all the questions were answered,  was advised finally, the fifth time, with this status not to answer anymore because you’ve answered it several times already and you don’t need to incriminate yourself, when it became clear that certain officers were beginning to go down that route without any evidence. But errrm so to this day it is held against her online, why didn’t she answer all these questions at that interview, they never realised that she’d already answered them four times in previous interviews without a lawyer present.’
Kate McCann: three not four statements. Mr. Mitchell. Namely: 4/5/2007, 6/9/2007 and the one where she didn’t answer the questions: 7/9/2007. The Arguida interview.  It is most likely that she was advised not to answer any questions for the simple reason that if only Gerry answered his questions, there would be no conflicting statements made, which is quite important. But to take a number of questions from the arguida interview, these had never been asked before, so Kate McCann could never have answered them.  She did - we have her own account of this - spend the duration of the interview muttering 'f...........g   t..........r' .
When asked whom she phoned after the facts, she did not reply. When asked if she phoned “Sky News”, she did not reply. When asked about the danger of phoning the media, alerting them about the abduction, which could have an effect on the abductor, she did not reply.
When asked if it is true that her twin children have difficulty in falling asleep, that they are restless and that it upsets her, she did not reply.

When asked whether or not it is true that sometimes she felt desperate over her children’s behaviour and that it upset her very much, she did not reply.

When asked whether or not it is true that in England she considered the possibility of handing over Madeleine’s guardianship to a relative, she did not reply.
‘…Kate and Gerry didn’t want to sit on their hands in Portugal they felt that while the work we were doing in terms of the public coms was helpful in terms of trying to maintain a track on the story, they wanted to do more. They felt that they should go on a little tour of Europe so they went round all the places that either .... or associated with them from their medical training days, funnily enough, they did some medical training in New Zealand, before Madeleine was born so they didn’t come this far, but we went to Brussels, we went to Berlin, we went to , went to Rabat in Morocco and of course we went to Rome and they began to campaign for the introduction of a child rescue alert, campaign of the European Parliament and we actually got a parliamentary vote supporting that in the first year, which was great and it helped to keep again, was one of the creations they wanted to genuinely achieve but it helped us develop the story. We sought the Prime Minister’s support when David Cameron was leader of the opposition and we met him since and we also met three home secretaries to urge them to help unlock some of the delays that were happening in Portugal. We wanted a full review of the work that has been done in Portugal, it’s been done by the British police and ultimately we got the Sun on board and News International was a campaign partner for that and finally with an open letter on the front page we managed to get the review .
Getting that review wasn’t easy. But thanks to Rebekah Brooks, who isn’t mentioned in dispatches here, they got it. As PR goes, this is nicely phrased to give the impression they met the PM privately. I think that is highly unlikely. Kate McCann was once at 10 Downing Street for a charity function at which a number of other people had been invited. Three home secretaries might include the one who told them that they could offer them a meeting on a consular level, which, as Clarence Mitchell tells us (Vanity Fair interview, publ. February 2008)they refused. It was The Sun and Rebekah who managed to get the review.  (see Leveson post)
‘…got four front page apologies ..Sunday and Daily Express and the Star on Sunday and the Daily Star. The only people who’ve ever had front page simultaneous apologies are the Queen and Elton John  errrm so we’re in illustrious company  […]  As a result, Mr. Desmond and his lawyers were relieved of nearly a million pounds between them for Kate and Gerry and their friends who were variously libelled in various stories and we also had a settlement out of court with the News of the World of their publication of Kate’s diary..’
Unfortunate name dropping here – just before the infamous injunction was all over the internet.
‘And we have monitoring continuously online of the various fora and fauna, flora rather, online, some of which is none too pleasant. Errm very briefly, I talk through this, we have at the height of it 400 interview bids on the table at one time, nothing like that now of course but that is a sense of the scale of it. The initial anniversaries required substantial roll-out across all platforms, as I said it’s a multi-platform environment we’re operating on, this is not a simple case of just talking to one or two papers, we had to craft interview opportunities..’
From questions:  47.11 : I’ve had to constantly try and craft something out of nothing at times.’  Especially  for the anniversaries it seems.
 ‘….we have a team of online supporters who help us with the monitoring as well, a number of women who are very concerned about Madeleine in America actually help us with the monitoring..’
‘We have legal action continuing against a particular former Portuguese police officer, errm Mr. Amaral, who wrote a very unpleasant book, alleging in essence that Kate and Gerry know what happened, that they’ve covered up the truth since then, it’s just not true, it’s fundamentally untrue and therefore .... defamatory[…]  there is a certain amount of attendant media around that that needs to be controlled and managed and finally .... next year will be ten years, doesn’t feel like it, but I’m already getting bids, I had CBS and NBC only last week saying can we do a tenth anniversary interview with Kate and Gerry, which rather pre-supposes we won’t still we won’t still know what happened in a year’s time. So one it’s slightly offensive in its own right..’
The underlined passage may refer to the last line of Mr. Mitchell’s powerpoint presentation in Dubai (Clarence Clarified)  Retained agency in Portugal to enhance engagement with opinion formers and PT commentariat.’ Appears not to have worked so well then.
As for planning anniversaries a long time ahead, Gerry McCann was quoted:
It will be some sort of focus around an anniversary, to tell people that Madeleine ’s still missing. I think it would be later this year, once media attention has dropped, to bring it back up, hopefully, for a short period.
It wouldn’t be a one-year anniversary, it will be sooner than that. Unquote (see Press at work post) . So it’s offensive when it’s a ten year anniversary but not at all when she’s just been missing for a month and the first anniversaries are already planned. As for the press losing interest – Bell Pottinger would know all about that. But the phrase I really don’t understand is ‘for a short period’. 

Monday, 11 April 2016


To be fair to the press:  this article is of interest- especially the connection between Hacked Off and the last paragraph.

The people who know best: Dark arts and links with the Masters of Spin...


PUBLISHED: 00:37 GMT, 16 November 2012 | UPDATED: 08:09 GMT, 16 November 2012
          Beyond Authority, the book written by Common Purpose and Media Standard Trust founder Julia Middleton setting out her leadership ethos, contains several instructive passages about the 'long games' and other strategies she advocates for success. 

In a chapter which begins 'So what of conspiring? The "dark arts"?', Middleton quotes approvingly and at length one Doug Miller. He tells her: 'You start with clear and defined objectives … Then you establish what the obstacles are … they are usually people. So you have to establish what motivates them, and then decide if you can win them over by the power of the idea …
'Sometimes, if it gets messy, you might have to run over them, undermine them, go around them or discredit them. As a last resort, you consider bullying them, or buying them off.'

Middleton and Sir David Bell, respectively chief executive and a trustee and former chairman of Common Purpose, state they are simply striving for a more accountable press. More transparency. More truth.

At the launch of Hacked Off, its co-founder Dr Martin Moore, also director of Middleton and Bell's Media Standards Trust, said that without a public inquiry the extent of the so-called 'dark arts' of newspapers would not come to light.


And yet, as we shall show, Common Purpose, the Media Standards Trust and Hacked Off are all closely linked to or employ lobby PR firms which the free press have frequently exposed as being practitioners of such 'dark arts' as secretive lobbying and spin.

Take Sovereign Strategy, described by The Guardian as 'Labour's favourite lobbyists', which has close links to party grandees David Miliband, Peter Mandelson and Lord Cunningham. It has reportedly donated more than £150,000 to Labour in the past decade.

Lord (Jack) Cunningham, a Sovereign Strategy board member from 2002-07, chaired the inaugural meeting of Hacked Off when it was launched at the House of Lords.

Horatio Mortimer works as a 'strategic consultant' for Sovereign Strategy and has provided free support to the victims of phone hacking and their families.

Mortimer is a childhood friend of former Formula One chief Max Mosley's late son Alex. Max Mosley is a leading light in Hacked Off and a client of Sovereign Strategy.

Another client of Sovereign was Formula One's Bernie Ecclestone, whose £1 million donation to Labour was subsequently returned because of the controversy surrounding sponsorship of the sport by the tobacco industry.

The 'international communications agency', as it calls itself, was founded and is owned by Alan Donnelly, a former chief steward of Formula One. The HQ has the same Trafalgar Square address as Mosley's charitable arm, the FIA Foundation.

Donnelly lives with Peter Power, an ex-spokesman for and close associate of the former Business Secretary Lord Mandelson.

Media Standards Trust boss Martin Moore said last year: 'We met with Lord Cunningham and others, including Alan Donnelly, who said they could help us however we liked.'

Sovereign Strategy has been investigated on a number of occasions by all sections of the press.

In a June 2004 piece about New Labour ministers and corporate consultancies, The Guardian noted: 'One-time Cabinet enforcer Jack Cunningham, the loyalists' loyalist, records three remunerated directorships — Brinkburn Associates, Anderson MacGraw and Sovereign Strategy.' No wonder those behind Sovereign Strategy are no admirers of the press and eager to help rein it in

In 2005, The Mail on Sunday reported that the former Labour Health Secretary Alan Milburn had received a payment of up to £10,000, after ceasing to be a Minister, registered in 2004 from 'Sovereign Strategy, a corporate consultancy firm on Tyneside, of which Labour MP "Junket" Jack Cunningham is an associate director — for a speech and follow-up internal round table'.

In May 2005, The Guardian confirmed this when it returned to the subject of former ministers working for lobby companies. It reported that both Milburn and Lewis Moonie, the former Defence Minister, had been 'fast-tracked by a government appointments watchdog to take up work with a Labour-donating lobbying company which ignores a voluntary code of conduct not to pay or employ politicians'.

The Guardian reported that Sovereign Strategy 'is unusual in not belonging to the lobbyists' professional body, the Association of Professional Political Consultants, which has a code of conduct not to employ or pay any MP, peer or MEP'. The company confirmed it was not a member of the APPC, but said it insisted all paid advice by public officials had to be declared in the relevant registers. (It later claimed to have stopped paying serving politicians in 2007.)

No wonder those behind Sovereign Strategy are no admirers of the press and eager to help rein it in. Mark Linder is a Common Purpose trustee. He is also an executive at the leading lobby and PR firm Bell Pottinger. Linder's responsibility is 'sector reputation'. Common Purpose CEO Julia Middleton blogged about a Common Purpose meeting at which Linder had spoken, eulogising: 'Mark was … a man who knows his stuff and knows how to communicate it. It was a privilege to be there. A reminder of what drivel — what amateur drivel — we all talk most of the time.'

The people at Bell Pottinger are the supreme international lobbyists and image makers. In the past, they have worked for supporters of the Chilean tyrant General Pinochet, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus (known as 'Europe's last dictator') and the protest-unfriendly leadership of Bahrain. They even 'advised' Asma Assad, Syrian's first lady. Such activity, one would have thought, hardly fits in with the Bell/Middleton ethical approach to business activity. 

Well-connected: Chief executive and founder of the charity Common Purpose Julia MiddletonSue Stapely is a trustee of the Media Standards Trust (MST) and appears on the Common Purpose website. She appeared on the panel of an MST-organised debate on the media as someone who 'represents the general public'.

In fact, she worked closely with the London lobbying firm Quiller Consultants. As such, she was the spin doctor brought in at great cost by Newcastle Council to handle public relations following a home care scandal. Here is how the local newspaper reported this in 2006:Council chiefs were involved in a new row today over using taxpayers' money to recruit image consultants. Crisis management expert Sue Stapely has helped Newcastle City Council on three occasions in the past 18 months … Last year a row erupted after Ms Stapely, working with London-based Quiller Consultants, was recruited to advise council officers on dealing with the media at a cost of nearly £23,000 following an independent inquiry into the killing of Olive Garvie, 93, in a Newcastle care home by fellow resident May Thrower, 83 …

Deputy Labour leader, Councillor Nick Forbes, who quizzed the Lib Dems about the use of Ms Stapely and Quiller Consultants, said: 'If something has gone wrong, why do the Lib Dems think it is more important to spin a positive reputation for the council than identify the problem and put it right? That is a serious misjudgement.'  But the Lib Dems say the council's former Labour administration also used Quiller Consultants and paid the firm more than £70,000 for advice following a legal case.

In response to questions about her working for large corporations, Sue Stapely said: 'I have always undertaken some work on an unpaid basis for ordinary members of the public who either cannot access or afford professional assistance. 'I have also sat on a number of boards as a non-executive director, usually unremunerated, and have always attempted to represent the views of typical consumers.' She said of the Newcastle affair: 'It was some time ago. I do not think it would serve any useful purpose to revisit this issue. I do recall the council was strongly divided.'

On its website, Quiller boasts: 'We believe our team has an unrivalled insight into the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties and the inner workings of the Coalition Government.'

Quite. One might find irony in the fact that those lobby groups whose dark arts undermine the democratic process are closely connected to the Media Standards Trust/Hacked Off campaign for further regulation of the press.

FOOTNOTE: One of the recommendations of Common Purpose's Media Standards Trust is that any new press regulation body should consider co-ordinated 'third party' complaints. Reluctant to become embroiled in political, ideological or commercial disputes, the PCC usually only dealt with complaints by individuals — not third party organisations. The Media Standards Trust recommendation would, if acted upon, clearly be a huge boost to the lobbyists and 'dark arts' practitioners.

To add:  'The Sun Vault - the death star of British journalism'  is well worth a read.
this blog is also of interest - a critical look at PR.



Daily Express

Sunday June 3, 2007
By Jason Groves

ROCK legend Sir Elton John is being lined up to front a global pop concert, to carry the message of missing Madeleine McCann’s plight to every corner of the earth.

It is hoped the singer will headline a huge series of worldwide events to mark a special Madeleine Day that her distraught parents are planning in the effort to find the vanished four-year-old. Sir Elton’s popular appeal is guaranteed to attract a swarm of other film and music superstars keen to offer support to parents Gerry and Kate McCann.

The couple, having promised not to return home until they are reunited with Madeleine, are now planning a series of visits to European and North African cities, to distribute posters and widen the appeal for information.

Sir Elton has played an emotional DVD of Madeline at his concerts, but now believes a larger effort would do more to raise awareness of her predicament.

Gerry McCann, 38, said: “One of the ideas is maybe getting all the people who have publicly supported us to come together. I don’t just mean from the UK but from different parts of the world. We want a big event to raise awareness that she is still missing.

“We would look at high-profile people who have already pledged support. It will be some sort of focus around an anniversary, to tell people that Madeleine ’s still missing. I think it would be later this year, once media attention has dropped, to bring it back up, hopefully, for a short period.
It wouldn’t be a one-year anniversary, it will be sooner than that. What we’re doing at the minute has its role but doing that down the line in a few months won’t have anything like the same impact. We might have a sporting event, something arts, something music.

"We’ve had backing from sporting people up to now. We have had backing from certain musical celebrities as well. We’ve got some other musical contacts that we are exploring, who are happy to offer support.

“We’re not saying it would necessarily be one big concert, it might be that on a certain day they are playing her DVD.

“What we want at the current time is maximum message out there now, about her disappearance but then just events to bring it back up occasionally just to remind people, if she’s not found.”
A month after the sleeping Madeleine was snatched from her bed, Gerry and Kate McCann have betrayed the first signs that their hopes of finding her alive are starting to fade.

The couple confessed that they are haunted by the harrowing thought of her being held captive by a pervert. Still desperately clinging to Madeleine ’s pink Cuddle Cat, 38-year-old Kate said: “We don’t know where she is. We’d like to think she’s still in Portugal, she might still be in Portugal.

“But we know there’s a possibility she’s gone over the border – or several borders. We know there are bad people out there, but we know there are also a lot of sad people. We hope it’s the latter.”
Gerry added: “Of course we believe Madeleine is still alive but you would be incredible if you hadn’t considered the worst scenario, that she’s dead.

Kate and I discuss it – not a lot, but we talk about hope, and that while there’s some we will not give up. At the minute, there’s loads of hope.”

This article (long since whooshed) is full of information. Sir Elton appears to have been assigned  the leading role in the projected festivities  although it isn’t at all clear whether he was aware that he was to be the star of the anniversary celebrations,  he is not quoted anywhere. There are no comments from Sir Elton nor from his management team. The article neatly conveys a close contact between the rock star and Team McCann, particularly by discussing what Sir Elton believes that larger efforts are needed. However,  it all seems to have gone out like a candle in the wind', that handy stand-by of Sir Elton which with a small change of text can be dedicated to the cause of the moment.

A mere month after the disappearance the McCanns admit  that Maddie being held captive by a pervert haunts them. Although they have considered the possibility that she might be dead, they do believe she is alive and  as Gerry’s favourite mantra is that she must be alive because there is no evidence that she has come to any harm  – a statement that defies logic -  – this implies that even if she was taken by a pervert they think it very possible that she will not be harmed.

Many sightings tend to coincide with high or low points in the lives of the McCanns.  Some of these are regurgitated on appropriate occasions, close to the anniversary of the disappearance. Other sightings served to distract from other Madeleine related news such as negative reports from the court in Lisbon.

Below a short list of headlines preceding the 3rd of May:

April 10 2008:  McCanns launch child alert   - The Sun

April 10 2009:  Madeleine cash to dry up by end of year  -  Daily Mirror

April 10 2010:  Maddie perv dies with his secrets  - The Sun ( four months after Hewlet died)

April 10 2011:  JK Rowling helps Kate McCann write book on Maddy’s disappearance in bid to raise £ m to find her  - Daily Mail

April 8 2012:  Yard: We can solve Maddie Mystery  - Sunday Express

April 10 2013:  Suspect who ‘tried to kidnap a British girl, 3 after luring her away from her father in a shop in Lanzarote’  - Daily Mail  (story was more than 14 months old)

11 April 2014:  Maddie lookalike taken from family home in copycat snatch -  Daily Star
29 April 2015:  Detective did lie about Maddie cover-up claim -  Daily Express 29 April 2015

10 March 2016:  Investigator who claimed Madeleine McCann was in Paraguay ‘made grave error’ and could have alerted the kidnapper  - Daily Mirror

As can be seen from the list above, most of  these headlines tend to appear some 3 weeks before the ‘anniversary’  providing advance publicity – priming the public one might say -  for the inevitable 3rd of May headlines in the tabloids and  interviews or soundbites from the doctors McCann.
And here is the one we were waiting for:
18th April 2016:  We hope to find Maddie ALIVE....