Que de malheureux parents "orphelins" de leur fille aient besoin d'un docteur Folimage et d'une batterie d'avocats semble absurde, mais que personne ne semble s'en étonner pourrait l'être davantage.
Le chargé de communication a occupé une place centrale, dès le départ, dans l'affaire MC. Cette place est devenue cruciale lorsque les MC, à peine faits "arguidos", sont rentrés chez eux avec sur les épaules le poids de ce statut mal compris et de la presse britannique à affronter.
Justine McGuinness, contactée début juin 2007 comme directrice de campagne et payée par Madeleine's Fund, fut exemplaire dans l'évitement des questions embarrassantes des médias, mais n'avait pas l'expertise et l'entregens requis pour des victimes devenues témoins assistés. Aussi fut-elle remplacée par CM, qui abandonna son poste de directeur de l'observatoire gouvernemental des médias pour voler au secours du couple MC et les protéger des regards obliques d'une presse impitoyable. Le milliardaire Brian Kennedy lui offrit un salaire royal. CM annonça à la presse son désistement du Foreign Office pour se consacrer totalement aux MC, car il croyait en leur innocence. Qui allait encore douter que du fait-divers on était passé à l'affaire d'État ? Le job de CM, qui s'inscrivait dans une stratégie générale de défense, consistait à distiller dans la presse les informations fournies par les MC et leurs avocats afin de restreindre le risque d'une action judiciaire au Portugal. À défaut de pouvoir démontrer une innocence à laquelle il ne pouvait faire plus que "y croire", il s'employa à semer le doute dans les esprits quant à la compétence de la police portugaise. Personne n'étant parfait, la tâche n'était pas des plus difficiles.
Par ailleurs, le secret de l'instruction étant une règle au Portugal, la mauvaise foi avait carte blanche, si l'on peut dire, pour dire le dit comme non-dit et inversement.
Profile : Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the MC family
par Hannah Marriott - 28.11.2007
Mitchell is clear about the reasons for this change of feeling: ‘I have to be careful what I say, but somebody who has good connections with the police decided early on, it appears, that they were somehow involved, and decided to plant stories.’
Que risque-t-il à raconter ça, puisqu'il ne donne pas de noms ? Très prudent, certes, mais très embobineur aussi !
The Portuguese press ran these stories – ‘they have a very lurid end to the tabloid market, just as we do,’ he says – and then the British press picked them up.
Une grande partie du travail de CM, et quel travail !, a consisté à accuser la PJ de fuiter au bénéfice de la presse portugaise. La presse caniveau britannique n'a fait que suivre.
Mitchell is obviously angry with the press, many of whom he believes were simply ‘recycling rubbish’: ‘As a former journalist myself, some of the behaviour of the British press has been shameful.’ Mitchell played a great part in quashing the most negative of these stories. He explains that he had a very simple strategy: ‘When I came aboard Gerry and Kate were being accused left, right and centre. What people don’t always understand is that the papers aren’t running these stories necessarily because they believe them – they are good angles. They will also run an equally good angle from the other side.’
Mitchell also gets fired up at accusations from some sections of the press that the McCanns have been too concerned with PR. He says that the majority of the time he is turning down requests for interviews. And at the beginning of the campaign, when then McCanns were raising awareness, the strategy was different. As someone with three young children, Mitchell says: ‘I would say that any family in this situation – myself included – would hit the phones and do what they could.’ Mitchell admits that he does get angry. But one journalist covering the case says that the fact that Mitchell ‘is not afraid to say what he thinks’ can only be a good thing for the McCanns. When Mitchell left the BBC in 2005 it was because he had reached a plateau, having being passed over for the role of royal correspondent and realising he would never present the Ten O’Clock News. He describes his post at the Government’s MMU as an ‘inward-facing, administration role’, adding: ‘Sometimes when there was a big story I’d be thinking, I know where I’d be today.’
Now, he’s back at the heart of the story. Indeed, Steve Anderson, the Mentorn Media creative director, who was the executive producer on this month’s Panorama Special: The Mystery of Madeleine McCann, goes as far as to stay that this was the job Mitchell was ‘meant to do’. Mitchell seems completely driven by personal conviction and adrenaline, and it is understandably difficult for him to predict what he will be doing next. Officially, he says, he is now communications director for multi-millionaire Brian Kennedy – the McCanns’ main benefactor – so he will still be employed when the situation is resolved. After that he will look into opportunities, either with Kennedy or elsewhere. At the end of the interview, Mitchell cannot help but bring the message home: ‘Don’t forget that in the middle of all this there is a little girl out there, alive, and she needs to be found and brought home.’
Maria Barbosa (Expresso) - 20.09.2007
Traduit par Maya
Clarence Mitchell goes through the streets of London at the same speed at which he speaks in his mobile - which actually never stops ringing. The McCann's spokesperson receives about 60 calls a day (Gerry call's him about 5 to 6 times). Mitchell spoke to Expresso whilst he had breakfast, one day before the publishing of the picture taken in Morroco by a Spanish tourist.
MB : You exchanged your position as a servant of the British Government for spokesperson of the McCanns. Did you make this decision for sentimental reasons or professional ambition?
CM : I am not a sentimental person and neither am I making any plans for the future. I accepted the invitation by the McCanns because I know that they are innocent. MB : Have you ever asked them if they are involved in their daughter's disappearance?
Le fait est qu'on voit la main de CM toucher le pape sur la vidéo...MB : Was it your decision to use the media so that the case may not be forgotten? Some specialists argue that this exposure might be fatal...
|Qui est l'embobiné ?|
More like the police than the police
Master of media circus for Madeleine McCann
Telegraph - 24.04.2008
Clarence Mitchell is not backward about coming forward for Gerry and Kate McCann.
Mitchell has become such a familiar figure in his open-necked pink shirts that he is recognised in the street and is stopped so often on the forecourts of petrol stations that he now jokes it is because he has forgotten to pay his bill. After almost 30 years as a journalist, he knows what makes a story and has been extraordinarily successful in maintaining a strong interest in Madeleine. When interest has faltered he has invariably constructed a story or recruited a big name – even the American First Lady, Laura Bush, is on-side – to a campaign driven by parents who accepted early on that the media was a necessary partner.
ITV1, with the help of Mitchell, has kept other media organisations from the McCanns during the five weeks of the access deal with Mentorn. The company has secured unseen footage of Mrs McCann, 40, her husband, 39, and their three-year-old twins behind the door of their home in Rothley, Leics. It includes Mrs McCann breaking down in tears as she recalls the night Madeleine went missing. But Mitchell will be undeterred by the barbs, believing the two-hour documentary the best way to ensure that the search for Madeleine goes global again. This is what he is paid to do.
He always wanted to be a journalist and after O-levels at Friern Barnet School, Finchley, where he was head boy, he joined the Barnet & Potters Bar Times and then a BBC training scheme. In a varied career he covered the Soham murders and, for two years from 2003, the Iraq war. He was also on the royal beat when he was known – not very imaginatively – as "Clarence House". But it was as a presenter on various BBC news programmes that he hoped to make his career after years on the road. His spell doing hourly bulletins on News 24 is best remembered for him sleeping through a 3am slot, which had to be filled by a somewhat dishevelled producer.
Mitchell divides his time between his home in Bath, London, and Rothley and speaks to the McCanns every day. They are grateful to him for raising the profile of the search across Europe and North Africa, through visits to Morocco, Italy, Spain and Germany. But the revelation that they were flying in a private jet was a bear trap that Mitchell should have spotted, and the couple flew home from a trip to Portugal on easyJet. Mitchell was, as usual, only a few feet away from the couple when they met the Pope in St Peter's Square. He was so overcome he reached out to grasp the papal hand and was rewarded with a blessing and a set of rosary beads from one of the priests in the Pontiff's retinue.
Clarence Mitchell, (not to mention his famous Clients), is surely fuming.
Not that it is of any consequence, it should be noted the comment was intended to be a humorous play on the ‘starting pistol’ scenario, but its connotation and ambiguity is both obvious and was intended.