Madeleine McCann; Missing; OVER A YEAR!!! <SupportingMadeleine>

"MADELEINE MCCANN WENT MISSING ON THE 3RD OF MAY 2007 IN PORTUGAL WHEN SHE WAS ON HOLIDAY."

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Madeleine McCann - GET THE WHOLE STORY (29/05/2008 - Present) 5/31/08
 
Files: Investigation Inconclusive
1:41pm UK, Tuesday August 05, 2008

The files released by Portuguese police reveal prosecutors in the country thought the investigation uncovered "very little" conclusive about Madeleine's fate. In their final report, prosecutors looking at the case noted detectives had failed even to prove whether Madeleine McCann was dead or still alive.

The 17th and final volume of the files contains the final 58-page report written by public prosecutors Jose de Magalhaes e Menezes and Joao Melchior Gomes.

They said Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, did not "act with intent" in leaving their children alone in their holiday apartment on the night the child went missing.

The report said: "They could not predict that in the resort they chose to spend their holidays they could place the life of any of their children in danger."

And the prosecutors also noted that the McCanns were "already serving a heavy sentence" - Madeleine's disappearance - for going out for dinner without their children.

They added that Portuguese detectives were unable to achieve any proof which would allow "the formulation of any lucid, sensible, serious and honest conclusion" about the
circumstances of the child going missing."

And it added: "This includes, the most dramatic thing, ascertaining whether she is still alive or dead - which seems the most probable."

The prosecutors continued: "The investigators are fully conscious that their work is not exempt from imperfections.

"They worked with an enormous margin of error and they achieved very little in terms of conclusive results, especially about the fate of the unfortunate child...

"This is not, unfortunately, a detective novel, a crime scenario fit for the investigative efforts of a Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot, guided by the illusion that the forces of law and justice can always re-establish order."

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Police timeline: Madeleine McCann
1:08pm UK, Tuesday August 05, 2008

Sky News has translated a timeline from the files released by Portuguese police yesterday how the investigation took shape from the time Madeliene was reported missing.1. 3/ 05/07, 2240: Lagos police received call that a British national, a three-year-old girl, called Madeleine McCann was missing.

2. 3/05/07, 2300: Police and army arrive to join searches

3. 3/5/07: It was unclear how she had disappeared while sleeping with her two siblings while her parents dined 50 metres away.

2317: The Lagos police received a call from army saying that the parents were worried that she may have been abducted.

4. 3/5/07:The police chief immediately joined the search and asked the soldiers helping to preserve the apartment, as they joined the search already carried out by the father of the missing girl.

5. 0040: The police asked for additional reinforcements to the searches

6. Overnight the search area widened from the ocean club and neighbourhood to empty plots in the area

7. 4/5/07: As the girl had been missing more than 12 hours Portuguese police sent a police chief to head all searches

8. 4/5/07: Helicopters were included in the search

9. 4/5/07: Searches continued during the day and night of May 4. Due to the vegetation in the area police and army were searching extensively as a small child would not necessarily be visible from a distance

10. 4/5/07: On May 4 additional support was requested from traffic police in Albufeira to join the search

11. 5/5/07: On May 5 due to the lack of result over the previous two days of searches the searches became more systematic as police divided the area into 17 sectors

12. 6/5/07,0800: On the third day of searches, May 6 from 0800 the police had to start considering the hypothesis that the child had been abducted and if this was the case a new scenario would present itself that the child may be alive or dead (the latter being the most likely) and disposed of by an agressor. [P9-10 POINT 36 IN vol XII p200]

13. 6/5/07: Following this hypothesis police starting investigating the possibility that she may have been taken to a location quite far from where she was staying.

14. 8/5/07: On the 5th day of searches the police called on the coast guard to search the Bravura dam in case she had fallen in. After 72 hours a body would float to the surface.

Conclusion:

- searches between May 4 and May 10 were extended to a 15 km radius from the village of Praia de Luz.

- searches were extended to sea and lakes in the area with aid of the Marine authorities and using special equipement at their disposal.

- all areas were searched extensively and all avenues for finding the missing child were covered.

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What Detectives Asked the Tapas Seven
4:05pm UK, Tuesday August 05, 2008

Detectives in Portugal sent through a series of questions to all those who had dinner with Kate and Gerry McCann on the night Madeleine disappeared.


Here is a list of what they were sent:

1. How long have you known Gerald McCann and Kate Healy (Kate's maiden name) and in what capacity?

2. Have you seen Kate and Gerald at home with their children?

3. Have you been on holiday with them before? If yes can you describe how they looked after the children of an evening/night?

4.How often did you see Gerald and Kate during your holiday April 28 - May 3?

5. How often did you see their children: Madeleine, Sean and Amelie?

6. Did you have any concerns aobut the children in any way?

7. When was the last time you saw Madeleine?

8. On Thursday May 3 when did you see Kate and Gerald?

9. At what time did you arrive at the Tapas restaurant on May 3? Who was already there?

10. What were Kate and Gerald doing when you arrived?

11. Did you speak with Kate and Gerald?

12. How were they behaving?

13. Who left the table during the meal and to do what?

14. Did you see Gerald leave the table during the meal?At what time? How long was he away? What did he say when he came back? Was his behaviour or attitude different when he returned?

15. Did you see Jane leave the table during the meal? At what time? How long was she away? What did she say when she came back? Was her behaviour or attitude different when she returned?

16. Did you see Matthew leave the table during the meal? At what time? How long was he away? When did he say when he came back? Was his behaviour or attitude different when he returned?

17. Did you see Russell leave the table? At what time? How long was he away? What did he say when he came back? Was his behaviour or attitude different when he returned?

18. Did you see Kate leave the table during the meal? At what time? How long was she away? What did she say when he came back? How did she look and behave? Where you shocked at what she said? What did you do?

19. Did you go to the McCann apartment? Did you go into the bedroom where the children were sleeping? Can you describe what you saw? Did you see the twins? Did you notice anythin unusual about them?

20. What did you do next? Did you take part in any further searches? Who were you with?

21. How did Gerry react when Madeleine was not found in the first 10 minutes?

22. How do you think they were behaving considering Madeleine was gone?

23. What did you do between 10.30pm and 10am the next morning? Who did you see?

24. Who did you speak to?

25. When did you leave Portugal? How often did you see Kate and Gerry? How do you think Kate and Gerald were behaving for parents who had lost a child?

26.Did you see either Kate or Gerry speaking to anyone on holiday that you did not know?

27. Did you see either Kate or Gerald in a car during the holiday.

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Latest From the Madeleine Files
3:37pm UK, Friday August 08, 2008

Sky News is continuing to plough through the 30,000 pages of files released by Portuguese police that make up their investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

Refresh throughout the day to hear what they say.

:: The files show Portuguese police wanted to bug Kate and Gerry McCann to eavesdrop on their conversations before making the couple "arguidos", or
formal suspects, last summer.


On August 1 last year detectives requested permission to place two bugs in the McCanns' apartment in Praia da Luz and one in their car. They were refused permission. The McCanns' arguido status was lifted on July 21, when prosecutors shelved the
case.

:: Four families stayed in Kate and Gerry McCann's holiday apartment between the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine and further forensic searches, the case files say.

Just over a month after Madeleine went missing, flat 5A in Praia da Luz's Ocean Club resort was allowed to be occupied again. Despite the apartment being a crime scene, 11 people stayed there between June 12 and July 26 last year, raising the possibility that it was contaminated before fresh forensic examinations in August.

:: The case files show was another sighting of a girl resembling Madeleine in Belgium on May 27 last year. A Briton contacted police after seeing the child asleep on a train from Brussels to Antwerp, concluding she could have been drugged. She was accompanied by a balding 6ft white man aged about 40 who was wearing sports clothes. Leicestershire Police made a formal request through Interpol for the relevant train stations and surrounding areas to be checked for CCTV footage.

:: A lawyer in Guatemala accused the UK Government of intending to kidnap his daughter after the local British Consul told police he suspected she might be Madeleine McCann, the case files reveal.

Based on the Consul's tip-off, officials stopped a man with a young child resembling the missing girl in a shopping mall in Guatemala City in June last year. It turned out, though, he was her bodyguard and had been tasked with looking after the youngster while her mother shopped and had coffee. The Consul apologised for the mix-up but the child's family demanded a formal written apology from the British Embassy in Guatemala.

:: A Belgian woman reported seeing a young girl who looked "very much" like Madeleine with an Eastern European couple on a tram in Brussels 12 days after she disappeared, the files say.

:: Private detectives are investigating claims that Madeleine McCann was snatched to order for a Begian paedophile ring. Scotland Yard passed on a report from an informant who said a photo of a child on holiday in Portugal was taken and passed to a "purchaser" in Belgium days before she vanished.

:: Two police sniffer dogs picked up the same scent leading around the McCanns' apartment block after Madeleine went missing, the case files show. An aerial photograph included in the dossier shows that both animals followed identical routes from the front of apartment 5A in the Ocean Club resort. Portuguese police took the search dogs out on May 8 last year, five days after Madeleine vanished, after letting them sniff a towel used to dry Madeleine.

:: When they were taken out of the complex, the animals separately followed the path marked on the photograph. Experts concluded, though, it was difficult to make a "precise evaluation" as to whether the dogs had definitely picked up Madeleine's scent.

:: British sniffer dogs were brought at a later date.

:: Dutch shop worker Anna Stam, who said she may have seen Madeleine McCann in her shop has accused detectives of neglect.

:: The files show the FBI were also involved in the Madeleine case. They ran DNAtests when the body of a girl was washed up in Galveston Bay, Texas. The body turned out to be two-year-old murder victim Riley Ann Smith.

:: In Kate McCann's witness statement made to the police on September 6 last year she says she slept in her children's bedroom the night before Madeleine's disappearance after a row with husband Gerry. The statement, from the files, adds Madeleine slept in the same room as her parents on May 1.

:: A letter from the McCann's lawyer was sent to the Portuguese police on January 31 asking for information. The request was denied because of Kate and Gerry's arguido status at the time.

:: The files have revealed a letter written by Madeleine's mother Kate McCann to the head of the Portuguese police to keep the family informed about what was happening in the investigation.

:: A little girl calling herself "Maddy" and claiming to have been taken from her mother on holiday was seen in Amsterdam at the time Madeleine McCann disappeared, the case files show. The family's private detectives are pursuing the report

:: A document contained within the file from Portuguese police details why the McCanns were made Arguidos.

:: When police raided the McCann's rented villa in Praia a Luz they seized a bible and press clippings showing an advert for children's drug Calpol and an article about the McCann's "wall of silence"

:: Between 1 and 8 of August Portuguese police used sniffer dogs, trained to find human blood as well as people, to search five apartments at the holiday complex; Robert Murat's property in Praia Da Luz; the McCanns' new occupancy at Praia Da Luz; clothing from the McCann residence; Western beach in Praia Da Luz; Eastern beach in Praia Da Luz; 10 vehicles screened at Portimao.

:: Of the five apartments, the only report came from apartment 5a, the reported scene. The report said the dog alerted the rear bedroom in the immediate right-hand corner; the living room, behind the sofa; the veranda outside the parents' bedroom; the garden area directly under the veranda.

:: Nothing was found in Robert Murat's apartment or the McCanns' new apartment.

:: The Enhanced Vicitm Recovery dog (EVRD) did indicate one set of clothing. The report's author, though, says there are no further details.

:: The EVRD indicated a "scent" emitting from the right door of the McCann's car. It was then subject to a "full and physical examination and "no human remains were found."

:: The dog used to smell human blood was then tasked to screen the vehicle and alerted police to the "rear driver's side of the boot area". Forensic samples were taken and sent to a laboratory in the UK.

:: People from countries including Holland and Malta rang to inform police they had seen Madeleine. There was one "sighting" on a flight from New York to Brussels.

:: The files detail all kinds of other so-called sightings from people all over Europe and beyond.

:: Sky News has also found an email in the police files that was sent to Gerry McCann from a man claiming to know what happened to Madeleine. Police tracked it down to the Netherlands and found a cyber cafe with no CCTV. He/she asks for 2 million EUROS as a reward for the information, asking for an advance of 500,000.

:: The files show efits of two men based on descriptions from witnesses at the time. The files were sent to Interpol. Crucially, they were not given to the media.

:: Receipt from the "Tapas nine's" meal on the evening show that there was only two bottles of wine drunk between them.

:: Sky News has found a CCTV photocopy of Repsol petrol station on 4 May 2007 (day after Maddy disappeared) were a child matching Madeleine's description was spotted
Police have written "negativo" on it showing it wasn't Madeleine. There are several other pictures in different locations.

:: The files quote Portuguese public prosecuters who ruled their was "very little" conclusive in the police investigation with detectives failing to prove if Madeleine was dead or alive.

:: Sky News has translated a timeline by police taken from the files released yesterday showing events from when Madeleine's disappearance was reported to them and how the investigation took shape.

:: Among the pages of the Portuguese Madeleine file were a list of questions put to Kate McCann which she refused to answer.

:: The dossier shows a list of questions that were sent to British police to ask the so-called "Tapas seven."

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McCanns React To Release Of Files
1:23pm UK, Tuesday August 05, 2008

As Kate and Gerry McCann and their lawyers trawl through newly-released police files on their daughter's disappearance, their spokesman insists finding Madeleine remains the priority.

Clarence Mitchell tells Sky News that finding Madeleine remains top priority

Clarence Mitchell told Sky News that the couple's lawyers were "very thoroughly" going through thousands of pages of evidence handed to them by police last week.

"The lawyers could in theory, if they wanted to, take action or look for legal redress at some stage but that is absolutely not the priority now," Mr Mitchell said.

"There could be one little nugget in there, in those tens of thousands of pages...that could lead to Madeleine, and that's the priority."

"In a way it is poignant because going through it you are revisiting everything that happened again in immense detail." Clarence Mitchell on the Madeleine McCann police file

Mr Mitchell also hit out at the Portuguese police, who told Gerry McCann during questioning that Madeleine's DNA was found in the boot of the McCanns' hire car.

It has since emerged that the evidence was inconclusive.

Mr Mitchell said: "There seriously are questions as to what they were trying to achieve by overpresenting evidence in that way.

"It was wrong, they did not have that evidence and they could not justifiably claim to have that evidence."

It is expected to take a long time for lawyers to analyse the extensive files, which comprise photographs, transcripts, video and documents which need to be translated from Portuguese.

But Mr Mitchell said "money was not an issue for the moment", with more than �400,000 remaining in the Find Madeleine fund.

He said it was "very much" the case that the McCanns still believed that their daughter - who disappeared from her bedroom in the couple's Praia da Luz apartment on May 3 last year - was still alive.

"That's the hope they have to cling to. There is absolutely no evidence that she has been harmed, let alone has been killed as many just assume.

"And in fact the longer this goes on, without any trace of her whatsoever, in a way they draw more strength from that."

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Madeleine: Secrets Are Out
Greg Milam
August 05, 2008 7:51 AM

So this is 'judicial secrecy' in action?

Sitting on the steps of a public prosecutor's office waiting for a dvd containing EVERY single detail of an investigation.

And then passing that information on to millions of people around the world.

That's what happened to the 17-volumes of the Madeleine McCann file in the steaming heat of Portugal yesterday.

You can almost hear the ringmaster: "See for yourselves every crime scene photo, read every statement and wince at how the Portuguese police misused the forensic evidience."

It all seems a little strange after the months of being told by investigators: "We can't say anything."

It must seem equally strange, probably infuriating, for witnesses whose telephone numbers were released in the file.

The release is a fact of legal life in Portugal but the authorities must have been gearing themselves up for a torrent of new criticism this time.

After all, they know that the McCann case still prompts strong emotions and opinions.

And it is clear that the couple were subjected to interview pressure on the basis of very flaky DNA results.

The McCanns had planned not to say anything about the files until their own lawyers had finished going through them.

But their spokesman Clarence Mitchell has ended up having to make a tour of the TV studios to offer their thoughts.

He won't do this every day, he says, but the family felt they HAD to respond to what was being released.

Of course, the McCanns already know much of what the rest of us are learning for the first time.

They were there when those dramatic interviews took place, they saw the apartment on the night Madeleine disappeared.

What they want is far simpler: a small, so far unnoticed detail that their detectives can follow up and help the search.

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What Detectives Asked Kate McCann
12:54pm UK, Tuesday August 05, 2008

OK... THIS IS THE ACTUAL QUESTIONS THE POLICE ASKED KATE, PLEASE NOTE THAT SHE DID NOT ANSWER ANY OF THEM EXCEPT THE LAST QUESTION....

Kate McCann did not answer 48 questions

She used her right as an "arguido", or formal suspect, to remain silent during an interview on September 7 last year.

Mrs McCann has always strenuously denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance and her status as an official suspect was lifted on July 21.


1. At around 10pm on May 3 when you entered the apartment what did you see? What did you do? Where did you look? What did you touch?

2. Did you search inside the bedroom wardrobe? (She replied she wouldn't answer).

3. (After being shown two photographs of her bedroom wardrobe) Can you describe its contents?

4. Why had the curtain behind the sofa in front of the side window (which was shown on a photo) been tampered with? Did someone go behind the sofa?

5. How long did your search of the apartment take after you detected Madeleine's disappearance?

6. Why did you say from the start that Madeleine had been abducted?

7. Assuming Madeleine had been abducted, why did you leave the twins alone to go to the "Tapas" and raise the alarm? The supposed abductor could have been in the apartment.

8. Why didn't you ask the twins at the time what had happened to their sister or why did you not ask later?

9. When you raised the alarm at the "Tapas" what exactly did you say?

10. What happened after you raised the alarm?

11. Why did you go and warn your friends instead of shouting from the apartment's veranda?

12. Who contacted the authorities?

13. Who took part in the searches?

14. Did anyone outside the group learn of Madeleine's disappearance in the following minutes?

15. Did any neighbour offer help after the disappearance?

16. What does "we let her down" mean?

17. Did Jane tell you that night that she had seen a man with a child?

18. How were the authorities contacted and which police force was alerted?

19. During the searches with the police already there, where did you search for Madeleine, how and in what way?

20. Why did the twins not wake up during the search or when they were taken upstairs?

21. Who did you phone after the occurrence?

22. Did you phone Sky News?

23.Did you know the danger of calling the media, because it could influence the abductor?

24. Did you ask for a priest?

25. By what means did you describe Madeleine's features, by photographs or other means?

26. Is it true that during the searches you remained seated on Madeleine's bed without moving?

27. What was your behaviour that night?

28. Did you manage to sleep?

29. Before traveling to Portugal did you make any comment about a foreboding or bad feeling?

30. What was Madeleine's behaviour like?

31. Did Maddeleine suffer from any illness or take any medication?

32. What was Madeleine's relationship like with her brother and sister?

33. What was Madeleine's relationship like with her brother and sister, friends and her school mates?

34. In terms of your professional life, in how many and in which hospitals have you worked?

35. What is your medical speciality?

36. Have you ever done any shift work in any emergency services or other services?

37. Did you work every day?

38. At a certain point you stopped working. Why was this?

39. Are the twins difficult to get to sleep? Are they restless? Does this cause you uneasiness?

40. Is it true that sometimes you despaired with your children's behaviour and that left you feeling very uneasy?

41. Is it true that in England you had considered handing over Madeleine's custody to a relative?

42. In England, did you medicate your children? What type of medication?

43. In the case files you were shown canine forensic testing films, where you can see them marking due to detection of the scent of human corpse and blood traces - also human - as well as all the comments of the technician in charge of them. After watching and after the marking of the scent of corpse in your bedroom beside the wardrobe and behind the sofa, pushed up against the sofa wall, did you say you couldn't explain any more than you already had?

44. When the sniffer dog also marked human blood behind the sofa, did you say you couldn't explain any more than you already had?

45. When the sniffer dog marked the corpse coming from the vehicle you hired a month after the disappearance, did you say you couldn't explain anymore than you already had?

46. When human blood was marked in the boot of the vehicle did you say you couldn't explain anymore than you already had?

47. When confronted with the results of Madeleine's DNA, whose analysis was carried out in a British laboratory, collected from behind the sofa and the boot of the vehicle, did you say you couldn't explain more than you already had?

48. Did you have any responsibility or intervention in your daughter's disappearance?

A Question answered:

Are you aware that in not answering the questions you are jeopardizing the investigation, which seeks to discover what happened to your daughter?

KM: "Yes, if that's what the investigation thinks."

NOW, WHY, WHY DID KATE ONLY ANSWER ONE QUESTIONS KNOWING THAT IF SHE WOULD OF ANSWERED QUESTIONS IT COULD OF HELPED FIND MADELINE...?

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Sketch Of Final Madeleine 'Sighting'
12:53pm UK, Tuesday August 05, 2008

A map showing where a man was seen carrying a child on the night Madeleine McCann vanished has been released by Portuguese detectives.

The map was among thousands of papers in the Madeleine case dossier.

The drawing, produced by a friend of Gerry and Kate McCann, may show the last place the youngster was seen before she vanished without a trace.

It was released along with pictures of the McCanns' holiday apartment and thousands of pages of evidence compiled by police investigating Madeleine's disappearance.
One of the documents lists the police questions Kate McCann refused to answer after being named an arguida - or official suspect - in the case.

Another showed that detectives claimed Madeleine's DNA had been found in her parents' hire car, despite a British scientist's warning days earlier that tests were inconclusive.

The revelation led a McCann family friend to accuse Portuguese officers of trying to extract a confession from Madeleine's father by lying about the results of forensic analysis.

Authorities released the police files yesterday after lifting the period of judicial secrecy in the case.

The dossier includes details of the lines of inquiry pursued by detectives, forensic reports and witness statements and transcripts of interviews with Mr McCann and his wife Kate.

Among the files is an email dated September 3, 2007, written by senior British forensic scientist John Lowe to Det Supt Stuart Prior, head of the UK side of the investigation.

Mr Lowe, from the major incidents team at the Birmingham-based Forensic Science Service, said it was impossible to conclude whether a sample from the McCanns' hire car came from their daughter Madeleine.

Four days later Portuguese detectives named Mr and Mrs McCann as formal suspects in the child's disappearance, citing forensic evidence as grounds for their suspicions.

Police then categorically told Mr McCann in interview that his daughter's DNA had been found in the family's Renault Scenic hire car.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, told Sky News: "I can confirm that the Portuguese police put it to Gerry as a fact that Madeleine's DNA had been found in the apartment and the vehicle, when it is now clear that that was not the case, and that the initial FSS report had said the findings were inconclusive.

"You have to ask what the police were trying to achieve by over-presenting evidence that they did not have, and clearly could not claim to have."

He added: "All that matters is the search for Madeleine.

"Kate and Gerry's lawyers are continuing to examine all of the information in minute detail and where anything that is relevant to finding Madeleine needs to be done it will be."

Madeleine was nearly four when she vanished from her family's holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 last year as her parents dined with friends nearby.

Despite a huge police investigation and massive coverage in the Portuguese and British media, she has not been found.

On July 21 Portuguese prosecutors announced they were shelving the case, although it can be reopened if credible new evidence comes to light.

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Kate McCann's Interview Silence
9:11am UK, Tuesday August 05, 2008

Kate McCann refused to answer 48 questions put to her by Portuguese detectives after she was made a suspect in Madeleine's disappearance, police files have revealed.

She used her right as an "arguido", or formal suspect, to remain silent during an interview on September 7.

Officers quizzed her about everything from her medical specialism and Madeleine's behaviour to whether she had any responsibility for her daughter's disappearance.

Detectives started by asking Mrs McCann about her movements immediately after she discovered that her daughter was missing at about 10pm on May 3 last year, a document in the massive police dossier that has just been released shows.

She was asked where she looked, what she touched and whether she searched inside the master bedroom's wardrobe.

The questioning turned to the raising of the alarm and the involvement of the media.

Officers asked Mrs McCann general questions about her relationship with her children and her work.

The 40th question was: Is it true that sometimes you despaired with your children's behaviour and that left you feeling very uneasy?

It was followed by: Is it true that in England you even considered handing over Madeleine's custody to a relative?

Mrs McCann was also invited to comment on the evidence of sniffer dogs and DNA testing on samples taken from the McCanns' holiday apartment and hire car.

The final unanswered question was: Did you have any responsibility or intervention in your daughter's disappearance?

The files show that the only question Mrs McCann did answer was: "Are you aware that in not answering the questions you are jeopardising the investigation, which seeks to discover what happened to your daughter?"

She replied: "Yes, if that's what the investigation thinks."

Mrs McCann has always strenuously denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance and her status as an official suspect was lifted on July 21

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Madeleine Files: Secrets Revealed
12:05am UK, Tuesday August 05, 2008

Thousands of pages of evidence from the Portuguese police investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance have been made public.

The documents include forensic details as well as interviews with Kate and Gerry McCann.

There are also previously unseen official pictures from inside the apartment where the family was staying when Madeleine went missing - including a photo of the bed in which she had been sleeping.

The police files from the exhaustive inquiry, which lasted more than 14 months, were made public this afternoon after the shelving of the case a fortnight ago.

The mammoth dossier - said to run to 20,000 pages - includes details of the lines of inquiry pursued by detectives, witness statements and transcripts of interviews with the little girl's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann.

The files were released under Portuguese law after the period of judicial secrecy in the case was lifted.

Lawyers for the McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, were formally given access to the files last week.

They are studying the dossier for fresh leads that the couple's private detectives can follow up in their own search for their daughter.

Couple had access to files last week

The files have revealed that detectives categorically told Mr McCann in interview that Madeleine's DNA had been found in the hire car.

Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell told Sky News: "I can confirm that the Portuguese police put it to Gerry as a fact that Madeleine's DNA had been found in the apartment and the vehicle, when it is now clear that that was not the case, and that the initial FSS report had said the findings were inconclusive.

"You have to ask what the police were trying to achieve by over-presenting evidence that they did not have, and clearly could not claim to have."

Mr Mitchell also said: "All that matters is the search for Madeleine. Kate and Gerry's lawyers are continuing to examine all of the information in minute detail and where anything that is relevant to finding Madeleine needs to be done it will be."

Until now Portugal's strict "segredo de justica" - or secrecy of justice - laws have limited the flow of information about the Madeleine inquiry.

The legislation is supposed to ban anyone linked to an ongoing police investigation from speaking about it, but has not stopped a series of leaks.

The McCanns repeatedly complained about restricted information being made public, and the couple believe there was a concerted smear campaign against them.

Concerns were also raised at the top level in Portugal, with the country's justice minister, Alberto Costa, describing the leaks as "worrying" in February.

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McCann Lawyers See Police Files
9:51am UK, Tuesday July 22, 2008

Lawyers for Gerry and Kate McCann will be looking for unexplored leads later this week as they are given access to the files compiled by detectives investigating Madeleine's disappearance.

This will help the couple's private investigators continue their search for the missing girl - and possibly lead to a legal action against Portuguese authorities.

After having their status as "arguidos" or formal suspects lifted, the McCanns have not ruled out suing the police who they say wrongly accused them of involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.

Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell told Sky News: "By the end of this week, lawyers will have complete access to everything.

"They will have three weeks to examine it in detail and feed that all back to Gerry and Kate and the private investigators."

He went on: "They want to find their daughter - it's as simple as that and this information is a key element in that.

"They are relieved, of course, that they are no longer 'arguido' or suspect but frankly the whole thing was an unnecessary, wrongly imposed distraction."

Asked if the McCanns intend to take legal action against the Portuguese police, he said: "They will not hesitate from taking action if they feel it is necessary."

The couple, both 40, now have "a sense of being free" but have been left "drained by the whole thing".

He said: " Of course they are angry but it's not the time for throwing accusations around or pointing the finger of blame."

The focus is back on the search for their daughter, said Mr Mitchell, as the couple "cling to the hope that she is alive".

Gerry and Kate McCann looked drawn and tired as they addressed a press conference in their home village of Rothley, Leicestershire, last night.

Mrs McCann read a brief statement in which she made a fresh appeal for information about Madeleine's whereabouts and vowed to keep looking for her daughter.

Answering questions from journalists, her husband refused to rule out either going back to Portugal or taking legal action against the Portuguese authorities.

Mr McCann said: "We don't have any immediate plans to return to Portugal at the moment.

"Obviously we want to digest the statement and also to get access to the files to see what can still be done."

He said any legal action would be "secondary" to finding their daughter.

Madeleine was nearly four when she vanished from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3 last year as her parents dined in a tapas restaurant with friends nearby.

After an exhaustive investigation lasting more than 14 months, Portuguese prosecutors announced that they had no evidence that the three suspects in the case committed any crimes.

The inquiry can be reopened if credible new evidence comes to light, the Portuguese attorney-general's office said.

Ex-detective Goncalo Amaral, who was removed from the case last October after criticising British police, will publish a book containing allegations against the couple on Thursday.

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McCanns Continue Madeleine Search
9:59pm UK, Monday July 21, 2008

The parents of Madeleine McCann have promised to keep searching for her after the police investigation into her disappearance was closed and they were cleared of any involvement.

Portugal's Attorney General announced earlier that the police investigation had been shelved.

But Kate and Gerry McCann said they would continue to "leave no stone unturned" in their search.

The case was closed because of lack of evidence but could be reopened at any time if important information comes to light, according to Fernando Jose Pinto Monteiro's office.

The 14-month investigation uncovered no evidence of a crime by the three people named as arguidos or official suspects, the McCanns and Robert Murat.

Their arguido status has now been lifted.

Speaking at a news conference in their home town of Rothley, Leicestershire, Mrs McCann said: "We welcome the news today although it is no cause for celebration.

"It is hard to describe how utterly despairing it was to be named arguido and subsequently portrayed in the media as suspects in our own daughter's abduction - and worse.

"Equally, it has been devastating to witness the detrimental effect this status has had on the search for Madeleine."

Lawyers for the couple will be able to examine the police files relating to the investigation of Madeleine's disappearance by the end of this week, according to their spokesman Clarence Mitchell.

Mrs McCann said: "We look forward to scrutinising the police files to see what has actually been done and more importantly what can still be done as we leave no stone unturned in the search for our little girl.

"We would once again urge anyone with relevant information who has not yet come forward to please do so."

Sky's crime correspondent Martin Brunt said Mr and Mrs McCann would be hoping to find new leads from the police file on the case.

Speaking from Praia daLuz, the resort where Madeleine went missing in May last year, he said: "The McCanns and their lawyers will still be anticipating that they should get an early sight of the police file, enough to give them and their private investigators new leads to follow.

"Everything in that file will have been investigated by Portuguese authorities to some degree.

"But the McCanns think there is a possibility in some areas that their own investigators can do better."

Meanwhile, Robert Murat told Sky News Online from his family home in Portugal: "I am very relieved - there's no doubt about that.

"It's a relief for me and my family."

But he said it was no time for celebration. He added: "There's a little girl still missing out there who needs to be found, so it's a time for relief but not for celebration.

"We can now put this behind us and get on with our lives - that's what I want to do."

Asked whether he was still in shock after hearing the news he said: "I think if you spend 15 months under a cloud of suspicion none of this feels entirely real."

Mr Murat heard the news through his lawyer Francisco Pagarette.

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'We Knew Madeleine Hunt Was Over'
3:27pm UK, Wednesday July 02, 2008

Greg Milam, In Praia da Luz

Fourteen months after Madeleine McCann disappeared, Portuguese authorities appear ready to officially give up the search for her - and in the resort of Praia da Luz, no one is surprised.

Locals and the large British ex-pat community say the latest move is simply making formal what they have long thought: that the police effort is over.

But the Portuguese media has offered a variety of possible outcomes.

Correio da Manha, which broke the news that police wanted the case closed, says it will be filed as a "homicide".

It reports that police will officially declare they believe the case was "violent crime" after which "the body was hidden".

And the national daily Diario de Noticias carried a four-page special on the latest developments. It says "the Public Ministry is thinking about more investigations."


"Maybe the police, like the Portuguese public, have simply grown weary of a story that never moves on" Sky's Europe correspondent Greg Milam


There is very little evidence of the Madeleine McCann mystery in the Algarve these days. Resorts, including Praia da Luz, are full of holidaymakers well aware of what happened here last May.

The apartment from which she disappeared remains a macabre talking point in the centre of Praia.

Ever since Kate and Gerry McCann left in September, shortly after being declared official suspects, the area has been trying to return to normal.

But locals have told Sky News that the search for Madeleine has suffered as a result.

"We don't see the police looking for her. We don't see anyone doing anything. It is so sad for her parents," said one.

Officially, Portuguese authorities say no decision has been made on whether the case should be closed. Police have told prosecutors they have gone as far as they can with their investigation.

They could be ordered to pursue lines of inquiry or the prosecutor could agree that the case should be archived. It would only be re-opened if significant new evidence came to light.

The news came in a bald statement: "In the Madeleine McCann case, the final report from the Judicial Police has been sent to the Ministry of State for their consideration. The Ministry of State will analyse all the evidence in order to decide whether it is appropriate, having examined every aspect, to close the case."

It is still unclear whether the McCann's "arguido" status would be automatically lifted if the case is shelved.

Portugal's attorney general has also announced that the judicial secrecy restrictions which surround the case will remain in place until the middle of August. It had been hoped they would be lifted this week.

The McCanns are also hoping any developments will result in them being granted access to police files.

They believe there could be leads and information that their own private investigators should follow up.

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McCanns Want Judge's Rule On Files
4:10pm UK, Monday June 23, 2008

Gerry and Kate McCann are to ask a High Court judge to order the release of police files on their daughter's disappearance.

Madeleine McCann went missing from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, in May last year.

Portuguese secrecy laws have since left her parents in the dark on much of the police investigation.

The McCanns and the private detective agency they are employing want to examine the potential lines of inquiry as part of their own search.

However, police in their home county of Leicestershire, who lead the British arm of the official investigation, have so far stuck to an agreement with their counterparts in Portugal on the non-disclosure of information.

The couple made their daughter a ward of court, which empowers judges to act in Madeleine McCann's best interests in a legal dispute.

They hope their application to Mrs Justice Hogg, listed for the Family Division of the High Court on July 7, will give them access to the police files on various reported sightings.

Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, said: "I am limited in what I can say as matters are sub judice and relate to a minor.

"I can state that, on the instigation of Gerry and Kate McCann, Madeleine is a ward of the High Court of England and Wales.

"An application has been made on Madeleine's behalf by her parents for the disclosure of certain documents.

"The case and the judgement may be in public and this will be a matter for the court to decide.

"It has been the stated intention of Gerry and Kate to leave no stone unturned in doing everything necessary in the search for their daughter, as would any other parent.

"This application is just part of their search for Madeleine."

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McCanns In New Child Alert Appeal
9:08am UK, Tuesday June 17, 2008

The parents of Madeleine McCann are visiting Strasbourg in a fresh attempt to win support for a Europe-wide child abduction alert system.

Gerry and Kate McCann need the signatures of another 182 MEPs by the end of July to ensure their initiative is sent to the EU President and published.

Even with the support, the McCanns' idea would carry no legal weight in the European Union, but the couple - whose daughter disappeared in May last year - believe it would help them win a moral argument over whether such a cross-border system is needed.

The couple visited Brussels in April to launch their campaign and have so far gained the support of 211 MEPs.

They hope that their presence at the other European Parliament building will help them reach the 393 mark they need.

The couple, from Rothley in Leicestershire, will take part in a series of meetings with parliament members throughout the day.

Clarence Mitchell, their spokesman, said: "Kate and Gerry are confident that this can be achieved but they accept that there's a lot to be done. They remain
confident but they are not naive."

Mr Mitchell said that Mrs McCann had led a "sustained email campaign" as part of the effort, sending messages urging MEPs to sign up.

Speaking in the latest blog on the Find Madeleine website, Mr McCann revealed his frustrations in persuading members that such a system is needed.

He said: "Some of the responses that have been sent display a complete lack of understanding in what we hope to achieve.

"We are looking for cross border cooperation between member states when a child is abducted. Hopefully with more lobbying, we can get the declaration accepted."

The couple will hold a news conference at the end of their day of campaigning.

Madeleine went missing from her family's holiday apartment, in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3 last year.

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Gerry Denies Receiving Mystery Texts
Updated:09:02, Thursday May 29, 2008

Gerry McCann has denied he received a string of mystery texts the day before his daughter disappeared in the Algarve.

According to court documents issued by Portugal's supreme court, police applied to seize his phone records after learning of the alleged messages.

Investigators claim 18 text messages were sent to Mr McCann from an unidentified number around the time Madeleine vanished in Praia da Luz on May 3 last year.

It is alleged that 14 messages were texted on May 2 and four more on May 4.

But the McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said Gerry had no knowledge of the texts and received a handful of calls on his mobile in the days before his daughter disappeared.

The documents reveal that public prosecutor Magalhaes e Meneses also sought access to text and phone messages from 10 mobile telephones thought to belong to the McCanns and seven of their friends.

He also asked for a full list of all the calls made between the group from when they arrived in Portugal on April 28 and when the McCanns left on September 9.

But the supreme court issued a detailed ruling rejecting the application.

It also revealed that Kate and Gerry McCann could face charges of neglecting their daughter on the night she disappeared.

The police inquiry also covers possible abduction, homicide and concealment of a corpse, the documents say.

But Mr Mitchell emphasised the court papers did not mean such a charge would materialise.

He said the couple vigorously denied neglecting Madeleine and welcomed the fact that abduction was also being considered by detectives.

Madeleine went missing last year

He said: "This court document outlines the areas of the investigation and in no way suggests Kate and Gerry will be facing any such charges.

"Equally we have heard nothing officially to suggest any such area of investigation is being considered.

"However, we do note that abduction is apparently one of the parameters and we welcome that because that is what Kate and Gerry and their friends have said and that is what happened.

"If there is any suggestion of neglect charges being considered that will be vigorously denied because the legal advice that Kate and Gerry have received both in Portugal and Britain is that legally speaking everything they were doing that week was well within the bounds of responsible parenting."

A neglect charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years. But it is understood for such a charge to stand up the prosecutors would have to show the McCanns intended to neglect Madeleine.
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Madeleine McCann - GET THE WHOLE STORY (01/05/2008 - 29/05/2008) 5/3/08
 
UK Release Of Toddler Abduction Film

Matt Smith
Entertainment correspondent
Updated:08:58, Thursday May 29, 2008

A film that was shelved because of its likeness to the Madeleine McCann case is finally getting a UK release.

Plot centres on abducted child

The fictional tale of an abducted four year old, 'Gone Baby Gone' was pulled last September because it was thought too sensitive for British audiences.

The story centres on a girl who gets kidnapped from her bed after her mother leaves her alone in the house.

Madeleine McCann, also four, vanished from a holiday apartment in the Algarve on 3 May 2007 while her parents ate at a nearby tapas restaurant.

It was that similarity that led bosses at Disney to cancel its UK release until now.

The film's director is former actor Ben Affleck. Although frustrated at the delay, he backed the decision to postpone the release.

"I frankly felt proud to be involved with a company that made a tasteful choice rather than a crass choice. I figured people can eventually see the movie.

"That's not quite as important as making a choice based on discretion, good taste and being respectful," he told Sky News.

In the thriller, two detectives - played by Affleck's younger brother Casey and Michelle Monaghan - search for the abducted girl after she vanishes in Boston.

Ben Affleck directed the film

Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris also star in the drama, which was produced, directed and co-written by Affleck.

At the time of the film's delay, Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann publicly thanked Ben Affleck for postponing the film - even though it had no connection with their daughter's disappearance.

The film and the book it was based on were both produced before Madeleine went missing.

Casey Affleck told Sky News: "The movie was filmed two years ago, way before anything ever happened so obviously it has no bearing, it wasn't based on the case at all."

The film has already been a critical hit in the US - now it has been decided the time is right for British audiences to finally see it.

It goes on release across the UK on June 6.
- - - - - -

Film Held Up By McCann Case Released
A film that was shelved because of its similarity to the Madeline McCann case is finally getting a UK release. The fictional tale of an abducted four year old, 'Gone Baby Gone' was held back from cinemas last September. Sky's Matt Smith reports
- - - - - -

Madeleine Reconstruction Called Off
Updated:23:44, Tuesday May 27, 2008

A reconstruction of the night Madeleine McCann disappeared has been scrapped after members of the so-called "Tapas Seven" refused to take part.

Missing: Madeleine McCann

Portuguese police had invited Gerry and Kate McCann back to Praia da Luz to take part in the event later this week along with the friends they were dining with when Madeleine vanished on May 3, last year.

The McCanns' spokesman said the decision had been taken by all of the couple's friends.

Clarence Mitchell said: "The friends had a number of serious questions about the value of the reconstruction and what it would do to help find Madeleine.

"After some discussion, they have informed the Portuguese authorities that they do not intend to go back."

He added: "Gerry and Kate have not refused to go back. They were aware of their friends' view and they are now not needed for the reconstruction."

Mr Mitchell said there were questions over the usefulness of a reconstruction more than a year after the event and how it would help find the four-year-old if it was not to be televised.

"Frankly," he insisted, "the police and the authorities in Portugal did not answer the simple question: What will this do to help find Madeleine? And that is why this proposal did not have legs."

It is the second time it has been put off and the McCanns have always been reluctant to take part.

The couple are still considered official suspects or 'arguidos' in the case.

Sky's Martin Brunt said: " It was only a request from the Portuguese police, not a demand.

"The McCanns felt that many months ago their own suggestion of a reconstruction had been turned down.

"They felt that there would only be a good reason to hold such a reconstruction if it was used as a widely televised appeal for help and information."
- - - - - -

May 27,2008

Madeleine Reconstruction Scrapped
Portuguese police have abandoned plans for a reconstruction of when Madeleine McCann went missing because some of the McCanns' friends who were in Portugal that night have been unable to take part. Martin Brunt has more
- - - - - -

Police Delay Release Of Madeleine Papers

By Paul Harrison
Sky News reporter
Updated:14:29, Thursday May 15, 2008

Kate and Gerry McCann say a three month delay in the release of details of the investigation into the disappearance of their daughter does nothing to help find Madeleine.

McCanns: Delay does not help

Details of the case were set to be released On May 15, but under pressure from prosecutors in Portugal, the state attorney has agreed to extend investigation 'secrecy' until August 15th.

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said "Kate and Gerry McCann's lawyers in Portugal have not even been officially told. We are of course aware of the media reports about the three month extension, and we are not at all surprised."

"The issue is, does this judicial secrecy help the investigation in any way? We would say not."

"We're not saying anything further until the family's lawyer in Portugal is told about the extension."

Portugal's penal code states secrecy can only be imposed on an investigation for eight months. Then, if no-one if charged, details of interviews and evidence are made public. But in exceptionally complex cases, this period can be extended.

Speaking to Sky News, the spokesperson for Portugal's state attorney confirmed a three month restriction on divulging information concerning the case had been agreed, but wouldn't say if further restrictions were likely.

"The public prosecutor requested and the judge agreed that the time of the period of secrecy should be extended for three months." said Paula Lima in Lisbon

When asked if the period of 'secrecy' would end after the three month extention on August 15th or be extended even further, Ms Lima said: "I cannot talk about what will happen afterwards, I'm sorry".

But Portuguese law specialist Lita Gale said the McCanns may have to wait even longer for details of the case to be released: "The period of secrecy can be extended only if new evidence comes to light or there's sufficient reason to do so. It's quite possible that on August 15th another three month extension could be put in place.

"But if there aren't sufficient grounds, then the investigation would be forced to close. It's not in anyone's interest to prolong this unneccesarily."
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'Disturbing Similarities' With Madeleine

Alex Watts
Sky News Online
Updated:12:48, Monday May 12, 2008

The family of a girl who vanished just seven miles from the Portuguese resort where Madeleine McCann disappeared are convinced the cases are connected.

On the day of Madeleine's fifth birthday, Joana Cipriano's relatives have urged detectives to investigate links between the two disappearances - saying there are too many disturbing similarities for the evidence to be ignored.

Joana, eight, was sent to buy some groceries from a village store near her home in Figueira, at around 8pm on September 12, 2004.

She bought a tin of tuna and some milk from the Ofelia store, and was last seen by a neighbour walking back near the village church, some 200 yards from her home.

Joana never returned and, like the McCanns, her mother Leonor mounted a campaign to find her. Like them, she and her brother Joao became suspects.

The case, which ended with the pair being sentenced to 21 years, made Portuguese legal history - it was the first murder trial where a body was never found.

Police officers are due to go on trial later this year for allegedly beating and torturing Leonor to make her confess.

Joana's relatives told Sky News Online the pair are innocent and believe whoever took the girl is also behind Madeleine's disappearance, seven miles away in Praia da Luz.

The family, who do not want to be named, said: "This sort of thing doesn't happen in Portugal - child abductions are very rare.

"Whoever took Joana took Madeleine too, the distance is too small. And the police ignored everything we told them, they just wanted to solve the case quickly.

"They didn't look at any of the things we told them about."

Paper published photo of Leonor's bruised face after allegations

They said the most crucial bit of evidence was a white and brown camper van, parked near Joana's home in the days before she was abducted.

The vehicle, with German number plates, disappeared around the time she vanished.

They added: "There was a man living in there, but he hardly left the van. A week later the van was found abandoned in farmland in Praia da Luz. We told the police to investigate it, but they didn't listen to us."

She said the man had short, curly brown hair and was about 40 years old.

A suspect in the Madeleine case, spotted acting suspiciously near the apartment where she vanished on May 3 last year, was described as between 35 and 40, with long, straggly hair.

Joana was last seen near church

Criminologist and child protection expert Mark Williams-Thomas believes there are far too many similarities between the two cases for it not to be a strong line of police inquiry.

He says that because of the huge doubts over the Cipriano convictions, whoever abducted Joana is more than likely to be behind Madeleine's disappearance.

Like Madeleine's case, the police investigation got off to a bad start, with officers failing to seal off the house where she was last seen.

Leonor alleges police beat her to make her confess. A photograph of her heavily-bruised face was published in Portuguese newspapers.

Goncalo Amaral, a senior detective who was sacked from the Madeleine case, is one of the five officers charged in connection with extracting the confession.

The indictment reportedly alleges that they kicked her, hit her with a cardboard tube, put a plastic bag over her head, and made her kneel on glass ashtrays.

Amaral faces charges of negligence and perjury, another officer is accused of fabricating a document, and the three others are charged with torture.
- - - - - -

May 12,2008

Sky Man Returns To Praia Da Luz
Almost a year on from Madeleine McCann's disappearance, Sky News Online's Alex Watts has been to the apartment from where she vanished to try to understand what might have happened on that night.
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Madeleine Reporting Coming To An End

Alex Watts in Praia da Luz
Updated:06:06, Monday May 05, 2008

Kate and Gerry McCann will soon get their wish of stepping out of the public eye, according to reporters in Praia da Luz covering the one-year anniversary of their daughter's disappearance.

Balloons released for MadeleineT

he couple believe the coverage is "unsustainable" and hope the attention will fade after Madeleine's fifth birthday on May 12.

And so do many members of the press pack that descended on the sleepy Algarve resort at the weekend.

The place was swamped by media, with agitated scenes and plenty of jostling outside the church as McCann representatives released balloons.

But there was a feeling that, just like the familiar yellow and green balloons, the media frenzy would soon burst too.

Britain's national newspapers and TV stations already seem to have lost interest.

The Sunday Mirror - which has been as keen on 'Maddie' as any other paper - demoted the anniversary to page 11 in its European edition.

And even Portuguese broadcasters and British local media - for whom, of course, it is a far bigger story - think it is on the slide.

Portuguese channel SIC built a TV studio on scaffolding outside the McCann flat, and devoted most of their evening news programme to it.

But the crew were convinced this would be the last big Madeleine event.

One told Sky News Online: "If there's a second anniversary, it won't be anything like this."

Robert Murat's lawyer Francisco Pagarete, who was interviewed on the show, thinks the media helped inflate the Madeleine fascination.

He added: "I think it has all the ingredients of a good story. It's a quiet place, a normal family on holiday with their friends and children, and suddenly something like this happens.

"But it also happened in the summer months - when you don't have much news."

Broadcast journalist Eleanor Garnier, who was covering the event for Leicester Sound radio station, said: "Locally it's massive for us because she's from Rothley, which is on our patch.

TV coverage is winding down

"But it will definitely die down soon. People here really want to move on, and I think the journalists do too.

"I think this is it now. Events will bring it back into the news, but they'll have to be big events."

Asked why she thought the story had made worldwide headlines for so long, she added: "A beautiful little girl, a middle class family - they really grabbed the media's attention.

"And it was like a vicious circle - as the McCanns kept the story going with events to publicise the search, so the media moved it on too."

Pete Fletcher, 58, from Fareham, Hants, who regularly visits Praia da Luz, said the story had been the talk of the bars over the past year and the papers were just giving what the public wanted.

He said: "It's because it's very unusual for things like this to happen in this country. Crime is pretty non-existent, and it just seems very out of character from a local point of view."

But for some, the Madeleine story is far from over.

Reporter Pepa Rovira, from Espana Directo news programme, said: "It's still very big in Spain because exactly the same thing happened with a Spanish girl.

"And next year it will be the same, I know. It will still be a big story."
- - - - - -

Murat Happy For Madeleine Reconstruction

Alex Watts in Praia da Luz
Updated:06:01, Monday May 05, 2008

British ex-pat Robert Murat says he will happily take part in a reconstruction of the night Madeleine McCann disappeared if asked to do so by Portuguese police.

Detectives want to recreate a "Crimewatch-style" event later this month in Praia da Luz, the Algarve resort where the toddler vanished just over a year ago.

Her parents Gerry and Kate McCann - who are still considered suspects, or 'aguidos' in the case - have not ruled out a return to Portugal.

But the two doctors say they are worried about how helpful it would be for the police investigation given the huge media interest in the story.

"It is under discussion. It is back to what additional information will help the search," Mr McCann added.

But Mr Murat, the third suspect in the case, confirmed through his lawyer Francisco Pagarete that he would help out if asked.

Mr Pagarete told Sky News Online: "If there was a reconstruction, he would take part - he likes having tea with his mother.

"That was the exact thing he was doing on the night of May 3, drinking tea, and then he went to bed."

Parents Kate and Gerry McCann haven't ruled out Portugal return

But Mr Pagarete questioned the timing of the police reconstruction, adding: "In my point of view, it should have been immediately after the event."

Locals in Praia da Luz say they are surprised the McCanns have not yet agreed to help the investigation, even if it only has the slightest chance of helping police locate their daughter.

It is feared Mrs McCann, 40, would find such a trip too traumatic.

A friend of the couple said: "Kate is upset. There's been no sense of concern for her feelings or the anguish it will cause her.

"On an emotional level she is not sure she can go through with it."

The McCanns have not been back to the resort since returning to England in September.
- - - - - -

McCanns Hope Attention Will Wane
Updated:09:09, Sunday May 04, 2008

Kate and Gerry McCann want to step out of the media spotlight after the first anniversary of their daughter Madeleine's disappearance.

McCanns are marking anniversary

In one of their final interviews for the one-year landmark, the couple said they had only survived the past 12 months by not blaming each other for what happened.

The couple said they hoped the attention on them would fade after Madeleine's fifth birthday on May 12.

Mr McCann said the media coverage of her disappearance was "unsustainable".

He even suggested that it might have led to Portuguese police naming him and his wife as arguidos, or formal suspects, in the case in early September.

"You look at where it's led for us, the problems it's created," he said.

"I'm sure a lot of that media coverage kicked in to what happened in Portugal, that generates a pressure, and when people get put under pressure, bad decisions are made...

Madeleine's birthday is on May 12

"We started a campaign and then a juggernaut was set off and we had no control over it."

Mrs McCann said personal details about her and her husband were "totally irrelevant" and distracted people from the search for Madeleine.

"The media attention will wane after Madeleine's birthday, and that's a relief," she said.

"I'd like to think that's how it will stay. That's why now, we're doing this. Media-wise it could be our last chance, or last opportunity to get all that information in."

The couple also revealed that their appeal for new information from the public produced an "absolutely fantastic" response, with their new telephone phone line "overwhelmed" with calls.
- - - - -
Kate: 'Pray Like Mad For Madeleine'
Updated:23:41, Saturday May 03, 2008

Kate McCann has urged people to "pray like mad" for her daughter Madeleine on the first anniversary of her disappearance - as police refused to rule out charging the girl's parents.

The four-year-old went missing on May 3 last year from her bed in the family's holiday apartment in Portugal.

Prayers for her safe return were said around the world, but there was particular focus on the two villages most affected by her disappearance - Rothley in Leicestershire and Praia da Luz in the Algarve.

Mrs McCann and her husband Gerry attended a special service at Rothley's Anglican parish church of St Mary and St John.

A tearful Mrs McCann stood up part-way through the ceremony and asked the 250-strong congregation to "keep praying, pray like mad" for her daughter.

Her aunt, Janet Kennedy, said: "I am not sure how she mustered the strength to do so. I think it (the service) was a great comfort to them both."

Meanwhile, Portugal's most senior detective insisted that police were still gathering evidence in the case, following reports that officers were on the verge of exonerating the McCanns.

Madeleine missing for a year

The Portuguese weekly Expresso said that the Policia Judiciaria (PJ) were preparing to drop the accusations against the couple.

But Alipio Ribeiro, the PJ's national director, said: "At this stage nothing has been determined regarding possible charges or closing the case."

The McCanns had wanted to be in Portugal but their lawyers advised them not to return while they remain arguidos, or formal suspects, in Madeleine's disappearance.

Instead, four of their relatives - Mr McCann's brother John, his sister Trish Cameron, her husband Sandy, and Mrs McCann's cousin Michael Wright - went to Praia da Luz on their behalf.
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Anger Over 'Grotesque' Madeleine Doll

Alex Watts
Sky News Online, in Praia da Luz Updated:13:17, Sunday May 04, 2008

Tempers have flared outside the village church in Praia da Luz over a "grotesque" mannequin of how missing Madeleine McCann would look at 18.

The artist and her mannequin

The 6ft tall plastic doll was put alongside a wall of Madeleine photographs by a Brazilian artist, who says she supports the hunt for the missing girl.

But a row soon broke out as angry locals turned on Josefa Maria dos Santos, and accused her of being "sick" and "grotesque".

Nancy Thompson, landlady of The Bull pub opposite the church, shouted at the woman to remove the doll, as passers-by tried to calm the situation.

She shouted at her in Portuguese: "It's horrible, who gave you permission to put that there? It's a disgrace! It's sick!"

The artist looked shocked, but would not back down. "That is your opinion," she kept saying.

The argument took place as members of the McCann family looked on.

A clearly incensed Ms Thompson spoke to Gerry McCann's brother John, and asked him what he thought of the doll.

Mr McCann, who had flown in from Glasgow to attend a church service on the one-year anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance, tried to pacify the situation.

He said: "It wouldn't be my choice, but the lady's intentions are good."

But despite the diplomacy, it was clear the family were upset by the doll - which was dressed in a blue and white track suit, with a striped hat similar to the ones worn by the child.

It had a blonde wig and its right eye was painted with the same distinctive mark as Madeleine.

When they first saw it as they were standing in the church yard, Madeleine's aunt Trisha Cameron looked sickened and shocked.

She told Sky News Online: "I hope that's not Madeleine!"

The Brazilian artist claimed the doll represented what Madeleine would like when she was 18 or 19-years-old, and said she had put it there to draw attention to the hunt for the missing girl.

It has been branded 'grotesque'

She had also installed a wall of Madeleine press cuttings and photographs, and claimed the doll - or "boneca" - had been put there with the McCann family's "authority".

An explanation in Portuguese about the mannequin read: "It is very important to remember that you cannot exist as an adult without having been a child.

"Return Madeleine please."

One section of the wall display, plastered with articles from Portuguese newspapers and magazines, included pictures of the young girl subtitled: "Madeleine photographs from happy days."

But Ms Thompson was furious, and told Sky News Online before the argument: "It's absolutely unbelievable! It's grotesque, it's horrible. You wait until catch up with her.

"She was banging those posts in at 5.30am in the morning and woke some of the residents up.

"She says she's got the family's permission to put the posters up, but who gave her permission to put that doll up?

"I've got a good mind to take it down! Or call the police and get them to take it down."
- - - - - -

May 3,2008

One Year On: Prayers For Madeleine
A year since Madeleine McCann went missing, her parents attended a church service in their home town of Rothley. Madeleine's uncle represented the family at another service in Praia da Luz, from where Sky's Jason Farrell reports.
- - - - - -

Murat Leaves Praia For Anniversary

Alex Watts
Sky News Online
In Praia da Luz Updated:03:30, Saturday May 03, 2008

British ex-pat Robert Murat has left town to stay away from the media glare over the anniversary of Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

Mr Murat's lawyer, Francisco Pagarete, outside his client's home

His lawyer Francisco Pagarete told Sky News Online the 34-year-old was spending the weekend away from Praia da Luz as the world's press descends on the Portuguese resort.

Mr Murat, who lives with his mother in the town, has taken her away to an undisclosed spot in Portugal for two or three days until the mayhem over the toddler's anniversary dies down.

Mr Pagarete confirmed: "He went away for the weekend to avoid all the confusion with the reporters and photographers and the filming and everything."

He spoke of the stress Mr Murat has been under after being named as an 'arguido' in the police investigation into the girl's disappearance.

"The first four months were very difficult, afterwards he started to cope better," he said.

"It has been very difficult to endure all the pressure, at least the pressure of the first month where he was attacked by a lot of news.

"But I think he's feeling stronger, and he's feeling confident that in just a short while all this will be over and he can have his life back."

Mr Murat hopes to clear his name

Mr Pagarete spoke of his client's fears that the case will remain unsolved.

He added: "The maximum time someone can be an arguido, or defendant, is 20 years. After that the case is over. I just hope this ends for Robert soon.

"Not just for him, but for his family. He just wants this to be over. We don't want this to be a mystery. We want the police to solve it so there are no doubts."

Apart from the TV trucks and satellite dishes, Praia da Luz is scarcely acknowledging the anniversary of the toddler's disappearance, which put it so firmly on the world map.

There will be a Madeleine service at the local church, but little else.

One resident said: "Why should we have a party for her? All this town ever hears is Madeleine. She is dead. Life goes on!"
- - - - - -

Madeleine Tourists 'Should Be Ashamed'

Alex Watts
Sky News Online
Praia da Luz Updated:17:46, Friday May 02, 2008

Residents in Praia da Luz have hit out at 'sick' Madeleine McCann sight-seeing tours in the resort town.

Scores of people arrive each week to gawp at well-known sites of the investigation into the missing toddler.

The most frequent visitors are elderly Portuguese people from the Lisbon area, who arrive in coaches at the weekend and pose for photographs outside the Ocean Club apartment where the little girl was last seen.

They then stop and visit the town's Nossa Senhora da Luz (Our Lady of Light) church, where Kate and Gerry McCann prayed for their daughter's safe return.

A chef at the Fortaleza da Luz restaurant, opposite the church, said most of the Madeleine sight-seers were elderly Portuguese people and arrived on Saturdays.

Some groups are even said to stop outside Madeleine suspect Robert Murat's villa in the town.

A worker at the Ocean Club, just 40 yards from apartment 5A, where the McCanns stayed, said she was fed up with the grisly fascination.

The woman told Sky News Online: "It's sick what they do. People stop and take photos of each other outside the flat.

"If that's how they get their kicks, then they should be ashamed - but that's for them."

Manuela Cunha, who works in a nearby gift shop, said she often sees coach parties stop outside the apartment and Ocean Club.

She added: "People here are tired of the whole Madeleine thing. They come and take pictures. It's very sad."

About 10 minutes after Sky visited the Ocean Club, a van load of British holidaymakers on a golf tour of the Algarve stopped to gawp at the apartment before slowing for a glimpse of the tapas bar.

They then stopped off at the Roman Catholic church, which is holding a special service this Saturday to mark the one-year anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance.

A barwoman at The Bull pub, who refused to give her name, said: "They come here and take pictures of the apartment and then stop off for a cup of coffee and then go home.

"It seems to be old people from the north mostly - around the Lisbon area. They come in here sometimes - but they're very careful with their money."
- - - - - -

Madeleine Divers Quit Reservoir Search

Alex Watts
Sky News Online
In Praia Da Luz Updated:10:54, Friday May 02, 2008

Divers have called off their search of a remote reservoir in the hunt for missing Madeleine McCann.

The operation, funded by human rights lawyer Marcos Aragao Correia, was launched in the belief that the girl was killed shortly after being abducted and thrown in the Barragem Arade reservoir.

The hilly area is around 35 miles from Praia da Luz, where Madeleine disappeared almost a year ago.

Mr Correira claimed the reservoir tip-off had come from an underworld source, and had promised to hand over any evidence to Metodo 3, the detective agency hired by Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann.

But Martyn Falkous, who led the six-strong team of British and Portuguese divers, confirmed the search had been stopped.

The 36-year-old, who runs Dive Time, based in Lagos, told Sky News Online: "We have not been asked to do any more searches of the reservoir. If Mr Correira asks us to do more, we will search for him.

"We were concentrating on the dam's control tower and a couple of other areas - basically the places where someone could have thrown something into the water."

He said a complete search of the reservoir would be a massive task. The bottom has a layer of mud four metres thick, into which a weighted body would sink and disappear.

He added: "It's very difficult because there's no visibility down there. It's absolutely pitch black so you have to do everything by touch.

"It's 60ft deep in places and has a sheer bank, so it goes straight down."

The team found a child's sock, several ropes, and a bag of animal bones.

It was the second time the lawyer had paid for divers to explore the reservoir. In December - when Portuguese police refused to act on his claims - he paid around �3,000 for a first search.

The McCanns have dismissed Mr Correia as a self-publicist and believed there was no evidence to suggest any link between their daughter and the reservoir.
- - - - - -

Madeleine: Cops Question 'Key' Witness

Martin Brunt
Crime correspondent Updated:18:53, Thursday May 01, 2008

Police have re-interviewed a woman who may prove to be a key witness in the Madeleine McCann case.

Madeleine has been missing for nearly a year

She was quizzed by police in the UK and her new statements passed to Portuguese detectives.

The young British woman, whose identity we are not revealing, saw a man "hovering" around the family's Algarve apartment on the morning of May 3, hours before Madeleine vanished.

She was asked back for more questioning last week, according to Sky sources.

The witness was sitting on a balcony overlooking the holiday complex in Praia da Luz when she spotted the man acting suspiciously.

She thought little of his behaviour at the time and returned to the UK later that day.

When she heard of Madeleine's disappearance she reported it to her local police force and was interviewed for the first time.

She gave detectives a detailed description of the suspect and helped an artist compile a computer-generated image of him.

It is not clear whether that image was ever released.

The woman was among 60 or so names given by the Algarve detectives last month to Leicestershire police, who are conducting interviews on behalf of the Portuguese authorities.

The woman was asked back for a second interview last week in a bid to identify any discrepancies or similarities in witness statements.

The McCanns' friends, the so-called Tapas 7, were among those re-interviewed.
- - - - - -

'Something Like This Could Destroy You'
Updated:17:56, Thursday May 01, 2008

The parents of missing toddler Madeleine McCann have told Sky News that the disappearance of their daughter has "wreaked havoc" on their family.

Kate and Gerry speak to Sky News

Two days before the first anniversary of the four-year-old's disappearance, Kate and Gerry McCann told Sky's Dermot Murnaghan that without support something like this "could destroy you".

And they told how their "fantastic" twins Sean and Amelie were helping them through the tough times.

"You often wonder where we would be if it wasn't for them," Mrs McCann said.

Madeleine went missing on May 3 last year, while the family was on holiday in Portugal.

The couple say they are now desperate for new leads in the case and they will leave no stone unturned in searching for their little girl.

"We need that key piece of information and we believe it is out there," Mrs McCann said.

"You cannot give up. Madeleine deserves that. There is no evidence she has come to any harm."

The cases of Elisabeth Fritzl and Natasha Kampusch in Austria have also given them hope that Madeleine could be alive - and they can even imagine her growing up in a different place, surrounded by different people, and simply adjusting to her new situation.

But they refuse to give up their hunt, injecting new energy into the campaign with a fresh hotline number and a plan to change tactics in their dealings with the media, adding that the past year's coverage is simply "unsustainable".

"It led to a lot of rumour, myth and innuendo," Mr McCann said. "What we want is responsible reporting."

Madeleine's case sparked an international media storm after she vanished from the family's holiday villa in Praia da Luz.

There has been talk of a possible reconstruction of the events leading up to Madeleine's disappearance - but although the McCanns are not ruling out a return to Portugal, they said they are worried about how helpful it would be for the police investigation, given the immense media interest.

"How can you do a reconstruction with what will be undoubtedly be a media event?" Mr McCann asked.

"It is under discussion. It is back to what additional information will help the search."

The McCanns are still considered suspects - or 'aguidos' - by police in Portugal, and will remain so until someone is charged in connection with the case.

Sky News' crime correspondent Martin Brunt, speaking after the couple appeared on Sky, said there would now be pressure on the McCanns to take part in any reconstruction.

"There will be a big hole in it, if the couple are not in it (the reconstruction)," he said.

"People hostile towards them will use it to criticise them, suggesting that they are not helping the police.

"I believe they are in a difficult situation. It will cause a problem if they do not go."

Speaking to Murnaghan, the McCanns answered several questions sent in by Sky News viewers.

And both Kate and Gerry became visibly agitated when asked to explain why they left their children alone in a holiday apartment while they went out for dinner with friends.

Slapping her leg and pointing out that she felt the subject was "going over old ground", Mrs McCann said: "I felt it was incredibly safe.

"I would never have taken a risk. It was something that was not even a decision - that is how safe it felt."

Mr McCann added: "If we thought it was not safe for one moment, if there was any conscious element that somebody was going to go into the apartment and steal your child - of course we would not have done that."

:: The new hotline number for anyone with information on where Madeleine might be is 0845 838 4699.
- - - - - -

Madeleine: 'My Theories On Missing Girl'

Mark Williams-Thomas
Child protection expert Updated:13:35, Thursday May 01, 2008

As a criminologist, former detective and authority on paedophile crimes, I have followed the Madeleine McCann case from the very beginning.

What happened to Madeleine?

What happened to her on that fateful night in May 2007? Where is she now, is she alive or dead? Was she murdered in her parent's apartment, and if so by whom?

Was she abducted from where she slept in between her brother and sister who remained asleep throughout?

Or did she wander out of the apartment looking for her parents and become the victim of an opportunistic predatory paedophile, who either used her for his own sexual gratification or smuggled her out of the country?

With apparent sightings in Morocco, Spain, France and the Netherlands you could easily believe the latter.

The most sinister of all these questions was whether Gerry and Kate McCann were involved with the disappearance of their own daughter.

In order to establish answers it is necessary to examine the police investigation.

The detailed examination of a scene plays a crucial part in any major investigation and after a critical incident like this, all police officers know it is vital to preserve the crime scene, build the foundations, complete forensics and identify possible witnesses immediately.

But I saw no evidence of this being done and it was without any doubt, the worst-preserved crime scene I have ever witnessed.

This investigation is like no other I have seen before or will hopefully ever see again.

For the past year the Portuguese police have had two lines of inquiry: the first, that Gerry and Kate were involved in Madeleine's disappearance and the second, that a stranger abducted her.

However, they have focused steadfastly on their first line of enquiry.

The public prosecutor's office in the Algarve believes police should keep looking for evidence against the McCanns even though doubt is being raised from other quarters, with officials in the Portuguese government asking for their arguido status to be lifted.

The investigation is all but closed and recent interviews with the 'Tapas Seven' revealed no new leads or discrepancies but did allow the police to establish the exact movements of Gerry and Kate both on the evening Madeleine disappeared and on the previous evening.

The next major development will be if Portuguese police manage to stage a reconstruction so they can examine the behaviour of all parties concerned - but this would put Gerry and Kate back under Portuguese jurisdiction.

It is quite correct for the police to consider the parents as suspects but what evidence do they have against them?

The time line is crucial. The last time Madeleine was seen by anyone independently was around 6.30pm with the alarm raised at 10pm, thus establishing a window of opportunity of approximately three-and-a-half hours.

However, both Gerry and Kate were with their friends in the tapas bar from approximately 8.30pm, only ever being away from the table for short periods of time.

So one or more of the parents did have the opportunity - but what would be the motive? Could it have been an accident or a deliberate act?

I don't believe for one minute it would have been deliberate so therefore could she have suffered an accident, causing the parents to panic?

At this point they could easily have explained away an accident.

But, if the theory is to be believed, they would have had to cold-bloodedly dispose of her body and then return to have dinner with their friends.

It is possible as most murdered children are killed by a relative or someone they know. The police are working on this premise although in this particular case this is where the theory falls down.

The police believe they hid Madeleine's body and didn't return to the location until five weeks later where - under the watchful glare of the world's media - they placed her by now decomposed body into the rear of their Renault Megane hire car before completely disposing of it.

The police have come to this conclusion because they have found partial DNA in the boot of the hire car, which I believe has either come from transfer when they moved Madeleine's clothes and belongings or even from those of her brother or sister.

While trafficking of children is a far greater problem than is acknowledged, Madeleine does not fit the profile.

Girls are trafficked for two reasons: into the sex trade as prostitutes or for domestic slavery, both with financial gain to the seller and purchaser. Who was to gain from her trafficking?

I believe the so-called sightings in other countries, although genuinely intended, are a distraction and prove to be of little value after the initial two weeks. Who is going to openly walk out with the most wanted child in the world?

I believe what happened on May 3 was that Madeleine woke up, cried for a short while, realised her parents weren't in the apartment as they had not come in to settle her, so she climbed out of bed and walked around the apartment.

She found the back patio door was insecure and partly open so she walked out, went down the small flight of steps and out of the gate, turning right down towards the entrance to the resort and the Tapas bar.

It was at this point that she was most likely abducted by an opportunistic predatory paedophile.

Interestingly the police dogs first tracked a scent down this exact route. Unfortunately, although it is within range of the supermarket CCTV it was not working.

I don't believe a paedophile was watching the apartment nor do I believe an offender entered the apartment - this would be too high-risk.

I accept that statistically the abduction of a child is very rare, with approximately six children abducted every year in the UK, but if we look at the abduction and murder of Sarah Payne we can see how my theory stands up.

On July 1, 2000, Sarah was playing a game of hide and seek in a cornfield with her sister and two brothers, received a knock on the head and decided to walk back to her grandparents' home.

She walked through a gap in the hedge with her brothers' only seconds behind - but by the time they reached the lane, Sarah had disappeared.

One of the brothers saw a white van coming down the road towards him, its wheels spinning. The driver seemed in a hurry to get away. Unknown to them, the man behind the wheel had just abducted Sarah. She was taken in a matter of seconds.

This is why I believe even with such a small window of opportunity - the distance between the back entrance to the apartment and the 40 yard walk to the Tapas bar - that Madeleine became the victim of an opportunist and predatory paedophile who either lived in or had direct contacts with Praia da Luz.

This is not a resort that you would just happen upon.
- - - - - -

'The Strain Could Destroy People'
Updated:13:13, Thursday May 01, 2008

The parents of missing Madeleine McCann say their ordeal has "wreaked havoc" within their family - and that the strain could "destroy" people.

Kate and Gerry, who remain formal suspects in the case, spoke to Dermot Murnaghan. Here is a summary of their comments:

Gerry - We have had tremendous support - from friends, family and the public - but there's no doubt something like this could destroy you. It has wreaked havoc within our family.

Kate - Our other children are fantastic - we wonder where we would be today without them. They're very happy, well adjusted, they have a normal life, they're fantastic.

Kate - Must not lose sight that a crime has been committed. The person's still out there and Madeleine's still missing.

Gerry - With hindsight, with the abduction, it's seen in a very different light now. The worse thing about going over and over and over this is we can't change this.

Kate - (On Madeleine asking 'where were you when I cried last night' on the day of her disappearance). She asked it and then moved on. It was a passing remark, we thought she doesn't usually wake up and that she must have fallen back asleep. Wouldn't have thought of the comment again without abduction.

Gerry - No reason to think there was any danger. Making regular checks, dining nearby. We would never have left her if there was.

Kate - Answered this so many times but I felt it was incredibly safe (to leave her alone). I cannot love Madeleine more than I love her, would never have taken a risk.

Gerry - You remain arguido (suspect), which is similar to being interviewed under caution in UK, until someone is charged or file no longer under judicial secrecy. Normal situation in Portugal. We want to know what's been done, what hasn't, who has been eliminated from investigation and why. We need to know.

Gerry - Reconstruction in Portugal under discussion. What additional information to help the search for Madeleine would be gained by it?

Gerry - We want responsible reporting. There's too much rumour, myth and innuendo.

Kate - No text book on what to do when child gets taken. Would have liked to stay out of media but we have to do this. You don't see the bad side of what can come and all the horrible press.

Gerry: She could easily have been moved out of Portugal. Amber Alert system saves lives.

Gerry: Number of children have been recovered when people have given up. Can't give up until know who took her and why.

Kate - Nothing to say Madeleine not out there. Many children found years down the line - we cannot give up, Madeleine deserves that. Madeleine needs us to find her.

Gerry - For us to rest we need to know, to make sure everything's being done. Want to ask people to call in on new hotline number with any information. Desperate for leads, we cannot give up.

Kate - Only one reason why we're in the media and that's to appeal for information. A year on but she's still missing.
- - - - - -

'Why Didn't We Take The Kids That Night?'

Alex Watts
Praia Da Luz Updated:12:08, Thursday May 01, 2008

Kate McCann has revealed that it was a last minute change of plan which meant she and her husband left their children in their apartment on the night Madeleine disappeared.

She and Gerry had initially planned to take Madeleine and two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie to the Millennium Restaurant, around half-a-mile from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal.

But because the children were tired they changed their minds at the last minute and decided to feed them at the flat and dine instead with friends at the tapas bar- a far closer restaurant in the Mark Warner complex.

Kate, 40, told a TV documentary of her anguish and heart-break over the change of plan.

She said: "We were all going up to the Millennium again, with the kids, which is what we did on the first night.

"But the Millennium was a good walk away and we didn't have a buggy with us.

"It didn't open till half-six and our kids usually go to bed around seven, so they were really tired and they were walking.

Praia Da Luz Is Quieter One Year On

"So we ended up trying to carry three of them between two and we decided we couldn't do that again. It wouldn't have been good for anybody."

She told ITV1 programme Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change that although she wanted to stay strong, when she returned home to Rothley, Leicestershire, without her daughter, she fell apart.

She said: "I didn't cook a meal, just couldn't do it. How can I hang up washing when my daughter's not here?"

Kate also spoke of her disgust as their statements to Portuguese police were leaked on the day they went to Brussels to campaign for a Europe-wide missing child alert system.

The leak was that on the morning of the day Madeleine vanished, she asked her mother: "Mummy, why didn't you come when we were crying last night?"

She added: "I've persecuted myself over and over again about that statement because you think 'Why didn't I just hold her and say what do you mean?' Why didn't I say 'Why did you cry?' And why didn't we go to the Millennium?"
- - - - - -

May 1,2008

We Won't Give Up On Her - McCanns
The parents of Madeleine McCann have told Sky News they are desperate for new leads in the case. Speaking to Dermot Murnaghan, Kate and Gerry McCann describe how they will leave no stone unturned to find her, one year since she disappeared in Portugal.
- - - - - -

'I Didn't Realise Madeleine Vanished Here'
Alex Watts
In Praia Da Luz Updated:15:35, Thursday May 01, 2008

A British tourist has described her fears for her daughter after unwittingly booking a holiday in the resort where Madeleine McCann vanished almost a year ago.

Suzanne O'Flynn, 32, rented a luxury villa for a week in the Algarve for her partner Paul and eight-month-old daughter without realising it was in Praia da Luz.

Although she loves the Portuguese resort and its people, she says the association with the Madeleine mystery has left her feeling uneasy.

The HR manager, from Guildford, Surrey, is taking extra security precautions over her daughter Amelie, and says the thought that something might happen to her has made the holiday less relaxing.

She told Sky News Online: "We wanted a villa holiday, and somewhere in the Algarve, and just typed in the number of bedrooms, and the proximity to the town and everything, and didn't think too much about it.

"And it was only a few weeks after booking that I realised it was Praia da Luz, and felt really annoyed with myself.

"It's ironic because it's probably one of the safest towns in the world now.

"But we just wanted to go somewhere and relax and kick back for a week, without having to be concerned about anything.

She added: "There are lots of external doors in the villa, so we've been making sure they are all locked, and making sure the windows are shut, and keep going in to check on Amelie, and make sure she's still there.

"It's a super place here, it's really beautiful and the beaches are amazing, but it's very quiet.

"I don't know if it's just because it's the start of the season, but if my emotions are anything to go by then that is probably why it is quiet."
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Madeleine McCann - GET THE WHOLE STORY (08/04/2008 - 01/05/2008) 4/15/08
 
Madeleine: Cops Question 'Key' Witness

Martin Brunt
Crime correspondent Updated:18:53, Thursday May 01, 2008

Police have re-interviewed a woman who may prove to be a key witness in the Madeleine McCann case.

Madeleine has been missing for nearly a year

She was quizzed by police in the UK and her new statements passed to Portuguese detectives.

The young British woman, whose identity we are not revealing, saw a man "hovering" around the family's Algarve apartment on the morning of May 3, hours before Madeleine vanished.

She was asked back for more questioning last week, according to Sky sources.

The witness was sitting on a balcony overlooking the holiday complex in Praia da Luz when she spotted the man acting suspiciously.

She thought little of his behaviour at the time and returned to the UK later that day.

When she heard of Madeleine's disappearance she reported it to her local police force and was interviewed for the first time.

She gave detectives a detailed description of the suspect and helped an artist compile a computer-generated image of him.

It is not clear whether that image was ever released.

The woman was among 60 or so names given by the Algarve detectives last month to Leicestershire police, who are conducting interviews on behalf of the Portuguese authorities.

The woman was asked back for a second interview last week in a bid to identify any discrepancies or similarities in witness statements.

The McCanns' friends, the so-called Tapas 7, were among those re-interviewed.
- - - - - -

'Something Like This Could Destroy You'
Updated:17:56, Thursday May 01, 2008

The parents of missing toddler Madeleine McCann have told Sky News that the disappearance of their daughter has "wreaked havoc" on their family.

Two days before the first anniversary of the four-year-old's disappearance, Kate and Gerry McCann told Sky's Dermot Murnaghan that without support something like this "could destroy you".

And they told how their "fantastic" twins Sean and Amelie were helping them through the tough times.

"You often wonder where we would be if it wasn't for them," Mrs McCann said.

Madeleine went missing on May 3 last year, while the family was on holiday in Portugal.

The couple say they are now desperate for new leads in the case and they will leave no stone unturned in searching for their little girl.

"We need that key piece of information and we believe it is out there," Mrs McCann said.

"You cannot give up. Madeleine deserves that. There is no evidence she has come to any harm."

The cases of Elisabeth Fritzl and Natasha Kampusch in Austria have also given them hope that Madeleine could be alive - and they can even imagine her growing up in a different place, surrounded by different people, and simply adjusting to her new situation.

But they refuse to give up their hunt, injecting new energy into the campaign with a fresh hotline number and a plan to change tactics in their dealings with the media, adding that the past year's coverage is simply "unsustainable".

"It led to a lot of rumour, myth and innuendo," Mr McCann said. "What we want is responsible reporting."

Madeleine's case sparked an international media storm after she vanished from the family's holiday villa in Praia da Luz.

There has been talk of a possible reconstruction of the events leading up to Madeleine's disappearance - but although the McCanns are not ruling out a return to Portugal, they said they are worried about how helpful it would be for the police investigation, given the immense media interest.

"How can you do a reconstruction with what will be undoubtedly be a media event?" Mr McCann asked.

"It is under discussion. It is back to what additional information will help the search."

The McCanns are still considered suspects - or 'aguidos' - by police in Portugal, and will remain so until someone is charged in connection with the case.

Sky News' crime correspondent Martin Brunt, speaking after the couple appeared on Sky, said there would now be pressure on the McCanns to take part in any reconstruction.

"There will be a big hole in it, if the couple are not in it (the reconstruction)," he said.

"People hostile towards them will use it to criticise them, suggesting that they are not helping the police.

"I believe they are in a difficult situation. It will cause a problem if they do not go."

Speaking to Murnaghan, the McCanns answered several questions sent in by Sky News viewers.

And both Kate and Gerry became visibly agitated when asked to explain why they left their children alone in a holiday apartment while they went out for dinner with friends.

Slapping her leg and pointing out that she felt the subject was "going over old ground", Mrs McCann said: "I felt it was incredibly safe.

"I would never have taken a risk. It was something that was not even a decision - that is how safe it felt."

Mr McCann added: "If we thought it was not safe for one moment, if there was any conscious element that somebody was going to go into the apartment and steal your child - of course we would not have done that."

:: The new hotline number for anyone with information on where Madeleine might be is 0845 838 4699.
- - - - - -

May 1,2008

We Won't Give Up On Her - McCanns

The parents of Madeleine McCann have told Sky News they are desperate for new leads in the case. Speaking to Dermot Murnaghan, Kate and Gerry McCann describe how they will leave no stone unturned to find her, one year since she disappeared in Portugal.
- - - - - -

Madeleine: 'My Theories On Missing Girl'

Mark Williams-Thomas
Child protection expert Updated:13:35, Thursday May 01, 2008

As a criminologist, former detective and authority on paedophile crimes, I have followed the Madeleine McCann case from the very beginning.

What happened to Madeleine?

What happened to her on that fateful night in May 2007? Where is she now, is she alive or dead? Was she murdered in her parent's apartment, and if so by whom?

Was she abducted from where she slept in between her brother and sister who remained asleep throughout?

Or did she wander out of the apartment looking for her parents and become the victim of an opportunistic predatory paedophile, who either used her for his own sexual gratification or smuggled her out of the country?

With apparent sightings in Morocco, Spain, France and the Netherlands you could easily believe the latter.

The most sinister of all these questions was whether Gerry and Kate McCann were involved with the disappearance of their own daughter.

In order to establish answers it is necessary to examine the police investigation.

The detailed examination of a scene plays a crucial part in any major investigation and after a critical incident like this, all police officers know it is vital to preserve the crime scene, build the foundations, complete forensics and identify possible witnesses immediately.

But I saw no evidence of this being done and it was without any doubt, the worst-preserved crime scene I have ever witnessed.

This investigation is like no other I have seen before or will hopefully ever see again.

For the past year the Portuguese police have had two lines of inquiry: the first, that Gerry and Kate were involved in Madeleine's disappearance and the second, that a stranger abducted her.

However, they have focused steadfastly on their first line of enquiry.

The public prosecutor's office in the Algarve believes police should keep looking for evidence against the McCanns even though doubt is being raised from other quarters, with officials in the Portuguese government asking for their arguido status to be lifted.

The investigation is all but closed and recent interviews with the 'Tapas Seven' revealed no new leads or discrepancies but did allow the police to establish the exact movements of Gerry and Kate both on the evening Madeleine disappeared and on the previous evening.

The next major development will be if Portuguese police manage to stage a reconstruction so they can examine the behaviour of all parties concerned - but this would put Gerry and Kate back under Portuguese jurisdiction.

It is quite correct for the police to consider the parents as suspects but what evidence do they have against them?

The time line is crucial. The last time Madeleine was seen by anyone independently was around 6.30pm with the alarm raised at 10pm, thus establishing a window of opportunity of approximately three-and-a-half hours.

However, both Gerry and Kate were with their friends in the tapas bar from approximately 8.30pm, only ever being away from the table for short periods of time.

So one or more of the parents did have the opportunity - but what would be the motive? Could it have been an accident or a deliberate act?

I don't believe for one minute it would have been deliberate so therefore could she have suffered an accident, causing the parents to panic?

At this point they could easily have explained away an accident.

But, if the theory is to be believed, they would have had to cold-bloodedly dispose of her body and then return to have dinner with their friends.

It is possible as most murdered children are killed by a relative or someone they know. The police are working on this premise although in this particular case this is where the theory falls down.

The police believe they hid Madeleine's body and didn't return to the location until five weeks later where - under the watchful glare of the world's media - they placed her by now decomposed body into the rear of their Renault Megane hire car before completely disposing of it.

The police have come to this conclusion because they have found partial DNA in the boot of the hire car, which I believe has either come from transfer when they moved Madeleine's clothes and belongings or even from those of her brother or sister.

While trafficking of children is a far greater problem than is acknowledged, Madeleine does not fit the profile.

Girls are trafficked for two reasons: into the sex trade as prostitutes or for domestic slavery, both with financial gain to the seller and purchaser. Who was to gain from her trafficking?

I believe the so-called sightings in other countries, although genuinely intended, are a distraction and prove to be of little value after the initial two weeks. Who is going to openly walk out with the most wanted child in the world?

I believe what happened on May 3 was that Madeleine woke up, cried for a short while, realised her parents weren't in the apartment as they had not come in to settle her, so she climbed out of bed and walked around the apartment.

She found the back patio door was insecure and partly open so she walked out, went down the small flight of steps and out of the gate, turning right down towards the entrance to the resort and the Tapas bar.

It was at this point that she was most likely abducted by an opportunistic predatory paedophile.

Interestingly the police dogs first tracked a scent down this exact route. Unfortunately, although it is within range of the supermarket CCTV it was not working.

I don't believe a paedophile was watching the apartment nor do I believe an offender entered the apartment - this would be too high-risk.

I accept that statistically the abduction of a child is very rare, with approximately six children abducted every year in the UK, but if we look at the abduction and murder of Sarah Payne we can see how my theory stands up.

On July 1, 2000, Sarah was playing a game of hide and seek in a cornfield with her sister and two brothers, received a knock on the head and decided to walk back to her grandparents' home.

She walked through a gap in the hedge with her brothers' only seconds behind - but by the time they reached the lane, Sarah had disappeared.

One of the brothers saw a white van coming down the road towards him, its wheels spinning. The driver seemed in a hurry to get away. Unknown to them, the man behind the wheel had just abducted Sarah. She was taken in a matter of seconds.

This is why I believe even with such a small window of opportunity - the distance between the back entrance to the apartment and the 40 yard walk to the Tapas bar - that Madeleine became the victim of an opportunist and predatory paedophile who either lived in or had direct contacts with Praia da Luz.

This is not a resort that you would just happen upon.
- - - - - -

'The Strain Could Destroy People'
Updated:13:13, Thursday May 01, 2008

The parents of missing Madeleine McCann say their ordeal has "wreaked havoc" within their family - and that the strain could "destroy" people.

Kate and Gerry, who remain formal suspects in the case, spoke to Dermot Murnaghan. Here is a summary of their comments:

Gerry - We have had tremendous support - from friends, family and the public - but there's no doubt something like this could destroy you. It has wreaked havoc within our family.

Kate - Our other children are fantastic - we wonder where we would be today without them. They're very happy, well adjusted, they have a normal life, they're fantastic.

Kate - Must not lose sight that a crime has been committed. The person's still out there and Madeleine's still missing.

Gerry - With hindsight, with the abduction, it's seen in a very different light now. The worse thing about going over and over and over this is we can't change this.

Kate - (On Madeleine asking 'where were you when I cried last night' on the day of her disappearance). She asked it and then moved on. It was a passing remark, we thought she doesn't usually wake up and that she must have fallen back asleep. Wouldn't have thought of the comment again without abduction.

Gerry - No reason to think there was any danger. Making regular checks, dining nearby. We would never have left her if there was.

Kate - Answered this so many times but I felt it was incredibly safe (to leave her alone). I cannot love Madeleine more than I love her, would never have taken a risk.

Gerry - You remain arguido (suspect), which is similar to being interviewed under caution in UK, until someone is charged or file no longer under judicial secrecy. Normal situation in Portugal. We want to know what's been done, what hasn't, who has been eliminated from investigation and why. We need to know.

Gerry - Reconstruction in Portugal under discussion. What additional information to help the search for Madeleine would be gained by it?

Gerry - We want responsible reporting. There's too much rumour, myth and innuendo.

Kate - No text book on what to do when child gets taken. Would have liked to stay out of media but we have to do this. You don't see the bad side of what can come and all the horrible press.

Gerry: She could easily have been moved out of Portugal. Amber Alert system saves lives.

Gerry: Number of children have been recovered when people have given up. Can't give up until know who took her and why.

Kate - Nothing to say Madeleine not out there. Many children found years down the line - we cannot give up, Madeleine deserves that. Madeleine needs us to find her.

Gerry - For us to rest we need to know, to make sure everything's being done. Want to ask people to call in on new hotline number with any information. Desperate for leads, we cannot give up.

Kate - Only one reason why we're in the media and that's to appeal for information. A year on but she's still missing.
- - - - - -

'Why Didn't We Take The Kids That Night?'

Alex Watts
Praia Da Luz Updated:12:08, Thursday May 01, 2008

Kate McCann has revealed that it was a last minute change of plan which meant she and her husband left their children in their apartment on the night Madeleine disappeared.

She and Gerry had initially planned to take Madeleine and two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie to the Millennium Restaurant, around half-a-mile from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal.

But because the children were tired they changed their minds at the last minute and decided to feed them at the flat and dine instead with friends at the tapas bar- a far closer restaurant in the Mark Warner complex.

Kate, 40, told a TV documentary of her anguish and heart-break over the change of plan.

She said: "We were all going up to the Millennium again, with the kids, which is what we did on the first night.

"But the Millennium was a good walk away and we didn't have a buggy with us.

"It didn't open till half-six and our kids usually go to bed around seven, so they were really tired and they were walking.

Praia Da Luz Is Quieter One Year On

"So we ended up trying to carry three of them between two and we decided we couldn't do that again. It wouldn't have been good for anybody."

She told ITV1 programme Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign For Change that although she wanted to stay strong, when she returned home to Rothley, Leicestershire, without her daughter, she fell apart.

She said: "I didn't cook a meal, just couldn't do it. How can I hang up washing when my daughter's not here?"

Kate also spoke of her disgust as their statements to Portuguese police were leaked on the day they went to Brussels to campaign for a Europe-wide missing child alert system.

The leak was that on the morning of the day Madeleine vanished, she asked her mother: "Mummy, why didn't you come when we were crying last night?"

She added: "I've persecuted myself over and over again about that statement because you think 'Why didn't I just hold her and say what do you mean?' Why didn't I say 'Why did you cry?' And why didn't we go to the Millennium?"
- - - - - -

Live Interview With The McCanns On Sky
Updated:09:20, Thursday May 01, 2008

The parents of missing toddler Madeleine McCann are to be interviewed live on Sky News two days before the first anniversary of the four-year-old's disappearance.

Kate and Gerry McCann will be interviewed by Sky's Dermot Murnaghan at 12 noon today.

The broadcast comes as the couple admit they are still tormented by their daughter's disappearance while on a family holiday in Portugal on May 3 last year.

Now for the first time, Sky News viewers and online readers will be able to put their questions and comments direct to the McCanns.

The plight of Madeleine sparked a media storm around the world after she vanished from a holiday villa in Praia da Luz as her parents dined with friends at a tapas bar nearby.

Many people were furious that Madeleine had been left asleep in bed with her younger brother and sister, twins Sean and Amelie.

But some parents sided with the McCanns, saying they had done what countless other holiday families had done.

"I think if there'd even been one second when someone had said 'Do you think it's going to be ok?', it wouldn't have happened," Kate McCann revealed in a new interview to mark this weekend's first anniversary.

"I mean there's absolutely no way, if I'd had the slightest inkling that there was a risk involved there, that I'd have done it."

Kate and Gerry McCann are still official suspects in the case, as is Robert Murat - the British ex-pat named an 'arguido' on May 14 last year.

And in a separate interview with Hello! Magazine, Kate McCann said she tries not to look too far into the future.

"It's best to take one day at a time," she said. "I have my bad days but at the same time, I find myself wanting to know what happened. It is the not knowing that is particularly difficult."
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'I Refused To Be Railroaded By Cops'
Updated:14:31, Wednesday April 30, 2008

Kate McCann has told how she refused to be "railroaded" by Portuguese police when they first accused her of being involved in Madeleine's disappearance.

Kate breaks down in tears

Speaking a year after her daughter disappeared, aged three, she said in a TV documentary that she reacted angrily as detectives declared her and husband Gerry "arguidos" - formal suspects - in the case.

The McCanns are banned by Portuguese judicial secrecy laws from speaking about what happened inside the police station.

But she came close to openly addressing claims that police tried to press her to say she accidentally killed Madeleine to face a reduced sentence.

She told ITV: "There was no way I was going to be railroaded into something.

"It felt like you're in the middle of a horror movie really, a nightmare."

Thinking back to the realisation they might be implicated, Mrs McCann said: "It just hit home - 'they haven't been looking for Madeleine'.

"I just felt yet again my daughter's had such disservice... I just thought she deserves so much better than that, and I thought I'm not going to sit here and allow this."

She went on: "When I was going in to become arguido, because I felt angry, I felt strong.

"I wasn't scared. I felt like I was going to fight the world to be honest. My daughter was worth more than all that and I would do whatever it took to fight for justice and truth."

Mr McCann tells of his fears he and his wife could even be charged - and all that would mean for the family.

"The speculation takes you to the worst places," he said.

"And at that point you know the worst place would have been being charged, potentially being put in jail, certainly being detained to face charges that could have taken, I don't know, years to materialise - being separated from Sean and Amelie.

"These sort of things were going through your mind and you're... because it's a system that you're unfamiliar with, you don't know what could happen."
- - - - - - -

Madeleine Resort Hit By Fall In Trade


Alex Watts
In Praia da Luz
Updated:20:18, Tuesday April 29, 2008

Tourist numbers have slumped in Praia da Luz this year following the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Praia da Luz resort is quiet

Almost a year after the girl went missing, the beach is nearly empty, the bars and restaurants are quiet, and the shop owners seem to be scratching around for business.

Traders estimate that visitors to the Algarve coastal resort in southern Portugal are down at least 10% - some say the figure is much higher.

Holidaymaker Rosalind Jones, 32, from Guildford, Surrey, believes the town is tainted by the Madeleine case and is worried about the safety of her child.

The mother-of-one told Sky News Online: "We wanted to come away for a nice villa holiday and wanted a nice town in the Algarve - because we've been to Portugal before.

"But I didn't realise it would be Praia da Luz! And I'm sure they didn't mention it in the advert. I only found out about a week ago.

"When I realised I wasn't very happy - I wouldn't have come here if I'd known, especially with my eight-month-old daughter."

Officials from the Algarve's tourist board say visitor numbers are down in the whole region by about 12% but say it is not because of Madeleine but the pound's fall in value against the euro.

But that should not affect Portugal too badly because it is much cheaper than some other holiday destinations in the euro zone - and spending money goes much further.

Also a lot of Britons have property in the country and come back year after year.

Most people in Praia da Luz are reluctant to talk about the Madeleine case but when they do, they admit it has had a bad effect on trade in the town.

Manuel Ferreira: 'It's a mystery'

Manuel Ferreira, 34, a decorator who works in Luz, said: "It's quieter this year. There are less people than before. Someone has to say something - the problem is with the missing girl - it's a mystery.

"People are a little bit scared for their children, for everybody. I have two young children, and I have to be careful - I look after them.

"The tourists don't come back because of the missing girl - they think Praia da Luz is not safe for the children. The beach is usually busy, but now there are few people."

Anne Santley, a cleaner at The Bull pub, said: "It's a bit quieter definitely. There seems to be the people who come out on a regular basis still coming though."

But Sean Tipton, a spokesman for UK travel organisation Abta, said: "The tour operators I have spoken to have said that numbers travelling to the resort are about the same as last year and have not gone down.

"You can't ignore something as upsetting as the McCann case, but do people see Portugal as an unsafe country? No, they do not."
- - - - - -

Madeleine Suspect Fears Case 'A Mystery'
Alex Watts
Sky News Online
Praia da Luz Updated:15:41, Tuesday April 29, 2008

The first suspect in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann says he hopes the case is solved soon so his name can be cleared.

First suspect: Robert Murat

But Robert Murat fears the little girl's fate will remain a mystery.

While the one-year anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance approaches, it is a date 11 days later that will stick in Mr Murat's mind.

His lawyer Francisco Pagarete has told Sky News Online: "It's almost a year since all this started for him... Robert's anniversary is on May 14."

That will be the day Mr Murat says his life was ruined - when police named him as the first suspect in the case.

Speaking to locals and ex-pats in Praia da Luz, the name that never comes up is Murat.

The Luz folk believe he was just unlucky to be caught up in one of the most overwhelming news storms that ever hit a sleepy town.

Mr Pagarete says his client does not know what happened to Madeleine - plus, it is a police matter.

"The only thing we can do is help them (with their inquiries) and that we have already done," the lawyer said.

But he adds that they have had no contact with police for weeks.

"We were with them last month, when I went with Robert to the police station for the things they took from the house," he said.

It is the same for the McCanns - who say they do not even know if police are still looking for Madeleine.

When quizzed on when Mr Murat would be cleared, Mr Pagarete says: "I can't answer that."

But there is talk that it could be in the next few weeks.

The lawyer responds with a laugh: "Then that's great news.

"I hope so, but the timetables are not with me, they're with the Portuguese authorities," he adds.

With the maelstrom of facts, lies and conjecture, Mr Pagarete said his client was coping better with the trauma of suspicion.

"I can tell you he's much better for the last four months than he was in the beginning," his lawyer said.

"It was very stressful for him and his family and friends - and things seem to be going well for him now."
- - - - - -

Has Madeleine 'Abductor' Struck Again?

Alex Watts
Sky News Online
Praia da Luz Updated:12:53, Monday April 28, 2008

Portuguese detectives are investigating the attempted abduction of a Dutch girl by a man who matches the description of a suspect in the Madeleine McCann case.

The 15-year-old was walking home from a supermarket in the tiny fishing village of Senhora da Rocha when she was followed by a man in a black Jeep with tinted windows.

After a couple of minutes, he pulled up in front of her and opened the driver's door so she could not get past.

He then tried to entice her into the vehicle, and when she tried to escape, he grabbed her and tried to pull her in.

The girl managed to fight him off, with the attacker driving off when a car approached from the opposite direction.

She described the man as about 40-years-old, with long hair in a pony tail and with gold rings on his fingers.

This matches the description of the man Kate and Gerry McCann believe snatched their daughter, 30 miles away in the coastal resort of Praia da Luz.

He was between 35 and 40-years-old and had long, straggly hair, according to witnesses who saw a man acting suspiciously near the holiday apartment where Madeleine vanished almost a year ago.

The four-year-old disappeared from her parents' holiday apartment on May 3 and police were given a description of the man later that month.

An FBI-trained artist produced sketches using information from holidaymaker Gail Cooper, who was staying 600 yards away at the time.

Search for Madeleine goes on

The father of the Dutch girl - who does not want to be named - told Sky News Online: "I am lucky she is a strong girl and managed to break free and get away from the man.

"She was walking back from the supermarket as she does on an almost daily basis, at around 6pm, when it happened.

"The man in the black Jeep followed her and then stopped a few metres in front of her and tried to get her in the car.

"He had his trousers down, and was talking to her. He then grabbed her but my daughter fought him.

"Another car arrived and he drove off. I don't know what brand of Jeep he had but my daughter said it had a yellow foreign number plate.

"The police are investigating it, and have taken down all the details.

"I have heard there was a similar incident in the area, near a primary school."

The girl has given officers a detailed description of the attacker, which has been circulated to other police authorities in Portugal.

The incident on March 11 was originally being dealt with by the local Lagoa GNR police force but this week was passed to specialist officers in Portimao - the same force investigating Madeleine's disappearance.

Portuguese police refused to comment on the case when contacted by Sky News Online or whether they are linking it to Madeleine's disappearance.

Villagers are wary of discussing the case over fears it may put off tourists from coming to the area.

But some said there was a similar incident recently, involving a young girl on a bus home from school in nearby Arma��o de P�ra.

She told her mother a car pulled up alongside the bus near Alcantarilha and the driver had his trousers down and was exposing himself to her.
- - - - - -

McCanns: Madeleine 'Is Still Out There'
Updated:15:47, Sunday April 27, 2008

The parents of Madeleine McCann have again said they believe she is still alive almost a year after she went missing.

McCanns still holding out hope

The youngster's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, told a television documentary that they felt more confident about their daughter being found alive after a trip to the US.

At the end of last month the McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, visited America to see how the country's Amber Alert system was used to track down missing children.

Mr McCann told the documentary: "We've spoken to a lot of people who said this is a country (America) that has more than two stereotypical kidnappings per week and of those only 40% to 50% end up being found dead and, most importantly of all, the younger the child, the less likelihood of serious harm.

"And these are people experienced in investigations saying 'I really believe she's out there', and I think, yes, there was a first time where I've thought, I really believe it."

Mr and Mrs McCann are still searching for Madeleine, who was three years old when she disappeared from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3 last year.

During their visit to the US, the couple were filmed meeting Ed Smart, whose daughter Elizabeth was missing for nine months before being found alive and well.

Mr Smart campaigned to keep his daughter's case in the media until she was recognised in the street.

Madeleine missing since May 2007

At the end of the trip, Mrs McCann said: "I feel more positive about the chances of Madeleine being out there and I feel more positive about the likelihood of being able to implement an Amber Alert system within Europe."

But while the couple have not given up hope of finding Madeleine, Mrs McCann said that some days remained "desperate".

In a conversation with Mr Smart filmed for the documentary, she said: "We're okay. Some good days and some desperate days still."

Mr McCann added: "We're bearing up really, still working away behind-the-scenes and keep plugging away and keep hoping for a breakthrough really."

:: Madeleine, One Year On: Campaign for Change, is to be broadcast on Wednesday at 8pm on ITV1.
- - - - - -

Are Police Still Looking For Madeleine?
Updated:09:40, Friday April 25, 2008

Gerry McCann says he has so little contact with Portuguese detectives he cannot be sure if they are still looking for his daughter.

He said he and his wife Kate have not been receiving any information on the progress of the Madeleine investigation and have been given no explanation as to why police files are still being kept secret.

Rachael Oldfield, one of the couple's close friends and a key witness in the case, described the situation as "astounding".

Interviewed for a documentary, Mrs Oldfield said the couple have had no direct contact with Portuguese detective Paulo Rebelo, the man heading the inquiry.

And she accused the Policia Judiciaria (PJ) of "outrageous" leaking and "double standards" over Portugal's strict secrecy laws.

Kate and Gerry McCann were declared "arguidos" - formal suspects - in the case in September although they deny any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.

Their status makes any contact with the police far less likely but they have received no information on whether it is to be lifted.

"I think it's safe to say we're getting very little information," Mr McCann told the programme.

"We haven't had any communication in terms of what's been done in the investigation."

"We would like to know what is being done to find Madeleine.

"We'd like know who has been eliminated from the inquiry and on what grounds and what leads are still being followed.

"We've always said we want to leave no stone unturned and to do that we need to know which stones have already been overturned."

Mr McCann said he believed his daughter was still "probably alive" and he had seen "absolutely zero" evidence to suggest otherwise.

Madeleine vanished in May last year

He said hindsight showed he and his wife "made a mistake" in leaving the children alone, but he dismissed suggestions the couple could face charges of child negligence.

On the same programme, Mrs Oldfield made a staunch defence of the couple against any suggestion they might have been involved in their daughter's disappearance.

She said: "I was there on the night - it was agonising. There was just no way that they were involved in anything to do with Madeleine's disappearance.

"Anyone with an ounce of common sense really would be able to see that they couldn't have done it."

British expat Robert Murat was the first official arguido in the case.

His sister, Samantha, told the programme it was time he was officially cleared of involvement.

She said: "No matter what he does in his life now everyone is going to associate him as the suspect in the Madeleine McCann case.

"It's been a year now and our family have gone through hell, not to mention what Robert's had to go through on his own."
- - - - - -

Secret McCanns Files May Be Released
Updated:14:40, Monday April 14, 2008

Portuguese police and prosecutors are set to discuss their interviews with friends of Madeleine McCann's parents - which could lead to confidential files being made public.

The officials will be debating the future direction of the probe into her disappearance from Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3 last year.

One of Kate and Gerry McCann's lawyers said earlier this month that police files could be made public today.

But the couple's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, played down this possibility and predicted that the official secrecy period would be extended until the summer.

Mr and Mrs McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, remain "arguidos" - or formal suspects - in the case but have not been charged and deny all wrongdoing.

Paulo Rebelo, the detective leading the inquiry, flew back to Portugal earlier than expected on Friday.

He and his team spent last week in Leicestershire sitting in on fresh interviews with the seven friends on holiday with the McCanns when Madeleine disappeared.

Mr Rebelo will meet the public prosecutor in the case, Jose Cunha de Magalhaes e Meneses, in the Algarve town of Portimao today, Mr Mitchell said.

The McCanns' spokesman added: "Rebelo will report back on the interviews that took place last week, and they will then decide on whether the police need more time.

Madeleine is still missing

"I assume that will come out in the next day or so.

"We are hoping that they will do the decent thing, realising that the friends told essentially the same story they told last summer, and eliminate Kate and Gerry from the case."

But Mr Mitchell said he believed there was only the "slimmest of slim chances" that this would happen today.

"(Today) is technically possible for the lifting of judicial secrecy, but it's unlikely. We think it will run through to the summer," he said.

Portuguese law normally provides for an eight-month term during which documents remain secret, and official suspects, police and lawyers are banned from discussing the case in public.
- - - - - -

Fury Over Madeleine Crying 'Smear'
Updated:12:35, Friday April 11, 2008

Kate and Gerry McCann have hit back after the leak of a police interview revealed that their daughter Madeleine had asked why she had been left to cry in the night.

Madeleine's question puzzled couple

The interview transcript was obtained by Spanish television journalist Nacho Abad, who claimed he could not reveal his source.

But Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, said the statement would have come from within the Portuguese police and launched a blistering attack on their attempts to "smear" the McCanns.

"It is a shameless, brazen and very cack-handed," he told Sky News.

"The Portuguese government must now get a grip on whatever element it is within the Portuguese police that is responsible for these leaks and smears."

"They have continued since last summer and when the officer in charge of the inquiry, the man brought in to sort it out, is visiting here, off they go again.

"We know what they're up to, it is ridiculous and must stop," he said.

Mr Mitchell added that the release of the confidential police documents was a "blatant and timed smear campaign", designed to coincide with the McCanns' efforts to promote a child alert system in Brussels.

But journalist Nacho Abad denied that he had been party to any deliberate timing over the release of the statements, telling Sky News: "I made them public when I got them."

The transcripts show Mrs McCann told police about a conversation she had with Madeleine on the morning she vanished.

"While we were having breakfast, Madeleine said: 'Mum, why didn't you come when we were crying last night?'," she said.

She added: "Gerry and I talked about it for several minutes and decided to watch over the children more carefully at night."

Friends of the McCanns said the couple had been "puzzled" by Madeleine's remark as she had not apparently been crying when they called in for regular 20-minute checks from the restaurant across the pool where they dined each night during their holiday.

They said one of the McCanns' friends, Rachael Oldfield, had been in the adjoining flat - on the other side of Madeleine's wall - all evening and heard no crying.

The couple also insist Madeleine was not speaking angrily and they did not take it as a reproach.

Her reference to "we" is understood to have referred to Madeleine and her younger brother Sean.

Friends said they now believe the comment could even be a clue that an intruder was in the flat on the night of May 2 and briefly disturbed Madeleine and Sean before fleeing.

The leaked excerpts also reveal that two days before Madeleine's disappearance two workers repaired the Persian blinds of the room where the children slept.

On the night Madeleine went missing, Mr McCann said he returned to the apartment by his usual route after his wife raised the alarm.

"I looked everywhere, I returned to the children's room and started to think about what could have happened," he said.

"To my surprise, I realised that I could lift up the Persian blind without effort and almost without any noise."

Mr McCann also reported that the angle of the door had changed earlier on in the evening when he had checked on his children - who were all sleeping.

Reporting from the McCanns' home town of Rothley in Leicestershire, Sky correspondent David Crabtree said the McCanns were upset that the transcript leak had caused diversion in their campaign.

"They still believe that Madeleine is alive and out there somewhere, and that is what they want to focus on," he said.

"They want a full inquiry to be undertaken, not only within the Portuguese police and the judicial system but also by Leicestershire police who have been helping the Portuguese officers."
- - - - - -

McCanns Call For Child Alert System
Updated:13:44, Thursday April 10, 2008

The parents of Madeleine McCann have urged European leaders to implement a missing child alert system throughout the continent - saying it may have helped find their daughter.

Amber Alert would see information on abductions - including details of the child and any suspected offender - released to the media within minutes.

Details would also be sent to customs, transport and law enforcement agencies.

Kate McCann said, if the system had been in place last May when Madeleine disappeared, the chances of her being found "would have been higher".

Her husband Gerry said it would also take the onus off parents having to raise the profile of a disappearance at a time when they are traumatised.

The McCanns say a Europe-wide scheme is essential because offenders can rapidly cross borders and the quick release of information is essential to stop abductors getting away.

They are also frustrated that only four European countries have signed up for a continent-wide missing child hotline.

Belgium, Denmark, Greece and Portugal has adopted the facility, whose number is 116 000, which was set up by the European Commission. A charity has applied to run it in Britain.

The McCanns gave a presentation to MEPs at the European Parliament in Brussels, providing them with details about how Amber Alert works and the case for introducing it in Europe.

Madeleine went missing from the McCann's holiday apartment in the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz, on May 3 last year.

Her parents say they will not return to the Algarve to mark the anniversary, which they say will be private.

This week, Portuguese police asked them to take part in a reconstruction of the events.

The McCanns recently visited the US to see Amber Alert in operation.

Police also have the power to commandeer airwaves and television channels in different states if they believe a child has been abducted.

The system also allows news alerts, often including the registration number of a suspect's vehicle, to be flashed up on digital signs on main roads.

In the US, nearly 400 children have been found through the scheme while a similar system in France has been used five times with a successful outcome in each.
- - - - - -

McCanns To Argue For Child Alert System
Updated:18:31, Wednesday April 09, 2008

The parents of missing four-year-old Madeleine McCann are helping to set up a dedicated information hotline for vanished children that will be available across Europe.

McCanns head to Brussels

Kate and Gerry McCann are visiting Brussels as part of the campaign to bring in a dedicated alert system for abducted children.

The phone number - 116 000 - will work from phones across the continent.

Kate, 40, and Gerry, 39, from Rothley, Leics, recently visited America to see the "Amber" alert system.

This allows police to commandeer the airwaves and television channels in different states if they believe a child has been abducted.

The system also allows news alerts, often including the registration number of a suspect's vehicle, to be flashed up on digital signs on main roads.

Tomorrow the couple will give a presentation to MEPs at the European Parliament in Brussels, providing them with details about how the system works and the case for introducing it in Europe.

The couple say such a system could have helped find their daughter Madeleine in the crucial hours after she went missing from their apartment in the Portuguese holiday resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 last year.

The move has received cross-party support in the European Parliament and is being sponsored by five MEPs.

Madeleine: missing since last May

Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, said: "For Kate and Gerry this is an important opportunity to ensure better co-ordination in Europe when a child goes missing to make sure that no other family goes through the anguish that they are continuing to endure.

"They hope to get the support of a majority of the Parliament's MEPs and with such a moral authority they hope that the European Commission will ensure that such a system comes in to being."

For the proposal to be brought forward, it would have to be signed by a majority of the 785 MEPs within three months.

This week Portuguese police asked the couple to return to Praia da Luz to take part in a reconstruction of the events of May 3.
- - - - - -

Police Begin Interviews With 'Tapas Seven'

David Crabtree
Sky News Midlands correspondent
Updated:12:37, Tuesday April 08, 2008

Police have begun interviewing friends of Kate and Gerry McCann about their daughter's disappearance.

Madeleine disappeared last May

Members of the so-called Tapas Seven are being quizzed by Leicestershire Police with three Portuguese detectives sitting in on the interviews at the force headquarters in Enderby.

Jane Tanner is understood to be the first to be quizzed about the night Madeleine vanished on May 3 last year.

She says she saw a man walking away from the McCanns' apartment in Praia da Luz carrying a child.

Her partner Russell O'Brien is also being interviewed by British officers today.

They will be looking for any inconsistencies in evidence given by the group, Sky News understands.

The McCann's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "The friends are quite bullish. They want to get on with these interviews.

"We understand the police have concerns about the time-line. There may be some concern that some of the time-lines don't tally but all the discrepancies are explicable."

He added: "Kate and Gerry hope that the police will come away from these interviews realising that there is nothing suspicious and that any discrepancies can be explained as wholly innocent.

"Kate and Gerry can then be eliminated from the inquiry and then their arguido status can be lifted."

The men and women will be interviewed as witnesses, no lawyers will be present and they are free to leave at any time.

The McCanns, from Rothley, who remain formal suspects, will not be quizzed.

The seven were dining with the McCanns at a tapas bar when Madeleine - who had been left in the family's nearby holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal - disappeared.

Mr Mitchell said: "On that night these seven people didn't have mobiles or watches.

"During the shock, panic and chaos details may have become muddled.

"They and Kate and Gerry welcome the questioning. The McCanns themselves are happy to be questioned also but it has not been requested."

Former detective Mark Williams-Thomas, who has followed the case closely, has told Sky News Online the Portuguese detectives are likely to want a challenge to the group's evidence.

Particularly, he said, they are likely to be interested in the evidence of Jane Tanner.

"She (Tanner) was very specific in her evidence - like what the man looked like, what the child looked like," Mr Williams-Thomas said.

He said evidence given by another person present on the night may be considered more "independent" than that given by Ms Tanner.

Mr Williams-Thomas also said he believed that the focus of the investigation had changed and that the line of questioning was now interested in the McCanns.

But the McCanns believe the arrival of Portuguese police may mark a turning point in the investigation as it nears its one-year anniversary.

Under Portuguese law, the McCanns can also put forward names of people they think police should be talking to.

Sky News understand there are about 50 names on a list.

There had been speculation that diaries and Madeleine's Cuddle Cat toy could be seized by Portuguese officers.

However, it is now understood that no property will be searched or taken.

It is thought the process of interviewing key witnesses will last several weeks but the Portuguese detectives will return home at the end of the week.

On Wednesday, the McCanns travel to Brussels to lobby for better co-ordination between European countries when a child goes missing.
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McCanns Take Part In Madeleine TV Doco
Updated:12:17, Tuesday April 08, 2008

The parents of Madeleine McCann are taking part in a television documentary to mark the first anniversary of their daughter's disappearance.

Kate and Gerry McCann have spent a year in the press

Cameras have been following Kate and Gerry McCann since January.

In the documentary, the couple talk at length about Madeleine, the night she went missing, becoming "arguido" suspects in Portugal and the decision to return to Britain.

The parents have received no payment for their part in the one-hour ITV1 programme, with the broadcaster instead donating �10,000 to the Find Madeleine Fund.

They are also filmed launching a campaign to introduce a US-style Amber Alert system in Europe when a child goes missing.

The alert system would allow authorities to demand airtime on TV and radio whenever a child goes missing.

Kate and Gerry have already been filmed at their home in Rothley, Leicestershire, and travelling to Washington in the US to pursue their campaign.

Madeleine went missing on May 3

Cameras will also be with the pair when they intend to highlight the issue in Brussels.

Steve Anderson, executive producer for Mentorn Media who are behind the project, said: "Amid all of the controversy, what should be remembered is that a little girl is still missing and her family is trying its best to find her.

"They are determined to do whatever they can to make sure that what happened to Madeleine doesn't happen to another child."

Madeleine went missing from her family's holiday apartment at the Ocean Club, in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3.
- - - - - -

Police Fly To UK For Madeleine Interviews
Updated:05:39, Monday April 07, 2008

Portuguese detectives are due to arrive in the UK tomorrow as friends of Kate and Gerry McCann are reinterviewed over their daughter's disappearance.

Madeleine vanished on May 3

The squad, led by Paulo Rebelo, who is in charge of the Madeleine McCann hunt, will not actually question the so-called "Tapas Seven".

But they will be present at interviews carried out by officers from Leicestershire Constabulary.

The McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, will not be quizzed in relation to the disappearance of their daughter from the Algarve holiday resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 last year.

Their spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said the couple welcomed the interviews and were happy to be reinterviewed, but a request had not been made by Portuguese detectives.

Instead they will question the McCanns' seven friends - who were with them the night Madeleine disappeared.

They will be interviewed as witnesses and are free to leave at any time, a spokeswoman for Leicestershire Constabulary said. No lawyers will be present.

There had been speculation that diaries and Madeleine's Cuddle Cat toy could be seized by Portuguese officers, but it is understood that no property will be searched or seized.

The Portuguese officers are expected to land at East Midlands Airport at 12.20pm on the flight from Faro.

Some of the interviews may begin tomorrow but Leicestershire Constabulary will not say where they are being held. It is believed they will take place at the force's headquarters in Enderby.

Kate and Gerry to fly to Brussels

A police spokeswoman said: "Leicestershire Constabulary will be co-ordinating the execution of the request for mutual legal assistance made by the Portuguese authorities.

"The Portuguese authorities have asked that the contents of the request and the way it is being executed be kept confidential so as not to prejudice their ongoing investigation."

The process of interviewing key witnesses will last several weeks but the Portuguese detectives will return home from interviewing the Tapas Seven at the end of the week.

Madeleine's parents Kate, 40, and her husband, 39-year-old Gerry, remain formal suspects in the case.

The McCanns will not be in Leicestershire for the duration of the visit by Mr Rebelo and his team.

On Wednesday, they travel to Brussels to lobby for better co-ordination between European countries when a child goes missing.
- - - - - -

Madeleine Case: Secrecy Period To End
Updated:22:07, Tuesday April 01, 2008

Files detailing the Portuguese police case against the parents of missing Madeleine McCann could be made public within two weeks, a lawyer for the couple has said.

The McCanns are still 'arguidos'

An official secrecy period has until now prevented Kate and Gerry McCann from seeing why they were named "arguidos" - or formal suspects in their daughter's disappearance.

But lawyer Rogerio Alves has said the secrecy period is due to end on April 14, and can only be extended for major inquiries, such as those involving terrorism or organised crime.

Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have been suspects in the case since September 2007.

They have not since been charged and both deny all wrongdoing.

Clarence Mitchell, the couple's spokesman, welcomed the lawyer's comments and called for the arguido status to be lifted.

Mr Mitchell said: "We would hope that the police will do the decent and proper thing and open up the files.

"I would go further than that, and say once they have completed the interviews with the the friends, they should go back to Portugal and assess the evidence and eliminate Kate and Gerry and allow everyone once again to concentrate on the search for Madeleine."

Three Portuguese detectives will travel to the UK on Monday to spend next week re-interviewing the seven friends on holiday with the McCanns when Madeleine went missing.
- - - - - -

More Questions For Friends Of McCanns
Updated:14:59, Monday March 31, 2008

Portuguese police will come to Britain next week to re-interview friends of Madeleine McCann's parents.

Kate and Gerry will not be interviewed, despite being official suspects in the case.

The family's spokesman Clarence Mitchell had said he hoped the questioning would eliminate the couple from the suspicions of Portuguese police.

"We hope that the police will realise there is no evidence to link Kate and Gerry with Madeleine's disappearance in any way and that they will be rapidly eliminated from the inquiry," he told the media.

He added that the family want the arguido status "which was imposed too hastily as the head of the Portuguese police admitted" will be lifted as soon as possible.

The interviews of the friends will be carried out in principle by officers from Leicestershire Constabulary while the Portuguese officers watch.

A spokeswoman for the British force said: "Leicestershire Constabulary will be co-ordinating the execution of the request for mutual legal assistance made by the Portuguese authorities.

"The Portuguese authorities have asked that the contents of the request and the way it is being executed be kept confidential so as not to prejudice their ongoing investigation."

Mr Mitchell said the McCanns welcomed the new questioning and there had been no request for them to be re-interviewed.

"There were some reports from Portugal last week that police were not going to question Kate and Gerry because they thought they would not co-operate. This is utterly ridiculous and completely baseless."

It is almost 11 months since Madeleine disappeared from the holiday resort of Praia da Luz on May 3.
- - - - - -

Kate And Gerry McCann Film Documentary
Updated:16:31, Friday March 28, 2008

The parents of Madeleine McCann are taking part in a television documentary to mark the first anniversary of their daughter's disappearance.

Kate and Gerry McCann have spent a year in the press

Cameras have been following Kate and Gerry McCann since January.

In the documentary, the couple talk at length about Madeleine, the night she went missing, becoming "arguido" suspects in Portugal and the decision to return to Britain.

The parents have received no payment for their part in the one-hour ITV1 programme, with the broadcaster instead donating �10,000 to the Find Madeleine Fund.

They are also filmed launching a campaign to introduce a US-style Amber Alert system in Europe when a child goes missing.

The alert system would allow authorities to demand airtime on TV and radio whenever a child goes missing.

Kate and Gerry have already been filmed at their home in Rothley, Leicestershire, and travelling to Washington in the US to pursue their campaign.

Madeleine went missing on May 3

Cameras will also be with the pair when they intend to highlight the issue in Brussels.

Steve Anderson, executive producer for Mentorn Media who are behind the project, said: "Amid all of the controversy, what should be remembered is that a little girl is still missing and her family is trying its best to find her.

"They are determined to do whatever they can to make sure that what happened to Madeleine doesn't happen to another child."

Madeleine went missing from her family's holiday apartment at the Ocean Club, in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3.
- - - - - -

What Now For Newspapers?

Katie Stallard
Sky News reporter Updated:12:00, Sunday March 23, 2008

When a story as big as Madeleine McCann breaks, journalists are dispatched at speed and in numbers.

Express says it was sorry for stories

They hit the ground running, swarming over every tip, chasing down the wildest of rumours.

The game is simple - find the story no one else has, get the detail everyone wants.

But the skill - in journo-speak - is getting it to 'stand up'.

It can be tremendously exhilarating, it can be downright frustrating.

You can have the best story in the world, but without the facts to back it up it will stay lying determinedly down.

But news abhors a vacuum and in the absence of official briefings and press conferences there are still front pages to be filled, headlines to be written.

So, under pressure to shift papers and boost circulation, is the line between fact and fiction in danger of becoming blurred?

Media commentator Kim Fletcher said: "What The Express and The Star were doing was taking the kind of rumours that were circulating in Portugal and just spinning them up bigger, and presenting them as researched newspaper stories, which they clearly weren't."

Part of the problem, Bob Satchwell, Executive Director of the Society of Editors, explained, was the complete lack of information on the ground.

"This was an almost fact-free story," he said.

"Apart from the fact that the child is missing and the fact that the McCanns are still considered by the Portuguese authorities under their system of law to be suspects.

"That's where you have the problem, the police and judicial system is very secretive compared to ours.

"If there'd been more press conferences, more explanation of what was going on perhaps we wouldn't have had anywhere near the level of speculation which has happened with this story."

Negative stories were run across Express titles

The context is important here too - newspaper sales are dwindling so what was already a tough tabloid market is now cut-throat.

In the battle between the red-tops for readers it's every headline writer for themselves.

"Newspapers now are lacking confidence," publicist Mark Borkowski said.

"They really are driving hard for audience and, I'm afraid they will try and get away with the headline in an effort to generate sales and traction? It's more storytelling than journalism."

The question is what to do about it. Every libel action is a shot across the bows of Fleet St, expect weeks, perhaps months now of exemplary behaviour from unsettled newspaper bosses.

And while there have already been calls for the editors in this case to stand down, long-term they may be little more than the latest cautionary tale in a very long list.

"There are more ex-editors around than there are hot dinners," David Banks, a former editor at the Mirror told us.

"Editors do pay the price. The press has to walk a tremendous tightrope and it does all the time, sometimes the tight-rope walker - the editor falls off and that's the way it is."
- - - - - -

'Distress Was A Major Factor In Our Action'
Updated:11:43, Wednesday March 19, 2008

Kate and Gerry McCann have welcomed an apology from Express Newspapers for publishing defamatory articles suggesting they were responsible for the death of Madeleine.
This is the McCanns' full statement, read out by their spokesman Clarence Mitchell:

The McCanns accepted damages

"We are pleased that Express Newspapers have today admitted the utter falsity of the numerous grotesque and grossly defamatory allegations that their titles published about us on a sustained basis over many months.

"The exceptional publication of these apologies, together with today's statement of full apology in open court before Mr Justice Eady, was the only just and proper response by Express Newspapers following our complaint.

"We also wish to place on record our thanks to Adam Tudor, from Carter Ruck. Today's result simply could not have been achieved without him.

"Express Newspapers rightly acknowledge that we are innocent of all allegations that we may have been involved in Madeleine's abduction and we would like to reiterate that there is absolutely no evidence that Madeleine is dead or has been seriously harmed.

"We embarked on this course of action reluctantly, indeed with a heavy heart, as we did not wish the pursuit of it to become a distraction from our sole aim - finding Madeleine.

"Indeed, as long ago as last autumn our lawyers approached Express Newspapers and urged them to show greater restraint in their reporting - requests which went utterly unheeded.

"The distress all this has caused members of our wider family, at a time of great emotional turmoil for them, was also a major factor in our action.

"Their pain over the loss of Madeleine has been compounded by having to witness the irresponsible and libellous reporting that we have successfully challenged today.

"As part of our settlement, Express Newspapers have also agreed to pay damages, by way of a donation of �550,000 to the fund that was established to help find Madeleine.

"We feel it is entirely appropriate that the search for Madeleine will now benefit directly out of the wrongs committed against us as her parents.

"We hope that the Portuguese authorities lift our arguido status in the very near future so that everyone can focus on finding our beautiful little girl, Madeleine."
- - - - - -

Express Newspapers Axe McCann Articles
Updated:12:09, Sunday March 23, 2008

Express Newspapers have removed all Madeleine McCann articles from their websites after issuing a public apology for "numerous grotesque, defamatory articles" about her parents.

Madeleine vanished on May 3

Readers searching for Madeleine stories are presented with the message "0 results found" despite the group publishing hundreds since she vanished in May last year.

The move came after the group agreed to pay �550,000 to the Find Madeleine Fund for more than 100 inaccurate articles written about Kate and Gerry McCann.

It was also forced to make a public apology.

A spokesman for Express Newspapers declined to comment on the removal of the articles.

But an email from the Daily Express online editor, Geoff Marsh, was quoted as saying: "For operational reasons, some articles previously available on express.co.uk have been temporarily removed.

"I'm afraid I can't go into any more detail."

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the �550,000 will go towards "investigative initiatives" in the search for Madeleine.

Speaking on behalf of the couple "in their words", he said the action was the "only just, proper response" to the couple's complaint.

"It is fitting the search for Madeleine will benefit from the wrongs that have been committed against us, her parents," he said.

"Express newspapers rightly acknowledge they ran stories with absolutely no evidence."

Apology on front of Daily Express

Mr Mitchell later told Sky News: "The sustained run of defamation by the group caused great distress, not just for Gerry and Kate, but for their family."

It also "provided an absolute distraction to the search to find Madeleine," he added.

He confirmed the Express group's four papers (the Daily Express, Daily Star and their Sunday stablemates) "had been politely but firmly warned" about the articles, in particular the headlines.

Mr Mitchell admitted many papers were guilty of mis-reporting.

However, the Express group in particular had "the worse track record, with a number of headlines seeing libellous statements and false claims repeated".

Earlier, PR guru Max Clifford told Sky News Online the payout "will send a warning bow across the whole of Fleet Street".

Today's Daily Express said it had published a number of articles that suggested "the couple caused the death of their missing daughter Madeleine and then covered it up".

"We acknowledge that there is no evidence whatsoever to support this theory and that Kate and Gerry are completely innocent of any involvement in their daughter's disappearance," it said.

"Kate and Gerry, we are truly sorry to have added to your distress.

"We assure you that we hope Madeleine will one day be found alive and well and will be restored to her loving family."

Kate and Gerry remain official suspects in the Portuguese police investigation but strenuously protest their innocence.
- - - - - -

What Now For Newspapers?

Katie Stallard

Sky News reporter Updated:12:00, Sunday March 23, 2008

When a story as big as Madeleine McCann breaks, journalists are dispatched at speed and in numbers.

Express says it was sorry for stories

They hit the ground running, swarming over every tip, chasing down the wildest of rumours.

The game is simple - find the story no one else has, get the detail everyone wants.

But the skill - in journo-speak - is getting it to 'stand up'.

It can be tremendously exhilarating, it can be downright frustrating.

You can have the best story in the world, but without the facts to back it up it will stay lying determinedly down.

But news abhors a vacuum and in the absence of official briefings and press conferences there are still front pages to be filled, headlines to be written.

So, under pressure to shift papers and boost circulation, is the line between fact and fiction in danger of becoming blurred?

Media commentator Kim Fletcher said: "What The Express and The Star were doing was taking the kind of rumours that were circulating in Portugal and just spinning them up bigger, and presenting them as researched newspaper stories, which they clearly weren't."

Part of the problem, Bob Satchwell, Executive Director of the Society of Editors, explained, was the complete lack of information on the ground.

"This was an almost fact-free story," he said.

"Apart from the fact that the child is missing and the fact that the McCanns are still considered by the Portuguese authorities under their system of law to be suspects.

"That's where you have the problem, the police and judicial system is very secretive compared to ours.

"If there'd been more press conferences, more explanation of what was going on perhaps we wouldn't have had anywhere near the level of speculation which has happened with this story."

Negative stories were run across Express titles

The context is important here too - newspaper sales are dwindling so what was already a tough tabloid market is now cut-throat.

In the battle between the red-tops for readers it's every headline writer for themselves.

"Newspapers now are lacking confidence," publicist Mark Borkowski said.

"They really are driving hard for audience and, I'm afraid they will try and get away with the headline in an effort to generate sales and traction? It's more storytelling than journalism."

The question is what to do about it. Every libel action is a shot across the bows of Fleet St, expect weeks, perhaps months now of exemplary behaviour from unsettled newspaper bosses.

And while there have already been calls for the editors in this case to stand down, long-term they may be little more than the latest cautionary tale in a very long list.

"There are more ex-editors around than there are hot dinners," David Banks, a former editor at the Mirror told us.

"Editors do pay the price. The press has to walk a tremendous tightrope and it does all the time, sometimes the tight-rope walker - the editor falls off and that's the way it is."
- - - - - -

McCann Suspect Given Back Computers
Updated:08:16, Sunday March 23, 2008

Portuguese police have returned computers and other possessions seized from Madeleine McCann suspect Robert Murat, he has said.

He described the move as a "very positive sign" - but is still waiting to be officially cleared of involvement in the British girl's disappearance.

Mr Murat, 34, lives just yards from the holiday apartment in the Portuguese seaside resort of Praia da Luz, where Madeleine vanished on May 3 last year.

Detectives took him in for questioning 11 days later and made him the first "arguido", or formal suspect, in the case.

They also searched the villa he shares with his mother and seized a number of his possessions, including three computers, clothes and a pair of shoes.

Mr Murat says they returned these items to him on Thursday, although they did not say how their investigation was progressing.

The Anglo-Portuguese ex-pat said: "Why would they return something if it was in the middle of being investigated in any way, shape or form?

"We are very happy to have the computers back, and I hope I will have my arguido status dropped very shortly."

Mr Murat said he was considering whether to take legal action over allegedly libellous articles printed about him.

This follows apologies to Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, published by four national newspapers this week.

Mr Murat strenuously denies any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance, as do Mr and Mrs McCann, who are also arguidos.
- - - - - -

Mar 19,2008

'Madeleine Search Will Continue'

The McCanns spokesman Clarence Mitchell told Sky News a private investigation team were following up leads in the search for Madeleine. He says investigators are passionate and committed to finding out what happened the night she disappeared.
- - - - - -

Apology And Damages Over Madeleine

Kate and Gerry McCann have accepted a High Court apology and damages from Express Newspapers for suggesting they were responsible for the disappearance of their daughter, Madeleine. Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell read a statement outside court.
- - - - -

Two Tabloids Apologise To McCanns
Updated:00:32, Wednesday March 19, 2008

Two British national newspapers have published front page apologies to the parents of missing Madeleine McCann for suggesting they caused her death and then covered it up.

The Daily Express and Daily Star say there is no evidence to support this theory and that Kate and Gerry McCann are "completely innocent" of involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.

The apologies came after the McCanns launched a legal action against several papers.

The Express says it was taking "the unprecedented step" of making a front page apology.

"We do so because we accept that a number of articles in the newspaper have suggested the couple caused the death of their missing daughter Madeleine and then covered it up.

"We trust that the suspicion that has clouded their lives for many months will soon be lifted."

The Express adds: "Kate and Gerry, we are truly sorry to have added to your distress. We assure you that we hope Madeleine will one day be found alive and well and will be restored to her loving family."

Both papers say they have made a substantial donation to the Madeleine Fund.

Media commentator Kim Fletcher told Sky News: "After the disappearance of Madeleine the Express decided that this story was a way to sell newspapers.

"So, day after day we would see a story about the McCanns.

"And the problem with that is that if you don't have a story to write you start writing gossip, which was what was happening, in effect.

"They were writing every bit of speculation from any source. We wondered how long it could go on."
- - - - - -

Shannon Find Gives McCanns New Hope
Updated:16:17, Friday March 14, 2008

Kate and Gerry McCann have spoken of their delight - and hope - after missing Shannon Matthews was found alive.
They said the dramatic developments in Batley Carr, Dewsbury, gave them renewed faith in finding their daughter Madeleine.

McCanns Tell Of Delight

Shannon, nine, was found hidden in the base of a divan bed when police smashed their way into a flat 24 days after she went missing.

It is almost a year since three-year-old Madeleine vanished from her parents' holiday flat in Praia da Luz, on the Algarve, Portugal.

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry are aware that she has been found alive.

"They feel that is excellent news, they are delighted that she is alive.

"They will not comment more until they know the full circumstances.

"Suffice to say that they will keep on looking until they have a happy resolution in Madeleine's case.

"It proves that children can go missing for whatever reason and still be found alive.

"Until Kate and Gerry know what has happened to Madeleine, there will always be hope for them that she too will be found alive.

"They will keep on looking as long as there is hope."
- - - - - -

Madeleine: Divers Search Reservoir

Martin Brunt

Crime correspondent Updated:05:58, Wednesday March 12, 2008

A team of divers has resumed its search of a remote Algarve reservoir in the hunt for missing Madeleine McCann.

Diver searches the water

So far they have recovered nothing but several lengths of cord, some plastic tape and a single white, cotton sock.

Human rights lawyer Marcos Aragao Correia is funding the private search in the belief that Madeleine's body was thrown into the Barragem do Arade shortly after being killed by an abductor.

He claims he was told of the girl's fate by an underworld contact.

It's the second time the lawyer has paid for divers to explore the reservoir which lies in rolling hills a 20-minute drive from Praia da Luz, the holiday resort from where Madeleine vanished in May last year.

In December - when Portuguese police refused to act on his claims - he paid around �3,000 for a first search.

Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, have dismissed Mr Correia as a self-publicist and believe there is no evidence to suggest there is any link between their daughter and the reservoir.

They don't believe Madeleine is dead and want any search to concentrate on finding her alive.

Mr Correia told Sky News: "The Portuguese authorities refused to carry out the searches themselves, as is their obligation. Any possibility that she may be in the lake should be taken seriously and duly investigated.

Madeleine McCann: Vanished last May

"They completely refused to give my tip-off any credibility whatsoever, so I took it upon myself to search."

He said that whatever his divers recover will be handed to the McCanns' private investigators as potential evidence.

Five divers are being helped by two firefighters who specialise in the recovery of bodies.

Their search is complicated enough, but they've also discovered that the bottom of the reservoir has layer of soft mud four metres thick, into which a weighted body would sink and disappear.

Last week, Portuguese police briefed a senior British detective on questions to be put to the seven friends who were dining with the McCanns on the night Madeleine disappeared from the holiday apartment where she was sleeping with her twin brother and sister.

That re-questioning is expected to be carried out in the next few weeks.
- - - - - -

Madeleine Parents Set To Sue Newspapers

Alistair Bunkall

Sky News reporter Updated:12:16, Monday March 10, 2008

Lawyers for Kate and Gerry McCann are considering taking legal action against British newspapers whose coverage they feel to have been incorrect and unfair.

Principally they are looking at the publications in The Express Group: The Daily Express, The Sunday Express, The Daily Star and The Daily Star Sunday.

Clarence Mitchell, the spokesman for the McCann family, confirmed that their lawyers were in discussions, but denied that any writs had yet been issued.

"It's wrong to say that we're actually suing, but our lawyers have been assessing all articles, in all papers.

"We are extremely unhappy with The Express Group's coverage. We always said it was the worst amongst all the tabloids."

He also added that the figures that have been quoted in the media are wildly speculative and that The Express Group had made no initial offer for an out-of-court settlement.

Under UK law, the McCanns and their lawyers have a year from the publication of an article to decide whether they wish to take legal action against its content.

It is thought that in the case of the coverage they are assessing, that year would be up some time in mid-May, and a decision must be taken by then.

Clarence Mitchell denied the family were taking this action because the Find Madeleine fund was running low.

He said: "Yes, it's true that the fund is roughly half-way spent, but the main thing we require is an apology."

He added that any money won as a result of legal action would go straight back into the fund.

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Missing Spanish Girl Found Dead
Updated:15:09, Saturday March 08, 2008

Police have found the body of a Spanish girl who disappeared less than two hours' drive from where Madeleine McCann went missing.

Mari's mother, Irina Ramirez, at a protest after her disappearance

Mari Luz Cortes was discovered floating in an estuary near the southern city of Huelva, 120 miles from the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.

The five-year-old vanished on January 13 when she went out to a newspaper stand.

DNA tests will be carried out on the badly decomposed remains, which were identified by her clothing.

Madeleine's parents have offered their prayers and sympathy to the girl's family.

Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, sent Mari Luz's parents messages of support after her disappearance.

The couple had also planned to include her in their poster campaign in Spain.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "Kate and Gerry are aware of the reports and it's clearly very upsetting for them.

"Their thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.

"Kate and Gerry had kept a very close eye on the search for Mari Luz and they felt there was a degree of connection between the two families.

"They sent messages of support after she went missing."

No arrests have been made over the disappearance of Mari Luz.
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Madeleine Police Discuss Re-Questioning

Martin Brunt

Crime correspondent Updated:21:18, Thursday March 06, 2008

The senior British detective involved in the Madeleine McCann case has returned from the Algarve after a series of meetings with Portuguese police.

Detective Superintendent Stuart Prior of Leicestershire police spent 48 hours in Portugal, discussing how his force can help in the continuing search for the missing girl.

High on the agenda was the Portuguese police request to re-question the seven friends who dined with Gerry and Kate McCann at the tapas bar on the night Madeleine vanished in May last year.

It is believed the Algarve detectives are unhappy with so-called inconsistencies in statements the friends gave them before they returned to the UK.

Leicestershire police, as the McCanns' local force, are likely to carry out the new interviews on behalf of the Portuguese authorities.

A force spokesman said: "Since Madeleine's disappearance we, together with other law enforcement agencies, have been working closely with the Portuguese authorities.

"Mr Prior has attended a series of meetings with his Portuguese counterparts. He travelled to Portugal on Tuesday and returned this afternoon.

"He went to discuss how the request for mutual legal assistance is to be executed and seek clarification over terms of reference."

It is several months since Portugal's police director announced that he wanted to re-interview the McCanns' friends and it is not clear why the process has taken so long.

The family's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "The sooner this takes place the better. No-one will be changing their story."

The McCanns hope that any new development in the investigation might lead to the lifting of their arguido status under which they remain official suspects in their daughter's disappearance.
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Hopes Dashed As 'Sighting' Dismissed
Updated:10:17, Thursday March 06, 2008

French police say a child spotted in a restaurant near the southern city of Montpellier was not missing Madeleine McCann.

Madeleine vanished in May

A Dutch tourist claimed to have seen the missing British four-year-old, the latest in a series of alleged sightings across the world.

Police took away CCTV from a roadside restaurant where the child was seen with a man.

But after viewing the footage, investigators said while the girl did indeed resemble Madeleine it was not her.

A file has now been transferred to a state prosecutor in Montpellier.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Madeleine's parents, had said the tourist, thought to be an 18-year-old student, had done "absolutely the right thing" by contacting the police.

The teenager had been with a friend when they started looking at a girl because she appeared to be dancing to music from one of their mobile phones, he said.

Mr Mitchell said he was told the tourist had been so sure it was the missing girl that she shouted out her name before the man rushed off with the child.

It is thought the woman had mentioned a distinctive flaw in Madeleine's right eye, where the pupil runs into the blue-green iris.

Madeleine has not been seen since May 3, 2007, when she vanished from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal.

Her parents, Kate and Gerry, remain official suspects.
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Survey Boost For Madeleine's Parents
Updated:18:18, Tuesday March 04, 2008

Madeleine McCann's parents have been "encouraged" by a survey for a newspaper that suggests public opinion in Portugal is shifting in their favour, their spokesman has said.

Madeleine search continues

The Correio da Manha poll found that 38.6% of those questioned still believe Kate and Gerry McCann were involved in their daughter's disappearance in the Algarve.

On the other hand, 30.7% thought the couple, from Rothley, Leicestershire, were completely innocent.

This compares to a poll run by the same newspaper in September last year, in which 39.9% of people interviewed thought the couple were guilty and 26.8% believed they were not to blame.

It is a small change but the McCanns - still official suspects in the police investigation - believe the tide could be turning for them after 10 months of speculation and accusations.

Their spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "It's encouraging to see that public opinion is shifting in Kate and Gerry's favour.

"People are right to believe that Kate and Gerry had nothing to do with their daughter's disappearance and are right to be sceptical of some of the coverage in recent months."

The poll came as the McCanns' private detectives were investigating another lead in their search for the little girl.

A British couple reportedly spotted a "package" being put onto a jet ski on a beach close to where Madeleine went missing in Praia da Luz.

The holiday makers had been for a morning swim about 10 hours after the child, then aged three, vanished from the McCanns' apartment on May 3 last year.

"It may well be nothing to do with Madeleine. God forbid it has nothing to do with her but Kate and Gerry will get neither up nor down about it until they hear something definitive from the police or investigators.

"It's something they are keenly aware of but it is not something that strikes them as either good or bad."
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Madeleine 'Sighting' In France Ruled Out
Updated:14:25, Saturday March 01, 2008

A reported sighting of Madeleine McCann in southern France has been officially ruled out, it has been confirmed.

Gerry McCann revealed French police have established that the young girl seen by a Dutch tourist in Montpellier last month was not his missing daughter.

He said: "It is disappointing that it took so long, particularly after the widespread coverage the reported sighting received in the media."

Madeleine vanished from her family's holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 last year while her parents dined with friends nearby.

Over the past 10 months, witnesses have claimed to have spotted the youngster all over Europe and North Africa but so far every tip-off has proved a dead end.

The latest sighting was reported by 18-year-old Melissa Fiering, who said she saw Madeleine at a service station restaurant in Montpellier on February 15.

She told a Dutch newspaper she was certain it was the British child because she had a distinctive mark in her eye and looked startled when her name was called.

Youngster went missing from Praia da Luz resort

Initially there was doubt about whether CCTV footage from the restaurant was clear enough for French police to determine whether or not the child was Madeleine.

But in his latest blog on the official Find Madeleine website, Mr McCann wrote: "We did hear from the UK police that the French have officially ruled out the reported sighting of Madeleine in Montpellier.

He and his wife Kate, both doctors from Rothley, Leicestershire, spent yesterday in meetings with two British charities involved in searching for missing and abducted children.

The couple have been named "arguidos", or formal suspects, in Madeleine's disappearance, but they strenuously protest their innocence.

Reports this week suggested that Portuguese detectives were poised to travel to the UK to re-interview the McCanns and the seven friends on holiday with them when Madeleine vanished.
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McCanns Want Montpellier Sighting Video
Updated:09:07, Friday February 22, 2008

Madeleine McCann's parents have called for French police to let them view video footage of a reported sighting of their missing girl.

The request came as confusion surrounded a claim made by a Dutch tourist that she spotted the four-year-old in the southern French city of Montpellier.

Melissa Fiering, 18, believes she saw Madeleine - missing since she vanished from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal last May - at a service station on Friday.

She is sure it was the Leicestershire youngster because of how the child reacted when her name was called.

Miss Fiering also told a Dutch newspaper she saw a mark in the girl's eye similar to Madeleine's distinctive facial feature.

A man accompanying the child then left the restaurant with her a short time later, the teenager said.

On Wednesday, a French police official said investigators had examined CCTV footage from the restaurant and determined it was not Madeleine.

But on Thursday, a police official in France would only say that the girl caught on camera did not appear to be held against her will.

"These tapes are not very usable," the official told reporters, adding that "nothing can guarantee the result" of even a close study.

Madeleine, from Rothley, disappeared on May 3. Since then there have been several reported sightings of her around Europe and north Africa, all of which have proven to be false leads.

On the latest, Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for her parents, said: "We believe from indications we have received that the child is not Madeleine. However, if this video material is of very poor quality I would hope that the French authorities are certain that the child is not Madeleine before they rule it out.

"Kate and Gerry would still like to view this material if possible in the very near future to be sure themselves."

Montpellier Prosecutor Jean Philippe said the tapes could be turned over to British authorities, which must make a specific demand.
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Feb 20,2008

Madeleine: New Sighting Is Reported

A Dutch woman has told French police she saw a child resembling the missing British child Madeleine McCann. On Sky News, the family's spokesman Clarence Mitchell gave his reaction to the development.
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Madeleine Family 'Being Crucified'
Updated:09:09, Monday February 18, 2008

Madeleine McCann's grandmother says the family's torment is like "being crucified" every day.

Susan Healey pleaded with people to stop criticising her family, and launched a scathing attack on the Press.

She said: "It is almost like being crucified day to day. I read the most stupid things about Kate not crying enough, or whatever."

She added: "Kate and Gerry know they made a mistake and shouldn't have left the children, they know that, but they certainly don't deserve what has happened to them.

"If the Portuguese can't find out what happened to Madeleine we have to find out.

"There is no way Madeleine will fade into insignificance."

Mrs Healey, mother of 39-year-old Kate, reiterated the family's fundamental need to know what happened to Madeleine in May last year when she vanished while on holiday in Praia da Luz.

Madeleine: Missing since May

Kate McCann and surgeon husband Gerry continue to be "arguidos" - or formal suspects - despite Portugal's top policeman saying two weeks ago that their arrest was hasty.

Mrs Healey, 62, a civil servant who lives in Liverpool with husband Brian, says she has no faith in the Portuguese.

"We will go on fighting for justice. It is a ridiculous situation. If they think we are going to sit by and not have this stupid arguido status lifted then we will fight to lift it.

"We want Madeleine back and we want to find out what happened to her. There is nothing in place to make sure this doesn't happen again," she said.

Describing the British Press as "beyond contempt", she thanked members of the public for their genuine support.
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Madeleine Cops Set To 'Shut The Case'
Updated:01:19, Thursday February 14, 2008

The police probe into the disappearance of British four-year-old Madeleine McCann is nearing its end, Portugal's justice minister has revealed.

Vanished: Madeleine

Alberto Costa told a parliamentary committee: "We are at a stage now where we are approaching the conclusion of the process."

It is now 286 days since four-year-old Madeleine vanished from her family's holiday apartment in the Algarve seaside resort of Praia da Luz, while her parents dined with friends nearby.

Sky News' Crime correspondent Martin Brunt said: "I find it extraordinary that after less than a year they are considering winding up the case. You would have thought there was much more to explore.

"It gives substance to the long-held belief that the Portuguese police had very few clues to go on all along.

"This basically means that no official Portuguese police detectives will actively work on the case any more - but, if a significant new piece of evidence was discovered, they would have to react to it."

Brunt added: "What does it mean to (Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry) the McCanns? It could either mean they are released from their arguido (suspect) status at last or the cloud of suspicion could remain over them forever."

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, said the only satisfactory conclusion would be Madeleine being found.

He said: "If the case is coming to a conclusion, we hope it will conclude shortly with the finding of Madeleine and her being reunited with her parents.

"That is the only satisfactory conclusion for us."

Criminologist Mark Williams-Thomas told Sky News Online: "If Madeleine is not found and they are closing the case, I have to ask the question, 'Where is she?'

"The case must remain open until they find her or, at the very least, charge someone.
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Valentine's Day Hunt For Madeleine
Updated:09:45, Thursday February 14, 2008

A new poster campaign has been launched to raise awareness of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann and two other children.

Missing girls: Madeleine and five-year-old Mari Luz Cortes

The "Don't You Forget" Valentine's Day campaign will send out images of the three missing youngsters to businesses and public sites across Spain and its islands.

It is hoped the posters will be displayed in banks, schools, churches, stations and other prominent places.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry, said: "As far as we are concerned our search continues every day for Madeleine. We will leave no stone unturned.

"Our investigators are continuing to follow up leads but we still need public assistance. That's why this latest phase is going out."

Two A3-size posters have been produced - one depicting Madeleine, alongside five-year-old Mari Luz Cortes, and one showing her with seven-year-old Yeremi Vargas.

Mari Luz went missing on January 13 this year in her home town of Huelva, 120 miles from Praia da Luz - where Madeleine went missing last May.

Yeremi Vargas disappeared from his home in Gran Canaria on March 10 last year.

Mr Mitchell said the reason why the other two children are included is "out of courtesy to their respective families".

"They are going through the same agony as Kate and Gerry. Their children are missing in the region in potentially similar circumstances," he said.

A letter in Spanish will accompany the posters, explaining their purpose and giving information on how to contact the authorities for those who believe they can help.

In all, some 17,400 packs have been produced, costing the Find Madeleine Fund �3,000.

An email version is also being sent out to thousands of recipients.

The new campaign comes as the Portuguese police investigation into Madeleine's disappearance draws to a close.
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Madeleine Cops Set To 'Shut The Case'
Updated:01:19, Thursday February 14, 2008

The police probe into the disappearance of British four-year-old Madeleine McCann is nearing its end, Portugal's justice minister has revealed.

Vanished: Madeleine

Alberto Costa told a parliamentary committee: "We are at a stage now where we are approaching the conclusion of the process."

It is now 286 days since four-year-old Madeleine vanished from her family's holiday apartment in the Algarve seaside resort of Praia da Luz, while her parents dined with friends nearby.

Sky News' Crime correspondent Martin Brunt said: "I find it extraordinary that after less than a year they are considering winding up the case. You would have thought there was much more to explore.

"It gives substance to the long-held belief that the Portuguese police had very few clues to go on all along.

"This basically means that no official Portuguese police detectives will actively work on the case any more - but, if a significant new piece of evidence was discovered, they would have to react to it."

Brunt added: "What does it mean to (Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry) the McCanns? It could either mean they are released from their arguido (suspect) status at last or the cloud of suspicion could remain over them forever."

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, said the only satisfactory conclusion would be Madeleine being found.

He said: "If the case is coming to a conclusion, we hope it will conclude shortly with the finding of Madeleine and her being reunited with her parents.

"That is the only satisfactory conclusion for us."

Criminologist Mark Williams-Thomas told Sky News Online: "If Madeleine is not found and they are closing the case, I have to ask the question, 'Where is she?'

"The case must remain open until they find her or, at the very least, charge someone."
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Madeleine McCann - GET THE WHOLE STORY (16/12/2007 - 08/02/2008) 1/15/08
 
Top Cop May Go Over Madeleine Views
Updated:16:50, Friday February 08, 2008

The man leading the Madeleine McCann inquiry may have to quit over controversial comments he made about his officers' handling of the case.

Madeleine still missing

Opposition MPs have attacked Al�pio Ribeiro, the head of the Pol�cia Judici�ria (PJ), after he said the police may have been too hasty in declaring Kate and Gerry McCann suspects.

He is leading the inquiry into the missing four-year-old girl and, if he resigns, he would be the second top officer to go over remarks made to the media.

Mr Ribeiro sacked chief investigator Gon�alo Amaral last October when he spoke to reporters about details of the investigation.

Mr Amaral criticised British police and the girl's parents in a newspaper article a month after the McCanns had been made suspects (arguidos).

A number of high-ranking officials have also slated Mr Riberio, including some in his own organisation, and the McCanns have demanded their status as arguidos be lifted.

Opposition MPs believe the police investigation into the couple has "effectively been killed off" after the comments by Portugal's top officer.

McCanns are still suspects

The politicians have summoned the Minister of Justice Alberto Costa to explain the remarks made by his close friend Mr Ribeiro.

MP Nuno Melo said: "This is too serious and extreme for the Minister of Justice to simply state that by keeping the national director of the PJ in office is an indication of his trust."

He believes that Mr Ribeiro's comments have harmed the credibility of the Public Prosecutor, says the Portugal News.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese Attorney General's office has said a review of the formal suspect status of the McCanns will take place at "the appropriate time".

Kate and Gerry, who insist they had nothing to do with the four-year-old's disappearance in Praia da Luz last May, have not been charged.
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Cops 'Too Hasty' Over Madeleine's Parents
Updated:13:36, Sunday February 03, 2008

Portugal's top policeman has said detectives were "hasty" in making Madeleine McCann's parents suspects in her disappearance.

Kate and Gerry McCann were named as "arguidos" - or formal suspects - four months after their daughter vanished from their holiday flat in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.

Alipio Ribeiro, national director of the Policia Judiciaria (PJ), revealed he believes there "perhaps should have been another assessment" before this happened.

The PJ - Portugal's CID - is leading the investigation into what happened to Madeleine, who was aged three when she vanished on the night of May 3.

In an interview with Portugal's Radio Renascenca, to be broadcast on Sunday, Mr Ribeiro said there was a "certain hastiness" in making the McCanns suspects.

The couple's spokesman Clarence Mitchell welcomed the senior officer's comments and called for the couple to be formally cleared.

He said: "Now that the national director of the Policia Judiciaria apparently accepts that they should not have been made arguidos, it follows that there is no case for Kate and Gerry to answer."

Mr Mitchell said the couple's arguido status not only damages "their reputation in the eyes of the world" but "is also directly hampering the search for Madeleine".

"Many people who may have vital information have possibly not been coming forward because they have wrongly suspected the McCanns," the spokesman said.

"If the Portuguese police, under Mr Ribeiro, now do the only proper thing by eliminating Kate and Gerry from their inquiry, they and our own investigators can work together rapidly and effectively to find Madeleine and to bring those responsible for her abduction to justice."

Mr Ribeiro has previously expressed caution about the case.

On September 10 - just three days after Mr and Mrs McCann were named suspects - he suggested that forensic tests had not been conclusive.
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McCanns Will 'Search Until Our Dying Day'

By Angela Corpe
News reporter Updated:10:42, Thursday January 31, 2008

Missing Madeleine McCann's parents will search for her "until their dying day".

Gerry and Kate McCann - 'Innocence'

A team of private investigators are continuing their hunt for Madeleine but the �1.2m fund raised by donations from the public cannot last forever.

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the bill for the cost of the detectives, their expenses, the advertising campaign and running the website is �50,000-a-week.

But he insisted: "I will work with them for as long as they want me to.

"The McCanns will go on until their dying day."

Mr Mitchell also confirmed that British police and child protection officers do not suspect Kate and Gerry of any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance.

Although they are suspects in Portugal authorities here believe the girl was abducted by a stranger.

The former BBC Royal Correspondent admitted he had been "as sceptical as the next reporter" but said having spent more than five months with the couple since Madeleine went missing on May 3 last year he was completely convinced of their innocence.

"I have never once seen or heard anything from either of them to give me any cause for suspicion in any shape or form," he says.

"I have also had briefings, privately, from the police and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre that also gave me complete reassurance that the authorities in this country, certainly, are treating this as a case of rare stranger abduction."

At a debate on the media's coverage of Madeleine's disappearance, Mr Mitchell launched a scathing attack on some of the reporting of the case.

But he also assured the audience they could be certain that "every single one" of the negative stories they read or heard about the McCanns was untrue.

More importantly, he said the family still remain hopeful 273 days after Madeleine vanished from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal.

Describing the McCanns as "a loving family torn apart by this" he said that while Gerry and Kate may be trying to move on with their lives they have not given up on finding their missing daughter.

"They cling to the hope that she is still alive. Every day her body isn't found gives them hope."
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'No Plans For Missing Madeleine Movie'
Updated:15:21, Monday January 21, 2008

The parents of Madeleine McCann have denied reports they are backing plans to make a movie about their daughter's disappearance.

The couple's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, confirmed he had met a major entertainment firm that wants to make a film about their story.

But Gerry McCann said on his website that he and his wife Kate had no plans for a movie about Madeleine.

In his latest blog entry on findmadeleine.com, he wrote: "We can categorically deny that we are considering a movie about Madeleine's disappearance.

"This is simply untrue. We are approached by a huge number of media outlets regarding a myriad projects, only a tiny proportion of which we agree to.

"Each proposal is considered on whether it is likely to have a positive effect, either directly or indirectly, on the search for Madeleine.

"As stated by Clarence, there was a preliminary discussion between a production agency and a representative of Kate and I to discuss the possibility of a documentary about the issues we have faced since Madeleine was abducted.

Missing: Madeleine McCann

"Clearly Europe is a long way behind the USA in terms of its response when a child goes missing."

Mr Mitchell and another McCann representative held a meeting with the IMG agency in London in December but the couple did not attend themselves.

"The media are making money out of the situation themselves and we feel it is only fair and right that some aspect of that should come to the fund to help find Madeleine," Mr Mitchell said.

"In this case we have had one meeting before Christmas. It was between myself, one other person and representatives from IMG."

It is believed that IMG, the firm behind the award-winning drama-documentary Touching The Void, made the initial approach.
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Dozens Of Calls Over Sketch Of Suspect
Updated:09:31, Monday January 21, 2008

Dozens of calls have been received since a sketch of a man who may have abducted Madeleine McCann was released.

Investigators hunting the missing four-year-old are now following up any leads received since the image was made public yesterday.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate, said: "He is out there - now let's find him.

"We feel the sketch is of such clarity that it will lead to him being identified.

"We believe this man could be linked to Madeleine's disappearance.

"Who is he? Where is he? If he is innocent we want him to come forward for his own sake so he can be ruled out."

The McCanns are said to be "buoyed" by the latest development.

Madeleine vanished from her parents' holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3 and police were given a description of the man later that month.

He was seen acting suspiciously in the vicinity of the holiday complex in Portugal where the four-year-old vanished.

The artist's impression was produced using information from holidaymaker Gail Cooper, who was staying 600 yards away at the time.

Based on her descriptions, an FBI-trained artist has drawn a number of sketches which the McCanns hope will lead to a breakthrough in the case.

There have been no confirmed sightings of her since despite a worldwide publicity campaign.

The McCanns now want a worldwide search for the man, co-ordinated by the private detective agency they hired. All information gleaned will be passed on to Portuguese police.

They also want a full review of all police records and witness statements, including one taken from a 12-year-old girl who reported sightings of a strange man in the Portuguese resort in May last year.

And they want complete collaboration between the Portuguese police, Interpol and the authorities in Spain, Morocco and Britain.

:: Anyone with any information that could help identify the man depicted in the sketches is asked to call 0034 902 300 213.
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Breaking News

Sketch Of 'Creepy Madeleine Suspect'
Updated:11:15, Sunday January 20, 2008

A sketch has been released of a man investigators believe could be Madeleine McCann's kidnapper.

The News of the World's photo-fit

The News of the World claims the detailed artist's impression was generated using information from the holidaymaker, Gail Cooper, who had been staying 600 yards from the McCanns in Praia da Luz.

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the image had been passed to police.

He added: "We urgently need to know who this man is and where he is.

"For Madeleine's sake, we urge anyone with any information about him to come forward right away."

Mr Mitchell will hold a news conference on the latest developments in the Madeleine case later today.

The associate editor of the News of the World, Gary Thompson, told Sky News: "The real significance is that the sketch has been shown to Jane Tanner, a member of the so-called Tapas Group.

"You may remember she says she saw a man carrying a child.

"We understand that Jane Tanner has confirmed the likeness."

Mr Thompson said he believed the Portuguese police were taking the photo-fit very seriously.

"The important questions are: who is he? Whereabouts is he? We will be urging readers with information to contact the authorities as a matter of urgency," he said.

The holidaymaker who provided the details for the sketch rang police when she saw Madeleine was missing and gave a statement.

But the paper said it is only now that the importance of her sighting is being realised.
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'Awful Emotions Flood Back' For McCanns
Updated:11:10, Wednesday January 16, 2008

The parents of Madeleine McCann say they are "dismayed" at the disappearance of a five-year-old girl in southern Spain.

Mari Luz Cortes vanished from Huelva, which became a focal point in the hunt for their four-year-old daughter.

It is less than two hours away from the Praia du Luz resort in Portugal where Madeleine went missing.

And it is on the route Kate and Gerry McCann fear her abductor took to spirit the child away to north Africa.

Writing on his blog, Gerry said: "Kate and I were dismayed to learn today that a five-year-old girl has been missing from Huelva, in Southern Spain since Sunday evening.

"As many of you know, Heulva (sic) is approximately a two hour drive from Praia da Luz and we went there in early August to publicise Madeleine's disappearance.

"Hearing of the probable abduction of Mari Luz Cortesa (sic) has brought many awful emotions flooding back. We hope and pray that Mari is quickly found and returned safely to her family."

Mari has not been seen since going alone to a shop near her home to buy crisps as her mum lay on a sofa feeling unwell.

Hundreds of locals joined police with sniffer dogs to search for the child and posters featuring her photograph have been distributed.

Her dad Juan Jose, 34, says it's "possible" his daughter's case is linked to Madeleine's.

He added: "It is not something we want to contemplate right now."

Detectives hired by the McCanns are said to be on the ground in Huelva, investigating similarities in the cases.

Police are not yet officially linking the disappearances.
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Madeleine Police Files Set To Stay Secret
Updated:12:44, Monday January 14, 2008

Police files on the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are likely to remain secret for another three months, according to the spokesman for the girl's parents.

Lawyers for official suspect Robert Murat are seeking to have the files opened up because it is now eight months since he was named as an "arguido".

But on Friday, Portuguese detectives asked for the case's secrecy limit to be extended beyond the usual eight-month limit that starts once police have identified a formal suspect.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann, said the couple expected authorities to agree to extension.

He said: "I cannot tell you hand on heart that they (Portuguese officers) have had the extension approved, but we are 103% certain that they will get it.

"We are working on the basis that we have another three months of official secrecy."

Official suspect -Robert Murat

Portuguese law prevents Mr and Mrs McCann, both 39, from Rothley, Leicestershire, from speaking about police investigations into the disappearance of their daughter.

Madeleine vanished from the family's holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3.

Mr Murat, a British man who lives near the apartment from which Madeleine disappeared, has denied any involvement in the case.

Asked whether his client would be cleared of his status as a formal suspect, Mr Murat's lawyer Francisco Pagarete said: "I don't know anything.

"I know as much as you do. Of course, I would like it (the arguido status) to be lifted today."
- - - - - -

McCanns Want To End Suspect Agony
Updated:07:36, Sunday January 13, 2008

Madeleine McCann's parents are "very keen" to speak to Portuguese police if it helps end the agony of being suspects in the hunt for their missing daughter.

Gerry and Kate McCann's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said it was "almost inhumane" that they were still seen as possibly having been involved in the youngster's disappearance.

Mr Mitchell said categorically that the couple have "absolutely no plans" to return to Portugal at the moment.

But he emphasised they wanted to co-operate with police.

He said: "Gerry and Kate, more than anyone, are anxious that the police complete their inquiries and eliminate them as soon as possible.

"If that means the police coming to Britain in the near future to re-interview Gerry and Kate and their friends, (they) are very keen for that to happen."

He said that there was nothing to prevent the McCanns returning to Portugal, but there were no plans to do so in the immediate future.

Investigators have asked for the tight secrecy requirements surrounding the case to be extended, the Portuguese attorney-general's office said previously.

Reports in the Portuguese press suggested a three-month period has been sought.

Portuguese law normally provides for an eight-month term during which documents remain secret and official suspects, police and lawyers are banned from discussing the case in public.

This period was due to expire in the McCann case next week.

The only official suspects - arguidos - in the disappearance so far are the four-year-old's parents and the British expatriate Robert Murat, who lived near the holiday complex in Praia da Luz where Madeleine went missing on May 3.
- - - - - -

Madeleine Lookalike Agency 'Shameless'
Updated:12:33, Friday January 11, 2008

Gerry and Kate McCanns' spokesman has criticised a model agency touting a Madeleine lookalike for hire as "shameless and offensive".

Newspaper has image of lookalike

Madeleine's double has been taken on by the Juliet Adams Model Agency, alongside doppelgangers of stars like Elvis, Harry Potter and Little Britain's Vicky Pollard.

According to newspaper reports, agency boss Shona Adams thinks three-year-old Kelsy Lynn Kudla could make millions if she plays Madeleine in a Hollywood movie.

Ms Adams, 41, has reportedly defended the move, saying "it's entertainment".

On her website she advertises child models from the age of '0 to 12' and tells parents: "Here's your chance to get your child into the modelling and talent industry - and maybe even launch a whole new career for you and your child".

The agency also says it represents "models with dwarfism" and "charcter ugly" models.

McCanns spokesman Clarence Mitchell described the agency's actions as "disgraceful, hurtful and offensive".

He told Sky News Online: "Its a shameless money-making scheme. It's offensive to Gerry and Kate and it's very offensive to Madeleine.

"Ms Adams did not ask our permission and it would have been refused if she had.

"She had better think long and hard about what she is doing," he warned.

Ms Adams claims she also wants the little American girl to do a Crimewatch reconstruction.

But Mr Mitchell insisted: "If anything formal is done there are proper ways of doing this through the authorities."

He confirmed earlier in the week he had met a major entertainment firm that wants to make a film about the McCanns' story.

But the McCanns say they have only tentatively looked at the possibility of making a documentary about their missing daughter.
- - - - - -

McCanns Tell Of Regrets Over Madeleine
Updated:10:36, Thursday January 10, 2008

Kate and Gerry McCann have spoken of their massive regrets over the disappearance of their daughter.

Parents tell of heart-ache

Gerry told how the world turned "all black, with maybe tiny points of light" after Madeleine vanished during a family holiday in Portugal.

In an in-depth interview with Vanity Fair, he recalled wishing he had spent "five minutes longer" when he went to check on his children.

He said: "I wish I hadn't gone to the tapas bar. I wish I'd stayed in the apartment that night.

"I wish I'd stayed in the room when I checked on her five minutes longer."

Mr McCann also spoke about the many media theories surrounding the youngster's disappearance.

He said: "Kate killed her in frenzy, Madeleine was sedated by us, she fell down the stairs - in which case you would have thought they'd have found her body. I've heard all that!

"There have been a huge number of theories in the media. But what I want to know is - who told them all that?"

The piece also carries comments from family friend Jon Corner, who was with Kate McCann in Praia da Luz in August.

She told him she wished she could "roll back time" to the day before the abduction.

She explained: "I would slow down time. I would get a really good look around and have a really good think. And I'd think: Where are you? Who are you?

Madeleine vanished last May

"Who is secretly watching my family? Because someone was watching my family very, very carefully. And taking notes."

The magazine also interviewed Robert Murat, the other official suspect in the investigation besides the McCanns.

He said: "All I can say is that I am innocent. There is no way I was at the resort that night. Full stop.

"I was in my mother's kitchen until 1am. Yes, we are a kitchen kind of family. I spent the night at the house."

Meanwhile, the directors of Madeleine's Fund have agreed to seek further media opportunities to help find the missing girl.

The fund, set up to help finance and promote the search for the youngster, also appointed two new directors at its scheduled board meeting in Leicestershire.

Edward Smethurst and Jon Corner will replace long-time friend Esther McVey and lawyer Philip Tomlinson, who stepped down for business and personal reasons.
- - - - - -

No Plans For Missing Madeleine Movie
Updated:11:34, Wednesday January 09, 2008

The parents of Madeleine McCann have denied reports they are backing plans to make a movie about their daughter's disappearance.

The couple's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, confirmed he had met a major entertainment firm that wants to make a film about their story.

But Gerry McCann said on his website that he and his wife Kate had no plans for a movie about Madeleine.

In his latest blog entry, he wrote: "We can categorically deny that we are considering a movie about Madeleine's disappearance.

"This is simply untrue. We are approached by a huge number of media outlets regarding a myriad projects, only a tiny proportion of which we agree to.

"Each proposal is considered on whether it is likely to have a positive effect, either directly or indirectly, on the search for Madeleine.

"As stated by Clarence, there was a preliminary discussion between a production agency and a representative of Kate and I to discuss the possibility of a documentary about the issues we have faced since Madeleine was abducted.

Missing: Madeleine McCann

"Clearly Europe is a long way behind the USA in terms of its response when a child goes missing."

Mr Mitchell and another McCann representative held a meeting with the IMG agency in London in December but the couple did not attend themselves.

"The media are making money out of the situation themselves and we feel it is only fair and right that some aspect of that should come to the fund to help find Madeleine," Mr Mitchell said.

"In this case we have had one meeting before Christmas. It was between myself, one other person and representatives from IMG."

It is believed that IMG, the firm behind the award-winning drama-documentary Touching The Void, made the initial approach.
- - - - - -

Madeleine Team Considers Film Bid
Updated:18:55, Tuesday January 08, 2008

A film could be made about Madeleine McCann's disappearance after talks with a major entertainment company.

Her parents are considering giving permission for IMG to make a movie or documentary.

Their spokesman confirmed to Sky News Online that a meeting with the firm took place last month.

But he said Gerry and Kate McCann did not attend and stressed nothing has yet been agreed.

Clarence Mitchell said a film would only be considered if the McCanns believed it would help raise awareness of the case or help fund the private search for Madeleine.

IMG, the firm behind the award-winning drama-documentary Touching The Void, made the initial approach, it is thought.

The resulting meeting in mid-December discussed the possibility of making the story of four-year-old Madeleine into either a film or a TV drama.

Mr and Mrs McCann were aware of the meeting but did not attend in person.

Instead, Mr Mitchell and another representative of the McCanns met IMG at the firm's London offices.

The spokesman said: "We have only had one discussion with IMG. It may or may not happen.

"If we feel any particular proposal in the media has validity in helping us find Madeleine, we are happy to discuss it."

Mr Mitchell said it was just one of many approaches that have been made by media companies over the missing girl, who vanished from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal in May.

In a statement, Darlow Smithson Productions, a production company owned by IMG, said: "Darlow Smithson had a preliminary meeting with representatives of the McCanns about the possibility of an observational documentary following the ongoing search for Madeleine.

"Discussions are still at a very early stage and the issue of money has never been raised."
- - - - -

Irish Tourist 'Clears' Suspect Murat
By John Kelly Updated:06:57, Friday January 04, 2008

An Irish tourist who saw someone carrying a child in a blanket on the night Madeleine McCann disappeared insists that the mystery man was not Robert Murat.

Martin Smith, from Drogheda in Co Louth, was on holiday in Praia Da Luz with his family when they bumped into the man just before 10pm on May 3 last year.

The Smith family's suspicions were aroused because the man made no response when they asked if the barefoot child was asleep.

"He just put his head down and averted his eyes, which is very unusual in a tourist town at such a quiet time of the year," said Mr Smith.

Initially the Smith family thought nothing more of the encounter - and even the next day when the story broke they still didn't make the connection.

"We were home two weeks when my son rang me up and asked was he dreaming or did we meet a man carrying a child the night Madeleine was taken," said Mr Smith.

"We all remembered the same recollection, and I felt we should report it to the police.

"We've all been beating ourselves up that we should have made the link sooner, if only we'd remembered the next day.

"But the Portuguese police said you see these things on holiday all the time."

The Smiths did contact the Portuguese police once they had returned to Ireland, but say they have had no contact with the officers investigating the case since May last year.

"I rang the Portuguese police and they took a statement from me on the phone," said Mr Smith.

"They asked me to make a statement to the Gardai, which I did, and two days later Leicestershire police got on to us.

"My eldest son, Peter, my youngest daughter, Aoife, and I then flew to Luz to make a statement. They didn't seem to be the most efficient police you ever came across - and that was the last time we had any contact with the investigation.

Madeleine McCann is still missing

"I don't know if this information will help the McCanns, but anything we can do to help try to solve it, we will.

"We were looking at all the commotion on Sky News and we really felt quite helpless. We had two grandchildren with us at the time and it had a terrible effect on them - they all wanted to sleep in the same room as us."

But Mr Smith is certain that the man he and his family saw that night was not Robert Murat, who is still officially an "arguido" in the Madeleine McCann investigation.

"I told police it was definitely not him because the man wasn't as big as Murat - I think I would have recognised him because I'd met him several times previously.

"He was wearing beige trousers and a darker top. We all put him in his early 40s and I didn't think he was Portuguese."

Mr Smith's sighting is similar to the one reported by Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCann family.

A spokesman for the McCanns said detectives from the Spanish agency hired to investigate the case are now hoping to speak to the Smiths.

Retired Mr Smith, 58, does not wish to appear on camera in order to protect his family from media intrusion.
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McCanns Want Suspect Status Lifted
Updated:13:34, Thursday January 03, 2008

Reports that Madeleine McCann's parents would soon be named as the prime suspects in the case have been dismissed as "unsubstantiated" by the family spokesman.

Exactly eight months after Madeleine vanished, Kate and Gerry McCann are hopeful police will review the case and strip them of their "arguido" status.

But a Portuguese tabloid newspaper claimed an interim dossier handed to prosecutors by detectives maintained the theory that Madeleine had been accidentally killed by her parents.

This led to speculation among the British press that the couple would be labelled as the prime suspects over her disappearance.

However, spokesman Clarence Mitchell blasted the stories as "unsubstantiated reports".

He said the couple would continue to press for their elimination as suspects from the police inquiry.

Kate and Gerry McCann were named as suspects in Madeleine's disappearance in September last year, sparking a media frenzy.

They have since returned to the UK, where they continue to appeal for the return of their daughter through publicity campaigns.

Mr Mitchell said they might consider returning to Portugal if their arguido status is lifted.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for British expatriate Robert Murat, the only other suspect in the case, said he believed an imminent end to the police inquiry would also see him ruled out as an arguido.
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Madeleine Suspect 'Will Soon Be Cleared'
Updated:06:04, Wednesday January 02, 2008

Robert Murat - the first suspect following the disappearance of Madeleine McCann - will soon be cleared, according to his lawyer.

There has been speculation that Portuguese authorities are set to end their inquiry into the case as early as Thursday.

Madeleine vanished from the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz eight months ago when she was three.

Mr Murat was questioned by police soon afterwards, and has been an "arguido", or official suspect, ever since.

His lawyer Francisco Pagarete said: "My feeling, my instinct, is that they will clear Robert, but I can't say it for sure.

"I don't know when the inquiry is going to finish, if it might be the 3rd or the 14th, or if, as some reports have said, there may be an extension.

"My legal opinion in this case is that there is no need for any extra time. The evidence gathered by the police is strong, and enough to clear Robert."

Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, are also arguidos.

Asked what implications clearing Mr Murat could have for the McCanns, Mr Pagarete said: "I don't know if the evidence goes against other people, our goal is just to clear Robert.

"The only thing we want to do is prove Robert didn't have anything to do with this unfortunate situation."

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "We will not comment on Mr Pagarete's assertions regarding his client, other than to say that January 3 is the eight month anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance.

"If the police are choosing to review matters on that particular anniversary, then we welcome anything that will lead to Gerry and Kate being eliminated from the inquiry, and will then allow the police to carry on searching for Madeleine properly.

"Beyond that we are not aware of January 3 having any particular significance at this stage."
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McCanns Plan A Return Trip To Portugal
Updated:11:14, Monday December 31, 2007

Gerry and Kate McCann are planning to return to Portugal to boost publicity for the hunt to find their missing daughter Madeleine.

They know the case has slipped from newspaper and television headlines throughout Europe and are desperate to get it back in the news.

Posters have also been taken down from shop windows in the beach resort of Praia de Luz from where Madeleine went missing on May 3.

Now, the McCanns are preparing for a round of media interviews in the New Year to put the case back in the public eye.

But until Portuguese police formally clear the couple of their 'arguido' (suspect) status they cannot speak in detail about the investigation.

"We have always said they'd go back if it would help the investigation," said the McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell.

"At the moment we just want to concentrate on getting the arguido status lifted. Once that has happened we would review everything and there are reasons why they may go back to Portugal.

"There is a need to keep Madeleine's disappearance in people's minds," he added.

A Christmas television appeal by the McCanns prompted hundreds of calls from the public and several new leads were followed up by the private investigation team hired by the family.

A new poster campaign has also been launched in Morocco where a number of sightings of Madeleine have been reported since she vanished eight months ago.
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Alibi Doubts Over Madeleine Suspect
Updated:13:50, Saturday December 29, 2007

Madeleine McCann suspect Robert Murat has denied further claims that he was seen near the young girl's apartment on the night she vanished, a friend has said.

Two British sisters have told police they saw him outside the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz, Portugal, shortly after the alarm was raised, according to reports.

If true, this would not directly implicate Mr Murat in Madeleine's disappearance but it would call into question his alibi.

Mr Murat, 34, an Anglo-Portuguese ex-pat, has always strongly protested his innocence and insists he was with at home with his mother all evening.

Family friend Tuck Price today suggested the women must have mistaken him for somebody else, adding: "He wasn't there."

Annie Wiltshire, 58, of Aylesford, Kent, and Jayne Jensen, 54, of Maidstone, Kent, were on holiday in Praia da Luz at the same time as the McCanns, it was reported.

They believe they saw Mr Murat smoking cigarettes near the Ocean Club at about 10.30pm on May 3 - about half an hour after Madeleine was found to be missing.

The sisters were interviewed by British police after they returned home.

They have also contacted Metodo 3, the firm of Spanish private detectives hired by Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leicestershire, the reports said.

An unnamed source close to Metodo 3 told the Daily Mail: "Jayne remembers seeing him outside the Ocean Club, smoking cigarettes, between 10.30 and 11pm.

"Every time they see him claiming he was not there on the night, they find it ridiculous."

Three friends on holiday with the McCanns - Russell O'Brien, Rachael Oldfield and Fiona Payne - are understood to have told police they saw him near the Ocean Club on the night of May 3.

But Mr Murat's mother Jenny, 71, whose villa, named Casa Liliana, is just yards from the McCann holiday apartment, has backed his alibi.
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Paedophiles On Madeleine List Ruled Out
Updated:09:13, Friday December 28, 2007

The last UK paedophile wanted for questioning by Portuguese police over the disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been cleared.

British police had given their Portuguese counterparts a list of 52 British paedophiles who had links to Portugal.

Detectives had already discounted the involvement of 51 of them but had not been able to track down the final one.

However, the unnamed man has now been located, questioned and cleared of any involvement.

The paedophile was able to give an alibi for his whereabouts on May 3, the day Madeleine, now four, was snatched from her family's holiday apartment in Praia Da Luz.

Portuguese newspaper Correio Da Manha reported: "All British paedophiles have been investigated and acquitted."

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate, said the discovery of the final man on the list showed that the police were doing their job.

But he added: "There are also people who aren't on any list who need to be traced."

There are reports that police are keen to trace another Briton called Christian Ridout, who is also known as DJ Shifty.

The 32-year-old, who has been accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to a 12-year-old girl, is reported to have been working at his parents' pub, The Plough And Harrow, close to where Madeleine went missing.

Meanwhile, Gerry and Kate McCann may have to wait another six months before they find out why they were made suspects.

They had been expecting to find out on January 3, when it was anticipated that detectives would be forced to lift secrecy restrictions.

But it is now thought that the public prosecutor will seek an extension, giving police another three months before they have to reveal why the couple were named as suspects.
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Madeleine Mystery: 347 New Calls
Updated:10:29, Thursday December 27, 2007

Private detectives searching for Madeleine McCann have reportedly received hundreds of calls after her parents' Christmas plea was shown around the world.

Kate and Gerry McCann filmed it at their home in Rothley, Leicestershire.

It included previously unseen footage of an excited Madeleine opening her gifts last Christmas.

The broadcast prompted 347 calls from the public offering new information to their special hotline.

The new leads will now be investigated by the family's private detective agency Metodo 3, based in Barcelona, Spain.

The message came as the couple, both 39, endured their first Christmas without their daughter, who was three when she vanished in Portugal.

Writing in his blog, Gerry said Madeleine "should not be spending Christmas away from her loving family".

Hotline manned at Metodo 3 HQ

He wrote: "The person who took Madeleine has it in their power to end our suffering and will be able to appease their conscience that they have done the right thing - especially at this time of year.

"Kate and I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time at this busy time of year to write to us and let us know Madeleine and our family are still in their thoughts and prayers.

"We still have at least one hundred cards to open! As always, every single one will be opened and read and the support expressed helps renew our determination to find Madeleine."

:: The number to contact for anyone who sees or has any information on Madeleine is 0034 902 300 213.
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Kate And Gerry 'Will Never Give Up Hope'
Updated:09:59, Tuesday December 25, 2007

Madeleine McCann's parents will never give up hope in the search for their missing daughter, a relative has said.
Kate McCann's aunt Janet Kennedy said their family motto of leaving no stone unturned had changed.

Difficult time for the McCanns

"Rather than not leaving any stone unturned, it is that we never, never give up hope," she said.

"Eight months on, we have become even more determined and resolute and it (the message) becomes that we never, never give up."

Kate and Gerry McCann, from Rothley, Leics, are enduring their first Christmas without their four-year-old daughter, who went missing in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3.

Mrs Kennedy, who lives in Rothley, said every day is difficult for the family but they draw comfort from continuing support.

She said: "We are still very much thinking of Madeleine and a lot of people are staying the course with us. People are showing that they are right in there with the family and that is very important.

"Kate and Gerry say that every day is a difficult day and we are just the same."

She added: "People still come up to us, particularly at this time of year, and say their thoughts are with us.

"It's quite amazing because sometimes people do it for the first few weeks but eight months is a long time and it has been constant."

Mrs Kennedy helped collect about 1,000 toys left for Madeleine at the village war memorial in Rothley in the months after she disappeared.

Around two-thirds of those toys have now been distributed by the charity Samaritan's Purse to orphanages in Belarus.
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Paedophile Identified By Madeleine Cops
By Martin Brunt
Crime correspondent
Updated:22:32, Monday December 24, 2007

A list of 52 British paedophiles suspected of possible involvement in Madeleine McCann's disappearance has been whittled down to just one, Sky News can exclusively reveal.

Madeleine is still missing

British police gave Portuguese detectives the details of 52 UK sex offenders with links to the Algarve, and all but one has now been eliminated.

The private detective employed by Kate and Gerry McCann is also focusing on the possibility that British paedophiles were involved in her abduction, Sky News has learned.

Ever since Madeleine disappeared on May 3, police have been looking for a blue tennis bag that went missing around that time.

The bag - big enough to carry a small child - belonged to her father, Gerry McCann, who had been playing tennis at the complex that afternoon.

Gerry and Kate McCann have always denied any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance, though they remain arguidos, official suspects.

Another twist is the discovery that the McCanns' holiday apartment is owned by another McCann - Ruth McCann, a teacher from Liverpool.

Family were on holiday in apartment

Apparently, she is no relation, but the coincidence is enough to add one more conspiracy theory to the thousands that continue to circulate.

Even now, when I talk to people about Madeleine many cannot understand why Kate and Gerry McCann left her and their two-year-old twins alone while they dined with friends at the nearby tapas bar.

Mr McCann said it was much the same as them dining in their back garden at home, so as part of our new half-hour programme I was filmed walking from the restaurant table to the apartment.

I strolled through the restaurant garden, out onto the road and up the hill.

It was 80 paces just to the apartment gate.

We also rented an apartment that is close to, and is an exact replica of, the McCann holiday home.

We showed, for the first time, the layout inside and illustrate how easily an abductor might have taken Madeleine.

Also in the programme, police experts explained how every explored theory about Madeleine's disappearance is unlikely.

She appears, still, to have vanished into thin air.
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Christmas Message For Madeleine
Updated:12:46, Saturday December 22, 2007

Madeleine McCann's parents have made a special Christmas appeal for her safe return, saying "be brave my sweetheart".

In a direct message to their daughter, who was three when she went missing, Kate and Gerry McCann said their only Christmas wish was for her to be back home with them.

They said the whole family missed her so much, and they were doing everything they could to find her.

The McCanns also released a video, which includes three clips of Madeleine that were filmed last Christmas and have not been seen publicly before.

In one, she is shown excitedly opening a parcel containing the same pink bag she took on holiday to Portugal in May.

In another, she is carrying a gift from her to her brother Sean, while in a third she is standing on the kitchen table.

Sitting in front of the family Christmas tree with his wife by his side, Gerry McCann spoke of how this would be the "hardest Christmas imaginable".

The couple, from Rothley in Leicestershire, each discussed the possibility that someone knows what happened to their daughter, who vanished while they were eating in a tapas bar on May 3.

New appeal for missing girl

They also made a direct appeal to the person who took her while she was sleeping in their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz.

Mr McCann said: "Someone knows what happened to her and may well know where she is now. That person has it within their power to show us the compassion to end this terrible ordeal for us."

His wife added: "At this time of year, when so many families are coming together, we beg you to help us be reunited with Madeleine. Please do the right thing and come forward."

Then, in a direct message to her daughter, Kate McCann said: "Madeleine, it's mummy and daddy here. Just know how much we love you. We all miss you so much.

"Sean and Amelie (her brother and sister) talk about you all the time every day.

"We're doing everything we can, Madeleine, to find you, and there are so many good and very kind people helping us."

They appealed for anyone with information to call a confidential hotline manned by private detectives in Spain - on 00 34 902 300 213 - or at least pass the information on to a priest.

Despite being declared "arguidos" - or suspects - by Portuguese police, the McCanns strenuously deny any involvement in Madeleine's disappearance and believe she may still be alive.
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McCanns Inundated With Xmas Gifts
Updated:08:21, Friday December 21, 2007

Well-wishers have sent hundreds of Christmas cards and presents for missing Madeleine McCann to her parents.

Madeleine McCann went missing in May

Kate and Gerry McCann have received "a post bag full of cards and presents for the children, including Madeleine", according to the family's spokesman Clarence Mitchell.

The couple, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, who are expected to be given the gifts sent directly to them.

Mr Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry are strengthened by the sympathy and support that has been shown for them at this time of year.

"They are extremely grateful to everyone who is supporting them and remembering Madeleine at Christmas time."

Earlier this week, the couple said Christmas would be an incredibly difficult time if Madeleine was not found before then.

They said they planned to have a very quiet, private Christmas with family in the UK.

Writing in his blog on the findmadeleine.com website Gerry McCann said: "As the end of the year approaches we would like to thank everyone who has offered support over the last seven months and we ask you to stay with us as the search for our daughter continues."

The couple, both Catholics, are thought to be staying in Rothley for Christmas and are expected to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve, where prayers will be said for their missing daughter.

Madeleine's grandmother, Eileen McCann, 67, said she will not celebrate Christmas this year but will leave a present on her granddaughter's bed as usual.
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Plush New HQ For McCann Private Eyes
By Alex Watts
In Barcelona Updated:18:11, Thursday December 20, 2007

Private detectives hired to search for Madeleine McCann have moved to plush new offices as questions emerge about whether they are giving good value for money.

Entrance to Metodo's new office

People who donated to the Find Madeleine Fund are seeing Metodo 3 pocket �50,000-a-month of their cash - without any apparent breakthrough.

The group has not yet produced any evidence to back their claims that they know who took the girl.

Boss Francisco Marco claims he knows the girl, who would be four years old now, is alive and could be reunited with her heartbroken parents Kate and Gerry for Christmas.

But he was not available to speak to Sky News Online by phone and on arriving at his office in Barcelona, it was claimed he was out of the country - working on a different case.

At a supposedly crucial stage in the inquiry, his luxurious new office - perched above a gay sauna in a grand, pillar-filled building - was in a make-shift state.

There was just one staff member in sight, and when asked if Sky News Online could see Mr Marco, she replied: "He's not here, he's out of the country on business. Not with the Madeleine case, on another case."

Her advice was to return in two hours, when the office would re-open.

But on calling back at 4pm there were three staff and a small dog in the reception area, as well as a steady flow of people unloading boxes of files and other office equipment.

They refused to say anything, and grew steely when Madeleine was mentioned.

A few minutes later, a smartly-dressed detective arrived and refused to discuss anything to do with the case.

He kept stressing: "I can't say anything. Only Clarence Mitchell (the McCanns' official spokesman) can talk about the case. I'm sorry."

Madeleine missing since May 3

This was a far cry from Mr Marco's astonishing claims just a few days before that he knew who had kidnapped the little girl.

His comments sparked reports of a stand-up row with the McCanns, who accused him of harming the chances of finding their daughter alive.

On calling the spokesman the day after Mr Marco made his claims, Mr Mitchell said he knew nothing about them.

He questioned why, if Metodo 3 knew where the vanished girl was, they did not go and get her.

It also seemed strange that if Mr Marco had a major breakthrough to report, then he should tell a newspaper before his clients.

Although Mr Mitchell says he is pleased with Metodo 3's "operational work", sources close to the family have reportedly warned that the chances of its contract being renewed when it runs out in March are "virtually nil".
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Madeleine's Gran: 'I'll Never Give Up Hope'
Updated:12:24, Wednesday December 19, 2007

Madeleine McCann's gran is praying the missing child will return home in time to receive a Christmas present which has been left on her bed.

Eileen McCann hopes the four-year-old will soon be playing with the pink teddy bear which wears a white heart on its front.

The 67-year-old told Hello! magazine: "Our big family Christmases were so special.

"This was my time of year with my family. But I won't celebrate this year. I don't feel like it."

She added: "I pick out clothes and put money in a little envelope for each of them.

"This year I did the same for Maddie. I'd never leave her out. She loves pink.

"I'm putting a huge pink teddy with a white heart on it - a gift to her from the Scottish government - in her room.

"As long as they don't find her body, I'll never give up hope."

Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate, are determined to put on a "normal" Christmas for their two-year-old twins, Amelie and Sean, at the family home in Rothley, Leicestershire.

Kate's mother, Susan Healy, 61, and husband Brian, 67, told the magazine they were also dreading Christmas.

Mrs Healy said: "I don't know what we'll do. It's the most difficult period since she disappeared.

"Kate is really struggling. She doesn't want it to be Christmas, but we have to do something for the twins."
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Madeleine Suspect Police Interview Claim
Updated:11:11, Monday December 17, 2007

Portuguese police allowed Madeleine McCann suspect Robert Murat to sit in on interviews with members of the so-called Tapas Seven, it has been claimed.

Robert Murat is an official suspect

Newspaper reports suggest detectives let Mr Murat act as a translator during interviews with friends of Kate and Gerry McCann who were dining with the couple on the night their daughter disappeared.

Days later the 33-year-old was named as an "arguido", or official suspect.

The Daily Mirror said Mr Murat was allegedly present during the interviews of Rachael Oldfield and Dianne Webster.

However, a source close to the McCanns said it was understood that although Mr Murat did attend Ms Webster's questioning, he was not present when Mrs Oldfield was with police.

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "We can't comment on anything that's contained within the police file and clearly records of interviews and who attended them make up part of that file.

"Any serious questions to be answered about the way the original interviews were conducted or who attended them will be central to our own private investigation, and the detectives who have been employed on our behalf will be looking into that."
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McCanns Plan Xmas Without Madeleine
Updated:15:20, Sunday December 16, 2007

The parents of Madeleine McCann have thanked their supporters as they prepare for "an incredibly difficult" Christmas.

Kate and Gerry McCann are expected to stay home for Christmas

Gerry and Kate McCann revealed that they had been inundated with media inquiries about their plans for what is set to be a heart-rending time without their missing four-year-old daughter.

In a brief statement issued through their spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, they said: "We have had many inquiries as to our plans for the festive period.

"Christmas 2007 will be an incredibly difficult time for us if Madeleine is not found before then. We plan to have a very quiet, private Christmas with family in the UK.

"We would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the last seven months and ask you to stay with us as the search for our daughter continues.

"If you have any information that might be relevant please contact your local police or our private investigators on +34 912 300 213 if they have any information which might be relevant."

The Leicestershire couple would not comment on where they planned to be at Christmas but it is understood they will spend some of the festive period in their home village of Rothley.

Gerry and Kate, both Catholics, plan to attend midnight mass on Christmas Eve at which prayers for Madeleine will be said.

The couple would not comment on whether anything else will be done, including the buying of presents, for their oldest child in her absence.

But it is understood Christmas trimmings, including a tree, will adorn the McCann home so their other children, twins Sean and Amelie, can have as normal a Christmas as possible.

Mr Mitchell added: "I would ask that the media now respect Kate and Gerry's request for a private Christmas."
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Madeleine 'Could Be Home For Christmas'
Updated:09:17, Friday December 14, 2007

A private detective being paid by Kate and Gerry McCann to find their daughter has said he could have Madeleine back home with her family for Christmas.

Madeleine: missing since May

Francisco Marco, the director general of detective agency Metodo 3, claims he knows who took the young girl and is closing in on her abductor.

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the family was "pleased" the agency was so confident.

"Metodo Three retains our full confidence," he said.

"They are continuing to work very hard on all the information that continues to come up. New leads are being pursued all the time."

The agency is receiving �50,000 a month from the fund set up to find Madeleine and the detectives are running a parallel investigation to the police hunt.

Mr Marco, who heads up a 40-strong team, vowed to find the missing girl within five months.

He said: "We have proof of her movements after her kidnap and we know she was alive the day after her disappearance.

"We are not certain she left Portugal.

"We believe she is in an area not very far from the Iberian peninsula and north Africa. And we have a fairly certain idea who she is with.

"I cannot say who she is with because we are putting together conclusive proof we can present to the authorities so they can proceed with their arrests."

He also said: "God willing, I hope that she will be back with her parents before Christmas."

Could parents' heartache soon end?

Mr Marco admitted he had no proof Madeleine was not dead but said he had to believe "100%" she was because he only knew how to look for people who were still alive.

He told Metro: "One of the things that makes us believe Madeleine is alive is that every day, she's worth more to them.

"It's obviously not a kidnap carried out by professionals for economic reasons.

"A professional kidnapper would have done something by now. He would have given her back or left her."

He also dismissed allegations that the McCanns could have been involved in Madeleine's disappearance, saying people only had to spend five minutes with them to know they were innocent.

Kate and Gerry McCann were named formal suspects in the case in September but have repeatedly denied any involvement in their daughter's disappearance.
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Mayor Says McCanns Guilty Of Neglect
Updated:11:33, Thursday December 13, 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann's spokesman has rubbished claims by a Portuguese mayor that the couple were "guilty" of abandoning their daughter Madeleine.

Manuel Domingues Borba, mayor of Praia da Luz - the resort where the four-year-old went missing - said the McCanns should never have been allowed to leave Portugal.

They were guilty of "negligence" for leaving Madeleine and their other children alone as they dined at a nearby restaurant.

Madeleine disappeared from the McCann's rented holiday apartment on May 3.

"For the parents to have left Maddie, who was not yet four years old, with her twin brother and sister who were barely two - just babies - all alone in a foreign country.... I, personally, would never leave my children sleeping alone and go to dinner in a foreign country," Mr Borba told the Daily Mail.

"I consider the parents guilty of negligence at the very least. There was a total abuse of trust and extreme negligence.

"The parents are arguidos for a reason. If they are suspects it's because there are suspicions upon them. They are guilty of at least abandonment - in the least."

Madeleine ribbons are being removed

The McCann's spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said the comments were disappointing and "based on no truth whatsoever".

"It is not true that Kate and Gerry were involved," he told the newspaper.

"He is not a police officer and has no access to any of the details of the case."

Mr Borba's comments follow news that traders in Praia da Luz have begun pulling down pictures appealing for help to find the British toddler.

The church where parents Kate and Gerry McCann prayed for their daughter's safe return is reported to no longer be displaying an appeal poster.

Mr Borba said residents of the town wanted to move on, but insisted locals should not pay for "what they (the McCanns) created".

"The community in general, the majority, believe they are guilty at least of creating the situation - the disappearance or whatever happened," he said.

"This tragedy occurred because of the parents. This case must be investigated to the last."
- - - - - -

Madeleine Appeal Posters Taken Down
Updated:15:06, Wednesday December 12, 2007

Posters of missing Madeleine McCann have been taken down in the Portuguese town from where she disappeared.

Many shopkeepers, restaurateurs and hoteliers in Praia da Luz have pulled down pictures appealing for help in tracing the four-year-old.

The church where parents Kate and Gerry McCann prayed for their daughter's safe return is reported to no longer be displaying an appeal poster.

"It's not that the locals don't care about what happened but they just want to get the village back to how it was," one shopkeeper told the Daily Mail.

"It's so many months on now and when it happened it just ruled everything here. For the locals it just got a little too much."

Other residents said there was no point displaying the posters.

"It no longer makes sense to display symbols of a child's disappearance when the parents are suspects."

Clarence Mitchell, the spokesman for the McCanns, said the people of the holiday resort were still hoping for Madeleine's return.

"The people of Praia da Luz were incredibly supportive when Kate and Gerry were there and we believe that affection and support is still there," he said.

"They have nothing but fond memories and remain very grateful to the people of Praia da Luz for their help.

"They believe they would still do everything they can to help them in the hunt for Madeleine."
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McCanns Meet Rest Of 'Tapas Nine'
Updated:17:57, Monday December 10, 2007

The parents of Madeleine McCann have met seven friends they dined with on the night their daughter vanished.

Meeting was 'not significant'

But a spokesman for Gerry and Kate McCann said they did not get together to compare notes.

It was the first face-to-face meeting of the group - dubbed the Tapas Nine - since the McCanns returned to Britain.

Advisers for the Leicestershire couple were present and their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "It was uneventful as far as we are concerned and it's not significant.

"It is the first time the nine have sat down face-to-face. It was really just a get-together to discuss where they are at.

"Clearly, some might face further questioning at some stage. It was not to change stories or compare notes. It was a get-together of friends who find themselves at the centre of a story."

The McCanns were dining with the seven at a tapas restaurant in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz when Madeleine went missing from their holiday apartment on May 3.

Mr Mitchell added: "The meeting was as much a show of support for Gerry and Kate. This was in no way to get their stories straight.

"This is the age of email and phone. They could have done that a long time ago."

The nine had become friends through professional connections.

All members of the group strenuously deny any involvement in the little girl's disappearance and say they are happy to co-operate with detectives.
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New Madeleine Book Blasted By McCanns
Updated:11:34, Friday December 07, 2007

A new book which includes a suggestion the parents of Madeleine McCann were responsible for their daughter's disappearance is "rubbish", according to the family's spokesman.

The book title offends the family

Clarence Mitchell has been responding to claims that a conspiracy was hatched by Gerry and Kate McCann before they set off on their fateful holiday in Praia da Luz.

The Portuguese book - with a translated title of The Guilt Of The McCanns - is said to allege that the couple had already decided that Madeleine would be reported as a kidnap victim.

Publicity from the publishers says it is a "non-fiction book entirely faithful to the events and the steps of the (police) investigation".

It has been written by Manuel Catarino, editor-in-chief of Correio da Manha, a racy Portuguese tabloid newspaper.

His book is said to be "not a finish line but a start point".

"This book is basically a journalistic work," say the publishers. "It doesn't point an accusatory finger to the McCanns."

Mr Mitchell dismisses the book - and its title: "You can imagine the pain and anguish that this sort of rubbish brings Kate and Gerry."

The couple's lawyers are said to be considering legal action.
- - - - - -

Could Mobile Phones Hold Vital Clue?
By Mark Williams-Thomas
Child protection expert Updated:06:53, Wednesday December 05, 2007

Portuguese detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann discussed three key areas when they visited police and forensic experts in Britain.

Search goes on for Madeleine

First on the agenda was the DNA they submitted to the Forensic Science Service (FSS) in Birmingham.

Mobile phone data recovered from the resort of Praia da Luz and establishing the process for interviewing or re-interviewing witnesses were also talked about.

We have heard the significance that has been given to DNA - with traces found in the Renault Scenic hire car, apartments on the Portugal resort and also from items of property and clothing.

In today's policing, DNA is a powerful tool, with Home Office figures suggesting officers get approximately 3,000 matches a month.

I am certain that much of the work being undertaken by the FSS is low copy number (LCN) - a relatively new technique used to produce a DNA profile from very few cells.

This technique would be used to target areas on items where Madeleine might have had contact.

But with no significant development, it would suggest DNA evidence alone will not solve this case.

Especially if parents Gerry and Kate McCann are being considered as key suspects, as Madeleine's DNA will be all over them and items they have had contact with.

The team were also here to discuss mobile phone data, which was secured by British experts in the 10 days after Madeleine disappeared.

McCanns could be re-interviewed

Although initially not analysed, it has now been and will provide vital information about mobile phone usage in and around Praia on the days leading up to Madeleine's disappearance.

This data will not be as precise as it is in the UK in locating exact position of the telephone user.

This is because the triangulation depends on masts which are close together - and the masts are quite some distance apart in Praia de Luz.

The third reason for last week's meeting was to discuss the interviewing of witnesses - including the Tapas seven - the people who were dining with the McCanns on May 3.

It is important for the Portuguese and British police to understand how this would take place and for it to be coordinated on the ground here in the UK.

So should we expect some action over the forthcoming weeks? Yes.

We will see the Portuguese police, with the assistance of British officers, interviewing members of the group that were with Madeleine's parents - as well as the strong possibility of Gerry and Kate being re-interviewed in 2008.

With a case that continues to dominate the media and public's attention, sadly we appear to be no nearer finding Madeleine today than we were on the night she disappeared.

As the months pass, so does the likelihood of finding Madeleine or her abductor.
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McCanns May Be Reinterviewed
Updated:00:37, Sunday December 02, 2007

Portuguese police may make a formal request to reinterview the parents of missing Madeleine McCann.

But police would need the permission of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

Police sources say Jacqui Smith would have to give the go ahead before Kate and Gerry McCann - or any of their friends - could be questioned again over the disappearance of their daughter.

Detectives are reported to be preparing an application to a British court to reinterview Kate and Gerry McCann and their friends.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "Kate and Gerry and their friends have consistently said they are more than happy to be reinterviewed if Portuguese police feel it is necessary.

"Indeed their friends are keen to be reinterviewed, if that helps to clarify any inconsistencies the police feel may exist in their original statements, and if it leads to Kate and Gerry being eliminated from the inquiry.

"Their friends, like Kate and Gerry, have absolutely nothing to hide."

The McCanns were dining with friends when Madeleine went missing shortly before her fourth birthday in the resort of Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3.

Four members of the Portuguese investigation team flew home from the UK yesterday after a meeting with British forensic experts to discuss DNA samples collected for the inquiry.

The tests are said to have been carried out on blood samples, bodily fluids and hair found in the McCanns' holiday apartment and the vehicle they hired 25 days after the child disappeared.

Both Leicestershire Police, who are helping their Portuguese counterparts, and the Birmingham-based Forensic Science Service have described the meeting as "routine".
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Madeleine Cops Fly Home From UK
By Alex Watts Updated:15:20, Friday November 30, 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann are confident they will now be cleared of all suspicion over their daughter's disappearance following a crucial meeting between UK and Portuguese forensic specialists.

McCanns hope they can now focus on their search

The squad of detectives have now flown back to Portugal after reviewing the results of DNA tests carried out in the hunt for missing Madeleine.

The tests, by the Birmingham-based Forensic Science Service, were on blood samples, bodily fluids, and hair found in the McCanns' flat and Renault car they hired 25 days after she disappeared.

It is understood these results were inconclusive - scotching Portuguese detective theories that the couple killed their daughter and disposed of her body using the vehicle.

Gerry said: "We have been told that all the forensic test results are now available.

"Kate and I are very hopeful now that any doubt what these important tests show will be removed.

Madeleine vanished on May 3

"As we have stated all along, we are confident that the results will no way incriminate us, and hopefully everyone can concentrate on finding Madeleine and her abductor."

Writing in his blog, he also told how they have kick-started their campaign targeting southern Spain, North Africa and Portugal.

The adverts, in railway stations and public transport areas, are the first wave of an �80,000 publicity drive in the region, the area private eyes say Madeleine is most likely to be in.

Esther McVey, director of the Madeleine Fund, explained: "The aim is simple: to remind people that Madeleine is still out there to be found and to generate vital new calls to our confidential, anonymous phone line.

"So far, the response has been fantastic, but we still need people to call 00 34 902 300 213 if they have any information they feel is in any way relevant."
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Key Talks Over Madeleine DNA
Updated:11:54, Thursday November 29, 2007

Forensic experts from Portugal have arrived at Leicestershire Police HQ for talks with British specialists about DNA samples from the Madeleine McCann inquiry.

Speculation has mounted over DNA

Four members of the Portuguese investigation team are meeting scientists from the Forensic Science Service (FSS).

It is understood that DNA samples taken from a car hired by the parents of Madeleine, Gerry and Kate McCann, will be discussed.

There has been much speculation over whether the samples will implicate the couple in the disappearance of their four-year-old daughter.

The pair remain official suspects but are not expected to be interviewed by the team from Portugal.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "We understand there is no intention for the McCanns to be interviewed, or indeed anyone else.

The Portuguese experts arrive

"Such a meeting should not be seen as surprising. We do not see it as a significant development."

Leicestershire Police and the FSS both described the meeting as routine.

A spokeswoman for the East Midlands force said: "Throughout the investigation there has been really good dialogue between the teams in Portugal and the UK but they felt it was a good time to sit down and talk face to face.

"They are not going to be interviewing anyone else. It is a routine meeting and then they will be going home."

The meeting comes after the rolling out of an advertising campaign in train stations and public transport areas across the Iberian peninsula and northern Africa to help find Madeleine.

The little girl, from Rothley, vanished from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3 while her parents dined nearby with friends.
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Crunch Meeting Over Madeleine Evidence
Updated:09:23, Thursday November 29, 2007

DNA samples taken during the Madeleine McCann inquiry will be discussed by forensic experts from Portugal and the UK today.

Speculation has mounted over DNA

Four members of the Portuguese investigation team will meet face to face with scientists from the Forensic Science Service (FSS) in Leicestershire.

It is understood that DNA samples taken from a car hired by the parents of Madeleine, Gerry and Kate McCann, will be discussed.

There has been much speculation over whether the samples will implicate the couple in the disappearance of their four-year-old daughter.

The pair remain official suspects but are not expected to be interviewed by the team from Portugal.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "We understand there is no intention for the McCanns to be interviewed, or indeed anyone else.

"Such a meeting should not be seen as surprising. We do not see it as a significant development."

Leicestershire Police and the FSS both described the meeting as routine.

A spokeswoman for the East Midlands force said: "Throughout the investigation there has been really good dialogue between the teams in Portugal and the UK but they felt it was a good time to sit down and talk face to face.

"They are not going to be interviewing anyone else. It is a routine meeting and then they will be going home."

The meeting comes after the rolling out of an advertising campaign in train stations and public transport areas across the Iberian peninsula and northern Africa to help find Madeleine.

The little girl, from Rothley, vanished from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3 while her parents dined nearby with friends.
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McCanns Launch Major Ad Campaign
Updated:20:53, Wednesday November 28, 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann have launched a major advertising campaign across southern Spain to find their missing daughter.

The adverts, in railway stations and public transport areas, are the first wave of an �80,000 publicity drive aimed at the Iberian peninsula and northern Africa.

Detectives hired by the couple are convinced that this is the area to which Madeleine was most likely taken.

The media campaign - which includes newspaper adverts and TV broadcasts - is being paid for by the fighting fund set up to find the girl, who was three when she vanished in Portugal on May 3.

Directors of the Madeleine Fund have also agreed to contribute up to �50,000 a month to the operational costs of Metodo 3, the Barcelona-based private investigation firm hired by the McCanns.

But it is not known how long the McCanns can continue the hunt after a massive slump in donations to the fund.

At its height the fund raised around �450,000 a month but this has now plummeted to around �30,000 a month, according to its website.

McCann spokesman Clarence Mitchell says: "The money has slowed down - that's only natural. Money pours in at the start and dries up after a while, it's natural."
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Madeleine Police: Team Travels To UK
Updated:15:45, Wednesday November 28, 2007

Portuguese forensic experts involved in the Madeleine McCann case will arrive in Britain today, Sky News has learned.

Madeleine McCann: Disappeared

Crime correspondent Martin Brunt said two officers are coming to the UK with a detective and pathologist.

They will meet representatives from the national forensic service in Birmingham which has been testing samples from the case.

On top of that, they may liaise with police officers from Leicestershire - the county where the missing girl's parents Gerry and Kate live.

And they may also re-interview friends of the couple who were with the pair on the night Madeleine went missing.

But it is not thought they will speak to the McCanns themselves.

Brunt said: "This trip is more about the forensic scientists talking to the forensic service in Britain and finding out what processes they use."

The team may include Portugal's second most senior policeman Paulo Rebelo, who is now leading the inquiry.

Clarence Mitchell, a spokesman for the McCanns, said he could not confirm the visit was happening.

Madeleine disappeared on May 3 in the resort town of Praia da Luz.
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How Long Can McCanns Continue Hunt?
By Alex Watts
Sky News Online reporter Updated:13:50, Tuesday November 27, 2007

Questions are being raised over how long Kate and Gerry McCann can continue the hunt for their daughter after a huge slump in donations to Madeleine's Fund.

Madeleine vanished in Portugal

When the young girl vanished on May 3, cash poured in to find her, but now it is comparatively little more than a trickle.

The fund has �1,095,223.50 in its coffers, according to its website.

But an estimated three-quarters of this will just be used to pay the six-month contract the McCanns took out with detective agency Metodo 3.

The Spanish-based agency is likely to be charging around �2,000 a day, crime experts have told Sky News Online.

When travel and other expenses are added, the final bill for the contract is likely to be as much as �750,000.

And this does not cover the cost of publicity campaigns and other expenses as the McCanns focus their search on Morocco - the area they have been told Madeleine is most likely to be in.

The McCanns are also using other specialists. But their spokesman Clarence Mitchell's reported �75,000 salary is being covered by millionaire Brian Kennedy.

Slump in donations to fund

Other wealthy benefactors - like Richard Branson - have offered financial support to cover their legal bills.

But it is not known how much money, if any, they have pledged towards the fund itself. Or whether they would step in if the McCanns ran out of cash.

The couple, both 39, saw a massive drop in donations after they were named official suspects in the case, and it emerged they had used the fund to pay their estimated �2,000 a month mortgage.

Their spokesman told Sky News Online it is natural for the flow of money to diminish after a fund's launch.

But in Madeleine's case, this is not due to a lack of publicity as her story regularly features on the front pages, even six months after she vanished.

The fund raised around �450,000 a month after its launch, but this has now plummeted to around �30,000 a month, according to its website.

Mr Mitchell admits: "The money has slowed down - that's only natural. Money pours in at the start and dries up after a while, it's natural."

He added: "Money is still coming in - not at the vast rate it was initially...It's a steady income rather than big amounts."
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'Madeleine Is Most Likely In Morocco'
By Bill Bonds
Sky News reporter
Updated:12:08, Monday November 26, 2007

Detectives hired by Gerry and Kate McCann believe the couple's daughter Madeleine was snatched to order, is still alive and that she may be hidden in Morocco.

The McCanns' Spanish detectives are focused on Morocco

Francisco Marco, 35, who is heading the team from his family-run Metodo 3 detective agency in Barcelona, has just returned to Spain after a two-week visit to the North African Arab kingdom.

"At the beginning of October we picked-up a trail which we are following," he said in an interview with the Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo.

"The country is perfect for hiding a kidnapped girl. There are a number of networks there dedicated to the trafficking of children, although they haven't been identified yet.

"And, except in the north, where Spanish television can be seen, in the rest of the country nobody is aware of this case," Marco told the newspaper.

Marco, a lawyer and criminologist, is the director-general of Metodo 3, which was founded 21 years ago by his mother, Marita Fernandez.

It was chosen by the McCanns on the recommendation of multi-millionaire Brian Kennedy who is helping finance the now-worldwide search for Madeleine.

Before agreeing to take on the case nearly three months ago, Marco said he and his mother had a long, hard and probing discussion with Gerry and Kate.

Senora Fernandez told El Mundo: "I played devil's advocate and asked them terrible things to see their reactions. Kate burst into tears when one of the twins came in and hugged her.

"As the mother and grandmother that I am, it strikes me as impossible that a woman that had to go through artificial insemination to have children, and who loves her children in this way, could have done anything bad to Madeleine."

She claimed that words had been put into her son's mouth when British newspapers had quoted Marco last week as saying that Robert Murat was the prime suspect.

"We only think that Murat knows more than he has said and that Madeleine could be living in some part of Morocco," she was quoted as saying.
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Madeleine: Murat Girlfriend 'Not Suspect'
Updated:16:29, Saturday November 24, 2007

Portuguese police investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann are not interested in the girlfriend of suspect Robert Murat, it has been claimed.
Michaela Walczuch had told police she was at a church meeting on the night Madeleine vanished - but Britain's national newspapers have attacked her claim.

Witnesses identified Murat's girlfriend

Now, a friend of Mr Murat's family has said detectives have not contacted Miss Walczuch since the allegations against her emerged.

From the start of the investigation, witnesses have claimed they saw Ms Walczuch with Madeleine, first in Portugal two days after the little girl disappeared, and then in Morocco 41 days later.

The reports are being investigated by Spanish private detective agency Metodo 3, which has been hired by Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann to help find their daughter.

Both Anglo-Portuguese ex-pat Mr Murat, 34, and German-born Miss Walczuch, 32, strenuously deny any involvement in the little girl's disappearance.

Madeleine 'sighted' in Morocco

Family friend Tuck Price played down reports questioning Miss Walczuch's alibi for May 3, the night Madeleine went missing from Praia da Luz in the Algarve.

Miss Walczuch is said to have told police she was at a Jehovah's Witness meeting in nearby Lagos.

But Tiofilo Castelo, a member of the Algarve Regional Association of the Jehovah's Witnesses, said she had been "thrown out" of the church over 12 months ago.

Answering the claim, Mr Price insisted: "I know for sure she's been going to her meetings, and I know for sure the police haven't contacted her.

"If that was true, I'm sure the police would have been on to her."

:: A Spanish tourist said she saw Madeleine in Morocco on June 15 and another witness claims to have seen her in a car with a woman in Portugal on May 5.

It is understood that Metodo 3 have passed on their findings to the Portuguese authorities.
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Kate McCann Tested For Drug Use
By Hazel Tyldesley
Sky News online
Updated:12:36, Friday November 23, 2007

The mother of Madeleine McCann has voluntarily undergone drug tests in response to "smear stories" about her in Portugal.

Kate McCann's results were clear

Reports claimed mother-of-three Kate McCann was taking anti-depressants at the time of Madeleine's disappearance, to cope with the stress of looking after her young children.

But the family spokesman Clarence Mitchell has told Sky News Online that the test results show no drug use by Mrs McCann in at least the seven to eight weeks before her daughter vanished.

He said there was a "timeline of bodily output", based on known rates of hair growth, that ruled out any use of anti-depressants by Mrs McCann in the last eight months.

Tests on the McCanns' twins Sean and Amelie, that were carried out after it was suggested the couple had sedated their children, are also clear, Mr Mitchell added.

"We can talk about this issue because it does not enter into Portuguese police files," Mr Mitchell said, adding that the slurs against Madeleine's mother had been made off the police record.

Kate McCann's test results are included in a dossier of evidence collected by the legal team to refute allegations against the couple.

Also in the defence file are DNA test results on the hire car, carried out independently by Home Office -approved experts - that rule out any claim that the McCanns transported their daughter's body in the vehicle, according to Mr Mitchell.

The revelation of Kate McCann's drug tests comes as she deals with a damning claim made by the Portuguese Attorney General that Madeleine had probably been killed as the result of the publicity campaign to find her.

Blasting his comments, Mr Mitchell said: "This is just one man's opinion".

"We would still urge everyone to keep displaying Find Madeleine posters and more importantly, ring in if they have any information regarding her disappearance."
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McCanns Escape Child Neglect Charges
Updated:17:15, Tuesday November 20, 2007

Madeleine McCann's parents Kate and Gerry have escaped a private prosecution for child neglect charges, Sky News Online can reveal.

McCanns will not face private prosecution

Retired solicitor Tony Bennett has failed in his bid to issue a summons against the pair.

The summons claimed the two doctors neglected their three children by leaving them in their holiday apartment in Portugal when they went out for dinner in the evenings.

It was during the evening of May 3 that Madeleine disappeared.

But Leicester Magistrates' Court has decided to turn down the summons request.

The decision was announced by the judicial communications office at the High Court.

A spokesman told Sky News: "After careful consideration, the request to issue a summons against Gerald and Kate McCann for alleged offences contrary to section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 has been refused as it is clear this court does not have the necessary jurisdiction.

Madeleine McCann vanished on May 3

"All applications are considered in two stages.

"The first stage is whether the court has the jurisdiction to issue a summons, the second is if there is sufficient evidence.

"As with this application, if the first stage is not passed the second stage is not considered."

Mr Bennett, of Chippingfield, Harlow, said before the court's decision: "I'd already got some concerns about the case. I've researched it quite thoroughly over the last six to eight weeks."

He added: "Obviously speaking as a qualified social worker I was concerned that no action was being taken."

The McCann's family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the couple had committed no offence under UK law or any other country's law.

Mr Bennett unsuccessfully tried to bring a private prosecution against celebrity Michael Barrymore over the death of Stuart Lubbock.
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'Predator' Was Watching The McCanns
Updated:15:25, Monday November 19, 2007

Gerry McCann has spoken of his belief that "a predator" was watching his family in the days before his daughter Madeleine's disappearance.

Madeleine's father Gerry McCann

In the personal video, filmed by a family friend in August, he speaks about a "window of opportunity" taken by an abductor.

The thought made him and his wife Kate "sick to the core," he said in the video.

Mr McCann said that before Madeleine disappeared, he and his wife became concerned by the security at the back of their Praia da Luz holiday apartment when "maybe the weak spots were at the front".

In the footage, filmed in Portugal by friend Jon Corner, he said: "It's a corner flat with trees overlooking it. Somebody could be hiding there or watching out of view."

He added: "I've no doubt that Madeleine was targeted and that makes us sick to the core to think that someone was watching us and our daughter and then targeted her. I think the true word is a predator.

"But you just don't think there's any trouble and it's certainly the furthest thing from our mind."
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Detective 'Certain' Madeleine Is Alive
Updated:08:47, Sunday November 18, 2007

A private detective hired by Kate and Gerry McCann has said he is certain their missing daughter Madeleine is alive.

Madeleine is still missing

Francisco Marco also told a US television station that the net is closing on the youngster's abductors.

The McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, said: "He's very confident.

"He's 100% certain that she's alive and believes that they are 'very, very close' to finding the kidnapper.

"Naturally we are extremely encouraged by any indication by our investigators that things are going well.

"But there have been a number of leads that have come to nothing and Kate and Gerry remain cautious."

The comments come after new testimony emerged that Madeleine was seen in central Portugal two days after she disappeared from her family's holiday apartment.

Mr Mitchell confirmed that a new sighting at an undisclosed location on May 5 was being investigated.

But he added: "This is very much an ongoing inquiry by our investigators. We will not comment on individual sightings."

Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, went missing from her holiday apartment in Praia da Luz as her parents dined nearby with friends.

The McCanns, both still official suspects in her disappearance, hired agency Metodo 3 to boost efforts to find their daughter.

Speaking earlier this month, Mr Marco said he thought Madeleine is alive in Morocco.

He also said he was following up reported sightings of a blonde-haired girl with her distinctive right eye.

Mr Marco said: "We have a six-month agreement with the McCanns.

"We have already spent a month and a half working. I will find her before that period is up."
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McCanns' Friend Breaks Her Silence
Updated:15:10, Friday November 16, 2007

Madeleine McCann's parents hope a documentary featuring a friend who was in Portugal the night the toddler disappeared will convince the public their daughter was abducted.

Still Missing: Madeleine McCann

Jane Tanner was among a group of friends - labelled the Tapas Nine - who dined with the McCanns in Portugal on May 3, while their children slept nearby.

She claims she saw a mystery man walking away from the complex carrying a sleeping child about 9.15pm, whom she now believes was Madeleine.

Ms Tanner spoke out in a Panorama programme after being labelled a liar in some elements of the media.

She said: "I know what I saw and I think it is important that people know what I saw, because I believe Madeleine was abducted."

In the programme Ms Tanner describes how a friend came to her holiday apartment to tell her Madeleine had gone at about 10pm.

She said: "I saw Kate and Fiona running around shouting 'Madeleine', and Kate said to me, 'Jane, Madeleine's gone, Madeleine's gone'."

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell told Sky News the couple hoped the programme would be a fair, open-minded establishment of the facts.

He said: "They hope it will point people towards the fact that she was abducted and help to focus people's minds on the search."

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, vanished from the holiday apartment in Praia da Luz just days before her fourth birthday.

Last month the McCanns, both 39, released an artist's impression of the possible abductor, using details provided by Ms Tanner.

New video footage of the couple, shot by a family friend during their search for their daughter, is also to be aired in the documentary and on American TV network CBS.

In the CBS footage, Gerry McCann says: "We will always live with the fact that Kate and I were not in the apartment when it happened and we have to face up to that."

The couple were named arguidos, or formal suspects in their daughter's disappearance in September.
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McCanns Could Face Court Action
Updated:17:45, Thursday November 15, 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann could face court action over alleged child neglect after a lawyer attempted to launch a private prosecution against the couple.

McCanns could be summoned

Anthony Bennett has faxed six pages of "evidence" to Leicestershire magistrates together with an application to summons the couple.

Mr Bennett alleges that the McCanns were guilty of neglecting Madeleine and their two-year-old twins under Section 1 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 - a claim the McCanns strenuously deny.

The solicitor, a 60-year-old father of two, said his move was sparked by a "lack of action" by the Leicestershire authorities against the family.

Mr Bennett, a former UK Independence Party prospective parliamentary candidate, said: "By the McCanns' own admission they have left their own children unattended for a significant period of time.

"What troubles me is that there has been no prosecution by the relevant authorities, namely Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire social services.

Claims: Anthony Bennett

"I was also prompted by the comments of Clarence Mitchell, who said on television that the McCanns' actions were no different to what many British parents do."

Mr Bennett, who previously failed in an attempt to bring a private prosecution against entertainer Michael Barrymore over alleged drugs offences, added: "I just feel that, given the publicity surrounding this case, someone should stand up for neglected children."

He said he hoped the prosecution would be taken on by Leicestershire County Council or Leicestershire Police.

The McCanns' spokesperson Mr Mitchell said: "We will not comment on this, other than to say Kate and Gerry have committed no offence under UK law, indeed any other country's law.

"They regret very much that they were not with Madeleine when she was taken, and are doing everything in their power to find her."
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Hospital 'Pleased To Have Him Back'
By Alex Watts
Sky News Online reporter Updated:06:22, Thursday November 15, 2007

Gerry McCann is to return to full-time work in the New Year, his family spokesman has told Sky News Online.

Gerry McCann returns to work

Mr McCann returned to his job part-time as a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital on November 1 - nearly six months after his daughter Madeleine vanished in Portugal.

He is currently working three half-days a week as he tries to bring his life back to normality.

Hospital trust bosses have set out a work pattern for him, which is mainly academic work for heart research and studies of MRI scans.

But the 39-year-old, who reportedly earns �75,000 a year, and had been on unpaid leave, will soon return to normal duties.

His spokesman Clarence Mitchell told Sky News Online: "He's getting back into it.

"He's doing three half-days a week at the moment which will increase to full-time in the New Year.

"He's pleased to be back, and the hospital's pleased to have him back."

Mr Mitchell said he did not know whether Mr McCann had had direct contact with any patients yet, but said he would soon be doing so.

Patients' groups have voiced doubts about his fitness to return.

Roger Goss, the co-director of Patient Concern, told Sky News: "He should be monitored for three to six months - and patients should have the choice of another doctor if they wish."

Kate McCann, a GP, has said she cannot consider returning to work while Madeleine remains missing.
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Madeleine Case Files Remain Secret
By Alex Watts
Sky News Online reporter Updated:05:56, Wednesday November 14, 2007

Gerry and Kate McCann's hopes of seeing details of their daughter's disappearance have been dashed - despite a change in Portuguese secrecy laws.

McCanns will not get to see files

This week's shake-up in the country's laws will make it easier for people - including official suspects in a case, like the McCanns - to access police investigation files.

Previously, all information in police files had to remain secret.

But the McCanns have told Sky News Online the overhaul will not lift the veil on documents concerning their daughter's disappearance.

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the couple had been informed by the Portuguese legal system that it would not apply to "complex" cases like Madeleine's.

The McCanns had hoped the change would end the rumour and speculation that has surrounded the police inquiry.

Madeleine vanished on May 3

Carlos Pinto de Abreu, the McCanns' family lawyer, had been a prime mover behind the new legislation, and had hailed it as an important step towards a more open system.

The changes follow complaints that officers made a series of blunders in the Madeleine investigation, including failing to seal off the crime scene.

There have been accusations that detectives have been hiding behind the secrecy rules to conceal these errors.

Many have blamed the information vacuum under the old rules for encouraging leaks to the media.

These have included claims about forensic evidence in the McCanns' hire car, and suggestions that Kate McCann's diary shows she had trouble controlling her children.

Police have named the McCanns as official suspects in their daughter's disappearance, and have submitted a 1,000-page dossier against them.
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'McCann Investigation Flawed From Start'
By Martin Brunt
Sky News crime correspondent
Updated:18:56, Tuesday November 13, 2007

The Portuguese police conducted a "flawed" investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance, according to a British MEP.

"The Portuguese police and judicial system is known to be suspect," says a letter from the office of Roger Knapman.

The letter from the MEP for the South West of England added: "The original police investigation was amateurish and flawed.

"It is important to realise that Portugal has no real history of citizen's rights and liberties or democracy."

The letter was written on Mr Knapman's behalf, in reply to a woman who lobbied several MEPs complaining of the damage the case was doing to UK-Portugal relations.

The woman accused the British Government and Gordon Brown of using political pressure to allow the McCanns to "avoid the consequences of Portugal's legal system".

The MEP's letter says it is absurd to suggest the Prime Minister is involved in a cover-up.

It points out that Portugal became a democracy only 30 years ago. "Many of the police were trained under fascism and the institutions still bear the impact of this long period of dictatorship."

It adds: "In all the circumstances it is entirely right that British citizens should be protected against an unreliable foreign system.

"In any event I think you can rest assured that the British police and intelligence services have long had a better grip on the facts of this case than the Portuguese police."

The letter was written by Piers Merchant, a former Tory MP who was forced to quit after his affair with a 17-year-old was exposed by The Sun. He now works as an assistant to Mr Knapman at the UK Independence Party.

When Sky News' crime correspondent Martin Brunt asked Mr Knapman about the letter, he said: "It sounds fair enough. Piers has very carefully investigated this matter and responded on my behalf."
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Madeleine McCann - GET THE WHOLE STORY (25/10/2007 - Present) 11/6/07
 
First Picture Inside Madeleine's Bedroom
Updated:14:37, Monday November 12, 2007

The first picture from inside the bedroom that Madeleine McCann vanished from in Portugal has emerged.

The single bed where the four-year-old was sleeping before she went missing on May 3 can be seen pushed against a wall.

Apartment 5A in the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz has been locked up since a second round of police forensic tests were carried out two weeks ago.

Gerry and Kate McCann left the little girl and twins Sean and Amelie, two, asleep in the room while they dined nearby.

The new unofficial image is a combination of three stills taken of the room, stitched together to give a panoramic view.

Sky's crime correspondent, Martin Brunt, said the photographs were taken through a window at the front of the apartment - the same window the McCanns believe the youngster's kidnapper used to escape.

The room is the furthest in the flat from the tapas restaurant where Madeleine's parents and their friends were dining, Brunt explained.

There is an open door visible on the left-hand side of the shot through which Gerry McCann last checked on his children at 9.05pm. At 10pm, Kate McCann raised the alarm.

A blue blanket can also be seen on the bed. Police are thought to have tested the theory a blanket was used by Madeleine's abductor to carry her out of the apartment.

Detectives reportedly still believe the apartment could hold vital clues to the case.

The current thinking of the Portuguese police is that an abductor probably got in through the patio doors by the swimming pool and took Madeleine out the same way, said Brunt.

Meanwhile, there are new fears that the McCanns may remain arguidos, or formal suspects, in their daughter's disappearance for the next 15 years under Portuguese law.
- - - - - -

McCanns May Sue Police Over Madeleine
By Alex Watts
Sky News Online Updated:15:36, Friday November 09, 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann have refused to rule out legal action against Portuguese detectives for failing to find their daughter.

Madeleine vanished on May 3

The couple could sue police over a series of mistakes in the investigation which hindered the search for Madeleine.

But they told Sky News Online it was far too early to talk of such action.

The two doctors stressed their number one objective is to find their daughter, who vanished from her bedroom in the Algarve on May 3.

"Our priority is to find Madeleine, and we will continue to work closely with the police to do that," the McCann's family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said.

"Only then some way down the road will their lawyers consider whether any other action is appropriate in any direction."


McCanns may consider legal action

He was contacted by Sky after Portuguese lawyers representing the couple were quoted in the press saying they may launch legal action if the Policia Judiciara decide to shelve the hunt.

One member of their legal team told the Daily Express that suing the police would be difficult - but not impossible.

Carlos Pinto Abreu said: "You would have to prove that it was intentional - only if you had information that someone had said they knew where the child was and the police had taken no action.

"It would not be easy, but it would be possible."

Experts say detectives lost vital information in the hours after Madeleine vanished, because the holiday flat was not sealed off as a crime scene.
- - - - - -

McCanns' Friends 'Won't Change Stories'
Updated:06:19, Thursday November 08, 2007

Friends who dined with Gerry and Kate McCann on the night their daughter vanished have denied that two of them want to change their stories.

Spanish newspaper El Mundo said that lawyers of the unnamed pair had contacted Portuguese detectives to offer new information about four-year-old Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

The claim came after suggestions in the media that members of the so-called 'tapas nine', other than the McCanns themselves, were to be made formal suspects in the case.

Gerry and Kate McCann were having dinner in a tapas restaurant in the Portuguese village of Praia da Luz with seven friends on the night of May 3, when Madeleine vanished.

The McCann's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the friends had all been contacted following the El Mundo report and insisted it was "totally untrue".

But he said that the couple's friends had said they were happy to be re-interviewed by police if it resolved any apparent inconsistencies and hastened the McCanns being cleared.

He said: "Contrary to a report in the Spanish press, and after consultation amongst Gerry and Kate McCann's friends, I can deny that any approach has been made by their lawyers asking to amend or change the witness statement of any of them.

"This report is simply untrue.

"Kate and Gerry's friends, who were with them on May 3, have consistently told the truth and remain happy, indeed they are keen, to be reinterviewed."

The McCanns were declared official suspects by Portuguese detectives in September, the day before they finally flew back to the UK after four months in Portugal.

They deny any involvement in her disappearance and insist she may still be alive.
- - - - - -

McCanns Defend Media Campaign
Updated:12:10, Wednesday November 07, 2007

The McCanns have denied harming the police investigation into their missing daughter Madeleine.

A family spokesman said the media operation since the young girl disappeared from the family's holiday apartment in Portugal had been "carefully considered".

Clarence Mitchell was responding to accusations from one of Portugal's top police officers that Gerry and Kate McCann had created a press frenzy they could not control.

Carlos Anjos, chairman of the Portuguese Union of Police Detectives, said the couple had acted against police advice and were "partly to blame" for stories they complained about.

"There is no criminal investigation which can feed a news frenzy for six months so what we have seen are both English and Portuguese journalists behaving in a scandalous and unprofessional way," he told the BBC.

"Writing terrible stories in the papers some of which have clearly affected the McCanns... now we have to say that the McCanns are partly to blame for this.

"Because it was something they created.

"It is our opinion that the McCanns created a monster of information about the 'Maddie case' which they then lost control of."

However, Mr Mitchell said the campaign was designed to keep Madeleine in the public consciousness.

"Mr Anjos has been very vocal on this throughout," he said.

"My understanding is that he is not an active officer in this investigation.

"We are not whipping up the media storm. Everything we have done from the word go has been very carefully considered and thought through.

"We wouldn't have done it if we didn't think it would be helpful."

He added: "We have done our absolute best to make people aware that Madeleine is out there, possibly still alive and we still need their help.

"The (news) coverage in certain directions has been most unhelpful and we feel very disappointed by certain aspects of this which keep getting repeated and repeated and repeated until the wider public - who have no real inside information on this for very good reasons, because we can't put it out there - they believe these headlines."

Madeleine was three years old when she disappeared in Praia da Luz on May 3.

Both parents remain formal suspects.
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'Madeleine Police Made Critical Mistakes'
Updated:14:59, Tuesday November 06, 2007

A child protection expert has accused the Portuguese police of making "critical" mistakes at the start of the Madeleine McCann investigation.

Police on scene in Praia da Luz

Mark Williams-Thomas was commenting after members of the initial response team spoke publicly about the "chaotic" scenes at the apartment in Praia da Luz.

Both officers, who remain anonymous, told reporters the investigation into the missing girl was "fatally flawed".

One said: "To arrive as back-up and find a circus walking in and out of a possible crime scene - well that's ridiculous."

Responding to the statement, Mr Williams-Thomas said: "It was for them to consider the importance of the apartment as a crime scene and secure it immediately, obtaining personal details from everyone who had been in the apartment for later eliminations purposes.

"As soon as they arrived they were in charge and should have taken control."

One of the Portuguese officers also suggested the McCanns' behaviour had been "strange" when the team arrived.

"They were scared, and not the usual scared," he told reporters. "They were jumpy and nervous.

"I don't know, it wasn't normal. None of it was normal and hasn't been right the way through."

But Mr Williams-Thomas replied: "You cannot expect, however educated Gerry and Kate are, for them to be considering the importance of evidence at that stage having just reported Madeleine missing.

"In the first few weeks I was outspoken in my criticism of the Portuguese police in the hope that they would identify with some of the comments made and look to recover the situation.

"Sadly such continued criticism of the police six months on will not help us find Madeleine.

"However, I hope the next time a child goes missing in Portugal the police will do things very differently."

Madeleine McCann went missing from the apartment in Portugal's Algarve on May 3.
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'Treat Madeleine Like A Princess'
Updated:08:14, Monday November 05, 2007

Madeleine McCann's parents have appealed to her abductor to treat her "like a princess as she deserves".

Madeleine: Missing for six months

On the six-month anniversary of her disappearance, Gerry McCann said he "hoped and prayed" she was being cared for properly.

He also told of the pain that he and his wife Kate were suffering being separated from her.

Writing on his blog, Mr McCann said the case was "all the more distressing when we have to speculate about the situation Madeleine finds herself".

He said: "It is an incredibly long time for us - but must be even longer for Madeleine.

"We have no idea whether she is suffering, but we have to hope and pray that she is being treated like a princess, as she deserves."

He said millions of people now knew Madeleine was and the couple would not give up looking for her.

Mr McCann made the comments ahead of a special service to mark the passing of six months since her disappearance.

The McCanns, who are still suspects in Madeleine's disappearance, were joined at the vigil by friends and neighbours at a church near their home in Rothley, Leicestershire.

Mr McCann returned to his job as a consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester last Thursday.
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New Madeleine Photograph Released
Updated:08:32, Monday November 05, 2007

A new photograph of Madeleine McCann has been released to mark six months since she disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal.

The picture was taken 20 days before Madeleine vanished, and shows her sitting on the back of a Shetland pony with her mother Kate by her side.

It was taken on a day out at the Hatton Country World park in Warwickshire on April 13.

On Saturday night Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate attended a special service to mark the six months since her disappearance.

The couple were joined at the vigil by friends and neighbours at the St Mary & St John Church near their home in Rothley, Leicestershire.

They held hands as they walked into the 14th century church just before 9.30pm - the time Madeleine vanished while the family was on holiday in Praia da Luz.

Earlier, Kate McCann made a fresh appeal for information about Madeleine.

She said: "Six months is such a long time for a little girl to be separated from her family.

"We believe that our Madeleine is out there somewhere and retain hope that we can be reunited.

"Madeleine is a beautiful little person who deserves a loving and happy life."

The mother-of-three urged anyone with information to call a phone line manned by private detectives on 0034 902 300213.
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Campaign Key To Finding Madeleine
By Ian Collier
Sky News Online Updated:08:36, Monday November 05, 2007

The McCanns have been told not to give up their hunt for Madeleine - because it could cost them the chance of finding her alive.

McCanns campaign still going

Madeleine went missing six months ago from her parents' holiday apartment in Portugal - and the investigation seems no closer to finding her.

Since then, Kate and Gerry McCann have been working tirelessly on a public campaign to find their daughter.

Ernie Allen, the head of the US-based National Centre For Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), believes the youngster may still be alive.

And he told the McCanns that their campaign could be the key to finding her.

"Nobody will care more than them - they are the primary activists for Madeleine," Mr Allen told Sky News Online.

Web appeal launched with NCMEC

"We are convinced you have to keep the focus on the search for a live child. If they stopped their campaign then people would forget about Madeleine.

"There is hope, and the most encouraging thing is that there seems to be a new direction to the investigation with the new people in charge of the investigation in Portugal."

Mr Allen also gave a chilling insight into the possible fate of abducted children.

"The likelihood of finding Madeleine alive today depends on who took her and why."

He suggests that children who serve a purpose to their abductor have more chance of staying alive throughout their ordeal - and statistics show very young children are less likely to be murdered.

Almost 10 years ago, the US-based group set up a global site - the International Centre For Missing & Exploited Children - to help find children around the world.
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'I'll Find Madeleine In Five Months'
Updated:08:42, Monday November 05, 2007

A Spanish private detective hired by Gerry and Kate McCann has vowed to find Madeleine within five months.

McCanns visited Morocco in search

Francisco Marco said he believes the child is alive in Morocco and is already following up reported sightings of a blonde-haired girl.

The detective's Spanish-based agency, Metodo 3, was given the job of finding Madeleine in September.

He said: "We have a six-month agreement with the McCanns. We have already spent a month and a half working. I will find her before that period is up."

The 35-year-old said he was certain Mr and Mrs McCann had nothing to do with Madeleine's disappearance from Praia da Luz in southern Portugal on May 3.

Mr Marco, who leads a 40-strong team, said: "Our staff interviewed the McCanns for 10 hours - enough time for us to tell if they were trying to fool us.

"My specialists assure me they are not hiding anything. I would not risk the prestige this agency has gained over 23 years without being convinced there is a case."

The father-of-two believes Madeleine was stolen to order from the family's holiday villa in the Algarve.

Distinctive eye marking

He told Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia: "A blonde girl like Madeleine is a symbol of social status in Morocco. That is the way it is and I can't tell you more."

But the McCanns are not getting their hopes up over the new sighting, their spokesman insisted.

Clarence Mitchell said: "We have looked at this, and the police have looked at this, and we still don't have Madeleine back."

Naoual Malhi, a Spanish woman of Moroccan origin, said she saw the child with a woman in the village of Fnidk on August 21.

She asked if she could share their taxi but the woman refused, and Ms Malhi later discovered that the pair had gone to the port of Hoceima.

She contacted Spanish police about six days later after seeing media reports suggesting the missing child could be in Morocco.
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Magazine Defends Madeleine Mockery
By Alex Watts
Sky News Online Updated:08:29, Monday November 05, 2007

A German satirical magazine has defended its mockery of the publicity surrounding the disappearance of Madeleine McCann - claiming it was "funny".

McCanns blast German article

Kate and Gerry McCann described the article in Titanic magazine as "extremely hurtful" after it published a spoof supermarket advert depicting a number of products promoted with their daughter's image.

One featured a domestic cleaner which was guaranteed to remove "all traces at home and against which DNA tests have no chance".

The McCann family spokesman said their lawyers were looking into the matter.

Titanic editor Martin Sonneborn admitted there had been a "very strong reaction" to his magazine's double-page spread, but refused to apologise for it.

He told Sky News Online: "We don't regret it. They criticised our thing and said it's not funny, and I think it is funny so we can print it."

But then he reflected for a second, and added: "It is funny isn't it?"

He said the feature was not poking fun at the girl's disappearance, but the media storm surrounding it.

Magazine claims feature is funny

He went on: "I think it's funny, and you can laugh about it if you have a satirical tradition in your country, like Germany."

Asked whether the Madeleine story was big in Germany, he replied: "I think it's the biggest story since Dietmar Hamann's last goal in Wembley - a really big thing."

He was referring to October 2000 - England's last match at the old Wembley stadium - when Hamann's goal saw them lose 1-0 to Germany.

Mr Sonneborn said he had not been contacted by the McCanns' lawyers.

He added: "I am not concerned. This picture of Maddie was printed several million times, and I think it's not a problem."
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Madeleine, Fireworks And Sir Ian
November 02, 2007
By Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt

The sun's still shining, but the streets of Praia da Luz are virtually empty these days and only the brave venture into the waves.

The McCanns? apartment is locked up and the tapas bar has closed for the winter, but a sense of the Madeleine tragedy still hangs over the resort.

The crazy trick cyclist is still doing his stuff outside the church, where prayers will be said for Madeleine on Saturday.

It's sixth months since she disappeared, but it's odd to treat the day as an 'anniversary.' It will coincide with the town's fireworks party, which will seem a little incongruous.

I'm reminded what a small place this is. The first person I bump into is ex-pat Robert Murat, lunching along the coast with his family and friends.

One of the local papers says he's been reinterviewed by the police who are still treating him as an official suspect. He shrugs and says he hasn't heard a thing from them in months.

The second person I encounter is a friend who tells me there were two Spanish TV crews around earlier in the week, plus a team from "America's Most Wanted" show and another from the Beeb's Panorama.

So if anyone thought the Madeleine story was going off the boil.....

I watch Sir Ian Blair's discomfort from afar. The guilty verdict over the Stockwell shooting health and safety issues was hardly unexpected, but the Commissioner never contemplated his resignation.

Whatever is said in public, he does not have the full support of his management team or his police authority and he's hanging on to political backing only because the Government does not want him to go over this particular issue.

He would be seen as a victim of terror. And that would be a victory for the bad guys.

But Sir Ian is done for, no doubt about that.

Written by Martin, November 02, 2007
- - - - - -

Gerry McCann Goes Back To Work
Updated:12:25, Thursday November 01, 2007

Gerry McCann has returned to work for the first time since his daughter Madeleine went missing nearly six months ago.

Mr McCann is a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital and has been on leave since Madeleine disappeared in Portugal on May 3.

He said he was "very pleased" to return having devoted the previous six months to the search and the time was right.

"Unless Madeleine is found, we are not expecting any significant developments in the near future. I'm very keen to get back in," he added.

Staff at the hospital and in the NHS Trust were thanked for their support during the family's ordeal.

Trust bosses have said he will not be seeing patients immediately but would start work on MRI scans and admin.

Clinical director Dr Doug Skehan said the time was right for a return after the distress and pressure the McCanns had had to endure.

Mr McCann is a cardiologist

"He has demonstrated great personal qualities that we know he possesses," said Dr Skehan, who asked the media to respect the care of the hospital's patients.

The first phase of his return will involve "limited contact" with patients, such as discussions with them about their MRI scan results, he added.

It is planned that Dr McCann will be involved in direct contact with patients in clinic after one month.

Patients' groups have voiced doubts about his fitness to return.

Roger Goss, the co-director of Patent Concern, told Sky News: "He should be monitored for three to six months and patients should have the choice of another doctor if they wish."

Kate McCann, also a GP, has said she cannot consider returning to work while Madeleine remains missing.

Mr McCann reportedly earns �75,000 a year but his leave since May has been unpaid.

Portuguese police are due to re-interview some of the McCanns' friends who were dining with them at the resort tapas bar the night Madeleine disappeared.
- - - - - -

Madeleine Fund Paid McCanns' Mortgage
Updated:08:43, Tuesday October 30, 2007

Gerry and Kate McCann used money from the Madeleine Fund to pay for their mortgage, the family's spokesman has confirmed.

At least two mortgage payments had been paid from the fund, which was set up to help find the couple's daughter and support the family.

But the McCanns decided not to use the money for personal payments after they were made suspects by Portuguese police.

Clarence Mitchell said: "The fund has always had the ability to assist the family financially if necessary, and they've only used it to pay for two mortgage payments earlier this year.

"When they were made arguido, it stopped, which was a mutual decision on the part of the fund and the McCanns - they were happy to accept that their changed status meant they were no longer entitled to that assistance."

The Find Madeleine Fund has attracted more than �1m in public donations to help find Madeleine McCann.

The use of donations had previously been called into question after it was revealed about a third of the money had been used to meet the McCanns' living costs, publicity fees and to pay staff.

But the family defended the fund, saying they would not use it for their legal fees.

Mr Mitchell, recently appointed as the family's PR spokesman, said he would not be paid from the Find Madeleine Fund but from "private financial backers" to the McCanns.

While Kate McCann is unlikely to return to her job as a part-time GP, Gerry McCann will return to his work as a consultant, a move likely to help ease the financial pressure.
- - - - - -

McCanns' Friends Deny Pact Of Silence
Updated:16:10, Monday October 29, 2007

Seven friends who were dining with Kate and Gerry McCann when their daughter Madeleine vanished have denied making a "pact of silence" to protect the couple.

Portuguese police reportedly believe the group were hiding damaging facts about the parents.

It has been alleged the details could implicate Gerry and Kate in their daughter's disappearance.

But the friends insist that it was only at detectives' request that they had avoided speaking about the case publicly.

The seven had joined the couple at a tapas restaurant in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz before Madeleine went missing on May 3.

They issued a formal statement through the McCanns' spokesman, Clarence Mitchell.

"We wish to state that there is categorically no 'pact of silence' or indeed anything secretive between us - just the desire to assist the search for Madeleine," the statement said.

It added: "From day one, the police in Portugal told us not to discuss our statements.

"We have always tried to honour this request as well as respecting Portugal's judicial secrecy laws, despite the very large number of inaccurate, speculative and often unpleasant articles that have been published."

The holidaying adults who ate together in the Ocean Club resort have been nicknamed the 'Tapas Nine'.

They were the McCanns, Russell O'Brien and his partner Jane Tanner, Rachael and Matthew Oldfield, Fiona and David Payne, and Mrs Payne's mother Dianne Webster.

:: Mr McCann, 39, is expected to return to work as a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital on Thursday.
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McCanns Look To Spain For Answers
Updated:01:13, Sunday October 28, 2007

The parents of Madeleine McCann are pinning hopes of finding their missing daughter on private investigators in Spain.

The couple have been told the young girl is most likely in the Iberian Peninsula - an area which includes Spain, Portugal and Andorra - or North Africa.

Six months after Madeleine disappeared, Gerry and Kate McCann made a desperate plea this week during an emotional interview to a Spanish TV network.

The couple released a description of the man they believe took their daughter and launched an anonymous phone help line.

Writing on his regular blog Gerry said: "We did our first interview since being made arguidos, for Spanish TV.

"This was very difficult for us but had one important purpose.

"We announced that private investigators are looking for Madeleine and that there is a dedicated anonymous telephone line for anyone who has information, which may help us to find Madeleine."

The sketches depict a man of southern European or Mediterranean appearance walking with a child in his arms.

They were drawn after a witness saw a man near the McCann's apartment on May 3, the night Madeleine disappeared.

The man is drawn with greasy, straggly hair, wearing a purple or maroon top and beige chinos.

He is aged about 35 to 40, 5ft 6in (1.7m) tall, and of slim build.

"We hope that this picture may jog someone's memory who may have seen this man in the Praia da Luz area on the night or days before Madeleine was abducted," Mr McCann said.

"Someone else may be aware of a man matching this description who has behaved suspiciously at any time since the beginning of May."

:: The anonymous phone line can be reached on +34.902.300.213
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McCanns' Sketch Of Possible Abductor
Updated:08:20, Friday October 26, 2007

Sketches have been released of the man who Gerry and Kate McCann believe abducted their daughter.

Details recalled by McCanns' friend

They depict a man of southern European or Mediterranean appearance walking with a child in his arms.

It is understood the images were drawn by an FBI-trained forensic artist from the eyewitness account of Jane Tanner.

She was in the group of friends who dined with the McCanns on the evening Madeleine disappeared.

She said she spotted the man striding from the area of the McCanns' apartment but had not realised the relevance of what she saw at the time.

The man is drawn by the artist with greasy, straggly hair, wearing a purple or maroon top and beige chinos.

He is aged about 35 to 40, 5ft 6in (1.7m) tall, and of slim build.

The child, with her legs dangling, is wearing the same pyjamas as Madeleine on the evening of May 3.

To ensure accuracy, where Ms Tanner could not be certain, the artist left some details blank.

The release of the images, commissioned by private detectives working for the McCanns, was given the "tacit approval" of the Portuguese police, said family spokesman Clarence Mitchell.

He said: "This is another important phase of our investigation into Madeleine's abduction, and we hope that this picture will be a very important reminder to anyone who was in the area on that night who may have seen this man.

"We believe that this was Madeleine being carried away by a man from the apartment, so we place great importance on having these pictures produced."

It is now almost six months since Madeleine went missing from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz.
- - - - - -

Kate McCann: 'I Feel Sad And Lonely'
Updated:16:20, Thursday October 25, 2007

Tears shed by Kate McCann during a televised interview are nothing compared to the grief she has hidden from the cameras, the family's spokesman has said.

The couple, whose daughter was last seen nearly six months ago, gave the emotional interview to a Spanish TV network in order to publicise a new hotline for people to ring with information about Madeleine.

In the interview, the McCanns talked about life without their daughter, and remembered Madeleine as a "very loving and very happy" little girl.

"I feel sad and I feel lonely and our life is not as happy without Madeleine," said Mrs McCann, who added: "I feel anxious she is not with us."

Mr McCann described how one of the most difficult things about life without his first-born child was having to tell his twin children that he did not know when their big sister would be coming back.

"The hardest thing for me is when the twins say 'when is Madeleine coming back home?' and we have to say 'we don't know, but everyone is looking for her'," he said.

The interview, which shows Mrs McCann breaking down towards the end of the reporter's questions, was billed as revealing a rare public show of emotion from the couple.

Madeleine was last seen on May 3

Their composure in previous televised appeals has attracted criticism and suspicion from some commentators - a response spokesman Clarence Mitchell has described as "the height of arrogance".

He told Sky News: "I would suggest to anyone who criticises Kate, in particular, for being cold and calm and a little strange, ask how you would react if your child was missing in these circumstances.

"It is the height of arrogance, I feel, to suggest that somebody must act in a certain way. To suggest that if she has not cried it is wrong.

"Kate and Gerry cry a lot in private. I have seen it. But it doesn't prove anything. They are normal emotional human beings like you and me."

Later, the McCanns said the phone line, which is manned by private detectives and targeted at Spain, Portugal and north Africa, had drawn "a very good response".

However, they would not comment on the number of calls made to the +34 902 300213 number or whether any new leads had developed.

Mr Mitchell said: "I can confirm we have already had a very good response to our confidential, anonymous phone line in Spain.

"However, we will not be commenting on the volume of calls being received or whether any fresh lines are being pursued.

"As this is a private investigation it will remain exactly that - private."
 2 Comments 
Dispatches Searching For Madeleine.10/18/07
 
18 October 2007.

Channel 4.

9.00pm - 10.00pm

Info About The Program :

Dispatches sends a team of five of the UK's best - qualified criminal investigators to Praia da Luz to review the Portuguese police investigation of the Madeleine McCann case.
 1 Comment 
Madeleine McCann - GET THE WHOLE STORY (09/10/2007 - 25/10/2007) 10/16/07
 
McCanns Give Emotional TV Interview
Updated: 15:42, Wednesday October 24, 2007

Gerry and Kate McCann have broken their silence since being named suspects in their daughter Madeleine's disappearance by speaking to Spanish television.

In an emotional half-hour interview to be shown tonight, the missing girl's mother breaks down in tears.

"We discover a Kate very different to that seen by the public. A mother who fills up with emotion and cries upon remembering her daughter," the TV station Antena 3 claims.

Reporter Roberto Arce travelled to Manchester to meet the McCanns and question them about life back in Britain.

The couple talk about their personal and legal situation and they fight back at claims made by newspapers in Portugal and Britain.

"It's ludicrous," says Mr McCann when asked whether the couple sedated their children - a question which Kate McCann refuses to answer.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesperson for the family, has told Sky News that investigators advised them to do the interview as a way of raising awareness of a new hotline set up for people to call with information about Madeleine's disappearance.

He agreed that the interview had been a difficult one for Mrs McCann.

"She is strong throughout most of the interview - it's only towards the end that she becomes visibly upset," he said.

"She is a mother who had lost her child, let's not forget that.

"Kate and Gerry have gone through their own personal heartache and grief. They've just chosen for various, good reasons not to show it in public."
- - - - - - -

McCanns Give Emotional TV Interview
Updated:06:29, Thursday October 25, 2007

Kate McCann has choked back tears during her first interview since being named a suspect in her daughter Madeleine's disappearance.

Mrs McCann and her husband Gerry told Spanish TV they were innocent of any wrongdoing - and were certain they would be eliminated from the Portuguese police inquiry.

The missing girl's parents talked about their personal and legal situation, and hit back at claims made by newspapers in Portugal and Britain.

They also spoke of the heartache of being separated from their daughter for nearly six months - but added they were sure she was still alive and would one day return home.

"I feel very lonely, and our lives are obviously not as happy without Madeleine," Mrs McCann said.

"I just feel anxious that she's out there and she's not with us."

She said their other two children, twins Sean and Amelie, kept asking when Madeleine would come home, although they were not "upset or distressed".

Mr McCann also said they were not worried about the outcome of the DNA tests taken in Portugal that some newspapers claimed would incriminate them.

"There's nothing in those DNA tests that will show we're anything other than completely innocent," he said.

"We'll be eliminated (from the inquiry), because we've done nothing."

When asked whether the couple sedated their children - a question which Kate McCann refused point-blank to answer - Mr McCann firmly dismissed the accusation as "ludicrous".

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell told Sky News investigators had advised the couple to do the interview as a way of raising awareness about a new hotline set up for people to call with information about Madeleine's disappearance (+34 902 300 213).

He agreed that the interview had been a difficult one for Mrs McCann.

"She is strong throughout most of the interview - it's only towards the end that she becomes visibly upset," he said.

"She is a mother who had lost her child, let's not forget that.

"Kate and Gerry have gone through their own personal heartache and grief. They've just chosen for various good reasons not to show it in public."
- - - - - - -

Hotline In New Push For Madeleine Clues
Updated: 12:26, Wednesday October 24, 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann are clinging to hope their daughter is alive and have launched a new 24-hour phoneline to find her.

Phoneline for Madeleine McCann

The line will be manned on a confidential basis and people are encouraged to ring in with sightings or evidence.

Spokesperson for the couple, Clarence Mitchell, told Sky News: "Without any hard evidence of her death, Kate and Gerry hope against hope that she is alive.

"They want this to exist as another line for anybody who might want to contact somebody independently.

"Any credible leads, of course, will be acted upon."

Portuguese and Spanish police have given Gerry and Kate McCann their full backing in setting up the number, which will be based in Spain.

The operators of the line will speak a range of differerent languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, French and English.

In a heartfelt appeal on Spanish television, the McCanns will urge people to phone + 34 902 300213 if they have any information about the missing girl.

They are concentrating on north Africa and the Iberian Peninsula because it is thought to be the area where the little girl is "most likely" to be.

The McCanns' spokesman denied that the hotline had been set up simply for a need to use the money donated by the public to the Find Madeleine fund.

"We would not be doing it if we did not think it would work," he said.

"It would be a foolish waste of the generously donated money."

Mr Mitchell added that the new phoneline did not indicate that the McCanns had lost faith in the Portuguese investigation.

He said the couple welcomed the "fresh approach" generated by a change in the police head overseeing the case
- - - - - -

McCanns Welcome Fresh Questioning
Updated: 06:33, Wednesday October 24, 2007

Madeleine McCann's father has said he welcomes the news that Portuguese detectives are to travel to the UK to re-interview friends who dined with the family on the night the four-year-old disappeared.

Gerry McCann made the statement:

He said: "We welcome the announcement from Mr Ribeiro, the National director of the Judicial Police in Portugal, that our friends who were on holiday with us in Portugal are to be re-interviewed.

"We do not know how many other 'witnesses' will be interviewed but obviously we want to be eliminated from the inquiry as soon as possible.

"We constantly hope that one of the other lines of investigation leads to Madeleine being found safe and well."

Mr McCann also described how he and Madeleine's mother Kate are trying to keep life as normal as possible for their other two children.

He said: "This last weekend we went to visit friends and Kate's parents.

"It is the first time we have been to Liverpool since we went to Portugal on holiday in April.

"Sean and Amelie had a great time playing with other young children and it was good for Kate and I to catch up with very close friends."

Both Gerry and Kate McCann remain formal suspects in the case, along with British ex-pat Robert Murat, who lives near the holiday apartment Madeleine was taken from.
- - - - - -

'A New Level In Despicable Taste'
By Paul Harrison
Sky News reporter
Updated: 15:47, Monday October 22, 2007

A TV comedy sketch suggesting the Prime Minister would use Madeleine McCann as an election publicity tool has now attracted 55 complaints from viewers.

The sketch - part of the 'Bremner, Bird and Fortune' show - portrayed Gordon Brown as someone who would find the missing toddler on the eve of a general election to help win votes.

Viewers have written to the media regulator Ofcom outraged the toddler should be the subject of a joke.

One expressed his 'abhorrence at a supposed joke' and suggested Channel 4 had 'reached a new level in despicable taste'.

A spokesman for Ofcom said: "We have received 55 complaints about Bremner, Bird and Fortune broadcast on 14 October.

"We will make an initial assessment of the complaints, with reference to the Ofcom Broadcasting Code, before deciding if any further action needs to be taken."

Aired at 7pm, the episode was watched by an estimated 1.3 million viewers.

Channel 4 recently defended the programme.

It said the sketch was aimed at "satirising the lengths politicians would go to win public support, following press criticism of the timing of Gordon Brown's visit to Iraq in the run up to a snap general election".

A spokesman added: "We can assure you the sketch was not aimed at the McCann family.

"It was certainly never Channel 4's intention to offend or cause distress to the family or to our viewers."

Bremner's show joins a growing line of comedians who, in the eyes of many viewers, have overstepped the 'taste' mark.

Stand-up comic Patrick Kielty last month joked that the four-year-old's parents should have checked her body in as Ryanair luggage to dispose of her.

Another comic - Dave Longley - was booed off stage after drawing the comparison that both Madeleine McCann and murdered 11-year-old Rhys Jones were wearing Everton shirts in their photos.
- - - - - -

Madeleine Investigation Heads To UK
Updated: 07:10, Monday October 22, 2007

The chief of Portuguese police has said officers will travel to the UK "in days" to re-interview friends who dined with the McCanns on the night their daughter Madeleine disappeared.

McCanns dined at the Ocean Club

And the Policia Judiciaria head declared he was "convinced" that there would be an outcome in the Madeleine investigation "sooner or later".

In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, Alipio Ribeiro said his officers were pinning their hopes on a crucial clue.

"In every investigation there is a key moment when something clicks into place, sheds light on the case and helps to reach a conclusion," he said.

"As yet we have not had that moment."

However, Mr Ribeiro added that his team of officers were ready to give a "new thrust" to the investigation.

He said his team would conduct an analysis of their work, and have been given the legal order to visit the UK to question the McCanns' friends who dined in the tapas bar with them on May 3.

The McCanns insist that Madeleine was abducted while they ate at a nearby tapas bar with friends Rachael and Matthew Oldfield, Jane Tanner and her partner, Russell O'Brien, David and Fiona Payne, and Mrs Payne's mother, Dianne Webster.

When questioned about his personal views on speculation over what has happened to the child, Mr Ribeiro told El Pais he could not reveal them.

But he admitted the theory that Madeleine has died carries most weight.
- - - - - -

Gerry McCann Considers Return To Work
Updated: 15:54, Sunday October 21, 2007

The father of missing Madeleine McCann is considering going back to work before Christmas.

Gerry McCann is a heart specialist

Dr Gerry McCann, a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital, has been off work since his daughter disappeared in Portugal on May 3.

Madeleine's father is currently on unpaid leave from his job, which reportedly earns him around �75,000 a year.

But he is now talking to managers at the hospital about a possible return before the end of this year, his spokesman Clarence Mitchell confirmed.

"No final decision has been taken on his return," Mr Mitchell said.

"It's one area that's under general consideration. It is hoped that he would go back before Christmas, but whether it happens in the next week or next month still has to be decided."

NHS bosses would also have to be satisfied that Mr McCann was ready to go back, Mr Mitchell said.

"Whether it's full time or starting gradually, it's all under consideration," he added.

It is another difficult decision for Mr McCann and his wife Kate following their agonising decision to fly back to the UK without their eldest child.

Mrs McCann, who worked as a part-time GP in Melton, has previously said she was unable to consider working again while Madeleine remained missing.

The couple are expected to have further meetings with advisers this week. They strenuously having anything to do with Madeleine's disappearance.
- - - - - -

Former Met Boss Slams Portuguese Police
Updated: 07:22, Sunday October 21, 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann are the victims of a "witch hunt", Britain's former top police officer has said.

Couple facing a "witch hunt"

Former Metropolitan Police chief Lord Stevens also said there was no evidence to suggest the couple murdered their daughter Madeleine.

Writing in the News Of The World, Lord Stevens lambasted the "sheer inadequacy" of the Portuguese police investigation, which he said had failed to produce any hard evidence.

He added there was "absolutely no chance" Mr and Mrs McCann would face charges for their daughter's murder in Britain.

"It would be an outrageous miscarriage of justice if they were charged with her murder in this country," Lord Stevens said.

Stevens slates Portuguese probe

"I've been a detective at the most senior level for 30 years and have never seen such a witch hunt, or one based on such flimsy evidence."

Lord Stevens, who retired as Metropolitan Police commissioner in 2005, said Portuguese police should have immediately treated the McCanns as the prime suspects.

"That police error has become their tragedy now," he added. "If they had been properly investigated back then they may well have been cleared."

During his five-year term as Met commissioner, Lord Stevens headed inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and alleged football bungs.

He was widely credited with transforming morale at Scotland Yard following the the Macpherson report into the Stephen Lawrence murder.
- - - - - -

McCanns: No Comment On Hair Test
Updated: 07:07, Saturday October 20, 2007

The McCann family spokesman has refused to comment on a report that said tests on Madeleine's brother and sister back the parents' claim they never sedated their missing child.

Analysis of hair samples from two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie is said to show no evidence of sedatives.

That would add strength to Kate and Gerry McCann's denial that they had given their three children sleeping pills on the night Madeleine vanished.

Madeleine, who was three at the time, went missing from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal on May 3.

McCann spokesman Clarence Mitchell refused to confirm or deny the report in the Evening Standard.

He said: "We will not comment on any of the legal aspects of this case. Our lawyers are looking at all of the issues raised by the case very closely indeed.

"Kate and Gerry have already made it quite clear that they have never used sedatives on their children."

Mr and Mrs McCann have faced a series of allegations since Portuguese detectives named them as formal suspects in Madeleine's disappearance.

They strongly deny any involvement, and have said they are considering legal action against media organisations which suggested they had drugged their children.

The paper said toxicology tests on the twins' hair formed part of a dossier of evidence compiled by the McCanns' lawyers to help clear their names.

:: In common with other UK media organisations, Sky News is protecting the identities of the young twins.
- - - - - -

McCanns: No Comment On Hair Test
Updated: 16:08, Friday October 19, 2007

The McCann family spokesman has refused to comment on a report that said tests on Madeleine's brother and sister back the parents' claim they never sedated their missing child.

Analysis of hair samples from two-year-old twins Sean and Amelie is said to show no evidence of sedatives.

That would add strength to Kate and Gerry McCann's denial that they had given their three children sleeping pills on the night Madeleine vanished.

Madeleine, who was three at the time, went missing from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal on May 3.

The McCanns' official spokesman, Clarence Mitchell, refused to confirm or deny the report in the Evening Standard.

He said: "We will not comment on any of the legal aspects of this case. Our lawyers are looking at all of the issues raised by the case very closely indeed.

"Kate and Gerry have already made it quite clear that they have never used sedatives on their children."

Mr and Mrs McCann have faced a series of allegations since Portuguese detectives named them as formal suspects in Madeleine's disappearance.

They strongly deny any involvement, and have said they are considering legal action against media organisations which suggested they had drugged their children.

The paper said toxicology tests on the twins' hair formed part of a dossier of evidence compiled by the McCanns' lawyers to help clear their names.

:: In common with other UK media organisations, Sky News is protecting the identities of the young twins.
- - - - - -

Madeleine: Brown Meets Portugal PM
Updated: 19:54, Thursday October 18, 2007

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is discussing the case of missing Madeleine McCann with his Portuguese counterpart Jose Socrates tonight.

Madeleine still missing

Mr Brown is in Lisbon for an EU Summit where he told reporters: "I'm meeting the Portuguese Prime Minister later and we will discuss this issue.

"I have discussed this issue with him before, to assure myself that the police authorities are taking the actions that are necessary."

He also wanted to make sure "there's proper cooperation between the British and Portuguese police."

The PM has received regular briefings on the case since Madeleine's disappearance on May 3.

Mr Brown has in the past had telephone contact with missing Madeleine's parents.

But direct contact ended when the couple were named as suspects last month, it was reported.

Mr Brown spoke to the Portuguese premier about the case in early July, where he thanked him for his help in the efforts to find Madeleine.

The four-year-girl has not been seen since disappearing from a holiday complex in Praia da Luz in Portugal.
- - - - - -

'There Is A Probability She Is Dead'
Updated: 11:47, Wednesday October 17, 2007

The parents of Madeleine McCann have said they accept the four-year-old may now be dead.

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry are realistic enough to know that there is a probability she is dead.

"They have not given up hope that she is still alive and is being looked after somewhere.

"But human nature is that you always fear the worst and they need to know what has happened."

Writing in his blog, Gerry McCann says: "Kate and I do NOT accept that Madeleine is 'probably' dead. We know it is a possibility, however the fact there is no evidence Madeleine has been seriously harmed gives us ongoing hope that she will be found alive."

Mr Mitchell dismissed reports that a computer used by Mr McCann had been seized by Portuguese police, saying officers would find nothing of interest on it.

The computer largely sat unused "gathering dust" in the corner of the family's apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, after being loaned to them by a local shop.

It was left behind when the couple returned home to Rothley, Leicestershire, in the UK.

Mr and Mr McCann have been named formal suspects in Madeleine's disappearance from Praia da Luz on May 3.
- - - - - -

Kate: 'I'm Being Attacked For Way I Look'
Updated: 20:28, Tuesday October 16, 2007

Kate McCann fears she is being "persecuted" by people who believe she is involved in her daughter Madeleine's disappearance because she does not look maternal enough, her mother has revealed.

Kate McCann feels under attack

Susan Healy, Madeleine's grandmother, acknowledged that Mrs McCann and her husband Gerry made a "terrible mistake" in leaving their three children alone in the family's Portuguese holiday apartment.

But she strongly defended her daughter, who along with Mr McCann has been named a formal suspect in Madeleine's disappearance on May 3.

Mrs Healy told the Liverpool Echo: "She said last night, 'If I weighed another two stone, had a bigger bosom and looked more maternal, people would be more sympathetic'.

"I think it's terrible that she's having to think like that.

"She does feel persecuted - not by the general public, who have been extremely supportive, but by some sections of the media, and I just feel it's important I let people know she is not this person who is in control all the time."

Insisting her daughter had done nothing wrong, Mrs Healy described her as "one of the most maternal people I know" and said her life revolved around her children.

Mrs Healy and her husband Brian, from Allerton, Merseyside, told the paper they were clinging to the hope that Madeleine will be found alive.

But they admitted reports that Portuguese police are planning to search a large lake about 15 miles from where the young girl vanished 166 days ago were "scary".

A friend of the missing girl's parents has slammed a leak suggesting new forensic tests prove a corpse was transported in their hire car.

Sources claim bodily fluids from a corpse were found in the boot of the Renault Scenic rented by the McCanns 25 days after Madeleine disappeared, London's Evening Standard reported.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, said: "I cannot comment on any further unsubstantiated reports out of Portugal, or on any matter that potentially goes to the heart of the inquiry.

"I would urge you to look at the source and view all claims without substantiation with scepticism."

But a family friend suggested that Portuguese detectives were leaking information to journalists to give the impression their inquiries are on track.

The friend said: "Gerry and Kate have got nothing to hide. They did not harm their daughter and it is arrant nonsense to suggest otherwise.

"It is not true - there was no corpse in the boot of that vehicle.

"Let's face it, if it was definitive proof that a body was in there, would they still be sitting at home in Leicestershire? They would be under arrest."

A spokesman for the Birmingham-based Forensic Science Service, which is carrying out analysis for Portuguese police, said: "As far as I am aware our work is still ongoing.

"It is a live, ongoing investigation so we cannot comment on anything relating to it."

The Find Madeleine campaign has released new appeal posters, which will be published in local newspapers in Spain and Portugal in the coming weeks.
- - - - - -

Computer Search For Madeleine Images
Updated: 14:25, Tuesday October 16, 2007

Police trawling dozens of images of child abuse on the internet have failed to find any trace of Madeleine McCann.

Police searched through images on 150 computers

Officers in Portugal seized 150 computers last week in their hunt for Madeleine, who went missing shortly before her fourth birthday.

Raids were carried out on 80 properties across the country during Operation Predator.

Police had hoped to find images of Madeleine amid fears she might have been abducted by a paedophile and abused - with images being posted on the internet.

But the search drew a blank.

Police sources in Portugal told the newspaper Correio de Manha that many of the images were of young children who looked similar to Madeleine.

The latest technology was used to redefine some of the pictures, which had been disguised by paedophiles in an attempt to cover up their crimes.

McCann family spokesman Clarence Mitchell commented: "It does sound as though one avenue of investigation has been closed."

Meanwhile, the results of forensic tests in Birmingham on hair and body fluids which are thought to have belonged to Madeleine have reportedly been received by police in Portugal.

The results are not known.

The samples were taken from a car hired by the McCann family following their daughter's disappearance.

Madeleine went missing from the family's holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on May 3.

Kate and Gerry McCann, both 39 from Rothley, Leicestershire, both remain suspects in the case.
- - - - - -

Divers Scour Reservoir For Clues
Updated: 11:40, Monday October 15, 2007

A reservoir is being scoured by specialist police divers as the hunt for Madeleine McCann intensifies.

The search for Madeleine continues

Detectives are said to be preparing to search a 10-mile area around Praia da Luz, where the child vanished on May 3.

The hunt is also focusing on the Barragem da Bravura reservoir, which is around 15 miles away from the Algarve resort.

Paulo Rebelo, the man who is now heading the investigation, has ordered his officers to search the 2.5 mile-wide reservoir.

His investigators are also set to comb a three-mile stretch of coastline and beaches near Praia da Luz.

A spokesman for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann said: "Any widening of the search area is encouraging and we welcome it."

The previous investigation team was criticised for not searching properly for Madeleine, who went missing shortly before her fourth birthday.

Mr Rebelo has assembled a team of specialist detectives to boost the investigation, including two murder experts.

Portuguese newspaper Diario De Noticias claimed the search areas were related to mobile phone calls made by Madeleine's parents and their friends.
- - - - - -

Murat Pleads With Portuguese Police
Updated: 09:01, Saturday October 13, 2007

The first person to be named an official suspect over Madeleine McCann's disappearance has broken his silence.

Robert Murat remains an 'aguido'

Robert Murat, an "arguido" for five months, has pleaded with Portuguese police to finally clear him of suspicion.

But his brief admission in a television interview may land the British expat in trouble with the authorities.

Police restrictions on the 33-year-old include a ban on interviews with the media.

Mr Murat, who lives with his mother Jenny Murat less than 100 metres from the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz where Madeleine went missing, spoke only briefly.

"It's five months, my savings have gone. Mum is doing what she can. It is just very, very difficult," he told the BBC.

The property consultant gave the interview with family members by his side, in a direct plea to the Portuguese Police to finally clear his name.

Mr Murat's cousin, Sally Eveleigh, who runs a local guesthouse, said normal life has been impossible since being taken in for questioning by police 11 days after Madeleine disappeared on May 3.

She urged Portuguese police to finally remove Mr Murat's formal status.

"Five months down the line, he hasn't heard from the police for three months, and there's no evidence against him," she said.

"He hasn't seen his daughter for over five months. He has no finances now, all his savings are gone and he needs to rebuild his life."

After his first night of questioning at the local headquarters of the Policia Judiciaria (PJ) in the town of Portimao Mr Murat was declared an arguido.

Although police took him in for further questioning later and carried out new searches over the summer, he has never been formally arrested or charged.

Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate, were themselves declared arguidos last month after tests on DNA samples found in their hire car were taken as suggesting Madeleine's body had been transported in the vehicle.

Like Mr Murat, they strenuously deny any involvement.
- - - - - -

Madeleine Chief Appoints Senior Team
Updated: 13:46, Friday October 12, 2007

The new man in charge of the hunt for missing Madeleine McCann has signalled his intention to solve the case by bringing in a crack team.

Madeleine: Missing for five months

Paulo Rebelo - who recently took over the inquiry into Madeleine's disappearance in Portugal - has appointed four senior officers to boost the investigation.

He said each one of the officers is an expert in his field and has been seconded from other areas of the police in the country.

It comes after the senior officer on the Madeleine case, Goncalo Amaral, was reportedly sacked for accusing the McCanns of manipulating the media.

And the second-in-command, Chief Inspector Tavares Almeida, was revealed to have asked for an extended leave of absence.

The new members of the team include a chief inspector and an inspector brought in from the Lisbon headquarters of the Policia Judiciaria (PJ).

Both of them are specialists in homicide and will concentrate on the theory that Madeleine was murdered.

The third new team member will focus on examining data and pursuing new lines of inquiry.

And the fourth officer is an inspector from Portugal's serious crimes police section.

Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, disappeared in May from her family's apartment in Praia da Luz while her parents, both doctors, dined nearby with friends.
- - - - - -

Gerry: 'I'm Madeleine's Real Father'
Updated: 15:17, Thursday October 11, 2007

Madeleine McCann's father has insisted the four-year-old is his biological daughter after speculation over the missing girl's paternity.

Mr McCann has attacked 'lies'

Consultant cardiologist Gerry McCann issued a statement following a report in the Portuguese media.

An article raised doubts about whether he is the Leicestershire youngster's real father.

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said speculation in the Portuguese press was "unwarranted, unsubstantiated and totally inaccurate".

Mr Mitchell said: "For the record, Gerry is the biological father of his daughter Madeleine.

"A newspaper report in the 24 Horas newspaper suggesting otherwise is nothing short of lies. It is indeed an absolute fabrication."

The couple's lawyers in Britain and Portugal reminded editors in both countries that they are monitoring coverage very closely.

Mr Mitchell said the McCann legal team "would not hesitate from taking action at the appropriate stage in either country when and wherever it's felt necessary".

Madeleine disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in a Portuguese resort on May 3.

Her parents launched a worldwide campaign to try and track her down but have since come under fire in the press in recent months.

Both Gerry and Madeleine's mother Kate were made suspects by police investigating the child's disappearance.
- - - - - -

McCanns Hit Out At 'Hurtful' Allegations
Updated: 18:08, Wednesday October 10, 2007

The parents of Madeleine McCann may take legal action against media outlets that claim the couple sedated their daughter on the night she disappeared.

The warning follows new allegations that have surfaced in the Portuguese press.

One newspaper has alleged that tests on evidence carried out in the UK suggest that the four-year-old and twins Sean and Amelie were given the drugs on May 3.

A spokesman for the couple said the allegations were "hurtful" and he would be monitoring how the claims were covered in Britain.

Spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Contrary to renewed speculation in the Portuguese press, Gerry and Kate McCann wish to make it categorically clear that they have never, ever used sedatives on their children.

"To suggest otherwise is as outrageous as it is hurtful.

"Lawyers for the McCanns will be monitoring British coverage of the latest Portuguese claims very closely and will take action if it's felt necessary."

According to Portuguese newspaper 24 Horas, a Policia Judiciaria (PJ) source said the conclusion came from preliminary results from tests conducted at the Forensic Science Service laboratory in Birmingham last month.

The Forensic Science Service would not comment on the reports.

The speculation came as it emerged that the team of detectives investigating Madeleine's disappearance is now down to six from the 100 police assigned to the case when she first went missing.

The team now comprises five detectives and a chief inspector, said Carlos Anjos, president of the Association of Criminal Investigation Staff.

The resizing was "normal", he said, in investigations where the missing person was not found quickly.

Paulo Rebelo, a senior criminal investigation co-ordinator at national police headquarters in Lisbon, will now lead the inquiry.

Mr Rebelo was expected to move to southern Portugal, where Madeleine vanished, a Portuguese police spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

The detective, who will start work later this week, has investigated several high-profile cases including claims of a child sex ring at a state-run children's home.

Madeleine, from Rothley, in Leicestershire, disappeared from her family's apartment in Praia da Luz while her parents, both doctors, dined nearby with friends.
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McCanns To Fly Home This Morning
Updated: 13:59, Thursday October 11, 2007

The parents of missing Madeleine McCann are to fly home to Britain from Portugal on Sunday morning.

Sky Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said: "It appears that a deal has been struck with Portuguese authorities who have been satisfied that Kate and Gerry McCann will return to Portugal if required.

"The McCanns are reverting to their original plan to fly home to Leicestershire on a flight at 09.30. That plan, of course, had been thrown into disarray by them being declared suspects.

"They have been clarifying their position and they have been told they are allowed to go," he added.

The McCanns' spokesman confirmed the plans in a statement, saying: "Kate and Gerry will be returning home to the UK this morning as originally planned. They will depart from Faro Airport.

"It is emphasised that their return is with the full agreement of the Portuguese authorities and police."

Madeleine vanished on May 3

The McCanns have no bail conditions attached to their arguido, or formal suspect, status and still retain their passports.

Earlier, Madeleine's aunt said the couple had been worried that a return would appear that they are running scared.

Philomena McCann, who spoke to her brother Gerry after he was questioned by detectives, said: "(Gerry) doesn't want it to look as if they are running away, because that is nonsense."

Police changed the couple's status from witnesses to suspects after questioning them separately at Portimao police station.

Sources close to the family say detectives believe the two doctors may be responsible for the four-year-old's death - a suggestion rubbished by the McCanns' friends and family.

Meanwhile, a friend of the only other official suspect in the investigation, Robert Murat, has said he expected to be formally cleared soon.
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Police Raid Homes Of 80 Paedophiles
Updated: 12:26, Thursday October 11, 2007

Portuguese detectives are trawling through a mountain of child pornography for pictures of Madeleine McCann after raiding the homes of 80 suspected paedophiles.

Madeleine's parents are said to be 'encouraged' by the news

The raid on 75 homes - which involved 80 suspects - was the country's biggest police operation against child exploitation.

Paulo Rebelo, a senior criminal investigation co-ordinator at the national police headquarters in Lisbon, has taken over the inquiry and is refocusing on the theory that Madeleine was abducted by a paedophile.

Kate and Gerry McCann, who have been named as suspects over the disappearance of their daughter, are said to be "extremely encouraged" by the reports.

Clarence Mitchell, the family's spokesman, confirmed that 150 computers had been seized in the raids, which were carried out across Portugal.

He said: "We are naturally extremely encouraged by this kind of police activity.

"This was an operation undertaken by officers not on the Madeleine case, but we hope that there will be liaison between the two inquiries.

"If the police are looking at images on 150 computers there might be some information developed from that.

"We would be especially interested to hear whether any of the raids took place in or around Praia da Luz."

Mr Mitchell also spoke about Mr Rebelo, now he is heading the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance.

He said: "We welcome whoever is in charge and we would hope that he will work to eliminate any possible abductors and then refocus his efforts on finding Madeleine."

Mr Rebelo's initiative marks a tougher stance against paedophiles in Portugal.

Until 2004, possession of child pornography was not an offence in the country unless the material was sold on.
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Top Detective Takes Over Madeleine Case
Updated: 16:59, Wednesday October 10, 2007

One of Portugal's most senior detectives is taking charge of the investigation into Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

Paulo Rebelo is replacing Goncalo Amaral, who was sacked after he accused the missing girl's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, of manipulating the British police.

Mr Rebelo has worked on several high-profile investigations in recent years, including allegations that a child sex ring operated at a state-run children's home.

He is now expected to move to southern Portugal, where Madeleine vanished on May 3, and will start work within the next few days.

The news came as Mr and Mrs McCann's spokesman attacked claims that DNA test results put the couple "in the frame" over their daughter's disappearance.

Clarence Mitchell described newspaper reports of forensic evidence incriminating the McCanns as a disgrace, adding they were "unsourced and unsubstantiated".

He insisted the couple had nothing to hide and there was an innocent explanation for anything the police might have found.

He also hit out at critics who said they were not showing enough emotion over the loss of their daughter.

"Officially, I cannot discuss the detailed aspects of the case - it is still very much an active police investigation," he told GMTV.

"What I can say though is Kate and Gerry have nothing to hide at all. They are perfectly happy to answer any of this, if it comes to it.

"There are wholly innocent explanations for anything the police may or may not have found. That has been the case from day one - and it remains the case.

"Frankly, some of the headlines... are a complete disgrace."

Mr Mitchell said the couple were "coping" and were throwing themselves into working on their defence.

"They are normal human beings and they are as emotional as anybody else. A lot of that is in private," he said.
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Madeleine Parents Thank Hollywood Star
By Robert Nisbet
US Correspondent
Updated: 08:06, Wednesday October 10, 2007

Gerry and Kate McCann have thanked Ben Affleck for his "sensitivity" after he postponed his latest film over its uncanny similarities to their daughter's disappearance.

Gone Baby Gone is directed by the actor and stars his brother Casey in the role of a private detective trying to find a missing four-year-old girl.

The Hollywood thriller was to be screened at the London Film Festival next week, but has now had its UK premiere postponed.

At the US premiere in Los Angeles, Ben Affleck says he understands why the distributors, owned by Disney, decided to pull the film.

The actor said: "It just came down to the fact that there is a family there, and there is a country that has been exposed to the story and seems to have become to a certain degree emotionally sensitive to it.

"Disney thought they would err on the side of good taste and postpone it until it calmed down a bit."

Clarence Mitchell, family spokesman for the McCanns, praised the star's actions.

Actress looks like missing girl

He said: "We thank him for being thoughtful enough and sensitive enough to Gerry and Kate's position to make such a commercial decision.

"Obviously we hope Madeleine will be found very soon to enable Kate and Gerry to move on, but also to enable him and the movie to go ahead in due course."

The film is based on the bestselling novel by Dennis Lehane.

It focuses on the desperate search for a young girl called Amanda who police believe was kidnapped from her bed after her parents left her home alone.

And the similarities do not end there.

The girl is played by a young actress called Madeline O'Brien, who bears a close resemblance to four-year-old Madeleine McCann.

The McCann case is covered extensively in the US.

In July, Gerry McCann travelled to Washington DC where he met the former Attorney General Alberto Gonsalez and appeared on a number of TV news programmes.

The film is released in the US on October 19.
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Appeal To Holidaymakers Over Madeleine
Updated: 07:13, Wednesday October 10, 2007

Tourists who stayed at the resort from where Madeleine McCann disappeared have reportedly been asked to provide DNA samples and fingerprints.

British police are said to have made the appeal after Portuguese detectives failed to identify a number of samples found at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz.

Superintendent Stuart Prior, who is co-ordinating the investigation in Britain, has written to holidaymakers requesting help, a newspaper claimed.

But a spokeswoman for Leicestershire Constabulary would not confirm whether Supt Prior had issued such an appeal.

She also would not say if there had been any attempt to interview former guests.

A report in The Times said the letter explained that Portuguese detectives had drawn a blank on a number of samples recovered from the resort, including some taken from the McCanns' apartment.

Supt Prior is said to have told tourists in the letter: "I have now been asked by the Portuguese investigation team to arrange for DNA samples and fingerprints to be taken from holidaymakers living in the UK who were staying at the Ocean Club Resort."

He goes on to emphasise that the request is "routine practice", the newspaper reported.

The development comes a month after Kate and Gerry McCann were named as suspects over the disappearance of their daughter.
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Search Uncovers 'Forensic Trail'
Updated: 07:01, Wednesday October 10, 2007

The parents of Madeleine McCann have called in a man dubbed 'The Locator' to help find their missing daughter.

Gerry and Kate gave South African Danie Krugel a piece of the girl's hair found on her clothing to use in his 'missing person machine'.

The former policeman believes the four-year-old was not transported beyond the area where she went missing on May 3.

He said he rates her chances of being alive as "very slim".

Mr Krugel scoured Praia da Luz, in Portugal, and the surrounding land for clues, he said, using hi-tech equipment he developed himself.

It was reported he had uncovered a "forensic route" from Madeleine's holiday apartment, along paths and roads to a nearby beach where the trail went cold.

Mr Krugel said: "The area is walking distance from Praia da Luz.

"I don't want to say exactly where because I don't want to interfere with this investigation. I don't want to give anyone the chance to destroy their prints.

"If I look at the area, there a very, very slight possibility that she could be alive.

"From the piece of hair I was able to conclude that she was in the area."

It is understood the McCanns called in Mr Krugel after hearing of a series of successes in his homeland, where he has been dubbed The Locator.

The university health and safety director refused to reveal how his hi-tech methods work.

He said he was currently in negotiations with companies to develop the 'matter orientation system machine', which is said to also use satellite technology.

And he was reluctant to talk in detail about his search in Portugal, carried out over four nights in July.

He said: "I don't want to interfere with this investigation. I think that she's still in the area because the possibility that she's alive is very slim.

"I gave an area for them to search to the police and to the McCanns with maps and photographs of the area."

Madeleine, from Rothley, in Leicestershire, went missing from her family's holiday apartment while her parents dined nearby.

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "Kate and Gerry will never rule anything out which may have a degree of credibility behind it.

"Therefore they will try anything if there is a genuine chance of it helping to find Madeleine."
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Madeleine: Separating Fact And Fiction
By Ian Woods
Sky News corresponden
Updated: 09:36, Tuesday October 09, 2007

So the McCanns are in the clear. Haven't you heard? It's true - it was on the front page of a national newspaper. It said the DNA evidence was found to be inconclusive.

What? You read something completely different? Oh yes, on the same day another newspaper splashed on how new DNA tests had proved the parents were involved.

It is another typical day in the Madeleine McCann story. Not much actually happens, but thousands of words are written by reporters, and thousands more by people on websites reacting to the latest stories.

Clarence Mitchell has a telephone that never stops ringing. He is the McCanns' official spokesman and in the course of one hour with me in a coffee shop he spent more than half of it dealing with phone calls from British, Spanish and Portuguese journalists checking out the latest rumours.

Here is a selection of the questions that Mr Mitchell has dealt with in the past week:

Illness rumour: Kate McCann

The Body Locator: A South African man who claims to be able to trace bodies using samples of DNA was called in to help. This is true, though it happened several weeks ago but was not reported at the time. Danie Krugel had contacted Gerry and Kate McCann to offer his services, and because he presented some evidence to make his track record appear to be credible, they said yes.

Working in conjunction with the Portuguese Judicial Police, and before the McCanns themselves became official suspects, a location in Luz was searched, and nothing was found.

The Psychic Barber: There has still been no contact between the McCanns and a Glaswegian psychic called Gordon Smith who says he might be able to help.

Kate Is Ill And Losing Weight: Yes, Kate McCann has lost some weight because of the stress of the past five months, but she is eating regularly, and is not sick.

The McCanns Are About To Return To Portugal: They have no plans to do so at the moment, but have not ruled out going back of their own accord to continue to publicise Madeleine's disappearance and urge people to keep looking for her.

British Police Say Madeleine Is Dead: No they do not, at least not officially. A Portuguese newspaper claimed a source had told them this, but Leicestershire Police issued a denial.

Campaign Manager Sacked: Justine McGuinness ran the Find Madeleine Campaign for three months. She was not fired, but her short-term contract was not renewed because the McCanns needed someone better at dealing with the huge international media interest.

After she left she submitted a bill for �51,000, including �20,000 for overtime and expenses. Mr Mitchell would only say it was being dealt with by the trustees of the Fund. More than �1m was donated by supporters in the five months since Madeleine vanished.

Back To The Claims Of New DNA Evidence: Sky sources say that the Forensic Science Service is still working on samples collected from the McCanns' hire car.

"We have said before that Kate and Gerry have nothing to hide and any material which may have been found can be wholly and innocently explained," Clarence Mitchell said.

"They want their Arguido status to be lifted as soon as possible and are confident it will happen in due course."

There are certain to be further "updates" in the coming days. Some will be true, some not. At Sky News we will continue to do our best to separate fact from fiction.
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Madeleine McCann - GET THE WHOLE STORY (25.09.2007 - 09/10/2007) 9/29/07
 
'There Is No Magic Machine'
Updated: 08:56, Tuesday October 09, 2007

A leading child protection expert has said he has significant concerns about the man nicknamed "The Locator" who has been called in to help find Madeleine McCann.

Madeleine: the search continues

Former detective Mark Williams-Thomas told Sky News Online he doubts the ability of Danie Krugel to provide any assistance in tracking down the missing child.

Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, have given the South African some hair found on her clothing to use in his "missing person machine".

Mr Kruger refuses to reveal how his mysterious methods work, but they have apparently won him success and recognition in his homeland - which prompted the McCanns to call him in.

He said he has scoured Praia da Luz, in Portugal, and the surrounding area using the equipment, which he developed himself.

Not much is known about his "matter orientation system machine", but it is said to use satellite technology, and he has claimed he is currently in negotiations with companies to develop it.

The former policeman said he believed Madeleine was not transported beyond the area where she went missing on May 3, but her chances of being alive were "very slim".

It was reported he had uncovered a "forensic route" from Madeleine's holiday apartment, along paths and roads to a nearby beach where the trail went cold.

However, the university health and safety director was reluctant to talk in detail about his search, which was carried out over four nights in July.

And Mr Williams-Thomas told Sky News Online "The Locator's" claims belonged "in the realms of fantasy".

"Krugel has no published academic or scientific information about his machine, neither is there anything on the internet about it and no police force outside of his own country uses it," he said.

"If it really does locate missing people then not only would every police force purchase one, but he would be an acclaimed expert and millionaire.

"I am sure his intentions are honourable - however, there is no easy way to find Madeleine, no magic machine."

Madeleine, from Rothley, in Leicestershire, went missing from her family's holiday apartment while her parents dined nearby. She was three when she disappeared.
- - - - - -

McCanns' Composure 'Hid Their Turmoil'
Updated: 09:25, Saturday October 06, 2007

Gerry and Kate McCann's composure after their daughter Madeleine vanished masked their private turmoil, a former adviser to the couple has said.

Public relations consultant Alex Woolfall said they reacted exactly as he would expect and left him in no doubt about their innocence.

"They were behaving exactly as I thought someone in that situation would be," he told The Times.

"They had not slept. They were trying to work out what to do that might help generate images of her.

"They were not at all controlled. When I was with them, they were between being completely distraught and trying to do what they felt was the right thing."

Mr Woolfall is an expert in crisis PR for communications group Bell Pottinger.

Madeleine: still missing

He was employed by the Mark Warner holiday resort in Praia da Luz where Madeleine disappeared on May 3.

He helped the McCanns choose photos of the child for the media and prepare a statement appealing for help.

Portuguese police have named the couple as suspects in the case but they have always protested their innocence.

Earlier this week Kate McCann, of Rothley, Leicestershire, thanked members of the public who had sent the family messages of support.

She said: "I've had days when, if I wasn't crying about Madeleine, I was crying from the letters and messages people have sent to us. It has helped so much."
- - - - - - -

'First Night Without Madeleine Hurt Most'
Updated: 11:30, Friday October 05, 2007

Kate McCann has revealed how the torment she suffered at being named a suspect in her daughter's disappearance was nothing compared with the agony she felt at discovering Madeleine was gone.

Kate cries every day for Madeleine

Speaking for the first time since her return to the UK, Mrs McCann told of the pain of not knowing what happened to her missing daughter.

She said she cried every day for Madeleine - and the kindness shown to her by strangers also brought her to tears.

"I've had days when, if I wasn't crying about Madeleine, I was crying from the letters and messages people have sent to us. It has helped so much," she said.

Mrs McCann admitted she came "crashing down" when police named her as a suspect in the case.

But she said nothing could eclipse the horror of the night Madeleine went missing from the family's holiday apartment in Portugal on May 3.

"A lot has happened since then. Sometimes, the most trivial of things can bring you crashing down," she said, speaking alongside her husband Gerry.

"Everything that has happened, everything we do and feel, it is all put into perspective by how we felt on that first night.

"I think when we were made suspects in our own daughter's disappearance, when the inference was that Madeleine was dead and that, somehow, we were involved ...

"But, no, it can't get worse than that first night."

Mrs McCann also revealed how she and her husband Gerry are trying to give their twins, Amelie and Sean, as normal a life as possible.

She told the Leicester Mercury: "Something carries you through. We have Sean and Amelie of course. We are there for them.

"We tell them that she is missing and that everyone is looking for her. And that's the truth."

The couple have thanked the people of Rothley and Leicestershire as a whole for their continued support.

Mr McCann said so many well-wishers had written to them that, until recently, they had to collect their mail from the post office in their car.

There would be three crates of letters and cards awaiting collection every day, he said.

Mr McCann added: "We want to increase awareness, get back to basics if you like. Target specific areas with pictures and billboards and messages. We want to refocus the coverage."
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Madeleine's Father Fears For The Twins
By Paul Brennan
Sky News reporter
Updated: 06:13, Friday October 05, 2007

Gerry McCann has spoken of his fears for the emotional well-being of Madeleine's twin siblings, Sean and Amelie.

Mr McCann says although the twins are now too young to understand what has happened, they may become traumatised as they get older.

Deciding exactly how much to tell the two-year-olds is a very delicate matter.

Mr McCann has denied press reports that the twins have been told Madeleine has gone on a "little trip".

"Kate and I have told them that we don't know where Madeleine is, but that lots of people are looking for her," he said.

Honest without being bleak is the approach recommended by experts.

Child psychologist Dr Helen Barratt is a specialist in separation and attachment.

She said: "Generally speaking, it's best to try to explain as much as possible. Making up stories just confuses children."

She added: "It's important that they feel they can ask questions of the parents. And if you've misled the children at any point, they may add two and two and get 10."

Dr Nadja Reissland has first hand experience of how loss can affect youngsters.

Her husband died of a brain tumour after a nine-month illness. Throughout, the couple tried to explain everything to their two young children.

"I think it's very, very sensible not to spin a story. In the McCanns' situation, the twins are living with the obvious fact that their sister is not at home'" said Dr Reissland, an expert in children's emotions.

"They might not understand the exact details of what is being said around them, but young children do understand the emotional context of what's happening."

It is that emotional impact which Gerry McCann is clearly concerned about.

In his blog, he says he is reassured that Sean and Amelie are not traumatised at the moment.

But he admits: "We are well aware that their insight will change as they continue to develop rapidly."
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Kate's Tears For Missing Madeleine
Updated: 18:38, Thursday October 04, 2007

Madeleine McCann's mother has told how she cries every day for her missing daughter.

Speaking for the first time since she was declared a suspect in the disappearance, Kate McCann spoke of the pain of not knowing what happened to her.

The GP said: "I've had days when, if I wasn't crying about Madeleine, I was crying from the letters and messages people have sent to us. It has helped so much."

The mother-of-three said her lowest moment was the night her eldest daughter went missing in Portugal on May 3.

She said: "A lot has happened since then. Sometimes, the most trivial of things can bring you crashing down."

Mrs McCann also revealed she and husband Gerry are trying to give their twins, Amelie and Sean, as normal life as possible.

She told the Leicester Mercury: "Something carries you through. We have Sean and Amelie of course. We are there for them.

"We tell them that she is missing and that everyone is looking for her. And that's the truth."

The couple have thanked the people of Rothley and Leicestershire as a whole for their continued support.

Mr McCann said so many well-wishers had written to them that, until recently, they had to collect their mail from the post office in their car.

There would be three crates of letters and cards awaiting collection every day, he said.

Mr McCann added: "We want to increase awareness, get back to basics if you like. Target specific areas with pictures and billboards and messages. We want to refocus the coverage."
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Second Madeleine Cop Off The Case
Updated: 14:52, Thursday October 04, 2007

The second-in-command in the Madeleine McCann inquiry team has asked for an extended leave of absence, Sky News has learned.
The move comes just days after the police officer leading the investigation was sacked.

Sky News has been told that Chief Inspector Tavares Almeida has asked for the leave.

Portuguese police would not say why the request had been made or when he would return to work.

But the request was made before Gon�alo Amaral was dismissed, it is understood.

Mr Amaral was reportedly sacked as the regional Policia Judiciaria (PJ) in Portimao after accusing her parents of manipulating the British police.

A successor will be named on Monday to take over the enquiry team, said the police chief in Lisbon, Alipio Ribeiro.

Mr Amaral got his marching orders after accusing Kate and Gerry McCann of calling the shots by identifying the lines of inquiry Leicestershire Police should take.

He said British officers had overlooked the fact that the couple remain suspects.

And he accused the McCanns of releasing new information each day in an attempt to distract and confuse the inquiry.

Sky's Ian Woods said there was resentment among Portuguese police that they were being made out to be incompetent and "bumbling".

He added that Mr Amaral was also under investigation following allegations he had put pressure on a suspect in a previous murder inquiry.
- - - - - -

'Let's Get Out There And Find Madeleine'
Updated: 13:02, Wednesday October 03, 2007

The McCann family spokesman has urged Portuguese police to "get back out there" and find Madeleine after a top cop was pulled off the investigation.

Speaking after the dismissal of Portuguese police chief Gon�alo Amaral, Clarence Mitchell told Sky News the move should "refocus" and "re-energise" the hunt for the missing girl.

"We hope this will help to refocus the search for Madeleine," he said.

"Let's get back out there and we hope whoever takes over from Mr Amaral will re-energise the search for Madeleine."

Mr Mitchell denied claims from Portuguese police that he was running a campaign to discredit them.

"It's ridiculous to suggest we are running some kind of strategy like that," he said.

"There is no strategy. We are not running anything with Leicestershire Police.

Five months - and still no sign of her

"There is nothing else going on, I can assure you of that. That's the truth. To suggest anything else is ridiculous.

"I am simply here to speak on behalf of the McCann family."

Mr Mitchell was speaking five months to the day after Madeleine disappeared from a holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz, shortly before her fourth birthday.

Asked how Kate and Gerry McCann were feeling, Mr Mitchell said: "It's just another day without Madeleine - calendar anniversaries really mean nothing much at the moment."

Mr Amaral was dismissed as head of the regional Policia Judiciaria (PJ) in Portimao after accusing the McCanns of manipulating British police.

Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt described Mr Amaral as a "controversial figure".
- - - - - - -

Top Madeleine Cop Sacked After Outburst
Updated: 20:22, Tuesday October 02, 2007

The Portuguese detective heading the search for Madeleine McCann has reportedly been sacked after accusing her parents of manipulating the British police.

Sky News sources said Gon�alo Amaral had been relieved of his duties as head of the regional Policia Judiciaria (PJ) in Portimao.

He also ceases to head the investigation into Madeleine's disappearance.

Sky News understands the directors of the PJ are upset with some of the statements he has made.

Earlier, Mr Amaral accused Kate and Gerry McCann of calling the shots by identifying the lines of inquiry Leicestershire Police should take.

He said British officers had overlooked the fact that the couple remain suspects.

And he accused the McCanns of releasing new information each day to try to distract and confuse the inquiry.

Sky's Ian Woods said there was resentment among Portuguese police that they were being made out to be incompetent and "bumbling".

He added that Mr Amaral was also under investigation following allegations he had put pressure on a suspect in a previous murder inquiry.

He was one of five men charged over an alleged attack on Leonor Cipriano, whose nine-year-old daughter Joana vanished in September 2004.

Mr Amaral broke his silence after it was reported that an anonymous email which had been sent to the Prince of Wales' website was being investigated by British police.

The message suggested a disgruntled employee working at the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz may have kidnapped the young girl.

Madeleine is still missing

Mr Amaral told Portuguese newspaper Diario De Noticias all current and former employees at the resort had been investigated.

He said: "The British police have only worked on what the McCann couple want them to work on and what suits them."

Speaking about the email lead, he added: "This situation has no credibility whatsoever for the Portuguese police.

"British police have investigated tips and information worked on by the McCanns, forgetting that the couple are suspected of causing the death of their daughter Madeleine.

"This story about kidnapping for revenge is another fact worked on by the McCanns."

The detective was also forced to defend a two-hour lunch break with police spokesman Olegario Sousa at a restaurant in Portimao.

The men were spotted drinking what looked like white wine and whisky as the McCanns flew to Berlin to publicise the case.
- - - - - - -

Psychic Barber Denies Contact
Updated: 16:16, Tuesday October 02, 2007

A medium dubbed the Psychic Barber has denied being contacted by the parents of Madeleine McCann for help in tracing their missing daughter.

Madeleine vanished on May 3

Gordon Smith has reportedly been approached by Gerry and Kate McCann to help in the hunt for the child.

But he told Sky News that he has not spoken to anyone from the missing four-year-old's family - but said he would be willing to help if he could.

Smith - who describes himself as the seventh son of a seventh son and an "astoundingly accurate" medium - is also a barber in Glasgow, Gerry's home town.

The McCanns, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have had more than 1,000 approaches from people claiming to be mediums since Madeleine's disappearance in Portugal in May.

While any information judged to be relevant or credible has been passed on to police, the McCanns have had no direct contact with psychics.

But relatives in Scotland have reportedly been pressing the couple to meet a psychic since their return to the UK in September.

The couple, both devout catholics, are understood not to have ruled it out although nothing has been agreed.

"They are desperate for help and even some family members are suggesting it as a possible route," a friend said.

"It looks like one or two family members are saying why don't you have a look at so and so."

The family's spokesman Clarence Mitchell said he understood that "one or two in Scotland" have been in touch with family members to discuss helping them.

"But, as far as I'm aware, Kate and Gerry have not directly asked for that assistance and I understand none has been agreed," he added.

"If there is a specific piece of information that can be looked at, such as a car registration or a name, then that is checked out.

"The police do not dismiss these things entirely."

Early in the investigation Portuguese police insisted they had to consider tip-offs from people claiming to be psychics because an abductor could be using a mystic as a way to communicate with them.
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McCanns Prepare Madeleine Media Blitz
Updated: 12:57, Monday October 01, 2007

Madeleine McCann's photograph is to be displayed on supermarket trolleys throughout Portugal and southern Spain as part of a new campaign.

Local newspapers in rural areas of both countries will also carry her picture to ensure as many people as possible see the image.

The McCanns' official spokesman told journalists the new campaign could start as early as next week.

"We want to remind people that Madeleine is still out there," Clarence Mitchell said.

"Gerry and Kate still believe she is alive. There is still absolutely no evidence to suggest she is in fact dead."

Mr Mitchell said the McCanns will do interviews during the new campaign and are talking to their lawyers about how much they can say about the investigation without contravening Portuguese laws.

The pair could face jail if they speak about the police inquiry.

"They don't want to do or say anything that would make matters worse," Mr Mitchell said.

Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt said the McCanns may have been upset by recent accusations against them in the Portuguese press but are still determined to keep up their campaign.

"They're frustrated by all the leaks from Portugal which are damning of them," he said.

"But it seems they will not allow it to get in the way of their campaign to keep people looking for Madeleine.

"There is still considerable interest in this story from foreign media and while that remains the McCanns will try to use it to keep up publicity for their Find Madeleine campaign."
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Madeleine Burial Claim 'Ludicrous'
Updated: 12:50, Monday October 01, 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann's spokesman has angrily dismissed claims that the couple buried their missing daughter's body in Spain.

Couple face fresh allegations

Reports in the Portuguese press suggest that the police are investigating two "missing hours" in which the couple could have disposed of Madeleine's body.

The reports say detectives are working on the theory that the McCanns may have buried her body during a trip to Spain on August 3 - three months after Madeleine went missing.

They question why the McCanns visited the town of Huelva, just over the Spanish border, on a public holiday.

And they are looking into the reason why the trip was postponed from the day before, and why it took longer than expected to reach Huelva.

A furious Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, told Sky News Online that all the allegations appearing in the Portuguese press were "utterly ludicrous".

While he said that the McCanns did not comment on every "ridiculous" allegation, he insisted Gerry and Kate McCann's movements were "fully accounted for".

The August 3 trip was covered by the media, he pointed out. It was "just insane" to suggest their journey was anything other than what it appeared.

"They have nothing to hide. They are wholly innocent," he stressed.

Mr Mitchell added that reports on the case in the Portuguese press were becoming more and more ridiculous - and it was time they were stopped.

"You wouldn't believe what's being said in the papers today," he said.

The McCanns spent more than three hours in Huelva on August 3, putting up posters of their daughter and handing them out to tourists.

The trip had reportedly been postponed from the day before because Mr McCann had been feeling unwell that day.

And the couple said their journey took longer than expected because they had stopped at a petrol station to hand out posters of Madeleine
- - - - - - -

Madeleine: The Search For The Truth
By Martin Brunt
Sky News crime correspondent
Updated: 19:33, Sunday September 30, 2007

Never mind Burma, never mind the General Election, never mind bluetongue disease. There's only one question on people's lips - did the McCanns do it?

Madeleine vanished 150 days ago

Did Kate McCann, as the Portuguese police believe, kill Madeleine accidentally and get her husband to help her hide and dispose of the body?

I don't know, but after 150 days I'm beginning to get some idea of what's going on in the police investigation.

Portuguese detectives initially rejected most offers of help from the UK. They did engage the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, and hunted for a suspect among internet paedophiles.

What they should also have been doing, with as much if not more urgency, was thoroughly investigating the McCanns and the apartment where Madeleine was last seen.

That bit they didn't do properly.

It was only after 100 days or so that the Portuguese authorities finally called the British police and asked for more help and advice.

UK officers were dispatched to collect the fresh forensic samples that were to prompt such a dramatic twist in the story.

When a child goes missing difficult questions have to be asked of the parents.

Portuguese police believe Kate McCann killed her daughter

Most kids are killed by family or someone they know. And Kate and Gerry McCann were the last people to see Madeleine.

Now the couple are suspects, based on DNA evidence from an apartment that had since been re-let and a car - rented 25 days after Madeleine disappeared - that had been used by many people for 10 weeks.

Sources said the DNA from the car was a "complete" match of Madeleine's, leading Portuguese police to conclude that her body must have been in the vehicle.

The family insist the DNA can be explained by innocent transfer from Madeleine's clothes, and nappies used by her sibling twins Sean and Amelie.

Whatever the strength of that evidence, a half-decent defence lawyer would drive a horse and cart though it - with a blindfold on.

British detectives don't always get it right, but they are revered around the world. And they have a golden rule: first, clear the ground under your feet.

One of the UK's leading experts on child abduction was asked to help, late in the day, but refused.

He could see the mess the Portuguese detectives were in and didn't want to risk his reputation.
- - - - - - -

'Sighting' Boosts Hunt For Madeleine
By Graham Fitzgerald
Sky News Online
Updated: 07:01, Saturday September 29, 2007

Gerry and Kate McCann have welcomed the latest supposed sighting of their daughter in Morocco, even though it did not turn out to be her.

Madeleine missing since May

They believe the media coverage boosted their campaign to find Madeleine, who went missing shortly before her fourth birthday.

A spokeswoman for the family told Sky News Online: "They were obviously disappointed it was not her.

"But they are pleased with the publicity because it has turned the focus back on the search for Madeleine."

There have been several apparent sightings of the British girl since she disappeared from a holiday resort in Portugal on May 3.

The latest one turned out to be the five-year-old daughter of an olive farmer.

Girl in photo was Bushra Binhisa

Reporters went to the remote village of Zinat after an image of a young girl being carried on a Moroccan woman's back was shown around the world as a possible sighting of Madeleine.

But it emerged on Wednesday that the girl in the photograph was youngster Bushra Binhisa.

The McCanns' spokeswoman said the couple believe Madeleine is still alive.

She said the pair, from Rothley in Leicestershire, have spent a lot of time recently on a fresh publicity campaign.

A new poster is planned in the coming weeks for Portugal, Spain and Morocco, where there have been a number of reported sightings of the youngster.

The couple are still regarded as suspects by Portuguese police, but insist they had nothing to do with her disappearance.
- - - - - -

Madeleine Burial Claim 'Ludicrous'
Updated: 13:19, Friday September 28, 2007

Kate and Gerry McCann's spokesman has angrily dismissed claims that the couple buried their missing daughter's body in Spain.

Couple face fresh allegations

Reports in the Portuguese press suggest that the police are investigating two "missing hours" in which the couple could have disposed of Madeleine's body.

The reports say detectives are working on the theory that the McCanns may have buried her body during a trip to Spain on August 3 - three months after Madeleine went missing.

They question why the McCanns visited the town of Huelva, just over the Spanish border, on a public holiday.

And they are looking into the reason why the trip was postponed from the day before, and why it took longer than expected to reach Huelva.

A furious Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, told Sky News Online that all the allegations appearing in the Portuguese press were "utterly ludicrous".

While he said that the McCanns did not comment on every "ridiculous" allegation, he insisted Gerry and Kate McCann's movements were "fully accounted for".

The August 3 trip was covered by the media, he pointed out. It was "just insane" to suggest their journey was anything other than what it appeared.

"They have nothing to hide. They are wholly innocent," he stressed.

Mr Mitchell added that reports on the case in the Portuguese press were becoming more and more ridiculous - and it was time they were stopped.

"You wouldn't believe what's being said in the papers today," he said.

The McCanns spent more than three hours in Huelva on August 3, putting up posters of their daughter and handing them out to tourists.

The trip had reportedly been postponed from the day before because Mr McCann had been feeling unwell that day.

And the couple said their journey took longer than expected because they had stopped at a petrol station to hand out posters of Madeleine.
- - - - - -

Missing Madeleine: Special Programme
Updated: 07:30, Friday September 28, 2007

Sky News is to air a special half-hour programme on Sunday on the search for missing Madeleine McCann.

Crime correspondent Martin Brunt will try to separate fact from fiction as he looks into the police investigation, the many theories and where the inquiry will go from here.

Brunt has spent many weeks in Portugal since Madeleine went missing from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on May 3, shortly before her fourth birthday.

The story has dominated the headlines in the UK and has had worldwide publicity.

"There hasn't been a story in recent years which has grabbed the public's attention quite so much as the Madeleine case," said Brunt.

"It touched a chord with people when Madeleine first went missing, and the recent accusations against Gerry and Kate McCann have added to the intrigue.

"We hope to unravel some of the speculation and theories behind the case during the half-hour special programme and separate fact from fiction."

If she is not found, the programme will mark 150 days in the search for missing Madeleine.

The special programme - called Missing Madeleine: The Search For The Truth - can be seen on Sky News TV at 7.30pm on Sunday.

A web version of the programme will be available on Sky News Online on the same day.
- - - - - -

Madeleine Toys Will Be Sent To Belarus
Updated: 10:36, Thursday September 27, 2007

Friends and family of Gerry and Kate McCann are to send more than 2,000 toys left by well-wishers after Madeleine vanished to needy children in eastern Europe.

Thousands of ribbons at memorial

Cuddly toys and dolls were left at a war memorial in the family's home village of Rothley, Leicestershire, in May.

They were intended as a symbol of hope and support for efforts to find the four-year-old after she went missing in Praia da Luz, Portugal.

The gifts were removed over the summer along with thousands of yellow and green ribbons tied to railings at the memorial, which became a focal point for prayers for Madeleine.

The toys were gathered up and carefully washed by parents from the village's two primary schools and are now set to be shipped to children in Belarus.

Janet Kennedy, Kate McCann's aunt, will be among a handful of people meeting today to package up the toys into shoeboxes.

Each will be sent with a small picture of Madeleine.

Friends of the couple also urged holidaymakers to continue the search for Madeleine.

It emerged last night that nearly �300,000 has been spent so far on the search for Madeleine by the fund set up to that end.

Fund directors meeting in Leicestershire said the cash had gone on the campaign launch, advertising, producing yellow and green wristbands and employing a campaign manager.

A new �80,000 advertising campaign is to begin in Portugal, Spain and Morocco.

Individuals and organisations have so far given �1,036,104 to Madeleine's Fund, a non-charitable not-for-profit company.
- - - - - -

Not Madeleine: Photo Hopes Dashed
Updated: 10:33, Thursday September 27, 2007

Photographs showing a fair-haired Moroccan girl have dashed the latest hope of a possible sighting of missing Madeleine McCann.

The pictures taken by Evening Standard journalist Rashid Razaq, who flew to Morocco from London, show the five-year-old daughter of an olive farmer has a resemblance to Madeleine.

Reporters descended on the remote hillside village of Zinat in the north of the country after the image of a young girl being carried on a Moroccan woman's back was flashed around the world as a possible sighting of the four-year-old missing girl.

But it quickly emerged that the girl in the photograph was youngster Bushra Binhisa.

Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, said: "Clearly, if these reports that the girl in the photograph isn't Madeleine are true, it is disappointing news.

"This is why Gerry and Kate refused to comment on individual sightings and why I was advising caution overnight.

"The search for Madeleine will continue and I would appeal for everyone to refocus their efforts to achieve her safe return."

The photograph, taken by Spanish tourist Clara Torres on August 31, was passed to the McCanns' lawyers yesterday and immediately forwarded to experts for analysis.

The McCanns had been hoping the anti-paedophile Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre, which is already involved in the case, could use hi-tech facial mapping techniques to be sure if it was Madeleine.

Journalist Mr Razaq said it was clear on arriving in the town who was in the photograph.

Speaking through an interpreter, Bushra's father, Hamid Binhisa, told him: "Bushra is my little girl.

"She is not Madeleine. I do feel sorry for her parents, I hope they find Madeleine. But Bushra is definitely my daughter."

Her mother, Hafida, who is believed to be the woman carrying the child on her back, said she was surprised at finding herself at the centre of an international story.

"Even in this remote backwater people have heard of Madeleine McCann," she told Mr Razaq.

Family members also said blonde and even red-haired children were not uncommon in the area with its ethnic Berber population.
- - - - - -

Photo Girl 'Not Missing Madeleine'
Updated: 22:19, Wednesday September 26, 2007

Hopes that a blonde girl photographed in Morocco could be Madeleine McCann have been dashed after British journalists said they had tracked her down.

Reporters descended on the remote hillside village of Zinat in the north of the country after the image of a young girl being carried on a Moroccan woman's back was flashed around the world as a possible sighting of the missing girl.

But it quickly emerged that the girl in the photograph is believed by villagers to be five-year-old Bushra Binhisa, the daughter of an olive farmer.

Evening Standard journalist Rashid Razaq, who flew to Morocco from London, said he saw the youngster today.

He said: "She has got a resemblance to Madeleine but when you see her properly, it is obvious it isn't her."

Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns' spokesman, said: "Clearly, if these reports that the girl in the photograph isn't Madeleine are true, it is disappointing news.

"This is why Gerry and Kate refused to comment on individual sightings and why I was advising caution overnight.

"Clearly, the search for Madeleine will continue and I would appeal for everyone to refocus their efforts to achieve her safe return."

Sky News Crime Correspondent Martin Brunt said photo experts in Britain would continue to look at the picture until this latest information is confirmed.
- - - - - -

Fund Spends �300K In Madeleine Hunt
Updated: 21:11, Wednesday September 26, 2007

Nearly �300,000 has been spent so far on the search for Madeleine McCann.
To date, according to its website, individuals and organisations have given �1,036,104 to Madeleine's Fund, a non-charitable not-for-profit company.

Figures to be unveiled at end of financial year

Donations have rolled in from people touched by the appeals of parents Gerry and Kate McCann, whose daughter vanished from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Portugal, on May 3.

Directors of the fund set up to help find Madeleine and support her family have met to discuss how the cash is spent.

The exact figures for what the donations are spent on will not be disclosed until the end of the financial year when the accounts are made public, said director Esther McVey.

But the board did reveal that nearly a third of the money collected has already been used.

Costs incurred include the launch of the Find Madeleine campaign, advertising, the production of the yellow and green wristbands and the employment of former campaign manager Justine McGuinness.

Legal fees had to be met for the setting up of Madeleine's Fund.

Private investigators, understood to include ex-military personnel, are being employed to search for the Rothley youngster outside of Portugal.

And with Mr McCann, the family's main earner, on unpaid leave from his job as consultant cardiologist, part of the Fund has been used to meet their living costs.

"I haven't got the exact figure but it is just under �300,000," said Ms McVey.

A new �80,000 advertising campaign in the area of Portugal, Spain and Morocco, announced earlier this month, was among future costs discussed at the meeting.
- - - - - -

Police Take Hi-Tech Look At Photo
Updated: 15:44, Wednesday September 26, 2007

British police are using facial recognition technology to establish if a child pictured in a new photograph is Madeleine McCann, according to Sky sources.

Image shows light-haired girl

The photo of a group of people was taken in Morocco on August 31 by a Spanish tourist.

A young girl in the image appears "on the face of it, to look like Madeleine", according to Clarence Mitchell, the spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann.

Sky News' crime correspondent Martin Brunt said experts were using facial recognition to compare the photo with one of the many taken of Madeleine.

"From the time you are six months old, your face has 100s of 'points of reference' which stay with you as you get older," he explained.

"There's a lot for the experts to work on but this is a blurred image which makes life far more difficult and they don't know how long it will take.

But he added: "The same technology will tell them if it is hoax or a spoof."

Earlier, Mr Mitchell told Sky News said he would not comment on the McCanns' personal reaction to the photo because of "bitter experience" over previous sightings that came to nothing.

Photo was taken in Morocco

"You can imagine the emotional rollercoaster that causes Gerry and Kate each time this sort of information comes in.

"But it is an image and it does appear, on the face of it, to look like Madeleine and it clearly raises some very fundamental questions."

He added: "Even if this picture turns out not to be her, it is to the good because it brings people's minds back to finding Madeleine and taking them away from all the speculation and ill-founded gossip that has surrounded this in recent weeks."

Mr Mitchell referred to other "sightings" in Morocco - two in Marrakech in early May and one from a woman on the coast more recently.

"If it's not Madeleine, there's certainly a child in the area that looks very much like her. That's a matter for the investigating authorities."

The spokesman added that Mr and Mrs McCann clung to the belief their daughter was alive.

"Each day that passes without her body being found actually means it's a day closer to her being brought home alive and well."
- - - - - -

Experts Analyse 'Madeleine' Photo
Updated: 13:00, Wednesday September 26, 2007

A former detective has urged caution over a photograph taken in Morocco of a fair-haired girl who resembles Madeleine McCann.

Mark Williams-Thomas told Sky News Online the picture - taken from about 200m away - is of poor quality.

As a result it was "highly unlikely" experts will be able to enhance it sufficiently to make a clear identification.

The image shows a young, light-skinned girl being carried on an elderly woman's back.

It was taken just over three weeks ago in Zinat, northern Morocco, by a Spanish woman.

She only realised she had it a few days ago when she downloaded some holiday snaps onto her computer.

The photo is now expected to be analysed by experts at the British Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).


Madeleine: Vanished five months ago

They are already examining pictures taken by holiday makers in the Algarve around the time of Madeleine's disappearance on May 3.

The team is using high-tech face mapping technology to identify potential suspects.

It is hoped the same technology can be used to establish if the child in the Moroccan photo could be Madeleine.

Clarence Mitchell, the McCann's spokesman, said they were "keen" for it to be analysed as quickly as possible.

But he said they would try not to get too excited as their hopes had been dashed so many times in tne past.

"Kate and Gerry know all too well, through bitter experience, that all of the sightings up to now have come to nothing, unfortunately," he said.

A Ceop spokesman could not confirm it had been given the photo.

But he added: "We do have experts who are specialists at analysing photographs and video material."
- - - - - -

Reported Sightings Of Madeleine
Updated: 11:54, Wednesday September 26, 2007

A photo taken in Morocco is the latest in a series of alleged sightings of Madeleine McCann, who disappeared almost five months ago.

She has also reportedly been seen in Spain, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and even as far afield as Argentina and Guatemala.

The earliest sighting was on May 3 - on the night the four-year-old disappeared from the family's apartment in Portugal.

Jane Tanner, one of seven friends holidaying with the McCann family, had checked on her own child at 9.15pm.

She said she saw a man carrying a child wrapped in a blanket near the McCanns' apartment.

On May 9, a Norwegian tourist, Marie Olli, believed she saw Madeleine at a Moroccan petrol station asking a strange man: "Can I see Mummy soon?"

On the same day, a British man reported seeing a girl matching her description near the Ibis hotel in Marrakesh.

By mid-June there had been a series of possible sightings in Malta - at least five sightings were considered credible.

The first came on June 16, when a British couple reported seeing a small blonde girl in the capital Valletta.

A Maltese woman then reported seeing a girl resembling Madeleine on a ferry on June 20.

In another report from Malta, the police were told that Madeleine was in a hotel room on Qawra.

On June 28 police took an emergency call from a children's therapist who said she had seen a couple behaving suspiciously with a girl who looked like Madeleine on a cafe terrace in Tongeren in Belgium.

On August 21 two women reported seeing a youngster matching Madeleine's description with a man at a petrol station near Cartagena, in the south east of Spain.
- - - - - -

Madeleine's Parents: We Will Be Cleared
Updated: 19:03, Tuesday September 25, 2007

Madeleine McCann's father has said he is "confident" he and his wife will be cleared of any involvement in her disappearance.

Parents hope to be cleared

Gerry and Kate McCann, who have hired a team of top British and Portuguese lawyers, are determined to be eliminated from the inquiry "as soon as possible".

Writing on his blog for the first time since a Portuguese prosecutor said there was not enough evidence to reinterview the couple, Mr McCann said: "Kate and I have been very busy with our legal advisers as we want to be eliminated from the inquiry as soon as possible and start concentrating wholeheartedly again on the search for our daughter.

"We are very confident this will happen when all the facts are presented together."

He welcomed the prosecutor's statement last week as "encouraging" adding: "It is good to see at least some attention re-focusing on finding Madeleine."

Speaking about life since the family returned to their home in Rothley near Leicester, Mr McCann wrote: "Sean and Amelie have settled back in at home very well but they do miss their older sister and we talk about her every day.

"For Kate and I it has been incredibly difficult to come home without Madeleine but particularly in such circumstances."

Gerry McCann thanked the millionaire backers who are financing the couple's legal campaign and paying for their spokesman Clarence Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell was forced to issue a public denial that the McCanns had sent private detectives into Portuguese territory to investigate Madeleine's disappearance after police pointed out that their use in criminal cases there is illegal.

But he did not deny that private eyes were in use elsewhere such as in Morocco, where there have been a number of possible sightings of girls resembling Madeleine.

"Gerry and Kate McCann wish to make it clear that no work being done on their behalf to help find Madeleine is being done other than within the law," he insisted.

"As a matter of fact no private investigators have been commissioned to work within Portuguese jurisdiction."
- - - - - -

Comic Booed For Madeleine Joke
Updated: 17:21, Tuesday September 25, 2007

A comedian has been booed off stage for making a joke about missing Madeleine McCann and shooting victim Rhys Jones.

Dave Longley criticised the fact that photographs have been released of both children in Everton football tops.

Longley told the stunned audience at Liverpool's Baby Blue club that "you think parents would have learned about putting their children in Everton shirts after Maddie and Rhys".

The red-faced comic, who was a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was booed off stage.

He left the building "a shadow of his former self", according to a worker at the club.

PE teacher Alison Pritchard from Prescot, Merseyside, watched the show and said Longley seemed "really funny" until he told the joke about Madeleine and Rhys.

She said: "Afterwards the whole place went silent and everyone was just looking at each other thinking 'Did he actually just say that?'

"He went really red and started saying: 'It's just a joke' but someone shouted: 'Imagine if someone from Rhys's family was here'."

Longley - who describes himself as "taking tricky issues to any audience" - is now being urged to cancel two shows he is scheduled to play at Liverpool's Rawhide venue next month.

"He made a serious error of judgement and it will be better for all concerned if he isn't playing Liverpool in the near future," said Ian Christy, marketing manager at Rawhide.

And Everton FC spokesman Ian Ross added: "I certainly speak for every Everton fan in this city and probably all the Liverpool fans when I say they'd be eternally grateful if this man never performs in this city again."

Longley's manager, Lee Martin, said: "Dave was having a great gig and got a little carried away. By his own admission he made a stupid mistake and greatly regrets the ill-chosen joke. He has made a donation to the fund."
- - - - - -

'We'll Help As Long As Needed'
Updated: 15:46, Tuesday September 25, 2007

British police assisting Portuguese detectives on the Madeleine McCann case insist they are still involved in the investigation.

But a Leicestershire Police spokesman refused to confirm or deny reports its role could be coming to an end.

He said the force would continue to work under the direction of the Portuguese police "as long as they require it".

The statement came after the Evening Standard said that, four months after joining forces with PJ, the constabulary's role is now "hanging by a thread".

A spokesman for the McCann family said: "I note this particular report with interest, beyond that I cannot comment further."

Leicestershire Police was appointed as the main liaison point for the PJ shortly after Madeleine's disappearance.

The force immediately dispatched family liaison officers to Portugal to assist the McCanns.

It was also instrumental in bringing British expertise in areas such as DNA and specialist sniffer dogs into the case.

The news comes a week after the Portuguese lead prosecutor in the case told the PJ there was not enough evidence to call the McCanns, who are being treated as suspects, for new interviews.
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