Saturday

McCanns' Fund in £500,000 chaos: Begging bowls at the ready


A team of private investigators working behind the scenes to find Madeleine McCann has been axed after being paid £500,000 from publicly donated funds.

The Find Madeleine Fund quietly engaged the services of a US-based company which was awarded the lucrative six-month contract earlier this year.

The company, Oakley International, which boasts former British security service and FBI contacts, was hired to monitor the Madeleine Hotline, carry out detective work and review CCTV footage of possible sightings of the missing girl around the world.

A source revealed that the company had also spent resources in an attempt to infiltrate a paedophile ring in Belgium.

However, the company’s contract will now not be renewed. The Mail on Sunday has learned that double-glazing tycoon Brian Kennedy, who has been underwriting the fund’s search for Madeleine, has conducted a review of the agency’s work and has become unhappy with the progress it was making.

The deal was abruptly ended following a meeting last week after the fund brought in independent monitors to assess how the money was spent.

The cost of employing the agency - run by a Briton, Kevin Halligen - has drained the Madeleine fund and there is now less than £500,000 left.

The development is likely to dismay the thousands who gave to the appeal, and raise questions about how the fund has been administered.

Mr Kennedy, who owns Sale Sharks rugby club, was said to be ‘angry’ because he believed Oakley’s bills, estimated to be more than £80,000 a month, were too much for the results they achieved.

A source said: ‘There is a sense that they were meaning well but hadn’t got as far as they should for the money involved.

'Brian Kennedy thought their work was far too pricey and wanted to know where the money was being spent. He wasn’t satisfied with their answers and the contract was not renewed.

‘Madeleine’s parents, Gerry and Kate, have been kept informed all along and agree with the decision. A lot of people were asking questions about where the money was being spent.’

The Mail on Sunday article here
ThisisLondon.co.uk
SOL, August 23rd, 2008 (Portuguese) - translation by astro here
The Independent McCann fund 'paid detectives £500,000'