Madeleine McCann - Operation Grange - Information

Home Office did not have the information requested.

Anthony Bennett

Dear Home Office,

Reference was made in 2014 to Operation Grange/the Home Office/the government paying for Portuguese assistance with searches in Praia da Luz, Portugal, including the hire of a top-of-the-range Mark III Alouette military helicopter. Please give the dates and amounts of all or any payments made to the Portuguese government or any Portuguese agencies in respect of these expenses or any other expenses for which the Portuguese Police or other agencies have requested payment.
(This same question has also been sent to the Metropolitan Police Service)

Yours faithfully,

Anthony Bennett

FOI Requests, Home Office

Mr. Bennett,

Thank you for contacting the Home Office with your request.

This has been assigned to a caseworker (case ref 47589). We will aim to send you a full response by 05/04/2018 which is twenty working days from the date we received your request.

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you,

P.Zebedee
FOI Requests
Home Office

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FOI Responses, Home Office

1 Attachment

Please find attached our response to your Freedom of Information request.

 

 

Home Office

2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF

[1]www.gov.uk/home-office

 

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Anthony Bennett

Dear Home Office,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Home Office's handling of my FOI request 'Madeleine McCann - Operation Grange - Information'.

CLEAR ERROR IN THE INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY DAVID EDWARDS, INFORMATION RIGHTS UNIT, AND THE CONSEQUENT NEED FOR CORRECTION AND FOR SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION

Dear Head of Information Rights Unit

This letter is in effect a request for a review by a more senior officer.

I begin by thanking David Edwards for his prompt reply and his partial disclosure of information. I also understand the legal reasons why some of the information sought may not be able to be disclosed.

In my original question submitted on 3 March, point 4 on which information was sought was this:

“4. Two efits of a person suspected of being Madeleine's abductor were
shown on a TV programme, Crimewatch, on 14 October 2013:
(A) On what date did Operation Grange first receive these efits?
(B) From whom?
(C) Is Operation Grange still seeking the public's help in identifying this man?”

Your reply was:

“These efits were received by the Operation Grange team in September 2008 as part of a dossier of material handed to the MPS by private investigators that had been working on the case. The MPS will not comment on whether identifications have or have not been made however the efits do not form part of any current appeal”.

There is a very obvious problem with this answer. Operation Grange was not set up until May 2011, or so we have been told. The decision to set up a Review of the Madeleine McCann case was, so we learned in the media, prompted by Rebekah Brooks, then the Chief Executive Officer of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, having on 11 May 2011 threatened David Cameron, then Prime Minister, with ‘a week of bad headlines about Theresa May’ if he did not set up the Review. On the same day Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper published an appeal to David Cameron by the McCanns asking for a Review of their case. The following day (12 May 2011), David Cameron, via an unnamed spokesman, said a Review had been ordered by Theresa May, then Home Secretary, “to help the family”. Months later, it was learnt that the Review was being conducted under the banner of ‘Operation Grange’. If all of the above facts are correct, it must follow that Operation Grange was NOT set up in or before September 2008 as claimed in the reply by the Information Rights Unit.

Another possibility is that Operation Grange WAS set up in or before September 2008 as the Information Unit has attested, and that therefore the Review apparently ordered in May 2011 was merely a continuation of the work being done by the Met Police under ‘Operation Grange’ for the past two years and eight months (or more).

Before inviting you to clarify and expand on your answers regarding these e-fits, the following is the information we have from (a) the Portuguese Police files, released on a DVD in August 2007 and (b) various media reports:

1 Martin Smith and two members of his family made formal statements on 26 May 2007 stating that they had seen a man carrying a young blonde girl clad only in pyjamas at about 10pm on Thursday 3 May 2007, the night Madeleine McCann was reported missing. On 15 May 2007 Robert Murat had been declared a formal suspect in the case. The day after (16 May), Martin Smith told the Portuguese Police that he and his family now remembered seeing a man carrying a young blonde girl - but was adamant that day, and on when he made his formal statement on 26 May, that the man he had seen on 3 May was NOT Robert Murat. He asserted that because he ‘knew’ Robert Murat (Public information: PJ Files) .

2 On 20 September 2007 Martin Smith contacted the Irish Police and told them that he was now 60% to 80% certain that the man he had seen on 3 May was Gerry McCann, Madeleine’s father. He subsequently signed a formal statement to that effect (Public information: PJ Files)

3 On 3 January 2008, a number of media reports confirmed that Martin Smith had been contacted by Brian Kennedy and Metodo 3 on behalf of the McCanns. Brian Kennedy had been appointed by the McCanns back in September 2007 to lead their private investigations and he had hired Metodo 3. Subsequently, at a time probably in the spring of 2008 but on a date that the McCanns have not yet disclosed, Martin Smith and presumably one or more members of his family helped to draw up the two very different-looking efits which are the subject of this Freedom of Information Act question.

On 14 October 2013, on a BBC Crimewatch programme, the efits were shown to the public by Operation Grange for the first time (albeit that they had been trailed in some media the previous two days). They were described in relation to ‘an Irish family’, though the Smiths were not named, and it was said that ‘two of the witnesses’ had drawn up the efits. It was presumed from that that the two witnesses disagreed substantially on what he looked like, since the faces loo very different .

On Sunday 27 October 2013, the Sunday Times ran an article which, in summary, blamed the McCanns for not having handed over the efits to the police ‘for 5 years’ .The McCanns sued for libel and the Sunday Times apologised and paid costs and/or compensation amounting to £,000.

The original article said this: “The new prime suspect was first singled out by detectives in 2008. Their findings were suppressed. Madeleine disappeared from the Praia da Luz resort in May 2007. The critical new evidence at the centre of Scotland Yard’s search for Madeleine McCann was kept secret for five years after it was presented to her parents by ex-MI5 investigators. The evidence was in fact taken from an intelligence report produced for Gerry and Kate McCann by a firm of former spies in 2008. It contained crucial efiits of a man seen carrying a child on the night of Madeleine’s disappearance, which have only this month become public after he was identified as the prime suspect by Scotland Yard”.

The Sunday Times article continued: “The potential abductor seen by the Smiths is now the prime suspect in Scotland Yard’s investigation, after detectives established that the man seen earlier by [Jane] Tanner was almost certainly a father carrying his child home from a nearby night creche. The Smith efits were the centrepiece of the Crimewatch appeal. One of the Oakley investigators said last week: ‘I was absolutely stunned when I watched the programme…It most certainly wasn’t a new timeline and it certainly isn’t a new revelation. It is absolute nonsense to suggest either of those things…those efits you saw on Crimewatch are ours’. The detailed images of the face of the man seen by the Smith family were never released by the McCanns”.

The subsequent Sunday Times apology was short, as follows:

“In articles dated October 27 ("Madeleine clues hidden for 5 years" and "Investigators had efits five years ago", News) we referred to efits which were included in a report prepared by private investigators for the McCanns and the Fund in 2008. We accept that the articles may have been understood to suggest that the McCanns had withheld information from the authorities. This was not the case. We now understand and accept that the efits had been provided to the Portuguese and Leicestershire police by October 2009. We also understand that a copy of the final report including the efits was passed to the Metropolitan Police in August 2011, shortly after it commenced its review. We apologise for the distress caused”

This apology did not specify who had handed these efits to the Portuguese Police and Leicestershire Police, nor when. Henri Exton, who was employed by the McCanns via Kevin Halligen’s Oakley International company, said that he had handed the efits to the McCanns. According to the McCanns, the efits were provided to the Portuguese and Leicestershire police “by October 2009”.
These efits, then, have a contradictory and unexplained history attached to them.

The efits were important enough for the BBC and Operation Grange to spend, reportedly, well over six months and over £2 million preparing the Crimewatch McCann Special on 14 October 2013, the entire focus of which was these two efits. DCI Redwood from Operation Grange said that they were now “the centre of our focus”. Around 7 million people watched the programme. Viewers were invited to identify this man and call Crimewatch. We know from DCI Redwood that hundreds did contact the programme .He also disclosed that specific names were suggested by the callers.

It cannot be said therefore that this case, or the history of the efits, in any way lacks ‘public interest’. On the contrary, it has been highilghted continually in British and international media for over 10 years. Both the McCanns and the Met Police have made on-the-record statements that they want the investigation into Madeleine McCann to be ‘open’ and ‘transparent’. Further, the general public is surely entitled to the maximum possible disclosure in this case because of the amount of public money devoted to the case by the generosity of the British public and by the taxpayer.

Thus all the usual ‘public interest’ tests appear to be satisfied in this case in favour of disclosure. Moreover, the public in a case of this national importance should not have to be in the position of constantly being told contradictory stories about these efists, especially when the source of some of those contradictions and confusion is the Metropolitan Police Information Rights Department itself. .

To sum up:

1 We do not know precisely when the efits were produced

2 We are told that Henri Exton handed the efits to the McCanns in September 2008 although, if that is true, it is highly likely that the McCanns were aware of them and saw them before that

3 We were told by the Sunday Times apology, the terms of which the McCanns’ lawyers must have approved, that the efits were handed to both the Portuguese and Leicestershire Police ‘by October 2009’ – but we do not know who handed them to them, nor do we know the dates. The presumption must be that since the McCanns now held the efits, it was entirely within their power as to when to release these efits and, if so, to whom

4 We are now told by a Met Police answer to a Freedom of Information request that “a dossier of material [including the efits] was handed to the MPS by private investigators in September 2008”.

5 But the same Sunday Times correction/apology said that the ‘final report including the efits’ was ‘passed to the Metropolitan Police in August 2011’ (though not saying by whom) ‘shortly after it commenced its review’. There is a clear conflict, then, between these three separate claims:

(1) efits handed to Portuguese and Leicestershire Police [presumably by the McCanns] ‘by October 2009’ (per Sunday Times apology)
(2) efits handed to the Met Police by private investigators in August 2011 (per Sunday Times apology), and
(3) efits handed to the MPS by private investigators in September 2008” (per MPS Freedom of Information Act answer, March 2018).

I would also at this stage remind the Met Police of their answers to these previous Freedom of Information Act questions:

On what date were these two e-fits created? – NOT ANSWERED
Did members of the Irish family create these e-fits, or were the 'two witnesses' mentioned by Matthew Amroliwala who drew up the e-fits actually other witnesses? If so, please state who they were. – ANSWER: “The programme was referring to members of the Irish family who created the e-fits”.
Are the e-fits of the same man, or not? - ANSWER: “Yes they are the same man”.
On what date were these two e-fits first shown to members of Operation Grange? – NOT ANSWERED
On what dates in 2012 and 2013, or otherwise in 2011 and 2014, did members of Operation Grange (a) meet with members of the Irish family or (b) have contact with the Irish family, whether by telephone, e-mail, letter or otherwise? – NOT ANSWERED.

----

It is clear, at least, that these two efits were produced by Henri Exton, former Head of Covert Intelligence for MI5, and the Oakley International Team appointed by the McCanns and Brian Kennedy early in 2008.

It is also clear that these efits were passed to the McCanns, presumably shortly after they were first produced

The recent MPS Freedom of Information Act answer states on the record that the MPS/Operation Grange were handed ‘a dossier plus the efits’ by private investigators ‘in September 2008’.

Yet in a public apology in the Sunday Times, presumably sanctioned by the McCanns, we were told that the efits were part of a report first handed in to the Met Police in August 2011 (nearly three years later).

Moreover, this Sunday Times report referred to a ‘final report’ of the private investigators .Yet according to Mr Exton and the Sunday Times this final report was submitted by Henri Exton to the McCanns in September 2008, long before August 2011.

Therefore for the purposes of full clarification, and having regard to the overwhelming public interest in this case, I now ask the following supplementary questions to those I asked on 3 March 2018:

1. On what date, and by whom, were these two efits first drawn up?
2. On what date or dates did the private investigators release these two efits released and to whom?
3. On what date (if any) were these efits handed to \Leicestershire Police?
4. On what date (if any) were these efits handed to the Portuguese Police?
5. On what date were these efits first supplied to Operation Grange, and by whom?
6. On what date did Operation Grange first receive these two efits, and from whom?
7. If the Metropolitan Police first received these efits before Operation Grange was set up, on what date were they received and by which department of the MPS were they received?
8. The recent MPS Freedom of Information Act reply refers specifically to the ‘final’ version of the private investigators’ report. Therefore, in the interests of clarity, and having regard (a) to the public interest and (b) assurances by both the McCanns and the Met Police that the investigations into Madeleine’s disappearance would be conducted with maximum openness and transparency, please state:
(i) On what date was the ‘final’ private investigators’ report compiled.
(ii) How many interim reports were there before the ‘final report’ and when was each of them compiled?

It is believed that the Metropolitan Police holds all of this information.

In relation to this answer: “The MPS will not comment on whether identifications have or have not been made however the efits do not form part of any current appeal”, let it be noted again that British taxpayers paid over £2 million for the BBC Crimewatch McCann Special which heavily featured these two controversial efits and they are surely entitled as much information as is reasonable to disclose about the outcome.

Please therefore answer the following questions:
Has the man in the efits been identified?
If Yes, has he been positively ruled out as Madeleine’s abductor?
If No, is the Met Policer still searching for him?
If No, is the Met Police still searching for someone else as the likely abductor?
The efits still appear on the McCanns’ ‘Find Madeleine’ website despite the MPS ‘no longer using them as part of its appeal’.
Has the MPS advised the McCanns to remove these efits from their website?
If Yes, on what date please.

The publication of the fullest possible answers to these questions will help to clear up what appears to be a cloud of contradictions and evasions surrounding the production of these efists and the use to which they have been put.

Yours sincerely

Anthony Bennett

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

FOI Requests, Home Office

Mr. Bennett,

Thank you for contacting the Home Office with your request.

This Internal Review has been assigned to a caseworker (case ref 47589). We will aim to send you a full response by 01/05/2018 which is twenty working days from the date we received your request.

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you,

P. Zebedee
FOI Requests
Home Office

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Anthony Bennett

Dear FOI Requests,

I must apologise for sending this Review request to the Home Office.

It was intended for the Metropolitan Police, to whom I have now sent the Review request.

My apologies for any inconvenience.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony Bennett

FOI Requests, Home Office

Dear Mr. Bennett,

 

Thank you for letting us know. The internal review case 47589 has been
cancelled. If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to
contact us.

 

Regards,

 

FOI Requests

Home Office

 

 

 

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