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Charles O'Neill and William Lauchlan - 1
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Appeals Court Lifts Ban On Amaral's Book
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McCanns Appeal To The Supreme Court
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Official McCann Updates, Mar-Dec 2009
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Contact/Links

Método 3

Método 3 are the team of private investigators hired by the McCanns when they returned to the UK, after the Policia Judiciaria had made them 'arguidos'.
 
It is reported that the final bill for Método 3's work could be anywhere between £300,000 and £750,000 - but what were they doing for nearly two months before the McCanns announced that they had been hired?
 
And why was the decision to hire them, and release £300,000 of Madeleine's Funds' money, not taken by the board of directors but by Gerry McCann and the family's lawyers and financial backers?

Método 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.

Daily Mail, 25 January 2008 (full article and link below)

 
Who are Método 3?
 

Francisco Marco
Francisco Marco

Método 3 are a small Spanish-based, family run, detective agency set up 21 years ago (according to the Telegraph) or 23 years ago (according to the Daily Mail) by Maria Marco, known as Marita and also known as Marita Fernandez Lado, 57. The current director-general of the agency is her son, Francisco Marco. 
 
At the time Método 3 were hired, Mr Marco insisted he had a '"100 per cent" success rate and had reunited 23 missing children and teenagers with their families. Yet, in November, he refused to discuss his claims with The Sunday Telegraph, insisting he was ''too busy with his investigation" to discuss it.
 
In 2003, Marco said in an interview that as far as his agency was concerned ''Our focus is companies''. In fact, the primary line of work for Método 3 is to investigate company fraud - which explains why their senior employees are all lawyers.
 
It was initially reported that the firm had up to 40 detectives working on the case. However, company accounts reveal a section of Método 3 made a net loss of £61,500 in 2005 and had a full-time staff of just 12. In November, they claimed they now had 27.

 
When were Método 3 hired and why was it kept secret for nearly 2 months?
 
Metodo 3 were hired on a 6 month contract in the early part of September 2007. Although the specific date has never been made public, it is almost certain they were hired in the immediate days following the McCanns' return to the UK, after being made arguidos.
 
The McCanns lawyers, advisers and PR contacts would have ensured that no time was wasted in setting up an 'alternative' investigation. Officially to continue the search for Madeleine but also as a snub to the Policia Judiciaria and also to muddy the waters over who was actually doing the investigating. This has been borne out by many UK press reports which have appeared to have difficulty differentiating the official investigation from Metodo 3's efforts.
 
Given the significant nature of hiring private detectives, at such huge cost and apparently from public donations to Madeleine's Fund, it is perhaps surprising that they were not announced until 24 October 2007, and did not get a mention in Gerry's blogs, until 26 October 2007!
 
The event appears to have been of less significance to Gerry than 'collecting conkers' on 28 September 2007, going 'for a run' on 01 October 2007 and the news that Calum, the website operator, had just been on holiday for a week on 16 October 2007! 
 
On 15 September 2007, John McCann issued a statement from the board of Madeleine's Fund which stated:

''On behalf of the extended McCann family and the Madeleine Fund, I would like to say how grateful we are for people's generosity and support.

The main objective of the Madeleine Fund is to leave no stone unturned in the search for Madeleine.

To that end I would like to announce that the Fund will finance a broad range of initiatives in advertising to remind everyone that Madeleine is still missing. These adverts will focus on Spain, Portugal and other parts of Europe and will consist of billboards and other media. This financing of advertisements will complement previous efforts by the Fund and many motivated individuals – family, friends and people touched by our cause.

I hope that the general public will continue to support us in this.

It is so important that we remember: "don't you forget about me"- our lovely wee Madeleine.''

It is almost certain that Metodo 3 would have been hired by this date and that makes John McCann's statement even more extraordinary. He is making a public statement to announce new advertising initiatives, unlikely to cost more than £80,000, yet, it would appear, the board of directors are failing to make public the fact that they have just committed £600,000 of Madeleine's Fund - which they have been put in place to administer - to Metodo 3.

It may be within their rights, as a limited company, to announce and keep secret whatever they like. However, given the board's desire to make public their commitment to finding Madeleine, there would appear to be more than hint of deception about concealing such important information. Especially as the official Find Madeleine site states that 'An experienced Fund Administrator has been appointed to ensure the highest standards of transparency and accountability'.

Of course, the reason it was announced on 24 October 2007 was to tie in with the Antena 3 interview, broadcast on Spanish television that night - the first interview by the McCanns since receiving their arguido status.

It enabled both the announcement of the agency and Metodo 3's telephone number to receive maximum coverage from a global audience. That impact was seemingly valued higher by the McCanns' team than the 'transparency' of revealing when they were hired and for how much.

So, what were Metodo 3 doing for nearly two months before the McCanns announced that they had been hired?

Were they receiving £50,000 per month from Madeleine's Fund, and an undisclosed sum from the McCanns' wealthy backers, just for keeping secret?

It is more likely they were working stealthily to get witnesses on board to support the McCanns case. According to Clarence Mitchell, Metodo 3 have been active in Portugal, which is illegal under Portuguese law, but Mr Mitchell claims Alipio Ribeiro has been turning a blind eye to it.

 
How much is is costing and who is funding Metodo 3?
 
How much is it costing?
 
It had been widely reported that Metodo 3 were being paid £300,000 for their six month contract @ £50,000 per month. However, the Daily Mail stated in its report of 10 February 2008 that the £50,000 figure is for expenses only.
 
The Telegraph reported something similar on 27 November 2007 when it said:
 
'The agency is believed to charge up to £2,000 a day and, with a six-month contract that will include expensive travel and technology costs, the final bill is likely to be as much as £750,000.'
 
Who is paying for Metodo 3's services?
 
Following a great deal of confusion caused by Madeleine's Funds' own brand of secrecy, the answer appears to be as follows:
 
£8,000 monthly fee - paid by 'wealthy supporter'
£50,000 monthly, flat-fee 'operational costs' - paid by Madeleine's Fund
Any excess over £50,000 per month - paid by 'wealthy backers'
 
The 'wealthy supporter' is almost certainly Brian Kennedy, although this is not explicitly confirmed in the Daily Mail report. It is widely reported that Kennedy was heavily involved in the hiring of Metodo 3, so it would be natural to assume that it is he who is providing the bulk of the additional costs.
 
The 'wealthy backers' are reported to 'include double glazing tycoon Brian Kennedy and Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson'.
 
The Daily Mail of 25 November 2007, reported:
 
'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.'
 
The Telegraph of 27 November 2007, reported:
 
(referring to the McCanns return to the UK following their arguido status)
 
''They were in despair," says the family friend. ''That is when Brian Kennedy, the couple's millionaire benefactor, stepped in. He offered to fund an investigation by Metodo 3. And it's costing a hefty sum."
 
Antena 3:
 
Spanish television channel Antena 3 claimed, in early December, to have permission from detective agency Metodo 3 to reveal that they were receiving their payment from Brian Kennedy not Madeleine's Fund or anyone else.
 
The Sunday Times report on Metodo 3, 10 February 2008, stated that: '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."
 
If that was the case, it raises a number of serious questions:
 
1) Why were the directors of Madeleine's Fund not involved in the decision to release £300,000 of the money they were put in place to administer?
 
2) Why was Gerry McCann allowed to participate in the decision to release money from the Fund?
 
3) Who told the directors of Madeleine's Fund that they had to fund Metodo 3? And were any directors in disagreement with the decision?

 
What does the official Find Madeleine site say about Metodo 3? (link)
 

Metodo3

Since September 2007 , a private detection agency Metodo3 who are based in Barcelona, has been employed to complement the official investigation, in particular focusing its enquiries outside of Portugal.  They were selected to help with the search for Madeleine on the basis of a proven history of resolving cases in the Iberian peninsula, and they can demonstrate strong working relationships with the relevant authorities in this region.

Metodo3 provide a multi lingual call handling centre for any information that might be related to Madeleine's abduction.  All calls are dealt with in confidential manner.

The costs for Metodo 3's services will be met by contributions from the 'Find Madeleine' Fund and from a financial backer.

For further information on Metodo3 see  www.metodo3.es 

*

Firstly, it should be remembered that the Fund is called 'Madeleine's Fund' and not the 'Find Madeleine' Fund. There is a significant difference because a Fund entitled 'Find Madeleine' could only ever be used to find Madeleine. Whereas 'Madeleine's Fund' could be used as a generic title to look for any children, once this case has been resolved. It's what Gerry refers to as the 'long term agenda'.

But what of Metodo 3?

This new section 'Metodo 3' was added to the relaunched Find Madeleine site on 01 February 2007 and it said something very significant. It said very clearly that 'the costs for Metodo 3's services will be met by contributions from the 'Find Madeleine' Fund and from a financial backer'.

This was the first admission that the costs for Metodo 3 were not being met solely by Madeleine's Fund.

 
A reminder of what Clarence Mitchell said about the funding of Metodo 3
 

Daily Mail, 28 November 2007:

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "The fund has agreed to pay Metodo 3 £50,000 a month towards their costs."

Asked about donations, he said: "Money pours in at the start and dries up after a while, it's only natural. Money is still coming in."

Daily Mail, 10 January 2008:

'He (Clarence Mitchell) said the Find Madeleine board members and the McCanns' multi-millionaire backer, double glazing tycoon Brian Kennedy, would meet to discuss the contract (of Metodo 3) in February.

"It is a matter for the bankers and the fund to make the final decision," he said.

"We are paying Metodo 3 £50,000 a month so of course it is a subject of debate. The decision is as much with Brian as it is with the fund, which pays for Metodo 3's involvement."

 
News of the World report, 28 October 2007 (original link)
 

New McCann detective agency target Morocco in search for missing child

Prisoner of evil

From Dominic Herbert in Praia Da Luz

A CRACK new team of private eyes are now hunting missing Maddie McCann - and they are convinced she was snatched TO ORDER by a paedophile gang then SMUGGLED out to Morocco.

Today we sensationally reveal the renowned Spanish Metodo 3 detective agency - hired by parents Kate and Gerry - believe the four-year-old was targeted after a tip-off from INSIDE their Portuguese holiday complex.

An insider said: "It's distressing but gives us all hope Maddie's still alive."

DISTRAUGHT Kate and Gerry McCann are coming to terms with the sickening thought that missing daughter Maddie is in the hands of a gang of Moroccan paedophiles.

After studying all the evidence the couple's team of ace private eyes are convinced the she was kidnapped to order from the family's Algarve holiday apartment then spirited away to feed North Africa's sick child sex industry.

The highly-respected Spanish detective agency Metodo 3 have NEVER FAILED to find a missing person they've hunted—including a teenage boy they rescued after he was abducted by a pervert.

The Barcelona-based detectives, who began working for the McCanns two months ago, are now compiling a hitlist of Portuguese paedophiles known to target girls Maddie's age.

They will then send their international network of agents to trace the exact movements of their prime suspects before and after May 3, the day Maddie, four, vanished from the McCanns' Algarve holiday apartment.

The News of the World has also discovered the private investigators now believe the kidnapper:

  • POUNCED after being TIPPED OFF by an insider at the resort that a young blonde Western girl was there,
  • SPIED on the family for days plotting their movements and waiting for the right moment,
  • SNATCHED Maddie in a tight eight-minute window of opportunity,
  • PASSED her to a paedophile network in Morocco where she has been sold on to other pervert gangs.

A source close to the inquiry told us: "Obviously talk of Madeleine being bartered around these evil people is extremely upsetting for the McCanns. But for the first time a credible theory of what happened is being worked on by one of Europe's leading investigation agencies. And it gives them hope she is still ALIVE.

"This is a significant development based on information from experts with access to a huge amount of data. For nearly six months Kate and Gerry have had to go through the torment of many wild and inaccurate theories, often with no substance.

"They can now focus on the work of Metodo 3 who are using all their significant resources across several countries. It's illegal for them to work in Portugal, and their investigation is separate from the official police inquiry, but has been approved by the local detectives and all information will be passed on to them."

Faith

Metodo 3 launched a special hotline and email appeal for information last week after Kate and Gerry —both still branded suspects by Poruguese cops—gave an emotional interview on Spanish TV.

In three days the agency received 400 calls. As Gerry yesterday took time to relax in a park with two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie near their home in Rothley, Leicester, Metodo 3 managing director Francisco Marco, 35, exclusively told the News of the World: "I'm certain Madeleine was kidnapped. And I'm also sure her parents had nothing to do with her disappearance.

"My own view is the most likely place to find her is Morocco. We're working very hard on all information indicating that. But I stress that we are following up EVERYTHING."

This fresh hope for the McCanns comes as plans to use new laws to access the Portuguese police dossier on them were dashed. They could have to wait 11 months.

Our source said: "Kate and Gerry now have great faith in Metodo and are very impressed with its record. From information already gathered the strongest indication is that this abduction was very carefully planned.

We're looking at whether a Portuguese paedophile was actually lined up by someone connected to the resort. They'd have alerted the snatcher there was a blonde British girl of the right age. Plus they would have detailed the apartment layout, family routine and timings.

"We're sure Madeleine was then taken quickly out of the country and handed to the Moroccan connection.

"This was planned precisely and not a spur-of-the-moment snatch.

Risk

"It's likely Madeleine and her family were watched closely in the days leading up to the snatch to establish their habits and minimise the risk.

"Once in Morocco, Madeleine would be seen as a good ‘commodity' in terms of money and prestige among certain sick communities. There are paedophile gangs and families who crave white Western children. She could have been easily been sold on a number of times."

Metodo investigators are already working extensively on the ground in Morocco to identify the monsters and where they operate.

The agency's theory ties in with witness statements detailing timings of events on May 3 and the daily routine of the McCanns.

A recent computer reconstruction of that night—when the McCanns and friends dined in the nearby tapas bar—indicated a kidnapper would have had just eight minutes to strike. That meant inside knowledge was crucial.

There have also been a string of sightings in Morocco of young girls resembling Maddie. Six days after she vanished, Norweigan-born Mari Pollard, 45, said she was "100 per cent certain" she saw Madeleine at a garage in Marrakesh.

In September it emerged a second sighting had ALREADY been reported by a holidaymaker from Yorkshire in a hotel opposite the garage.

Then Jeannie Thompson, 56, from Devon said she saw a blonde girl looking "dishevelled" as a man took photographs of her at a the Cafe des Epices in Marrakesh on May 11.

Skills

Three more women have since come forward with sightings.

Morocco has a reputation as a haven for paedophiles and Kate and Gerry paid a two-day visit earlier in the hunt to meet the Interior Minister and conduct a series of talks with child protection officers.

The couple have now amassed a huge force of manpower and expertise as they step up the hunt for their daughter. As well as Metodo 3 they are using the skills of British-based Control Risks Group.

Dozens of agents worldwide are now working on the mystery for the McCanns, with more on standby.

In contrast, the Portuguese police have a relatively small team. At one stage it dropped to just six.

One obstacle to Metodo 3's efforts is Portugal's lack of a sex offenders' register. But using its extensive contacts the agency is aboslutely confident of nailing the list.

 
Daily Mail report, 29 October 2007 (original link)
 
Madeleine: New hope for McCanns as kidnapped American girl 'is found safe in Morocco'
 
Last updated at 23:42pm on 29th October 2007
 
Private investigators searching for Madeleine McCann found a blonde girl who had been kidnapped by a Moroccan family, it was claimed yesterday.
 
The discovery will give new hope to Kate and Gerry that their daughter is still alive and in a "similar situation".
 
Sources inside Spanish detective agency Metodo 3, which has been hired by the McCanns, said Interpol is investigating the discovery of the blonde girl living in the Rif mountains — the area where they are searching for Madeleine.
 
An insider said: "She was not Madeleine but she was an English speaker, possibly an American."
 
The boss of Metodo 3 said he believed Madeleine was abducted by a care worker on the instruction of a paedophile gang who stole the child to order.
 
He believes another girl matching Madeleine's description, who has been spotted with a woman aged about 60 in the Rif mountains by 10 different people, could well be the four-year-old who went missing from the Algarve on 3 May.
 
Francisco Marco, Metodo 3's director-general, said: "My own feeling is that this woman is some sort of carer who is working on behalf of other people. We can't be certain it's Madeleine but several unconnected people have told our informers of the same girl with the same woman.
 
"The only difference is that she has slightly shorter hair than Madeleine had when she disappeared. Everything else matches.
 
"They've been seen over a wide area but always within the confines of the Rif mountains."
 
Madeleine was six days short of her fourth birthday when she went missing from the family apartment at Praia da Luz. Her parents, named as official suspects in her disappearance, have always insisted that she was abducted from her bed while they dined nearby.
 
The insider at Metodo 3 said of the American girl: "Investigators came across her as they were working to find Madeleine and have tipped off Interpol. There is a long history of girls being kidnapped from Europe and ending up in Morocco.
 
"It's a very secretive country and the area of the Rif mountains enjoys official protection because of the importance of the hashish production and trafficking that goes on to the country's economy.
 
"It was obvious to the investigators that this girl was not with her natural family. It's entirely feasible that Madeleine could be in a similar situation.
 
"Seeing this other girl gave investigators a lot of hope that Madeleine too is alive."
 
Metodo 3, based in Barcelona, currently has three men on the ground in northern Morocco, including a former head of the Spanish National Police's organised crime squad. They are also thought to have an army of informers working for them.
 
Last week Metodo 3 launched a phone hotline. Anybody with information should call 0034 902 300 213.
 
*
 
This report is an example of the kind of work Metodo 3 have become famous for: Sightings of blonde haired girls who are almost certainly Madeleine but turn out to be local girls who are out with their parents.
 
Incidentally, why are the Daily Mail assisting two people, who are currently 'official suspects' in an ongoing police investigation, by publishing the telephone number of an agency that is acting in direct opposition to the official Policia Judiciaria investigation?

 
Daily Mail report, 25 November 2007 (original link)
 

Maria Marco aka Marita Fernandez Lado

Madeleine: Pictured in handcuffs, the McCann detective once held over phone tapping
 
By Daniel Boffey
Last Updated at 18:16pm on 25th November 2007
 
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.

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.

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.

 
Telegraph report, 27 November 2007 (original link)
 
Madeleine McCann: is there no hope left?
 
By Olga Craig
Last Updated: 2:55am GMT 27/11/2007
 
It was the kind of claim that, six months ago, would have filled Kate and Gerry McCann with fresh hope.
 
Bristling with bravado before the television cameras last week, Francisco Marco, the portly boss of the Spanish-based detective agency Metodo 3, sneeringly dismissed the Portuguese police investigation into the disappearance of the couple's daughter, Madeleine, as ''bumbling", and boasted: ''We know who the kidnappers are and we are very, very close to catching them."
 
Off camera, he admitted: "No, I can't disclose any more yet. But I will be proved right."
 
A source close to the couple says: ''There was a time when Kate and Gerry would have been wildly buoyed by such news. But I imagine Gerry had his head in his hands with despair when he watched Marco in that interview.
 
"Because the truth is that, in private at least, the couple know in their hearts that Metodo 3 is no nearer discovering who took Madeleine, never mind where she is now, than are the Portuguese police.
 
''The harsh fact is that they were pinning their remaining hopes on Marco's outfit when they hired them on a six-month contract in September. But, in the past few weeks, they have conceded that they might have been sold a pup. There's no doubt they've worked round the clock, but they don't have a lot of experience with this type of investigation."
 
It is little wonder that this is the conclusion that the beleaguered McCanns have reached. For while, in public at least, they cling to the hope that four-year-old Madeleine will be found, and found alive, the truth is that now, eight days short of the seven-month anniversary of her disappearance from the family's Algarve holiday apartment on May 3, even they are no longer convinced they will see their daughter again.
 
It has been a bitter lesson. But the reality is that the 'Find Madeleine' campaign and investigation, begun with such fervour and enthusiasm, is limping slowly to a close: its likely outcome that we shall never know what happened to Madeleine, and her parents will forever be surrounded by the suspicion that they were involved in her death.
 
The McCanns had hired Metodo 3, a small family-run agency set up 21 years ago by Marco's mother, Marita, early in September when the Portuguese named them as suspects. The couple were stunned to discover that the Portuguese police were not channelling their efforts into finding Madeleine's abductor, as they had believed, but were investigating them.
 
When both were interrogated at the police headquarters in Portamao, in September, they realised to their horror that as long ago as last June the investigating officers had stopped following any lines of enquiry that suggested Madeleine was abducted, and had for months been concentrating solely on them as the chief suspects.
 
''They were in despair," says the family friend. ''That is when Brian Kennedy, the couple's millionaire benefactor, stepped in. He offered to fund an investigation by Metodo 3. And it's costing a hefty sum."
 
The agency is believed to charge up to £2,000 a day and, with a six-month contract that will include expensive travel and technology costs, the final bill is likely to be as much as £750,000.
 
Initially, the McCanns were impressed by Metodo 3's claims: Mr Marco insisted he had a '"100 per cent" success rate and had reunited 23 missing children and teenagers with their families. Yet, this week, he refused to discuss his claims with The Sunday Telegraph, insisting he was ''too busy with his investigation" to discuss it.
 
To date, the Portuguese police have tolerated the agency's investigations but now they dismiss them as ''irrelevant small-fry" who ''lack credibility".
 
They have been incensed by Metodo 3's allegation that Michaela Walczuch, the German girlfriend of Robert Murat, the only other suspect, was sighted handing over a blonde girl to a mystery man in Silves, Portugal, two days after Madeleine vanished from her holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, 25 miles away.
 
Another of their witnesses, they claimed, saw Ms Walczuch in Zaio in Morocco on June 15, shortly after the witness allegedly saw Madeleine there. Exasperated, the police disclosed that Ms Walczuch was at a Jehovah's Witnesses' meeting on that date and she has threatened legal action against any publication suggesting she was involved in Madeleine's disappearance.
 
At the same time as police were pouring scorn on Metodo 3's investigations, Portugal's most senior law officer, the attorney general Fernando José Pinto Monteiro attacked the McCanns, insisting that their decision to encourage worldwide publicity for their missing child had probably served only to hasten Madeleine's murder.
 
''If she was kidnapped, it is likely her abductor has killed her," he said. ''All this publicity and with the whole world having seen Madeleine's photo means that there is a greater chance of the girl being dead than alive."

 
Daily Mail report, 28 November 2007 (original link)
 
McCanns pay 'irrelevant' detective team £50,000 a month in Madeleine hunt
 
By VANESSA ALLEN
Last updated at 21:34pm on 28th November 2007
 
The McCanns' private detectives have cost the Find Madeleine Fund £300,000, it was revealed yesterday.

The Spanish detective agency Metodo 3 has charged £50,000 a month for its initial six-month contract - the equivalent of around £2,000 for every working day.

The fee was agreed at a meeting of trustees of the Find Madeleine Fund, set up in May to help finance the worldwide search for the four-year-old.

But a fall in donations to the fund has raised questions about how long it can afford to employ Metodo 3.

It relies on public donations and has raised almost £1.1million in the six months since Madeleine went missing, but nearly £700,000 of that has now been spent. Donations - which poured in at up to

£450,000 a month after the fund's launch - have fallen to under £30,000 a month since the McCanns were named as official suspects.

Trustees would be reluctant to give up the private detectives' search for Madeleine, which was the key aim of establishing of the not-for-profit company.

However, Metodo 3 has yet to find any concrete evidence about where she could be, despite boasts by it directorgeneral, Francisco Marco, that he would find her within five months.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "The fund has agreed to pay Metodo 3 £50,000 a month towards their costs."

Asked about donations, he said: "Money pours in at the start and dries up after a while, it's only natural. Money is still coming in."

The fund has also approved at least £380,000 in spending on publicity, advertising and legal fees involved in setting up the fund, taking its total spending to almost £700,000.

Metodo 3 has had between 30 and 35 detectives working on the case in Britain, France, Spain, Portugal and Morocco since September, and the fee includes their expenses.

However, Portuguese detectives have labelled Metodo 3's private investigators "irrelevant" and said they have failed to provide any new evidence.

 
Mail On Sunday report, 02 December 2007 (original link)
 

Have the McCanns really chosen the best private detectives to find Madeleine?

by RICHARD PENDLEBURY Last updated at 22:15pm on 2nd December 2007

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.

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.

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.

 
Liverpool Echo, 14 December 2007 (original link)
 

Madeleine McCann "could be home by Christmas"

The private detective being paid by Kate and Gerry McCann to find their daughter has claimed he knows who took Madeleine and that he could have her back with her family before Christmas.

Francisco Marco, the director general of Metodo 3, indicated that they were closing in on the four-year-old’s abductor and preparing to hand over their “evidence” to police.

Mr Marco also told the Spanish newspaper Metro that the girl, who was snatched from a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve in May, might never have left Portugal.

He said: “We have proof of her movements after her kidnap and we know she was alive the day after her disappearance. We are not certain she left Portugal.

“I talk of certainties because we know which group may have her or could have kidnapped her to then sell her on to others.”

The detective added: “We know who kidnapped her.

“We believe she is in an area not very far from the Iberian peninsula and north Africa. And we have a fairly certain idea who she is with.

“I cannot say who she is with because we are putting together conclusive proof we can present to the authorities so they can proceed with their arrests.”

He also said: “God willing, I hope that she will be back with her parents before Christmas.”

Mr Marco admitted he had no proof Madeleine was not dead but said he had to believe “100%” that she was because he only knew how to look for people who were still alive.

He told Metro: “One of the things that makes us believe Madeleine is alive is that every day, she’s worth more to them. It’s obviously not a kidnap carried out by professionals for economic reasons.

“A professional kidnapper would have done something by now. He would have given her back or left her.”

He also dismissed allegations that the McCanns could have been involved in Madeleine’s disappearance, saying you only had to spend five minutes with them to know they were innocent.

The McCanns’ spokesman Clarence Mitchell said last night that the family was “pleased” the agency was so confident about ultimately finding Madeleine.

He said: “Metodo Three, the private detective agency we are employing to help find Madeleine, retains our full confidence.

“They are continuing to work very hard on all the information that continues to come up. New leads are being pursued all the time.

“Clearly we will not discuss the details of those leads for sensitive operational reasons but we are pleased the agency is confident is that they will find Madeleine in due course.”

The Spanish-based detective agency was hired by Madeleine’s parents to carry out a parallel investigation to the police probe into her apparent abduction.

Mr Marco, who heads up a 40-strong team, vowed to find the missing girl within five months.

The McCanns were dining with friends when Madeleine went missing from their holiday apartment shortly before her fourth birthday in Praia da Luz on May 3.

They were named formal suspects in the case in September but have repeatedly denied any involvement in her disappearance and rejected suggestions they could have killed her accidentally.

 
Sky News report 20 December 2007 (original link)
 

Metodo 3's new offices in Barcelona
Metodo 3's new offices in Barcelona

Plush New HQ For McCann Private Eyes
 
Alex Watts
In Barcelona
Updated:18:11, Thursday December 20, 2007
 
Private detectives hired to search for Madeleine McCann have moved to plush new offices as questions emerge about whether they are giving good value for money.
 
People who donated to the Find Madeleine Fund are seeing Metodo 3 pocket £50,000-a-month of their cash - without any apparent breakthrough.
 
The group has not yet produced any evidence to back their claims that they know who took the girl.
 
Boss Francisco Marco claims he knows the girl, who would be four years old now, is alive and could be reunited with her heartbroken parents Kate and Gerry for Christmas.
 
But he was not available to speak to Sky News Online by phone and on arriving at his office in Barcelona, it was claimed he was out of the country - working on a different case.
 
At a supposedly crucial stage in the inquiry, his luxurious new office - perched above a gay sauna in a grand, pillar-filled building - was in a make-shift state.
 
There was just one staff member in sight, and when asked if Sky News Online could see Mr Marco, she replied: "He's not here, he's out of the country on business. Not with the Madeleine case, on another case."
 
Her advice was to return in two hours, when the office would re-open.
 
But on calling back at 4pm there were three staff and a small dog in the reception area, as well as a steady flow of people unloading boxes of files and other office equipment.
 
They refused to say anything, and grew steely when Madeleine was mentioned.
 
A few minutes later, a smartly-dressed detective arrived and refused to discuss anything to do with the case.
 
He kept stressing: "I can't say anything. Only Clarence Mitchell (the McCanns' official spokesman) can talk about the case. I'm sorry."
 
This was a far cry from Mr Marco's astonishing claims just a few days before that he knew who had kidnapped the little girl.
 
His comments sparked reports of a stand-up row with the McCanns, who accused him of harming the chances of finding their daughter alive.
 
On calling the spokesman the day after Mr Marco made his claims, Mr Mitchell said he knew nothing about them.
 
He questioned why, if Metodo 3 knew where the vanished girl was, they did not go and get her.
 
It also seemed strange that if Mr Marco had a major breakthrough to report, then he should tell a newspaper before his clients.
 
Although Mr Mitchell says he is pleased with Metodo 3's "operational work", sources close to the family have reportedly warned that the chances of its contract being renewed when it runs out in March are "virtually nil".

 
Sunday Mirror report, 23 December 2007 (original link)
 
Maddy detective takes on new case
 
By Lori Campbell And Tom Worden
23/12/2007
 
The private detective who vowed to bring Madeleine McCann home by Christmas has been working on a different case.

Francisco Marco, head of Spanish agency Metodo 3, told earlier this month how he was sure the four-year-old was alive - and said he was close to returning her to distraught parents Kate and Gerry.

But the Sunday Mirror can reveal he took himself off the investigation last week and travelled abroad on a separate case. A source at his Barcelona HQ said: "He has been out of the country on business not to do with Madeleine, on another case altogether."

And despite his recent claims of being "very close" to rescuing Madeleine from her kidnappers, Marco was yesterday at home.

He said: "I am not going to discuss with you where I have been or what cases I have been working on this week. If my office said I was out of the country, it means I was out of the country."

Marco had previously told how he was working flat out on the hunt for Madeleine, but yesterday he said: "I'm not working today-it's Saturday."

Metodo 3 were hired by the McCanns in September on a £50,000-a-month contract - paid for by the Find Madeleine Fund.

Kate and Gerry have tried to maintain their faith in Metodo 3's ability to find their daughter. But they are now losing patience with the firm. A close friend said: "Relations with Metodo 3 were already strained after Marco made the incredible claim he knew who took Madeleine and hoped to get her home by Christmas.

"The McCanns' aides had a huge showdown with him, saying he risked Madeleine's chances of being found alive.

"Kate and Gerry have always said they believe in Metodo 3's ability to do the job.

"But it is infuriating to discover that the head of the agency has not been working on the case."

The McCanns' official spokesman Clarence Mitchell said yesterday: "Francisco Marco's movements are based on Metodo 3's professional activities.

"We are content with their operational work, just as long as they are fully staffing the search for Madeleine."

 
Daily Mail report, 10 January 2008 (original link)
 
McCanns 'to sack Spanish private detective firm' as Madeleine fund runs dry
 
By VANESSA ALLEN
Last updated at 18:00pm on 10th January 2008
 
The private detective agency hired by Kate and Gerry McCann is facing the sack after failing to come up with any real new evidence of what happened to missing Madeleine.

Spanish agency Metodo 3 has cost the dwindling Find Madeleine fund £50,000 a month since September, but has so far failed to find any concrete evidence about what happened to the girl.

Its director Francisco Marco also angered the McCanns with a series of public boasts that he knew where Madeleine was and would find her within five months.

The agency's six-month contract is up for renewal in March and a source said: "We will carry on the search for Madeleine, but not necessarily with Metodo 3.

"We are stuck with them to the end of the contracted period. The question of whether it is renewed or not has still to be decided.

"They have faced not having their contract renewed every since Francisco shot his mouth off... It was made clear what they were doing was foolish and unhelpful."

The fund's directors discussed the contract on Wednesday and agreed to review it. They have not ruled out sacking the firm, which is the not-for-profit company's biggest single expense.

The detective agency, based in Barcelona, operates a hotline for information and has followed up a number of new leads and sightings of Madeleine with investigators on the ground in Portugal, Spain and Morocco. McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "We were unhappy with some of the public comments made and that was made very clear to Metodo 3 and since then Francisco has made no further comments."

He said the Find Madeleine board members and the McCanns' multi-millionaire backer, double glazing tycoon Brian Kennedy, would meet to discuss the contract in February.

"It is a matter for the bankers and the fund to make the final decision," he said.

"We are paying Metodo 3 £50,000 a month so of course it is a subject of debate. The decision is as much with Brian as it is with the fund, which pays for Metodo 3's involvement."

The Find Madeleine fund has raised £1.2million in total but is now down to £570,000 and, on projected spending, will fall to £346,000 by March and run out by June.

 
Daily Mail report, 25 January 2008 (original link)
 
McCanns are 'wasting fund cash on Madeleine hunt in Morocco'
 
Last updated at 13:15pm on 25th January 2008
 
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.

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.”

Clarence Mitchell talks about the hiring of Metodo 3:
 
''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.''
 
Full Sunday Times report below.

 
Timesonline report, 09 February 2008 (original link)
 
Madeleine McCann and Metodo 3: Private eyes, public lies
 
From The Sunday Times
February 10 2008 (released online February 09 2008)
 
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. 

 
Daily Mail report, 10 February 2008 (link updated - see next section)
 
McCanns' private detectives charging Find Madeleine fund £50,000 per month in EXPENSES
 
Last Updated at 22:00pm on 10th February 2008
 
EDIT
 
Kate and Gerry McCann's private detectives are charging the Find Madeleine fund £50,000 a month in expenses, it was revealed yesterday.
 
The costs charged by Spanish agency Metodo 3, appointed in September to find the missing girl, are on top of its £8,000 monthly fee - which is paid by one of the couple's wealthy supporters.
 
Metodo 3's expenses are the biggest single cost to the fund, which collected £1.2million in donations, but is expected to run dry within months.

It was previously thought that the agency was hired for a flat monthly fee of £50,000. But it agreed £8,000 a month, plus unlimited expenses to take on the case, which has boosted its profile.

If its "operational costs" top £50,000 the excess is met by the McCanns' wealthy backers, such as double glazing tycoon Brian Kennedy. He is to review Metodo 3's six-month contract before it expires next month.

The couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the agency was "doing valuable work on the ground.'' He added: '"The £50,000 is for legitimate operational costs, having people scattered around different countries.

''The fund contributes £50,000 a month of publicly donated money because it's money to help find her. We feel that's proper use of that money."

 
Daily Mail report, 11 February 2008 (original link)
 
McCanns' private detectives charging Find Madeleine fund £50,000 per month in EXPENSES (update on report released online yesterday)
 
Last updated at 09:07am on 11th February 2008
 
Kate and Gerry McCann's private detectives are charging the Find Madeleine fund £50,000 a month in expenses alone, it has been revealed.

The Spanish agency Metodo 3 has racked up huge bills since it was appointed to the case in September and is charging them to the publicly funded appeal. The costs are in addition to their £8,000 monthly fee, which is paid by one of the couple's millionaire supporters.

Metodo 3's expenses are the biggest single cost to the rapidly dwindling fund, which raised £1.2million in public donations but is expected to run dry within months. It was previously thought that the detective agency was hired for a flat, monthly fee of £50,000 for their services.

But the Mail can reveal today that it accepted a deal of £8,000-a-month, plus unlimited expenses to take on the high profile case, which has boosted its international reputation. If its 'operational costs' top £50,000 then the excess is met by the McCanns' wealthy backers, who include double glazing tycoon Brian Kennedy and Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson.

Mr Kennedy is due to review Metodo 3's six-month contract before it expires next month, amid criticism that the agency has failed to find any solid evidence about what happened to Madeleine.

Its director, Francisco Marco, has also angered Mr and Mrs McCann with his public boasts that he was 'very close' to finding their daughter, and even that he hoped to return her to her family by Christmas.

The couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell insisted the agency were 'doing valuable work on the ground'. He confirmed the financial arrangements behind the six-month contract but insisted the £50,000-a-month from the fund was only used to cover 'legitimate operational costs'.

Mr Mitchell said: "The monthly fee for their services is about £8,000. The £50,000 is for legitimate operational costs - having people scattered around different countries, hiring vehicles, hiring property to stay in and hotel bills. A private operation like this does cost money in terms of seeking information.

''It is something that needs that sustained level of funding to work. Private investigations are not cheap. The fund contributes £50,000 a month of publicly donated money because it's money to help find her. We feel that's proper use of that money."

Metodo 3 has claimed to have up to 40 agents working on the case in up to six different countries, including Morocco, Portugal and Britain. It has been criticised for lavish spending, including moving its offices into one of the most prestigious streets in Barcelona in December.

But Mr Mitchell said the majority of the spending allowance went on travel, transport and accommodation for the teams of detectives. He said: "People think it's £50,000 going straight into Francisco Marco's pocket, and that it's paying for them to move into plush new offices. Nothing could be further from the truth.

''They have taken this case on because it gives them a certain profile and prestige, not because it's going to make them rich. That money is used purely for legitimate operational costs and the fund is invoiced in full, as they would be for any expenses claim, which is effectively what it is. Their expenses are paid by the fund."

Metodo 3's involvement in the Madeleine case has proved controversial. Five senior members of the firm, including Mr Marco, were arrested over a phone-tapping scandal in 1995 and accused of spying. The case was later dropped over claims of police entrapment, but they were also threatened with arrest in Portugal.

Under Portuguese law it is illegal for a private investigation to be carried out on a case that is being pursued by the police, and the agency was warned not to speak to police witnesses.

But Jennifer Murat, the mother of the first named suspect Robert Murat, has accused its detectives of bribing witnesses to change their accounts and has said she fears they are working to frame her expat son.

Mr Mitchell's comments that Metodo 3 has spent money 'seeking information' will fuel speculation that the agency has paid individuals for evidence.

Meanwhile, the McCanns, both 39, were said to be 'encouraged' by reports that their status as official suspects in the case will be reviewed after their friends have been re-interviewed.

Portugal's Attorney General Fernando Pinto Monteiro told the newspaper Expresso: "The couple's legal status will be considered at the appropriate moment, depending on various elements still to be obtained."

The newspaper reported that the McCanns would only remain as suspects if the new interrogations of their friends, the so-called Tapas Seven, revealed 'screaming contradictions'.

 
McCanns' detectives investigated, 25 July 2008
 
McCanns' detectives investigated Correio da Manhã (no online link, appears in paper edition only)
 
25 July 2008
Thanks to 'astro' for translation
 
Private investigators that were hired by the McCann couple are the target of a criminal process at the PJ's Directory in Faro, for suspected extortion and attempted murder. The case took place a few months ago and involved a former inmate who was paid by detective agency Método 3 to supply information that he allegedly had obtained in prison, from João Cipriano, the uncle of Joana, who was killed 4 years ago, also in the Algarve. João Cipriano allegedly told the former inmate that he owned recent photographs of Joana and that he also had information that is related to Madeleine McCann. After the money was received, the information was not given and the individual was allegedly molested by the detectives, filing a complaint with the PJ in Faro for attempted murder (being run over by a car in a rural area with an uneven terrain). The investigators from Método 3 were also suspected of persecuting Robert Murat for several months, trying to find elements to incriminate him. Tracking devices were detected on the Anglo-British citizen's vehicle.

 
McCanns' Spanish detectives consider sueing the British press, 08 August 2008
 
McCanns' Spanish detectives consider sueing the British press ABC.es
 
Published Friday, 08-08-08 a las 20:49
Thanks to 'helena' for translation
 
The Spanish detective agency of the McCanns, Método 3, is considering sueing several of the media in the United Kingdom to defend its "reputation and good name" after the publication of information it believes defamatory, according to an official announcement.
 
In the notice, sent to Efe Agency, the company with headquarters in Barcelona advances that, by proceeding by the legal route, it will arrive at (get) "all the compensation that can be claimed judicially or extra judicially from the British media in the near future" for a foundation for the protection of children.
 
Método 3 indicates that it has kept silent about "the attacks" from the press until the Portuguese Police closed the case - July 22 - and lifted the suspect status from Kate and Gerry McCann.
 
The McCanns hired Método 3, directed by Francisco Frame, after their three-year-old daughter, Madeleine, disappeared in May 2007 from the apartment where she slept with her siblings in the Portuguese locality of Praia da Luz.
 
The summary of the case confirmed that there is no conclusive evidence on the disappearance of Madeleine.
 
The family spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, has confirmed to Efe that the Spanish agency continues working for the couple, but its activity has been "very much reduced" due to "internationalising the search and contracting experts in other countries".
 
Método 3 clarifies in its notice that it never received from the McCanns "the crazy figures" in fees that the press in this country published, and assures that the fees were 60,000 Euros for six months worldwide search for Madeleine, plus expenses, giving a total of 108,306 Euros.
 
The Spanish agency also criticises the British press for stating that one of its founders "looked like a gangster", and indicates that this person suffers "a degenerative cerebral disease that, obviously, gives the appearance of absent-mindedness".
 
Método 3 assures that, contrary to what was published in the British press, nobody ever said that Maddie would be home by Christmas, but only expressed "the mere Christian desire" that "Hopefully she will be home by Christmas".
 
Since the beginning of this year, Método 3, that led the search for Madeleine from August of 2007 until last January, has a more reduced role in the investigation of the disappearance of the little girl.
 
The disclosure, last Tuesday, of the summary of the case in Portugal confirmed that there is no conclusive evidence about the circumstances of the disappearance of the girl, who is considered "probably" dead.
 
*
 
Currency note:
 
108,306 euros = £84,627 or $162,518.
 
Clarence Mitchell has publicly stated that Madeleine's Fund were paying £50,000 per month to Método 3 - initially contracted on a 6-month contract, subsequently extended at a reduced rate.
 
By Mr Mitchell's figures, at least £300,000 has been spent on Método 3's services - yet Método 3 claim they have only received £84,627. And that figure includes expenses, which we have been led to believe were being covered by Brian Kennedy. 
 
The substantial difference between the two sums requires a full explanation from Mr Mitchell.

 
Madeleine McCann detectives uncover Spanish child porn network, 19 January 2009
 
Madeleine McCann detectives uncover Spanish child porn network Daily Mail
 
By TOM WORDEN
Last updated at 9:47 AM on 19th January 2009
 
Detectives hunting for Madeleine McCann have exposed a child pornography network operating in Spain, it was revealed today.
 
Thirteen people have been arrested in a police operation sparked by the search for the missing youngster.
 
Barcelona-based private detectives Metodo 3 were hired by Gerry and Kate McCann to help find Madeleine six months after she vanished.
 
Three months into their investigation they received an anonymous email saying the toddler appeared in a child porn video being distributed on the Internet.
 
The team, lead by agency director Francisco Marco, tracked down the images but discovered Madeleine did not appear among them.
 
They reported their finding's to Spain's National Police who launched an operation to hunt down the paedophiles distributing the videos.
 
Armed police launched a series of raids across Spain last month and arrested 13 people. Ten more are being formally investigated by a judge at a Barcelona court, who is overseeing the police operation.
 
Father-of-two Marco, 36, said videos were 'the worst images I have seen in my life.'
 
He added: 'In the video all the victims are under ten years old. I am satisfied to have taken out of circulation more than 20 paedophiles, and those who will be arrested in the future.'
 
The detective said his team has found similar images in the hunt for Madeleine which will lead to further arrests.
 
El Mundo newspaper said the videos were being distributed by the network p2p and the file sharing programmes Gnuteklla and eDonkey2000.
 
Police sources said the video showed dozens of young children, mostly girls, being sexually abused. The Spanish paedophiles were allowing other Internet users around the globe access to the videos.
 
Police seized five home computers, three laptops, 47 hard drives, 133 DVDs and CDs, a digital camera, two video cameras and a photo album showing hundreds of child porn pictures.
 
Madeleine was days short of her fourth birthday when she went missing on a family holiday in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May 2007.
 
Parents Gerry and Kate McCann, both doctors from Rothley, Leics, hired Metodo 3 in August at a reported cost of £50,000 a month financed by their multi-millionaire backer Brian Kennedy.
 
Mr Marco was criticised after making a string of boasts about his team's ability to find Madeleine.
 
In November 2007 he promised he would locate the missing youngster before the firm's six month contract expired.
 
And the following month he sensationally claimed he knew who kidnapped Madeleine - and hoped to reunite her with her parents for Christmas.
 
Metodo 3's six month contract ran out in January 2008 but they have continued to work on the Madeleine investigation along with fresh teams hired by the McCanns.
 
They have investigated possible sightings of Madeleine as far afield as Chile, Morocco and Bosnia.

 
Madeleine McCann private detectives expose child pornography network in Spain, 19 January 2009
 
Madeleine McCann private detectives expose child pornography network in Spain Telegraph
 
Detectives hunting for Madeleine McCann have exposed a child pornography ring in Spain, leading to 13 arrests.
 
By Richard Edwards, Crime Correspondent
Last Updated: 1:59PM GMT 19 Jan 2009
 
The network was discovered by Metedo 3, a private detective agency based in Barcelona hired by Gerry and Kate McCann to help find Madeleine after she disappeared.
 
However it has not provided any fresh leads on the fate of the missing girl.
 
Nine months after Madeleine was snatched from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, the agency received an anonymous email saying the toddler appeared in a pornographic video being distributed on the Internet. The team, lead by agency director Francisco Marco, traced the images and discovered Madeleine did not appear in them.
 
They reported their findings to Spain's National Police, who launched an operation to hunt down the paedophiles distributing the videos.
 
Armed police launched a series of raids across Spain last month and arrested 13 people. Ten more are being formally investigated by a judge at a Barcelona court, which is overseeing the police operation.
 
Sources said the video showed dozens of young children, mostly girls, being sexually abused. The paedophiles were allowing other Internet users around the globe access to the videos.
 
Mr Marco said: "In the video all the victims are under ten years old. I am satisfied to have taken out of circulation more than 20 paedophiles, and those who will be arrested in the future."
 
The agency chief was criticised after boasting in November 2007 that he would find the missing youngster before the firm's six month contract expired.
 
And the following month he claimed he knew who kidnapped Madeleine - and hoped to reunite her with her parents for Christmas.
 
Mr and Mrs McCann have hired a new team of 12 retired British detectives, MI5 and MI6 officers. They will use information contained in Portuguese police files, which were released last summer after the couple were cleared of being suspects.

 
Madeleine McCann detectives claim role in paedophile arrests, 19 January 2009
 
Madeleine McCann detectives claim role in paedophile arrests Telegraph
 
The Spanish detective agency that was contracted to find Madeleine McCann has claimed that it was responsible for the arrest of ten paedophiles running an internet site.
 
By Edward Owen in Madrid 
Last Updated: 2:16PM GMT 19 Jan 2009
 
The agency, Método 3 in Barcelona, said it received a tip that there were photographs of Madeleine on the site but this turned out to be false.
 
But after collaborating with the Spanish national police, thirteen arrests were made and now ten face charges for running "the worst" paedophile site ever seen by the Spanish police.
 
"In the videos the victims are all children under ten years old," said Francisco Marco, head of Método 3.
 
"I'm glad to have taken more than 20 paedophiles out of circulation, more than the number the police detained."
 
Police sources in Barcelona say they launched Operation Lolita P-mix after getting the tip off from Método 3.
 
They confirmed that 21 Spanish users of the child pornography site had been identified in Spain.
 
Computers, cameras, DVDs, CDs and photo albums were seized in raids across Spain.
 
But no links with the Madeleine case were ever found.
 
Método 3 has been anxious to improve its reputation after its controversial, 75,000 euros a month, contract with the McCann Fund was terminated amid a flurry of accusations.
 
The agency had made various claims concerning the whereabouts and imminent finding of Madeleine.
 
At the same time it was moving into luxurious new offices and the Spanish media raised more questions than answers when checking its credentials and track record.

 
Metodo 3 seeks to restore its image after Madeleine McCann, 19 January 2009
 
Metodo 3 seeks to restore its image after Madeleine McCann SOSMaddie
 
Duarte Levy (Huelva)
19/01/2009
Thanks to AnnaEsse for translation
 
Detectives are seeking to claim credit for dismantling an image-exchange paedophile network
 
Metodo 3, the Catalan agency which worked for the McCanns during the months following Madeleine's disappearance, is now seeking to restore its image, tarnished by the lack of results in that case, but also by the recent allusions made by the couple's spokesperson.
 
Francisco Marco, director of Metodo 3 has convinced the Spanish daily, El Mundo, that its detectives helped the Spanish police to arrest members of an image-exchange paedophile network on the internet, information denied by a source from the National Police.
 
"The operation did not originate with that agency. The network in question was already under surveillance by our services for some time, but we were waiting for the right time to catch the most individuals and thus to bring an end to their activities," states a spokesperson for the National Spanish Police, contacted by SMM, stressing that "the intervention of that agency only precipitated matters. It was a risk to wait knowing that private detectives and particularly those ones, had information and were risking putting our investigators work in jeopardy."
 
According to the daily newspaper, known for its relations with the Barcelona agency, information gathered by the Metodo 3 detectives in the course of their investigation into Maddie's disappearance, allegedly helped the Barcelona Computer Crimes Squad to catch up to 23 internet users, 13 of whom were arrested in the course of the operation "Lolita P-mix" launched by the Spanish authorities.
 
Francisco Marco explained to the daily that the agency had created a call centre for world-wide exposure of Madeleine McCann's disappearance and that it was following an email received, saying that the little British girl figured in a paedophile video, that they happened to locate a series of images exchanged on the networks "Peer 2 Peer", "Gnuteklla" and "Donkey 2000". Maddie did not figure on any photo or video but Metodo 3 was obliged to pass on the information to the Computer Crimes Squad in Barcelona, a legal obligation that not even the detectives can escape.
 
Since the creation of the Computer Crimes Squad in 1995, many thousands of people have been arrested in Spain, or abroad, for crimes linked to paedophilia, in particular the exchange of photos or videos on the internet. The Squad now maintain excellent collaboration with other foreign police forces, which has allowed them to contribute directly to the dismantling of many large networks.

 
Metodo 3 'unable to confirm the report' in El Mundo, 19 January 2009
 
Spanish investigators in 'Maddie' case uncover paedophile ring Expatica.com
 
19/01/2009
 
Spanish private detectives investigating the 2007 disappearance of a British girl from a resort in Portugal uncovered an Internet paedophile ring, El Mundo reported in its online edition Monday.
 
MADRID—Police arrested 13 suspects as a result of an investigation done by Barcelona-based Metodo-3, an investigation agency hired by Gerry and Kate McCann to trace their daughter Madeleine, the report said.
 
Madeleine McCann disappeared on May 3, 2007 from her families' holiday apartment at the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz while her parents dined with friends at a nearby restaurant. She was three-years-old at the time.
 
The agency's investigators were hired six months after her disappearance.
 
Two months into the investigation, an email came in reporting that Madeleine was featured in a paedophile video posted on the Internet, El Mundo reported.
 
Although it turned out that Madeleine was not in the video, the agency tipped off Spanish police who subsequently arrested the suspects in a series of raids in December 2008.
 
Additionally, police questioned another 10 people and seized a large quantity of computer equipment.
 
When questioned by AFP, Metodo-3 said it could not confirm the report.
 
Spain has staged a series of operations against Internet child pornography in recent years, arresting more than 1,200 people over the last five years—of whom 408 were arrested in 2008 alone.
 
Madeleine McCann's parents have been funding a private investigation to try to find out what happened to their daughter.
 
The Portuguese authorities closed their probe into her disappearance in July 2008.
 
AFP/Expatica

 
Spanish Police Arrest 34 in Child Porn Probe, 15 December 2008
 
Spanish Police Arrest 34 in Child Porn Probe VOA News
 
By VOA News/AFP
15 December 2008
 
Spanish police say they have arrested 34 people in their latest operation against Internet child pornography.

Authorities say police raided more than 40 locations across the country and seized more than four million computer files in the crackdown.

Earlier this month, police arrested 40 people in a similar sweep. Separately, authorities arrested more than 100 suspects in October, along with equipment containing millions of illicit images.

Authorities say the ongoing crackdown began in February, when a computer user reported accidentally accessing a network for distributing pornographic photographs.

 
Spain breaks up child pornography ring, 01 December 2008
 
Spain breaks up child pornography ring Reuters
 
(Reporting by Elena Massa; Writing by Martin Roberts; Editing by Charles Dick)
Mon Dec 1, 2008 12:19pm EST
 
MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish police said on Monday they had arrested 40 people in raids across the country to break up a file-sharing child pornography network.
 
The Civil Guard said in a statement that officers had conducted searches in 51 towns, confiscating computers containing 1,350 gigabytes of child pornography, as well as 25,000 photographs and 9,000 videos.
 
One of those arrested is suspected of distributing and posting pedophile images on the Internet. Another 35 people have been charged with forming part of the network.
 
The investigation began in February, after a computer user reported that he had accidentally accessed a network sharing pornographic photographs.
 
This was the biggest operation of its type in Spain since police swooped on 121 suspects in a child pornography raid on October 1.

 
A spokesman at National Police headquarters in Madrid confirms Metodo 3's involvement in discovery of paedophile porn ring, 20 January 2009
 
Madeleine McCann police smash porn ring Liverpool Daily Post
 
Jan 20 2009
 
THE hunt for missing Madeleine McCann has led to the smashing of a paedophile porn ring in Spain, it was reported yesterday.
 
A tip-off to the Barcelona based private detective agency hired by Liverpool-born Kate McCann and her husband Gerry six months after Madeleine disappeared from their holiday apartment on Portugal’s Algarve coast in May, 2007, led to the arrest of 13 people and an investigation into 10 others, according to a Madrid newspaper. El Mundo reported.
 
The tip claimed Madeleine, who was just a few days short of her fourth birthday when she vanished from a holiday apartment on the Algarve, Portugal, in May 2007, was among children shown in pornographic videos being distributed on the internet.
 
The Metodos detective agency traced the video material. Madeleine was not one of the children shown, but all the information was passed to Spain’s National Police which opened an investigation.
 
Last month a series of raids was carried-out across Spain and 13 people were arrested. A group of 10 others are being investigated. by a judge in Barcelona in over-all charge of the inquiry.
 
Francisco Marco, the head of the detective agency, said the videos were "the worst I have ever seen in my life". He said all the children shown were under 10.
 
A spokesman at National Police headquarters in Madrid confirmed yesterday (MON) that information supplied by the Metodos agency had led to 13 arrests and the seizure of "abundant material", including 28 hard discs containing pornographic film using various children, all of them younger than 10.

 
Metodo 3 under investigation in a case of embezzlement and money laundering, 02 February 2009
 

Francisco Marco
Francisco Marco

Metodo 3 under investigation in a case of embezzlement and money laundering SOSMaddie
 
Duarte Levy & A. Finkelstein 
02 February 2009
Thanks to AnnaEsse for translation
 
Metodo 3, the Catalan detective agency hired by Kate and Gerry McCann to look for their daughter Madeleine, is today cited in a large scale investigation launched by the Spanish authorities involving six ministers of the Generalitat of Catalonia.(*)
 
According to a memo from the prosecutor's office, in recent years, the Catalan government, has allegedly commissioned and paid for a significant number of reports that seem to have no purpose or interest, quoting by way of an example, "the socio-economic enquiry on hazelnut farming," commissioned to the Metodo 3 detective agency for the modest sum of 30,000 Euros.
 
According to the prosecutor's office in charge of the investigation, we will be looking at a case of embezzlement and money laundering.
 
The Spanish authorities' investigation follows accusations by the "clean hands," collective and targets a case of embezzlement and money laundering, as confirmed by the prosecutor's office.
 
Metodo 3: after Maddie, the search for hazelnuts
 
It was the agriculture adviser, the socialist, Joaquim Llena, who commissioned from Francisco Marco - director of Metodo 3 - a "socio-economic enquiry into hazelnut farming," costing 30,000 Euros.
 
According to a spokesperson for the prosecutor's office, "only the name of the agency linked to such an investigation, drove the investigators to wonder about the real purpose envisioned by the adviser's commission."
 
According to a source close to the investigation, the report presented by Metodo 3 about the Tarragona region, the region in Spain that produces most hazelnuts, was allegedly copied word for word from the internet, information elsewhere confirmed by "El Confidencial," which states that Metodo 3 allegedly copied word for word a report previously published by the region's official newspaper on its internet site.
 
In Spain, Metodo 3 has already been linked to other scandals linked to the world of politics and finance and, recently, has been investigated for its work in the investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance where one of Francisco Marco's close associates, António Jimenez, has been accused of having taken several British journalists to meet witnesses, who were paid in advance to say that they had seen the little British girl in Morocco. Metodo 3's associate, head of the Maddie investigation was, thereafter, arrested in a case of trafficking and theft of cocaine.
 
According to sources linked to the legitimate Metodo 3, several detectives in its service have called into question Francisco Marco's competence in the Madeleine McCann investigation, accusing him of having destroyed the agency's credibility, notably after having set up a disastrous communication strategy.
 
According to the prosecutor's office, the embezzlement and money laundering could involve huge amounts of public money.
 
Note: (*) The Generalitat de Catalunya ("Government of Catalonia") is the institution under which the Spanish Autonomous Community of Catalonia is politically organised. It consists of the Parliament, the President of the Generalitat and the Executive Council or Government of Catalonia.
 
*
 
A detective on the trail of a hazelnut El Confidencial
 
02 February 2009
Thanks to 'Ines' for translation
 
The agricultural adviser, socialist Joaquim Llena, also granted the "socio-economic study on hazelnut farming" to Método 3 for 30.000 Euros. This agency which has been involved in scandals in the past, took hold of the reins of the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal in the spring of 2007. The way in which the searches were carried out caused some friction between the profesionals of the company, as the director Francisco Marcos designed a communication strategy that made them lose credibility, in professional terms.
 
Note: The article from El Confidencial is more focussed on the way the agricultural adviser granted contracts to various companies including Método 3 without going through the proper channels. It does not mention the rest of the allegations against Metodo 3 referred to in the article by Duarte Levy.

 
The agency that, according to El Mundo, spied on Jordi Pujol Jr's girlfriend is the same agency that searched for Maddie in Spain, 12 February 2013
 

The agency that, according to El Mundo, spied on Jordi Pujol Jr's girlfriend is the same agency that searched for Maddie in Spain El Mundo

12/02/2013 - T.I.
With thanks to Ines for translation
  • The private detective agency Método 3 was contracted for 6 months but its searches were not successful.
  • The agency has now become embroiled in the subject of spying on the president of the Catalán PP and on the girlfriend of Jordi Pujol's son.

The parents of Maddie, Kate and Gerry McCann, contracted Método3 to find their daughter
The parents of Maddie, Kate and Gerry McCann, contracted Método3 to find their daughter

The agency was contracted by the parents of Madeleine McCann for a monthly fee of 67,500 euros for six months (later the agency lowered its fees to a total of 108,000 euros), in order to find their daughter, but in spite of Método 3's director claiming that he was sure the girl was alive, the agency did not manage to find her.

In September 2007, shortly after being contracted, Método 3 sent a team to Morocco, one of the possible points where the supposed abductors could have taken Maddie. In October of the same year, Método 3 said that the girl could have been abducted by a paedophile network.

At the end of 2011, upon the request of Scotland Yard, Método delivered more than 30 boxes full of documents with information to this police force. This did not lead to the girl's whereabouts either, although Marco claimed that the boxes contained 8 important leads. Sources close to the British investigation revealed that these leads were not so conclusive.

However, Método 3 again appeared in the newspapers six years after its name became known world-wide following the Maddie case. Now, and as published today by El Mundo, it is the agency that supposedly contracted the former secretary of the PSC to record conversations between Alicia Sánchez Camacho, secretary of the PP in Catalonia, and Victória Alvarez, the girlfriend of Jordi Pujol Ferrusola.

The socialists have denied espionage, although El Mundo has published the agency's bill for the services contracted which apparently included some recordings made using a sophisticated system of hidden microphones in a Barcelona restaurant, where Camacho and Alvarez had gone to eat. The recordings apparently contain conversations about visits made by Jordi Pujol Jr to Andorra taking bags of money with him and about his business deals in Argentina.

What is certain according to El Mundo is that Método 3 is one of Spain's most prestigious detective agencies, although they were unlucky in the case of Madeleine. Neither is it the first time that the agency has been linked to high level espionage. In 2009, El Confidencial published information showing that Método 3 spied, for the fee of 56,000 euros, on the vice presidents of Barça - Jaume Ferrer, Joan Boix, Joan Franquesa and Rafael Yuste.

The information highlighted the controversy that has always surrounded the detective agency. Several years ago this agency was involved in an illegal phone tapping incident acting upon the request of a supposed businessman, which led to the arrest of the agency's directors.

In addition, Método 3 was the agency that found the "deceased" Francisco Paesa in Paris and was involved, according to El Confidencial, in the matter of espionage of the then vice president of the Madrid Community as well of the current president, Ignacio González.

 
Four arrested for spying network in Catalonia, 18 February 2013
 

Four arrested for spying network in Catalonia La Vanguardia

Those arrested are Francisco Horacio Marco, owner of Método 3, two of his employees, Alejandro Borreguero and Julián Peribáñez, and Elisenda Villena, chief operating officer and detective of Método 3, the sister of Ana Villena, legal adviser to the PSC | A detective stated in his defense that Sánchez-Camacho authorised the recordings. The leader of the Catalan PP recognized his voice on the tape that was played by the police | The investigation can be extended to other regions

18/02/2013 - 21:04h

Elisenda Villena, employee of Método 3, and Francisco Marco, head of the detective agency EFE
Elisenda Villena, employee of Método 3, and Francisco Marco, head of the detective agency EFE

The first arrests related to the network of spying on politicians, businessmen and judges have been made. Agents of the National Police yesterday afternoon arrested the head of the detective agency Método 3, Francisco Marco, two of his former employees, Julián Peribáñez and Alejandro Borreguero, and the former chief operating officer of the firm, Elisenda Villena, sister the legal adviser to the PSC, Ana Villena. The arrests, which were ordered by the judge who took over the criminal case yesterday, came hours after a meeting of top level police was held in Madrid.

The detainees are accused of the crime of discovery and disclosure of secrets, in relation to the alleged spying case that occurred in July 2010 at the La Camarga restaurant. The president of the Catalan PP, Alicia Sánchez-Camacho and the former girlfriend of Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, María Victoria Álvarez, met for dinner in this popular Barcelona location. The conversation was recorded by a hidden microphone without their consent. Sánchez-Camacho, who presented a complaint to the police on Friday, positively identified his voice on the recording.

The investigators are convinced that Francisco Marco ordered the recording and that it was the detectives Peribáñez and Borreguero who technically carried out the act. In the illegally captured conversation, María Victoria Álvarez Martín told the Catalan PP leader that Pujol Ferrusola allegedly periodically transferred bags full of 200 and 500 euro notes to Andorra.

Although police attribute the orders to Marco, the detective Borreguero presented a statement yesterday in which he declared that he and Peribáñez mounted the device under the instruction of Villena and with the consent of Sánchez-Camacho. The police believe that this statement seeks to build a line of defense, since if there is compliance of a party to record then there is no crime.

Francisco Marco chose to make a declaration on Friday night before the police. He did so on a voluntary basis in order to come forward and present his version of what was being publicly attributed him regarding the meal, as well as to the putting into circulation of Método 3 files which transcended other dossiers, such as those of Felip Puig, José Montilla, Joana Ortega or Joaquín Almunia. Marco said he had destroyed all the reports and if any appeared which were attributable to the agency they were false or had been manipulated. In the statement, the director of Método 3 pointed to two former employees as possible suspects in the uncontrolled distribution of information. One is Julian Peribáñez, arrested yesterday, who Marco noted in his statement as being one of those who could possess reports. He also pointed to the delegate of the agency in Madrid, Antonio Tamarit. Precisely, Tamarit went yesterday afternoon to testify voluntarily to the police. According to sources close to the case, Tamarit was very cooperative and provided more data that could clarify matters.

The illegal capture of the conversation of Sánchez-Camacho and Álvarez has been the starting point of an investigation that continues to mobilise a large number of personnel from the National Police. The judicial initiative of the arrests is to pursue, in the first instance, clarification of the circumstances in which this alleged case of spying was carried out. However, indications that the agency could have done more work of this illegal nature means that the investigation will not stop there.

Regarding the suspicions that the Government has been able to gather has resulted in the investigation being undertaken by the National Police and not by the Mossos d'Esquadra [Catalan police], who are responsible for public safety in Catalonia. Interior Ministry sources say that a legal analysis shows that they are exempt from any invasion of their powers. Judges can enable the judicial police to the body they want. Moreover, according to the reasoning of the ministry, before a possible double track criminal investigation it is best if those who initiate the procedure continue the matter or pick up the denunciations. To all this can be added, according to sources, that the relevance of the National Police is even more justified if one considers that the investigation affects more than one autonomous community.

This investigation could reach communities such as Madrid and Castilla-La Mancha. In the Spanish capital, it is said they did follow-up work on Ignacio González, when he was vice president of the community.

More recently, in 2012, according to data contained in documents which are circulating these days in Barcelona, and which relate to the past activities of Método 3, the Castilla-La Mancha, chaired by María Dolores of Cospedal, allegedly hired the services of the said agency.

 
Police guard the entrance to Método 3 after arrests, 19 February 2013
 
Police guard the entrance to Método 3 after arrests La Vanguardia

The four arrested for alleged disclosure of secrets spend the night in the police station of La Verneda

Politics | 02.19.2013 - 06:54 h

Barcelona. (Europa Press). - Plain clothed officers of the National Police (CNP) were last night guarding the entrance to the Método 3 detective agency, early on Tuesday morning, so that nobody could enter or take anything from the office following the arrest of four of its members.

Those arrested for the alleged disclosure of secrets - the owner, Francisco Marco, and former employees Elisenda Villena, Julián Peribáñez and Alex Borreguero - have spent the night in the police station of La Verneda, where they must testify before the CNP.

Also after midnight there was discreet police surveillance at the Barcelona restaurant La Camarga - where in 2010 a lunch meeting between Alícia Sánchez Camacho (PP) and Victoria Álvarez, former partner of Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, was recorded.

The former detectives Borreguero and Peribáñez have acknowledged to police to having made that recording but argue they did so following orders from their superiors, according to investigation sources.

The sources added that Camacho was able to listen to the recording and recognize one of the voices as his, but neither he nor Álvarez were aware of being recorded, which is a crime punishable by a possible jail term of several years, under the Criminal Code.

 
70,000 euros for Madeleine's search, 20 February 2013
 

70,000 euros for Madeleine's search ABC

C. MORCILLO/P. MUÑOZ / MADRID | 20/02/2013
With thanks to Joana Morais for translation


Método 3 grew with high-profiled media cases; their enemies label it a "scam agency" and now it's going to be a consultancy agency

The detainees leave in a van from a Catalonian police station EFE
The detainees leave in a van from a Catalonian police station EFE

Each time a new chief of police arrived in Catalonia, one of the first invitations he would receive was that of Francisco Marco: a letter to invite him to have dinner at the restaurant "La Camarga", which has been the hub of operations [spy activities] of the detective agency Método 3, near to its headquarters. The current police chief, Eugenio Castro, politely declined the invitation, however his predecessor and some of the previous ones shared table and cloth with the influential Marco, with a degree in Law and an expert in self-promotion. One of his motto's is "that they speak about us, whether good or bad", says one of his former colleagues.

Marco took to practice that popularity and in recent years his agency was a reference in the media, particularly after the parents of the British girl Madeleine McCann who disappeared in Portugal hired them to search her. Their hypothesis was that a paedophile ring had kidnapped her and in pursuit of that idea, according to the same sources, they charged about 70,000 euros [close to that amount per month], with continuous trips to Portugal, Morocco and Great Britain.

Ghost expenses

"It was a scam. They said they had fifteen people working on the case but no, there were just three. They made up invoices for hotel expenses and allowances for four people in the neighbouring country [Portugal] and only one person travelled there, who in addition didn't speak a word of Portuguese."

Along with Madeleine's case - of which nothing was ever found - the fame reached Método 3 with the advent of the former secret service spy Francisco Paesa, who was "found" in Paris, after being presumed dead [he had published his own obituary]. Monitoring the vice-presidents of FC Barcelona and the involvement, which has yet to be clarified, of espionage of the current president of the Community of Madrid, Ignacio Gonzalez, are also included in the curriculum of this agency in which "thousands and thousands of euros have come in and no one knows where they are", says a detective who knows Método 3's track record.

Severance pay

The agency was created by Marita Fernández, the mother of Francisco Marco, in 1985. She had worked has a saleswoman for an Argentinian detective when she married her husband, a criminal lawyer. Since then they have lived years of success and constant commissions - although nothing to do with the 20,000 reports that were said to be destroyed by the director of Método 3 - to the point of giving work to other agencies and individuals (they subcontracted) and then signed themselves those jobs. Their wide list of staff included an accountant, and in recent years, a former policeman heading the IT department.

Juan Carlos Ruiloba was the chief of the Technological Crime Prevention unit at the Judiciary Police of Barcelona. Shifting to a second activity, he began working for Marco where he claimed he was very well paid. A little over a year ago, when the agency started to be less the buoyant business that it had been, Ruiloba left Método 3. According to sources related to the investigation, part of the money that he was owed was recovered with electronic equipment. Last week this former police officer turned to his former colleagues at the Judiciary and handed over material, supposedly "sensitive". He had waited over a year to do so.

Out of hand investigations

He was not the only police officer connected to the Método 3 director. In fact, during many years it was a common practice to resort to certain professionals, such as the Forensic Science Police [Lab], in order to do specific tests, particularly when they did not have any other means at their disposal.

The agency no longer exists officially since last November, in fact its director has several pending labour disputes with former employees. However Marco, with a curriculum and voluminous list of customers, was already converting their business into a security consulting firm, outside the police control to which detective agencies are subject.

Método 3 has also been inspected - inspection in the offices of detectives are annual - however he has eluded comfortably both administrative and criminal penalties. In 1995 his father, his mother, him and a brother were arrested for illegally tapping businessmen. In that case it was revealed that they had investigated the governor of the Bank of Spain, Mariano Rubio, and his wife Carmen Posadas. The investigation was filed.

In 2011, during a routine inspection, the Police detected serious irregularities, despite the proposed sanction, which arrived at Rubalcaba's Home Office (his brother has an excellent relationship with Marita Fernández) it was also unsuccessful. In May last year the agency number two, Elisenda Villena, was arrested during the "Pitiusa Operation"* - in which hundreds of detectives and intermediaries were charged. The agency log book - mandatory where clients and those who are investigated are recorded, as well as the dates of the jobs carried out - disappeared, because it was lost in a "flood", Método 3, again, was not penalized.



* "Pitiusa Operation" - A Barcelona court found complaints of professional intrusion crimes, bribery, disclosure of secrets and money laundering, with the majority of those arrested being detectives and private investigators, who bribed officials to obtain and sell confidential data to third parties.

 
Método 3 agency charged Maddie's parents 70,000 euros, 20 February 2013
 

Método 3 agency charged Maddie's parents 70,000 euros Diário de Notícias

Gerry and Kate McCann, Photo: João Girão

By Paula Mourato
20 February 2013

The Spanish detective agency Método 3, which is being investigated by police for espionage links to political parties in Catalonia, was also involved in the case of Madeleine McCann according to the Spanish newspaper ABC. The agency charged Maddie's parents 70 thousand euros to search for the small child missing in Portugal.

The Spanish private detective agency Método 3, based in Madrid, which is now involved in an espionage scandal in Catalonia, was also involved in the search for Maddie McCann, the British girl who disappeared in the Algarve in May 2007.

The agency of Francisco Marco, Método 3, gained fame especially after the parents of Madeleine McCann hired the agency to search for their missing daughter. In 2007, the parents of the small child contacted the agency to try to locate her. Marco said in an interview that the child was alive and that he would find her in less than six months. He followed a lead which indicated Madeleine was in Morocco. But never found her.

Detectives said they had clues that led to a paedophile ring that had kidnapped the girl and they would have to travel to Portugal, Morocco and the United States [sic - 'Great Britain'] for which the agency charged 70,000 euros without, however, presenting any results, because in reality there never was any investigation.

According to a source from ABC, the agency guaranteed - and charged - that they had five [sic - 'fifteen'] people investigating, when in reality there were no more than three. In travelling to Portugal the agency charged as if four people had travelled "when only one had travelled and they could not even speak Portuguese."

Another case that catapulted the agency into the media was that of Francisco Paesa, who was presumed dead, and who Marco's team located in Luxembourg.

Now the Spanish National Police are investigating the illegal wiretapping of political parties and other irregularities.

Método 3 was launched in 1985 as a family business. Founded by Marita Fernandez, mother of Marco. Since then the private detective has directed the agency to "take advantage of its great talent for public relations."