Tony Bennett on Sun Dec 20, 2009 5:05 pm
Madeleine McCann – Murder or Accident – Definitely NOT Abduction (Written by Tony Bennett).pdf (in English)
Today I've been made aware that the above appears on a so-called 'torrent site'.
I should like to make it clear to everyone (and Carter-Ruck and Clarence Mitchell if your're dropping by to have a look-in) that I know nothing about this, I don't even know where the link is, and by the way it's also a breach of my copyright.
I should also like to make it absolutely plain that the publication of my '60 Reasons' book on Wikileaks is also without my consent, and without the consent of The Madeleine Foundation; exactly the same applies to the '10 Reasons' leaflet which can also be viewed at Wikileaks.
I first became aware of what 'torrent sites' are around 3-4 weeks ago when a 'Google Alert' I have for the words 'Madeleine Foundation' came up with just such a torrent site. I think, though I am not sure, that there may have been a fee payable to view it. If so, I know nothing about it, I haven't consented either to them charging a fee nor indeed to whoever it is publishing it.
None of these publications on Wikileaks or 'torrent sites' or anywhere else has my consent nor the consent of The Madeleine Foundation.
I wish to state once again that I have in no way shape or form made one penny either from the sale of '60 Reasons' nor in any way from the activities of The Madeleine Foundation, despite frequent attacks on me claiming I have done so.
The '60 Reasons' book had a message. The purpose in writing that booklet was to bring that message away from closed groups on internet forums and out into the open for the public to read. Two months prior to the publication of '60 Reasons', an abridged version of it was published prominently on our former website, under the title '30 Key Reasons'.
Thousands bought '60 Reasons'. Many more read it as people passed it to relatives, friends and neighbours. Tens of thousands read the '10 Reasons' leaflet. Hundreds of thousands read the '30 Key Reasons' article.
As a result of High Court undertakings, however, '60 Reasons' and '10 Reasons' can no longer be distributed by us. Those same High Court undertakings meant that we had to take down our '30 Key Reasons' article and we are not allowed to re-instate it on our new website: www.madeleinefoundation.org.uk
The intention of writing '60 Reasons' was to spread what I believed when I wrote it was an important message. At the same time I made it clear to my colleagues in The Madeleine Foundation that I would not take one penny from its sale. The issues were far too grave for me to even think about making money from the sale, and besides that, as I've always been happy to acknowledge, I borrowed substantially from the research and thoughts of others in putting the booklet together.
Now it seems that, whether I like it or not, as a result of the undertakings I was required to give to the McCanns, Carter-Ruck and the High Court, the message within '60 Reasons' is reaching a much wider audience than I ever considered possible.
20 December 2009
Tony Bennett on Sat Nov 28, 2009 10:36 pm
[NOTE: Nothing further has been heard from Carter-Ruck in the 10 weeks since this letter was written to them]
From: Tony Bennett M.A.
Tel: 01279 635789
Carter-Ruck Thursday 17 September 2009
International Press Centre
76 Shoe Lane
For the attention of Isabel Hudson
Your ref: IH/DH/13837.1
re: Brian Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy
I reply to your letter of 28 August.
I deal firstly with the four allegations you set out on page 1 of your letter:
(1) “That Brian Kennedy bought a house (in Cheshire) where he regularly met with intelligence operatives he appointed including those from Metodo 3”
RESPONSE: You say this is ‘untrue’, but do not say whether the whole or part of that statement is untrue. We do have what we consider to be sound information that there is indeed a house in Cheshire, in Knutsford in fact, which is used by Brian Kennedy as the centre of intelligence-gathering operations connected to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
Further, if you look at the long article by Mark Hollingsworth, below, it is plain from that that Brian Kennedy did indeed in effect ‘run’ the intelligence operation as I described in my post on 3Arguidos.
Indeed, that article makes some serious allegations against Brian Kennedy. For example, Mr Hollingsworth alleges that:
· “The involvement of Brian Kennedy and his son Patrick in the operation was counter-productive, notably when they were questioned by the local police for acting suspiciously while attempting a 24-hour ‘stake out’,” and that:
· “Key witnesses were questioned far too aggressively, so much so that some of them later refused to talk to the police”.
He also stated: “Instead the efforts of the private eyes served only to scare off witnesses, waste funds and raise false hopes”.
The allegations that Mr Kennedy’s activities ‘scared off witnesses’ and that ‘key witnesses were questioned far too aggressively, so much so that some of them refused to talk to the police’ are very serious allegations, which could be held to amount to the commission of the criminal offence of interfering with the course of justice, or a similar offence of interfering with a criminal investigation which we understand is a criminal offence known to Portuguese law.
There are also many questions about Brian Kennedy’s precise role in his intelligence-gathering operation, not least what was the subject matter of his discussions with suspect Robert Murat in Portugal in November 2007. His attempts to speak to Mr Martin Smith, a potential witness to events in Praia da Luz, were another concern. Then there were the reports that on 13 January 2008, Mr Kennedy or one of his representatives interviewed Albert Schuurmans, Head of the Roscoe Foundation, based in the Algarve. Mr Schuurmans was reported to have claimed, wrongly, that ‘there are no orphanages in Espiche’, which had a bearing on an alleged sighting of a possible abductor by a Mrs Cooper.
However, in the light of the statement in your letter and your assurance that my claim is untrue, I undertake not to publish that or any similar allegation, in any medium, unless and until I have absolute proof of any of the facts that I have claimed.
(2) “That Madeleine McCann died in apartment 3A and that Brian Kennedy is at the centre of a huge, costly and well-organised cover-up operation”
RESPONSE: By now, millions of people worldwide believe that Madeleine McCann died in Apartment 5A in Praia da Luz. In my case, my opinion is formed substantially on the basis of the facts about the investigation into her disappearance set out by the original senior detective in the case, Goncalo Amaral. I am however willing to give the following undertaking, in the terms you suggest: I undertake not to publish that or any similar allegation, in any medium.
(3) “That Patrick Kennedy was said to be intimately involved with the McCann operation or cover-up”
RESPONSE: At this point, I need to reproduce the recent article on your clients penned by Mark Hollingsworth of the ‘Evening Standard’:
Mark Hollingsworth Investigates The McCann Files
Disillusioned with the Portuguese police, Gerry and Kate McCann turned to private detectives to find their missing daughter. Instead the efforts of the private eyes served only to scare off witnesses, waste funds and raise false hopes. Mark Hollingsworth investigates the investigators.
by Mark Hollingsworth
It was billed as a ‘significant development’ in the exhaustive search for Madeleine McCann. At a recent dramatic press conference in London, the lead private investigator David Edgar, a retired Cheshire detective inspector, brandished an E-FIT image of an Australian woman, described her as ‘a bit of a Victoria Beckham lookalike’, and appealed for help in tracing her. The woman was seen ‘looking agitated’ outside a restaurant in Barcelona three days after Madeleine’s disappearance. ‘It is a strong lead’, said Edgar, wearing a pin-stripe suit in front of a bank of cameras and microphones. ‘Madeleine could have been in Barcelona by that point. The fact the conversation took place near the marina could be significant.’
But within days reporters discovered that the private detectives had failed to make the most basic enquiries before announcing their potential breakthrough. Members of Edgar’s team who visited Barcelona had failed to speak to anyone working at the restaurant near where the agitated woman was seen that night, neglected to ask if the mystery woman had been filmed on CCTV cameras and knew nothing about the arrival of an Australian luxury yacht just after Madeleine vanished.
The apparent flaws in this latest development were another salutary lesson for Kate and Gerry McCann, who have relied on private investigators after the Portuguese police spent more time falsely suspecting the parents than searching for their daughter. For their relations with private detectives have been frustrating, unhappy and controversial ever since their daughter’s disappearance in May 2007.
The search has been overseen by the millionaire business Brian Kennedy, 49, who set up Madeleine’s Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned, which aimed ‘to procure that Madeleine’s abduction is thoroughly investigated’. A straight-talking, tough, burly self-made entrepreneur and rugby fanatic, he grew up in a council flat near Tynecastle in Scotland and was brought up as a Jehovah’s Witness. He started his working life as a window cleaner and by 2007 had acquired a £350 million fortune from double-glazing and home-improvement ventures. Kennedy was outraged by the police insinuations against the McCanns and, though a stranger, worked tirelessly on their behalf. ‘His motivation was sincere,’ said someone who worked closely with him. ‘He was appalled by the Portuguese police, but he also had visions of flying in by helicopter to rescue Madeleine.’
Kennedy commissioned private detectives to conduct an investigation parallel to the one run by the Portuguese police. But his choice showed how dangerous it is when powerful and wealthy businessmen try to play detective. In September 2007, he hired Metodo 3, an agency based in Barcelona, on a six-month contract and paid it an estimated £50,000 a month. Metodo 3 was hired because of Spain’s ‘language and cultural connection’ with Portugal. ‘If we’d had big-booted Brits or, heaven forbid, Americans, we would have had doors slammed in our faces’ said Clarence Mitchell, spokesperson for the McCann’s at the time. ‘And it’s quite likely that we could have been charged with hindering the investigation as technically it’s illegal in Portugal to undertake a secondary investigation.
The agency had 35 investigators working on the case in Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco. A hotline was set up for the public to report sightings and suspicions, and the search focussed on Morocco. But the investigation was dogged by over-confidence and braggadocio. ‘We know who took Madeleine and hope she will be home by Christmas,’ boasted Metodo 3’s flamboyant boss Francisco Marco. But no Madeleine materialised and their contract was not renewed.
Until now, few details have emerged about the private investigation during those crucial early months, but an investigation by ES shows that key mistakes were made, which in turn made later enquiries far more challenging.
ES has spoken to several sources close to the private investigations that took place in the first year and discovered that:
* The involvement of Brian Kennedy and his son Patrick in the operation was counter-productive, notably when they were questioned by the local police for acting suspiciously while attempting a 24-hour ‘stake out’.
* The relationship between Metodo 3 and the Portuguese police had completely broken down.
* Key witnesses were questioned far too aggressively, so much so that some of them later refused to talk to the police.
* Many of the investigators had little experience of the required painstaking forensic detective work.
By April 2008, nearing the first anniversary of the disappearance, Kennedy and the McCanns were desperate. And so when H.E., a former undercover police officer who worked on M15 operations, and Kevin Halligen, a smooth-talking Irishman who claimed to have worked for covert British government intelligence agency GCHQ, walked through the door, their timing was perfect. Their sales pitch was classic James Bond spook-talk: everything had to be ‘top secret’ and ‘on a need to know basis’. The operation would involve 24-hour alert systems, undercover units, satellite imagery and round-the-clock surveillance teams that would fly in at short notice. This sounded very exciting but, as one source close to the investigation told ES, it was also very expensive and ultimately unsuccessful. ‘The real job at hand was old-fashioned, tedious, forensic police work rather than these boy’s own, glory boy antic,’ he said.
But Kennedy was impressed by the license-to-spy presentation and H.E. and Halligen were hire for a fee of £100,000 per month plus expenses. Ostensibly, the contract was with Halligen’s UK security company, Red Defence International Ltd, and an office was set up in Jermyn Street, in St James’s. Only a tiny group of employees did the painstaking investigative work of dealing with thousands of emails and phone calls. Instead, resources were channelled into undercover operations in paedophile rings and among gypsies throughout Europe, encouraged by Kennedy. A five-man surveillance team was dispatched in Portugal, overseen by the experienced H.E., for six weeks.
Born in Belgium in 1951, H.E. had been a highly effective undercover officer for the Manchester police. A maverick and dynamic figure, he successfully infiltrated gangs of football hooligans in the 1980’s. While not popular among his colleagues, in 1991 he was seconded to work on MI5 undercover operations against drug dealers, gangsters and terrorists, and was later awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for ‘outstanding bravery’. By all accounts, the charismatic H.E. was a dedicated officer. But in November 2002, the stress appeared to have overcome his judgement when he was arrested for shoplifting.
While working on an MI5 surveillance, H.E. was caught leaving a tax-free shopping area at Manchester airport with a bottle of perfume he had not paid for. The police were called and he was given the option of the offence being dealt with under caution or to face prosecution. He chose a police caution and so in effect admitted his guilt. Exton was sacked, but was furious about the way he had been treated and threatened to sue MI5. He later set up his own consulting company and moved to Bury in Lancashire.
While H.E., however flawed, was the genuine article as an investigator, Halligen was a very different character. Born in Dublin in 1961, he has been described as a ‘Walter Mitty figure’. He used false names to collect prospective clients at airports in order to preserve secrecy, and he called himself ‘Kevin’ or ‘Richard’ or ‘Patrick’ at different times to describe himself to business contacts. There appears to be no reason for all this subterfuge except that he thought this was what agents did. A conspiracy theorist and lover of the secret world, he is obsessed by surveillance gadgets and even installed a covert camera to spy on his own employees. He claimed to have worked for GCHQ, but in fact he was employed by the Atomic Energy Authority (AEA) as head of defence systems in the rather less glamorous field of new information technology, researching the use of ‘special batteries’. He told former colleagues and potential girlfriends that he used to work for MI5, MI6 and the CIA. He also claimed that he was nearly kidnapped by the IRA, was involved in the first Gulf War and had been a freefall parachutist.
Very little of this is true. What is true is that Halligen has a degree in electronics, worked on the fringes of the intelligence community while at AEA and does understand government communications. He could also be an astonishingly persuasive, engaging and charming individual. Strikingly self-confident and articulate, he could be generous and clubbable. ‘He was very good company but only when it suited him’ says one friend. He kept people in compartments.’
After leaving the AEA, Halligen set up Red Defence International Ltd as an international security and political risk company, advising clients on the risks involved in investing and doing business in unstable, war-torn and corrupt countries. He worked closely with political risk companies and was a persuasive advocate of IT security. In 2006, he struck gold when hired by Trafigura, the Dutch commodities trading company. Executives were imprisoned in the Ivory Coast after toxic waste was dumped in landfills near its biggest city Abidjan. Trafigura was blamed and hired Red Defence International at vast expense to help with the negotiations to release its executives. A Falcon business jet was rented for several months during the operation and it was Halligen’s first taste of the good life. The case only ended when Trafigura paid $197 million to the government of the Ivory Coast to secure the release of the prisoners.
Halligen made a fortune from Trafigura and was suddenly flying everywhere first-class, staying at the Lansborough and Stafford hotels in London and The Willard hotel in Washington DC for months at a time. In 2007 he set up Oakley International Group and registered at the offices of the prestigious law firm Patton Boggs, in Washington DC, as an international security company. He was now strutting the stage as a self-proclaimed international spy expert and joined the Special Forces Club in Knightsbridge, where he met Exton.
During the Madeleine investigation, Halligen spent vast amounts of time in the HeyJo bar in the basement of the Abracadabra Club near his Jermyn Street office. Armed with a clutch of unregistered mobile phones and a Blackberry, the bar was in effect his office. ‘He was there virtually the whole day,’ a former colleague told ES. ‘He had an amazing tolerance for alcohol and a prodigious memory and so occasionally he would have amazing bursts of intelligence, lucidity and insights. They were very rare but they did happen.’
When not imbibing in St James’s, Halligen was in the United States, trying to drum up investors for Oakley International. On 15 August 2008, at the height of the McCann investigation crisis, he persuaded Andre Hollis, a former US Drug enforcement agency official, to write out an $80,000 cheque to Oakley in return for a ten per cent share-holding. The money was then transferred into the private accounts of Halligen and his girlfriend Shirin Trachiotis to finance a holiday in Italy, according to Hollis. In a $6 million lawsuit filed in Fairfax County, Virginia, Hollis alleges that Halligen ‘received monies for Oakley’s services rendered and deposited the same into his personal accounts’ and ‘repeatedly and systematically depleted funds from Oakley’s bank accounts for inappropriate personal expenses’.
Hollis was not the only victim. Mark Aspinall, a respected lawyer who worked closely with Halligen, invested £500,000 in Oakley and lost the lot. Earlier this year he filed a lawsuit in Washington DC against Halligen claiming $1.4 million in damages. The finances of Oakley International are in chaos and numerous employees, specialist consultants and contractors have not been paid. Some of them now face financial ruin.
Meanwhile, H.E. was running the surveillance teams in Portugal and often paying his operatives upfront, so would occasionally be out-of-pocket because Halligen had not transferred funds. H.E. genuinely believed that progress was being made and substantial and credible reports on child trafficking were submitted. But by mid-August 2008, Kennedy and Gerry McCann were increasingly concerned by an absence of details of how the money was being spent. At one meeting, Halligen was asked how many men constituted a surveillance team and he produced a piece of paper on which he wrote ‘between one and ten’. But he then refused to say how many were working and how much they were being paid.
While Kennedy and Gerry McCann accepted that the mission was extremely difficult and some secrecy was necessary, Halligen was charging very high rates and expenses. And eyebrows were raised when all the money was paid to Oakley International, solely owned and managed by Halligen. One invoice, seen by ES, shows that for ‘accrued expenses to May 5, 2008’ (just one month into the contract), Oakley charged $74,155. The ‘point of contact’ was Halligen who provided a UK mobile telephone number.
While Kennedy was ready to accept Halligen at face value, Gerry McCann – sharp, focused and intelligent – was more sceptical. The contract with Oakley International and Halligen was terminated by the end of September 2008, after £500,000-plus expenses had been spent.
For the McCanns it was a bitter experience, Exton has returned to Cheshire and, like so many people, is owed money by Halligen. As for Halligen, he has gone into hiding, leaving a trail of debt and numerous former business associates and creditors looking for him. He was last seen in January of this year in Rome, drinking and spending prodigiously at the Hilton Cavalieri and Excelsior hotels. He is now believed by private investigators, who have been searching for him to serve papers on behalf of creditors, to be in the UK and watching his back. Meanwhile, in the eye of the storm, the McCanns continue the search for their lost daughter.
From this account, it is clear that Brian Kennedy’s son Patrick featured strongly in the intelligence operation his father managed, precisely as I alleged in my postings on 3Arguidos dated 18 and 22 July 2009. I cannot therefore withdraw my assertion that he was ‘intimately involved with the McCann investigation’, but I am content to give you an undertaking not to not to publish an allegation that he was ‘involved in a cover-up’, or any similar allegation, in any medium.
(4) “That I identified Patrick Kennedy in a post which is part of a thread [on 3Arguidos] which alleged that a particular individual was involved in the actual disappearance of Madeleine McCann”.
RESPONSE: I am aware of the existence of that thread and indeed other threads on 3Arguidos which alleged that either Brain Kennedy or a teenage son of his, or both, were in Praia das Luz at the same time as the McCanns. There has even been further speculation that one or the other (father or son) was in some way involved in the actual disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
However, you will not find on the now-defunct 3Arguidos site nor anywhere else where I have ever made that allegation myself. I have always viewed it as an unsubstantiated rumour and you will not be able to find anything in writing from me anywhere which suggests otherwise.
I do not have access to the posting I made on 3Arguidos in which I referred to Patrick Kennedy. However, I do have a clear recollection of it and I can be certain that what I said was in effect intended to contradict assertions that Patrick Kennedy was in Praia da Luz in April/May 2007. I recall specifically stating that his probable age was 20 to 30 and that therefore he could not be the ‘teenage son of Brian Kennedy’ whom others (but I emphasise not myself) were speculating was in Praia da Luz that week. I have no fear of your clients ‘referring to the totality of the discussion threads in question’ as I know that at no time have I ever suggested that either of your clients was in Praia da Luz that week.
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In addition to asking me to give undertakings, you have asked me to ‘use my best endeavours to remove the posting complained of from the 3Arguidos forum’. In your letter of 28 August, you noted correctly that “the 3Arguidos forum appears temporarily to have been suspended”. On 28 August, when you wrote to me, the site was not visible except for a holding page saying that the site was temporarily unavailable. Since then, however, the whole site has been removed from the internet and comments made by the owners and former Moderators of that forum strongly suggest that the 3Arguidos site will never return. There is no way that I nor others can access the threads on that site.
However, in line with your clients’ wishes, and in case the 3Arguidos site should ever be revived in some form, I have earlier this week written to the e-mail addresses I hold of the former owner and Moderators, asking them not to re-publish any allegedly defamatory postings I have made which refer to Brian Kennedy or Patrick Kennedy. I can produce copies of those e-mails on request.