The disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine McCann from a holiday resort in the Algarve in May 2007 is the most heavily reported missing-person case in modern history.
Her parents Kate and Gerry McCann have refused to give up hope of finding their daughter, who would now be 14 years old.
Along with the extensive media coverage, millions of pounds have been spent on the investigation into her disappearance, which sadly remains unsolved.
Back in September, Scotland Yard received £154,00 from the Home Office, allowing the enquiry, known as Operation Grange, to continue until at least March. The funding took the total amount spent on the investigation to over £11 million. This all comes despite the fact that Operation Grange was scaled down from 29 working officers to just four in October 2015.
It is believed that £300,000 of that eyewatering eight figure sum went to private detective Kevin Halligen, who worked on the case for around six months before his contract was terminated in 2009.
The McCanns employed Halligen, of Oakley International, believing that he would be able to get some strong leads after he claimed to have employed former CIA and FBI detectives in the past.
However, it soon became clear that he could not deliver on his promise and he failed to find any substantial evidence, instead spending the money he received on a lavish lifestyle – staying at top hotels and eating well at expensive restaurants. In an interview for a Channel 5 documentary four years ago, he denied these claims, stating “It is gross distortion of what was actually happening.”
Meanwhile, a family friend of Kate and Gerry revealed how:
“He had this sense of cloak-and-dagger, acting as if he were a James Bond-style spy. The McCanns found him hard to deal with, because he was forever in another country and using different phones. He promised the earth but it came to nothing.”
It has now been announced that Halligen has died aged 56 after his body was found at his girlfriend’s Surrey home last Monday.
Surrey Police said: “We were called to an address in Cobbett Hill Road, Normandy, Guildford, on Monday following a report of a man in his 50s having been taken unwell, who subsequently died.
“The death is being treated as unexplained and a file will be passed to the coroner’s office in due course.”
Speaking to the MailOnline, a former colleague described the scene in which they found Halligen’s body in, saying:
“The house was covered in blood but apparently that was from Kevin falling down so much. His body is now in the morgue. The police are looking into it.”
Another source claimed: “I believe the police are looking into the possibility he fell over and cut his head badly. He was known to be a heavy drinker.”
Furthermore, a former colleague, defence consultant Tim Craig-Harvey, wrote online: ‘‘The lies and alcohol finally caught up with him.”
The McCann’s themselves have not commented on the death, but their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said today: “They [the McCanns] had no further association with Kevin Halligen after the termination of his Oakley International contract nine years ago and under these circumstances they will not be commenting now.
“Clearly this is a matter for the police and coroner’s office.”
Halligen’s Oakley International were one of four private investigation firms that the McCanns employed before Operation Grange was launched in May 2011 to the cost of the British taxpayer.
Firstly, they appointed British security company Control Risks in May 2007 shortly after Madeleine vanished. They went on to hire Spanish organisation Metodo 3 in October 2007 but sacked them when M3 boss Francisco boasted: “Madeleine will be home by Christmas.”
The final private team involved in the case were Alpha Investigations, run by retired Royal Ulster Constabulary officer David Edgar and former Merseyside detective Arthur Cowley.
In her 2011 bestselling book titled ‘Madeleine’, Kate McCann, 49, described the family’s communication with Halligen.
She recalled: “Oakley’s proposal and overall strategy were streets ahead of all the others we’d considered and the company came highly recommended.”
“There is little doubt that progress [initially] was being made.”
However, she then wrote of the termination of his contract: “It was quite acrimonious and unfortunately that was not the end of it.
“We were upset that, although a lot of hard work had been done on Madeleine’s behalf, it seemed money provided by her fund might not ever have reached the people who had earned it.”
More information about Dublin-born Halligen can be gained from a close friend of the McCanns, who told The Sun Online: “The man was a fantasist. He promised lots of things that never happened.
“He even claimed McCann spokesman Clarence Mitchell was working for MI5!
“Kate and Gerry and Madeleine’s great uncle Brian Kennedy, who had brought him on board, were bitterly disappointed with him towards the end of his contract.
“They didn’t need the extra grief, they already had enough.
“In the end they took issue and had to withhold his final payment.
“He just ran away from his debts around the world.”
After being sacked by the McCanns, the detective was arrested in the UK and extradited to America for fraud on an unrelated case. He pleaded guilty to defrauding multinational commodity trading company Trafigura, based in the Netherlands, who had hired him to help free two company executives arrested in Ivory Coast in 2006.
He received about $12million to provide “security, intelligence and public relations”. The Washington Post reported: “Owners of Washington restaurants remember him spending thousands on long, boozy days and evenings. He travelled everywhere in a chauffeured Lincoln.”
One restaurant owner said he and his staff called Halligen James Bond because of his stories of spy derring-do and his habit of flashing large sums of cash.
After 42 months behind bars in the United States, he was deported to Dublin.