KATE and Gerry
McCann's lawyers last night began trawling through a mountain of
official files for fresh clues to their daughter's disappearance.
Almost 15 months after the
three-year-old went missing from the family's holiday apartment in
Portugal, the couple were finally allowed to see details of the
bungled police investigation.
The McCann's were granted access to the files after the Portuguese
attorney general officially cleared the couple of any involvement in
their daughter's disappearance.
Clarence Mitchell, the McCann's?
official spokesman, said their legal team had begun studying the
20,000-page files in the hope of identifying fresh leads which had
been ignored or missed by detectives.
He said: ?This is an important step
forward in the search for Madeleine.
Rogerio Alves, the McCann's? top lawyer in
Portugal, will supervise a team of investigators as they painstakingly
re-examine every aspect of the police investigation.
The files contain details of interviews
with hundreds of potential witnesses who were in and around the resort
of Praia da Luz last May when Madeleine disappeared.
The files are also understood to contain
scores of reported sightings of the little girl from around the world,
many of which were simply discounted by the police.
Any new information which comes to light
will be passed to the Spanish-based Metodo 3 detective agency, who were
hired by the McCann's to conduct a private investigation.
Mr Mitchell said: ?Kate and Gerry have
long wanted to know what was in the police files and what was and wasn't
done in terms of the search.
?They will be taking their time, along
with lawyers, to assess the thousands of pages of information in detail
before they make any comment.
?They and I will not be giving a running
commentary. Any critical information will go to their investigators.?
As well as potential leads, the McCann's
lawyers will be assessing whether the files would support legal action
against the Portuguese police for the way they conducted the inquiry.
Three months into the inquiry, Kate and
Gerry were declared arguidos' formal suspects ? by the Portuguese
police, leading to months of heartache for the couple.
They were finally cleared earlier this
month, along with Robert Murat, the only other formal suspect.
But they are angry that, with the focus
on them, detectives wasted valuable time and failed to look for
After hearing they had finally been
officially cleared, Kate said: ?It is hard to describe how utterly
despairing it was to be named as arguido and subsequently portrayed as
suspects in our own daughter's disappearance.
?It has been equally devastating to
witness the detrimental affect this has had on the search for
Once the legal teams have had a chance to
examine the files they will be open to public scrutiny