Friday, September 07, 2007

The LibDems Who Are Advising the McCanns

I've spent much of the day with Sky News on in the background. One could be forgiven for thinking that there was no other news today apart from the developments in Portimao regarding the McCanns.

You wouldn't think there was a political angle to the unfolding drama in Portugal, would you? But there is. Kate McCann's lawyer is the former Libdem candidate and blogger Justine McGuinness and who did I spy accompanying Mrs McCann to the police station but none other than LibDem supporting PR consultant David Hughes?

I suppose it's inevitable, given the huge media interest, that the McCanns have had to employ the services of a PR consultant, but I'm sure that most people wish the TV coverage wasn't so completely obsessed with speculating on what might or might not be going on. People's lives are at stake here.

CLARIFICATION: One or two people in the comments have interpreted this post as an attack on the LibDems. I still can't quite see how, but can I just make it clear that it is not. David Hughes is a friend of mine and was one of my best customers at Politico's. All I was doing was observing that two LibDems were advising the McCanns. Nothing more nothing less. Two commenters have pointed out that Esther McVey is too. I hope all three are doing a good job, as it seems to me that they are about to be 'fitted up', if that's the phrase.


Anonymous said...

Any mention of Esther McVey in this thread? the Tory PPC for Wirral West who is involved in their campaign too? That's about as irrelevant as the Lib Dem reference!

Anonymous said...

Ian, what's your story here?

Anonymous said...

Once upon a time this stuff would have been beneath you Iain. Not any more it seems.

tory boys never grow up said...

What on earth has party politics got to do with this? This is political anorakism gone mad.

Iain Dale said...

Bloody hell, you anonynous trolls are quick off the mark aren't you? What exactly has offended your sensibilities here? I haven't even criticised anyone for Christ sake. I just thought it was slightly noteworthy that her two mainm adivers are LibDems. It's not a crime. It's just something I thought interesting and therefore thought others might too. Is that a crime?

And I have no idea of any involvement of Esther McVey.

Ethelred the Unhinged said...

In spite of your histrionics, what is your point?

Anonymous said...

The role of Clarence Mitchell, and the links to Brown, are both worthy of investigation.

Iain Dale said...

Ethelred, frankly, even you can't be that thick. It's an observation that's all. No more no less. That's what you do on blogs, you know - think to yourself, that's interesting, and then you write a few lines. There's nothing sinister., there's nothing critical, it's an observation. Accept it.

JohnfromCamberley said...

You are quite right to raise the question of political connections.

Something that worried me a good bit more deeply than the odd LD peppering the surface of this tragedy, was the involvement of the PM's brothers, with whom the McCanns are said to be close friends. Doubtless they have connections....

I understand a Downing St staffer spent a month in Portugal "assisting" the McCanns.

I would also ask, how is it that a couple who apparently depend as much on their regular income as the common man, have been able to spend four months out of the country, maintaining a second home, jetting around, and through all of this presumably on unpaid leave. The story a couple of weeks ago in one of the Sundays was that the money donated by the public was, so far, entirely unspent.

So, are we paying for all of this, and is there an unusual degree of support coming from Downing Street? If yes, then why?

It won't take me very long to think up a list of names of people who found themselves in dificulties overseas, who would have welcomed this kind of help, but instead got nothing at all.

Christine Menzies said...

I would confirm the Esther M. was involved quite early on. She and Mrs McCann went to the same school (Belvedere) and is a friend of the Healy Family.
She helped arrange some of the early press conference in Leicestershire

Ethelred the Unhinged said...

It now seems possible that Kate McCann will be accused of involvement in her daughter's death.

You, with your known dislike of Lib Dems, choose this moment to "observe" that certain members of the McCann cirlce are (apparently) Lib Dems.

This is a completely unnecessary and perfectly insensitive politicisation of an already tragic story.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Ethelred said...

It now seems possible that Kate McCann will be accused of involvement in her daughter's death.

You, with your known dislike of Lib Dems, choose this moment to "observe" that certain members of the McCann cirlce are (apparently) Lib Dems.

This is a completely unnecessary and perfectly insensitive politicisation of an already tragic story.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

jailhouselawyer said...

"People's lives are at stake here"? Hardly, Iain, The McCanns are not facing the death penalty.

You are slow off the mark on this one, Justinitforthemoney took over from Clarence Mitchell. She is not their lawyer, but their PR spokesperson.

Thanks for telling me who the fat bloke was I was wondering.

Simon Israel of Ch4 News said that nobody could have foreseen that this would happen. He was being less than truthful, because I tipped him off ages ago what was going to happen. And when I rang him today, his producer Ginny answered the phone and said "guess where we are?", I replied, "Portugal. What did I tell you?". She said, "Simon said you had given him the tip and he had not followed it up".

It's been political from the start. Why was Clarence Mitchell giving them support? He is the Director of the British Government's Media Monitoring Unit. And yet, you won't find any reference at the Central Office of Information as to why he was sent or who authorised it.

Given the harsh treatment of so-called terrorist suspects in this country, and how we have bent over backwards to allow the McCanns to mount and ride the media tiger in their attempted flight from justice.

Their version of events did not stack up from the start. Now the tiger will savage them. And serves them right. I have no sympathy for them. Mine is reserved for Madeleine and the desire that she gets justice, she is the victim.

Iain Dale said...

Ethelred, either you have a twisted mind or you just delight in ascribing motives that just aren't there. David Hughes is a friend of mine and I would no more associate him with anything like that. When I wrote the post it never occurred to me that anyone could even think I would deign to draw such a parallel. If you read the post you can see that I am heartily sick of the speculation on Sky today. There was no criticism - either implicit or explicit of Justine or David, so I hope you will accept that as it is the honest to God truth. I shall now re-read the post and if necessary reword it because I am genuinely horrified is anyone can draw that implication from it.

tapestry said...

My hunch is that the Portuguese Police are covering up. Abduction of children is commonplace in many european countries, and notably Belgium. It is shocking to see the ubiquitous signs at tram stops of missing children there, just like missing cats or dogs bere.

No one is ever prosecuted and few children are ever seen again. Judges and politicians are suspected of complicity with or fear of paedophile rings. The fact that this story will not go away is prompting the Portuguese to use the best possible way to make the Mccanns go away and stop asking any more questions...fabricate a bit of evidence and shove Mrs McCann in the slammer.

This is the European Union at work. Child abduction and rape, and no justice for the parents. Do we need a referednum or what?

Ethelred the Unhinged said...

I do not wish to make a political point, either.

I saw in your post an attempt to link the McCann tragedy with the Lib Dems.

If no such attempt was intended, that is the end of the matter and i apologise for any distress caused.

Anonymous said...

first anon here - i wasn't having a pop, iain, i just can't see the "political angle" here.

i think it would all be a very good idea if everyone focused on something else and let the police of all countries get on with their jobs.

Anonymous said...

As OMC might have said 'How Bizarre !'

Anonymous said...

Jailhouse lawyer is an idiot and writes like an idiot. There was an interview and a detailed analysis of the McCann case in The Times on Tuesday that made the entire 35 days of consecutive Daily Express front pages featuring Madeleine (where jailhouselawyer and other idiots source their conjecture masquerading as news) look to be exactly what they are, journalism for mad people and idiots, like jailhouselawyer.

Madeleine's godmother is a publicist. That is all you ever need to know about why this case has been so prominent. Today's line of questioning is based on blood traces found in the parents' hire car, a car they did not hire for 5 weeks after the disappearance. This case and the string of witch hunts and media character assasinations (more like character lynchings). There will always be a hardcore of people in our society, idiots like Jailhouselawyer, who will think someone is guilty the second their name is mentioned (the completely innocent Robert Murat anyone?) and the best thing we can do with these clowns is exclude them from the criminal justice system as much as possible and not give them too much creedance.

With what the public actually know about this case it is actually impossible for anyone to accuse the parents. Nobody knows anything so the sh*thead tabloids have to make their own hay. Idiots (like Jailhouselawyer) are harvested by newspapers as an additional 100,000 readers by the mere printing of an unsubstantiated headline such as "McCann's asked: Did you kill your daughter?" - designed to transfer suspicion and to accuse withour making an accusation for there is not one iota of evidence to back it up. Anyone whose been prejudiced against this poor misfortunate family from what they have read in the Daily Express should recuse themselves from the public debate to hide in shame. You're too thick to participate. "Flight from justice?". A lying tabloid's flight of fancy more like. Idiots.

jailhouselawyer said...

newwelshright: You silly little boy. You are 17 now, its time that you got out of your nappies, and stopped sucking your thumb, and grew up. I do not accept your idiot label, as my 155 IQ rating contradicts your ignorant rant. If I write like an idiot, how come my stats are over 2,000 hits today? Besides, I have a 3 book deal with a publisher, the same one that has just published Rachel North London. Sorry, I don't read the Daily Express. I don't sink that low. My daily reads are the Telegraph, Times, Independent and Guardian in that order. Then I check out the BBC on line.

If you took time to read my blog, you would find that the MSM visits it to find out where they went wrong on the McCann case and change their stance. So, rather than me follow the lead of the Express, the qualities follow me.

As it happens, when Ch4 asked me about my view of Robert Murat I said he was a red herring. Concentrate of the McCanns. The Ipswich example springs to mind.

My view is based on 35 years of experience, which is double your age sonny boy.

"A provocative blogger for the right". You don't know the meaning of provocative. You can be forgiven for being a Right Winger. But, it is better if you know what you are writing about before you go and spout off. Especially, if you are going to be challenging.

Now, I have just smacked your bum. It's time you was in bed. Children should be seen and not heard...

verity said...

Etheldred The Unhinged - I read that both of the McCanns agreed to be official "suspects" because only then can the Portuguese police reveal all the evidence they have collected to them. I believe the McCanns therefore agreed to become suspects so they could have access to everything the police have.

JHL - Their version of events did not stack up from the start. Now the tiger will savage them. And serves them right. I have no sympathy for them. Mine is reserved for Madeleine and the desire that she gets justice, she is the victim. Yeah. Right. As an old lag, you have a special talent for determining guilt without bothering with evidence and a trial?

Are you an "expert" on international law now, too? Speak Portuguese? Read Portuguese while you were serving your sentence for manslaughter, did you? New Welsh Right does have a point or two.

Re the money point that someone else raised, I think the McCanns were on full salary for a month or so and are now not and are depending on the fund that was set up for finding their daughter, although this is carefully administered. They can't just pop in and write out a cash cheque for £10,000. And their family and friends are probably helping them. And there are probably other benefactors helping quietly. At a time like this, who cares?

Ethelred the Unhinged said...


there is a difference between agreeing to be an "arguida" and being accused of your own daughter's murder.

Perhaps even you can understand that.

canvas said...

must be a 'family friend'.
It usually is, right?

Big Andy said...


If you're so clever: why do you always lose your argument's?

Also: why do all your points turn into arguments?

Further: why are you the only axe murderer to post on this site?

Joking aside, telling people how clever you are is simply not clever. Even if you have an IQ of 155, what about the people who have an IQ of 156? Do you bow down to their views?

Even if you do have an IQ score of 156, that means solely that you were good at scoring on one particular test.

The fact you think you can come on here and constantly steer the debate your way, becuase of your 'genius' is laughable, but also annoying.

Why dont you post shorter, snappier, less self-conscious posts?

ALso, and you can of course accuse me of hypocrisy here, why dont you STOP slagging of other posters. Turn your cheek. Be the bigger man. Throw a bit of magnaminity around.

After a while people might listen.

YOu might get hte odd post in support of your view (has that ever happened before)

Dr Shipman said...

Ooh, can I join in the stuff about IQ?

But before I do I should say I have never killed anyone with an axe or any other household or garden implement. (Injections don't count, do they?)

I have an IQ of 161 according to the Mensa test I took 20 years ago which was higher than Sir Clive Sinclair's score who was its President at the time.

So what's it done for me? Well, here I am replying to yet another inane blog from the "slaughterhouselawyer" and wondering who's the clever one now. It's a bit sad isn't it?

Still, tomorrow's another day and more patients who need my help.

verity said...

Ethelred the ... "there is a difference between agreeing to be an "arguida" and being accused of your own daughter's murder."

I was supporting you.

I'm not going to argue the finer points of Portuguese law with you because I don't know them and actually, don't care.

Big Andy - If JHL has an IQ of 156, so does my cat. So does his dog that he lives with in his place in the north of England.

Is he suggesting that having a higher IQ - which, given his posts, is aspirational - makes temperorary irritation over a lid not replaced on a bottle of marmalade an excuse for killing the inattentive lid non-replacer OK. Because of his elevated "intelligence" - of which we have no evidence given his sluggish, not to say turgid, self-serving, posts, he's allowed a death or two? People can be so irritating.

Sceptical Steve said...

Leaving aside the riveting arguments about IQ for the moment, it appears obvious that, after 4 months, the Portugese do not have any hard evidence.

Under these circumstances, their PR teams will be wanting a damage limitation strategy, and I think it highly likely that, having now declared the McCanns as official suspects, they will never get as far as charging them. The whole case will peter out in due course, but the impression will be left that the McCanns have somehow "got away with it".

Under these circumstances, I don't begrudge them whatever PR help they employ to counter the inherent unfairness of the system ranged against them.

aardvark said...

verity said.... "and are depending on the fund that was set up for finding their daughter, although this is carefully administered."

The McCanns have said that they have not drawn on the fund for their personal needs. I suspect that they have done a deal with one of the newspapers for their story and have received a big advance payment from them.

Charlotte Corday said...

How can you say that they are being fitted up? You don't know what the evidence the police may have.
Also, I'm tired of people sneering at the Portugese police. It was a lab in Birmingham that processed the forensic findings, a British cadaver dog that reacted in the holiday appartment and British police have been closely involved in the case.

Anonymous said...

Jailhouselawyer is a shouty IDIOT with no balls. He repeats himself. Can he write at all? Has he any friends?

JohnfromCamberley said...

Reference Clarence Mitchell. The Mirror forum, of all places, includes the result of a FOI request about the costs of his support to the McCann family.

The FCO describes him as providing "consular support to the McCann family in exceptional circumstances". The costs to the taxpayer (other than his salary) were £6230.90.

I still find this degree of support, of which Mitchell's services are only a part, quite remarkable. I still say that there are plenty of people who have found themselves in difficulties overseas who would have welcomed such help, but instead were given nothing at all. And I still question whether the McCanns have been benefiting from "knowing the right people".

Contrary to the implications of Verity's "at a time like this, who cares?", I think we all should.

Anonymous said...


C4' said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Elmer Quigley Gooseburger said...

" seems to me that they are about to be 'fitted up', if that's the phrase."

Well that might be your phrase Mr Dale, though I don't recall you making any similar claim when the "sad loner" Murat was made an arguido.

Then again, he wasn't "one of your own" ie, an Audi driving, chinless middle-class wonder.

Perhaps Mr Dale, instead of casting groundless aspersions on both the professionalism and integrity of the Português Judiciaire, Leicestershire Constabulary and Scotland Yard (representatives of whom all remain active in the investigation), you might better confine yourself to political inanities on Fox News Lite.

Iain Dale said...

Elmer whoever you are, take a look at this

So your assertion is wrong. Care to admit it?

Adrian Yalland said...

Iain, ignore the trolls!

What the Portugese police are sugesting seems insane to me.

This women is suppossed to have killed her child, yet, in a the middle of a media circus (which she created), hid the body somewhere for 25 days, then sneeked it out in the back of a car to dispose! Oh, and she was suppossed to have killer Maddy and hid the body somewhere where the cops cannot find it, within 30 mins!

I reckon the cops are looking to fit her up to get the crime of the font pages and save some police pride!

I don't know what happened, but the idea of this women killing her child is unlikely in my eyes.

Elmer Quigley Gooseburger said...

Elmer whoever you are, take a look at this

So your assertion is wrong. Care to admit it?

No... :-)

What you have done there, Mr Dale, is to express concern at the manner in which the media chose to portray Mr Murat.

A completely different kettle of fish to the concern you have expressed regarding the McCanns.

Unless your more recent reference is to the McCanns being "fitted up" by the media, and not by the police?

Anonymous said...


I also was initially concerned by your comments, which I have only just seen, as there seemed to be a possibility of an attempted smear. You have stated that nothing of the sort was intended and I believe you absolutely.

"it seems to me that they are about to be 'fitted up'"

Me too.

For me this has been obvious for weeks. The police in this Mediterranean-type country have obviously ballsed-up everything to do with this case. They have obviously been floundering around doing nothing useful. They didn't isolate the crime scene. They didn't search buildings unless someone opened the door for them. They didn't do checks at the border.
It was surely only a matter of time until they started on the parents. Plus, the McCanns are suing a Mediterranean-type journalist. Anyone know if he has any Mediterranean-type relatives working for this Mediterranean-type police force?

The clear lesson for Brit tourists who lose a child in Europe is go home, or go to prison and then go home.

JohnfromCamberley said...

It's interesting to see this potentially rather interesting debate twice derailed by trolls addressing semantics rather than the main thrust. Are we venturing into an area that the Gordites would rather we steered clear of?

For myself, I thought Iain's reference to being "fitted up" was aimed particularly at the two minor LDs themselves. It seems, though they probably don't realise it at this moment, that they may find themselves increasingly defending the indefensible, as time goes by, and looking all the more stupid as they try to do so.

Here's my theory. The original horrible story of the kidnap emerged just at the time that Brown was trying to shift his image to try to fit in with the PM role - aiming at benevolent, maybe even patrician. He was alerted to the story by his brothers, they are PR people and in the McCanns' "set". The story was a chance - there would be no harm in Brown appearing to give help, and there was a golden dream in the photo op of being with the family when the child was recovered, having associated himself closely with the good news. So, a considerable package of otherwise undue under-the-counter support (personnel, money, diplomatic pressure, management of the UK news media) was authorised and arranged, to try to speed on the happy ending and manage all the good news in GB's favour.

Four months later, sadly the child has not shown up, and the parents look more suspicious than ever before. GB's original cynical dream is turning, minute by minute, to merde.

The political element of the story hereon is how No 10 manages its exit, covers its tracks and conceals yet another example of Brown's misjudgement. Spreading the notion that the McCanns are being fitted up by the shambling, lazy and incompetent Portuguese police is, I am sorry to say, part of that process.

The trolls, of course, will say all all this is fiction. I say that the known facts are sparse, but what I have written fits all of them.

C4' said...

The McCanns are victims of the rampant anti-British racism that exists in Europe. They are also being made scapegoats for the incompetance of the Portugese police.

And the Nulab scum want to sign us up to this Napoleanic legal system. Yet another good reason for Britain to leave the EU asap.

tapestry said...

paedophile ring abduction. police and judges paid off. Portuguese politicians desperate to keep the lid on it all. British media too stupid to realise how big organised crime is in these countries.

This is the EU at work. Democracy grinds to a halt. The gangs take over.

Buenaventura Durruti said...

God,there's some dribble in this thread. Not to mention some good only jingoism
There is only two things absolutely clear in this case:
1) a little girl is missing
2) the Portugese police leak less than the British police (especially to the British media) and that none of the UK media covering the case - not even the celebrated Martin Brunt - know what evidence the police do or do not have: they are trying to reconstruct it from info/leaks from McCanns and their friends who are hardly likely to say 'they got me bang to rights on that.'

Anonymous said...

the mccanns are not being fitted up. clearly they have some questions to answer.

they have links to GB and have had an exceptionally easy ride from the MSM from the outset. they are still gettign kid gloves treatment and their family is spouting off at will protesting their innocence.

shithouselawyer or whatever is a shouty idiot.

IiD said...


Biased BBC picked up this on Friday-The fact that Justin McGuiness has no personal links with the McCann's might seem to look as though:

A)Increasing a profile of a Fib Dem candidate

B)Her leaking of "what the McCann's said" is might be seen as smearing the Portugese Police,who unlike the British Police don't go tittle tattling to the press.

People have made political and financial capital over this case-no matter if the McCann's are innocent or not.

Media/Police/Political interference is dangerous-DAC Peter Clarke has already hinted that some journo's have tipped of terrorist suspects.This is an undemocratic step in the wrong direction. p=118

David Hughes said...

I have just returned home from accompanying the McCanns back from Portugal and would like to say that I have absolutely no complaints with Iain identifying Justine and myself as working for them. It's a perfectly legitimate observation and I cannot see how it could be construed as an attack on either the Liberal Democrats or us personally. Although Iain and I of course disagree about a number of political issues, I know he would never seek to mock or exploit anyone's personal tragedy. He's a great guy and it will be very sad if UK politics starts going the American route where friendships across party boundaries become more and more rare. As it happens the McCanns have received support from across the party spectrum, including from their local MP, Stephen Dorrell, and Conservative PPC, Esther McVey, who is a long-standing personal friend of Kate, and who has become a trustee of the campaign fund.

And just before the wilder conspiracy theorists get going, no Iain and I haven't communicated about this and he hasn't asked me to write this!

Well Behaved Orphan said...

I see now that Justine McGuinness has resigned and the McCanns are seeking advice elsewhere.

Recent (political) history suggests turning to an ex-News of the World editor is an act of desperation!,,2168936,00.html