Thursday, May 17, 2012

#Leveson #pressreform : The Detailed Evidence - It Won't Go Away

The Madeleine Three
Throughout the summer and autumn of 2007 The Three, that is the McCanns and the spokesman who retailed their views, maintained time and again that they wanted to go back and help with an officially mooted  police  reconstruction of May3. From November onwards the idea of such a reconstruction, the format of which was fixed and which, of course, had nothing to do with Crimewatch – type  badly acted re-creations, began to turn into reality.

In April the McCanns were informed that there was an end of the month deadline for their decision and at that point the tenor of the Three's public statements began to change. As late as  January 2008, however,  they were still repeating their four month old mantra of full-hearted support for the Portuguese investigation. Clarence Mitchell, December  5 2007:  

 Gerry, or indeed any of their friends, are required to go back to Portugal they will be more than happy to comply.They will do anything necessary if it helps them move on and be eliminated as suspects."'

Clarence Mitchell, December 13:
"We are well aware of what the papers are saying but we have heard nothing official from the Portuguese police. If it does happen, no-one has anything to hide and they will happily tell the police what they want to hear over timings and anything else they are not sure about."

Clarence Mitchell, January 4 2008:
"Kate and Gerry, and their friends particularly, are very keen to talk to the Portuguese police again because they want to be able to clarify any inconsistencies to do with the timeline of events on May 3, or whenever the police put forward."

Clarence Mitchell, January 29:
"For some months now we have actively offered to assist this process, to get it underway as soon as possible. Kate and Gerry's friends are keen that it should happen soon and want any bureaucracy - whether it's in Portugal or England - to be cleared quickly.
Any inconsistencies the police believe exist in their evidence can be cleared up very quickly and then we hope Kate and Gerry's names will be cleared. As far as we are concerned this cannot happen soon enough."

There followed a lengthy period of relative silence while the groundwork was being laid for the UK rogatory interviews in early April. The Portuguese saw the reconstruction and the interviews as a unity: the Tapas 7 could have their full say and then the reconstruction would test their considered versions.

The reconstruction was therefore suddenly becoming a reality rather than a possibility and the McCanns had until the end of the month at the latest to inform the Portuguese of their intentions – so it was now time for the parents to put their "keenness" to co-operate with such an exercise into action. On April 7 the PJ arrived in the UK for the interviews.

Clarence Mitchell, April 4:
'Kate and Gerry are currently deciding whether to return to Portugal. [again, clearly demonstrating that they had a choice]. It is being discussed.Going to Portugal would send out the strongest possible message that Madeleine could still be alive and the search for her should continue. The family feel the focus should be on finding Madeleine.
Next week's interviews will help in gauging the police attitude. In an ideal world they would not be arguidos and their lawyers have always warned them not to return while they have that status." Clarence Mitchell had let the cat out of the bag, hadn't he? And two days later he explicitly confirmed that under legal advice they were not going back to Portugal until they were no longer arguidos, even though all the reasons and reservations they were to come up as their "reasons" hadn't arisen yet! Clarence Mitchell, April 6:

"If they returned now to Portugal it would be a distraction and would put pressure on police.Their lawyers would block it anyway.But once their arguido status has been lifted, they will feel differently." And a day after that they began to spin in the new direction. What had happened to the repeated promises to participate with enthusiasm?  After being quoted anonymously as saying that Kate McCann might be too traumatised to take part in a reconstruction Mitchell made another statement.

He put forward the complete invention that a PJ reconstruction, an official measure of the Portuguese criminal code, its status and format fixed and known, a part of the investigative process and not for public consumption, was actually a televised Crimewatch episode. Clarence Mitchell, April 8:

"There are loads of questions still to be addressed such as whether the twins, Sean and Amelie, will be required and what the actual re-enactment will be used for.
No-one knows whether it will be done behind closed doors or whether it will be a Crimewatch-style reconstruction used to try and generate new leads. All these types of things need to be ironed out before a decision is made." [But, as you have just seen, the lawyers had already made the decision]. And then in an another interview at the same he and the parents made their  second invention of the week. That the idea of the reconstruction was not part of the Portuguese penal code at all – but a suggestion of the McCanns! Clarence Mitchell:

"Gerry and Kate suggested months ago that a reconstruction [here the three deliberately conflate the idea of a television appeal with the Portuguese penal code provision] should take place but were told by the police that they didn't do it.We want to be sure that no confusion or contradiction comes out of this [!] and that it doesn't in any way make matters worse.

They are happy to assist the police in anything that might help them generate new leads but there are genuine considerations to be discussed." And now Kate appears to have had one of her convenient mental collapses. Clarence Mitchell:

"Kate is upset. There's been no sense of concern for her feelings or the anguish it will cause her. On an emotional level she is not sure she can go through with it.The family will consider it. If it's felt that there's a chance of it helping to find Madeleine then, of course, they will do it. But given it is a year on, you have to wonder about the value of it."[Again, free to choose, and in the process of choosing, not compelled]

Clarence Mitchell:
"However, Kate and Gerry would very much welcome a Crimewatch-style reconstruction which is properly broadcast for millions of people to see and could generate important new leads and fresh information.

"It's untrue to say that Kate and Gerry have been called back or summoned back. Their lawyers are very much continuing discussions with the Portuguese police and if any such decision is taken to take part, an announcement will be made at the appropriate time." So yet again he is confirming that their presence was a matter for decision by them and their lawyer team, not the Portuguese. And, with the deadline for telling the Portuguese of their decision only days away, Gerry finally came in to speak himself on the BBC. Gerry McCann, April 24:

"We want to work with the Portuguese authorities,  we have co-operated with them since day one and we have been completely open and transparent. We’ve told them every single bit of information that we have had at our disposal and answered all their questions, so of course we can see a scenario by which we continue to work with them." Fine. But near the end of the programme the interviewer asked him if going back to Portugal for the reconstruction was "risky", given that they might be still be charged with child neglect.

Gerry McCann:
"Well we talked about this early on. We were given legal advice that what we did was well within the bounds of reasonable parenting and of course, at the time, we thought what we did was perfectly reasonable.

However hindsight has proven that we made a mistake. Clearly we would never leave the children again. We are paying more for that than anyone could possibly ever imagine, but, you know, clearly I think such a charge one has to ask why are people talking about that now when we’re almost a year down the line and Madeleine hasn’t been found? They have no more information now than was available to them on the 4th of May, so why are we talking about such a charge now?" Did you get all that? He was asked the simple question "was it 'risky' to return to Portugal now?" Yes or no? Where's his answer in all that self-serving junk? Why isn't it there?

The answer is missing from the transcript. Readers may wonder – although the reason is really obvious given the terms that the pair and their lawyers impose on their interviewers – why that is so and why music is played instead. After the music ends the interviewer seems to have been in no doubt that he had replied and what the answer to his question was.

"So the McCann’s continue to campaign and to travel, but for now Portugal remains off limits. The crime of ‘abandoning’ children carries a jail term of up to 5 years, and the couple simply won’t risk another confrontation with the police."

The McCanns were given a transcript of the programme before it was broadcast. It won't go away  Part Three, the invented alibi

So the decision had been taken, just under a week before the Portuguese deadline was up; clearly it had not been dependent on any decisions the Tapas 7 had taken. Since it was the first Madeleine Memorial Birthday Carnival & Jamboree  the two dozen or so interviews that the pair gave that week concentrated on the gooey stuff, not the highly significant decision they had taken, which – surprise, surprise – was drowned out by the noise.

It remained for Mitchell to try and package the whole affair up on behalf of all three of them, insert the alibi about it being the T7's decision and not the parents', since the latter had no choice, and hope that it would all be forgotten. Bad luck, Clarence!  On May 9 he was interviewed in Ireland in front of an audience and was given a most helpfully phrased take-off point for discussion of the reconstruction by a production team and  interviewer with rather odd standards of background research. Just what Clarence wanted, in fact.

kenny Interviewer: "Now, the.. the last err, thing is quite amazing. It's an astonishing development 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?"

Clarence Mitchell: [Having, of course, had  Portuguese investigative reconstructions explained to him in detail by the couple's lawyers for months but apparently totally ignorant of them now] "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 consistently and continue to do so, will do anything to help find Madeleine." And then, sounding rather like Aunty Phil, as he often does on the rare occasions he speaks extempore, he  gave the compelling reasons that had somehow overridden those months of promises to return and co-operate. Note again how an official action under the penal code had somehow been turned into a kind of showbiz "proposal" with no investigative or legal basis.

Clarence Mitchell: "This particular proposal, the way it was phrased and the way it was being put forward, then [sic]  felt not in any shape or form help to find her. [no, we don't know what the twat meant by that either.] 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. "

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

Clarence Mitchell: 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? [our italics] And on top of that the Portuguese as a norm, do not do reconstructions.

Finally, the new line emerged in all its glory, the one the supporters have fallen for ever since, that – despite all the evidence you have read above that the McCanns were not going back come what may – the parents couldn't refuse because they were helpless law-abiding arguidos but the Tapas 7 were free to choose and unfortunately…

Anyway, read, and treasure this climatic example of Mitchell-junk at its uncomplicated worst. Clarence Mitchell: "Last year, just after Madeleine was taken, BBC Crimewatch [ah, not Gerry or Kate then] 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 arguidos, as... as suspects, err, I... [remembers his lines] 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... "

Yes Clarence. Yes, Kate & Gerry.