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Why the inquiry into Madeleine McCann's disappearance has proved so frustrating



Original Source: Express Sunday 03 April 2016

PUBLISHED: 00:01, Sun, Apr 3, 2016


THE cut in funding to £95,000 for Scotland Yard’s Madeleine McCann investigation reflects growing frustration that finding out what happened to her has become a near-impossible task.


The funding cuts for the Madeleine McCann case reflect


Effectively, the investigation is being allowed to wither on the vine because British and Portuguese police officers have been unable to find the vital missing pieces of the jigsaw.


Although the Yard say they have a “much clearer picture” of the events leading up to Madeleine’s abduction, they still do not know whether she is dead or alive and, if she is alive, where she is now.


Following on from the collapse of Operation Midland, the failed investigation of child abuse allegedly by establishment figures, the impending winding up of Operation Grange – the Maddie case – exposes worrying fallibility in what was once seen as the world’s best police force.


When the Home Office announced the review way back in 2011, there was a real sense that at last, after so many false dawns, the true facts about what happened to Madeleine would emerge


The funding by Home Secretary Theresa May was rightly generous, more than £2million a year, fuelling expectation of a breakthrough.


Seasoned murder detective DCI Andy Redwood pulled in all the known information from the McCanns’s failed private investigations, persuaded distrustful Portuguese counterparts to get on board and had some of the best murder detectives in the country on his hand-picked team.


In October 2013 the mood of the team was positive when it was announced the Yard was receiving “increasing cooperation” from Portuguese judicial authorities and, more crucially, the highly sensitive Policia Judiciaria (PJ), the country’s equivalent of our CID.


The Portuguese even appointed six officers based in Faro to carry out inquiries on DCI Redwood’s behalf on the Algarve. Then there were 41 persons of interest, including 15 Britons, plenty to go at and plenty of people keen and able to do the digging.


Scotland Yard still do not know whether McCann is dead or alive


 A BBC TV Crimewatch edition featured a reconstruction and e-fits of men police were keen to speak to, particularly the man seen by an Irish family carrying a child in his arms toward the seafront in the late evening of May 3, 2007, when she vanished nine days before her fourth birthday.


Sensationally, they announced that the famous sighting by Jane Tanner, a friend of the McCanns, near apartment 5A of the Ocean Club, where she was taken, was probably not significant as they believe he was on holiday and was simply returning to his holiday home with his own child.


A reward of £20,000 and TV appeals in Germany and Holland produced a good response from the international public, but not a ground-breaking clue.


In March 2014 Operation Grange announced there were 12 crimes between 2004 and 2010 on the western Algarve in which an intruder had gained entrance to holiday villas and assaulted sleeping girls. The smelly suspect had a pot belly, but despite publicity he was never identified.


Kate and Gerry McCann had funded their private investigation through the sales of Kate's book


In June of that year the tension was ratcheted up with an intensive search of scrubland in and around Praia da Luz, which, alas, produced no evidence relating to Madeleine. The Portuguese police and the Yard were less forthcoming about four potential suspects they had in for questioning in Faro, firing more than 250 questions at each of them.


The Sunday Express understands police from both countries were interested in a sofa got rid of by one of the men, which when retrieved and analysed was found to have fibres similar to fibres found in apartment 5A.


It also emerged that a British woman witness had made a statement saying that she had overheard someone saying near one of the suspects’ homes, “Why did you bring her here? Now we have to dispose of the body.”


It was widely reported that officers were working on a theory that a team of burglars targeted apartment 5A and Madeleine was abducted during a burglary that went wrong. However, officers have to date been unable to substantiate this line of inquiry with a view to bringing any charges.


Despite all the millions spent and the many trips to Portugal by the Yard, no one has been brought to book and it would appear the trail has gone stone cold. Exactly what happened during the past five years may never be fully known because Scotland Yard and the Portuguese shared little important information with the public.


The apartment at the Ocean Club, Praia de Luz Portugal where Madeleine McCann disappeared


However, details of their correspondence and interviews may emerge if the PJ decides to release its new files publicly. There was a storm when the PJ released thousands of documents after shelving their investigation in 2008.


Statements from Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry and their friends, the so-called Tapas Seven with whom they were dining when Madeleine went missing, were made available along with thousands of pages of once-secret information.


Now the impatient Portuguese media will demand that the substance of the new investigation should also be freely available and the judicial authorities are likely to accede to their requests to bring this new material into the public domain.


With all that information available, the McCanns would have a considerable dossier at their disposal to present to any new private investigators they may wish to hire. Sadly, the likelihood of discovering the fate of Madeleine before what would have been her 13th birthday next month looks as distant as ever.



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