Chapter 38: Lies – Damned Lies – And Jon Clarke

Chapter 38


Lies    Damned Lies   And Jon Clarke



Over the 13 years and 3 months we have been following and analysing this dreadful case we have been variously disappointed, astonished, appalled and disgusted at the way the Media in general and the press in particular have failed to adopt their constitutional role as disinterested reporters of the known facts.


We learned to expect that Kandohla, a some-time gym friend of Kate McCann, would write drivel which simply churned out the ‘official story; that Lazzeri would publish nonsense; and that The Sun and other gutter-press tabloid red-tops would maintain a decade-plus long campaign of disinformation.


This is normal, and to an extent we have to accept it. A free press is free to publish what it chooses, and the alternative of having the press shackled by law, by ministerial edict or by libel lawyers is the first sign of tyranny.


In the internet age some of the press maintain ‘Comments’ columns where their editorial stance or the statements they make may be challenged or corrected.


The hope of all decent people is that one day the press will themselves start to behave decently, will report known facts and make clear what is no more than speculation and hearsay, and identify what is clearly fantasy.

The laws of Libel and in some cases the internal monitoring of the press by their own Professional body should act to prevent excess.


The position of Jon Clarke, editor and publisher and, it is believed, part owner of The Olive Press is altogether more worrying.  He operates in Spain, is not answerable to English legal system nor to the Press Association, and cares nothing for the law of Libel, as he clearly set out in banner headlines in his own paper.


Let us first explore what we do ‘know’

In previous chapters I showed, giving full and detailed references, how Clarke has changed his story over time. He has claimed –

• to have been phoned at 7:15am CEST (Spanish time) = 6:15am BST (Britain and Portugal)

• to have arrived, after a 4 hour car drive, in PdL at 10.45am (unclear which time zone applies here, since  neither fits the known facts. Spanish time allows him to have seen the McCanns leaving, – which is recorded on video –  but even that does not allow sufficient time for the journey). see Ch 32

• to have been the FIRST journalist at the scene – or alternatively

• to have been the ONLY journalist at the scene until late afternoon

• to have walked straight into Apartment 5A and to have spoken to the McCanns there – or alternatively

  to have found the apartment taped off and therefore NOT to have walked straight in, but to have spoken to the McCanns as they were leaving [to go Portimão for interview]   to have spoken to the McCanns in those early hours and so on. 



Many of these versions with some minor variations have been repeated in the years leading up to and then including the Netflix production.  Mercifully for seekers of the objective truth that same Netflix production included several pieces of contemporaneous video footage from the day in question recorded by the many News crews who were already at the scene with their many reporters and journalists and presenters, not to mention the many police, dog-handlers, dogs, forensic teams and a throng of others - when Clarke arrived. 

Those videos have been and remain available in the public domain, notably on You Tube, and can be double and cross checked by anyone with the will to do so, [including Libel lawyers]

I appended some still shots in Chapter 31 and 33 where I expose yet more of Clarke’s more egregious mendacity, [or in plain English disgraceful lies]  and provide the full references and the YouTube links

The clips and the fuller videos show conclusively that much of what Clarke said was simply untrue


For non-native speakers of English, let us conjugate the verb

                  Infinitive                                 To lie

                  Present indicative                 Clarke lies

                  Present continuous              Clarke is lying

                  Simple Past                            Clarke lied

                  Past Perfect                           Clarke has lied

                  Perfect continuous               Clarke was lying

                  Pluperfect                              Clarke had lied

                  Past imperfect                       Clarke used to lie

                  Future                                     Clarke will lie

                  Future perfect                       Clarke will have lied . . .

                                    and so on


But now yet another of Clarke’s “versions of the truth” has been exposed.

It comes from the magazine CLOSER, published by the Bauer Media Groupin Peterborough, who produce

at least 40 magazines, and have 51 radio channels.

This is from the on-line version at and is BY KRISTINA BEANLAND | POSTED ON 11/06/2020


We might by this time have expected a retraction and explanation for the previous sets of falsehoods, and their replacement with the definitive account of Clarke’s actions on the first day, and then during the weeks that followed.

Our hope for honesty and decency from Clarke is however dashed once again.

The full text and the reference is appended, so I summarise. (I underline for emphasis some salient points)

Here we learn

Journalist Jon Clarke was one of the firston the scene in Praia da Luz, Portugal, when Maddie went missing from a holiday resort in May 2007, while her parents ate in a nearby restaurant.

Jon recalls the call he received from a British newspaper on the morning of 4 May 2007, asking him to report on a missing child.

He says, “I remember thinking that by the time I got there, she’d have turned up. Praia da Luz was a sleepy little village and hardly anyone was around when I arrived later that morning. But I was shocked when I saw the McCanns’ apartment – there was no security and just a flimsy piece of police tape covering the side gate.”

A few hours after arriving, Jon met Kate and Gerry. He says, “They were polite, and even thanked me for reporting on the case. They were clearly devastated. The press conference outside their apartment later that day only confirmed my feelings. I think almost every person there shed a tear. As a journalist, you try not to get too emotional about a story, but my own daughter had just turned two, so it was hard not to get upset.


It is very clear and very precise.  It is also in direct speech. In Quotes, if that means anything in modern journalism

He now claims

• to have been one of the first [journalists] on the scene

• to have met the McCanns a few hours after arriving

• to have had his feelings confirmed at the press conference later that day

 So although he is now clearly admitting in print that being THE FIRST journalist, or THE ONLY Journalist until late afternoon were lies, for which small mercy we may be thankful, his inclusion in the video footage among a group of at least six, and the presence of multiple fully equipped camera crews leads one to suppose that for him ‘among the first’does not imply a podium place.

But look at the weasel words that he met the McCanns “a few hours after arriving”.

Now his proven lies about entering the apartment speaking to the McCanns there, and/or of having spoken to them ‘as they left’ are by implication admitted for what they were.  Lies.

Their replacement with ‘a few hours after arriving’ seems sufficiently anodyne as to try persuade some that there might be admission of previous error and an explanation of the truth.

Let us dissect it further.

In this context “met Kate and Gerry” can only mean ‘for the first time’.

What do we know, from Kate’s autobiography, from the times on Police statements, from TV footage, and from other sources.

 Well, this.

The McCanns left the Payne’s apartment shortly before 10am under close police protection, were driven to Portimão for long interviews and statements, and did not return to PdL until around 8.30pm. 

On arrival they went straight to their new apartment which contained members of the family and friends looking after their remaining children, had some light refreshment, and then prepared a short statement for the benefit of the press, which was read out by Gerry with a torch in the stair-well at 10pm.

And as can be seen on the video recording of that event, the McCanns spoke to no one either before or immediately after the statement, but turned abruptly away,  returned to the apartment, and were not seen again until the following day.


At what point then did Clarke speak to them?


Having established that his first two statements are bare-faced lies, it looks ever more apparent that his third may bear the same stamp.

“A few hours later’ must mean in this context an absolute minimum of 10 and a half hours. (9:45am - 8:30pm),  but we can also be fairly sure the Clarke did not speak to them on their return.

Firstly because they were under Police ‘protection’ and escorted throughout.  

But then when Kate herself takes up the story and describes the scene on their return –

“We stepped out of the police car amid clicking, whirring cameras and dazzling lights. . .

Upstairs our new apartment, 4G, was heaving with people. Among them were my mum, dad and Auntie Norah, who had arrived from the UK. . .  It was all such a blur I can’t be absolutely certain who else was there that night, but I think I remember John Hill, Emma Knights and Craig Mayhew from Mark Warner, and Ambassador John Buck, British consul Bill Henderson and Angela Morado, who had accompanied us back from Portimão. There were some new faces, too: Liz Dow, the British consul for Lisbon, British Embassy press officer Andy Bowes and Alex Woolfall, a PR crisis-management specialist from Bell Pottinger in the UK, who had been drafted in by Mark Warner, as had a trauma psychologist from the Centre for Crisis Psychology (CCP) in north Yorkshire, who had now also arrived in Luz.


13 named people.  All crammed into a small apartment, plus an assortment of Tapas 7 who will have been responsible for herding them all together and catering for their needs.


 But no mention of Jon Clarke !

From that moment they were under the protection of the Tapas 7 and several family members who had arrived during the day. . . and within a few days were controlled by PR and ‘Spokes-people’.

The press conference is a different matter. That would have been, and clearly was communicated to all interested parties in the usual way. The stage was clearly set with television news cameras and lighting in place before their scripted appearance – which was carefully timed for 10pm GMT, to go live on the News

Bulletins across the world. There is nothing unusual about that. It is how “live” broadcasts are arranged.

And as we all clearly saw, and can see again if we choose to on YouTube, the McCanns appeared in the stairwell, Gerry read the short statement, and they then turned away and disappeared, taking no questions.

They were neither approached nor spoken to by Clarke nor by anyone else.

So now we have to address an even more fundamental question.

Did Clarke speak to the McCanns at all ?    Ever ?  


There is no clear evidence of his having done so. There are no attributable quotes, only the suspiciously vague 2019 version – “they said “Hi”, and I think they may have also said“ thanks for coming”.”, which has now hardened into 

“They were polite, and even thanked me for reporting on the case. They were clearly devastated.”

No explanation or details of the evidence which led Kate to know ‘know’ that Madeleine had been abducted, and very specifically by a paedophile.  No quotes to show the anguish they were both allegedly suffering at that moment.  No heart-string-tugging phrases . . . and certainly no long attributable interview, reported in his own newspaper, - which on any test would be been worth a small fortune at that moment in “syndication rights”.


All we are given are at least three different and contradictory versions of his “alleged’ first encounter.

The language he employs may be revealing –

“there wasn’t much opportunity, sadly, to talk to them about what had happened . . .”

But this was written in 2019.

What he notably does NOT add is words to the effect -

“It wasn’t until 5 days later that I managed to get them on their own and hear the whole story . . .”

and that may be important.

Even Martin Brunt, the world famous Sky Crime Correspondent, who spent 10 days in PdL did not manage to speak to the McCanns before he left, so close was the protective barrier erected around the them and the Tapas 7.

I spent 10 days in Portugal," he says. "I thought there were still angles to the story to explore. But I came back because it was deemed we were spending a lot of money on it when there were other stories to cover." So he'd have liked to stay longer? "Yeah. I hadn't at that stage interviewed the parents.”


Kate is similarly silent in her book.  One might have thought that a friendly English-speaking journalist fully seised of the official story would have been of great value in their press campaign.  (As in fact he tried to become over the next few months.)

Brunt admits that even he did not manage to speak to the McCanns in the 10 days he was there.

Clarke stays silent.

Clarke wrote for the Sun and News International (now Corp) for some 6 months before he published a single article in his own paper.  

Is that astonishing, or does it simply suggest an exclusive – and lucrative – contract.

He continued to write the most lurid and far-fetched articles for The Sun, which were then copied and pasted across the tabloid churnalist world,  the most ludicrous being ‘The Curious Case of the Angolan Bouncer’, over which it is probably better to draw a veil.  The rotting corpse of this story has been dissected at length and the debris sluiced away.   Only the salient points remain pickled in the formaldehyde of the internet in case someone cares to re-examine it.


In the early days his reports featured in the Mail, though it is not possible to say whether this is syndication, churnalism, or a continuation of the original contract.

And from there we have to ask – What was Clarke actually DOING for the two weeks he claims to have been there?

Can we assume that during that time he nipped home the four and a half hour trip each way to see his wife, G*******a,  and his young family?

Did he try to build contacts within the GNR or the PJ?

He now tells us that he walked up and down the beach at least ten times, and looked into deserted buildings, for what possible reason again we are not told.  Given that the GNR dogs and large and diverse search parties had been at the scene since the early hours of the first morning – contrary to what Clarke reports, but clearly evidenced in the contemporaneous news reports which include shots of Clarke himself – and spent the following weeks scouring almost the entire town and waste land surrounding it, it seems a fairly pointless and time-wasting activity for a journalist.

Or did he confine himself to joining the gaggle of reporters in the bars who sat and drank and waited for their official briefing each day before hastily filing their copy, as was so perceptively observed by a real Investigative Journalist, Paulo Reis, who went ‘under cover’ to observe how his fellow journalists continue the slide of their profession into disrepute.


Clarke was on his own account, at least for the initial stage under twocontracts.  Sky and the Mail.  

And this means double pay and double expenses.

NOTA BENE:    I am assured that this is apparently normal and permitted within the arcane rules of the Media, and however dishonest it may seem to us lay people, it must be made clear that it is not.    It is one of the few perks of being free-lance.

What it means is that he was not short of funds.  But the suspicion arises that longer he remained in PdL, the longer this particular financial arrangement would continue.

We can be sure his imagination did not extend to making full enquiries and recording observations, nor of considering the full range of options.

Nowhere have I been able to find any discussion of the not-broken, not-forced, not-jemmied, and not-smashedshutters, though they were clear even on his arrival.  They are shown already liberally covered with “Dragon’s Blood” fingerprint power as he is filmed walking past them.   And this despite this particular story’s appearing on news bulletins across the world for the first few days.

Nowhere have I been able to find an in-depth interview with anyone of interest.

No interview with Hill about the lack of evidence of forced entry nor of abduction for example.

He puts forward no theories, no scenarios, no explanation of how ‘it’ might have been achieved.

What we are given is an endless repetition of the original story, that one fixed in time as at 10:00pm Thursday 3rd May 2007, and never altered since that day, even though the subsequent discovery of evidence and multiple enquiries shows it was neither credible nor even remotely possible.

In that sense became a “mantra”. An article of faith, which if repeated often enough induces in its practitioners a type of semi-hypnotic state in which it becomes part of what may be termed a religion.

A Religion – in the sense that it relies only on Faithand Belief, and not on evidence except that written by the leader of that religion whose writings are or course self-fulfilling.

A Religion – in the further sense that any who dare to question it will be dismissed, reviled, punished, abused, financially penalised, and in some cases put to death or pressured into taking their own lives.

Or is it more like one of the fake pseudo-religious cults, so frequently discovered in the US exploiting the most gullible and intellectually underprivileged, where at the centre is that which all worship.   MONEY

To repeat – Clarke was paid both by the Mail and by The Sun in the early days. Double pay and double expenses.  For the first six months he did not publish a single article in his own paper in Southern Spain

This highly suggestive of lucrative and highly exclusive but legally restrictive contracts.

It is also, when we look at the evidence of how it seems to have worked after that contract came to an end probably in late October, suggestive of the manipulation for money of a ‘useful idiot’  to plant or invent stories which can then be repeated in the national press.

The Media can then always claim to be merely repeating what has been written somewhere else.

It was during this time that Clarke was heavily censured by the Spanish Press Association’s watchdog, FAPE,  but given their lack of coercive powers he simply ignored them, and carried on his regime of vilification, abuse and defamation of any who stood in his way.   See chapter 31.  


And the next big question is WHY.  Why did Clarke do this?   Why does he continue to do it?

This is not a question of being right or wrong. Either or both of us may be wrong.

The question is about why Clarke felt and still feels the compulsion to lie – endlessly – when his lies are so easily exposed, and add little if anything to the topic under discussion.

Let me demonstrate.   Compare the following hypothetical statements :-

“I was the first journalist at the scene and I saw that the shutters were not broken.”

against what he could so easily and honestly have written –

“I joined a group of journalists at the scene and we could all see that the shutters were not broken”

[And of course he says neither, since it is clear that discussion of the shutters is tabooHaram. Verboten.]

How does the first statement enhance the observation ?

It clearly doesn’t, but it has the incidental side-effect when the lie contained therein is exposed of reducing or totally destroying the credibility of the reporter.

It would be easy to assume that money was involved at the beginning, and that gradually it has become impossible for him to resile from the initial stance for financial and contractual reasons.    But what does it say about all the journalists and reporters and commentators who have sold their souls in the same way?

This does not pre-suppose that one theory or the other is de facto correct. Far from it.

What it implies is that members of a ‘profession’ we have relied on to challenge the establishment, to pick apart statements, to dissect points of view and thereby to maintain our collective freedom had cynically and deliberately decided not to do so.

They have failed us all.    And for that we condemn Clarke and all like him. 

We shall not easily forget this betrayal.



As the German connection begins to fade away, and the Staatsanwalt [State Prosecutor] Hr. Wolters has his bluff called and is about to be exposed as having no evidence sufficient to put before a Court of Law, (despite Brunt claiming a couple of months ago that he “believes that perhaps the prosecutor has video evidence of her being killed, or her dead body.”.    Yes, he really said that !) we might remind ourselves what the professional and other people at the scene in the immediate aftermath told the world, either then, or subsequently.






Brunt:                                        There is no evidence . . . we were over-sympathetic, lost our objectivity 

Mitchell:                                   Disappearance is a complete mystery

Hill:                                            No evidence of a break in, and no evidence of abduction

DCI Amaral:                              No evidence

DCI Tavares:                              No evidence

DI Paiva:                                    No evidence

Prosecutor Magalhães:          No evidence about the circumstances under which she was removed

Forensic teams:                       No evidence

Search teams:                          No evidence

Tracker dogs:                            No evidence 

BritPol:                                      No evidence

MetPol:                                     No definitive evidence (of anything very much really)

Lee Fountain:                           No evidence. But concentrate on the parents


In a previous Chapter  (Ch. 17 Philosophical Problems) I examined this lack of evidence and tested it against the oft-repeated aphorism –   “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”.

I showed how in this case it very definitely IS evidence.

To precis : Absence of evidence (of abduction) can be evidence of absence (of abduction) if:
1               You would reasonably expect to find evidence, and

2               Qualified investigators conducting a proper search fail to find evidence.

In this case both apply, and we can become ever more confident that it is indeed Evidence of Absence.


To spell it out for those who are hard of understanding :-

The issue is not that there is no evidence that Christian Brückner or Raymond Hewlett, or Robert Murat, or Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, Peter Davy, Daniel Whiddon, Harry Hawke, Uncle Thomas Cobleigh . . .

or indeed anyone else chosen apparently at random “DID IT”– 

The issue is that there is no evidence and anyone “DID IT”.

There is no evidence that ’IT’ was ‘DID’ in the first place.

In that place at that time in that way.


What we can be sure of is this –

Madeleine is missing.  This fact was reported around 10pm on Thursday 3rd May 2007


And it is worth repeating as often as we can, so that everyone remembers and understands; 

the only people who insist that Madeleine was abducted by a paedophile are the principal suspects – the parents – and neither they, nor any of the people who have supported them in this story over the past 13 years are able to point to a single piece of what any rational person would term ‘evidence’, nor to provide a coherent scenario how “IT” might have been performed, or in which “IT” might have been achieved within the parameters so rigidly set by the principal suspects – the parents - themselves.


And if that is correct they we may tentatively suggest that Operation Grange and the Bundeskriminalamt –the German FBI / CID, (the BKA) might spend their time more productively hunting Unicorns.










As a prime suspect in the Madeleine McCann case is announced, Closer speaks to Jon Clarke who has followed the story since the three-year-old went missing...

Journalist Jon Clarke was one of the first on the scene in Praia da Luz, Portugal, when Maddie went missing from a holiday resort in May 2007, while her parents ate in a nearby restaurant. He has been reporting on the case ever since.

Jon recalls the call he received from a British newspaper on the morning of 4 May 2007, asking him to report on a missing child.

He says, “I remember thinking that by the time I got there, she’d have turned up. Praia da Luz was a sleepy little village and hardly anyone was around when I arrived later that morning. But I was shocked when I saw the McCanns’ apartment – there was no security and just a flimsy piece of police tape covering the side gate.”

A few hours after arriving, Jon met Kate and Gerry. He says, “They were polite, and even thanked me for reporting on the case. They were clearly devastated. The press conference outside their apartment later that day only confirmed my feelings. I think almost every person there shed a tear. As a journalist, you try not to get too emotional about a story, but my own daughter had just turned two, so it was hard not to get upset.

“In the days that followed, it was clear this was a story like no other – hundreds of journalists descended on the town and Maddie’s face was everywhere. Everyone was looking for her – I must have walked the length of the beach ten times, combing through the wasteland and looking in abandoned houses.”

Jon stayed in Portugal for two weeks while the case unfolded – until it became clear that Maddie was no longer in Praia da Luz. He says he has since returned countless times to report on the story, and even appeared in a Netflix documentary that aired last year about her disappearance.


Press conference 4/5/7 10pm


madeleine’, by Kate McCann, 2011, Bantam Press.   p.93


Brunt accepts that the way that the story was handled by his and other media organisations was imperfect. "It's the view of a few of us that when we look back over the first two or three weeks of the coverage we were in some ways over-sympathetic. We kind of adopted the tone and the language that the family did. I think we perhaps lost our objectivity a bit, we became a bit too subjective about the story."

The message of hope that was broadcast contradicted what Brunt's police sources had told him from the outset. "Ever since day one, when I spoke to cop contacts and others who had been involved in this kind of story, they said 'Just look at the statistics'. Most children who disappear in these circumstances are victims of paedophiles who plan everything and then panic. The easy option for them is to destroy the only witness to their crime. It was clear to me from very early on that this was going to be the most likely outcome. I think journalists in general tended to shy away from making that point."

Nonetheless, he remains sore that he was pulled off the story before he was ready to come home. "I spent 10 days in Portugal," he says. " I thought there were still angles to the story to explore. But I came back because it was deemed we were spending a lot of money on it when there were other stories to cover." So he'd have liked to stay longer? "Yeah. I hadn't at that stage interviewed the parents.





Thursday, 10 May 2018       Why I went undercover to Praia da Luz


FAPE Resolucion 1013/82

La información publicada en “The Olive Press” es un ejemplo de sensacionalismo

irresponsable para atraer la atención del eventual lector. Su contenido es

charlatanería en estado puro, “gossip” en el idioma en el cual se ha escrito y en el

lenguaje periodístico “amarillismo “, siempre reprochable pero mucho más cuando se

puede poner en peligro al sujeto pasivo de la información que irrumpe

inesperadamente en el ámbito de la intimidad de la menor, una niña de ocho años,

sacándola a la luz pública con perjuicio de su estabilidad emocional e incluso con

riesgo para su integridad personal. 

[my translation]. “In the reasoning of this resolution it states that the journalist has acted with remarkable flippancy and published a scandalous story based on very flimsy material. The information published in "The Olive Press" is an example of irresponsible sensationalism to attract the attention of the prospective reader.   Its content is pure charlatanry, "gossip" in the language in which it has been written and in journalistic language “amarillismo", [sensationalist journalism]  always reprehensible but much more when an innocent subject of the information can be endangered”


Teniendo en consideración los anteriores razonamientos de la ponencia, esta

Comisión de Arbitraje, Quejas y Deontología del periodismo ACUERDA que don Jon

Clarke, editor de “The Olive Press” y doña Wendy Williams, autora del reportaje

“Maddie? Yes … but not the right one” han infringido los arts. 4º y 13 del Código

Deontológico FAPE por no haber respetado el derecho a la intimidad personal y

familiar de Madeleine A., menor de edad, y de sus padres, el señor L. A. y la señora

R. E., ni haber cuidado de contrastar las fuentes de la información, no dándoles

además la oportunidad de ofrecer su propia versión sobre los hechos.

Madrid, 6 de noviembre de 2013

[my translation].   In 2013 FAPE, the Federación de Associationes de Periodistas de España - the Spanish Journalists’ Association, – “is agreed that Mr Jon Clarke, editor of “The Olive Press” and Wendy Williams, the author of the report, “Maddie? Yes, but not the one we were looking for . . .”  infringed Articles 4 and 13 of the FAPE Ethical Code for not having respected the right to personal and family privacy of M.A., a minor, and of her parents, Mr. L. A. and Mrs. R. E., and also neither bothered to check the sources of the information, nor gave them the opportunity to offer their own version of events.”

Madrid, 6 November 2013


Mr Brunt believes that perhaps the prosecutor has video evidence of her being killed, or her dead body.