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The Complete Mystery of Madeleine McCann™
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Jon Clarke's role in 'Maddie in US' claim Empty Jon Clarke's role in 'Maddie in US' claim

Post by Tony Bennett 24.03.11 15:07

Does an Angolan bouncer in a Spanish basketball team know that Madeleine McCann is alive and in the United States?

Analysis of another media story, in February 2011, about Madeleine.
by The Madeleine Foundation


A. How the British media profits from ‘Madeleine’ stories

B. The role of Clarence Mitchell

C. The Sun story which broke the news from the Angolan bouncer

D. The alleged sequence of events that led to the publication of the Sun article on 18 February 2011

E. Under what circumstances did Marcelino’s ‘dossier’ get handed over to the Spanish police?

F. Marcelino Italiano

G. Marcelino Italiano’s lawyer

H. The person at the Spanish police station in Huelva who received the ‘dossier’

I. Jon Clarke, Editor of The Olive Press, who broke the story

J. Clarence Mitchell and the McCanns

K. The Sun editor and his journalist, Emily Nash

L. Comments on the SolTimes story

M. Analysis on the ‘Little Morsals’ blog

N. Marcelino Italiano’s basketball team

O. The Algarve prostitution ring - and a claimed link with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann

P. Conclusion


The Madeleine Foundation, set up in January 2008 to assist in the process of finding out the truth about what really happened to Madeleine McCann, and named after Madeleine because of our conviction that, once the full truth about her is known, her name must stand for all time for lessons to be learned about child welfare, has never made any secret of the fact that we question the McCanns’ account of what happened to Madeleine the week the McCann family were on holiday in April and May 2007.

It follows that we have always been very sceptical about all the media-generated stories about Madeleine’s whereabouts, which swing from the McCanns’ detectives’ firm conviction that she is being held in a prison lair near Praia da Luz, Portugal (where she went missing), to claims that a Victoria Beckham-lookalike took her on a boat to Australia, to recent reports of a ‘sighting’ in Dubai, and now this latest claim: ‘Maddie in U.S.’ All of these claims and many more have been made in the past 18 months alone.

A. How the British media profits from ‘Madeleine’ stories

The Daily Express once boasted that it could sell tens of thousands of pounds by putting a charming photgraph of Madeleine on its front page - and indeed this newspaper, owned by ‘pornograhy king’ Richard Desmond, would gaily order an extra print run just by the device of printing any old story about Madeleine, accompanied of course by a photo, and sticking this on their front page. Other British tabloids have done the same for the past four years, caring nothing about whether there is any substance at all to their articles.

These stories are uusally fed to them by the well-oiled and well-funded McCann Team machine, and, one day, the process by which these stories appeared in our media will fully be brought to light, so that we may all learn useful lessons from it.

Few Madeleine McCann stories appear in any of the media unless the McCanns’ Chief Public Relations Officer, Clarence Mitchell, has either fed them to the media, or been allowed to influence the content. Whilst this article is not mainly about Clarence Mitchell, for the benefit of new readers of our material it is worth just giving a short biography of Mitchell before we move on to the core of our article.

B. The role of Clarence Mitchell

Mitchell rose to prominence as a BBC journalist. There, he specialised in covering stories of gruesome deaths. He was the main BBC reporter covering the serail murders by Fred and Rosemary West in Gloucester, the murders of 9-year-olds Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells in Soham by paedophile Ian Huntley, and the shooting dead of TV presenter Jill Dando, where incidentally he was the very first on the scene. In the case of the Soham murders of Jessica and Holly, Mitchell teamed up with reporter Lori Campbell, who was the first journalist to openly place Robert Murat under suspicion, in an article in the Daily Mirror.

After working for the BBC, he then moved seamlessly on to work in the Labour government’s spin machine, ending up in the Media Monitoring Unit, right at the heart of government in the Cabinet Office. Before long he was its Director, and in an interview with Spanish newspaper Espresso in October 2007, he boasted that as Head of the ’40-strong’ Media Monitoring Unit, it was his job to ‘control what comes out in the media’.

Maybe, then, that is why, in May 2007, just days after Madeleine McCann was reported missing, Mitchell was switched from his post within the Central Office of Information to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where his assignment was, in terms: “See to it that you oversee all the McCanns’ public relations”.

On 31 January 2008, the Daily Mail ran a piece which, inter alia, stated: “Clarence Mitchell said officials had assured him in private briefings that they were treating the case as one of rare stranger abduction”.

One is bound to wander what happened at these ‘private briefings’ (note the plural). When did these private brieifngs occur? Who were they with? And - most important of all - what was Clarence Mitchell told, and what did he agree to do?

In September 2007 he was, unusually, given permission to leave the Civil Service (or so we were told), to take up a full-time post as the McCanns’ Chief Public Relations Officer, at a reported salary of £75,000 a year plus expenses.

In late 2008 Mitchell announced that he was now only working for the McCanns ‘on a part-time basis’, on a salary thought to be around £30,000 a year, and had gone to work for high profile international public relations firm Freud International. Just as it happens, Matthew Freud is the husband of Elizabeth Murdoch, daughter of Rupert Murdoch, arguably the world’s post powerful media magnate - and by some distance.

It was Rupert Murdoch’s Sun which, in May 1997, following Tony Blair’s tirumph in the General Election, after 18 years of unbroken Conservative government, trumpeted: “It woz the Sun wot won it”. It was no idle boast. The Sun then sold 5 million copies daily and had an estimated readership of double that. The previous year, Tony Blair had met with Rupert Murdpch - and no doubt they had agreed a deal. The Sun would back Labour, no doubt in return fo a few ‘favours’.

Twelve years later, in the summer of 2009, Rupert Murdoch met David Cameron on Murdoch’s luxury yacht in the Medierrranean. There, once again, an aspiring, wannabe Prime Minister, David Cameron, talked turkey with Murdoch.

The following then hasppened in quick succession. The Sun switched its allegiance from Labour to Conservative. Then Cameron appointed Andy Coulson, formerly Editor at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World, to be his ‘Director of Communications’.

In March 2010, Cameron appointed Clarence Mitchell as No. 2 to Coulson in his Communications Team. Coulson of course was forced to resign from his post earlier this year after persistent rumours that he authorised ’phone hacking by his journalists on an industrial scale.

Cameron had met with Murdoch in the summer of 2009. Cameron had appointed Murdoch’s former man at the News of the World, Andy Coulson, as his Director of Communcations. Now he had appointed Clarence Mitchell as Coulson’s assistant. By then, Mitchell had been working for Murdoch’s son-in-law for over a year, and then moved to a public relations post with Lewis PR.

Unsurprisingly, the following then took place.

David Cameron won the 2010 General Election.

Months later, the government minister appointed to vet Murdoch’s bid for total control of BskyB, Liberal Democrat Vincent Cable, voiced doubts about the takeover bid. He was unceremoniously removed to a more junior post. Into his shoes stepped Jeremy Hunt, a known and vocal backer of Murdoch. It was no surprise that, last month (February 2011), Murdoch got his way when Hunt raised no objection to Murdoch’s deal going through, despite a chorus of opposition from other media owners and the from general public.

We give this little introduction to Clarence Mitchell to show that this is a man who swims in the same elite pool as Rupert Murdoch and successivce British Prime Ministers. He is very close to very powerful people. That may in itself give us a vital clue as to why Tony Blair despatched him to Portugal in May 2007 in the days following Madeleine being reported missing.

And it would help us to understand why Dr Gerald McCann and future Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke so often on their mobile ’phones to each other in May 2007, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. It should have been the Foreign Secretary’s role to help the McCanns, not the man in control of the Treasury. There is significant public interest raised by the spectacle of the Chancellor of the Exchequer apparently interfering in matters which quite clearly fall within the province of the Foreign Secretary.

Two mainstream journalists have both told us, in confidence, that Clarence Mitchell is really employed ‘right at the top of MI5’. That, if true, would not surprise us. If that were the case, he would know all that there is to know about anybody who is anybody. And that would explain the almost mesmeric hold he appears to have on the nation’s media.

Whatever his true role, his main purpose over recent years has undoubtedly been the business of what is euphemistically called ‘reputation mangement’, whether for the Labour government, the Conservative government, or the McCanns. Some have said, a touch unkindly, that his job can be likened to that of a ‘professional liar’. For those who want a little more background on Mitchell, we’d refer you to the article, also on our website: ‘Clarence Mitchell: A Master Media Manipulator’.

So, against that background, we can now turn our attention to the seemingly dramatic story, which first appeared in the Sun on 18 February 2011, that an Angolan bouncer working in Spain knew that Madeleine McCann was being held alive in the United States by an international, elite, paedophile ring.

C. The Sun story which broke the news from the Angolan bouncer

Let us begin by quoting in full the story which broke that morning in the British media:


MADELEINE MCCANN IS IN AMERICA – AND I KNOW WHO TOOK HER: PAEDO ring which snatched Madeleine McCann took others, investigator claims

From EMILY NASH and JON CLARKE in Huelva, Spain

Published: 18 Feb 2011

[Photo of Marcelino Italiano by Revelation…Marcelino Italiano claims to have located Maddie McCann…Jon Clarke/Olive Press/ ENP]

AN INVESTIGATOR has told cops Madeleine McCann was taken to the US - and he has named two key suspects. Marcelino Italiano, 36, said she had been snatched by an Algarve-based paedophile ring. The amateur sleuth added: “They can get away with anything”. Maddie vanished in Portugal in May 2007.

Angolan-born Italiano said the gang of influential and dangerous perverts had hunted children in the Algarve before smuggling them out of Portugal. And he told how he had to flee for his life when his investigations threatened to unmask them.

The 6ft 4in nightclub bouncer said: "I know these people were involved and I have been told that Madeleine may now be in America. I can't say how, but I have known these people and believe they can get away with anything. I think there have been over a dozen children kidnapped. They prey on the weak and vulnerable”.

Italiano, 36, said the ring was based in Faro and Albufeira, but had high-level contacts in Portugal's judiciary and links to a legal practice in London. He added: "They are ruthless. I have been attacked twice for trying to investigate it and even lost my front tooth in one attack. I am prepared to go to any length to reveal the truth about these sick people - they need to be exposed”.

Italiano has handed a dossier of information he uncovered to police in Huelva, south west Spain. He says it includes the names of two prominent Portuguese businessmen and provided photographs of them at a birthday party in the Algarve.

Officers have passed the information to Portuguese cops while private investigators hired by the Find Madeleine Fund - set up by her parents Kate and Gerry - are also looking into the dramatic claims. They chillingly echo the case of the Casa Pia paedophile ring, which involved the abduction of youngsters from state-run orphanages.

In September six men including a solicitor, a former ambassador and a TV presenter were jailed for sexually abusing 32 children living at Casa Pia homes across Portugal. One of the chief witnesses, former resident Paulo Namora, told the trial that many of the group's wealthy members were based in the Algarve.

Last night a lawyer acting on behalf of Italiano told The Sun her client had a "credible and believable story". She added: "He told the police he believed Maddie was taken by the gang and he believes she may now be in the US”.

A spokesman for Kate and Gerry, of Rothley, Leics, said: "We are grateful for the information. As with any information of this nature the man concerned has done the right thing by informing the Spanish authorities. Clearly it will be a matter for them and the private investigators currently searching for Madeleine to investigate further."

Maddie was about to turn four when she disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007. Bungling Portuguese police named her parents as suspects before clearing them. In 2008 detectives looked into suggestions that Maddie may have been taken ‘to order’ by a child smuggling ring based in Belgium.

Scotland Yard intelligence officer John Shord sent Leicestershire police an email reporting: "Somebody connected to this group saw Madeleine, took a photograph of her, and sent it to Belgium. The purchaser agreed that the girl was suitable and Maddie was taken”.

Some of the information, which came from an anonymous source, was dismissed as not credible. And both Portuguese police and Interpol were unable to unearth further details. Meanwhile the McCanns' team of investigators have interviewed hundreds of witnesses, received more than 1,000 phone calls and dealt with more than 15,000 emails from people from across the globe. Sightings have been reported across Europe and North Africa and as far away as Canada, Tasmania and Dubai.


There is one important aspect of this story to which we shall return in depth later. The story is billed as an ‘Exclusive’ - which usually means, simply, that the newspaper knows that no other newspaper has got the story. The article is by-lined to ‘Emily Nash’, a Sun reporter, but also, jointly, to ‘Jon Clarke in Huelva’.

The article is also accompanied by several photographs, one of which features a close-up of 36-year-old Italiano, reproduced above. The text underneath the photo reads: “Photo of Marcelino Italiano by Revelation…Marcelino Italiano claims to have located Maddie McCann…Jon Clarke/Olive Press/ ENP”.

From this, we learn that the ‘Jon Clarke’ who is billed as the joint writer of this Sun article is the Jon Clarke who is the owner and editor of a popular English-language newspaper in southern Spain, cleverly called ‘The Olive Press’, a reference to the huge olive groves that can be found in the regions of Andalucia and around, where the free newspaper is eagerly snapped up and read. It will become even clearer, later, that Jon Clarke is the source through which the world learnt about this latest claim that someone knows where Madeleine is. How he got hold of the story is a matter we will analyse later in our article.

It’s also of more than passing interest that when Fox News ran this story in the United States, it elevated Marcelino Italiano to the dizzy status of ‘private investigator’, not mentioning that he was a bouncer. They preferred to claim that he was a ‘private investigator’. Even the Sun more modestly described him as ‘amateur sleuth’. But then, the McCanns have books to sell in the United States and Fox News is owned and run by Rupert Murdoch. Link to the article:

D. The alleged sequence of events that led to the publication of the Sun article on 18 February 2011

The claim that Madeleine McCann was smuggled into the U.S. is not a story which we believe has any substance to it, though no doubt some strands of truth are somehow woven into what any person with common sense should immediately be able to recognise as a tissue of fabrications.

Nevertheless, let us assume, if only for a moment, that it is true. And then let us look at the alleged chain of events which would have had to have occurred, for this story to have broken on 18 February.

1. Marcelino Italiano is described as ‘Angolan-born’. Presumably he, or perhaps his parents, settled some time ago in Portugal. Angola was a Portuguese colonial territory. Presumably he must be able to speak Portuguese

2. He is now 36. He must therefore have been 32 or 33 at the time Madeleine was reported missing in May 2007

3. He appears to have been living in the Algarve, according to the initial reports. During this time he somehow encountered a group of people, ‘based in the Algarve’, who were paedophiles. He refers to them as ‘a gang of influential and dangerous perverts’, allegedly based in Faro and Albufeira, who ‘could get away with anything’. They ‘hunted children in the Algarve’ and then ‘smuggled them out of Portugal’. Not only that, but - of course without naming anyone - he says the gang ‘had high-level contacts in Portugal's judiciary’ and ‘links to a legal practice in London’. ‘Contacts’ and ‘links’ could mean anything or nothing. He also chips in with claims of two ‘prominent’ Portuguese businessmen said to have been ‘photographed at a birthday party’. It all sounds impressive on a first reading. But when you examine the claims in more detail, none of it is capable of verification

4. At some stage, whilst on the Algarve, he appears to have become an ‘amateur sleuth’, or even, with typical Fox News hype, a ‘private investigator’

5. Then we come to some distinctly uncertain and unverifiable claims. He says he has been ‘told’ that Madeleine ‘may be’ in America. ‘May be’? So that means that even the person who is said to have spoken to him has only said: ‘Marcelino, Madeleine may be in America’. Of what possible use is that to man or beast? And he says he’s been ‘told’ this, which effectively means that he has no means of verifying whether what he has been ‘told’ is true or not. The Sun headline runs: “Madeleine McCann is in America”. It should of course have been re-written: “I have been told that Madeleine may be in America”. But then that wouldn’t sell so many papers, nor make such a good headline, would it?

6. Continuing with the lack of certainty about the claims he makes, Italiano says he thinks ‘more than a dozen’ children have been kidnapped by this ‘gang’. It is legitimate to ask who those children are supposed to be, what are their names and ages…has there been anything about these missing children in the media at all?

7. He ‘believes’ this gang can ‘get away with anything’ but also says, enigmatically: ‘I can’t say how’

8. He says: ‘They prey on the weak and vulnerable’. What does that mean in practice? Obviously, all children are by definition ‘vulnerable’ Does he mean the children are ‘vulnerable’, or does he mean their families?

9. He says he has been attacked twice by members of the gang (or their accomplices) and in one of those two attacks, ‘lost a front tooth’

10. He says he had to ‘flee for his life’ to Spain

11.The article then goes on to day he has ‘handed a dossier’ to the Spanish police.

We might note one further point of interest. SKY NEWS (another Murdoch-owned news medium) reported the news and quoted the McCanns’ chief public relations spokesman Clarence Mitchell as follows:

“Clarence Mitchell told SKY NEWS he was sceptical about claims made by a private investigator that Madeleine was abducted by an international paedophile gang. The Angolan-born man and nightclub bouncer who made the claims also said he was forced to flee for his life when the group became aware of his interest. Madeleine was nearly four when she disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007. We should stress a note of caution here. These are claims that have been made to Spanish police, we understand”, said Mr Mitchell. “If this man has any credible information about Madeleine, he has done the right thing in the first instance by going to the police. But of course this information has to be investigated to establish if there is any truth or not”.

Mitchell’s professed scepticism may have been just to pitch himself as the wise counsellor who, amidst the undoubted ‘hype’ of the Sun story, seeks to calm his clients and damp down public speculation about the alleged ‘revelations’. But this is not the first time this year that Mitchell has made a slightly off-message pronouncement.

On 6 January this year, interviewed on BBC Radio Humberside, in a failed attempted tour of Britain’s radio stations to try to generate interest in the McCanns’ new ‘very truthful’ book, he candidly admitted that the McCanns’ claims that Madeleine had been abducted were no more than ‘an assumption’ or a ‘working hypothesis’. This concession was little short of remarkable for a man who had been paid hundreds of thousand of pounds over the past four years to hypnotise the general public into believing that the abduction of Madeleine was a stone cold fact - and backed in this instance by the powerful considerable legal muscle of Carter-Ruck (the ‘most feared libel lawyers in the U.K.’, according to a boast on their own website), who had threatened for years to sue for libel anyone who dared, or presumed, to suggest otherwise. The McCanns of course have never explained how they ‘knew instantly’ that Madeleine had been abducted.

Mitchell’s concession has led to open speculation that Mitchell may be beginning a process of distancing himself from his clients.

The SKY NEWS bulletin included an exclusive interview with Mitchell. Here’s the transcript of what he said, with our emphasis in italics:


“We, er…we should stress a note of caution here, er…these are indeed claims that have been made, Spanish police, er…we understand in the first instance, er… and this man, if he has any credible evidence, credible information about Madeleine, has done the right thing in the first instance by going to the police.

That’s exactly what Kate and Gerry, myself and everybody else helping them has been saying for the last three-and-a-half, four years. People should go to the police first and foremost. But of course, this information has to be investigated and it’s now incumbent on the Spanish police, the Portuguese police, indeed any law enforcement agency er looking at Madeleine’s case as well as our own private investigation team, to, to, go into these claims in depth and to establish if there is any truth in it or not.

The man himself apparently did not approach the media first, he’s not seeking money for his story, he is naming names of individuals, he is producing some documentation suggesting an association with these individuals, erm…again, all of that tends to suggest he may be slightly more serious an informant than some, erm…but that’s not to say it’s not fantasy, we just don’t know at this stage and that’s the bottom, that’s the bottom line, it has to be investigated”.


E. Under what circumstances did Marcelino’s ‘dossier’ get handed over to the Spanish police?

It is at this stage that we need to ask some pertinent questions about the exact circumstances involved in the alleged handing over of this dossier to the Spanish police. There are a number of people involved in the immediate lead-up to this story:

(1) Marcelino Italiano, the Angolan-born bouncer and part-time amateur sleuth with a dossier

(2) Marcelinho Italiano’s lawyer

(3) The person at the Spanish police station in Huelva who received the dossier

(4) Jon Clarke, Editor of The Olive Press, who broke the story

(5) Clarence Mitchell, who was quoted in the story

(6) The McCanns, who would have known all about the story in advance

(7) The Sun editor and his journalist, Emily Nash, who published this story as an ‘Exclusive’.

Let us analyse the role of each of those in turn.

F. Marcelino Italiano

Leaving aside the inevitable suspicions that most people would have about the whole story, once again let us assume, just for a moment, that Italiano thinks he has reasonable grounds for believing that he knows where Madeleine McCann may have been taken. Let us assume that he then complies a dossier, along the lines of “I know so-and-so, he told me about someone else, he told me where Madeleine had been taken, he told me about other children who had been snatched etc. etc.”. This, in effect, is basically all that his story amounts to: A told me this, B told me that, and so on. What should he do, assuming he has been told all this and believes, in good conscience, it to be true?

He could of course ring the Portuguese police, especially as it seems he can speak Portuguese. He could send them his dossier by Recorded Delivery or Registered Post. But it appears he has consulted a lawyer. That is understandable. Then we might ask if he paid any money to get the lawyer’s advice. How did he choose this lawyer? We are not told. In fact, who is the lawyer? We’re not told that either.

In Section N of our article we present evidence that Marcelino was living in Spain in 2008. He is said to have ‘fled to Spain’. He sees a Spanish lawyer in Huelva. Was the lawyer Portuguese, or Spanish? What language was their interview conducted in - Portuguese or Spanish?

G. Marcelino Italiano’s lawyer

What do we make of this anonymous lawyer’s actions? If our Angolan bouncer was unsure what to do with this information, well at least a lawyer would know what to do with it. Or you would think so. Did she (one newspaper says it is a female lawyer) quietly send her information by Registered Post to the Portuguese Police? It seems she didn’t. Did she ’phone up the Portuguese Police and ask what she should do with her client’s material? Apparently not. Did she go quietly to the Spanish Police and ask them to liaise with the Portuguese Police? No to that as well, it seems.

No, what she chose to do was to liaise instead with the media. And, so far as we can tell, it was The Olive Press editor, Jon Clarke, to whom she spoke. There is another possibility, to which we will return later. That is that Marcelino Italiano and his lawyer in fact contacted Rupert Murdoch’s paper, the Sun, and that the Sun then put her in touch with Jon Clarke to develop the story. This could have occurred if Jon Clarke was already in touch with the Sun.

One other point. Why does this lawyer need to remain anonymous? Why can’t she - or her client - say who she is? It is absolutely typical of the mystery and secrecy which surround so much in this case. There was the British banker, who at 2am in downtown Barcelona, three days after Madeleine was reported missing, said he spoke to a Victoria Beckham-lookalike who was ‘looking for a new daughter’. It took him two years of ‘agonising’ before he told his story to the McCanns’ private investigators. He was also said by the McCann Team to ‘wish to remain anonymous’, just like the ‘unnamed British barrister’ who claimed to have seen Robert Murat near the Ocean Club on the night that Madeleine disappeared.

H. The person at the Spanish police station in Huelva who received the ‘dossier’

We are not told, but may presume, that either Marcelino Italiano, or his lawyer, or both, either walked in to a police station to make a statement, or delivered their material to a police station. The question arises, when was that done? We are told that: “Officers have passed the information to Portuguese cops while private investigators hired by the Find Madeleine Fund…are also looking into the dramatic claims”.

So by the time the story appears in the Sun, we are told that the Portuguese Police have been passed the information, while the McCanns’ ‘private investigators’ are ‘looking into’ the claims. At the moment, the McCanns’ ‘private investigators’ seem to consist just of former Cheshire Detective Inspector Dave Edgar, though the McCanns a few months ago made claims that three other detectives had been appointed to strengthen their investigation team.

The information that the claims have been ‘passed to the Portuguese Police’ tells us nothing, without a comment from them. It could mean that the Spanish Police have only just passed the ‘dossier’ to the Portuguese Police. Or the Portuguese Police may have received the information and decided to do nothing with it - after all, they have repeatedly said they will only re-open their investigation of ‘new and credible’ information is received.

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Jon Clarke's role in 'Maddie in US' claim Empty PART TWO

Post by Tony Bennett 24.03.11 15:09


I. Jon Clarke, Editor of The Olive Press, who broke the story

Jon Clarke’s role in getting hold of this story in the first place is mysterious. We simply don’t know what role he played. But what we do know is that he broke the story. His name appears jointly with the Sun’s journalist, and he is named twice at the top of the article. That tells us that his role in the breaking of this story was very significant. It was not just a minor, ‘bit’ part.

We must assume, therefore, that before releasing his information (and of course co-ordinating this with the Sun), he would have spoken to both Marcelino Italiano and his lawyer. And of course he would also to the Sun Editor, or to one of his senior staff, no doubt negotiating a suitable figure for allowing the Sun an exclusive (unless of course Clarke was already on the Sun payroll?). Probably Clarke would also have spoken to Clarence Mitchell, and very possibly to the McCanns as well.

What do we know of Jon Clarke and about his interest in the Madeleine McCann story? Well, quite a lot, as it happens.

Let us go straight to the issue of his newspaper, The Olive Press, of 25 October 2007, nearly five months after Madeleine was reported missing, which the writer of this article happened to see on a visit to that area at the time. In the middle of that report was this striking sentence:

“But, as a journalist who has four times been to Praia de Luz to cover the story and as the first British newspaper reporter on the scene on that fated morning in May this year, I am certain, Kate and Gerry McCann did not kill their daughter”.

We shall return to examine that sentence in greater detail in a moment.

A former graduate of Manchester University, Clarke worked for 10 years in Fleet Street, for the Sunday Telegraph, Mail on Sunday and Daily Mirror). On moving to Spain, he worked as a ‘stringer’ for the Sunday Times and Sunday Telegraph. Clearly a man who loves writing, he has published books and made documentaries on the country, such as one on corruption on the Costa del Sol for Tonight with Trevor McDonald. He has been the Southern Spain correspondent for the popular hotel book, Alastair Sawday's Special Places to Stay. He is also, according to one biography, ‘heavily involved in the promotion of sustainable development in the region’. He lives with his wife, Gabriella, an artist, and a grown-up daughter, in Ronda, about 100 miles inland from Malaga on the Spanish coast.

Very recently, a man called Garry Peter Leigh, on the ‘TimeShareHorizons’ website, and on his own blog, penned a bitter rant about Jon Clarke - links: and

There are always two sides to every story, and what follows is Garry Leigh’s version of events. Nevertheless we will reprint it here as it may be taken to shed at least some light on Clarke:


A Tale of Jon Clarke, The Olive Press and Me

Now a so-called journalist by the name of Jon Clarke has joined the race to write about me. This self acclaimed ‘editor’ runs a rag called The Olive Press from an apartment in Ronda, deep in the heart of the Spanish countryside. He seems to slag off every business in Spain for no other reason, it seems, than they’re - based in Spain.

Do his advertisers and readers have any idea the depths this man will sink to for a story and their money? In a recent article about me, he refers to a case as having happened ‘last week’, when in fact the story occurred LAST YEAR. Imagine passing off a 3-month-old Daily Mirror story as current news - very professional indeed!

In the same article, Clarke refers to me as Tony King’s brother-in-law. For the record, Mr Jon Clarke, I am not Tony King’s brother-in-law - as you well know - but you’re not one to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

For those of you who don’t know, Tony King was convicted a few years ago for the rape and murder of two teenage girls on the Costa Del Sol. To my knowledge, Clarke is the only person to have profited from these horrendous killings. At the time of the trials, Clarke bragged about being paid £50,000 to write: ‘The Costa Killer’. Having persuaded the Daily Mirror to pay Cecilia King (wife of Tony King) for her story and hunting her down to the point of entrapment, he then seems to have turned the research that the Mirror paid for into a book for his own benefit. To my knowledge, he didn’t publish ‘The Costa Killer’ out of public interest. He didn’t give the proceeds to charity to help rape victims, or to the families of the murdered girls. Instead he saw an opportunity wrapped up in this horrific case and took the money for himself. And from what I can see, he went on to invest the proceeds into The Olive Press. Do your advertisers and readers realise this, Jon? Do they realise that in the eyes of some of us, you’re worse than the so-called ‘criminals’ you write about?

Why don’t you stick to writing inane books like your ‘Dining Secrets of Andalucia’. In this book, your publisher purrs that you have: ‘Identified 65 dining establishments that you might not find in other books’, with ‘narrative descriptions from the Patrons’.

That sounds more like your standard of journalism, Jon. Why don’t you do us all a favour and stick to it?”


Let us now re-examine Jon Clarke’s claims about his visits to Praia da Luz. The item that jumps out as one reads his October 2007 Olive Press article is his claim is that he was there - in Praia da Luz - on ‘that fated morning’ in May 2007. Undoubtedly, he means Friday 4 May, the day the news first broke that Madeleine McCann was missing. He says he was there that morning. Unless he is using journalistic licence, or exaggerating, or simply fabricating the time of his arrival at Praia da Luz, let us hold him to his claim. That means that, unequivocally, he was there at or before 12noon that very morning, Friday 4 May 2007.

Now, how come he was there that ‘fated’ morning? He lives in Ronda, Spain. A quick glance at a road atlas tells us that Praia da Luz is over the border, in Portugal, around 440km or 275 miles away from his home town, Ronda. By no means all of the journey is on fast main roads; some of it is on slow, rural roads. In the estimate of two people who know the area well, you could not do the distance in under five hours; indeed, six would be more likely. To get to Praia da Luz ‘in the morning’, therefore, he would have had to leave his Ronda home soon after 6.00am. The only other alternative is that he was actually in Praia da Luz the day Madeleine was reported missing (!).

But let us stickfor a moment with Clarke starting up his motor at say 6.00am to 6.30am on Friday 4 May. We must then ask: Why did he go to Praia da Luz at all? Did anyone ask him to go there; if so, who?

As far as we know, news of Madeleine’s disappearance only began breaking on the British media at around breakfast-time on 4 May. There is no way that Clarke would have listened to the broadcasts all night - that is stretching credulity beyond its limit. And how realistic is that he switched on his radio at, say, 6am, and, on a whim, immediately afterwards, jumped in his car and tore off towards Portugal? After all, even if he had heard the news, Madeleine might well have been found by the time he got to Praia da Luz. Villagers from there and from the surrounding villages were all out there looking for her -as were dozens of police, dogs, staff of the Ocean Club and Mark Warners, and countless other holiday makers.

So, what are we left with? Apart from the remote possibility that he was already in Praia da Luz on the morning of Friday 4 May, i.e. he was staying there (which he does not say in his article), the only other option we can think of that fits the facts is that a newspaper or a press agency, knowing that Clarke was based somewhere in southern Spain, contacted him in the small hours of the morning and said: “Jon, get over there”.

Now, if that is right, who would have contacted him during that night? And if it was a newspaper or press agency, would they really have summoned Clarke out of his bed for a story that might die away any moment, if Madeleine had been found?

We can’t answer these questions. Only Jon Clarke can.

But let us look at another point. Clarke writes: “As a journalist who has four times been to Praia de Luz to cover the story…” We know he was there on 4 May. We may assume he means he was there on at least three other occasions between then and 25 October that year. Again we must ask: who was he working for? He would surely not go to Praia da Luz for a day trip - a return journey of 10 to 12 hours. Where did he stay when he went there? Who did he meet and talk to when he was over there? Clarke is coy about these things. But whatever errand he was on, and whoever he spoke to, he was able to tell his Olive Press readers, without hesitation: “I am certain [that] Kate and Gerry McCann did not kill their daughter”.

Let us remember that this was written by Clarke just weeks after the McCanns were taken in for questioning (7 September), and after the world had learned about the findings of Martin Grime’s two cadaver dogs and of the McCanns’ strange reactions to the dogs’ findings. They produced tales, for example, of the dogs being confused with smells from rotting meat and dirty nappies, and of Kate carrying around the pink soft toy, ‘Cuddle Cat’, with her at work and coming into contact with six corpses in a fortnight, before finally claiming that cadaver dogs like these were ‘incredibly unreliable’.

Dr Gerald McCann even referred to the Eugene Zapata case in the United States, where a judge had ruled that he could not accept the evidence of the cadaver dog handler in that case. He dog had allegedly alerted to places where the corpse of Eugene Zapata’s wife had lain. Unfortunately for the McCanns and their large team of public relations advisers and lawyers, just a few months later, Zapata made a full confession, which confirmed that the dogs’ alerts to places where there had been scent of a corpse had been 100% correct.

So, we might well ask, what gave Clarke that utter certainty that the McCanns were in no way involved with the disappearance or death of their daughter? Had he spoken to them? Had he spoken to the McCanns’ advisers?

J. Clarence Mitchell and the McCanns

Mitchell, referred to as ‘a spokesman for the family’, was quoted in the story, stating: “We are grateful for the information. As with any information of this nature the man concerned has done the right thing by informing the Spanish authorities. Clearly it will be a matter for them and the private investigators currently searching for Madeleine to investigate further”.

Curiously, in his quote, he makes no reference to the matter now being in the hands of the Portuguese Police, despite the claim earlier in the piece that the dossier had already been passed to them. What is plain is that this whole story was familiar to the McCanns and their chief public relations spokesman well before it went to press in the Sun. In turn, that must mean that they consented to this story being printed. So, once again, we must question why the McCanns would want this story to see the light of day, if this was a genuine lead that they thought might in any way lead to Madeleine.

We made exactly the same point in our article last year about the claims by Wayne Hewlett that his late father, a paedophile, had said on his death-bed that he knew the gypsy gang leader who had ‘stolen’ Madeleine (see:

] ).

If there really was a paedophile gang which had snatched Madeleine, had accomplished the feat of taking her out of Portugal, had smuggled her in to the United States, and were still holding Madeleine alive (the whole idea does not even bear thinking about), then why would the McCanns want this story publicised at all? Surely, they would want the police to keep this story to themselves, until the information from the Angolan bouncer had been fully checked out?

If there really had been such a paedophile gang, and the Angolan bouncer knew how they could be tracked down - and if they were still holding Madeleine - how on earth would a story about the police to retrieve Madeleine? It wouldn’t, of course. It would do the reverse.

The gang member holding her would either take steps to make her even more hidden from public view, or kill her. Indeed, it would be the height of irresponsibility for the McCanns, their advisers, and the media to highlight Madeleine’s possible whereabouts.

So why has this story been produced? What purpose does it serve?

K. The Sun editor and his journalist, Emily Nash

Let’s now turn to the role of the Sun. Here are some possible reasons why this story was written:

  • To reinforce in the public mind (a) that Madeleine was really abducted and (b) that she might still be alive
  • To make money for the Sun, and possibly for some of those that brought this story to the Sun, including Marcelino Italiano, his lawyer, and Olive Press Editor Jon Clarke.

These are the people who seem to have benefited from this story. One person most unlikely to have benefited from this story, even in the unlikely event that she is still alive, is Madeleine McCann.

The sight of these people churning out this self-evidently unbelievable story, whilst obviously putting Madeleine at risk if she really was still alive, churns the stomach.

Profits in this case appear to have been made by cunning, profot-seeking journalists and their sources, while the McCanns achieve their public relations objectives, all at the expense of an unfortunately all-too-gullible public, and giving no help at all to Madeleine McCann even if she were still alive. It is heartbreaking to witness.

On Friday 4 March, the Sol Times, a Spanish newspaper, developed the story with the following additions:

QUOTE (Extracts only)


Detectives searching for Madeleine McCann are set to interview a man who claims she was taken to America.

An Angolan man who works in club security in the Algarve…Marcelino Jorge Italiano, 36, claims a number of respected figures in the towns of Faro and Albufeira are secretly involved. He also alleges an Algarve orphanage has been used as a source of vulnerable children.

The 6ft 4in bouncer, who fled across the border into Spain, gave his dossier of information on the gang to police in Huelva on Monday. He took a lawyer and spent more than an hour talking to detectives.

A source said last night, “Italiano has named names. Italiano is reported to have also given the name of a London associate of the gang's leader. Spanish police are now working closely with the Poruguese authories to investigate his claims.

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell, said, “As with all such investigations regarding Madeleine, this man has done the right thing by going to the Spanish police authorities. They will investigate it - as will the private investigators hired by the family”.


L. Comments on the SolTimes story

We make these brief observations on this story:

1. We learn that ‘detectives are set to interview’ Macelino Italiano. That presumably means the McCanns’ private investigators, though the article doesn’t explicitly say so

2. We are now told that Italiano ‘works in club security in the Algarve’ - yet in the previous story and in this one, we are informed that he has ‘fled’ to Spain

3. There is a new claim that ‘an Algarve orphanage for children’ may have been involved in child abuse, but the orphanage is not named

4. We’re told again that Italiano ‘fled across the border’ to Spain, implying that he did so quite recently

5. We are now solemnly told that he gave his dossier to police in Huelva ‘on Monday’. Now this story appeared on page 6 of the Costa Blanca edition of SolTimes dated ‘2-8 March’ (Wednesday to Tuesday). If the paper came out on Friday, as we understand, then the Monday referred to would be Monday 28 February. Possibly it could refer back to Monday 21 February.

But even if that were the case, Monday 21 February comes three days after the Sun broke its story, on Friday 18 February. And in that newspaper, the British public were solemnly told: “Italiano has handed a dossier of information he uncovered to police in Huelva, south west Spain”. So when was this dossier ‘handed over’? Before 18 February, as the Sun claims? Or on Monday 21 or Monday 28 February as the Sol Times asserts? These discrepances add to the feeling that this is a manufactured story

6. We are told, simply by an unnamed ‘source’, that “Spanish police are now working closely with the Poruguese authorities to investigate [Italiano’s] claims”. Who says, besides the source? Has this information been checked out, even by a quick call to the Portuguese Police?

M. Analysis on the ‘Little Morsals’ blog

Many of the above points were also made in an excellent analysis of this whole story by ‘Sasah Morsal’ of the ‘Little Morsals’ blog - link:


We add a few points from her article here:


“This is gripping and exciting stuff! ‘Gang’, ‘influential’, ‘dangerous’, ‘hunted’, ‘smuggling’ and ‘flee for his life’ in just two sentences”.

“If Mr Italiano had to ‘flee’ from Portugal with the dossier - why not give the dossier to the Portuguese police before heading for Spain?”

"Although Mr Italiano claims to have been attacked twice, and had to ‘flee for his life’, yet he allows his face to be printed in the Sun’s article?"

“It seems the article has failed to report truthfully on the amount of work the Portuguese police actually did (which is freely available in the released Portuguese Police files for anyone who would care to look), but is eager to tell of the unverifiable work apparently accomplished by the McCann Team of investigators...would that be Metodo 3, Kevin Halligen, Dave Edgar, or the new team Mr Edgar apparently hired (Nigel Brown; Dave Carter and Ray Cooper) in October 2010? Whichever, the results have been the same so far: Nil”.

“I notice the article kept quiet about Eddie and Keela and that the apparent ‘abduction by paedophile gang’ was a suggestion originally made by the McCann couple who, incidentally, still haven’t explained how they knew Madeleine had, apparently, been abducted. There is no evidence of a break-in let alone an intruder in apartment 5A”.

N. Marcelino Italiano’s basketball team

In the two articles we’ve looked at, Italiano is described as having worked as a bouncer on the Algarve (where presumably he met all those paedophiles) and then having had to flee to Spain allegedly for fear of his life.

But this link: , shows him to have been a member of a Spanish basketball team as far back as 2008, completely undermining his claim to have only just ‘fled to Spain’. In fact, it appears from the link that he helped his team win promotion that year. The Sun article doesn’t tell us about this, nor of course does it tell us if he’s still in the team.

The page showing him as a member is dated 16 September 2008 and the team is CD HUELVA BALONCESTO, based in Huelva, Spain. His team-mates are all also obviously Spanish, from their names.

The closer one looks at this whole story, the more it begins to unravel.

O. The Algarve prostitution ring - and a claimed link with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann

At the end of February this year, stories surfaced in the British press about the arrest of 12 men for running a prostitution ring in Portugal. Most of these articles linked the 12 men to the possibility that members of that ring might have abducted Madeleine. The co-incidence of Marclino Italiano’s unlikley story about Madeleine being in the U.S. appearing in the very same week as news broke of the arrest of the 12 paedophiles may of course be…co-incidental.

A typical report was in the Daily Star on 27 February, written by Jonathan Corke. It began, dramatically: “MADELEINE McCann’s parents hope a major police breakthrough against human trafficking in Portugal’s Algarve might lead them to their missing daughter”.

The report continued:


We can reveal how, in a huge bust earlier this month, 12 men were arrested on suspicion of trafficking women and children and forcing them into the sex trade. And it is hoped they could have vital information on Madeleine’s case and may even know who took her from the resort of Praia da Luz in May 2007.

Last night Madeleine’s parents, doctors Kate and Gerry McCann, both 42, were anxiously waiting to hear of any new lines of inquiry. Spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: “Clearly any information that the Portuguese authorities gather from this operation that is relevant to Madeleine would be of crucial importance. Obviously, Kate and Gerry will want to hear from the relevant authorities should anything of significance develop”.

The raid, codenamed ‘Operation Roadbook’, saw immigration officials from Portugal’s SEF border security agency and police join forces to smash the network. According to detectives, 30 young women, including several under-age girls, were rescued as eight properties and 11 cars were raided across the Algarve and Aveiro, in the north of Portugal. The SEF said they believe the ring to be responsible for the sexual exploitation of ‘many’ young women in the Algarve.

In a statement they said: “The network used very violent physical and psychological coercion to force dozens of young women into prostitution. Some of the women were found to be underage while others had been the victims of the forced administration of narcotics”. According to the SEF, the gang constantly moved the girls to different locations, both in Portugal and outside the country, where they would be sold and traded.

“The movement of the prostitutes between different networks hindered the police and judicial authorities in being able to conduct a criminal investigation. But authorities in Spain, Italy, the UK and Germany co-operated with us with the assistance of Europol in this case”. A police source said missing persons cases in the Algarve were being looked at as a result of the sting.

Madeleine, from Rothley, Leics, was just three when she vanished from the holiday resort of Praia da Luz in the Algarve nearly four years ago. Investigators trying to track down the missing girl have long suspected her to be the victim of a professional human trafficking network. A source said: “Even if these men were not involved they may have information about who was and the channels used”.

The 12 men, who are all EU citizens, are being held in custody with court hearings taking place in the main Algarve tourist city of Albufeira”.


This is indeed a shocking story, and not something one would readily associate with the popular tourist resorts of Portugal’s southern coastline. However, its relevance to the disappearance of Madeleine, even if she had been abducted, is doubtful. On the information provided in this article, this was a group of men trafficking teenage and perhaps slightly younger girls for sex.

Whether this group would have wanted to abduct a three-year-old girl for the same purpose is unlikely. Yet it seems as though almost any such story is enough for the McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell to say something like: “We await further developments with interest”, whilst the article itself claims the McCanns are ‘anxiously awaiting news’. It is another opportunity for the McCann Team to repeat their message: ‘Madeleine was abducted and could be with anyone’.

As it happens, the stories in the Daily Star and elsewhere were not new. The arrests had for example been reported back on 17 February in the Algarve Resident, which, in an article by Daisy Sampson, gave readers these facts [extracts from the Resident article below]:

“An operation to crack down on human trafficking has led to the arrests of 12 men identified as being part of a criminal network in the Algarve and Aveiro, in the north of Portugal. The ring is believed to be responsible for the sexual exploitation of many young women in the Algarve, some of them underage, who were being coerced into acting as prostitutes in the region. SEF, the border and immigration control authority, began the operation…on February 7 with members of the GNR aiding SEF officers in the searches of eight properties and 11 cars in the Algarve and Aveiro. During the operation, 30 Romanian women were identified as possible victims of human trafficking.

“A statement from SEF said: ‘The network used very violent physical and psychological coercion to force dozens of young women into prostitution. Some of the women…had been the victims of the forced administration of narcotics’.

“SEF detailed how the gang would constantly move the prostitutes to different locations, both within Portugal and the wider EU region, where they would be sold and traded, and stated that this had previously hampered investigations into the network. The SEF statement continued: ‘Authorities in Spain, Italy, the UK and Germany cooperated with us with the assistance of Europol in this case’.

“Algarve politician Mendes Bota said: ‘I warmly congratulate SEF and the GNR in this successful operation to combat prostitution in the Algarve and Aveiro and I hope that the 12 suspects, if found guilty, are subjected to the full weight of the law. Being forced into prostitution is a gross violation of human rights and I hope that the 30 Romanian women are now being treated humanely and receiving medical, psychological, legal and financial assistance to ensure they do not fall into the grip of these organisations once again’.

[P. Conclusion

Thus two separate stories enabled Madeleine McCann to appear on the front pages of Britain’s tabloids during February: (1) the startling claims of an Angloan bouncer that Madeleine was in the United States, and (2) connecting her with an international prostitution and trafficking ring involving 30 Romanian women. Both unlikley stories, some of the press even managed to cunningly connect them. Once again, the name of Madeleine McCann was put side by side with the word ‘paedophiles’.

Unsurprisingly, these news stories attracted comments like these on the internet:

“To the British press this is manna from heaven. Plus, so good for the McCanns’ forthcoming book sales, especially in the U.S. Over four years, and all these so-called ‘sighhtings’, there has not been one single credible lead. There can really only be one reason behind all these nonsensical sightings. It must be to placate the McCann supporters and to justify a search budget. They must be seen to be searching any lead; it looks good to the gullible and feeds the waning interest level. However, I believe a growing number of the population sees past these charades. Their book may be a flop”.

“Surely no one believes any more that after almost 4 years a new suspect appears?”

“They have to been seen or heard to be doing something with the £500,000 plus advances of book money. The McCanns and their detectives are running the most indiscreet, amateur operation of all time! Don’t they ever consider doing anything without alerting the media first?”


We acknowledge with grateful thanks the help of a number of people, including member sof this forum, in compiling and checking our article.


- The Madeleine Foundation, 23 March 2011
Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

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Post by theolivebranch 24.03.11 21:07

Wow what a read, need to do it again and again.
Tony just a very minor point but if Jon Clarke was in PDL by mid day and the news was broken in the UK on the 7am news, that is 8am in Spain so that reduces his journey time even more. That is if this is how he heard of it.
Many thanks for bringing this to our attention.

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Post by aiyoyo 25.03.11 5:22

yes, wow indeed, what a brilliant piece of article - extremely informative.

If TB keeps on he could collate all his brillaint pieces and form a book entitled perhaps 'The Complete Mystery of Madeleine Mccann'. On that title alone it is attention attractant and v likely to sell like hot cake, more so than mccanns' piles of rubbish.

uhmm...Huelva gets mentioned quite a few times relating to the case...what else took place there I wonder ...and where is Maddie's final resting place ..would be interesting to know how much the POlice know about that!

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Post by PeterMac 25.03.11 6:52

What a fascinating de-construction of the story.
Perhaps someone should contact Jon at the Olive Press and invite him to reply !

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