Tony Bennett Today at 7:59
Here is the reply, received 43 days after my original FoI Act request (requests under the Act should be processed within 20 working days), as to how much the Met Police or the Home Office has had to pay to the Portuguese authorities for work carried out on behalf of Operation Grange.
Those of you who have followed this will know that I submitted an identical claim under FoI Act to the Home Office, on the same day, and am still awaiting any answer from there.
Of course, it is possible that the Portuguese authorities have never made any demands for payment, though they have made more than one public statement saying that the British authorities will be billed for their costs.
It's unacceptable to be told after 6 weeks that 'we can't find anything' about these costs. Clearly whoever is in charge of this investigation at the Met (and this case goes right to the very top) knows fine well whether any monies have been demanded (if any), and what has been paid (if any). If the Portuguese authorities hadn't demanded a penny, they could have told me that months ago.
So I think something is being hidden, and I will press on by asking for a review first of all and if necessary appeal to the Information Commissioner.
I'll place all the correspondence here.
Dear Mr Bennett
Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2016070000799
I apologise for the delay in responding.
I write in connection with your request for information which was received
by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 20/07/2016. I note you seek
access to the following information:
I ask these questions about the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Grange
which, according to the remit set for it by former Detective Chief
Superintendent Hamish Campbell, is ‘to investigate the abduction of
Madeleine McCann as if the abduction had occurred in the U.K.’
In 2013 and 2014 there were many references in the British press to
expenditure by the Portuguese Police having to be met by the British
government. These expenses are known to include:
1. The cost of hiring an Alouette Mark III top-of-the-range
Portuguese military helicopter
2. The provision of extensive physical support, assistance,
supervision and other assistance in connection with two searches of
patches of waste ground in Praia da Luz in 2014, and
3. Extensive assistance by way of Portuguese police conducting a
series of ‘rogatory interviews’ of a significant number of alleged
4. Translation services in connection with (a) the 2014 search of
Praia da Luz (b) the rogatory interviews of suspects and (c) any other
Please provide the following information:
A. The dates that the Portuguese Police, Ministry of Justice or any
other agency of the Portuguese government requested financial assistance
or otherwise submitted any invoice or other demand for payment
B. In each case, how much was demanded?
C. List all payments made in connection with Operation Grange to
the Portuguese authorities. .
SEARCHES TO LOCATE INFORMATION
To locate the information relevant to your request searches were conducted
at Operation Grange. The searches failed to locate any information
relevant to your request, therefore, the information you have requested is
not held by the MPS.
Should you have any further enquiries concerning this matter, please
contact me via email at [email address], quoting the reference number