Swoop: A new picture of Madeleine dressed as
a pumpkin for Halloween who police fear may
have been snatched for a Belgian paedophile
An e-mail from British police warning that Madeleine McCann could
have been abducted by a Belgian paedophile ring took six
weeks to reach detectives in Portugal, it emerged today.
The Metropolitan Police in London received a tip-off 10 months
after Madeleine vanished that she had been stolen to
order after a 'spotter' saw her on holiday in the
Algarve and sent her photograph to the gang's leaders.
Details of the confidential e-mail were revealed in the secret
police files made public this week.
But the documents contain no explanation as to why the message sent
on March 5 this year by the Met's vice intelligence unit
to Leicestershire police, who were co-ordinating the
British end of the investigation, was only passed on to
officers in Portugal on April 21.
Inspector Ricardo Paiva, one of the detectives working on the case,
then sent it to Lisbon Interpol a week later asking them
to investigate the claim as a matter of urgency.
More than a month later, Interpol replied that some of the
information gathered from around Europe was not
On May 27, Lisbon Interpol sent a further urgent message requesting
information but received an undated fax claiming there
was nothing to add.
The revelation of a possible link to Belgium – the scene of several
notorious child sex cases - came as a second woman
claimed to have seen the missing girl in neighbouring
Another sighting, in Belgium itself just 12 days after Madeleine
vanished, was also revealed today.
Compere, 31, told local police she saw a young girl who
looked 'very much' like the three-year-old with an
Eastern European couple on a tram in Brussels.
account emerged hours after the message from Scotland
Yard emerged as part of the secret police files.
message from Scotland Yard read: 'Intelligence suggests
that a paedophile ring in Belgium made an order for a
young girl three days before Madeleine McCann was taken.
'Somebody connected to this group saw Madeleine and took
a photograph of her. The purchaser agreed that the girl
was suitable and Madeleine was taken.'
Warning: The e-mail sent by
Scotland Yard to Portuguese police
The dramatic development, and the horrific picture it draws, will
bring fresh agony to Madeleine's parents Kate and Gerry
It would fit with two claimed sightings of their daughter across
the border in the Netherlands, where Belgian paedophiles
could hide their victims.
But what prompted the tip-off is unclear, and it seems highly odd
that if someone had abducted Madeleine to take her to
Belgium, they would let her be seen in Amsterdam.
The McCanns' spokesman Clarence Mitchell said: 'Their private
investigators will be pursuing this line as an absolute
priority to establish if it has been fully investigated
and properly ruled out.
'They have got some of the information already, from their lawyers
and investigators, and they are waiting to hear from
them what is legitimate, what is promising, and what is
'They are frustrated by the delays and the mistakes that were made.
They have learned an awful lot about this kind of thing
and God forbid she has fallen foul of any of these
Sightings: Hannie Wiechmann
(left) and Anna Stam both believe they saw
Madeleine with a woman in Amsterdam
Earlier this week it was revealed that Amsterdam shop worker Anna
Stam told police within days of Madeleine's
disappearance in May last year that she thought she had
The report was passed to Portugal, but never followed up. Yesterday
Hannie Wiechmann, 71, said she saw a girl resembling
Madeleine in the Dutch capital at around the same time.
She said the child's hair had been badly cut and partially dyed
red. She was with a woman who was pacing up and down
beside a canal.
Lead: The party shop in Amsterdam where a
woman says she talked to a girl calling
Mrs Wiechmann said: 'Those eyes, her badly-cut fringe with this red
painted lock of hair. I just knew it was her.'
She told the Dutch newspaper Metro that she spotted the child twice
near the city's famous Rijksmuseum.
Mrs Wiechmann said the woman, who was aged 30 to 35, was speaking
English to her.
She added: 'You could see by the way she handled the kid she wasn't
used to children.'
She was so convinced the girl was Madeleine that she called police
from her mobile phone, then followed the pair as they
walked towards the Rijksmuseum.
But when police arrived and spoke briefly to the brown haired
woman, they accepted her account that she was a tourist
who was baby-sitting the child.
Mrs Wiechmann said they dismissed her suspicions without even
taking her details or talking to the girl. But she was
so convinced the girl was Madeleine that she called
British police, who took details but did not contact her
Despair: The McCanns are furious at the
string of blunders
Mrs Wiechmann said that a week later she saw the pair again in a
park, and the little girl came over to pat her dog.
She said: 'She came right to me to pat the dog. Then I let her go.
Stupid, but…. I let her walk away.
'It would have been better if I had taken her home and reported it
to all the international criminal investigators. Such a
The McCanns' private detectives have considered the theory that
Madeleine was given to a 'carer' who would have
disguised her appearance and kept her in a safe house.
Mrs Wiechmann's account came just a day after the Portuguese police
files revealed Miss Stam's description of a young girl
with an adult couple and two other children.
Miss Stam, 41, said the girl called herself Maddie and said of the
woman with her: 'She took me from my Mummy….They took me
from my holiday.'
Possible lead: A little
blonde girl holds a woman's hand at a petrol
station near Praia da Luz hours after
Madeleine first disappeared
A Dutch police report was sent to Portuguese police but it is not
clear what action, if any, they took.
Miss Stam said: 'I think it's stupid because maybe they could have
done something more at that time and maybe now it's too
late to find any clue. So I think it's very neglectful
by the police.'
Family spokesman Clarence Mitchell said the McCanns' private
detectives would interview both women 'as a priority'.
Dutch and Portuguese police refused to comment.
The huge case files also revealed that Portuguese police asked the
FBI to compare a DNA sample from Madeleine with the body
of a child washed ashore in Galveston, Texas, last
November. But it was not a match.
In the UK, a former detective accused the Portuguese of 'giving
Clues: A mystery girl walks into a petrol
station yards behind a man in the nearby
town of Albufeira. It was never shown to the
McCanns or released to the public
Child protection expert Mark Williams-Thomas said: 'The file should
have been made available to another law enforcement
agency from another country before it was made public.
'There is information there which should not have been put in the
public domain and should have been followed up. It is a
huge blunder to make it public.
'They have given up. The police are absolving themselves of