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Rebuttal of "Fact" 20

Page history last edited by Cath 11 years, 2 months ago

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20. After she was taken in for questioning on 7 September, Kate McCann was asked 48 questions by the Portuguese police. She refused to answer any of them. She was asked if she realised that she was hindering the investigation by refusing to answer questions. She said: “Yes, if that’s what the investigation thinks”. Their official spokesman, former head of Labour’s Media Unit, Clarence Mitchell, stated: “The McCanns were fully within their rights not to co-operate”.

 

Verdict - It is true that when made arguida, Kate McCann refused to answer any questions on the advice of her laywer.  However, it is False to state that it was Clarence Mitchell who said, that the McCanns were within their rights not to co-operate.  It is also incorrect to refer to the Media Monitoring Unit as "Labour's Media Unit".

Source - Media articles and police files

 

 


 

Summary of Verifiable Facts

 

  1. Kate McCann was questioned as a witness for 8 hours on 6th September, 2007.  As a witness, she had no right to refuse to answer any questions.
  2. The Portuguese status of arguido is equivalent to the British "person of interest" but does not mean the person has been accused or charged with any crime.
  3. The arguido status gives the person more rights, such as having a lawyer present or being able to refuse to answer any questions.
  4. On the advice of her lawyer, Carlos Pinto de Abreu, Kate McCann refused to answer all questions once she was made arguida.
  5. Clarence Mitchell did not state that the McCanns were "fully within their rights not to co-operate". 
  6. Clarence Mitchell did state that as arguidos, the McCanns could have a lawyer present or choose not to answer questions.
  7. Clarence Mitchell did state that the McCanns were absolutely committed to helping the police enquiry.

 

Discussion

This is another one of those MMRG facts, which consists of several quite independent statements.  For the purpose of discussion, each of these will be addressed individually.

 

  1. After she was taken in for questioning on 7 September, Kate McCann was asked 48 questions by the Portuguese police.
  2. She refused to answer any of them.
  3. She was asked if she realised that she was hindering the investigation by refusing to answer questions. She said: “Yes, if that’s what the investigation thinks”.
  4. Their official spokesman, former head of Labour’s Media Unit, Clarence Mitchell, stated: “The McCanns were fully within their rights not to co-operate”.

 

1. After she was taken in for questioning on 7 September, Kate McCann was asked 48 questions by the Portuguese police.

This is correct.  It should be noted however, that Kate McCann spent a full day answering questions at the police station on 6th September, when she was interviewed as a witness.  Under Portuguese law, witnesses do not have the right to remain silent.

 

2. She refused to answer any of them.

This is also correct and she did so on the advice of her lawyer having been made "arguida" or "person of interest" in connection with a crime.  Arguidos have the right to remain silent.

 

3. She was asked if she realised that she was hindering the investigation by refusing to answer questions. She said: “Yes, if that’s what the investigation thinks”.

This is not a precise quote from the official files which say:-

 

Quote:

 "yes, if the investigation so thinks."

 

NB: This is noteworthy because of the high levels of quotation inaccuracy which has been found in the Madeleine McCann Research Group's "50 Facts" leaflet.

 

 

4. Their official spokesman, former head of Labour’s Media Unit, Clarence Mitchell, stated: “The McCanns were fully within their rights not to co-operate”.

This is false.  There is no record of Clarence Mitchell making such a statement.  The closest statement on record by Clarence Mitchell discussing the McCanns' rights as arguidos, was made on the Late, Late Show on 9th May, 2008.  Transcribed by MsMarbles.

 

Quote:

 Er, you're right, it is different. They remain Arguido, which is this official suspects status. In effect it means they are a person of interest to the enquiry in the same that in Britain, err, you... you... you help the Police with your enquiries. It doesn't mean you are accused of a crime. They have not been formally charged with anything. Nor has Mr Murat for that matter, erm, the other Arguido. Err, and it means that the Police can er... they can have certain rights in the interview process that they wouldn't have if they didn't... if they weren't given their status. ie: They could have a lawyer present or choose not to answer questions.

  

Kate and Gerry remain absolu... absolutely commited to helping the police enquiry and will do so at any stage they're required to do. 

 

Conclusion

Clarence Mitchell did not state that the McCanns were within their rights not to co-operate.  Instead he explained that as arguidos, they had the right not to answer questions, but emphasised that they were absolutely committed to helping the police enquiry.

 

Point of Clarification

Clarence Mitchell was the former head of the government's Media Monitoring Unit, not "Labour's Media Unit".  The Media Monitoring Unit is not affiliated to any political party. 

From Central Office of Information 5th May, 2011

Quote: 

Thank you for your enquiry.

 

The COI is a Government department and part of the civil service, which is politically impartial and supports the Government of the day, regardless of the political party /parties in power. The MMU, as a unit within COI and part of the civil service, is therefore not affiliated with any political party

Yours sincerely,

Central Office of Information
Hercules Road
London SE1 7DU

 

 

Arguido Status

Definition from The Telegraph:-

Quote:

Under Portuguese law, an arguido has certain legal protection that is not extended to a witness, including the right to remain silent during questioning and the right to legal representation.

 

It is not uncommon for people caught up in criminal investigations in Portugal to declare themselves arguido's in order to receive this protection. 

 

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