Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my journalistic career would commence with me being the catalyst for the arrest of an international criminal. A man who has outwitted some of the finest investigators and police forces in the world. A man who is alleged to have defrauded at least two of Carter-Ruck’s most protected and news worthy clients– the parents of Madeleine McCann and Trafigura. Kevin Halligen.
As a student studying a Masters degree in Multimedia and Broadcast Journalism at University College Falmouth, my mind might have strayed to such fantasies occasionally, but for me those fantasies have became reality. The last few weeks have been overwhelmingly stressful but at the same time instructive in the ways of the Main Stream Media, and the International forces of Law and Order.
During the summer months of May and June I worked in an exclusive Oxford restaurant called Quod which is directly attached to the Old Bank Hotel on the quintessentially English High Street. Both under the same ownership – Mogford Ltd.
On Sunday 22nd June I was reading through a number of newspapers, keeping up to date with news and current affairs which is important for my studies. I reached for the Sunday Times and was flicking morosely through the pages searching for a good story to enliven our class on the following Monday. As I turned a page I instantly recognised the photograph of a man – declared wanted by the FBI and the British Police. Fame and fortune beckoned. I knew who it was, more importantly, I knew where he was!
His distinctive face, though aged considerably now, was the man I had known as Richard Hall. A resident in the Old Bank Hotel, where I had worked. Many residents pass through the hotel virtually anonymously, with nothing to commend them to your memory. However, this man had distinguished himself by his outgoing and arrogant personality. His Anglo-American accent was unique, and his excessive drinking habits would put any British binge-drinking student to shame.
On previous trips back to Oxford to see friends, I had frequented Quod and the Old Bank hotel and been surprised to see ‘Mr Hall’ and his girlfriend still there. He referred to the hotel as Hotel California – claiming he was never going to leave. Remembering this, I was fairly sure he would still be there.
In my innocence, I reacted as any public spirited citizen should do – I got in touch with the Police; I emailed the United States Embassy; I even phoned Crimestoppers on their 0800 number- but nothing happened.
I knew locating this man, and identifying him to the police would be galvanising news if for no other reason than that he was linked into two of the biggest news stories this decade. Madeleine McCann and Trafigura.
When there was still no news on Kevin Halligen’s arrest, I had to assume it wasn’t going to happen , so I got in touch with a number of newspapers who had published stories about Kevin Halligen’s activities. By doing this I hoped that more pressure would be indirectly placed on the British Police to make a move for his arrest.
My gamble paid off. After speaking to the Sun, a broadsheet newspaper, and The Liverpool Echo, Halligen was promptly arrested on the Tuesday evening – and the press had a field day.
I later learned that I was not the only person to contact the police. I understand many people had done previously, although I would say by being the only person to contact the media I was the catalyst that brought about his arrest.
The media had a positive impact in bringing down a man who had conned millions of pounds. I understand that the hotel manager, a man I remember by the name of Ben, had contacted the police as well, but only because of Halligen’s outstanding bill of some £4000. Perhaps if the senior hotel management had been more alert, Halligen would have been arrested earlier. The Old Bank hotel provides a full range of newspapers for its customers. How could it be that nobody else spotted this man sitting at his customary place at the bar whilst reading through the Sunday Times? His photograph was clear; the man is distinctive and noisily attention grabbing where ever he goes. I strongly suspect any reports to the hotel or the police were brushed aside – neither the authorities nor the hotel were interested until The Sun and its photographer’s arrived on the scene.
Will all this excitement help me build a career as a journalist? Let us look at the evidence.
Thames Valley Police said in a statement: “We arrested a 48-year-old man at the Old Bank Hotel in Oxford. It was a discrepancy over his hotel bill.”
Not much evidence of my attempts to alert them to the presence of an international fraudster there.
The Sun said: Halligen, 48, who also uses the name Richard, was nicked on Tuesday after The Sun traced him to a swish hotel in Oxford.
Hmmn, The Sun traced him?
My fledgling career seems to be in the shade of The Sun. The mention of those magical words, the McCann’s and Trafigura had had the required effect; the forces of Law and Order had crept onto the scene in the wake of the commercial interests of the Canary Wharf behemoths, circulation was up, Halligen was arrested.
I had relied on going back to The Old Bank Hotel to work. I was invited to do so by two managers, confirmed in writing. However, they have decided my employment is ‘no longer required’ since the Halligen saga. I am reluctant to pass any form of judgement on them – I am sure they have valid reasons beyond my next sentence.
I strongly suspect, that by trying to enforce justice through the use of the MSM, albeit that in turn had helped to stop Kevin Halligen con the hotel itself, the Old Bank could not risk re-employing a trainee journalist who had revealed that they were harbouring an international fugitive. What other stories might I uncover in this hotel?
‘Bright lad seeks employment for University holidays, observant, determined, and persistent’.
- Twitted by in_media
- December 6, 2009 at 06:22