Clarence Mitchell, born 1962, became the spokespersons for the McCanns. Guardian columnist Mark Lawson →comments on the role played by the McCann's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell. “The McCanns,” he writes, “are the first private citizens to have their very own Alastair Campbell who briefs in a White House or Downing Street-style”.
From his Testimony in 2007 → PJ Files we find: “… In relation to how I met Gerry and Kate McCann and what my relationship with them is: I met Gerry at the end of May 2007 when he returned to the UK after his daughter's disappearance. It was a circumstantial meeting at Leicestershire Police station. At the time I was working as part of the Consular Assistance Group, representing the foreigners department….”
In the PR tabloid →PR week we find May 23, 2007, Media monitoring chief to act as liaison for McCanns:“Clarence Mitchell, a former BBC journalist, has been appointed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It is understood he was personally requested by the government’s permanent secretary for communications Howell James. Mitchell told PRWeek: ‘No family could handle this level of media interest by themselves.’ His brief includes ensuring accuracy of coverage and liaising with police to ensure media statements do not inadvertently jeopardise the investigation. Mitchell has taken over from Sheree Dodd, who was flown to Portugal last Tuesday but has since returned to the UK. SEPARATELY… Max Clifford is advising the aunt and mother of suspect Robert Murat. Clifford said: ‘They have done nothing wrong and have been hounded by the media. I am happy to give them unpaid advice.’ He said he would only represent Murat himself if he was found innocent.”
See The Guardian (18 Sep. 2007)→A veteran of major stories: “Mr Mitchell announced today that he was stepping down from his role as director of the media monitoring unit at the government's Central Office of Information to help the “innocent victims of a heinous crime”. The unit, which is responsible for providing 24-hour coverage and in-depth news briefings for press officers, policy officials, special advisers and ministers across all government departments, is based in the Cabinet Office in Whitehall. Mr Mitchell joined the unit in April last year but this summer found himself in Portugal - at the request of the Foreign Office - advising the McCanns for around a month until the end of June.”
See →Daily Mail (16 Apr. 2008): Portuguese police accuse McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell of 'lying through his teeth': “Detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have branded her parents' spokesman “a manipulative liar”. The head of the Portuguese police federation, Carlos Anjos, accused Clarence Mitchell of engineering a fight with officers to sabotage a reconstruction of the disappearance. Police statements made by Kate and Gerry McCann were leaked to the media last week as they travelled to Brussels to promote a campaign for a child alert system. The statements revealed Maddie was left crying the night before she vanished on May 3. At the time, Mr Mitchell accused police of masterminding the leak to overshadow the visit. But Mr Anjos told the respected Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Noticias: 'He is a liar and a Machiavellian'. “Mr Mitchell wants to discredit the Policia Judiciaria and invent excuses so the McCanns do not come to Portugal to participate in the reconstruction of the night she disappeared. He lies with as many teeth as he has in his mouth. Finally we know what side truth is on.”…It is not the first time that Mr Anjos has caused controversy in the 11-month investigation. He said that police have “bigger problems” than finding Madeleine, accused her parents of using “diversionary tactics” and hindering the investigation, and said Mr McCann, 39, was “indescribably negligent”… ”
He also gave a self account on an interview with (06 Jan. 2011)→Peter Levy on BBC Radio Humberside: PETER LEVY Coming up to date, or more recently, how did you first meet the McCanns? CLARENCE MITCHELL I met them because of my role following the BBC, erm, I was with the BBC as you rightly said for around twenty years. I then joined the Cabinet Office, erm as Director of the Media Monitoring Unit for the government which meant working with No. 10 and all the major departments of state and because of my existing media contacts whenever a big story came along, er, I was considered, erm, as a possible, er, press officer, if you like for the government to go and assist the media on the ground. Now I thought it would be something like bird flu or foot and mouth or perhaps another terrorist incident where government press officers are sometimes sent out to assist the police or the emergency services on the ground deal with the media but as it was, erm, I was told that a child had gone missing in Portugal and the media interest was developing very rapidly and that the Ambassador in Portugal had asked for assistance for his press office team, erm. So I was effectively seconded to the Foreign Office and sent out to Portugal. I actually met Gerry for the first time in Leicestershire. He came back to collect some belongings from home and he and I then flew back to Portugal in May 2007 and I met Kate out there for the first time. So that’s, that’s how it came about. I went out as a civil servant and met them through the consular assistance that they were offered….“
Profile: →Clarence Mitchell BBC News, 24 September 2007
”…My first memories of Clarence were when he joined the →BBC as a regional reporter in Leeds. Then he made it down to London, first on Breakfast News, then as one of the team of reporters who worked for the main news bulletins on national TV and radio. ….General reporters like Clarence were highly skilled TV journalists, able to get their heads round any subject at short notice. But such people were out of fashion, and I think Clarence found it frustrating.
Nevertheless, he became a major figure in several big domestic stories. He was closely involved with the Fred and Rosemary West case, where a murderous couple had killed young girls and buried the bodies under their patio in Gloucester. He was one of the first reporters to arrive at Gowan Avenue, Fulham in south west London, when the immensely popular BBC TV presenter →Jill Dando was shot dead in a murder many feel has never been satisfactorily explained. And more recently, in a story he worked on right up to the day he left the BBC, Clarence led coverage of the murder of the Surrey schoolgirl →Millie Dowler in 2002. The case has never been solved. Towards the end of his BBC career Clarence became heavily used on royal stories. He was deeply involved in coverage of the post-Diana era and the death of the Queen Mother.
…Clarence left the BBC quite suddenly, making a move into the Labour government as director of its Media Monitoring Unit. His salary was widely reported to be £70,000 a year. As the Madeleine McCann story exploded this summer, it became clear that a high level of control and organisation would be needed to cope with the media maelstrom. Clarence was plucked from his job, and sent out to handle the media, rather than be part of the media, on a massive crime story. Now he's left his government job and gone in with the McCanns full-time. Setting aside the essential tragedy of whatever happened to Madeleine McCann, I would imagine Clarence is content in his new role as the family's voice. He's centre stage on a huge story, intimately involved as ever, and on television and in the papers all the time. It was extraordinary how, last week, his intervention seemed to eliminate within hours any misgiving about the McCanns in the British media. Wouldn't it be wonderful if he gets to tell us Madeleine has been found safe and well?“
The →Independent writes on 01 March 2009
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 belongs to the Murdoch press empire], 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.
….But despite seeming so familiar, Clarence Mitchell has never really given anything away about himself. Why did he stop reporting and reading the news? What then drove this 46-year-old man to campaign on behalf of the McCanns, a couple he barely knew and who were suspected of murdering their daughter? “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.” 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”.
…Until then, his entire career had been built on remaining calm and uninvolved in the most trying circumstances: reporting for the Hendon and Finchley Times with the local MP, →Margaret Thatcher, bursting into the office; broadcasting from the M1 with the wreckage of the Kegworth air disaster strewn in front of him; covering wars in Northern Ireland, Kuwait, Iraq and the Balkans alongside the likes of Kate Adie. “You see a lot of distressing things, whether that's a war zone or a murder scene, but I have always found it relatively easy to be dispassionate.” He needed that skill most when sent on a story in Fulham in 1999. “There was a rumour that Jill Dando had been in some sort of accident. The area was taped off. There were detectives walking up from the house who told us to ring the press bureau. I said, 'Look, I know Jill.' We were friends. She used to call me Clarenzio. They said, 'She's dead, I'm afraid.' It was dreadful.” But he still filed reports from the scene. “You just have to get on with it.”
He did breakfast TV and the odd Six O'Clock News – “which nobody remembers” – but by the time he left the BBC in 2005, his career had reached a plateau. “I felt I had more to offer.” Recruited by the Cabinet Office to run the Media Monitoring Unit, he had a hard first week…..When the Foreign Office sent him to assist the McCanns – as he insists it would have helped any family in that situation – he asked difficult questions. “I was assured that from the perspective of the British authorities, this was a rare case of stranger abduction.”
….Mitchell had a home in Bath with his wife and children, two girls and a boy who were aged 10, eight and one at the time. Why go back to Portugal? “We had become friends. There was an emotional drive. I felt they had been the victims of a heinous crime and very badly wronged in the way stories had appeared.” …Meanwhile, his new life involves media training for corporations as well as advising people such as the mother of Scarlett Keeling, who was murdered in Goa, and the Mizens. “I do it pro bono, for free.” Why? “Because these people came to me in the direst of situations, with their children dead. I'm not going to say no. Nor am I going to say, 'I'm sorry about your loss. Here's my fee.' Others would. It's a non-starter. I am a decent, caring human being. If I can help them, I will.”….
1962 Born and educated in north-west London. Tries working in a bank after school but hates it.
1982 Joins Hendon and Finchley Times as a trainee reporter, which brings him into contact with the local MP, Margaret Thatcher.
1985 Shift work on Sunday Express.
1986 Joins the BBC in Sheffield as a radio reporter, before going on to television in Leeds with Look North.
1989 Breakfast News in London, then “fireman” sent where needed, including extensive war reporting.
1999 Made a BBC News presenter.
2005 Joins Civil Service as director of Downing St Media Monitoring Unit under PM Tony Blair.
May 2007 Sent to Portugal to help with press attention in the McCann case.
Sep. 2007 Quits the Civil Service to become spokesman for McCanns under PM Gordon Brown
July 2013 Selected as a →candidate for the Conservative Party for the 2015 election
2014 Still spokesman of the McCann's and actualy working for →Burson-Marsteller (see also →The most important man in Washington and Head →WPP), also for the Conservative Party and their Lobby organisation →Enterprise Forum
2015 Failed to get a seat at House of Commons for Conservatives at Brighton-Pavillion
2016 Mitchell gets prominent PR Job: FORMER NATIONAL BBC NEWS PRESENTER AND NUMBER 10 MEDIA ADVISER JOINS THE BOARD OF JPB: Clarence Mitchell, a PR veteran with more than 30 years’ experience, is joining the Board of national PR and parliamentary affairs firm, JBP, as Director of Client & Media Services.
Clarence Mitchell got also spokesman for the holders of sunken →Coasta Concordia Belfast Telegraph J. BROWN – 18 JANUARY 2012
“The bodies of five more passengers were discovered in the wreckage of the Costa Concordia yesterday, as the feared death toll from the disaster continued to rise….It also emerged that Carnival, the holding company of Costa Cruises, has called in Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the family of missing toddler Madeleine McCann, to handle its corporate communications during the crisis.”
Express, Published: July 27, 2013 →McCann media man Clarence Mitchell to stand for Tories
“Clarence Mitchell, who has acted on behalf of the family of the missing youngster for six years, has been selected as the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion. He will take on →Caroline Lucas, the former leader of the Green Party who had a majority of 1,252 at the last election. Mr. Mitchell tweeted: “Absolutely delighted to be selected by Brighton & Hove Conservatives… Huge honour. The fight… starts now.”. The former BBC reporter said he continues to work with the McCanns “when required” and his relationship with them will continue.”
See also Aug. 6th, 2013 →Brighton and Hove News, Brighton Pavilion Conservative candidate swayed by ‘caring’ Thatcher: “Clarence Mitchell, the newly selected Conservative candidate for Brighton Pavilion, said that when Margaret Thatcher represented his local constituency, she was “effective and caring”. Mr Mitchell, 52, was a young reporter at the Hendon and Finchley Times in the early 1980s, having trained at the former Westminster Press Training Centre in Hastings. Mrs Thatcher was both Prime Minister and the Conservative MP for Finchley. Mr Mitchell said in an interview with the Brighton and Hove Independent: “I found her an excellent constituency MP, a class act, and, on a personal level, supremely impressive. She was effective and caring. And I use that word carefully.” After starting his journalism career in local newspapers, Mr Mitchell joined the BBC where he worked for 20 years. He served as a political reporter, royal correspondent and presenter. He has since worked as a civil servant, running the government’s Media Monitoring Unit. And for the past six years he has acted as the spokesman for the family of missing Madeleine McCann who disappeared during a holiday in Portugal. He has acted as an adviser to the Conservative Party and is currently a managing director of Burson-Marsteller UK, the public affairs business. As a young reporter he recalled meeting Mrs Thatcher at the annual Finchley Carnival at a time when Britain’s miners were on strike. She handed the young Mr Mitchell a scoop in the shape of a formal statement which represented her first substantive intervention in the miners’ strike. She showed Mr Mitchell that she had written it herself by giving him a glimpse of the original manuscript which she kept in her handbag. In her statement she promised to do “everything necessary to keep the country working” – a comment later taken to mean that she would, if necessary, use troops to break the strike. …Mr Mitchell said: “Brighton is unique – unique for its inclusivity, its tolerance, its radicalism and its cultural vibrancy. It’s also unique for the wrong reasons: a failed Green experiment that continues to let the city down badly. That’s why Brighton Pavilion now needs a unique Conservative candidate – one who may not have a typical Tory CV but who does have decades of real-world experience gained across the media, government and the private sector….”.”
See his electoral website →Clarence for Pavilion
He also has a electoral twitter account →Mitch No.1 UK
Mr. Mitchell is known for his sometimes rough language, see e.g. →SpudGunsSpoutings (15 september 2013) for citing some crude statements of Spokesman Clarence Mitchell:
“In case you're not quite sure about some aspects of the Madeleine McCann case Some helpful notes and guidance from the ‘Official’ PRO McCann's consortium of websites and forums… If you’re not quite sure about certain aspects of the McCann case, or you have a different opinion to that propagated in the mainstream Media, or perhaps you just feel some things don't quite add up, then… ”……….you're an evil, despicable, perverted, thoughtless, inconsiderate, nasty, sick & twisted HATER who wishes Madeleine McCann dead and doesn't want her ever to be found and is clearly hell bent on causing even more heartache, anguish, pain and grief to her distraught and long suffering parents who are having to battle on a daily basis with the devastating and incalculable agony caused by the loss of their daughter who was obviously and inarguably abducted in the night, (whilst their parents sat just a few feet away), by a predatory paedophile who would never have gotten away with it were it not for those bungling, useless, wine-swilling, sardine-munching Porto plod who trampled all over the evidence and were more interested in trying to FRAME the grief- stricken parents than actually catch the real culprit, causing them to have to have to suffer the ignominy and heart-break of making pleas for help and endure fund-raising ventures and libel cases in order to accrue the estimated SEVERAL Million pounds thus far raised in order to do the job Policia Judiciaria didn’t, which was to catch the swarthy gypsy, (or similar type), of which there are a great many in the backwards , fascist dictatorship known as Portugal where the people couldn’t even be bothered to help look for the missing girl and who will never be found now anyway because he’s probably dead and it’s only a question of time before Scotland Yard find his death-bed confession………….“ © C. Mitchell. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material is POSITIVELY encouraged and if it can be added to and made even more ridiculous to the benefit of my clients so much the better…..”
After losing in GE2015 Clarence Eden Mitchell started his own PR-Firm. Recently he gave an Interview to an Australian Paper, as he will be a main speaker at an upcoming PR-Conference there:
Extract from „Clarence Mitchell: ‘I approached Madeleine McCann disappearance as a major news story’“, →mUmBRELLA (Everything under Australia's media, marketing & entertainment umbrella ), Jan. 2016:
There were constant daily challenges. Hourly, in fact. And at times 24/7 – for the first couple of years. Not least having to correct, rebut or balance very rapidly the initial hostile coverage that the family faced, particularly in Portuguese media…. Being an advocate for the family and their friends, defending their reputation and actions and constantly attempting to pull what felt like a daily soap opera back to concentrating purely on the search for Madeleine was the main overall challenge….
As a former journalist myself it also helped considerably that I knew what journalists, both print and broadcast, would largely want, how they would approach it and when were their individual pressure points, according to their respective deadline rhythms. It meant I could predict with some certainty what elements of the story they would focus on, how it would play out over any given 24 hour news cycle and, if feasible and practical with law enforcement on the ground, how I could create opportunities for them, while liaising closely with the family at all times. I then prioritised which outlets would get what and when, if at all. Part of it was also daily relationship-building on the ground and developing trust to overcome the language difficulties and improve international media co-operation. Getting local media to share pooled picture and interview opportunities, for example, was a particular hurdle until they understood they could trust me to deliver for them.….
If a journalist was straight with me in their approach and demands, I was straight with them in what I could or could not tell or offer them, which on many days wasn’t much…. I effectively acted as the middleman trying daily to balance the family’s privacy and law enforcement’s operational restrictions on public statements or picture opportunities with the media’s constant desire and demand for updated information and their central, over-riding desire to help the search…. I also took a hard-nosed attitude to any journalistic nonsense, blatant exaggeration or swallowing of downright lies. Later, I acted as liaison with the family’s defamation lawyers and senior editorial figures in the UK, which required tact and diplomacy whilst also making robustly clear the failures of their own internal editorial systems….. At the BBC, I spent 20 years dealing with hard facts rather than opinion, researching stories extensively and establishing the accuracy of a situation….In PR, particularly within reputation management, I had to rapidly become an advocate, taking a position and arguing it strongly on behalf of the client, almost, in fact, a political role. That was a big adjustment to make from simply being the impartial BBC observer and messenger….
It [British government’s media monitoring unit] gave me a crucial insight into the workings of central government structures at the highest level, along with an understanding of the civil service culture and attitudes – all vital for effective public affairs outreach in my later PR life. It also gave me strong political insight. Although I, of course, operated with strict neutrality under the Civil Service Code of propriety, working for Ministers of the day, no matter which Party was in power. [What are the challenges in starting your own PR business?] Establishing, expanding and diversifying my core client list as swiftly as possible. I have been fortunate enough so far to have built a public profile that has brought me a valued client base, stretching across the personal, corporate and political spheres. My central challenge now is to consolidate CMC Ltd to become a significant industry presence, whilst building out new relationships and client offers across potential new sectors, for example, in entertainment and sport….In the sprawling digital age, clients – corporate, political and personal – still need to understand that while the day of controlling the message is largely over, replaced by the day of influencing it, the attendant multi–platform opportunities to do so have never been greater.