Page last updated at 12:28 GMT, Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Businessman hired to look for Madeleine McCann arrested

The Old Bank Hotel in Oxford where Kevin Halligen was arrested
Kevin Halligen had been staying at the hotel under an assumed name

A businessman hired to help look for Madeleine McCann and wanted by the FBI on fraud charges has been arrested at a hotel in Oxford.

Kevin Halligen had been staying at the Old Bank Hotel for several months until a member of staff recognised him from a newspaper report.

Police said a 48-year-old man had been arrested because of a "discrepancy over his hotel bill".

Madeleine, then three, vanished from an Algarve holiday flat on 3 May 2007.

Mr Halligen, from Surrey, was hired by Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry, as a security consultant.

His Washington-based firm, Oakley International, was paid about £300,000 for the six-month contract, which saw the company hire other private detectives, set up a hotline and process information.

The firm had initially been awarded a £500,000 contract but the McCanns terminated the arrangement before paying any more fees.

A spokesman for the McCann family said: "Our association with Halligen and Oakley International ended well over a year ago.

"Given that an arrest has been made it would be inappropriate for us to comment."

'Well-behaved guest'

Mr Halligen was arrested on Tuesday afternoon and remains in custody in Oxford.

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: "He is going to be kept in custody here until tomorrow when he will be transferred to the Metropolitan Police area for an extradition hearing."

David Harris, finance director of the luxury hotel in Oxford's High Street, said: "On Tuesday, the manager of the Old Bank contacted local police concerning this man called Kevin Halligen.

Madeleine McCann
Madeleine was days short of her fourth birthday when she disappeared

"He was known to us as Richard Hall. He had stayed at the hotel for several months with us.

"He had an outstanding bill of less than £5,000. To us, he was just an ordinary, well-behaved guest until the newspapers disclosed more at the weekend."

He would not comment on reports that Mr Halligen had been staying at the hotel with a girlfriend.

The US Department of Justice had issued an indictment for Mr Halligen earlier this month, alleging he tried to defraud a London law firm of $2.1m (£1.2m).

The indictment alleged: "Halligen falsely represented to the law firm that these funds would be used to pay expenses incurred in the United States to help secure the release of two executives of a client of the law firm who were arrested in the Ivory Coast."

Mr Halligen is accused of using the funds for his own benefit, including buying a mansion in Virginia.

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