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Anorak | Madeleine McCann: Clarence Mitchell For Hire, PR And Nuts For Kate McCann’s Swimsuit

Madeleine McCann: Clarence Mitchell For Hire, PR And Nuts For Kate McCann’s Swimsuit

by | 1st, March 2009

MADDIE WATCH – Anorak’s at-a-glance guide to press coverage of Madeleine McCann , Kate McCann and Gerry McCann, featuring Clarence Mitchell for hire

Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns’ PR , is talking with the Indepedent. Now the McCanns are free no longer suspects in their daughter’s disappearance why is Clarnce Mitchell needed?

The Independent : “Clarence Mitchell: ‘I am a decent human being. If I can help them, I will’ The ex-BBC journalist built a career on professional detachment. Then, he went to work for the McCanns.”

“There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever, nothing, to suggest that Madeleine has been harmed, let alone killed,” insists Clarence Mitchell, the former television reporter who speaks for the family of the most famous missing girl in the world. Her face is instantly recognisable. There is no longer any need to use her surname, McCann. And yet, nearly two years since she vanished from the Algarve, there is still no trace.

So what good all the PR ? What good has all the media handling achieved? If the job was to find Madeleine McCann, hasn’t it failed?

This is hard to say to Mitchell – who began as a dispassionate adviser and then became a close personal friend of her parents – but there seems no evidence to suggest the three-year-old is still living. “Obviously,” he says, “as time goes on, Kate and Gerry are finding it harder and harder. But they are still firmly of the view that Madeleine is alive and out there to be found.”

And Clarence Mitchell, what does he think?

For months now they have turned down interviews, preferring to go through the many files handed over by the Portuguese police. There is another reason for their silence, too. “You reach a saturation point,” their spokesman admits. “People would say to us, ‘Oh, it’s tragic, but we’ve almost had enough of Madeleine.’ That was appalling to hear.”

The story is fading. Is a PR needed now more than ever? Is he looking for a new job? Is this why Clarence Mitchell is in interview?

In their silence, Clarence Mitchell is re-emerging as a public figure in his own right. On Friday he will speak at the Oxford Union, following in the footsteps of Desmond Tutu, Mother Teresa and Kermit the Frog. Now he is giving his first personal interview since the days when he was a familiar face on the BBC. He is doing it at the West End offices of Freud Communications, which has hired him as a consultant. Dressed as if to broadcast, in a light brown suit and dark blue shirt, he has two BlackBerrys on his desk: one for Kate and Gerry, the other for everyone else.

Which one rings the most often?

Lately, he seems to be setting himself up as a public relations guru for families in distress, including that of 16-year-old Jimmy Mizen, who was stabbed to death in south London last year. The trial of Jimmy’s alleged killer begins at the Old Bailey a week tomorrow, and Mitchell will be outside, representing the bereaved parents. Once again, he will be on our screens.

Madeleine McCann made his name? Is this her legacy..?

“Everything I have seen of them, in all of the pressurised situations, shows me a family who are suffering the loss of their child,” he says. “Everything they are doing, behind the scenes, convinces me of that.”

Behind what scenes?

So far, so on message for a man who was hired in September 2007 to “salvage their reputations” in the wake of the McCanns being named as arguidos, or suspects, by the Portuguese police. Mitchell had already been with them for a month, as a civil service media expert sent to help the couple to cope with all the attention. But he returned in the pay of a millionaire supporter of the McCanns, leading a publicity campaign “to correct and balance the inaccurate coverage that was coming out and try to get everything back on an even keel … with a view to helping to get arguido lifted”.

Did he? Wasn’t it lack of evidence of any wrongdoing that led to the lifting of the McCanns’ arguido status? Can the PR take credit for it?

Mitchell never worked for Robert Murat , and he was cleared. He was libelled . He was innocent. What good did the PR do, of which Murat enjoyed none?

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Posted: 1st, March 2009 | In: Madeleine McCann, News Comments (62) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink