The purpose of this site is for information and a record of Gerry McCann's Blog Archives. As most people will appreciate GM deleted all past blogs from the official website. Hopefully this Archive will be helpful to anyone who is interested in Justice for Madeleine Beth McCann. Many Thanks, Pamalam

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Met. Police Review / Spanish Connection*

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Detectives from Scotland Yard and the Spanish National Police carry boxes with documents given by the detectives agency, yesterday in Barcelona

13 December 2011: Detectives from Scotland Yard and the Spanish National Police carry boxes with documents given by the detective agency Metodo 3, in Barcelona

Brief background

1) On 5 October 2011, the Met responds to a FOIA request concerning the terms of the case review. It states:
'High profile reviews, such as this one, are highly emotive and the manner in which they are conducted are usually kept in strict secrecy so that the tactics and lines of enquiry that are followed do not become public knowledge thereby rendering them useless.'
2) On 5 December 2011, it is revealed that three Scotland Yard detectives had travelled to Barcelona to meet with their Spanish counterparts. Scotland Yard refused to reveal what led them to Barcelona, between November 23 and 25, but this did not stop press speculation that the visit was connected to the 'Victoria Beckham-lookalike' incident.

3) On 14 December 2011, it is revealed that Scotland Yard detectives had visited the Barcelona HQ of Metodo 3 - the detective agency employed by the McCanns in 2007 - the previous day. It is reported that they took away 30 boxes of documents compiled by the private detectives.

Freedom of Information Request: Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), 05 October 2011
Freedom of Information Request: Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) whatdotheyknow.com

5 October 2011

From: Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

[Request and response 2]

Freedom of Information Request Reference No:

I respond in connection with your request for information which was received by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 02/08/2011. I note you seek access to the following information:

Re: Freedom of Information Act 2000 Questions - Madeleine McCann Review Team

Please answer the following questions in relation to the Madeleine McCann Review Team:

1. What is the precise remit of the Review Team?
2. When was that remit agreed?
3. Who decided the remit?
4. When completed, to whom will the Review Report be presented ?
5. On 14 May 2011, the Daily Telegraph said that "Scotland Yard's new investigation is being overseen by Commander Simon Foy, one of the force's most experienced detectives". Please either confirm that, or provide information as to who is in overall command of this Review.
6. On 15 May 2011, the Daily Record said that "Scotland Yard said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, would be the senior investigating officer in the case". Please either confirm that, or provide information as to who is the senior investigating officer in the case.
7. On 15 May 2011, the Independent on Sunday said that "Mr. Redwood will report to Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell, Homicide and Serious Crimes Command (HSCC), operational command unit commander." Please either confirm that, or provide information as to who is the person in overall charge of the HSCC".
8. On 20 and 22 July 2011, an officer from the Intelligence Section of the Madeleine McCann Team, Sam, Pay No. 220629, stated that the policy of the Team was not to answer any correspondence. Please state whether or not this is the case.
9. Please state whether, if evidence or other information is sent to the Madeleine McCann Review Team, any acknowledgement of the receipt of that information will be given.
10. Does the Madeleine McCann Review Team have a deadline for completing its review? If so, when is it?
11. Does the Madeleine McCann Review Team have a budget? If so, what is it? Do the funds allocated to this Review Team come from the Home Office or from the Metropolitan Police Authority?

Following receipt of your request searches were conducted within the MPS to locate information relevant to your request.

EXTENT OF SEARCHES TO LOCATE INFORMATION

To locate the information relevant to your request searches were conducted within the Specialist Crime Directorate - Homicide and Serious Crime Command.

RESULT OF SEARCHES

The searches located information relevant to your request.

DECISION

I have today decided to:

Answer questions 5, 6 , 7, 10 and 11 in full

To refuse questions 8 and 9 by virtue of section 8 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (The Act) as an invalid request.

To exempt questions 1, 2, 3 and 4 by virtue of section 30 (1)(a)(b)(c) and section 31(1)(a)(b)(c) of the Act.

Please see the legal annex for the sections of the Act referred to in this email.

REASONS FOR DECISION

The following questions have been responded to in full:

At question 5 you asked: On 14 May 2011, the Daily Telegraph said that "Scotland Yard's new investigation is being overseen by Commander Simon Foy, one of the force's most experienced detectives". Please either confirm that, or provide information as to who is in overall command of this Review.

At Question 6 you asked: On 15 May 2011, the Daily Record said that " Scotland Yard said Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, from the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, would be the senior investigating officer in the case". Please either confirm that, or provide information as to who is the senior investigating officer in the case.

At question 7 you asked: On 15 May 2011, the Independent on Sunday said that "Mr. Redwood will report to Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell, Homicide and Serious Crimes Command (HSCC), operational command unit commander." Please either confirm that, or provide information as to who is the person in overall charge of the HSCC".

The MPS response is: The senior officer with oversight of the review is Commander Simon Foy. Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Andy Redwood is the Senior Investigating Officer. DCI Redwood reports to Detective Chief Superintendent Hamish Campbell.

At question 10 you asked: Does the Madeleine McCann Review Team have a deadline for completing its review? If so, when is it?

The MPS response is: The review team does not have a deadline for the completion of its review.

At question 11 you asked: Does the Madeleine McCann Review Team have a budget? If so, what is it? Do the funds allocated to this Review Team come from the Home Office or from the Metropolitan Police Authority?

The MPS response is: The MPS has allocated a team to deal with this and the Home Office have agreed to reimburse this cost. This is reviewed on a quarterly basis.

The following questions have been refused on the grounds that they do not constitute a valid request under the Act:

At question 8 you asked: On 20 and 22 July 2011, an officer from the Intelligence Section of the Madeleine McCann Team, Sam, Pay No. 220629, stated that the policy of the Team was not to answer any correspondence. Please state whether or not this is the case.

At question 9 you asked: Please state whether, if evidence or other information is sent to the Madeleine McCann Review Team, any acknowledgement of the receipt of that information will be given.

The MPS response is: I have decided to refuse access to the information you have requested under the provisions of Section 8(2)(a)(b)(c) of the Act.

A request under the Act is required by statute to be legible and capable of being used for subsequent reference. After careful consideration, I have decided that your request does not meet this requirement as I am unable to ascertain what recorded information you have requested, as defined by Section 8(2)(c).

To enable us to meet your request could you please resubmit your application in accordance with the above requirements. If for any reason you are unable to do so, please contact me for assistance or seek assistance from any other available source.

I attach an excerpt from the Information Commissioner's website which may assist you in composing any future Freedom of Information requests.

What can I request under the Freedom of Information Act?

You have the right to request any information held by public authorities. The Act allows access to recorded information, such as emails, meeting minutes, research or reports held by public authorities in England, Northern Ireland and Wales and some authorities located in Scotland.

You have not made a request for recorded information which may be held by the MPS but questions which require a confirmation of a statement. You will need to be specific as to the recorded information you require.

We will consider your resubmitted request upon receipt as long as it meets the requirements stated above. You will receive the information requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act, subject to the information not being exempt.

The following questions are exempt by virtue of Section 30 (1 )(a)(b)(c) and
Section 31(1 )(a)(b)(c) of the Act:

Please see the legal annex for the sections of the Act referred to in this email.

At question 1 you asked: What is the precise remit of the Review Team?

At question 2 you asked: When was that remit agreed?

At question 3 you asked: Who decided the remit?

At question 4 you asked: When completed, to whom will the Review Report be presented?

The MPS response is: This information is exempt by virtue of Section 30(1)(a)(b)(c)
and Section 31(1)(a)(b)(c) of the Act

Constituents of this information attract Section 30 and other constituents attract Section 31 of the Act. It should not be surmised that we are applying Sections 30 & 31 to the same pieces of information.

Under Section 30(1 )(a)(i)(ii)(b)(c) of the Act, Public Authorities are able to withhold information if it was obtained or recorded for the purposes of investigations, criminal proceedings or civil proceedings. In this case the information requested relates to an ongoing review. Disclosing specific details of a review could potentially impact and undermine any current or future reviews. This exemption can be applied after evidencing the Harm, which could be caused by its release and following completion of a Public Interest Test (PIT). The purpose of the PIT is to establish whether the 'Public Interest' lies in disclosing or withholding the requested information.

Under Section 31(1) (a) (b) (c) of the Act Public Authorities are able to withhold information where its release could compromise Law Enforcement. In this case the information requested relates to an ongoing review. Disclosing specific details of a review could potentially impact and undermine any current or future criminal and /or civil proceedings. This exemption can be applied after evidencing the Harm, which could be caused by its release and following completion of a Public Interest Test (PIT). The purpose of the PIT is to establish whether the 'Public Interest' lies in disclosing or withholding the requested information.

This email serves as a Refusal Notice under Section 17 of the Act .

REASONS FOR DECISION

Before I explain the reasons for the decisions I have made in relation to your request, I thought that it would be helpful if I outline the parameters set out by the Act within which a request for information can be answered.

The Act creates a statutory right of access to information held by public authorities. A public authority in receipt of a request must, if permitted, confirm if the requested information is held by that public authority and, if so, then communicate that information to the applicant.

The right of access to information is not without exception and is subject to a number of exemptions which are designed to enable public authorities to withhold information that is not suitable for release. Importantly, the Act is designed to place information into the public domain, that is, once access to information is granted to one person under the Act, it is then considered public information and must be communicated to any individual should a request be received.

I have considered your request for information within the provisions set out by the Act. I have addressed your request in order to both confirm if the requested information is held by the MPS and then to provide this information to you. Where I have been unable to provide the requested information to you, I have explained my decision in accordance with Section 17 of the Act.

Evidence of Harm

In considering whether or not this information should be disclosed, I have considered the potential HARM that could be caused by disclosure.

Under the Act, we cannot, and do not request the motives of any applicant for information. We have no doubt the vast majority of applications under the Act are legitimate and do not have any ulterior motives, however, in disclosing information to one applicant we are expressing a willingness to provide it to anyone in the world. This means that a disclosure to a genuinely interested applicant automatically opens it up for a similar disclosure to anyone, including those who might represent a threat to individuals, or any possible criminal and / or civil process.

Information of this nature needs to be treated with extreme sensitivity, as it could have a detrimental effect on a review and the operational effectiveness of the MPS and it's ability to fulfil its core function of law enforcement.

High profile reviews, such as this one, are highly emotive and the manner in which they are conducted are usually kept in strict secrecy so that the tactics and lines of enquiry that are followed do not become public knowledge thereby rendering them useless.

Public Interest Test

Public interest considerations favouring disclosure

Disclosure of this information would enlighten members of the public as to the action taken by the MPS in this investigation. This may go some way to promoting awareness, accountability and would reinforce the MPS's commitment to openness and transparency. Release of this information would assist in any public debate on the MPS's action during this investigation and would demonstrate the willingness of the MPS to be open and transparent with the public showing what procedures are carried out.

Public interest considerations favouring non-disclosure

Information relating to an ongoing review will rarely be disclosed and only where there is a strong public interest consideration favouring disclosure. In this case, release of the requested information could allow individuals to use the information contained in the remit to undermine the methodology and techniques employed by the MPS and impede current /future investigations. Release of the remit and the other details could inform suspects of the progress of the review and allow them to use the information contained in it for criminal activities and to avoid justice.

Balancing Test

After weighing up the competing interests I have determined that the disclosure of the above information would not be in the public interest. I consider that the benefit that would result from the information being disclosed does not outweigh disclosing information relating to your request for information about the remit of The Madeleine McCann Review. The MPS will rarely disclose information relating to an ongoing review as to do so could adversely harm that investigation.

Legal Annex

Section 17 of the Act provides:

(1) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is to any extent relying on a claim that any provision in part II relating to the duty to confirm or deny is relevant to the request or on a claim that information is exempt information must, within the time for complying with section 1(1), give the applicant a notice which-
(a) states the fact,
(b) specifies the exemption in question, and
(c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.
Section 8(1)(a)(b)(c)(2)(a)(b)(c) of the Act provides:

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(a), a request is to be treated as made in writing where the text of the request-
(a) is transmitted by electronic means,
(b) is received in legible form, and
(c) is capable of being used for subsequent reference.
Section 30(1)(a)(b)(c) of the Act provides:

(1) Information held by a public authority is exempt information if it has at any time been held by the authority for the purposes of-
(a) any investigation which the public authority has a duty to conduct with a view to it being ascertained-
(i) whether a person should be charged with an offence, or
(ii) whether a person charged with an offence is guilty of it,
(b) any investigation which is conducted by the authority and in the circumstances may lead to a decision by the authority to institute criminal proceedings which the authority has power to conduct, or
(c) any criminal proceedings which the authority has power to conduct.
Section 31(1)(a)(b)(c) of the Act provides:

(1) Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 30 is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice-
(a) the prevention or detection of crime,
(b) the apprehension or prosecution of offenders,
(c) the administration of justice


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Request and response 2.doc.pdf (342K)

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Home Office response, 17 October 2011

Home Office response, page 1, 17 October 2011

Home Office response, page 1, 17 October 2011

Home Office response

17 October 2011

Thank you for your letter of 3 August 2011 to the Home Secretary on behalf of [redacted] who expresses concern about the continuing role of the Metropolitan Police into the review into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann following the phone hacking scandal. I am replying as the Minister responsible for policy in this area. I apologise for delay in this reply.

Ensuring the integrity of our police is vital for their work and as [redacted] indicates, any allegations of corruption or favouritism undermines public confidence in whichever police force those officers belong to, and in policing as a whole. That is why this government will not stand idly by following the recent events. The Prime Minister announced an independent inquiry in July which will be led by Lord Leveson. Crucially, amongst other issues, the inquiry will look into the original police investigations and their failings, the issue of corrupt payments to police officers and the implications of all this for relations between police and the press. The Home Secretary has also asked Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary to provide her with recommendations for improving police integrity and the Independent Police Complaints Commission for a report on their experience of corruption in the police. And we are considering what other powers may be needed to investigate institutional failings in a force or forces.

Turning to the case of Madeleine McCann more specifically, it might be helpful if I clarify the Government's role in this matter. Since Madeleine's disappearance in Portugal some four years ago, the Portuguese authorities have retained the lead in this case. However, the Government has continued to liaise with them and the police here have been following up any leads and passing information on to the Portuguese authorities as appropriate.

In view of the passage of time since Madeleine disappeared, in May, the Home Secretary with the Prime Minister's support, asked the Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to bring its particular expertise and know-how to the case which might help provide a fresh perspective and suggest lines of inquiry which might usefully be pursued. In the light of the request, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner took the operational decision to review the evidence relating to the case. That work is underway and is part of the UK's continuing contribution to the search for Madeleine. The MPS have continued to update the Home Secretary on progress with the review and despite recent events involving the MPS and the allegations of phone hacking, we are satisfied that it is appropriate that they continue to take this forward.

[redacted] also expressed concern about government funding being directed to the review. The nature and scope of the work will depend on their operational assessment by the MPS of how best their expertise might be used in taking forward the search for Madeleine. That work is ongoing and it is not possible at this stage to estimate how long the review will take or the likely costs. The Home Office will provide necessary funding and this will be subject to the Home Office and the MPS reviewing together the value and cost of the work at each stage. While Madeleine remains missing we will continue to do what we can in the search for her.

[redacted] suggests that the results of the review and associated costs are published. Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the public has a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities. It also sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities. The Act applies to the vast majority of public authorities in the United Kingdom, including the MPS. Therefore, [redacted] is free to submit a request to the MPS for information relating to this case.

Yours ever,

[redacted]

Scotland Yard officers in Spain as search for Maddy crosses the border, 05 December 2011
Scotland Yard officers in Spain as search for Maddy crosses the border Evening Standard

Missing: Maddy disappeared in 2007

Emotional: the McCanns at the Leveson inquiry.

Justin Davenport, Crime Editor
5 Dec 2011


Scotland Yard detectives examining the Madeleine McCann case have flown to Spain, the Standard can reveal.

Homicide officers have met Spanish colleagues in Barcelona in the last two weeks to hold talks over her disappearance.

The trip widens inquiries by officers carrying out the "investigative review" into the three-year-old's disappearance from a Portuguese holiday resort in 2007. Police are believed to be discussing reports that Madeleine may have been abducted and smuggled across the border to Spain.

Detectives have also travelled to Portugal three times to meet detectives involved in the original investigation.

Kate and Gerry McCann, Madeleine's parents, issued a statement today hailing the work of the Metropolitan Police, saying : "We are pleased that the review is making progress."

Their comments came after they made an emotional appearance at the Leveson inquiry into press standards, when they told how they were left distraught by suggestions they were responsible for their daughter's death.

Scotland Yard was called in to carry out a review of the McCann files this year after a request by Prime Minister David Cameron. The McCanns had asked him to help revive the search for their daughter, who disappeared shortly before her fourth birthday while the family was on holiday in the Algarve.

She vanished from a holiday flat in the resort of Praia da Luz as her parents, both doctors, were dining with friends nearby.

Since then there have been hundreds of "sightings" of Madeleine around the world but none confirmed. The official police inquiry into her disappearance was shelved in July 2008 but private detectives employed by the McCanns continued the search. Scotland Yard says the trips to Portugal, and now Spain, are part of "laying the ground work" for future co-operation between the police forces.

They are playing down any suggestion of a breakthrough in the case but the visits raise the possibility that British detectives will be involved in an active role in any future inquiries. In July Scotland Yard said it would examine all the evidence connected to the case, including material gathered by private investigators.

One theory - among the many others - was that the child was snatched by a paedophile gang and smuggled over the border to Spain an hour's drive away, or even taken there by boat. There were sightings of someone matching her appearance in Spain shortly after she disappeared and Portuguese authorities were criticised for not alerting border and police officials until 12 hours after she went missing.

The British team is believed to have been discussing these reports with Spanish colleagues.

Detectives spent the first five months reading a huge file of case material which had to be translated into English from Portuguese.

The Met says it has been in close liaison with the McCann family about their actions. The Yard emphasises that the Portuguese police remain the "lead force".

A Met Police spokesman said: "There has been very good co-operation with Portuguese authorities and liaison will continue.

"Officers have travelled to Portugal three times in connection with the investigative review and three officers travelled to Barcelona. They are continuing to discuss how to take it forward and we are hopeful that we will be able to do that."

Madeleine McCann: Yard Cops Fly To Spain, 05 December 2011
Madeleine McCann: Yard Cops Fly To Spain Sky News

Monday, 5th December 2011 13:13

Scotland Yard detectives have spent time in Spain as part of their re-examination of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann in Portugal.

The Metropolitan Police joined the hunt for the missing girl, who vanished in 2007, following a request by Home Secretary Theresa May made with the backing of Prime Minister David Cameron.

The force has now revealed that detectives working on the case flew to Spain as part of their review and spent three days with police in Barcelona.

Kate and Gerry McCann arriving at the Leveson inquiry last month
Kate and Gerry McCann arriving at the Leveson inquiry last month

Officers working on the case also travelled to Portugal three times as they continue to hunt for leads.

The Met has vowed there will be no limits in its re-examination of how Madeleine disappeared from a holiday flat in Praia da Luz in the Algarve.

A huge hunt was launched after she went missing on May 3, 2007 while her parents Kate and Gerry dined with friends nearby but she has never been found.

Her frustrated parents, both doctors who live in Rothley, Leicestershire, have battled to retain the case's high-profile.

Mrs McCann wrote on the Find Madeleine website at the end of October: "It is a big relief to us that our Government finally agreed for a review to take place.

"We are grateful to them and to the Metropolitan Police Service for undertaking this fundamental and highly valuable procedure which has been underway now for several months.

"Although it will be a lengthy and difficult process, it is definitely a major step forward for Madeleine."

Detectives refused to reveal what led them to Barcelona between November 23 and 25, but a Scotland Yard spokesman said: "The review continues.

"There has been very good co-operation with Portuguese authorities and liaison will continue. We are not prepared to discuss specific details of these visits nor speculate about any future deployments to Portugal or elsewhere."

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, the senior investigating officer, is understood to have been among a team of detectives who went on the trips.

Madeleine McCann was snatched from an apartment in Praia da Luz
Madeleine McCann was snatched from an apartment in Praia da Luz

Sky's crime correspondent Martin Brunt says police are not believed to have made a breakthrough and are still doing the groundwork of liaising with foreign officers.

A total of 30 people are now working on the force's Operation Grange.

The review prompted criticism when it was launched in May, with politicians expressing concerns that it would divert resources from other crime victims.

Portuguese detectives, helped by officers from Leicestershire Police, carried out a massive investigation into Madeleine's disappearance.

But the official inquiry was formally shelved in July 2008, after which no police force was actively looking for her.

------------------

The Madeleine Team Spreads Its Wings Sky News Blogs

Martin Brunt
December 05, 2011 2:52 PM

The Madeleine McCann review team are certainly clocking up the miles and expanding their horizons.

Initially we were told that the Scotland Yard review would be largely a paper exercise, but now we learn three detectives spent a few days in Barcelona last month.

That's on top of three trips to Portugal since the Prime Minister ordered the review on the fourth anniversary of Madeleine's disappearance in May, 2007.

Why Barcelona? Perhaps because that was the base of the private investigators Metodo 3 the McCanns hired at great and mostly fruitless expense.

Or is it because that was the sighting of the Victoria Beckham-lookalike suspect, seen and heard outside a marina restaurant asking a complete stranger: "Have you got the girl?".

The Yard is reluctant to discuss details of the latest trip, maybe because staff are conscious of the expense totting up by its 30-man squad at a time of severe cutbacks.

Some senior cops felt they were bounced into the "investigative review" by an over-anxious Prime Minister who responded to pleas from Kate and Gerry McCann.

In the old days a full-team from the Yard was regularly parachuted in to help rescue major unsolved crimes, home and abroad.

And I'm sure they are just as welcome in Portugal and Spain as they were in Pontefract and Stevenage.

Detectives travel to Barcelona in hunt for Madeleine McCann 'to probe reports she was smuggled to Spain', 05 December 2011
Detectives travel to Barcelona in hunt for Madeleine McCann 'to probe reports she was smuggled to Spain' Daily Mail

•  Suggestions they could be looking into reports child was smuggled over border from Portugal to Spain

By Emily Allen
Last updated at 6:43 PM on 5th December 2011

Two officers from Scotland Yard travelled to Barcelona two weeks ago to liaise with officers as part of a review of the entire investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann

Detectives investigating the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have flown to Spain as part of a review into the case.

Two officers from Scotland Yard travelled to Barcelona two weeks ago to liaise with officers as part of a review of the whole investigation.

They would not confirm their specific reasons for travelling to the city, however it is thought they might be looking into reports the three-year-old was abducted and smuggled over the border from Portugal to Spain.

This morning Clarence Mitchell, the McCanns spokesman told MailOnline: 'Kate and Gerry welcome the on-going work by the Metropolitan Police and they are pleased that the investigative review is making progress.'

The trip is part of the Met Police's 'investigative review' into all the work done since the investigation into the missing child began in 2007.

It was ordered by David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May in May last year.

As part of the review detectives have also travelled to Portugal three times to speak with officers who worked on the original investigation.

They also spent the first five months reading all the information from the case file which had to be translated from Portuguese to English.

Kate and Gerry McCann seen outside the High Court in London last month where they spoke at the Leveson Inquiry

There are no suggestions of any major breakthroughs in the case.

The Evening Standard said officers could be investigating one theory that the toddler was abducted by a paedophile gang and smuggled over the border to Spain either in a vehicle or by boat.

As part of their investigation into the disappearance of the youngster, detectives released this computer-generated image in 2009 of a woman, said to resemble Victoria Beckham

There were sightings of a girl matching Madeleine's appearance in Spain shortly after she vanished and Portuguese authorities were criticised for not informing border officials for 12 hours after they first knew she was missing.

In September 2009 the McCanns received 1,000 reports following an appeal of a Victoria Beckham lookalike seen in Barcelona who they thought may be connected to the disappearance of their daughter.

Investigators wanted to trace the woman, said to have been acting suspiciously, who asked a witness at a Barcelona marina if he was there to deliver her 'new daughter' on May 7, 2007.

The well-dressed woman was described as possibly having an Australian accent and appeared agitated.

Madeline, from Rothley, Leicestershire, vanished from Portuguese holiday resort Praia da Luz in the Algarve four years ago. She was asleep in the family's holiday apartment with her brother Sean and sister Amelie when she vanished on May 3, 2007 shortly before her fourth birthday.

Her parents Gerry and Kate McCann, both doctors, were eating at a nearby tapas restaurant with friends at the time.

How Madeleine McCann might look now (left) and with dark brown hair and tanned skin in case she has been living in North Africa (right)

A Met Police spokesman said two officers had travelled to Portugal three times for the investigative review and two officers travelled to the Spanish city between November 23 and 25.

He would not reveal any further details but added: 'The investigative review is on-going.'

The official Portuguese and Leicestershire police investigation into Madeleine's disappearance ended in July 2008. However private detectives working for the McCanns have been working to trace her ever since.

British police visited Spain in missing Madeleine case, 05 December 2011
British police visited Spain in missing Madeleine case AFP

Gerry and Kate McCann have been searching for their daughter for more than four years (AFP, Marcus Brandt)
Gerry and Kate McCann have been searching for their daughter for more than four years

AFP
05/12/2011

British detectives visited the Spanish city of Barcelona last month as part of their review of the disappearance of British girl Madeleine McCann from a holiday flat in Portugal, police said on Monday.

"Three officers went to Barcelona on November 23-25 as part of the review of the case," a spokesman from London's Metropolitan police said.

He said he had "no idea" if the visit was linked to claims which appeared in the British press in 2009 that Madeleine might have been transported by sea to Barcelona after being snatched from the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz in 2007.

The Met has said there will be no limits in its re-examination of the evidence.

Madeleine went missing from an apartment in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007, a few days before her fourth birthday, as her parents and their friends dined at a restaurant nearby.

Portuguese police wound up their investigation after 14 months, but Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry won an assurance from British Prime Minister David Cameron in May that the Met would help to re-examine the evidence.

The Met spokesman said there had been "excellent cooperation" with the Portuguese authorities.

Madeleine - Police: We are making progress, 06 December 2011
Madeleine - Police: We are making progress Daily Express (paper edition)

 
Daily Express, 06 December 2011

By John Twomey
Tuesday December 6, 2011

Detectives reveal four secret visits to Spain and Portugal

-----------------

Madeleine McCann: Police: We are making progress Daily Express

Madeleine McCann went missing in May 2007

Tuesday December 6,2011

SCOTLAND Yard detectives made a secret visit to Spain in the hunt for Madeleine McCann, it was revealed yesterday.

Officers spent three days in Barcelona for confidential talks with Spanish police and law enforcement officials.

The Yard confirmed the summit had taken place as it emerged detectives have so far made three visits to Portugal in the hunt for new leads.

And police sources said yesterday: "We are making progress." Madeleine's parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, praised the Yard yesterday and said: "We are pleased the review is making progress."

Madeleine was three when she vanished from a holiday flat at the resort of Praia da Luz on the Algarve, Portugal, in May 2007.

No trace of her has been found and there is no clear picture about what happened.

But one line of inquiry was that she had been kidnapped by a paedophile gang and was smuggled into Spain by road or sea. Speculation that the key to the mystery lay across the border was fuelled by several sightings in Spain in the days following Madeleine's disappearance.

The three-man team from the Yard's Operation Grange squad spoke in detail about the sightings and various theories with their Spanish counterparts.

The trip to Spain last month and the visits to Portugal are believed to be "laying the ground work" for future liaison between police in the three countries.

There is no question that the trips either to Spain or Portugal have produced any major breakthroughs. More liaison visits are planned for the near future.

Yesterday, a Yard spokeswoman confirmed the three detectives spent three days in Barcelona from November 23 to 25. She added: "The review continues. There has been very good co-operation with Portuguese authorities and liaison will continue.

"We are not prepared to discuss specific details of these visits nor speculate about any future deployments to Portugal or elsewhere."

Portuguese police, assisted by Leicestershire Police – the McCanns' home force – carried out a massive investigation into Madeleine's disappearance. But the official inquiry was formally shelved in July 2008.

The McCanns, both doctors from Rothley, Leicestershire, are convinced clues were missed and potentially vital leads never followed up.

In despair, the couple hired a team of private investigators.

The Yard launched Operation Grange in May following a request to the then Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson from Home Secretary Theresa May, backed by the Prime Minister.

In August, police made their first of three visits to Portugal for talks with the officers involved in the original inquiry.

It is believed 30 officers are working on the review under Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, who is thought to have taken part in the Spanish talks.

There was unease among some politicians about the amount of resources dedicated to the review.

The Operation Grange team is solely engaged on the Madeleine case while other squads handle several murder investigations and cold case reviews at the same time.

Mrs McCann, 43, and Mr McCann, 42, a heart specialist, are convinced a major breakthrough will now eventually be made.

Kate McCann wrote on the Find Madeleine website at the end of October: "It is a big relief to us that our Government finally agreed for a review to take place. We are grateful to them and to the Metropolitan Police Service for undertaking this fundamental and highly valuable procedure.

"Although it will be a lengthy and difficult process, it is definitely a major step forward for Madeleine."

The McCanns say they will never give up hope of finding their daughter alive.

On the website they state: "There is absolutely nothing to suggest that Madeleine has been harmed. Madeleine is still missing and someone needs to be looking for her.

"She is very young and vulnerable and needs our help. We love her dearly and miss her beyond words."

Portuguese files reveal there have been reported sightings of Madeleine in the US, Hong Kong and New Zealand as well as Portugal and Spain.

Maddie: Attorney General's Office not part of new investigations, 06 December 2011
Maddie: Attorney General's Office not part of new investigations TVI24

Investigators were in Barcelona, but not here, assure the Attorney General's Office

By: Paula Oliveira | 6- 12- 2011 13: 24
With thanks to
Astro for translation

The English police is investigating the disappearance of Maddie McCann without the assistance of the Portuguese authorities. This information has been confirmed to TVI24 by the [Portuguese] Republic's Attorney General.

Three Scotland Yard investigators were in Barcelona between the 23rd and the 25th of November, following leads in the disappearance of the English child that disappeared from an apartment in Praia da Luz, in the Algarve, in 2007. The presence of investigators in Spain may indicate that the child was taken across the border. But Scotland Yard did not contact the Portuguese investigators.

"Scotland Yard did not have any contact with the Attorney General's Office about that issue. In the process, there is no knowledge of the existence of any new data/facts about Maddie's disappearance. The process will only be reopened under the regulations of article 279 of the Penal Process Code, which is to say, if any new elements appear that invalidate the basis for the archiving," the Attorney General's Office states in a written reply to TVI24.

The case was archived by the Attorney General's Office. Approximately one year ago, Pinto Monteiro [the Attorney General] asserted that he would only reopen it if new data appeared.

In May last year, Scotland Yard reopened the process after the personal intervention of the United Kingdom's prime minister, David Cameron.

It is not known whether the British investigators have discovered any new fact that the Portuguese police failed to notice.

In August this year, Scotland Yard confirmed to [Portuguese news] agency Lusa that they traveled to Portugal in order to discuss the Maddie case with Portuguese investigators. At that time, the Judiciary Police (PJ) and the Attorney General said they did not know about that information.

Police re-open probe into Victoria Beckham lookalike 'waiting to receive Maddie after she was snatched and smuggled to Spain', 06 December 2011
Police re-open probe into Victoria Beckham lookalike 'waiting to receive Maddie after she was snatched and smuggled to Spain' Daily Mail

•  Incident in Barcelona happened four days after child disappeared from Algarve

By DAVID RICHARDS
Last updated at 2:27 PM on 6th December 2011

Scotland Yard detectives have flown to Spain to investigate whether Madeleine McCann was abducted and smuggled across the border from Portugal before being delivered to a Victoria Beckham lookalike.

The officers, who visited Barcelona last month, are believed to be re-examining reports that the well-dressed woman asked businessman at the city's marina if he was there to deliver her 'new daughter' shortly after the youngster's disappearance.

The man, who was chaperoning his brother on a stag party, was too shocked to reply and the woman repeated the question twice more. A second member of the party also spoke to the woman before she left.

Madeleine and, right, an artist's impression of the Victoria Beckham lookalike.

Madeleine was nearly four when she went missing from her family's holiday flat in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3, 2007 as her parents Kate and Gerry dined with friends nearby. The incident with the woman happened on May 7.

The theory is that the child may have been snatched by a paedophile gang and smuggled into Spain – an hour's drive away from her family's holiday flat.

Private detectives hired by the McCanns have always believed that the suspicious incident in the Spanish port could be significant.

They made a public appeal for information about the woman, said to have an Australian or New Zealand accent and able to speak fluent Spanish, who approached the Britons drinking in a bar at 2am.

One man was approached by the woman, who was reportedly between 30 and 35, in the belief that he was someone she was expecting to meet.

He described her as appearing 'agitated'.

Kate and Gerry McCann seen outside the High Court in London last month where they spoke at the Leveson Inquiry

How Madeleine McCann might look now (left) and with dark brown hair and tanned skin in case she has been living in North Africa (right)

Madeleine, from Rothley, Leicestershire, vanished from the Algarve holiday resort four years ago. She was asleep in the family's holiday apartment with her brother and sister when she vanished shortly before her fourth birthday.

The detectives who flew to Barcelona spent three days with their Spanish colleagues and are among 30 Metropolitan Police officers carrying out a review of her case. They are also examining possible sightings of Madeleine after she vanished.

There were a number of sightings of children matching her description in Spain shortly after she disappeared, and Portuguese authorities were criticised for not alerting border and police officials until 12 hours after she went missing.

In July, Scotland Yard said it would examine all the evidence connected to the case, including material gathered by private investigators, after a request by David Cameron.

Detectives then spent months reading a huge file of case material that had to be translated from Portuguese to English.

Yesterday police played down any suggestion of a breakthrough in the case, but Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry McCann said they were 'pleased that the review is making progress'.

A Met police spokesman said: 'There has been very good co-operation with Portuguese authorities and liaison will continue.

'Officers have travelled to Portugal three times in connection with the investigative review, and three officers travelled to Barcelona. They are continuing to discuss how to take it forward and we are hopeful that we will be able to do that.'

Madeleine detective fly to Spain, 11 December 2011
Madeleine detective fly to Spain Sunday Express

Detectives will fly to Spain to pursue leads Madeleine McCann was kidnapped by organised criminals

By James Murray
Sunday December 11,2011


SCOTLAND Yard detectives will fly to Spain to pursue leads that Madeleine McCann was kidnapped to order by organised criminals.

When three officers flew to Barcelona for two days last month they met detectives from Spain's Drugs and Organised Crime Unit.

One theory being considered is that Madeleine's abduction was part of a sophisticated child kidnap racket, possibly involving Spanish gypsies.

The McCann's private investigator Dave Edgar has had discussions with Scotland Yard about a woman in Barcelona who has never been traced.

Four days after Madeleine vanished from Praia da Luz in Portugal on May 3, 2007, the woman, a Victoria Beckham lookalike, spoke to a British man on a stag night and asked him a strange question along the lines of: "Have you got her? Have you got the child?"

She appeared to be expecting to meet a man at 2am who would be handing over a child.

Scotland Yard will be examining that contact.

Screenshots from Telecinco: Breaking News, 14 December 2011

Scotland Yard searches for clues about Madeleine McCann in Barcelona, 14 December 2011
Scotland Yard searches for clues about Madeleine McCann in Barcelona El Periódico de Cataluña

New research in the case of the missing child

Barcelona detectives pass their investigations to the British officers

MAYKA NAVARRO - MADRID
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
With thanks to
Joana Morais for translation

Police from Scotland Yard seek clues about the mysterious disappearance of the little girl, Madeleine McCann, which occurred on May 3, 2007 in the Portuguese Algarve, where she was on holiday with her parents. The little girl disappeared a few days before her fourth birthday.

Agents from Scotland Yard and the Spanish National Police carry boxes with documents given by the detectives agency, yesterday in Barcelona

Detectives from Scotland Yard and the Spanish National Police carry boxes with documents given by the detective agency, yesterday in Barcelona

The British detectives collected yesterday, from the investigative agency Método 3, various boxes with copies of all the documentation that the private detectives had accumulated during the six months they worked for the parents of the girl. The London Metropolitan police reopened the case last May by order of the prime minister, David Cameron, due to a request made by the parents.

Since then, Scotland Yard, has been reviewing the investigations that were carried out. They also have available a copy of the Portuguese police investigation, that archived the case in July of 2008 due to lack of evidence. Scotland Yard has allocated thirty people to this new investigation.

On the night of her disappearance, Madeleine slept in an apartment in Praia da Luz with her two siblings whilst her parents dined at the nearby bar. Neither the police investigation, nor the private searches supported by the parents, nor the noisy media circus created around the dozens of alleged clues of the most varied kind have been able to explain what happened.

Maddy police 'following eight major new leads', 14 December 2011
Maddy police 'following eight major new leads' Evening Standard

Missing: Madeleine McCann vanished from Praia da Luz in May 2007

Tom Worden in Barcelona and Justin Davenport
14 Dec 2011

Scotland Yard detectives searching for Madeleine McCann are examining up to eight "very important" new leads after meeting Spanish private investigators, it was claimed today.

Four officers yesterday visited the Barcelona HQ of Metodo 3, the agency employed to look for her by Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry for six months after she vanished.

The British officers, from a 30-strong Met team reviewing the case, took away 30 boxes of documents compiled by the private detectives.

The agency's director, Francisco Marco, said there were "six, seven or eight very important leads" within the files which he claimed could help police to solve the case.

Madeleine, of Rothley in Leicestershire, disappeared from her parents' holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on the Algarve in Portugal in May 2007. She was days short of her fourth birthday.

It is the second visit by British officers, who were in Barcelona last month. Mr Marco said on Spanish TV today: "We have provided them with all the documents and information we have collated worldwide about Madeleine's disappearance so they can continue the investigations we carried out in Spain, Morocco and the rest of the world.

"I think there are six, seven or eight very important leads in there."

He claimed Portuguese police ignored the leads for political reasons, and that when his investigators visited Portugal, "we were never allowed to do a proper job. The English police are now continuing with an investigation which should never have been closed".

Asked if he believed Madeleine is still alive, Mr Marco said: "When we were investigating we were always trying to find a living child. Hopefully for the parents she will be found alive."

Madeleine's parents, who have younger twins, a boy and a girl, hired Metodo 3 to find Madeleine four months after she vanished, for a reported £50,000 a month.

The agency, which it was claimed had 40 staff working on the case, sent a team to Morocco to chase up leads that she might have been smuggled out of Portugal.

Today Mr Marco said he still believed that was "very possibly" what happened to her but he refused to give more details on the leads.

Eight strong leads in Madeleine McCann's disappearance were ignored by Portuguese police says private detective, 14 December 2011
Eight strong leads in Madeleine McCann's disappearance were ignored by Portuguese police says private detective Daily Mail

•  30 boxes of files handed over to Scotland Yard
•  Agency followed leads in Spain and Morocco
•  Portuguese police criticised for closing case

By TOM WORDEN
Last updated at 3:13 PM on 14th December 2011

International investigation: Francisco Marco, head of the Metodo 3 agency, said his team followed leads worldwide

Scotland Yard detectives searching for Madeleine McCann are examining up to eight 'very important' new leads after meeting private investigators in Spain, it emerged today.

Yesterday four detectives visited the Barcelona headquarters of Metodo 3 - a Spanish agency that spent six months working for Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry.

The British officers - from a 30-strong Metropolitan Police team carrying out a review of the case - took away around 30 boxes of documents compiled by the private investigators.

Afterwards the agency's director, Francisco Marco, said there were 'six, seven or eight very important leads' within the files that could help police locate Madeleine.

Mr Marco also criticised Portuguese police for failing to follow up those leads, and for shelving the Madeleine investigation.

He was a guest on the Spanish TV show The Ana Rosa Programme this morning, and said: 'We have provided (Scotland Yard) with all the documents and information we have collated worldwide about Madeleine's disappearance so they can continue the investigations we carried out in Spain, Morocco and the rest of the world.

'I think there are six, seven or eight very important leads in there.

Vanished without trace: Madeleine McCann disappeared from her bedroom in Praia de Luz, Portugal, in May 2007. Despite extensive efforts to find her, she remains missing

Still searching: Kate and Gerry McCann, at the launch of a book written by Kate, are not giving up hope

'They were passed at the time to Portuguese police who ignored them because it was a very politicised issue and they didn't want to look into anything that didn't come from their own sources... because of Portuguese chauvinism in this case, because they didn't want the English (police) or private detectives to discover more than they did.

'Every time anyone from Metodo 3 went to Portugal they were continually followed and monitored to see what they were doing.

'We were never allowed to do a proper job. Scotland Yard can now continue with all the work we did outside of Portugal and inside Portugal as well.

Dead ends: Convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett, above left, died without talking to police, while another possibly Australian suspect remains unidentified

'The English police are now continuing with an investigation which should never have been closed.'

Asked if he believed Madeleine was still alive, Mr Marco said: 'When we were investigating we were always trying to find a living child.

'I'm not going to answer your question because I don't want to offend the parents.

'Hopefully for the parents she will be found alive.

'I am a father, and to lose a child and not know where he or she is is the worst thing in the world.'

Crime scene: The holiday complex where the McCann family were staying when Madeleine went missing

Police files: Portuguese police photographed the room from where Madeleine was taken. But Mr Marco criticised the fact that they closed the case too early

Today Barcelona-based newspaper El Periodico de Catalunya published photographs of the Scotland Yard detectives, wearing suits, leaving the offices of Metodo 3, in the plush Eixample district of the city.

Metodo 3 were hired by the McCanns to look for their daughter in September 2007 - four months after Madeleine, days short of her fourth birthday, went missing during a family holiday in Praia da Luz, on the Algarve.

Metodo 3 were reportedly paid £50,000 a month to search for Madeleine and sent a team to Morocco to chase up leads that she might have been smuggled out of Portugal to north Africa.

Mr Marco was in daily contact with the McCanns, both doctors, from Rothley, Leicestershire, and claimed he had 40 staff working on the case.

In December 2007 he was criticised after claiming in a newspaper interview that he knew who had abducted Madeleine and would have her home for Christmas.

Metodo 3 continued to work part-time on the search for Madeleine after their six-month contract - funded by the McCanns' backer Brian Kennedy and the Find Madeleine Fund - expired.

Today Mr Marco said he still believed it was 'very possible' Madeleine had been smuggled out of Portugal to Morocco. He refused to go into further detail about the nature of the fresh leads.

Also included in the files taken by Scotland Yard are investigations the agency carried out into Raymond Hewlett, a convicted British paedophile who was in Portugal when Madeleine went missing and left for Morocco three weeks later.

Hewlett, an ex-soldier and convicted child rapist, died of throat cancer at the age of 64 in Germany last year having refused to talk to detectives about Madeleine's disappearance.

David Cameron asked the Met to examine all the evidence connected to the Madeleine case in July.

Scotland Yard detectives travelled to Spain last month to meet officers from the National Police and Civil Guard force.

They were also reportedly interested in chasing up a suspicious incident in Barcelona three days after Madeleine went missing.

A well-dressed woman with an Australian or New Zealand accent, described as looking like Victoria Beckham, is said to have approached a British tourist in the city's port area and asked him: 'Are you here to deliver my new daughter?'

Madeleine McCann investigators find "eight important leads", 15 December 2011
Madeleine McCann investigators find "eight important leads" Daily Mirror

Madeleine McCann has been missing since May 2007
Madeleine McCann has been missing since May 2007

By Mirror.co.uk
14/12/2011

Spanish private detectives claim they have handed Scotland Yard up to eight "very important leads" in the search for missing girl Madeleine McCann.

Four Metropolitan Police officers held talks with Barcelona firm Metodo 3, which investigated her disappearance on behalf of the family, sources said.

Officers travelled to Spain yesterday to pick up around 30 boxes of documents, investigator Francisco Marco Fernandez told Spanish TV.

Mr Fernandez, who was hired by parents Kate and Gerry for six months, told the Ana Rosa Programme he provided police "with all the documents and information we have collated worldwide about Madeleine's disappearance"

"I think there are six, seven or eight very important leads in there," he added.

A Scotland Yard spokesman refused to confirm the meeting took place. "We will not be providing a running commentary," he added.

Parents Kate and Gerry McCann
Parents Kate and Gerry McCann

Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell added: "Kate and Gerry will simply not be commenting whilst the Metropolitan Police review of Madeleine's case is under way.

"They remain pleased that the Met team is continuing its work and that progress is being made."

It is the second time officers are understood to have visited the Spanish city.

A team also spent three days with Spanish colleagues in Barcelona last month discussing the girl's disappearance across the border in Portugal.

The Metropolitan Police force has said there would be no limits in its re-examination of the search.

Madeleine was nearly four when she went missing from her family's holiday flat in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3 2007 as her parents dined with friends nearby.

The hotel in Algarve, Portgugal where Madeleine McCann went missing
The hotel in Algarve, Portgugal where Madeleine McCann went missing

Police have also travelled to Portugal three times in connection with the fresh review. A total of 30 people are now working on the force's Operation Grange.

The review prompted criticism when it was launched in May, with politicians expressing concerns that it would divert resources from other crime victims.

It was sparked after a request from Home Secretary Theresa May supported by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Portuguese detectives, helped by officers from Leicestershire Police, carried out a massive investigation into Madeleine's disappearance.

But the official inquiry was formally shelved in July 2008 and since then no police force has been actively looking for the missing child.

Madeleine McCann: Cops' 8 new tips, 15 December 2011
Madeleine McCann: Cops' 8 new tips Daily Star

ABOVE: Madeleine McCann went missing in May 2007

By Jerry Lawton, Chief Crime Correspondent
15th December 2011

BRITISH police hunting for Madeleine McCann were last night examining up to eight "important" leads after meeting private eyes.

Four detectives visited the Spanish HQ of the Metodo 3 investigation agency, which spent six months working for parents Kate and Gerry.

The Brit officers, from a 30-strong Metropolitan Police team carrying out a review of the case, took away around 30 boxes of documents.

The agency's director Francisco Marco told a Spanish TV show: "I think there are six, seven or eight very important leads in there.

"They were passed at the time to Portuguese police who ignored them because it was a very politicised issue.

"They didn't want to look into anything that didn't come from their own sources because of Portuguese chauvinism.

"We were never allowed to do a proper job. Scotland Yard can now continue with all the work we did inside and outside of Portugal."

Asked if he thought Madeleine was still alive, Mr Marco said: "When we were investigating we were always trying to find a living child. I'm not going to answer your question because I don't want to offend the parents. Hopefully for the parents she will be found alive."

Metodo 3 were hired by the McCanns to look for their daughter in September 2007, four months after the then three-year-old vanished from the couple's holiday apartment in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz.

They sent a team to Morocco to chase up leads that she might have been smuggled out of Portugal to north Africa.

Included in the files are investigations into Raymond Hewlett, a convicted British paedophile who was in Portugal when Madeleine went missing and left for Morocco three weeks later.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "We are not prepared to comment at this stage on the work being carried out by the review team but we can confirm some of our officers met with Spanish private detectives on Tuesday."

Meanwhile, a newspaper legal expert told the Leveson Inquiry he believed the McCann family gave his paper permission to publish part of Kate McCann's diary.

Tom Crone, The News Of The World's former legal manager, told the inquiry into press ethics that a representative for Madeleine's family "had given the OK".

------------------------

Maddie Tec: Cops ignored 8 leads Daily Star (paper edition headline)

Daily Star, 15 December 2011

Front page leader:

Maddie: Cops' 8 new tips

POLICE searching for missing Madeleine McCann have up to eight "very important" new leads.

Detectives from London's Met police are examining the clues, which were previously ignored by bungling officers in Portugal.

Full story: Page 7

[article same as online]





-----------------

Hope for McCanns Daily Star says...

15th December 2011

IT'S hard to believe that it is more than four years since Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

But the news that there are now up to eight new leads to investigate is the biggest breakthrough for a long time.

It also confirms what many suspected all along – that the Portuguese police were more interested in protecting their own reputations than finding Madeleine.

Thankfully, Madeleine's parents have never given up hope and have continued the search for her.

And with the help of investigators they have lots of fresh new evidence to examine.

Kate and Gerry McCann deserve to know what exactly happened to their daughter.

Let's hope these new leads come to something, for their sakes.

Madeleine: Secret files reveal four 'sightings' in Morocco, 18 December 2011
Madeleine: Secret files reveal four 'sightings' in Morocco Sunday Express

The Spanish private detective agencys secret files are key "sightings" of Madeleine in Morocco

By EXCLUSIVE from James Murray
Sunday December 18,2011

SCOTLAND YARD detectives have been given a vast dossier of unpublished details about possible sightings of Madeleine McCann that might provide a breakthrough in the four-year hunt.

Today the Sunday Express can reveal that among the Spanish private detective agency's secret files are key "sightings" of Madeleine in Morocco.

Metodo 3 director general Francisco Marco Fernandez last week gave 30 boxes of documents to four Yard detectives at his office in Barcelona.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Express, the private eye said: "I think this could be a significant moment in the effort to discoverwhat happened to the child. I am very glad all our leads will now be looked at by the Yard because they are important.

"There were about eight interesting leads which they will examine but I cannot say any more because I have agreed total secrecy with Scotland Yard."

He reluctantly spoke of four "interesting" sightings in Morocco after Madeleine, then aged four, disappeared from her ­holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, ­Portugal, on May 3, 2007.

It is known there were two possible sightings in Marrakech: one was at a petrol ­station when a child strongly resembling her was seen going into a shop three months after she was snatched.

A witness told Metodo 3 she had the same unusual eye ­feature as Madeleine.

There was another sighting of a child resembling Madeleine at an ­adjacent hotel on the same day at around the same time.

In a third sighting, a Moroccan-looking woman was seen carrying a blonde-haired, white-skinned girl.

The child was eventually identified as the five-year-old daughter of an olive farmer.

Mr Fernandez would not say if any of the four sightings in the secret dossier were already known but said: "It is very intriguing information.

"We took inquiries as far as we could and then handed it over to the Portuguese police. We did it all in the proper way, wrote a report then gave it to Spanish police and they would pass it on to the Portuguese police for us.

"We never really heard back from the Portuguese so I can't say what they did."

Asked if he ever spoke to the former Portuguese detective in charge of the hunt, Goncalo Amaral, he frowned and shook his head. "Don't talk to me about that man," he said. "I can't believe the things he said in his book. He got it so wrong."

However, Mr Amaral told the Sunday Express that Metodo 3 never provided a strong lead. "They gave information about sightings but it was not enough and you could not prove it was Madeleine," he said.

A source close to Metodo 3 said: "Officially or unofficially Metodo 3 have never stopped looking for Madeleine. It was the biggest job they were ever given. People literally went all over the world and it has become very personal for many of them."

When Mr Fernandez was asked if Madeleine's parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, had requested him to hand over his files to the Yard, said: "Of course, I would need their permission but I am not going to say any more. All our ­dealings with the McCanns are confidential and private."

In November the Scotland Yard detectives hunting for Madeleine spent two days talking to high-ranking Spanish detectives with expertise in organised crime syndicates in Spain and Portugal. Among theories being examined was that she was smuggled out of Portugal on a yacht which sailed to ­Barcelona.

At the city's marina on May 7, 2007, a British holidaymaker told private investigators about a bizarre encounter.

In the early hours a woman asked him if he was about to deliver her "new" daughter.

That woman has never been traced.

The Yard's activities have given new hope to doctors Kate and Gerry McCann, both 43, of Rothley, Leicestershire. Yesterday their spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: "They are very pleased that police are continuing to work and review the case and that progress is being made.

"They welcome this and hope the team will bring a new ­perspective to the case. For operational reasons we cannot comment on details of the review but it is a step in the right direction."

Kate has criticised officers in the botched Portuguese investigation for not bothering to ­follow up leads in North Africa, particularly the sighting in Marrakesh.

In her book, Madeleine, she tells of her anger that little was done about the sighting at a petrol station near Marrakesh.

A month later police were told the witness had still not been interviewed.

She writes: "It was intolerable. This was our daughter's life they were dealing with, not a stolen car radio."

Cops rule Maddie abducted, 18 December 2011
Cops rule Maddie abducted Daily Star Sunday

ABOVE: Maddie McCann vanished four years ago

By Sunday Star Reporter
18th December 2011


POLICE have finally admitted Madeleine McCann was abducted four years ago.

Her parents Kate and ­Gerry had fought ­authorities to accept she was snatched from their holiday apartment in ­Portugal.

But only now have ­detectives put in writing that her case is one of ­abduction.

The Met at first refused to release paperwork under the Freedom of ­Information Act on the grounds it would "adversely harm the ­investigation".

But, after an appeal, ­police finally handed over details to the Daily Star Sunday last week after a wait of nearly three months.

A source close to the McCanns, both 43, said: "Kate and Gerry are pleased the police are treating it as an abduction because that's what they have said was the case since Madeleine went missing."

A Scotland Yard review of Madeleine's case began in May after pressure from the Prime Minister and Home Secretary Theresa May.

Met police spokesman ­Simon Fisher told the Daily Star Sunday the terms ­allowed for "investigating any sort of lead" from ­studying the files.

A spokesman for the ­McCanns said: "We are pleased the review is ­making progress."

Investigations into missing people never expire, 02 January 2012
Investigations into missing people never expire Diário de Notícias (paper edition)

Missing children

PRIORITIES Cases involving children are considered urgent. Very often a disappearance turns out to be a crime of homicide.

by Rute Coelho
2 January 2012
With thanks to
Joana Morais for translation

92 missing people appear in the Polícia Judiciária's database, including adults and children. The inspector Ramos Caniço points out a fundamental difference between homicide cases and investigations into missing people: "Missing people cases never expire. Homicide cases lapse 15 years after the crime, if an arguido isn't constituted."

In investigations into the missing there is also a principle investigators have already in mind. "Most adults disappear on their own free will." This means investigations into missing children are always a priority. And then there are cases that are kept in the missing persons database even though they are classed with a different category. "Madeleine McCann is a case registered as an abduction, even though there isn't any evidence that she was kidnapped."

In the cases of the missing found dead, the cause of death is, usually, an accident. Ramos Caniço gives the the example of an elderly man who was found dead by the police section that investigates missing people cases in Lisbon, just six days after being reported missing. "He fell down in a ditch close to a river three kilometres away from his house. He died of cold."

In 2010, the missing people section of Lisbon started investigating a case that turned out to be an homicide. "The corpse of a man was found floating in a dam in Alentejo. The man was reported as missing, however, it was a homicide case. We found the suspect in Lisbon withdrawing money with the victim's credit card and the case was transferred to the Homicide unit."

In cases of missing children, the missing people section of Lisbon guarantees that "at present, there is no child aged up to ten years old missing in the Lisbon area." The exception to this being the very old cold cases.

"Processes: In 2011 the PJ had almost 60 homicide cases to solve.(...) This year alone the Homicide section of the Polícia Judiciária had to investigate 56 homicide cases carried over from last year. In 2010, the PJ initiated 187 inquests for homicide, of which 131 were verified as such, clarified and concluded. In addition to the homicides there are 92 people still to be found. That is, over 150 ongoing investigations remain open in two areas alone: homicides and missing people. (....)" (Note: extract from the article "More than 150 crimes waiting for a solution", page 18, paper edition of Diário de Notícias)

"Solution to the Maddie Case is in the Process"

3 questions to...

Gonçalo Amaral

former Judiciary Police coordinator of investigations

Do you feel somewhat frustrated because the Madeleine case wasn't concluded?
Not exactly, in the Madeleine McCann case there was always plenty of evidence and that is in the process. The solution to the Maddie case is in the process. I never had any doubts whatsoever of what took place that day of May 3, 2007. I didn't have doubts nor did the British police, the parents of the child were the ones who had doubts. There are more ideas of what happened in this process than in Rui Pedro's case.

How to prove the Judiciary Police thesis?
If a reconstruction of the events of that day had been enacted that would be enough. However Kate and Gerry McCann refused to participate. It's a shame.

Did you have many unsolved cases in the 30 years working for the Judiciary Police?
A few, not many. But I've spent most of my time working in drug trafficking cases. In the Azores, I had two unsolved homicide cases, but they were old cases from the 80's.

Operation Grange, 04 January 2012
Operation Grange Metropolitan Police

 
Operation Grange

On 12 May 2011 the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) announced that, at the request of the Home Secretary, it had agreed to bring its particular expertise to the Madeleine McCann case.

The then Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, considered the request and took the decision that on balance it was the right thing to do. This was subject to funding being made available by the Home Office, as this case is beyond the MPS's jurisdiction.

The Portuguese authorities retain the lead.

While the MPS will not provide a running commentary on its involvement, known as Operation Grange, it is felt appropriate to make the remit available to the public and it is available in the related publications.

-----------------

Operation Grange - Remit of Investigation Metropolitan Police (Word doc)

 
Operation Grange - Remit of Investigation

The support and expertise proffered by the Commissioner will be provided by the Homicide & Serious Crime Command - SCD1.

The activity, in the first instance, will be that of an 'investigative review'. This will entail a review of the whole of the investigation(s) which have been conducted in to the circumstances of Madeleine McCann's disappearance.

The focus of the review will be of the material held by three main stakeholders (and in the following order of primacy);
  • The Portuguese Law Enforcement agencies.
  • UK Law Enforcement agencies,
  • Other private investigative agencies/staff and organisations.
The investigative review is intended to collate, record and analyse what has gone before.

It is to examine the case and seek to determine, (as if the abduction occurred in the UK) what additional, new investigative approaches we would take and which can assist the Portuguese authorities in progressing the matter. Whilst ordinarily a review has no investigative remit whatsoever- the scale and extent of this enquiry cannot permit for such an approach. It will take too long to progress to any "action stage" if activity is given wholly and solely to a review process.

The 'investigative review' will be conducted with transparency, openness and thoroughness.

The work will be overseen through the Gold Group management structure, which will also manage the central relationships with other key stakeholders and provide continuing oversight and direction to the investigative remit.

End

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information for UK law enforcement agencies Metropolitan Police (Word doc)

 
information for UK law enforcement agencies


 

Metropolitan Police Service

SCD1
Homicide Command

Disappearance of Madeleine McCann.
3rd May 2007

For the information of all UK law enforcement agencies.

The Metropolitan Police Service is conducting an Investigative Review into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann aged 3yrs on the 3rd May 2007 in Praia da Luz Portugal.

At 12.00hrs on Tuesday 14th June 2011 UK primacy for this matter formally passed from Leicestershire Constabulary to the Metropolitan Police Service under Operation GRANGE.

All future communication should be sent to the incident room at:-

Major Investigation Team 5
Homicide and Serious Crime Command
Belgravia Police station
202-206 Buckingham Palace Rd
London SW1W 9SX

Tel 020 7321 9251
Fax 020 7321 6994
E-mail : Operation.Grange@met.police.uk
           Operation.Grange@met.pnn.police.uk

Urgent out of hours contact can be made via the Serious Crime Directorate Reserve at New Scotland Yard on 020 7230 8666.

Cold case team in Madeleine McCann hunt, 29 January 2012
Cold case team in Madeleine McCann hunt Daily Star Sunday

ABOVE: Madeleine McCann's parent Kate and Gerry

By Jonathan Corke
29th January 2012

THE British police hunt for Madeleine McCann will cost more than £1.3million in its first year.

Scotland Yard's 37-strong team includes three detective inspectors and five detective sergeants.

There are also 19 detective ­constables on the case under the lead of Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood.

And three of the country's top cold case officers have been brought in.

The three, from the ­Metropolitan Police's Murder Review Group, are assisting the main Operation Grange team ­reviewing the Madeleine case files.

The combined salaries of the team total more than £1.3million with thousands also being spent ­following up leads, including at least four trips abroad.

The Met has vowed there will be no limits to the probe, which is being funded through a grant from the Home Office.

Already this year the cold case squad has seen Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, brought to justice over the 1993 murder of black teenager Stephen ­Lawrence.

Detective Chief ­Superintendent Hamish Campbell, who led the Jill Dando ­murder inquiry, is also involved.

The Met refused to say if he was one of the three taking part in the Madeleine case but, we can reveal, he is helping oversee the probe.

Along with Commander Simon Foy, Mr Redwood and Detective Inspector Tim Dobson, Mr ­Campbell is part of a "Gold Group" monitoring the review.The group has met eight times since it began last May to discuss progress.

A spokesman for the Met said: "A Major ­Investigation Team is assigned to Operation Grange. Staff ­numbers are open to change ­depending on the needs of the ­review."

Three-year-old Madeleine was on holiday with her parents Kate and Gerry, both 43, when she was snatched from their holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, ­Portugal, in May 2007.

At Christmas the McCanns said they remain hopeful of a breakthrough, adding: "Our search for Madeleine and the Metropolitan Police review of the case are ­progressing well."

Around £2.5million raised through a fund set up by the ­McCanns, from Rothley, Leics, has been spent on the hunt for the youngster.

Met bill for Maddy soars to £2million, 01 February 2012
Met bill for Maddy soars to £2million Evening Standard

Still missing: Madeleine McCann

Justin Davenport, Crime Editor
1 Feb 2012

The cost of the Met's review of the Madeleine McCann investigation is set to reach £2 million less than a year after it was launched, the Evening Standard reveals today.

The bill for 30 detectives, translation and travel expenses has soared since David Cameron called in Scotland Yard last May.

Detectives from the homicide squad were asked to examine the case of the missing three-year-old after the Prime Minister acted on the request of Madeleine's parents. A spokesman for Kate and Gerry McCann said: "They have always been very appreciative of the time and resources that the British police and Home Office have committed to the search for Madeleine and they are grateful that the review is ongoing."

Met detectives have made at least four trips to Portugal and Spain to meet police and private investigators who were engaged in the original investigation.

When the review was announced it sparked controversy over the use of public funds. Labour peer Lord Harris has said the case raises "very big questions", adding: "There is clearly an issue about the resources being used."

The cost is disclosed in a document to the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime. Sources say the Met has already sent the Home Office a bill for £800,000 but the figure is expected to reach £1.9 million by the end of the financial year next month.

The bill includes the costs of the detectives' salaries, translation and interpretation fees and travel expenses. Madeleine disappeared from her parents' holiday apartment in Praia da Luz on the Algarve in Portugal on May 3 2007.

She vanished days before her fourth birthday as her parents dined with friends yards away. Since then there have been hundreds of "sightings" of Madeleine around the world but none confirmed.

The official police inquiry into her disappearance was shelved in July 2008 but private detectives employed by the McCanns continued the search.

Scotland Yard says the trips to Portugal, and now Spain, are part of "laying the groundwork" for future co-operation between the police forces.

Officers are examining all the evidence connected to the case, including material gathered by private investigators.

Detectives have spent months reading a huge file of case material that had to be translated from Portuguese to English at a considerable cost. In December detectives met Spanish colleagues in Barcelona to check on reports that the toddler had been abducted and smuggled across the border.

Private investigators in Spain also handed the Met police team 30 boxes of evidence which they claimed contained up to eight "important new leads".

However, sources say the inquiry could take years to complete and they have played down hopes of a major breakthrough in the review so far.

The cost of the inquiry compares with the £80 million spent on the policing operations to tackle and investigate the summer riots.

Madeleine McCann review soars to £2m, 01 February 2012
Madeleine McCann review soars to £2m The Independent

Sam Marsden
Wednesday 01 February 2012

Scotland Yard's review of the Madeleine McCann case is expected to cost nearly £2 million in its first year.

Detectives from the Metropolitan Police's Homicide and Serious Crime Command are carrying out a re-examination of the original investigation into the girl's disappearance in Portugal in May 2007.

Since beginning work last May, the British officers have travelled to Spain and Portugal to pursue lines of inquiry.

Scotland Yard said it expected to recover £1.9 million from the Home Office for the cost of the Madeleine case review up to the end of March this year, of which it has already claimed for £800,000.

Madeleine was nearly four when she went missing from her family's holiday flat in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on May 3 2007 as her parents Kate and Gerry dined with friends nearby.

Portuguese detectives, helped by officers from Leicestershire Police, carried out a massive investigation into her disappearance.

But the official inquiry was formally shelved in July 2008 and since then no police force has been actively looking for the missing child.

Scotland Yard's review of the case, called Operation Grange, was launched after a request from Home Secretary Theresa May supported by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Critics have argued that the decision to bring in Met detectives to review the evidence about what happened to Madeleine has undermined the force's independence and diverted resources from other crime victims.

Madeleine McCann detectives to call in Tapas 7, 05 February 2012
Madeleine McCann detectives to call in Tapas 7 Sunday Express

Sunday Express, 05 February 2012

 

Madeleine McCann disappeared five years ago

By James Murray
Sunday February 5,2012

SCOTLAND YARD detectives are poised to interview the so-called Tapas Seven as their inquiry into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann steps up a gear.

The friends of Kate and Gerry McCann, who accompanied them on their holiday to Portugal almost five years ago, are expecting interview requests as soon as officers feel they could assist the investigation.

So far, the Yard's Maddie Squad has been concentrating on analysing every scrap of evidence in the case from files supplied by Leicestershire police, ­Portuguese detectives and Metodo 3, the Barcelona-based private investig­ators hired by the McCanns.

Officers have flown to Portugal three times and visited Spain twice.

With much of the analysis over, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood wants to put his team of three detective chief inspectors, five detective sergeants and 19 detective constables to good use.

They are being supported by six civilian staff and three officers from the specialist murder review group, bringing the total number on the team to 37.

By April the cost of the inquiry will be £1.9million but it is thought that figure could double with the "investigative review" going into next year.

After nine months of information gathering, officers are checking statements from key witnesses.

They include the Tapas Seven, so called because they were eating at a tapas bar with Kate and Gerry at the time Madeleine disappeared.

In some cases the Yard officers have asked for documents to be retranslated from ­Portuguese to English so that they are absolutely sure of what was said and meant.

One theory they are examining is that if someone abducted Madeleine they could have had a copy of the key for the holiday apartment at the Ocean Club in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz.

The Sunday Express has learned that the Tapas Seven "fully expect" to be asked to go over the statements they made to Portuguese officers shortly after Madeleine vanished on May 3, 2007.

They were also interviewed by Leicestershire detectives, with Portuguese officers in attendance, when they arrived home.

The most significant witness is mother-of-two Jane Tanner, partner of doctor Russell O'Brien, who said she saw a man carrying a child resembling Madeleine some time after 9pm.

Another key witness is Matthew Oldfield, who went to the apartment to check on Madeleine and twins Sean and Amelie, who celebrated their seventh birthdays last week.

Mr Oldfield saw the twins in their cot but did not push the door open wide enough to see Madeleine, although he was happy all was well.

All the Tapas Seven fully support the Yard's review of the case and hope it will provide a breakthrough.

Other members of the group include Mr Oldfield's wife Rachael, David and Fiona Payne and her mother Dianne Webster.

A Yard spokesman declined to say who would be interviewed and when. "We are not going into that level of details," he said. "We are not at the stage of speaking to individuals yet. We are laying the groundwork."

The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said they and their friends would do everything to assist attempts to discover what happened to Madeleine.

MacIntyre Investigates: Irish witness key to Maddie case review, 05 February 2012
MacIntyre Investigates: Irish witness key to Maddie case review Sunday World (article appears in paper edition)

Donal MacIntyre, Sunday World article, 05 February 2012

Donal MacIntyre, Sunday World article, 05 February 2012

Abductor may have had keys to apartment

UK cops believe snatch sighting's vital to conspiracy

By Donal MacIntrye
Sunday February 5, 2012

A SIGHTING by an Irish holidaymaker has been placed at the centre of the cold case review into the abduction of Madeleine McCann.

A full re-investigation of the baffling disappearance is being carried out by London Metropolitan police.

The Sunday World can reveal that as part of the probe, Irish witness Martin Smith is to be re-interviewed about a man he saw carrying a child away from the Ocean Club complex in Praia da Luz complex in the Algarve around the time Maddie was snatched.

Investigators had earlier discounted the possible sighting because of the timing, but now believe it may have been the last time anyone saw the three-year-old who disappeared almost five years ago.

The Smith sighting is key to a new theory that whoever took Maddie may have had unauthorised keys to access the apartment where she was sleeping and other properties nearby.

Police are probing whether lax arrangements made it possible for keys to be accessed and copied.

Abduction

As part of the full review, Kate and Gerry McCann will also be re-interviewed about the details of the night of May 3, 2007, as will all of their dinner party, the so-called Tapas Seven, who ate with them at the complex restaurant the night of the abduction.

It will form a re-examination of the crucial first hour after the vanishing, which was within the time frame that Martin Smith reported seeing a man heading past him with fair-haired child in his arms.

As well as re-interviewing all the key witnesses, UK police officers are making new translations of all the previous interviews by the Portuguese police in an attempt to get to the bottom of the most high-profile missing child cases of recent decades.

An insider source described how the detectives re-investigating the case are now working on the theory that someone with connections to the resort where the McCanns stayed with their three children, may have had access to keys and may have provided support to the paedophile gang which abducted the bright-eyed three-year-old.

The review of the case - which initially was supposed to be a paper exercise - has evolved into a complete fresh investigation by a group of experienced murder detectives based in New Scotland Yard.

Sources say that officers have made the testimony of Irish witness Martin Smith a central plank in a new theory to help explain the disappearance. Smith, from Drogheda, who was in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz with his family, witnessed a man carrying a sleeping, barefoot child between 9.40pm and 10pm on the night that Maddie disappeared.

He saw a man hold a small, fair-haired child, close to his chest in similar pink pyjamas to the ones Maddie was wearing. The sighting took place about a half a mile from the McCanns' Ocean Club apartment. Maddie was put to bed by the McCanns, wearing Marks & Spencers pyjamas comprising a short-sleeved pink top with an 'EEYORE' inscription from Pooh Bear.

The man was heading towards the sea front with the child and police now believe that this is the same man that Jane Tanner, one of the Tapas seven, who were holidaying with the McCanns, saw carrying a child away from the front entrance of the McCanns' apartment, around 9.15pm that same night.

A source explained that previously it was thought that these two sightings were incompatible because of the time delay between them. However, now detectives are investigating the theory that Maddie could have been moved to another nearby apartment in or around the complex in a highly planned abduction until there was an opportunity to bring her out of the resort.

It transpires that the keys to the apartments surrounding the complex were not logged or sufficiently secure and multiple copies could have been in use, allowing the abductor to have access to the McCanns' apartment through the locked front door and giving the possible access to nearby apartments to hide Maddie until the coast was clear to make a dash out of the resort.

Shambles

Officers attached to the new investigation, which the McCanns long campaigned for, are hopeful that answers can be found. They are keen that he fifth anniversary in three months' time will generate more public leads and information to shed light on the baffling mystery.

The new investigation is born out of the shambles of the first inquiry which descended into diplomatic warfare between the British and Portuguese authorities after the McCanns were made suspects in their own daughter's disappearance.

Key forensic failures by the Policia Judiciaria, the local CID and the first officers on the scene, along with a number of other critical errors by Goncalo Amaral, the lead Portuguese detective who was eventually sacked from the case, led the British Prime Minister David Cameron to order the current review.

The new investigation has already cost nearly €3million, adding to the €1million that the British Home Office and the McCanns' local force, Leicestershire Police had, already spent on the case before the current review.

The Scotland Yard team of investigators are understood to be working on eight new leads and have already interview the original investigating officers and travelled to Spain and Portugal in the hunt for the truth about Maddie's disappearance.

--------------

Cold Case Review: In search of Maddie Sunday World (appears in True Crime magazine)

Cold Case Review: In search of Maddie

Cold Case Review: In search of Maddie

Cold Case Review: In search of Maddie

Donal MacIntyre travels to Praia da Luz, Portugal, to review the evidence in one of the most baffling abduction cases ever

By Donal MacIntrye
Sunday February 5, 2012

The disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the most controversial missing child case in recent times continues to intrigue and confound investigators and the public alike.

The London Metropolitan Police current review of the case has sparked renewed hope that it may yet be solved, and sources close to the investigation say that they have made significant inroads into piecing together the true story of what happened.

Still, after millions of euro spent on the investigation and without a perpetrator in custody, the starting place for review of the case is where Maddie was last seen - in a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, on Portugal's glorious sunshine coast.

Since those events of four years ago, a little piece of paradise has become a macabre visitor attraction, where people hold the hands of their children tighter and look around suspiciously, struggling to separate the guilty from the millions of innocent tourists who visit the Algarve every year.

The Find Maddie posters are worn and tired and the locals in Praia da Luz have grown weary of the case and the damage it has done to their business. Here in the cafes and restaurants, it's only the foreigners that whisper the name of Madeleine McCann and discuss the ins and outs of one of the most complex and extraordinary child abduction case in recent history. Before the dark events of May 3 2007 this resort was an affordable haven for family sunseekers shrouded in a blanket of innocence, but now nearly five years later, the ever-present birdsong cannot hide the sombre air that surrounds the former tourist magnet.

The Madeleine McCann mystery is a case where everyone has an often heated opinion. Outside the white-washed apartment 5a at the Ocean Club, even in the off season, cars and pedestrians pull up and share their theories among themselves. Irish voices mix with English accents and other European languages, but the fingers point to the same windows and pathways, working out the possibilities and all struggling to understand how a child can simply seemingly vanish into thin air.

Until answers are found, children are not left out of the sight of cautious parents. There simply is no longer a margin of error accepted here when it comes to the safety of children. Chances were taken once upon a time with tragic consequences, but not anymore.

Today there is more lighting around the complex but little else has changed. Until the kidnappers are caught, the unspoken fear will remain that Praia da Luz, in the words of Somerset Maughan, is a sunny place for shady people.

All that remains visible of the Madeleine McCann campaign can be found in a touching shrine in the beautiful Our Lady of the Light church on the seafront.

Inside a, heart-shaped poster pleads 'Pray for me'.

Below it, 10 electric candles flicker in her memory. Many more will be lit before this mystery is solved.

While I surveyed the scene in a cold case review of the abduction, I was immediately struck by the vulnerability of the apartment complex to anyone who had evil on their mind.

Holiday resorts and their transient populations have long been a hiding place for paedophiles and sex offenders. Although there are 20 known offenders living in the Algarve, it is the visiting paedophile that is most difficult to detect and account for. In a week on site near the crime scene I conducted a review of most of the available evidence relating to the abduction and had lengthy discussions with numerous Portuguese sources who cannot be identified.

It is a perplexing case that is difficult to unravel, but if we take the statements of the McCanns and accept the accuracy of their timings then there remains only a tiny time frame for Madeleine to have been abducted or disappear by other means. She either made her own way out of the apartment by herself into oblivion or was abducted from inside the apartment, but whatever happened according to the statements must have happened in a three-minute window.

This is the gap between Gerry McCann's 9pm-9.10pm check-in on his children in the apartment and the sighting by Jane Tanner, one of his group, of a man carrying a child in his arms away from the apartment complex between 9.10 and 9.15pm on May 3 2007. In the McCanns' mind, this is the likely abductor.

The road around the complex has new footpaths and a freshly tarmaced road, but that wasn't the case at the time of the kidnap. Then it was a dusty backstreet with little light. Around 10.15pm, Madeleine was discovered missing by Kate McCann. She shouted down to those at the tapas bar 150 metres away that her fair-haired little girl was gone. Crucial to unravelling the whole case is clearly establishing what precisely took place from 8pm to 10.15pm on the night Madeleine vanished.

Having settled Madeleine, then three, and their two-year-old twins, Sean and Amelie, Gerry and Kate, from Rothley, Leicestershire, have a glass of wine before heading of to the tapas bar, a minute's walk away, to join their friends Jane Tanner and her partner Russell O'Brien, Rachel and Matthew Oldfield, David and Fiona Payne and Diane Webster.

They walk down a number of steps, open a small wrought-iron gate on a pathway that faces onto the Mark Warner complex. A wall separates the path from the resort and blocks off the view from the resort to the steps to apartment 5a.

The couple turned left for 20 metres and then right for another 50 metres onto a busy road before take a left into the enclosed swimming pool, bar and restaurant complex. While there, various members of the party come and go, following the same path that Gerry and Kate McCann took to the bar. None sees anything suspicious.

At about 9pm Gerry leaves the table and walks over to the apartment to check on the twins and Madeleine.

He enters the apartment and then goes to the toilet. He checks on his children and savours a proud father's moment as he stands by the doorway looking into the back bedroom where they are all soundly asleep.

The twins are in cots and Madeleine in bed, holding her favourite toy, Cuddle Cat. Gerry spends up to 10 minutes in the five-room apartment and will only later reflect that he felt there was someone else there at the same time.

For the kidnap to have taken place, I believe Gerry's gut instinct was sound. It is arguable that the abductor was in the flat at the time. Fixated preferential paedophiles, the most dangerous kind, spend every waking hour thinking of their next opportunity to abuse and take pleasure from young children. They put a huge amount of time into targeting and priming their victims and so it would not be unusual for a serious sex offender to enter the property and prepare the scene for the snatch and escape.

So we may assume that a few minutes before Gerry arrived, the abductor walked along the public road beside the apartment, opened the gate, walked up 10 steps to the patio and entered through the open patio doors. These doors could only be locked from inside and for convenience were left open by Gerry and Kate. Previous occupants used the front door of the apartment, facing onto a car park, to exit and kept the patio door locked permanently.

At this stage, with Gerry McCann in the apartment, the abductor may have been a heartbeat away from being caught. But where could the abductor have hidden in the tiny apartment? Gerry walked through the front room, used the bathroom and looked in on the children - but did he check anywhere else? Recollections after traumatic events are often ragged; add in a few drinks and the emotional distress and guilt and exact details of timings and actions may not be accurate. But McCann is a doctor used to working under pressure with a huge capacity for observation on his rounds, so we must give more credit to his testimony than we would give to a normal citizen.

Taking Gerry McCann's intuition and statements on board, it was in my view highly likely that the abductor was probably in the children's bedroom, possibly behind the door or crouching behind the furniture.

As Gerry strolls out of the patio doors, closing but not locking them, he leaves through the same small gate facing the road where the abductor had entered minutes before.

Just outside, he meets television producer Jes Wilkins on the way back to the tapas bar. There is not another soul on the street. I worked with Wilkins in the past. Even while on holiday, he is still a trained observer and yet he saw nothing out of the ordinary. He was a holiday tennis partner for Gerry and it was possibly just after this chat that Maddie was taken into the night.

Back inside the apartment the abductor must be breathing a sigh of relief as Gerry leaves, before he realises his exit route is blocked. It is conceivable that Gerry has an eyeline to the front of the apartment, and, if not, certainly can hear steps coming down from where he is standing. The kidnapper would then have had to find an alternative exit outside the back window towards the front door, which we believe was deadlocked without the key at hand. For this, help is essential. This is where an accomplice to the abductor would prove essential. Grotesquely, paedophiles support each other in their disgusting plans and teams of two would not be unusual. From Myra Hindley and Ian Brady to Fred and Rosemary West, sex offenders working in pairs are not altogether unusual.

The abductor inside the apartment could have passed Madeleine - possibly unconscious or drugged with chloroform - through the open window into the accomplice's arms.

In the distance, the voices of Gerry McCann and Jes Wilkins could likely be heard wafting through the air.

What trauma would Madeleine suffer if, terrified and forcibly kept silent, she hears Dad's voice as she is bundled into the hands of dangerous strangers? At the same time - about 9.10pm - and unnoticed by Wilkins and Gerry, Jane Tanner observes them chatting.

The kidnapper holding Madeleine retreats to the adjacent car park before heading on to the same footpath where, a short distance downhill, Gerry and Wilkins are talking. The accomplice makes his way out of the window and into the darkness.

The kidnappers think they have got away with it, but they are on the brink of being caught.

Despite hearing the voices of Madeleine's father a short distance away, the kidnapper holding the girl plans to cross the road junction just above them just a glance away from McCann and Wilkins.

As he hits the footpath, he would have seen both men chatting and Jane Tanner heading his way on the opposite side of the street to Wilkins and Gerry McCann - three potential witnesses to the abduction, including the father of the child. Although not a busy street, Wilkins and McCann did not see Tanner. This misfitting testimony is not unusual in criminal cases and to my mind is plausible.

But why would the abductors choose such a potentially disastrous course? Was it to connect with a getaway driver or was it just bad planning?

The seven seconds he took to cross the road were either well-planned, foolhardy or a sign of breathtaking confidence. In any case, the kidnapper never faltered and was never seen again.

Jane Tanner says he was carrying a child. She believes it was Madeleine and her theory is supported by the McCanns' private investigators.

The timing of the statements from the key witnesses suggests that there was a maximum of three to five minutes for the abduction to be executed.

In such circumstances only good planning and co-ordination could make this possible. It would be an extraordinary effort, needing an astonishing degree of luck, if this had been done on an opportunistic basis.

The clean execution of the kidnap, without a hint of a DNA trace or any usable evidence, means it was highly professional and planned with precision.

Such precision is the hallmark of fixated, obsessive sexual predators.

And it's easy to see how the area could be viewed as a magnet for sex offenders. It has a creche, school and nursery in the nearby Ocean Club complex. Add a transient population of young holidaymakers and you have a lot of attractions for predators.

With its road access, the McCanns' apartment was the most vulnerable in the complex and it is easy to see why a paedophile would make it a target.

There is, however, another rational alternative to this theory. If perhaps we say that Jane Tanner saw a child but that it wasn't Maddie, then could it be that the little girl simply woke up and walked out of the apartment to find her parents and got lost before being snatched by an opportunist sex offender? Young children often wander and while it may have been uncharacteristic, it is still a possibility.

The McCanns' regrettable decision to leave the kids in the flat was informed by the apparently secure nature of the holiday complex. The complex had a check-in system for their children rather than babysitters and this gap in the childcare arrangements may have allowed the abductor to strike.

I walked unchallenged past a security guard and into the resort with ease. We don't expect holiday resorts to be prison camps, but in the aftermath of the tragic case I expected a little better. In minutes I was surrounded by children and parents. I had a drink and left. Two hours later I returned and again was not challenged.

The Metropolitan Police are investigating eight leads given to them by Spanish Police.

"We are very grateful for the comprehensive review by the Met and clearly what was supposed to be just a paper exercise has transpired to be something more proactive. Gerry and Kate are hopeful that answers will come from this investigation and have not given up hope that Maddie is alive and will be found," Clarence Mitchell, the couple's spokesman, told the Sunday World.

It's understood that the pace of developments has surprised the investigators, and Scotland Yard and the Met are keen to solve this crime to demonstrate their world-renowned prowess. The review is a serious insult to the Portuguese authorities, who were suitably embarrassed by their earlier investigations.

For now the assurance is that every clue and lead will be revised in a methodical manner to make sure that nothing was lost in the initial inquiry, although catching the perpetrator at this stage would require plenty of luck. It will be ironic after the millions spent on the investigation if the predator is caught by chance. The likely scenario is if the child snatcher is arrested in connection with the disappearance or even stopped in the process of a similar crime. This could provide the clue or even provoke a confession and lead to the solving of this extraordinary mystery.

These type of crimes yield their answers slowly, but ultimately the answers are usually forthcoming. The question is whether Maddie will be alive if and when this terrible crime is solved.

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'Blame the parents' response can give killers more time

COPS are well used to the window of opportunity that exists in the immediate aftermath of a disappearance.

But when it's a child that goes missing, that window can be open for a matter of just hours.

It's why questions are increasingly being asked about the gut response of many investigators: blame the parents.

It may be an obvious and easy explanation when a child disappears, but by focussing single-mindedly within the family in those first vital few hours, police play into the hands of the real culprits if, as in the case of Madeleine McCann, they are wrong.

The Portuguese police, while focussing so intently on Kate and Gerry McCann as suspects in the disappearance of their daughter, damaged the investigation, perhaps fatally, by letting the trail go cold on the guilty and by alienating those who were in the best position to help.

There is a litany of cases involving missing children where the parents have initially been implicated in their disappearance and the instantaneous suspicions that hung like a cloud over the McCanns were no different.

People naturally feel that a missing child is a failure of parenting. It is in some way reassuring to think that family members are responsible, according to experts.

This blame directed at the parents may make us feel more protected in our homes by diluting the threat of predators to our own lives and to our children. It serves our basest instincts and is somehow comforting, according to Professor David Protess, from the Chicago Innocence Project, who has studied cases similar to the McCann case.

"The public wants to believe that a child's bedroom is a safe haven from predators. It's reassuring to think that family members are responsible when a child vanishes, especially from her home. And that's often true. The family should be questioned as possible suspects under these circumstances.

"But when the primary focus is on the parents, tunnel vision can take hold and the trail for other suspects can grow cold. Putting the parents under a cloud of suspicion will also prompt lawyers to insulate even innocent clients, depriving the authorities of information that might prove useful in their investigation," he said.

It happened in the case of the murder of six-year-old beauty pageant queen JonBenet Ramsey in Boulder, Colorado, in December 1996.

It was case that had as much publicity as the McCann case and it too placed the parents in the spotlight as suspects. It wasn't until July 2008 - 12 years after JonBenet's murder - that DNA tests finally exonerated the family from any involvement in the case, which was one of the most high profile in the US in recent decades.

The Ramsey coverage was fuelled by leaks from the local police and, just like the McCanns, the Ramseys also secured several significant payouts from news organisations for pushing too hard on accusations that they had involvement in their own child's death.

The McCanns have won in excess of a million pounds from legal actions against various newspaper groups over their reporting of the case, all of which has gone to fund their private and ongoing search for Madeleine.

The McCanns have never forgiven themselves for leaving their children alone that night - but it didn't turn them into killers, as the Portuguese police came to believe very early on in their investigation. It is a right and proper investigation technique to put the last known person who saw Maddie, that being Gerry McCann, into the mix, but to exclude too hastily other lines of enquiry was poor detective work.

KeirSimmonsITV Twitter, 09 February 2012
KeirSimmonsITV Twitter

 
KeirSimmonsITV, Twitter, 09 February 2012

KeirSimmonsITV Keir Simmons

Scotland Yard Commissioner says Met Police review of Madeleine McCann evidence may reach a conclusion within 'a few months'

1 hour ago
[1:31 PM, 9th Feb]

Donal MacIntyre: Twitter comments, 10 February 2012
Donal MacIntyre: Twitter comments Twitter

 
Donal MacIntyre: Twitter Comment, 10 February 2012

@DonalMacIntyre
Donal MacIntyre

if u guys think McCann's r guilty u are nuts

6 hours ago via Twittelator [12:54 PM, Feb 10th]

 
Donal MacIntyre: Twitter Comment, 10 February 2012

@DonalMacIntyre
Donal MacIntyre

the question is where is Maddy ? If u know what happened find her!

3 minutes ago via Twittelator [7:55 PM, Feb 10th]

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Further related tweets

 
Donal MacIntyre: Twitter, 11 February 2012

DonalMacIntyre Donal MacIntyre
If all ur theories are so accurate where is Maddy?
4 hours ago [1:04 PM, Feb 11th]

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DonalMacIntyre Donal MacIntyre
cadaver dogs were called in by McCanns - they wanted every assistance - but dogs are notoriously unreliable
4 hours ago [1:06 PM, Feb 11th]

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DonalMacIntyre Donal MacIntyre
I dred doing McCann stories - u just get harassed and insulted after - if haters are so informed - Go Solve it!
4 hours ago [1:15 PM, Feb 11th]

With thanks to Nigel at McCann Files

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