Thursday, 10 March 2016



‘THE SMOKESCREEN’ by Julian Peribanez and Antonio Tamarit

(August 2014, ISBN 978-84-941649-8-9)





The first part of this chapter is written by Antonio Tamarit; the second part by Julian Peribanez

Antonio Tamarit:

Our involvement in the case of a little girl called Madeleine McCann began during October 2007 in the city of Tangiers, Morocco, where I was on location for business reasons. It is a place with which I am well acquainted. Performing work such as mine at that location is no easy task.

Whilst I was there, Francisco Marco rang me from Barcelona, instructing me to establish contact in Tangiers Airport with some people from Control Risks, London, who wanted to speak to me about a little English girl who had disappeared in Portugal, and to hear what they had to say.  

I met Brian Kennedy at the airport, accompanied by his son Patrick. The former was not connected to Control Risks, London, but was instead a patron who was helping the little girl’s parents to discover her whereabouts.

Our conversation focused on the common elements of the youngster’s disappearance. I made a few general comments on the basis of what I had read in the press (by this point in time, the only scenario I could envisage was finding a body, although I did not say that), and the conclusion that I drew from this first chat was that my conversation partners were very religious, as I myself am.

They were both convinced that the little girl was alive and that someone had abducted her. We got on well together. All three of us are keen on rugby and Brian Kennedy even has his own team (yes, that’s what he told us, that he had his own team). I commented that a complex case such as this requires in-depth research in order to be able to analyse all aspects. 

We agreed to meet again in Manchester, Brian having already taken it as agreed that we would be contracted. When I enquired about their flight number for their return journey to England, they pointed to a private jet standing on the runway. I jovially commented that they don’t have a hard life, after which we said goodbye.

I subsequently rang Francisco Marco in Barcelona to inform him of our agreement and I suggested that he refrain from involving the press, as was his usual practice, and that instead we should simply get on with our work quietly, so that he could enjoy his moment of glory when we actually made a discovery.

As the whole world is now aware, there has never been a single moment of glory in the Madeleine McCann case; however, it has occupied many hours of time on the television and radio as the centre of attention, packed with lies, and hundreds of pages in daily newspapers, magazines and on websites, containing many untruths.

For the above reasons, my relationship (and likewise that of the other serious employees of the company) with Marco was seriously damaged.

From that moment on, which took place as I was at Tangiers Airport, I was relegated to the sidelines. Marita Fernández and José Luis Marco Llavina travelled to Manchester; these were Francisco Marco’s mother, who had not carried out any investigative work for many years, and her nephew, the company’s accountant. This was all symptomatic of the plans they were setting up at poor Madeleine’s expense.

The aunt and nephew team returned from Manchester in heroic style. They made a big point of emphasising that where this operation was concerned they were not motivated by money; however, in reality they ended up making a fortune by means of deception and dishonest trickery.

I was sent to Portugal on two occasions, just to make up the numbers, because in theory a whole army of Método 3 detectives were supposed to be working in Portugal. The reality of the situation was very different. Nobody from Método 3 was actually working there except Julián Peribañez, who was burning the midnight oil in an attempt to solve the case, and Elisenda Villena, for several months.

They sent me to Marrakech because, according to what I was told, there was a witness there. The witness turned out to be a French woman who assured me that the missing girl was in the Rif Mountains. When I asked her how she knew that - and whether she had seen her - she replied that she knew two clairvoyants, one in France and one in Morocco, and that both had informed her that Madeleine was in the Rif Mountains. 

As the witness was unable to provide any further details, and just in case the clairvoyants’ predictions came up with any results, I proceeded to scour the country from top to bottom in my capacity as a member of the Método 3 army of investigators deployed to Morocco to solve the Madeleine case, travelling to Tangiers, Casablanca, Rabat, Agadir, Fez, Uarzazat, Uchda, Nador and any other places you may care to add. Needless to say, the little girl failed to appear.

After I had left Método 3, I began to realise to what extent the company was swindling the fund which had been set up and which was supported by hundreds of unsuspecting people whose sole objective was to find Madeleine. Nothing special, just inflated expenses, invented items and false invoices, etc.  Who were the beneficiaries of this dishonesty?

Needless to say, the usual suspects: Francisco Marco, Marita Fernández and his cousin José Luis Marco Llavina.

Julian Peribanez:

And there is more besides that about Portugal, relating to frauds, the hotline and Brian Kennedy’s extraordinary reaction when we explained to him that they had been defrauded.

The Madeleine case was yet another outrage bearing the unmistakable hallmark of Método 3. Now it’s my turn to tell you about it. Método 3 became involved in the search for Madeleine McCann in October 2007.

Although there had been some talk of my accompanying Marita Fernández to the interview, in the end Marita went with Jose Luis Marco Llavina to meet Madeleine’s parents, Gerry and Kate McCann.  I have no idea why, but the interview between the Método 3 representatives and Madeleine’s parents was recorded, which was not normal practice. I had an opportunity to listen to the recording. From that point on, Madeleine’s parents were relegated to the background and conversations were led directly by Brian Kennedy.

It was decided that the search for Madeleine was to take place in two countries: Portugal and Morocco (yes, Portugal and Morocco). My reason for emphasising that is because you may have read that the search took place in other places; however, that was a complete fabrication.

Antonio Tamarit trudged all over Morocco during a search the nature of which was both bizarre and insane. Where Portugal was concerned, Elisenda Villena and I were responsible for making the appropriate enquiries at the outset; however, after several months I found myself carrying out this task practically single handed.

In terms of the investigation, which lasted approximately eight months, we only received very sporadic assistance from Antonio Tamarit and Gerard Acereda. Indeed, their back-up was so sporadic that this only took place on a couple of occasions. Francisco Marco had tasked the latter of the two with locating a suspect who did not even exist. The purpose of Antonio Tamarit and Gerard Acereda’s visit to Portugal was to hide from Brian Kennedy (who had meanwhile suddenly left the United Kingdom and relocated to Praia de Luz in order to check first-hand on the progress of the search and rescue operations) the ‘empty shell’ nature of the supposed ‘twenty-man team’ from Método 3 which Francisco Marco had stated were dedicated to the search for the little girl in that area.

I wish to emphasise here again how shocking this was, so that it will not be overlooked: Francisco Marco, whenever asked, always replied that Método 3 had deployed ‘twenty men’ to investigate Madeleine’s disappearance! That was yet another lie.

This was the tactic used by Francisco Marco to inflate Método 3’s invoices to the client and it also gave him an opportunity to brag to the numerous journalists who were keen to report on the Madeleine case, as he was their point of reference.

I began in Portugal by following up various leads and then, by virtue of my good knowledge of English, I attended the offices of the Latium group in Wilmslow, Cheshire, in England where I met its owner, Brian Kennedy, lawyer Edward Smethurst, Madeleine’s parents Gerry and Kate McCann and cousins Francisco Marco and José Luis Marco in their capacity as the representatives, at the highest possible level, of Método 3.

The meeting, which had been arranged in order to outline the strategic plan and the investigative lines being pursued to locate the little girl, was also attended by another lawyer who was a former police officer, whose name I cannot recall. During the meeting, at the point when Francisco Marco addressed me. saying, “Stand up and talk, Julián, that is the only reason for your attendance here,” I realised that I had been sent to Wilmslow simply in order to deflect attention away from the fact that Francisco Marco’s English skills left a lot to be desired, which meant that he was incapable of describing in an intelligible manner the actions being taken to find the missing girl.

The presentation was laboured but it went reasonably well. There were some difficult moments when we had to take breaks. One such example was when the possibility was raised that Madeleine could have been abducted by a paedophile network. The parents remained stoical when this scenario was considered, although they were unable to stop their eyes from filling with tears. We had to stop at that point because their heartbreak was upsetting us all.

After the meeting had ended, the participants all went to Brian Kennedy’s home for supper. There, I was struck by how both our host and Madeleine’s parents were lovely people, and I was able to deduce, without any reservations whatsoever, that as far as that operation was concerned Francisco Marco had no particular interest in finding Madeleine. I made that deduction when during an aside, he asked me, “Do you realise how much an advertising campaign like this for Método 3 would cost me?”

Before I had a chance to reply, he answered his own question, “At least two million Euros!” An advertising campaign costing him next to nothing, which was barely the cost of setting up the Madeleine McCann telephone line - the famous hotline no. 902 300 213 - the purpose of which was for people to ring in with information leading us to the little girl’s whereabouts.

Headlines in the media stated that a mechanism had been set up whereby operators would answer calls in Spanish, English, French, Italian, Arabic and Portuguese. However, this consisted in reality of a switchboard which redirected calls to our office, where Método 3’s employees, including myself, answered them. Before going on to describe the nature of the calls we received, I should mention that our understanding of English, French, Italian, Arabic and Portuguese certainly left room for improvement. In any event, the linguistic element was of no consequence, given that no relevant information was lost.

Fortune tellers (Spanish playing card and Tarot readers), necromancers, palmists, individuals who had had dreams but did not know what they were about, followed by others who offered interpretations of those dreams. In short, pure esotericism and complete time-wasting, all of which was the result of Francisco Marco’s bright and unique ideas about how to find little Madeleine.

After that, the genie having by now run out of ideas, he returned to his lamp, not without failing, however, to make frequent appearances in the media circus, where both he and his mother shone like bright lights. They were the king and queen of the trapeze.

The daily newspaper El Mundo on 25th November 2007 quoted Francisco, who was overwhelmed by his stardom, as saying, “The pressure is immense. I have a waiting list for 60 interviews with media from all over the world - and in the mornings, when I go to take my breakfast in the bar, I also come up against some English reporter or other who wants me to divulge information.”

Then, Marita Fernández had the absolute audacity to state that “half a dozen translators are responsible for answering calls in their own language, whether French, English, Portuguese, Arabic, etc. … Each conversation is recorded in a file and every piece of information is cross-checked with the others.”

When the journalist asked whether they were doing all this work for financial money reasons, the reply was: “We’re talking about five-figure sums and no more, and almost the whole of that amount is to cover the travel expenses to the countries where we have been working. The 20-strong team who are working exclusively on this case are all on our payroll, and our fees are practically symbolic. Madeleine is our only client.”

Both mother and son were trained in how to answer questions of this sort. On the back page of La Vanguardia dated 1st November 2007, at the time when rumours were circulating about whether Madeleine’s disappearance was simply a money-making hoax, the journalist Victor M. Amela asked Marco what was the basis of his belief. The latter replied, “Our experts spent ten hours interviewing the McCanns, which was sufficient time for them to ascertain whether they were deceiving us. My specialists have assured me that they are not hiding anything at all, and that is why we have decided to help them.”

He omitted to tell the journalist that his specialists were his mother and his cousin; he must have thought there was no need to mention this. Alternatively, he may have thought that the journalist had realised that his cousin was the chief financial officer (meaning the accountant) of Método 3 and that his mother was just a woman who didn’t even hold a driving licence and had been a secretary at a detective agency and who was involved in sales for the agency and not investigative work. 

When asked what amount of money was being charged for the search for Madeleine, Francisco Marco replied, “Expenses plus a figure which is symbolic rather than high.” In answer to a question about how many cases of missing persons they investigated each year, he replied insistently, “We specialise in business fraud but we also locate approximately 300 persons per year.”

And now here is my attempt at solving a ‘rule of three’. If Francisco Marco’s agency turned over approximately a thousand cases each year and each missing person is one case, then what percentage of the trading account of Francisco Marco’s agency related to missing persons? And if I were to complicate the rule of three a little further, it would be interesting to know how many Método 3 employees were responsible for finding missing persons, given that during the six years I spent with the company I only dealt with two cases, which to my great pride I solved; these kinds of cases are the most rewarding within the profession.

Where Madeleine’s case was concerned, Francisco Marco answered the journalist from La Vanguardia with maximum audacity by stating that his agency had “about 40 people here and in Morocco”. To avoid repetition, I will avoid making any further comments, other than to say that I wish he had been struck dead when, upon being asked how he foresaw the ending of the Madeleine case, he said that he would “give Madeleine her dolls, calm her down, remove her from the place where she was, ring her parents and put her on the phone.”

The way in which things were turning out, Madeleine’s case would have to be closed. Brian Kennedy grew tired of trying to achieve the impossible, and of paying. Francisco Marco and José Luis Marco arranged to meet me at the Petit Paris Restaurant, which no longer exists as it was forced to close by customers who went there for meals on company accounts which were never settled.

Método 3’s name appeared on the list of clients who were in default because they had failed to pay a 3,000 Euro debt, as the accountant of Método 3 himself would have described it. He was the person who dealt with creditors. It was when we were inside the Petit Paris that Francisco Marco and José Luis Marco informed me that the contract with the Madeleine Fund had been terminated and that I should therefore take several days off in order to unwind. They also told me over that same meal that Brian Kennedy had suggested that I continue working on the case with him, an offer which was turned down by Francisco Marco and José Luis Marco on the grounds that I was too valuable to them. At that moment in time I was filled with pride, but the mere thought of it I now find repellent.

On 23rd November 2009 the news broke that Kevin Hallingen and Henry Exton from Oakley International had conned the Madeleine Fund out of half a million pounds. It would appear that that company had picked up where Método 3 left off.

On 13th December 2011, officers from the Policía Nacional (Spanish National Police) and Scotland Yard arrived at Método 3’s premises in order to remove documentation related to the Madeleine McCann case. I will pause for a moment here to describe the star performance in the office by Marita Fernández when she found out that the Scotland Yard officers had arrived.

As she cannot speak English, she participated in the conversation via the interpreter who had accompanied the officers, to whom she blurted out the following words only, “How are you getting on with those child sexual abuse cases of yours? How are you combating it? Because that is something which, obviously, forms an innate part of your English genetic makeup and which you carry with you …” The interpreter was absolutely astounded, yet the Método 3 director insisted that she translate these words. I ended up asking a question in order to divert the officers’ attention and rescue the interpreter from this situation.

Whilst they were there, Francisco Marco rang Mayka Navarro, the editor of El Periódico, to alert her and suggest that if she wanted to illustrate this news item, she should send a photographer and television cameras along to capture images of the British and Spanish officers leaving the premises of Metodo 3. On 14th December 2011, Francisco Marco appeared on the programme directed by Ana Rosa Quintana on Tele 5. I now reproduce a verbatim record of a significant part of the dialogue:

  • Ana Rosa: El Periódico de Cataluña presents an exclusive story by our colleague Mayka Navarro about the investigation of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. Mayka, what are these photographs?
  • Mayka Navarro: Well, these photographs were taken yesterday at 3pm by our colleague Albert Bertrán from El Periódico, and in fact they show officers from Scotland Yard accompanied by officers from the National Police Agency. At that point they are leaving the Barcelona offices of the detective agency Método 3, there is the corner of the intersection of Tuset and Diagonal (streets) and they are holding boxes containing photocopies of the complete file on the disappearance of the little girl Madeleine …
  • Francisco Marco: I believe there are six, seven or eight very important leads in there, which were reported at the time in question, in partnership with the Spanish and Portuguese police, which the Portuguese police always dismissed without even investigating them - for the reason which has already been mentioned previously. And that was because this was a highly politicised issue and also because they did not want to act on any information which did not originate from their own sources. The only thing I would say is that on each day when one of us from Método 3 travelled to Portugal, we were followed the whole time and checked up upon continuously so that they could see what we were up to. We were never allowed to get on with our work quietly, and all the investigative work we carried out at that time outside of Portugal, and indeed some which was carried out inside Portugal itself, can be performed by Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police or else they can continue where we left off.
  • Mayka Navarro: Six leads, six lines, yes, yes, you were just saying…
  • Francisco Marco: Yes Mayka, that’s more or less it…

The reason I am recounting that incident and am able to do so in these terms is that firstly, I was present in Método 3’s premises when the officers from Scotland Yard and the National Police entered to find the documents; secondly, because I overheard the telephone call made by Marco to Mayka Navarro; thirdly, I am one of the people whose photographs were published, and fourthly, because Francisco Marco instructed me to let him know when the officers were due to leave Metodo 3’s offices so that they could be photographed (otherwise, the photographers would not have known who they were).

Don’t you agree that it is obvious how the Madeleine case was advantageous for Francisco Marco? It was so that the media provided him with a huge publicity campaign free of charge, whilst at the same time enabling him to fob off Madeleine’s Fund, an organisation funded by thousands of well-intentioned people who wanted to make their own financial contribution towards the search for the missing girl. He  presented them with false invoices for travel and accommodation expenses for the 20 people who were supposed to be working in Portugal.

The procedure for accomplishing this task was simple and straightforward and no scientific methodology was required: all they had to do was obtain some El Corte Inglés travel invoices and subsequently falsify them by changing the details. These invoices can be found stored inside Método 3’s computers which were seized and are located at Barcelona Court no. 14 (Juzgado 14 de Barcelona). For the time being, they remain there by virtue of an action filed by Montserrat Turu against Francisco Marco for breach of confidentiality.

As soon as we had compiled all the relevant information and evidence to show him, we subsequently contacted Brian Kennedy during December 2013 in order to inform him of what we had found out and suggest that he should take action against the persons in Spain who were responsible for defrauding him.

I rang him during the first week of December 2013 and my conversations with both Brian and his son Patrick were relaxed and friendly. Due to financial problems and Christmas holiday dates, we had to delay meeting him until January. We contacted Brian again on 8th January 2014; he asked us to explain why we wanted to see him and we informed him of the discoveries we had made.

We explained that, as a result of the latest scandals relating to Francisco Marco and Método 3, we had carried out certain investigations of our own. In so doing we had discovered that the company had conned the Madeleine Fund by producing false invoices, and so we wanted to meet them in order to check the information with him and work out a strategy whereby they - the parents of the little girl, in whose innocence we have always believed - would not suffer any harm as a result of this intrigue, in particular from the media.

I did not receive a reply from him, although I knew he had received my email because I had requested proof of delivery. I had to send him two messages and I finally heard back from him on the 11th day of that month, when he sent a vague-sounding reply about having to go to the USA and it may therefore be better if I spoke to Ed Smethurst, his lawyer. I had to send four emails before I was able to obtain details of his lawyer, and moreover in his last reply he warned me that he would be unlikely to be willing to take any legal action against Método 3 because he had to focus upon the search for Madeleine, or at least, find out who was responsible for her abduction.

I was barely able to believe what was happening and so I wrote to Edward Smethurst, who in addition to being his lawyer was also a member of the board of directors of the Madeleine Fund. The text of his email is reproduced below:

    Dear Julián,

I have just finished participating in a telephone conference with our advisors. As you are probably aware, the Metropolitan Police is currently responsible for the investigation. Therefore, the Trust (the Madeleine Fund) has decided neither to meet with, nor to discuss the investigation with, any private investigators whilst the MET (Metropolitan Police) are carrying out their investigation. We will therefore not be able to meet with you.

However, if you have any information which may assist the Trust (the Madeleine Fund) or the investigation, please feel free to send it to us by email and we would welcome this.

I was annoyed at the cold and distant tone of his reply. I simply could not understand how they could fail to be alarmed by the discovery that they had been the victims of a financial fraud and had been charged for work which was not carried out, as well as having had their hopes raised, only for it to come to nothing. Feeling let down, I wanted to find out exactly what the Madeleine Fund’s position was, and so I sent them the following email:

I understand that your position is as follows: that we wish to assist the Madeleine Fund to uncover a fraud which was perpetrated against the above Fund by a firm of private detectives, Método 3, with which the Fund had entered into a contract – and that you do not wish to hold a meeting with us - and that you will not co-operate with us in order to expose the above agency, which has stolen money destined for locating Madeleine McCann, which people around the world had donated out of the goodness of their hearts for the purpose of finding a missing girl, and which ended up lining the pockets of Método 3 as a result of false invoicing. Please would you simply let me know whether I have got this right, as I am finding it difficult to understand your position, and solely for the sake of clarity, so that I can be sure that we cannot rely upon co-operation from the Madeleine Fund in relation to this matter, and to enable us to pursue this issue in a different direction.

         With best wishes


I did not receive any reply. I was therefore able to ascertain that the Madeleine Fund had surrounded itself in a wall of silence, especially when I realised that Gerry McCann, the missing girl’s father, did not even respond to the message I sent him, the content of which was similar to those I had previously addressed to Brian Kennedy and the lawyer Edward Smethurst.

In the light of this situation, I should perhaps point out the following: the Madeleine Fund is not a charity, but is in fact a limited company called “Madeleine’s Fund: Leaving No Stone Unturned Ltd” based in Cannon Street in London (EC4M 6YH), with registered no. CRN 624815, office of registration 2-6. Its six directors include the aforementioned Edward Smethurst and Kate and Gerry McCann, the parents of little Madeleine.

Furthermore, with the exception of the last invoices, which were processed by Brian Kennedy’s company LATIUM MANAGEMENT SERVICES, in theory Método 3’s client was not Madeleine’s Fund but was in fact Mr Brian Kennedy. Therefore, if Brian Kennedy failed to take legal action in relation to the fraud, we would not have a case, and that would be the end of the matter. Don’t you think that would be a shame?

However, rather than wallowing in displeasure, I think that it is worth examining the fact that the annual accounts presented to the press by Madeleine’s Fund clearly showed that they had allocated money from their own Fund to a team of private investigators who were searching for Madeleine, Método 3 in this instance, and that that money had originated from altruistic people whose sole intention was for Madeleine to be found.

That leaves a huge black hole which has swallowed up many thousands of Euros. In order to emerge from that hole, I would suggest that the English police, who have been tasked with solving the case, track down the only two existing copies of the fictitious invoices. Brian Kennedy has one of these copies, but he is extraordinarily disinterested in filing a lawsuit for fraud against Método 3.

The other copy is at Barcelona Court no. 14 (Juzgado de Barcelona no. 14), where the items seized from Francisco Marco remain lodged, pursuant to a court order enabling the police to proceed to search Método 3’s premises. The English police should act swiftly in order to obtain the false invoices, as if they fail to act expeditiously, Francisco Marco is sure to make sure they disappears, if the seized items are returned to him.

That would not surprise me in the least, given that this is a man who had the audacity to brag in writing that in order for Método 3 to carry out its investigation, “We have infiltrated Moroccan and French paedophile gangs” (El Método, page 452) and also speaking into Radio 4’s microphones - in a phony, humble tone - during the interview with Xantal Llavina and saying that he “felt proud to have led to the arrest of a paedophile network. I believe that anything which affects children is what propels me forward, having protected them by stopping these people, having meant that certain children will not have to suffer what many others have suffered before them; I think that is my achievement. As I also mentioned in my book, if Método 3’s entire existence had served only to lead to the arrest of that paedophile group, then I would say that its existence had been worthwhile.”

He was rather economical with the truth here, having failed to mention the following important detail: that the paedophile ring in question was busted thanks to a sickening video which a debauched paedophile provided to Método 3, telling us that Madeleine appeared in it, and also thanks to my investigation, the results of which I handed over in their entirety to Juan Carlos Ruiloba, a good friend and a member of the National Police’s Cyber-crime Unit.

In other words, Francisco Marco boasted to Xantal Llavina’s audience, taking the credit for what the person in his book The Method (El Método) described as a “liar, thief, extortionist and blackmailer” had achieved. And that was my good self!

Needless to say, the content of the video in question could be downloaded using a simple P2P and not by means of the mysterious-sounding “hidden server” which Francisco Marco pulled out of his hat in order to brag yet again that his words were the greatest.

If it is the case that the objective was to raise as much funding as possible in order to continue investigating the little girl’s disappearance, would it not have been logical to sue the company that has defrauded you? - and thus obtain additional resources?

In fact, that was what happened early on to the English tabloids, when they threatened to take legal action against them and succeeded in obtaining a settlement of a million pounds from them, a sum which was supposedly destined for the Madeleine’s Fund.

There is also the case of Goncalo Amaral, the senior Portuguese police officer in charge of the police investigation, following publication in 2008 of his book ‘The Truth of the Lie’, after he was removed from the case.

Given the above, it is surprising that they did not sue Kevin Halligen, who was the other person who conned them and is awaiting extradition to the United States for allegedly having defrauded a London company of 1.3 million pounds. (* see Notes below)

Anyone who is interested in doing so can watch on YouTube certain statements made by Francisco Marco on television, where he brags about his investigations and gives false hope to Madeleine’s family and friends. In some of these, he even goes as far as to say that he knows the identity of Madeleine’s abductor, his whereabouts and how he did it. Those videos were the ones which raised indignation worldwide and subsequently, the shaming of the profession in Spain.

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