Kate McCanns Diary and Clarence Mitchell – Leveson

Ian Edmondson Witness Statement with regards to Kate McCanns Diary, as referred to at the Leveson Inquiry on the 9th February 2012.

4.     In relation to the McCann diary story (14/09/08):-

(i) To the best of your recollection, did you have any relevant conversation with Mr Clarence Mitchell in any occasion other than on Friday 12th September 2008 ? If so, give the date or dates of such conversation, the gist of what was said, and provide any transcripts of the same.

In relation to the McCann diary stories, I did not have any other conversation with Mr Mitchell other than the conversation on Friday 12th September.

(ii) Why did you record the conversation with Mr Mitchell on 12 th September 2008 ?

I was told to record this conversation by Colin Myler. It was standard practice to record conversations which might need to be relied on subsequently.

(iii) During the course of that conversation, did you make it clear to Mr Mitchell that the News of the World had obtained a copy of Dr K McCann’s personal diary from a source who had obtained it from the Portuguese Police, and that the paper intended to write a story based on that diary quoting verbatim from it ? lfso, please identify with reference to the transcript of your conversation where you made it clear.

I did not make this clear, on express instructions from Colin Myler.

I had been working on the presentation of this story for some days. Mr Myler was aware that we were obtaining the diaries. I had excerpted parts of diary .which demonstrated that the McCanns were not involved in the disappearance of their daughter. This was the angle which we were interested in promoting. I believe that we had removed parts of the diary which were unnecessary to demonstrate their innocence, and were merely private or personal entries.

Prior to telephoning Clarence Mitchell, I was called to a meeting with Colin Myler and Tom Crone to discuss the possibility of running this story and the possible consequences. I recall Tom Crone advising Mr Myler, but understand that I cannot reveal the content of that advice as it is legally privileged. I believe I can say that Mr Myler did not seem particularly happy at the advice he was given.

I recall suggesting to Mr Myler that, given his access to Dr G McCann (he was the only one to have his mobile telephone number), that he telephone Dr G McCann and talk it through with him. Mr Myler disagreed with that suggestion. He decided to run the story. He told me to have a conversation with Mr Mitchell in which I should refer to us running a story about Dr K McCann’s diary but in which I should not make the full position clear. He told me to make it plain that we had some sort of access to the diaries, and that we might run a story, but that t should not make it clear that the intention was to quote verbatim from it.

I was conscious that Mr Myler h.ad good relations with Mr and Mrs McCann and Mr Mitchell and that he could easily have made this telephone call himself if he had wanted to. But, instead, he told me to do it. It seemed to me that this was to keep him one step removed from the situation so that he was better placed to deal with any fallout (as in the event, he did, by apologising for the story).

I recall thinking at the time that this was not fair to Mr Mitchell or Mr and Mrs McCann. However, I felt powerless as I had been categorically told what to do by the editor and from my experience of working for Mr Myler, I did not believe that challenging him or disobeying him would achieve anything other than negative consequences for me.

I am aware that this is not the account given by Mr Myler. I would point out to the Inquiry first, if I was really acting contrary to my editor’s instructions that I would not have recorded the phone call to Mr Mitchell and provided a transcript of it to Mr Myler a couple of days after publication, and second, if I had lied to the editor and the lawyer and that had been the cause of the distress to Mr and Mrs McCann, and an apology was then published in the News of the World to Mr and Mrs McCann, and also money was then paid out bythe News of the World to Mr and Mrs McCann – had I lied to my editor in that way and with such consequences, I would have been instantly dismissed. This did not happen.

(iv) Did Mr Mitchell agree to the publication of such a story on that basis? If so, please identify with reference to the transcript of your conversation where he gave that agreement.

I refer to my answer immediately above.

In a Third Witness Statement of Colin Myler on which he testified on the 14th December 2011, Myler said:

Mr Edmondson assured me that he had notified Mr Mitchell that the diary was going to be printed and Mr Mitchell had not asked him not to run the story. Mr Edmondson was very clear about this and since he was in daily contact with Mr Mitchell I had no reason to doubt it and accepted this assurance. I anticipate that Mr Edmondson will have made a note of his conversations with Mr Mitchell.

Robert Jay QC asked Ian Edmondson, what the purpose was of having “an ambiguous or woolly conversation” with Clarence Mitchell with regards to the News of the World covering a story on Kate McCann’s Diary, to which Ian Edmondson repied:  “in order to blame Clarence Mitchell that he hadn’t acted properly upon instructions” should there be a post publication row.

On the 14th December 2011, Colin Myler under oath, when questioned as to whether Ian Edmondson had made it clear to him that Clarence Mitchell was fully aware that they had the whole diary and were going to print extracts from, replied: “That’s what he led me to believe, yes.”

The full transcript of the hearing of the 14th December 2011 can be read here.

Clarence Mitchell today spoke to Sky News and said:

 “I feel entirely vindicated.

“I have always said the NOTW actively sought to deceive me over the publication of Kate’s diary.

“But to hear that it was apparently done at the editor’s direct behest was particularly shocking, if not surprising. Clearly Mr Myler now has some serious questions to answer.

“The distress this episode caused Kate, Gerry and myself was immense. I am glad we are getting to the truth at last.”

Now the next burning question that really does need to be asked, is WHICH PORTUGUESE REPORTER supplied the diary to the News of the World and WHICH PORTUGUESE POLICE OFFICER gave them a copy?

Further Reading

Transcript of Morning -Hearing 9 February 2012

Clarence Mitcheel denies giving OK to print diaries

Leveson Inquiry – Kate McCann’s Diary

Kate and Gerry McCann pour their hearts out at Leveson Inquiry

Kate’s Diary – FAO Pat Brown

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