Friday, 5 November 2010

The Canaries Are Beginning To Sing

The latest BIG news in the McCann case is not, of course, their petition or the new campaign or the new appeal for public money. It is, of course, the fact that three judges in Portugal, saw fit to overturn the earlier ban on the publishing and distribution of Dr Amaral's book, "The Truth Of The Lie". This reversal also applies to the DVD and television programmes associated with the book. But possibly the biggest blow to the McCann campaign is that the McCanns have had all costs - and that includes the earlier hearing costs - awarded against them. This could potentially run into tens of millions of Euros, not to mention that an official English translation of the book is probably now on the cards.

It's dfficult to tell now whether the original libel trial will go ahead. The McCann's Portuguese lawyer, Isabel Duarte, has publicly stated that it will be very difficult to appeal the overturn decision. This does not bode well for the outcome of any possible libel trial. However, immediately hard on the heels of this disasterous (for the McCanns) decision, we have the inevitable appeal for even more public funds to "help find Madeleine".

Which brings us to the next instalment. £300,000 of those publicly donated funds were already paid to Irish conman Kevin Halligen, one man operator of Oakley International. Clarence Mitchell, the former head of the Labour government’s Media Monitoring Unit, trumpeted their qualifiations for the job as "a highly successful international private detective agency."

Oakley International, however, was only formed after Madeleine was reported missing. The fees that the Fund paid to OI were squandered on Halligen's champagne lifestyle, and produced exactly zero results. The IT firm that handled the helpline even went on public record as stating that OI were not interested in any of the information received.

Yet Clarence Mitchell, through his media contacts, sold the public the picture of Oakley International being the "big boys". And contrary to even attempting to recover any of this £300,000, he has quite firmly stated that the matter of Halligen is "closed".

Or maybe not. Yesterday, Westminster Magistrates Court ordered the extradition of Halligen to the US, where he is wanted by the FBI for a £1.2million wire fraud in relation to the Trafigura scandal. Halligen now has four weeks to appeal. What other songs might the canary start to sing?

Of course, for the McCanns Fund, it may well turn out to be a swan song.