A firm of private detectives that hired psychics to help the hunt for Madeleine
McCann is being investigated by police for allegedly breaking Portuguese laws
on criminal cases.
The company, Strongwood, claims that it is being funded by donations from more
than 100,000 people to carry out inquiries into the disappearance of Madeleine
from her bed in the resort of Praia da Luz 114 days ago.
However, Portuguese detectives have contacted officers in the Netherlands
complaining that the company has broken laws that mean that only police can
investigate criminal cases.
Strongwood, which is registered with the Dutch Ministry of Justice as a private
investigation company, said that it had received donations totalling more than
¤a team ofthree private detectives, an expert in children with a “special
disorders” and a person with “special abilities” to Praia da Luz at end of last
A report of its findings concluded that Madeleine could have died before 7pm on
the night that she went missing. Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann,
have insisted that she was alive at 9pm. The company also claimed that the
child was killed in her apartment before being taken to a beach in a white van
where her body was dumped.
Nico van den Dries, chief executive of Strongwood, said that the company had
been sharing information with Portuguese detectives and had not been told it
was an offence to investigate criminal cases.
“We were asked to look at the case because some clairvoyants from America and the Netherlands were giving evidence to
the Portuguese police and they were not following them up,” he said. “We are
just doing it for the \ the expenses. We have been co-operating with the
Portuguese and they have not said it is against the law.”
Inspector Olegário Sousa, of the Polícia Judiciária, said: “The investigation
only can be done by police forces. As the collection of funds was done in a
foreign country, only the police in Netherlands can pursue what is
clearly a fraud. No private detectives had worked with us or with our British
Willem Melius, from the Politie Zaanstreek-Waterland in the Netherlands, said: “In \ Netherlands the
investigation of crimes is for justice and police but in case of missing
persons it is different (but only inside the country). As soon as they discover
it to be a crime they should alert the police. If Strongwood appears not to
obey the rules the Justice Department will take steps.” Dutch police are
already investigating a letter and map sent to an Amsterdam-based newspaper, De
Telegraaf, which claimed to identify the location of Madeleine’s grave in the Algarve.
Portuguese police searched the site but found no trace of Madeleine.
Madeleine’s father yesterday attacked police leaks that have fuelled
“preposterous” speculation about what happened to his daughter. Mr McCann said
he was disappointed that so much information had made its way into the public