Kate managed the news and controlled the English

Correio da Manhã – 27/07/08 (Article courtesy of Joana Morais)

Maddie case – Press was manipulated in exchange for photo shoots

The McCann couple took four hours to outline their strategy, went out for walks on request from the British photographers and escaped the Portuguese.

Kate and Gerry McCann controlled the British media in the news coverage of their daughter’s disappearance. In order to avoid criticism from the English press, Maddie’s parents offered photo shoots, some of them during their usual morning walks in the Algarve – which were apparently routine, but previously arranged, as Kate’s notes reveal.

“The British journalists were annoyed because they found out too late that I had been in the United Kingdom. It ended up with Justine receiving loads of phone calls and arranging for a photo shoot on the way to the church, to pacify them”, Kate writes on the 5th of July, revealing a tactic that was adopted in the first days after the 3-year-old girl disappeared.

“Dress up and go for a walk. It had been requested by photographers and agreed that for sentimental reasons it would be good”. This walk happened on the 7th of June, three days after Kate registered that she had been “annoyed” about the presence of Portuguese journalists outside the apartment. Before that, on the 19th of May, the photo shoot for the English newspaper ‘Sunday Mirror’ was previously arranged: “Us spending time with the twins for the Sunday papers”.

In the same notes, Kate expresses distress about the Portuguese and the German journalists. On the 11th of June, in Morocco, after Kate made a positive evaluation of the trip because there were so many photographers present, the doctor remembers “noticing” Portuguese journalists. “We didn’t want to give them a story”, decided the McCanns, who classify the questions from the Portuguese as “sleazy and unexpected”, even after preparation meetings that last “four hours”: “I was very angry at a journalist today. I told her not to do so much detective work.”

Concerning the editor of the ‘Sun’ newspaper, on the 11th of July Kate was assured that there would be no “adverse publicity”: “She was really nice. Perfect solution”, Maddie’s mother noted.

Clarence replaced Justine when the tension rose

Clarence Mitchell was the first one to offer his face for the McCanns. He met Gerry on an occasion when the latter was returning from England, at the end of May 2007, on a time when he was part of the Consular Assistance Group, representing the Foreign Department. He took over the couple’s defense on the 22nd of May, but returned to England in the mid-summer, when he was replaced by Justine McGuinness, who directed the campaign to search for Madeleine from the 22nd of June onwards.

The tensions between the McCanns and Justine were never evident. But the fact that she abandoned the couple’s defense immediately after they were made arguidos and returned to England, remains unexplained.

Now, it becomes clear that the tension came from before. Justine and Gerry had already discussed the honoraries. The advisor wanted to receive overtime and demanded a payment that was above was had initially been agreed.

On the 28th of July, the tension between the family and the spokeswoman was obvious. Kate wrote in her notes that she [Justine] did not have good “interpersonal aptitudes” and that she could even be very “unpleasant”. Kate remembered that there had been an argument between Justine and a relative and that Gerry had tried to calm them down. “It all ended well”, Kate McCann concluded, but still seriously doubted the advisor’s character.

Journalists far away from the house

The McCanns’ first days in England were subject to intense media attention. They allowed to be photographed with their children again, after they had agreed exclusives with televisions and newspapers to cover the return.

Days later, Clarence Mitchell opted for another strategy. He agreed with the English journalists that those would never persecute the McCanns again. In exchange, the couple’s spokesman would supply fortuitous meetings, and in case the journalists would fail their compromise, he would exclude them from his contact list.

Everyone accepted. When in March CM [Correio da Manhã] tried to speak to the McCanns without going through Clarence Mitchell, we were intercepted by the police. The couple demanded for the Portuguese journalists to be forbidden from getting close to their house, and their neighbours were advised not to speak.

Notes

Newspapers Gerry is brilliant – “Gerry was brilliant again”, Kate wrote in one of her usual accounts after the meetings with journalists, during which it was her husband who did the talking.

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