A NEW investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was under
way last night after senior Scotland Yard detectives flew to Portugal.
Officers from a 30-strong squad specially set up to revive the search
for Madeleine McCann, who vanished four years ago, met Portuguese
authorities for the first time.
The top secret talks took place last month but details emerged for the
first time yesterday.
Last night Madeleine?s devoted parents Kate and Gerry told how the
development gave them fresh hope of a breakthrough in the hunt for their
daughter. Heart specialist Gerry, 42, and former GP Kate, 43, were said
to be ?extremely pleased? the meeting had taken place.
It is the first time any international police force has been searching
for Madeleine since the official Portuguese inquiry was shelved in July
2008. The couple?s spokesman Clarence Mitchell said Kate and Gerry
believed it was ?a positive step in the right direction?.
Madeleine disappeared during a family holiday in the Algarve resort of
Praia da Luz on May 3, 2007.
Kate and Gerry believe potentially vital
clues were missed in the botched Portuguese investigation
McCann family source
Scotland Yard confirmed its officers conducted their first face-to-face
?formal meeting? with Portuguese police who led the hunt for her.
The McCanns, of Rothley, Leicestershire, believe vital clues were missed
and leads never followed up during the shambolic investigation.
The despairing couple were left to search for Madeleine by themselves
and hired a team of private eyes.
They insisted they would never stop looking for Madeleine, who vanished
days before her fourth birthday, and were given a huge boost when David
Cameron stepped in to help following a personal appeal in May.
Mr Cameron told the couple Home Secretary Theresa May had ordered
Scotland Yard to launch a new operation funded by the Government. They
were tasked to carry out a review of the investigation from start to
finish and bring a new perspective to the case.
Yesterday it was revealed the Yard team carrying out the new inquiry
consists of 30 officers, the same size as a murder squad.
It is being led by Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood, of the Met?s
Homicide and Serious Crime Command, who has been dubbed Britain?s top
cold case detective. The McCanns hope the renewed efforts could unearth
a vital new clue in the four-year mystery.
Mr Mitchell said: ?Kate and Gerry are extremely pleased that the review
is progressing. It is a positive step in the right direction.?
The Portuguese detectives? investigation, helped by officers from
Leicestershire Police, led to hundreds of possible sightings of
Madeleine across the world but so far all have come to nothing. A
Scotland Yard spokesman said last night: ?Officers from the Metropolitan
Police travelled to Portugal at the beginning of August and had their
first formal meeting with Portuguese authorities to discuss ways to
progress the investigative review.?
The McCanns met members of the London-based squad several times before
the Portuguese meeting. A source close to the couple said: ?They are
relieved. Things are finally being done and Kate and Gerry are being
kept informed of every move.? The couple, who have six-year-old twins
Sean and Amelie, are convinced it is only a matter of time before they
get a significant breakthrough.
Their private investigators, headed by former Detective Inspector David
Edgar, have also met the new team.
The family source said: ?Kate and Gerry have had several meetings with
police reviewing their daughter?s case. They know the officers have a
difficult task ahead but they feel positive. They have been told that if
something has been missed they will find it. They are relieved that
something is finally happening.
?Kate and Gerry believe potentially vital clues were missed in the
botched Portuguese investigation and their private eyes are hoping the
Met will bring a new perspective to the case, which is being conducted
in tandem with Portuguese police. The review is still in its very early
stages. Officers are busy going through everything from scratch and
When the review was announced, Sir Paul Stephenson, the then
Metropolitan Police Commissioner, insisted there was ?always a chance?
it could lead to Madeleine being safely reunited with her parents.
The review team has drawn expertise from Scotland Yard?s specialist
More officers will be drafted in if new evidence is found, including
scenes-of-crime experts and forensic scientists.
The team is currently sifting through 20,000 pages of evidence assembled
by Portuguese detectives. They will review witness statements, make a
fresh appeal for ?information and carefully re-check alibis.
A police source said: ?They will be looking for something that has been
overlooked or not developed which could lead to a fresh line of inquiry
? a sighting, a tip-off, something that didn?t ring bells at the time
but could be vital.?