By Christopher Leake and Mark Hollingsworth
Last updated at 12:04 PM on 29th August 2010
A private detective whose firm was paid up to £500,000 from publicly donated funds to find Madeleine McCann is to get tens of thousands of pounds in legal aid to fight extradition to the US for fraud charges.
Kevin Halligen, 50, told Kate and Gerry McCann he could find their daughter but allegedly spent the cash on a lifestyle of first-class flights, chauffeured cars, nightclubs and luxury hotels and goods.
In a separate alleged scam he was arrested last November at the £700-a-night Old Bank Hotel in Oxford.
US authorities issued an extradition warrant accusing Halligen of defrauding a law firm of £1.3 million by claiming he could help free two men jailed in war-torn Africa. It is claimed he instead spent the money on a mansion.
A document filed in the District Court of Columbia claims he took money, saying his firm could help secure the release of two executives from the multinational company Trafigura jailed in Ivory Coast in 2007 for allegedly dumping toxic waste.
He is said to have suggested a rescue operation to fly in South African mercenaries, but it was cancelled. The duo were freed a few months later after a reported £120 million payment.
Halligen, who claimed to have worked for MI5 and the CIA, linked up with the McCanns a year after the 2007 disappearance of three-year-old Madeleine on a family holiday at Praia da Luz, Portugal.
Fees: Halligen, who claimed to have worked for MI5 and the CIA, linked up with the McCanns a year after the 2007 disappearance of their daughter
Now British taxpayers are to pay for top-flight lawyers to fight Dublin-born Halligen’s extradition. His team includes a leading extradition barrister whose fees are thought to be at least £2,000 a day.