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Friedrich Nietzsche (Fragments posthumes XIII-883)

08 - MAI 09 - Kenny/Mitchell

Entretien avec Clarence Mitchell
The Late Late Show (en public) - RTE One - 09.05.2008
transcrit par MsMarbles  (la vidéo n'existe plus)

The face of missing Madeleine McCann has to be one of the most recognisable of the 21st century. Maintaining the public interest is the job of Clarence Mitchell, official spokesman of Kate and Gerry McCann.

Pat Kenny : Just over a year ago my next guest was working for the British Government. But what happened in a Portuguese resort called Praia da Luz on the 3rd May last year changed his life, he is now the fulltime spokesman for Gerry and Kate McCann, whose daughter Madeleine, or Maddy, disappeared from their holiday apartment on that fateful night.
Will you welcome please Clarence Mitchell. Clarence you're really welcome. Umm, we just had the first anniversary of the disappearance of err Maddy McCann.. 
How did Gerry and Kate mark the first anniversary?
Clarence Mitchell : Well Pat, thank you very much for inviting me here tonight, before I answer that, let me say a message from Kate & Gerry. They want to say thank you to the Irish people for the fantastic support they've had throughout this. It has been immense, the cards, the letters of support, the mass cards from Knock, rosaries, everything. It's been absolutely wonderful and it has given them such strength, and they hope to come to Ireland very soon to say thank you personally.

PK : Well, eeeeer, how did they actually, I mean the anniversary, every day I am sure since it's happened has been a difficult day, but the anniversary particularly...
CM :  It has, it was particularly poignant obviously, erm, and Kate and Gerry chose to spend it very quietly at home in Rothley, in Leicestershire. They went to church in the morning, err, locally, and then they went up to see relatives in Liverpool, and went to church there as well. That's what they chose to do on the day. Of course, before that, we'd done various media work in the run up to the anniversary. Because of the media desire for information we did a big documentary for ITV in Britain, and a number of interviews off the back of that. But the actual anniversary was entirely private and quiet for them. Ils ont clairement nourri l'ogre médiatique, ils ont répondu à son attente. L'ogre à cette époque avait déjà dépassé les bornes, iuls auraient pu l'ignorer . Que se serait-il passé s'ils l'avaient affamé ?

PK : Now, how are they actually coping ? I mean has Gerry gone back to work, is Kate even thinking of going back to work?
CM : Gerry is back now at work fulltime, he's in fact on call, err, with all the pressure that causes as a cardiologist. And that's given him real focus to his life now. He is also doing all the campaigning work, around his working commitments. Er, Kate, no, no, has no intention to go back to work as a GP for the moment. Erm, she sees her priority in bringing up Sean and Amelie, Madeleine's brother and sister, and campaigning herself, so her time is pretty much taken up on all of those things.

PK : Let's go back a a year to that er terrible night of May the 3rd. Err, what do Kate and Gerry now believe, knowing everything that you've managed to accumulate in terms of detail. What do they believe happened?
CM : They still believe, firmly, that Madeleine was taken, she was abducted from the apartment on the night of May the 3rd, errm, and as a result, all of their efforts and those of our investigators are continuing on that assumption, err, that she is still out there, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that she's been harmed, let alone killed, as many people we believe wrongly assume, and as a result they still believe she's quite possibly alive and that's what's giving them the strength to keep going. Rien n'indique qu'on lui ait fait du mal et encore moins qu'on l'ait tuée ! Malgré les statistiques, et surtout le bon sens qui veut qu'arracher un enfant aux siens c'est déjà lui faire du mal, les gens ont tout faux.

PK : Emm, so they believe that she was abducted err, that night. Do the... do they have any idea of the motiviation, err, do they suspect anything, do they believe she was taken away to a third Country ? Morocco's been suggested..
CM : It's difficult to say, I mean we don't know....
PK : I mean they don't know...
CM : What...
PK : But what do they believe is that (inaudible)...
CM : They, they believe that they were probably being watched, erm, Madeleine may well have been selected for whatever reason, and was taken. Ermm, where she is now, she could be, a year on, literally anywhere in the world. We still are working on the basis that it's likely that she's probably still in the Portuguese, Spanish, or North African region, simply because of the proximity. Ermm, but we don't know that, we've had sightings around the world, and each and every one of those is checked out thoroughly, and of course sadly, none of them have proven to be her yet. Après avoir envisagé un déplacement accéléré vers les extrémités de l'Europe, voire au-delà pendant les premières heures, jours, semaines, mois, ils reviennent à la proximité qui atteindra sa quintessence lorsque la 3è équipe d'enquêteurs privés décrétera que Madeleine se trouve dans un donjon aux environs de PDL.

PK : Now, besides the finger of suspicion that was pointed at them by the Portuguese police, and we'll come to that maybe later on, it... the early critisisms of Gerry and Kate McCann from Portuguese parents, and indeed from other parents, be they English, or Irish, was that they left their children alone that night. I mean, it's an unthinkable thing to do, maybe with 50/50 hindsight, but most people say 'we would never do that'.
CM : Well, without going into the detail of it, it's been well reported, but suffice to say, they felt that they were operating a perfectly acceptable checking system on the children, a checking system every half an hour or so, which was actually more thorough than if they had... they had used a baby listening service that in actual fact wasn't available at that particular resort. Ce que CM ne dit pas : ce service n'était pas disponible car la configuration des lieux ne permettait pas d'assurer une surveillance acceptable. And so they felt that they were doing more than that, they were actually going into the apartment to check. Erm, but they accept, they got it wrong. You know, th... that it was the chance in a million and it, they got it wrong and nobody regrets more that fateful decision that they took, and they erm, you know, God forbid, it's a decision that they may have to live with for the rest of their lifes. Nul ne peut les punir plus qu'eux-mêmes. Ce que CM ne dit pas, c'est que les MC laissaient en outre la porte ouverte..

PK : Oh, because it's just that anyone with young kids and bearing in mind the twins were younger. Again, erm, a child can choke, a child can vomit, you know, a child can be face down in a pillow in a half an hour. So even the, the regular checks simply to many people...
CM : Well...
PK : I mean, you yourself have children. Would you do it?
CM : I, I...
PK : Would you?
CM : I have three, and of course, I would assess the circumstances at the time before making that decision with my wife. Il ne répond pas à la question et va s'employer à détourner le propos. Erm, they felt it was entirely safe and proper, they know their children, they know their sleep patterns, they felt it was entirely proper that the checks were being done thoroughly. And as a result, they had as well absolutely no inkling of any risk, at all. And of course, as Kate has said recently, if they'd had any smidg... smidgeon of doubt, of course they wouldn't have done that, as as I wouldn't, but...

PK : Do.. do you believe that that it happens all the time. That loads of parents will...
CM : No I...
PK : ..actually leave their children?
CM : I... I... I've never said that. But, erm...
PK : No, but, is it realistic...
CM : ...nor would I... (inaudible)
PK : think that it's... (inaudible)
CM : I would.. I would.. I would.. suggest that every parent has probably had a moment at some point in their childrens upbringing when they've thought, 'Ermm, maybe I didn't see them at that stage, you know, in the supermarket, you walk down a different aisle, who's to say. It's not for me to make judgements or... to say if that's common or not. It can happen, it does happen. And in this case, they felt they were taking every proper precaution, and tragically... 

PK : I'm sure..
CM : went wrong.
PK : As you say, every parent (inaudible) that has that moment when they look around and their toddler... CM a bien manoeuvré, la question a dévié vers l'enfant perdu au supermarché !
CM : Indeed.
PK : not to be seen. In the toy shop, the supermarket or whatever.
CM : Whatever, exactly.
PK : And they do, of course, turn up in nine hundred and ninety nine..
CM : Nin..
PK : ...out of a thousand.
CM : Exact.. exactly. And of course, this one, er, it's an exceptionally rare case. But, this... this case is as the police call it, of stranger abduction, can happen, and does happen.

PK : Now you started the TV campaign, err, Find Madeleine. Di.. do.. do you think you ever came even remotely close, were there ever any leads that just had become cold when you got to them and you really believed that maybe there was something there?
CM : Well this is one of the problems that our investigators are having in that we don't know fully what the Portuguese police have done. They don't tell us. It's a wall of silence. Erm, that we don't know what leads they've followed up. What they've ruled out. Who they've ruled out. Or... an... and that's a real frustration, not just for Gerry and Kate, but for the... the wider investigation. Erm, all of the... the leads that have been publicly reported, and there have been many others that haven't been reported, erm, have as I say, come to nothing. But at times, some of them have seemed very promising. Now Kate and Gerry wait to hear, either from the police or from the investigators, before they get their hopes up. Ther... wo... would be too much of an emotional rollercoaster to invest hope in every single (inaudible).

PK : Ho... how many investigators do... do you have as a campaign out there? Besides what the Portuguese police are doing.
CM : Well I.. I'm not going to go into precise numbers, because erm...
PK : There are a number of people out th...
CM : There are a number, it... it runs into the dozens in... in different countries who are working on this constantly. And our investigators in the Iberian region liase with other private investigators around the world if necessary. For instance, we had a... a sighting in Mexico City some months ago, and within three hours we had people at that place checking out to see if it was Madeleine. If we'd waited for Interpol it would have taken weeks, and we knew it wasn't Madeleine and that helped move the investigation on because we could rule that one out with confidence.

PK : Are Kate and Gerry still officially, erm, suspects? In.. in.. in the kind of rather different way the Portuguese run their legal system.
CM : Er, you're right, it is different. They remain arguidos, which is this official suspect status. In effect it means they are a person of interest to the enquiry in the same that in Britain, err, you... you... you help the police with your enquiries. It doesn't mean you are accused of a crime. They have not been formally charged with anything. Nor has Mr Murat for that matter, erm, the other arguido. Err, and it means that the police ga... ga... can er... er... they... they... they can have certain rights in the interview process that they wouldn't have if they didn't... if they weren't given their status. They could have a lawyer present or choose not to answer questions. Kate and Gerry remain absolu... absolutely commited to helping the police enquiry and will do so at any stage they're required to do. Cette réplique est amusante. D'abord CM admet que "arguido" signifie "suspect" pour immédiatement noyer cet aspect dans un bain de droits dont celui de ne pas répondre aux questions (on croit rêver, ne s'agit-il pas d'un enfant disparu, leur enfant ?) pour finir par assurer qu'ils collaborent avec la police et ne refusent rien !

PK : Now, when you were speaking at the Public Relations Institute in Ireland Annual Conference, this afternoon. You said, erm, that the whole thing had become a bit of a soap opera. Why... why did you say that? Wh... what did you mean by that?
CM : Well it feels like that. And it certainly feels like that to Gerry and Kate at times. I mean th... the massive media interest from around the world has been very, very welcome when it's positively focused towards trying to help find Madeleine. At times it's easy to forget there's a little girl missing at the centre of this if... if you believe th... the sort of white noise in the media, surrounding the whole case. Erm, and Gerry and Kate, sometimes feel that a... as if they're being treated as a fodder in the latest episode of some awful soap opera. It's not a soap opera. This is a real life situation, and they are real people, they are not characters.

PK : Er, because they're... they're err people who are educated and would have the ability to, errr, analyse media and the way media have reported previous tragedies, wher... prior to... to Maddie's disappearance. Absolument ! Do they decide to... to appear in a certain way when they appeared on television and made their appeals? Because they were kind of criticised initially for being somewhat cold and unemotional.
CM : Kate can't win, nor can Gerry. She's err, critisised for being as you say cold, rerr, and unemotional, and then if she cries, sh... these are crocodile tears designed for the cameras, she can't win. The reason that they perhaps appeared a little bit cold in the early stages was very simple and very understandable when you know the facts. The police, the British police, had advised them not to show overt emotion in interviews because it's sadly a common factor that abductors can get some sort of kick out of seeing the distress they're causing their victims, and as a result they were... Seul un ravisseur ayant enlevé pour assouvir quelque vengeance est susceptible de ressentir un kick en voyant pleurer sa victime. Et quand bien même, si le ravisseur pédophile regardait la TV et, voyant les parents pleurer, avait un kick, en quoi cela pourrait-il nuire davantage à l'enfant ?
Ce que CM semble oublier, c'est que les MC pourraient avoir depuis longtemps cessé de s'exhiber devant les caméras et s'être limités à faire passer des appels à témoin et des clips de Madeleine à la TV.

PK : So that was a strategy in fact...
CM : It was a strategy, and they were told not to show it. Err... err... you know, at... at times, er, Ka... I was with Gerry in Ro... in Rothley, err, when he came back to Britain briefly just a couple of weeks after she was taken and we went to see the... the War Memorial there, which was covered in candles, and flowers, yellow ribbons. And, err, he was near to tears, and he said I cannot watch because that 'expletive' is gonna see me. And I said, you're her father, if you need to cry, you cry, forget that. But that's, and he had to hold it in. And that was the sort of conflicting emotion they were feeling all the time. And Kate said last week in... in the documentary we just did, she doesn't recognise herself from some of the earlier appearances and that's why. I mean yet... the... they are then suffering all of this critisism for weeks on err... because of it, through it's sheer ignorance on peoples parts.

PK : Why... why do you think throughout the media, err, the print media particularly, has swung so, err, extremely in one direction initially of support and then some really nasty stuff. I mean it did get pretty nasty.
CM : It... it got more than nasty, it was grossly defamatory in certain cases and frankly some... some comment online, is tantamount to, err, criminal incitement against them. Err, totally wrong, and our lawyers have acted appropriately where necessary and will continue to do so. Th... the papers, err, treated it unfortunately as, err, a huge story of one side versus the other. Err, smears were leaked into the Portuguese press, erm, from directions I'm not going to discuss now, but they were leaked a... and as a result that was picked up and then not checked by the British papers it was just run because it was a good story and it was putting on sales on newspapers. 70,000 copies a day for some tabloids in Britain. That's big money. And then it was picked up back in Portugal to say 'Arr, the respected British press have reported this and checked it out'. But course they hadn't, it's just ping pong and it was utter rubbish. And ninety nine percent of the stories that we complained about were either com... total fabrication, or a complete misunderstanding of some of the facts. And that's why we chose to act, we didn't want to take action against the papers because they'd been helpful, but we... we had to in certain cases. Il faut jouer serré pour ne pas hostiliser la presse dont on a besoin tout en lui imposant des limites.

PK : Now we know that, err, tragically children are abducted all over the World. Arr, don't know what the worldwide numbers are? Some are parental abductions because there's a...
CM : Yup.
PK : ...a divorce, and an...
CM : Indeed.
PK : ...unhappy divorce, and there is, err, cross border abductions and all that sort of thing.
Why do you think this particular story caught the world imagination in a way that a child of a similar age in a different country did not catch the public imagination?
CM : Err, a number of reasons, umm, not only is it a... a... a dramatic story concerning the loss of a child, a very young child, and that's heart rending in itself. Err, it happened whilst on holiday, it plays into perhaps the concerns and fears of parents around the world, err, it raised other questions about parenting, yes, let's face it, it raised that debate. And... and the papers wanted to push that. On top of that it would about... it raises questions of police competence in certain countries, police liaison, and in fact that there was a diplomatic aspect to it, so, i... in the medias eyes this was a major story on all sorts of levels. And I think that's why it's sustained. What we want to do is not just use that momentum to find Madeleine of course as the primary goal, but if it helps through Kate and Gerry's campaigning work that they're doing to try and bring in a Amber Alert system in Europe for instance along the lines in the American structure, we hope that that will the attention they're receiving can help other cases and stop a... Le projet d'alerte européenne ne date pas de la disparition de MMC, il est étudié depuis une dizaine d'années par une commission parlementaire européenne. Eût-il été en fonctionnement en 2007, il n'aurait pu être appliqué au cas de Madeleine, car il est impératif que l'enlèvement soit avéré (témoin). 

PK : Just... Just explain how an Amber Alert works.
CM : Very briefly, in America, err, if a child goes missing, erm, err, the authorities, the Law Enforcement authorities have the power to commandeer airtime on local media, they can put out text alerts, email alerts, and they can put out most dramatically, freeway signs. And there have been cases in America where children have been spotted by drivers, who've seen the Amber Alert on the freeway sign and have seen the vehicle in front of them on the road, called the Police, and in one case there was a shootout with an abductor who was killed whilst he was trying to kill the child he had in the boot of his... in the trunk of his vehicle. Now that Amber Alert system works, it... it's demonstrably proven to work in America in many cases. Err... and... but there's nothing like that co-ordination in Europe. There are individual structures. Some countries, four countries, have a system similar to that. France has it, they've alerted five times and they've found the child in each case. It works, we want, Kate and Gerry want, better co-ordination across Europe a sys... a Europeon system similar to that. That's what we did the documentary about, they've got a... I think it's nearl... more than a hundred and fifty MEPs have now signed up to their declaration for that. We're hoping many more will sign up to that.

PK : Erm, I... some people in our audience might want to get involved. Yes, we've got some questions, yes, what do you want to say ?
Man in audience : Erm, Pat, I'm the father of err, three kids a... a girl similar situation to erm, the McCanns. A little daughter and two sons. We go on holidays regularly but you don't take your eyes off them for one second. Like won't even give them no attention for the day, leave them in a room for more than five minutes like, so far away from the apartment I just, I couldn't understand it to be quite honest, you know.
CM : Yo... You're absolutely entitled to your point of view, and I accept that, and I am not going to defend what was done or... or... or take it on in any other way. Kate and Gerry regret what happened. They got it wrong, and they accept that. I would make the point though, you say so far away, it wasn't that far away. Fifty, sixty, yards. And the reason they were eating in that Tapas bar every night, was because they didn't want to go further into town or anywhere else where there would be a further distance. They actually were eating there because it was the closest available point. La distance est une chose (une centaine de mètres), le temps à la parcourir une autre (passer par le bâtiment de la réception, ouvrir des portes et les refermer), mais ce qui compte surtout, c'est que les enfants étaient absolument hors de portée de vue et d'oreille, se trouvant de l'autre côté de l'immeuble. Comment seraient-ils allés dîner plus loin en ville, leur régime de demi-pension ne leur donnait le choix qu'entre le restaurant Millenium (dix minutes de marche), le Tapas et les plats prêts à emporter pour consommer chez soi fournis par le Tapas.

PK : Another comment. Yes there..
Woman in audience : I mean no disrespect to the family, but, would there have been the same response if Madeleine had come from a family struggling to make ends meet, as opposed to a family that were so well to do?
CM : This is a question we... we get asked a lot. Err, it's not our call in a way, it's the media who need to answer that, the media have decided for right or wrong that this is a major story, and they have focused on it in the way they have, and the momentum it's carried it through the year has, yes, been in part down to what we've done in terms of trying...

PK : Look, these are people who should know better. they're educated people, they're doctors. Err, and, it... I know it's a sort of a snobbery thing, but people who were uneducated you know, well what can you expect...
CM : Yeah, but...
PK : They were probably drinking. They were prob... You know that kind of attitude that, I mean that's real isn't it.
CM : Well, err, Kate and Gerry, err, err, and their friends had only had a very small number of bottles of wine, I think about four between nine people, there wasn't like as has been reported.

PK : But what I'm saying is tha... that...
CM : But... but... but... but...
PK : ...they would assume other people who were not educated..
CM : Yes..
PK : ...people, might be..
CM : Point..
PK : ...drunk and disorderly.
CM : Pointing you would somehow perhaps expect that is essentially what you are trying to say..
PK : Yes, but, I think that's a very snobbish attitude to take.
CM : Well, in... indeed an... and not one that we take. No, a... as I say, this question needs to be addressed to the media. Would the media cover a disadvantaged family in this situation to the same extent? Perhaps they wouldn't, but that's a media judgement call, not us.

PK : Alright, another question up there, at the back.
Man in audience : Yeah, similar as well too, just as well disrespect, to the poor family is an awful thing to happen, but, err, like do you really the amount of coverage it did get in the media, all the page one, err, editorials, everything on it was justified when at the same time, particularly in Ireland, there were so many in my opinion, more, err, erm, important stories happening and breaking all the time, but in all... all the pages one were going to the McCann's family.
CM : Well, again, we weren't demanding pages one, it was the media that were deciding to put it on page one, and we were grateful for that. On a appris depuis que ce n'était pas vrai, que les MCs avaient versé 500 mille livres à Bell Pottinger pour être en première page des journaux pendant un an. If this attention in the over all, in the round, can be focused back onto the whole issue of missing children and getting some improvement in Europe whilst we continue to look for Madeleine privately, then surely that's some good coming out of it.

PK : Ok. Anyone else? Yes, down here, erm, mid, err, one, two, three, fourth row. Yep, we're get a microphone to you.
Man in audience : With the wisdom of hindsight now, do you think.. would Gerry and Kate do anything differently now regarding that infamous night and what has happened since?
CM : Well of course, the wisdom of hindsight, as you say, they had no inkling that there was anything amiss, or any potential risk. They wonder now, if somebody had been around the apartment or had even attempted possibly to get in the previous night. Who knows? Un petit coup de spin à la nouvelle théorie lancée par Kate MC : le ravisseur aurait fait une répétition la veille (sans ouvrir la fenêtre et les persiennes), aurait réveillé les enfants qui auraient pleuré et en aurait déduit qu'il faudrait apporter un sédatif le lendemain. Qui sait effectivement ? And of course with that hindsight, of course they wouldn't have left them the way they did, and they fully accept that. But that's 20/20 hindsight, it's a wonderful thing, and I wish we could all have it. In the rea... in the real world they made a judgement call, and it went tragedically wrong. Qu'a fait Madeleine, si le récit des larmes est vrai, Madeleine a fait savoir à ses parents qu'elle savait qu'elle était seule, les aidant à imaginer la situation. Nul besoin de faire des gorges chaudes sur le fameux hindsight, que celui qui a des oreilles entende.

PK : Alright, another question over here,  get a microphone to you, yes.
Man in audience : What effect if any had the adverse publicity in England had on the McCann family? Ther.. there was tremendously bad publicity against the family, and I was wondering what effect if any, it had?
PK : Clarence?
CM : It has been appallingly stressful for not just Kate and Gerry, but for their wider family who've seen their loved ones so grieviously wronged. Th... the people that th... they've seen described and what they've done, are not th... the real people that they know and love. And it's caused immense stress err, to... to Kate's parents, erm, Gerry's mother. The, err, the wider family have been utterly appalled by it, and they know the truth..

PK : Alright, Clarence, finally I should ask you, how long will you be involved with this? I mean you gave up your Government job, err, to work with the McCann's. I mean is this open ended?
CM : At... at the moment it is. I'm, err, whilst Madeleine remains missing, I'm very happy to continue working with Kate and Gerry, and for Brian Kennedy, the backer, who is paying my salary, for as long as all of them wish me to. Erm, happily, they... they want me to and I'm very happy and proud to do so. Err, whether I... I go into other PR work in the future is something that I... I will obviously with will discuss with them at some stage. But for the moment err, tragically we've gone into the second year of looking for her. And let's hope this... this could all end tomorrow with one phone call, that's always been the case. Err, and I'm more than happy to, err, stick with it and help them deal with the media.
If it wasn't fo... not me, but for somebody in my position acting as a buffer, a firewall if you like. The, th... th... the demands of the modern media in the 24/7 era would be beyond them, they've got enough on their plate trying to find their daughter, and deal with the situation they find themselves in. I'm happy to help them.

PK : Clarence Mitchell. Thank you very much for being with us tonight.