Tony Hatfield has been worrying away about the role of Clarence Mitchell in acting on the behalf of the McCann family (quite where the brothers and sisters uncles and aunts begin and end is a little unclear) and e-mailed the Central Office of Information, to try and find out more about the former BBC employee who is so much in the limelight.
Having received a reply which is described as confidential and copyright etc., he is happy to divulge what they had to say - Clarence Mitchell is on secondment to the Foreign Office (from the COI) for the specific purpose of "handling media relations related to the Madeleine McCann "disappearance" [ note not abduction - points out Tony] in Portugal".
Any further enquiries must be directed to the FCO - a not unfamiliar Sir Humphrey style exercise in not answering the question whilst at the same time elegantly passing the buck and closing off further enquiries.... and adding the merest soupcon of delay.
So (says Tony) this is the upshot. The British taxpayer seems to be paying for a media consultant to a private company with no charitable status and over £300,000 quid in the bank.
Meanwhile in the unreal world the circus will move on , flying to Rome this afternoon from Faro on a 12-seater Gulfstream jet owned by the businessman Sir Philip Green .
The current account balance on the McCann fund displayed on the "official" website still resolutely stays at £313,091.17.
Digging through BBC archives it was interesting to note that after Michael Hutchance died by apparently committing suicide in the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Sydney, Australia ten years ago - who was on hand to deal with his grieving widow and child ... ?
"Paula Yates, his partner and mother of his 16-month-old child is now in Sydney, finalising details of the funeral. From there, Clarence Mitchell reports: "Just the man for the job, evidently.
UPDATE 30th May 2007
Tony Hatfield has further observations on the McCann Caravanserai and the mysterious role of Clarence "CIO/FCO Mr Fixit for the Press" Mitchell and who is picking up the tab for the "use" of Sir Philip Green's Lear Jet to whisk everyone from Faro to take a picture of Madeleine for the Holy Father - one wonders whether he will ask them to sign it.
The "official website" now records that the "balance on 30/05/07, the fund account current (sic) stands at £374,352.75." with 142 million hits as of 2.00 am.
To remind you of the listed objects of the fund ;
It may seem churlish but the definitions of "the Foundation" and "Madeleine's family" seem gloriously imprecise - of course the whole thing is predicated on the belief that Madeleine has been abducted - which whilst a working hypothesis, may not necessarily be correct.
3. The objects of the Foundation are:
3.1.1 To secure the safe return to her family of Madeleine McCann who was abducted in Praia da Luz, Portugal on Thursday 3rd May 2007;
3.1.2 To procure that Madeleine’s abduction is thoroughly investigated and that her abductors, as well as those who played or play any part in assisting them, are identified and brought to justice; and
3.1.3 To provide support, including financial assistance, to Madeleine’s family.
3.2 If the above objects are fulfilled then the objects of the Foundation shall be to pursue such purposes in similar cases arising in the United Kingdom, Portugal or elsewhere.
Meanwhile read the extraordinary case of a man who walked free from court yesterday in Swindon after admitting attempting to abduct a 7 month old baby whilst drunk.