Former AFC Wimbledon managing director Danny Macklin has confirmed he has been “found safely” following a police appeal related to a worrying message he posted on social media.
Essex Police raised the alarm on Friday morning upon being alerted to a lengthy note published on X, formerly Twitter, two days after he was charged by the Football Association with making sexist and abusive comments about a female colleague.
The force’s appeal stated that he “was last seen in the Great Notley area at about 10.50am”. Then just before 10pm, Macklin posted on social media to say that he had been found by Cornwall Police in Looe.
His post on X read: “I have been found safely by Cornwall Police in Looe just prior to going into what I can assure you was cold sea water! Thank you for all the well wishes – I will seek the help I need and sorry for the terrible pain I have caused so many and then seek to rebuild my career/life.”
A Devon and Cornwall Police statement read: “A man who had been reported missing from the Essex area today, Friday 1 December, has been found safe by police in Looe, Cornwall.”
Macklin’s earlier message on social media included an apology for comments a bug hidden in his office had recorded him making, which had already cost him his job.
He said he was “not sexist” and “never has been”, but added: “I am the one at fault and I 100% know that. I massively regret the private comment I made.”
On Wednesday, an FA spokesman said Macklin had been charged with “using abusive and/or insulting and/or threatening language”. It was alleged to be an “aggravated breach” of the rules as “the language included a reference — whether expressed or implied — to gender”. He was given until December 6 to respond to the charge.
The comments were made about Rebecca Markham, AFC Wimbledon’s head of supporter services and ticketing, two months after both publicly committed to tackling sexism as part of the ‘Her Game Too’ campaign.
Macklin, previously chief executive at Leyton Orient and commercial director at Southend United and Essex County Cricket Club, was caught after a covert recording device was planted in his office by a British Army veteran and former prisoner working as the League Two club’s security officer.
On the recording, Macklin can be heard discussing with two female colleagues how to get rid of Markham, who has worked at Premier League clubs including Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, West Ham United and Fulham.
Prior to his departure, the 42-year-old had appealed to supporters not to sing sexist songs, saying: “The repeated use of chants that are not family friendly will prevent us from attracting new fans.”
AFC Wimbledon announced Macklin was leaving at the start of September but made no mention of the saga over the recording, saying only: “We appreciate the hard work that he has done, as well as his commitment to the club, and wish him all the best for the future.”
But after his comments were made public, they issued a statement, which read: “Behaviour such as that being alleged was and is not tolerated, nor is it representative of the culture at the club. Once we became aware of the matter we acted appropriately in accordance with our responsibilities and values to promptly resolve it. For legal reasons we are not able to say more.”
Matthew Wells, 57, reportedly planted the bug after becoming concerned about alleged abuse of staff and warned a club official he would blow the whistle if his concerns were not addressed.
He was said to believe he acted “honourably” in disclosing Macklin’s private conversation to club officials to protect a vulnerable employee.
If you feel like you need to talk to someone, please don’t suffer in silence. Help and support is available 24/7 - Call Samaritans free on 116 123, or email firstname.lastname@example.org