1.Everyone shall possess the right to freely express and publicise his thoughts in words, images or by any other means, as well as the right to inform others, inform himself and be informed without hindrance or discrimination 2.Exercise of the said rights shall not be hindered or limited by any type or form of censorship Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, Article 37.º

Profile: Clarence Mitchell

Clarence Mitchell is back in front of the camera again - this time as the spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of missing four-year-old Madeleine. Former colleague Laurie Margolis recalls his time as a BBC journalist.

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.

I was another in that reporter pool in the early 1990s, and it was a difficult time for many of us, because the BBC bosses of that era became obsessed with specialists, people who may well have known their topic, but were often poor at turning that into watchable TV News.

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.

Royal coverage

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 was also a presenter on various BBC news programmes, and may have been looking to make that the main plank of his career.

But the presenting world is a precarious and capricious one, and he never quite made it.

One night, when I was working through the night, Clarence was presenting hourly bulletins on BBC News 24.

He did the 1am, and the 2am, but at 3am a slightly dishevelled looking producer appeared doing the news. It turned out Clarence had closed his eyes, and had slept through the 3am programme.

Madeleine maelstrom

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?

Source: BBC


In public relations, spin is a sometimes pejorative term signifying a heavily biased portrayal in one's own favor of an event or situation. While traditional public relations may also rely on creative presentation of the facts, "spin" often, though not always, implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics. Politicians are often accused of spin by commentators and political opponents, when they produce a counter argument or position.

The techniques of "spin" include:

* Selectively presenting facts and quotes that support one's position (cherry picking)
* Non-denial denial
* Phrasing in a way that assumes unproven truths
* Euphemisms to disguise or promote one's agenda
* Ambiguity
* Skirting
* Rejecting the validity of hypotheticals
* Appealing to internal policies

Another spin technique involves careful choice of timing in the release of certain news so it can take advantage of prominent events in the news. A famous reference to this practice occurred when British Government press officer Jo Moore used the phrase It's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury, (widely paraphrased or misquoted as "It's a good day to bury bad news"), in an email sent on September 11, 2001. The furor caused when this email was reported in the press eventually caused her to resign.

Spin doctor

Skilled practitioners of spin are sometimes called "spin doctors", though probably not to their faces unless it is said facetiously. It is the PR equivalent of calling a writer a "hack". Perhaps the most well-known person in the UK often described as a "spin doctor" is Alastair Campbell, who was involved with Tony Blair's public relations between 1994 and 2003, and also played a controversial role as press relations officer to the British and Irish Lions rugby union side during their 2005 tour of New Zealand.

State-run media in many countries also engage in spin by selectively allowing news stories that are favorable to the government while censoring anything that could be considered critical. They may also use propaganda to indoctrinate or actively influence citizens' opinions.


* Publicity events, pseudo-events, photo ops or publicity stunts
* The talk show circuit. A PR spokesperson (or his/her client) "does the circuit" by being interviewed on television and radio talk shows with audiences that the client wishes to reach.
* Books and other writings
* After a PR practitioner has been working in the field for a while, he or she accumulates a list of contacts in the media and elsewhere in the public affairs sphere. This "Rolodex" becomes a prized asset, and job announcements sometimes even ask for candidates with an existing Rolodex, especially those in the media relations area of PR.
* Direct communication (carrying messages directly to constituents, rather than through the mass media) with, e.g., newsletters – in print and e-letters.
* Collateral literature, traditionally in print and now predominantly as web sites.
* Speeches to constituent groups and professional organizations; receptions; seminars, and other events; personal appearances.
* The slang term for a PR practitioner or publicist is a "flack."


A website devoted to monitoring and exposing PR distortions and spin in the media.

Media manipulation
This website examines the various modes of media manipulation, including public relations, fake news and propaganda.


Clarence Mitchell: The McCanns and the Media

Jan 30, 2008
Clarence Mitchell said officials had assured him in private briefings that they were treating the case as one of "rare stranger abduction". He was speaking as he launched an outspoken attack on the "appalling" standards of some media ...

Clarence Mitchell 103% Spin
Jan 18, 2008
The McCanns and the Media. Speakers: Clarence Mitchell, Justine McGuiness, Kelvin MacKenzie, Roy Greenslade. Chair: Steve Hewlett The McCanns were the biggest media story of 2007. This event goes behind the headlines to ask why it became a media obsession, whether information or entertainment triumphed, and what impact the coverage has as the case continues...

Clarence Mitchell accused of using media monitoring unit to ...
Jan 26, 2008
Clarence Mitchell, the public relations consultant and spokesman for the McCanns, continues to use the services of the British government despite having officially resigned from his post as director of the Media Monitor Unit with Gordon ...

Spin It Clarence!
21 Jan 2008
Listening to Clarence Mitchell answering on their behalf on numerous news outlets yesterday morning, it struck me that one of the most remarkable aspects of the Madeleine McCann case is that her parents are the first private citizens to ...


  1. Clarence Mitchell is a modern day snake-oil salesman.

    Let me practice my “Jardim Escola” Portuguese.

    Eu acho que a ajuda do governo Britânico em conseguir um audiência para os McCann no Parlamento Europeu e uma falta de respeito da Inglaterra pelo Portugal. Tenho estado a ler que o grupo das Tapas já estão a par do conteúdo das cartas rogatórias e o atraso foi para preparar as respostas que vão dar. Não é nenhuma vergonha se a polícia portuguêsa nao consegue desvendar este caso a vergonha é como os políticos portuguêses têm deixado Portugal ser arrastado pela lama.

  2. Muitissimo obrigada,J.M.,pelo excelente trabalho de investigação;actualização e esclarecimentos preciosos.

    Bem haja!

    E que a Mad die,à custa de tantos que lutam por ela, venha a ter direito à completa Justiça e verdade.

    (cá tenho o meu gatarrão à volta do computador;às marradinhas)

  3. You forgot the "Comical Clarrie" for your spin section.

    Big X

  4. .Grande lata..destes gajos.
    Todo o mundo sabe que a pequenina morreu de overdose (droga a mais para dormir) enquanto os pais foram para um bacanal (nisso ninguém tem nada com isso).....
    Depois foi um telefonema para UK (número secreto do MI5) ..depois entregar o cadáver em Espanha (os cães não são subornáveis)...o MI5 encarregou-se de o fazer desaparecer (para que servem os amigos do Blair?)
    O problema é que a nossa PJ que sabe de tudo isto,,,...não consegue arranjar provas ...sem a colaboração da polícia inglesa e......estes já receberam ordens pra ficar calados-.........
    Este é o grande problema

  5. Não sei o que aconteceu à menina, mas sei que de NEGLIGÊNCIA eles não se livram a partir do momento em que levianamente deixaram 3 crianças sózinhas de noite para irem jantar com os amigos!realmente também digo;É PRECISO TER LATA!!!

  6. O que pode a PJ contra o M15? NADA. Ainda mais com a conivência e desfaçatez das nossas autoridades.
    Vinda a Portugal? Isso só acontecerá se for uma viagem negociada e com a certeza de que não serão presos. O que é muito provável acontecer neste rectângulo, quintal de poderosos.

  7. A alta politica esta metida neste caso. O PM Brown da Inglaterra nao quer que os mcscums sejam detidos e condenados e estao preparando mais um ataque ao trabalho da PJ e mesmo culpar a acçao do Procurador Geral . A UE quer a viva força introduzir na Uniao o Alerta Ambar, que diga-se nao serve muito para crianças desaparecidas. Ate a mulher do cherne esta de acordo.


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