2 February 2009

Kate and Gerry 'Secret' Accounts: A Matter of Non-Reciprocity


The British authorities received two requests to provide financial information about the parents of Madeleine but the answers never arrived to the PJ


The Judiciary Police never had access to the bank account details of Gerry and Kate McCann. This is because the British authorities have never responded positively to both requests made by Portuguese investigators.

At the beginning of the process, a first request was made regarding Madeleine parents and the friends who spent holidays with them at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz. The intention was to obtain more information about who were those nine people.

If about the seven friends data emerged as to the place where they have bank accounts and credit cards, regarding Kate and Gerry the UK authorities have said very little.

"No record of a current bank account is held," said the English about Madeleine's father, adding that "there is no record of credit cards or loans." And the same for the mother of the girl disappeared on May 3, 2007 at the Ocean Club apartment in Praia da Luz. The only information is about the bank where the mortgage of the McCann's house is. They also refer that there no arrears or defaults registered.

In the letter rogatory sent in November 2007 to England, various diligences [legal investigative actions] were asked to the British police, there once again it was requested information on the McCanns bank accounts. And once again nothing arrived to Portugal.

The British authorities refused the request and simply said that as a justification that they would not provide financial information on the couple. And the information never arrived.

"Ongoing investigation"

"The Home Office [Ministry of Foreign Affairs ] can not confirm or deny" that the McCanns have had bank accounts between the 25 of April 2007 and 12 September 2008.

This is the reply given, in January of this year, to British journalists who tried to clarify this situation. Even stranger are the arguments used to justify the answer. The British say that "the investigation is ongoing" and this information could "jeopardize the investigation, the international relations and endanger the health and safety" of Madeleine. This when the case was officially archived in July last year.

"Given this [answers], the UK authorities are lying to their subjects," said Gonçalo Amaral to the CM . "The Attorney General said that case is archived," added the former coordinator of the PJ.


Source: Correio da Manhã

Bellow via Nigel at the McCann Files

This is the complete Home Office response to the request for information about the McCanns' bank and credit card accounts, made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act):

Organised & International Crime Directorate
5th Floor Fry Building, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
Switchboard xxx Fax xxx Direct Line xxx E-mail xxx
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk
Ms xxx Our ref: xxx
xxx@xxx
Date:28th January 2009
Dear Ms xxx
RE: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST
HOME OFFICE MATERIAL RELATING TO MADELEINE MCCANN

I am writing further to my correspondence on the 16th December 2008. We are now in a position to offer a full reply to your request. I would like to apologise for the length of time it has taken to respond to your request. This delay has been due to giving full and due consideration to the public interest test together with the necessity to consult with other agencies.

It is noted that your request was to essentially seek information for any record or document or extract thereof reporting or evidencing that neither of the parents of Madeleine Beth McCann possessed any credit card or debit card from any financial institution during the period 25th April 2007 and 12th September 2007. You additionally requested any record or document or extract thereof reporting or evidencing that the alleged affirmation was made by any official of the Home Office to any police officer in the Leicestershire Constabulary and failing the existence of any written record whether such affirmation was made verbally the name of the official(s) and the recipient officer(s). The request was also seeking information of any record or document or extract reporting or evidencing the credit card or debit transactions made by the parents of Madeleine Beth McCann between the 4th May 2007 and 21st July 2008.

Your request for information has been considered under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act) and we are now able to provide you with a substantive response to your request.

Section 1 of the Act places two duties on public authorities when handling requests. The first of these duties, provided at s1(1)(a) is to confirm or deny whether the information requested is actually held by that authority. The second duty is for that information to be disclosed where it has been confirmed that it exists. This is provided under s1(1)(b).

The Home Office can neither confirm nor deny that we hold information relevant to your request as our duty under s1(1)(a) does not apply by virtue of the following provisions of the Act:

* Section 27(4) – prejudice to International Relations;
* Section 31(3) – prejudice to Law Enforcement activities; and
* Section 38(2) – endangering Health & Safety.

This letter therefore also serves as a refusal notice under s17(1) of the Act.

Furthermore, the Home Office will not comment on any of the information contained in Goncal Amaral's book, 'A Verdade da Mentira' as it would potentially undermine ongoing investigations.

There are a number of sensitivities relevant to your request, given that Madeleine McCann is still missing and the investigation is still ongoing. Confirming or denying whether any information is held could undermine the investigation, prejudice international relations and could endanger the health and safety of members of the public.

We have considered public interest considerations in making our decision and we have attached these to this letter. We believe that, at this time, the public interest strongly favours neither confirming nor denying that the information you have requested is or is not held by the Home Office.

This response should not be taken as conclusive evidence that the information you have requested either does or does not exist.

If you are dissatisfied with this response you may request an independent internal review of our handling of your request by submitting your complaint within two months to the below address quoting reference xxx

Information Rights Team
Information and Record Management Service
Home Office
4th Floor, Seacole Building
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF
Or email: xxx

During the independent review the department's handling of your information request will be reassessed by an official that was not involved in providing you with this response. Should you remain dissatisfied after this internal review, you will have a right of complaint to the Information Commissioner as established by section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act.

I realise that you may be disappointed with this response. However we have considered your request with great care, and the Home Office always seeks to provide as much information as it is able to.

Thank you for your interest in the Home Office.

Yours sincerely
xxx
Team Leader
UK Central Authority

Public Interest Considerations

s.17 – Refusal of request

(1) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is to any extent relying on a claim that any provision in part II relating to the duty to confirm or deny is relevant to the request or on a claim that information is exempt information must, within the time for complying with section1(1), give the applicant a notice which -

(a) states the fact,
(b) specifies the exemption in question, and
(c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.

s.27 – International Relations

(1) Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice,

(a) relations between the United Kingdom and any other state,
(b) relations between the United Kingdom and any international organisation or international court

(4) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, compliance with section 1(1)(a) – (a) would, or would be likely to, prejudice any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1)

s.31 – Law Enforcement

(1) Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 30 is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice-

(a) the prevention or detection of crime,
(b) the apprehension or prosecution of offenders,
(c) the administration of justice,

(4) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, compliance with section 1(1)(a) would, or would be likely to, prejudice any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1)

s.38 – Health & Safety

(1) Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to-

(a) endanger the physical or mental health of any individual, or
(b) endanger the safety of any individual.

(4) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that, compliance with section 1(1)(a) would, or would be likely to, prejudice any of the matters mentioned in subsection (1)

Harm and prejudice

The investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is still ongoing. There are significant unknowns in relation to her disappearance. Leicestershire Constabulary are the lead force in the UK dealing with this investigation but the principle investigation agency is Policia Judiciara (PJ) in Portugal. We believe that significant harm to the investigation could result from either confirming or denying that we hold the information you have asked for.

Should this investigation lead to a prosecution, saying whether or not this information is or is not held by the Home Office would risk undermining the human rights of any suspect to a fair trial and the rights of a victim, particularly if the prosecution would fail due to such an announcement.

If the Home Office was to either confirm or deny that it did or did not hold any information that was gathered in the course of this investigation, it might risk compromising the conduct of this investigation. This could ultimately prejudice the administration of justice. In any event, to confirm or deny that any such information that was or was not obtained in the course of a criminal investigation, either voluntarily or through compulsory powers, ought not to be generally disclosed, save as far as it is necessary for the purposes of establishing or defending rights in litigation.

There is consequently a strong public interest in ensuring that evidence is not contaminated for any future trial. In addition there is a strong public interest to preserve relations with the Policia Judiciara (PJ) in Portugal whilst Madeleine remains missing.

Two of the Home Office's objectives are to support the efficient and effective delivery of justice, and to lead visible, responsive and accountable policing. The manner in which the Home Office works to support the Police Service as a whole is one of our core business functions.

If the Home Office prejudiced such a high-profile and sensitive investigation by confirming or denying that we either do or do not hold any of the information that you have requested, we would be seen as working against the efforts of both UK and Portuguese policing authorities, undermining their determined efforts to locate Madeline McCann and her assailants. This would not be in the best interests of the public.

Any prejudicial effects to these ongoing investigations could jeopardise the health & safety, of Madeline McCann, in that it might significantly affect the chances of her being found. There is no actual public interest served in releasing information that may jeopardise the health & safety of any individual.

There is a strong public interest in the UK maintaining the arrangements it currently enjoys with other States in matters of judicial and mutual legal cooperation in criminal and other matters. Any act that would prejudice this investigation may discourage other States with complying with reasonable requests issued by the UK or from pursuing legitimate investigations in the UK for fear that the product of such requests or investigations may be disclosed to private citizens.


8 comments:

  1. Well I believe it was closed in Portugal because it had come to the end of the time they could continue McCann as arguidos, but there is no such time limit in UK for serious crime. Why would we not be investigating them ourselves? It has always made more sense to me that we would deal with them here, but UK work in a very different way to Portugal there is never release of information to suspects or to the public, we are very secretive about everything but I can see how release can hamper an investigation. Criminals like Kate and Gerry are quite cute enough, we don't need to tell them what is going on.

    The serious offence just one they have committed, fraud, was really always in the jurisdiction of UK, and I think that is why perhaps the Home Office made such an unhelpful response although it is rude and surely could have been said, we just want to deal with this ourselves and as we are investigating that cannot release the information.

    I am not saying this is what has happened but knowing the UK system I would say it is very likely! That is certainly in accordance with the letters they are writing and if the Home Office are telling lies about that the British Public will seriously revolt, me included!

    I think it was a very difficult diplomatic situation between the two countries that these two reprobates caused and it is very unfortunate but I always saw it as having the potential to damage relations between the two countries which is a great shame.

    I can certainly understand a tit for tat approach to that now! UK cannot have it both ways..although historically I think it is true UK seem to think they can tell other nations what to do, not a good idea!

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  2. I just wanted to add to that, that it was obviously right and reasonable for Portugal to thoroughly investigate this matter and with our assistance. But it seems to the McCanns and perhaps other Brits are responsible for what happened to Maddie so what is really bad is the costs and damage to Portugal investigating its own crime at that time. The McCanns have hardly behaved like normal criminals.

    They employed Metodo 3 whose sole remit seemed to be to generate false leads which quite obviously the PJ just had to keep investigating, and this has led to enormous costs and a lot of wasted work.

    So who should bear the costs of all this? I do not pretend to know what should happen in these situations but it seems to me UK could make amends if they were honest and said right, it is our citizens now and we will deal with them. But Portugal should be reimbursed the costs of being forced to investigate people who are not their subjects. Either by a direct grant from UK or from the EU. Diplomatically that would surely be the right way forward, but I just don't know the exact situation, it may well be we still need an awful lot of help from Portugal and do not seem to be going the right way about getting it!

    I can understand Goncalo Amaral being frustrated and annoyed.

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  3. First of all, once again, a big THANKYOU to Joana and Astro!
    To the poster Viv:
    Did I understand your post correctly? Are you saying that british police never release information, that they also keep secrecy about the investigations? I'm amaized, one of the most frequent criticism from the british media about the P.J. was their silence and unwillingness to communicate!

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  4. Either the british are lying through their teeth or the Mccanns hastilly closed their bank accounts and credit cards!What did they have to hyde? When Gerry went in a brief visit home, soon after May 3rd, didn't he say he had is wallet stollen as he was drawing money from an ATM? He had a card then!
    Even if they used only e-banking, surelly there must be records.

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  5. This is worse than the Soviet Union was.It suffocates.
    It was a life and it was a child.
    But who cares? Only we care.
    Faeces everywhere that have to be hidden.
    But we smell them.They stink terribly.
    What about the human rights in the UK?
    No rights for Madeleine.
    But the McCanns will receive the bill that life will send to them.
    And people who are helping hiding a crime will pay too.

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  6. "..and this information could jeopardize the investigation, the international relations and endanger the health and safety of Madeleine"

    What investigation? The case was shelved because they didn't send the information the Pj needed.The english didn't want the investigation to continue ...And now they want us to believe they are still investigating? What a bunch of liars!!!
    What international relations?? Haven't you already realized that the cooperation from the portuguese will never be the same?Do you seriously think that the portuguese authorities will continue to help you the way they did before the Maddie case?
    And how could an
    hypothetical investigation endanger the health of a dead child?This people really think we are all stupid!

    They are simply still protecting the Mccanns. This is just an excuse for them not to give information about this couple.

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  7. Bom, assim já sabemos a resposta a dar aos "bifes" a propósito do caso freeport (e outros): "nuts"
    Mas expliquem-lhes porque eles podem não compreender.

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  8. Rosie wrote: Did I understand your post correctly? Are you saying that british police never release information, that they also keep secrecy about the investigations? I'm amaized, one of the most frequent criticism from the british media about the P.J. was their silence and unwillingness to communicate!

    There are occasions when British Police will seek the help of the media to trace suspects etc, but the details of the investigation itself are still kept completely confidential. On programmes such a CrimeWatch this can often be noted, they will only release information about a particular offender. In the McCann case the McCanns took the law into their own hands and strictly against police advice made a number of worldwide appeals about a supposed abductor, who clearly only exists in the lurid imaginations of Kate and Gerry McCann. You say British Press "criticised" Portugal for their secrecy of justice, that is now what I read, if you are the same Rosie that I believe you are, it you that likes to criticise everything about the Portuguese Judicial System, our press merely explained it. Of course some do not want to hear, and wish to conduct their own "counter" investigation with a bunch of crooks, Kennedy, Marco and Jimenez arranging a meeting with Portuguese Police to feed them a load of time wasting and false information.
    On February 02, Anonymous said...
    Either the british are lying through their teeth or the Mccanns hastilly closed their bank accounts and credit cards!What did they have to hyde? When Gerry went in a brief visit home, soon after May 3rd, didn't he say he had is wallet stollen as he was drawing money from an ATM? He had a card then!
    Even if they used only e-banking, surelly there must be records.

    There most certainly are records regardless of whether Gerry closed his accounts, Credit Reference Agencies such as Experian hold details of all accounts held by everyone in the UK and I am quite certain British Police have full details of all his accounts and his mobile phone records for that matter too.

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