Heading for Rothley - 29.01.2010
It is worth remembering what a witness statement is designed to do. As a UK legal guidance document puts it, in plain language: In general a witness statement should only contain information on what the witness saw, and not what others have said to him/her. The reason for this is simple: if everyone sticks to a frank description of what they themselves, and nobody else, did and saw then the statements can be compared to build up a picture of the truth. If, however, witnesses discuss what others have done, or if they describe what others are supposed to have done, the statements actually obstruct a picture of events emerging. The May 4 statements of the McCanns are not only untrue but they present a devastating breach of witness good practice. From the start both of them describe what others were doing that night when out of their sight, i.e information that they could not possibly have known was true, but which fits in with their own version of events. And, equally damning, even though the statements were taken independently, they use almost exactly the same words for long passages: they have clearly discussed and agreed and memorized what they are going to say. It would take months of police work to unravel the mixture of confusion, untruth, and collusion which these statements by the group provided, information, it's worth reminding ourselves, which was vital for the effort to trace the child during the first forty eight hours. When they had done so – and after Mr Amaral the "discredited cop" was removed from the case - they pinpointed the areas of inconsistency in the statements and decided that only by making these witnesses actually repeat their supposed movements that night – the so-called reconstruction – could the confusion be clarified.
So much for the claims, repeated again recently, that the case against the parents was "old stuff", an absurd idee fixe of Goncalo Amaral and his few colleagues in the early days of the case. On the contrary it was the new team led by Amaral's successor Rebelo who put the whole process of trying to get the truth out of the nine into action: if, as it appeared, the parents' version of their movements that night was untrue and the other seven had confirmed that version, then the investigation could go nowhere until the inconsistencies were confronted. And then? It was certainly not impossible that the inconsistencies would be ironed out and the credibility of the witness statements strengthened – in which case all nine probably would have been "cleared" - genuinely cleared - of suspicion. That in turn would certainly have led to a re-focusing of the case onto different lines of investigation.Why should anyone object to such an idea? And what did the Tapas 7 think about it?
In early September when the leading man and lady were removed from the stage and named, to audience uproar, as arguidos. Following their hasty exit to the UK the two stars now had to concentrate on the altogether less glamorous business of clearing themselves. Those, however, who thought that the parents, once away from the hysterical rumour mill of the Portuguese press, would dismiss the "ludicrous" claims against them with ease by calmly and simply putting forward the facts that demonstrated their innocence, were in for a shock. That was not to be their strategy at all. With their new-found financial resources the parents engaged two of the most skilled and expensive lawyers in London. One, Gerald Caplan QC, was a specialist in saving people from extradition, however strong the evidence against them appeared to be. He was the saviour, if that is the right word, of Chile's ex-dictator General Pinochet, who had begun his political career with the slaughter of his democratically elected predecessor and continued it with his "expunging" of political opponents by killing them on a truly South American scale. (...)
The other selected lawyer was a Mr Angus McBride, a high whizz at – what? Helping innocents abroad? No, not exactly. Wrongful arrest cases? Miscarriages of justice? Not those either. The very, very expensive McBride specialises in "repairing high-profile reputations" and dealing with the media. Famous actor caught with kiddy porn, career facing ruin? Angus is your man. Famous footballer with a penchant for violence and adultery? Send for Angus, he'll clean you up so you keep your earning power. Knows how to use the media, you know, there's nobody to touch him. For two innocent people, victims of a ghastly misunderstanding who just wanted the police to find their child, these were very strange choices indeed. (...) And quite how a celebrity reputation repairer could help free two innocent provincial doctors to return to Portugal and carry on with the search for their child seems something of a mystery. All very weird. Nevertheless that was their choice. Returning voluntarily to co-operate with the police was out of the window. Using the so-called "twin-track" strategy that the other lawyer, Ed "expunge it" Smethurst, so helpfully described, Caplan and his staff would explore the strength of the case against them, highlight their vulnerabilities, counter the police evidence and, in effect, challenge the Portuguese to come and get them via the extradition process.At the same time, on the other track, McBride would use the media via the pliant Clarence Mitchell to maintain or rebuild public confidence in the pair, using the full battery of leaks, documentaries, selected interviews and all the other black arts of news management to ensure that, even if the Portuguese case was strong enough legally to push the pair into a plane, public opinion would intimidate the Home Office into raising the bar. It was very clever, very professional and very pricey. As for the vulnerabilities in their version of events, some of which involved members of the Tapas 7 too, they had to be tackled. What to do?
the absence of evidence for any involvement of the parents in a serious crime, which, states the document, seems to result from the objective circumstances of them not being inside the apartment when she disappeared and from their normal behaviour until the disappearance and afterwards.
the entire investigation had produced no evidence at all to formulate any intelligible theory as to what had happened and no evidence to decide whether the child is alive or dead.
nevertheless, despite national authorities taking all measures to render their trip to Portugal viable and after the many doubts that they raised about the necessity and opportunity of their trip were clarified several times, they chose not to attend, for unknown motives, which rendered the [attempted reconstruction ] impractical. We believe, adds the report, that the main damage was caused to the McCann arguidos, who lost the possibility to prove what they have protested since they were made arguidos: their innocence regarding the fateful event. The investigation was also disturbed, because these facts remain to be clarified.
Non, Gerald MC a mentionné son passage par la salle de bain dès sa première déposition. L'idée que le ravisseur était déjà dans l'appartement ne provient pas d'une "sensation" qu'aurait eue Gerald, mais de la logique, puisque Jane TB voit Tannerman s'éloigner du 5A 2 ou 3 minutes après la sortie de Gerald du 5A.And let it be known also that he "sensed" the presence of an intruder while he was there. These "letting it be knowns" were not, of course, spontaneous recollections and they were made with the active or tacit approval of his lawyers as part of the "expunge!" agenda. The reaction in Portugal was immediate. The police, perhaps unwisely, jeered at these new discoveries and pointed out that, if Gerry McCann had sensed an intruder in the apartment but then calmly left his daughter to her possible fate by returning to his food and wine, he was an even worse father and human being than they had suspected. In response Clarence Mitchell was given one of his first jobs as a fully paid up member of the parents'– not Madeleine's, be it noted – team: get out there, get the address cards out, brief the press and kill the accusation. He passed with flying colours, first conferring with Gerry McCann and then lying smoothly for his £70 000 a year. "Clarence Mitchell said Mr McCann's realisation that he had been in the same room as the abductor only came to him later and the comments had been "totally misunderstood" by Mr Anjos [the police officer]. This was said in the original witness statement," Mr Mitchell added, "there is nothing that has come out recently that should be of surprise to the officers.” No such thing had been mentioned in the original witness statement. It was a complete and outright lie, made in the knowledge that Gerry's witness statement was known only to the police and to the McCann defence team and he could not, therefore, be caught out. Mr Mitchell had arrived. The newsfeed was a blueprint for the Mitchell approach: utterly dishonest, utterly untruthful, successful in the short term. Mr Mitchell had finally reached a position where what he said really mattered. Meanwhile the gaps in the Authorised Version, the ones that were causing Gerry McCann such anxiety, had to be plugged.
Postscript - 10.07.2010
Antony Sharples writes: The Blacksmith Bureau signed off without fuss at the end of the hearings to lift the various gagging orders on Goncalo Amaral. I am not a blogger; I have no interest at all in giving opinions for their own sake. The only reason for the Bureau's brief existence was to help Amaral in his struggle with the McCanns, by providing information from police and other confidential sources which was being hidden from the public, and by acting as a link between Portugal and selected UK media. Before that the only reason for the Cracked Mirror was to provide the public - for the first and only time as far as I know - with some idea of what the people involved in the affair were really like. Kate & Gerry McCann have never been able to give frank and open descriptions of what happened on the night of May 3. As the Bureau posts showed, time after time they have told significant untruths while using a screen of public relations techniques and personnel to protect themselves from direct interrogation. The nearest the pair came to real questioning - and it wasn't very near, either - was in police headquarters in Portimao between May 4 and May 10. It is a matter of public and judicial record, as attested in court in Lisbon during the gagging hearings by the prosecutor in charge of the case, that the McCanns lied during those interrogations.That is the only reason I became interested in the case: not because I'm a crime story freak - far from it - nor because I thought the parents were criminals or monsters. Within weeks of reading reports of the disappearance of the child it was clear to me and others, as it later became clear to the prosecutor who wrote the 2008 report that the McCanns claim "cleared them", that they were not telling the truth. The question, which has never been answered, is why were they not telling the truth? What possible reason or justification could there be for the parents of the missing child to lie to the police?
But this one did me in: it was like watching jackals fighting to grab a bite out of the child's corpse and carry it away for it to be retrieved and auctioned off. What a product! A better writer than me once said that the ultimate merchandise was God's Own Medicine, Good Old Smack, heroin. Why, you didn't sell the product to the user - you sold the user to the product! William Burroughs should have been around to watch Product Maddie make literally tens of millions of pounds for those who provided bite after bite. Bite after bite: it was one of Bill Gates's people who said that the glory of selling information is that when you've sold it you've still got it and can sell it again. And again. Just like Product Maddie. Kelvin Mackenzie, ex-editor of the Sun, said it was "the story of the century" and found it quite natural that newspapers were putting on tens of thousands of readers every time they brought back a slavering, new mouthful: the public wanted to know more and it was the media's job to give them more. But more of what in return for the ackers? Facts? Accuracy? Most of the media libelled the McCanns around the time they were made arguidos, when they thought it was safe to do so. But not once did they penetrate the defences which the McCanns had erected so skilfully - and so expensively - around themselves in order to get the pair to speak freely; instead they betrayed the public by enacting the charade of "interviews" in which the agenda was laid down by the parents and their advisors. It was this willingness of the media to be used which led to the third element. For with that media betrayal people turned to the internet for information. Ah, the wonders of blogs, websites and forums!
Something worrying happens to people at a screen. Harmless schoolmasters download images by the thousand of babies being fucked; others, again apparently normal away from the screen, glory in deceit, pretending to be someone half their age and of a different gender until they meet and score with a fourteen year old or simply gain some weird buzz from creating a false identity; still others obsessively google for the composition of poisons or the ingredients of bombs or the perfect murder. And others scream, shout and above all pose on forums. Facts could be discovered, yes, but in a matrix of deception and constant petty strife.Having left that world to smell fresh, clean air at the end of February I do not wish to re-visit it.To conclude: I do not regard the McCanns as killers or conspiritors in the disposal of Madeleine McCann. I have no theory whatever as to who did what on May 3. All I have ever wanted is to find out why the McCanns, as the prosecutor said, lied to the police and pass that information on to the public. I eventually became convinced that the only chance of doing so was if Goncalo Amaral faced the pair in an English libel court and all three were cross-examined under oath. To that end I volunteered to work with and support Amaral despite significant differences of approach that arose between he and his team and myself. We failed. The gagging hearings went the other way. The prospects of a defended English libel trial faded. Rather than disagree with that brave man's approach - Amaral is the one who has staked everything, not me - or with that of his support team I decided there was nothing more I could, or wanted, to do. It was over. As always, here's to truth.
anyone who by any means, before the authority or publicly, with the knowledge of falsity of the imputation, denounces or casts upon a determined person the suspicion of the practice of crime, with intent that against her it is placed a legal proceeding, shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or with a fine.To prove such a charge, convincing evidence that the perpetrator "had knowledge of the falsity of the imputation" would be crucial. No such evidence has been or will be adduced for the very good reason that there isn't any, despite the continued scattergun smearing of M/S Tanner's supposed motives by the usual suspects. But clause two reads:
If the conduct consists in the false imputation of unlawful fact or disciplinary penalty, the agent is punished with imprisonment of up to 1 year or a fine of up to 120 days.
GA pensait à une enfant possiblement captive et craignait que l'on dise qu'il était passé à côté. La dénonciation de RM, par la reporter, au LC a fonctionné comme pression.
Having obtained a search warrant for Robert Murat's home, in his own words:
Before the search, we want to assure ourselves that Jane Tanner recognises him as the individual she saw on the night of the disappearance. She is sitting inside an unmarked car, whose tinted windows allow her to see out without being spotted. The vehicle is parked at the exact spot where she was on the night of May 3rd. Robert Murat, anonymous amongst plain clothes police officers, goes up the road in the same way as the alleged abductor. Jane Tanner is adamant: it certainly is Robert Murat that she saw that night. She definitely recognises his way of walking." And, he adds - the critical question - "But does he resemble the description she painted previously?
Oui, mais elle l'a reconnu du bout des lèvres, sachant, au moment de l'entretien "rog", que RM était innocent.
L'instigateur est effectivement Bob Small. GA est passé par-dessus (comme le montre l'absence de l'épisode dans les PJFiles) le règlement du tapissage pour la bonne cause, une enfant, peut-être encore vivante, étant en jeu.
M/S Tanner's response to the appearance of Murat was reported by the officers in the vehicle without ambiguity. She herself made no claims that they had prompted or intimidated her or in any way behaved improperly in any way during the identification process, and from the reports it seems clear that there was no question of her muttering "yes, all right, it might be...," or of nodding her head nervously to a barked and intimidating "that's him, isn't it?" No, the officers reported that she was "adamant" that it was Murat whom she had seen on the night of May 3, and that she had added the telling detail that she "definitely recognised his way of walking".
C'est dans ce même type de perspective que les Smiths ont été appelés à PDL. Il s'agissait d'identifier RM, rien d'autre. C'est pourquoi, une fois acquise la conviction que la famille S n'avait pas croisé RM, plus personne ne s'est intéressé à lui.
Bob drove me up to where, erm, the rest of the team were to do the surveillance. Erm, so I went off in the back of this like refrigerated, well it was pretending to be a refrigerated, erm, van and took it round to the point on the road and obviously, in hindsight now, I realise they [the officers in the street, not in the van] were probably calling Robert Murat to try and get him to walk across, across the top of the road so that, you know, I could see. [Not a word so far about the issue] But it was a bit odd because there was a car, where we were parked there was a car that moved just at that point that he appeared and then two other people walked by, so I didn't really, but I didn't even recognise it as the person I'd been talking to five minutes before [my italics JB. Note that this does not refer to the identification or otherwise of Murat in the street as Bundleman but to her apparent failure to recognise the Murat in the street with the Murat she had encountered outside his house] well, you know, half an hour before, so. Erm, and then, erm, [here come the erms] then went, I think because it has gone a bit wrong because this car had been there and then tried to set it up elsewhere, but again I couldn't really see, I couldn't really see that well and, you know, it didn't look, it didn't jog, jog any memories". [Still not a single confirmation or denial of the identification]
Ils ne l'ont pas mentionné probablement parce que ce tapissage, n'étant pas réglementaire, devait rester informel.
...since the beginning the parents attributed the disappearance of the child to an act committed by third parties, claiming it was an abduction...and using an intense media campaign. Time went on without this scenario being absolutely confirmed...However, and in view of the statement made by one of their friends, Jane Tanner, we could be facing such a scenario.
Of all the actors in this drama Mitchell is the one with the fewest excuses, the one who, above all others, chose to involve himself in the affair – and people sense it. The prime movers, the McCanns and the Tapas 7, all - according to the Portuguese police - found themselves at the centre of a nightmare that was not originally of their own choosing. The family clans who sprang to their defence with their instinctive underclass distrust of the police were sucked in by their children. Others, like Amaral, had to descend into this cess pit due to the demands of their professions; still others, like the hapless, stumbling Gordon Brown walked into it because of their lack of political nous. Clarence Mitchell is different: he sought out the opportunities offered by the shit-filled tank and chose to enter it up to his neck, finding, perhaps for the first time in his life, a place where he was comfortable and fitted in. Unlike the others he had almost nothing to lose, not even financially, as we shall see, and the inevitable consequence of his immersal, the stench he emits, is one he seems quite able to live with: people may abuse him or back off, holding their noses, but that, apparently, doesn’t trouble Clarence: somehow he seems used to it.
One of history's great war correspondents - 23.09.2010
(...) Laurie Margolis, a BBC reporter himself, is the second person after that worthy to have noticed our hero in his earlier incarnation. He too wrote about the man only after his Madeleine lottery ticket had come up. Margolis was still working for the BBC as he wrote and one can almost sense his desperation to find something interesting to say about this grey shadow, this raincoat hanging on a peg. He testified without enthusiasm to Mitchell's competence and his having worked on various big crime stories during his broadcasting career - but the dramatic deployment of Mitchell to world hotspots as a "fireman" and war correspondent somehow passed him by; indeed he stresses that the stories in which Clarence was a "major figure" were only domestic ones, not overseas. Like Signy he cannot utter the magic words "I liked him" and like Signy also he feels the irrepressible need to reach for his hatpin: his list of the "major figure" stories carries a bitchy hint that his ex-colleague has a slightly unhealthy interest in violent or perverted crime, and he is our source for the unfortunate, and now famous, incident when Mitchell fell asleep and failed to read his scheduled late-night news bulletin. He adds mildly that his colleague "never quite made it" as a presenter. Margolis said of Mitchell's appointment by the McCanns, that he imagined Clarence was content in his new role as the family's voice since "he's centre stage on a huge story, intimately involved as ever, and on television and in the papers all the time." Not quite the way that Clarence himself would describe it.
I showed them - 24.09.2010
(...) The now famous Media Monitoring Unit was the modern equivalent of the old press cuttings digest which every large organization and any government has needed since the rise of the modern press (the BBC itself, for example, has a media monitoring unit). In the past a few juniors, usually supervised by elderly ex-reporters or PR men at the end of their careers, sat with scissors in hand cutting and pasting press stories into volumes for circulation to other departments. Television and computers, of course, changed all that: now a series of juniors sat in front of monitors abstracting the stories. Mitchell's compulsive exaggeration of his own importance reached its peak when spinning his MMU work: outsiders, many of them in Portugal, have grasped at Clarence's studied myth - making to believe he was a "government figure" with the ear of the prime minister, a sort of Big Brother of censorship working from the shadowy vaults beneath 10 Downing Street, sent - as a "fireman" no doubt - by the prime minister to put the lid on the terrifying revelations that might result if the McCanns were not handled properly.
(...) It should hardly be necessary to add that his appointment as media liaison for the McCanns in late May 2007 was not a political one, had nothing to do with Blair, Brown or any other minister but was a civil service – administrative – move when a media person was needed at short notice. There is only one mystery outstanding about his posting to Portugal, and that will no doubt will be solved in due course: was he given the work because his absence would hardly be noticed, let alone regretted?
(...) That anyone should have found anything mysterious about his transition to paid spokesman for the McCanns is equally surprising. All Mitchell's thwarted dreams of the past quarter of a century were fulfilled in a rush by the Madeleine lottery ticket in May 2007: with his known and attested qualities - his constant desire to be somehow "involved" in news stories, his childish pleasure at being the centre of public attention, his love affair with being on-screen, his fascination with violent or perverse crime, his constantly cheated ambition to be a "big player" – could there be any question of going back to a grey civil service job? Are you kidding? He was made for it and he knew it. And Mitchell recovered that sense of his own worth that Dennis Signy had noted and which had been draining away in the corridors and canteens of the civil service. With the knowledge that Gerry McCann wanted him, he was able to state his terms – and there was no question of working for expenses as his predecessor Justine McGuiness had done, however good the cause: he wanted what he called "his package" from the civil service to be matched. That achieved, courtesy of Brian Kennedy, he took up the role. His performance is a matter of record, save for the bits which Mitchell, still not a wealthy man, is saving for his other pension, his memoirs. It only remains to assess his achievements.