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Dossier Of Sightings Released To UK Press *

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CCTV image of a girl said to be similar to Madeleine

A 2,000-page Portuguese police dossier, containing over 50 alleged sightings of Madeleine, is released to the UK media

Was this Madeleine? Revealed, the photo files Portuguese police kept secret... to the fury of the distraught McCanns, 02 March 2010
Was this Madeleine? Revealed, the photo files Portuguese police kept secret... to the fury of the distraught McCanns Daily Mail

By Arthur Martin
Last updated at 10:44 PM on 02nd March 2010


Secret files released yesterday show that Portuguese police dismissed dozens of potential sightings of Madeleine McCann.

Leads from around the world - including CCTV footage from New Zealand of a child looking strikingly like the missing girl - were filed away under the heading 'not relevant'.

Information that police forces in the United States, Europe and North Africa considered important was also discarded.

CCTV image of a girl

Lead: This CCTV image of a girl strongly resembling Madeleine in a supermarket in New Zealand was among the leads deemed 'not relevant' by Portugese police

None of the files was handed to private investigators working for Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate.

Mrs McCann, 41, last night said the disclosure of the secret files was heartbreaking and shocking.

Their existence came to light in a legal action brought by the McCanns against Goncalo Amaral, the disgraced detective who was in charge of the case.

Another CCTV image showing the girl

No follow up: Another CCTV image showing the girl resembling Maddie in the New Zealand supermarket


They had wanted to stop him airing the slur that they had been involved in their daughter's disappearance.

The leads were all received and archived after Algarve police closed the case in July 2008.

Madeleine was four when she vanished from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in May 2007. Her parents were at a restaurant 80 yards away.

They now have a copy of the 2,000-page dossier which was published yesterday on the order of a court in Portugal after an application by newspapers including the Daily Mail.

The McCanns are incensed that their private investigators were given no access to the sightings at the time.

Mrs McCann said: 'There are instances where information which we think is very credible and worthy of information has not been actioned.

'We're gutted, it's absolutely shocking and difficult. Some of the information handed in was very credible. It's heartbreaking to know that it seems to end there.'

Mr McCann, also 41, was particularly angered at Inspector Ricardo Paiva, who was responsible for collating any information about Madeleine after the formal investigation ended.

He said: 'Inspector Paiva believes Madeleine is dead. How can he investigate thoroughly if he believes that? We know now there is a lot of information just filed away - and that is not acceptable. Once the file has been closed, what has actually been done? Next to nothing.'

The file contains a series of sightings which the McCanns would have expected to be fully investigated.

The astonishing CCTV footage from New Zealand shows a girl very like Madeleine being led into a supermarket by a portly man in shorts - seven months after her disappearance.

The man's behaviour aroused the suspicions of a female security guard in the shop in Dunedin on the South Island and she approached the girl to establish she was British.

Although the girl said her name was 'Hailey', the security guard was convinced the girl was Madeleine and reported the incident to police.

Interpol in Wellington then sent the images to police in Portugal who promptly deemed it 'not relevant'.

Other discarded leads include:

•    A British ex-pat saying he saw a girl being dragged along a road toward the airport on the night Madeleine disappeared. He had not approached the authorities earlier because he was wanted for fraud.

•    
A girl like Madeleine was seen with an unkempt Spanish-looking man in his 30s at a shop near Murcia. The woman witness followed the girl but the pair vanished. She failed to tell Spanish police until June 2008.

•    
Another lookalike wearing only a dirty yellow jumper was seen being held at gunpoint on a French motorway by a half-naked man in August 2008. French lorry driver Michel Guidard walked toward them only to be threatened with a gun.

•   
Photos from the internet uncovered by a female French detective were found to show images of sexual abuse which involved a girl resembling Madeleine.

•    
An account by a Scottish mother of two who saw a girl who looked like Madeleine with a group of gipsies in Albufeira, Portugal, in July 2008. A woman who was with the girl ran off down the hill with her when two police officers turned up.

•   
Details of a sighting of a girl on October 9, 2008, with a Portuguese man living in the U.S. He allegedly ran a child trafficking operation smuggling in children from his homeland, Mexico and Greece.

Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, said: 'They are incredibly frustrated that this was sitting there and being disregarded by the Portuguese police.

'They were shocked when they saw the scale of the information that had come in and the lack of action taken.

'There are potential leads in the file that are now being followed up by our investigators.

'It's more than a pity that the file has just sat there for so long and simply marked "not relevant" by the Portuguese.

'There are also images in the file that are strikingly similar to Madeleine and are being looked into.'

Maddie sighting was kept secret, 03 March 2010
Maddie sighting was kept secret Daily Star

Parents Kate and Gerry McCann are furious that the files were kept secret

By Jerry Lawton
3rd March 2010


MADELEINE McCann could be 12,000 miles away in New Zealand, it was revealed last night.


Police files kept secret for nearly two years were obtained yesterday by the Daily Star.

They include grainy footage from a supermarket's CCTV cameras that could show the missing youngster Down Under.

A security guard at the store in Dunedin on New Zealand’s South Island was convinced the child was Madeleine.

She asked the girl her name and she replied in a British accent: "Hailey." Then she was led away by a portly man in shorts who grabbed her hand.

The security guard was so suspicious she contacted Interpol who sent the images to Portuguese police in July 2008.

But, because detectives archived the case nearly two years ago, the photos were never released and have been gathering dust in a 2,000-page case file locked away inside a police HQ in the Algarve resort of Portimao.

The evidence includes hundreds of sightings, photographs and leads from the US to Hong Kong collected since the investigation was shelved.

Shock revelations include an eyewitness account by a French trucker threatened at gunpoint when he tried to approach a girl he thought was Madeleine.

There is also a police report about a white Mercedes van that travelled from Portugal to Morocco by ferry and claims Madeleine was snatched by a US-based Portuguese child trafficker. Some informants suggested names for those responsible for snatching the child who vanished from her parents' holiday apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on May 3 2007.

The Daily Star has obtained the file by applying to the state prosecutor.

Madeleine's doctor parents Kate and Gerry, both 41, have asked Home Secretary Alan Johnson, 59, to order the case to be re-opened by a joint team of Portuguese and British detectives.

Last night the McCanns were "extremely angry" that the file had remained hidden.

Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "They were shocked when they became aware of the scale of the information that had come in and the lack of action taken.

"There are potential leads in the file that are now being followed up by our investigators.

"It's more than a pity that the file has just sat there for so long and simply been marked 'not relevant' by the Portuguese."

Last month the McCanns won a legal action banning future publication of a controversial book about the case by the former head of the investigation Goncalo Amaral, 49.

They plan to sue him for £1million for defamation.

But they insist the real damage his claims caused was to stop people looking for Madeleine in the belief she might be dead.

Daily Star: Maddie sighting was kept secret (paper edition), 03 March 2010

Daily Star, 03 March 2010
Daily Star, 03 March 2010 (click image to enlarge)

Madeleine McCann: 50 sightings in hunt dismissed, 03 March 2010
Madeleine McCann: 50 sightings in hunt dismissed Daily Express

By Nick Fagge
Wednesday March 3, 2010

DRAMATIC new leads in the hunt for Madeleine McCann can be made public for the first time today.

More than 50 sightings stretching from Europe to the US, Hong Kong and New Zealand are contained in a disturbing 2,000-page police document in Portugal.

Much of the information – witness statements, photographs and tip- offs – has not been investigated by Portuguese authorities who have branded it "irrelevant." Instead the files have been gathering dust in police archives in Portimao.

The file includes astonishing CCTV footage from New Zealand showing a girl identical to Madeleine and highlighted by a security guard.

The previously unseen images were sent to the Portuguese police by Interpol in Wellington in July 2008, just as they closed their investigation. A female security guard at a supermarket in Dunedin, on South Island, thought she saw Madeleine on December 6, 2007.

When she approached the group with her, the youngster who had a British accent was led away by the hand by a portly man. Attempts to identify the people in the images failed and the information was passed to the Portuguese. However a hand-written note on the file said: "This has been checked by PJ and has no relevance to this investigation."

A Leicestershire Police report also told of a British national named George seen dragging a young girl along a road towards Faro airport on the night Madeleine disappeared. The Briton was tracked to an address in Praia da Luz but was not interviewed by police.

And the dossier also contains information about a British van that crossed to Morocco from Spain in the days after the child vanished.

Police traced every British and Portuguese vehicle that travelled on the ferry between Tarifa to Tangiers between May 1 and 10 2007.

They found one – a white Mercedes box van driven by a British man – had false plates. The route is commonly used by smugglers trafficking drugs, weapons and people from Africa to Europe and back again. Parents Kate and Gerry McCann were not told about the potentially crucial information until years after the possible sightings.

The couple, both 41, from Rothley, Leics, were horrified when they learned last month that Portuguese police had not acted on the new information. The secret dossier was only released following an official request to the state prosecutor in the regional police HQ in Portimao.

A source close to the McCanns said: "They are extremely angry that this file has been sitting in an office collecting dust. Quite frankly it's an outrage and a disgrace." Their spokesman Clarence Mitchell added: "They are incredibly frustrated that this was sitting there and being disregarded by the Portuguese police."

"They were shocked when they saw the scale of the information that had come in and the lack of action taken. There are potential leads in the file that are now being followed up by our investigators."

"It's more than a pity that the file has just sat there for so long and simply marked 'not relevant' by the Portuguese. There are also images in the file that are strikingly similar to Madeleine and are being looked into."

Other sightings in the files include a dramatic account of a distressed blonde girl being held at gunpoint by a half-naked man in France.

French lorry driver Michel Guidard told how he saw a youngster like Madeleine wearing a dirty yellow jumper but naked from the waist down at a toll on the A20 motorway near Paris in August 2008. When the driver went to confront him the man pulled out a handgun and threatened him.

Other new leads include a sighting in Marrakesh, Morocco, two weeks after Madeleine went missing. Witnesses contacted police with reports from Gibraltar, Madeira, Turkey, Italy and France in the weeks and months after she vanished.

A girl wearing pyjamas similar to hers was spotted near the Spanish city of Murcia in May 2007. She was with an unkempt Spanish man at a run-down house, the files show. And holidaymakers in Albufeira, Portugal, told how they saw a girl like Madeleine with a group of gypsies in July 2008. When approached by police the black-haired woman holding the girl ran off.

Madeleine was almost four when she vanished from the family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, Algarve, on May 3, 2007, while her parents were having dinner with friends at a restaurant nearby.

Maddie: New file, 03 March 2010
Maddie: New file The Sun

By ANTONELLA LAZZERI
Published: Today (03 March 2010)

A HOARD of CCTV shots and sightings of girls looking like Maddie McCann are revealed for the first time today - after The Sun gained access to a hidden police file.

Shockingly, Portuguese cops failed to follow up most leads in the explosive dossier.

You need Flash Player 8 or higher to view video content with the ROO Flash Player. Click here to download and install it.

The 2,000-page file, buried away at a police HQ, contains CCTV photos of little girls just like Maddie and hundreds of leads, including more than 50 sightings.

Most were ignored by Portuguese police on the case, many of whom have admitted they believe Maddie is dead.

Reports were filed away with the observation: "Not relevant to the investigation".

The documents were never even shown to Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry, who were stunned when they saw the contents recently.

Details can finally be made public after The Sun requested a state prosecutor for access to the file.

Two of the CCTV images were taken in New Zealand on December 5, 2007, and forwarded to Portuguese police by Interpol.

In one photo a little blonde girl peeps out from under her fringe as she is led into a shop by a portly man wearing shorts.

In the other the girl is seen leaving the shop with the man and a little boy.

She has the same hairstyle as Maddie when she went missing on May 3 that year from a holiday apartment in Portugal aged three.

A female security guard saw the girl at a store in Dunedin, New Zealand, and thought she could be Maddie.

The girl and the man had British accents. When the guard approached the girl and asked her name, the child replied "Hailey".

Despite the obvious similarity to Maddie, Kate and Gerry were never asked to study the photos.

Sightings in the file came from across Europe and even America and Hong Kong. Here is a sample:

A little girl who looked like Maddie was seen with a shirtless man near a toll on the A20 motorway in France on August 30, 2008.

French lorry driver Michel Guidard said the girl was wearing a dirty yellow jumper but was naked from the waist down.

He stopped and approached - but the man pulled out a handgun and threatened him.

A British man called George reported seeing a small blonde, distressed girl being dragged along the road to Faro airport, Portugal, on the night she went missing.

That is 60 miles away from the resort of Praia da Luz where Maddie and her family were staying.

A girl described as "a little elf" - in a pyjama top like the one Maddie had on when she was taken - was spotted being "summoned" from a shop near Murcia, Spain, by an "unkempt" man 12 days later.

In August 2008, a woman reported a Newcastle man acting suspiciously in Villamoura, 50 miles from Praia da Luz.

She says the man, who she also saw in May 2006, took pictures of her children.

In July 2008, a Scottish mum reported seeing a blonde girl who looked like Madeleine in Albufeira, Portugal, with a group of gipsies.

A dark-haired woman with the girl ran off down a hill with her when police turned up.

That month alone, three other sightings were reported - two in France and one in Turkey.

A sighting of a girl in Frankfurt, Germany, even included the car registration number of a suspect.

A sighting in Algeria in September 2008 said a little girl with a British accent was with a family who behaved suspiciously.

The dossier says a British-registered white Mercedes box van with fake number plates travelled to Tangiers, Morocco, from Tarifa, Spain, between May 1 and May 10, 2007. It has never been found.

The McCanns believe Maddie could have been whisked away to Morocco by child traffickers within hours of her being taken.

In June 2008 in Sorrento, Italy, a British holidaymaker said he saw a girl like Maddie in the window of a building with a bricked-up door.

A report from Spokane, Washington State, USA, said a girl like Maddie was seen on October 9, 2008, with a Portuguese man.

According to an informant, he ran a child trafficking operation.

Chillingly, the file also contains information sent by Lieutenant Emilie Moreau of the French police about a photo of a little girl being sexually abused on a website.

She told the Portuguese: "We think the girl looks like Maddie."

Inspector Paiva replied: "There is nothing relevant. The girl does not physically resemble Madeleine."

Another report of a child like Maddie being abused on the internet came from Italy.

The reports were put away in a file collated at Portimao Police Headquarters by Inspector Ricardo Paiva, the McCanns' liaison officer, after the case was shelved in July 2008.

Kate and Gerry, both 41, only learnt the buried file existed when it was referred to during their recent court case against ex-police boss Goncalo Amaral in Lisbon.

Amaral, who headed the initial investigation into Maddie's disappearance wrote a book, claiming Maddie was dead and her parents lied about her abduction.

The couple, from Rothley, Leicestershire, won a ban on the book. Their lawyer Isabel Duarte then applied for a copy of the dossier.

And after studying it, she told us: "It is a disgrace that none of this information was given to Kate and Gerry.

"Some of the photos are shockingly similar to Madeleine."

Angry Gerry said recently of the filed treasure trove of leads: "We're gutted. If you don't investigate information, you won't solve it."

Yesterday a source close to the McCanns said: "They are extremely angry that this file has been sitting in an office collecting dust. It's an outrage and a disgrace."

Spokesman Clarence Mitchell added: "They're incredibly frustrated this file was sitting there being disregarded by the Portuguese police.

"They were shocked when they saw the scale of the information and the lack of action taken.

"There are potential leads in the file that are now being followed up by our own investigators."

The Sun: Maddie: New file (artist's impressions), 03 March 2010

The Sun, 03 March 2010

The Sun, 03 March 2010

The Sun, 03 March 2010

The Sun says... Lost chances, 03 March 2010
The Sun says... Lost chances The Sun

Published: Today (03 March 2010)

FOR Kate and Gerry McCann, the nightmare never ends.

They learn the chance to rescue missing Madeleine may have been thrown away by the incompetence of Portuguese investigators.

As The Sun reveals, police have been sitting on files with pictures of a blonde girl "shockingly similar" to Madeleine - down to her hairstyle.

The CCTV, showing the child with a British-sounding couple, were forwarded to Portugal from New Zealand by Interpol.

But lazy cops scribbled on "Not Relevant To The Investigation" and stuck the photos in a drawer.

There they have sat, with 2,000 pages of other suspected sightings.

None of this vital detail has been shown to the McCanns. Most of it was never given a second glance.

These clues were cynically disregarded by police because they had already decided to blame Madeleine's parents.

As well as cruelly deceiving Kate and Gerry, Portuguese police have also cheated the public who answered pleas to look for Maddie.

As Kate says, the force's behaviour has been inhumane.

The attempt by Goncalo Amaral, who led the investigation, to fill his boots with a revolting book about the case sums up the contempt Portugal's police showed the McCanns.

Kate and Gerry must live with the knowledge that Maddie might be home if only officers had tried harder.

Their courage in refusing to give up hope is awesome.

SunTalk Podcast, 03 March 2010
SunTalk Podcast The Sun

03 March 2010

A 2,000 page file has emerged providing evidence that suggests shocking Portuguese police failings in the hunt for Madeleine McCann.
Child Protection Expert, Mark Williams-Thomas picks through the document that contains CCTV photos of Maddie and more than 50 sightings.



Transcript

By Nigel Moore

(00:04:50)

Jon Gaunt: Next question I've got for you is this; it's the, errr... Maddie McCann case. I don't know if you've seen this: 'Unchecked'; 'Unsolved'; 'Portugal cops ignored clues'. Several sightings of a young girl, especially this one in Mu... errr... this one in New Zealand, looks very much like her; they ignored it! They ignored it! We'll be talking to a top paedophile expert about this later in the show, as well. The Portuguese police don't come very... come out very well in this latest report about the Maddie investigation and no matter what you think about the McCanns, and whether or not they should have left Maddie and the kids alone in that house that night, you've got to feel for them, haven't you? Two years on, when evidence like this is coming out. It looks like it was never investigated. I want your views on that, as well. 020 3364 7000.

(00:54:00)

Jon Gaunt: ...you may want to talk about our next story, as well, which is about the Madeleine McCann files. If you've seen the paper this morning and, of course, it's all over the news, as well... the TV news; there's been secret sightings of the lost girl. A 2,000-page file has been buried away, at a police headquarters, and it's providing real stark evidence of shocking Portuguese failings in the hunt for Madeleine McCann. It includes CCTV photos of little girls who look like Maddie and hundreds of leads including more than 50 possible sightings. It would appear the Portuguese didn't actually investigate any of these. Errr... Are we, errr... having a go at a Portuguese police unnecessary or, you know, is this something they should have done? Let's have a chat with an expert about this, errr... Mark Williams-Thomas, a ex-paedophile detective, of course, and now a expert in child protection; he joins us now on the line. Hiya Mark.

Mark Williams-Thomas: Good morning, Jon.

JG: Now, to me, somebody who's not a policeman with no police experience, I look at this story this morning and I go crazy. I think: 'Hang on, they didn't follow up these leads?'. What do you do as an ex-copper, an ex-investigator, when you read a story like this?

MWT: Well, Gerry and Kate haven't spoken today but they must be pulling their hair out, you know, now finding out about this information and we were aware of a certain amount of information hasn't been followed up but the stark reality of what was being printed in... obviously, in the paper today, just goes to show the incompetence and, you know, I've used that word before when I've talked about, errr... the Portuguese and I was obviously out there from the very, very early days and I showed, you know, the fact that they failed to preserve the crime scene. But the reality is that each and every one of these lines of inquiry is potentially a lead that may enable you to find what happened to Madeleine, and where she is now. It is... and I refer to this as being the jigsaw puzzle; different people have different parts of this jigsaw puzzle and what we need to do is pull it together and I'm absolutely shocked, errm... that the Portuguese police, and the criminal justice system, have discarded some of this information, which might be quite crucial to the investigation but, if nothing else, certainly should have been followed up on.

JG: Should have been followed up on? Even if they thought she was dead?

MWT: Absolutely. And what what we've got here is; we've got a centred approach by the investigator and we know that, errr... Goncalo Amaral has got his focus and line of the inquiry and, errr... the criminal justice system... lets not just focus on him because, in fact, he's got senior officers, and through the criminal justice system, to say: 'What are the lines of inquiries we should have been following?'. They've had their line of inquiry and any other information which has come in, outside of that, they have ignored. Now if... should this... if this inquiry was to take place in the UK, through the senior investigators, you know, policy book, there would have been a clear policy as to the line of inquiry they were going to be following and why they were ignoring other lines of inquiry. It is a long time ago...

JG: But that would be written down, would it, Mark?

MWT: It would be in a policy book in the UK; the senior investigating officers make a very clear decision process as to the lines of inquiry they're following and why they're following those lines of inquiries, and the other lines of inquiries that they've chosen not to follow, because at any stage they could revisit that and certainly, if it comes to a criminal case, when you're in court, the defence might turn round and say: 'Why didn't you follow this line of inquiry?' and very often the policy book is used to show why they didn't.

JG: So, explain to me then, so you've got a policy book, and they might have had a policy book, and then if something new comes up, you say: 'Ahh, we'd better have a look at it anyway, even though it goes against where we're going with the investigation at this point'.

MWT: Well, I think you... one would put them into different categories, obviously sightings is a slightly different element; what's the likelihood of her being found in New Zealand, in the open, errm... that period of time afterwards. And I, certainly... walking through the High Street, errr... you know, in Guildford in the period of time afterwards and I've seen... certainly saw one girl, who I thought looked like Madeleine, you know; she's fairly common in sight.

JG: Yeah, probably lots of us felt like that, didn't we? Because we were all looking at one point.

MWT: Absolutely. So you put them into one category. But the other category, and the significant ones for me, is certainly in and around that area in the days or certainly on the... of the day itself, those are significant lines of inquiry. You know, the person with the gun and as far as the half-shirt top...

JG: Yeah, on the road, yeah...

MWT: ...you know, because, if nothing else... and what ends up happening in major investigations - and it's always the case - is you end up detecting other criminal offences that occurred along the way because there are other offences that occurred that you start to investigate, simply because it might connect with the investigation you've got and you end up then dealing with those matters or passing them on to somebody else to deal with. But let's get back to the crux of this...

JG: Yeah.

MWT: ...for many, many months now we've been talking about Gerry and Kate and the focus and line of inquiry has been drifted away. I want to see the line of inquiry focus back on Madeleine. Madeleine is what is important here. We've got to strike a relationship with the Portuguese. Now sadly, some of the investigators, errr... that Gerry and Kate have hired haven't formed that relationship and I know that, certainly at one stage, when I spoke them and said: 'Why are you not dialoguing with the Portuguese police?' and they said: 'Well, they won't talk to us, you know, we're not bothered to do that'. I think that's very sad and I think what we need to go back to is through the criminal justice system, through the Ministry in Portugal, and say to them, you know: 'Let's work together to try and find out where Madeleine is' because somebody out there - even though it's years on - somebody out there has a piece of that jigsaw and we need to pull it together because Madeleine is... Madeleine was abducted by somebody and somebody out there has that clue. We've got to find it and the inquiries, such as The Sun, you know, good on them to... to, errm... uncover this and find this information out. Let's keep the pressure on and say: 'Come on, somebody take responsibility'.

JG: So, do we assume from this then, the Portuguese had just made their minds up very early on that they weren't going to find her?

MWT: Yeah, I mean... I think... I don't think it was quite that early on because I think in the early stages I do think they thought she ran off. Then I think they got a point where they thought there could possibly be an abduction and then obviously the line of inquiry focused towards Gerry and Kate and that was after, you know, a couple of weeks. But... but, as soon as they focused that line of inquiry, it's very clear - and we know that from the court case recently - is that that is where they focused their line of inquiry. Any other investigation, any other element, which distract... detracts away from that has been ignored, and that is not keeping an open mind to an investigation.

JG: Okay, good talking to you, thank you very much indeed...

MWT: Thanks, Jon.

JG: ...Mark Williams-Thomas, child protection expert and ex-Scotland Yard detective. What do you make of this? Just how incompetent have the Portuguese police been? Pick up the phone and give us a call. And you've got to feel, haven't you, this morning, for Kate and Gerry.

Maddie sighting reported to NZ police, 03 March 2010
Maddie sighting reported to NZ police Independent Online

March 03 2010 at 09:19AM

Wellington - New Zealand police confirmed on Wednesday that they had investigated a report that the missing British child Madeleine McCann was seen in the South Island city of Dunedin in December 2007.

They said the file on a young girl seen with a man leaving a retail store, seven months after McCann vanished from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal, remained open.

The file was sent to Interpol, but Portuguese police in charge of the investigation had not asked their New Zealand counterparts to follow it up, Inspector David Campbell said.

Closed-circuit television images showed a child who was said to have "had the appearance" of Madeleine McCann. But police had been "unable to obtain any further information or ongoing lines of inquiry", Campbell said.

According to the British newspaper the Daily Mail, the man's behaviour aroused the suspicions of a female security guard in the Dunedin shop and she approached the girl to inquire about her identity.

The girl said her name was Hailey, but the security guard believed she was actually Madeleine and reported the incident to police.

The report was deemed "not relevant" in a file of a series of sightings from around the world made public by Portugese police, according to the Daily Mail.

It said the leads were all received and archived after police in Algarve, Portugal, closed the case in July 2008. - Sapa-dpa

New Zealand Police: Media Statement, 03 March 2010
New Zealand Police Media Statement New Zealand Police

New Zealand Police: Media Statement

3 March, 2010 - 16:49

Dunedin Police say that they did receive information from a member of the public who believed she saw Madeleine McCann in a Dunedin retail outlet in December 2007.

Acting Southern District Commander, Inspector David Campbell, said police spoke with the informant to establish what had been seen and sought pictures from the retailer involved.

A report was filed by an attending officer and police worked closely with the retailer to start an inquiry and obtained security footage of the child, who had the appearance of Madeleine McCann, and the family with her.

Hard copies of the security pictures were given to police. Police then requested electronic copies but these were not available.

Police were unable to obtain any further information or ongoing lines of inquiry.

The file was forwarded to Interpol and this is correct procedure under international agreements. The lead jurisdiction, in this case, Portugal, directs how the case progresses and has not asked NZ Police for any follow-up to date.

The file has remained open ever since, Inspector Campbell said.

ENDS

Woman talks about possible McCann sighting, 03 March 2010
Woman talks about possible McCann sighting TVNZ

Former Dunedin Warehouse checkout operator Taryn Dryfhout

Published: 10:35PM Wednesday March 03, 2010
Source: ONE News

The woman who made a sighting in New Zealand of what she believes was missing British girl Madeleine McCann, has spoken exclusively to ONE News.

Taryn Dryfhout was working as a checkout operator at Warehouse store in south Dunedin in late 2007 when a family of a man, a woman and a boy and girl came to the checkout.

"I was stricken by the wee girl who looked just like Madeleine McCann," she says.

Dryfhout spoke with the woman who had an English accent, and then spoke to the girl.

"She had an English accent as well and she told me that her name was Hayley and was quite apprehensive...and sort've stammered over her words when she was trying to think of her name," says Dryfhout.

"She was just very shy and afraid."

Madeleine vanished from her room at the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007, just days before her fourth birthday.

Despite a global search effort, she has not been found.

Dryfhout described the man and woman with the child as "a little bit suspicious".

"I spoke to the woman only, not the man, and she seemed like she would rather I that I wasn't speaking to her. She sort've tried to keep ending the conversation...she was just in a little bit of a hurry to get out I think."

Dryfhout describes the woman as being "bigger" with short blond hair. She cannot remember the details of the man very well, and says the boy was older than the girl, perhaps 12 years old.

A short time after approaching the girl and her parents, Dryfhout contacted her manager and the police.

She says after the store handed over security camera footage she never heard anything more, until Wednesday.

Information just released by a Portuguese court shows Dryfhout's possible sighting and dozens of others were filed away by Portuguese police and not investigated.

London's Daily Mail reports the McCann family is shocked and angry to hear for the first time of the now possible sighting dating back two years, and has labelled the footage of the child as "striking".

Dunedin police say they followed correct procedure and said in a statement it was "unable to obtain any further information or ongoing lines of inquiry", and that the file remains open.

Now, two years after the footage was handed over, police have once again spoken to Dryfhout, asking her to remember details about the sighting of the girl she believes was Madeleine.

"They started asking me questions I should have been asked at the time. They asked me things like 'how had the family paid for their purchase?'...and they wanted quite detailed descriptions of the people."

Dryfhout says she often thinks about the sighting, especially when it resurfaces in the news, and wonders if things would have been different if it had been handled differently.

She says it did not occur to her at the time to go to the media with what she had seen.

"I guess I thought that the police would take a long time with the inquiry because it's an  overseas issue, and it was quite a few weeks before I realised that I wasn't going to hear anything at all."

Dryfhourt says her own attempts to find Madeleine McCann's parents were unsuccessful, though she did leave a message through a website that appeared to be connected to the family.

She says it is disappointing that her possible sighting was not followed through.

"I absolutely believe it was her. I have no doubt in my mind."



ONE NEWS Exclusive... the woman who believes she sighted missing girl Madeleine McCann in a Dunedin supermarket speaks out

NZ police defend inaction on McCann sighting, 03 March 2010
NZ police defend inaction on McCann sighting ABC News Australia

Posted: 11:00AM BST UK

New Zealand police have defended their lack of action over a possible sighting of missing British girl Madeleine McCann, saying they were never asked to do anything.

Inspector David Campbell said all details of the December 2007 sighting were passed to Interpol and no instructions came back for a follow-up investigation.

A girl matching the description of the then four-year-old Madeleine was seen entering a supermarket in the southern New Zealand city of Dunedin five months after Madeleine disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal.

Details of the incident emerged Wednesday when British newspapers reported that a dossier from Portuguese police, containing a series of sightings from around the world that were never investigated, had been released to the media following an application to a Portuguese court.

The files included security camera footage of a girl "very like" Madeleine being led into the supermarket by a "portly man in shorts".

The man's behaviour aroused the suspicions of a security guard who approached the girl to establish whether she was British.

Although the girl said her name was Hailey, the security guard was convinced she was Madeleine and informed the police.

Inspector Campbell, the regional police commander, said police took the footage of the child - who had the appearance of Madeleine - and the family with her and forwarded it to Interpol.

"The lead jurisdiction, in this case Portugal, directs how the case progresses and it has not asked NZ police for any follow-up to date," Inspector Campbell said, adding that the NZ file remained open.

The dossier released to British newspapers showed information which police in the United States, Europe and North Africa considered important was also discarded.

Madeleine's parents Gerry and Kate were reported to be "gutted" and "incensed" that their private investigators were not given access to the information, The Daily Mail reported.

"There are instances where information which we think is very credible and worthy of information has not been actioned," Kate McCann said.

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files

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