British detectives working on the
Madeleine McCann case are still pursuing
“critical” leads as the 10th anniversary
of her disappearance approaches, a
Scotland Yard chief has revealed.
Metropolitan Police Assistant
Commissioner Mark Rowley said there are
“significant investigative avenues” that
are of “great interest” to both the UK
and Portuguese teams.
Officers have sifted through some 40,000
documents and looked at more than 600
individuals since 2011.
In an interview nearly a decade on from
the youngster’s disappearance, Mr Rowley
also confirmed that four people
considered as possible suspects in 2013
have been ruled out.
Madeleine vanished from the family’s
holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in
Portugal on May 3 2007 when she was
three years old.
Her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann, of
Rothley, Leicestershire, have vowed to
“never give up” hope of finding their
Asked if police were any closer to
solving the case than they were six
years ago when the UK investigation was
launched, Mr Rowley said: “I know we
have a significant line of inquiry which
is worth pursuing, and because it’s
worth pursuing it could provide an
answer, but until we’ve gone through it
I won’t know whether we are going to get
there or not.
“Ourselves and the Portuguese are doing
a critical piece of work and we don’t
want to spoil it by putting titbits of
information out publicly.”
He declined to expand on the nature of
the working theories or reveal whether
any suspects were currently being
considered, saying that disclosing
further detail would not help the
Mr Rowley said: “We’ve got some critical
lines of inquiry, those link to
particular hypotheses, but I’m not going
to discuss those because those are very
much live investigation.
“We’ve got some thoughts on what we
think the most likely explanations might
be and we are pursuing those.”
He described the possibility of a
“burglary gone wrong” as a “sensible
hypothesis” which has not been “entirely
The senior officer was asked about the
theory of a sex predator being
responsible for Madeleine’s
Mr Rowley said: “That’s been one key
line of inquiry. The reality is in the
modern world in any urban area if you
cast your net widely you will find a
whole pattern of offences.
“You will find sex offenders who live
nearby. And those coincidences need to
be sifted out, what’s a coincidence and
what may be linked to the investigation
that you are currently doing.
“Offences which may be linked have to be
looked at and either ruled in or ruled
Mr Rowley said there was still a “lot
unknown” in the case, adding: “All the
different hypotheses have to remain
Police have looked at more than 600
individuals who were identified as being
potentially significant to Madeleine’s
In 2013 the team identified four people
as suspects in the case. Interviews and
searches were carried out but no
evidence was found to implicate the four
in the disappearance.
Mr Rowley said they are no longer the
subject of further investigation and
have been ruled out of the inquiry.
Meanwhile, police working on the case
continue to receive information on a
Mr Rowley said: “Thousands of pieces of
information have come forward, some
useful, some not, but amongst that have
been some nuggets that have thrown some
extra light on the original material
that came from the time.
“That’s one of the things that’s helped
us make progress and have some critical
lines of inquiry we want to pursue
Mr Rowley said there was no “definitive
evidence” as to whether Madeleine is
alive or dead.
He added: “That’s why we describe it as
a missing person inquiry. We understand
why, after this many years, people will
be pessimistic, but it’s important we
keep an open mind.”
The officer added that however Madeleine
left the apartment, she was abducted.
“She wasn’t old enough to make a
decision to set off and start her own
life,” he said.
The assistant commissioner pledged that
the investigation team will do all they
can to provide an answer for Madeleine’s
He said: “I so wish I could say we will
definitely solve it but a small number
of cases sadly don’t get solved.
“What I’ve always said on this case, and
I’ve said it to Kate and Gerry as well,
we will do everything reasonably
possible to try and find an answer.
“I just can’t quite guarantee it. It
always hurts that you can’t guarantee
success but we will do everything we
reasonably can do to try and get there.”
Around 30 detectives were working on the
UK probe, Operation Grange, when it was
established in 2011. The team has now
been scaled back to four detectives.
Last month the Home Office confirmed
£85,000 was being given to the inquiry
to cover operational costs from April to
September. More than £11 million has
been spent on the inquiry so far.
Mr Rowley insisted the investigation has
achieved “an awful lot”.
He said: “I think people get seduced
perhaps by what they see in TV dramas
where the most complex cases are solved
in 30 minutes or 60 minutes. What we
started with here was something
“We’ve achieved a complete understanding
of it all. We’ve sifted out many of the
potential suspects, many of the people
of interest and where we are today is
with a much smaller team focused on a
small number of remaining critical lines
of inquiry that we think are
Asked about the cost of the
investigation, he said: “Big cases can
take a lot of resources and a lot of
“We’ve tried to be careful about public
money and as we’ve started with that
massive sifting we’ve reduced the number
of resources and the funding’s reduced
“But we will stick with it as long as
the funding’s available and as long as
there are sensible lines of inquiry to