Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spanish Spies Like Us

Does the name Método 3 mean anything to you? It should do. Método 3 was the private-detective agency that went looking for Madeleine McCann. The agency no longer exists and its boss, Francisco Marco, is under investigation.

Let us, for a moment, take stock of where Spain is at, as it is fast resembling a sixties or seventies spoof movie: banana-republic, corrupt politicians, some of whom do in fact wear dark glasses and appear to have wandered onto the film set of a mafioso send-up movie (and there are one or two leading members of the church who do as well); Carry On Hunting, in which Sid James plays a pith-helmet-wearing royal taking aim at elephants in darkest Africa, surrounded by natives with grass loincloths (Bernard Bresslaw and Jack Douglas with several tins of boot polish); a Pussy Galore Bond girl, a German princess (played by a young Diana Dors with a dodgy accent), who hovers in royal circles, allegedly helping the ne'er-do-well son-in-law of a monarch (a similarly young Michael Caine with an even dodgier accent) to get contracts paid for with suitcases full of unmarked notes - again allegedly. Now we also have Austin Powers, Spanish national man of mystery, planting listening devices in vases of flowers. All that's missing is the cast of "Are You Being Served?" running into an attempted coup on the Costa Plonka.

La Camarga is a restaurant in Barcelona. It is one in which there are vases of flowers. Or in which there has been at least one vase of flowers with at least one hidden, secret microphone, one that recorded a conversation between the leader of the Partido Popular in Catalonia and the former girlfriend of Jordi Pujol (junior), son of the one-time president of Catalonia, also called Jordi Pujol. The conversation had to do with the movement of thousands of euros to an Andorran account by Jordi II and his ex. Neither of the parties to this conversation was aware of what was hidden in the flowers. They are now.

No sooner had the conversation's transcript been published in a Catalonian newspaper than it emerged that leading political figures from all parties in Catalonia had been spied on. Moreover, there were secret dossiers supposedly full of details of financial affairs being touted to anyone willing to pay to see their contents. And Método 3 had been the spies. It is said that there are some 20,000 files relating to individuals from politics and from business.

Marco and others have been arrested. Ten van loads of documents were driven away from offices and homes. All hell has been let loose as to who has been spied upon and who has been responsible for commissioning the spying. The Spanish interior minister had apparently been another who had been unaware of what was in a vase of flowers. The deputy leader of the Partido Popular nationally, Maria Dolores de Cospedal, is a supposed target of blackmail. The Spanish secret intelligence bureau, the Catalonian CiU party and the Catalonian Socialists have all been nominated as potential commissioners.

And there is more. Método 3 had, so it has been claimed, been spying on Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué. It is alleged that the club arranged for Método 3 to keep a check on his partying activities and his relationship with the singer Shakira. The club has sort of denied it. It has also emerged that Método 3 allegedly monitored phone calls made by the former treasurer of the PP, Luis Bárcenas, he who is at the centre of the Ledgergate scandal surrounding claims of a slush fund from which leading PP politicians, including Prime Minister Rajoy, were paid. In a seemingly unrelated incident, the apartment of Maria Antònia Munar, former leader of the Unió Mallorquina, was apparently broken into a few nights ago but nothing was taken except for some documents. And to cap it all, there is also a suggestion that the king's friend, Corinna Sayn-Wittgenstein (Diana Dors), has spied for the Spanish Government.

What in God's name is going on? The interior ministry has said that it is going to get to the bottom of all this espionage. Assuming it isn't being spied on, and the minister may well have been.

If all of this wasn't so serious, it would be high farce. What next? Brian Rix plays Rajoy scurrying across the boards at the Whitehall Theatre with his trousers round his ankles? Spain is fast becoming its own spoof comedy, its own parody. Hidden microphones in vases of flowers, for Heaven's sake ... . Oh, hang on a minute, I don't remember ordering that bouquet.

Any comments to please.

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