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 Post subject: Método 3
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:02 pm 
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Website in English:

http://www.metodo3.es/engl/index.htm

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 Post subject: Re: Método 3
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:06 pm 
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From The Sunday Times

February 10, 2008

Madeleine McCann and Metodo 3: Private eyes, public lies

Paid £50,000 a month to find Madeleine McCann, the Spanish detective Francisco Marco said he hoped to have her home for Christmas. He issued this photofit of a suspect last month; it set off a media frenzy, but Portuguese police say it has ‘no credibility’. Christine Toomey turns the tables on a private eye who is anything but
Francisco Marco might have been thinking about other matters on the day he apparently spoke out about his hopes that Madeleine McCann would be home for Christmas. It was the day his Spanish private detective agency, Metodo 3 – paid an estimated £50,000 a month to help find Madeleine – moved from cramped premises above a grocer’s shop specialising in sausages in Barcelona’s commercial district to a multi-million-pound suite of offices in a grand villa on one of the city’s most prestigious boulevards.

When a taxi driver drops me off at Metodo’s new premises, he tilts his finger against the tip of his nose and says “pijo” – meaning stuck-up or snobbish. Pointing to the restaurant on the ground floor, he says: “That’s where people who like to show off go – so others can see their Rolex watches and designer clothes.”

It is in his office on the second floor that Marco has agreed to meet me, the first British journalist, he says, to whom he has ever granted an interview. When I point out that he was filmed by a Panorama documentary crew in November claiming he was “very, very close to finding the kidnapper” of Madeleine, he corrects himself: “Well, apart from that.” Marco will tell me later how who he has spoken to, and what he has or has not said, has been misunderstood.

But first I must wait, taking a seat at a long, highly polished boardroom table surrounded by pristine white-leather chairs. At one end of the room, discreetly lit shelves display an impressive collection of vintage box cameras and binoculars. Stacked against the walls are modern paintings waiting to be hung. It feels more like an art gallery than the hub of one of the most frantic manhunts of modern times.

There is no discernible ringing of telephones; little sign of activity of any kind, other than a woman searching for a lead to take a pet poodle for a walk and the occasional to-ing and fro-ing of workmen putting finishing touches to the sleek remodelling of the office complex.

It is not clear whether this is where the hotlines for any information about Madeleine are answered. Opposite the boardroom is an open-plan area of around half a dozen cubicles, equipped with banks of phones and computers. Most are empty when I arrive; admittedly it is lunch time. But I cannot ask about this.

“We won’t answer any questions about Maddie. Maddie is off limits – is that understood?” Marco’s cousin Jose Luis, another of the agency’s employees, warns me sternly.

Catching me eyeing the setup, he is quick to explain that Metodo 3, or M-3, bought the premises earlier last year. Though I say nothing, I get the distinct impression he wants to make it clear that this was before M-3 persuaded those involved in decisions regarding the £1m Find Madeleine Fund – partially made up of donations from the public and partly from business backers such as Brian Kennedy – to sign a six-figure, six-month contract with the firm, whose financial fortunes now seem assured by the worldwide publicity they’ve since received.

“All the remodelling work took months, so we only moved in on December 14,” he says, hesitating slightly before adding: “Moving is better at Christmas.” The implication that this was a quiet period for M-3 is strange, as it was exactly the time Marco is reported to have said his agency was “hoping, God willing” that Madeleine would be imminently reunited with her family. Marco has since denied he said this.

I cannot ask him to clarify what he did say, or whether talking about an ongoing investigation is potentially detrimental. Instead, I am left to discuss the matter with a handful of other private detective agencies in Barcelona, the private-eye capital of Spain. What they tell me is disturbing.

I expect a certain amount of rivalry, and some of what they say about M-3 could be dismissed as jealous gossip. But they claim otherwise.

They say there is nothing they would like more than to see M-3 succeed in solving the mystery of Madeleine’s disappearance. But they worry that M-3’s inflated claims of progress in the case is making a laughing stock of the rest of them. References to Inspector Clouseau cut deep. They are proud that, unlike their UK counterparts, Spanish private detectives have to be vetted and licensed. They must also have a specialised university degree in private investigation. More importantly, in a profession where discretion is critical, they worry about the effect of such public declarations on the progress of any investigation. It is in the days following reports that the Find Madeleine Fund is considering sacking M-3 that I talk to Marco – though of course I cannot discuss this with him.

Clarence Mitchell, the spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann, Madeleine’s parents, says he believes M-3 “put themselves forward” for the task, as did a number of other companies. Just a week after the four-year-old’s disappearance from the McCanns’ holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3 last year, Portuguese police had announced that official searches were being wound down. Initially, the British security company Control Risks Group, a firm founded by former SAS men, was called on for advice. Mitchell confirms that the company is still “assisting in an advisory capacity”, but he says that the reason the

Spanish detective agency was hired was because of Portugal’s “language and cultural connection” with Spain. “If we’d had big-booted Brits or, God forbid, Americans, we’d have had doors slammed in our face, and it’s quite likely we could have been charged with hindering the investigation, as technically it’s illegal in Portugal to undertake a secondary investigation,” Mitchell explains. “But because it’s Metodo 3, [Alipio] Ribeiro [national director of Portugal’s Policia Judiciara] is turning a blind eye.” Portuguese police are reported to dismiss M-3 as “small fry”.

Mitchell says the decision to hire M-3 on a six-month contract from September was taken “collectively” by Gerry McCann, and the family’s lawyers and backers, on the grounds that the agency had the manpower, profile and resources to work in several countries. “You can argue now whether it was the right decision or not,” he says, referring to widespread reports that M-3 will find its contract terminated in March – if it hasn’t been already – and not just because the Find Madeleine Fund is dwindling. “But operationally Metodo 3 are good on the ground,” he insists.

It was M-3, for instance, who recently commissioned a police artist to draw a sketch of the man they believe could be involved in Madeleine’s disappearance, despite Portuguese-police claims that the sketch had “no credibility”.

Clearly, the McCanns are desperate to keep Madeleine’s disappearance in the public eye. And the release of photofits by M-3 will help to achieve this. The McCanns insist, however, that they are not engaged in a bidding war for interviews with American television.

But when 35-year-old Marco finally breezes into his company boardroom and throws himself into a chair opposite me, I do not get the impression that the prospect of losing the contract that has brought his company such notoriety is playing much on his mind.

Marco slaps on the table a 144-page pre-prepared dossier of articles written in the Spanish press about himself and M-3. He goes on to list some of those in the city he says I have already been speaking to about his company. Had my movements been monitored? If so, why would a private detective agency be interested in this at a time when they were supposed to be tirelessly searching for the most famous missing child in the world? This confounds me until, after talking to Marco for half an hour, I conclude that what motivates him – as much as, if not more than, his professed desire to present Madeleine with the doll he boasts he carries around in his briefcase to hand to her when he finds her – is a sense of self-regard, self-publicity and money.

) ) ) ) )

In most of the many pictures of himself included in the material he hands me, Marco looks a little nerdy. He wears the same serious expression, slightly askew glasses and suit and tie in nearly all of them. But when we meet he has a more debonair look. He is wearing a black polo-neck jumper underneath a sports jacket, sharper, and better-adjusted half-rimmed glasses, and a fringe that looks as though it has been blow-dried. It is as if his image of how a suave private eye should be has finally been realised.

In contrast to the other private eyes I meet, however, Marco is anything but relaxed. While most of them sit back easily in their chairs, trying to size me up, Marco leans towards me as we talk. He presses his hands hard on the table, almost in a prayer position, to emphasise a point, and has an intense, slightly unnerving stare.

He seems eager to please. He summons a female assistant on several occasions to bring me material, including a book he has recently written, to illustrate what he is talking about. Even when I make it clear this is not necessary – aware that these distractions eat into the time we have to talk – he insists, partly showing off.

When I ask about his background, Marco summons her to photocopy the first pages of his doctoral thesis on private investigation: he has a master’s degree and a PhD in penal law. He gets strangely agitated when she can’t find it, telling her to carry on looking, then mutters that he will have to look for it himself. Eventually he starts to reminisce about his youth. As a teenager, Marco says, he was so keen to become a private detective that he would get up at 5am to follow people on his scooter and record their movements before starting and after finishing his studies. His mother, Maria “Marita” Fernandez Lado, founded M-3 in 1986, when he was a boy, and he used to help out in the agency every holiday.

I hear several different accounts of what Marita was doing before she set up the agency. According to her son, she was working on a fashion magazine when, by chance, through Marco and his brother’s boyhood love of sailing, she met and became friends with a private detective. “From that moment, she decided she wanted to create her own detective agency, and wanted it to be a big company with big cases, a real business. She wanted to change the public image of a small private detective concerned with infidelities,” Marco says.

In Spain, private eyes are sometimes called huelebraguetas – “fly [zip] sniffers”. One of the reasons Barcelona has always been the home of so many of them, Marco explains, is that Catalonia – traditionally one of the wealthiest regions in Spain – had many rich families wanting to safeguard their inheritance. So parents would employ “fly sniffers” to check out the backgrounds of the people their sons or daughters wanted to marry. M-3 took a different track. It started specialising in investigating financial swindles, industrial espionage and insurance fraud. His mother was the first private detective, Marco says, to provide video evidence used in court to unmask an insurance fraudster: she filmed a man reading who had claimed to be blind. Marco also speaks about how in the early 1990s his mother had helped advise the Barcelona police, who were setting up a new department dedicated to investigating gambling and the welfare of children. He says his mother advised them on how to track adolescents who had run away from home, helping them to trace 15 or 16 of them at that time. (It is when I try to bring the interview back to this subject, to see if these were the children the agency has talked about finding in the past, that the interview grinds to a halt.)

But the agency almost came to grief early on, when police raided its offices, and Marco, his mother, father and brother were arrested and briefly jailed in 1995 on charges of phone-tapping and attempting to sell taped conversations. They were never prosecuted, as it was clear that the police had entrapped them.

Their big break came nearly 10 years later, when M-3 was credited with tracking down one of Spain’s most-infamous spies, Francisco Paesa, a notorious arms dealer and double agent also known as “El Zorro” (The Fox) and “the man with a thousand faces”. Paesa fled Spain after being charged with money-laundering. His family claimed he died in Thailand in 1998 and arranged for Gregorian masses to be sung for his soul for a month at a Cistercian monastery in northern Spain. Acting for a client who claimed to have been defrauded by Paesa’s niece, M-3 traced the fugitive to Luxembourg. At the behest of the Spanish national newspaper El Mundo, the agency then traced him to Paris. Paesa remains on the run, however.

“This was just one of our great achievements. Our biggest successes have never been made public,” boasts Marco. “If you speak to other detectives in Spain, I don’t think they will speak very highly of us because they are envious. But as far as other detectives around the world are concerned, we are the biggest, the most famous; the ones who work well.”

Again in collaboration with El Mundo, and again by following an illegal money trail, M-3 last year tracked down the daughter of the wanted Nazi war criminal Aribert Heim to a farm in Chile. “This was pro-bono work, and we only do it when we have time,” says Marco. The hard-pressed detective did have time just before Christmas, however, to launch a book he had co-written with a Spanish journalist. The book claims that clients of M-3 sacked directors of a charity involved in sponsoring children in the Third World, were victims of a plot to discredit them by people associated with a Spanish branch of Oxfam who were jealous that the public was giving them large donations. The sacked directors are still under investigation for fraud.

It is perhaps because Marco has spent so much time collaborating with journalists in the past that he feels so comfortable talking to the press – the Spanish press, at least – about his investigation into Madeleine McCann. In November he gave two lengthy interviews about the case, one to El Mundo and another to a Barcelona newspaper, La Vanguardia.

In the interview with El Mundo, Marco talks touchingly about how his six-year-old son asks him the same question every evening when he kisses him goodnight: “Papa, have you found Maddie?” Because the little boy is learning to read, the article continues, he knows that his father is “the most famous detective in the world”.

But why, the journalist Juan Carlos de la Cal asks, would anyone in the UK, “the country of Sherlock Holmes, with all its cold-war spies and one of the most reliable secret services in the world”, have chosen M-3 to help? “Because we were the only ones who proposed a coherent hypothesis about the disappearance of their daughter,” Marco replies, explaining that M-3’s “principal line of enquiry” at that time – the article was published on November 25 – was “paedophiles”. He talks about how he “cried with rage” when he investigated on the internet how paedophiles operate.

Apart from these comments made by Marco, little concrete is known about how M-3 has been conducting its investigation. In the same article, Marco’s mother says the agency, which she claims has located 23 missing children in the past, has “20 or so” people working exclusively on the McCann case. M-3 was said at that time to be receiving an average of 100 calls a day “from the four quarters of the globe”, and to have half a dozen translators answering them in different languages. The agency has distributed posters worldwide bearing Madeleine’s picture with the telephone number of a dedicated hotline it has set up to receive tip-offs. The interview was carried out just after Marco returned from a two-week trip to Morocco, a country he describes as being known for child-trafficking and a “perfect” place to hide a stolen child. The north receives Spanish TV, he says, but the rest of Morocco knows nothing about the affair.

Yet in an interview published three weeks earlier in the newspaper La Vanguardia, Marco claimed that the agency had “around 40 people, here and in Morocco” working on the case, on the hypothesis that the child was smuggled out of Portugal, via the Spanish port of Tarifa, to Morocco, “where a blonde girl like Madeleine would be considered a status symbol”. At that time he said he didn’t want to think about paedophilia being involved. Asked how often his agency contacts the McCanns with updates, Marco replies “daily”. He adds that the fee that M-3 is charging for its services is not high. He says that it is “symbolic”.

In the same article – accompanied by a photograph of Marco holding a Sherlock Holmes-style hat – he says with absolute certainty that Madeleine is alive. “If I didn’t think she was alive, I wouldn’t be looking for her!” At first he states categorically that he will find her before M-3’s six-month contract runs out in March. But also in the same article the journalist explains that Marco proposes taking him out to dinner if he does not find the missing four-year-old before April 30. Unless all such statements are “misunderstandings”, Marco is in danger of leaving everyone with hopes that are not fulfilled.

When I start to touch on these themes – the claim, for instance, that M-3 traces around 300 missing people a year – Marco is quick to clarify. He says that, of the 1,000 or so investigations his agency undertakes every year, “between 100 and 200 involve English people who owe money and have fled England for Spain; the same with Germans, etcetera, etcetera”. This makes it sound as if much of the agency’s work

is little more than aiding bailiffs or debt-collecting, though I do not believe this to be the case. But when I ask him to elaborate on the 23 missing children his mother is reported to have said the agency has located in the past, Marco eases himself away from the table for the first time, tilting far back in his chair. He cannot talk about that on the grounds of confidentiality, he says. Shortly after this, his cousin Jose Luis, who has sat mostly silent until now, calls time on the interview with a chopping motion of his hand.

As I leave M-3’s office I pass another door discreetly announcing it is that of a private Swiss bank. As I take a seat in the restaurant downstairs for lunch, I notice Marco’s father, Francisco Marco Puyuelo, sitting close by. I nod at him and smile. He does not smile back. I have heard unsettling reports about Puyuelo.

He is rather menacing-looking, and I feel uncomfortable as he sits staring at me, slowly spooning chocolate ice cream into his mouth.

) ) ) ) )

It is easy to feel a little paranoid in Barcelona. Nearly every quarter seems to have its own private detective agency. Offices are prominently advertised; on the short ride in from the airport

I pass four. The city’s yellow-pages directory has six sides of listings. According to Catalonia’s College of Private Detectives, the professional association to which private detectives working in the region are obliged to belong, of the estimated 2,900 licensed private eyes in Spain – around 1,500 of them actively working – 370 are in Catalonia, mostly Barcelona.

The city has traditionally had a prestigious record for private investigation. One of Spain’s most well-known detectives, Eugenio Velez-Troya, was based in Barcelona, where he helped set up the first university course in private investigation, covering subjects such as civil and criminal law, forensic analysis and psychology.

One of the largest private detective agencies in Spain, Grupo Winterman, founded by Jose Maria Vilamajo more than 30 years ago, is based in Barcelona, though the company now has 10 offices in different cities with a staff of around 150. Vilamajo is the only detective prepared to talk on the record; the others prefer to remain anonymous for fear of professional reprisal. He talks about how Barcelona came to have so many private detectives, pointing out that competition in the field is now so intense that it is pushing individual agencies to “specialise”.

Vilamajo is the only private detective apart from Marco to receive me in a spacious company boardroom, which, it strikes me, might be the model on which Metodo 3, anticipating rapid expansion, is basing its new office setup.

I meet the other private eyes either in bars or in their more modest premises, with more cloak-and-dagger decor, though nearly all have an impressive array of certificates praising their work. One has the theme music from the film The Godfather as a mobile-phone ring tone.

All talk of the “different way” M-3 has of operating from other agencies in the city. Most of what they say I have no way of substantiating. Traditionally, they say, M-3 has wined and dined clients more than others, sometimes holding grand “round-table” suppers to which it invites important figures in the community.

One ageing sleuth slides across the table a Spanish newspaper article entitled “Detectives with marketing” , in case I might have missed it. A short piece referring to the book Marco recently co-wrote about the alleged charity conspiracy, it makes the point that the book “is another step in the direction of incorporating marketing into the business of private investigation”.

When I ask what’s wrong with a business marketing itself, my question elicits a long sigh. Suddenly I can see that underlying much of the rancour M-3’s rivals feel towards it is a sense that they are not “old-school gumshoes” working in the shadows. One of their criticisms of Marco is that “he doesn’t know much about the street. He’s good at theory. He’s like a manager, always dressed up in a suit and tie”.

So he has a team of others to do the legwork, I argue. Another long sigh. “Not as many as he claims,” comes the response. On this point, all those I speak to agree. None believes M-3’s claims that it has 40 people working on the hunt for Madeleine, since the maximum number M-3 employs in its Barcelona office, they believe, is a dozen, with another few in its Madrid branch.

But again, I point out, it could have any number of operatives working for it in other countries, namely Portugal and Morocco.

My comment draws a weary smile. Metodo 3 company records for the six years up to 2005 appear to show a decline in the number of permanent employees listed – from 26 in 1999 to just 12 in 2005 – although there could be some accounting explanation for this.

Perhaps the most worrying of the detectives’ concerns is the consistent complaint that M-3 is using its involvement in the search for Madeleine to raise its profile and that Marco’s statements about how close he is to finding the child could be seriously prejudicing attempts to find out the truth. “If the agency fails to solve the mystery of Madeleine’s disappearance, that failure will be forgotten in a few years,” said one. “But M-3 will be famous and, ultimately, that is what they want.”

“They are making us look ridiculous,” says another detective. “The English are looking at us and laughing and we are very worried, very upset about it. They [M-3] are denigrating the ethics of our profession.”

To seek guidance on how private detectives are expected to behave, I visit the president of Catalonia’s College of Private Detectives: Jose Maria Fernandez Abril. After making the point that he is unable to speak about any individual member of his professional association, he proceeds to carefully read me a statement that begins: “Following the media impact of affairs in which detectives belonging to the college are involved…” It clearly echoes the concerns that others I have spoken to voice about the conduct of Metodo 3.

“No general conclusions should be drawn about the profession from the actions of any individual,” Abril reads, before helpfully explaining that this means: “You can’t go around saying you are the best in the world, implying that everyone else is somehow worse.”

More importantly, there are repeated references to how members are obliged to comply with the college’s strict code of conduct, which includes: not stating with certainty the result of an investigation and not revealing information about an investigation without agreeing it first with the client.

In other words, if M-3 was to argue that announcing just when it believed it would find Madeleine would help its investigation, the announcement should have been cleared with the McCanns. Given the deep dismay Gerry McCann is reported to have expressed over Marco’s comments about how close the agency was to finding his daughter’s kidnappers and about her being reunited with her family for Christmas, it seems unlikely any agreement over such statements was ever made.

As I leave, Abril informs me that the college has in recent years organised an annual “Night of the Detectives” supper. This year it will be held in March. He invites me to attend. At the supper, various prizes are presented. Among them is one for the fiction author they believe has contributed most to the public understanding of investigative work. This year they have awarded the prize to Dan Brown, author of the worldwide bestseller The Da Vinci Code.

They are a little hurt that he has not replied to, or even acknowledged, their invitation to attend.All this could be almost funny if I were not constantly aware that the reason I have come to Barcelona is because an exhausted little girl enjoying a family holiday went to sleep in pink pyjamas alongside her twin brother and sister on the night of May 3 last year, then disappeared. The anguish and desperation of her parents account for the Spanish detective-agency’s lucrative contract. The boasting and apparent false hopes fed to them by Marco could yet prove to be his downfall.

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 Post subject: Re: Método 3
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:07 pm 
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Madeleine: Pictured in handcuffs, the McCann detective once held over phone tapping

Last updated at 17:22pm on 25.11.07


The private detectives hunting for Madeleine McCann were once arrested in a phone-tapping scandal linked to leading politicians and businessmen.

Five senior members of the family-run firm Metodo 3 – including director-general Francisco Marco, who is liaising with Kate and Gerry McCann – were held amid claims of industrial and political espionage.

Mr Marco's mother, Maria Fernandez Lado, 57, who founded the agency 23 years ago, was pictured in handcuffs after being arrested as she handed a client a cassette allegedly containing a phone-tapped conversation.


'Murky past':The firm's founder Martina Lado


In a raid on Metodo 3's Barcelona offices, police seized handguns, ammunition, listening equipment, cassettes and transcripts of taped phone calls. But the 1995 case was dropped by a judge after defence lawyers levelled accusations of police entrapment.

However, The Mail on Sunday's findings – including transcripts of conversations in which Mr Marco's mother allegedly offers a tapping service – will bring into question the suitability of the firm in running the McCanns' investigation.

It is not known if the McCanns are aware of Metodo 3's past. But a fellow private investigator said last night: 'They have portrayed themselves as the best investigators in the world. The truth is they are nothing of the sort. Their murky background is riddled with controversy.'

Metodo 3 hit the headlines three weeks ago after lawyer Mr Marco boasted that he would find Madeleine, below, in months.

He said his agency was '100 per cent sure' Madeleine was alive and 'not maybe...but very close' to finding the four-year-old's abductor.


Lawyer Francisco Marco claimed he would find Madeleine

It was reported that the firm has up to 40 detectives on the case. However, company accounts reveal a section of Metodo 3 made a net loss of £61,500 in 2005 and had a full-time staff of just 12. They claim they now have 27.

The McCanns commissioned Metodo 3 on a six-month contract as Portuguese police targeted them over their daughter's disappearance and appeared to lose interest in finding her alive.

Gerry McCann has privately voiced his trust in Metodo 3, which was hired by the couple's multi-millionaire-backer, Brian Kennedy, a double glazing tycoon. Yet in a police investigation Mr Marco's mother, known as Marita, was arrested as she handed over a recording of a tapped phone call.

She was also taped in an undercover sting allegedly claiming: 'I did tapping... fundamentally for people I had known for a long time.' Also held were her husband Francisco Marco Poyuelo, 60, Francisco Marco, 35, his brother Francisco Gabriel Fernandez Lado, 36, and employee Oscar Trujillo, 40. The detainees were held in custody for 48 hours but were never charged after an investigating judge threw the case out.

Detectives had persuaded a businessman to meet Marita posing as a client. It was a clear-cut case of police entrapment.

However, a police report and a transcript of a conversation claims Marita allegedly offered to illegally tap phones for £15,000 to £21,000. In the police transcript Marita allegedly told the 'client': 'Phone tapping...It's very dangerous at the moment. It's very dangerous, very dangerous. But not dangerous for me!'

Police had launched the operation after Spanish phone giant Telefonica suspected an employee was involved in illegal tapping and industrial espionage.

Officers monitored worker Sergio Sancelestino's phone calls and discovered he had close links to Metodo 3. A police report stated: 'It was established that Sergio Sancelestino maintained frequent contact with the management of the Metodo 3 detective agency, and that they could be carrying out illegal phone-tapping, obtaining large financial rewards for those jobs.'

Undercover police claim they watched as Metodo 3 and three Telefonica employees tapped a telephone.

Police swooped as Marita handed over a tape, then raided six other addresses. But four months later the case was 'archived' and the judge said there was no evidence Metodo 3 had been involved in phone tapping or profited from it.

Francisco Marco yesterday claimed that the allegations made against his company had been provoked by their own investigation into state corruption. He said: 'The judge said it was all made up by the police.' He added his firm was very healthy.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said the agency retained their confidence and was not acting illegally for them. Meanwhile, it was reported in Portugal that police had looked at whether the McCanns had 'sold' Madeleine.

The theory was later dismissed.

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 Post subject: Re: Método 3
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:09 pm 
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Daily Mail

McCanns are 'wasting fund cash on Madeleine hunt in Morocco'

Last updated at 13:15 25 January 2008


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Missing since May, 2007: Madeleine McCann

Kate and Gerry McCann were accused today of wasting ?astonishing? sums of money raised by public donations by looking for their missing daughter Madeleine in Morocco.

Private investigators, paid £50,000 a month to find the girl, have always maintained she is alive after being kidnapped to order by a paedophile gang and taken to north Africa.

Barcelona-based agency Metodo 3 has invested huge sums in teams checking out reported sightings of Madeleine in the Rif mountains of northern Morocco and in Marrakech in the south.

One theory is that the three-year-old was abducted and brought here after vanishing from the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz while on a family holiday on May 3 last year.

But an Evening Standard investigation shows this suggestion is almost certainly a myth fuelled by tourists who have mistaken blonde local girls in Rif for Madeleine.

Blondes are quite common among the Berber population but rare enough for them to stand out among the dark-haired and dark-skinned majority.

Sources close to the McCanns conceded today that Metodo 3's investigations in north Africa were based purely on sightings but insisted each one had to be checked out.


'Wasting funds': Kate and Gerry McCann pay investigators £50,000 a month to search Morocco

Meanwhile, the Madeleine Fund, set up to find the girl, is running out of the estimated £1million raised from donations.

Mark Williams-Thomas, a former detective and managing director of child protection consultancy WT Associates, said: It is an astonishing amount of money that is being spent focusing on Morocco.

"There is a big difference between a sighting and information. Unless you have definite information that suggests she is in Morocco then it seems pointless.

The likelihood of Madeleine being taken out of Portugal is very slim. I would be concentrating more on Portugal than anywhere else. To me, it holds the key.

George Joffe, a professor at King's College London and an expert on north Africa, said: It strikes me as wishful thinking that Madeleine is in Morocco. The fact is, blonde, blue-eyed children in northern Morocco are not uncommon. It is not an indication they are stolen.

In the town of Chefchaouen, a reporter spotted Aya, who is the same age as Madeleine. Her father, a farmer, was amused when showed a photograph of the missing girl and pointed out her similarity to his daughter.

He said: It is easy to see how a tourist might think this is Madeleine but there are plenty of blonde children here.

In the village of Souk-el-Arba-des-Beni- Hassan, men gathered round to view posters of Madeleine and an artist's impression image of a moustached man of north African appearance who had been a possible suspect.

He has since been ruled out of the case. The drawing produced almost hysterical laughter.

There are a million men who look like this, said Mustafa Ben Dris, who was about the only man there without a moustache.

Looking at posters of Madeleine with Arabic writing on, which we downloaded from the Find Madeleine website, Mustafa said: We have never heard of Madeleine McCann but she is not here.

"She doesn't have an African face, she has a European face. You could not hide her here.

Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, admitted the hunt for Madeleine in Morocco was difficult.

In the remote mountains, the main industry is growing marijuana, controlled by armed gangs.

It's a needle in a haystack, he said.

To date, all reported sightings of Madeleine in Morocco investigated by Metodo 3 have drawn a blank.

The agency's boss, Francisco Marco, said in one interview that Morocco was the most likely place to find her [Madeleine] and that she would be rescued within months. He has also claimed that a blonde girl in a Moroccan family was a symbol of social status?.

Metodo 3, whose contract expires in March, has 40 investigators working on the case, here and in Portugal and Spain.

Each has a replica of Cuddle Cat, Madeleine's favourite toy, which they are encouraged to squeeze when they feel demotivated at the size of their task.

Repeated requests by reporters to witness the agency's team in Morocco at work have been turned down.

But Metodo 3 and the McCanns desperate to cling on to any vestige of hope will persevere in the country.

One million posters of the artist's impression were to be distributed in Morocco and in Spain and Portugal - paid for by the News Of The World in exchange for its exclusive last Sunday revealing details of the man.

The response led to a series of leads being followed by Metodo 3.

But the chances of finding Madeleine here are almost nil.

As interior minister Chakib Benmoussa, who met the McCanns when they visited in June, said: There is absolutely no evidence Madeleine is here.

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 Post subject: Re: Método 3
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:10 pm 
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From Metro 12-12-2007

http://tinyurl.com/5rg2c6


"We know who abducted Madeleine"


METRO interviews Francisco Marco, investigator



It is the case dreamt of by every detective. A case that could mark a before and an after in the career of Francisco Marco, a young Catalan investigator who ahs already clocked up a long series of successes. The McCanns have entrusted him with the task of finding their daughter, Madeleine , who disappeared over 7 months ago. Half the world is looking at Marco. This pressure is even felt in the intimacy of his home.

Do you know where Maddie is yet?

We know who abducted her, but not where she is. We believe that she is in an area not far from the Iberian Peninsula and from the north of Africa. And we have a quite certain idea of who she is with.

With whom?

That is a question that I cannot answer because we are locating all the proof beyond irrefutability in order to present them to the authorities and proceed with the arrests.

Does this mean then that this is a kidnapping and that she is alive?

I have always made it clear publicly that the child is alive. I cannot enter my office every morning and talk to my people without telling them the girl is alive. I have to believe in this 100%, because I know how to look for people that are alive, not dead people.


But, have you got any proof?

No, we have none. We have evidence of the child’s movements after her abduction. We know that the girl was alive the day after her disappearance.

And then what happened? Did the girl and her supposed abductor leave Portugal?

There is no certainty that the girl left Portugal. However, there is certainty that the abductors left Portugal in a determined moment.

So, the fact that she is alive is more a hope than a reality?

We speak of certainty because we know which group could have her or could have proceeded to abduct her to sell her on to a third party.

Do you completely discard the economic motive, a kidnapping carried out by professionals?

Obviously. This is a middle class British family, without economic resources. A professional kidnapper would already have made some move with Maddie. They would have returned her or they would have left her. One of the things that enables us to believe she is alive is that the girl would be worth more each day for them.

What are we talking about? A sect, a criminal group, paedophiles?

In principal, paedophiles.

Could they be Spanish?

I don’t think so.

Why did the Algarve police sustain that Madeleine was dead and blame her parents?

Well, a few days ago, the same Portuguese police expressed that the McCanns had nothing to do with it and that they were sure that a paedophile had entered the room and killed her.

Do you also believe that they are innocent?

You only have to be with them for 5 minutes to know they had nothing to do with it.

How would you explain the traces of blood that were supposedly found in the room and the hairs that were found in the boot of the car?

There is no proof up until now of traces of blood in the room. And apparently, in the boot there is a trace of a micro-hair that could be Maddie’s. But that would be completely logical and normal as it was the family’s car.

Do you think she will be back with her parents before Christmas?

I hope so.

When will we know the dénouement?

WE have a six month contract to find that. We have always said that we want to comply with our contract by finding the little girl.

What is your opinion of the media circus the case has generated?

I think it is very good that the serious press and the journalists who know about these issues talk and write what they want, because they are well-documented. What seems bad to me is that the tabloid press does it.


How many cases similar to that of Madeleine are there in Spain?

There are no statistics about that, but many, hundreds every year.

Is this the most difficult case you have faced?

It is the case with the most pressure, by the press and by my own family. When I get home, my children ask me “Have you found Maddie yet, Dad?”

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 Post subject: Re: Método 3
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:11 pm 
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From SOS Madeleine 23.02.2008


The detective Antonio J.R. aged 53, – who works for Metodo 3 on the investigation of Madeleine McCann – occupied the post of Chief Inspector of the Unit for Drugs and Organised Crime (Udyco) of the Barcelona police at the time of these events. He had left the police, in order to enter into service directly with Metodo 3, at the precise moment when the internal services had begun their investigation into the disappearance of 400 kg of cocaine, from a total of one and half tons, apprehended on a boat from Venezuela.

Today, the Tribunal of Martorell (Barceloa) pronounced the preventative imprisonment, without appeal of Antonio J.R:, accused of prevarication, corruption, corruption of civil servants and of association with illicit crime.

Employed by Metodo 3 since 2005, the detective was in charge of special operations within the framework of the investigations of the disappearance of Madeleine, it was he who, during the last months, travelled to Morocco and to Portugal, announcing various witnesses, who confirmed having seen Madeleine.

Duarte Levy (Barcelona)
21:35

http://sosmaddie.dhblogs.be/archive/2008/02/index.html

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 Post subject: Re: Método 3
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:12 pm 
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Have the McCanns really chosen the best private detectives to find Madeleine?


by RICHARD PENDLEBURY
Last updated at 22:15 02 december 2007


Comments (7) Add to My Stories

Madeleine McCann has been missing since May 3rd


£50,000 a month in fees. A sleepy office 700 miles from the crime. Outrageous claims of progress. Have the McCanns really chosen the best private eyes to find Madeleine?


The heavy oak front door swings open and a dog sidles through the gap, sniffing at the marble stair outside.

It is not a bloodhound, as one might expect to find at the headquarters of what is currently the world's most high-profile and - allegedly - tenacious private detective agency, but a black poodle called Royale.

A woman is calling it as I step past and inside. She stares at me, puzzled, then scuttles off, leaving me alone in the art nouveau entrance hall, which smells of cigars and stale perfume.

Silence reigns. No buzzing telephones. No banks of computers. No staff obviously waiting for, or working towards, the breakthrough - even though they are "very, very close to finding those responsible", according to the boss.

At one end of the office suite, overlooking the street, is a dark and empty room with huge, buttoned leather armchairs.



Francisco Marco of detective agency Metodo 3

An old man, with a mournful face and a grey three-piece suit to match, is standing in the shadows watching me. He cannot speak English, it seems.

A large number of box files are piled on a side table, at least suggesting some recent activity.

Read more...

Madeleine: 'Serious doubts' about Murat's alibi after two new witnesses emerge
Madeleine: British police to question the McCanns 'in days'
It is only then, above the paperwork, that I see it, the first evidence of the reason for my visit. It is a small poster bearing the word 'Missing'.

Below that is the now iconic face of four-year-old Madeleine McCann, who disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, seven months ago.

Occupying the first floor of an elegant block in central Barcelona, this is the office of the Metodo 3 detective agency.

It claims to be the biggest in Spain. Now they are arguably the most famous on the planet, having been hired in early autumn by Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.

Outside the realms of fiction, private eyes rarely have any kind of public profile. But the McCann case is different.

Metodo 3, and in particular its director Francisco Marco Fernandez, is generating the kind of publicity enjoyed by sleuths such as Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot.

"Our staff interviewed the McCanns for ten hours, enough time for us to tell if they were trying to fool us," he told a Spanish newspaper on taking the case.

"My specialists assure me they are not hiding anything. I would not risk the prestige this agency has gained over 23 years without being convinced there is a case. For me this is a special case."

That is something of an understatement. With 40 men and women allegedly on the trail between the Atlantic coast and Saudi Arabia, Metodo 3 is being paid £50,000 a month, earning them £300,000 over the six-month contract.

The bill is being picked up by the Find Madeleine Fund, which has so far raised £1.1m. Some £700,000 has already been spent on the inquiry and publicising Maddie's disappearance.

The Madeleine McCann case has shown the Portuguese police to be a laughing stock. But is Metodo 3 any more capable of solving the case?

You might ask why the McCanns chose a Spanish agency 700 miles away from the scene of the crime. One reason is that it is illegal in Portugal for a private investigation to be carried out on a case that is being pursued by the police.

A jail sentence of two years can be imposed for what could be construed as an obstruction of justice.

Off the record, the police say they will tolerate Metodo 3 - as long as they don't interfere with evidence or speak to witnesses. Some obstacle.

Nor have doubts over the private sleuths' abilities been lessened by their repeated extravagant, if not reckless, pronouncements.

The latest inflated claim was made last month to a BBC Panorama team, when Francisco Marco, son of the firm's founder, proclaimed: "We're 100 per cent sure Maddie is alive."

He added: "We're sure she was abducted and we are very, very close to finding those responsible."

The claim caused an embarrassed Clarence Mitchell, the McCann's official spokesman, to brief the media that the private detective had simply got "carried away".

They were not nearly as close to a breakthrough as had been depicted.

The question has now become one of the agency's credibility.

"With an average of 2,000 cases per year, we have established ourselves as the Number One company in the Spanish market," boasts Metodo 3 on its website.

It lists its areas of expertise as being: insurance, financial, legal, franchises, fraud, mutual insurance, patent and trademark falsification, information protection and due diligence.

However, there is no suggestion of missing persons, or even cases outside the commercial sphere. Indeed, in a 2003 interview, Francisco Marco said:

"As we're not specialists in dealing with private individuals, we stayed away from this area.

"Our focus is companies. Many detective agencies deal with private matters such as infidelities but we want to make this for business people and businesses... Since detective work is mostly in the private field (family, infidelity, etc) we decided that our target was the business area. And there is where we have been ever since."

It emerged last week that five senior members of the company were once arrested in a phonetapping-scandal linked to leading politicians and businessmen.

Their offices were raided and police seized guns, ammunition, listening equipment, cassettes and transcripts of taped phone calls.

But the 1995 case was dropped by a judge after defence lawyers levelled accusations of police entrapment.

Manuel Marlaska, a journalist from Spain's best-known investigative magazine Interviu, says: "They are the most prestigious detective agency in Spain.

"But the work they are doing now seems strange. They do not have any experience of working with such a high-profile case as that of Madeleine McCann.

"Most of their work is to do with investigating company fraud."

This is perhaps reflected in the fact that all of Metodo 3's senior directors are lawyers rather than former policemen.

One well known missing persons case that the firm has been linked with is that of Francisco Paesa, an arms dealer and double agent.

Working with the Spanish government in the 1980s, Paesa had sold missiles to Eta, the Basque terrorist group. The weapons were secretly fitted with surveillance devices and, as a result, important arrests were made.

Paesa also helped expose Luis Roldan, the corrupt former head of the Spanish Guardia Civil. The arms dealer then faked his own death in Thailand and his family lodged a death certificate in a Spanish court.

The authorities were not convinced that he was dead, suspecting that their double agent had disappeared with the money stolen by Roldan.

But Paesa was tracked down by Metodo 3 - acting on behalf of a client who claimed to have been defrauded by him - in Luxembourg, living under the name of Francisco Pando.

While they got their man, this was more of a fraud case with added glamour, not a possible child murder or abduction involving paedophiles.

Despite the fact that no reference to them appears on its website, Metodo 3 has claimed involvement in 23 cases of missing children.

The firm boasted that it had cracked them all, including the rescue of a teenage boy from the clutches of an "evil pervert".

But these claims have never been substantiated and without more detail are impossible to verify. Spanish police say they can neither confirm nor deny the claims.

What then of Metodo 3's performance so far in the McCann case?

In October, its boss Francisco Marco declared he was 'convinced' Madeleine had been "kidnapped to order" by a Moroccan paedophile gang and spirited out of the country. He now knew she was being held in the Rif mountains.

This sparked a rash of sightings of blonde girls in Morocco, to which Metodo 3 agents were sent.

Morocco's interior ministry eventually felt moved to declare that Metodo 3's reports had no credibility and the agency's theories were also questioned by a prominent British crime profiler.

Metodo 3's insistence that Madeleine was abducted by a paedophile gang who stole the child to order showed a "distinct lack of understanding of paedophiles and how they work", criminal analyst Mark Williams-Thomas warned.

Mr Williams-Thomas, who worked on the Sarah Payne murder inquiry, said: "If Madeleine was abducted by a predatory paedophile the likelihood of her surviving after 48 hours are slim.

"But if she is alive she would not be out in the open and spotted by general members of the public. She would be hidden away. Even in these remote areas of Morocco, nobody could risk her being seen."

There was one further question: why on earth would Metodo 3 announce a possible lead before it had been thoroughly checked out?

In fact, why was Francisco Marco apparently showing his hand at every turn?

He has gone on the record as being 'certain' that Madeleine was seen on May 4 in northern Portugal.

Recently Metodo 3 were briefing the media that they believed Madeleine had been abducted by British expat suspect Robert Murat, his German girlfriend Michaela Walczuch and her estranged husband Luis Antonio.

Ms Walczuch says she has an alibi. In this tangled mass of claims and contradictions the private detectives are beginning to resemble the discredited local police they were brought in to replace.

However, Metodo 3 has also clearly got under the skin of the Portuguese police. On the day that I visited the firm in Barcelona, a police source described the Spanish agency as 'small fry' adding 'they are irrelevant'.

When I visit, the Metodo 3 nerve centre could not be more low key.

After whispers in a back room a thirtysomething man eventually appears and tells me that no, the agency will not be responding to police brickbats. In fact, there will be no statements at all: "We are not attending the press today."

I am politely ushered out, as Royale, the disobedient poodle, is finally collared and persuaded to return. The ace manhunters have at least got their dog.

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 Post subject: Re: Método 3
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:13 pm 
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27th December 2007

Correio da Manha

http://www.correiodamanha.pt/noticia.as ... idCanal=10

Defamation: Christian Ridout can sue them
Metodo 3 persecutes a false suspect


After having failed all their promises to the McCann couple, the Spanish detectives from Metodo 3 now persecute the former DJ from a bar in Praia da Luz, Christian Ridout, who has not been seen in the Algarve for two years and who has "nothing to do" with the disappearance of Madeleine, a source that is connected to the process has guaranteed to CM. "The experts risk a process for defamation and calumnious denunciation.

The persecution by the detectives, according to the 'Daily Mail', is confirmed by the couple's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell. The suspect's photograph "is all over the internationalmedia", our sources remind us, and the impact "in terms of image is terrible for someone who has been discarded" by the case's legitimate investigators.

The British citizen, aged 30, worked at the Plough and Harrow bar, but left to Spain by car in 2005 - the 'Daily Mail' announces that the VW Golf was abandoned at the airport in Seville and Christian has apparently returned to England. But the detectives' suspicions are justified with supposed messages "with obscene language" that the British reportedly sent to a 12-year-old girl over several months.

"He offered himself to pick up my daughter at school", her mother recalls for the newspaper and "suggested the most revolting sexual acts to her". The 42-year-old woman says she only discovered what was happening after two months and menaced him, "therefore he fled". He was never seen in the Algarve again but his family remains in Praia da Luz.

The day after Maddie disappeared, on May 3, a man asked for Christian at the bar - two years later, "maybe he's in the area", it could be read in the 'Daily Mail' yesterday. CM knows that "this possibility was considered, among others, but was soon dismissed".

Interrogated

The McCann couple and their friends will probably be interrogated between January and February, as the rogatory letters will be sent from the PGR to the British authorities at the beginning of the year.



Christian Ridout, aged 30, has apparently sent obscene messages to a 12-year-old girl, in 2005. He left Praia da Luz two years ago, but the McCanns' detectives persecute him.

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 Post subject: Re: Método 3
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:13 pm 
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2008-11-12


McCanns had informant inside the PJ - TvMais



A PJ inspector supplied confidential information to Metodo 3 concerning the movements that the Judiciária and the British policemen made on the terrain, searching for Maddie

by Hernâni Carvalho

The accusation is brought forward by one of the agents from Metodo 3, the Spanish detective agency that the McCanns hired, and was made during an interview that journalist Duarte Levy recorded for Belgian television. According to said Metodo 3 agent, the privileged information that the McCanns held were always delivered by an inspector who “benefits from a certain protection at the Judiciária in Faro” and by informants that are connected to the British Embassy.

The PJ investigators’ most confidential movements were always monitored by the McCanns or by their entourage. The information reached them through an informant from inside the PJ of Faro itself. The man from Metodo 3 goes as far as stating that numerous initiatives by Amaral’s men were known before time due to the alleged informant.

“That was the information that allowed for us to known in advance what inspector Amaral and his colleagues intended to do”, the Spanish private detective said. The interview was videotaped in Spain a few days ago and will be part of a documentary about Maddie’s disappearance that the journalist is preparing. In Belgium, the case continues to raise much interest and discussion. During that interview, the Metodo 3 agent identifies the man from the PJ in Faro. The Spanish detective states that he always knew that the investigation was condemned. And he explains that he always knew in advance about the purposes of the actions and diligences that were carried out by Gonçalo Amaral’s team.

The detective says that he tried to speak with the coordinator of the investigation at the PJ (Gonçalo Amaral), but the latter replied that, whatever he had to declare or to denounce, he should do it in an official manner.

During the interview, the detective explains that he wasn’t hired to search for Maddie and that he never did that. He says that was not his mission. His mission, he says, was to carry out actions that would direct the authorities that were responsible for the investigation and the search for Maddie, into Morocco or Spain. And that he says he did.

The detective advances that the McCann couple never asked him to lie, but that he cannot say the same about the McCanns’ team, or Metodo 3’s team.

When contacted by tvmais, Gonçalo Amaral says that he knows what we are talking about, but that he believes this is not the time for clarifications. The former coordinator of the PJ’s investigation about Maddie says he is still waiting for the lawsuit that the McCanns threatened him with, and at that time he will have much to say or to reveal. Another book…


source: TvMais, 12.11.2008, paper edition

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 Post subject: Re: Método 3
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 8:14 pm 
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Método 3 is considering whether to sue the British press

http://www.abc.es/20080808/internaciona ... 82039.html


The Spanish detective agency of the McCanns, Método 3 is looking at ways to sue various media in the UK to defend its "reputation and good name" in the face of publications of what the agency considers to be diffamatory information.

According to the press release received by Agencia Efe, the Barcelona based company says that, in order for legal proceedings to begin, it will devote “all the settlements that it can claim whether through court or settled out of court with the British press in the near future” to a foundation for child protection.

Método 3 points out that it has remained silent in the face of the “attacks” by the press until the Portuguese police closed the case – on 22nd July – and raised Kate and Gerry McCann to the level of suspects.


According to the press release received by Agencia Efe, the Barcelona based company says that, in order for legal proceedings to begin, it will devote “all the settlements that it can claim whether through court or settled out of court with the British press in the near future” to a foundation for child protection.

Método 3 points out that it has remained silent in the face of the “attacks” by the press until the Portuguese police closed the case – on 22nd July – and raised Kate and Gerry McCann to the level of suspects.

The McCanns contracted Método3, led by Franciso Marco, after their three year old daughter, Madeleine, disappeared in May 2007, from the apartment where she was sleeping with her siblings in Praia da Luz.

The case dossier confirmed that there was no conclusive proof about Madeleine’s disappearance.
The family spokesman, Clarence Mitchell has confirmed to Efe that the Spanish agency continues to work for the couple, but that their activity has been “very reduced” upon the “internationalisation of the search and the contracting of experts in other countries”.

In its note Método clarifies that it never charged the McCanns “the exorbitant figures” for fees that the press in this country printed and ensures that it was a cost of 60.000 Euros during six months for the worldwide search for Madeleine, plus expenses, giving a total of 108.306 Euros. The Spanish agency also criticises the fact that the British media claimed that one of their members had “a mafiosa outlook” and points out that this person suffered from a “degenerative brain illness which, obviously generated strange looks and attitutudes”.

Método 3 says that, in contrary to what the UK press states, nobody ever said that Madeleine would be back for Christmas, but that the agency “merely expressed a Christian wish” hoping to say “We hope she will be back for Christmas”

Since the beginning of this year, Método 3 , who led the search for Madeleine since August 2007 until last January, has had a more reduced role in the investigation into the small girl’s disappearance.

The diffusion of the case files last Tuesday in Portugal confirmed that there is no conclusive evidence regarding the circumstances of the girl’s disappearance, she is considered to be “probably” dead.

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