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Friday, 16 August 2013

Brighton Pavilion constituency - Things to consider carefully before thinking of voting for Clarence Mitchell

The next General Election is in 2015. The last one was in 2010. By law, elections in Britain now take place every 5 years. No longer can Prime Ministers choose when to call an election. At the 2010 election, the Brighton Pavilion constituency hit the headlines. The voters elected Britain’s first-ever Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas.

The Conservative Party has chosen its candidate for this constituency: - Clarence Mitchell. Over the last six years he has become a familiar face on British television, as the chief spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann.

No doubt many Brighton voters have already decided how to vote in 2015: Green, Labour, Liberal, UKIP etc. This short article is aimed at anyone, traditional Conservative voter or otherwise, who is even thinking of voting for Mitchell.

Clarence Mitchell’s career to date

After working on a north London newspaper, Mitchell moved in 1985 to work for the BBC. He was a crime reporter and news presenter. He reported on some of the nation’s most infamous crimes:  Fred and Rosemary West, the murder of Jill Dando, and others. He was labelled ‘a tragedy journalist’ and was once called by colleagues: ‘The Angel of Death’.

His BBC career limped to a close after he fell asleep in the early hours of the morning when presenting ‘News 24’, and had to be replaced.

In 2005 Tony Blair brought in Mitchell as the Director of the Labour government’s 40-strong Media Monitoring Unit. The Unit cost taxpayers an estimated £4 million a year. Mitchell is on record boasting to a Spanish newspaper that his role there was ‘to control what comes out in the media’.

And that’s exactly what he did for Blair, reporting directly to the Cabinet Office. There, he met regularly with Blair to plan how to manipulate the news to Labour’s advantage.

In this role, he was in the background. However, three days after Madeleine McCann was reported missing, Blair made him the chief PR officer for the McCanns, transferred him to the Foreign Office, and ordered him to ‘front’ the PR campaign of Dr Gerry and Dr Kate McCann. In this role, he has regularly been seen on our TV screens for the past 6 years.

The Madeleine McCann case has proved very divisive in our society. The first team of Portuguese detectives doubted the McCanns’ version of events and pulled them in for questioning. They then made them arguidos – suspects in the disappearance of their daughter.  Many British people think the Portuguese were right to suspect the McCanns of involvement.  

The McCanns maintain, of course, that the Portuguese authorities ‘cleared’ them of any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance. They have either sued or threatened to sue anyone who disagrees with their claim that she was abducted.   But Mitchell himself, talking to Channel 4 News in March 2009, admitted that her disappearance was ‘a complete mystery’.

Mitchell is still, 6 years later, representing the McCanns as their spokesman. In September 2007 he left the Foreign Office to take on that role full-time. And it is at this stage that we raise our first query about Clarence Mitchell.

Mitchell once admitted, on the record, that his salary has been from the funds the McCanns   have raised from the public - from ‘Madeleine’s Fund’ - the fund they set up with the stated purpose of ‘finding Madeleine’. Mitchell, over the course of 6 years, has been paid an estimated £300,000 by the Fund - maybe more. He has shored up the McCanns’ reputation, but  in terms of finding out what really happened to Madeleine, what, if anything, has he achieved so far?

Mitchell once asked the public to send money in envelopes to Kate & Gerry McCann, Rothley’, adding: ‘It’ll get there’. This was itself an irresponsible suggestion to make. But in addition, he was asking the public to fund to his own salary. Interviewed that year on the radio about Madeleine’s Fund, the interviewer referred to it as a ‘charity’. Mitchell knew perfectly well the Fund is a private trust, controlled by and for the benefit of members of the McCann family, and not registered as a charity, but he did not correct his interviewer.

He has made exaggerated claims about the private detectives hired by the McCanns. On one occasion he referred to ‘a crack team of top detectives’ - yet there was never any sign of them. His most outrageous lie came in August 2008 when he told the media that the McCanns had appointed ‘Oakley International’ to look for Madeleine, adding that ‘they were the big boys of international private detection’. This false claim was exposed 14 months later, when the Evening Standard revealed that it was a one-man band run by serial fraudster Kevin Halligen. After working for the McCanns, Halligen went on the run from police. He was arrested in October 2009 and spent four years in prison, first in Belmarsh, and then in a U.S. jail. He had committed a £1.5 million fraud in the U.S. The McCanns admitted to paying Halligen £500,000 plus expenses, yet he found nothing. Mitchell had misled the media and the general public.

Lies like these that caused Carlos Anjos, head of the Portuguese Police Association, who had many dealings with Mitchell, to exclaim: “He lies with as many teeth as he has in his mouth”. 

Clarence Mitchell’s relationship to the empire of Rupert Murdoch

In 2008, Mitchell stopped working full-time for the McCanns and was immediately employed as a PR agent at Freud International, a firm run by  Murdoch’s son-in-law, Matthew Freud. In 2009, David Cameron met Murdoch on his Mediterranean yacht.  Murdoch told Cameron that his media empire (The Times, Sunday Times, Sun, SKY News etc.) would now back the Conservatives. Cameron then appointed Murdoch man and former News of the World editor Andy Coulson to be his Director of Communications (Coulson is currently awaiting trial for ‘phone hacking). The two of them then appointed Mitchell, in 2010, as their Deputy Director of Communications.

This surely exposes a man who can suddenly switch sides when it suits him

Up until 2007, he was one of Blair’s trusted ‘spinners’ for the Labour government’. Yet in October 2009, weeks after the Murdoch-Cameron meeting, he announced he wanted to become MP for Bath - where he lives - and joined the Conservatives.  Recently he was singing the praises of Margaret Thatcher. But how sincere was he? Mitchell recently claimed he would ‘move from London’ if elected. In fact, he lives in Bath, but owns a flat in London in order to work in the capital. Again, he has misled you, the voters

So, if you were not thinking of voting Conservative, and you want an honest, principled person to represent you, I doubt if you’ll be voting for him.

And if you usually vote Conservative, or were thinking of doing so, we hope this information is at least of interest. Will you be happy for this man to represent you?

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