Friday, 22 August 2008

Clarence Mitchell: how I met Gerry and Kate McCann

Clarence Mitchell : Comment j'ai rencontré Gerry et Kate McCann …


The spokesperson for the McCann family was questioned, as a witness (under oath..) by the Leicestershire police, on April 28th 2008. Clarence Mitchell explained to them how he met Gerry McCann in 2007, at the end of May, when Madeleine's father went back to the United Kingdom for the first time after his daughter's disappearance.

According to Clarence Mitchell, it was a casual encounter (1) at Leicestershire police while he was working for the consular assistance unit of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Clarence Mitchell told the Leicestershire police in his witness statement, that he was invited to go to Portugal with Gerry McCann, where he met his wife, Kate McCann.

Later, according to his statements, he developed a good professional and personal rapport with the family. In the same witness statement, Clarence Mitchell states that he went to Portugal on May 22nd 2007 (the meeting at Leicestershire police with Gerry was on May 21st 2007) and that he stayed there until the middle of June. After his return to the United Kingdom, he maintained daily contact with the family and met with them 2 or 3 times a week.

Seconded to the Foreign Office.

But according to Minister of State, Jim Murphy, on May 7th 2008, Clarence Mitchell was seconded by the Central Office of Information (COI) to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, for a period of 25 days, in May 2007, to assist Madeleine McCann's family in dealing with the media.

Mr Jim Murphy revealed these details when questioned by Elliot Morley, Labour Party MP for the Scunthorpe constituency, on May 7th 2008, as shown in "Hansard - written responses," at the House of Commons.

After his return to the United Kingdom, mid-June 2007, Clarence Mitchell continued working as head of the Media Monitoring Unit, a department of the British government's Central Office of Information (COI). He resigned from the COI on September 7th 2007.

In August 2006, the Media Monitoring Unit employed 18 people, and according to information published in the media, it started to monitor blogs which published info about sensitive issues concerning government politics in 2007, using software developed by, "23 ltd," Internet Intelligence Service

The McCanns, victims of a heinous crime.

Clarence Mitchell was replaced by the Liberal Democrat Justine McGuinness, expert in communications and public relations, on June 2nd 2007. Justine announced her resignation soon after the McCanns returned to the United Kingdom and Clarence Mitchell left his well paid job with the government to become the McCanns' spokesperson, with a salary of £75,000 paid by the millionaire Brian Kennedy.

When he was starting his new job, he justified his decision to leave the Media Monitoring unit, stating clearly what he thought of the decision by the Portuguese police and the Public Prosecutor's Office to constitute the McCanns as arguidos or formal suspects: "I did it because I feel very strongly that they are the innocent victims of a heinous crime and I am willing to give up my career in government service to help them (....) I will simply represent Kate and Gerry as an individual, who believes that they are innocent of any involvement in the disappearance, let alone the death, of their daughter, Madeleine.

Duarte Levy and Paulo Reis.

(1) Gerry McCann left from Faro airport on May 20th 2007, on a late flight. He arrived at Coventry airport in the early hours of May 21st. The media had been informed that the trip was for personal reasons, but also for meetings with the organisers of the Find Madeleine Fund. He met Clarence Mitchell at the headquarters of Leicestershire police, and went to Rothley where he visited the place of pilgrimage, improvised in Madeleine's honour, set up at the war memorial in the centre of the village. The Daily Mail wrote that Gerry's meeting with the Leicestershire police was to see how they were coordinating their investigations, because they were the police force responsible for cooperation with the Portuguese police. On May 22nd, Clarence Mitchell and Gerry McCann took a return flight to the Algarve.

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