Crunch-hit tycoon scales down cash aid for the Madeleine McCann campaignBy Daniel Boffey
Last updated at 12:25 AM on 7th June 2009
Missing: But the parents of Madeleine McCann are paying to keep their daughter in the public eye
Brian Kennedy, who pledged to support the McCanns until Madeleine was found, has stopped paying for the couple’s media campaign after the credit crunch hit his business interests.
The Madeleine Fund – which is down to £500,000 and expected to be empty by the end of the year – is now paying for the media relations work of former BBC reporter Clarence Mitchell, although at a reduced rate.
The McCanns continue to regard a high-profile campaign as a crucial part of their efforts to find Madeleine, who went missing two years ago from her parents’ holiday apartment at Praia da Luz in Portugal.
But a source said Mr Kennedy, 49, who made his fortune in home improvements, had stopped paying the team promoting the McCanns’ investigation as part of a ‘costs-cutting exercise’.
Mr Kennedy saw his fortune dwindle from £350million to £300million over the past year, according to a newspaper Rich List.
However, he is still reportedly the joint 178th richest man in the UK through his company Latium, which owns Sale Rugby Club and Everest Double Glazing.
Losses: Brian Kennedy has stopped paying for the Madeleine McCann media campaign
‘Of course, it was also a way to cut costs given the state of the economy. The fund are paying a reduced rate for Mitchell to deal with the continuing Press attention.’
But the source added: ‘Kennedy continues to talk to Kate and Gerry and his lawyer is involved in the latest legal action against the former Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral. His wallet is there if needs be.
'This does not represent a scaling down. For example, his company funds the offices from which the investigators are working.’
The Madeleine Fund amassed over £1million in the first few months of the then three-year-old’s disappearance after an unprecedented public reaction.
However, it was immersed in controversy after it was revealed that money from the fund had covered two mortgage payments on the McCanns’ home.
The fund was also drawn upon heavily by private detective agencies hired by the McCanns and Mr Kennedy, including an American firm, which charged £500,000 for six months work.
It was replenished by defamation action against British media organisations. And this newspaper can reveal that the defamation case against Mr Amaral is expected to reap the McCanns a six-figure compensation fee.
But the couple and Mr Mitchell face the possibility that Mr Amaral, who was removed from the Portuguese police investigation for criticising the British police involved, will launch a legal action against them for defamation.
Campaign: The media force behind Kate and Gerry McCann to find Madeleine has even seen them interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey show
Detectives working for the McCanns are still hoping to interview convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett, who lives in Germany.
On Thursday he was interviewed in Aachen police station by two detectives from West Yorkshire over two offences in the Seventies.
Last night Brian Kennedy’s lawyer, Ed Smethurst, confirmed Mr Kennedy and Latium were no longer paying Mr Mitchell’s salary directly, but added: ‘They remain fully supportive of Kate and Gerry McCann and the search for their daughter.’
Search: Gerry McCann has never given up hope that they will find Madeleine
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