'Twice I thought we'd found Maddie' - Family spokesperson gives harrowing account of her disappearance
The family's spokesperson talks false alarms, conspiracy theories and life after Maddie's disappearance
The media spokesperson for the family of missing Madeleine McCann has given a harrowing and insightful account into the disappearance of the three-year-old and the family's anguish for the past ten years.
Clarence Mitchell was appointed to assist Kate and Gerry McCann as their media spokesman following the disappearance of their daughter, Madeleine, in Portugal in 2007.
In an interview with the Telegraph, Mr Mitchell gives an account of the night Maddie went missing and said the family were convinced they had found her on two occasions.
"Twice in the ten years I have worked with the McCanns, I genuinely thought we were within reach of finding their missing daughter, Madeleine," Mr Mitchell told the Telegraph.
The family first thought that Maddie had been found when they received a call in the middle of the night saying that Maddie had been taking to a nearby farm where she was hidden.
The British police recorded the calls and it turned out there was a farm, fitting his description exactly, near Seville, over the border in Spain.
"As it was raided, and turned out to look exactly as he had painted it in those calls, I really felt we were on to something," Mr Mitchell said.
However no trace of Maddie was ever found there.
A second tip-off led the family to believe that Maddie had been spotted in Morocco after an English speaking blonde-haired girl was found.
The McCann's believed it was Maddie and an aircraft was put on stand-by to collect the missing tot.
It soon became clear that it was a false alarm.
The family spokesperson also went on to describe the pain being treated as suspects caused the McCann's.
"I was with them, in private, away from the cameras on many occasions, when they were in absolute grief and misery.
"For all the doubters, they have never done or said anything at any time that has given me any cause for suspicion that they were anything other than the innocent victims of a dreadful crime."
Mr Mitchell also dismissed some of the claims that suggested the McCanns were involved in their daughter's disappearance.
"There was, for instance, the theory entertained by the Portuguese police that their daughter had somehow been killed accidentally and that they then had used their hire car to remove her body and bury it in a secret location."
There was another claim that Maddie had been slipped unnoticed into a coffin that already contained another body.
Mr Mitchell said that ten years on, the McCanns still keep Maddie's bedroom as it was, with presents left for all her missed birthdays and Christmases in the hope that she will come home.
"They hope and pray that, wherever she is, Madeleine is being looked after."