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Madeleine fraudster is nicked

Original Source: SUN: WEDNESDAY 25 NOVEMBER 2009
By TOM WELLS  Published: Today

A DODGY "detective" on the run accused of swindling the Madeleine McCann fund out of 300,000 was nicked last night - thanks to The Sun.

Kevin Halligen, 50, was led from his bolthole in handcuffs after our investigators staked out a luxury Oxford hotel then tipped off cops.

The fugitive whined to police: "How did you find me?"

Alleged serial fraudster Halligen was just about to fly the coop when police swooped.

Detectives had been hunting him for months.

But it was Britain's No1 paper that finally found him.

Our team tipped off police that he and his lover were about to flee after we staked out their bolthole.

Halligen, who touts himself as a private investigator, is accused of cruelly targeting the fund launched to find missing Maddie so he could swindle it out of more than 300,000.

Last night cops who found him and his girlfriend with their bags packed were holding him over his unpaid bill at the plush Old Bank hotel in Oxford. It was said to run into tens of thousands. But that, and the cash he is accused of taking from the Maddie fund

are the least of his worries. He faces extradition to the US over an even BIGGER alleged con.

The Dubliner is wanted by the FBI for a 1.2MILLION fraud.

Halligen got involved with anguished Kate and Gerry McCann a year after the 2007 disappearance of their daughter - then aged three - on a family holiday in Portugal.

He had set up his own investigation firm Oakley International in Washington and claimed to have worked for MI5 and the CIA.

Crucially he boasted his "contacts" in the US capital could provide hi-tech satellite imagery to help the search.

He won a 500,000 contract as the McCanns, both 41-year-old doctors from Rothley, Leics, prayed for clues.

Much of the cash is said to have gone on luxury hotels, chauffeured limos and first-class flights as he lived the high life.

Last night his bill at the Oxford hotel he checked into three months ago - under the alias Richard Stratton - was said to top 14,000 in drinks ALONE.

A source there said: "Halligen had actually packed his bags and was making arrangements to leave in a cab when the cops finally turned up.

"His face turned ghostly white - he got the shock of his life."

The Sun had watched just minutes earlier as he and his lover casually smoked a cigarette on the hotel terrace before their planned exit.

We previously spotted him in the bar, where he ordered a glass of wine for an elderly guest, barking: "Stick that on my room - it's on me."

Minutes later he whispered to another guest: "Of course, I have to keep a low profile.

"I'm a former member of the secret services so I can't attract attention."

Creditors are chasing him over 3million he is said to owe.

Halligen is said to have even conned an ex-director of the SAS. Major-General John Holmes, a former SAS commander, introduced him to business contacts - now said to be counting the cost. He claimed: "We were all taken in."

Another alleged victim is Henri Exton - former national head of police undercover operations. He is said to be owed 100,000.

Washington lobbyist Andre Hollis claims to have lost 50,000 and top London lawyer Mark Aspinall is said - along with his company - to be owed 450,000.

Staff at the Oxford hotel told how Halligen loved to regale them with "hush-hush" talk about MI5, MI6 and the CIA.

The source said: "We just thought he was a bit of an eccentric


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