We have been following the strangely exuberant and sometimes even dodgy adventures of the countless detectives and rent-a-cops hired by the McCann couple via the non charitable Madeleine's Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned Limited Company or by their millionaire supporter Brian Kennedy. Particularly paying close attention to Kevin Halligen's extradition saga since a DA-Notice was sent to this blog and to our forum.
In an emailed letter, dated September 23, 2009, an English law firm, Bindemans LLP, requested us to remove what they alleged to be ‘confidential information’ in observance of a DA-Notice 5 regarding their client Mr. Henri Herman Exton - a former MI5 agent - from an article titled 'Mark Hollingsworth Investigates The McCann Files', published on August 28, 2009 at the London Evening Standard magazine which was then republished here and on our forum on the same day.
That letter threatened with legal action the editors of both this blog and forum, however and since we are Portuguese Citizens, we feel that we do not own any obligation whatsoever to what is a 98 year-old convention between the UK media editors and the British Ministry of Defence [more specifically the committee chaired in permanence by the Under-Secretary of State for Defence] aka Defence Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee (DPBAC).
Nevertheless the editorial team at this blog and at the forum decided to comply, partially, with the lawyers firm request, though we did not and do not recognize the validity of the British Defence Advisory system in the Sovereign Nation of the Portuguese Republic.
In Britain, a Defence Advisory Notice or DA-Notice (called a Defence Notice or D-Notice until 1993) is an official request to news editors not to publish or broadcast items on specified subjects for reasons of national security.
D-Notices and DA-notices are merely a request and therefore not legally enforceable and consequently news editors can choose to ignore them without (in theory) official repercussions, although they are generally accepted by the media.
In fact, Bindemans LLP attempt to suppress Mr. Henri Exton name and former job was totally counterproductive if not even more damaging to their client's name.
Mr. Henri Exton was already known to the public and was given prominence in the world-wide media in 2008, when the McCann parents and millionaire businessman Brian Kennedy hired Oakley International, of which Exton was allegedly a shareholder, to find Madeleine McCann.
The attempt to suppress Mark Hollingsworth’s pertinent article backfired, and the subsequent repercussion was echoed and republished in several other blogs, sites, forums and foreign newspapers, some of which also follow the Madeleine McCann case, or should I say the McCann Case - it was a clear demonstration of the Streisand effect in motion.
Pay close attention to the fact that Mr. Henry Exton lawyers only «slapped» the DA-Notice (article 5) and subsequent libel action to Alexander Lebdev's Evening Standard whilst other newspapers belonging to other media groups, as far as I know [the Guardian received an injunction threat*], have never received a similar DA-Notice by the same lawyers representing the same client using the same «national security» excuse, an excuse that seemed more an attempt to cover up a potential embarrassment.
Look for example at the newspapers or tabloids belonging to Murdoch's News Corporation like the Times or the Sun or to Paul Dacre's Daily Mail [Daily Mail and General Trust plc]. Those are articles that specifically mention and/or publicize Mr. Henry Exton either as a former MI5 or as a former head of undercover operations "working" for the McCann couple, along with the now wanted (allegedly) for fraud by the FBI Kevin Halligen.
Ex-British intelligence agent is suing the Lebedev's newspaper (original original in Russian, google's translation)
Now that we have established the panorama, let's recapitulate the previous scene of Halligen's epopee in the international extradition bureaucratic system:
Extracts from the Guardian
November 22, 2009
«(...) A £500,000 contract given to Kevin Halligen's private detective agency, Oakley International, to help with the search for the missing child was terminated last year after a major benefactor of the McCanns expressed concerns about the quality of the firm's work.
However, Halligen is now wanted by the FBI following an indictment issued by US authorities in connection with allegations that he defrauded a London law firm of money that was supposed to be used to lobby for the release of two executives from the Dutch company Trafigura, arrested in the Ivory Coast.(...)
(...)The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "Oakley International was contracted to help with the search for Madeleine. Due diligence was carried out at every stage and payment was only made for work properly carried out. It was only towards the end of the six-month contract that question marks were raised about delivery in some areas and the contract was terminated."
The McCanns did not contact the police about Halligen, who visited their home, but his behaviour aroused suspicions at an early stage among the couple and their advisers.
Oakley International secured the contract from the Find Madeleine Fund to monitor the phone hotline, sift through CCTV footage of possible sightings and carry out investigative work.
However, it was terminated after the British double-glazing millionaire Brian Kennedy, who has underwritten the fund's work, raised concerns. Documents reportedly show that Halligen's company was withdrawing large amounts of money for personal use.»
In November, 12 2009 Guardians' investigations executive editor David Leigh and Richard Norton-Taylor co-wrote Ex-MI5 agent in memoirs battle sues newspaper for naming him*
«Lawyers for undercover agent in war on terrorism threaten Guardian with injunction though his name circulates online
A former MI5 secret agent is suing the London Evening Standard for revealing his name, his lawyers say, in an attempt to extend Britain's privacy laws to cover the identity of intelligence officers.
The agent is also threatening the Guardian with a high court injunction if the paper re-publishes his identity. The Guardian is therefore withholding details, for the time being, that might give clues to his identity.
The man's name continues to be available online, where legal complaints have failed to silence foreign bloggers and websites which specialise in intelligence leaks. His lawyers say: "We do not agree that the information is in the public domain."
The altercation highlights once again the difficulty of suppressing information in the online age. What makes the case doubly unusual is that the agent is simultaneously fighting his former employers in the name of free speech. He wants to be allowed to publish his memoirs under a pseudonym.
His 300-page manuscript is provisionally entitled Siberia after the codeword he was given to use when in danger during a decade-long undercover career that began with other crime-fighting organisations and progressed to infiltrating international terrorists. The issue of his memoirs has already reached the new supreme court, where a hearing took place last month under the cryptic heading "A v B".(...)
(...) Allen wrote in June in the magazine Index on Censorship: "He was a senior and trusted MI5 official with a critical role in the history of anti-terror intelligence operations … when his career ended he wrote a thoughtful and considered autobiography. It was critical of MI5 and the way it treats its own field agents. But he applied his considerable experience to distinguish between real secrets and information which was already in the public domain or was harmless."
While a junior member of another crime-fighting organisation, the former agent was decorated for feats of false identity. He is reported to have allowed himself to be beaten up to protect his cover. He also worked against armed robbery gangs.
In the early 1990s he transferred to work for MI5. With the end of the cold war, the agency extended its role by targeting organised crime, arms traders and, eventually, jihadist terrorists. He was awarded the OBE  and also an Order of Merit by an unidentified foreign government.
He says he came to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and was mistakenly arrested at one point. This led to local publicity. The former agent later set up as a consultant, which led to his MI5 links becoming more widely-known and eventually published.
The use of anonymity and secrecy is increasing in the legal system. The supreme court this month listed an appeal by Mohammed al Ghabra disputing that his assets should be frozen as an al-Qaeda financier. He was described as "G" until anonymity was overturned by a media complaint.
Oil traders Trafigura obtained an anonymous high court "super-injunction" over a Guardian report on dumped toxic waste.
That too was overturned after parliamentary questions and internet disclosures. MI5 and MI6 are currently calling for evidence of collusion with torture to be concealed even from lawyers for Binyam Mohamed in his damages claim.
It is the first time the government has demanded such secrecy in a civil case. In the Siberia affair, Jonathan Evans, the head of M15, refused permission for the book publication in August 2007, although the vetted memoirs of former MI5 head Stella Rimington came out in 2001 and an authorised history of MI5 by Christopher Andrew, commissioned in 2002 , was published this month. Critics say it does not tell the full story.
Disclosures began 20 years ago with the collapse of legal efforts to suppress Spycatcher, the unauthorised memoirs of the retired MI5 assistant director, Peter Wright.
On March 26, 2010 CourtNews.uk reported that Halligen was unable to afford a barrister: "A private detective accused of conning the McCann family of £300,000 to find their missing daughter Maddie could not afford to be represented in court today. Security consultant Kevin Halligen, 48, is fighting an extradition to the United States over claims he cheated Dutch company Trafigura out of £1.3million by offering to secure the release of their employees from an Ivory Coast jail."
At the time we asked: "One wonders what has happened to Mark Summers, the Matrix Chambers lawyer who was supposedly to represent Kevin Halligen and contest the extradition order requested by the US Government, after an indictment on charges of wire fraud and money laundering was given by a grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia, last year in November."
Today, July 22, 2010 an Australian newspaper reports:
A businessman whose firm helped look for Madeleine McCann and who is wanted in the US over an alleged STG1.3 million ($A2.24 million) fraud will face an extradition hearing on Thursday.
Irish national Kevin Halligen, 48, is accused by prosecutors in America of attempting to defraud a London law firm of $US2.1 million ($A2.4 million).
The defendant's assets were frozen after his arrest on November 24.
Officers acting on a request from US law enforcement agencies detained Halligen after finding him in a hotel in Oxford where he had been staying under an assumed name.
The alleged crimes for which he is wanted in the US relate to money taken from a Dutch company, Trafigura, as part of a deal to secure the release of executives under arrest in the Ivory Coast.
Instead it was spent on, amongst other things, a mansion and a gift to his girlfriend, it is alleged.
The businessman's firm Oakley International had been employed by Kate and Gerry McCann for about six months in 2008 to look for their missing daughter.
In all the Washington-based firm was paid around STG300,000 ($A517,687.66) for its services by the McCanns.
The extradition hearing will take place at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.
ITV News Journalist Keir Simmons, there was no court hearing. Making this the third official or fourth unofficial time that the US extradition hearing is postponed. It is unknown whether the new hearing adjourned for August 18, 2010 will (ever) take place.
Washington - Red Defence in Red Zone
INTELLIGENCE ONLINE - 09/10/2008
Fired abruptly by the Find Madeline Fund which has sought to find Madeline McCann, Red Defence International also wrangled in the past with Trafigura.
An affiliate of Red Defence International, a firm headed by Britain’s Kevin Halligen, the investigative concern Oakley International Group was hired in March, 2008 to help find Madeline McCann, the three-year-old British child who vanished in May, 2007 from a hotel on the Portuguese coast. In late August, the Find Madeline Fund, which bankrolls the search for the child, suddenly cut all links with Oakley International, officially for “inadequate results.”
It wasn’t the first time that companies owned by Halligen, who took part in MI 5 operations in Northern Ireland, have encountered problems with their customers. In September, 2006, Red Defence was retained by the Trafigura trading group after two of its senior executives, Claude Dauphin and Jean-Pierre Valentini, were arrested and clapped behind bars in Ivory Coast. A month previously, the Probo Koala, a ship chartered by Trafigura, had discharged toxic waste in dumps in the port of Abidjan. Red Defence, whose contact with Trafigura was lawyer Marc Aspinall, pulled out all the stops to secure the release of Dauphin and Valentini.
Through the firm WatchWood, Red Defence leased a Falcon business jet from the South African group Aerotrade, headed by Fred Rutte, and kept it on stand-by for months, at great expense. Red Defence additionally approached a private British security concern Oceans Five run by John Nash to ask that it provide commandos to mount an operation to rescue Dauphin and Valentini from Maca prison in Abidjan.
The operation, initially planned for mid-January, 2007, was put back on several occasions. Trafigura, which was negotiating simultaneously with the Ivory Coast authorities for the release of its executives, was worried about the constant postponements and the prohibitive cost of the operation.
It finally cut all ties with Red Defence in February, 2007. Shortly afterwards, Dauphin and Valentini were released after the payment of USD 198 million that was destined to cover the cost of a clean-up of waste from Probo Koala. Subsequently, Trafigura’s lawyer, Aspinall, demanded that sub-contractors hired by Red Defence reimburse some of the money paid to them , threatening legal proceedings.
Following that setback, Halligen moved to the United States and founded Oakley Security Services, whose initials OSS evoked those of the Office of Strategic Services, forerunner of the CIA. He re-named the firm Oakley International Group and teamed up with the lobbying concern Patton Boggs run by Thomas Boggs.
Private detectives | November, 28 2009
by Gonçalo Amaral
In Portugal, as far as criminal investigation is concerned, the activity of private detectives is forbidden. Despite that, in a famous media-exposed case, detectives have passed through here, some British, others Spanish.
At least since the 10th of May 2007, said detectives operated in our country under the silence from our authorities. They were looking for a mysteriously disappeared English child. After two years and several months, they found nothing. Without questioning the investigation methods and their police logics, it was easy to find a scapegoat.
The Book which the author of this column wrote and edited in July 2008 would have questioned the success of the private investigations. The reports from those investigations were kept in secrecy, but bits and pieces become known. The use of communication agencies in order to influence [public opinion], cannot erase, or clean up, the disastrous work done by those illustrious detectives.
It seems that one of them even took a hefty amount, but that is something that will be investigated in England and in the United States, being certain that that investigation will not be carried out by private detectives. As far as I am concerned, I am tranquil and I trust justice, which cannot accuse me of the failure and the mistakes of others. That is something for private detectives to do.