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08 - JUN 04 - RTE Radio (Mitchell)

Clarence Mitchell à RTE Radio One

Transcrit par MsMarbles

Pat Kenny : Alright, err, I want to, erm, move on to someone I spoke to recently, on the, err, the Late Late Show. Err, Clarence Mitchell, good morning.

Clarence Mitchell : Pat, good morning, good morning.

PK : It's nice to talk to you again. Now Clarence, you and I, err, were speaking, err, about the McCann situation, erm, Kate and Gerry McCann. And the ongoing search for Madeleine McCann.

Erm, first of all I should ask you for any update on that? I presume it's as bleak as ever?

CM : Er, I'm afraid it.. it's bleak in the sense that we haven't found Madeleine yet of course. Erm, but there is a lot of work still going on behind the scenes. Our private investigation is pushing forward in many different directions after err, the big documentary that err, Kate and Gerry did for ITV in Britain, err, for the anniversary, and all the interviews they did around that. Err, we recieved thousands of emails and hundreds of very supportive calls with a lot of information in them, and all of those where we can check anything specific. Anything that can be verified, it is being followed up, erm, and of course our Lawyers are also err, working extremely hard, both in Britain and in Portugal, erm to keep pressure on the authorities over there.

PK : Now, there are a couple of things if you like, of more recent breaking news in terms of the McCann's. One was this story that, err, Gerry mcCann had received a string of texts, err, prior to Maddie's disappearance. Was that true or otherwise?

CM : Err, no it's not. Erm, Gerry had his mobile with him on holiday, I can't go into the details of this, because this is details which is contained within the Police file. But err, some elements of it emerged in a cour.. an old Court ruling that was reported last week, that's what you're referring to. Erm, Gerrry is as baffled as anybody about these alleged calls to his mobile, er, he only had a few calls when he was on holiday, mainly from people at work who weren't even aware he was abroad. And, erm, you know, the phones were used as they would be on holiday, the occasional phone call but nothing major. The only time time they used them in earnest was of course emm, on the night that Madeleine went missing and they were alerting people back in Britain about what had happened.

PK : So nothing to that at all.

CM : There's nothing untoward. Kate and Gerry, and their friends have got absolutely nothing to hide. Err, they've made their mobile phone records available to the police from Day 1, Erm, they have those records, and, err, you may find it hard to believe, the police never actually asked them for them. Err, they made a formal attempt through the courts and that was actually rejected because it was a potential breach of Portugal's privacy laws, and that was what that particular Court ruling was about. But Kate and Gerry and their friends have had their records ready and waiting themselves and they've never been asked.

PK : Never been asked for them.

CM : No.

PK : Emm, the, err, second thing is th... whether or not the erm, McCann's might be prosecuted for child neglect.

CM : Well again this was an assumption based on this particular Court ruling. The Court ruling simply said that it's... it's... it's ruling was relevant to the Madeleine McCann case, err, which was looking, was investigating the following potential areas: Abduction - which we welcome because that is what happened; Err, Homicide - which we obviously... we hope has not happened; Err, the possible concealment of any body; And fourthly this question of child abandonment as it's called in Portugal. Now, all it was saying, was they were looking at these areas, and frankly we would hope the police would investigate all these areas as potential. And nothing was said to indicate that charges along these lines are likely. And equally the lawyers for Kate and Gerry have not heard anything to that effect from the authorities in Portugal.

I'm afraid a lot of the press made the assumption that this might mean charges are likely. There is no suggestion of that at this stage, and even if they were to come, they would be vigourously defended, because Kate and Gerry, and their friends, were checking the children regularly. Err, and in law, that is within the bounds of responsible parenting.

PK : Now, the.. the last err, thing is quite amazing. It's an astonishing developement in the sense that it's about a cancellation of a reconstruction of what happened on that night. Wh... the reconstruction wasn't going to be televised, so what was the point of it?

CM : Well, that's exactly the question that Gerry, Kate and their friends were asking. Err, there were a whole host of reasons that they had very strong concerns about what this would actually achieve, what they've all said consistantly and continue to do so, will do anything to help find Madeleine.

This particular proposal, the way it was phrased and the way it was being put forward, then felt not in any shape or form help to find her. As you say, it wouldn't have been televised, there would be no new leads coming in... Err, why, what good would it have done well over a year after the event. Erm, nobody seemed to have given any consideration to Kate's mental well being. You know, was she expected to see a child playing Madeleine in front of her? All sorts of other questions.

PK : Now, they, they were going to use erm, the McCann's and the people who were there actually that night rather than actors.

CM : Well exactly, and how many reconstructions have you heard of, erm, in Ireland, Britain, or anywhere else, where the original people involved in a case, actually take part. It is virtually unheard of.

And so again, that made us, made our Lawyers wonder what, you know, what is going on here? And on top of that the Portuguese as a norm, do not do reconstructions.

Last year, just after Madeleine was taken, BBC crimewatch proposed just such a reconstruction with actors, and the Police said no, no, we don't do that here, we don't do reconstructions. And yet suddenly they turn round over a year later to say we will do one on our terms. And, erm, you know, there was some debate within the group. Now Gerry and Kate, as Arguido's, as... as suspects, err, I... would have had to go back if they were forced back, legally to go. There was no question of them saying 'no we couldn't go'. But the friends are not, erm, suspected of anything, or not involved directly in that sense, err, that degree. And as a result they have freedom of choice. And they discussed it themselves at length, and decided to let the police know that no, thank you for this offer on this occasion, but we don't feel it would be helpful.

An... and that's what happened and the Police made it clear as well, they wanted everybody or it wouldn't happen. And as soon as one or two of the friends said no, then it simply, erm, fell away. And...

PK : There must be (inaudible) some suspicion they were trying to kind of trip people up, You've given a statement, now let's see you walk through the statement that you gave and let's see if we can find any holes in it.

CM : E... I have to be very careful what I say Pat, because the Police are still investigating this and our lawyers are still looking at it, but, um, the... you can draw that assumption if you wish, err, I... I... would not wish to comment on that.

PK : Alright, let's move on to Amy Fitzpatrick. Erm, you... you have become involved in this.

CM : Well, to the extent that, ermm, when I came over to speak to you on the Late Late Show, and to talk to the... my colleagues from the Public Relations Institute of Ireland, who invited me over to speak a couple of weeks ago. Err, a number of reporters who interviewed me, erm, said... asked me was I aware of Amy's situation and the fact that whilst her case had had quite a lot of publicity in Ireland, it hadn't really taken off anywhere else in the same way obviously that Madeleine has. And I said I... I... I was broadly aware of what had happened to Amy, but not that asha... I was ashamed to say I didn't know the detail. And that was part of the problem, that their media campaign hadn't quite got that, err, winds behind it if you like. Erm, and I said I was more than happy to help the family or advise them if they wanted to. Give them my... my contacts across the media.

Erm, err, and, as a result of that, some family members made contact and I've since spoken to Amy's mother Audrey, out in Spain. Erm, we've had an initial conversation an... and we've agreed that I will meet the family when they're next in Ireland, probably in a couple of weeks time. Err, and we will sit down and go through things in some detail. And if I can basically use my... my contacts, Ermmm, and some of what I've been doing for Madeleine, erm, to help try and find Amy, then I'm very happy to do that. But, at this stage it's.. it's really, early days, err, and we're just getting together what we need to do and how we move forward.

PK : There were some parallels, because the kind of err, rumours and untruths, that were demonstrable untruths, that were printed and circulated about, err, Amy's mother and st... stepfather, erm, are similar to the kind of, err, untruths that were printed about the McCann's.

CM : Yes, I, err, I'm afraid to say that any high profile case these days, erm, along these lines where there is always a question mark perhaps surrounding what may or may not have happened. I'm afraid with the power of the internet which on the one hand can be incredibley erm, good and incredibly useful in the search, can also give voice and that platform to people who frankly have absolutely no idea what has happened, are full of perhaps prejudice and bile, an... and can air this. And I'm afraid you see things on forums and blogs, and they... they take on a superiors air of credibility simply because they're sitting there on a screen in front of you.

Ermm, so, this is a problem we had from... from almost day one with Madeleine. Err, yes, I'm very sad to say in Amy's case there has been occasion of some derogatory comments there, as in all of these cases. It doesn't mean it's right. people make assumptions, based on what they read, and in many cases those reports are innaccurate, or just plain wrong, or have been (inaudible) contained lies for whatever reason. And people then go off on a tangent and decide in their minds that this, this and this happened, with absolutely no evidence whatsoever. And it really is a problem, because these things get repeated and repeated and repeated, and then people generally do start to believe them.

Err, so this is one of the situations that needs to be tackled, you know, incorrect statements need to be corrected and moved away from the mainstream media as quickly as possible. Erm, that's not to say, you know, that the families involved in these cases aren't happy to take dir... proper critisism where and if it is valid. But where there is, you know, mis... mischief, or just, err, downright libel going on, and I'm not necessarily suggesting that's happened in Amy's case, but ii... in general erm, it needs to be hit very hard from the (inaudible)...

PK : I... I... I'll give you an example. Straight away, on my text screen, 'Amy Fitzpatrick ran away. The McCann's know what happened to Maddy...

CM : What...

PK : ...why are you covering these 'sham stories'.

CM : Well, exactly, who...

PK : Well, so, in spite of what you've been saying, in spite of the interview that I did with you on the Late Late Show, the interview I did with Amy's family, you know, people persist

CM : I... I... Well exactly, Pat. And I would challenge that person that wrote that there to prove it. How do they know Amy ran away. They don't. Nobody knows. That's the whole point. How do... how do they know that Gerry and Kate know what happened. They most certainly don't. But even if they did, how does that person know that, and what gives them the right to put... air that view in... in electronic form, in the same way that you and I are discussing it from the other perspective now.

PK : I... I would not... not normally have read that out, except to demonstrate, err, to you, and to our listeners...

CM : Yes.

PK : ... that in spite of what we say, tha... that no matter how many interviews you do, how... how many ways you protest the credibility of... of... a... the... the McCann's or Amy's family, that, you know, there are still people who refuse...

CM : Yes.

PK : ... to believe it.

CM : Absolutely right, they have a view, they take it and th... they are as blinkered in their own way aa... as people who perhaps think the opposite. It... it... it, you know, ii... ii... it is the... the internet and th... th... electronic media these days and the (inaudible) capacity to communicate so widely in the way that we all have now, which of course is a blessing in... in the over all, but it... it gives also a very divisive and dangerous platform to people, to air, gossip, rumour, innuendo, a... lies, and slander, an... and ah... ah... you know, this is something that is very hard to combat. But, wh... we do our best, I do my best, by trying to deflect things and tell the truth throughout. And in the main, I hope that people who are reasonable and of independent mind, will access the facts as they know them and as they are accurately reported, and then make up their own mind, erm, given those. But I'm afraid some of the, erm, prejudices that are out there do filter through, and they are very hard to deal with at times.

PK : Well, Clarence I hope, err, that the quest for Maddie is ultimately successful and I hope that you can prove useful to Amy's family in finding her.

CM : Pat, thank you very much. I will do my best for them, erm, you know, it... it's a question that media needs to look at why are they interested in one story about one particular child, and not so interested in another. There are lots of factors at play here, and if I can help influence that positively to get Amy's name out there, and highlight the fact that she is still missing more five months on, erm, then I'll do what I can.

PK : Clarence Mitchell. Thank you very much. It's twenty three minutes past ten.