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Madeleine McCann investigator siphoned cash from search fund to bankroll lavish lifestyle and wasted probe funds on useless detectives

Kevin Halligen's firm Oakley International was hired by the McCanns to find their missing daughter after she disappeared from their holiday apartment in Portugal in 2007
UPDATED FEB 26, 2020
Missing child Madeleine McCann (Source : Getty Images)
Missing child Madeleine McCann (Source : Getty Images)

A documentary has claimed that a private investigator hired by the McCanns to find their missing daughter wasted over £300,000 ($391,000) from the search fund by hiring unqualified detectives and staying in lavish hotels.

After young Madeleine McCann went missing from a holiday resort in Portugal in 2007, her parents hired Kevin Halligen to locate her whereabouts. But while the private detective claimed to be a former MI6 agent, he was later accused by the McCanns of being a globe-trotting conman, according to a Mirror report.

The peculiar chapter of the still ongoing case is discussed in detail in Netflix's new documentary 'The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann', where Halligen, who spent five months on the case, denies siphoning cash from the Find Madeleine McCann fund to bankroll his luxurious lifestyle.

According to the widely discussed documentary, Halligen claimed his all-star team of investigators would employ advanced satellite technology to track down Madeleine. However, it later turned out that those images were merely print outs from Google Earth.

In order to thoroughly interview witnesses in Praia de Luz, Halligen employed well-respected former undercover police officers and former FBI agents. They were able to then produce e-fits of a potential suspect that are still in circulation. However, the team was also accused of wasting time tailing an innocent man.

Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of the missing 4-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann, display a poster of their missing daughter during a press conference on June 6, 2007, in Berlin, Germany. (Getty)

In a Channel 5 documentary 'The Conman And The McCanns', Halligen's firm was alleged to have used a child as "bait" to lure Madeleine's kidnapper into an ambush. However, Halligen denied all allegations that he exploited the funds meant to find the missing child.

"It is a gross distortion of what was actually happening," he said during a 2014 interview with Channel 5. "The print media, in particular, took this line that really nothing was being done, I was living the high life on the proceeds of the McCann case. Trust me, I didn't buy so much as a new suit. The money, all of it, is fully accountable."

In this handout photo, released September 16, 2007, missing child Madeleine McCann smiles. (Getty)

But when Gerry McCann began to question how the money was being spent, Halligen's contract to find Maddie soon ended. It later emerged that his firm, Oakley International, had also failed to respond to numerous calls to a tips hotline.

Things took an unexpected turn when Halligen was found dead in his secluded Surrey mansion last January. An inquest later found he had suffered a brain hemorrhage and there were no signs of a physical struggle. He was 56 at the time.

As of now, Kate and Gerry McCann are still waiting to hear if Scotland Yard will be granted another round of funding to continue the search for Maddie, who would have been in her teens now. The MET police are expecting to receive about £300,000 ($391,000) from the Home Office for the ongoing probe.