24 January 2010
Jan. 24: It's been nearly 1,000 days since 3-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared during a family vacation, and despite scores of leads, global headlines and possible sightings, the young girl remains missing. NBC's Tom Aspell reports, then TODAY's Jenna Wolfe sits down with Clarence Mitchell, a spokesperson for the family.
By Nigel Moore
Jenna Wolfe: And joining us now is Clarence Mitchell, spokesperson for Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann. Clarence, good morning, thanks for being with us today.
Clarence Mitchell: Good morning, Jenna, good to be with you.
JW: So, as we mentioned, this does mark... this week will mark the 1,000 date anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance. Can you tell us how her parents are holding up?
CM: Kate and Gerry have good and bad days, as you would well expect given that their daughter is still not home, as you say, nearly a thousand days on. They draw greatest strength from when they sense there is momentum in the search, and in the wider campaign to keep awareness of Madeleine high in the public eye, and so, on Wednesday, to mark a thousand days exactly they're going to be holding a fund raising event in London and they'll be surrounded by their long term friends and supporters, so they will draw great strength from that. But it is very difficult and they do find any, errr... anniversary or occasion like this to be very difficult.
JW: We understand that Gerry and Kate have also hired their own, errr... private investigator. Can you tell us a little bit about how that investigation is going? Has it led to any leads?
CM: There are lots of leads, whether they're the significant one that will lead to Madeleine is the question, and no... have we found her yet? No we haven't. Errr... It's a very small team currently looking into Madeleine's disappearance, led by some former British detectives now acting as private investigators. They're doing a very thorough job of going back over all the evidence, all the Portuguese police files that were finally released after a lot of pressure from... from this end and, errr... they feel that there is useful information still out there to be had; we still need people to come forward. If people go to the findmadeleine.com website all of the contact emails and phone numbers for anyone who thinks they may have seen her, or has any information about her, should... should look at that website. That information will go straight to our investigators and they are following it up on a daily basis. They go back to Portugal, from time to time; they were back there recently. The work is very much ongoing, although Madeleine isn't quite in the headlines as much as she was, the search is very much continuing and there are hundreds of calls that are still being checked out.
JW: Well, I understand that Gerry and... and Kate are attempting to block the sale... one of the new pieces of information out... are intending to block the sale of a book released by a Portuguese policeman who says that Madeleine, errr... is dead and that the parents, errr.... her parents are suspects. Can you tell us where we are in that civil case, right now? As if they need something else to continue to worry about.
CM: Well, absolutely, that's the last thing they need. This is a book written by a former police officer who was removed from the case after he criticised British police, errr... in the inquiry, errr... some two years ago. Errr... He's written a book in which he makes those allegations, as you say, he claims that he believes Madeleine is dead and that Kate and Gerry know what happened. It is totally untrue. Nor has he any evidence to make those wild, libellous allegations and that's why Kate and Gerry have gained an injunction to stop his book from being published anymore. He currently is appealing against that and we're expecting a ruling from a judge in February... mid February. Kate and Gerry obviously remain very hopeful that the judge will do the right thing and ban the book completely. We don't like to take that sort of legal action but the allegations this man is making will make people believe that Madeleine is dead and therefore they won't look for her and that will damage the search.
JW: Alright, Clarence Mitchell, we thank you so much for your time. Our thoughts continue to be with the McCanns in their search. Thank you.