The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann:
Rogue Investigators?

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Disappeared to Madeline McCann Private detectives

In my last post, on Netflix’s “Dirty John” I mentioned enjoying watching a film or TV series in my rare moments of downtime. When I’d finished the aforementioned series, Netflix pointed me in the direction of “The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann”. This documentary on the well-known, incredibly sad story greatly intrigued me, as someone in the investigation industry.

Of course, it wouldn’t be professional of me to speculate on the case itself, but one aspect I am well-placed to comment on is the investigative element – specifically the involvement of two private detectives – Spanish company Metodo, and British investigator Kevin Halligen. The stories surrounding these detectives’ activities really serve to highlight an issue that’s a real personal bugbear – rogues in the industry.

Metodo – McCann Case Misconduct?

Certainly it’s clear that investigator Julian Peribanez – working at the time for Spanish investigation company Metodo – had the passion and determination to succeed. Something on which, sometimes, it’s impossible to put a price. However, some of the practices Metodo used during the investigation are questionable, to say the least.

This relates in particular to surveillance operations. As an outside observer, but one with over 25 years in the industry, with a focus on quality, success of service, and ethical conduct at all times, it is plainly apparent that so much of what we at PDL build into good surveillance services was absent.

Here are a few of the most crucial standards of good surveillance, and how Metodo didn’t meet them:

  • Multiple Operatives Needed: We would use a disciplined cell of multiple dedicated surveillance operatives. Metodo used only one private detective
  • Specialist Tools / Equipment / Vehicles Needed: The key is of course that subject under surveillance is unaware. Metodo did not even change their surveillance vehicle, working several days straight in the same car.

A good private detective knows his/her weaknesses, and knows when it’s right to delegate or call in specialist teams. The above errors are ones that properly trained surveillance operatives simply wouldn’t make. The bad surveillance practice exemplified by the above points led to the Russian suspect at that time becoming aware he was under surveillance.

Additionally, Metodo gave press interviews and statements which would appear to falsely claim they were close to solving the case. A private investigation company (as opposed to a public service with certain public duties) giving press interviews is something we deem wholly unprofessional. This is something we’d never do at PDL – not least due to our duty to private clients, but moreover legally, due to our nondisclosure agreements.

Kevin Halligen – Rogue Investigator?

It would appear that British investigator Kevin Halligen used the position and power he held to benefit from some of the funds intended for the Madeleine search. Halligen denied doing so, then later was convicted of a separate fraud in the USA and imprisoned.

Taking on any client, whether a business matter, matrimonial matter, or anything else is a very serious process. The accuracy and honesty an investigator provides to a client informs decisions going forward and are vital in the success of any investigation.

Halligen was trusted to find a missing child, and it would appear he may have had a personal agenda in mind, and acted wrongly and dishonestly.

Summary

Notwithstanding that I was not present and didn’t work on any investigations in relation to these matters, it would seem that these private detectives may have been lax and taken advantage of the situation, exploiting it to their advantage after something evidently unthinkable happened to the McCanns.