Madeleine McCann private detective held for fraud

NOV 26, 2009
Guardian Unlimited
James Meikle

Kevin Halligen, arrested in Oxford over unpaid hotel bill, was involved with search for missing girl and is wanted in the US. A security consultant who was once paid £300,000 to help find Madeleine McCann and is wanted by US authorities in connection with a $2m (£1.2m) case has been arrested at an expensive hotel in Oxford.

Kevin Halligen, 48, whose private detective agency Oakley International had its contract for the McCann search cancelled last year, was arrested at the Old Bank hotel over a separate alleged fraud concerning his hotel bill. Metropolitan police officers from London are expected to travel to Oxford on the US matter.

The Sun newspaper claimed Halligen and a woman, who the Guardian understands has not been arrested, were found by police with their bags packed ready to leave the hotel after a three-month stay. The bill was reported to run into tens of thousands of pounds. Double room rates there start at £185 a night, more at weekends.

A major benefactor of the McCanns had raised concerns over the quality of his firm's work and the Sunday Times reported he owed £100,000 to others involved in the McCann search.

The US Department of Justice issued an indictment for Halligen alleging he tried to defraud a London law firm of money supposed to be used to lobby for the release of two executives from the Dutch firm Trafigura arrested in the Ivory Coast. Halligen is accused of using the funds for his own benefit including buying a mansion in Virginia.

Washington-based Oakley International was paid around £300,000 by backers of Madeleine McCann's parents to help look for the child after she went missing from the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz in May 2007. The six-month contract saw the firm hire other private detectives, set up a hotline and process information, but was not renewed.

A spokesman for the McCann family said: "Our association with Halligen and Oakley International ended well over a year ago. Given that an arrest has been made it would be inappropriate for us to comment."

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